Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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[21 November, 1653.]
For the preservation of the Common Peace, and for the better preventing of the Miseries of a new and bloody War, endeavoured to be stirred up by wicked practices and correspondencies of the Enemies of this Commonwealth (notwithstanding the manifold Witness which the righteous Lord our God hath born against them and their cursed Designs;) And to the end an effectual course may be setled for the timely punishing of any Actors or Contrivers in such pernicious ways, whereby others may hear and fear, and do no more so; Be it Enacted by this present Parliament, and by the Authority of the same, That John Lisle one of the Lords Commissioners for the Great Seal of England, John Bradshaw Serjeant at Law, Charls George Cock Esq; Matthew Sheppard Esq; William Underwood Alderman of London, John Hayes Esq; George Langham Esq; Maurice Thompson Esq; Richard Shute Esq; Mark Hildesley Esq; Thomas Allsin Alderman of London, Daniel Taylor, Esq; Edmond Waring Esq; John Blackwel the yonger Esq; Nicholas Juxon Esq; Roger Frith Esq; Nathaniel Whetham Esq; Edward Cresset Esq; Ralph Harrison Esq; Benjamin Valentine Esq; William Web Esq; Owen Row Esq; Thomas Andrews Alderman of London, John Hardwick Esq; Richard Arnold Esq; Sir John Thorowgood of Kensington Knight, Abraham Babington Esq; Richard Moor Esq; Edward Whaley Esq; William Goff Esq; John Okey Esq; Thomas Juxon Esq; Mark Coe Esq, or any thirteen or more of them, shall be Commissioners, and shall have full power and authority, and are hereby authorized and required to hear and determine all such Matters, Crimes and Offences as are given them in charge by this present Act; and to proceed to the Tryal, Condemnation and Execution of the Offender and Offenders, and to inflict upon him, her or them, such punishment, either by Death, Fine, Imprisonment, or other corporal punishment, as the said Commissioners or the major part of them then present shall judge to appertain to Justice, according to the nature of the Offence. And first the said Commissioners shall have power to proceed against any person or persons for the several Offences mentioned in one Act of the late Parliament, ordered to be printed the Thirtieth day of January, One thousand six hundred forty and eight, Entituled, An Act prohibiting the Proclaiming of any person to be King of England or Ireland, or the Dominions thereof. Secondly, The said Commissioners shall have power to proceed against any person or persons for the several Offences mentioned in two Acts of the said late Parliament, each of them Entituled, An Act declaring what Offences shall be adjudged Treason; the one ordered to be printed the Fourteenth day of May, One Thousand six hundred forty and nine; and the other ordered to be printed the Seventeenth day of July, in the said year One thousand six hundred forty and nine. Thirdly, The said Commissioners shall have power to proceed against any person or persons for the several Offences mentioned in one other Act of the late Parliament, ordered to be printed the Two and twentieth day of January, One thousand six hundred and fifty, Entituled, An Act for a Seal of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England. Fourthly, The said Commissioners shall have power to proceed against any person or persons that have, or shall Plot, Contrive, or Endeavor the Betraying, Surrendring, or Yielding up any Cities, Towns, Forts, Magazines, Ships, Vessels or Forces by Sea or Land, belonging to this Commonwealth; which said Offences shall be punished with Death.
And it is hereby Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the said Commissioners, or any thirteen or more of them, shall be and are hereby authorized and constituted an High Court of Justice, to meet and sit at such convenient time and place from time to time, as by the said Commissioners or the major part of thirteen or more of them, under their Hands and Seals, shall be appointed and notified by publique Proclamation in the Great Hall or Palace-Yard at Westminster, and to adjourn from time to time and place to place, as the said High Court or the major part thereof meeting shall hold fit; and to take order for the charging of Offenders, with all or any of the Crimes, matters and things contained and impowred by this present Act, and for the receiving their personal answer thereunto; and for the examination of Witnesses upon Oath (which the Court hath hereby authority to administer) or otherwise, and taking any other Evidence concerning the same: And thereupon, or in default of such answer, to proceed to final Sentence, according to Justice and the Merit of the Cause, and such final Sentence to execute or cause to be executed speedily and impartially: And the said Commissioners, or any thirteen or more of them, shall have power and authority to appoint all Officers needful for the putting in execution the matter and things in this Act contained.
And it is hereby further Enacted, That all Majors, Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, Constables, Bayliffs and other Officers; and all Officers and Soldiers of the Army, and other the Good people of this Commonwealth, shall be ayding and assisting to the said Commissioners in any of the premises.
And be it further Enacted, That every of the Commissioners beforenamed, before he shall do or execute the Office of a Commissioner by vertue of this present Act, shall take the Oath ensuing; viz.
You shall swear, That you shall well and truly, according to the best of your skill and knowledge, execute the several Powers given unto you by this present Act.
And the Lords Commissioners for the Great Seal of England, or any one of them, are hereby authorized to administer the said Oath accordingly.
Provided, That this Act nor any thing therein contained, shall extend to the diminishing or lessening any power or authority formerly given to the Lord General or his Councel of War, or to the Generals at Sea by authority of Parliament, for the execution of Martial Law.
Provided also, That this Act, and the authority hereby given, shall indure and have continuance to the First day of August, One thousand six hundred fifty and four, and no longer.