Recital of 22 & 23 C. II. c. 20.
Recital of 30 C. II. c. 4; The Reasons for passing this Act; Persons being in Prison for Debt, &c. on 25th Dec. 1695, in the Cases herein mentioned released.
Whereas for several charitable and good Reasons an Act of Parliament was made in the Twenty second
and Twenty third Yeares of the Reigne of our late Sovereigne Lord King Charles the Second intituled
An Act for the Relief and Release of Poor distressed Prisoners for Debt and because of some dubious Construction
of some Words in the said Act the same did not answer the full Intent for which it was made And therefore for
Explanation thereof and to supply the Defects which did obstruct the good Ends and Purposes of the said Act
another Act was made in the same Parliament in the Thirtieth Yeare of the Reigne of the said late King intituled
An Act for the further Relief and Discharge of poor distressed Prisoners for Debt by which said last mentioned Act
it was enacted That all Persons being in Prison upon the Twenty ninth Day of May One thousand six hundred
seventy and eight for Debt or Damages upon any manner of Processe whatsoever issuing out of any Court of Law
or Equity and who shall take the Oath in the said first recited Act mentioned should and might bee released and
discharged from their Imprisonments in the same manner as Persons being Prisoners might have been by the said
first mentioned Act and in case the said Debt and Damages had been ascertained by Judgement. And whereas several
Persons have been discharged by virtue of the said two Acts and alsoe by virtue of one other Act of Parliament
made in the Second Yeare of the Reigne of His present Majestie and of Her late Majestie Queen Mary entituled
An Act for Relief of Poor Prisoners for Debt or Damages but by reason of some Defects in the said Acts of
Parliament the Discharges of many of the said Persons have not been effectual. And whereas very many Persons
are detained in Prison although they are altogether unable to make any Satisfaction to their Creditors and because
of such Confinement are a Charge and Burthen to the Kingdome and rendred incapable to doe such Service as
otherwise they might to their King and Countrey and for the help of themselves and their Families Bee it therefore
enacted by the Kings most Excellent Majestie by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and
Temporal and [the (fn. 1) ] Commons in this present Parliament assembled and by the Authority of the same that all
Persons in Prison upon the Five and twentieth Day of December in the Yeare of our Lord One thousand six
hundred ninety and five for Debt or Damages or for or upon any Action or Actions or upon any mean Processe
for Debt Account or Trespasse upon the Case which Actions by Prosecution of Law may bee Judgements for
Debt or Damages or who may have Judgements entred upon Record against them or are charged in Execution
or imprisoned upon Attachments for Debt or upon Outlawries before or after Judgement for Debt or upon any
other Processe whatsoever issued out of any Court of Law or Equity for the Cause of Debt or Damages or Costs
onely who shall take the Oath in the said first recited Act mentioned and the Oath in this present Act following
required to bee taken by Prisoners shall and may bee released and discharged from their Imprisonments in the
same forme and in such Manner as is contained and mentioned in the said two first mentioned Acts and as if
such Person was Prisoner before and att the time mentioned for the Release and Discharge of such Prisoner in
either of the said two first mentioned Acts.
II. Justices of Peace making Order for Discharge to give Gaolers, &c. an Oath.
And it is further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That any Justice or Justices of the Peace who pursuant to
the said Two first mentioned. Acts and according to the true Intent and Meaning of this present Act shall make
any Order for the Discharge of any Poor Prisoner for Debt such Justice or Justices of Peace shall by Su[m]mons cause
to come and call before him or them any Sheriff Goaler or Keeper of Prison of such Goal or Prison of and from
which such Prisoner or Prisoners hee shee or they is or are and shall administer and give to such. Sheriff Goaler
or Keeper of Prison an Oath to this Effect following vizt.
Form of Oath.
I. A. B. doe swear That I. S. was really and truely my Prisoner in my Custody without any Fraud or Deceit by
mee or by any other to my Knowledge att or upon the Five and twentieth Day of December in the Yeare of
our Lord One thousand six hundred ninety and five. Soe help mee GOD.
Provided and bee it enacted by the Authority aforesaid That if such Person who was Goaler or Keeper of such
Goal or Prison on the said Five and twentieth Day of December One thousand six hundred ninety and five shall
not happen to bee the Goaler or Keeper of such Goal or Prison att the time of the making such Su[m]mons that
then the said Justice or Justices of the Peace before whom the Sheriff Goaler or Keeper of such Prison shall appeare
by virtue of such Warrant shall administer and give to such Person as shall bee Sheriff Goaler or Keeper of such
Prison att the time of making of such Summons an Oath to the Effect following vizt.
Form of Oath by Justice.
I. A. B. doe swear That I have examined the Committments or Books kept of and concerning the Commitments
of Prisoners to the Prison of C. in the County of D. and that by them it doth appeare that I. S. was really and
truely a Prisoner in the Custody of E. F. the then Sheriff Goaler or Keeper of the said Prison without any Fraud
or Deceit by mee or by the said E. F. or any other Person or Persons to my Knowledge or Belief att or upon the
Five and twentieth day of December in the Yeare of our Lord One thousand six hundred ninety and five.
Soe help mee God.
IV. Sheriff, &c. refusing to appear or take Oaths.
Penalty; Sheriff, &c. taking a false Oath; Perjury.
And bee it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That if such Sheriff Goaler or Keeper of Prison
being duely su[m]moned to appeare before the said Justice or Justices of the Peace shall without just Cause to bee
allowed by such Justice or Justices of the Peace refuse to appeare or to take One of the said Two before mentioned
Oaths soe to bee given and administred to them respectively by the said Justice or Justices of the Peace as aforesaid
such Sheriff Goaler or Keeper of Prison shall forfeit and pay to such Prisoner soe about to bee discharged [&
released (fn. 2) ] from Prison and thereby detained the Value of such Debt or Debts for which hee or she shall bee
imprisoned to bee recovered by Action of Debt in any of His Majesties Courts of Record And if any such Sheriff
Goaler or Keeper of Prison shall forswear and perjure himselfe and shall bee thereof lawfully convicted such Sheriff
Goaler or Keeper of Prison shall incurr and suffer such Penalties as are now in Force and may by Law bee inflicted
upon Persons convicted of Perjury.
V. Prisoner discharged must take an Oath.
And bee it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That such Prisoner as shall take the Benefitt of this Act
according to the Forme of the said Two first mentioned Acts as is hereby required and shall take the Oath in the
said first recited Act mentioned shall alsoe before such Justice or Justices of the Peace by whom such Oath is to
bee given and administred likewise take an Oath (which such Justice or Justices of the Peace is and are hereby
impowered to administer) to this Effect, videl[ia]t
Form of Oath.
I. A. B. doe sweare That on the Five and twentieth day of December in the Yeare of our Lord One thousand six
hundred ninety & five I was actually a Prisoner in the Custody of the Goaler or Keeper of the Prison of C. in
the County of D. att the Suit of I. S without [any (fn. 3) ] Consent or p[ro]curement and without any Fraud or Collusion
whatsoever. Soe help mee GOD.
VI. Prisoner forsworn.
And if any Prisoner who shall take the Benefitt of this Act and shall in pursuance of the same take the Oaths
for any the Purposes hereby or by any the before mentioned Acts appointed shall forsweare himselfe or herselfe
then shall such Person being thereof lawfully convicted beyond and over and above the Penalties which may by
Law now in Force bee inflicted upon Persons convicted of Perjury suffer Imprisonment for the space of Seven yeares
without Bail or Mainprize.
VII. Taking the Oaths, and giving Notice to Creditors how performed.
And it is declared and enacted by the Authority aforesaid That takeing the Oaths and giving to the Creditors such
Notice as is by this present Act required in all other things for the Release and Discharge of any poor Prisoner
from Prison shall bee observed and performed in the same Forme and Method as is mentioned and directed by
the said Two first mentioned Acts of Parliament.
VIII. Act not to extend to certain Persons in Execution.
Provided always neverthelesse That this. Act shall not extend to any Person or Persons in Execution for any
Fine on him her or them imposed for any Offence by him her or them co[m]mitted.
IX. Debtors to the King, &c. not entitled to Discharge.
Provided alsoe That noe Person shall bee discharged out of Prison or have any Benefitt or Advantage by
force or virtue of this Act who shall bee really and bona fide indebted in more than the Su[m]m of One hundred
Pounds Principal Money for Debt or Damages or shall stand charged with any Debt to His Majestie.
X. Judgment still good against Lands, &c. of Prisoner
and Creditors may take out new Execution.
Provided always and bee it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That notwithstanding the Discharge of
the Person of such Prisoner as aforesaid upon takeing the Oaths aforesaid all and every Judgement and Judgements.
had and taken against him or her alone or with any other Person or Persons shall stand and bee good and effectual
in the Law to all Intents and Purposes against the Lands Tenements Hereditaments Goods and Chattells onely
of the said Prisoner soe [as aforesaid discharged (fn. 4) ] And that it shall and may bee lawfull to and for such Creditor
or Creditors of such Prisoner or Prisoners soe discharged as aforesaid his her or their Executors Administrators
or Assignes to take out any new Execution against the Lands Tenements Hereditaments Goods and Chattells of
such Prisoner or Prisoners (his or her Wearing Apparel Bedding for his or her Family and Tools necessary for
his or her Trade or Occupac[i]on onely excepted) for the Satisfaction of his her or their said Debt in such Sort
Manner and Forme as hee she or they might have done if the Person or Persons of such Prisoner or Prisoners
had never been taken in Execution Any Act Statute Law or Custome to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.
XI. Upon Action of Escape against Justice of the Peace, Sheriff, &c.
General Issue may be pleaded; Double Costs.
And bee it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That upon any Action of Escape or other Suit brought
or to bee brought against any Justice of the Peace Sheriff Goaler or Keeper of Prison for any thing done in
obedience to this Act itt shall and may bee lawfull to and for such Justice of the Peace Sheriff Goaler and
Keeper of Prison to plead the General Issue and give this Act and the said Two first mentioned Acts and the
Proceedings thereon in Evidence which shall bee a good & sufficient Discharge and shall save harmlesse every
such Justice of the Peace Sheriff Goaler or Keeper of Prison pleading the same And if the Plaintiff in any such
Action shall bee nonsuited or Verdict passe against him the Defendant shall have Double Costs to bee taxed by
the Court where such Action is brought.
XII. If Prisoner dis-charged be again arrested for Debt contracted before Discharge, and upon shewing Duplicate of Discharge Officer shall refuse to set him at Liberty, he may apply to the Judges or other Persons herein named, and be set at Liberty upon certain Terms.
And further Bee it enacted by the Authority aforesaid That if any Prisoner who hath been discharged by virtue
of any of the Acts of Parliament herein before mentioned or who shall bee discharged by virtue of this Act, shall
happen to [bee (fn. 2) ] arrested again for any Debt contracted before such his Discharge if such Prisoner shall shew a
Duplicate of his or her Discharge under the Hands and Seales of the Justices of the Peace by whom hee or
she was discharged or [of (fn. 2) ] any two of them and the Officer refuseing to sett att Liberty him or her soe arrested
and shewing such Duplicate then and in such Case upon Petition to either of the Two Lords Chief Justices of
the Kings Bench and Co[m]mon Pleas or Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer for the time being or to any one of
his Majesties Justices of the Courts of Kings Bench or Co[m]mon-Pleas for the time being or to any Justice or
Justices of the Peace of the Place or County where such Prisoner shall bee under Arrest or in Custody the said
Lords Chief Justices or Lord Chief Baron or Justices of the said Courts or Justices of the Peace or any one or
more of them shall and may su[m]mon before him or them such Parties as hee or they shall think fitt and upon
hearing and examining the Matter in a su[m]mary way shall and may sett att Liberty and discharge such Prisoner
upon his or her giving a Warrant of Attorney to appeare and file Co[m]mon Bail to every such Action and to plead
XIII. And such Prisoner may plead the General Issue.
And bee it alsoe enacted by the Authority aforesaid That if any Prisoner who hath been or shall bee discharged
by virtue of any of the Acts before mentioned or by virtue of this Act shall att any time hereafter be arrested
or sued for any Debt contracted before such his or her Discharge hee or she may plead the General Issue and
give this Act and the said Two first mentioned Acts and the Proceedings thereon had in Evidence.
XIV. No Man under 40 Years of Age to be discharged during the present War with France unless he will enlist or procure one to enlist as a Soldier, &c.
Provided always That noe Man being under Forty Yeares of Age shall dureing the present Warr with France
bee discharged from his Imprisonment or have any Benefitt or Advantage by means or virtue of this Act or any
thing therein contained unlesse such Man or Person doe and shall before his Discharge voluntarily list himselfe
a Soldier under some Officer or Officers of His Majesties Fleet or Army or in his Place or Stead procure one
able Man to list himselfe under His Majesties Service Any thing herein before contained to the contrary in any
XV. Act not to extend to Persons who have committed Felony, &c.
Provided that nothing in this Act shall extend to release or discharge any Person or Persons who have
co[m]mitted any Felony or Robery and for which any Action hath been brought to recover Damages for the same
though the Damages be under One hundred Pounds.