Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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[28 July, 1653.]
For the better ordering and managing of the Affairs of the Admiralty and Navy of this Commonwealth, Be it Enacted by this present Parliament, and by the authority of the same, That Robert Blake Esq; John Carew Esq; Richard Salway Esq; George Monk Esq; Major General John Desborough, John Langley, Dennys Hollister, and William Burton, Esqs; Colonel Nathanael Rich, Lieutenant Colonel Salmon and Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Kelsey, or any three or more of them, whereof two of the Members of Parliament herein before named to be always present, Shall be and are hereby constituted and appointed Commissioners, for the ordering, managing, directing and carrying on of the Affairs of the Admiralty and Navy of this Commonwealth, and shall have and hereby have committed unto them, the full care of, and inspection into, and directive power of all things that concern, or are necessary, to the providing and furnishing the Ships or other vessels belonging to the Commonwealth for service, and supplying them from time to time. And the said Commissioners or any one or more of them as aforesaid, are hereby authorized and impowred to administer an Oath, if they shall see cause, to any person or persons, for the examination of any matter in relation to the business of the Navy. And the said Commissioners or any three or more of them as aforesaid, are authorized to make such Orders, and issue such Warrants, for the repairing and preserving the Ships and Vessels of the Common-wealth, and for the furnishing of them with Stores and Ammunition; and for the Arming, victualling, manning and setting them forth with all things belonging to them and every of them, as they shall judge fit, and for the service of the Commonwealth, according to such Orders and Directions as they from time to time shall receive from the Parliament or Councel of State; and for the sale and disposal of old and unserviceable Ships and Vessels belonging to this Common-wealth, the profit thereof to be to the use of the State: And also for the new building, preparing, fitting, furnishing arming, victualling, manning and setting forth such Ships and Fleets, as they shall receive Directions for, either from the Parliament, or from the Councel of State appointed by authority of Parliament. And the said Commissioners or any three or more of them as aforesaid, are hereby authorized and required from time to time, as the service of the Common-wealth shall require, and as they shall receive Orders from the Parliament or Councel of State, to prepare a List of the Names of such Captains of Ships, as they shall judge fit and able for that service, and also what Salaries and Wages they shall conceive just and fit to be given by the Parliament, unto All Captains and Masters, and other officers of any Ship, Frigate or Vessel belonging to this Common wealth; and also to such Mariners, Workmen, and to all officers and persons who are or shall be imployed in the service of the Navy; The said Lists of the Names of Captains of Ships, and of Salaries and Wages to be presented by the said Commissioners in writing, unto the Parliament for their approbation, or unto the Councel of State: And the said Commissioners or any three or more of them as aforesaid, are hereby authorized and impowred, from time to time, to remove, displace and discharge from their Offices and Imployments belonging to the Navy, or to any Ship or Vessel of this Commonwealth, any Officers under the degree of Captains of Shids, and any Mariners, Workmen or other persons imployed or to be imployed in the service of the Navy, or of any Ship or Vessel of this Common-wealth, and to place such other able and fit persons in the said services and imployments, in the rooms and places of the persons who shall be so discharged or removed, as by the said Commissioners or any three or more of them as aforesaid shall be judged and thought fit, and for the advantage and service of the Common-wealth.
Provided, that nothing in this Act shall impeach or alter the power given unto the Generals at Sea, for the removing or displacing of any Officer or Mariner at Sea, and placing others in their rooms in case of exigency.
Provided also, That nothing in this Act shall any way impeach or alter the power and authority to be Given by the Parliament unto the Judges of the Admiralty, in all Marine Causes, and Causes within the Jurisdiction of the Admiralty, which shall or may happen: And the said Commissioners or any three or more of them as aforesaid, are hereby authorized and required, by themselves or any other such fit persons whom they shall for that purpose make choice of and appoint, with all convenient speed to take or cause to be taken, a true and perfect Survey and accompt of all the Ships, Frigots, Pinnaces and Vessels, of or belonging to the Navy; and of all the Ammunition, Tackle, Furniture, Cordage, Timber and Stores belonging to them or any of them; or in the Docks, Yards, Storehouses or other places belonging to the Common-wealth of all sorts; and also of all Courses now held in the managing, ordering or Governing of the Navy; and to deliver the same so made and taken in writing, unto the Parliament, or such as they shall appoint to receive the same; and therein likewise to propound such ways and means for the establishing of such Orders and Instructions for regulating the same, as shall be found agreeable to the service of the Common-wealth; and may increase the Power and Forces thereof by Sea; and to remove such Corruptions and Abuses as may prejudice the same, and especially may reduce the Mariners and Seamen, and Sea-services, to good order and obedience; That thereupon such speedy & effectual course may be taken by the Parliament or Councel of State, for the supplying of all defects, and reforming of all abuses, as shall be necessary and behooffull to make and continue the Navy serviceable and powerful (by the blessing of God) for the safety and honor of this Common-wealth: And all Officers and Ministers of or belonging to the Navy and Ships and every of them, from time to time, and all others whom it may concern, are hereby enjoyned and required, That they and every of them be from time to time attendant upon the said Commissioners, and do carefully and diligently observe, execute and perform all such Orders, Warrants and Directions, as the said Commissioners or any three or more of them as aforesaid shall make, give or direct touching the premises, and in pursuance of this Act: And the said Commissioners or any three or more of them as aforesaid, are hereby authorized and impowred to make and frame, or cause to be made and framed, such Articles, Orders and Ordinances of War and Military Discipline, to be presented to the Parliament, for the better Regulating, Governing and Discipline of the Officers, Seamen and Army at Sea, which now are or hereafter shall be in the service and pay of the Commonwealth, belonging to their Navy, Ships or Vessels or any of them: And the said Commissioners or any three or more of them at Land, or one or both of the Generals at Sea, are hereby authorized and impowred, at such time or times as they shall judge expedient, for the service of the Common-wealth, and Government of the Navy and Army at Sea, to call a Councel or Councels of War, of Captains or other Officers, as to them shall seem meet: and to appointe a Judge Advocate to attend the said Councels of War, and to do and perform the duties of that place, who is hereby authorized to administer an Oath to any person or persons, for the Examination of any matter which shall be depending before the said Councel of War: And the said Councel of War are hereby authorized to cause any person or persons belonging to the said Navy and Army at Sea, to be summoned, and to appear before them, and there to proceed to the tryal of any Offender or Offenders against the said Articles, Orders or Ordinances of War, by Examinations of Witnesses upon Oath; and to give Judgement, and cause execution to be done upon such offender or offenders, according to the said Orders, Articles and Ordinances of War, Provided that no proceedings shall be had upon the said Articles, Orders and Ordinances of War, until the same shall be first perused and approved of by the Parliament: And the said Commissioners or any three or more of them as aforesaid, are hereby authorized and impowred to do, execute and perform, all and every such further and other Authorities, Powers and Instructions, as shall from time to time be given unto them by the Parliament, or by the Councel of State appointed by authority of Parliament.
Provided that this Act shall continue and be in Force until the fourth day of December, which shall be in the year One thousand six hundred fifty and three and no longer, any Act or thing to the contrary hereof at any time heretofore made in any wise notwithstanding.