October 1643: Ordinance to provide Salt-petre for making Gunpowder.

Pages 320-321

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

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October 1643

[23 October, 1643.]

Whereas the great Expence of Gunpowder, occasioned by the present War within His Majesty's Dominions, hath well near consumed the old Store, and doth exhaust the Magazines so fast, as, without a larger Supply, the Navy, Forts, and Land Armies, cannot be furnished; and whereas Foreign Salt-petre is not equal in Goodness with that of our own Country, and the Foreign Gunpowder far worse conditioned and less forcible than that which is made in England; and whereas divers Foreign States have of late prohibited the Exportation of Salt-petre and Gunpowder out of their own Dominions and Countries, so that there can be little hope of future Expectation of any Petre or Powder to be brought into this Kingdom as in former Times, which will enforce us to make Use of our own Materials; it is held most necessary, that the digging of Salt-petre and the making of Gunpowder shall by all fit Means be encouraged at this Time, when it so much concerns the Public Safety: Nevertheless, to prevent the reviving of those Oppressions and Vexations exercised upon the People, under the colourable Authority of Commissions granted to Salt-petre-men, which Burthen hath been eased since the Sitting of this Parliament, and to the End that there may not be any Pretence to interrupt the Work, it is Ordained, by the Lords and Commons in Parliament, That such Persons as shall be nominated and allowed by the said Lords and Commons in Parliament shall have Power and Authority, by this present Ordinance, to search and dig for Salt-petre, in all Pigeon-houses, Stables, and all other Out-houses, Yards, and Places likely to afford that Earth, at fit seasons and Hours, between Sun-rising and Sun-setting (except all Dwelling-houses, Shops, and Milkhouses); the said Salt-petre-men, at their own Cost and Charges, levying the Ground, and repairing any Damage which shall be done by them; wherein if the said Petre-men do fail to give Satisfaction to the Contentment of the Owners, then, Notice given by the Parties grieved unto the next Deputy Lieutenant, or other Committees appointed by Parliament, the said Deputy Lieutenants, Committees, or any one or more of them, shall have Power to compel the said Petre-men to lay the Ground in as good Order as before the breaking up (Working only excepted); and likewise to give such reasonable Satisfaction for the damage, as he or they, in his or their Discretion, shall think fit; which not being obeyed, the Name and Offence of such Person or Persons refusing shall be returned to the Parliament: And forasmuch as the Salt-petre-men, for the Provision of the State, are to bring in a Proportion of Salt-petre Weekly, which they can be in no Ways able to do in Case they should be denied to dig and work for Salt-petre, it is therefore Ordered, That, in case any Person whatsoever shall refuse to suffer Salt-petre-men allowed by Parliament to dig and work for Salt-petre, acccording to the Rules and Limitations beforementioned, then the Salt-petre-men shall return the Names of such Persons so refusing, to be proceeded against according to their Demerits: And it is likewise Ordained, That the said Salt-petre-men, for the Carriage of the Liquor, Vessels, and other Utensils, from Place to Place, and delivering of the Salt-petre where the same shall be made into Gun-Powder, it shall be lawful for the said Salt-petre-men to demand and take Carts, by the known Officers, so as the Lading shall not exceed Twenty Hundred Weight, and the Journey not exceed Ten Miles; for Carriage whereof, the Owner shall be paid after the Rate of Eight Pence the Mile; by which Means the Work of making Powder in this Kingdom (which else will be let fall in this time of Danger) may be continued and cherished, and the Subjects may have the Benefit of Powder at far easier Rates than now it is sold for.

This Ordinance to continue only during the Pleasure of both Houses of Parliament.