Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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Judges for causes concerning Prisoners in the Upper Bench prison, the Fleet, Gate-house, Counter in Surrey, or prison in White-chappel.; Power to examine Escapes and Estates of Prisoners, and to act as Commissioners of Bankrupts.; Persons not paying their debts to be accompted Bankrupts.
Be it Enacted by the Authority of this present Parliament, That Henry Proby, Peter Elliston, Hogan Hoval, John Humphreys, Henry Colbron, Nathanael Camfield, Henry Cole, Clement Ireton, Thomas Stean, Richard Hutchinson, Noah Banks, John Tracy, Thomas Swallow, Michael Pendleton, Robert Warcup, Robert Houghton, George Pots, or any three or more of them, are hereby (as to all persons already committed, or that shall be committed before the Twentieth day of October, One thousand six hundred fifty and three, to the Upper-Bench Prison, or to the Prisons of the Fleet, Gate-house in Westminster, Counter in Surrey, or Prison in White-chappel, in any civil Cause, and not from thence lawfully discharged) made Judges to hear and determine the Causes of such persons Imprisonment, and of the Escapes of any such Prisoners, in a summary way; and where they finde any just Debt or Duty owing by such Prisoners, to make speedy provision out of such Prisoners Estates, or Trusts of their Estates (by Sale, Lease, Grant or otherwise) for satisfaction of the same: And are hereby impowered to examine parties and witnesses for the proof of Escapes, and for the discovery of such prisoners estates, or any fraud or trust touching the same; and to do and act as fully, to all intents and purposes, so far as concerneth the said Prisoners and their Estates, or Trusts of Estates, and relief of their Creditors, as any Commissioners might do against a Bankrupt or a Bankrupts Estate, by vertue of any Commission upon any of the Statutes against Bankrupts: And the said persons so committed, are from the time of their first commitment to be accompted Bankrupts, in case they pay not their Debts before the First day of April now next ensuing.
Voluntary Settlement.; Fine for fraud, concealment of trust.; Persons not able to satisfie such Fine, may be adjudged to Pillory or Work-house.; Straight Imprisonment.; Persons in prison for the debt of another.
And where any person in prison, or dying in prison for any Debt, or after any Judgement against such person unsatisfied, hath made or caused to be made a voluntary settlement of any of his own Estate, upon or in Trust for himself, or any of his Children, or other person, after the Debt contracted, or after the cause of Action whereupon such Judgement was obtained; the said Judges, or any three or more of them, may sell and dispose any such Estate, for satisfaction of any such Debt and Judgement: And if the said Judges, or any three or more of them, shall finde any person guilty of any Fraud, tending to deceive any Creditor of any such Prisoner, or of any wilful Concealment of any Estate, or Trust of Estate of any such Prisoner; they shall and may proceed against such guilty person as a Bankrupt, so far as to enforce him to pay such Fine, as the said Judges, or any three or more of them, shall deem answerable to the Offence, not exceeding double the value of what the creditors hath or might have suffered by such Fraud, or which was so wilfully concealed, towards the Creditors satisfaction, so far as to make up what the Debtors own Estate will not satisfie; and the remainder of the said penalty to be paid to the Treasurer of the county for Maimed Soldiers, and shall by the said Treasurer be disposed of for the publique Service of the county, as the Justices of the Peace, or the major part of them at their General Sessions shall under their hands appoint: And if he hath not wherewith to satisfie such Fine, the said Judges may adjudge him to the Pillory or a Work-house, or both, as they shall think meet. And where the said Judges shall finde any Prisoner able, and yet doth not pay his just Debts, they may, (if they think fit) order him to a straight Imprisonment: And if the said Judges, or any three or more of them, shall upon due examination finde, that any person doth lie in prison for the Debt of another, they shall and may proceed to sell and dispose the Estate of such other person, for whose debt he lieth so in prison, as fully as of any Prisoners Estate; and punish fraud and wilful concealment of any such Estate, in maner and form aforesaid.
Provided always, That payments made by such Prisoners, before the Fourth day of October, One thousand six hundred fifty and three, for their true and real Debts without Fraud, and all true and real Conveyances of, or charges upon their Lands, before the said fourth day of October, by them made to an absolute Purchaser, without Fraud or Trust, may not be impeached by any thing within this Act; but a settlement or grant made by such Prisoners, of their estates or any part thereof, to any of their Children or Heirs apparent, upon marriage or otherwise after a Debt contracted, is not to be accompted a Purchase or Conveyance to be allowed, further then to cause restitution of the Money which was really paid to (and received by) such Prisoner upon such Conveyance or Grant; which said money, and half as much more, shall be paid back upon the sale of the Estate, to such person or persons whose Interest or Estate shall be so sold by vertue of this Act: And if the said Judges, or any three or more of them, shall finde such Prisoners to have made Escape out of prison, and cannot finde sufficient of their Estates to pay what is justly due from any of them, they shall then cause satisfaction to be made to the Creditors (at whose Suit they were Imprisoned) out of the Estate of the Gaoler or Keeper of the Prison; and shall and may (in order thereunto) discover and dispose the Estate and Trusts of Estate of such Gaoler or Keeper of Prison, as they might of the said Prisoners, and inflict like punishment for Fraud and wilful Concealments: And if they shall not finde the Estate of such Gaoler or Keeper of Prison sufficient to satisfie the Creditor or Creditors, then they shall make satisfaction out of the Estates of such person and persons as have given the said Gaoler or Keeper of the said Prison Security for the true Imprisonment of any such Prisoner so escaping; and are hereby Impowered to examine upon Oath touching any such Security, and to seize and dispose of the same, and to punish any persons whom they shall finde wilfully to conceal or detain, discharge or vacate any such Security without their direction, by like Fine, Imprisonment or otherwise, as they shall think meet; which Fine or Fines shall be paid to the said Treasurer of the County as aforesaid, and be by him disposed of in maner and form aforesaid.
Securities taken by Gaolers vested in the Judge; Acts for releasing Securties void.; Reimbursement to the Gaoler.; Power to discharge Prisoners not prosecuted and to give damages.; Persons to be removed to; Frauds in getting out of prison.; Charities to Prisons.; Table of Fees.; Extortion.; Judges to make Orders for selling Beer and Provosions.
And it is hereby Enacted, That all such Securities which have been at any time heretofore taken by any such Gaoler or Keeper of Prison, and not vacated or discharged before the Sixth day of July, One thousand six hundred fifty and three, are hereby vested in the said Judges, as fully to all intents and purposes, as if they had been originally taken in their Names, and may be made use of accordingly in order to the satisfaction of the Creditors of such Prisoner escaping; and all acts done by any such Gaoler or Keeper of prison since the Sixth day of July aforesaid; for releasing, discharging or vacating any such Security, is hereby adjudged void: And where the Estate of the Gaoler or Keeper of Prison shall be disposed of for any Creditors satisfaction as aforesaid, the said Gaoler shall be reimbursed so much out of the Estates of such as shall have given such Security for true Imprisonment as aforesaid, if the Security amounteth to that Sum: And the said Judges or any three or more of them, are hereby impowered forthwith to discharge all such Prisoners as were committed to prison on or before the last day of June, One thousand six hundred fifty and three, upon any Action by Bill of Middlesex or otherwise, whereon there hath not been any Declarations or Proceedings, and shall give damages to such prisoners, according to the merits of their several Causes; for their vexatious Imprisonment, which is hereby Declared unlawful; and if the party or parties shall neglect or refuse forthwith to pay the damages so awarded by the said Judges, or any three or more of them, then the said Judges, or airy three or more of them, are hereby Impowered to seize, sell and dispose (by Sale, Lease Grant or otherwise) so much of the Estate real or personal of the person so neglecting or refusing, for the satisfaction of the party so imprisoned as aforesaid; and shall and may also discharge, abate, or give respite of time to any Prisoner within the said Prisons, or any of them, according as they or any three or more of them shall in their Judgements and Consciences think meet, according to the circumstances of each particular case, taking care that just Debts and Duties may be satisfied so far as there is any ability in the prisoner; And that persons unable to pay may not perish in prison, through the cruelty or obstinacy of any obdurate Creditor: And shall and may also remove to any Work-house or House of Correction, any wilful or obstinate prisoner, whom they shall finde to lie in prison through his own wilful default, or such as have run into Debt by their vicious course of living, and thereby become unable to pay their Debts; And shall and may also examine, hear and determine all Frauds and Abuses by any persons, whereby they have gotten out of any of the said prisons, by vertue or colour of any Act of the late Parliament, for discharging from Imprisonment poor Prisoners unable to satisfie their Creditors; or for the Ease or Relief of poor Prisoners; and if they finde cause, may remand them to prison again, and shall and may proceed, examine and dispose of their Estates and Trusts of Estates and all Frauds and wilful Concealments touching the same, in such sort, to all intents and purposes, as if they were still Prisoners; And also shall and may examine, hear and determine touching all Charities given or intended to any the said prisons, or for relief of any Prisoners within any of the said prisons, and the abuses and mis-imploy ments of the same, and cause the offenders therein to restore the double (which together with all such Charities, shall by the said Judges be setled and imployed to the best advantage of the poor Prisoners) and if they finde the abuse gross and wilful, then to cause the offenders to be set upon the Pillory; And shall and may cause a Table of Just and Moderate Fees, to be made and hung up in the said Prisons and Gaols, declaring what every Prisoner is to pay to the Keeper of the prison, and all his servants and officers, and for Chamber-rent during the time of such imprisonment, and upon their Discharge; And if any presume to take any more or other Fees, then according to the said Table, it is hereby adjudged Extortion, for which the Offender shall pay fourfold to the party injured, and be set on the Pillory. And the said Judges, or any three or more of them, shall and may make Orders for selling of wholesome Beer and other Provisions in the said prisons at a reasonable price, and for permitting prisoners to send for the same abroad, if they please; and for the punishment of Offenders contrary to the said Orders, which are hereby Enacted to have the force of a Law.
And it is hereby further Enacted That, persons hereafter named, or any three or more of them, are made Judges, as to all prisons and persons committed to any prisons within the several respective Counties, Cities and Towns Corporate within this Commonwealth; That is to say.
Henry Proby, Peter Elliston, Hogan Hoval, John Humphreys, Henry Colbron, Nathanael Camfield, Henry Cole, Clement Ireton, Thomas Stean, Richard Hutchinson, Noah Banks, John Tracy, Thomas Swallow, Michael Pendleton, Robert Warcup, Robert Haughton, George Pots.
Which aforesaid Judges, or any three or more of them, are hereby impowered to hear and determine, and shall and may do and act as fully, to all intents and purposes, as to the relief of all Prisoners and Creditors within the aforementioned respective Counties, Cities and Towns Corporate; and for the punishment of Fraud and wilful Concealment or otherwise: and shall and may do all other matters within this Act, as fully, to all intents and purposes, as the said Henry Proby, Peter Elliston, Hogan Hoval, John Humphreys, Henry Colbron, Nathanael Camfield, Henry Cole, Clement Ireton, Thomas Stean, Richard Hutchinson, Noah Banks, John Tracy, Thomas Swallow, Michael Pendleton, Robert Warcup, Robert Houghton, George Pots, or any three or more of them, may or can do or act touching any of the said Prisons of the Upperbench, Fleet, Gate-house or White-chappel, or any person com mitted to any of them; and any Sheriff or other Officer, by Law liable for the escape of any Prisoner within any of the said respective Counties and places, shall be liable to make like satisfaction for such Escape, as the Gaoler or Keeper of the said Prison of the said Upper-Bench, Fleet, Gate-house or White-chappel, for Prisoners escaping thence: And all Sheriffs, Gaolers and Keepers of Prisons, and others, are hereby enjoyned to give obedience to the Orders and Judgements of the said respective Judges, within their respective Jurisdictions: And any Enlargement and Liberty to any Prisoner, by vertue of any such Order or Judgement, is not to be counted an Escape; nor shall any such Enlargement be a discharge to any other person, save to the Prisoner so inlarged; but all such Orders and Judgements for discharge, and giving liberty to Prisoners, and sale and dispositions of Estates according to this Act, are to remain in force, and not to be altered but by Parliament; nor shall the said Judges, or any of them, be questioned, molested, or responsible for any their actings in pursuance of this Act, but to the Parliament onely.
And it is further Enacted, That if any case of Difficulty shall come before the Judges authorized by this Act, wherein they shall apprehend they have not sufficient power for Relief of just Creditors or Prisoners; they shall and may hear and examine the truth of such cases, and certifie the same to the Parliament, with their opinion what further Provision is fit to be made therein.
Provided always, That nothing in this Act contained, shall be construed to extend to any Lands, Tenements, Hereditaments, or Estate of any prisoner, forfeited and appointed to be sold by any Act of Parliament for Treason, or otherwise for the use or service of the Commonwealth; or which is or shall be under Sequestration for Delinquency, until the Sequestration be discharged; or to such part of the Estate of any Popish Recusant, as belongeth to the Commonwealth; or to any Estate, Lands, Tenements or Hereditaments of Ferdinando Earl of Huntingdon, Edward Lord Viscount Loftus of Ely, Robert Peyton Esq; and Algernon Peyton, or any of them: Nevertheless, the said Judges, or any three or more of them within their respective Limits, may take order for the payment of any Fine or Fines set or imposed for Composition for Delinquency, whereby to procure any Estate, Lands, Tenements or Hereditaments, under Sequestration for such Delinquency, to be discharged; and shall and may examine, hear and determine all other incumbrances whereunto any Estate, Lands, Tenements or Hereditaments, within the disposition of any of the said Judges by vertue of this Act are lyable, allowing what in equity and good conscience they shall finde to be due in satisfaction of such Incumbrances, and freeing and discharging the said Estate, Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments from such Incumbrances upon payment thereof, or of so much as the said Judges respectively shall think fit, or order to be paid.
And be it further Enacted, That if the said Judges, or any three or more of them respectively, shall finde that any prisoner within this Act hath been a Merchant or Tradesman, and done or suffered any thing for which he might be adjudged a Bankrupt, according to any Act or Acts of Parliament made concerning Bankrupts, they may in any such case (if he pay not his Debts within the time limited for payment thereof) according to this Act, proceed to sell and dispose of the estate which he had at the time when he might be so adjudged a Bankrupt, according to any such Act or Acts of Parliament made concerning Bankrupts, or at any time since; so as nothing to be done by the Judges or any of them by Authority of this Act, shall in any way cross, interrupt or delay any sale or disposition by any Commissioners upon the Statutes against Bankrupts; and that such Creditors as shall seek relief before any of the Judges by vertue of this Act, shall not prosecute upon any Commission upon the Statutes against Bankrupts, for any part of the Bankrupts Estate, within the Power or Jurisdiction of the said Judges before whom they sought such relief.
And be it further Enacted, That if any Prisoner be dead, his Debts unpaid, the said Judges, or any three or more of them, shall and may dispose and sell all such Estate, and trust of Estate of such Prisoner, as fully as the said Prisoner himself might have done if he were living: And that all Sales and Dispositions by vertue of this Act, shall be good and effectual against all persons, who (being of full Age, sound Minde, not beyond Seas, or Women covert) shall not within one year next after such Sale or Disposition make their Estates, or Interest in or to the Estate so sold or disposed, appear to the Judges respectively authorized by this Act, or any three or more of them, during the time of their Authority, and after, to such as shall be thereto authorized by Parliament; which said Judges, or any three or more of them, are hereby impowered to hear, examine and allow such Claims according to Justice and Equity; and the like time of one Year is to be allowed after such Age, sound Minde, return from beyond Seas, and Women becoming Widows, to make their claims, and no longer.
And it is further Enacted, That the said Judges, or any three or more of them respectively, may give any Relief to any such Prisoners as lie in prison for any Fine or Fines imposed upon them; which the said Judges, or any three or more of them respectively, shall finde the same Prisoner not able to pay. And no Prisoner inlarged out of prison by vertue of this Act, in regard of poverty and unability to pay his Debts, shall be again arrested or imprisoned for any Debt by him due before such Inlargement, but by or according to the order of the said Judges, or any three or more of them respectively; And nevertheless, the Estate of any such Prisoner is to remain subject to the Creditors satisfaction, according to Law.
And it is further Enacted, That all Examinations directed and authorized by this Act, may be done and taken by the said Judges, or any three of them respectively, upon Oath (which Oath the said Judges or any three of them are hereby impowered to administer:) And that the said Judges, or any three or more of them respectively, may appoint a Clerk and Messenger to attend them in the Service aforesaid, and appoint them a moderate and fitting Allowance for their pains, to be paid by such as shall be relieved by vertue of this Act: And the said Judges, or any three or more of them, out of the Money raised by the Sale or Disposition of such Prisoners Estates, which they shall sell or dispose by vertue of this Act, shall have Six pence in the pound towards their own Charges, and the Charges of the said Clerk and Messenger, except onely in London, Westminster, Middlesex, Surrey and the Borough of Southwark; in all which they shall have Two pence in the pound and no more.
And it is Enacted, That the said Judges, or any three or more of them, shall have power, upon the Oath of Two or more credible Witnesses, to hear and determine any matter of Complaint against all such persons as shall falsly swear or perjure themselves in any case depending before them, as if the same were done upon Indictment or Information in any court of Record, and to inflict like punishment. And this Act shall continue in force until the First day of October, One thousand six hundred fifty and four, and no longer.
Provided nevertheless, and it is hereby Enacted, That all Acquittances, and all other lawful Discharges made really and without Fraud, by any Prisoner for any Rent due to such Prisoner before the passing of this Act, shall remain of like force and effect in Law, as if this Act had not been made,
And it is Enacted, That this Act shall extend unto the Town of Berwick upon Tweed; and that sir William Selby Knight, John Mayre Esq; John Sleigh and Thomas Watson, Aldermen of the said Town, and Ralph Salkeld Esq; shall be Commissioners for the said Town; And they or any three of them, shall have full power to put in execution within the said Town, all and every the Powers and Authorities in this Act contained, in as full and ample maner, to all intents and purposes, as the Commissioners above-named for any of the Counties within England or Wales, may or ought to do, Any former Law, Statute, Usage or Custom to the contrary notwithstanding.