February 1647: An Ordinance concerning the Excise, with Additional Instructions for the better regulating the same.

Pages 916-920

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

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February, 1647

[22 February, 1646/7.]

The Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament taking notice of the many Tumults and great Riots which have of late happened, and been privily fomented in several parts of the Kingdom against the Receipts and Collections of the Excise, by the secret and subtil designs and practices of Malignants, and such who by their false and feigned pretences do endeavour to breed misunderstanding and impatience in the people; Have, for the better manifesting of the Justice of their proceeding, and reality of their intentions, thought fit to make this Declaration to the whole Kingdom:

Declaration of necessity of levy.

That as nothing did or could have drawn them to resolve upon this Imposition, but the preservation of this Kingdom, the Religion, Laws and Liberties from utter ruine and destruction; all which at that time was threatened by the restlesse and cruel designes, practices and treacheries of Papists and malignant persons: So they could then finde no other means, after the wellaffected had so willingly born so many great Levies, which the Malignants had endeavoured by all cunning wayes to evade, as any longer to maintain the Parliament Forces, and other great affairs of the Common wealth, and to draw in the Malignants and Neutrals to bear their proportional parts of the charge, then by some such constant and indifferent way. And what great difficulties, expences, and charges the said Lords and Commons have by the Receipt and Credit of the Excise, with some other helps, as occasion did require, been enabled ever since, through God's blessing, to overcome and maintain, by continually keeping on foot so many several armies, as they were by the King's party in Arms against the Parliament enforced to raise in divers parts of the Kingdom; by maintaining so many Garisons; by relieving of Ireland from time to time, when other Supplies could not be timely raised; by satisfying our Brethren of Scotland in part, Is by this time so evident to the whole Kingdom, that they hope no well-affected person can or will look back upon what he hath contributed in this way for his part, with any regret or repining, as if the same had or can be fruitlesse to him or his posterity. And for the present continuance of this Levie, when it shall be considered for what great sums, and to how many well-affected persons they have already engaged the Excise for Moneys borrowed and justly due unto them: what expenses they must yet be at before they can settle this Kingdom; what charges are requisite to reduce the Kingdom of Ireland; and what great engagements do otherwise lie upon the Parliament for many Supplies and Services, for satisfying whereof the Publike Faith and Honour of the Parliament and Kingdom is engaged; They are confident that no well-affected or understanding person can or will desire or expect that this Levie, which they still finde the most equal and indifferent course to go through so many great affairs, should cease while the Parliament is thus deeply engaged, and have so many pressing occasions for moneys for the necessary support and preservation of the Kingdom.

All persons duly to pay Excize.; Former Ords. concerning Excize to be observed.

And therefore the said Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament do hereby declare to the whole Kingdom, That they shall and do expect that all persons whatsoever shall duely pay all sums of Money imposed by any Ordinance of Parliament by way of Excise upon all and every the Commodities, Merchandizes, and things therein mentioned and comprised; and that the same Ordinances shall be duly observed, according to the Rules therein prescribed, until further Order of both Houses of Parliament. Whereunto the said Lords and Commons do hereby require all persons to yield all ready obedience, conformity and assistance accordingly, as they tender the Honour of the Parliament, the Welfare of the Kingdom, and as they would approve themselves well-affected to both.

Receipts of Excize still to be wholly employed for public uses.; Not to be continued longer than needful

And we the said Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, to manifest our constant and sincere intentions in the continuance of this Receipt of the Excise, do hereby declare. That as hitherto the Revenue thereof hath been wholly employed for the publike uses and occasions of the Kingdom, and diverted to no private use whatsoever: so they are still resolved to dispose thereof in the same publike and necessary service of the Common-wealth onely; and shall no longer continue this Charge upon the subject, then they shall finde the publike Affairs wherewith they are intrusted, necessarily to require the same. And when it shall please God by the continuance of his mercy to enable them to settle the peace of the Kingdom, and to overcome the engagements thereof in some good measure, they shall then make it appear to the whole world, how much more ready they are to ease the people of this Charge, then they were willing at first to impose the same.

Instructions and Rules following to be observed.

In the meantime, and to the end they may give all possible ease to the people, where the nature of such a Levie, and the just and most indifferent Rules which must necessarily be used and observed in the raising of the same, will admit thereof; they have, for the better regulation of this Receipt, and for restraining of arbitrary and exorbitant power, resolved for the present on the Instructions and Rules ensuing: and do hereby require the Commissioners of Excise, their Sub-Commissioners, and all other their Collectors and under-Officers duely to observe the same. And according as they the said Lords and Commons shall further discover any further inconvenience or pressures upon the people in the levying of the Excise, it shall be their continual care to finde out such fitting remedies for the ease of them, and removing of all just grievances, as shall be a sufficient testimony to the whole Kingdom, how ready they are to answer the great trust reposed in them, and to let the people enjoy the long expected fruits of their great expences and contributions.

Punishment of tumults, riots, &c.

And the said Lords and Commons do hereby further declare and ordain, That for the better and due punishment of all such Tumults, riots and unlawfull Assemblies; all Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs, Maiors, Bailiffs, and all other His Majesties Officers within the Kingdom of England and Dominion of Wales, as well within Liberties as without, within their several Counties, Liberties, and Jurisdictions respectively, do from time to time make diligent enquiry of all Tumults, Riots, and other unlawfu Assemblies as have been, or from time to time shall be made, done, or committed against the said Commissioners of Excise, their Sub-commissioners, or any of their Officers, or others, in their aid and assistance in the execution of the several Ordinances of Excise, and all such persons as have or shall make or cause such Tumults or Riots, to apprehend, and to commit to prison, and to punish according to Law.

Assistance to Excize Commissioners in case of tumult.; Indemnity.

And in case any Tumult or Riot be hereafter attempted or acted against the said Commissioners of Excise, their Sub-commissioners, Collectors or officers, or others in their aid or assistance: It is hereby further Ordained and Declared, That for the better aiding and assisting the said Commissioners of Excise, their several Subcommissioners, Officers and others in their aid and assistance, in pursuance of the said Ordinances of Parliament for the Levying of Excise; all Sheriffs, Deputy Lieutenants, Justices of the Peace, Maiors, Bailiffs, Constables, Headboroughs, and all other His Majesties Officers, in their several Counties, Liberties and Jurisdictions; All Colonels, Captains, Officers and Souldiers, and all other His Majesties Subjects, be aiding and assisting from time to time, upon notice to them given, for the suppressing of all such Tumults, Riots and unlawful Assemblies, and in apprehending and bringing to condign punishment all such Rioters and Offenders according to Law, and in aiding and assisting the said Commissioners, their Sub-commissioners, and Officers and others in their aid and assistance in the execution of the said Ordinances for Excise. And all such as shall be so aiding and assisting, shall be defended, and saved harmlesse and indempnified by Authority of both Houses of Parliament.

Instructions Concerning the Excise.


I. That no Excise, or Arrears of any Excise, due for any goods Excisable, consumed or spent, be henceforth demanded, levyed or collected by any Officer or Collector of Excise, due by any person before such time as the Ordinances of Excise have or shall begin to be put in execution in the severall Counties or Cities, or any part of the said Counties.

II. That no Excise, or any arrears of Excise be from henceforth demanded, levied, or collected by any Officer or Collector of Excise, for any Excise that did grow due by any person, for any Goods within any County, City, Town or Place during the time such County, City, Town or Place were under the power of the Enemy.

III. That the Excise of Ale and Beer be raised and levied upon the Subjects of this Kingdom, as is prescribed and directed by the severall Ordinances of Parliament for the assessing, raising, and collecting thereof, and not by way of poll or otherwise, unlesse it be where any person or persons have, or shall at their owne desire and free consent, and for such time onely as they shall so desire and consent unto, in writing, compound by the poll or otherwise, for Beer and Ale brewed in their own houses, and consumed by themselves and family within their own houses.

IV. That upon complaint made upon Oath to any the Justices of the Peace of any County of this Kingdom, or to any Maior, Bailiff, or Chief Officer in any City or Town Corporate of the Kingdom of England or Dominion of Wales, That the Subcommissioners of Excise, their Officers or Servants, or any of them, under colour or pretext of the trust in them reposed, and power given by the severall Ordinances of Parliament, have or shall oppresse and abuse the people, by exacting or compelling them to pay more or greater sums of money then is appointed by the severall Ordinances of Excise; or fine and imprison contrary to the said Ordinances, or to have converted or employed the money by them collected to their own uses, or to any other use then is appointed by the said Ordinances, or otherwise abuse the said Trusts and Power given them; That the said Justices, Maiors, Bailiffs, and chief Officers have Authority, and are hereby required to send for the Parties and Witnesses, and to examine the Witnesses upon Oath, giving notice to the Parties of the time of examining the said Witnesses; and the Examination so taken upon Oath, to send up in writing, sealed up, and subscribed by the hand of the Justice of Peace, or other Chief Officer before whom the said Examination shall be taken from time to time, within twenty dayes after the complaint made, to both, or either House of Parliament, or to the Committee of Lords and Commons for regulating the Excise, sitting at the Star-Chamber Westminster, who shall and will proceed to the consideration of the said Offences, and to the severe and due punishment of the said Offenders, as to justice shall appertain.

V. That in case any Justice of Peace, Deputy Lieutenant or any of the Committee within the severall Counties of this Kingdom shall refuse or willingly neglect to pay the Excise by them due and payable, and to conform to the orders and directions in the severall Ordinances of Excise, or that shall affront or publickly abuse the said Sub-commissioners of Excise, or their Officers, within the said respective Counties, in the execution of their severall duties and places according to the Ordinance of Excise: That the Deputy Lieutenants, Justices of the Peace, Maiors, Bailiffs or other Chief Officers within the said Counties, Cities and Places, or any of them, upon notice and request to them made by the said Sub-Commissioners, or to any of them, do examine the same upon Oath, and thereof within twenty dayes certifie in writing, the said Houses of Parliament, or either of them, or the Committee of Lords and Commons for regulating the Excise, who will proceed thereupon against such persons as to justice shall appertain, according to their demerits.

VI. That no person taking Alms or Collections shall be compelled to pay Excise for any Ale or Beer that is or shall be brewed in their own houses, and consumed by themselves and family within their own families.