Although it is sometimes suggested that the Act was introduced as a measure against the clergy during the separation of the Church of England from Rome, there is no firm evidence for this, and indeed the Act preceded the separation.
In July 1540, contravention of the Act, along with treason, led Walter Hungerford, 1st Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury to become the first person executed under the statute, although it was probably the treason that cost him his life. Nicholas Udall, a cleric, playwright, and Headmaster of Eton College, was the first to be charged with violation of the Act alone in 1541. In his case, the sentence was commuted to imprisonment and he was released in less than a year.
The Act was repealed in 1553 on the accession of Queen Mary. However, it was re-enacted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1563 and became the charter for all subsequent criminalization in the English-speaking world. In England, only a few executions are known during the two centuries that followed. The Act itself was finally replaced by the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and the Criminal Law (India) Act 1828, though the crime remained on the statute books under other legislation. Buggery remained a capital offence in England until 1861; and the last execution for the crime took place in 1836.
The United Kingdom repealed its buggery laws in 1967, ten years after the Wolfenden report, but legal statutes in many former colonies have retained them, such as in the Anglophone Caribbean (see LGBT rights in Jamaica).