March 1654: An Ordinance for the better amending and keeping in repair the Common High-ways within the Nation.

Pages 861-869

Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.

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March, 1654

[31 March, 1654.]

Whereas the several Statutes now in force for mending Highways, are found by experience not to have produced such good Reformation as was thereby intended; Therefore, and to the end more effectual Remedies may be provided, Be it Ordained by His Highness the Lord Protector, by and with the Advice and Consent of His Council,


Surveyors shall be chosen yearly, and when.

That in every Parish within this Nation of England and Wales, there be two or more (according to the greatness of the Parish) able and sufficient Householders inhabiting in such Parish, and severally holding Lands there of the yearly value of Twenty pounds or more, in occupation, or such others as shall be worth One hundred pounds in personal Estate, elected and chosen upon the first Tuesday next ensuing the Five and twentieth day of March, yearly, to be Surveyors of the Highways within their respective Parishes for the year ensuing.


Forfeiture for default.; Overseers for the Poor shall be Surveyors in such case.

That if it shall fall out that no such Surveyors shall be chosen as aforesaid, within any such Parish, that then in such case the Parishioners of every such Parish shall forfeit Twenty pounds, to be levied upon the most substantial Inhabitants thereof, who are to have Contribution from all the rest of the Inhabitants of the said Parish who are taxable hereby, for repair of the said High-ways; And in case of difference in Rating, the same to be ordered and setled by the Justices of the Peace of the said County, City or Town Corporate, where such Parish lies, or any two of them; and in such case where no such election of Surveyors shall be made as aforesaid, the then Overseers for the Poor of that Parish are hereby appointed to be Surveyors of the said High-ways within such Parish, for the year ensuing.


Penalty on such as refuse the Office.

That every person being elected, or hereby appointed to be Surveyors of High-ways as aforesaid, shall undertake the Office, and shall within ten days after such his election, or being appointed as aforesaid, procure himself to be sworn before some Justice of Peace of the County, Riding, City or Town Corporate or Limit, within which his Parish doth lie, diligently and faithfully to execute the Office of Surveyor of High-ways within his Parish for the year then ensuing, and faithfully to accompt for all moneys which shall come to his hands by vertue of his said Office; which Oath every Justice of Peace is hereby impowered and authorized to administer, within the Limits of his Commis sion accordingly: And if any such person so elected, or hereby appointed, shall refuse to accept of his said Office, and to procure himself to be sworn as aforesaid, that then every person so failing shall forfeit for the same the sum of Ten pounds.


The duty of Surveyors.

That every Surveyor of Highways, having accepted the Office, and being sworn as aforesaid, shall diligently apply himself to the Duty and Execution of his Office, and shall within ten days after his Oath taken, view all the common and publique Highways and Roads, where Carts and Carriages usually pass, and all common Bridges belonging to the said Parish, to repair, and all Water-courses, as also all Streets and Pavements, and Common Nusances in the said Ways and Streets, within their respective Parishes; And shall consider what reparations will be needful to be made, and what Sums of Money will be requisite and necessary to be raised within the Parish for amending and repairing the same, upon pain of forfeiting twenty shillings a piece for neglect of such view.


Assessment how to be laid.

That the said Surveyors do within six days after such view, give publique notice in the Church or Chappel to the Parishioners to meet to make an Assessment for repairing the said High-ways and streets, for making and repairing of Pavements, and for cleansing the said streets and Pavements from time to time, and for what else shall be requisite for the pur poses aforesaid, and thereupon a rate or tax in writing within three days after such notice, shall be laid by the said inhabitants, present at such Meeting, or the greater number of them, by a pound rate, upon all the several Occupiers of Houses, Lands, Tythes, Coal-Mines, Fellable Woods, Tenements or Hereditaments within the Parish, according to the true yearly value o the same, and also upon the dead Goods, Commodities or Stock in trade of every particular Parishioner charged to pay to the poor, rating every twenty Pounds value of such goods equal to every twenty shillings Land by the year; And such further rate to be afterward, and oftener made, as occasion shall require, so as all the Rates together do not exceed twelve pence in the pound for any one Parish in any one year.


How the Rate shall be made, if the Parishioners agree not

That if such Parishioners, or the greater number of them, shall not agree among themselves to make such Rate within two days after such meeting, that then the said Surveyors of Highways themselves shall make a Rate in writing, according to the direction aforesaid; and such Rate as the said Parishioners or Surveyors respectively shall so make, being confirmed by one Justice of Peace, shall stand, until upon complaint and proof of some Irregularity or Inequality therein, to the Justices of Peace at the Sessions, the Bench of Justices, or any two of them then present shall see cause to alter the same; and if the said Justices shall finde cause to alter it, then the said Rate, with such alteration as they shall make, shall stand without any further appeal.


Nusances in and straightnes of Highways, how to be redressed.

That in case where Common Nusances are in High-ways, or where such Common Highways in any Parish are straightened by reason of Inclosures made within twenty years, either by Hedges, Ditches, Walls, or the like, or where Ditches or WaterCourses, adjoyning upon such High-ways, or which do lead the Water from such High-ways, are not scoured and dressed, or where any Pavements are defective, or any Nusances by filth or otherwise, are in any paved Streets, the said Surveyors shall see that the same be reformed, and the Offenders in any of the premises punished according to Law, by Information or Indictments, deducting for the charge of prosecution out of the moneys collected; and the said Parishioners or Surveyors of High-ways respectively, are hereby impowered in such case also to impose and levy over and above the twelve pence in the pound before mentioned, such greater Taxes and Rates upon the Occupiers of those Lands, where such Inclosures or Undrest Ditches or Fences be, as they shall respectively think fit, having the same Rates allowed by the Sessions of the Peace, or the two next Justices of the Peace, as aforesaid, which shall be final to the parties


Defaulters to pay double.

That if any Parishioners rated to the mending of High-ways as aforesaid, shall fail to pay to the said Surveyors of High-ways his proportion of Tax rated upon him, by the space of seven days after publique notice and warning given for payment thereof, that then every such Parishioner failing shall pay double as much as he is rated at in the Tax.


Surveyors to hire Laborers, Carts, &c.

That for more effectual mending the said High-ways and Parish-bridges, and Streets, and for removing public Nusances out of the same the Surveyors aforementioned shall yearly at such convenient times as they shall agree upon, hire such, and so many Laborers and Workmen, and Carts and Carriages, as they shall think needful for mending the said High-ways. Parish-bridges and Water-courses, and Streets, and shall cause them to be fully and perfectly mended from time to time, and such Workmen and Owners of Carts and Carriages are hereby required to work accordingly, for such reasonable wages, and under such penalty, as any two Justices of Peace within the Division shall think fit.


Ditches and Annoyances.

That in places where Ditches adjoining to Common High-ways or serving to lead the water from such High-ways, are or shall be undrest or unscoured, or where water doth run into or stand in any such High-way, to the annoyance of it, or where Trees, Bushes or Hedges, standing in High-ways or adjoyning to High-ways, are, suffered to grow up, and to hinder and obscure it from the power of the Sun for drying thereof, the said Surveyors are hereby impowered in all such respective places to cause such Ditches to be dressed and scoured, and to stop and divert any such Water-course, and to turn the water into any adjoyning Ditch, or to make new Ditches in convenient places through the Grounds adjoyning, for the most convenient conveying such water, as also to cut, plash and keep low all such Trees, Bushes and Hedges, as they shall see cause


Liberty to dig for; Stones Sand &c

That the said Surveyors be, and are hereby impowered further to dig and get Stones, Gravel, Sand, Chalk, or any other material fit for mending High-ways in or upon any the waste or common grounds within the Parish, or if they cannot there be conveniently had, in or upon any private mans Pasture or Fallow ground where it may be had, within the Parish, or in any other near adjoyning Parish, with convenient way for sending the same at such seasonable times, and for such reasonable satisfaction and composition to such private person, as the said Surveyors and Occupiers of such Land shall agree upon, and in case of disagreement betwixt them, then for such satisfaction as any Justice of Peace near adjoyning, not interested in such ground to be indifferently chosen by the parties, shall set down and appoint; and such Order as the Justices of Peace shall set down, shall be final to the parties, without further appeal.


In what cases other Parishes shall contribute.

That in case where the said Common High-ways and Streets are or shall be so defective, or shall extend in so great length in any one Parish, as that the Parish is overburthened therewith, and the Rate of twelve pence in the pound before mentioned, will not suffice to amend and repair the same, the Justices of Peace at their open Sessions are hereby impowered from time to time, to rate such other Parishes within the Limits of their Commission, whose Rate for mending Highways according to the true yearly value of the Land, shall not amount to twelve pence in the pound as aforesaid, as the said Justices shall think fit, until the Rate amount to twelve pence in the pound towards the mending of the High-ways and Streets in such Parishes as they shall finde to be overburthened.


What number of Horses or Oxen shall go in a Waggon or Cart.; Forfeiture for Supernumeraries.

That if any Waggons, Carts or Carriages, wherein any Burthens of dead Commodities or Wares shall at any time from and after the first day of May next, be drawn upon any such High-ways, Roads, or streets with above five Horses or Mares, or six Oxen and one Horse or Mare, in any one Cart or Waggon, that then it shall be lawful to or for any Constable or Surveyor of High-ways or other Inhabitant in any Parish where such loaded Waggon, Cart or Carriage shall pass, and be drawn as aforesaid, to distrain and seize all such supernumerary Horses, Mares, or Oxen, as he shall finde in any such Waggon, Cart or Carriage, over and above the number of five Horses or Mares or six Oxen and one Horse or Mare, respectively, and the same supernumerary Horses, Oxen and Mares respectively, to detain and keep until such Owner or Driver have paid and answered into the hands of the Surveyors of High-ways within the Parish where such distress and seizure shall be made, or one of them, the sum of Twenty shillings for every such supernumerary Horse, Mare or Ox; And if such penalty be not paid within seven days after such distress or seizure, together with full satisfaction for keeping the Beasts and Cattel distreined, and other charges thereabouts in the mean time, that then it shall be lawful for such Surveyors of High-ways to sell such Horses Mares or Oxen so seized, and to retain out of the price the said Twenty shillings and charges, returning the overplus to the party. And in case any difference happen about the same, the next Justice of Peace shall determine the same, whose Order therein shall be final to each party.


Charitable gifts for amending Highways, Pavements, &c., shall be enquired of in open Sessions.; Fine may be imposed by the Justices on offenders.

That the Justices of Peace at their open Sessions shall be, and are hereby enabled and enjoyned, to inquire after, hear and determine all matters concerning any Charitable Gifts, for the making, amending or keeping in repair any common Highways, Pavements, Streets, Causeys or Bridges, within the Limits of their Commission, as well where special Visitors and Overseers are appointed, as otherwise, and make orders, and Decrees for the due imployment of such Charitable Gifts according to the true intent of the Donors thereof, as fully as any Commissioners for Charitable uses may do; and in case they shall finde any wilful neglect or misimployment in any person or persons, Bodies Politick or Corporate, in or concerning the same, the said Justices shall and may over and above the ordering and decreeing what shall be due and in arrear, with damage for not imploying the said Charitable Gift according to the true intent thereof, impose a Fine, not exceeding forty pounds, upon such as shall be found offenders therein; which Fine, in case of refusal to be paid within four days after demand made by Warrant from the Justices, or any two of them, shall be levied by Warrant from the said Justices, by Distress and Sale of the offenders goods, and being levied, shall by the care of the said Justices be imployed for the mending and repairing the said Highways, Pavements, Streets, Bridges, or Causeys respectively; And such order as the said Justices shall make in the premises, shall be final without further appeal.


Streets and Pavement in Cities & Towns declared to be common High-ways.; Tax on Inhabitants.

That Streets and Pavements in any City, Town-Corporate, or the Suburbs thereof, or near adjoyning to the same, are hereby declared to be Common High-ways, and Scavengers to be Surveyors, within the intent and construction of this Ordinance, and within all former Laws in force concerning High-ways; and in every Parish and place where Pavements and Streets are, they shall be paved and kept in good repair, and cleansed for the convenience and health of the Inhabitants: And where any of the Provisions above-mentioned, or any other Laws now in force concerning High-ways, Streets or Pavements, shall not be found sufficient to reform the great defects of Pavements and Water-courses, and in removing filth and other Nusances in such Streets and places; it shall and may be lawful to and for the Inhabitants of any such Parish rated to the poor, to meet together at the time hereby appointed, for choice of Surveyors, or at any other convenient time, and there to chose Surveyors or Scavengers; at which time, or as often as the said Inhabitants shall please, they shall set down and make such reasonable By. laws and Orders, for the rating and taxing the several Inhabitants of the said Parishes, being Occupiers of any Houses, Lands, Tenements or Hereditaments, or having any Stock or Trade or otherwise, being of sufficient abilitie for reforming the defects in Paving and cleansing the Streets, and causing the Channels and Water-courses to run freely, and for keeping the same in good order, and for assessing and imposing reasonable penalties upon offenders, and for Levying of the said several sums by Warrant of any Justice of Peace, within the Limits of his Commission, by distress and sale of the offenders goods, and for imploying the same, and reforming the neglect of Scavengers and Inhabitants in any the premises, as they shall think fit; which Orders so made, being presented unto, and allowed or altered by the Justices of Peace at their open Sessions, shall be duly observed and put in execution, according to the allowance or alteration of the said Justices of Peace, and be final to all parties.


The moneys assessed, Fines and Forfeitures shall be imployed in repairing High-ways.; Warrant to levy them.

That all sums of money assessed and rated as aforesaid, and all Fines, Penalties, Forfeitures, and other sums of money arising by Assessment or otherwise, by this Ordinance, or by any other Law now in force, touching High-ways and Streets, and all Issues to be forfeited for not appearing to any Information or Indictment, for not repairing any High-ways, or not removing or reforming defects and Nusances in any Streets or Highways; and all Fines and Amerciaments, to be imposed upon any Parish or private person for not repairing High-ways, Streets or Water-courses, shall be imployed and bestowed by the said Surveyors of High-ways, in paying Workmens Wages for doing such works, and for such other imployments as are hereby appointed to be done and performed, and shall be Levied by vertue of this Ordinance by the said Surveyors of High-ways, or any of them, by Warrant from any Justice of Peace within the County, Riding, City, Town-Corporate, or Limit of his Commission, by Distress and Sale of the goods of such person as shall be so behinde, or chargeable with any such sum; and for default of such distress or non-payment of the money by the space of ten days after demand thereof made, or left at his house in writing, under the hand of the said Surveyors, or either of them, the partie so in arrear, shall be by Warrant of any Justice of Peace within the said Division, committed to prison to the CommonGaol of the County, there to remain without Bail or Mainprize, till he have paid double what shall be so in arrear, and charged upon him to pay, together with the charges incurred to the parties prosecuting by such default.


General Issue may be pleaded.

That if any Suit shall bee commenced by any person against any Constable or Surveyors of High-ways, or against any person imployed by them, or any of them, or authorized by this Ordinance, to do or perform, as by this Ordinance is directed, for doing and performing as aforesaid, that then in every such case, the Action shall be laid in the proper County where the fact was done, and not elswhere; and the Defendant may plead the General Issue to it, and give the special matter in Evidence at the Trial, That what was done, was done in pursuance of this Ordinance, and if upon examination it shall so appear to be done, then the Jurie shall finde for the Defendant: And in such case, as also if the Plaintiff shall be non-suit, or discontinue his Action after the Defendant hath appeared, the Defendant shall have his full costs, which upon Oath he shall make appear to the Judge before whom the Tryal or Discontinuance is had, he hath laid out in defence of such Suit, and also ten pounds more, in respect of his unjust trouble and vexation, taxed by the Court, against such Plaintiff.


Surveyors shall accompt yearly.; Commitment on default.; This shall not discharge any charged by Grant, Tenure, &c. to repair.; No Certiorari shall be granted for any thing within this Ordinanc.

That every Surveyor elected or hereby appointed as aforesaid shall yearly within one moneth after the expiration of the year wherein he was so Surveyor, make and yield up to the Parishioners of the Parish, a true and perfect account in writing, at some publick meeting to be appointed by the Parish, of all the moneys he hath received or paid out within his year, for or by reason of his said office; namely, of whom, and what received, and to whom, and what paid, and if any overplus do remain in his hands, he shall pay the same over to the next Surveyors then in being, for the use of the said Parish, to be disbursed in and about the High-ways: And if such Surveyors shall refuse or neglect to make such account or repayment as aforesaid, that then it shall be lawful to and for any Justice of Peace within the County, Riding, City, Town-Corporate, or Limit where the Parish lies, to examine the Account, and upon default found on the Surveyors part, to commit such Surveyor to the Common-Gaol of the Countie, there to remain without Bail or Mainprize, until he shall make such Account and Payment as aforesaid, together with such satisfaction for the damage which the said Parishioners have sustained by reason of such neglect, as any such Justice of Peace shall adjudge reasonable; but if the said Justice shall finde such Account to be clear and good, then he is to allow the same, and such Surveyor is not afterwards to be questioned or troubled thereabouts. Provided always, That this Ordinance, nor any thing therein contained, shall not extend to discharge any person or persons, Bodies Politick or Corporate, from repairing or reforming any the defects and abuses aforesaid, which by any Grant, Tenure, Prescription, Limitation or Appointment of any Charitable Gift, they are bound and charged to repair and reform, nor to alter or make void any Law or Custom now in force, or used for the enforcing and constraining the said persons and Bodies Politick aforementioned, to perform and do their duties, in repairing such High-ways and Bridges as aforesaid. And it is the true intent and meaning of this Ordinance, that no Surveyors for amendment of High-ways, shall be chosen at any other time, or otherwise, then by this Ordinance is directed And it is further Ordained, by the Authority aforesaid, That no Writ of Certiorari, shall issue or be allowed to remove any Information, Indictment, Presentment, or other Proceedings, within this Ordinance, or within any Law now in force concerning High-ways, Causey-ways, or Bridges, except it be upon some question and controversie betwixt County and County.

Shirborn Causeyway.

And it is lastly Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, That one Act made in the first year of the Reign of the late Queen Mary, for and concerning the making, repairing and amendment of the Common High-way and Causey, in the Counties of Dorset and Somerset, between the Towns of Shaftsbury and Shirborn, in the said County of Dorset, Entituled, An Act to Repair ShirbornCausey in the Counties of Dorset and Somerset, from henceforth shall be revived and stand in force, until the First of September, One thousand six hundred sixty two.