Statutes of the Realm: Volume 7, 1695-1701. Originally published by Great Britain Record Commission, s.l, 1820.
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Recital that many Debtors, unable to pay their whole Debts, would make such Satisfaction as they are able, but that some few Creditors, and also Infants, &c. insist upon their whole Debt, to the ruin of such Debtors.
Two-thirds in Number and Value of the Creditors may make and execute Composition with such Debtors; and may thereby bind all the other Creditors.; Executor, &c. not answerable for more than he shall receive.
Whereas many Debtors disabled by Losses and Misfortunes to pay their whole Debts are often willing to make what Satisfaction they can for the same so as they may enjoy their Liberty upon reasonable Agreements or Compositions But some few Creditors insisting on their whole Debts and Executors Administrators Guardians or Trustees being incapacitated to make any Composition such Debtors despairing to see an end of their Troubles transport themselves and their Effects beyond Sea or consume the same in Prisons or pretended priviledged Places to their utter ruine and become uselesse to the Government their Families a Burden to their Relations or the Parishes they live in and all their Creditors lose what may be had for their Debts For Remedy whereof Be it enacted by the Kings most Excellent Majesty by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and the Co[m]mons in this present Parliament assembled and by the Authority of the same That it shall and may be lawfull to and for Two Third parts or more in Number and Value of all real Creditors their Executors Administrators Guardians and Trustees and other p[er]sons authorized by them or any of them to make such Agreements or Composic[i]ons as they shall think fitt & reasonable with any of their Debtors who being unable to pay their whole Debts have withdrawne or absconded themselves from their usual places of abode or are or shall become Prisoners for Debt before the Seventeenth Day of November in the Yeare of Our Lord One thousand six hundred ninety six And that every such Agreement or Composition being made for the equal benefitt of all the Creditors in proportion to their respective Debts and subscribed and sealed by the aforesaid Two Third parts or more in value without any secrett fraudulent or collateral Agreement for any greater Advantage than is therein expressed shall be binding to and conclude all the other Creditors their Executors Administrators Guardians and Trustees and all Persons authorized by or claiming under them or any of them as fully and effectually to all intents and purposes as if all and every of them had actually made and subscribed and sealed such Agreement or Composition and no Executor Administrator Guardian or Trusttee shall be chargeable or accountable for more than what he or she shall receive thereby Any former Law to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.
II. Persons executing such Composition, if required, in Writing, by any other of the Creditors, to declare on Oath Amount, &c. of Debt for which he executed Composition; and that he has received no greater Advantage.
And for preventing Frauds in any such Agreement or Composition Be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That all or any of the Persons by whome the same shall be subscribed and sealed shall if required in Writing before Two credible Witnesses by any one or more of the Creditors their Executors Administrators Guarians or Trustees within Twenty days after such Request made make Oath in Writing before a Master in Chancery Ordinary or Extraordinary (who is hereby impowered and required to administer the same) upon what Account or Consideration the Debt or Debts by him or her claimed from the Debtor became due to the best of his or her knowledge and that neither hee or she or any other Person or Persons by or with his or her Direction Privity or Consent have or hath directly or indirectly received or been allowed or agreed to receive or be allowed any greater Advantage Gratuity or Reward for or in Consideration of the said Debt or Debts or for subscribing and sealing such Agreem[en]t or Composition than is comprised and expressed therein which Oath so made shall be filed within Twenty Days after in the Court of Chancery by the person making the same or any other Person by his or her order and the Person or Persons by whom the same shall be required shall pay the Chargs for the making and filing thereof [And if any Person shall upon such Oath wilfully forsweare him or herselfe hee or she so offending shall be liable to and suffer all Penalties & Forfeitures appointed or inflicted for Perjury by the Co[m]mon or Statute Laws of this Realme. (fn. 1)]
III. Refusing to make such Oath, or having made the same, claiming greater Debt, or making greater Advantage, &c.;
And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That if any p[er]son by whom any such Agreement or Composition shall be subscribed and sealed shall refuse to make such Oath within the time above limitted or after having made the same it shall appeare that hee or she hath wittingly willingly or fraudulently claimed any other or greater Debt or Debts than is or are justly due and owing from the Debtor or hath received or been allowed or agreed to receive or be allowed directly or indirectly any greater Advantage Gratuity or Reward for or in Consideration of the said Debt or Debts or for Subscribing & sealing such Agreement or Composition than is comprized and expressed therein then and in every such Case his or her Subscription to such Agreement or Composition shall be void and of no Effect and shall also forfeit the Su[m]m of One hundred Pounds besides treble the Value of what hee or she shall so fraudulently claime or receive or agree to receive or be allowed as aforesaid to be recovered with full Costs of Suit by such of the Creditors onely that will sue for the same by Action of Debt Bill Plaint or Information in any of His Majesties Courts att Westminster wherein no Essoigne Protection Priveledge or Wager of Law shall be allowed nor any more than One Imparlance And all the Money so recovered (the Costs and Chargs of such Recovery being first deducted by the Prosecutor or Prosecutors) shall be equally divided and distributed to and among all the Creditors (except such as upon Notice shall refuse to contribute towards the Charges of carrying on such Suit) in Proportion to their respective Debts.
IV. If Debtor, with whom Composition made, be in Prison, or afterwards arrested and detained.
Lord Chancellor, Master of the Rolls, &c. may summon the Parties and make Enquiry as herein mentioned, and order for Discharge of Prisoner; Schedule produced on Oath, of Debts owing by Debtor, &c; Keeper of Gaol not discharging Prisoner thereupon,; Penalty paid to Debtor.
And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That if any Debtor with whom any Agreement or Composic[i]on shall be made by virtue of this Act shall actually be in Prison or a Prisoner att the time of making thereof or shall afterwards be arrested or taken in Execution and detained in Prison att the Suit or Suits of any one or more of his [or her (fn. 2)] Creditors their Executors Administrators Guardians or Trustees or any other Person or Persons authorized by or claiming under them or any of them contrary to the true Intent & Meaning of such Agreement or Composition then and in every such Case it shall and may be lawfull to and for the Lord Chancellor Lord Keeper Lords Co[m]missioners for the Custody of the Great Seale or Master of the Rolls or any of the Judges of the Kings Bench or Co[m]mon Pleas or Barons of the Exchequer for the time being (who are hereby severally required upon Motion or Petition att the Election of such Debtor) to su[m]mon the Person or Persons att whose Suit or Suits hee or she is detained and also the Keeper of the Goal to bring such Debtor before him them or any of them and upon such Debtors produceing his or her Agreement or Composition with a Schedule annext of all the Debts owing by him or her upon Oath to the best of his or her Knowledge whereby the Two third Parts or more in Number and Value intended by this Act may appeare and that hee or she is in Prison or a Prisoner for no other Cause then for such Debt or Debts as was by him or her owing att the time of the aforesaid Agreement or Composition the said Lord Chancellor Lord Keeper Lords Co[m]missioners for the Custody of the Greate Seale or Master of the Rolls or any of the Judges of the Kings Bench or Comon-Pleas or Barons of the Exchequer for the time being shall thereupon (in the Presence of such Person or Persons att whose Suit or Suits any such Debtor shall be so detained or arrested in case such Person or Persons shall then appeare or in his her or their Absence in case hee she or they being lawfully su[m]moned and Oath thereof duely made shall neglect or refuse to appeare) make an Order for the Discharge of such Debtor out of Custody or Prison and for the Person or Persons att whose Suit or Suits hee or she is detained or arrested to pay the Costs & Charges occasioned by such detaining or Arrest And in case the Keeper of the Goal shall neglect or refuse to attend upon such Su[m]mons or shall not forthwith obey such Order and discharge the Prisoner hee shall forfeit for every Day hee shall so neglect or refuse to attend upon such Summons or obey such Order the Su[m]m of Five Pounds to be paid to the Debtor so ordered to be discharged.
V. In Action for executing Act, General Issue may be pleaded,
And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That if any Person or Persons shall be sued or prosecuted by Action Bill Plaint or Information for any thing to be done by him or them in prosecuting this Act itt shall and may be lawfull to and for such Person and Persons to plead the General Issue and give this Act and the Special Matter in Evidence And if the Plaintiffe or Prosecutor shall become Nonsuit or forbeare Prosecution or make or suffer discontinuance or if a Verdict passe against him or her the Defendant or Defendants shall recover his or their Treble Costs for which hee or they shall have the like Remedy as in any case where Costs by the Law are given to Defendants.
VI. Proviso for Mortgages, Pledges, Judgments, &c.
Provided always and lastly it is further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That this Act or any thing therein contained shall not extend or be construed to extend in any wise to prejudice make void or impeach the Security or Securities of any Person or Persons by Mortgage or Pawne or any Debt or Debts by Judgement Statute Recognizance or other Security whereby the Lands Tenements Hereditaments Goods and Chattells of the Debtor or Debtors are or may be charged but that all and every such Person and Persons shall and may enjoy the Benefitt thereof according to Law and as if this Act had never been made so as such Security or Securities Judgement Statute or Recognizance nor any Execution thereupon shall not affect the Person or Persons of the Debtor or Debtors with whom such Agreements or Compositions as aforesaid shall be made provided that where any Agreement or Agreements have or hath been already made betweene any Debtor or Debtors and his her or their Creditors the same shall be of Force and take Effect according to the true Intent and Meaning thereof Any thing in this Act to the contrary notwithstanding Neverthelesse be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid That the said Debtor and Debtors Creditor and Creditors shall as to all things have the Benefitt of this Act for the enforceing and making good such Agreement or Agreements.