Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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[1 December, 1643.]
Whereas the Lords and Commons now assembled in Parliament doe finde by continuall experience, that very great quantities of Ordnance, Arms, and other warlike Ammunition, together with Goods, Ships, and Victuals of all sorts and kinds, have been and still are brought into Newcastle, Falmouth, Dartmouth, Weymouth, Bristol, and other parts of this Kingdome, being in Hostilitieagainst the King and Parliament, and also into the Kingdome of Ireland, from forraigne parts, to be imployed for the reliefe of the Rebels of the said Kingdomes of England and Ireland, and against the Parliament and their Adherents, the well-affected Persons of this Realme. And whereas divers well-affected Subjects, out of their loyall respect to his Majesty, their pious disposition to the happinesse and peace of this Kingdom, and as much as in them lieth to prevent and hinder all such supplies as shall be sent from any forraigne parts to the prejudice of this Nation or the Kingdomes of Scotland or Ireland, have lately made knowne to the said Lords and Commons their voluntary dis position and readinesse to set forth some Ships and Pinnaces warlikely appointed, equipped, and manned, at their owne proper costs and charges, so that in recompence of their charge and adventure therein they may have and enjoy to their own uses all such Ships, Ammunition, Goods, Moneys, and Merchandize, which they shall take or surprize by Sea or by Land, intended or designed against the Parliament and their Adherents in this Kingdome, or for the reliefe of the Rebels in the Kingdome of Ireland as aforesaid, or that have carried, or they shall take carrying, any of the supplies to the intents aforesaid; And also so much Money paid them or their Assignes, by the said Lords and Commons, or the Treasurer of the Navie for the time being by their appointment, as shall inable them respectively to victuall their Ships and Pinnaces for so many moneths as they shall imploy them at Sea in this service, accompting twenty shillings to each man for a moneths Victuals at twenty eight dayes to the moneth, and not exceeding fourty men to every hundred Tonnes of their respective Ships nor sixe moneths in any one voyage; which being well approved by the Lords and Commons in Parliament as a good and acceptable service, and advantagious to the publike, and being willing to give it all the incouragement and advancement that may be to bring it to a good and succesful issue, as tending very much to the honour of the King, and welfare of all His Majesties Dominions. And therefore for the better inabling and performance of this so free and commendable undertaking and enterprize. It is Ordered established, and Ordained by the Lords and Commons assembled in this present Parliament, and by the authority of the same, That it shall and may be lawfull for any of His Majesties good and loyall Subjects to be approved, and thereto appointed by the Lord High Admirall of England, appointed by both Houses for the time being, in warlike manner to equip, furnish, and set out for the said intended imployment, such and so many Ships and other Vessels of warre as they shall thinke fitting, and to place in them competent numbers of Souldiers, Mariners, and Gunners, with necessary Armes and provisions for that service: And to appoint over them such Commanders, Captaines, and Officers, as they shall thinke fit: And the same Ships and Vessels so manned, equipped, armed and provided, to set forth to Sea, and with the same to seize, surprize, and take, all, and all manner of Ships and Vessels, with the Ordnance, Ammunition, Victuals, Goods, Commanders and Souldiers therein, that they shall meet withall in, or outwards bound from any Port or place within any of His Majesties Dominions, being in Hostility against the King and Parliament, or comming from or returning too any such Port or place, or that shall be found to have traded with the Inhabitants of any such Port or place since their defection from the King and Parliament: And also to seize, surprize, and take all manner of Ships and Vessels, with the Ordnance, Ammunition, Victuals, and Goods therein, belonging to any Rebell or Rebels in Ireland; and further, to surprize and take, all, and all manner of Pirats and Sea rovers of what Nation soever, and their ships and Goods whatsoever. And for the better incouragement of such Adventurers in the said enterprize, It is by the Lords and Commons likewise Ordered and Ordained, That the said Adventurers shall upon Bills signed by the Commissioners for the Navy for the time being according to the forme of that Office, have and receive from Sir Henry Vane Knight, Treasurer of the Navy, or the Treasurer of the Navy for the time being by the order and allowance of the Committee of the Navy, such and so much money in lieu of, and for their Victuals as shall by the said Commissioners for the Navy bee found justly due and payable to them, after the rate of 20 shillings a man for a moneth for all the men they shall imploy in their respective Ships, and, for so many moneths as the said ships shall be really and actually imployed in the service aforesaid, accompting fourty men to one hundred Tonnes, and so in proportion, and twenty eight dayes to the moneth, as aforesaid, and shall further have and enjoy as their proper Goods, all Ships, Goods, Moneys, Plate, Armes, Ammunition, Victuals, Pillage, and Spoils, which they shall (according to the purport and true intent of this Ordinance, and by virtue and force of the same) justly and lawfully seize and take by themselves, or any persons by them to be imployed by force and vertue of this Ordinance, and shall be so adjudged, pronounced, and declared by definitive sentence in the high Court of Admiralty, and the same so taken and adjudged, shall have and enjoy to their owne use, and the use of the common Mariners to be equally divided the tenths of all such prizes, and the customes first deducted, paid, secured, or compounded for.
And it is further Ordained that if the said Adventurers or any ships by them imployed shall happen, upon the Seas or in any Harbour or Creeke, to meet with any ship or ships that shall not willingly yeeld themselves to be visited, but shall make resistance by force and violence then they shall by all means possible, and with all force compell them to yield and submit themselves to reason and justice, although it doth fall out that by fighting with them one or more of them be maymed, hurt, or slaine in the resistance. And it is further Ordained that the said Adventurers, nor any of the ships imployed by them, shall be at, or under the command of the Lord High-Admirall, or his Vice or Rere-Admiral; or the power or command of any whatsoever, acting by his authority under him, or by the authority of one or both Houses of Parliament to ride at Anchor or otherwise saile to any Port or place whatsoever, without the free consent of the Adventurers, or those they shall so imploy, except it be in case of extreame necessity for preservation of any of His Majesties Dominions, but that they and every of them shall have liberty to seeke and take their purchase, where and how they please, according to such instructions as shall be from time to time given them by the Lord high Admirall of England, or the Commissioners of the Admiralty appointed by both Houses for the time being, without the let, molestation, or command of the said Lord high Admirall, or any person or persons whatsoever. And it is further ordered, that the Captaine, Master and chiefe Officers of every of the ships and Pinnaces so to be set forth upon the said enterprize shall before their going to Sea enter into a bond in the high Court of Admiralty in the summe of two thousand pounds or upwards according as the Lord high Admirall of England, appointed by both Houses for the time being shall think fit; That the said Ships and Pinnaces respectively, their Captaines, Masters, or Companies, under colour or pretence of this Ordinance shall not rob spoile, or endammage any of the King's subjects, friends, or allies, other than such as are intended by this Ordinance; nor shall take or surprize any Ships or Goods, other than such as they shall finde in, or to be outwards bound from some Port or place within any of His Majesties Dominions, that are or shall be in hostility against the King and Parliament, or coming or returning to some such Port or place; or that shall be found to have traded with the Inhabitants of any such Port or place since their defection from the King and Parliament; or shall belong to some Irish rebell, or rebels or to some Pirate or Sea-rover as aforesaid. And that for the justification of their prize, they shall bring into the Regestry of the high Court of the Admiralty, all such Coquets, Bils of lading, and other documents and writings as they shall take or finde in any such S[h]ip or Vessell, and shall bring in with such Ships and Vessell two or three of the principall Officers of every such Ship or Vessell, taken in the same, to be examined by the Judge of the Admiralty, or such Commissioners as he shall appoint, concerning the property of the same Ship and Goods, and such other questions and interrgatories as he shall thinke fit to administer unto them; and shall not breake bulke, sell, spoile, waste or diminish any of the said Ships or Goods, untill they shall be adjudged in the high Court of the Admiralty to have been lawfully taken according to the true intent and meaning of this Ordinance, and a true and just Inventory and appraisement shall be taken and made of the same, and that they shall truly pay or deliver to such Collectors or Receivors as the Lord high Admirall of England, appointed by both Houses for the time being shall appoint, the full tenths of the said prizes.
And it is hereby Ordered, Ordained, and Commanded by the said Lords and Commons, That the Judge and other Officers of the high Court of Admiralty aforesaid shall proceed to the adjudging of such prizes as shall be taken by vertue of this Ordinance and shall be by them saved harmlesse and indemnified for adjudging the same, and for doing such other Acts according to their severall Offices, as shall bee requisite thereunto. And it is hereby further Ordered and Ordained That this Ordinance, nor any benefit thereby shall extend to the setters forth of any Ship or other Vessell upon the enterprize aforesaid, where Bonds shall not be given, as is before expressed, and a Certificate under the Admiraltie Seale, obtained of the putting in of such caution.
And lastly, It is hereby further Ordered and Ordained, That all Owners and adventure[r]s by Sea, that shall make use of the power of this Ordinance for the seizing or surprizing of any Ship, Goods, Plate, Armes, Ammunition, Victuals, Pillage and spoyle, occasionally in their lawfull imployments or voyages at Sea, and not as men of Warre set forth for that purpose, and to no other end, shall not have, nor be allowed any money, for or towards their victuals as aforesaid; and that whatsoever prize or purchase shall be taken by vertue of this Ordinance, shall not be disposed of or shared untill notice thereof given in the High Court of Admiralty, and a judgement or sentence obtained for the same, and an Inventorie, and an appraisement thereof shall be taken and made, according to Order of that Court.