Charles II, 1670 & 1671: An Act to prevent the delivery up of Merchants Shipps, and for the Increase of good and serviceable Shipping.

Pages 720-722

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

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In this section

Reasons for passing this Act.

Master delivering up Ship (of 200 Tons and 16 Guns) to Pirates or others without fighting.; Incapacity.; Taking Command afterwards, Imprisonment.; In what Case, where Goods or Ships taken are released and Money given to the Master, the Master, liable to Repairs, and in what Proportion.

Whereas it often happeneth that Masters and Commanders of Merchants Shipps doe suffer their Shipps to be boarded, and their 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 pp[re]judiced 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 pp[re]servation of which the Wealth, Honour and Safety of this Nation is soe much concerned, To which the said Masters are incouraged by a practice used towards them by the Turkes and others who after they have taken out the Goods as 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 Freight, which hath many times caused suspition of Treachery in the said Masters to the great Dishonour of the English Nation. For the pp[re]vention thereof for the future and for the better incouragement to Merchants as well Forreigners as English to freight 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 Parlyament and by authorise of the same That where any Goods or Merchandices shall be laden on Board [any (fn. 1) ] English Shipp, which Shipp shall be of the Burthen 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 Admiraltie 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 months for every such Offence; And in case the persons soe takeing the said Goods shall release give backe or lett passe( (fn. 2) ) the said Shipp shall pay unto the said Master any Summe or Summes of money, or any goods in lieu of money for Freight or other reward or gift, That in all or any such cases the said 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 persons whose goods were soe delivered or taken by Action in the High Court of Admiralty, 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 Dammages sustained, then the Reparations to be recovered on the Masters or Commanders part of the Shipp to be divided pro rata amongst the persons prosecuting and proveing their Damages, and the persons damaged to have their Action against the Master for the Remainder.

II. The Master not to depart out of his Ship.

And bee it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That noe Master of any such English Shipp as aforesaid being at Sea, and haveing discovered any Shipp to be a Turkish Shipp, Pirate or Sea rover shall depart out of his Shipp upon any pp[re]tence whatsoever least by his detention on Board any such Shipp the safety of his owne Shipp be hazarded.

III. Not fighting when the Ship is under 200 Tuns and 16 Guns.


And bee 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 Shipp unto any Turkish Shipp, Pirate or Sea rover (not haveing at the least his double number of Gunns) without fighting, every such Master shall be lyeable to all and every the Penaltyes in this Act contained.

IV. Such Ships not fighting, the Masters or Ships may be seized by Process out of Admiralty.

And bee it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid That upon Processe made out of the High Court of Admiralty, It shall and may be lawfull to and for all Commanders of his Majestyes Shipps of Warr or the Commanders of any other English Shipps to seize such Shipps 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. Proviso for Ports of States in Amity.

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

VI. Mariners, &c. refusing to fight.

Penalty. Punishment.

And bee 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 loose all his Wages due to him together with such goods as he hath in his Shipp, and suffer Imprisonment not exceeding the space of six monthes and shall dureing such time be kepte to hard labour for his or their maintenance.

VII. Proviso where the Master is forced by his Men to yield.

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 the Marriners, testifyed by their haveing laid violent hands on him. That in such case the Master or Commander shall not be lyable to the Sentence of Incapacity 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. Mariners hindering Master from fighting; Death.

And bee it further enacted by the authority aforesaid That every Marriner who shall have laid violent hands on his Commander whereby to hinder him from fighting in defence of his Shipp and Goods committed to his Trust shall suffer death as a Felon.

IX. Provision for Officers or Seamen wounded in Defence of Ship;

and for Widows and Children of Mariners, &c. slain.

And for the better encouragement to Captaines, Masters Officers and Seamen to defend their Shipp Bee it enacted by the authority 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 lawfull to and for the Judge of his Majestyes High Court of Admiralty or his Surrogate or the Judge of the Vice-Admiralty, 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 leavy upon the respective Owners and Adventurers by Processe out of the said Court such Summe or 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 speciall reguard unto the Widdowes and Children of such as shall [have (fn. 3) ] [be (fn. 4) ] slaine in that Service, and to such as shall have beene wounded or maimed.

X. Prize Money as in Cases of Privateers.

And in case the Company belonging unto any English Merchant Shipp 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. Officer or other Person willfully destroying Ship.


And whereas it often happeneth that Masters and Marriners of Shipps haveing ensured or taken upon Bottomary 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. Encouragement given for building good Ships.

And for the better encouragement of building good and defensible Shipps Bee it enacted That all and every person or persons that shall within the space of seaven yeares from and after the first of May next ensueing, build or cause to be built within any of his Majestyes Dominions any Shipp or Vessell of three Decks with a Forecastle and Five Foote betweene each Decke mounted with thirty Pieces of Ordnance at least and other Ammunition proportionable shall for the first two Voyages which the said Shipp or Shipps make from his Majestyes Dominions to any Forreigne part have and receive to his and their owne proper use and benefitt One tenth part. And all persons that shall build any Ships of two Decks above three hundred Tunns and thirty Gunns shall have one twentyeth part of the Customs that shall be paid to his Majesty for all such Goods or Merchandices as shall be exported or imported on the said Shipp or Shipps, to and from this Kingdome. And the Commissioners and Officers of his Majestyes Customes are hereby impowered and required to pay the same to the Owner or Owners of the said Shipp or Shipps accordingly.


  • 1. interlined on the Roll.
  • 2. annexed to the Original Act in a separate Schedule.
  • 3. the O.
  • 4. beene O.