June 1654: An Ordinance for Establishing a High Court of Justice.

Pages 917-918

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


June, 1654.

[13 June, 1654.]

Names of Commissioners appointed to judge all treasons, under the Ord. of 19 Jan., 1653.; Also misprisions of treason.; And to inflict due punishment.

Be it Ordained by His Highness the Lord Protector, by and with the Advice and consent of his Council, That John Lisle, one of the Lords Commissioners of the Great Seal, Edward Atkins one of the Justices of the Court of Common Pleas, Richard Ask, one of the Justices of the Court of the Upper Bench, Robert Nicholas, one of the Barons of the Court of the Publique Exchequer, William Steele Serjeant-at-Law, Recorder of the City of London, John Corbet Esq; Robert Tichburn, Stephen Eastwich, Thomas Andrews, Mark Hildesley, William Underwood, Thomas Allen, Alderman of London: Matthew Sheppard, George Langham, Maurice Tompson, Richard Shute, Daniel Taylor, Edmund Waring, Esqrs; Sir William Roberts, Knt. George Cooper, Edward Cresset, William Webb Esqrs. Sir John Thorougood of Kensington, Knt. William Ligon, Anthony Rous, Richard Lucy, James Phillips, Edward Winslow, John Stone, Thomas Fauconberg, Alban Cox, and John Bocket Esqrs. 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 the Matters, Crimes and Offences herein mentioned in an Ordinance thus Entituled, An Ordinance declaring that the offences herein mentioned, and no other, shall be adjudged High Treason, within the Commonwealth of England Scotland, and Ireland and the Dominions thereunto belonging. And also to hear and determine all Misprisions of Treason and upon proof made before the said Commissioners, or any thirteen or more of them, to proceed to the Tryall, Conviction, Condemnation and Execution of the Offender and Offenders, and to inflict upon him, her, or them, such punishment, either by Death, Fine, Imprisonment or otherwise, 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.

Said Commissioners to form High Court of Justice.; Their duties and pow rs.

And it is hereby Ordained, 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 aforesaid, and for the receiving their personal Answer there-unto, 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 Conviction and 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 needfull for the putting in execution the matters and things in this Ordinance contained.

They may order death by beheading or hanging only.

And it is hereby further Ordained, that it shall be in the power of the said Commissioners, or any thirteen or more of them, and they are hereby authorized to cause such Sentence or Sentences of Death to be given and executed by appointing such Offender or Offenders to be beheaded or hanged onely, as to them shall seem meet, having regard to the nature of the Offence, any Law or Statute to the contrary notwithstanding.


And it is hereby Ordained, That all Mayors, Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, Constables, Bayliffs, and other Officers, and all Officers and Souldiers of the Army, and all other the good people of this Commonwealth shall be aiding and assisting to the said Commissioners in any of the Premisses.

Commissioners to take oath.

And be it further Ordained, That every of the Commissioners before named, before he shall do or execute the Office of a Commissioner by virtue of this present Ordinance 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 Ordinance.

Who may administer it.; Proviso.; Continuance of Ord.

And the Lords Commissioners for the Great Seal of England, or any one of them, are hereby authorised to administer the said Oath accordingly. Provided, That the said Commissioners or any of them shall not by virtue or force of this present Ordinance or any power thereby given unto them, examine, try, or proceed against any person or persons other than such who shall be first by name appointed by the Lord Protector, with the advice and consent of his Council, to be by them so examined, tryed or proceeded against. Provided, That this Ordinance and the Authority thereby given shall endure and have continuance to the twentieth day of August next, and no longer.