Charles II, 1670
An Act to prevent and suppresse Seditious Conventicles.

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History of Parliament Trust

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John Raithby (editor)

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1819

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648-651

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'Charles II, 1670: An Act to prevent and suppresse Seditious Conventicles.', Statutes of the Realm: volume 5: 1628-80 (1819), pp. 648-651. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=47409 Date accessed: 23 October 2014.


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Persons of the Age of 16 Years and upwards being present at any Conventicle.

Justices to record Offence, and such Record deemed a Conviction.; Penalty for First Offence.; The Record, &c. to be returned to next Quarter Sessions.

For providing further and more speedy Remedies against the growing and dangerous practices of Seditious Sectaries and other disloyall Persons who under pretence of tender Consciences have or may at their Meetings contrive Insurrections (as late experience hath shewen) Bee it enacted by the Kings most excellent Majestie by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spirituall and Temporall and Commons in this present Parliament assembled and by authoritie of the same That if any person of the Age of Sixteene yeares or upwards being a Subject of this Realme at any time after the Tenth day of May next shall be present at any Assembly Conventicle or Meeteing under colour or pretence of any Exercise of Religion in other manner then according to the Liturgy and practice of the Church of England in any place within the Kingdome of England, Dominion of Wales or Towne of Berwicke upon Tweede, at which Conventicle, Meeting or Assembly there shall be five persons or more assembled together over and besides those of the same Household, if it be in a House where there is a Family inhabiting, or if it be in a House, Feild or place where there is noe Family inhabiting then where any five persons or more are soe assembled as aforesaid it shall and may be lawfull to and for any one or more Justices of the Peace of the County Limitt, Division, Corporation or Liberty wherein the offence aforesaid shall bee committed or for the Cheife Magistrate of the place where such offence aforesaid shall be committed, and he and they are hereby required and enjoyned upon proofe to him or them respectively made of such offence either by Confession of the partie or Oath of two Witnesses (which Oath the said Justice and Justices of the Peace and cheife Magistrate respectively are hereby impowered and required to administer, or by notorious Evidence and Circumstance of the Fact to make a Record of every such offence under his or their Hands and Seales respectively which Record soe made as aforesaid shall to all intents and purposes be in Law taken and adjudged to be a full and perfect Conviction of every such Offender for such Offence, and thereupon the said Justice, Justices and cheife Magistrate respectively shall impose on every such Offender soe convict as aforesaid a Fine of Five shillings for such first Offence which Record and Conviction shall be certifyed by the said Justice Justices or cheife Magistrate at the next Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the County or place where the Offence was committed,

II. Penalty for further Offence.

Penalties in Cases of Poverty levied on the Goods of other Offenders.; Coustables, &c. to levy the same under Warrant, and pay it to the Justice immediately.; How Penalties to be divided.; Charge and Discharge of the King's Share to be certified together into the Exchequer.

And bee it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That if such Offender soe convicted as aforesaid shall at any time againe committ the like Offence or Offences contrary to this Act and be thereof in manner aforesaid convicted, then such Offender soe convict of such like Offence or Offences shall for every such Offence incurr the penaltie of Ten shillings which Fine and Fines for the first and every other Offence shall be leavyed by Distresse and Sale of the Offenders Goods and Chattells, or in case of the povertie of such Offender upon the Goods and Chattells of any other person or persons who shall be then convicted in manner aforesaid of the like Offence at the same Conventicle at the discretion of the said Justice, Justices or cheife Magistrate respectively soe as the Summe to be leavyed on any one person in case of the povertie of other Offenders amount not in the whole to above the summe of Ten pounds upon occasion of any one Meeting as aforesaid. And every Constable Headburrough Tything man Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poore respectively are hereby authorized and required to leavy the same accordingly haveing first received a Warrant under the Hands and Seales of the said Justice, Justices or cheife Magistrate respectively soe to doe, the said Moneys soe to be leavyed to be forthwith delivered to the same Justice Justices or cheife Magistrate and by him or them to be destributed, the one third part [thereof to the use of the Kings Majestie his Heires and Successors to be paid to the High Sheriffe of the County for the time being in manner following that is to say the Justice or Justices of Peace shall pay the same into the Court of the respective Quarter Sessions which said Court shall deliver the same to the Sheriffe and make a Memoriall on Record of the payment and delivery thereof, which said Memoriall shall be a sufficient and finall Discharge to the said Justice and Justices and a Charge to the Sheriffe, which said Discharge and Charge shall be certifyed into the Exchequer together and not one without the other, And noe Justice shall or may be questioned or accountable for the same in the Exchequer or elsewhere then in Quarter Sessions, and other third part thereof (fn. 1) ] to and for the use of the Poore of the Parish where such Offence shall be committed, And the other third part thereof to the Informer and Informers and to such person and persons as the said Justice, Justices or cheife Magistrate respectively shall appoint haveing reguard to their diligence and industry in the discovery, disperseing and punishing of the said Conventicles,

III. Preaching, &c. in a Conventicle; Penalty, First Offence, £20.

If Preacher fled, or not able to pay, Penalty to be levied upon Goods of Persons present.; Further Offence, £40.

And bee it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That every person who shall take upon him to preach or teach in any such Meeting, Assembly or Conventicle and [shall (fn. 2) ] thereof be convicted as aforesaid shall forfeite for every such first offence the Summe of Twenty pounds to be leavyed in manner aforesaid upon his Goods and Chattells, And if the said Preacher or Teacher soe convicted be a Stranger, and his Name and Habitation not knowne, or is fled and cannot be found, or in the judgement of the Justice Justices or cheife Magistrate before whom he shall be convicted shall be thought unable to pay the same, the said Justice, Justices or cheife Magistrate respectively are hereby impowered and required to leavy the same by Warrant as aforesaid upon the Goods and Chattells of any such persons who shall be present at the same Conventicle Any thing in this or any other Act, Law or Statute to the contrary notwithstanding. And the Money soe leavyed to be disposed of in manner aforesaid, And if such Offender soe convicted as aforesaid shall at any time againe committ the like Offence or Offences contrary to this Act and be thereof convicted in manner aforesaid then such Offender soe convicted of such like Offence or Offences shall for every such Offence incurr the penalty of Forty pounds to be leavyed and disposed as aforesaid.

IV. Persons suffering Conventicles in their Houses, &c. Penalty £20.

And bee it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That every person who shall wittingly and willingly suffer any such Conventicle, Meeteing or unlawfull Assembly aforesaid to be held in his or her House, Outhouse Barne Yard or Backeside and be convicted thereof in manner aforesaid shall forfeite the summe of Twenty pounds to be leavyed in manner aforesaid upon his or her Goods and Chattells, or in case of his or her povertie or inability as aforesaid upon the Goods and Chattells of such persons who shall be convicted in manner aforesaid of being present at the same Conventicle, and the Money soe leavyed to bee disposed of in manner aforesaid.

V. No Person to pay more than £10. on account of Poverty of other Persons.

[Provided alwayes and bee it enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That noe person shall by any Clause of this Act be lyable to pay above Ten pounds for any one Meeteing in regard of the poverty of any other person or persons.

VI. Proviso for Appeals, and to whom, and in what Cases.

Trial by Jury.; If Appeal not prosecuted with Effect, &c. Treble Costs.

Provided alsoe and bee it further enacted That in all cases of this Act where the penalty or summe charged upon any offender exceeds the summe of Ten shillings and such offender shall finde himselfe agreived it shall and may be lawfull for him within one weeke after the said penalty or Money charged shall be paid or leavyed to appeale in writeing from the person or persons convicting to the judgement of the Justices of the Peace in their next Quarter Sessions, to whom the Justice or Justices of Peace, cheife Magistrate or Alderman that first convicted such offender shall returne the Money leavyed upon the Appellant. and shall certifie under his and their Hands and Seales the Evidence upon which the Conviction past with the whole Record thereof and the said Appeale, whereupon such offender may pleade and make defence and have his Tryall by a Jury thereupon, And in case such Appellant shall not prosecute with effect or if upon such Tryall he shall not be acquitted or Judgement passe not for him upon his said Appeale the said Justices at the Sessions shall give treble Costs against such offender for his unjust Appeale, And noe other Court whatsoever shall intermedle with any Cause or Causes of Appeale upon this Act but they shall be finally determined in the Quarter Sessions onely.

VII. Appellant to enter into a Recognizance or Appeal void.

Provided alwayes and bee it further enacted That upon the delivery of such Appeale as aforesaid the person [or (fn. 3) ] persons Appellant shall enter before the person or persons convicting into a Recognizance to prosecute the said Appeale with effect. Which said Recognizance the person or persons convicting is hereby impowered to take and required to certifie the same( (fn. 4) ) to the next Quarter Sessions And in case noe such Recognizance be entred into the said Appeale to be null and void, Provided alwayes That every such Appeale shall be left with the person or persons soe convicting as aforesaid at the time of the makeing thereof. (fn. 5) ]

VIII. Justices of Peace, Constables, &c. may break open Doors.

Lieutenants, Deputy Lieutenants, and Commissioned Officers of the Militia, Sheriffs, &c. on Certificate of Justice, to prevent or disperse Conventicles.

And bee it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That the Justice, Justices of the Peace and cheife Magistrate respectively, or the respective Constables Head-boroughs and Tythingmen by Warrant from the said Justice, Justices or cheife Magistrate respectively shall and may with what aide force and assistance they shall thinke fitt for the better execution of this Act after refusall or denyall to enter, breake open and enter into any House or other place where they shall be informed any such Conventicle as aforesaid is or shall be held as well within Liberties as without and take into their custody the persons there unlawfully assembled to the intent they may be proceeded against according to this Act, And that the Lieutenants or Deputy Lieutenants or any Co[m]issionated Officer of the Militia or other of his Majesties Forces with such Troopes or Companies of Horse and Foote, and alsoe the Sheriffes and other Magistrates and Ministers of Justice or any of them joyntly or severally within any the Countyes or places within this Kingdome of England, Dominion of Wales or Towne of Berwicke upon Tweede with such other Assistance as they shall thinke meete or can gett in readines with the soonest on Certificate made to them respectively under the Hand and Seale of any one Justice of the Peace or cheife Magistrate of his perticular Information or Knowledge of such unlawfull Meeting or Conventicle held or to be held in their respective Countyes or places, and that he with such assistance as he can gett together is not able to suppresse and dissolve the same shall and may and are hereby required and enjoyned to repaire unto the place where they are soe held or to be held and by the best meanes they can to dissolve, dissipate or prevent all such unlawfull Meetings, and take into their Custody such and soe many of the said persons soe unlawfully assembled as they shall thinke fitt to the intent they may be proceeded against according to this Act.

IX. Proviso as to searching Dwelling Houses of Peers of the Realm.

Provided alwayes That noe Dwelling house of any Peere of this Realme where he or his Wife shall be then resident shall be searched by vertue of this Act, but by immediate Warrant from his Majestie under his Signe Manuall, or in the presence of the Lieutenant or one Deputy Lieutenant or two Justices of the Peace whereof one to be of the Quorum of the same County or Rideing.

X. Constables, and other Officers, omitting their Duty;

Penalty £ 5; Justices of Peace, &c.; Penalty £ 100.

And bee it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That if any Constable Headborough Tythingman Church warden or Overseer of the Poore who shall know or be credibly informed of any such Meeteings or Conventicles held-within his Precincts Parish or Limitts and shall not give information thereof to some Justice of the Peace or the cheife Magistrate and endeavour the conviction of the partyes according to his duty, but such Constable, Headburrough, Tythingman, Churchwarden, Overseers of the Poore; or any person lawfully called in aide of the Constable, Headburrough or Tythingman shall wilfully and wittingly oramitt the performance of his duty in the execution of this Act and be thereof convicted in manner aforesaid he shall forfeite for every such offence the summe of Five pounds to be leavyed upon his Goods and Chattells and disposed in manner aforesaid. And that if any Justice of the Peace or cheife Magistrate shall wilfully and wittingly ommitt the performance of his duty in the execution of this Act he shall forfeite the summe of One hundred pounds the one moyety to the use of his Majestie, the other Moyetie to the use of the Informer to be recovered by Action, Suite, Bill or Plaint in any of his-Majesties Courts at [Westwininster (fn. 6) ] wherein noe Essoyne, Protection or Wager of Law shall lye.

XI. In Action for executing Act,

General Issue,; Treble Costs.

And bee it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That if any person be at any time sued for putting in execution any of the powers contained in this Act otherwise then upon Appeale allowed by this Act such person shall and may pleade the generall Issue and give the speciall matter in Evidence, and if the Plaintiffe be Nonsuite or a Verdict passe for. the Defendant, or if the Plaintiffe discontinue his Action, or if upon Demurrer Judgement be given for the Defendant every such Defendant shall have his full treble Costs.

XII. Act to be interpreted most beneficially for suppressing Conventicles.

Proceedings not void for Form.; Justices to certify as to Offenders Inhabitants of other Counties, or having fled thereto, to Justices of such other Counties.; who are to levy the Penalty.

And bee it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That this Act and all Clauses therein contained shall be construed most largely and beneficially for the suppresseing of Conventicles and for the justification and encouragement of all persons to be employed in the execution thereof, And that noe Record, Warrant or Mittimus to be made by vertue of this Act, or any proceedings thereupon shall be reversed avoided or any way impeached by reason of any defaulte in forme, And in case any person offending against this: Act shall be an Inhabitant in any other County or Corporation or fly into any other County or Corporation after the offence committed the Justice of the Peace or cheife Magistrate before whom he shall be convicted as aforesaid shall certifiethe same under his Hand and Seale to any Justice of Peace or cheife Magistrate of such other County or Corporation wherein the said person or persons are Inhabitants or are fled into, which said Justice or cheife Magistrate respectively is hereby authorized and required to leavy the penalty or penaltyes in this Act mentioned upon the Goods and Chattells of such person or persons as fully as the said other Justice of Peace might have done in case he or they had beene Inhabitants in the place where the offence was committed.

XIII. Limitation of Prosecution.

No Double Punishment.

Provided alsoe That noe person shall be punished for any offence against this Act unlesse such Offender be prosecuted for the same within three moneths after the Offence committed, And that noe person who shall be punished for any offence by vertue of this Act shall be punished for the same offence by vertue of any other Act or Law whatsoever.

XIV. Aldermen within London to have the same Power there, and subject to the same Penalties, as Justice of Peace elsewhere.

Provided and bee it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That every Alderman of London for the time being within the Citty of London and the Liberties thereof shall have (and they and every of them are hereby impowered and required to execute) the same power and authority within London and the Liberties thereof for the examining convicting and punishing of all offences within this Act committed within London and the Liberties thereof, which any Justice of Peace hath by this Act in any County of England and shall be subject to the same penalties and punishments for not doeing that which by this Act is directed to be done by any Justice of Peace in any County of England.

XV. Penalty on Feme Covert to be levied on Husband.

Provided and bee it enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That if the person offending and convicted as aforesaid be a Feme-covert cohabiting with her Husband the penalties of Five shillings and Ten shillings soe as aforesaid incurred shall be leavyed by Warrant as aforesaid upon the Goods and Chattells of the Husband of such Feme-covert.

XVI. Proviso respecting Imprisonment, &c. of Peers.

Provided alsoe That noe Peere of this Realme shall be attached or imprisoned by vertue or Force of this Act. Any thing matter or clause therein to the contrary notwithstanding.

XVII. Proviso for the King's Supremacy in Ecclesiastical Affaires.

Provided alsoe That neither this Act nor any thing therein contained shall extend to invalidate or avoid his Majesties Supremacy in Ecclesiasticall Affaires, But that his Majestie and his Heires and Successors may from time to time and at all times, hereafter exercise and enjoy all powers and authorities in Ecclesiasticall Affaires as fully and as amply as himselfe or any of his Predecessors have or might have done the same. Any thing in this Act notwithstanding.

Footnotes

1 annexed to the Original Act in a separate Schedule.
2 interlined on the Roll.
3 and O.
4 to O.
5 annexed to the Original Act in a separate Schedule.
6 Westminster O.