Shelterers in Wapping, Stepney, etc. Act 1724

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Shelterers in Wapping, Stepney, etc. Act 1724

Anno 11 George I cap. 22: An act to prevent violences and outrages being committed by any persons under pretence of sheltering themselves from debt, or any process of law, within the hamlet of Wapping-Stepney or elsewhere within the weekly bills of mortality.

Whereas it is notorious, that many evil-disposed and wicked persons have, in defiance of the known laws of the realm, and to the great dishonour thereof, unlawfully assembled and associated themselves in the hamlet of Wapping-Stepney, and places adjacent in the county of Middlesex, under pretence of sheltering themselves for debt, and have committed great violences and outrages upon many of his Majesty’s good subjects, and by force protected themselves and their wicked accomplices, against law and justice: and whereas it is absolutely necessary that provision should be made for effectually preventing such violences and outrages for the future, and for bringing all offenders in the premisses to more speedy and exemplary justice: 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 commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same,That if any number of persons, not less than three, shall, after the first day of June one thousand seven hundred and twenty five, within the said hamlet of Wapping-Stepney, or any other place within the limits of the weekly bills of mortality of the cities of London or Westminster, wherein persons shall unlawfully assemble and associate for the sheltering themselves from their debts, of which complaint shall have been made by a presentment of the grand jury at a general or quarter-sessions of the proper county, knowingly and wilfully obstruct and oppose any person or persons serving, or endeavouring or attempting to serve or execute any writ or any rule or order of any court of law or equity, or other legal process whatsoever, and shall, in making such obstruction or opposition, insult or abuse any person or persons serving or executing any such writ, rule, order or process, or for having so done, whereby any such person or persons shall receive any bodily hurt, every person so knowingly and wilfully offending in the premisses, being therefore lawfully convicted, shall be adjudged guilty of felony, and shall be transported for seven years to some or one of his Majesty’s colonies or plantations in America, by such ways, means and methods, and in such manner, and for such time, and under such pains and penalties, as felons in other cases are by law to be transported.

II. And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That after the said first day of June one thousand seven hundred and twenty five, upon any complaint or complaints at any time or times to be made to a judge of any court, out of which the writs or process herein after mentioned shall issue, of such obstruction and opposition within the said hamlet, or elsewhere within the said bills of mortality, wherein persons shall unlawfully assemble and associate for the sheltering themselves from their debts, of which complaint shall have been made by a presentment of the grand jury at a general or quarter sessions of the proper county, by any person or persons who hath or have or shall have any debt or debts, sum or sums of money due or owing to him, her or them from any person or persons now being, or which shall hereafter be sheltered or reside within the said hamlet of Wapping-Stepney, and places adjacent, or elsewhere within the said bills of mortality, wherein persons shall unlawfully assemble and associate for the sheltering themselves from their debts, of which complaint shall have been made by a presentment of the grand jury at a general or quarter sessions of the proper county, such creditor or creditors having any legal writ or process taken out for prosecuting, recovering or levying any such debt or debts, sum or sums of money, and making oath before such judge, that a debt or debts, exceeding fifty pounds, is or are justly due to him, her or them from the person or persons against whom such complaint shall be made, and that such creditor or creditors verily believe, that such person or persons do then reside, and is or are sheltered, within such place or places as shall in such oath be particularly mentioned, it shall and may be lawful to and for such judge, and he is hereby authorized and impowered, in all and every such case and cases (if he in his discretion shall find it to be requisite) to issue his order from time to time to the sheriff of the county of Middlesex, or to the sheriff of any other county into which the said bills of mortality do extend for the time being, thereby strictly enjoining and respectively requiring him or them, his or their respective deputy or deputies, officer or officers, under such penalty as by this act is prescribed for non-performance of his or their duty therein, to raise and take the posse comitatus and enter the said hamlet of Wapping-Stepney, and places adjacent, or anywhere else within the said weekly bills of mortality, as shall be mentioned in the said oath, and to arrest, and in case of resistance or refusal, to open or break open any door or doors in the day-time, to arrest such person or persons upon any mesne process or other process, extent or execution, and to seize the goods of any such person or persons upon on execution or extent; and if any such sheriff or sheriffs, or any his or their deputy or deputies, officer or officers, or any of them, shall wilfully neglect or refuse, upon such order, to use his or their best endeavours for the executing of such process, execution or extent, he or they so neglecting or refusing to execute such process, execution or extent, shall forfeit to the plantiff or plaintiffs the sum of two hundred pounds, to be recovered by action of debt or of the case, bill, plaint or information, in which no essoin, protection, wager of law, or more than one imparlance shall be allowed: and if any person or persons shall knowingly and wilfully resist or oppose any officer or officers of justice, or any such person or persons who shall be aiding or assisting to such officer or officers, int he execution of any writ, or of any legal process, execution or extent, within the said hamlet of Wapping-Stepney, and places adjacent, or elsewhere within the said bills of mortality, wherein persons shall unlawfully assemble and associate for the sheltering of themselves from their debts, of which complaint shall have been made by a presentment of the grand jury at a general or quarter sessions of the proper county, or shall make rescous of any prisoner taken upon such process, execution or extent within the place aforesaid, or shall there knowingly harbour or conceal any prisoner so taken, or any person or persons who rescued any such prisoner, or shall be in any ways contriving, or knowingly and willingly abetting, aiding or assisting in resisting any such officer or officers, or in rescuing any such prisoner or prisoners taken as aforesaid, all and every person or persons so offending, being thereof lawfully convicted upon any indictment or information to be brought or filed within six months after the offence committed, shall be adjudged guilty of felony, and shall be transported for seven years to some or one of his Majesty’s colonies or plantations in America, by such ways, means and methods, and in such manner, and for such time, and under such pains and penalties, as felons in other cases are by law to be transported.

III. And whereas divers persons, who have taken shelter within the said hamlet of Wapping-Stepney since the twenty ninth day of September one thousand seven hundred and twenty three, have rented houses and land to the yearly value of ten pounds per annum or upwards therein, but by reason of their poverty were never rated nor paid to the relief of the poor of the said parish, nor served any parochial offices there; be it therefore declared and enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no such person or persons so taking shelter, or their families, shall be judged to have gained any legal settlement in the said parish by virtue of having rented any houses or lands of such value, unless such person or persons have been rated and have paid to the relief of the poor of the said parish, or have served parochial offices there; any law or statute to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.