William and Mary, 1691: An Act for the more effectual Discovery and Punishment of Deer Stealers. [Chapter X. Rot. Parl. pt. 1. nu. 8.]

Pages 312-313

Statutes of the Realm: Volume 6, 1685-94. Originally published by Great Britain Record Commission, s.l, 1819.

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Recital that Persons form Confederacies to pay Penalties, &c. of Conviction:

Person convicted before a Justice of Peace of Deer-stealing.; Limitation of Prosecution.; Penalty, £20.; For each Deer wounded, £30.; Levied by Distress.; Want of Distress,; Punishment.

Whereas notwithstanding the many good Laws before this time made and still in force which do prohibit unlawfull courseing hunting or killing of Deer yet inasmuch as the Penalties thereby provided are found by daily experience not to be sufficient to deter divers lewd sturdy and disorderly persons who confederate together in great numbers makeing amongst themselves as it were a Brotherhood and Fraternity whereby if any of them shall be discovered and convicted which seldom happens because of their great force and clandestine manner of combination they by a co[m]mon contribution and for the most part advance and pay for such persons so apprehended the pecuniary Penalties (which are but small) inflicted on such offenders by reason whereof the other confederates escape discovery and condigne punishment Therefore for the more effectuall discovery and punishment of such persons Be it enacted by the King and Queens most excellent Majesties and by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons in Parliament assembled and by the authority of the same That if any person or persons shall from and after the Twenty fifth day of March in the yeare of our Lord One thousand six hundred ninety two unlawfully [hunt course (fn. 1) ] take in toyles kill wound or take away any Red or Fallow Deer in any Forest Chase Purlieu Paddock Wood Parke or other Ground inclosed where Deer are have or shall bee usually kept within the Realm of England or Dominion of Wales without the consent of the owner or person chiefly intrusted with the custody thereof or shall be aiding or assisting therein and shall be convicted thereof by the confession of the Party or by the Oath of one or more credible Witnesse or Witnesses before one or more Justices of the Peace of the same County wherein the offence shall be comitted or the Party offending apprehended which Oath the said Justice or Justices hereby are impowered to administer and such persons being prosecuted for such Offence within Twelve months after such offence done That then every such person soe offending by unlawfull coursing or hunting only when no Deer is taken wounded or killed shall forfeit for every such offence the Sume of Twenty pounds And in case any Deer shall by such person or persons be wounded taken in toyles or killed that for each Deer so wounded killed or taken such person or persons shall respectively forfeit and pay the Sume of Thirty pounds to be levied by way of distress upon the Goods and Chattells of every such offender by Warrant under the Justice or Justices hand before whom such Conviction or Convictions shall be made the one third [parte (fn. 2) ] of such Forfeitures to be given to the Informer or Informers [the other part (fn. 2) ] to the use of the Poor of the Parish where the Offence shall be comitted and the other third part to the Owner of such Deer And for want of sufficient Distresse that then such [persons (fn. 3) ] shall suffer Imprisonment by the space of one whole yeare without Bail or Mainprize and shall be sett in the Pillory by the space of one houre on some Markett day in the next adjoyning Towne to the place where such offence was com[m]itted by the chief Officer or Officers of such Markett-Towne or by his or their Under Officer or Officers

II. Constables may search suspicious Houses by Warrant.

If Venison, &c. found, and Offender cannot give a good Account of himself, &c. a Conviction.

And be it further enacted That every Constable Headborough and Tythingman (being thereto authorized by the Warrant of one or more Justices of Peace under his or their Hands & Seales) shall and may have full Power and Authority and hereby is required to enter into and search (in such manner and with such power as in case where Goods are stolne or suspected to be stolne) the House or Houses Outhouses or other places belonging to such Houses of suspected Persons And in case any Venison or Skin of any Deer or Toyles shall there be found such Officer shall apprehend such Offender and carry him before some Justice of the Peace of the same County And if such person doe not give a good Account how hee came by such Venison Skins or Toyles such as shall satisfie the said Justice or else shall not in some convenient time to be set him by the said Justice produce the Party of whom hee bought such Venison Skins or Toyles or some other credible Witnesse to depose upon Oath such Sale of the said Venison or Skins That then such person not giving such good Account nor p[ro]duceing any such Witnesse as aforesaid shall be convicted by the said Justice of such Offence who on such Conviction shall be subject unto the Forfeitures and Penalties hereby inflicted for the killing of any one Deer in the same manner as if thereof convicted as aforesaid

III. Constable may detain Offender till Distress returned.

And to the end that noe persons convicted of any of the Offences as aforesaid may escape Punishment by their flight or other removeal after such conviction Be it further enacted by and with the Authority aforesaid That it shall and may be lawfull for and hereby power and authority is given (after conviction as aforesaid) to the Constable or other Officer or person or persons prosecuting to detain in custody such Offender or Offenders (in case he or they shall not presently pay the moneys due by the said Conviction) dureing such reasonable time as a returne may be conveniently had and made to the Warrant for the Distresse upon such Conviction so as such Detainer do not exceed two days

IV. Persons having Deer in inclosed Ground may oppose Offenders.

And to the end all Owners of Deer in any Inclosed Ground may be indempnified in the just defence of such their right Be it enacted That any Owner of such Deer or any person or persons acting by from and under him shall and may oppose and resist such Offenders in the same manner and be equally indempnified for so doing as if such Fact had been comitted within any ancient Chase or Parke whatsoever

V. No Certiorari except Offender give Security £50. to pay Prosecutor full Costs, &c.

Double Prosecutions not allowed.

And whereas divers Offenders duely convicted do comonly procure Writs of Certiorari to remove such Convictions into Superiour Courts at Westminster in hopes thereby to discourage and weary out such persons injured by great delays expences and incertainties Be it therefore enacted That no Certiorari shall be allowed to remove any Conviction made or other Proceeding of for or concerning any matter or thing in this Act unlesse the Party or Parties against whom such Conviction shall be made shall before the allowance of such Certiorari become bounden to the person or persons prosecuting in the Sum of Fifty pounds with such sufficient Sureties as the Justice or Justices of the Peace before whom such Offender was convicted shall think fitt with condition to pay unto the said Prosecutors within one Month after such Conviction confirmed or a Procedendo granted their full Costs and Damages to be ascertained upon their Oaths and that in default thereof it shall be lawfull for the said Justice and Justices and others to proceed to the due execution of such Conviction in such manner as if no Certiorari had been awarded. Provided that where any Offender shall be punished by force of this Act that he shall not be prosecuted nor incur the penalty of any other Law or Statute for the same Offence.

VI. General Issue.

Provided always That if any person or persons whatsoever shall be sued or prosecuted for or by reason of any matter or thing which he or they shall do in pursuance of this Act it shall and may be lawfull to and for the person or persons so sued or prosecuted to plead the General Issue and give the Special Matter in Evidence.

VII. Persons convicted before a Justice of Peace for pulling down Pales, &c. imprisoned Three Months.

[Provided also and be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid That if any person or persons shall in the night time pull downe and destroy or cause to be pulled downe and destroyed the Pails or Walls of any Park Forest Chase, Purlieu Paddock Wood or other Ground inclosed where any Red or Fallow Deer shall be then kept That such person or persons so offending being thereof convicted by the Oath of one or more credible Witnesse or Witnesses before one or more Justice or Justices of the Peace of the same County wherein the Offence shall be comitted shall by Warrant from such Justice or Justices as aforesaid suffer Imprisonment for three Months without Bail or Mainprize. (fn. 4) ]


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