1721: 8 George 1 c.24: An Act for the more effectual suppressing of piracy.
WHEREAS the number of persons committing piracies, felonies and robberies upon the seas, is of late very much increased; and notwithstanding the laws already made and now in being, many idle and profligate persons have turned pirates, and betaken themselves to that wicked course of life, whereby the trade and navigation into remote parts will greatly suffer, unless some farther provision be speedily made for bringing such persons, and all others, who shall be any ways aiding and assisting, or in confederacy with them, to condign punishment; be it therefore declared and enacted by the King’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,
[After March 25, 1722 commanders of ships or others, trading with pirates, furnishing them with stores, corresponding with them, &c.]
That if any commander or master of any ship or vessel, or any other person or persons, shall from and after the twenty fifth day of March which shall be in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twenty two, any wise trade with any pirate, by truck, barter, exchange, or in any other manner, or shall furnish any pirate, felon or robber upon the seas, with any ammunition, provision or stores of any kind, or shall fit out any ship or vessel knowingly, and with a design to trade with, or supply, or correspond with any pirate, felon or robber upon the seas, or if any person or persons shall any ways consult, combine, confederate or correspond with any pirate, felon or robber on the seas, knowing him to be guilty of any such piracy, felony or robbery, such offender and offenders and every of them,
[shall be adjudged guilty of piracy, &c. according to the 28. H. 8. c. 15 and 11 & 12 W. 3. c. 7. See 18 Geo. 2. c. 30.]
shall in each and every of the said cases be deemed, adjudged and taken to be guilty of piracy, felony and robbery, and he and they shall and may be inquired of, tried, heard and adjudged of and for all or any the matters aforesaid, according to the statute made in the twenty eighth year of King Henry the Eighth for pirates, and the Statute made in the eleventh and twelfth years of the reign of his late majesty King William the Third, intituled, An act for the more effectual suppressing of piracy, which by an act made in the sixth year of his present Majesty is made perpetual, and he and they being convicted of all or any the matters aforesaid, shall suffer such pains of death, loss of lands, goods and chattels, as pirates, felons and robbers upon the seas, ought to suffer;
[Persons belonging to any vessel, forcibly boarding any merchant-ship, and throwing any goods overboard, shall be punished as pirates.]
and in case any person or persons belonging to any ship or vessel whatsoever, upon meeting any merchant-ship or vessel on the high seas, or in any port, haven or creek whatsoever, shall forcibly board or enter into such ship or vessel, and though they do not seize and carry off such ship or vessel, shall throw over-board, or destroy any part of the goods or merchandizes belonging to such ship or vessel, the person or persons who shall be guilty thereof, shall in all respects be deemed and punished as pirates as aforesaid.
[Ships fitted out to trade with pirates, and the goods forfeited, half to the crown, half to the discoverers.]
II. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every ship or vessel which shall be fitted out with a design to trade with, or supply, or correspond with any pirate, and all and every goods and merchandizes put on board the same for any intent or purpose to trade with any pirate, felon or robber on the seas, shall be ipso facto forfeited; one moiety thereof to the use of the King’s majesty, his heirs and successors, the other moiety to the person or persons who shall first make discovery, and give information of such intent or design;
[To be sued for in the admiralty.]
and such person or persons who shall first make such discovery, shall and may sue for and recover the said ship or vessel, and all and every the goods and merchandizes on board the same, in the high court of admiralty.
III. And whereas there are some defects in the laws for bringing persons, who are accessaries to piracy and robbery upon the seas, to condign punishment, if the principal who committed such piracy and robbery is not or cannot be apprehended and brought to justice;
[Persons declared accessaries to piracy by 11 & 12 W. 3. c. 7. shall be deemed principals, and after March 25, 1722. suffer as such.]
be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all and every person and persons whatsoever, who by the said Statute made in the eleventh and twelfth years of the reign of King William the Third, are declared to be accessary or accessaries to any piracy or robbery therein mentioned, are hereby declared, and shall be deemed and taken to be principal pirates, felons and robbers, and shall and may, from and after the said twenty fifth day of March one thousand seven hundred and twenty two, be inquired of, heard, determined and adjudged, in the same manner as persons guilty of piracy and robbery may and ought to be inquired of, tried, heard, determined and adjudged by the said statute made in the eleventh and twelfth years of his late majesty King William, and being thereupon attainted and convicted, shall suffer such pains of death, loss of lands, goods and chattels, and in like manner as pirates and robbers ought by the said act to suffer.
[Offenders convicted on the act, excluded the benefit of clergy.]
IV. And be if further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all and every offender or offenders convicted of any piracy, felony or robbery by virtue of this act, shall not be admitted to have the benefit of clergy, but be utterly excluded of and from the same.
[Seamen maimed in fight against pirates shall receive the rewards in 22 & 23 Car. 2. c. 11. and be admitted into Greenwich Hospital.]
V. And to the end that a further encouragement may be given to all seamen and mariners to fight and defend their ships from pirates, be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in case any seaman or mariner on board any merchant-ship or vessel, or any other ship or vessel, shall be maimed in fight against any pirate, every such seaman and mariner, upon due proof of his being maimed in such fight, shall not only have and receive the rewards already appointed by a statute made in the. twenty second and twenty third years of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled, An act to prevent the delivering u[ of merchant-ships, and for the increase of good and serviceable seamen, but shall also be admitted into and provided for in Greenwich Hospital, preferable to any other seaman or mariner who is disabled from service or getting a livelihood merely by his age.
[Masters or seamen not defending themselves against pirates, or who shall utter any discouraging words, shall, if the ship be taken, forfeit their wages to the owners, and suffer six months imprisonment.]
VI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in case any commander, master, or other officer, or any seaman or mariner of any merchant-ship or vessel which carries guns and arms, shall not when they are attacked by any pirate, or by any ship or vessel on which any such pirate is on board, fight and endeavour to defend themselves, and their said ship or vessel from being taken by the said pirate, or shall utter any words to discourage the other mariners from defending the ship, and by reason thereof the said ship or vessel shall fall into the hands of such Pirate, then and in every such case every such commander or master, or other officer, and every seaman or mariner, who shall not fight and endeavour to defend and save the said ship or vessel, or who shall utter any such words as aforesaid, shall lose and forfeit all and every part of the wages due to him and them respectively, to the owner and owners of the said ship or vessel, and shall not be permitted to sue for or recover the same, or any part thereof, in any court either of law or equity, and as a farther punishment shall suffer six months imprisonment.
[Masters shall not advance to any seaman above half his wages, while beyond sea, on forfeiture of double the sum advanced, to be recovered in the admiralty by the informer.]
VII. And for prevention of seamen or mariners deserting merchant-ships or vessels abroad in the plantations, or in any other parts beyond the seas, which is the chief occasion of their turning pirates,and of great detriment to trade and navigation, and is chiefly occasioned by the owner or owners of ships or vessels, paying wages to the seamen or mariners when abroad: be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no master or owner of any merchant-ship or vessel shall pay or advance, or cause to be paid or advanced to any seaman or mariner, during the time he shall be in parts beyond the seas, any money or effects upon account of wages, exceeding one moiety of the wages which shall be due at the time of such payment, until such ship or vessel shall return to Great Britain or Ireland, or the plantations, or to some other of his Majesty’s dominions whereto they belong, and from whence they were first fitted out; and if any such master or owner of such merchant-ship or vessel shall pay or advance, or cause to be paid or advanced, any wages to any seaman or mariner above the said moiety, such mailer or owner shall forfeit and pay double the money he shall so pay or advance, to be recovered in the high court of admiralty, by any person who shall first discover and inform of the same.
[Commander of a man of war, who after Sept. 29, 1722. shall receive any goods on board, except gold, silver, &c. shall forfeit his command, be incapacitated, and lose his wages.]
[So much of the clause, as directs the punishment to be inflicted by a court martial on any other captain or other officer, is repealed by 22 Geo. 2. c. 33.]
VIII. And whereas great interruptions and inconveniencies may attend his Majesty’s service, by the captains or commanders, or other officers of his Majesty’s ships or vessels of war, their receiving on board such ships or vessels goods and merchandizes, and trading therewith contrary to instructions, which strictly forbid their doing the same: to prevent therefore the said interruptions and inconveniencies for the future, be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in case any captain, commander, or other officer of any of his Majesty’s ships or vessels of war, whether such ship or vessel shall be employed at home or abroad, shall from and after the twenty ninth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twenty two, receive on board, or permit to be received on board, such ship or vessel of war, any goods or merchandizes whatsoever, in order to trade or merchandize with the same, either upon his own or any other person’s account, except gold, silver or jewels, and except the goods or merchandizes belonging to any merchant-ship or vessel which may be shipwrecked, or in imminent danger of being shipwrecked either on the high seas, or in any port, creek or harbour, within his Majesty’s dominions at home or abroad, or elsewhere, in order to the preserving them for their proper owners; and except such goods or merchandizes as they shall at any time be ordered to take or receive on board, by order of the lord high admiral of Great Britain, or the commissioners for executing that office for the time being, or any three or more of them; every such captain, commander or officer of any of his Majesty’s ships or vessels of war so offending, shall upon his being convicted thereof by a court martial, lose and forfeit the command and office he then shall have in the said ship or vessel of war, and shall be, and he is hereby for ever afterwards rendred uncapable to serve any longer in the same, or in any other place or office in the naval service of his Majesty, his heirs and successors; and such captain, commander, or other officer offending as aforesaid, shall as a further punishment for his said offence, lose and forfeit to his Majesty, his heirs and successors, all the wages due to him for his service in the ship or vessel of war whereunto he shall belong, when or at any time after such offence shall be committed.
[Such commander and the proprietors of the goods shall forfeit the value thereof, to the discoverer, and Greenwich Hospital.]
IX. And be it further enacted, That the said captain commander, or other officer of the said ship or vessel of war, and all and every the owners and proprietors of such goods or merchandizes put on board such ship or vessel of war as aforesaid, shall lose, forfeit and pay the value of all and every such goods and merchandizes so put on board as aforesaid; one moiety of such full value to such person or persons as shall make the first discovery and give information of or concerning the said offence, the other moiety of such full value to and for the use of Greenwich Hospital,
[To be recovered in the admiralty.]
all which forfeitures shall and may be sued for and recovered in the high court of admiralty.
[To extend to Asia, &c. To be taken as a publick act and be in force for seven years, &c.]
X. And be it also enacted, That this act shall extend to all his Majesty’s dominions in Asia, Africa and America, and shall be taken as a publick act, and shall continue in force for seven years, and from the twenty-fifth day of March one thousand seven hundred and twenty two, and from thence to the end of the then next session of parliament.
[Made perpetual by 2 Geo. 2. c. 28. sect. 7.]
Further reading: Wikipedia.