William III, 1698-9
An Act for the more effectuall Suppressions of Piracy. [Chapter VII. Rot. Parl. 11 Gul. III. p. 2. n. 5.]

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History of Parliament Trust

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John Raithby (editor)

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1820

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590-594

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'William III, 1698-9: An Act for the more effectuall Suppressions of Piracy. [Chapter VII. Rot. Parl. 11 Gul. III. p. 2. n. 5.]', Statutes of the Realm: volume 7: 1695-1701 (1820), pp. 590-594. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=46966 Date accessed: 23 July 2014.


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Recital of Stat. 28 Hen. VIII. c. 15. § 1

Reasons for passing this Act.; Piracies, &c. may be enquired of at Sea, or upon Islands, and by Commission under the Great Seal or Admiralty Seal. Power of Commissioners; Information to be upon Oath; Court to consist of Seven at least.

Whereas by an Act of Parliament made in the Twenty eighth Yeare of the Reigne of King Henry the Eighth it is enacted that Treasons Felonies Robberies Murthers and Confederacies committed on the Sea shall be enquired of tryed and determined according to the common Course of the Laws of this Land used for such Offences upon the Land within this Realme whereupon the Triall of those Offenders before the Admirall or his Lieutenant or his Commissary hath beene altogether disused And whereas that since the making of the said Act and especially of late Yeares it hath beene found by experience That Persons committing Piracies Robberies and Felonies on the Seas in or neare the East and West Indies and in Places very remote cannot be brought to condign Punishment without great Trouble and Charges in sending them into England to be tryed within the Realme as the said Statute directs insomuch that many idle and profligate Persons have beene thereby encouraged to turne Pirates and betake themselves to that sort of wicked Life trusting that they shall not or at least cannot easily be questioned for such their Piracies and Robberies by reason of the great Trouble and Expence that will necessarily fall upon such as shall attempt to apprehend and prosecute them for the same And whereas the Numbers of them are of late very much increased and their Insolencies soe great that unlesse some speedy Remedy be provided to suppresse them by a strict and more easie way for putting the ancient Laws in that behalfe in Execution the Trade and Navigation into remote Parts will very much suffer thereby Be it therefore declared and enacted by the Kings most Excellent Majesty by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spirituall and Temporall and Commons in this present Parliament assembled and by the Authority of the same That all Piracies Felonies and Robberies committed in or upon the Sea, or in any Haven River Creeke or Place where the Admirall or Admiralls have Power Authority or Jurisdiction may be examined inquired of tryed heard and determined and adjudged according to the Directions of this Act in any Place at Sea or upon the Land in any of His Majesties Islands Plantations Colonies Dominions Forts of Factories to be appointed for that Purpose by the Kings Commission or Commissions under the Great Seale of England or the Seale of the Admiralty of England directed to all or any of the Admiralls Vice-Admiralls Reer-Admiralls Judges of Vice-Admiralties or Commanders of any of His Majesties Ships of Warr and alsoe to all or any such Person or Persons Officer or Officers by Name or for the time being as His Majesty shall thinke fitt to appoint which said Commissioners shall have full Power joyntly or severally by Warrant under the Hand and Seale of them or any one of them to committ to safe Custody any Person or Persons against whom Information of Piracy Robbery or Felony upon the Sea shall be given upon Oath (which Oath they or any one of them shall have full Power and are hereby required to administer) and to call and assemble a Court of Admiralty on Shipboard or upon the Land when and as often as occasion shall require, which Court shall consist of Seaven Persons at the least

II. Three may call together a Court of Seven.

And if soe many of the Persons aforesaid cannot conveniently be assembled Be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That any Three of the aforesaid Persons (whereof the President or Chiefe of some English Factory or the Governour Lieutenant Governour or Member of His Majesties Councills in any of the Plantations or Colonies aforesaid or Commander of one of His Majesties Shipps is alwaies to be one) shall have full Power and Authority by virtue of this Act to call and assemble any other Persons on Shipboard or upon the Land to make up the Number of Seaven

III. What Persons may sit and vote in such Court.

Provided that no Persons but such as are knowne Merchants Factors or Planters or such as are Captains Lieutenants or Warrant Officers in any of His Majesties Shipps of Warr or Captains Masters or Mates of some English Shipp shall be capable of being soe called and sitting and voting in the said Court

IV. Court may issue Warrants for Persons accused, and Attendance of Witnesses, and examine upon Oath, and give Sentence of Death.

Persons convicted to suffer accordingly.

And be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid That such Persons called and assembled as aforesaid shall have full Power and Authority according to the Course of the Admiralty to issue Warrants for bringing any Persons accused of Piracy or Robbery before them to be tryed heard and adjudged and to summon Witnesses and to take Informations and Examinations of Witnesses upon their Oath and to doe all things necessary for the hearing and finall Determination of any Case of Piracy Robbery and Felony and to give Sentence and Judgment of Death and to award Execution of the Offenders convicted and attainted as aforesaid according to the Civill Law and the Methods and Rules of the Admiralty And that all and every Person and Persons soe convicted and attainted of Piracy or Robbery shall have and suffer such Losses of Lands Goods and Chattells as if they had beene attainted and convicted of any Piracies Felonies and Robberies according to the aforementioned Statute made in the Reigne of King Henry the Eighth

V. Proceedings upon assembling of Court.

Provided alwaies and be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That soe soone as any Court shall be assembled as aforesaid either on Shipboard or upon the Land the Kings Commission shall first be openly read and the said Court then and there shall be solemnly and publickly called and proclaimed and then the President of the Court shall in the first Place publickly in open Court take the following Oath vizt.

Oath of President.

I A. B doe sweare in the Presence of Almighty God that I will truly and impartially try and adjudge the Prisoner or Prisoners which shall be brought upon his or their Tryalls before this Court and honestly and duely on my Part putt His Majesties Commission for the trying of them in Execution according to the best of my Skill and Knowledge And that I have no Interest directly or indirectly in any Shipp or Goods for the piratically takeing of which any Person stands accused and is now to be tryed Soe help me God

Who is to administer the same to every Person sitting and voting upon the Trial; Register to read the Articles against the Prisoner; Prisoner toplead; Proceedings where Prisoner pleads not guilty; Prisoner may bring Witnesses for his Defence, and may be heard; President to collect the Votes of the Court; Judgment to be given in Presence of the Prisoner; Execution.

And he haveing taken the Oath in manner aforesaid shall immediately administer the same Oath to every Person who shall sitt and have and give a Voice in the said Court upon the Tryall of such Prisoner or Prisoners as aforesaid and immediately thereupon the said Prisoner or Prisoners shall be formally brought before them and then the Register of the said Court shall openly and distinctly read the Articles against such Prisoner or Prisoners upon which they or any of them is to are to be tryed wherein shall be sett forth the particuler Fact or Facts of Piracy Robbery and Felony with the Time and Place when and where and in what manner it was committed And then each Prisoner shall be asked whether he be guilty of the said Piracy and Robbery or Felony or not Guilty whereupon every such Prisoner shall immediately plead thereunto guilty or not guilty or else it shall be taken as confessed and he shall suffer such Pains of Death Losse of Lands Goods and Chattells and in like manner as if he or they had beene attainted or convicted upon the Oath of Witnesses or his owne Confession but if any Prisoner shall plead not guilty Witnesses shall be produced by the Register and duely sworne and examined openly viva voce in the Prisoners presence And after a Witnesse hath answered all the Questions proposed by the President of the Court and given his Evidence it shall and may be lawfull for the Prisoner to have the Witnesse crosse-examined by first declaring to the Court what Questions he would have asked and thereupon the President of the Court shall interrogate the Witnesse accordingly and every Prisoner shall have liberty to bring Witnesses for his Defence who shall be sworne and examined upon Oath as the Witnesses were that testified against him and afterwards the Prisoner shall be fairly heard what he can say for himselfe all which being done the Prisoner shall be taken away and kept in safe Custody and all other Persons except the Register shall withdraw from the said Court and then the Court shall consider of the Evidence which hath been given and debate the Matters and Circumstances of the Prisoners Case and the President of the Court shall collect all the Votes of the Persons who doe sit and have Voices in the said Court begining at the junior first and ending with himselfe and according to the Plurality of Voices Sentence and Judgment shall be then given and pronounced publickly in the presence of the Prisoner or Prisoners being called in againe and according to Sentence and Judgment the Person or Persons attainted shall be executed and put to Death at such time in such manner and in such place upon the Sea or within the ebbing or Flowing thereof as the President or the major part of the Court by Warrant directed to a Provost Marshall (which the President or said major part shall have Power to constitute) shall appoint

VI. What Persons may be Register.

Oath of Register; His Duty.

And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That some Person being a Publick Notary shall be Register of the Court and in case of his Absence Death or Incapacity or for Want of a Person soe qualified the President of the Court shall and may appoint a Register giveing him an Oath which he is hereby impowered to administer duely faithfully and impartially to execute his Office which Register shall prepare all Warrants and Articles and take care to provide all Things requisite for any Tryall according to the substantiall and essentiall Parts of Proceedings in a Court of Admiralty in the most summary Way and shall take Minutes of the whole Proceedings and enter them duely in a Booke by him to be kept for that Purpose and shall from time to time as Opportunity offers transmitt the same with the Copies of all Articles and Judgments given in any such Cases in any Court whereof he shall be Register unto the High Court of Admiralty of England

VII. Natural born Subjects committing Acts as herein mentioned, deemed, and upon Conviction, to suffer according to Stat. 28 Hen. VIII. c. 15.

And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That if any of His Majesties naturall borne Subjects or Denizens of this Kingdome shall committ any Piracy or Robbery or any Act of Hostility against other His Majesties Subjects upon the Sea under Colour of any Commission from any Forreigne Prince or State or Pretence of Authority from any Person whatsoever such Offender and Offenders and every of them shall be deemed adjudged and taken to be Pirates Felons and Robbers and they and every of them being duely convicted thereof according to this Act or the aforesaid Statute of King Henry the Eighth shall have and suffer such Pains of Death Losse of Lands Goods and Chattells as Pirates Felons and Robbers upon the Seas ought to have and suffer

VIII. Commanders of Ships, &c. turning Pirate, &c. or attempting to corrupt other Commanders, &c.

to suffer as Pirates.

And be it further enacted That if any Commander or Master of any Shipp or any Seaman or Marriner shall in any Place where the Admirall hath Jurisdiction betray his Trust and turne Pirate Enemy or Rebell and piratically and feloniously run away with his or their Shipp or Shipps or any Barge Boate Ordnance Ammunition Goods or Merchandizes or yield them up voluntarily to any Pirate or shall bring any seduceing Messages from any Pirate Enemy or Rebell or consult combine or confederate with or attempt or endeavour to corrupt any Commander Master Officer or Marriner to yield up or run away with any Shipp Goods or Merchandizes or turne Pirate or goe over to Pirates or if any Person shall lay violent Hands on his Commander whereby to hinder him from fighting in Defence of his Shipp and Goods committed to his Trust or that shall confine his Master or make or endeavour to make a Revolt in the Shipp shall be adjudged deemed and taken to be a Pirate Felon and Robber and being convicted thereof according to the Directions of this Act shall have and suffer Pains of Death Losses of Lands Goods and Chattells as Pirates Felons and Robbers upon the Seas ought to have and suffer

IX.

Persons aiding Pirates, &c., who shall thereupon act;adjudged Accessaries.

And whereas severall evill disposed Persons in the Plantations and elsewhere have contributed very much towards the Encrease and Encouragement of Pirates by setting them forth and by aiding abetting receiving and concealeing them and their Goods and there being some Defects in the Laws for bringing such evill disposed Persons to condigne Punishment Be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid That all and every Person and Persons whatsoever who after the Twenty ninth Day of September in the Yeare of our Lord One thousand seaven hundred shall either on the Land or upon the Seas wittingly or knowingly sett forth any Pirate or aid and assist or maintaine procure command counsell or advise any Person or Persons whatsoever to doe or committ any Piracies or Robberies upon the Seas and such Person [and (fn. 1) ] Persons shall thereupon doe or committ any such Piracy or Robbery then all and every such Person or Persons whatsoever soe as aforesaid setting forth any Pirate or aiding assisting maintaining procuring commanding counselling or adviseing the same either on the Land or upon the Sea shall be and are hereby declared and shall be deemed and adjudged to be accessary to such Piracy and Robbery done and committed

X. Persons concealing Pirates, &c., or Vessels, &c. taken by such,; adjudged Accessaries

Accessaries tried, and to suffer as Principals, under Stat. 28 Hen. VIII. c. 15; The said Statute in force.

And further That after any Piracy or Robbery is or shall be committed by any Pirate or Robber whatsoever every Person and Persons who knowing that such Pirate or Robber has done or committed such Piracy and Robbery shall on the Land or upon the Sea receive entertaine or conceale any such Pirate or Robber or receive or take into his Custody any Shipp Vessell Goods or Chattells which have been by any such Pirate or Robber piratically and feloniously taken shall be and are hereby likewise declared deemed and adjudged to be accessary to such Piracy and Robbery And that after the said Nine and twentieth Day of September all such Accessaries to such Piracies and Robberies shall and may be enquired of tried heard determined and adjudged after the common course of the Laws of this Land according to the said Statute made in the Twenty eighth Yeare of King Henry the Eighth as the Principalls of such Piracies and Robberies may and ought to be and no otherwise and being thereupon attainted shall suffer such Pains of Death Losses of Lands Goods and Chattells and in like Manner as the Principalls of such Piracies Robberies and Felonies ought to suffer according to the said Statute of King Henry the Eighth which is hereby declared to be and continue in full Force Any thing in this present Act contained to the contrary notwithstanding

XI. When Officers and Seamen killed or wounded in; defending Ship which shall be brought to Port, Judge of the Admiralty, &c. may levy £2 per Cent. upon the Owners, &c. for Benefit of such Officers and Seamen, or their Widows and Children, as herein mentioned.

And forasmuch as it will alsoe conduce to the suppressing of Robberies on the Sea if due Encouragement be given and Rewards allowed to such Commanders Masters and other Officers Seamen and Mariners as shall either bravely defend their owne Shipps or take seize and destroy Pirates Sea-Rovers and Enemies Be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That when any English Shipp shall have been defended against any Pirates Enemies or Sea Rovers by Fight and brought to her designed Port in which Fight any of the Officers or Seamen shall have been killed or wounded it shall and may be lawfull to and for the Judge of His Majesties High Court of Admiralty or his Surrogate in the Port of London or the Mayor Bailiffe or Chief Officer in the severall Out ports of this Kingdome upon the Petition of the Master or Seamen of such Shipp soe defended as aforesaid to call unto him Four or more good and substantiall Merchants and such as are no Adventurers or Owners of the Shipp or Goods soe defended and have no Manner of Interest therein and by Advice with them to raise and levy upon the respective Adventurers and Owners of the Shipp and Goods soe defended by Processe out of the said Court such Summe or Summs of Money as himselfe and the said Merchants by Plurality of Voices shall determine and judge reasonable not exceeding Two Pounds per Cent[um] of the Freight and of the Shipp and Goods soe defended according to the first Costs of the Goods which Summe or Summs of Money soe raised shall be distributed among the Captaine Master Officers and Seamen of the said Shipp or Widows and Children of the slaine according to the Direction of the Judge of the said Court or his Surrogate in the Port of London or the Mayor Bayliffe or Chiefe Officer in the severall Out ports of this Kingdom with the Approbation of the Merchants aforesaid who shall proportion the same according to their best Judgment unto the Shipps Company as aforesaid haveing speciall Regard unto the Widows and Children of such as shall have beene slaine in that Service and such as have beene wounded or maimed.

XII. Rewards to Informers, of Conspiracy to destroy or run away with Ship.

And for the better and more effectuall Prevention of Combinations and Confederacies for the running away with or destroying of any Shipp Goods or Merchandizes Be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That a Reward of Tenne Pounds for every Shipp or Vessell of One hundred Tons or under and Fifteene Pounds for every Shipp or Vessell of a greater Burden shall be paid by the Captaine Commander or Master of every Shipp or Vessell wherein any such Combination or Confederacy shall be sett on foot for the running away with-or destroying any such Shipp or the Goods and Merchandizes therein laden to such Person as shall first make a Discovery thereof upon due Proofe of such Combination or Confederacy the same to be paid att the Port where the Wages of the Seamen of the said Shipp are or ought to be paid after such Discovery and Proofe made.

XIII. Continuance of Act.

Provided alsoe That this Act shall be in force for Seaven Yeares and to the End of the next Session of Parliament after the Expiration of the said Seaven Yeares and no longer

XIV. Jurisdiction of Commissioners for Trial of Pirates under Stat. 28 Hen. VIII. c. 15. and this Act.; in determining Offences,; and issuing Warrants;

Governors of Plantations, &c. to assist Commissioners and their Officers.

And for the more effectuall Prosecution and Punishment of Piracies Felonies and Robberies upon the Sea and of all other Offences aforementioned Be it declared and enacted by the Authority aforesaid That the Commissioners appointed or to be appointed by the aforementioned Statute of King Henry the Eighth or the Commissioners for Tryall of Pirates appointed by this Act shall from and after the said Nine and twentieth Day of September One thousand seaven hundred have the sole Power and Authority of trying hearing and determineing the said Crimes and Offences within all or any of the Colonies and Plantations in America governed by Proprietors or under Grants or Charters from the Crowne and of bringing the Offenders to condigne Punishment and shall and may issue forth their Warrant or Warrants for the seizeing and apprehending of any Pirates Felons or Robbers upon the Sea or their Confederates or Accessaries being within any of the said Colonies and Plantations in order to their being brought to Tryall within the same or any other Plantation in America according to this Act or sent into England to be tryed there and that all and every Governour and Governours Person and Persons in Authority in the said Colonies and Plantations governed [by Proprietors (fn. 2) ] or under Charters as aforesaid shall assist the Commissioners and their subordinate Officers in doeing their Duty and alsoe in the Execution of such Warrants and otherwise and shall deliver up to such Commissioner or Commissioners Officer or Officers any Pirates Felons and Robbers upon the Sea and their Confederates and Accessaries in order to their being tryed or sent into England as aforesaid Any Letters Patents Grants or Charters of Government in and about the said Plantations or other Usages heretofore had or made to the contrary notwithstanding

XV. Governors not obeying this Act, Penalty.

[And be it hereby further declared and enacted That if any of the Governours in the said Plantations or any Person or Persons in Authority there shall refuse to yield Obedience to this Act such Refusall is hereby declared to be a Forfeiture of all and every the Charters granted for the Government or Propriety of such Plantation (fn. 3) ]

XVI. How Commissions for Trial of Offences within the Cinque Ports to be directed;; and how Trials thereupon to be had.

Provided alwaies and be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid That whensoever any Commission for the Tryall and Punishment of the Offences aforesaid or any of them shall be directed or sent to any Place within the Jurisdiction of the Cinque Ports that then every such Commission shall be directed unto the Lord Warden of the Cinque-Ports for the time being or to his Lieutenant and unto such other Persons as the Lord High Chancellor or Keeper of the Great Seale of England for the time being or Commissioners for the Custody of the Great Seale shall name and appoint And likewise that every Inquisition and Tryall to be had by vertue of such Commission soe directed and sent to any Place in the said Cinque-Ports shall be made, and had by the Inhabitants of the said Cinque-Ports or the Members of the same Any thing in this Act to the contrary [thereof (fn. 2) ] notwithstanding

XVII. Seamen, &c. deserting,; Penalty.

And for the Prevention of Seamen deserting of Merchant Shipps abroad in Parts beyond the Seas which is the chiefe Occasion of their turning Pirates and of great Detriment to Trade and Navigation in generall Be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid That all such Seamen Officers or Saylors who shall desert the Shipps or Vessells wherein they are hired to serve for that Voyage shall for such Offence forfeite all such Wages as shall be then due to him or them

XVIII. After 29th Sept. 1700, Masters of Merchant Ships forcing Men on Shore, &c.,

Punishment.

[And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That in case any Master of a Merchant Shipp or Vessell shall after the Nine and twentieth Day of September One thousand and seaven hundred during his being abroad force any Man on Shore or wilfully leave him behind in any of His Majesties Plantations or elsewhere or shall refuse to bring home with him againe all such of the Men which he carried out with him as are in a Condition to returne when he shall be ready to proceed in his Home-ward-bound Voyage every such Master shall being thereof legally convicted suffer Three Months Imprisonment without Baile or Mainprize. (fn. 4) ]

Footnotes

1 or 0.
2 interlined on the Roll.
3 annexed to the Original Act in a separate Schedule.
4 annexed to the Original Act in a separate Schedule.