Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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[10 November, 1643.]
Whereas the Great Seal of England, which, by the Laws of this Realm, ought to attend the Parliament, being the Supreme Court of Justice and Judicature within this Realm, for the Dispatch of the great and weighty Affairs of the Commonwealth, which is especially interested and concerned therein, was, above a year last past, that is to say, the 22th Day of May, Anno 1642, by the then Lord Keeper thereof, Edward Lord Littleton, then a Member and Speaker of the House of Peers in Parliament, contrary to the great Trust in him reposed, and Duty of his Place, secretly and perfidiously conveyed away from the Parliament, into the King's Army raised against the Parliament; the said Lord Keeper departing therewith into the said Army without the Leave or Privity of the said House; by Means whereof, great Mischiefs and Inconveniences have ensued to this Kingdom and the Kingdom of Ireland.
And whereas the said Great Seal ought constantly to remain in the Hands and Custody of one or more Officer or Officers (sworn for that service), and to be used and employed for the Weal and Safety of His Majesty's People, which notwithstanding hath been diver's Times, sithence the conveying away thereof as aforesaid, put into the Hands of other Persons not sworn, and Popishly and dangerously affected, who have had the disposing and managing thereof at their own Wills and Pleasures, and hath been traiterously and perniciously abused, to the Ruin and Destruction of the Parliament and Kingdom, by granting and issuing out Divers illegal Commissions of Array, and other unlawful Commissions, for raising of Forces against the Parliament, by issuing out of most foul and scandalous Papers, under the Name and Title of Proclamations against both Houses of Parliament, and divers Members thereof, any others adhering to them, proclaiming them Traitors and Rebels; Commissions of Oyer and Terminer to proceed against divers of them as Traitors, and other Commissions to seize and confiscate their Estates, for no other Cause but for doing their Duties and Services to the Commonwealth; as likewise by granting that horrid Commission, for executing of that most bloody and detestable Design of Waller, Tomkins, and others, for the Destruction of the Parliament, and City of London, and of the Army raised for their just Defence; and (as if Massacres and Assassinations had been but light and venial Crimes) another Commission hath been granted, under the same Seal, for a Cessation of Arms with the barbarous and bloody Rebels in Ireland, after the Effusion of so much innocent Blood and Slaughter of above One Hundred Thousand Protestants, Men, Women, and Children, by their Merciless and bloody Hands, whereupon a Cessation of Arms is accordingly concluded, and those brutish Rebels thereby emboldened to prepare themselves, not only for a total extirpation of the Protestants remaining there, but for a Conquest also of this Kingdom; and further, by granting of several Commissions, and Offices of Trust and Command, to notorious Papists who, by the Laws and Statutes of this Realm, are made uncapable thereof, and by conferring of Honours, and Dignities, and granting of Lands and Estates, to divers exorbitant Delinquents, who stand legally impeached of High Treason, and other High Crimes and Misdemeanors, in Parliament; all which and many other unlawful and enormous Acts have passed under the Great Seal, since the Removal thereof from the Parliament as aforesaid; which the Lords and Commons taking into their Consideration, and finding all Ways and Means obstructed for the procuring of any Redress from His Majesty in the Premises, notwithstanding their long Hopes and uncessant Labours for the obtaining thereof, are bound in Duty, and of Necessity, to provide some speedy Remedy for these insupportable Mischiefs:
Be it therefore Declared and Ordained, by the said Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, That as well all and every the said Acts formerly mentioned, which have passed under the said Great Seal, as also all Letters Patents and Grants of any Lands, Goods, or Estates, of any Person or Persons whatsoever, for adhering to the Parliament, all Compositions or Grants of any Wardships, or Leases of any Ward's Lands, Liveries, Primer Seizins, and Ouster le Mains, since the said 22d of May 1642, which have not, according to the due Course of Law, passed through the Court of Wards and Liveries established by Law, all Grants, since the said 22d of May 1642, of any Honours, Dignities, Manors, Lands, Hereditaments, or other things whatsoever, to any Person or Persons, which have voluntarily contributed, or shall voluntarily contribute, any Aid or Assistance, to the Maintenance of that unnatural War raised against the Parliament; and all Pardons granted to any such Person or Persons; and all other Acts or Things whatsoever contrary to, or in Derogation of, the Proceedings of both or either of the Houses of Parliament, which have passed under the said Great Seal, since the Removal thereof from the Parliament, shall be, and are hereby Declared to be, utterly invalid, void and of none Effect, to all Intents and Purposes; and that all and every Act or Thing, which, after the Publication of this Ordinance, shall pass by or under the said Great Seal, or under any Great Seal of England (other than what is hereby appointed and established), shall be utterly void, frustrate, and of none Effect; and every Person or Persons, which shall put the same in Use, or shall claim any Thing thereby, shall be held and adjudged a Public Enemy of this State.
And be it further Ordained, by the said Lords and Commons That a Great Seal of England, already by them made and provided, shall be forthwith put in Use, and shall be, and is hereby authorized and established to be, of like Force, Power, and Validity, to all Intents and Purposes, as any Great Seal of England hath been or ought to be.
And that it shall be put into the Hands and Custody of the Persons hereafter named, who are hereby Ordained Commissioners for that Purpose; that is to say, John Earl of Rutland, and Oliver Earl of Bullingbrooke, Members of the House of Peers, and Oliver St. Johns Esquire His Majesty's SolicitorGeneral, John Wyld Serjeant at Law, Samuell Browne, and Edmund Prideaux, Esquires, Members of the House of Commons; which said Persons, or any Three or more of them, whereof One Member or more of the Lords House, also One Member or more of the House of Commons, shall be present, shall have, and are hereby authorized to have, the keeping, ordering, disposing, thereof, as also all such and the like Power and Authority, as any Lord Chancellor, or Lord Keeper, or Commissioners of the Great Seal, for the Time being, hath had, used, or ought to have.