1701: 1 Ann stat 2 c.6: An act for the better preventing escapes out of the Queen’s Bench and Fleet prisons.
Whereas divers persons heretofore legally committed by her Majesty’s several courts of records at Westminster, to the custody of the marshal of the Queen’s Bench, and to the prison of the Fleet, upon actions for the recovery of debt, or damages, or for contempts in not performing orders or decrees made in courts of equity, and in execution, have by bribes and illegal practices, to and with such marshal of the Queen’s Bench, or to and with the warden of the said prison of the Fleet, or some of their officers or servants, or other persons in trust for them, and for their respective uses and benefit, frequently procured from such marshal or warden liberty to escape, and go at large, without satisfaction made to the respective plaintiffs or creditors, and without discharging such debts, or satisfying such damages, or performing such orders or decrees, as well to the great damage of honest creditors, the decrease of personal credit, and discouragement on trade, as in open defiance to all good and wholesome laws heretofore made to restrain such abuses: for remedy whereof, and for preventing the like evil practices for the future, be it enacted by the Queen’s most excellent majesty, 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 if any person or persons already committed, rendred, or charged, or who shall hereafter be committed, or rendred to, or charged in the custody of the marshal of the Queen’s Bench for the time being, or to or in the prison of the Fleet, either in execution, or upon mesne process, or upon any contempt in not performing such order or decree by any of her Majesty’s courts at Westminster, and such person or persons shall, at any time after such commitment, render, charge, or being in execution, and before he, she, or they shall have made payment or satisfaction to the respective plaintiff or plaintiffs, creditor or creditors, or shall have cleared him, her, or themselves of such contempts, as he, she, or they were, or shall be charged with at the time of such their commitment, render, charge, or being in execution, as aforesaid, make any escape from the custody of the marshal of the Queen’s Bench for the time being, or from the prison of the said Queen’s Bench, or from the prison of the Fleet, or either of them, or shall go at large, at any time after the three and twentieth day of January, which shall b ein the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and two, it shall and may be lawful upon oath thereof in writing, to be made by one or more credible person or persons, before any one of the judges of that court where such action was entred, or judgement and execution were obtained, or where the party was so committed or charged, as aforesaid, to and for such judge, before whom such oath shall be made, as abovesaid, and such judge is hereby authorized and required, from time to time, to grant unto any person whatsoever, who shall demand the same, one or more warrant or warrants under his hand and seal, therein reciting the action or actions, execution or executions, contempt or contempts, with which such person or persons so escaping, or going at large, stood charged, or were committed at the suit of any person or persons, on whose behalf such warrant or warrants shall be demanded at the time of such escape, or going at large (which said warrant or warrants shall be in force in all places whatsoever, within the kingdom of England, dominion of Wales, and town of Berwick upon Tweed) directed to all sheriffs, mayors, bailiffs, constables, headboroughs, and tythingmen, therein and thereby commending them, and every one of them, in their respective counties, cities, towns, and precincts, to seize and re-take such person or persons so escaped, or going at large; and such person or persons so re-taken upon such warrant forthwith to convey and commit to the common goal of such county where such person or persons so escaped, or going at large, shall be re-taken, there to remain without bail or mainprize, or being thence upon any account whatsoever delivered or removed, until he, she, or they shall have made full payment or satisfaction to the respective plaintiff or plaintiffs, creditor or creditors, in such action or actions, execution or executions, named, or until the judgment or judgments, on which such execution or executions was or were sued out against such person or persons, shall be reversed or discharged by due course of law, or until judgment in such action or actions be given for such person or persons so committed, as aforesaid, or until the said contempt or contempts, for which such person or persons were or shall be committed, be cleared, and discharged; except such person or persons be charged with treason or felony, or any other crime, matter, or cuase, for and on the behalf of the Queen’s majesty, her heirs and successors; and if he or she, for any such cause, on the behalf of the Queen, her heirs and successors, be removed to any other gaol or prison, he or she shall be, in the custody of such gaol, charged with all the causes with which he or she is or shall be charged in the gaol from whence he or she shall be removed: and every mayor, or other officer, as aforesaid, after delivery of such prisoner so re-taken together with such warrant to the sheriff, shall take a note in writing from such sheriff, testifying the receipt of such prisoner, which said sheriff is hereby required to receive such prisoner, and give such note: and every such sheriff, as aforesaid, after the execution of such warrant, shall forthwith make a return thereof to the court where the action shall be depending, or judgment, order, or decree had or obtained; which shall be entred and filed upon record.
II. And be it further enacted, That if any such person or persons so retaken by warrant, as aforesaid, shall at any time make any escape out of the gaol to which he, she, or they shall be so conveyed and committed, as aforesaid, the sheriff, in whose custody he , she, or they was or were, shall be liable to answer for such escape, as in the case of any other escape; any law, usage, or custom to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.
III. Provided always, and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful to and for any person or persons, that are or shall be bail in any suit or action in any of her Majesty’s courts of record at Westminster, for any such person or persons that shall be retaken and conveyed to such gaol as aforesaid, by virtue of such warrant as aforesaid, to have and prosecute, out of such of her Majesty’s courts, where h or they are or shall be bail, a writ directed to the sheriff of the county, to the gaol whereof such prisoner so retaken shall be committed and detained, commanding such sheriff to detain and keep such prisoner in custody in discharge of his bail; which writ, with an account whether he hath the said prisoner in his custody, shall be returned by the said sheriff into court, at a day therein to be mentioned, and the delivery of every such writ to the sheriff, or his deputy, shall be deemed and taken to be an effectual render of such prisoner, to all intents and purposes whatsoever, in discharge of the said bail; and that in case such sheriff, his deputy, or other his inferior officer, shall thereafter suffer the person or persons so rendred, in discharge of his, her, or their bail, to escape, they and every one of them so offending shall be liable to such action and actions, as the marshal of the Queen’s Bench, or warden of the Fleet prison, is or are liable to, for permitting any person to escape out of his or their custody or prison, who was committed to such custody or prison upon render, in discharge of his, her, or their bail.
IV. And be it further enacted, That all and every such sheriffs, upon request of such person or persons, being bail as aforesaid, who shall deliver such writ for keeping and detaining such prisoner as aforesaid, and for the usual fees of returns of actions, shall make, return and certify, under his hand, the receipt of such writ, and the time thereof, and whether the siad person so retaken was then in his custody, and in default thereof, shall for every such default, neglect, or refusal, forfeit the sum of fifty pounds, to be recovered in any of her Majesty’s courts of record at Westminster, by action of debt, bill, plaint, or information, wherein no essoin, protection, wager of law, or any more than one imparlance shall be allowed; and that upon producing such return or certificate to the court where such bail shall be taken, such court shall direct and cause a reddidit se to be entred upon the bail-piece, which shall be as effectual to all entents and purposes, as if the said bail had then actually rendred the person of the said defendant to such court, or before any judge or judges of the same.
V. And for the prevention of disputes touching this act, be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the same, and every clause and thing therein contained, shall be adjudged and taken to be a general law, and that it shall not be needful to set forth the same in pleading, or any part thereof; and that the same, and every clause therein, shall be construed most beneficially for the preventing of all the mischiefs, abuses, escapes, and other inconveniencies herein provided against: and further, That if any person or persons shall at any time be sued for putting in execution any power of authority given by this act, such person or persons shall and may plead the general issue, and give in evidence the special matter; and if the plaintiff or plaintiffs in such action or actions shall be nonsuit, or discontinue his, her or their action or actions, or a verdict shall be given for the defendant or defendants, every such defendant or defendants shall have his or their treble costs of suit.