130. WILLIAM IV: STATUTES

(A) Reform Act (1832)

An act to amend the representation of the people in England and Wales. Whereas it is expedient to take effectual measures for correcting divers abuses that have long prevailed in the choice of members to serve in the commons house of parliament; to deprive many inconsiderable places of the right of returning members; to grant such privilege to large, populous, and wealthy towns; to increase the number of knights of the shire; to extend the elective franchise to many of his majesty's subjects who have not heretofore enjoyed the same; and to diminish the expense of elections: be it therefore enacted ... that each of the boroughs enumerated in the schedule marked A to this act annexed ... shall, from and after the end of this present parliament, cease to return any member or members to serve in parliament.

And be it enacted that each of the boroughs enumerated in the schedule marked B ... shall ... return one member and no more to serve in parliament.

And be it enacted that each of the places named in the schedule marked C ... shall for the purpose of this act be a borough, and shall ... return two members to serve in parliament.

And be it enacted that each of the places named in the schedule marked D ... shall for the purposes of this act be a borough, and shall ... return one member to serve in parliament....[1]

And be it enacted that in all future parliaments there shall be six knights of the shire, instead of four, to serve for the county of York ...; and ... that in all future parliaments there shall be four knights of the shire, instead of two, to serve for the county of Lincoln....

And be it enacted ... that in all future parliaments there shall be four knights of the shire, instead of two, to serve for each of the ... counties [enumerated in the schedule marked F] ...; and ... that in all future parliaments there shall be three knights of the shire, instead of two, to serve for each of the counties enumerated in the schedule marked F2 ... , and two knights of the shire, instead of one, to serve for each of the counties of Carmarthen, Denbigh, and Glamorgan....[2]

And be it enacted that every male person of full age and not subject to any legal incapacity who shall be seised at law or in equity of any lands or tenements of copyhold, or any other tenure whatever except freehold,[3] for his own life or for the life of another or for any lives whatsoever ... , of the clear yearly value of not less than 10 ... shall be entitled to vote in the election of a knight or knights of the shire ... for the county ... in which such lands or tenements shall be respectively situate.

And be it enacted that every male person of full age and not subject to any legal incapacity who shall be entitled, either as lessee or assignee, to any lands or tenements ... for the unexpired residue ... of any term originally created for a period of not less than sixty years ... of the clear yearly value of not less than 10 ... , or for the unexpired residue ... of any term originally created for a period of not less than twenty years ... of the clear yearly value of not less than 50 ... , or who shall occupy as tenant any lands or tenements for which he shall be bona fide liable to a yearly rent of not less than 50, shall be entitled to vote in the election of a knight or knights of the shire to serve in any future parliament for the county ... in which such lands ... shall be respectively situate.... And be it enacted that, notwithstanding anything hereinbefore contained, no person shall be entitled to vote in the election of a knight or knights of the shire to serve in any future parliament unless he shall have been duly registered according to the provisions hereinafter contained....[4]

And be it enacted that, in every city or borough which shall return a member or members to serve in any future parliament, every male person of full age and not subject to any legal incapacity who shall occupy within such city or borough ... , as owner or tenant, any house, warehouse, counting-house, shop, or other building ... of the clear yearly value of not less than 10 shall, if duly registered: according to the provisions hereinafter contained, be entitled to vote in the election of a member or members to serve in any future parliament for such city or borough. Provided always that no such person shall be so registered ... unless he shall have occupied such premises ... for twelve calendar months ...; nor unless such person ... shall have been rated in respect of such premises to all rates for the relief of the poor ... made during the time of such his occupation ...; nor unless such person shall have paid ... all the poor's rates and assessed taxes which shall have become payable from him in respect of such premises....

And be it enacted that every person who would have been entitled to vote in the election of a member or members to serve in any future parliament for any city or borough, not included in the schedule marked A ... , either as a burgess or freeman ... , if this act had not been passed, shall be entitled to vote in such election, provided such person shall be duly registered....

And be it enacted that ... all booths erected for the convenience of taking polls shall be erected at the joint and equal expense of the several candidates ...; that the expense to be incurred for the booth or booths to be erected at the principal place of election for any county ... or division of a county ... shall not exceed the sum of 40 ...; and that the expense to be incurred for any booth or booths to be erected for any parish, district, or part of any city or borough shall not exceed the sum of 25....

Provided always ... that nothing in this act contained shall ... in any wise affect the election of members to serve in parliament for the universities of Oxford or Cambridge....

Statutes of the United Kingdom, LXXII, 154 f.: 2 William IV, c. 45.

(B) Privy Council Appeals Act (1833)

An act for the better administration of justice in his majesty's privy council.... Be it ... enacted ... that the president for the time being of his majesty's privy council, the lord high chancellor of Great Britain for the time being, and such of the members of his majesty's privy council as shall from time to time hold any of the offices following — that is to say, the office of lord keeper or first lord commissioner of the great seal of Great Britain, lord chief justice or judge of the court of king's bench, master of the rolls, vice-chancellor of England, lord chief justice or judge of the court of common pleas, lord chief baron or baron of the court of exchequer, judge of the prerogative court of the lord archbishop of Canterbury, judge of the high court of admiralty, and chief judge of the court in bankruptcy — and also all persons, members of his majesty's privy council, who shall have been president thereof or held the office of lord chancellor of Great Britain, or shall have held any of the other offices hereinbefore mentioned, shall form a committee of his majesty's said privy council and shall be styled the judicial committee of the privy council. Provided, nevertheless, that it shall be lawful for his majesty from time to time, as and when he shall think fit, by his sign-manual to appoint any two other persons, being privy councillors, to be members of the said committee.

And be it further enacted that ... all appeals or applications in prize suits and in all other suits or proceedings in the courts of admiralty, or vice-admiralty courts, or any other court in the plantations in America and other his majesty's dominions or elsewhere abroad, which may now by virtue of any law, statute, commission, or usage, be made to the high court of admiralty in England or to the lords commissioners in prize cases, shall be made to his majesty in council....

And be it further enacted that all appeals or complaints in the nature of appeals whatever which either by virtue of this act or of any law, statute, or custom may be brought before his majesty or his majesty in council from or in respect of the determination, sentence, rule, or order of any court, judge, or judicial officer ... shall ... be referred by his majesty to the said judicial committee of his privy council....

Ibid., LXXIII, 263 f.: 3-4 William IV, c. 41.

(C) Act Abolishing Slavery (1833)

An act for the abolition of slavery throughout the British colonies.... Be it ... enacted that, subject to the obligations imposed by this act ... , all ... persons who on the ... first day of August, 1834, shall be holden in slavery within any ... British colony ... shall upon and from and after the said first day of August, 1834, become and be to all intents and purposes free and discharged of and from all manner of slavery, and shall be absolutely and forever manumitted; and that the children thereafter to be born to any such persons, and the offspring of such children, shall in like manner be free from their birth; and that from and after the said first day of August, 1834, slavery shall be and is hereby utterly and forever abolished and declared unlawful throughout the British colonies, plantations, and possessions abroad....[5]

Ibid., LXXIII, 666 f.: 3-4 William IV, c. 73.

(D) Factory Act (1833)

An act to regulate the labour of children and young persons in the mills and factories of the united kingdom.... Be it ... enacted ... that ... no person under eighteen years of age shall be allowed to work in the night — that is to say, between the hours half-past eight o'clock in the evening and half-past five o'clock in the morning — ... in or about any cotton, woolen, worsted, hemp, flax, tow, linen, or silk mill or factory, wherein steam or water or any other mechanical power is or shall be used to propel or work the machinery....

And be it further enacted that no person under the age of eighteen years shall be employed in any such mill or factory ... more than twelve hours in any one day, nor more than sixty-nine hours in any one week.... And be it further enacted that there shall be allowed in the course of every day not less than one and a half hours for meals to every such person....

And be it enacted that ... it shall not be lawful for any person whatsoever to employ in any factory or mill as aforesaid, except in mills for the manufacture of silk, any child who shall not have completed his or her ninth year of age.

And be it further enacted that, from and after the expiration of six months after the passing of this act, it shall not be lawful for any person whatsoever to employ, keep, or allow to remain in any factory or mill as aforesaid for a longer time than forty-eight hours in any one week, nor for a longer time than nine hours in any one day ... , any child who shall not have completed his or her eleventh year of age; or, after the expiration of eighteen months from the passing of this act, any child who shall not have completed his or her twelfth year of age; or, after the expiration of thirty months from the passing of this act, any child who shall not have completed his or her thirteenth year of age. Provided, nevertheless, that, in mills for the manufacture of silk, children under the age of thirteen years shall be allowed to work ten hours in any one day.[6]

And be it further enacted that all children and young persons whose hours of work are regulated and limited by this act shall be entitled to the following holidays, viz.: on Christmas Day and Good Friday, the entire day; and not fewer than eight half-days besides in every year....

And whereas, by an act ... passed in the forty-second year of the reign of ... George III,[7] it was ... provided that the justices of the peace ... should appoint yearly two persons ... to be visitors of ... mills or factories ...; and whereas it appears that the provisions of the said act ... were not duly carried into execution ...: be it therefore enacted that ... it shall be lawful for his majesty by warrant under his sign-manual to appoint during his majesty's pleasure four persons to be inspectors of factories and places where the labour of children and young persons under eighteen years of age is employed ...; which said several inspectors shall carry into effect the powers, authorities, and provisions of the present act. And such inspectors or any of them are hereby empowered to enter any factory or mill, and any school attached or belonging thereto at all times and seasons, by day or by night, when such mills or factories are at work; and, having so entered, to examine therein the children and any other person or persons employed therein, and to make inquiry respecting their condition, employment, and education. And such inspectors, or any of them, are hereby empowered to take or call to their aid in such examination and inquiry such persons as they may choose, and to summon and require any person upon the spot or elsewhere to give evidence upon such examinations and inquiry, and to administer to such person an oath....

And be it further enacted that ... every child hereinbefore restricted to the performance of forty-eight hours of labour in any one week shall, so long as such child shall be within the said restricted age, attend some school....

And be it further enacted that every inspector shall keep full minutes of all his visits and proceedings, and shall report the same to one of his majesty's principal secretaries of state twice in every year, and oftener if required....

And whereas it is expedient that the proceedings, rules, orders, and regulations of the several inspectors appointed under this act should be as nearly alike as is practicable under all circumstances: therefore such inspectors are hereby required, within three months next after they shall have commenced the execution of their several duties and powers under this act, and twice at least in every year afterwards, to meet and confer together respecting their several proceedings, rules, orders, regulations, duties, and powers under this act, and at such meeting to make their proceedings, rules, orders, and regulations as uniform as is expedient and practicable....

Ibid., LXXIII, 985 f.: 3-4 William IV, c. 103.

(E) Poor Law Amendment Act (1834)

An act for the amendment and better administration of the laws relating to the poor in England and Wales.... Be it ... enacted ... that it shall be lawful for his majesty ... to appoint three fit persons to be commissioners to carry this act into execution.... And be it further enacted that the said commissioners shall be styled the poor law commissioners for England and Wales.... And the said commissioners ... shall be and are hereby empowered, by summons under their hands and seal, to require the attendance of all such persons as they may think fit to call before them upon any question or matter connected with or relating to the administration of the laws for the relief of the poor; and also to make any inquiries and require any answer or returns as to any such question or matter; and also to administer oaths and examine all such persons upon oath, and to require and enforce the production upon oath of books, contracts, agreements, accounts, and writings, or copies thereof respectively, in any wise relating to any such question or matter....

And be it further enacted that, from and after the passing of this act, the administration of relief to the poor throughout England and Wales ... shall be subject to the direction and control of the said commissioners; and, for executing the powers given to them by this act, the said commissioners shall and are hereby authorized and required ... to make and issue all such ... regulations for the management of the poor, for the government of workhouses ... , for the apprenticing the children of poor persons, and for the guidance and control of all guardians, vestries, and parish officers so far as relates to the management or relief of the poor ... , and for carrying this act into execution in all other respects, as they shall think proper; and the said commissioners may, at their discretion, from time to time suspend, alter, or rescind such rules, orders, and regulations, or any of them; provided always, that nothing in this act contained shall be construed as enabling the said commissioners or any of them to interfere in any individual case for the purpose of ordering relief....

And be it further enacted that it shall be lawful for the said commissioners, by order under their hands and seal, to declare so many parishes as they may think fit to be united for the administration of the laws for the relief of the poor; and such parishes shall thereupon be deemed a union for such purpose, and thereupon the workhouse or workhouses of such parishes shall be for their common use....

And whereas a practice has obtained of giving relief to persons or their families who, at the time of applying for or receiving such relief, were wholly or partially in the employment of individuals, and the relief of the able-bodied and their families is in many places administered in modes productive of evil in other respects; and whereas difficulty may arise in case any immediate and universal remedy is attempted to be applied in the matters aforesaid: be it further enacted that ... it shall be lawful for the said commissioners, by such rules, orders, or regulations as they may think fit, to declare to what extent and for what period the relief to be given to able-bodied persons or to their families in any particular parish or union may be administered out of the workhouse of such parish or union....

Ibid., LXXIV, 285 f.: 4-5 William IV, c. 76.

(F) Municipal Corporations Act (1835)

An act to provide for the regulation of municipal corporations in England and Wales. Whereas divers bodies corporate at sundry times have been constituted within the cities, towns, and boroughs of England and Wales, to the intent that the same might forever be and remain well and quietly governed; and it is expedient that the charters by which the said bodies corporate are constituted should be altered in the manner hereinafter mentioned: be it therefore enacted ... that so much of all laws, statutes, and usages, and so much of all royal and other charters, grants, and letters

patent ... relating to the several boroughs named in the schedules A and B to this act annexed ... as are inconsistent with or contrary to the provisions of this act shall be and the same are hereby repealed and annulled....

And be it enacted that ... no person shall be elected, made, or admitted a burgess or freeman of any borough by gift or purchase.... And be it enacted that the town clerk of every borough shall ... make out a list, to be called the freemen's roll, of all persons who, at the time of the passing of this act, shall have been admitted as burgesses or freemen of such borough; and that, whenever any person shall hereafter become entitled to be admitted a burgess or freeman ... of such borough ... and shall claim to be admitted accordingly, the mayor of such borough shall examine into such claim; and, upon such claim being established, every such person shall thereupon be admitted and enrolled by the town clerk of such borough upon the freemen's roll....

And be it enacted that, after the first election of councillors under this act in any borough, the body or reputed body corporate named in the said schedules in connection with such borough shall take and bear the name of the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses of such borough; and by that name shall have perpetual succession and shall be capable in law, by the council hereinafter mentioned of such borough, to do and suffer all acts which now lawfully they and their successors respectively may do and suffer by any name or title of incorporation....

And be it enacted that every male person of full age who, on the last day of August in any year, shall have occupied any house, warehouse, counting-house, or shop within any borough during that year and the whole of each of the two preceding years, and also during the time of such occupation shall have been an inhabitant householder within the said borough, or within seven miles of the said borough, shall, if duly enrolled in that year according to the provisions hereinafter contained, be a burgess of such borough and member of the body corporate ... of such borough. Provided always that no such person shall be so enrolled in any year unless he shall have been rated in respect of such premises so occupied by him within the borough to all rates made for the relief of the poor of the parish wherein such premises are situated during the time of his occupation as aforesaid, and unless he shall have paid, on or before the last day of August as aforesaid, all such rates — including therein all borough rates, if any, directed to be paid under the provisions of this act — as shall have become payable by him in respect of the said premises....

And whereas in divers cities, towns, and boroughs a certain custom hath prevailed, and certain by-laws have been made, that no person, not being free of a city, town, or borough or of certain gilds, mysteries, or trading companies within the same ... shall keep any shop or place for putting to show or sale any or certain wares or merchandise by way of retail or otherwise, or use any or certain trades, occupations, mysteries, or handicrafts ... within the same: be it enacted that, notwithstanding any such custom or by-law, every person in any borough may keep any shop for the sale of all lawful wares and merchandises by wholesale or retail and use every lawful trade, occupation, mystery, and handicraft ... within any borough.

And be it enacted that on the fifth day of September in every year the overseers of the poor of every parish wholly or in part within any borough shall make out an alphabetical list, to be called the burgess list ... , of all persons who shall be entitled to be enrolled ... according to the provisions of this act in respect of property within such parish....

And be it enacted that in every borough shall be elected ... one fit person, who shall be ... the mayor of such borough; and a certain number of fit persons who shall be ... aldermen of such borough; and a certain number of other fit persons who shall be ... the councillors of such borough. And such mayor, aldermen, and councillors for the time being shall be ... the council of such borough.... And the number of persons so to be elected aldermen shall be one-third of the number of persons so to be elected councillors.... In every third succeeding year the council for the time being of every borough shall elect from the councillors, or from the persons qualified to be councillors, the aldermen of such borough or so many as shall be needed to supply the places of those who shall then go out of office.... And in every third succeeding year one-half of the ... aldermen of every borough shall go out of office and ... those who shall go out of office shall always be those who have been aldermen for the longest time without reelection....

And be it enacted that no person being in holy orders, or being the regular minister of any dissenting congregation, shall be qualified to be ... a councillor ... or an alderman of any such borough; nor shall any person be qualified to be ... a councillor or an alderman of any such borough who shall not be entitled to be on the burgess list of such borough, nor unless he shall be ... possessed of real or personal estate ... to the following amount: that is to say, in all boroughs directed by this act to be divided into four or more wards, to the amount of 1000, or be rated to the relief of the poor of such borough upon the annual value of not less than 30; and in all boroughs directed to be divided into less than four wards, or which shall not be divided into wards, to the amount of 500, or be rated to the relief of the poor in such borough upon the annual value of not less than 15.... [Nor shall any person be qualified] during such time as he shall hold any office or place of profit, other than that of mayor, in the gift or disposal of the council of such borough; or during such time as he shall have directly or indirectly, by himself or his partner, any share or interest in any contract or employment with, by, or on behalf of such council....

And be it enacted that every burgess of any borough, who shall be enrolled on the burgess roll for the time being of such borough, shall be entitled to vote in the election of councillors and of the auditors and assessors hereinafter mentioned for such borough; and no person who shall not be enrolled in such burgess roll for the time being shall have any voice or be entitled to vote in any such election....

And be it enacted that ... in every succeeding year one-third ... of the councillors of every borough shall go out of office, and ... those who shall so go out of office shall always be the councillors who have been for the longest time in office without re-election....

And be it enacted that ... in every year the council of the borough shall elect out of the aldermen or councillors of such borough a fit person to be the mayor of such borough, who shall continue in his office for one whole year.... And be it enacted that the council of every borough ... shall appoint a fit person, not being a member of the council, to be the town clerk of such borough, who shall hold his office during pleasure ...; and also such other officers ... as they shall think necessary....

And be it enacted that it shall be lawful for the council of any borough to make such by-laws as to them shall seem meet for the good rule and government of the borough ... , and to appoint by such by-laws such fines as they shall deem necessary ...; provided that no fine so to be appointed shall exceed the sum of 5, and that no such by-law shall be made unless at least two-thirds of the whole number of the council shall be present. Provided that no such by-law shall be of any force until the expiration of forty days after the same or a copy thereof shall have been sent, sealed with the seal of the said borough, to one of his majesty's principal secretaries of state, and shall have been affixed on the outer door of the town hall or in some other public place within such borough. And if, at any time within the said period of forty days, his majesty, with the advice of his privy council, shall disallow the same by-law or any part thereof, such by-law or the part thereof disallowed shall not come into operation....

And be it enacted that it shall be lawful for his majesty from time to time to assign to so many persons as he shall think proper his majesty's commission to act as justices of the peace in and for each borough.... And be it enacted that, if the council of any borough shall think it requisite that a salaried police magistrate or magistrates be appointed within such borough, such council is hereby empowered to make a by-law fixing the amount of the salary which he or they are to receive in that behalf; and such by-law so made by any council as aforesaid shall be transmitted to one of his majesty's principal secretaries of state. And it shall be lawful thereupon for his majesty, if he shall think fit, to appoint one or more fit persons, according to the number fixed in the said by-law ... to be ... police magistrate or magistrates and a justice or justices of the peace for such borough....

And be it enacted that the council of every borough, which shall be desirous that a separate court of quarter sessions of the peace shall be or continue to be holden in and for such borough, shall signify the same by petition to his majesty in council, setting forth the grounds of the application, the state of the jail, and the salary which they are willing to pay to the recorder in that behalf. And it shall be lawful for his majesty, if he shall be pleased thereupon to grant that a separate court of quarter sessions of the peace shall be thenceforward holden in and for such borough, to appoint for such borough, or for any two or more of such boroughs conjointly, a fit person ... who shall be and be called the recorder of such borough or boroughs, and shall hold such office during his good behavior....

Ibid., LXXV, 389 f.: 5-6 William IV, c. 76.


[1] Schedule A names 56 boroughs; Schedule B, 30 boroughs; Schedule C, 22 places; Schedule D, 20 places. The next seven articles deal with the fixing of boundaries for the boroughs and with qualifications for election officials.

[2] Schedule F names 25 counties; Schedule F2, 7 counties. The next two articles redefine the boundaries of certain counties.

[3] The statute takes for granted the continuance of the 40s. freehold franchise established by the act of 1429 (no. 69E).

[4] Lists of voters are to be kept in each constituency by certain local officials.

[5] Existing slaves aged six years and upwards are hereby made apprenticed labourers for limited periods, with the right of purchasing discharge. A sum of 20,000,000 is to be applied to compensating owners for the loss of their slaves. Cf. no. 129C.

[6] The act also requires that every child thus employed be provided with a certificate as to his or her strength and appearance, signed by a physician and countersigned by a magistrate.

[7] No. 126Q.


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