Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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[25 June, 1649.]
Council of State to hear complaints.; and to grant Letters of Marque.
Whereas divers well-affected people of this Commonwealth have sustained great wrongs, losses and damages, as well at Sea in their Ships, Goods and Merchandizes, being pillaged, spoiled, surprized and taken by the Ships and Subjects of Forein Nations, as by divers unlawful seizures, wrongs and violences, used against both their persons and goods, in Ports and on Shore, contrary to Justice, and to the breach of the Law of Nations: And although Justice hath been sought and prayed according to the forms of States in Amity, yet restitution or satisfaction could not be obtained, so that the Parliament doth hold themselves tyed in Honor and Justice, to afford the good People of this Commonwealth such assistance for recovery of their said losses and damages, as the Laws and Customs of Nations allow: Be it therefore Enacted and Ordained by this present Parliament, and by authority of the same, That the Council of State for the time being, established by Parliament, shall have full and absolute power, and are hereby authorized and enabled to receive, hear and examine the Petitions or Complaints of all such persons of this Commonwealth, as have been or shall be so unduly spoiled, pillaged, surprized, wronged and damnified in their Ships, Goods, Merchandizes or persons, by the Ships of any Forein Nation, or by any Foreiner or Foreiners, and how and in what maner Justice hath been or shall be therein denyed, or delayed, and restitution and satisfaction refused or delayed to be made; and thereupon, and upon consideration, as well of the value of the losses and damages sustained, and of the nature and circumstances of the cases, as also of the Leagues, Amities and Articles of the Peace, and upon observation of such due Solemnities, as the said Council of State shall finde meet by the said Leagues, Articles and Laws of Nations to be observed, to grant and give Warrant for, and cause to be issued out under the Seal of the Court of Admiralty, in the name of the Keepers of the Liberty of England by authority of Parliament, special and particular Letters of Marque or Reprisal in all such cases, and to all such persons as the said Council of State shall finde just and requisite, to be repaired in that course and way of proceeding, by Letters of Marque, to apprehend, seize and take the Ships, Vessels, Goods and Merchandizes of those particular Nations or Countreys that committed the said spoils and abuses, and continued the wrong, without repairing the same by the usual way of Justice, until such person or persons shall be fully satisfied for all such Wrongs, Damages and Injuries so by him or them sustained; which said Letters of Reprisal, shall issue forth in such maner and form, and under such Cautions, Limitations and Restrictions, as the said Council of State shall direct and allow of, and not otherwise