Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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For the better encouragement and supportation of the Fellowship of Merchants of England trading in the Levant seas, which, besides the building and maintaining of divers great ships, both for Defence and Burthen, the venting of Kersies, Says, Perpetuanies, and several other commodities, hath been found very serviceable and profitable to this State, by advancing Navigation, and transporting into Forreign parts for several years together, above Twenty thousand Broad-Clothes per Annum, besides other commodities dyed and dressed in their full Manufacture: And for the better Government and Regulating of Trade, especially that of Clothing, whereby the poor People are set on work, and the whole Kingdome receives benefit, The Lords and Commons in Parliament do Ordain, That the said Fellowship of Merchants of England trading into the Levant Seas, shall continue and be a Corporation; That they shall have the free choice and removal of all Ministers and Officers, which are to be by them maintained either at home or abroad, whether they be dignified or called by the title or name of Ambassadors, Governours, Deputies, Consuls, or otherwise; And shall have power to levy Moneys on the Members of their Corporation, and Strangers, upon all goods that shall be shipped in English Bottomes, as also upon all the Goods of English shipped in Strangers Bottomes, which go into or come from the Levant Seas, for and towards the necessary charge and maintainance, and support of their Ministers, Officers, and Government. And that the said Fellowship shall have further power to levy such sum and sums of Money on the Members of that Corporation, and their Goods, as shall be advanced for the use and benefit of the State, by the Approbation of both Houses of Parliament: And that no person shall bring from, or send Goods or Ships into those parts limited by their Incorporation, but such as are Free Brothers, or otherwise Licenced by the aforesaid Corporation, on forfeiture of the whole, or other lesser Penaltie to be imposed by the said Corporation, on their said Goods or Ships so sent or traded in unduly.
Provided, That the said Fellowship shall not exclude any person from his Freedome and Admission into the said Fellowship, who shall desire it by way of Redemption, if such person be a meer Merchant, and otherwise capable thereof, and shall pay Fifty pounds for the same, if he be above the age of Twenty seven years; or Twenty five pounds if he be under that age, or so much less as their Fellowship shall think fitting. And that the said Fellowship shall have power to impose a fine upon any person or persons wilfully contemning or disobeying their Order or Orders in matter of Government, so as the Fine do not exceed the sum of Twenty pounds for any one offence; and in default of payment of such Fine, the said Fellowship shall have power to distrain the Goods of such person or persons so fined; And if no sufficient Distress can be found, then the said Fellowship shall have power to imprison the said person or persons for their said contempt, until such person or persons shall pay such Fine or Fines, or otherwise conform themselves to the Acts and Government of the said Fellowship: And the said Fellowship shall have power to give such an Oath or Oathes to the Officers and Members of their Corporation, as shall be approved of by both Houses of Parliament: Provided, That all Rights or Charters granted under the Broad Seal of England, or otherwise, shall be hereby saved.
And the said Lords and Commons do further Ordain, That with all convenient expedition a Bill shall be prepared, in order to an Act of Parliament to be passed in this present Parliament, for the further setling, and full confirmation of the Priviledges of the said Fellowship herein before mentioned, with such other clauses and provisions, as shall be found expedient by both Houses of Parliament. This Ordinance to remain in full force, until a Bill or Act shall be prepared and passed, according to the intent and true meaning of this Ordinance.