Charles II, 1664: An Act to prevent the delivering up of Merchants Shipps.

Pages 521-522

Statutes of the Realm: Volume 5, 1625-80. Originally published by Great Britain Record Commission, s.l, 1819.

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In this section

Recital that Masters of Ships a suffer them to be boarded and Goods taken by Pirates, and that Inconveniences result therefrom.

Masters of Ships of 200 Tons and upwards yielding without fighting; Punishment.; Such Master taking Command of any Ship; Punishment.; Remedy for Owners of Goods on board such Ship.; Action against Master.

Whereas it often happeneth that Maisters and Commanders of Merchants Shipps [doe suffer theire Ships (fn. 1) ] to be boarded and the Goods to be taken out by Pirates and Sea-Rovers notwithstanding they have sufficient force to defend themselves whereby not onely the Merchants are much prejudiced but the Honour of the English Navigation is thereby much diminished and Merchants discouraged from ladeing their goods on board English Shipps to the decay of Shipping in the preservation whereof the wealth honour and safety of this Nation is soe much concerned, to which the said Masters are encouraged by a practise used towards them by the Turks and others who after they have taken out the goods as an encouragement to Masters of Shipps to yeild doe not onely restore the Shipp with such goods as are claimed by the Masters or Seamen but many times pay unto the Masters all or some part of the Fraight which hath many times caused suspition of treachery in the said Masters to the great dishonour of the English Nation, For the prevention thereof for the future and for the better encouragement to Merchants aswell Forraigners as English to fraight and use English Shipps Bee it enacted by the Kings most Excellent Majestie by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spirituall and Temporall and Commons assembled in Parliament and by Authoritie of the same That where and Goods or Merchandices shall be laden on board any English Shipp which Shipp shall be of the burden of Two hundred Tunns or upwards and mounted with sixteene Gunns or more if the Master or Commander shall yeild up the said Goods to any Turkish Shipps or Vessells or to any Pirates or Sea-Rovers whatsoever without fighting that then and in such case the Master shall (upon proofe thereof made in the High Court of Admiralty) be from thenceforth incapeable of takeing charge of any English Shipp or Vessell as Master or Commander thereof, And if he shall at any time thereafter presume to take upon him to command any English Shipp or Vessell he shall suffer Imprisonment by Warrant from the said Court dureing the space of six Moneths for every Offence, And in case the persons soe takeing the said Goods shall release give backe or lett passe the Shipp or shall pay unto the said Master any Summe or Summes of Money or any Goods in lieu of Money for Fraight or other Reward or Gift that in all or any such cases the ( (fn. 2) ) Goods or Money soe given or the value thereof, as alsoe the Masters part of such Shipp her Tackle Apparell and Furniture soe released given backe or lett passe out of which the said Goods were taken shall be lyeable to repaire the person whose Goods were soe delivered or taken by Action in the High Court of Admiraltie, And in case the Commanders or Masters part of the Shipp, Tackle Apparell and Furniture together with such Money and Goods given as aforesaid shall not be sufficient to repaire all the [dangers (fn. 3) ] sustained then the Reparations to be recovered on the Masters or Commanders part of the Shipp to be divided pro rata amongst the persons prosecuteing and proveing their damages and the persons damaged to have their Action against the Master for the remainder.

II. No. Master to desert his Ship.

And be it further enacted, by the Authoritie aforesaid That noe Master of any such English Shipp as aforesaid being at Sea and having discovered any Ship to be a Turkish Shipp Pirate or Sea-Rover shall depart out of his Shipp upon any pretence whatsoever least by his detention on board any such Shipp the safety of his owne Shipp be hazarded

III. Ships under 200 Tons not fighting; Penalty.

And be it further enacted That if the Master of any English Shipp or Vessell though not of the Burthen of Two hundred Tunns or mounted with Sixteene Gunns as aforesaid shall yeild his said Shipp unto any Turkish Shipp Pirate or Sea Rover (not haveing at the least double his number of Gunns) without fighting every such Master shall be lyeable to all and every the penaltyes in this Act contained.

IV. Ships or Masters may be seized by Commanders of His Majesty's Ships of War, &c.

And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That upon Processe made out of the High Court of Admiralty it shall and may be lawfull to and for all Co[m]manders of His Majestyes Shipps of Warr or the Co[m]manders of any other English Shipps to seize such Ships or Masters soe offending according to the said Processe in such case to be issued and the same to bring or send in custody into any Ports of His Majestyes Dominions there to be proceeded against according to the intent and meaning of this Act;

V. Privileges of Foreign Ports.

Provided that none be hereby encouraged to violate the Rights of the Ports of any Forraigne Prince or State in Amity with the Kings Majestie.

VI. Seamen, &c. refusing to fight, and discouraging others; Punishment.

And be it further enacted by the Authoritie aforesaid That if the Marriners or inferiour Officers of any English Shipp laden with Goods and Merchandices as aforesaid shall decline or refuse to fight and defend the Shipp when they shall be thereunto commanded by the Master or Commander thereof or shall utter any words to discourage the other Marriners from defending the Shipp That every Marriner who shall be found guilty of declineing or refuseing as aforesaid shall lose all his Wages due to him together with such Goods as he hath in the Shipp, and suffer imprisonment not exceeding the space of Six Monethes and shall dureing such time be kept to hard labour for his or their maintenance,

VII. Proviso for Master forced to give up his Ship by his Mariners. Exception.

Provided alwayes That if any Shipp shall have beene yeilded as aforesaid contrary to the will and endeavour of the Master or Commander by the disobedience of his Mariners testifyed by their haveing laid violent hands on him That in such case the Master or Commander shall not be lyeable to the Sentence of Incapacitie as aforesaid nor to any Action for the Losses sustained by the Merchants unlesse he shall have received backe from the takers thereof his Shipp or some Recompence Gift or Reward as aforesaid,

VIII. Such Mariners to be punished as Felons.

And bee it further enacted by the Authoritie aforesaid That every Marriner who shall have laid violent hands on his Commander whereby to hinder him from fighting in defence of his Ship and Goods co[m]mitted to his Trust shall suffer death as a Felon.

IX. Mariners wounded in saving a Ship by Fight;

Court of Admiralty may levy Reward on Owners,; not exceeding Two per Cent. on Value of Ship and Goods on Oath; paid to Register. Fee,; to be distributed.

And for the better encouragement to Captaines Masters Officers and Seamen to defend their Shipps Be it enacted by the Authoritie aforesaid That when any English Shipp shall have beene defended by fight, and brought to her designed Port in which fight any of the Officers or Seamen shall have beene wounded it shall and may be lawful to and for the Judge of His Majestyes High Court of Admiralty or his Surrogate or the Judge of the ViceAdmiraltie within which the Shipp shall arrive at her returne upon Petition of the Master or Seamen of such Shipp soe defended as aforesaid to call unto him such and soe many as he shall be informed to be Adventurers or Owners of the Shipp and Goods soe defended and by advice with them to raise and levy upon the respective Owners and Adventurers by Processe out of the said Court such Summe [and (fn. 4) ] Summes of Money as himselfe with the major part of the Adventurers or Owners then present shall judge reasonable not exceeding the value of Two per Cen? of the Shipp and Goods soe defended according to the first cost of the Goods to be made appeare by the Envoice (which the Owner or his Factor or Correspondent is hereby required to produce) or by the Oath of the said Owner Factor or Correspondent if thereunto required, which Money soe raised shall be paid unto the Register of the said Court who shall receive for the same Three pence in each pound and noe more thence to be distributed amongst the Captaine Master Officers and Seamen of the said Shipp or Widdowes and Children of the slaine according to the direction of the Judge of the said Court with the Approbation of Three or more of the Owners or Adventurers aforesaid who shall proportion the same according to their best Judgements unto the Shipps Company as aforesaid haveing a speciall regard unto the Widdowes and Children of such as shall have beene slaine in that Service, and to such as shall have beene wounded or mamed.

X. A Pirate Ship taken, how to be shared.

And in case the Company belonging to any English Merchant ship shall happen to take any Shipp, which Shipp shall first have assaulted them, the respective Officers and Marriners belonging to the same shall after Condemnation of such Shipp and Goods have and receive to their owne proper use and benefitt such part and share thereof as is usually practised in Private Men of Warr,

XI. Master or Mariner burning or willfully losing a Ship;


And whereas it often happeneth that Masters and Mariners of Ships haveing ensured or taken upon Botomary greater summes of money then the value of their Adventure doe wilfully cast away burne or otherwise destroy the Shipps under their Charge to the Merchants and Owners great losse For the prevention thereof for the future Bee it enacted by the Authority aforesaid That if any Captaine Master Mariner or other Officer belonging to any Shipp shall wilfully cast away burne or otherwise destroy the Shipp unto which he belongeth or procure the same to be done he shall suffer death as a Felon.

XII. Continuance of Act.

Provided that this Act shall continue for Three yeares and from thence to the end of the next Session of Parlyament and noe longer.


  • 1. interlined on the Roll.
  • 2. said O.
  • 3. Dāmages O.
  • 4. or O.