Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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[4 November, 1644.]
Dr. Merrick removed from his office of Keeper of Prerogative Court of Canterbury.; Sir Nathaniel Brent appointed in his stead.; Probates of Wills, etc done since 23 May, 1643, by any but Sir N. Brent or his deputies to be void.; Unless new Letters of Administration be taken before end of Hilary Terrz 1644..
Whereas William Merrick Doctor of the Laws, late Commissary General, Master or Keeper of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, wilfully and contrary to his duty, hath absented himself from due attendance on the said Office, revoked all Surrogations and Deputations by him made, in or neer London, Kent, Middlesex, and other places within the power of the Parliament, wilfully, and to the end that Justice might not be administred in Causes Ecclesiastical in the said places, in things to his Jurisdiction belonging; by reason whereof, the Administration of the Goods and Chattels, Rights and Credits of such persons who have died intestate, could not be had nor taken, nor the Wills of others, who made their last Wills and Testaments duly proved, nor Justice in such cases administered; The Lords and Commons in Parliament assembled, taking into their consideration the necessity of that service, Declare and Adjudge the said place void of the said Doctor Merrick, and him from the Execution of the said Office do amove; And have constituted and Ordained and by these presents do ordain, That Sir Nathanael Brent Knight, Doctor of the Laws, by himself, his Deputy, and Deputies, use, have, exercise, and enjoy the Office of Master or Keeper of the said Prerogative Court, together with all and singular Emoluments, Wages, Fees, Profits, Commodities and Jurisdictions to the said Office belonging or appertaining: And do appoint him the said Sir Nathanael Brent, Doctor of the Laws, by himself and Deputy or Deputies, sufficient to do, execute and perform all such Offices, duties and things, as to the Master or Keeper of the said Court doth belong or appertain, for the granting of Administrations, making Probate of Wills and other things, to do and perform, as fully and amply, as by the Laws and Statutes of this Land, any Commissary General, Master or Keeper of the said Court, ought to do and perform; To have, hold, use and exercise the said Office, with the appurtenances, till it shall be otherwise Ordained by both Houses of Parliament: And that all Processes, Probates of Testaments, Letters of Administration, and other things whatsoever, which shall pass the Seal of the said Court, shall pass in the Name and Stile of the King, and with the Teste of the said Sir Nathanael Brent; And that the said Sir Nathanael Brent, in the execution of his said Office, shall have in the Seal of his said Office, the Kings Highness Arms, decently set, with these Characters ingraven about it (Sigillum Curiæ Prerogativæ) and shall use no other Seal for the said Office. And the said Lords and Commons do further Ordain and Declare, That all Probate of Wills, and Letters of Administration, and other Acts that since the Twenty third day of May, which was in the year of our Lord God 1643. have been done, or that shall be done hereafter, by the said William Merrick, or any other person or persons, as Master or Keeper of the said Office, other then by the said Sir Nathanael Brent, his Deputy or Deputies, or by such person or persons as shall be appointed by the Lords and Commons in Parliament, to grant such Administrations, or take Probate of such Wills, shall be void and of no affect, to all intents, unless that the Administrators or Executors that claim thereby, shall again take new Letters of Administration, or make new Probate according to the intent of this Ordinance, before the end of Hillary Term next, in the year of our Lord God 1644. In which case it is meant, that they should not be prejudiced any way by this Ordinance, but that the said former Letters of Administration and Probate, remain of force, any thing in this Ordinance notwithstanding.
None to be prejudiced by former grants.
Nevertheless, every person who had right to demand Letters of Administration, or that might justly have opposed the former Probate of any such Will at the first granting of such Letters, and making of such Probate, shall be heard ab integro upon demand of such new Letters of Administration, or making of such new Probate, to demand Letters of Administration, and to oppose the Probate of any Will formerly proved as aforesaid, as fully and freely, and Justice shall be done to all parties, respectively in like maner, as if no former Administration or Probate had been formerly granted or made.
In case or suits, time above limited to be extended.
And further it is Ordained, That in case that opposition of any Letters of Administration, or Probate formerly made as aforesaid, shall be made, and Suit thereon arise, and not determined before the end of the said Term, then the Administrators or Executors shall have further time and liberty to take new Letters of Administration, or make new Probate, as the Justice of their cause shall require, until that the same Suit shall be ended or determined; and then within one Term next following, to take new Letters of Administration, or make new Probate, and be in like condition, as if the same has been done before the end of the said Hillary Term.
All acts done in virtue of any grants wereby avoided to remain good.
Provided also, That in case of the Repeal or avoydance of any Letters of Administration, or Probate, by vertue of this Ordinance, all payments and acts, legally, and bona fide, done unto or by such Executors or Administrators, shall be held good and effectual, saving that then such Executors or Administrators respectively shall be answerable for what remains in their hands unadministred, or is disposed away to their own use, or in trust for them to such Executors or Administrators, who shall obtain Probate of the Will or Administration, according to the intent of this Ordinance, to be administred by such party to whom Administration shall be granted, or who shall make Probate according to this Ordinance, as to Justice shall appertain, and as to the Office of an Executor or Administrator appertaineth to do.