Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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Whereas there is a great scarcity of Fewell in and about the Cities of London and Westminster, the Suburbs and Liberties thereof, the line of Communication, and Parishes within the bill of Mortality, by reason of the surprisall of the Towne of Newcastle, by the papall and malignant forces, which heretofore did furnish these parts with Sea-coale, the want of which in Winter may prove almost an insupportable misery, especially to the poorer and meaner sort of people unlesse it be opportunely prevented: And whereas also the common sort of people have of late destroyed, and still are destroying great store of Timber trees being urged thereunto by necessity, to procure to themselves Fewell, The which if not timely prohibited will be of a dangerous consequence to the Common-wealth; Therefore to the end that there may be an orderly and reasonable supply of fellable wood for fewell, without destroying of any Timber-trees: It is Ordained by the Lords and Commons in Parliament.
I. That the circuit and extent for the cutting and felling onely of fellable wood, and underwood for the supply aforesaid, without any destruction of Timber-trees, bee within threescore miles of London; And the Committee of Lords and Commons for that purpose shall appoint all Overseers and other Officers, and Ministers, Treasurers, and Sub-committees for the better execution of this service, as they shall thinke fit; And also in what places and in what proportion the same Woods shall be cut, and felled, and to be accountable for the same and for the moneys thereby received, to both Houses of Parliament, or such as they shall appoint.
II. That for that purpose the said Overseer or Overseers, Officers and Ministers, shall have full power and authority, to enter in, and upon the Woods, Groves, and Springs and other Lands, where fellable Wood is or shall be growing, or being belonging to any Archbishop, Bishop, Deanes and Chapters, in their politicke or naturall capacity, Papists and other Delinquents, described in the Ordinance for Sequestring of Delinquents estates, And in all Forests, Chases, and Parkes, belonging to the Kings or Queenes Majestie: And there to cut, fell, and carry away such proportions and quantities thereof as the aforesaid Committee shall thinke fit for the furnishing of the Cities of London and Westminster, with the Suburbs and Liberties thereof, the Line of Communication, and Parishes within the Bill of mortality: The poorer sort of every Parish to be first served; and after the other degrees and rankes of people: And that the said quantities and proportions of Wood so felled, and brought to any part of London and Westminster &c. shall be respectively distributed by the Church-wardens and Overseers of the poore of every Parish, to the poore of such Parish, and by such others as shall be named by the said Committee to other persons, they only allowing rateably for their proportions of Wood, such easie and indifferent Rates as the said Committee shall set downe or appoint. Provided that this present power and Authority doe not extend to enable the said Overseers; Officers and Ministers, or any of them to enter into any such part of the said Woods, Groves, Springs, and other the Lands belonging to any Arch-bishop, Bishop, Deane and Chapter, and other Delinquents; or in any Forrest, Chase, and Parke belonging to the Kings Majesty or Queenes Majesty, where any private person, or other, not being any Papist or delinquent, shall have any reall interest by Lease or Grant upon valuable or good consideration; nor to any Woods or Trees belonging to the scite of any mansion House, or to any Gardens, Orchards, or Walkes. Provided also, that in the felling of any Woods by force of this Ordinance, the Studils be left according to the Statutes in that behalfe made.
III. That none shall dare to cut, fell, or carry away any of the said Wood cut, or designed to be cut, but onely those that shall be appointed by vertue of this Ordinance, under the penaltie of fine and imprisonment, and the said Fines to be leavied by distresse by the Officers appointed by the said Committee: And in case the party be not sufficient to satisfie the said Fine, then to undergoe such corporall punishment as by the authority of Parliament shall be thought fit.
IV. That the said Officers and Ministers, for the better accomplishing the said work, for the felling, bringing, and selling of the said Wood, are to be enabled to cause by Land the Inhabitants of the adjacent places with horses and carts, And by Water with Lighters, and other Vessels, upon reasonable hire, to convey the said wood to London and Westminster, &c. And in case of peremptory refusall, to certifie the names of the Refusers to the said Committee, or such other as the said Committee shall appoint, that order may be taken therein.
V. That the Officers and Ministers may defalke out of the sale of the said Wood such reasonable allowance for the sufficient fencing, inclosing, and preserving of the said Woods from the spoile and hurt of Cattell and Deere: As also for his and their paines, and for the charges in cutting and carrying, as the said Committee shall appoint.
VIII. That in case the said Officers, or any of them be resisted and disturbed by any person or persons in executing of the said imployments; That then all Deputy Lievtenants, Justices of Peace, Constables, Officers, Military Forces, Trained Bands, and all other Souldiers raised for the defence of the King and Parliament within the said Counties, or in any Garrison neere the said places, shall be-assistant and aiding unto the said Officers; and shall and may detaine and imprison the said parties, untill they have satisfied the Parliament for their said contempt; or otherwise receive such punishment as by the authority of Parliament shall be thought fit.
IX. That as well the said Officers, and other Ministers whatsoever, and all other persons which shall doe any thing in execution of this Ordinance, or in obedience thereof, shall from time to time be protected and saved harmlesse by the power and authority of both Houses of Parliament.
Provided further, and be it Ordained, That the said Committee of Lords and Commons, take care for the preventing of spoyle, and cutting downe of Woods upon mens grounds without lawfull authority, and for the due punishment of the Offenders therein.