July 1650: An Act for Setling of the Militia of the Commonwealth of England.

Pages 397-402

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

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July 1650

[11 July, 1650.]

The Parliament of England finding it necessary, That the Commonwealth be put into a posture of Defence, for the Preservation of the Peace and Liberties of the People, after so much Blood and Treasure spent in the obtaining thereof, against the Endeavours, Conspiracies and Practises of divers Parties and Interests, differing in themselves, yet united under several specious pretences, all tending to the utter over-throw of the Safety of the Nation: And although acknowledging (which they desire with all thankfulness may ever be remembered) That Designs of this nature, Almighty God, by a high and merciful hand of Providence, hath usually blasted and brought to nought; yet judging it requisite,

Militia Commissioners to observe following instructions.

That the Commonwealth be not wanting to itself in the use of means tending to its own preservation and just Defence, and conceiving it their duty to make fitting provision accordingly with a dependence upon the same Divine Goodness for a Blessing upon their Endeavours, Hold fit to Ordain and Enact, and be it Enacted and Ordained by this present Parliament, and by the authority thereof, That the Commissioners for the Militia in the several Counties and places of England and Wales, which now are or hereafter shall be appointed by the Parliament or Councel of State, according to Order of Parliament in that behalf, in their several precincts and places, shall observe and put in execution these Instructions following.:

To meet monthly at least.

First, The said Commissioners, or any three or more of them, residing in the several Counties, cities or Towns, &c. shall meet the first Tuesday in every Moneth in some convenient place within their respective counties, cities and towns, and so from time to time, or oftener, if need shall so require, within their several limits &c. at such time and place as shall be in that behalf appointed.

To subscribe to the late engagement, and cause all officers and soldiers so to do.; Proviso.

Secondly, The said Commissioners and every of them, who have not already taken it, are before they act upon these Instructions, to subscribe the late Engagement appointed by the Parliament, To be true and faithful to the Commonwealth of England, as it is now Established, without a King or House of Lords, in the presence of any three of the said Commissioners; and then any two or more of them are to cause the same Engagement to be Subscribed before them, or any two such persons as by the said Commissioners or any two or more of them shall be appointed, by such Colonels, Lieutenant-Colonels, Majors and Captains, and by such other Officers, Troopers and Common Soldiers, whom they shall think fit to be trusted with Commands or Arms; and then the said FieldOfficers and Captains which have not been already Commissionated and Approved of by the Councel of State, are to be recommended by the said Commissioners, or any three or more of them, to the said Councel, to have Commissions, if they shall approve of them; which being granted, Then any three or more of the said Commissioners may grant Commissions to the inferior Officers, which are first to be recommended to them by such Field Officer or Officers, (or where none such are, by such Captains respectively as are Commissionated as aforesaid) for their approbation, and if they approve of them, they are to grant them Commissions accordingly. Provided that the Councel of State, as they see occasion, may alter or change the said Commissioners; and also Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels, Majors, Captains, or other Officers, and put other fit persons in their rooms.

To search out and repress conspiracies.

Thirdly, The said Commissioners or any two of them, are by all good ways and means to inform themselves, and from time to time to take from others Informations, and Examinations upon Oath (which Oath they have hereby power to administer) of all Con spiracies, Designs, Practises, secret and suspitious Meetings of disaffected persons, whether expressed by words or actions, spoken, printed, preached, written or published wheresoever, against the Peace and Welfare of the Commonwealth, by securing, dispersing or committing to prison the parties whom they finde to be especially active and dangerous, or to use any other lawful ways and means for the dispersing or securing of them, in order to be brought to Justice as they shall see cause.

To disarm and punish Papists and other ill-affected persons.

Fourthly, The said Commissioners or any three or more of them, are authorized and required to disarm and secure (by Imprisonment or otherwise) all Papists, and other ill-affected persons that have of late appeared, or shall declare themselves in their words or actions against this present Parliament, or against the present Government established; or have or shall hold correspondency with Charls Stuart, the Son of the late King, or any of his party, or with any other person or Nation, tending to the disturbance, Subversion or Alteration of this present Government, or have or shall minister any Supplies to the Enemies of the Commonwealth; or raise or endeavour to the raising of any Tumults, Mutinies or Insurrections, and to cause them to be dealt with according to Law, and their several demerits.

To charge fit persons with horse and arms. To hear complaints and give redress.

Fifthly, That any three or more of the Commissioners shall have full Power and authority to charge any person with Horse and Arms, in the same county, shire, city or Town Corporate, where his, her or their usual place of residence is or hath been, having respect unto, and not exceeding the limitations and proportions hereafter mentioned; that is to say, No person shall be charged with Horse or Arms, unless such person have the yearly Revenue of Two hundred pounds per annum, or have a Personal Estate of Two thousand pounds in Goods or Moneys, or an Estate equivalent thereunto, and so proportionably, as the Commissioners in their discretion shall see cause and think reasonable; Nor shall any person be charged with a Dragoon-horse and Arms unless such person have the yearly Revenue of Two hundred marks per annum, or who shall be worth Two thousand marks in moneys, or other Personal Estate, or an Estate equivalent: And the said Commissioners are not to charge any person with the finding of a whole Foot-Arms, that hath not a yearly Revenue of Twenty pounds per annum, or a Personal Estate of Two hundred pounds in Goods or Moneys; And after the aforesaid Rates proportionably, for a greater or lesser Revenue or Estate, it shall be lawful to and for the said Commissioners or any three or more of them, to impose the finding and providing of Horse and Arms as aforesaid, by joyning two, three or more persons together in the charge, as to their judgments shall appear most conducible to the Service of the Commonwealth. Provided, That no person who hath not Ten pounds a year in Lands, Tenements or Hereditaments, Leasehold or Copy-hold, or a Personal Estate worth Two hundred Pounds, shall be compellable to contribute in finding Foot-arms as aforesaid; And that no person who hath not One hundred pounds per annum in Lands, Tenements or Hereditaments, Leasehold or Copyhold, shall be compellable to contribute in finding a Horse, with Arms, or a Dragoon: And the said Commissioners or any three or more of them, have power to Hear and Examine complaints upon Oath (which Oath they have hereby power to administer) and to give redress as there shall be cause.

To see to disposal of horses and arms,; Training of troops, etc.

Sixthly, The said Commissioners or any three or more of them, are to take care that such Horse and Arms as are so charged, and to be provided as aforesaid (and all such other Horse and Arms as they shall hold fit to make use of for the service of the Commonwealth) upon all occasions of Muster and Service, and during the time of any Insurrection or Invasion in their respective counties, cities, &c. be put into the hands of such well-affected persons, and fit for war, as the said Commissioners or any three or more of them shall approve of; which person and persons are hereby required to serve with such horses and Arms accordingly; and that such persons be Listed, Trained and Mustered in several Troops and Companies, and formed into Regiments: And the said Commissioners or any three or them are hereby authorized and required to cause the said Forces to be drawn out, and used for suppressing and resisting all Invasions, Insurrections and Rebellions in their several Precincts within this Commonwealth, and to bring to condign punishment the Enemies of the same; And shall for that purpose from time to time keep correspondency, as occasion shall be, with the chief commanders of the Parliaments other Forces in the respective counties, cities or towns adjacent, and act and proceed further, as they shall from time to time receive orders from the Parliament, or Councel of State setled by their Authority.

To require daily allowance for soldiers from persons charged therewith.; To impose rates, if needful, for ammunition, etc. Special directions for soldiers' pay by persons charged, in case of emergency.; And for repayment of the same.

Seventhly, That the said Commissioners or any three or more of them in their several counties, &c. shall require and direct all persons so charged with Horse and Arms as aforesaid, to allow Two shillings a day to the Troopers that serve with their Horse and Arms, for the maintenance of the Man and Horse, and Twelve pence a day to their Foot-soldiers, for so many days as they shall be absent from their Dwellings and Callings by occasion of Muster or Exercise; And for furnishing Drums, Colours, Trophies, Ammunition and other Emergencies, the said Commissioners or any three or more of them, shall have power to lay a fitting Rate upon their respective Counties, not exceeding in one whole year the proportion of one Moneths Assessment in each county, after the Rate of Ninety thousand pounds per Mensem, charged for pay of the Army which Moneys are to be Assessed, collected and paid, according to such Instructions as shall be given from time to time by the Councel of State, unto the Officers by the said Commissioners to be appointed, under the Penalties. and by the ways and means in the Acts prescribed for the Ninety thousand pounds per mensem; And in case of sudden Exigence for Resisting or Suppressing of Invasion or Insurrection, whereby occasion will be to draw out such Soldiers into actual Service, The persons so charged as aforesaid, shall provide each their soldier respectively, with pay in hand, not exceeding one Moneths pay as shall be in that behalf directed by the said Commissioners, or any three or more of them: For repayment of which said Moneys, and for satisfaction of the Commanders and Officers for their pay during such time, not exceeding one Moneth as aforesaid, as they shall be with their Soldiers in such said actual Service, The Parliament doth hereby Declare, That provision shall be made for the same forth of the Publique Treasury, and like course taken for pay and encouragement both of Officers and Soldiers, if they shall be continued upon longer actual service, as is provided for the Army Forces under the immediate conduct and command of the Lord General.

Commissioners may charge vehicles and horses for carrying ammunition.; Imprison and punish mutineers and disorderly soldiers.; Power to fine persons defaulting.; To levy fines on refusal to pay.; To fine constables for refusal to levy fines.; Commissioners to appoint Marshal for each regiment.; Disposal of fines.; Officers' salaries.

Eighthly, The said Commissioners or any three of them, may charge Carts, Waggons, Wains, and Horses, for the carrying of Powder, Match, Bullet, and other Materials, allowing Two pence the mile outward onely to every such Cart, Waggon and Wain so taken upon the marching of any Regiment, Company or Troop, upon occasion of Invasion, Insurrection, &c. and shall and may imprison Mutineers and disordered Persons, and such as do not their Duties as common Soldiers at the day of the Muster and Training, shall and may be by them punished for every such offence, Five shillings, or Twenty days Imprisonment, without Bail or Mainprize; and when drawn out, and upon actual Service, occasioned by any Insurrection, or Rebellion, or Invasion, then to be subject during that time to the Rules, Orders and Instructions mentioned in the Lord Generals Instructions for Regulating his Army: And that the said Commissioners or any three of them, shall have power to Fine such persons as shall refuse, neglect or delay to send in their Horse, Arms, Dragoons, Horse and Arms, and Foot-Arms, with their Riders and Soldiers, upon Summons, for not appearing at Musters and Training-days, the Fine not exceeding the sum of Forty shillings for every such offence; and to Fine parties for not appearing with their Horse and Arms upon any Rebellion, Invasion and Insurrection, the same not exceeding Twenty pounds, and to be further punished as the Parliament shall think fitting, by Sequestration or otherwise, And in case of refusal of payment of the several Fines aforementioned, the said Commissioners or any three or more of them, by Warrants under their Hands and Seals, are to cause the same to be levied upon the Lands, Goods and Chattels of the party so offending having Ten days warning to pay in the said Fine, before levy thereof be made; And shall and may fine every Constable, or any other fit person, that shall be nominated and appointed by any three or more of the said Commissioners to levy the said Fines, and shall neglect or refuse to do the same; the said Fine for any one offence not to exceed Ten pounds, or to imprison them until they have paid the said Fine, or yielded obedience to their Commands: And the said Commissioners or any three or more of them, are to appoint for every Regiment a Marshal, to see these and all other penalties against these several Offices, and their Offenders, as is in this Act expressed, put in execution, as they shall receive Direction from time to time from any three or more of the said Commissioners; which Penalties so levyed, are to be accounted for the Service aforesaid, for the uses of the emergent occasions thereof in the respective counties, &c. the said Commissioners allowing such Salary to the parties for punishing such Offenders, and making such Levies, as any three or more of the said Commissioners shall think fit from time to time to allow.

All former powers for raising Militia void.

And it is Enacted and Declared by the Authority aforesaid That all Power of Lord Lieutenants, and Deputy Lieutenants and all former Power, Acts and Ordinances of Parliament, con cerning the way of Raising the Militia by Trained, or Free-hold Bands, or Rates, or Taxes for them, shall from henceforth cease and be no longer of any force or effect.

Commissioners to account for proceedings monthly.

And lastly, the said Commissioners, Monethly or oftner, as there shall be occasion, are to give an accompt of their proceedings and actions to the Parliament or Councel of State.

Continuance of Act.

Provided, That this Act, nor anything contained therein, shall be in force for any longer term then the First day of February, which shall be in the year of Our Lord, One thousand six hundred and fifty.