AN ACT For suppressing The Detestable SINS OF Incest, Adultery and Fornication.

[blazon of the Commonwealth]

ORdered by the Parliament, That this Act be forthwith printed and published.

Hen: Scobell, Cleric. Parliamenti.

London, Printed by Edward Husband and Iohn Field, Prin­ters to the Parliament of England, 1650.

AN ACT For Suppressing The detestable Sins OF Incest, Adultery and Fornication.

FOr the suppressing of the abominable and crying sins of Incest, Adultery and Fornica­tion, wherewith this Land is much defiled, and Almighty God highly displeased; Be it Enacted by the Au­thority of this present Parliament, That if any person or persons whatsoever, shall from and after the Four and twentieth day of June, in the year of our Lord One thousand six hundred and fifty, Marry, or have the carnal knowledge of the Body of his or her Grandfather or Grand­mother, Father or Mother, Brother or Sister, Son or Daughter, or Grandchilde, Fathers Brother or Sister, Mothers Brother or Sister, Fathers Wife, Mothers Husband, Sons Wife, Daughters Husband, Wives Mother or Daugh­ter, Husbands Father or Son; all and every such Offences are hereby adjudged and declared Incest: And every such Offence shall be, and is hereby adjudged Felony; and every person offending therein, and confessing the same, or [Page 828] being thereof convicted by verdict upon Indict­ment or Presentment, before any Iudge or Iu­stices at the Assize or Sessions of the Peace, shall suffer death as in case of Felony, without benefit of Clergy: And all and every such Mar­riage and Marriages are hereby declared and ad­judged to be void in Law, to all intents and pur­poses; and the Children begotten between such persons, notwithstanding any contract or so­lemnization of Marriage, to be illegitimate, and altogether disabled to claim or inherit any Lands or Inheritance whatsoever, by way of descent from, or to receive or challenge any Childes Portion in any Goods or Chattels of their said Parents, or any other Ancestors of such Parents. And be it further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in case any mar­ried woman shall from and after the Four and twentieth day of June aforesaid, be carnally known by any man (other then her Husband) (except in Case of Ravishment) and of such of­fence or offences shall be convicted as aforesaid by confession or otherwise, every such Offence and Offences shall be and is hereby adjudged Felony; and every person, as well the man as the woman offending therein, and confessing the same, or being thereof convicted by verdict up­on Indictment or Presentment as aforesaid, shall suffer death as in case of Felony, without benefit of Clergy. Provided, That this shall not extend to any man who at the time of such offence committed, is not knowing that such woman with whom such Offence is com­mitted is then marryed. Provided also, That the said penalty in the case of Adultery aforesaid, shall not extend to any woman whose Husband shall be continually remaining beyond the Seas [Page 829] by the space of three years, or shall by common fame be reputed to be dead; nor to any woman whose husband shall absent himself from his said wife by the space of three years together, in any parts or places whatsoever, so as the said wife shall not know her said husband to be living within that time. And be it further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any man shall from and after the Four and twentieth day of June aforesaid, have the carnal knowledge of the body of any Virgin, unmar­ried woman or widow, every such man so offend­ing, and confessing the same, or being thereof con­victed by verdict upon Indictment or Present­ment, as also every such woman so offending, and confessing the same, or being thereof convict as aforesaid, shall for every such offence be com­mitted to the common Goal, without Bail or Mainprize, there to continue for the space of three Moneths; and until he and she respectively shall give security, to be taken by one or more Iustice or Iustices of the Peace before whom such Confession or Conviction shall be had, to be of the good behavior for the space of one whole year then next ensuing. And be it fur­ther Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all and every person and persons who shall from and after the Four and twentieth day of June aforesaid, be convicted as aforesaid, by Confes­sion or otherwise, for being a common Bawd, be it man or woman, or wittingly keeping a common Brothel or Bawdy-house, shall for his or her first offence be openly whipped and set in the Pillory, and there marked with a hot Iron in the forehead with the Letter B. and after­wards committed to Prison or the House of Cor­rection, there to work for his or her living for [Page 830] the space of three years, without Bail or Main­prize, and until he or she shall put in sufficient Sureties for his or her good behavior during his or her life: And if any person by confession or otherwise shall be convicted of committing, after such Conviction, any of the said last re­cited offences, every such second offence shall be, and is hereby adjudged Felony; and the person and persons so offending shall suffer death, as in case of Felony, without benefit of Clergy. And be it further Enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the Iustices of Assize in their respective Circuits, and the Iustices of Peace in every county, at their usual and General Sessions, are hereby authorized and required to give in charge to the Grand Iury to enquire of all and every the Crimes aforesaid: And the said Iustices of Assize, Iustices of the Peace in their General Sessions, and all and every Major and Iustices of Peace of any City, Borough or Town Corporate, that have power to hear and determine Felonies at their usual Sessions, shall have full power and au­thority to enquire by verdict of twelve or more good and lawful men, within the said respective Counties and places aforesaid, of all and every the crimes and offences aforesaid; and upon Indictment or Presentment, to hear and de­termine the same, as in other cases of Felony or Trespass, Any Law, Vsage or Custom to the contrary notwithstanding. Provided, That no Attainder for any offence made Felony by this Act, shall make or work any corruption of Blood, loss of Dower, forfeiture of Goods, disinherison of Heir or Heirs. Provided also, That no person or persons shall incur any of the penalties in this Act mentioned, unless the [Page 831] said person or persons be thereof indicted within twelve Moneths after the offence committed. Provided also, That it shall be lawful for any person or persons who shall be indicted for any the offences aforesaid, to produce at their re­spective Tryals any witness or witnesses, for the clearing of themselves from the said offences whereof they shall be so indicted: And the Iustices before whom such Tryal shall be so had, shall have power, and are hereby autho­rized to examine the said witnesses upon Oath. Provided, That no parties confession shall be taken as Evidence within this Act against any other, but onely against such party so confes­sing; nor the husband shall be taken as a wit­ness against his wife, nor the wife against her husband, for any offence punishable by this Act.

ORdered by the Parliament, That this Act be forthwith printed and published.

Hen: Scobell, Cleric. Parliamenti.

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