Lapse of the Licensing Act (202 words)

Historical Context Note

  • Editors


Following the Glorious Revolution and the subordination of monarchical power to Parliament, the will to renew the Act weakened: it was renewed in 1693 for only two years, and then lapsed in 1695, largely because Parliament was reluctant to reaffirm monopoly which the Stationer’s Company was widely seen as abusing for simple commercial ends. Thereafter the Government controlled publication mainly by the law of Seditious Libel, usually invoked by the Treasury Solicitor against any publication thought likely to disturb the political peace. This was invoked, for example, against Daniel Defoe’s “Short Way with Dissenters” (1702). But given the freedom to print and sell, and take the political consequences later, newspapers and other p…

Editors. "Lapse of the Licensing Act". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 April 2004
[, accessed 21 October 2016.]