February 1648: An Ordinance for repairing Churches, and for payment of Church Duties.

Pages 1065-1070

Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.

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February, 1647/8

[9 February, 1647/8.]

Churchwarden shall be chosen yearly.; Forfeiture for default.

For the upholding and keeping all Parish Churches and Chappels within this Kingdome of England, and Dominion of Wales, from utter ruine and decay, and for payment of Church Duties, It is Ordered and Ordained by the Lords and Commons Assembled in Parliament, That four, three, two, or one substantial Inhabitant or Inhabitants of every Parish or Chappelry aforesaid, (having respect to the proportions or greatness of every such Parish or Chappelry) shall be nominated and chosen yearly on the Monday or Tuesday, in Easter week, by the Parishioners of every Parish or Chappelry, (which are or shall be rateable to the repair of any such Church or Chappell) or the greatest part of such of them as shall be then assembled for the choyce of Officers within the Parish or Chappelry, to be Church-warden, or Church-wardens, or Collectors of moneys for Church Duties, within every such Parish or Chappelry respectively, where any such Church-warden or Church-wardens, have or hath been formerly used to be nominated or chosen; or in default hereof, every such Parish or Chappelry shall forfeit the sum of forty shillings, to the use of the poor of the said Parish, to be recovered as is hereafter expressed; which Church-wardens or Collectors so to be chosen, are within one moneth after their choyce to be allowed and approved of under the hands and seals of two of the next Justices adjoyning to the Parish or Chappelry aforesaid.

Rates shall be made by the Churchwardens and Overseers for the poor.; Churchwardens shall accompt withrin four days after the end of the year and pay over the money in their hands.; Penalty for default.

And it is further Ordained, That the Church-wardens or Collectors aforesaid, together with the Overseers of the Poor of the same Parish or Chappelry, or the greater part of them. upon publique notice thereof first to be given by the Churchwardens in the said Church or Chappell, shall from time to time make rates or assessments, by taxation of every Inhabitant dwelling or residing within such Parish or Chappelry, and of every Occupier of Lands, Houses, Tithes impropriate, or impropriation of Tithes, coal mines, or saleable underwoods, or other Hereditaments, within the said Parish or Chappelry, in such competent sum and sums of money as they shall think fit, for and towards the reparation and maintenance of every such Parish Church or Chappell respectively, and providing of Books for the said Church or Chappell, and of Bread and Wine to be used at the administration of the Sacrament there, and for repairing the walls and inclosures of the Church-yards or burying places thereunto respectively belonging, and for doing and performing every such thing and things as by this Ordinance is appointed to be done, at the charge of such Parish or Chappelry; As also for the doing and executing of all and every matter, which to the office, place, or duty of the Churchwardens of any such place wherein they shall be respectively chosen, shall appertain to be done; which said Church-warden or Church-wardens shall within four daies after the end of their year, and after other Church-warden or Church-wardens nominated, make and yield to the succeeding Church-wardens, and to such Justices of the Peace as aforesaid, a true and perfect accompt of all sums of money by them received, or rated and assessed, and not received; and of all other things concerning their said Office; and such sum or sums of money as shall be in their hands, shall pay and deliver over to the said Church-warden or Church-wardens newly nominated and appointed as aforesaid, upon pain that every one of them being negligent or faulty therein, or in the execution of their said Office, shall forfeit for every such default or negligence, the sum of twenty shillings, to the use of the Poor of such Parish or Chappelry as aforesaid, whereof he shall be Church-warden.

Rates made since the first of March 1641. being now confirmed shall stand good.; Power to Levy Arrears upon Churchwardens accompts with two shillings towards the charge.; In default of distress two Justices may commit the party.; Churchwardens refusing to accompt shall be committed.

And it is ordained by the Authority aforesaid, That all Rates, Taxations, and Assessments, heretofore made by the Churchwarden or Church-wardens of any Parish or Chappelry aforesaid, by themselves or with others, according to the custome of such Parish or Chappelry, since the first day of March, in the year of our Lord God 1641. for or towards the repair of any Church or Chappel respectively, or doing of any thing appointed by this ordinance to be done, if they shall now be confirmed by the two next Justices of the Peace, they shall stand and be as good and effectual in the Law, to all intents and purposes as if the same were to be made or done by and according to this ordinance: And that it shall and may be lawfull, as well for the present as subsequent Church-warden, or Collectors, or any of them, their Rates being first confirmed by the two next Justices of the Peace, by Warrant under the hands and seals of two such Justices of the Peace within such County or Towns Corporate, to levy as well all and every the said sums of money, and all Arrerages of every one which shall refuse, or neglect to pay or contribute their rateable parts of such Assessments as aforesaid, and the forfeitures before mentioned by distress, and sale of the Offenders Goods, as also all and every the sum and sums of money which shall be behind upon any Church-wardens Accompt, for, or concerning the repair of any such Church or Chappel, or other the things aforesaid; And likewise the sum of two shillings for and towards the charge and expence in levying of the same, rendring to the party or parties the over-plus; And in default of such distress, it shall be lawfull for any two such Justices of the Peace to commit him, or her, or them so refusing or neglecting as aforesaid, to the common Goal of the County, City, or Town Corporate, respectively where such Justices of the Peace are, and such offence shall be committed, there to remaine without Baile or Mainprize until payment of the said several sums and Arrerages; and to commit to the said Prison, every one of the said Church-wardens which shall refuse to accompt, there to remain without Bayle or Mainprize untill he hath made a true Accompt, and satisfied and paid so much as upon the said Accompt shall be remaining in his hands.

Persons aggrieved with the assessment may complain to the Sessions.

Provided alwaies, That if any person or persons shall finde him or her, or themselves aggrieved with any Assessment, or Tax, or other Act done by the said Church-warden, or Church-wardens, or by the said Justices of the Peace, or any of them, that then it shall and may be lawfull for the party grieved to complaine thereof at the next general Quarter Sessions of the Peace, where the Justices of the Peace, or the greater number of them shall make such order therein as to them shall be thought convenient, and the same to conclude and binde all the said parties.

Mayors and other head Officers of Cities and Towns shall have the like power being Justices of peace.; No other Justice to intermeddle there. Every Alderman of London shall have like power within his ward.

And be it further Ordained, That the Mayors, Bayliffs, or other Head Officers of every City, Town, or place corporate within this Realm, or the Dominion of Wales, being Justice, or Justices of the Peace, shall have the same authority by vertue of this Ordinance within their several Limits and Precincts of their Jurisdictions, as well out of Sessions as at their Sessions, if they shall hold any, as is before limited, prescribed, and appointed to Justices of the Peace of the County, or any two or more of them, or to the Justices of the Peace in their quarter Sessions, to do, and execute for all the uses and purposes in this present Ordinance prescribed, and no other Justice or Justices of the Peace to intermeddle there; And that every Alderman of the City of London within his Ward shall and may do and execute in every respect so much as is appointed and allowed in this Ordinance to be done, and executed by one or two Justices of the Peace of any County within this Realm.

Parish extending into more Counties then one.

And be it also Ordained, That if it shall happen that any Parish do extend itself into more Counties then one, or part thereof to lie within the Liberties of any City, Town, or Place Corporate, and part without, that then the Justices of the Peace of every County, as also the head Officer, or Officers, or Justices of the Peace of such City, Town, or Place Corporate, shall deal and intermeddle onely in so much of the said Parish as lieth within their Liberties, and not any further; and every of them respectively within their several Limits, Wards, and Jurisdictions, to execute the Ordinance aforementioned concerning the confirming of Rates, the giving of Warrant for the levying of Taxes unpaid, the committing to prison such as refuse or neglect to pay their rateable part of the said Assessments having no sufficient Distresse, the taking Accompts of Church-wardens, and the committing to Prison such as refuse to accompt, or deny to pay the Arrerages, due upon their accompts; and yet nevertheless the Church-wardens, or the greatest number of them of the said Parishes extending into such several Limits and Jurisdictions, shall without dividing themselves, duly execute their office in all places within their said Parish in all things to them belonging; and shall duly exhibite and make one accompt before the Head Officer, or Officers, or Justices of the Peace of such Town, or place Corporate, and one other before the Justices of the said County, or any such two of them as is aforesaid.

If any action, the Defendant may; plead the general issue.; Double costs to the Defendant.

And be it further Ordained, that if any action of trespass, or other suit shall happen to be attempted, or brought against any person, or persons, for taking any distress, or making any sale, or any other thing doing by the authority of this present Ordinance the defendant or defendants in any such action or suit, and all others which in their aide and assistance or by their commands hall do any act or thing touching or concerning the premisses, or any of them, or his or their Officer or Officers, it shall and may be lawfull for them, and every of them to plead the general issue, that he or they are not guilty, and to give such special matter in evidence to the Jury which shall try the same, which special matter being pleaded had been a good and sufficient matter in Law to have discharged the said Defendant or Defendants of the Trespass or other matter laid to his charge, and that if upon the trial of any such Action or Suite, the Plaintiff or Plaintiffs shall not prove to the Jury which shall try the same, that the fact or cause of his or their Action or Suit, was, or were had, made, committed, or done within the County wherein such Action, or Suit shall be laid, That then in every such case the Jury which shall try the same shall finde the Defendant or Defendants in every such Action or Suit not guilty, without having any respect or regard to any evidence given by the Plaintiffe or Plaintiffes therein, touching the Trespass, fact or cause, for which the same Action or Suit is or shall be brought, and that if the verdict shall pass with the said Defendant or Defendants in such Action, or the Plaintiffe or Plaintiffs, therein become non-suit, or suffer any discontinuance thereof, that in every such case the Justice or Justices, or such other Judge, or Court before whom the said matter shall be tried or depending, shall by force and vertue of this Ordinance allow unto the Defendant or Defendants his or their double costs, which he or they shall have sustained by reason of his or their wrongfull vexation in defence of the said Suit or Action, for which the said Defendant or Defendants, shall have like remedy, as in other cases where costs by the Law of this Realm are given to the Defendant.

Upon complaint of neglect, the Justices may view or order a certificate.

And forasmuch as the Churchwardens or Collectors aforesaid may peradventure be careless or negligent in performing their duty, It is further ordered and ordained, that upon complaint made to the two next Justices, or one of them, or other information had thereof, the aforesaid Justices, or one of them, shall or may in their own persons view the said Churches or Chappels, or appoint the Minister, and some other of the Parishioners to certifie unto them, or one of them, what reparations are or shall be needfull, and thereupon they or one of them shall by a Warrant under their hand and seals to the Churchwardens, order and direct what reparations shall be done within the said Churches or Chappels, and limit and appoint the time for the doing of the same; and if the Order aforesaid be not performed, they shall binde over the said Churchwardens or Collectors, or any of them, for their negligence herein to the next Sessions of the Peace, where if the Court shall allow of the Order, the Offendor or Offendors upon due proof of his or their negligence or offence herein shall be severally fined, so as the fine exceeds not forty shillings upon any one of them, and the Offender is to be committed until the fine be paid, which is to be disposed of to the use of the Poor, of the said Parish or Chappelry.

The Parish shal not be charged to repair any Chancel or Isle which others ought to repair.

Provided always, and it is the intent and meaning of the said Ordinance, that the Parishioners, and the Churchwardens of any Parish or Chappelry shall not be charged with, or liable unto the repairing of any Chancel, or Chancels, or of any particular Isle in Churches or Chappels, which have formerly by prescription, or custom been used to be repaired by the Parsons or Vicars, Impropriators, or others, but that the said Parsons, Vicars, Impropriators, and all other persons whatsoever both politique and corporate, their heirs and successors, which have formerly been liable to the reparations of all or any part of any Church, Chappel, Chancel, Isle or other place belonging to the same by any custom whatsoever, shall still be liable to the same to all intents and purposes; and for their negligence herein shall and may be ordered by the two next Justices, or shall or may be presented, or indicted by the Churchwardens or any others, at the next Sessions of the Peace, where the offender for his offence herein shall be fined and proceeded against in such manner as the Churchwarden for his negligence is to be proceeded against by vertue of this Ordinance.

Churchwardens shall receive the rents and profits given for repairs.

Provided also, where any Parish or Chappelry hath any Lands or Tenements or yearly Rents, or Annuities formerly given to the repairing of their Churches or Chappels and for ChurchDuties, the Churchwardens or Collectors aforesaid shall be from henceforth Receivers of the said Rents and Profits, and shall have power by Warrant from the Justices to cause the parties who ought to pay the same to be bound over to the next Sessions, where they shall be, upon due proof and hearing the said Parties, ordered to pay the said Rents and Profits, to the Churchwardens and Collectors aforesaid, who shall dispose of the same according as it ought to be disposed of, and thereby ease the Parish of so much of the charge, and shall yearly accompt for the same in their Accompts as Churchwardens;

This not to extend to Churches or Chappels subverted or ruined.

Provided; that this Ordinance, as to the repairing of Churches shall not extend to Parishes, or Chappelries where the Churches or Chappels are totally subverted or ruined by these unhappy wars, extremity of age, or other casualties; nor to any Cathedrals or Collegiate Churches, which are onely to be repaired as formerly they have been used and accustomed.

Where offences against this Ordnance shall be determined.

And lastly it is ordained, That all offences against this Ordinance shall and may be inquired of, heard, and determined before his Majesties Justices of Assize, of Oyer and Terminer, or Goal Delivery, or before the Justices of the Peace of any County, City, or Town corporate, where any such offence shall be committed by proof of Witnesses upon Oath, which the Justices aforesaid shall hereby have power to administer, and at their general Sessions of the Peace by Indictment, Information, or otherwise, as the case shall require, wherein no wager of Law, Essoyn, Protection, or Injunction shall be admitted or allowed.

And it is further ordered by the Lords and Commons aforesaid, That all and every Sexton, or Parish Clerk within any of the Parishes aforesaid, shall have their due Fees from the several Parishes, to be ordered and recovered by Warrant from the Justices in such manner as the Rates made for Churchwardens are ordered to be levied by this Ordinance; and that they be elected and chosen in such manner as formerly in every Parish hath been accustomed.