1717: 4 George 1 c.11: An act for the further preventing robbery, burglary, and other felonies, and for the more effectual transportations of felons, and unlawful exporters of wool; and for declaring the law upon some points relating to pirates.
WHEREAS it is found by experience, That the punishments inflicted by the laws now in force against the offences of robbery, larceny and other felonious taking and stealing of money and goods, have not proved effectual to deter wicked and evil-disposed persons from being guilty of the said crimes: and whereas many offenders to whom royal mercy hath been extended, upon condition of transporting themselves to the West-Indies, have often neglected to perform the said condition, but returned to their former wickedness, and been as last for new crimes brought to a shameful and ignominious death: and whereas in many of his Majesty’s colonies and plantations in America, there is great want of servants, who by their labour and industry might be the means of improving and making the said colonies and plantations more useful to this nation: be it enacted by the King’s most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal and the commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That where any person or persons have been convicted of any offence within the benefit of clergy, before the twentieth day of January one thousand seven hundred and seventeen, and are liable to be whipt or burnt in the hand, or have been ordered to any workhouse, and who shall be therein on the said twentieth day of January; as also where any person or persons shall be hereafter convicted of grand or petit larceny, or any felonious stealing or taking money or goods and chattels, either from the person, or the house of any other, or in any other manner, and who by the law shall be entitled to the benefit of clergy, and liable only to the penalties of burning in the hand or whipping, (except persons convicted for receiving or buying stolen goods, knowing them to be stolen) it shall and may be lawful for the court before whom they were convicted, or any court held at the same place with the like authority, if they think fit, instead of ordering any such offenders to be burnt in the hand or whipt, to order and direct, That such offenders, as also such offenders in any workhouse, as aforesaid, shall be sent as soon as conveniently may be, to some of his Majesty’s colonies and plantations in America for the space of seven years; and that court before whom they were convicted, or any subsequent court held at the same place, with like authority as the former, shall have power to convey, transfer and make over such offenders, by order of court, to the use of any person or persons who shall contract for the performance of such transportation, to him or them, and his and their assigns, for such term of seven years; and where any persons have been convicted, or do now stand attainted of any offences whatsoever, for which death by law ought to be inflicted, or where any offenders shall hereafter be convicted of any crimes whatsoever, for which they are by law to be excluded the benefit of clergy, and his Majesty, his heirs or successors, shall be graciously pleased to extend royal mercy to any such offenders, upon the condition of transportation to any part of America, and such intention of mercy be signified by one of his Majesty’s principal secretaries of state, it shall and may be lawful to and for any court having proper authority, to allow such offenders the benefit of a pardon under the great seal, and to order and direct the like transfer and conveyance to any person or persons, (who will contract for the performance of such transportation) and to his and their assigns, of any such before-mentioned offenders, as also of any person or persons convicted of receiving or buying stolen goods, knowing them to be stolen, for the term of fourteen years, in case such condition of transportation be general, or else for such other term or terms as shall be made part of such condition, if any particular time be specified by his Majesty, his heirs and successors, as aforesaid; and such person or persons so contracting, as aforesaid, his or their assigns, by virtue of such order of transfer, as aforesaid, shall have a property and interest in the service of such offenders for such terms of years.
II. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any offender or offenders, so ordered by any such court to be transported for any term of seven years or fourteen years, or other time or times, as aforesaid, shall return into any part of Great Britain or Ireland before the end of his or their said term, he or she so returning, as aforesaid, shall be liable to be punished as any person attainted of felony without the benefit of clergy; and execution may and shall be awarded against such offender or offenders accordingly: provided nevertheless. That his Majesty, his heirs and successors, may pardon and dipense with any such transportation, and allow of the return of any such offender or offenders from America, he or they paying their owner or proprietor, at the time of such pardon, dispensation or allowance, such sum of money as shall be adjudged reasonable by any two justices of the peace residing within the province where such owner dwells; and where any such offenders shall be transported, and shall have served their respective terms, according to the order of any such court, as aforesaid, such services shall have the effect of a pardon to all intents and purposes, as for that crime or crimes for which they were so transported, and shall have so served, as aforesaid.
III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every such person or persons to whom any such court shall order any such offenders to be transferred or conveyed, as aforesaid, before any of them shall be delivered over to such person or persons, or his or their assigns, to be transported, as aforesaid, he or they shall contract and agree with such person or persons as shall be ordered and appointed by such court, as aforesaid, and give sufficient security to the satisfaction of such court, that he or they will transport, or cause to be transported effectually such offenders so conveyed to him or them, as aforesaid, to some of his Majesty’s colonies and plantations in America, as shall be ordered by the said court, and procure an authentick certificate from the governor, or the chief custom-house officer of the place (which certificate they are hereby required to give forthwith, without fee or reward, as soon as conveniently may be) of the landing of such offenders so transferred, as aforesaid, in that place whereto they shall be ordered, (death and casualties of the sea excepted) and that none of the said offenders shall be suffered to return from the said place to any part of Great Britain or Ireland by the wilful default of such person or persons so contracting as aforesaid, or by the wilful default of his or their assigns.
IV. And whereas there are several persons who have secret acquaintances with felons, and who make it their business to help persons to their stolen goods, and by that means gain money from them, which is divided between them and the felons, whereby they greatly encourage such offenders: be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That where-ever any person taketh money or reward, directly or indirectly, under pretence or upon account of helping any person or persons to any stolen goods or chattels, every such person so taking money or reward, as aforesaid, (unless such person doth apprehend, or cause to be apprehended, such felon who stole the same, and cause such felon to be brought to his trial for the same, and give evidence against him) shall be guilty of felony, and suffer the pains and penalties of felony, according to the nature of the felony committed in dealing such goods, and in such and the same manner as if such offender had himself stolen such goods and chattels, in the manner, and with such circumstances as the same were stolen.
V. And whereas there are many idle persons, who are under the age of one and twenty years, lurking about in divers parts of London, and elsewhere, who want employment, and may be tempted to become thieves, if not provided for: and whereas they may be inclined to be transported, and to enter into services in some of his Majesty’s colonies and plantations in America; but as they have no power to contract for themselves, and therefore that it is not safe for merchants to transport, or take them into such services; be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That where any person of the age of fifteen years or more, and under the age of twenty one, shall be willing to be transported, and to enter into any service in any persons of the of his Majesty’s colonies or plantations in America, it shall and may be lawful for any merchant, or other, to contract with any such Person for any such service, not exceeding the term of eight years; provided such person so binding him or herself do come before the lord mayor of London, or some other justice of the peace of the city, if such contract be made within the same, or the liberties thereof, or before some other two justices of the peace of the place where such contract shall be made, if made elsewhere, and before such magistrate or magistrates acknowledge such consent, and do sign such contract in his or their presence, and with his or their approbation; and that then it shall be same with his lawful for any such merchant or other, to transport such person so binding him or herself, and to keep him or her within any of the said plantations or colonies, according to the tenor of such contract, as aforesaid; any law or statute to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding; which said contract and approbation of such magistrate or magistrates, with the tenor of such contract, shall be certified by such magistrate or magistrates to the next general quarter-sessions, of the peace, held for that county where such magistrate or magistrates shall reside, to be registred by the clerk of the peace without fee or reward.
VI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the said twentieth day of January one thousand seven hundred and seventeen, if any person or performs shall be in prison for want of sufficient bail, for unlawful exportation of wool or wool-sells, and shall refuse to appear or plead to a declaration or information to be delivered to such person or persons, or to the gaoler, keeper or turnkey of the prison, at the said prison, for the said offence, by the space of one term, judgment shall be entred against him by default; and in case judgment shall be obtained against any such person or persons by default, verdict, or otherwise, and such person or persons shall not pay the sum recovered against him or them for the said offence, within the space of three months after entring up of such judgment, the court before whom such judgment shall be obtained shall, by order of court, cause such offender or offenders to be transported, in the same manner as felons aforesaid, for the term of seven years; and if such offender or offenders shall return into Great Britain or Ireland, before the expiration of the said seven years, he or they shall suffer as felons, and have execution awarded against them, as persons attainted of felony, without benefit of clergy.
VII. And it is hereby declared, That all and every person and persons who have committed or shall commit any offence or offences, for which they ought to be adjudged, deemed and taken to be pirates, felons or robbers, by an act made in the parliament holden in the eleventh and twelfth years of the reign of his late majesty King William the Third, intituled, An act for the more effectual suppression of piracy, may be tried and judged for every such offence in such manner and form as in and by an act made in the twenty eighth year of the reign of King Henry the Eighth is directed and appointed for the trial of pirates, and shall and ought to be utterly debarred and excluded from the benefit of clergy for the said offences; any law or statute to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.
VIII. Provided always. That nothing in this act contained shall extend or be construed to extend to such persons as shall be convicted or attainted in that part of Great Britain called Scotland.
IX. And be it also enacted, That this act shall extend to all his Majesty’s dominions in America, and shall be taken as a publick act.
Further reading: Wikipedia.