Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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[20 September, 1649.]
For the more convenient and speedy punishment of Crimes and Offences done and committed, and hereafter to be done and committed upon and beyond the Sea, The Parliament of England now assembled do Enact and Declare, and be it Enacted and Declared by Authority of the same, That all such Treasons, Felonies, Piracies, Robberies, Murtherers and Confederacies thereof, which have been at any time since the Five and twentieth day of March, in the year of our Lord, 1646, committed, or hereafter shall be committed in or upon the Sea, or in any Haven, River, Creek or place, where the Admiral or Admirals had, have, or pretend to have Power, Authority or Jurisdiction; and all stealing, or taking, or treacherous carrying away of any Ship, Barque or Boat, Ordnance or Ammunition (appointed for the publique Service of the State, or for any private benefit of the owners) from such places and imployment, and without lawful warrant and authority from the publique State, or such private persons respectivly thereto first had and obtained; And all Murthers and Manslaughters committed by any of the Natural Leighs of this Nation, upon or against any of the good people of the same in any the Foreign parts wheresoever (upon any matter, cause or occasion originally beginning within this Land, during such time as such persons had their abode within the same) shall be henceforth enquireable, triable and determinable before the Judges and Justices of Oyer and Terminer, and of Goal-Delivery in the several and respective Shires and Limits of their Commissions, where any such offenders shall be found; And the said Judges and Justices by vertue hereof, and of the several Commissions of Oyer, Terminer, and Goal-Delivery to them directed, shall give the same in charge at such time as they shall hold their Sessions by vertue of such Commissions; And shall have full power and authority to enquire of all the Crimes and Offences aforesaid, and of every of them, by the Oathes of twelve good and lawful men, Inhabitants in the Shire limited in their Commission, in such like maner and form, as if such Crimes and Offences had been committed upon the Land within the same Shire. And if any person or persons (not formerly disposed of, or otherwise ordered by the Parliament or the Council of State) shall be indicted for such Crime, Offence or Offences done, or hereafter to be done upon the Seas, or in any other place above-limited, That then such Order, Proces and maner of proceedings shall be used, had, made and done, to and against such person and persons so being indicted, as is used by the course of the Law of this Land, and as if the said Crime and Offence, or Crimes and Offences had been committed or done upon the Land; and that the tryal of all and every the Crimes and Offences beforementioned in this Act, if the offence be denied by the offender or offenders, shall be had by twelve lawful men, inhabiting in the Shire or Shires limited within such Commission or Commissions, which shall be directed as aforesaid; and no challenge or challenges to be had for the Hundred: And such person or persons so found guilty of any Crime or Crimes aforesaid, by Verdict, Confession or Proces, shall without allowance of benefit of Clergy, suffer such punishment by pains of Death, and loss of Lands and Goods, as in other cases of Treason, Murther, Manslaughter, Robbery, or other Felony done upon the Land is used. And for the better bringing of such persons to due punishment, Be it Enacted, and by authority of this present Parliament it is further Enacted, That as often as any person or persons suspected to be guilty of the Crime or Crimes, and offences aforesaid, shalbe brought before any Justice or Justices of the Peace, or other chief officer or officers of such place or county, the said Justice and Justices, chief officer or officers shall take examinations of witnesses in writing upon oath (which hereby they are and shalbe enabled to administer) and information of all or so many of the principal persons that shalbe so brought before them by warrant of the said Justice or Justices, Officer or Officers or otherwise, and of such persons as shall bring such offender or offenders before them, as he or they shall think meet and convenient, to discover the particular matter or matters in fact, and after such Examinations and Informations had and made, shall commit the said offender or offenders in safe custody to the Goal of the said place or County, if he or they shall see just cause; and shall send a transcript of all the said Examinations and Informations so taken, under his or their Hand or Seal, inclosed under Seal to the Councel of State, who are hereby authorized and enabled to dispose of the said offender or offenders, or so many of them as they shall think meet, and send their directions concerning the same unto the Justices or chief Officers of the place aforesaid, who are hereby likewise authorized and enjoyned to conform themselves unto such Directions; and to some such offender or offenders, not otherwise disposed of as aforesaid, unto the next Sessions of Goal-Delivery, or Oyer and Terminer for the Shire, to be proceeded against according to his or their Crime or Crimes: And for the maintenance of such person or persons so taken and imprisoned as aforesaid, or so many of them as are not able to maintain him or themselves, during his or their Imprison ment, It is further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That he or they shall be maintained as other prisoners not able to maintain themselves, at the charge of such Shire where they are in prison, by allowance out of the publique Treasury of that Shire, for the prisoners of the Upper Bench and Marshalsey; and the said allowance shall be made by the Justices of the Peace at their Quarter Sessions to be holden for the said Shire. And it is further Enacted and Declared by the Authority aforesaid, That in all cases where such person or persons shall be committed to safe custody as aforesaid, the Keepers of the respective Goals or Prisons shall receive such person or persons to them committed, and them hold in safe custody, and shall not suffer them to go at large, unless they shall be discharged from Imprisonment by the Order and Direction of the Parliament or Councel of State, or legal tryal as aforesaid: And in case the Keeper or Keepers of such respective Goals, shall suffer such persons after such commitment to make any escape, in such maner that they shall not have such persons before the said Judges or Justices at the next Sessions of Goal-Delivery, or Oyer and Terminer for the Shire, the said Keepers of such Goal or Goals shall be proceeded against by Indictment, and suffer punishment, as in other cases of escapes of Felons by the Law they ought to suffer. And it is further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That in all cases aforesaid, Commissions of Oyer and Terminer shall be issued forth by the Lords Commissioners of the Great Seal, so often as by the Councel of State shall be thought meet, and according to their Directions, as touching the places and limit sof such Commissions.