Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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The Lords and Commons in Parliament assembled taking notice of the many Seditious, False and Scandalous Papers and Pamphlets daily printed and published in and about the Cities of London and Westminster, and thence dispersed into all parts of this Realm, and other parts beyond the Seas, to the great abuse and prejudice of the People, and insufferable reproach of the proceedings of the Parliament and their Army; for the better suppression thereof, and prevention of the like inconveniences in time to come, do Order and Ordain, and be it Ordered and Ordained by the said Lords and Commons, That what person soever shall Make, Write, Print, Publish, Sell or Utter, or cause to be Made, Written, Printed, Published, Sold or Uttered, any Book, Pamphlet, Treatise, Ballad, Libel, Sheet or Sheets of News whatsoever (except the same be Licensed by both or either House of Parliament, or by such Person or Persons as shall be thereunto Authorized by one or both Houses of Parliament, with the name of the Author, Printer and Licenser thereunto prefixed) shall for every such Offence, suffer, pay and incur the Punishment, Fine and Penalty hereafter mentioned; That is to say, The Maker, Writer or Composer of any such Unlicensed Book, Pamphlet, Treatise, Ballad, Libel, Sheet or sheets of News, shall forfeit and pay Forty shillings, or be Imprisoned in the Common Goal for the County or Liberty where the Offence is committed, or the Offender shall be found, until he shall pay the same, so that the said Imprisonment exceed not forty dayes; The Printer to forfeit and pay Twenty shillings, and suffer the like Imprisonment, until he pay the same, the said Imprisonment not exceeding Twenty dayes, and likewise to have his Press and Implements of Imprinting seized and broken in pieces; The Book-seller or Stationer to forfeit and pay ten shillings, or be Imprisoned in like manner until he pay the same, the Imprisonment not exceeding Ten days, And the Hawker, Pedler or Ballad-singer to forfeit and lose all his Books, Pamphlets and printed Papers exposed to sale, and also to be whipt as a Common Rogue, in the Liberty or Parish where the said Offender shall be apprehended, or the Offence committed.
Who shall put this Ordinance in execution.; Power to enter into houses, &c.; To seize the Books, Presses, &c.; View of a Justice or head Officer; shall be a sufficient conviction.; How the Fine shall be disposed.
And it is further Ordained by the said Lords and Commons That the several and respective Members of the Committees for the Militia in London, Middlesex, and Surrey, and all Majors and other head-Officers of Corporations, and all Justices of the Peace of the several Counties, Cities and Liberties within this Kingdom of England and Dominion of Wales, and every of them in their respective Liberties and Jurisdictions, be hereby authorized and required to put this Ordinance in execution; and all Constables, Headboroughs, and other Officers and Ministers are hereby authorized and required, together with such assistants as they shall call unto them, to enter into any Shop or House where they shall be informed, or have good cause to suspect any such unlicenced Pamphlets and Papers are Printed, Sold or Uttered, and to take and seize the same, and likewise all Presses and Implements of Printing, and to bring them together with the Offenders, and all other Offenders against this Ordinance, before the said Members of the Committees, Majors, Head-Officers and Justices of the Peace, or any one of them, that the Fines, Pains and Penalties before-mentioned may be imposed and inflicted upon the same Offenders. according to the intention and meaning of this Ordinance. And it is also Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, That the view of any one Justice of the Peace, head-Officer or Member of the Committees aforesaid, or the Oath of one credible Witness (which Oath in such cases they and every one of them are hereby authorized to administer) shall be a sufficient conviction of any Offender in the cases before recited: And the same Justice of the Peace, Major or other head-Officer, or Member of the Committees aforesaid, have hereby Authority to dispose one Moyety of the Fine paid by vertue of this Ordinance, to the Collectors for the Poor of the Liberty or Parish where the Offence is committed, and the other Moyety to the person or persons who shall discover and prosecute the said Offenders. And finally it is Ordained, That all persons acting any thing by vertue of this Ordinance, shall be saved harmless and indempnified by Authority of both Houses of Parliament.
Provided always, and it is hereby Declared, That the Penalties in this Ordinance expressed, shall not extend to acquit any person or persons that shall Make, Write, Print, Publish, Sell or Utter, or cause to be Made, Written, Published, Sold or Uttered, any Book, Pamphlet, Treatise, Ballad, Libel, Sheet or Sheets of News that shall contain any Seditious, Treasonable or Blasphemous matter, but the Offenders in that kinde shall be liable to such farther penalties as by the Laws of this Land are provided, or by Authority of Parliament shall be adjudged according to the penalty of such Offences.