1689: 2 William & Mary, session 2, c.5: An act for enabling the sale of goods for rent, in case the rent be not paid in a reasonable time.
WHEREAS the most ordinary and ready way for recovery of arrears of rent is by distress, yet such distresses not being to be sold, but only detained as pledges for enforcing the payment of such rent, the persons distraining have little benefit thereby: For the remedying whereof,
II. Be it enacted and ordained by the King’s and Queen’s most excellent Majesties, 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 from and after the first day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and ninety, that where any goods or chattels shall be distrained for any rent reserved and due upon any demise, lease, or contract whatsoever, and the tenant or owner of the goods so distrained shall not within five days next after such distress taken, and notice thereof (with the cause of such taking) left at the chief mansion-house, or other most notorious place on the premisses charged with the rent distrained for, replevy the same, with sufficient security to be given to the sheriff, according to law, that then in such case, after such distress and notice as aforesaid, and expiration of the said five days, the person distraining shall and may, with the sheriff or under sheriff of the county, or with the constable of the hundred, parish, or place where such distress shall be taken (who are hereby required to be aiding and assisting therein) cause the goods and chattels so distrained to be appraised by two sworn appraisers (whom such sheriff, under sheriff, or constable are hereby impowered to swear) to appraise the same truly, according to the best of their understandings; and after such appraisement shall and may lawfully sell the goods and chattels so distrained for the best price can be gotten for the same, towards satisfaction of the rent for which the said goods and chattels shall be distrained, and of the charges of such distress, appraisement, and sale, leaving the overplus (if any) in the hands of the said sheriff, under sheriff, or constable, for the owners use.
III. And whereas no sheaves or cocks of corn loose or in the straw, or hay in any barn or granary, or on any hovel, stack, or rick, can by the law be distrained, or otherwise secured for rent, whereby landlords are oftentimes cousened and deceived by their tenants, who sell their corn, grain, and hay to strangers, and remove the same from the premisses chargeable with such rent, and thereby avoid the payment of the same; be it further enacted by authority aforesaid, That for remedying the said practice and deceit, it shall and may, from and after the said first day of June, be lawful to and for any person or persons having rent arrear, and due upon any such demise, lease, or contract as aforesaid, to seize and secure any sheaves or cocks of corn, or corn loose or in the straw, or hay lying or being in any barn or granary, or upon any hovel, stack, or rick, or otherwise upon any part of the land or ground charged with such rent, and to lock up or detain the same in the place where the same shall be found, for or in the nature of a distress, until the same shall be replevied upon such security to be given as aforesaid; and in default of replevying the same as aforesaid, within the time aforesaid, to sell the same after such appraisement thereof to be made; so as nevertheless such com, grain, or hay so distrained as aforesaid, be not removed by the person or persons distraining, to the damage of the owner thereof, out of the place where the same shall be found and seized, but be kept there (as impounded) until the same shall be replevied, or sold in default of replevying the same within the time aforesaid.
IV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That upon any pound-breach or rescous of goods or chattels distrained for rent, the person or persons grieved thereby shall, in a special action upon the case for the wrong thereby sustained, recover his and their treble damages and costs of suit against the offender or offenders in any such rescous or pound-breach, any or either of them, or against the owners of the goods distrained in case the same be afterwards found to have come to his use or possession.
V. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That in case any such distress and sale, as aforesaid, shall be made by virtue or colour of this present act for rent pretended to be arrear and due, where in truth no rent is arrear or due to the person or persons distraining, or to him or them in whose name or names, or right, such distress shall be taken as aforesaid; that then the owner of such goods or chattels distrained and sold as aforesaid, his executors or administrators, shall and may, by action of tresspass, or upon the case, to be brought against the person or persons so distraining, any or either or them, his or their executors or administrators, recover double of the value of the goods or chattels so distrained and sold, together with full costs of suit.
Source: Pickering, Statutes at Large, vol. 9.