Charles II, 1662: An Act for preventing of Theft and Rapine upon the Northern Borders of England

Pages 417-418

Statutes of the Realm: Volume 5, 1628-80. Originally published by Great Britain Record Commission, s.l, 1819.

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Recital that Moss Troopers have for many Years past frequented the Northern Borders, and escape from one Kingdom into the other to avoid Justice;

that the Inhabitants of the Counties of Northumberland and Cumberland have been obliged to maintain Parties of Horse for their Defence; and that the Inhabitants remote from the Borders have been unwilling to contribute thereto. From Michaelmas 1662, for 5 Years, Justices in Sessions may make Order for charging the Inhabitants for the Safeguard of the said Counties.

WHEREAS a great number of lewd disorderly and lawlesse persons being Theives and Robbers who are comonly called Moss Troopers have successively for many and sundry yeares last past been bred resided in and frequented the borders of the two respective Counties of Northumberland and Cumberland and the next adjacent parts of Scotland and they taking the opportunity of the large Waste Grounds Heaths & Mosses and the many intricate and dangerous Ways and By paths in those parts do usually after the most notorious crimes committed by them escape over from the one Kingdome [into (fn. 1) ] the other respectively and so avoid the hand of Justice in regard the Offences done and perpetrated in the one Kingdome cannot be punished in the other. And whereas since the time of the late unhappy distractions such Offences and Offenders as aforesaid have exceedingly more increased and abounded and the several Inhabitants of the said respective Counties have been for divers years last past necessitated att theire owne free and voluntary charge to maintain several Parties of Horse for the necessary defence of theire Persons Families and Goods and to the end the aforesaid evill and pernitious members might be apprehended and brought to Judgement And whereas the most part of the Inhabitants of the said Counties being more remote from the borders then other parts and consequently not soe much exposed to imminent [dangers (fn. 2) ] as others are therefore unwilling to contribute theire proportionable parts of the aforesaid Charge and yet notwithstanding it cannot probably or possibly be avoided but that those Inhabitants of the respective Counties who hold themselves most secure must certainly sustain much damage and detriment in theire Goods and Estates in case the aforesaid Mosse Troopers be not timely suppressed but suffered to growe numerous strong and potent which they must needs doe in case there be no restraint upon them Be it enacted by the Kings most Excellent Majestie by and with the advise and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons in this present Parliament assembled and by Authority thereof that from and after the Feast of St. Michael the Archangell which shall be in the yeare of our Lord One thousand six hundred sixty and two for and during the terme of Five yeares next ensuing the date of this present Act it shall and may be lawfull for the respective Justices of Peace of the said respective Counties or the major part of them at any General Sessions of the Peace to be holden for the said Counties respectively on the behalfe of the said Counties or either of them from time to time as they shall see occasion to make an Order in open Court of Sessions for charging according to theire several p[ro]portions all and every the several Inhabitants of the said respective Counties for the safeguard and securing of the said several Counties and Inhabitants thereof from all injury violence spoil and rapine of the Mosse troopers aforesaid

II. The Amount above which the said Counties are not to be charged. Quarter Sessions may appoint Persons to have the Command of a certain Number of Men;

and may issue Warrants for levying Money for the Safeguard of the said Counties; may be levied by Distress. Justices may hear Complaints against Persons refusing to obey this Act; and may bind over such Persons.

Provided That the said County of Northumberland be not by force of this Act at any time charged above the su[m]m of Five hundred pounds in the yeare nor the said County of Cumberland charged above the su[m]m of Two hundred pounds in the yeare And for this end and purpose the said several Justices of Peace of the respective Counties aforesaid are hereby impowered and authorized at any theire General Quarter Sessions aforesaid to appoint and imploy from time to time if occasion require any person or persons to have the Conduct and Command of a certaine number of men not exceeding the number of Thirty men in the County of Northumberland and Twelve in the County of Cumberland whereby the Malefactors aforesaid may be searched out discovered pursued apprehended and brought to tryal of the Law And all and every the said Justices of Peace of the respective Counties aforesaid or the major part of them at any General Sessions of the Peace to be holden for the said Counties [of (fn. 3) ] either of them respectively are hereby further impowered and authorized by force of this present Act to make and issue forth theire respective Warrants under theire hands for the levying and collecting any su[m]m or su[m]ms of money ordered to be paid for and towards the Safeguard and securing of the said Counties respectively as aforesaid and to give full power to the several Constables and other Officers to raise levy and collect the said money and all and every the Inhabitants of the said several Counties according to theire respective proportionable Estates in Lands or Goods by Distresse and Sale of Goods rendring the overplus if there be any to the respective owner or owners And the said Justices of [the (fn. 4) ] Peace in the said several Counties or any one of them respectively are hereby alsoe authorized to examine any Complaint made against the Collectors and Constables or any other Officers or Ministers of Justice whatsoever or any of them or any other refractory person or persons whatsoever that at any time hereafter shall refuse neglect or fail to give obedience to this Act or shall doe any act or acts in disturbance or obstruction thereof and to bind over such person or persons to the next Quarter Sessions according to the knowne Laws of the Land to the end such person or persons may be proceeded withall according to Justice

III. Justices may appoint Treasurers, to receive such Monies; and may agree with Persons to be employed in the said Service.

And the said respective Justices of Peace as aforesaid are hereby further impowered and authorized on behalfe of the said several Counties respectively to appoint a Treasurer to receive from the said Collectors the moneys by them collected and to pay over the same according to the Orders they shall receive from the said Justices at the General Sessions of the Peace to be holden for the said respective Counties And the said Justices are alsoe impowered to agree and article with such person or persons yearely as they shall thinke fitt to imploy in the said Service and to take sufficient Security of them for the faithfull and most effectual performance thereof for the best safeguard advantage and benefit of the people according to the true intent and meaning of this Act

IV. Persons employed in the Border. Service corruptly forbearing to discover or apprehend Offenders; Disability. Imprisonment.

And in case any person or persons shall in pursuance of this Act be imployed in the Border Service and shall att any time hereafter wilfully and corruptly or for any sinister respect whatsoever neglect or forbeare to discover or apprehend or to bring to tryall any of the said persons called Moss Troopers as aforesaid and shall be convicted thereof according to Law he or they shall from thenceforth be disabled and made uncapable for ever after to manage or take upon him or them the said Imployment and to suffer such Fine and Imprisonment according to the qualityof his or theire offence as the Justices of Peace att theire General Sessions shall thinke fitt to infliof his or theire offence as the Justices of Peace att theire General Sessions shall thinke fitt to inflict

V. Justices may moderate Charge.

Provided neverthelesse and be it hereby declared That it shall be lawfull for the Justices of Peace of eithăr of the said Counties as aforesaid respectively at any time hereafter to moderate or lessen the said Charge if they see cause

VI. Continuance of Act.

Provided that this Act shall continue and be in force for Five yeares and no longer.

VII. 4 Jac. I. c. 1. 7 Jac. I. c. 1. revived.

Provided alwaies and be it further enacted by Authority aforesaid That for better suppression and punishment of the said Moss Troopers flying out of England into Scotland or out of Scotland into England the Statutes made in the several Sessions of Parliam[en]t in the Fourth and Seventh yeares of King James shall be revived and put in execution according to theire true intent.


  • 1. unto O.
  • 2. danger O.
  • 3. or O.
  • 4. O. omits.