[10 May, 1650.]
What shall be adjudged Incest.; Such offence shall be Felony.;
Such marriages void, and children illegitimate.
For the suppressing of the abominable and crying sins of Incest,
Adultery and Fornication, wherewith this Land is much defiled,
and Almighty God highly displeased; Be it Enacted by the Authority of this present Parliament, That if any person or persons whatsoever, shall from and after the Four and twentieth day of June,
in the year of our Lord One thousand six hundred and fifty, Marry,
or have the carnal knowledge of the Body of his or her Grandfather
or Grandmother, Father or Mother, Brother or Sister, Son or
Daughter, or Grandchilde, Fathers Brother or Sister, Mothers
Brother or Sister, Fathers Wife, Mothers Husband, Sons Wife,
Daughters Husband, Wives Mother or Daughter, Husbands
Father or Son; all and every such Offences are hereby adjudged
and declared Incest: And every such Offence shall be, and is hereby
adjudged Felony; and every person offending therein, and confessing the same, or being thereof convicted by verdict upon Indict
ment or Presentment, before any Judge or Justices at the Assize
or Sessions of the Peace, shall suffer death as in case of Felony,
without benefit of Clergy: And all and every such Marriage and
Marriages are hereby declared and adjudged to be void in Law, to
all intents and purposes; and the Children begotten between such
persons, notwithstanding any contract or solemnization of Marriage, to be illegitimate, and altogether disabled to claim or inherit
any Lands or Inheritance whatsoever, by way of descent from,
or to receive or challenge any Childes Portion in any Goods or
Chattels of their said Parents, or any other Ancestor of such Parents.
Adultery shall be adjudged Felony.
And be it further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in
case any married woman shall from and after the Four and twentieth
day of June aforesaid, be carnally known by any man (other them
her Husband) (except in Case of Ravishment) and of such offence
or offences shall be convicted as aforesaid by confession or otherwise, every such Offence and Offences shall be and is hereby adjudged
Felony: and every person, as well the man as the woman, offending
therein, and confessing the same, or being thereof convicted by
verdict upon Indictment or Presentment as aforesaid, shall suffer
death as in case of Felony, without benefit of Clergy.
Provided, That this shall not extend to any man who at the time
of such offence committed, is not knowing that such woman with
whom such Offence is committed, is then married.
This Act not to extend to any woman whose husband shall be three years absent.
Provided also, That the said penalty in the case of Adultery
aforesaid, shall not extend to any woman whose Husband shall be
continually remaining beyond the Seas by the space of three years,
or shall by common fame be reputed to be dead; nor to any woman
whose husband shall absent himself from his said wife by the space
of three years together, in any parts or places whatsoever, so as the
said wife shall not know her said husband to be living within that
Fornication punished by three moneths imprisonment, with out Bail, for the first offence.
And be it further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if
any man shall from and after the Four and twentieth day of June
aforesaid, have the carnal knowledge of the body of any Virgin,
unmaried Woman or Widow, every such man so offending, and
confessing the same, or being thereof convicted by verdict upon
Indictment or Presentment, as also every such woman so offending,
and confessing the same, or being thereof convict as aforesaid,
shall for every such offence be committed to the common Gaol,
without Bail or Mainprize, there to continue for the space of three
Moneths; and until he and she respectively shall give security,
to be taken by one or more Justice or Justices of the Peace before
whom such Confession or Conviction shall be had, to be of the good
behavior for the space of one whole year then next ensuing.
Punishment of a common Bawd.
Second offence Felony.
And be it further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all
and every person and persons who shall from and after the Four
and twentieth day of June aforesaid, be convicted as aforesaid,
by confession or otherwise, for being a common Bawd, be it man
or woman, or wittingly keeping a common Brothel or Bawdy-house,
shall for his or her first offence be openly whipped and set in the
Pillory, and there marked with a hot Iron in the forehead with
the Letter B and afterwards committed to Prison or the House of
Correction, there to work for his or her living for the space of three
years, without Bail or Mainprize, and until he or she shall put in
sufficient Sureties for his or her good behavior during his or
her life: And if any person by confession or otherwise shall be convicted of committing, after such Conviction, any of the said last
recited offences, every such second offence shall be, and is hereby
adjudged Felony; and the person and persons so offending shall
suffer death, as in case of Felony, without benefit of Clergy.
The crimes afore said to be given in charge at Sessions.
And be it further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That
the Justices of Assize in their respective Circuits, and the Justices
of Peace in every County, at their usual and General Sessions,
are hereby authorized and required to give in charge to the Grand
Jury to enquire of all and every the Crimes aforesaid: And the said
Justices of Assize, Justices of the Peace in their General Sessions,
and all and every Major and Justices of Peace of any City, Borough
or Town Corporate, that have power to hear and determine Felonies
at their usual Sessions, shall have full power and authority to
enquire by verdict of twelve or more good and lawful men, within
the said respective Counties and places aforesaid, of all and every
the crimes and offences aforesaid, and upon Indictment or Presentment, to hear and determine the same, as in other cases of
Felony or Trespass, Any Law, Usage or Custom to the contrary
No corruption of blood.
Provided, That no Attainder for any offence made Felony by this
Act, shall make or work any corruption of Blood, loss of Dower,
forfeiture of Goods, disinherison of Heir or Heirs.
To be prosecuted within twelve moneths.
Provided also, That no person or persons shall incur any of the
penalties in this Act mentioned, unless the said person or persons
be thereof indicted within twelve Moneths after the offence
Provided also, That it shall be lawful for any person or persons
who shall be indicted for any the offences aforesaid, to produce
at their respective Tryals any witness or witnesses, for the clearing
of themselves from the said offences whereof they shall be so
indicted: And the Justices before whom such Tryal shall be so
had, shall have power, and are hereby Authorized to Examine the
said Witnesses upon Oath.
No parties confession to be taken as evidence against any, but themselves.
Provided, That no parties confession shall be taken as Evidence
within this Act against any other, but onely against such party
so confessing; nor the husband shall be taken as a Witness against
his wife, nor the wife against her husband, for any offence punishable
by this Act