38. Act prohibiting the exaction of Knighthood Fines.
[August 10, 1641. 17 Car. I. cap. 20. Statutes of the Realm, v. 131. See Hist. of Engl. ix. 417.
An Act for the prevention of vexatious proceedings touching the Order of Knighthood.
Whereas upon pretext of an ancient custom or usage of this realm of England, that men of full age being not Knights, and being seized of lands or rents of the yearly value of forty pounds or more (especially if their seizen had so continued by the space of three years next past), might be compelled by the King's writ to receive, or take upon them the Order of Knighthood, or else to make fine for the discharge or respite of the same, several writs, about the beginning of His Majesty's reign issued out of the Court of Chancery for proclamations to be made in every County to that purpose, and for certifying the names of all such persons, and for summoning them personally to appear in the King's presence, before a certain day, to be there ready to receive the said Order or Dignity: upon return of which writs, and transmitting the same with their returns into the Court of Exchequer, and upon other writs for further inquiry of the names of such persons issuing out of the said Court of Exchequer, process by distringas was thence made against a very great number of persons, many of which were altogether unfit, in regard either of estate or quality, to receive the said Order or Dignity, and very many were put to grievous fines and other vexations for the same, although in truth it were not sufficiently known how, or in what sort, or where they, or any of them, should, or might have addressed themselves for receiving the said Order or Dignity, and for saving themselves thereby from the said fines, process and vexations: and whereas it is most apparent that all and every such proceeding, in regard of the matter therein pretended, is altogether useless and unreasonable: may it therefore please your Most Excellent Majesty that it be by authority of Parliament declared and enacted; and be it declared and enacted by the King's Most Excellent Majesty, and the Lords and Commons in this Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that from henceforth no person or persons of what condition, quality, estate or degree soever, shall at any time be distrained or otherwise compelled by any writ or process of the Court of Chancery or Court of Exchequer, or otherwise by any means whatsoever, to receive or take upon him or them respectively the Order or Dignity of Knighthood, nor shall suffer or undergo any fine, trouble or molestation whatsoever by reason or colour of his or their having not received or not taken upon him or them the said Order or Dignity; and that all and every writ or process whatsoever, and all and every proceeding which shall hereafter be had or made contrary to the intent of this Act, shall be deemed and adjudged to be utterly void; and that all and every process, proceeding, and charge now depending by reason or colour of the said pretended custom or writs aforesaid, or of any the dependents thereof, shall from henceforth cease, and stand, lie and remain discharged and utterly void, any former law or custom, or any pretence of any former law or custom or any other matter whatsoever to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.
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