1775: 15 George 3 c.28: An act for altering, explaining, and amending several acts of the parliament of Scotland, respecting colliers, coal bearers, and salters.
WHEREAS by the Statute Law of Scotland as explained by the Judges of the Courts of Law there, many Colliers, Coal-bearers, and Salters are in a state of slavery or bondage, bound to the Collieries and Salt-works where they work for life, transferable with the Collieries and Salt-works, when their original masters have no further use for them: And whereas persons are discouraged and prevented from learning the art or business of Colliers or Coal-bearers, and Salters, by their becoming bound to the collieries and salt-works for life, where they shall work for the space of one Year, by means whereof there are not a sufficient number of Colliers, Coal-bearers, and Salters, in. Scotland, for working the quantities of coal and salt necessarily wanted; and many newly discovered coals remain unwrought, and many are not sufficiently wrought, nor are there a sufficient number of Salters for the Salt-works, to the great loss of the owners and disadvantage to the publick: And whereas the emancipating or setting free the Colliers, Coal-bearers, and Salters in Scotland, who are now in a state of servitude, gradually and upon reasonable conditions, and the preventing others from coming into such a state of servitude, would be the means of increasing the number of Colliers, Coal-bearers, and Salters to the great benefit of the Publick, without doing any injury to the present Masters, and would remove the reproach of allowing such a State of Servitude to exist in a free Country; may it therefore please your Majesty that it 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 July 1, 1775, no person who shall begin to work as a collier or salter in Scotland to be bound in any other way than other servants.]
That from and after the first day of July, in this present year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, no person who shall begin to work as a Collier, Coal-bearer, or Salted, or in any other way in a colliery or salt-work, in Scotland, shall be bound to such colliery or salt-work, or to the owner thereof, in any other way or manner different from what is permitted by the Law of Scotland with regard to Servants and Labourers; and that they shall be deemed free and shall enjoy the same privileges, rights, and immunities with the rest of his Majesty’s Subjects, any law or usage in Scotland to the contrary notwithstanding.
[Owners of collieries and salt works, &c. may take apprentices.]
II. Provided always, That it shall be lawful for all Owners and Lessees of Collieries and Salt-works, and for Colliers, Coal-bearers, and Salters, to take persons bound by Contract or Indenture, as Apprentices, to learn the Art or business of Coal-hewing, Coal-bearing, or making salt for any term of years permitted by the law of Scotland with regard to Apprentices in other arts and mysteries.
III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid,
[Persons employed as colliers, &c. under 21 years, shall be free after seven years service.]
That all persons under the age of twenty-one years, upon the said first day of July, employed as Colliers, Coal-bearers, or Salters, in Scotland. and bound to any colliery or salt-work, shall, after seven years service from the said first day of July, be free from their service and servitude, and at liberty to engage themselves as servants or labourers in any other colliery or salt-work, or in any other kind of labour whatever.
[All bound colliers and salters above 21 and under 35 after a service of ten years, and those above 35 and under 45 after seven years, to be free, having found and instructed apprentices, if desired.]
IV. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all bound Colliers and Salters in Scotland, above the age of twenty-one years, and under the age of thirty-five years, upon the said first day of July, after a service of ten years; and all Colliers and Salters above the age of thirty-five years, but under the age of forty-five years, at the said first day of July after a service of seven years; and after their having respectively found and sufficiently instructed a person as an apprentice, if required so to do by the Master or Lessee of the Colliery or Salt-work, within one year after the said first day of July next, in the art or mystery of coal-hewing or making of salt, of the age of eighteen years at least; when such instruction shall be perfected, shall be free from any other servitude or bondage to the colliery or salt-work to which they were bound.
[Bound colliers, &c. above 45 years to be free after three years.]
V And be it also enacted, That all Colliers and Salters, bound to any Colliery or Salt-work in Scotland, above the age of forty-five years upon the said first day of July next, shall, after three Years, be free and discharged from any further servitude or bondage to the colliery or salt-work to which they are bound.
[Colliers and salters not properly instructing apprentices, to serve three years longer than the time specified, and then to be free.]
VI. Provided always, and be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That if any bound Collier or Salter shall not sufficiently instruct an apprentice in the art or mystery of coal-hewing or making of salt, if required by the Master or Lessee o the Colliery or Salt-work to which he is bound, as directed by this Act, such Collier or Salter shall nevertheless be free, after the performance of an additional service of’ three years at the Colliery or Salt-work to which he is bound.
[Colliers, &c. claiming liberty to obtain a decree of the sheriff court, &c.]
VII. Provided always, That every Collier or Salter, claiming liberty under the authority of this Act shall, prior to his being freed from his servitude or bondage, obtain a decree of the Sheriff Court of’ the County in which he resides, finding and declaring that he is intitled unto his freedom, under the authority of this Act.
[In what manner colliers and salters are to sue out their freedom.]
VIII And be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That for the purpose of obtaining such decree, it shall and may be lawful for the Collier or Salter claiming his freedom to present a petition to the Sheriff Depute or Substitute of the county where he resides, stating his claim of freedom, and offering to prove the facts which intitle him to it, and the Sheriff Depute or Substitute is hereby authorised and required to order the petition to be served upon the Owner, Lessee, or Overseer, of the Colliery or Salt-works to which the Petitioner is bound, and to order an answer to be put in to the petition in ten days after service, stating the objection or objections to the freedom claimed, if any such are intended to be made; and the Sheriff shall thereafter proceed in a summary way in taking the proofs, and all other procedure necessary, until a decree shall be pronounced; and if the decree of the Sheriff shall be against the Petitioner, finding him not intitled to freedom, it shall nevertheless be competent to such Petitioner, at any period after the expiration of one year, to present a second petition, stating his claim of liberty of new, and which shall be proceeded upon in the same manner as the former; and if the petitioner fails in obtaining a decree for him on the second petition, he may, after the expiration of one year from the date of the second decree, present a third petition, which shall. likewise be proceeded upon in the same manner; and if he fails in obtaining a decree upon his third petition, he may present a fourth, and so on, till he obtains a decree declaring his freedom, one year at least being expired after a decree upon one petition before it shall be competent to present another.
[Person guilty of unlawful combinations, &c. to serve two years after they would have been intitled to their freedom.]
IX. Provided always, That in case it shall be proved to the satisfaction of the said Sheriff, that the person so applying by petition has, subsequent to the passing of this Act, been guilty of entering into any unlawful combination with the other Colliers or Salters to leave off working, in order to distress or injure the Proprietor or Lessee of such Coal or Salt-work, or in order to compel him to increase the wages or allowances usually paid for the said work; or that the person so applying shall have wilfully deserted the said works; then, and in that case, the person guilty of such offences shall not be intitled to the benefit of the said Act until the expiration of two years after the respective periods at which, in terms of this act, he would have been intitled to his freedom, if he had nor been guilty of such offences.
[Respondent to any petition may not remove the proceedings upon it into the court of session.]
X. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That it shall not be competent for the Respondent or Respondents to such petition to remove the proceedings upon it into the Court of Session in Scotland, by Advocation, or to complain of any decree by appeal or suspension, or to sue for reduction of any such decree;
[All decrees declaring freedom to be final.]
and that every decree upon such petition, finding and declaring the freedom of the petitioner, shall be final and conclusive against the Person to whom the Petitioner was bound.
[When colliers or salters obtain their freedom, all their family to be also free.]
XI. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That when Colliers or Salters obtain their freedom under the authority of this Act, their wives and children in family with them, and all others who make part of their family, and are Coal-bearers, or otherwise assistant to them, shall likewise be free.
[All coal-bearers who are bound, &c. and under 45 years, to serve seven years; and above 45, to serve three years.]
XII. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all Coal-bearers and other Labourers in Collieries or Salt-works, who are bound to any Colliery or Salt-work in Scotland, and do not belong to the family of any particular Collier or Salter, shall, if under the age of forty-five years, after seven years service, from the said first day of July, be free from their service and servitude, and at liberty to engage themselves as servants or labourers in any other Colliery or Salt-work, or in any other kind of work whatsoever, and if above the age of forty-five years they shall be free after a service of three years.
[All colliers, &c. having obtained their freedom, are intitled to the benefit of the act of Scotland, for preventing wrongous imprisonment, &c.]
XIII. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, that from and after the first day of July, in this present year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, all Colliers and Salters then free, and all persons that may thereafter become Colliers and Salters, and all Colliers and Salters bound to any Colliery or Salt-work upon the said first day of July, from the time of obtaining their freedom under the authority of this act, shall be intitled to the benefit of an Act made in the Parliament of Scotland, in the year one thousand seven hundred and one, intituled, Act for preventing wrongous Imprisionment, and against undue delays in trials; any thing in the said Act to the contrary notwithstanding.
Further reading: Wikipedia.