May 1649
An Act for drayning the Great Level of the Fens, extending itself into the Counties of Northampton, Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincoln, Cambridge and Huntingdon, and the Isle of Ely, or some of them.

Sponsor

History of Parliament Trust

Publication

Author

C.H. Firth, R.S. Rait (eds)

Year published

1911

Supporting documents

Pages

130-139

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'May 1649: An Act for drayning the Great Level of the Fens, extending itself into the Counties of Northampton, Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincoln, Cambridge and Huntingdon, and the Isle of Ely, or some of them.', Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660 (1911), pp. 130-139. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=56338 Date accessed: 19 September 2014.


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Contents

May, 1649

[29 May, 1649.]

The Advantage of Draining the Fens.; The Extent and Bounds of the great Level.

Whereas the said Great Level, by reason of frequent overflowing of the Rivers of Welland, Neane, Grant, Owse, Brandon, Mildenhal and Stoake have been of small and uncertain profit, but (if drained), may be improved and made profitable, and of great Advantage to the Commonwealth, and the particular Owners, Commoners and Inhabitants, and be fit to bear Cole-seed and Rape-seed in great abundance, which is of singular use to make Sope and Oyls within this Nation, to the advancement of the Trade of Clothing and Spinning of Wooll, and much of it will be improved into good pasture for feeding and breeding of Cattel, and for Tillage, to be sown with Corn and Grain, and for Hemp and Flax in great quantity, for making all sorts of Linen Cloth, and Cordage for Shipping within this Nation, which will increase Manufactures, Commerce, and Trading at home and abroad, will relieve the Poor, by setting them on work, and will many other ways redound to the great advantage and strengthning of the Nation: And first, to the end it may be known what that Great Level is, and for the ascertaining the Extent, Bounds and Limits thereof, and for prevention of all doubts, questions and ambiguities touching the same, Be it Enacted, Ordained and Declared by the Authority of this present Parliament, That the Moors, Marishes, Fenny and low surrounded Grounds, bounding themselves Eastward from the Bridge and Cawsey of Stoake, unto Brandon Bridge, upon the Uplands of Northwold, Methwold, Feltwell, Hockwold and Wilton, in the County of Norfolk; and from Brandon Bridge, unto the end of Worlington Load, upon Mildenhall River, upon the Uplands of Brandon, the low grounds of Waynsford, excluding the same, the Uplands of Laking Heath, the low grounds of Eastwell, excluding the same, and the Uplands of Mildenhall in the County of Suffolk, Southward from Worlington Load, unto Burwell Block, upon the Uplands of Freckingham, Isleham, Foodham, Soham and Wicken in the County of Cambridge, and excluding the low grounds of Burwell, Lanward, and other places lying Eastward from Burwell Block aforesaid; and from thence unto the Mill near Anglesey Abbey, upon the Uplands of Burwell Reach, Swaffam Prior, Swaffam Bulbeck, and Bottesham in the said County of Cambridge, and from thence unto the Ferry-place at Clayhith, upon the Uplands called Qui-Hall, the low ground called Low-Fen, and the Uplands of Horningsey and Clayhith in the said County, excluding the low grounds called Low-Fen and Offen, and from the said Ferryplace unto Over Load, upon the Uplands of Waterbeach, Cottenham, Rampton, Wivelingham and Over, in the said County of Cambridge, and upon the low grounds of Swacey in the said County, excluding the same Westward from Erith, unto the Dam lately made upon the River Nean near Standground, upon the Uplands of Somersham, and the Soake thereof, Warboys, Wistow, Berry, Ramsey, Upwood, Raveley, Woodwalton, Sawtrey, Connington, Glatton and Holme, Caldicot, Denton, Stilton, Yaxley, Fasset, and Standground in the County of Huntington, excluding the low grounds lying on the Northside of the River Owse, above Erith, and from the said Dam unto Peterborough Bridge, upon the said River of Neane; and from thence unto the Ferry-place near Waldram Hall, upon the Uplands of Peterborough, and the Soake thereof, in the County of Northampton, Northward from the said Ferry-place near Waldram Hall, unto Crowland Bridge, upon the River of Welland; and from thence to Dowsedale, upon the banks of great Porsand; and from thence unto Gayhurne upon the Souther Bank, and from thence unto Tilneyhurne, upon the Bank of the Fen-ground called Waldersey, and from thence unto Elme-Leame at Grangers House, upon the Bank of the Fenground called Coldham, and from thence unto the River of Neane, near Thurlings in Upwell, upon the Bank of Needham, called Bishops Dike; and from thence unto Well-Creek, at the Northwest corner of Walsingham Fen, upon the Bank of the grounds in Upwell and Outwell, called Plawfield and Churchfield, excluding the aforesaid Fens and grounds called Waldersey, Coldham, Needham, Plawfield and Churchfield; and from thence unto Salters Load, upon the new Podike Bank; and from thence unto the mouth of the River Wissey, upon the River Owse; and from thence unto Helgey Bridge, upon the River Wissey; and from thence unto the Upland at the end of the Bank of the grounds late of Edmond Skipwith Esq deceased, upon the said Bank; and from thence unto Stoake Bridge, upon the Uplands of Roxham, Dereham, Wereham, Wretton and Stoake in the said County of Norfolk and all Moors, Marishes, Fenny and low surrounded grounds, within the Bounds, Limits and Precincts aforesaid, are and be and shall from time to time hereafter by vertue of this Act, be taken and esteemed to be the said great Level, to be drained, as hereafter is expressed; Except always the imbanked grounds late of the said Edmond Skipwith Esq; lying on the Northside of the River of Owse.

Francis Earl of Bedfords undertaking, Oct. 13 Carol.; William Earl of Bedford, and his Assignes, declared undertakers,; and to drain the Level before 10 Oct. 1656.; With Exception.

And whereas Francis late Earl of Bedford in his life time did undertake the said work, and had Ninety five thousand Acres, Parcel of the said reat Level, decreed and set forth in October, in the thirteenth year of the Reign of the late King Charls, in recompence thereof; and he and his Participants, and the Adventurers in the said work, and their Heirs and Assignes, have made a good progress therein, with expence of great and vast sums of money; and so far proceeded, as that the greatest part of the said Ninety five thousand Acres was divided by Twenty Lots and Shares amongst the said Francis Earl of Bedford, Adventurers and Participants, and their Assignes; but by reason of some late interruptions, the works there made have faln into decay, so that the intended benefit to the Commonwealth, hath been in a great measure hitherto prevented and delayed: And whereas William now Earl of Bedford, Son and Heir of the said Francis late Earl of Bedford, and the said Participants and Adventurers, their Heirs and Assignes, are content to proceed effectually in the said work of Draining, and forthwith after the passing of this Act, to begin and prosecute the same, without cessation or intermission, until the work be done, unseasonable times and extremity of weather onely excepted: To the end therefore so publique a work, proper for the care of a Parliament, may continue, proceed and be prosecuted with Justice, Equality and Effect, Be it Enacted and Ordained, and it is hereby Enacted and Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, That the said William Earl of Bedford, the said Participants and Adventurers, and his and their Heirs and Assignes, be and are hereby declared to be the Undertakers of the said work of Draining the said great Level, and shall at or before the Tenth day of October, which shall be in the year of Our Lord, One thousand six hundred fifty six, cause the same to be Drained and Imbanked, without prejudice to the Navigation in the said Rivers, or the parts adjacent; and all the said Level, except as hereafter is excepted, shall be made Winter ground, in such maner as the said Rivers or any of them shall not overflow the grounds within the said Level, Breaches by inevitable accidents, which are in convenient time to be repaired and made good again by the said William Earl of Bedford, Participants and Adventurers, his and their Heirs and Assignes, onely accepted; And except such Lands and grounds, parcel of the said Level, which are not to exceed Fifteen thousand Acres at the most, which may be left in several places for Receptacles and Beds for the water, upon sudden Rains and Floods, besides the Meers, Pools and Channels within the said Level, which are not intended to be Drained.

William Earl of Bedford, Edward Russell, Robert; Henley, Robert Castle, Esquires, to have 95000 acres.; Habendum.; Commissioners to determine differences.

And be it therefore further Enacted and Ordained, That the said William now Earl of Bedford, Edward Russell, Robert Henley, and Robert Castle Esqs; their Heirs Assignes, upon the trusts hereafter following, and in recompence of the aforesaid Charge and Adventure, and for the bearing the charge of Draining, and maintaining the works from time to time, shall have and enjoy the said whole Ninety five thousand Acres, as well those parts which were not, as those which were comprized within the said twenty Lots, parcel of the said great Level, and lying within the Boundaries before-mentioned, as the same have heretofore been set forth in October, in the Thirteenth year of the Reign of the said late King, or hereafter shall by vertue of this Act be allotted, set forth, severed or divided for that purpose, To hold to them the said William Earl of Bedford, Edward Russell, Robert Henley and Robert Castle, their Heirs and Assignes, to the use of them, their Heirs and Assignes, in trust nevertheless for the said William Earl of Bedford, Participants and Adventurers, and their Heirs and Assignes, who had or have the said Twenty Lots, and the Heirs of such Assignes, and for no other person or persons, according to their several and respective proportions, and to execute Estates accordingly upon Request. And in case any difference shall arise, who be or ought to be Adventurers and Participants or Assigns, or about proportions assigned, then the Commissioners hereafter named, or any six or more of them, shall have power to determine the same.

Liberty given the Earl to make Sluices, &c.

And it is hereby further Enacted and Ordained, That it shall and may be lawful to and for the said William Earl of Bedford, his Participants and Adventurers, and his and their Heirs and Assigns, and the persons imployed by them, to make any new, or enlarge any old Cuts, Sasses, Sluces, Drains, Banks, Receptacles or other Works necessary or conducing to or for the said Draining, through or upon the Grounds of any person or persons, within or without the said Level; and for that purpose from time to time shall have free passage, ingress, egress and regress for themselves, their Agents and Workmen, and their Horses, Carts and Carriages into, by and through the said Grounds or any part thereof, paying or tendring to the Owners of, and parties interessed in the said Grounds, for all such Cuts, Sasses, Sluces, Drains, Banks, Receptacles, or other Works made or to be made in and upon the Grounds, without or within the said Level, such reasonable recompence, as by the said Owners and parties interessed shall be agreed upon; or if any difference happen therein, then as shall be ordered and adjudged by the Commissioners hereafter named, or by any six or more of them.

Provided her intermeddle not with the River Welland,; nor make any Cuts in Deeping Fens.

Provided, That the said Earl of Bedford, Participants, Adventurers nor Commissioners, nor any of them, shall by any Authority hereby given or granted, intermeddle with the River of Welland, or interrupt the fall of the waters into the same, nor draw any the waters from the said River; but that all the waters in, and falling into that River, shall be suffered to go into the direct course to Spalding, and so to the Sea, for the preservation of the Countrey by clearing the out-fall; nor shall by any Authority hereby given or granted, make any Cuts, Drains or other Works, in, upon or through any parts of Deeping Fens, but that the same be wholly left to the Drainers of those Fens as formerly.

Commissioners of Sewers not to intermeddle with the said Level.; The Earls Power.; Those that refuse to pay Taxes.; Shares to be sold.

And be it further Enacted and Ordained, That no Commissioner or Commissioners of Sewers, by vertue or colour of any Commission in that behalf, shall at all intermeddle in the said Level, to interrupt, disturb or molest the said William Earl of Bedford, his Participants, Adventurers, his and their Heirs and Assigns, Agents and Workmen, in the carrying on and perfecting of the said Work; and that the said Earl of Bedford, his Participants, Adventurers, Heirs and Assigns, or any five or more of them, shall have power to Collect and Levy, as well the arrears of old Taxes formerly set upon and among themselves, as to set new Taxes upon and among themselves, and Levy money out of the said Ninety five thousand Acres, for and towards the Charges of the said work of Draining, and all other Charges tending to or depending upon the same, according as they or any five or more of them in their judgements shall think fit; and to make Orders and Rules for the doing and maintaining the said work, and to govern and manage the same, and to appoint and imploy such Officers, Agents, Ministers and Workmen, and to change them or any of them, and to imploy others in their rooms from time to time as they shall think fit; and also shall have power to give recompence to such Officers, Agents, Ministers, Surveyors Workmen, and all other person or persons whatsoever, imployed by them in or about the said work of Draining, or maintaining thereof, in Land out of the said Ninety five thousand Acres, or Money, or both, as they or any five or more of them in their judgements shall think fit: And that if the said William Earl of Bedford, Participants and Adventurers, his and their Heirs and Assigns, or any of them, which now have, or hereafter shall have any part of the said Ninety five thousand Acres, shall refuse or make default to pay such arrears or proportionable Tax or Taxes as shall be laid on them, in respect of his or their share in or out of the said Ninety five thousand Acres, by such five or more of the Participants and Adventurers as aforesaid, That then for such default, the Lot or Share in the said Lands of such as shall not bring in and pay their Tax and Taxes so to be laid, shall be forthwith sold by such five or more of the said Participants and Adventurers as aforesaid, in such proportion as they shall think fit, restoring the surplusage of the Money, if any be, for raising and payment of the said Arrears, Tax or Taxes, by any writing under any five or more of their hands and Seals; and the person or persons to whom such Sale shall be made, shall be a lawful Assignee of so much as shall be so sold, to all intents and purposes.

Who shall have the authority as Commissioners of Sewers.; Their Power.; according to that of Romney Marsh.

And whereas after the work shall be done, there will require from time to time a care to uphold and maintain the same, Be it Enacted and Ordained, That no Commissioners of Sewers, by vertue of any Commission in that behalf, shall at all intermeddle in the said Level, but that the Commissioners named in this Act, and such others as shall be hereafter nominated in their rooms, from time to time under the Great Seal of England, or by Act of Parliament, And the said William Earl of Bedford, Participants and Adventurers, his and their Heirs and Assignes, each of them, the said Earl, Participants and Adventurers, their Heirs and Assignes, having Two hundred Acres apiece of the said Ninety five thousand Acres, or any five or more of them, after the said Work of Draining shall be adjudged; and none other person or persons shall within the said Level have such and the same Power and Authority as Commissioners of Sewers, authorized by Act or Acts of Parliament heretofore made and Enacted, and now in force, have or might have within the said Level: And also shall have power to make Taxes from time to time, upon the Ninety five thousand Acres onely, for the upholding, repairing and maintaining of the said Works: And shall have power by vertue of this Act, for Leyving of the said Taxes, to Sequester and receive the Profits of the Defaulters Lands, parcel of the said Ninety five thousand Acres, for satisfying the same, or to take Distresses in and upon the same: And shall have further power for the maintenance of the said Work, to make such By-Laws and Orders, as by and according to the Laws and Customs of Romney Marsh is provided or used, as well for the laying and raising of Taxes for the maintenance of the said Work, as for the making and appointing Officers for the overseeing and maintaining thereof from time to time, and allowing fit Salaries and Recompence for the same, and for all other necessary purposes and things, as they shall think fit and requisite in that behalf, out of the said Ninety five thousand Acres onely.

Commissioners to meet the seventh day after every Term in the Middle Temple Hall,; to judge what is Drained.; Undertakers quietly to enjoy their proportions.; to be held in Soccage.

And be it further Enacted and Ordained, That the Commissioners hereafter named, or any five or more of them, shall hereby have power to meet in the Middle Temple Hall London, upon the Seventh day after the end of every Term, there to advise and direct, do and act, according to the powers in this Act given to them; And shall have power from time to time to adjourn their Meeting to such other time and place as they shall think fit; and hereby shall have power by view or otherwise, as to them shall seem meet, from time to time, when and so often as any part or parts of the said Level, amounting to the quantity of Thirty thousand Acres or more, shall be Drained as aforesaid, to judge the same to be Drained, and forthwith to give the said William Earl of Bedford, Edward Russel, Robert Henley and Robert Castle, their Heirs and Assignes in trust as aforesaid, Seisin and Possession of his and their proportions of the Ninety five thousand Acres, formerly set forth as aforesaid, or according to such alterations therein, as shall be made by vertue of this Act, lying within the said quantity of Thirty thousand Acres or more that shall be so adjudged: And that the said William Earl of Bedford, Edward Russel, Robert Henley and Robert Castle, their Heirs and Assignes, upon such trust as aforesaid, shall from thenceforth quietly and peaceably hold and enjoy the said proportions that are or shall be set forth and allotted to them: And the said whole Ninety five thousand Acres, when the said whole Level shall be adjudged to be Drained as aforesaid, whereby they shall become true and lawful Owners thereof, and rightfully seised to them and their Heirs, to the use of them and their Heirs, upon such trust as aforesaid, to hold the same, without any let, interruption, diminution or disturbance of the said late King, his Heirs or Successors, or any claiming by, from or under him; And shall hold the same of the Manor of East-Greenwich, by Fealty onely, in Free and Common Soccage, and not otherwise, Any Law, Decree, Act of Sewers, or other thing whatsoever to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.

Commissioners to make satisfaction for any prejudice by the said Draining.; A further power to the Commissioners; Lands not contributory.

And whereas some particular persons and Parishes do conceive, That the Draining in one place, would drown or make worse their Lands in other places; and whereas likewise divers persons have or will receive benefit by the said Draining, and do not yet contribute towards the said Ninety five thousand Acres; and others do conceive and fear, that they shall be drawn to contribute to the same, though they receive no benefit thereby; and do further alledge, that the said Ninety five thousand Acres in many places are not indifferently set out, Be it therefore further Enacted and Ordained, That the said Commissioners hereafter named, or any six or more of them, shall have power within three years after the said Draining adjudged, and such possession given as aforesaid, to give or make, and shall give and make satisfaction out of the Ninety five thousand Acres, to such person or persons whose Lands or Interest therein shall be made worse in quality or condition by the aforesaid Draining, then they were before the undertaking of the Draining of the said Level in the Sixth year of the Reign of the said late King, and proportionable to the loss and damage the Owners and Occupiers of such Lands shall receive by reason of the said Draining: And also shall have power, within the said Three years, to give allowance unto the said William Earl of Bedford. Edward Russel, Robert Henley and Robert Castle, their Heirs and Assignes (in trust as aforesaid) out of all such Lands as are not contributory to the said Ninety five thousand Acres, and shall be better in quality or condition, for or by reason of the said Draining, or be thereby secured from Overflowings and Inundations, and proportionable to the benefit the Owners and Occupiers of such Lands shall receive thereby; and shall also have like power within the said Three years after possession given as aforesaid, to alter, change and restore such part of the said Ninety five thousand Acres, as shall be found upon Complaint to be unequally and unduly set forth; And shall thereupon set forth in lieu thereof, like proportions in such other places within the said Level, as shall then be adjudged to be Drained, to and for the said William Earl of Bedford, Edward Russel, Robert Henley and Robert Castle, their Heirs and Assignes, to be by them quietly enjoyed in trust, and to be holden of the said Manor of East-Greenwich as aforesaid; The Parliament hereby Declaring, That in the Adjudica tion care shall be taken, that the Lands which since the said undertaking, in the said Sixth year of the said late King, have not or shall not receive benefit by the said Draining, may not be made contributory to the said Ninety five thousand Acres, nor to the Charges of the said Draining, but that the Contributions shall be taken onely out of such Lands as shall be bettered by the said Draining.

Any persons may be admitted to adventure.; within three months after the passing this Act.; The Undertakers to appoint a Treasurer.; Adventurers not to pay above fifty shillings an Acre, beside repairs.

And be it further Enacted and Ordained, That any person or persons, Bodies Politique or Corporate, shall and may be admitted to adventure for any quantity or share of Two thousand Acres, One thousand Acres, or Five hundred Acres, parcel of the said Ninety five thousand Acres, so as the whole quantity of Land which all person or persons, Bodies Politique or Corporate so to be admitted to adventure for, exceed not thirty thousand Acres, to be indifferently divided and set out to such Adventurers in any part of the said Twenty Lots, except in one Lot in the Lordship of Thorney, belonging to the said William Earl of Bedford, at the Rate of Fifty shillings an Acre, To have and to hold, to them and their Heirs, so as the party or parties so desiring to adventure, shall within three moneth after the passing of this Act, subscribe in a Book to be appointed by the said William Earl of Bedford, Edward Russel, Robert Henley and Robert Castle, or any two of them, to be kept for that purpose, for how many Acres he or they will make choyce to adventure for; and so as one half of the whole sum which the adventure of any person or persons, Bodies Politique or Corporate so adventuring, at the rate of Fifty shillings an Acre, shall amount unto as aforesaid, shall be paid in to such Treasurer or Receiver as shall be appointed by the said William Earl of Bedford, Edward Russel, Robert Henley and Robert Castle, or any two of them, before the end of three moneths next after the passing of this Act, and the other half thereof within one year next after the passing of this Act: And from and after such payments the said William Earl of Bedford, Edward Russell, Robert Henley and Robert Castle, their Heirs and Assignes, to stand trusted for such party or parties so adventuring, their Heirs and Assignes, according to their proportions adventured for, as for the other former Adventurers and Participants, and their Heirs and Assignes. And the said William Earl of Bedford, Edward Russel, Robert Henley and Robert Castle, or any two of them, are hereby authorized to appoint as well a Treasurer for receipt of all such Moneys, as a Clerk for keeping the said Book; and shall have power to change them as often as they shall see cause, and to dispose the money paid in by any such new Adventurer, or any part thereof, for the perfecting the said work of Draining; and the surplusage, if any be, amongst the said William Earl of Bedford, and former Adventurers and Participants, their Heirs and Assignes, and such person or persons from whom any Land, part of the Ninety five thousand Acres, shall be taken by reason of such new Adventurers, shall receive a full and proportionable Compensation for such Lands, out of the residue of the said Ninety five thousand Acres, from every one share and share like, according to the proportion of the adventure, except the said William Earl of Bedfords Lot in Thorney, for which nevertheless he is to be contributory in proportion by other his Lands, parcel of the said Ninety five thousand Acres for supply thereof. And in case any difference arise about the setting out any such adventures, or proportioning of satisfaction, the Commis sioners hereafter named, or any six or more of them, are hereby authorized and required to hear and determine the same: And such person or persons adventuring as aforesaid, shall not pay, or be contributory to pay any more then the said sum of fifty shillings an Acre, for or towards the doing of the said work of Draining; yet nevertheless, every such person or persons so adventuring, after the said work of Draining, or any part thereof, shall be judged to be done, shall always afterwards for the quantity of his and their adventure, be liable and equally contributory, according to his and their proportion, to and with the residue of the said Ninety five thousand Acres, or any part thereof, for and towards the repairs, maintenance and keeping of the said works of Draining.

Decree of Sewers 19 Jac.; and another of 14 Car. made null.

And whereas by a Law or Decree of Sewers, made in the Nineteenth year of the Reign of King James, One hundred and twenty thousand Acres was decreed to be given for the Draining of the said Level; And whereas by another Law or Decree of Sewers, made at Huntington in the Fourteenth year of the Reign of the said late King Charls, Fifty seven thousand Acres, over and above the said ninety five thousand Acres, were also decreed to be given for the said Draining: Now to the end the Countrey may not be double charged, nor any diminution of the recompence hereby intended to be given for the said work, Be it therefore further Enacted, That the said two Laws or Decrees of Sewers shall from henceforth be Null, void and of none effect, to all intents and purposes whatsoever.

Adventurers to choose a Treasurer and Clerk.; Conveyances to be entred with the Clerk, or Inrolled.

And to prevent differences between the Adventurers and Participants, their Heirs and Assigns, and that Adventurers and Purchasers may enjoy what of right to them belongs, Be it further Enacted, That the said William Earl of Bedford, Adventurers and Participants, their Heirs and Assigns, or so many of them as will, do meet the Thursday fortnight next after the passing of this Act, in the Middle Temple Hall London, and there choose a Treasurer and Clerk; and within three moneths after the passing of this Act, cause to be entred by the said Clerk in the aforesaid book, the names and particular Shares of each Adventurer, Participant, or Heir or Assignee of any Adventurer or Participant in the said Ninety five thousand Acres: And that no Conveyance hereafter to be made, either by the said William Earl of Bedford, Edward Russell, Robert Henley and Robert Castle, and their Heirs, in pursuance of the aforesaid trust, or otherwise, or any Assignment. Lease, Grant or Conveyance by any Adventurer or Participant, their Heirs or Assigns, of any of the said Ninety five thousand Acres, or any thing or Charge upon or out of the same, shall be valid or of force, until such Assignment, Lease, Grant, or Conveyance or Charge shall be entred in the Book with the said Clerk for the time being, or Inrolled in the Chancery.

Commissioners may examine Witnesses upon Oath. &c.; Sheriffs to be aiding.

And be it further Enacted and Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, That the Commissioners hereafter named, or any six or more of them, shall and may inform themselves by examination of Witnesses upon Oath, which hereby they or any six or more of them shall have power to administer, and by their own view. or by both or either of the said ways, as in their judgement shall be expedient, of all such points, matters and things, which in their judgements are or shall be necessary, for the better and more speedy executing all and every the Powers hereby given them, and doing Justice therein according to the true intent and meaning of this Act. And the Sheriffs, and all other Officers and Ministers of all and every the respective Counties in which the premises lie, are hereby required to be aiding and assisting in all and singular the premises.

Commissioners names.

And it is hereby Enacted and Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, That William Lenthal Esq; Speaker of the Parliament, the Lord Keeper, Lord Chancellor, or Lord Commissioner or Commissioners of the Great Seal of England for the time being, all the Judges of the Upper-Bench and Common-Pleas, and Barons of the Court of Exchequer for the time being, Philip Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, William Earl of Salisbury, Edward Lord Howard Baron of Escrick, Sir John Danvers, Sir John Burgoyne, Sir John Bourchier, Sir Thomas Walsingham, Sir Nathaniel Barnardiston, Knights; Sir Gilbert Pickering night and Baronet, Sir Dudley North, Sir John Trevor, Knights, Sir Peter Wentworth Knight of the Bath, Sir John Evelyn of Wilts, Sir Henry Mildmay Knights; Oliver Cromwell Lieutenant General, Henry Ireton Commissary General; Robert Reynolds, Miles Corbet, Nathaniel Bacon, John Maynard, Henry Darley, Robert Brewster, John Crew, John Trenchard, Esqs; John Palmer Doctor of the Laws, John Goodwyn Esq; Colonel Valentine Wanton, Talbot Pepys, Alexander Rigby, John Gourdon, William Leman, Thomas Toll Francis Bacon, Nicholas Love, Luke Robinson, Richard Cromwell, Esqs; Colonel Edward Rossiter, John Selden, Nathaniel Fines, William Pierrepoint, John Dove, Esqs; Colonel Francis Russel, Richard Knightley, John Fry, John Sadler, Edward Eltonhead, Jeremiah Whitchcot, William Steel, William Stephens, John Stephens, Thomas Ducket, John Lowry, Esqs; and every of them, are hereby appointed and authorized Commissioners, to hear, determfne, order, adjudge and execute all such matters and things as are prescribed in this Act before limited.

Persons concerned may plead the General Issue.

And it is lastly Ordained by authority aforesaid, That all and every person or persons concerned or to be concerned by this Act, or which shall do any thing in execution of the same, shall and may upon any Action, Suit or Information, plead the General Issue; and upon any Issue joyned, may give this Act in Evidence, which shall be of equal force and validity, as if the same had been especially pleaded; And all Judges, Justices, Jurors and other so to accept the same.