1531: 23 Henry 8 c.2: For the making of Gaols within the Realm where none be, or where they be weak or feeble.
[Gaols, Rast. 8. Where and after what manner Gaols shall be made. Vide 5 El. 24. Exp 13 El. 25. Co. Inst. 2 p.705.]
FOR as much as it is necessary and commendable, that common Gaols and Prisons whereunto evil doers shall be committed for their offences, should be surely and substantially edified in such Towns in every Shire within this Realm, as shall be most indifferent for conveyance of prisoners from every part of the Shire wherein such Gaols shall be, and in especial in those Towns where most commonly the Assizes and Sessions been usually kept, and where there is most resort and repair of people, to the intent that by the means thereof fewer shall escape, and also the rather and oftner relief and charity of the people shall be to the prisoners ministred: (2) It may therefore please the Kings Highness, with the assent of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by authority of the same, to enact, that the Justices of Peace of every of the Shires of Essex, Suffolk, Dorset, Sussex, Surrey, Nottingham, Gloucester, Bedford, Buckingham, Huntingdon, Wiltshire, Kent, Warwick, Stafford, Oxen. Berkshire, Leicester, Rutland, Lincoln, Hereford, Northampton, Salop, Norfolk and Cornwall, or the most part of the said Justices of Peace in every of the said Shires within the limits of their Commission, shall have full power and authority to limit and appoint at any time within the term of one year from the end of this present Parliament, the Towns and Places wherein they shall think most necessary to have a common Gaol newly edified and made.
[The Justices shall tax the inhabitants of the County for and towards the building of the Gaol.]
(3) And that also the said Justices of Peace in every of the said Shires, or the most part of the said Justices of Peace within the limits of their Commission, shall have full power and authority to call before them at times and places by them to be appointed, all the High Constables, Tithingmen or Borough-holders of every Hundred, Lath or Wapentake in the Shire whereof they be Justices, and in their presence, and by their assents and agreements, or in the presence, and by the assent of the most part of chem, shall conclude and agree upon such convenient and certain sums of mony as shall be thought by their discretions, and by examination of workmen to suffice, for the making and perfect finishing of a new Gaol in the Shire whereof they be Justices of Peace, (4) and thereupon shall forthwith by their assents, agreements and discretions, tax and set every such person and persons as then shall be resiant it the same Shire, as well within liberties as without, having lands, tenements, rents or annuities of estate of inheritance, or for term of life, to the clear yearly value of xl s. [40s.] or above, or being worth in moveable substance the clear value of xx li. [20l.] or above, to such reasonable aid and sums of mony as shall be thought convenient, by their discretions, to and for the full building, making and furnishing of the said common Gaol of the Shire where such Assessment shall be made; (5) and after such taxations, to name and appoint such number of Collectors for the levying thereof as shall seem best by their discretions.
[Collectors for the gathering of the mony taxed, and their authority.]
(6) And that the said Collectors, and every of them, shall have power and authority to distrain every such person as shall be set or taxed by the said Justices of Peace, as is aforesaid, in their lands or goods, as well within liberties as without, and to sell the distresses by them taken, by the appraisment of four honest persons, for the payment of the said sums to be taxed, if the person or persons taxed refuse to pay the same within ten days next after such Distress taken, taking upon every such sale but only the mony taxed, with reasonable costs for taking of the distress, and the overplus of such sales to be delivered to the owner of the said distress.
[The Justices shall appoint two Surveyors to see the Gaol builded.]
II. And that also the said Justices of Peace in every of the said Shires, or the most part of them, within the limits of their Commission, shall have power and authority to name and appoint two honest persons inhabited in the said Shire wherein they be Justices; which two persons shall survey, see and provide, that the said Gaols shall be surely and substantially made and finished: (2) to whose hands the said Collectors shall pay and deliver the mony by them collected of the Kings Subjects, by the appointment and assignment of the said Justices of Peace, or six of them at the least. (3) And that as well every of the said Collectors, as every of the said two persons to be named, their heirs, executors and administrators, shall declare a true and a just account to the said Justices of Peace in every of the said Shires, or to six of them at the least, from time to time when they shall be required.
[The Collectors and Surveyors accompt, and their punishment if they are not.]
(4) And in case any of them refuse to make accompt, or refuse to pay and imploy such sums of mony as shall come to their hands, in such wise as shall be limited and appointed by the said Justices of Peace, or six of them, (as is aforesaid) that then the same Justices of Peace, or six of them in every Shire where such Gaols shall be new made, shall have full power and authority, if the said offenders be present, co commit them to ward; (5) and if they be absent, to make attachments under their seals by their discretions against every such Collector and person to whose hands any of the said sums of mony taxed shall happen to come, their heirs, executors and administrators, and every of them, into every Shire and part of this Realm, as well within liberty as without, to be returnable afore the said Justices of Peace at such day and place as by them shall be appointed, and to be directed to the Sheriff or Sheriffs of the Shire wherein the party or parties against whom such attachment shall be directed, shall be resident and abiding, if it be within the Bailiwick of the Sherif, and if it be without, then to be directed to the Bailiff of the liberty wherein such parties shall abide. (6) And that every Sheriff and Bailiff of Liberty to whose hands such attachments shall come, without favour or corruption shall attach the said offenders, and personally bring them before the said Justices, according to the tenor of the attachment to them directed, or else declare by his return of the said attachment some reasonable cause why he cannot so do, upon pain for every default by them or any of them committed contrary to this Act, to lose and forfeit C s. to the King our Soveraign Lord: (7) and upon the appearance of every such person so attached, the said Justices or six of them shall have full power and authority to commit them to prison, there to remain without bail or mainprise, till they have truly accompted, and paid all such sums of mony as came to their hands by the assignment of the said Justices by authority of this Act.
[How the overplus shall be bestowed, the Gaol being finished.]
(8) And in case there happen to remain any overplus of mony after the Gaols fully and wholly finished, then it is ordered, that the same overplus shall be employed and bestowed in alms to the prisoners to be committed to the said Gaol by the discretions of the said Justices of Peace, or the more part of them, as long as it will last.
[Corporate Towns which have Gaols within themselves.]
III. Provided alway, That this Act extend not to charge any persons inhabited within any Cittes, Towns or Boroughs corporate, which have common Gaols for Felons taken in the same, and have Justices of Peace for deliverance of such Felons; for any taxes or lots to the making of the said common Gaols of any the Shires above named, but that every such Inhabitant in any such City, Town or Borough corporate, shall be utterly Discharged thereof.
[The Collectors and Surveyors allowance for their pains.]
IV. And be it farther enacted, That several Commissioners under the Kings great Seal, with this present Act thereto affiled, shall be directed to the Justices of Peace of the Shires afore named, authorising them to accomplish and execute this present Act according to the tenor thereof in every behalf. (2) And that the said Justices of Peace in every of the Shires afore named, have power and authority to limit to every of the said Collectors, and persons by them to be named, that shall take pains for levying of the mony taxed, or for the surveying of the making of the said Gaols, such reasonable sums for their pains and labours for the collection of the said mony, and surveying the making of the said Gaols.
[Felons shall be imprisoned in the said common Gaols.]
V. And be it farther enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all Murtherers and Felons shall be imprisoned in the said common Gaols, and not elsewhere.
[Sheriffs shall have the keeping of the Gaols, and allowance for the repair of them.]
(2) And that the Sheriffs shall have the keeping and charge of the same new Gaols; (3) And that every Sheriff be allowed upon his accompt in the Exchequer, for all and every such sums of mony as he shall hereafter happen to expend in and about the necessary reparations and amendments of the said Gaols after they be once made, from time to time, as often as need shall require: (4) and that the Barons of the Kings Exchequer have power to allow every Sheriff in every such case by their discretions, without any bill or warrant to be shewed from the Kings Highness in that behalf.
[A Proviso for them which have any Estate in Gaols.]
VI. Provided always, That this Act be not in any wise hurtful or prejudicial to any person or persons having any common Gaol by inheritance, for term of life, or for years, but that they shall enjoy their said Gaols, and the profits, fees and commodities of the same, as they had or might lawfully have had before the making of this Act; and as if this Act had never been had ne made.
VII. Be it farther enacted by authority aforesaid, That like provision in every behalf be had for a new Gaol to be made within the County of Derbt, in like form as is provided for other Shires aforesaid.
[Exp. St. 1 M. 14. 5 El. 24. 13 EL 25.]
Source, Baskett, Statutes At Large, vol. 1.