ANNO DECIMO TERTIO & DECIMO QUARTO
CAROLI II. Regis.
An Act for the better Relief of the Poor of this Kingdom. [May 1662.]
I. "WHEREAS the Necessity, Number, and continual Increase of the Poor, not only within the Cities of London and Westminster, with the Liberties of each of them, but also through the whole Kingdom of England and Dominion of Wales, is very great and exceeding burthensome, being occasioned by reason of some Defects in the Law concerning the settling of the Poor, and for want of a due Provision of the Regulations of Relief and Employment in such Parishes or Places where they are legally settled, which doth enforce many to turn incorrigible Rogues, and others to perish for Want, together with the Neglect of the faithful Execution of such Laws and Statutes as have formerly been made for the apprehending of Rogues and Vagabonds, and for the Good of the Poor;"
For Remedy whereof, and for the preventing the perishing of any of the Poor, whether young or old, for want of such Supplies as are necessary, may it please your most Excellent 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 the Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That whereas by reason of some Defects in the Law, poor People are not restrained from going from one Parish to another, and therefore do endeavour to settle themselves in those Parishes where there is the best Stock, the largest Commons or Wastes to build Cottages, and the most Woods for them to burn and destroy; and when they have consumed it, then to another Parish, and at last become Rogues and Vagabonds, to the great Discouragement of Parishes to provide Stocks, where it is liable to be devoured by Strangers;
Be it therefore enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful, upon Complaint made by the Churchwardens or Overseers of the Poor of any Parish, to any Justice of Peace, within forty Days after any such Person or Persons coming so to settle as aforesaid, in any Tenement under the yearly Value of ten Pounds, for any two Justices of the Peace, whereof one to be of the Quorum, of the Division where any Person or Persons that are likely to be chargeable to the Parish shall come to inhabit, by their Warrant to remove and convey such Person or Persons to such Parish where he or they were last legally settled, either as a Native, Housholder, Sojourner, Apprentice or Servant, for the Space of forty Days at the least, unless he or they give sufficient Security for the Discharge of the said Parish, to be allowed by the said Justices.
II. Provided always, That all such Persons who think themselves aggrieved by any such Judgment of the said two Justices, may appeal to the Justices of the Peace of the said County at their next Quarter-Sessions, who are hereby required to do them Justice according to the Merits of their Cause.
III. Provided also, That (this Act notwithstanding) it shall and may be lawful for any Person or Persons, to go into any County, Parish or Place, to work in Time of Harvest, or at any Time to work at any other Work, so that he or they carry with him or them a Certificate from the Minister of the Parish and one of the Churchwardens and one of the Overseers for the Poor for the said Year, that he or they have a Dwelling-house or Place in which he or they inhabit, and hath lest Wise and Children, or some of them there, (or otherwise as the Condition of the Persons shall require) and is declared an Inhabitant of Inhabitants there;
And in such Case, if the Person or Persons shall not return to the Place aforesaid, when his or their Work is finished, or shall fall Sick or Impotent whilst he or they are in the said Work, it shall not be accounted a Settlement in the Cases abovesaid, but that it shall and may be lawful for two Justices of the Peace to convey the said Person or Persons to the Place of his or their Habitation as aforesaid, under the Pains and Penalties in this Act prescribed;
And if such Person or Persons shall refuse to go, or shall not remain in such Parish where they ought to be settled as aforesaid, but shall return of his own Accord to the Parish from whence he was removed, it shall and may be lawful for any Justice of the Peace of the City, County or Town Corporate where the said Offence shall be committed, to send such Person or Persons offending to the House of Correction, there to be punished as a Vagabond, or to a publick Work-house in this present Act hereafter mentioned, there to be employed in Work or Labour;
And if the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of the Parish to which he or they shall be removed, refuse to receive such Person or Persons, and to provide Work for them, as other Inhabitants of the Parish, any Justice of Peace of that Division may and shall thereupon bind any such Officer or Officers in whom there shall be Default, to the Assizes or Sessions, there to be indicted for his or their Contempt in that Behalf.
IV. And for the further Redress of the Mischiefs intended to be hereby remedied, Be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That from thenceforth there be, and shall be, one or more Corporation or Corporations, Work-house or Work-houses, within the Cities of London and Westminster, and within the Boroughs, Towns and Places of the County of Middlesexand Surrey, situate, lying and being within the Parishes mentioned in the Weekly Bills of Mortality, consisting of a President, a Deputy to the President, and a Treasurer; and that the Lord Mayor of the City of London for the Time being be President of the Corporation or Corporations, Work-house or Work-houses within the said City, and the Assistants to be the Aldermen of the said City of London for the Time being, and fifty-two other Citizens to be chosen by the Common Council of the said City;
And that the said President and Assistants, or the major Part of them, shall and may elect a Deputy-President and Treasurer, and all other necessary Officers hereby constituted and authorized to execute the Powers and Offices by this Act appointed;
And that upon the Vacancy by Death or otherwise of any Assistant, the Power to elect in their Rooms be in the said Common Council; and the Election of the Deputy-President or Treasurer, and all other Officers, in the said President and major Part of the Assistants as aforesaid;
And that a President, a Deputy-President, a Treasurer and Assistants be nominated and appointed by the Lord Chancellor, or Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, for the Time being, out of the most fit Persons inhabiting in the City of Westminster or the Liberties thereof, for the Corporation or Corporations, Work-house or Work-houses within the same.
V. And for the said Places within the Weekly Bills of Mortality in the said Counties of Middlesex andSurreyrespectively, there shall be elected and chosen by the major Part of the Justices of the Peace for the said Counties in their respective Quarter-Sessions assembled, out of the most able and honest Inhabitants and Freeholders of every of the said Counties of Middlesexand Surrey respectively, a President, a Deputy-President, a Treasurer and Assistants for the Corporation or Corporations, Work-house or Work-houses of the Places aforesaid in Middlesexand Surrey;
and that upon the Vacancy by Death or otherwise, of any of the Presidents, Deputy-Presidents, Treasurers or Assistants in the City of Westminster, and Places aforesaid in Middlesex and Surrey, the Power to elect others in their Rooms be in the major Part of the respective Justices of Peace, who in their General Quarter-Sessions from Time to Time shall accordingly supply such vacant Places;
And that at every Quarter-Sessions they shall require and take an Account in Writing of all the Receipts, Charges and Disbursements of the Officers and Treasurer of such Corporation or Corporations, Work-house or Work-houses, how and how many poor People have been employed and set to work in the Year last past, and what Stock there was and is remaining;
Which President, Deputy-President and Treasurer for the Time being respectively, shall for ever hereafter, in Name and Fact, be Bodies Politick and Corporate in Law, to all Intents and Purposes, and shall have a perpetual Succession, and may sue or plead, or be sued and impleaded, by the Name of the President and Governors for the Poor of the respective Places afore mentioned, in all Courts and Places of Judicature within this Kingdom, and the Dominion of Wales, and the Town of Berwick upon Tweed;
And by that Name every of the said Corporations shall and may without Licence in Mortmain, purchase or receive any Lands, Tenements or Hereditaments, not exceeding the yearly Value of three thousand Pounds per Annum, of the Gift, Alienation or Devise of any Person or Persons, who are hereby without further Licence enabled to give the same, and any Goods, Chattels or Sums of Money whatsoever, to the Use, Intent and Purposes hereafter limited and appointed;
And that each respective Corporation, or any seven of them, shall have hereby Power and Authority from Time to Time to meet and keep Courts for the Ends and Purposes in this Act expressed, at such Time and Place as shall be appointed by the said President, his Deputy, or the Treasurer, who are hereby required upon the Desire of any four of the said Corporation, at any Time to cause a Court to be warned accordingly, and shall have hereby Authority from Time to Time to make and appoint a Common Seal for the Use of the said Corporation.
VI. And it is further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful to and for the said President and Governors of the said Corporations for the Time being, or any two of them, or to or for any Person authorized and appointed by them or any two of them, from Time to Time to apprehend, or cause to be apprehended, any Rogues, Vagrants, Sturdy Beggars, or idle and disorderly Persons within the said Cities and Liberties, Places, Divisions and Precincts, and to cause them to be kept and set to work in the several and respective Corporations or Work-houses;
and it shall and may be lawful for the major Part of the Justices of Peace in their Quarter-Sessions, to signify unto his Majesty's Privy Council, the Names of such Rogues, Vagabonds, idle and disorderly Persons and Sturdy Beggars, as they shall think fit to be transported to the England Plantations;
and upon the Approbation of his Majesty's Privy Council to the said Justices of Peace signified, which Persons shall be transported, it shall and may be lawful for any two or more of the Justices of the Peace, them to transport or cause to be transported from Time to Time, during the Space of three Years next ensuing the End of this present Session of Parliament to any of the English Plantations beyond the Seas, there to be disposed in the usual way of Servants, for a Term not exceeding seven Years.
VII. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That if the President and Governors of any of the said Corporations shall certify under their Common Seal, their Want and Defect either of a present Stock for the Foundation of the Work, or for Supply thereof for the future, and what Sum or Sums of Money they shall think fit for the same, to the Common Council of the said City of London, and the Burgesses and Justices of Peace in their Quarter-Sessions of the said City of Westminsterand the Liberties thereof, or the Justices of the respective Counties of Middlesex and Surrey assembled in either Quarter-Sessions; That thereupon the Common Council of the said City of London, the Burgesses of the said City of Westminster, and the Justices of Peace of the said Cities and Counties in their Quarter-Sessions assembled are hereby required from Time to Time to set down and ascertain such competent Sum and Sums of Money for the Purposes aforesaid, not exceeding one Years Rate from Time to Time usually set upon any Person for or towards the Relief of the Poor, and the same to proportion out upon the several Wards, Precincts, Counties, Divisions, Hundreds, and Parishes, as they shall think fit;
And thereupon the Aldermen, Deputies, and Common Councilmen of every Ward in the City of London, and Burgesses and Justices of the Peace of the City of Westminsterand the Liberties thereof, and Justices of the Peace of the said Counties of Middlesex and Surrey, shall have Power and Authority, and are hereby required, equally and indifferently, according to the Proportions appointed as aforesaid, for the several Wards, Precincts, Cities and Parishes as aforesaid, to tax and rate the several Inhabitants within the said respective Wards, Precincts and Parishes, as well within Liberties as without;
with which Tax, if any Person or Persons find him or themselves aggrieved, supposing the same to be unequal, he or they shall and may make their Complaint known to the Justices of the Peace at the next open Sessions, who shall take such final Order therein, as in like Cases is already by the Law provided.
VIII. And it is further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful to and for any Alderman of the City of London, or his Deputy, or the Burgesses and Justices of Peace of the City of Westminster and the Liberties thereof, or any two or more of them, or any two Justices of Peace of the respective Counties of Middlesex and Surrey, by their Warrant under their Hands and Seals, to authorize the Church-wardens or Overseers for the Poor within the Places and Parishes aforesaid, to demand, gather and receive of every Person and Persons, such Sum and Sums of Money as shall be assessed upon them by virtue of the Taxations and Contributions aforesaid;
and for Default of Payment within ten Days after Demand thereof made, or Notice in Writing left at the Dwelling-house or Lodging of every Person so assessed, to levy the same by Distress and Sale of the Goods of every such Person, and after Satisfaction made, to restore the Surplusage to the Party so distrained.
IX. And be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all Stocks raised for the Relief and Imployment of the Poor in the City of London and Liberties thereof, which was in the Hands of a Corporation heretofore appointed in the said City for that Service or in the Hands of any other Person or Persons whatsoever, before the nine and twentieth Day of September which was in the Year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and sixty, commonly called the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, or at any Time since, together with all the Arrears of Money formerly allotted for that Service, or Legacies given to the same End, shall be payable to the Treasurer of the Corporation or Corporations, Work-house or Work-houses, to be established by this present Act, who are hereby authorized and impowered by themselves or their Officers thereunto by them deputed, to collect, gather, receive and recover the said Money and Legacies, which shall be due and in arrear as aforesaid; with which said Arrears and every Part and Parcel thereof the Corporation and Corporations aforesaid by this Act made, constituted and established, is and shall be hereby invested and interested for the Execution of the Service hereby enjoined them;
And all those that have had or now have any of the said Stocks in their or any of their Hands, shall be accountable to the said Treasurer, or to those that shall be appointed by the said Corporation or Corporations, or any Seven or more of them, to take the said Account.
X. Provided always, and be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That there shall be a full Allowance of all just and necessary Expences which have been laid out by the said former Corporation for the Relief of the said Poor, and the carrying on of the said Service since the Time before expressed.
XI. And it is further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the respective President and Governors, or any Seven of them, shall have Power from Time to Time to make and constitute Orders and By-laws for the better Relieving, Regulating and setting the Poor to work, and the apprehending and punishing of Rogues, Vagabonds and Beggars within the Cities, Liberties and Places aforesaid, that have not wherewith to maintain themselves, and for other the Matters aforesaid.
XII. Provided the said Orders and By-laws shall from Time to Time be presented to the Justices of Peace in their Quarter-Sessions assembled, to be allowed by the major Part of them, and confirmed by Order of the said Court.
XIII. And it is further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the President and Governors of any the said Corporation or Corporations, Work-house or Work-houses, or any Fourteen or more of them, being assembled together, shall have hereby Power to chuse and entertain all such Officers and others as shall be needful to be imployed in and about the Premisses, and them or any of them from Time to Time to remove as they shall see Cause, and upon the Death or Removal of them or any of them, to chuse others in their Places for the carrying on of the Work, and to make and give such reasonable Allowances unto them or any of them, out of the Stock and Revenue belonging to the said Corporation or Workhouse, as they shall think fit.
XIV. And it is further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all Sheriffs, Bailiff, Constables and all other Officers and Ministers of Justices, shall be aiding and assisting to the said Corporation or Corporations, and to all such Officers as shall be imployed by them or any of them in the Execution or Performance of the said Service.
XV. And whereas the Laws and Statutes for the apprehending of Rogues and Vagabonds, have not been duly executed, sometimes for want of Officers, by reason Lords of Manors do not keep Court-Leets every Year for the Making of them;
Be it therefore enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That in case any Constable, Headborough or Tithingman shall die or go out of the Parish, any two Justices of the Peace may take and swear a new Constable, Headborough or Tithingman, until the said Lord shall hold a Court or until next Quarter-Sessions, who shall approve of the said Officers so made and sworn as aforesaid, or appoint others as they shall think fit;
And if any Officer shall continue above a Year in his or their Office, that then in such Case the Justices of Peace in their Quarter-Sessions may discharge such Officers, and may put another fit Person in his or their Place until the Lord of the said Manor shall hold a Court as aforesaid.
XVI. And whereas for Want of some Encouragement to such Person or Persons as shall apprehend Rogues, Vagabonds and Sturdy Beggars, the Statutes made in the nine and thirtieth Year of Queen Elizabeth and first Year of King James, in which Statutes the Constable, Headborough or Tithingman of every Parish that shall not apprehend such Rogues, Vagabonds and Sturdy Beggars which shall pass through or be found in their said Parish unapprehended, such Constable, Headborough or Tithingman, shall forfeit as in the said Statutes is expressed, are not duly executed;
Be it therefore enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful to and for any Justice of the Peace, to whom any Rogue, Vagabond or Sturdy Beggars so apprehended shall be brought, to reward any Person or Persons that shall apprehend any Rogue, Vagabond or Sturdy Beggar, by granting unto such Person or Persons an Order or Warrant under his Hand and Seal to the Constable, Headborough or Tithingman of such Parish where such Rogue, Vagabond or Sturdy Beggar passed through unapprehended, requiring him to pay such Person or Persons the Sum of two Shillings for every Rogue, Vagabond or Sturdy Beggar which shall be so apprehended;
And if such Constable, Headborough or Tithingman, refuse or neglect to pay the two Shillings as aforesaid, that then the said Justices of Peace, or any other Justice or Justices of Peace, shall proceed against any such Constable, Headborough or Tithingman, according to the said Statutes, and to compel him to pay such Sum of Money as he hath forfeited by the Statute of the first Year of King James aforesaid, and to allow out of the said Forfeiture the said two Shillings, and such reasonable Means and Allowances for Loss of Time as they shall think fit.
XVII. And if any Person or Persons shall apprehend any Rogue, Vagabond or Sturdy Beggar at the Confines of any County, which passed through any Parish of another County unapprehended, it shall be lawful for such Person or Persons to go to some Justice of Peace of that County through which such Rogue, Vagabond or Sturdy Beggar passed unapprehended, who is hereby required (upon a Certificate under the Hand of some Justice of Peace of the County where such Rogue, Vagabond or Sturdy Beggar was so apprehended) to grant his Order or Warrant under his Hand and Seal, requiring the said Constable, Headborough or Tithingman, to pay unto such Person or Persons as aforesaid the Sum of two Shillings, which if he shall refuse or neglect to do, then such Justice is hereby required to proceed against such Constable, Headborough or Tithingman, and to cause him to pay ten Shillings, or so much thereof, for his Expences and Loss of Time, as the said Justice of Peace shall think fit, to such Person or Persons, which he hath forfeited by the Statute aforesaid made in the nine and thirtieth Year of the Queen.
XVIII. And whereas Constables, Headboroughs or Tithingmen, are or may be at great Charge in relieving, conveying with Passes, and in carrying Rogues, Vagabonds and Sturdy Beggars to Houses of Correction or the Work-houses herein-mentioned, and as yet have no Power by Law to make Rates to reimburse themselves;
Be it therefore enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all Constables, Headboroughs and Tithingmen, so out of Purse as aforesaid, together with the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor and other Inhabitants of the said Parish, shall hereby have Power and Authority to make an indifferent Rate, and to tax all the Occupiers of Lands and Inhabitants, and all other Persons chargeable by the Statute of the three and fortieth of Elizabeth concerning the Office and Duty of Overseers for the Poor within the said Parish;
which Rate being confirmed under the Hands and Seals of any two Justices of the Peace as aforesaid, the said Constable, Headborough or Tithingman, shall have Power by Warrant under the Hands and Seals of two Justices of Peace, to levy by Distress and Sale of the Goods of any Person or Persons refusing to pay the same, rendring the Overplus to the owner if any shall be.
XIX. And whereas the putative Fathers and lewd Mothers of Bastard Children run away out of the Parish, and sometimes out of the County, and leave the said Bastard Children upon the Charge of the Parish where they are born, although such putative Father and Mother have Estates sufficient to discharge such Parish;
Be it therefore enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful for the Churchwardens and Overseers for the Poor of such Parish where any Bastard-Child shall be born, to take and seize so much of the Goods and Chattels, and to receive so much of the Annual Rents and Profits of the Lands of such putative Father or lewd Mother, as shall be ordered by any two Justices of Peace as aforesaid, for or towards the Discharge of the Parish, to be confirmed at the Sessions, for the Bringing up and Providing for such Bastard Child;
And thereupon it shall be lawful for the Sessions to make an Order for the Church-wardens or Overseers for the Poor of such Parish, to dispose of the Goods by Sale or otherwise, or so much of them for the Purposes aforesaid as the Court shall think fit, and to receive the Rents and Profits or so much of them as shall be ordered by the Sessions as aforesaid, of his or her Lands.
XX. And if any Person or Persons shall be sued for any Matter or Thing which he shall do in Execution of this Act, he may plead the General Issue and give the special Matter in Evidence; and if the Verdict shall pass for the Defendant, or if the Plaintiff be nonsuited or discontinue his Suit, the Defendant shall recover treble Damages.
XXI. Whereas the Inhabitants of the Counties of Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Northumberland, the Bishoprick of Durham, Cumberland and Westmerland, and many other Counties in Englandand Wales, by reason of the Largeness of the Parishes within the same, have not nor cannot reap the Benefit of the Act of Parliament made in the three and fortieth Year of the Reign of the late Queen Elizabeth for Relief of the Poor;
Therefore be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all and every the Poor, Needy, Impotent and Lame Person or Persons within every Township or Village within the several Counties aforesaid, shall from and after the Passing of this Act be maintained, kept, provided for and set on Work, within the several and respective Township and Village wherein he, she or they shall inhabit, or wherein he, she or they was or were last lawfully settled, according to the Intent and Meaning of this Act;
And that there shall be yearly chosen and appointed, according to the Rules and Directions in the said Act of the three and fortieth Year of Queen Elizabeth mentioned, two or more Overseers of the Poor within every of the said Townships or Villages, who shall from Time to Time do, perform and execute all and every the Acts, Powers and Authorities for the necessary Relief of the Poor within the said Township or Village, and shall lose, forfeit and suffer all such Pains and Penalties for Nonperformance thereof, as is limited, mentioned and appointed in and by the said in part recited Act.
XXII. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the Justices of Peace within the said Counties shall have and enjoy such and the like Powers and Authorities to raise and levy Monies, and to do and execute all and every such other Act and Thing whatsoever, within every Township or Village within the said County where they are Justices, as is given, limited and appointed unto and for them to do and execute within any Parish or Parishes, in and by the said Act made in the said three and fortieth Year of the said late Queen Elizabeth, under such and the like Pains and Penalties for the Non-performance of their Duties, to be levied and disposed of as is nominated and expressed in the said Act.
XXIII. Provided always, and be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful for the Justices of Peace in any of the Counties of England and Wales, in their Quarter-Sessions assembled, or the major Part of them, to transport or cause to be transported such Rogues, Vagabonds and Sturdy Beggars, as shall be duly convicted and adjudged to be incorrigible, to any of the English Plantations beyond the Seas.
XXIV. Provided also, That neither this Act nor any Thing therein contained shall extend to be, or be construed, expounded or taken, to the Prejudice or Infringement of any of the Franchises, Rights, Liberties or Privileges heretofore granted by the Kings and Queens of this Realm, his Majesty's Royal Predecessors, to the Dean and Chapter of the Collegiate Church of St. Peter in Westminster.
XXV. Provided always, That this Act, as to all the Matters therein contained, (excepting what relates unto the Corporations mentioned and constituted thereby) shall extend and be in Force until the nine and twentieth Day of May one thousand six hundred sixty five, and the End of the first Session of the next Parliament then next ensuing, and no longer.
[Made perpetual by 12 Annæ, stat. 1., c. 18. s. 1.]