June 1650: An Act for the better preventing of prophane Swearing and Cursing.

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

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Citation:

, 'June 1650: An Act for the better preventing of prophane Swearing and Cursing.', in Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660, (London, 1911) pp. 393-396. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/acts-ordinances-interregnum/pp393-396 [accessed 24 May 2024].

. "June 1650: An Act for the better preventing of prophane Swearing and Cursing.", in Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660, (London, 1911) 393-396. British History Online, accessed May 24, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/acts-ordinances-interregnum/pp393-396.

. "June 1650: An Act for the better preventing of prophane Swearing and Cursing.", Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660, (London, 1911). 393-396. British History Online. Web. 24 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/acts-ordinances-interregnum/pp393-396.

June 1650

[28 June, 1650.]

Penalty for prophane Swearing or Cursing. A Lord forfeits thirty shillings for the first offence.; A Baronet or Knight twenty shillings.; An Esquire ten shillings. A Gentleman six shillings eight pence. All inferiors three shillings four pence.; And double for the second offence.

For the better preventing and suppressing of the detestable Sins of Prophane Swearing and Cursing, Be it Enacted by this present Parliament, and the Authority thereof, That if any person or persons shall hereafter offend by Prophane Swearing or Cursing, in the presence or hearing of any Justice of the Peace of the County, or chief Officer or Justice of Peace of the City or Town Corporate where the same shall be committed, or shall be thereof convicted by Confession of the party, or by the Oath of one Witness or more, before any such Justice of Peace of the County, or chief Officer or Justice of Peace of such City or Town Corporate where such Offence is or shall be committed (for which end every Justice of Peace, and every such Head-Officer as aforesaid, have power hereby within their several Precincts to administer an Oath, and are enjoyned to keep a Record of such Conviction, and to make Certificates quarterly of the Name of every person so convicted, and the degree of such his or her Offence, to the Clerk of the Peace for the County where such conviction shall be, to be by him Recorded) That then every such Offender shall for every time so offending, forfeit and pay to the use of the Poor of that Parish where the same is or shall be committed, for the first Offence, according to the degree and quality of such person and persons so offending, in maner and form following; viz. Every person and persons who writeth or stileth himself, or is usually written or stiled Duke, Marquis, Earl, Viscount, Baron or Lord, the sum of Thirty shillings; Every person and persons who writeth or stileth himself, or is usually written or stiled Baronet or Knight, the sum of Twenty shillings; Every person and persons who writeth or stileth himself, or is usually written or stiled Esquire, the sum of Ten shillings; Every person and persons who writeth or stileth himself, or is usually written or stiled Gentleman, the sum of Six shillings and eight pence; And all other person and persons whatsoever, under the Degrees before expressed, shal forfeit and pay to the uses aforesaid, the sum of Three shillings and four pence: And that every such Offender and Offenders shall forfeit and pay for the second Offence, in maner and form following; viz. Every such Duke, Marquis, Earl, Viscount, Baron or Lord as aforesaid, the sum of Three pounds; Every such Baron[et] or Knight as aforesaid, the sum of Forty shillings; Every such Esquire as aforesaid, the sum of Twenty shillings; Every such Gentleman as aforesaid, the sum of Thirteen shillings and four pence; And all and every person and persons whatsoever so offending, under the said Degrees, the sum of Six shillings and eight pence: And that every such Offender and Offenders for the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth Offence, and every of them being thereof convicted as aforesaid, shall forfeit and pay to the uses and purposes aforesaid, the penalty and forfeiture by this Act imposed on every such person, according to his Degree and Quality aforesaid, for such second Offence.

For the tenth offence shal be bound to the Good Behavior.

And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all and every person and persons, of what Degree or Quality soever, who shall upon Information, Presentment or Indictment before any Justice of Assize, Justices of Oyer and Terminer, Justices of the Peace in every Shire, City or Town (who have hereby power and authority to enquire of, hear and determine the same) by Confession or Verdict be found guilty of any the Offences aforesaid the tenth time, shall besides incurring the Forfeiture by this Act imposed on such person for such second Offence, be adjudged a Common Swearer or Curser, and be bound with Sureties to the Good Behavior during three years; and that for every like Offence afterwards, upon the like conviction, every such Offender shall incur the like Forfeiture, and give the like Security as for the tenth Offence: And that if any person that shall be so bound as aforesaid, shall at any time afterwards, while he stands so bound, be convicted in maner aforesaid of the like offence, the same shall be adjudged and taken to be, and the same is hereby Adjudged and Declared to be a Breach of the Good Behavior by every such person and persons.

The like penalty for women offending.

And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That every Woman, whether she be Wife, Widow or single Woman, that shall commit any of the Offences aforesaid, in the presence of any Justice of Peace, or Head-Officer aforesaid, or shall be of such Offence convicted as aforesaid, shall for every such Offence incur the like forfeiture, penalty and judgement, as if the same Offence had been committed by the husband of such Wife or Widow, or by the Father of such single Woman, and according to the Degree and Quality of such Husband and Father respectively herein before expressed.

Forfeitures how to be levied

And be it likewise Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all and every the forfeitures aforesaid, shall be levyed upon the Goods and Chattels of every person and persons before specified so offending, by Warrant from such Justices of the Peace or HeadOfficer aforesaid, by Distress and sale of the said Goods and Chattels, restoring the overplus: And in default of payment of the said forfeiture, or Security given for the same, in case no sufficient distress shall be found, the Offender, if he or she be above the Age of Twelve years, shall by Warrant from such Justice of the Peace or Head-Officer, be set in the Stocks, there to remain for the space of three whole hours for such first offence; and for the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth Offence, and every of them, for the space of six hours; but if the Offender be under the age of Twelve years, and shall not forthwith pay the forfeiture aforesaid, that then he or she shall by Warrant of such Justice of the Peace or Head-Officer, be whipped by the Constable, or by the Parent or Master of such Offender in the presence of the Constable.

Constable may apprehend offenders.

And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful, to and for any Constable, Headborough, Church arden, Overseer of the Poor, or any other Officer, to apprehend, or cause to be apprehended, or for any other person or persons whatsoever, by Warrant from any Justice of Peace, or such Head-Officer as aforesaid, to apprehend and bring, or cause to be apprehended and brought before any Justice of Peace, or Head-Officer as aforesaid, the Body of any person or persons offending contrary to this Act, to the end all such persons may be proceeded against as to Justice shall appertain.

Justices and Constables, if sued, may plead the General Issue.

And it is further Enacted, That in any Action brought against any Justice of Peace, Constable, or any other Officer or person acting or doing, or commanding to be acted or done, any thing in pursuance of this Act, touching or concerning any the offences or matters aforesaid, the Defendant in every such Action shall and may plead the General Issue, and give the special matter in Evidence: and upon the Non-suit of the Plaintiff, or Verdict passing for the Defendant, the party Defendant shall have and recover his and their treble Costs.

Act of 21 Jac. repealed

And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That this present Act shall be in force from and after the First day of August, One thousand six hundred and fifty: And that one Act of Parliament, made in the One and twentieth year of the Reign of the late King James (Entituled, An Act against prophane Swearing and Cursing) be and is, from and after the said First day of August, hereby Repealed.

This Act to be proclaimed.

And it is lastly Enacted by Authority aforesaid, That this Act be forthwith printed; and that all and every Sheriff and Sheriffs of every County and City within England and Wales, do proclaim, or cause this Act to be proclaimed in all Cities, Towns, Boroughs, and other publique and usua places within their respective Liberties, upon the Market day next after the receipt thereof. and cause the same to be set up, and affixed in the publique places accustomed.