Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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[19 January, 1653/4.]
What offences shall be adjudged high treason.
The Government of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the Dominions thereunto belonging, and the Supreme Legislative Authority of the same being setled and established to be and reside in One Person, and the People assembled in Parlament (the stile of which Person is already declared to be Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England and Scotland and Ireland) and the exercise of the Chief Magistracy and Administration of the Government over the said Countries and Dominions, and the people thereof to be in the Lord Protector assisted with a Council, who have power, until the meeting of the next Parlament (which is to be the third or September next) to make Lawes and Ordinances for the Peace and Welfare of these Nations, Where it shall be necessary, which shall be binding and in force until Order shall be taken in Parliament concerning the same; And it being a matter of greatest Importance to the just Government of a People, That Crimes and offences of highest nature, Punishment and Forfeiture, should be most clearly and fully expressed, and reduced into such certainty as the people might readily know them, and knowing them, might the better shun and avoid the same; And by reason that the Nation of Scotland is reduced unto, and brought under this Government, which must necessarily occasion an alteration of some Laws formerly in force; His Highness revising and perusing the several Lawes heretofore made in Cases of High Treason, and to the end the same might be brought into one Body, Doth Declare, Establish, and Ordain, And be it Established and Ordained by His Highness the Lord Protector, by and with the consent of His Council, That if any person or persons shall compass or imagine the death of the Lord Protector for the time being; Or if any person or persons shall maliciously or advisedly either by writing, printing, openly declaring, preaching, teaching or otherwise, publish, That the Lord Protector and the people in Parlament assembled are not the Supreme Authority of this Commonwealth, or that the Exercise of the chief Magistracy and administration of the Government over the said Countries and Dominions, and the people thereof, is not in the Lord Protector assisted with a Council; Or that the said Authority or Government is Tyrannical, usurped, or unlawful, or that there is any Parliament now in being, or that hath any Continuance, or any Law in force for continuing the Parliament which is hereby declared to have been absolutely dissolved and determined upon the twentieth day of April, one thousand six hundred fifty and three, and shall be adjudged and taken so to be; Or shall plot, contrive or endeavour to stir up or raise force against the Protector or the present Government, or for the subversion or alteration of the same, And shall declare such endeavour or endeavours by any open Deed, Then every such offence shall be taken and adjudged to be High Treason.
Offences relating to Army and Navy.; Counterfeiting Great Seal, etc.; Proclaiming Charles Stuart to be King.; False money; Impairing current coin
And whereas the Lord Protector and the Council, for the just and lawful defence of this Commonwealth, are at present necessitated, by reason of the manifold distractions within the same, and Invasions threatned from abroad, to continue Armies and Forces in England, Scotland, and Ireland, which (under God) must be the Instrumental means of preserving the good people of these Nations in peace and safety; Be it further Ordained and Established by the Authority aforesaid, That if any person (not being an Officer, Souldier, or Member of the Armies or Forces) shall plot, contrive, or endeavour to stir up any Mutiny in the said Armies, or among the said Forces, or any of them; Or to withdraw any Souldiers or Officers from their obedience to their Superiour Officers, or from the present Government as aforesaid; Or if any person or persons whatsoever, shall procure, invite, aid, or assist any Foreiners or Strangers to invade England, Scotland, or Ireland, or any the Dominions thereunto belonging; Or shall adhere unto any forces raised by the Enemies of this Commonwealth; Or if any person or persons shall plot, contrive or endeavour the betraying, surrendring, or yielding up any City, Town, Fort, Magazine, Ship, Vessel or Forces by Sea or Land belonging to this Commonwealth; Or if any person or persons shall Counterfeit the Great Seal of England or of Scotland, or of Ireland, for the time being, used and appointed by Authority of Parliament, or by the Lord Protector with the Consent of the Council; Or the sign Manual, privy Signet, or privy Seal of the Lord Protector for the time being; Or if any person or persons whatsoever shall proclame, declare, publish, or any way promote Charles Stuart, Eldest Son to the late King, or James Stuart one other of his sons, or any other the issue or posterity of the said late King, or any other person or persons claiming by, from, or under him or them, or either or any of them, to be King or Chief Magistrate of England, Scotland, or Ireland, or of either or any of them, or of any the Dominions to them, or either or any of them belonging; Or if any person or persons shall give keep or hold any Intelligence whatsoever, by Letters, Messages, or otherwise, to or with the said Charles Stuart, James Stuart, the late Queen their mother, or any of them; Or if any person or persons shall Counterfeit the money of this Commonwealth, Or shall bring any fals money into this Land, either Counterfeit or other, like to the Money of this Commonwealth (knowing such money to be fals) to the intent to Merchandize, or otherwise; Or if any person or persons shall hereafter falsly forge or Counterfeit any such kind of Coyn, either Gold or Silver, which is not the proper Coyn of this Commonwealth, and yet is or shall be current within the same; Or shall bring from the parts beyond the Seas into this Commonwealth, or into any the Dominions of the same, any such fals or Counterfeit Coin of money being current within this Commonwealth, as is above said (knowing the said money to be fals and Counterfeit) to the intent to utter or make payment with the same, within this Commonwealth, by Merchandize or otherwise; Or if any person or persons shall Impair, Diminish, Falsifie, Clip, Wash, Round, File, Scale, or lighten, for wicked lucre or gains sake, any the proper moneys of this Commonwealth, or of the Dominions thereof, or of the monys or Coyns of any other place allowed or suffered to be current within this Commonwealth, or the Dominions thereof; Then all and every the Offences abovementioned shall be and are hereby deemed, ordained and adjudged to be High Treason; And the Offenders therein, and their Counsellors, Procurers, Aiders, and Abettors, being Convicted according to the Laws' of this Nation of any of the said Offences, shall be and are hereby deemed and adjudged to be Traytors against this Commonwealth, and shall suffer and have such pains of death, and incurre such forfeitures, as in case of High Treason is used and Ordained.
Offences as to coinage not to cause corruption of blood.
Provided alwayes, That neither this Ordinance, nor anything therein contained as touching the moneys and Coynes aforesaid, nor any Attainder of any person or persons for the same, shall in any wise be adjudged to make any Corruption of blood to any the heir or heirs of any such Offender or Offenders, nor to make the Wife of any such Offenders to lose or forfeit her Dower of of in any Lands, Tenements or hereditaments, or her Title, Action or Interest in or to the same.
Offenders must be indicated within the year.
Provided alwayes, That no person or persons shall be Indicted or arraigned for any of the Offences before mentioned in this Ordinance, unless such Offendor or Offendors shall be Indicted or prosecuted for the same within one year after the offence committed.
No other offence to be high treason.
And it is lastly Ordained and Established, that no other Matter, Fact, Crime or Offence whatsoever, then only such as are herein mentioned and expressed shall be deemed, taken, or adjudged to be High Treason, any Law, Statute, Act, or Ordinance to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.
Former laws of Elizabeth and James I. against Pope and Roman Catholics continued.; Offences against those laws to be likewise adjudged high treason.
Provided nevertheless, and it is hereby declared to be the full purpose and true Intent and meaning of this Ordinance, That the Laws and Statutes made in the times of the late Queen Elizabeth, and of King James, against the pretended Authority of the Bishop of Rome, and his See, Jesuits, Seminary Priests, and Professors of the Romish Religion, should not be repealed, but stand, be, and Continue in full force and effect in every Clause and part thereof; And therefore. If any person or persons shall attribute unto, maintain, or defend the Bishop of Rome, or his See, to have any Power, Authority, or Jurisdiction within this Commonwealth, Or if any person hath procured, or shall obtain from the Bishop of Rome, or his See, any Bulls, Writings or Instruments to absolve the people of this Commonwealth from their obedience to this Government, and to reconcile them to the Authority of the said See, And hath used, or put in Use, or shall use, or put in Use, any such Instrument, either upon or beyond the Seas, or in any place within this Commonwealth; Or if any person or persons by colour of any such Instrument hath, or have heretofore taken, or shall hereafter take upon him or them to absolve or reconcile, or to grant, or promise any such Absolution or Reconciliation; Or if any person or persons shall obtain or get any manner of Bull, writing or other Instrument, either written or printed, which shall contain any thing, matter or Cause whatsoever; Or shall publish, or by any wayes or means put in Use any such Bull, writing or Instrument; Or if any person or persons shall pretend to have power, or shall by any ways or means put in practice to absolve, perswade, or withdraw any of the people of this Commonwealth from their obedience to the Government established in the same; Or to move any of them to promise any obedience to any pretended Authority of the See of Rome, or of any other Prince, State or Potentate to be had or used within this Commonwealth; And shall do any overt Act to that intent or purpose; Or if any person shall by any means be willingly reconciled or absolved, or withdrawn as aforesaid, or shall promise any obedience to any such pretended Authority, Prince, State, or Potentate, as aforesaid; Or if any Jesuit, Seminary Priest, or such other Priest, Deacon, or Religious or Ecclesiastical person whatsoever, being born in any parts within this Commonwealth, or the Dominions thereof, that hath been, or shall be made, ordained, or professed by any Authority or Jurisdiction derived, or challenged, or pretended from the See of Rome, by, or of what Name, Title, or Degree soever the same be called, or known, and shall come into, be, or remain in any parts of this Commonwealth, or the Dominions thereof, That then all and every the offences above-mentioned shall be and are hereby deemed and adjudged to be High Treason.