Gardiner: Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution

36. Act declaring the illegality of Ship-money.

[August 7, 1641. 17 Car. I. cap. 14. Statutes of the Realm, t. 116. See Hist. of Engl. ix. 415.]

An Act for the declaring unlawful and void the late proceedings touching Ship-money, and for the vacating of all records and process concerning the same.

I. Whereas divers writs of late time issued under the Great Seal of England, commonly called Ship-writs, for the charging of the Ports, Towns, Cities, Boroughs, and Counties of this realm respectively, to provide and furnish certain ships for His Majesty's service; and whereas upon the execution of the same writs and returns of certioraries thereupon made, and the sending the same by Mittimus into the Court of Exchequer, process hath been thence made against sundry persons pretended to be charged by way of contribution for the making up of certain sums assessed for the providing of the said ships; and in especial in Easter Term in the thirteenth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord the King that now is, a Writ of Scire facias was awarded out of the Court of Exchequer to the then Sheriff of Buckinghamshire against John Hampden, Esquire, to appear and show cause why he should not be charged with a certain sum so assessed upon him: upon whose appearance and demurrer to the proceedings therein the Barons of the Exchequer adjourned the same case into the Exchequer Chamber, where it was solemnly argued divers days; and at length it was there agreed by the greater part of all the Justices of the Courts of King's Bench and Common Pleas, and of the Barons of the Exchequer there assembled, that the said John Hampden should be charged with the said sum so as aforesaid assessed on him; the main grounds and reasons of the said Justices and Barons which so agreed being, that when the good and safety of the kingdom in general is concerned, and the whole kingdom in danger, the King might by writ under the Great Seal of England command all the subjects of this his kingdom at their charge to provide and furnish such number of ships with men, victuals and munition, and for such time as the King should think fit for the defence and safeguard of the kingdom from such danger and peril, and that by law the King might compel the doing thereof in case of refusal or refractoriness, and that the King is the sole judge both of the danger, and when and how the same is to be prevented and avoided; according to which grounds and reasons all the Justices of the said Courts of King's Bench and Common Pleas, and the said Barons of the Exchequer, having been formerly consulted with by His Majesty's command, had set their hands to an extrajudicial opinion expressed to the same purpose, which opinion with their names thereunto was also by His Majesty's command enrolled in the Courts of Chancery, King's Bench, Common Pleas and Exchequer, and likewise entered among the remembrances of the Court of Star Chamber, and according to the said agreement of the said Justices and Barons, judgment was given by the Barons of the Exchequer that the said John Hampden should be charged with the said sum so assessed on him: and, whereas some other actions and process depend, and have depended in the said Court of Exchequer and in gome other Courts, against other persons for the like kind of charge grounded upon the said writs commonly called Ship-writs; all which writs and proceedings as aforesaid were utterly against the law of the land: be it therefore declared and enacted by the King's Most Excellent Majesty and the Lords and the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that the said charge imposed upon the subject for the providing and furnishing of ships commonly called Ship-money, and the said extrajudicial opinion of the said Justices and Barons and the said writs, and every of them, and the said agreement or opinion of the greater part of the said Justices and Barons, and the said judgment given against the said John Hampden, were and are contrary to and against the laws and statutes of this realm, the right of property, the liberty of the subjects, former resolutions in Parliament, and the Petition of Right made in the third year of the reign of His Majesty that now is.

II. And it is further declared and enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all and every the particulars prayed or desired in the said Petition of Eight shall from henceforth be put in execution accordingly, and shall be firmly and strictly holden and observed as in the same Petition they are prayed and expressed; and that all and every the records and remembrances of all and every the judgment, enrolments, entry, and proceedings as aforesaid, and all and every the proceedings whatsoever, upon or by pretext or colour of any of the said writs commonly called Ship-writs, and all and every the dependents on any of them, shall be deemed and adjudged, to all intents, constructions and purposes, to be utterly void and disannulled; and that all and every the said judgment, enrolments, entries, proceedings and dependents of what kind soever, shall be vacated and cancelled in such manner and form as records use to be that are vacated.

Contents | Home | Constitution Society

More To Explore