1750: 23 George 2 c.31: African Company Act.

1750: 23 George 2 c.31: An act for extending and improving the trade to Africa.

WHEREAS the trade to and from Africa is very advantageous to Great Britain, and necessary for the supplying the plantations and colonies thereunto belonging with a sufficient number of negroes, at reasonable rates; and for that purpose the said trade ought to be free and open to all his Majesty’s subjects; therefore be it enacted, and it is hereby 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,

[Free trade to Africa.]

That it shall and may be lawful for all his Majesty’s subjects to trade and traffick to and from any port or place in Africa, between the port of Sallee in South Barbary, and the Cape of Good Hope, when, and at such times, and in such manner, and in or with such quantity of goods, wares, or merchandizes, as he or they shall think fit, without any restraint whatsoever, save as is here in after expressed.

[Traders incorporated, &c.]

II. And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all his Majesty’s subjects, who shall trade to or from any of the ports or places of Africa, between Cape Blanco, and the Cape of Good Hope, shall for ever hereafter be a body corporate and politick,

[Their name,]

in name, and in deed, by the name of The Company of Merchants trading to Africa; and by the same name shall have perpetual succession, and shall have a common seal; and by that name shall and may sue, and may be sued, and do any other act, matter and thing, which any other body corporate or politick, as such, can or may lawfully do.

III. And, the better to uphold, maintain, and defend, all such forts, factories, and settlements, on the coast of Africa, as now are erected, or hereafter shall be thought necessary to be erected, for the securing and better carrying on the said trade, be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid,

[The forts, settlements, and factories, &c. of the Royal African Company vested in the new company.]

That all and every the British forts, settlements, and factories on the coast of Africa, beginning at Cape Blanco aforesaid, and extending from thence to the Cape of Good Hope inclusive, and all other the regions, countries, dominions, territories, continents, coasts, ports, bays, rivers, and places; lying and being within the aforesaid limits, and the islands near adjoining to those coasts, and comprehended within those limits, which are now claimed by, or are in the possession of, the Royal African Company of England, or which may be hereafter in the possession of the company hereby established, shall, from and after the passing of an act of parliament for divesting the African company of their charter, forts, castles, and military stores, canoe men, castle slaves, and all other their property on the coast of Africa, their goods and merchandizes only excepted, be absolutely vested in the said new company established by this act and their successors, to the intent and purpose that the raid forts, settlements, and premisses, shall be employed at all times hereafter, only for the protection, encouragement, and defence, of the said trade.

[Company prohibited to trade in their joint capacity, &c.]

IV. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall not be lawful for the company established by this act, to trade to or from Africa in their corporate or joint capacity, or to have any joint or transferrable stock, or to borrow or take up any sum or sums of money on their common seal.

[A committee of nine to be chosen annually to manage the affairs of the company.]

V. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the direction and management of the affairs of the said company of hereby established, shall be in and by a committee of nine persons, to be chosen annually, as hereafter is mentioned, who are to meet and assemble together, from time to time, as often as shall be necessary, at some place in the city of London; and the committee-men for the time being, or any five or more of them, or the major part of them so assembled, shall, from and after the passing such act of parliament for divesting the African company of their charter, forts, castles, and military stores, canoe men, castle slaves, and all other their property on the coast of Africa, as aforesaid, or before the passing such act, so far as the said African company shall consent thereto, have full power, from time to time, to make orders for the governing, maintaining, preserving, and improving the forts and factories already built, or which hereafter shall be built, within the limits aforesaid; and to appoint governors, deputy governors, or any other officers, civil or military, of or for the said forts and settlements, and them to remove and displace when they shall see fit, and to make orders and regulations for the better government of the said officers and servants abroad, and to take security from them for their good behaviour, and for their paying due obedience to the regulations established by this act, and to such other orders and regulations as the said committee shall, from time to time, think proper to make;

[No restraint to be laid on the trade, or traders.]

so as no orders or regulations, to be made by the said committee, shall tend to lay any restraint whatsoever on the said trade or traders to or from Africa, contrary to the true intent and meaning of this act.

[Traders who shall pay 40s. for their freedom in the company, to meet on 10 July, and choose the first committee;]

VI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the traders, or persons intending to trade to or from Africa, who, in order to be admitted into the freedom of the said company, shall, on or before the thirtieth day of June, one thousand seven hundred and fifty, have paid into the hands of the chamberlain of the City of London, the sum of forty shillings each for their freedom in the said company, shall or may meet and assemble on the tenth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and fifty, in the guildhall of the said city; and they, or the major part of them lo assembled, shall or may choose three persons: and that in like manner such others of the traders to or from Africa who, in order to be admitted into the freedom of the said new company, shall, on or before the said thirtieth day of June, one thousand seven hundred and fifty, have paid into the hands of the clerk of the merchants hall in the City city of Bristol; and they, or the major part of them so assembled, shall choose three other persons; and that in like manner such other of the traders to or from Africa, who, in order to be admitted into the freedom of the said new company, shall, on or before the said thirtieth day of June, one thousand seven hundred and fifty, have paid into the hands of the town clerk of Liverpool, the sum of forty shillings each for their freedom in the said company, shall or may assemble on the said tenth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and fifty, in the town hall of Liverpool; and they, or the major part of them, who shall be so assembled, shall and may choose three other persons; and the nine persons so to be chosen in the manner before expressed, shall be the first annual committee for managing the affairs, of the said company,

[who are to continue for one year.]

and shall continue in office for one year, and until others shall be chosen in their room respectively, as is herein after mentioned.

[Elections to be on 3 July yearly.]

VII. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in all future elections, the said committee of nine persons shall annually, on the third day of July in every year, be nominated and chosen as follows; that is to say, three of the said committee shall be nominated and chosen by the major part of the freemen of the said company, admitted to the freedom of the said company in London, who shall assemble for that purpose at London; three other persons to be of the said committee, shall be chosen and nominated by the major part of the freemen of the said company admitted to the freedom of the said company in Bristol, who shall assemble for that purpose ‘at Bristol; and three other persons to be of the said committee, shall be chosen and nominated by the major part of the freemen of the said company admitted to the freedom of the said company in the town of Liverpool who shall assemble for that purpose at Liverpool.

[Power to choose other committee-men in the room of those who shall die, &c.]

VIII. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the major part of the freemen of the said company, made free at London, assembled for that purpose at London, from time to time, at their will and pleasure, to choose and supply one or more committee-man, or committee-men, in the place or places of any of the committee-men by them chosen, that shall happen to die, be removed, or refuse to act; and in like manner, That it shall and may be lawful for the major part of the freemen of the said company, made free at Bristol, assembled for that purpose at Bristol, from time to time, at their will and pleasure, to choose and supply one or more committee-man or committee-men, in the place or places of any of the committee-men by them chosen, that shall happen to die, be removed, or refuse to act: and that it shall and may be lawful for the major part of the freemen of the said company, made free at Liverpool, assembled for that purpose at Liverpool, from time to time, at their will and pleasure, to choose and supply one or more committeeman, or committee-men, in the place or places of any of the committee-men by them chosen, that shall happen to die, be removed, or refuse to act:

[10 days notice of such election to be given in the London Gazette.]

and publick notice shall be inserted in the London Gazette, previous to every such election, by the committee for managing the affairs of the said company, of the time and place when and where such election is to be had, ten days at least before the time appointed for such election.

[If no election be made by the traders of one town such as shall be elected by the other, shall manage the affairs.]

IX. Provided always, and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in case at the time appointed for the first and other elections of the said committee-men, the traders admitted to their freedom, in any one or more of the said cities and towns respectively, shall neglect to proceed to such choice; in that case, such other of the persons who shall be chosen by the traders admitted to their freedom in the other of the said cities or towns, or the major part of them, though less in number than nine, shall or may act as the committee for managing the affairs of the said company, until the next annual election; and that all elections of committee-men for managing the affairs of the said company, shall be determined by the majority of votes then present;

[Where 3 July shall be a Sunday, the election to be on the 4th.]

and that in all cases, where the third day of July shall happen to fall or be on a Sunday, the annual election of committee-men shall be had and made on Monday the fourth day of July.

[In equality of votes, the mayor to determine.]

X. Provided always, That in case of an equality of votes, the lord mayor of London, the mayor of Bristol, and the mayor of Liverpool respectively, shall and may determine which of such persons shall be the committee-man or committee-men.

[First meeting of the committee.]

XI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said committee for managing the affairs of the said new company, shall meet together for the first time on the first Monday in August, one thousand seven hundred and fifty, and shall then settle the manner of their future meetings, and of the notices and summons to be sent for that purpose, from time to time,

[No orders of the committee to which all are not consenting, to be valid, unless confirmed at a subsequent meeting.]

to the members of the said committee; and no order or resolution of the said committee, to which all the members of the said committee, present at the making thereof, shall not be consenting, shall be valid or binding, unless the same shall be approved and confirmed at a subsequent meeting of the said committee, at which all the members of the said committee shall be present, or of which, such of them as shall happen to be absent, shall have had the usual notice.

XII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That on every meeting of the said committee, when the time prefixed for entering on business shall be come, and the said nine committee-men, or so many of them as are necessary to make a committee, shall be present,

[Chairman to be chosen.]

before they enter upon business, a chairman shall be chosen by lot out of the committee-men then present, who shall take the chair for that meeting; and shall not be permitted to give his vote that day on any question before the said committee, unless there shall happen to be an e-quality of votes on any question or questions;

[Committee-men absent at the choice of the chairman not to vote.]

in all which cases the said chairman shall be at liberty to give his vote on which side of the question he shall judge to be right; and to prevent any of the said committee-men from being designedly absent when a chairman is to be chosen, every committee-man, who shall not be present at the choice of the chairman, shall not be permitted to vote on any question before the committee that day; but shall be at liberty to be present, and give his opinion in all matters whatsoever, as any other committee-man may do: and all matters which shall be decided by a plurality of votes of such committee-men as shall be intitled to vote, shall be deemed and taken to be decided by a majority of committee-men present; any thing in this act to the contrary notwithstanding.

[Traders paying 40s. on or before 30 June, 1750, to be the first members, &c.]

XIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That such of his Majesty’s subjects, who shall, on or before the said thirtieth day of June, one thousand seven hundred and fifty pay to the chamberlain of London, the clerk of the merchants hall in Bristol, or the town clerk of Liverpool respectively, the sum of forty shillings each, for their freedom in the said company, shall be the first freemen and members of the said new company established by this act: and that, from and after the said thirtieth day of June, one thousand seven hundred and fifty, any other of his Majesty’s subjects, trading, or intending to trade to or from Africa, shall and may be admitted to be a freeman or member of the said company at London, Bristol, or Liverpool, upon his payment of the sum of forty shillings for the same, to such person or persons, as the committee for managing the affairs of the said company shall, and are hereby required, from time to time, to appoint to receive the same in London, Bristol, or Liverpool, respectively.

[Persons admitted after 30 June, not to vote at any election for a year.]

XIV. Provided always, That no persons so admitted, after the said thirtieth day of June, one thousand seven hundred and fifty, shall be intitled to vote for the election of any committee-man, until one year after such admission.

[Certificates of persons admitted.]

XV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the chamberlain of London, the clerk of the merchants hall in Bristol, the town clerk of Liverpool, and such other persons whom the committee for managing the affairs of the said company shall, at any time hereafter, appoint to receive the said sums of forty shillings for the admission of persons into the freedom of the said company, shall, upon their receiving the same, sign and deliver a certificate to the person paying the same, certifying his having paid the sum of forty shillings for his being admitted into the freedom of the said company; for which certificate there shall be paid to the person appointed to receive the the said sums of forty shillings, the sum of two shillings and six pence, and no more, as a fee or reward for his trouble therein, Names of and the names and places of abode of every person paying the said sum of forty shillings, shall be entered in any book or books which the person receiving the same is hereby required to keep for that purpose.

[Sums received for freedoms, to be paid to the order of the committee, &c.]

XVI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the chamberlain of London, the clerk of the merchants hall at Bristol, and the town clerk of Liverpool, shall respectively pay the order of over the several sums of forty shillings, which shall have been paid to them for freedoms of the said company, to such person or persons whom the committee of the said company shall authorize to receive the same; and shall, at the same time, deliver over the books, in which the names and places of abode of the persons who shall have respectively paid the said sums of forty shillings each for their freedoms in the said company, shall have been entered, to such person or persons as the said committee shall appoint to receive the same.

[Receivers to pay the same annually, and to deliver lists of the names.]

XVII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the person or persons who shall, from time to time, be appointed by the said committee at London, Bristol, and Liverpool, to deliver to receive the said sums of forty shillings, payable by persons on their being admitted into the freedom of the said company, shall annually, or oftener, if required by the said committee, pay and deliver over all such sums, which shall have been paid to them respectively for freedoms in the said company, together with lists of the names and places of abode of the persons from whom they shall have respectively received the same, to the said committee, or as they shall, from time to time, direct.

[List of the company to be kept at the office,]

XVIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That a true and exact list shall, from time to time, be made and kept at the office or place where the said committee shall transact their business in London, of the names and places of abode of all persons admitted into the freedom of the said company, distinguishing the place where each person was admitted;

[and to be printed annually before the elections.]

which list shall annually, ten days at least before the annual elections, be printed and delivered, without fee or reward, to such of the persons admitted into the freedom of the said company, who shall desire the same.

XIX. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid,

[None to be chosen into the committee above 3 years successively, &c.]

That no person shall be capable of being chosen, or acting as a committee-man, above three years successively; and two or more persons, who shall be in copartnership in trade, shall not be capable to be chosen or act as committee-men, during the same time or year: and the said nine persons or any of them, shall not, during such time as they shall be of the said committee, in any manner, directly or indirectly, trade jointly, or in copartnership to Africa, or lade, or cause to be laden, any goods partnership, or merchandizes on board the same ship, in which any one of the said nine committee-men shall, for that voyage, have before laden goods to be carried to any place in Africa.

[Committee may vest the money in the purchase of goods to be sent to Africa, for the use of the settlements;]

XX. And be it further enacted, That the said committee shall and may, from time to time, invest such part of the money in their hands, as they shall judge necessary, in the purchase of goods and stores, which, after the same are insured, which they are hereby impowered and required to procure to be done, are to be sent and exported to Africa, there to be sold, disposed of, and applied for the sole use, preservation, and improvement of the forts and settlements there, and for the payment of the salaries and wages to the officers, and other persons employed for keeping and preserving the said forts and settlements, and not otherwise:

[but not carry on a trade to and from Africa.]

but it shall not be lawful for the said committee to carry, or cause to be carried, or exported from Africa, any negroes, or other goods, in return for the said goods they shall so export from Great Britain, or in any other manner to carry on any trade to or from Africa:

[Books of the receipts and payments to be opened.]

and a just and true account of the said committee’s receipts and payments shall, from time to time, be kept in a book or books for that purpose: which book or books shall be open at the office or place where the said committee shall transact the affairs and business of the said company in London, to be perused at all seasonable times by any person admitted to the freedom of the said company, without fee or reward.

[The commissioners for trade may remove any of the committee-men, officers, &c.]

XXI. And, be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the commissioners for trade and plantations are hereby authorized and impowered from time to time, in case any of the said committee-men, or any officer or servant appointed by them, shall be guilty of any misbehaviour, contrary to the true intent and meaning of this act, to remove any of the said committee-men, officers, or servants, from their employments, giving notice of such removal, and specifying the causes thereof, to the said committee,

[On removal of a committee-man, notice to be given.]

and when a committee-man, shall be so removed, the said committee shall give notice forth with to the mayor of the city or town by whom the said committee-man was chosen, to elect another in the room or stead of him so removed; and if an officer or servant shall be so removed, the said committee are hereby impowered to appoint another in the room or stead of him or them so removed.

[Commissioners to summon and hear any committee-man charged with misbehaviour.]

XXII. Provided nevertheless, That whenever any committee-man shall be charged with misbehaviour in his employment, the commissioners for trade and plantations shall summon such committee-man to appear before them, and shall, in case he attends, hear such committee-man; and upon his attendance or default, examine into the truth of the said charge, before they shall remove him from his employment as aforesaid; any thing herein contained to the contrary notwithstanding.

[Committee to give the commissioners an account yearly of their proceedings, &c.]

XXIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said committee shall, and they are hereby required to render a just and perfect account of all their transactions once a year, to the commissioners for trade and plantations, or oftener, if thereunto required by the said commissioners, or any three or more of them, in which shall be contained an account of all the monies received and disbursed by the said committee, or their order; and also an account of all the orders and instructions given by the said committee, as well to their officers and servants in Great Britain, as on the coast of Africa; and all the answers given thereto by the said officers and servants employed by the and of all other matters or thing whatsoever which shall be transacted by the said committee.

[Application of the monies received by the committee.]

XXIV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said committee, out of the monies they shall receive, shall deduct annually a sum, not exceeding the sum of eight hundred pounds, for defraying, in the first place, the salaries of their clerks and agents at London, Bristol, and Liverpool, the house-rent of their office in London, and all other charges of management, commission or agency, in England; and the residue of the said eight hundred pounds shall be shared and divided amongst themselves, as they shall judge proper, as a compensation for their trouble and attendance in the said office of committee-men; and the rest of the monies which the said committee shall receive for the admission of persons into the freedom of the said company, or otherwise, shall be applied and appropriated wholly to the maintenance, support, and improvement of the forts and settlements already built, or which hereafter shall be built, on the coast of Africa, which shall be in the possession of the said company; and for keeping them in good repair; and for providing ammunition, and other stores, and officers and soldiers to defend the same; and for paying the said officers and soldiers; and to and for no other use or purpose whatsoever.

[Committee, at the expiration of the year, to lay their accounts before the cursitor baron.]

XXV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That she said committee shall, within one month after the expiration of the year for or during which they shall have been chosen committee-men, lay before the cursitor baron of the court of exchequer, an account of all the money received by the committee during the preceding year, and of the application thereof, upon oath; and the said cursitor baron shall, within one month after the said account shall be laid before him, examine, pass, and audite the same; and for the better discovering of the truth of such account, the said cursitor baron is hereby impowered to examine any of the said committee-men, and such other person or persons as he shall judge necessary, upon oath, touching the articles or particulars in such account expressed, or such of them as the said cursitor baron shall think fit; which account, so audited and passed by the cursitor baron, shall be final and conclusive, and shall be a full and absolute discharge to the said committee-men, without their being compelled to give or render any further or other account thereof;

[and a copy thereof, and of their proceedings, before the parliament,]

and the said committee shall, every session of parliament, lay before the parliament a copy of such annual account, audited as aforesaid, and of all orders and regulations made by them in the preceding year, relating to the said forts and settlements, or the government of their officers or servants employed therein;

[and before a general meeting.]

and copies of every such annual account, orders, and regulations, shall be annually laid before a general meeting of the members of the said company, to be had in London, Bristol, and Liverpool respectively; of which fourteen days notice shall be previously given in the London Gazette.

[Traders not to be obstructed.]

XXVI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no officer, or any other person to be employed by the said committee, at any of the forts or settlements built or to be built in Africa, shall at any time hereafter, in any manner, or on any pretence, obstruct or hinder any of his Majesty’s subjects in trading;

[The buildings to be free for warehouses;]

and that the forts, warehouses, and buildings, already erected, or which shall hereafter be erected, by the said company, shall and may at all times hereafter be free and open to all his Majesty’s subjects, to be used as warehouses for depositing gunpowder, gold, elephants teeth, wax, gums, and drugs, and no other goods.

[and for safety of their persons.]

XXVII. Provided nevertheless, That the said forts, warehouses, and buildings, may and shall, in case of necessity or danger, be free and open to all his Majesty’s subjects, for the safety of their persons, and security of all their effects whatsoever.

[Traders may build houses under the protection of the forts.]

XXVIII. And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it all and may be lawful for any of his Majesty’s subjects trading to Africa, for the security of their goods or slaves, to erect houses and warehouses, under the projection of the said forts, or elsewhere in any other part of Africa within the limits aforesaid, for the better carrying on of his or their trade there; which houses and warehouses shall be the property of the person or persons who shall build the same; but shall not be disposed of, or lett, to any foreigner whatsoever.

[Penalty on masters of vessels committing violence, &c. on the natives.]

XXIX. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no commander or master of any ship trading to Africa, shall by fraud, force, or violence, or by any other indirect practice whatsoever, take on board, or carry away from the coast of Africa, any negro or native of the said country, or commit, or suffer to be committed, any violence on the natives, to the prejudice of the said trade; and that every person so offending, shall, for every such offence, forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds of lawful money of Great Britain; one moiety thereof so the use of the said company hereby established, and their successors, for and towards the Maintaining the said forts and settlements, and the other moiety to and for the use of him or them who shall inform or sue for the same.

[Instructions to be given to captains of men of war, to inspect the condition of the forts.]

XXX. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the lord high admiral of Great Britain, or the commissioners for executing the office of lord high admiral of Great Britain for the time being, shall, from time to time, give instructions to the captains of such of his Majesty’s ships of war as shall be stationed or ordered to cruise within the limits aforesaid, from time to time, to inspect and report to them the state and condition in which the said forts and settlements shall be;

[Reports to be laid before parliament.]

and the officers of such forts are required to permit such captains to view and inspect the same; and copies of all such reports shall, every session of parliament, be laid before parliament.

[Officers of the navy to inquire into the condition of forts, &c.]

XXXI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That such commission officers of his Majesty’s navy, as the lord high admiral of Great Britain, or the commissioners for executing the office of lord high admiral of Great Britain, for the time being, shall appoint for that purpose, shall inspect and examine the state and condition of the forts and settlements on the coast of Africa, in the possession of the said royal African company, and of the number of soldiers therein, and also the state and condition of the military stores, castles, Naves, canoes, and other vessels and things, belonging to the said company, and necessary for the use and defence of the said forts and settlements, and shall with all possible dispatch report how they find the same, to the said lord high admiral, or commissioners for executing the said office; and the said company, and their officers and servants, are hereby required to permit the said officers of the navy to make such inspection and examination, and to assist them therein; a copy of which report shall be laid before parliament at the beginning of the next session.

[Commissioners appointed to examine the claims of the creditors, &c.]

XXXII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the accountant general of the high court of Chancery for the time being, and such two of the other masters of the said court, as the lord high chancellor of Great Britain for the time being, or lord keeper of the great seal of Great Britain for the time being, or the lords commissioners for the great seal of Great Britain for the time being, shall, from time to time, nominate for that purpose, shall be, and they are hereby constituted and appointed of for examining into the claims of the creditors of the said royal African company: and such of, or any two of them, are hereby impowered and required, by the examination of the parties interested, or the testimony of witnesses upon oath, or by the inspection and examination of the books, deeds, writings, and accounts of the said company, and their creditors respectively, or otherwise, according to their discretion, to examine into the said claims, and to enquire and state how and when the same were respectively incurred, and for what consideration the same were originally, really, and bona fide, contracted or became due; and upon what consideration, and when the claimants became respectively intitled thereto, together with their opinion of the justness and reasonableness of such debts respectively; and for that purpose all and every the creditors of the said company are hereby required on or before the respective days and times hereafter limited and appointed for that purpose, to deliver or cause to be delivered in writing under their respective hands, or the bands of persons by them respectively authorized, unto such officer or officers, and at such place within the city of London, as the said of, or any two of them shall appoint, of which notice shall be given in the London Gazette, a just and true account of their respective claims upon the said company, together with a true copy of the securities by which they respectively claim the same, and such of the said creditors as reside in Great Britain or Ireland, shall make their respective claims on or before the thirtieth day of August, one thousand seven hundred and fifty, and such of them as are resident on the coast of Africa, or elsewhere beyond the seas, shall make their respective claims on or before the thirtieth day of December, one thousand seven hundred and fifty; and the directors and officers of the said company, and all other persons whatsoever, whom the said of, or any two of them shall think fit to examine, touching the matters aforesaid, are hereby strictly required and enjoined to attend the said of, from time to time, and at all such times and places as the said of, or any two of them, shall under their hands require or appoint, and to give the best and truest information they can, touching the said claims, and to produce all books, papers, deeds, or records relating thereto, in their respective custody or power, as the said of, or any two of them shall direct; and the said of, or any two of them are hereby authorized to administer an oath, for the better discovery of the truth of the facts, touching which such examination or inquiry shall be made;

[Time for closing their examinations.]

and they are hereby required to close and finish their examinations of all the claims that shall be made by such of the said creditors, who reside in Great Britain or Ireland, at the farthest, on or before the thirty first day of January, one thousand seven hundred and fifty, and of all the claims that shall be made by such of the said creditors who reside in Africa, or any other parts beyond the seas, on or before the twenty eighth day of February, one thousand seven hundred and fifty;

[Accounts to be laid before parliament.]

and the said commissioners shall lay accounts of their proceedings before the parliament with all convenient speed.

[Persons summoned not appearing, &c. to be committed.]

XXXIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in case any person or persons summoned to appear before the said of, shall wilfully neglect or refuse to appear and be examined touching the matters and things by this act directed to be inquired into, or shall refuse to answer, or shall not fully answer to the satisfaction of the of present at the time of such examination, or any two of them, all questions put to him, her, or them, by the said of, or any two of them, as well by word of mouth as by interrogatories in writing; or shall refuse or wilfully neglect to produce, from time to time, to the said of, or any two of them, all books of accounts, papers, and writings, in their custody or power, relating to the matters herein directed to be inquired into by the said of, as the said commissioners, or any two of them, shall, from time to time direct, then and in every such case it shall and may be lawful to and for the said of, or any two of them, by warrant under their hands and seals, to commit him, her, or them, to such prison, as the said of, or any two of them, shall think fit, there to remain, without bail or mainprize, until such person or persons shall submit him, her, or themselves, to the said of, and produce before them such books of accounts, papers, and writings, upon oath, and full answer make, to the satisfaction of the of, to all such questions as shall be put to him, her, or them, as aforesaid, according to the true intent and meaning of this act; and the said of, in every case where any person or persons shall be by them committed for refusing to answer, or for not fully answering any question or questions put to him, her, or them, by the said of, by word of mouth, or upon interrogatories, shall in their warrants of commitment specify such question or questions.

[The African company restrained from disposing of stores, &c.]

XXXIV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said royal African company, their directors, officers, and servants, and every of them, shall, for the space of one year, to be computed from the seventeenth day of March, one thousand seven hundred and forty nine, be, and they are hereby restrained and disabled from assigning, transferring, or disposing of all or any their military stores, ammunition, slaves, canoes, vessels, and things necessary for the use or defence of their forts and settlements;

[Suits for money due by them, stayed for 1 year.]

and all actions, suits, and process, depending, or which shall be hereafter commenced or prosecuted by any person or persons for recovery of any debt or sum of money due, or pretended to be due, from the said company, or from any person or persons, for or in respect of any debt or debts contracted for or on behalf of the said company, shall be, and the same are hereby stayed for the space of one year, to be computed from the said seventeenth day of March, one thousand seven hundred and forty nine.

XXXV. And whereas David Crichton, late one of the chief agents of the said company at Cape Coast Castle, now a prisoner for debt in the custody of the sheriffs of the city of London, did, with two others of the said company’s agents or servants there (to wit) Thomas Chalmer and James Craik, in the year one thousand seven hundred and forty five, contract a debt at Cape Coast Castle aforesaid, of fourteen hundred pounds, for and on the behalf of the said company, for the support and maintenance of their forts and servants: and whereas the said David Crichton now stands charged in the custody of the said sheriffs, in execution, on a judgment given in the court of King’s Bench, at the suit of one William Stead, for the debt aforesaid, which, together with costs of suit, and interest thereon, amounts in the whole to the sum of sixteen hundred and four pounds, sixteen shillings, and six pence, upon a judgment obtained against him in his Majesty’s court of King’s Bench, by the said William Stead;

[David Crichton in custody for a debt on behalf of the company, to be discharged.]

be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said David Crichton be forthwith discharged out of the custody of the said sheriffs upon the said David Crichton’s giving a new judgment to the said William Stead, for the said sum of sixteen hundred and four pounds, sixteen shillings, and six pence, with stay of execution thereon, for one year, to be computed from the said seventeenth day of March, one thousand seven hundred and forty nine: and further, That the said David Crichton do enter into a bond to the said William Steady with two sureties to be approved of by one of the judges of the court of King’s Bench, in double the penalty of the said sum of sixteen hundred and four pounds, sixteen shillings, and six pence, with which the said David Crichton stands charged in custody, with condition that he the said David Crichton will not withdraw himself out of England, but will always be ready, either in London or Middlesex, at the expiration of the said year, to be subject to any process the said William Stead shall think proper to take out against him.

[Expences of this act.]

XXXVI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the expences of obtaining and passing this act, shall be defrayed and paid by the said committee for managing the affairs of the said new company, out of the first monies they shall receive for the admissions of persons into the freedom thereof;

[and of the commissioners.]

and the expences of the said of, their officers and servants, and of the inquiry to be made in pursuance of this act, shall be defrayed, in the first place, out of such compensation as shall be hereafter granted by parliament, on the said royal African company’s being diverted of their charter, lands, forts, castles, slaves, and other effects.

[Penalties how to be recovered.]

XXXVII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the penalties inflicted by this act may be sued for and recovered by action of debt, bill, plaint, or information, in any of his Majesty’s courts of record at Westminster, or in any of the courts of his Majesty’s plantations or colonies in America, wherein no essoin, protection, privilege, or wager of law, or more than one imparlance, shall be allowed; and all and every offence and offences which any person or persons shall be guilty of on the high sea, or on shore, within the limits before mentioned, contrary to this act, shall be enquired of and determined in his Majesty’s court of King’s Bench at Westminster, or before such of, and in such county of this realm, as shall be assigned by his Majesty’s commission, and by good and lawful men of the same county.

[Limitation of Actions.]

XXXVIII. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any action or actions shall be commenced or brought against any person or persons for what he or they shall do, or cause to be done, in pursuance of this act, then, and in every such case,

[General issue.]

such person or persons shall and may plead the general issue, and give this act and the special matter in evidence; any law or usage to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.

[Publick act.]

XXXIX. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That this act shall be deemed and taken to be a publick act, and shall be taken notice of as such, by all judges, justices, and other persons whatsoever, without specially pleading the same.

Source: Pickering, Statutes at Large, volume 20.

Further reading: Wikipedia.