1732: 5 George 2 c.7: Recovery of American Debts

1732: 5 George 2 c.7: An act for the more easy recovery of debts in his Majesty’s plantations and colonies in America.

WHEREAS his Majesty’s subjects trading to the British plantations in America lie under great difficulties, for want of more easy methods of proving, recovering and levying of debts due to them, than are now used in some of the said plantations: and whereas it will tend very much to the retrieving of the credit formerly given by the trading subjects of Great Britain to the natives and inhabitants of the said plantations, and to the advancing of the trade of this kingdom thither, if such inconveniencies were remedied; may it therefore please your Majesty that may be enacted, and be it 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 Sept. 29 plantation debts may be proved here on oath before a chief magistrate.]

That from and after the twenty ninth day of September which shall be in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and thirty two, in any action or suit then depending, or thereafter to be brought in any court of law or equity in any of the said plantations, for or relating to any debt or account wherein any person residing in Great Britain shall be a party, it shall and may be lawful to and for the plaintiff or defendant, and also to and for any witness to be examined or made use of in such action or suit, to verify or prove any matter or thing by affidavit or affidavits in writing upon oath, or in case the person making such affidavit be one of the people called Quakers, then upon his or her solemn affirmation, made before any mayor or other chief magistrate of the city, borough or town corporate in Great Britain, where or near to which the person making such affidavit or affirmation shall reside, and certified and transmitted under the common seal of such city, borough or town corporate, or the seal of the office of such mayor, or other chief magistrate, which oath and solemn affirmation every such mayor and chief magistrate shall be and is hereby authorized and impowered to administer; and every affidavit or affirmation so made, certified and transmitted, shall in all such actions and suits be allowed to be of the same force and effect, as if the person or persons marking the same upon oath or solemn affirmation as aforesaid, had appeared and sworn or affirmed the matters contained in such affidavit or affirmation viva voce in open court, or upon a commission issued for the examination of witnesses, or of any party in any such action or suit respectively; provided that in every such affidavit and affirmation there shall be expressed the addition of the party making such affidavit or affirmation, and the particular place of his or her abode.

[Debts to his Majesty may be proved in the same manner.]

II. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in all suits now depending, or hereafter to be brought in any court of law or equity by or in behalf of his Majesty, his heirs and successors, in any of the said plantations, for or relating to any debt or account, that his Majesty, his heirs and successors, shall and may prove his and their debts and accounts, and examine his or their witness or witnesses by affidavit or affirmation in like manner as any subject or subjects is or are impowered or may do by this present act.

[Penalty on false oath or affirmation.]

III. Provided always, and it is hereby further enacted, That if any person making such affidavit upon oath or solemn affirmation as aforesaid, shall be guilty of falsly and wilfully swearing or affirming any matter or thing in such affidavit or affirmation, which, if the same had been sworn upon an examination in the usual form, would have amounted to wilful and corrupt perjury, every person so offending being thereof lawfully convicted, shall incur the same penalties and forfeitures as by the laws and statutes of this realm are provided against persons convicted of wilful and corrupt perjury.

[Lands, houses, negroes, &c. in the plantations liable to satisfy debts.]

IV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the said twenty ninth day of September one thousand seven hundred and thirty two, the houses, lands, negroes, and other hereditaments and real estates, situate or being within any of the said plantations belonging to any person indebted, shall be liable to and chargeable with all just debts, duties and demands of what nature or kind soever, owing by any such person to his Majesty, or any of his subjects, and shall and may be assets for the satisfaction thereof, in like manner as real estates are by the law of England liable to the satisfaction of debts due by bond or other specialty, and shall be subject to the like remedies, proceedings and process in any court of law or equity, in any of the said plantations respectively, for seizing, extending, selling or disposing of any such houses, lands, negroes, and other hereditaments and real estates, towards the satisfaction of such debts, duties and demands, and in like manner as personal estates in any of the said plantations respectively are seized, extended, sold or disposed of, for the satisfaction of debts.

Source: Pickering, Statutes at Large, vol. 16.

Further reading: Claire Priest, Creating an American Property Law.