1604: 2 James 1 c.31: For the charitable relief and ordering of persons infested with the plague.

1604: 2 James 1 c.31: An act for the charitable relief and ordering of persons infested with the plague.

[Several provisions made for those that be infected with the plague.]

FORASMUCH as the inhabitants of divers cities, boroughs, towns corporate, and of other parishes and places, being visited with the plague, are found to be unable to relieve the poorer sort of such people so infested, who of necessity must be by same charitable course provided for, left they should wander abroad and thereby infect others: (2) and forasmuch as divers persons infected with that disease, and others inhabiting in houses and places infected, as well poor people and unable to relieve themselves that are carefully provided for, as others which of themselves are of ability, being commanded by the magistrate or officer of or within the place inhere the infection shall be, to keep their houses, or otherwise to separate themselves from company for the avoiding of further infection, do notwithstanding very dangerously and disorderly misdemean themselves:

[Taxing the inhabitants for relief of the sick of the plague.]

II. Be it therefore enacted by the authority of this present parliament, That the mayor, bailiffs, head officers and justices of peace of every city, borough, town corporate and places privileged, where any mayor and bailiffs, head officers or justices of peace are or shall be, or any two of them, shall have power and authority from time to time, to tax and assess all and every inhabitant, and all houses of habitation, lands tenements and hereditaments within the said city, borough, town corporate and places privileged, or the liberties or precincts thereof, at such reasonable taxes and payments as they shall think fit for the reasonable relief of such persons infected, or inhabiting in houses and places infected in the same cities, boroughs and towns corporate, and places privileged, (2) and from time, to time, to levy the same taxes of the goods of every person refusing or neglecting to pay the said taxes, by warrant under the hand and seal of the mayor and bailiffs, and head officers aforesaid, or two such justices of peace, to be directed to any person or persons for the execution thereof.

[The penalty of any party taxed refusing to pay, and having no goods.]

III. And if the party to whom such warrant is or shall be directed shall not find any goods to levy the same, and the party taxed shall refuse to pay the same tax, That then upon return thereof the said mayor, bailiffs, head officers or justices of peace or any two of them, shall by like warrant under their hands and seals cause the same person so taxed to be arrested and committed to the gaol without bail or mainprize, until he shall satisfy the same taxation and the arrearages thereof.

[A provision if the inhabitants of the town infected be not able to relieve the sick.]

IV. And if the inhabitants of any such city, borough, town corporate or place privileged, shall find themselves unable to relieve their said poor infected persons and others as aforesaid, That then upon certificate thereof by the mayor, bailiff, head officers and other the said justices of peace, or any two of them, to the justices of peace of the county of or near to the said city, borough, town corporate or privileged place so infected, or any two of them to be made, the said justices of or near the said county or any two of them, shall or may tax and assess the inhabitants of the county within five miles of the said place infected, at such reasonable weekly taxes and rates as they shall think fit, to be levied by warrant from any such two justices of peace of or near the county, by sale of goods, and in default thereof by imprisonment of the body of the party taxed as aforesaid.

[A provision if the infection shall be where there are no justices of peace.]

V. And if any such infection shall be in any borough, town corporate or privileged place where there are or shall be no justices of peace, or in any village or hamlet within any county, That then it shall and may be lawful for any two justices of peace of the said county wherein the said place infected is or shall be, to tax and assess the inhabitants of the said county within five miles of the said place infected, at such reasonable weekly taxes and rates as they shall think fit, for the reasonable relief of the said places infected, to be levied by warrant from the said justices of peace of the same county by sale of goods, and in default thereof by imprisonment of the body of every party so taxed as aforesaid: (2) the same taxes made by the said justices of peace of the county for the relief of such cities, boroughs, towns corporate and places privileged where there are no justices of peace, to be disposed as they shall think fit; and where there are justices of peace then in such fort as to the mayors, bailiffs, bead officers and justices of peace there or any two of them shall seem fit and convenient.

[The taxes assessed shall be certified at the next quarter-sessions.]

VI. All which taxes and rates made within any such city, borough, town corporate or place privileged, shall be certified at the next quarter-sessions to be holden within the said city, borough, town corporate or place privileged; (2) and the said taxes and rates made within any part of the said county, shall in like sort be certified at the next quarter-sessions to be holden in and for the said county; (3) and that if the justices of peace at such quarter-sessions respectively, or the more part of them, shall think it fit the said tax or rate should continue, or be enlarged or extended to any other parts of the county, or otherwise determined, then the same to be so enlarged, extended or determined, encreased or taxed and levied in manner and form aforesaid, as to the said justices at the quarter-sessions respectively shall be thought fit and convenient:

[The forfeiture of officers making default to levy the money assessed.]

(4) and every constable and other officer that shall wilfully make default in levying such money as they shall be commanded by the said warrant or warrants, shall forfeit for every such offence ten shillings, to be employed on the charitable uses aforesaid.

[An infected person commanded to keep his house, disobeyeth.]

VII. And be it further enacted, That if any person or persons infected, or being or dwelling in any house infected, shall be by the mayor, bailiffs, constable or other head officer of any city, borough, town corporate, privileged place or market-town, or by any justice of peace, constable, headborough or other officer of the county (if any such infection be out of any city, borough, town corporate, privileged place or market-town) commanded or appointed, as aforesaid, to keep his or their house, for avoiding of further infection, and shall notwithstanding wilfully and contemptuously disobey such direction and appointment, offering and attempting to break out and go abroad, and to resist, or going abroad and resisting such keepers or watchmen as shall be appointed, as aforesaid, to see them kept in; that then it shall be lawful for such watchmen with violence to inforce them to keep their houses; and if any hurt come by such inforcement to such disobedient persons, that then the said keepers, watchmen and any other their assistants, shall not be impeached therefore: (2) and if any infected person as aforesaid, so commanded to keep house, shall contrary to such commandment, wilfully and contemptuously go abroad, and shall converse in company, having any infectious sore upon him uncured, that then such person and persons shall be taken, deemed and adjudged as a felon, and to suffer pains of death as in case of felony; (3) but if such person shall not have any such sore found about him, then for his said offence to be punished as a vagabond in all respects should or ought to be,

[39 Eliz. c. 4.]

by the statute made in the nine and thirtieth year of the reign or our late sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth, for the punishment of rogues and vagabonds; and further, to be bound to his or their good behaviour-for one whole year.

VIII. Provided, That no attainder of felony by virtue of this act shall extend to any attainder or corruption of blood, or forfeiture of any goods, chattels, lands, tenements or hereditaments.

[Attendants shall be appointed upon the infected.]

IX. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall be lawful for justices of peace, mayors, bailiffs and other head officers aforesaid, to appoint within their several limits searchers, watchmen, examiners, keepers and buriers, for the persons and places respectively infected as aforesaid, and to minister unto them oaths for the performance of their offices of searchers, examiners, watchmen, keepers and buriers, and give them other directions, as unto them for the present necessity shall seem good in their discretions;

[The continuance of this act.]

(2) and this act to continue no longer than until the end of the first session of the next parliament.

[The universities, cathedral churches, Eaton, Winchester college.]

X. Provided always, and be it enacted by authority of this present parliament, That no mayors, bailiffs, head officers, or any justices of peace, shall by force or pretext of any thing in this act contained, do or execute any thing before-mentioned within either the universities of Cambridge or Oxford, or within any cathedral church, or the liberties or precincts thereof, in this realm of England, or within the colleges of Eaton or Winchester; (2) but that the vice-chancellor of either of the universities for the time being, within either of the same respectively, and the bishop and dean of every such cathedral church, or one of them, within such cathedral church, and the provost or warden of either of the said colleges within the same, shall have all such power and authority, and shall do and execute all and every such act and acts, thing and things in this act before-mentioned, within their several precincts and jurisdictions abovesaid, as wholly, absolutely and fully, to all intents and purposes, as any mayor, bailiffs, head officers or justices of peace, within their several precincts and jurisdictions may elsewhere by force of this act do and execute.

[3 Car. 1. c. 4. Continued until the end of the first session of the next parliament, and farther continued by 16 Car. 1. c. 4.]

Source: Pickering, Statutes at Large, volume 7.