Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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Whereas by an Act of the late Parliament, Entituled, An Act for the Deafforestation, Sale, and Improvement of the Forests and the Honors Manors, Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments within the usual Limits and Perambulations of the same, heretofore belonging to the late King, Queen and Prince, it was Enacted. That for the raising of a present supply of moneys, required for carrying on the affairs of the Commonwealth, the said Forests Honors, Manors Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments should be exposed to sale; And whereas the said Act of Parliament is now become in sundry respects impracticable, especially for that the times for payment of the greatest part of the Moneys thereby allowed to be doubled are elapsed, and no moneys paid, by which means the services whereunto those moneys should have been applyed, are disappointed of that supply, and the persons who should have advanced cannot now advance the same; And whereas also it is necessary, as well for prevention of Waste, and Spoyl within the said Forests and premises, as in Order to the future disposition of them, either by Sale or otherwise, that exact Surveys should be speedily taken of them, and of all the Timber and Woods whatsoever in and upon them, and of all other their profits and appurtances, to the end it may the better appear how the same may be disposed of, and improved to the best advantage of the Commonwealth.
It is Ordained by His Highness the Lord Protector, by and with the advice and consent of His Council, That Commissioners shall be nominated and appointed by His Highness, and receive Commissions under the Great Seal of England, whereby such Commissioners shall be impowered to enter upon and survey all the Forests within England and Wales, and all Honors, Manors, Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments within the same, heretofore belonging to the late King, Queen and Prince, or any of them (as the Perambulations of them are limited by an Act of Parliament, made in the Seventeeth year of the late King Charls) and to that end (if need be) to keep Courts of Survey in and upon the premises or any part thereof, and to consider how the same may be, both for the present and the future, best improved and disposed for the benefit and advantage of the Commonwealth, to enquire what quantity of Acres within the premises are the proper soyl, or do belong to the Commonwealth, with the quality and goodness of the same, how the said Forests are scituate, what Game of Deer is kept upon them, what Parks now belonging to the Commonwealth are within them, what Officers belong to the premises or any of them, what is received and taken by the said Officers, and upon what grounds, and what hath accrewed, or of right ought to accrew to the Commonwealth out of the said Forests; and also to enquire and finde out what part or parcels of the ground or soyl of the said Forests and premises are claimed or enjoyed by any persons, and by whom they are enjoyed; what quantities and numbers of Acres the same do contain; what Estate or Estates, either in possession or reversion, the persons so claiming or enjoying have therein; and what yearly profit or benefit they are known to make thereby.
And it is likewise Ordained, That the said Commissioners shall be impowered and authorized as aforesaid, to examine and finde out the quantity, quality and values of all Timber and Woods within the premises belonging to the Commonwealth, how the same have been or ought to be fenced, what profit ought to be made yearly of them for the Commonwealth, or lawfully taken by others, what quantities of the said Timber or Wood are claimed or enjoyed by any others, and how far the same are subject to the liberty of the Forests; what number of Commoners do challenge Commons, and the number of Cattel by Estimation yearly there to be Commoned; and also what Purprestures Inclosures, late Erections, or Incroachments have been had or made, which may be questioned or disallowed either in point of Soyl, Common or otherwise; what are the name and number of Acres of every Fellet within the premises, whether the Fellets have been duly and well fenced, and if not, in whose default the same have been; what loss or damage hath accrued to the Commonwealth for want of Fences, or by cutting down Timber or Woods, or by undue browsing or suffering Cattel in the Coppices, or otherwise, by whom the same hath been done, to what value the detriment amounteth, and how satisfaction may be made for the same.
And it is further Ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the said Commissioners shall be authorized and impowered as aforesaid, to hear and determine the Claims of Right and Interests of all and every person and persons, Bodies Politique and Corporate, Parish and Hamlet, of, in and to the premises, or any part or parcel of them, in such sort as by their respective Commissions, or such Instructions as shall be given them by His Highness and His Council, within Three years next after the passing of this Ordinance shall be directed and appointed: And after such determination, to allot and set forth such proportions and quantities of Land (parcel of the premises) as they shall judge to be competent and fit satisfaction for such Right or Interest respectively: And also to apportion and set forth such quantity of Land as shall be necessary for all High-ways to be had and made through the premises, in such place and places as they shall judge convenient for that purpose: And in all cases where any Estate of Inheritance (being within the Limits and Bounds of any the said Forests) shall upon the claiming and prosecution of the said Claim, be found to be the proper soil of the person or persons claiming the same, the said Commissioners shall be authorized as aforesaid, to Treat, Compound and Agree with such person and persons, their Attorney or Attorneys for the Deafforestation of the said premises, at such rate or rates as the said Commissioners shall think fit for the Commonwealth to receive in consideration thereof.
Provided, That if any person or persons, Bodies Politique or Corporate, or the Inhabitants of any Township or Village, shall neglect to make their said Claims by the space of Thirty days, to be accounted from such time as publique Summons shall be given by the said Commissioners, then and from thenceforth all and every such person and persons, Bodies Politique and Corporate, and Inhabitants, shall be for ever debarred from laying any claim, or receiving any priviledge or advantage thereby.
The Commissioners shall observe such instructions as they shall receive from His Highness and the Council.; Surveys and Proceedings to be certified into the Court of Exchequer. Duplicate to the Trustees.
And it is further Ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the said Commissioners shall observe such directions and instructions concerning the Service, in and by this Ordinance appointed, as shall from time to time receive from His Highness and His Council; and shall within Ten days after the full execution of their respective Commissions, or sooner, if they shall be thereunto required, certifie under their hands and seals, or the hands and seals of so many of them as are sufficient to execute the same, the Surveys by them taken, and other their proceedings touching the premises, into the Court of Exchequer, and a Duplicate thereof unto Edward Cresset, William Webb, Josias Berners, John Parker, Henry Pitt, Robert Aldworth, and Francis Mussenden, Esqs; or any four or more of them, nominated Trustees in the aforementioned Act of the late Parliament for Deafforestation of the Forests.
And it is further Ordained by the authority aforesaid, That all and every person and persons, who shall be nominated and appointed Commissioners in pursuance of this Ordinance, before he or they enter upon the execution of such Commission, shall before one or more Justice or Justices within the County where he or they shall usually reside, take the Oath following, viz.
I A. B. do swear, That I will to my best skill and knowledge, faithfully discharge the Trust committed unto me in relation to an Ordinance of His Highness the Lord Protector and his Council, Entituled, An Ordinance appointing Commissioners to Survey the Forests, Honors, Manors, Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments, within the usual Limits and Perambulations of the same, heretofore belonging to the late King, Queen and Prince; and that I will not for Favor or Affection, Reward or Gift, or hope of Reward or Gift, break the same.
And it is further Ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the said Commissioners shall be authorized as aforesaid, in all cases matters and things that shall be contained in their respective Commissions or Instructions to examine upon Oath or otherwise, which Oath they are hereby authorized and impowered to administer.
And it is further Ordained That the Commissioners for the custody of the Great Seal of England, or the Keeper thereof for the time being, shall pass Commissions under the said Great Seal, according to the intent of this Ordinance, to such person and persons as His Highness the Lord Protector, by Warrant under His Hand, shall from time to time direct.