1788: 28 George 3 c.55: An act for the better and more effectual protection of stocking frames and the machines or engines annexed thereto, or used therewith; and for the punishment of persons destroying or injuring of such stocking frames machines or engines and the framework knitted pieces, stockings, and other articles and goods used and made in the hosiery or framework knitted manufactory, or breaking or destroying any machinery contained in any mill or mills used or any way employed in preparing or spinning of wool or cotton for the use of the stocking frame.
WHEREAS the frames for making of framework-knitted pieces, stockings, and other articles and goods in the hosiery or framework knitted manufactory, are very valuable and expensive machines, and generally the property of the hosier or manufacturer, who lets the same to hire to his workmen or framework-knitters; and it hath frequently happened that the hosier or manufacturer, being the owner or employer of such frame or frames, and having so put and let the same out to hire, and wanting, for the accommodation of his trade and business, to take and remove such frame or frames from the use and possession of one workman into the hands and custody of another, and having for such purpose given the customary and usual notice to the workman in whose hands or custody such frame was, so to deliver up the same, such workman hath wilfully detained and withheld the same, and sometimes absolutely and unlawfully sold and disposed thereof, to the great grievance, inconvenience, and loss of such hosier or manufacturer: And whereas it hath frequently happened, when discontents have arisen amongst the framework-knitters, that they and other disorderly persons have assembled in a riotous and tumultuous manner, and have destroyed or materially damaged great numbers of stocking frames, and the machines or engines thereto annexed or used therewith, and committed great violences and outrages upon many of his Majesty’s good subjects; wherefore it is necessary that more effectual provision should be made against such unlawful practices, and for preventing such violences and outrages for the future, and for bringing all offenders in the premises to more speedy and exemplary justice: 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,
[Framework knitters hiring frames, and refusing to return them on fourteen days notice, to forfeit 20s.;]
That if any framework knitter or framework knitters, who shall or may rent or take by the hire, any stocking frame or frames, either with or without any machine or engine thereto annexed, or therewith to be employed, of and from any person or persons whomsoever, shall at any time, from and after the passing of this Act, refuse to yield up and re-deliver such frame or frames, with the machine or engine therewith let (if any such there shall be) to the person or persons of whom he or they shall or may so rent the same, having received from such person or persons fourteen days previous notice for such purpose, then, and in every such case, the person so offending, being thereof lawfully convicted by the oath, or (if the owner or employer thereof be of the people called Quakers,) solemn affirmation of the owner or employer of such frame or frames, or by the oath or affirmation of any other credible witness or witnesses, before any one or more justice or justices of the peace of the county, riding, division, city, liberty, town, or place, where such offence shall be committed, or where the person or persons so charged shall reside or inhabit (which oath or affirmation the said justice or justices is and are hereby empowered and required to administer), the person or persons so offending shall, for every such offence, forfeit the sum of twenty shillings to and for the use of the poor of the parish where such offence shall be committed;
[and if not immediately paid, and the frames returned in 6 days after conviction, to be imprisoned not more than three months, nor less than one.]
and in case the said forfeiture shall not be immediately paid, and the said frame or frames, with the machine or engine therewith let, (if any such there shall be) delivered up to the owner or owners thereof, within six days next after such conviction, the justice or justices before whom such conviction shall be had shall commit the party or parties so convicted to the common gaol, or other public prison of such county, riding, division, city, liberty, town, or place, there to remain without bail or mainprize, and be kept to hard labour, for any time not exceeding three calendar months, nor less than one calendar month.
[Persons so hiring frames, and selling them, to be imprisoned not less than three, nor more than twelve months;]
II. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any one person so renting or taking to hire any stocking frame, with or without any such machine or engine as aforesaid, shall at any time, from and after the passing of this Act, sell or otherwise unlawfully dispose of any such stocking frame, or the machine or engine therewith let (if any such there shall be), without the consent of the owner or owners thereof, every such offender, being thereof lawfully convicted upon any indictment to be found against him, shall suffer solitary imprisonment in the common gaol or house of correction of the county, riding, division, city, liberty, town, or place wherein such offence shall have been committed, without bail or mainprize, for a space not less than three calendar months, nor exceeding twelve calendar months.
[and persons purchasing them liable to the same punishment.]
III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any person or persons shall wilfully and knowingly receive or purchase any such stocking frame, machine, or engine, so sold or unlawfully disposed of as aforesaid, contrary to the true intent and meaning of this Act, and shall thereof be lawfully convicted on any indictment to be found against him or them, every such offender or offenders shall be subject to such and the like punishment as by this Act is inflicted, or provided to be inflicted, on such person so selling or unlawfully disposing of any such stocking frame, machine, or engine as aforesaid.
[Persons entering shops, &c. with an intent to destroy, or destroying any framework-knitted pieces, to be guilty of felony.]
IV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any person or persons shall, by day or by night, enter by force into any house, shop, or place, with an intent to cut or destroy any framework-knitted pieces, stockings, or other articles or goods, being in the frame, or upon any machine or engine thereto annexed, or therewith to be used or prepared for that purpose; or shall wilfully and maliciously cut or destroy any framework-knitted pieces, stockings, or other articles or goods, being in the frame, or upon the machine or engine as aforesaid, or prepared for that purpose; or shall wilfully and maliciously break, destroy, or damage, any frame, machine, engine, tool, instrument, or utensil, used in and for the working and making of any such framework-knitted pieces, stockings, or other articles or goods in the hosiery or framework-knitted manufactory, not having the consent of the owner so to do, or break or destroy any machinery contained in any mill or mills used or any way employed in preparing or spinning of wool or cotton for the use of the stocking frames, every offender, being thereof lawfully convicted, shall be adjudged guilty of felony, and shall be transported to some of his Majesty’s dominions beyond seas, for any space or term of years not exceeding fourteen years, nor less than seven years.