Reasons for passing this Act.
Wilful burning of Ricks of Corn, Hay, &c, or Barns, &c. or destroying Cattle, in the Night-time; Felony.
Whereas diverse leud and evill disposed persons intending the ruine and impoverishment of their Fellow
Subjects have devised and of late secretly in the night time, and at other times when they thinke their deeds
are not knowne frequently practised in severall parts of this Kingdome unlawfull and wicked courses in burning of
Ricks and Stacks of Hay, Corne and Graine destroying of Buildings, Trees, and cutting, maiming, wounding and
killing of Horses, Sheepe, Beasts, and other Catle in contempt of the Lawes and the insupportable wrong and
dammage of many of his Majestyes good Subjects. For prevention whereof and discovery of the offenders Bee it
enacted by the Kings most excellent Majestie by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spirituall and Temporall
and of the Coo[m]mons in this present Parlyament assembled and by authoritie of the same That where in any part of this
Kingdome any person or persons after the first day of March in the yeare of our Lord One thousand six hundred
and seaventy shall in the night time malitiously unlawfully and willingly burne or cause to be burnt or destroyed
any Ricks or Stacks of Corne, Hay or Graine, Barns [or (fn. 1) ] other Houses or Buildings or Kilns or shall in the
night time malitiously unlawfully and willingly kill or destroy any Horses, Sheepe or other Catell of any person
or persons whatsoever every such offence shall be adjudged Felony and the Offenders and every of them shall suffer
as in case of Felony.
II. Proviso for Blood, Dower, &c.
Provided alwayes That noe Attainder for any the Offences made Felony by vertue of this Act shall make or worke
any corruption of Blood, losse of Dower or Disinheritance of Heire or Heires.
III. Offender may elect to be transported for Seven Years.
Returning before Seven Ycaraexpired, Death.
And bee it further enacted and declared That in case any person or persons who shall be convict or attainted of any
the Offences made Felony by vertue of this Act as aforesaid (to avoid Judgement of Death or Execution thereupon
for such his Offence) shall make his Election to be transported beyond the Seas to any of his Majestyes Plantations
That then the Justices of Assize, Oyer and Terminer Goale delivery or Justices of the Peace before whom such Attainder
shall be convict by vertue of this Act and every of them respectively shall cause Judgement to be entred against
[every (fn. 1) ] such Offender that he be transported beyond the Seas to some of his Majestyes Plantations in the said
Judgement to be perticularly mentioned and expressed there to remaine for the space of seaven yeares, and that
in pursuance of the said Judgement the Sheriffe or Sheriffes of the County or Citty where such Offender shall be soe
convict or attainted shall cause the said Offender to be safely conveyed and imbarqued to be transported as [aforesaid,
and if any such Offender shall returne into this Kingdome before the expiration of the said seaven yeares he shall
suffer death as a Felon, and as if noe such Election to be transported had beene made by him. (fn. 2) ]
IV. Maiming Cattle, or throwing down Inclosures, &c. in the Night-time;
And bee it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That if any person or persons shall in the night time
malitiously unlawfully and willingly maime, wound or otherwise hurt any Horses, Sheepe or other Cattell whereby
the same shall not be killed or utterly destroyed or shall destroy any Plantations of Trees or throw downe any
Inclosures in manner aforesaid That then every such Offender or Offenders shall loose and forfeite unto the partie
greived treble the Dammage which he or they shall thereby sustaine, the same to be recovered by Action of Trespasse
or upon the Case or be taken at the Common Law.
V. Three or more Justices of the Peace for County, &c. where Offence committed, may inquire of the Offence;
may issue Warrants for Jurors, and apprehending suspected Persons, and may summon Witnesses; Proviso for Witnesses being Offenders.; Witness refusing to appear or to be examined, committed.
And bee it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That upon the complaint and request of the party or
partyes injured in any such manner any three or more Justices of the Peace for the County, Division, Citty,
Towne corporate or place where such Offence shall be committed, whereof one to be of the Quorum shall and
may and they are thereunto authorized and required by vertue of this Act to inquire aswell by the Oathes of twelve
lawfull men or more of the same County as by examination of Witnesses upon Oath or by any lawfull wayes or
meanes which to them shall seeme meete of and concerning any the Offences before incurred and Offenders therein,
and in order thereunto to issue out Warrants aswell for the summoning of Jurors as for the apprehending of all
such persons as shall or may be thereof suspected and to take their Examination touching the same as alsoe to cause
all such other persons as to them shall seeme likely to make discovery thereof to appeare before them and to give
Information upon Oath of and concerning their knowledge of the Premises soe as noe person soe to be examined
by the said Justices of the Peace shall be convicted, or in any wise proceeded against for or by reason of any Offence
concerning which he or they shall be soe examined as a Witnesse and shall upon such his Examination make a true
discovery thereof, And in case any person or persons who by the said Justices be thought likely to make discovery
as aforesaid shall refuse to appeare or to be examined as a Witnesse being duely suu[m]moned by the said Justices
in pursuance of this Act, It shall and may be lawfull for the said Justices of the Peace to committ the party
soe refuseing to the common Goale for the said County without Baile or Mainprise untill he shall submitt to
be examined upon Oath of and concerning his knowledge touching the same Offence or the Offenders by whome
the same was committed.
VI. No Double Punishment. Limitation of Prosecution.
Provided 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, nor shall be questioned for the same unlesse
he be proceeded against within six moneths after the Offence committed.