Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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Whereas by a late Act of Parliament, Entituled, An Act for the relief of Creditors and Poor Prisoners; Henry Proby, Peter Elliston and others in the said Act named, or any three or more of them were thereby, as to all persons that stood committed on the fifth of October, One thousand six hundred fifty three, or which should be committed before the twentieth day of the said Moneth of October, to the Upper-Bench Prison, or to the Prison 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 escape of such Prisoners in a summary way, and to do as by the said Act is further directed; The execution of which Act and of the Powers and Authorities given by the same, by Ordinance of His Highness the Lord Protector and His Council, for weighty Causes, was suspended until the one and thirtieth day of May One thousand six hundred fifty four. And forasmuch as sundry Complaints have been already made to His Highness the Lord Protector and His Council, and due consideration had, that the Lands, Hereditaments, Goods and Chattels of divers other persons then the said Prisoners, whereof such persons were lawfully seized and possest at the time of the making the said Act, may by construction of several Clauses therein, be sold, leased, granted or otherwise disposed by the Judges in the said Act appointed for satisfaction of the Creditors of such Prisoners as aforesaid, as for the said Prisoners debts, notwithstanding that such other persons so seized and possessed, had at the time of making the said Act as sufficient an Estate in, and right to such Lands, Goods and Hereditaments according to the Law, to all intents as any other person had or hath in any his Lands, Goods or Hereditaments whatsoever.
Be it therefore Ordained by His Highness the Lord Protector by the advice of His Council, That Nathanael Bacon, Francis Bacon, Arthur Barnardiston, Peter Elliston, John Parker, Henry Pitt, Edmund Giles, Robert Aldworth, John Wilsby, Peter Breereton, Clement Treton and Robert Warcupp, Esqs. or any five or more of them, and no other person, shall be, and hereby are made Judges to hear and determine from the eighth day of June instant, the causes of imprisonment of any such Prisoners committed as aforesaid to any the prisons before mentioned, and to do and execute in pursuance of the said Act for the relief of Creditors and poor Prisoners, according to the Explanations and Alterations thereof made by this present Ordinance, and not otherwise: That is to say, that all the Estate real and personal of any such Prisoner, or other person, for whose debt the said Prisoner is imprisoned, whereof he was seized or possessed to his own use in possession, reversion or remainder the said fifth day of October, One thousand six hundred fifty three, or sithence, or whereof he shall be seized or possessed before the fifth day of October, One thousand six hundred fifty-four, or which any other person or persons was or were the said fifth day of October, One thousand six hundred fifty three, or sithence, or at any time before the said fifth day of October next shall become seized or possessed of in trust for any such Prisoner or other person, for whose debt the said Prisoner was imprisoned, and which such Prisoner or Prisoners or other person the said fifth day of October, or any time sithence might, or hereafter may, before the said fifth of October next, lawfully convey or dispose for payment of his or their Debts by Law or Equity, shall and may by the said Judges, or any five or more of them, be leased, granted, charged, sold or any otherwise disposed, for payment of such Prisoners or other persons Debts.
Debts to be paid in such order as by law they ought to be.; How far Lands con-veyed with power of Revocation shall be liable.; Mortgages.; Fraudulent Grants, Leases, &c.; Power to punish con-cealment of Fraud.; The Estates of persons escaped out of Prison, shall be sold.
Provided always, That upon any sale or other disposing of such Estate as aforesaid, all Debts due to the Commonwealth, Debts secured or due by Statutes, Judgements or Recognizances shall be first paid, to wit, the principal Debt, Interest and Charges, and no more, in such order as by Law they ought to have been before the making of the said Act for relief of Creditors and poor Prisoners. And if any the said Prisoners or other persons for whose debt any such Prisoner was imprisoned, have heretofore made any conveyance or setlement of any Lands, Tenements or Hereditaments, Goods or Chattels to any person or persons, with power of Revocation in such Prisoner or Prisoners, or other such person, which power of Revocation might have been by such Prisoner or Prisoners, or other persons, executed the said fifth of October, One thousand six hundred fifty three, or since, or may be executed before the fifth of October, One thousand six hundred fifty four, all such Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments, Goods and Chattels, shall be sold, leased or disposed by the Judges hereby appointed, or any five or more of them, as fully to all intents, for payment of such Prisoners or other persons debts, as if the said Revocation had been actually made by such Prisoner or person according to the true intent and meaning of the said power of Revocation. And the said Judges, or any five or more of them, shall have power to examine any Mortgage formerly made of any Lands, Tenements or Hereditaments, or any Lease or Leases upon condition, by any such Prisoner or other person, or any his Ancestors, granted for security of money lent; and where any such Prisoner, or other person, hath lawful and equitable right of Entry, for any condition broken, or right of Redemption in Law or Equity, upon any Mortgage so made and not forfeited by the space of seven years last past, the said Judges first satisfying the principal money for which such Lands or Hereditaments, Goods or Chattels were mortgaged, and all interest and other charges grown due, may sell or otherwise dispose all such Lands and Hereditaments, Goods and Chattels, Leased or Mortgaged as aforesaid, for payment of such Prisoners, or other persons debts. And the said Judges, or any five or more of them, are hereby further authorized to examine all fraudulent Grants, Leases and Conveyances whatsoever made by any such Prisoners, or other Person for whose debt any such Prisoner was imprisoned as aforesaid, of any their Lands, Hereditaments, Goods or Chattels, and all Judgments, Statutes, Recognizances, or Bonds by them entered into, and any other act or acts done, with intent to defraud Creditors, which by any Law or Statute now in force (other than by the said Act for relief of Creditors and poor Prisoners) are declared to be void against Creditors, and upon due proof made unto a Jury of any such fraudulent Grant, Act or Conveyance, or of any wilful concealing such fraud, the said Judges may sell and dispose for payment of such Debts as are before mentioned, all such Lands, Hereditaments, Goods and Chattels so granted, conveyed, extended or to be extended, had or to be had in execution, in such maner as is before mentioned touching other the Lands, Goods, or Hereditaments of any such Prisoner or other persons, and punish any such concealment of fraud as by any Law or Statute in force (other than the said Act for relief of Creditors and poor Prisoners) is Appointed and Ordained; and in case any such Prisoner hath escaped out of any of the said Prisons since the fifth day of October, One thousand six hundred fifty three, or hereafter shall escape before the fifth day of October, One thousand six hundred fifty four, upon due proof made or to be made of such escape, the estate and trusts of estate real and personal of such Prisoner escaped, shall be sold and disposed by the said Judges for satisfaction of the Creditors, at whose suit such Prisoner was imprisoned in like maner (and no otherwise) as they might have said or disposed the Estate real and personal, if such Prisoner had still remained in custody.
Provided always, That upon any Sale, Lease, or other Disposition to be made as aforesaid of any Prisoner, or other persons real or personal Estate, the said Judges shall openly put a value upon the estate declared to be Sold, Leased or Disposed, and before the Sale or Disposition thereof the said Prisoner or other person concerned, his Heir, Executor or Administrator, as the case requireth, shall have notice thereof, and if such Prisoner or other person concerned, his Heir, Executor or Administrator shall within six weeks pay in ready money, as much as the said Estate to be sold or otherwise disposed, was valued at as aforesaid, or otherwise give security to the Creditors for the said sum to their liking, the said Judges shall forbear to make sale of such Estate; but in default of such payment, or security given, they shall proceed to sale, or other disposition thereof at the highest rate they can sell the same at, provided it be not less then the value by them formerly set as aforesaid. And all and every sale or other disposition of any Prisoner or other persons estate made as aforesaid, shall be good and effectual in Law against such Prisoner and such other persons, their Trustees and all and every their Heirs general or special claiming by descent to all intents and purposes, saving always to all persons, other than such whose Estates may be sold as aforesaid, their respective right to any Lands, Hereditaments, Goods or Chattels, that shall happen to be sold or disposed as aforesaid, as if the said Act for relief of Creditors and poor Prisoners, and this present Ordinance, had not been made.
And it is hereby further Ordained, That no Estate real or personal of any Prisoner or other person shall be taken to be any Estate to be sold, discharged or disposed within the meaning of the said former Act, Entituled, An Act for Relief of Creditors and poor Prisoners, other than such Estates as are by this present Ordinance declared to be sold and disposed for payment of Debts, in maner before expressed. And that no Prisoner shall be accounted a Prisoner whose Estate is to be sold or disposed within the meaning of the said Act, but such as were actually Prisoners the fifth day of October, One thousand six hundred fifty three, or before the twentieth of October then next following, or who being Prisoners as aforesaid, are since dead, or shall dye before the fifth of October next, leaving their Debts undischarged.
Provided also, That the said Judges shall not intermedle in the Sale or Disposing of any Land Ordered or Decreed to be sold for payment of Debts by the High Court of Chancery, but that the same be left to be wholly disposed as the said Court of Chancery shall Order and Provide.
And it is further Ordained, That all Persons, by the said Act for relief of Creditors and poor Prisoners, made Judges as to all Prisons and Persons, committed to other Prisons then as before mentioned, within the respective Counties, Cities and Towns Corporate within this Commonwealth, shall from and after the eighth day of June, One thousand six hundred fifty four, proceed in the Execution of the said Act, as to the release of any Prisoners, in every respect according to the meaning of the Act, Entituled An Act for Relief of Creditors and Poor Prisoners, but not as to the Sale or Disposition of any Lands or Goods, but according to the Explanations and Alterations thereof made by this present Ordinance, and not otherwise.
Provided also, That no Creditor shall have advantage or benefit of any Sale as aforesaid, made for or towards satisfaction of the Debt, unless he give a legal Discharge of the whole or part of his said Debt, as the Case requires, to be Ordered by the said Judges.
And be it further Ordained by Authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful for the several Judges authorized by this Ordinance, unon good and sufficient Security taken of all such of the said 1 as they think fit, to permit the said Prisoners to go out of Prison for some convenient time, the better to enabi'e such Prisoners to assist in Sale of their Estates, or take other course for payment of their said Debts, and that such permission of such t'risoners to go out of Prison upon Bail for the Cause aforesaid, shall not be adjudged to be any Escape.
And it is lastly hereby ordained, That the said Act for relief of Creditors and poor Prisoners, and this present Ordinance for Explanation thereof, shall continue in force until the fifth day of October, One thousand six hundred fifty four, and no longer.
Provided always, That neither the said Act, Entituled, An Act for Relief of Creditors and Poor Prisoners, nor this present Ordinance, nor any thing therein contained, shall extend, nor be construed to extend to impower the Judges aforesaid to examine impeach or avoid any Execution, Judgment or Decree, had and obtained against such Prisoner or other person herein intended, save onely so far as to examine what is due thereupon.
Provided also, That this Ordinance or anything therein contained, shall not extend or be construed to extend to impower the Judges aforesaid to make Sale of any the Lands formerly by the said Act, Entituled, An Act for Relief of Creditors and poor Prisoners, exempted from Sale.