Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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[7 May, 1649.]
Thereas the necessity, number and increase of the Poor, is very Great within the City of London, and Liberties thereof, For want of due provision For their relief and imployment; and through neglect of the due execution of such Laws and Statutes as have been Formerly made: For remedy whereof, and For the better Execution of the Laws and Statutes heretofore made in this behalf, and For the Further redress of the mischiefs intended to be hereby remedied; Be it Enacted by this present Parliament, and by the Authority of the same, and it is hereby Enacted, That From henceforth there be and shall be a Corporation within the said City of London, and Liberties thereof, consisting of a President, Deputy to the President, a Treasurer, and Fifty eight Assistants, whereof the Lord Maior of the said City For the time being to be the President, and ten of the said Assistants to be of the Aldermen of the said City For the time being, and the other Fifty to be Freemen of, and Inhabitants of the said City, chosen out of the several Wards of the said City, two out of every Ward respectively; and that Sir John Wollaston, Isaac Pennington, Thomas Atkin, Thomas Andrews, Samuel Avery, John Bide, Thomas Vyner, Rowland Wilson, Christopher Pack, and John Dethick, Aldermen of the said City, shall be the First ten Aldermen of the present Assistants, and that Francis Waterhouse shall be the present Deputy to the President, and that Maurice Gething shall be the present Treasurer, and that James Russell, Richard Glyd, William Jeston, Tempest Milner, William Kendal, Toby Lisle, Edmund Whitwell, John Cock, Robert Mead, William Bromwich, John Everet, John Jones, John Bellamy, John Babington, Richard Garforth, Richard Tichbourn, John Perrin, Thomas Bromfield, Samuel Moyer, Dierich Host, Richard Coysh, Nicholas Corsellis, William Pennoyer, Christopher Loaves, Laurence Steel, Richard Floyde, Thomas Jenner, Laurence Brinley, Rice Bush, Thomas White, Benjamin Blundel, Thomas Dawney, Abraham Babington, Jacob Jurin, Edward Odling, Thomas Brightwell, James Story, John Berrisford, William Wyberd, Richard Waring, John Dod, Walter Lee, Harman Sheaf, John Fletcher, Owen Rowe, Mark Hilsley, John Stone, and Clement Ireton, Citizens of London, shall be the other Assistants, and that the succeeding Deputy and Treasurer, shall From henceforth, and from time to time be eligible by the said Corporation, or any seven or more of them, yearly on the twenty Fifth day of June, or within twenty eight days then next Following and shall have hereby power and authority, and are hereby authorized at any time or times, upon just and reasonable cause to amove the said Deputy and Treasurer For the time being, or either of them from their places and upon such removal or death of them, or either of them, to elect one other Deputy and Treasurer, or either of them, into the said place or places respectively, and that such Five of the ten Aldermen (being Assistants) as the Common Councel of the City of London think fit, shall fall off or be amoved yearly, on the said Five and twentieth day of June, or within twenty eight days after, and that other Five Aldermen shall be yearly elected by the said Common Councel, on the day and time aforesaid, to be assistants in the place of such as shall so fall off or be amoved: And that such Five and twenty of the other Assistants, as the several Wards respectively shall think Fit, shall likewise fall off or be amoved yearly, on the said Five and twentieth day of June, or within twenty eight days after, and that Five and twenty other persons shall be yearly elected within the time aforesaid, by the Inhabitants of every Ward respectively, to be Assistants in the places of such as shall dye, or be amoved as aforesaid; And that the first choice of all the said Assistants, shall be made upon the five and twentieth day of June, in the year of our Lord God, 1650 or within twenty-eight days then next Following. And it is Further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said President, Deputy, Treasurer and Assistants For the time being, shall For ever hereafter in name and fact, be one Body Politique and Corporate in Law, to all intents and purposes, and shall have a perpetual Succession, For shall be called by the name of the President and Governors and the Poor of the City of London, and Liberties thereof; and sue or plead, or be sued and impleaded by the name aforesaid, in all Courts and places of Judicature within this Nation; and by that name shall and may, without License in Mortmain, purchase or receive any Lands, Tenements or Hereditaments, not exceeding the yearly value of Two thousand pounds, of the Gift, Alienation or Devise of any person or persons, who are hereby without Further License, enabled to give the same, and any Goods, Chattels or sums of money whatsoever, to the use, intent and purpose hereafter limited and appointed: And the said Corporation, or any seven of them, shall have hereby power and authority From time to time, to meet and keep Courts, For the ends and purposes in this Act expressed, at such time and place as shall be appointed by the said President or his Deputy, who are hereby required upon desire of any Four of the said Corporation, at any time to cause a Court to be warned accordingly; and shall have hereby authority From time to time to make and appoint a common Seal For the use of the said Corporation. And it is Further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it is and shall be lawful, to and for the said President and Governors of the said Corporation For the time being, or any two of them, From time to time to apprehend, or cause to be apprehended, any Rogues, Vagrants, Sturdy Beggars, Idle and Disorderly persons within the said City and Liberties, and to cause them to be set and kept to work; and such of them as by any Former Statute, are declared to be Rogues, to be duly punished by putting in the Stocks, or whipping as they shall finde cause; and shall also have power to dispose of them to their places of birth, or last abode, as the case according to the Laws and Statutes in that case provided shall require: And also That it shall be lawful For the said President and Governors, or any two of them, to apprehend, or cause to be apprehended and kept at work, All such other poor persons and Bastard children, and other poor children able to work, and inhabiting within the said City and Liberties, who are chargeable to any Parish, or have not sufficient to maintain themselves; and in case of their refusal to work, That then it shall and may be lawful, to and For the said President and Governors, or any seven of them, to punish, or cause to be punished as Vagrants, such persons so refusing to work. And be it Further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, as well For the purposes aforesaid, as For the better execution of Justice within the said Cities and Liberties, That all and every the Aldermen of the said City, which hath performed and passed, or that hereafter perform and pass the Office of Sheriff of London, at the end of his and their Sherivalty, and during such time as he and they shall continue Alderman, taking the Oath of a Justice of Peace appointed by Parliament, which the Major, Recorder, or either of them, hereby have power to administer unto them, shall be hereby a Justice of Peace to all intents and purposes whatsoever, and shall and may From henceforth do and execute accordingly within the said City, and Liberties thereof, without any other Commission, Any Law, Statute, Custom or Usage in any wise to the contrary notwithstanding. Provided always, That no Sessions of the Peace shall be holden and kept within the said City and Liberties, without the presence or appointment of the Major or Recorder, and the presence of three or more of other Justices of Peace of the said City For the time being. And be it Further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in regard of the Great inequality of the ordering and relieving of the Poor, through the different abilities of the several and respective Wards in the City of London, and Liberties thereof; The said Corporation, or any seven of them, shall be hereby authorized, with consent of the Common-Councel of the said City, to divide the several Wards with the Poor, and Stock to them belonging, into four equal parts and proportions, for the more effectual and indifferent relief of the Poor, and the avoiding future differences and dissentions, between the rich and poor Parishes. And it is Enacted by the authority aforesaid, for the better relief of impotent aged persons, and others not able to work, and fit to be relieved, and for the imploying of the other Poor as aforesaid, within the said City and Liberties, and providing all things for the execution of the work intended by this Act, That if the said President and Governors shall certifie their want and defect, either of a present stock for the foundation thereof, or for supply thereof for the future, and what sum and sums of money they think fit for the same, under their common Seal, to the Common-Councel of the said City, that thereupon the said Common-Councel are hereby authorized and required from time to time, to set down and ascertain such competent sum or sums of money for the purposes aforesaid, and the same to proportion out upon the several Wards as they shall think fit, and that thereupon the Aldermen, Deputy and Common-Councel men of every Ward, or the greater number of them, shall have power and authority, and are hereby required equally and indifferently, according to the proportion appointed for the several Wards as aforesaid, to tax and rate the several Inhabitants within the said respective Wards; with which Tax, if any person or persons shall finde him or themselves agrieved, as supposing the same to be unequal, he and they shall and may make their complaint known to the Justices of the Peace, at the next open Sessions, who shall take such final order therein, as as in like cases is already by the Law provided. And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful to and for the said President and Governors, upon Taxations and Distributions made as aforesaid, the same being made known to them by the said Aldermen, or Deputy of the said several Wards, by their Certificate in writing under their hands, to make Warrants under the hands of them, or any two of them, to be directed to any one or more of their Officers, to demand, gather and receive of every person and persons, such sum and sums of money as shall be assessed upon them by vertue of the Taxations and Contributions aforesaid; and for default of payment within ten days after demand made thereof, a notice in writing left at the dwelling house or lodging of every person so assessed, to levy the same by distress and sale of the goods of every such person, and after satisfaction made, to restore the surplusage to the party so distrained. And it is Further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the aforesaid Corporation, or any seven persons, members thereof, or the said Deputy and Treasurer (for the time being) or one of them, together with one or more of the Aldermen of the said City, members of the said Corporation, shall and may within the said City and Liberties, do and execute in every respect, For the better carrying on of this work, such thing or things, act or acts, as is allowed and appointed by any Law or Statute, to be done and executed by any one or more Justice or Justices of Peace of the said City, or of any County within this Realm, for and concerning the relief and imployment of the Poor, and the punishment of Vagrants and other disorderly persons, and the setting and Keeping them to work within the said City, and Liberties thereof, and to put in execution any Law or Statute (now in force) touching binding out poor children Apprentices, for the relief of the poor, punishing Rogues and Beggars, and for effecting the remedies hereby intended. And it is Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said President and Governors, or any seven of them, shall have power from time to time, to make and constitute Orders and By-laws, for the better relieving, regulating and setting the Poor on work, and the apprehending and punishing of Rogues, Vagabonds and Beggars, within the said City and Liberties, that have not herewith honestly to maintain themselves, and for other the matters aforesaid, Provided, The said Orders and Bylaws shall from time to time be presented to, and allowed by the Common-Councel of the said City, and by three or more of the Justices of the upper Bench, common Pleas, and Barons of the Exchequer. And it is further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the Treasurer of the said Corporation for the time being, shall once in every year yearly, between the 24th of June and the 29th of Septem. or oftner, if need require, give a true and perfect Accompt in writing, of all the receipts, charges and disbursements in and about the premises, unto the Auditors for the time being, appointed for taking the Accompts of the Chamberlain and Bridge-masters of the said City, and the said Accompt to remain in the custody of the Chamberlain of the said City. And it is Enacted by the Authority aforesaid That an Ordinance made this present Parliament, the 17 day of Decemb. 1647. and every clause and thing therein contained concerning any provision and relief for the Poor of London, and the Liberties thereof, be and are hereby made Null and repealed. And it is Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful to and for the said President and Governors, or seven of them, to make enquiry for and after any charitable gift or grant heretofore given and appointed, or hereafter to be given and appointed to, and for the maintenance and relief of the Poor within the said City and Liberties thereof, and to act and proceed thereupon for discovering and reforming the misimployment thereof, in such manner as any Commissioners for charitable uses, may do by vertue of the Statute of 43 Eliz. Cap. 4. and that the said President and Governors, shall and may by themselves, or such as they shall appoint under their common Seal, freely and without fees, search in any Courts or Offices, for any Records or Evidences, for the discovery of any matter or thing concerning the same. And it is further Enacted, That the said President and Governors, or any twenty or more of them, being assembled together, shall have hereby power to choose and entertain all such officers and others, as shall be needful to be imployed in and about the premises, and them or any of them from time to time to remove, as they shall see cause, and upon the death or removal of them, or any of them, to choose others in their places, for the carrying on of this work, and to make and give such reasonable allowances unto them, or any of them, out of the stock and revenue belonging to the said Corporation, as they shall think fit. And it is Enacted by the authority aforesaid, for the further relief and imploying of the said poor, within the said Cities and Liberties thereof, That the said President and Governors, or any seven of them, shall have hereby power to erect one or more work-house or work-houses, for receiving, relieving and setting the poor to work, and one or more house or houses of correction, as they shall think fit, for punishing of rogues, vagabonds and beggars. And it is further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if upon any action, suit or plaint to be commenced or prosecuted by any person or persons, in any Court whatsoever, against the said President and Governors, any of the said Justices of the Peace hereby authorized, or any of them, or any person or persons for doing or executing any thing by their, or any of their Order, Warrant, Command or Direction, or coming in to their, or any of their ayd or assistance, in, about or concerning the premises, the Defendant or Defendants may plead the general issue of not guilty, and shall and may give the special matter in evidence; and if upon trial of the cause, it shall appear the said Defendant or Defendants did act, or do the matter in question by vertue of this Act, or that the matter of fact whereupon the issue is joyned, was done in any other County, then where the same fact is laid to be done, that in such case the Jury that shall try the same, shall finde the Defendant or Defendants in every such action, plaint or suit, Not Guilty: And if in any action, plaint or suit, the plaintiff or plaintiffs become non-suit, or suffer any discontinuance thereof, or verdict shall pass against him or them, that in every the said cases, the defendant or defendants shall have double costs, and all other advantages and remedies, as in other cases where costs by the Laws of this Realm are given to defendants. And it is further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all Sheriffs, Bayliffs, Constables, and all other Officers and Ministers of Justice, shall be ayding and assisting to the said Corporation, or any of them, and unto all such Officers as shall be imployed by them for the better executing and performance of the said service.