February 1649: An Act for encouragement of Officers and Mariners, and Impresting Seamen.

Pages 9-13

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

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February, 1649

[22 February, 1648/9.]

Whereas the Commons of England in Parliament assembled, have appointed certain Ships to be set forth at the Spring next ensuing, for Guard of the Narrow Seas, Protection and Preservation of Trade, Reducing of the Revolted Ships, and for the necessary Defence of the Commonwealth of England and Ireland;

One moiety of all Revolted Ships and Men of War, belonging to an Enemy, to the takers.; The other moyety for the sick or wounded Mariners.

Now for the Encouragement of Seamen and Mariners to apply themselves the more willingly to this Service, It is therefore Enacted and Ordained, and be it Enacted and Ordained by this present Parliament, and the Authority of the same, That whatsoever Ship or Ships imployed in this Service, shall take, surprize or reduce any of the Revolted Ships, private Man of War, or any Man of War, belonging to any Forein Prince or State, being an Enemy, or receiving any Commission from any person or persons that are or shall be in enmity to this State or Commonwealth, shall have for Reward, over and above their Wages, one moyety of the full value of all and every such ship or ships surprized or taken as aforesaid, and of the goods therein taken, to be distributed among the Captain or Captains, and other Officers and Mariners of the said ship or ships, according to the custom of the Sea, Tun for Tun, and Man for Man; and the other moyety shall be put in a common Treasury, for the Relief of the Officers and Mariners which shall be sick or wounded, and the Widows, Children, and impotent Parents of such as shall be slain in the Service of the Commonwealth at Sea: The setling of which Treasury in trusty hands, and the ordering thereof for the use aforesaid, is referred to the Council of State.

201. for each Piece of Ordnance destroyed in an Admiral, &c.; Merchants ships taken, to be divided into three parts.

And for their further Encouragement, in case they shall sink, fire, or by any other ways or means destroy the Admiral of the Revolted Ships, or of other Fleet in hostility against this Commonwealth, they shall receive of the State Twenty pounds Sterling for each piece of Ordnance, in such Admiral so destroyed; and if the Vice-Admiral, sixteen pounds for each Gun; and if the RereAdmiral, twelve pounds Sterling for each Gun, to be distributed to the Captain, Officers and Mariners of the respective ships that shall be acting in the said Service, and to be paid them together with their Wages: And also in case any of the States Ships imployed in the service of the Commonwealth, shall surprize or take any Merchant ships, either English or Stranger, that is an Enemy to this Commonwealth, or which carries Ordnance, Ammunition, Corn, or any other Provisions whatsoever to the Enemies thereof, the ship and goods so taken before they break Bulk, shall first be adjudged in the Admiralty Court, and after Adjudication given (being Prize) the ship and goods shall be sold by the candle, and the proceed thereof divided into three equal parts; that is to say, One third part to be paid to the Captain or Captains, and other Officers and Mariners surprizing or taking the same; one third part thereof to be disposed of for the use of the Commonwealth, as the Parliament shall appoint; and the other third part thereof to be delivered into the Treasury before appointed, for the Relief of the sick or maimed Seamen, and the Widows, Children and impotent parents of the slain as aforesaid.

Merchants ships, when taken by our Merchants ships, how to be divided.

And further, in case any Merchants ship or ships imployed in the Service of the State, shall take or surprize any Merchant ship as aforesaid, then the ship or ships so taken before breaking of Bulk, shall be adjudged in the Admiralty Court, and (if found Prize) the proceed thereof shall be divided into three equal parts; that is to say, One third part thereof to the Captain or Captains, and other Officers and Mariners surprizing or taking the same; one other third part thereof to be paid in to the Treasury before mentioned, to be disposed of to the use aforesaid; and the other third part thereof to be equally divided into two parts, viz. One part thereof to the Owners of the said ships, and the other part thereof to the State; and that after Adjudication had in the Admiralty, according to the usual course in any of the cases aforesaid, There shall be no Appeal from that Sentence to any the other Courts of Law or Equity.

What ships shall have share in such prizes.; No imbezlement to be made.; Judgement in the Admiralty.

And it is hereby Declared, That such ship or ships of the Fleet, that shall be in sight and pursuit of the aforesaid prize or prizes, when they shall happen to be so taken, and such onely shall have a proportionable share in the said prize or prizes, according to the custom of the Sea, Tun for Tun, and Man for Man. Provided always, and it is hereby expresly Declared, That whatever prize or prizes shall be so taken (whether ship of War, or Merchant ships) the Captain or Captains, and other Officers and Mariners so taking her or them, shall not break Bulk, nor imbezle, or suffer to be imbezled or stole away, any of the Goods, Tackle, Apparel or Furniture in the said ship or ships, but shall cause the same entire to be brought into some English Port, where the same shall be secured by the chief Magistrate of that Port, or such as he shall imploy for that purpose, with some two or more such persons to look thereunto, as the Officers and Mariners interessed shall entrust, until the same shall be viewed, inventoried, apprized and further secured, by such person or persons as shall be appointed thereunto by the Council of State on the one part, with the persons trusted as aforesaid, in behalf of the Officers, Mariners and Seamen interessed on the other part, and until judgement shall be given in the Admiralty concerning the ship or ships, and goods so taken: whereupon (in case the same be adjudged Prize) such proceeding shall be had as aforesaid for the selling, and for proportionable distributing the proceed thereof, according to the Rules aforegoing, and according to the custom of the Sea aforesaid.


Provided also, That if any Prize so taken, or any part thereof, shall appear to be a ship or goods belonging to any Merchant of this Nation or Ireland, under the protection of the Parliament, before taken or surprized by an Enemy, and retaken, then such ship and goods, and every part thereof belonging to such Merchant, shall be restored to such Owners and Proprietors thereof, Any Law, Usage or Custom to the contrary notwithstanding; such Owner or Proprietor paying for and in lieu of salvage, one eighth part of the true value of such ship or goods respectively so to be restored: But in case such ship so retaken, shall appear after the taking of her by the Enemy, to have been set forth again as a Man of War for the Enemy, then the Proprietor shall pay for salvage one moyety of the true value of such ship so retaken; which salvage in either of the cases aforesaid, shall be divided and distributed proportionably to the Captain or Captains, and other Officers and Mariners retaking the said goods, ship or ships, according to the custom of the Sea as aforesaid.

Tenths of prizes how disposed.; Council of State to take care for the observance of this Act.

Provided also, That the Tenths of all Prizes customarily due to the Lord High Admiral, shall be paid into the hands of such Treasurer as the Council of State shall appoint for the Profits of the Admiralty; the said Tenths to be disposed by order of the said Council, for Medals or other Rewards, to such Officers and Seamen of the Fleet, as by certificate under the hand and seal of the Commissioners commanding the Fleet at Sea. or any two of them, shall be found to have done any singular, eminent and extraordinary service therein. And the said Council of State is hereby required to take special care for the observance of this Act, in all points concerning the Encouragement of Officers, Mariners and Seamen to engage in this Service, that none may be defrauded of any benefit or advantage growing due unto them by vertue of this Act, or any thing therein contained, according to the tenor and true meaning thereof.

Any two of the Commissioners may give Warrant to imprest Mariners, &c.; Three half pence a mile for Conductmoney.; Mariner refusing, to be imprisoned three moneths.

And whereas the effectual and speedy setting forth of the Fleet intended for the next years Service, and the well manning thereof, is at this time of great necessity, considering the onely Homebred Distractions of this Nation and of Ireland, but the great Preparations which are making already in Foreign parts, in aid and assistance of the Malignant, Popish and ill-affected party in these Nations; Be it therefore further Enacted and Ordained by this present Parliament, and by the Authority thereof, That in case the Commissioners for the Admiralty for the time being, appointed by Parliament, shall finde, that notwithstanding the Encouragements hereby provided and appointed for the Inducement of Seamen to engage more willingly in this Service, yet there shall not be the appointed number of Seamen voluntarily engaging in this service in due time, for the setting forth of the said Fleet, but that there be a necessity of Impresting of Mariners for this service, Then the said Commissioners, or any two of them, shall or may at any time or times from the 22 day of February 1648. until the First day of April 1650. by their Commissioner or Commissioners, Officer or Officers, authorized thereunto by Warrant under their or any two of their hands and seals, Raise, Levy and Imprest such and so many Mariners, Sailors, Watermen, Chirurgions. Gunners, Ship-carpenters, Cawkers, Coopers and Whoymen; as also Carmen for carriage of Victuals, &c. as shall be requisite and necessary for the Service aforesaid, or for any such further Defence for the good people of England and Ireland: Which said Mariners, Sailors, and other such persons so to be levied and imprested as aforesaid, and every of them, shall have paid and delivered unto him or them, upon such his or their impresting, by the person that shall so imprest him, for Conduct-money for every mile from the place where he shall be so imprest, to the ship or place where he shall be appointed to make his repair, the sum of one peny half peny per mile to each man; and the like sum of one peny half peny for every mile from the place of his Discharge unto the place of his abode, and shall be allowed for this Service, the same wages and entertainments in all respects, which hath been allowed by the Parliament this last year, to any such person or persons imployed in the said Service: And if in the case aforesaid, any Mariner, Sailor, Waterman, Chirurgion, Gunner, Ship-carpenter, Cawker, Whoyman or Carman shall wilfully refuse to be imprested in and for the said Service, or shall voluntary hide or absent himself at the time of such Press, to avoid the said Service, or receiving his said Conductmoneys, do not appear at such places and times as by his Ticket he is appointed, that then any such person so offending shall suffer imprisonment for the space of three moneths, without Bail or Mainprize.

No money to be taken for discharging any.

Provided always, and be it Enacted and Ordained, That no money or other reward, shall be taken directly or indirectly, nor any corrupt practice used by any the persons authorized by vertue of this Act, in or for the pressing, changing, sparing or discharging any person or persons to be imprest as aforesaid, as they will answer such Offence at their utmost perils before the Parliament, or such as shall by Parliament be authorized thereunto.

All Justices, &c. to be aiding.

And all Justices of the Peace, Majors, Bayliffs, Constables, and all other inferior Officers, are hereby required and enjoyned to be aiding and assisting from time to time to the persons authorized, or to be authorized by vertue of this Act, according to the true intent and meaning thereof. Provided always, That this Act shall not extend to the pressing of any Master, Masters mate, Gunner, Carpenter or Boatswain of any ship or vessel that is or shall be in imployment.

Water men exempted from Land service.

And lastly, for the further and better Encouragement of Seamen and Watermen, to apply themselves the more willingly to this Service, It is further Enacted and Ordained, and be it Enacted and Ordained by this present Parliament, and the Authority thereof, That all Mariners, Sailors, and likewise all Watermen who have served an Apprenticeship by the space of seven years in their said Professions, or that are Servants and Apprentices by Indenture to any such Watermen, shall hereby be freed and exempted from being pressed to serve as Soldiers in any Land service.