Act of Parliament 1761

As part of my ever growing collection of historical documents I recently purchased an original item in the form of  an Act of Parliament from 1761. The act was passed at Westminster and specifically concerns debts and lighting. The following is my transcription of it:

Anno Regni

GEORGII III REGIS

Magnæ Britanniæ, Franciæ, & Hiberniæ, QUARTO.

At the Parliament begun and holden at Westminster, the Nineteenth day of May, Anno Dom. 1761, in the first year of the reign of our sovereign Lord GEORGE the third, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, & Ireland, King, Defender of the faith, &c.

And from thence continued by several prorogations to the fifteenth day of November, 1763. Being the third session of the twelfth parliament of Great Britain.

LONDON: Printed by Mark Baskett – Printer to the King’s most excellent majesty; and by the assigns of Robert Baskett. 1764.

ANNO QUARTO – Georgii III. Regis.

CAP. XL.

An act for the more easy and speedy recovery of small debts within the borough and soke of Doncaster, in the county of York; and for lighting the streets, lanes, and other open passages and places, within the said borough.

  • Whereas the borough of Doncaster, in the county of York, is large and populous, has a navigable river, and is a great thoroughfare between the south and northern parts of this kingdom, by means whereof a considerable trade is carried on in the said borough and soke thereof: and whereas there are many persons to whom the traders of the said borough and soke are obliged to give credit for small sums of money, who frequently refuse, although able, to pay the same, presuming on the discouragements which creditors lie under, from the expence which they are unavoidably put to, and the delays they meet with in pursuing such debts; and whereas a more easy and speedy method of recovering Small Debts, within the said borough and soke, would greatly tend to promote industry, and support useful credit therein. And whereas, the lighting, in a proper manner, the streets, lanes, and other open passages and places within the said borough, would be of great benefit and safety to the inhabitants thereof, as well as to all persons resorting thereto. May it therefore please your majesty that it may be enacted, and be it enacted by the Kings most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords, Spiritual and temporal, and commons in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same. That:
  • Sir Bryan Cooke Baronet, the Mayor of Doncaster for the time being,
  • Richard Whitaker
  • George Healey
  • Robert Copley
  • Anthony Wharton
  • William Dawson
  • John Cooke
  • Francis Laye
  • John Arthur
  • John Ellerker
  • Edmund Bower
  • Henry Farrer
  • William Ellerker
  • John Hawley
  • Benjamin Hague
  • John Silverwood
  • Francis Caley
  • William Heaton
  • Conrade Stiffel
  • John Turner
  • Charles Herne
  • Robert Ellis
  • John Healey
  • Henry Heaton
  • Thomas Smith
  • Matthew Sanderson
  • Thomas Jennings
  • William Bingley
  • James Graham
  • Thomas Tofield
  • Richard Walker
  • John Broughton
  • John Broughton Junior
  • Thomas Heaton
  • John Hancock
  • William Patrick
  • John France
  • George Jarratt
  • John Jaques
  • Nathaniel Pearson
  • Philip Gill
  • Gervase Seaton
  • William Richard
  • George Halifax
  • John Watson
  • Solomon Holmes
  • John Whitaker
  • Robert Hudson
  • Richard Staveley
  • Thomas Pheazant
  • Richard Bowzer
  • Thomas Seaton
  • George Pearson
  • Thomas Rimington
  • William Pigot
  • William Dixon Cave
  • Thomas Gill
  • Francis Haworth
  • William Pheazant
  • Joseph Collisson,

esquires and gentlemen, shall be, and are hereby appointed Commissioners, to hear and determine all such matters of Debt as are hereafter mentioned. And the said commissioners and their successors are hereby constituted a Court of Justice, by the name of the court of requests for the borough and soke of Doncaster in the county of York; and they the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, shall, and are hereby impowered and required to meet and hold the said court on every other thursday, or oftener, if there shall be occasion, in the Guild Hall of the said borough, or at any other convenient place within the said borough. To be appointed by the major part of such of the commissioners as shall be assembled at any such meeting, and the first meeting of the said commissioners shall be held on the Thursday fortnight next after the passing of this act, so as the said meeting shall not interrupt the business at any time to be done by or before his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, usually done, held, or kept in the said Guild Hall. And the sid commissioners, or any three or more of them, from time to time assembled at such courts, are hereby authorised and fully impowered, to hear and determine all such causes as are hereafter mentioned, and to give such judgements and to make such orders and decrees therein, and to award execution thereupon with costs, against the body and bodies, or against the goods of all and every the person and persons against whom they shall give any such judgement, or make any such order or decree, as to them may seem just in law or equity. And if the commissioners so assembled shall happen to be equally divided upon any question that may come before them, the Mayor of the Borough for the time being, if present, or in his absence, the senior alderman present, and if no alderman is present, the commissioner present who stands first in the list of commissioners to be hung up in the court or place where the commissioners shall meet, shall have another and the casting vote.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that, from time to time, on the death or refusal to act, of any or either of the commissioners herein before particularly named, or of any or either of their successors, to be elected in manner herein after immediately mentioned, it shall be lawful for the surviving or remaining commissioners or the major part of such of them as shall be present at a meeting which is hereby directed to be held for that purpose, within the space of one month next after such decease, or refusal to act, shall happen or be known, or as soon after as conveniently maybe; to elect and appoint one other commissioner, in the stead of each such commissioner so dying or refusing to act; and every such commissioner, so elected, shall be, and is hereby enabled to act in the execution of the powers hereby granted to the commissioners aforesaid, as fully and effectually, to all intents and purposes, as if he had been particularly named herein as a commissioner; but notice in writing, of the time and place of meeting for every such election, shall be given by the clerk to the said commissioners, by afixing the same upon the Market-house in the said borough, at least ten days before every such meeting.

And, to the end that no undue preference may be made and given in summoning the said commissioners appointed, in pursuance of this act, to attend the said court, be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the serjeant of the said court, for the time being, to be nominated or elected as herein after mentioned, shall summon the Mayor and one Alderman, or two Aldermen together with four other commissioners, beginning with the Mayor and one Alderman and four other commissioners, who shall be first named in the list of commissioners to be hung up in the said court as commissioners for two weeks then next ensuing; and shall, once a fortnight, summon the like number of commissioners, as they shall stand in order and rotation upon the said list.

Provided always, that nothing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, to exclude or debar any of the commissioners for the time being from sitting in the said court, although such commissioners shall not have been summoned, or stand in rotation to be summoned; but that such commissioners, if they shall think fit so to do, shall and may sit, hear, determine, give judgement, and make orders and decrees in the said court; anything herein before contained to the contrary thereof, in any wise, notwithstanding.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that no person shall be capable of acting as a commissioner, in the execution of this act, until he shall have taken an oath to the effect following; that is to say,

  • I, A.B. do swear, that I will faithfully, impartially, and honestly, according to the best of my judgement, hear and determine such matters and things as shall be brought before me, by virtue of an act of Parliament, intituled, An act for the more easy and speedy recovery of small debts within the borough and soke of Doncaster, in the County of York; and for lighting the streets, lanes, and other open passages and places, within the said borough, without favour, affection, or prejudice to either party.

Which oath, the Clerk of the said court, or any of the commissioners who shall have taken such oath, is hereby impowered and required to administer in open court; and a memorial thereof shall be entered in the registers of the said court, by the said Clerk.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that Richard Shepherd, the town Clerk of the said borough, and the town Clerk of the said borough for the time being, shall be, and is hereby constituted and appointed Clerk of the said Court of Requests, during his good behaviour in the said office; and shall have power and authority, from time to time, to appoint a deputy; which said Clerk, or his deputy, are hereby impowered and required to issue out all summonses, warrants, and precepts. and to register all orders, decrees, and judgements of the said court, and shall enter and register, or cause to be entered and registered, in proper books, to be provided by him, and kept for that purpose, all the acts and proceedings of the said court.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the Serjeants at Mace of the said borough for the time being, shall be, and are hereby constituted and appointed Serjeants of the said court of requests, during their good behaviour, for the serving of summonses, and executing such orders, warrants, and precepts, and doing and performing such other acts, matters, and things, as are herein appointed to be done by them.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that from and after the passing of this act, it shall and may be lawful to and for any person or persons whatsoever, who now hath, have, or hereafter shall have, any debt or debts, under the value of forty shillings, due, or owing, or belonging unto him, her, or them, in his, her, or their own rights, or as executor, administrator, guardian, or trustee, to any other person or persons, by or from any other person or persons whatsoever, inhabiting or residing within the said borough or soke, or using or frequenting the markets thereof, or usually buying or selling, or seeking a livelihood therein, or sailing or navigating to or from the said town, to apply to the clerk of the court for the time being, or his deputy, who shall immediately make out and deliver to one of the serjeants of the said court for the time being, (who is and are hereby authorized and required to execute all warrants, precepts, and processes of the said court of requests), a summons in writing, under his hand, directed to such debtor or debtors, expressing the sum demanded of him, her, or them, the party demanding and requiring him, her, or them, to appear at a certain time and place, to be mentioned in such summons, before the commissioners of the said court, to answer such complaint: And such serjeant shall forthwith cause such summons to be served on such debtor or debtors, either personally, or by leaving the same at the dwelling house, lodging, place of abode, shop, shed, stall, stand, or other place of dealing, trading, or working, of such debtor or debtors, being within the limits of the said borough and soke, with his, her, or their servant, or other person belonging to him, her, or them; and that, upon proof made, that such summons hath been duly served, the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, assembled in court, being a majority of such court, are hereby impowered and required to make due enquiry concerning such demands or plaints, and make such orders and decrees therein, and pass such final judgement or sentence thereupon, and award costs of suit, as to them shall seem most agreeable to equity and conscience: And, for the better discovery of the truth, and more solemn determination of matters and causes which shall be depending in the said court, it shall be lawful for the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, assembled in court, and they are hereby impowered to administer, or cause to be administered, an oath or oaths to either of the said parties, willing to be examined touching the matters then in question, and to such witness or witnesses as shall be produced by each party,and to the officers of the said court, and also to any other person or persons, whose evidence shall seem necessary towards the hearing or determining of any of the said causes, or making any order or decree therein, or for any other purpose requisite to the execution of this act.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if such debtor or debtors, who shall have been duly summoned as aforesaid, shall not appear before such court, at the time and place mentioned in the said summons, then it shall and may be lawful to and for the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, so assembled, being a majority of the said court, after due proof made, upon oath, of the service of the said summons, in manner aforesaid, to hear the cause on the part of the plaintiff or plaintiffs only, and to make such order, decree, or judgement, and to award reasonable costs of suit, as to them shall seem most agreeable to equity and good conscience.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if, upon the day of return of the summons, or at any continuation or adjournment of the said court, the plaintiff or plaintiffs shall not appear, or, appearing, shall not make proof of his, her, or their demand, to the satisfaction of the court, but become nonsuited, it shall and may be lawful to and for the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, being a majority of the said court, to award to the defendant or defendants reasonable costs, and to order and oblige the plaintiff or plaintiffs to pay the same, by such ways and means as are herein provided for the recovery of debts, ordered and decreed by the said court.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that in the case where the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, as aforesaid, shall have made any order or decree for the payment of money, it shall and may be lawful to and for the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, being a majority of the said court, to award execution either against the body or goods of the party against whom such order or decree shall be made; and thereupon it shall and may be lawful for  the clerk at the said court, at the prayer of the party prosecuting such order or decree for the payment of money, to issue a precept under his hand and seal by way of Capias ad fatisfaciendum, or fieri facias, to one of the serjeants of the said court who, by virtue of any such precept, issued upon execution awarded against the body of such party, shall and may, and is hereby impowered to take such party, being within the said borough and soke, and carry him, her, or them to the common Gaol or Prison for the said borough and soke, there to remain until he, she, or they shall perform and obey such order, decree or judgement, so as no person shall remain in confinement, upon any such execution for a longer space than three calendar months. And such serjeant, by virtue of any such precept, issued upon execution awarded against the goods of any such party, shall and may and is hereby impowered to levy, by distress and sale of the goods of such party, being within the said borough and soke, such sum or sums of money, and costs, as shall be so ordered, decreed and adjudged. And if the party against whose body or goods any such execution shall be awarded, the process thereupon shall issue, shall, by absconding, or by secreting or removing his, her, or their goods, or by any other means, prevent or evade the service or effect of any such execution, it shall and may be lawful to and for the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, being a majority thereof, assembled in such court, upon due proof thereof made to them, by the oath or oaths of one or more credible witness or witnesses, at their discretion to award execution either against the body or goods of such party, and process shall issue thereupon, and be served by one of the serjeants of the said court, in manner aforesaid, until the plaintif or plaintiffs shall be fully paid and satisfied. And in case the said court shall, at any time, upon the request, and for the ease and convenience of the defendant or defendants, order, decree or adjudge a debt due to the plaintiff or plaintiffs, to be paid by several payments; then, upon the first default or failure of any of the said payments so ordered, decreed and adjudged, the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, assembled in such court, being a majority of the said court, shall and may at the instance of the plaintiff or plaintiffs, and upon due proof of the said default or failure, award execution for the whole debt, or such part thereof as shall then remain unpaid, together with such further costs as to them shall seem reasonable, to be recovered by the same methods and means as are herein provided for the recovery of the debt and costs first decreed, the former order, decree, or judgement, to the contrary notwithstanding.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that upon every precept to be issued upon execution awarded against the body or goods of any person or persons, the clerk of the said court shall indorse, or cause to be indorsed, the sum or sums and costs so ordered, decreed or adjudged: and if the party or parties against whom such execution shall be awarded respectively, shall, before any actual sale of the goods, or before he, she or they is or are apprehended, or before expiration of the term of his, her, or their imprisonment, pay or cause to be paid, or tendered unto the clerk of the said court, such sum or sums and costs, together with one shilling as a reward for his trouble in receiving and paying over of the said debt and costs and entering acknowledgement of satisfaction in full for the sum, and also the sum of two shillings and sixpence for Gaol fees, (in case such person or persons shall have been committed to prison), then, and in any such case, the execution shall be superceded, and the body or goods of the said party or parties shall be discharged and set at liberty.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that no privelage or pretended privelage, shall be allowed to exempt any person liable to be summoned by virtue of this act, from the jurisdiction of the said court of requests, on account of his being a sworn attorney or solicitor of any of the courts at Westminster, or any other court whatsoever.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if the serjeant of the said court who shall be employed to serve an execution shall, by willful or notorious neglect or connivance, cause or suffer the party against whom such execution shall be awarded, to escape or abscond, or the goods of such party to be carried away or secreted, so that such execution shall not have its due effect, it shall and may be lawful to and for the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, assembled at any such court, being a majority of the said court, upon complaint made, and due proof thereof, upon the oath or oaths of one or more credible witness or witnesses, to order such serjeant to pay the sum or sums of money for which the said execution was awarded to the party complaining; and to enforce the payment thereof by the same methods and means as are herein provided for the recovery of other debts.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the several fees hereafter limited and expressed, and no other, shall be taken by the said clerk and serjeants for their several and respective services in the execution of this act; that is to say:

 

£

s

d

For issuing every summons to the clerk

0

0

6

For service of every summons in the town and attending the court with return to the serjeants

0

0

3

For service of every summons out of the town and within the soke and attending the court with return to the serjeants

0

0

6

For entering the cause to the clerk

0

0

3

For every hearing to the clerk

0

0

3

For every order to the clerk

0

0

3

For entering every order and making to the clerk

0

0

3

For service of every order against a party (in town) not in court and attending with return to the serjeants

0

0

3

For ditto, out of town, and within the soke

0

0

6

For a nonsuit on the plaintiff’s not appearing to the clerk

0

0

2

For an attachment against the defendant for not appearing to the clerk

0

0

6

To the serjeants for service thereof in town

0

0

3

For ditto out of town and within the soke

0

0

6

For acknowledging satisfaction thereof, to the clerk

0

0

4

For an execution to the clerk

0

1

0

To the serjeants for service thereof in town

0

0

3

For ditto out of town and within the soke

0

0

6

For a subpœna, to the clerk

0

0

3

To the serjeants for the service thereof in town

0

0

2

For ditto out of town and within the soke

0

0

6

For paying money into court, for the clerk

0

0

6

For every search of the books, to the clerk

0

0

2

A table of which fees shall, from time to time, to be hung up by the clerks of the said court, in some conspicuous part of the said court or place where the said commissioners shall meet, so that all persons shall attend the said court may see and read the same.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if the said clerk of the said court for the time being, or his deputy, or the serjeants of the said court for the time being, or any of them, shall knowingly take or demand any greater or other fee or fees than as herein mentioned, upon complaint and due proof thereof, upon the oath or oaths of one or more credible witness or witnesses, made in open court, the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, being a majority of the said court, shall, and are hereby required and impowered, from time to time, to punish such offender by fine, not exceeding forty shillings, nor less than ten shillings, for one offence, to be levied by distress and sale of the offenders goods and chattles, by warrant under the hands and seals of the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, rendering to the owner the overplus, if any, after the charges of such distress and sale are deducted; which fine and fines, when recovered, shall be paid to the Mayor of the said borough and soke for the time being, to be by him distributed amongst the poor of the said borough and soke, in such manner as he shall think fit; and if the clerk or serjeants of the said court, or any or either of them, for the time being, shall be guilty of any notorious misbehaviour, either by frequently taking or demanding greater or other fees as aforesaid, or otherwise, in the execution of their respective offices; upon complaint made, the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, shall in open court, hear and enquire into the matter of the said misbehaviour, by the oath or oaths of one or more credible witness or witnesses, and shall, if they, being a majority of the said court, think fit, certify the particulars of the said misbehaviour, with the proofs thereof, unto the Mayor of the said borough for the time being, who shall thereupon cause all the said commissioners to be summoned to meet at a convenient time and place, and shall lay the same before the commissioners assembled pursuant to such summons, who shall take the same into consideration, and may, according to their discretion, suspend or remove the said clerk, or serjeant or serjeants, so offending, from his or their said office or offices, and nominate and appoint another or other fit and able person or persons to exercise the said office or offices respectively, in the place and stead of him or them removed.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any of the commissioners of the said court for the time being, shall be party to, or interested in, any cause depending in the said court, such person shall not be capable of acting as a commissioner in the hearing or determining the said cause, or making any order, decree or judgement therein, but after being heard in the said cause, shall withdraw until the same is finally determined; and if the clerk or other officer of the said court for the time being, shall be a party to or interested in any cause depending in the said court, such clerk or other officer shall not exercise his said office in the said cause, or anything relating thereto. But the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, assembled at such court, being a majority of the said court, shall and may appoint another person to exercise the office of such clerk, or other officer respectively, in all things relating to such cause.

And for the more effectual establishment of the said court, and that the commissioners thereof may be vested with a proper authority, and be free and exempt from insult and abuse, be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any person or persons shall contemptuously and wilfully insult or abuse all or any of the officers of the said court, for the time being, during their sitting in the said court, or going to or from the said court, or shall interupt or obstruct the proceedings of the said court, it shall and may be lawful for the serjeants or serjeants of the said court, with or without the assistance of any other person or persons, by order of the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, being a majority of the said court to take such offender, or offenders into custody, and carry him, her, or them, before the Mayor, or any other justice or justices of the peace for the said borough and soke; and upon the insult, abuse, or any other misbehaviour as aforesaid, being duly proved by the oath or oaths of one or more credible witness or witnesses, the said Mayor, Justice or Justices shall punish every such offender, either by fine, not exceeding forty shillings, nor under five shillings, upon any one person for any one offence, to be levied by distress and sale of the goods of such offender, or imprisonment in the said Gaol or prison of the said borough and soke, for any space of time not exceeding two months: and where the said Mayor or Justices shall have imposed a fine upon such offender, and there shall not be found sufficient goods of such offender, whereupon such fine can be levied, the said Mayor, Justice or Justices, shall and may, by warrant under his or their hand and seal, or hands and seals, commit the said offender to the Gaol or Prison of the said town, there to remain for any space of time not exceeding two months: and all such fines as aforesaid shall, when raised or levied, be paid and applied in like manner as the fines herein before mentioned are directed to be paid and applied; and the said clerk of the said court for the time being shall, from time to time, cause a true copy of this clause to fixed up in the said court, or place where the said commissioners shall meet, in some conspicuous part thereof, where the persons reporting to the said court may see and read the same.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that no action or suit for any debt not amounting to the value of forty shillings, and recoverable by virtue of this act in the said court of requests, shall be brought against any person or persons in any other court whatsoever, and concerning which, any order, decree, or judgement, shall have been before made or given in the said court of requests, such order, decree, or judgement being pleaded or given in evidence on the general issue of such action or suit, shall, as to the matters contained therein, be an effectual bar to the plaintiff or plaintiffs in such action or suit, and the registers or books of entry of the said court, or true copies, attested under the hand of the clerk of the said court of requests for the time being, and proved by the oath or oaths of one or more credible witness or witnesses, shall be deemed legal evidence of the acts and proceedings of the said court of requests, and no suit which shall be commenced in the said court of requests, in pursuance of this act, nor any proceedings therein, shall or may be removed into any superior court, but the same shall be final and conclusive to all intents and purposes.

 

 

To be continued,………………………