November 1650: An Act for making Ships and Merchandizes taken or to be taken from the King of Portugal or any of His subjects, To be Prize.

Pages 449-451

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

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November, 1650

[8 November, 1650.]

All ships and goods taken from Portuguese to be prize.

Whereas the Parliament of England did lately send forth a Fleet to Lisbone, in pursuit of Prince Rupert and his Adherents, for the Reducing of the Revolted Ships (part of the Navy of this Commonwealth) which the Adherents of the said Rupert, Treacherously ran away with in the year One thousand six hundred forty eight, and after many Robberies and Piracies by them committed at Sea, put into the Harbor of Lisbone, belonging to the King of Portugal, for safeguard and protection.

And whereas upon the arrival of the Parliaments Fleet before Lisbone, Application was made by the General thereof to the King of Portugal, and liberty desired, That they might assail Prince Rupert, and the said Revolted Ships, in the said Port; who denyed to condescend thereunto, and professed to maintain that Port and Territory as Neutral, and a place of Safety to both parties: Notwithstanding which, several Barbarous Murthers have been committed by the said Rupert and his Associates, upon divers of the Parliaments Fleet whom they met on the Shore in the said Harbor, and Imprisonment enjoyned to others there, for their good affection to this State; besides divers Spoils and Horrible Offences perpetrated by the said Revolted Fleet: For all which no Justice hath been executed upon any the Offenders, through often Represented and Demanded of the said King and his Ministers, in the Name of this Commonwealth, according to the Law of Nations, to the great Loss and Damage of this Commonwealth: The Parliament thereupon finding, That (by the Law of Nations) there did justly lie Reprisals against the King of Portugal and his Subjects, and their Ships and Goods, for Recovery of the Damages sustained by this State, did impower the Councel of State to Grant Letters of Reprisals against the Portugals, and their Ships and Goods, on behalf of this Commonwealth; By vertue whereof divers Ships have since been taken, having Goods therein belonging to Portugals; Be it therefore Enacted and Ordained by this present Parliament, and by the Authority of the same, That all Ships, Vessels, Tackle, Ordnance, Ammunition, Wares, Merchandizes or Goods whatsoever, belonging to the King of Portugal or any of his Subjects, which are or shall be seized, surprised or taken by all or any part of the Fleet or Ships in the Service or Pay of this Commonwealth or by vertue of Reprisals granted against the said Portugals, shall be proceeded against according to the course of Justice, in the Admiralty Court, and brought to Tryal and Judgement there: And the Judges of that Court shall be, and are hereby enabled to take full Cognizance thereof, and of all the Dependencies thereupon, and of all the Cocquets, Books, Bills of Lading, Commissions, Letters and Writings found aboard such Ships and Vessels; and upon due Examination and Proof to be made or exhibited before them (according to the course used touching Prizes) That the said Ships and Goods are of the Portugals, or do belong to, or Consigned for the Accompt of the said King of Portugal or his Subjects, or any of them, and upon observation of what is Required by the Law of Nations therein, to proceed to Sentence and Adjudication, and Condemn the same to be good and lawful Prize, and shall be disposed of as in and by this Act is hereafter limited and appointed.

Disposal of proceeds of prize.

And whereas many Merchants and other persons have had their Goods and Effects seized upon, and divers have been Imprisoned by the King of Portugal and his Ministers, for their Duty and Faithfulness to this Commonwealth, The Parliament taking the same likewise into Consideration, do think fit, That some Reparation be made unto them for such their Losses and Sufferings, and do further Enact and Ordain, That the neat Proceed of all the Portugal Ships and Goods, that are or shall be seized and adjudged in Pursuance of the said Reprisals, and of this Act (after all incident Charges of Condemnation, Taking up, and Sale of the said Prizes, together with the Tenths, and Salary of the Collectors for Prize Goods, which from henceforth is to be only Threepence in the pound, are deducted) shall be divided into Six equal parts, Three six parts thereof to the Use of the Commonwealth, towards satisfaction of their great Charges and Damages sustained as aforesaid, to be employed for the Use of the Navy; One other sixth to the Use of the Marriners, who have been or shall be imployed in the taking of any of the said Reprisal Ships or Goods (where no Imbezzlement hath or shall be made) and the two remaining Sixth parts to be distributed to, and amongst such faithful and well-affected people of this Commonwealth, whose Goods and Effects have been so unduly seized, or their persons Imprisoned for their Duty and Faithfulnesse to this Commonwealth; which distribution shall be made and proportioned (as to the parts thereof) in such sort as the Council of State shall think meet.


Provided always, That no proportion at all shall be allotted, nor distribution made to any other person, but to such only as shall sufficiently appear to the Council of State to have faithfully adhered to the Parliament, and to have been, and so still to continue well-affected to this Commonwealth; and who shall likewise make it appear by Proof, That they had really and bona fide Goods and Effects which have been seized upon by that King or His Ministers, or their Persons Imprisoned since the coming of the Parliament Fleet, and riding before Lisbone in pursuit of the said Revolters.