AN ACT FOR THE Relief and Release Of Poor Distressed PRISONERS FOR Debt or Dammages.


DƲBLIN: Printed by Andrew Crook, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty, on the Blind-Key, near Copper-Alley, M.DC.XC.IX.

An ACT for the Relief and Release of poor Distressed Prisoners for Debt or Dammages.

FORASMUCH as very many persons now detained in Prison, are miserably Impoverished, either by reason of the late Vnhappy Rebellion in this Kingdom, their own Misfortunes, or otherwise, so as they are total­ly Disabled to give any Satisfaction to their Creditors; and by being detained in Prison without advantage to any, are rendered Vse­less and a Burthen to the Kingdom, to the great Prejudice thereof.

Be it therefore Enacted by the Kings 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 Authority of the same, That all persons who were in Prison upon the First Day of August, in the Year of Our Lord God One thousand Six hundred Ninety seaven, for Debt or Damages, or for, or upon any Action or Actions, or upon any Mean Process for Debt, or other Actions whatsoever; which Actions by Prosecution of Law may become Iudgments, or who have Iudgments Entred upon Record against them, or are Charged in Execution, or [Page 4] Imprisoned upon Attachment Debt, or upon Outlawries, before or after Iudgment for Debt, or upon any other Process whatsoever, Issuing out of any Court of Law or Equity, for the Cause of Debt or Damages, or Costs only, who shall take the Oath hereafter men­tioned, shall and may be Released, and Dischar­ged from their Imprisonment, in such way and manner, as is herein and hereafter provided.

And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful to, and for any Iustice of the Peace of any County, City, Town or Liberty, within the Kingdom of Ireland, by Warrant under his Hand and Seal, to Require the Sheriff, Goaler, or Keé­per of any Prison within his respective Iuris­diction, to bring before him without delay, the Body of any Person being in Prison for Debt, or any other Action, as aforesaid, on the First Day of August aforesaid, and the said person Petitioning such Iustice to be Discharged to some convenient place, within the distance of One Mile from the said Prison, and shall certifie the Cause and Causes of the Imprisonment, before the same Iustice; which Warrant every such Sheriff, Goaler and Keéper, is hereby Com­manded to obey: And in Case such Prisoner coming before such Iustice, shall take an Oath to this effect, before the said Iustice.

I A. B. do upon my Corporal Oath, Solemnly Profess and Declare before Almighty God, That I am not worth in Lands, Money, Goods or Stock, nor any other Estate, Real or Personal in Possession, Reversion, or Remainder, of the value of Five pounds in the whole, or sufficient to pay [Page 5] the Debt or Damage, for which I am Imprisoned: And that I have not directly, or indirectly Sold, Leased, or otherwise Conveyed, Disposed of, or In­trusted all, or any part of my said Money, Lands, Goods, Stock, or Estate, whereby to secure the same to Receive, or expect any profit or advantage thereof, or to Defraud or Deceive any Creditor or Creditors whatsoever, to whom I am Indebted.

So help me God, &c.

Which said Oath, the said Iustice of the Peace, is hereby Impowered and Authorized to Administer; that then after the making of such Oath, the said Iustice shall Remand the Priso­ner to Prison, and shall without Feé give a Cer­tificate thereof in writing under his Hand and Seal, to the said Prisoner, to be served on such person or persons, his or their Executors, or Administrators, or to be left at the place of the usual Abode of such person or persons, at whose Sute the Prisoner standeth Charged and Imprisoned, thereby appointing as well the said person or persons, as the said Prisoner, to ap­pear before the Iustices at the next General-Quarter-Sessions of the Peace, to be held for the same County, City, Town or Liberty; and when it shall appear upon Oath, before the said Iustices, which said Oath, the said Iustices are hereby Impowered and Authorized to Ad­minister, that the said Certificate was so served, or left, Ten Days or more, before the said Ses­sions; and that the said Oath taken by the said Pr [...]soner, be not disproved by good Testimony, of any Credible person or persons upon Oath, to be Administred by the said Iustices, by Vir­tue of this Act; Then the said Iustices being [Page 6] satisfied therein, shall without Feé direct their Warrant under their Hands and Seals, com­manding the said Sheriff, Goaler, or Keéper of the Prison, to let at Liberty, and Discharge the said Prisoner, if Imprisoned for the Causes a­foresaid, and no other, without paying any thing for the Feés, or Chamber-Rent; Which Warrant shall be a sufficient Discharge to the said Sheriff, Goaler, or Keéper of the Prison, and no Action of Escape, or other Action shall be brought against them, or any of them in any wise for the same.

Provided always, That if any Creditor shall insist to have his Debtor continued in Prison af­ter he hath taken the said Oath, and will allow him a weékly Maintainance, to be appointed by the Iustices of the Peace, not exceéding Four­teén pence the Weék; that such Prisoner shall be continued in Prison for the space of Threé Months, on Payment of the said weekly Al­lowance, as aforesaid; which said Money shall be Paid weékly to the said Prisoner himself, and not to the Goaler, Keéper, or any other for him: And if within the space of Threé Months, after such weékly Allowance by any Creditor, no E­state of the Prisoner shall be Discovered or Made out, before Two Iustices of the Peace of that County and Division, where the said Prisoner is kept in Prison, then the said Prisoner shall without Feé be forthwith Discharged, by War­rant under the Hands and Seals of any Two Iustices of the Peace, of the same County or Division, where the said Prisoner shall be so Imprisoned, to the Keéper of such Prison, in that behalf Directed as fully and amply, as if such Prisoner shall be so Imprisoned to the [Page 7] Keéper of such Prison in that behalf, directed as fully and amply as if such Prisoner had beén Discharged by Iustices of the Peace at the Quarter-Sessions: And that then, and from thenceforth, the said Weékly Allowance shall cease and determine, as if the same had never beén made.

And be it further Enacted by the Authori­ty aforesaid, That no Prisoner Discharged out of Prison by Virtue of this present Act, shall at any time hereafter be Im­prisoned for, or by reason of any Debt or Dama­ges, or any Summ or Summs of Money con­tracted or grown due to, or recovered by any person or persons at whose Sute the said Priso­ner did stand Charged in any Prison, or any other person or persons to whom such Prisoner did give notice under the Hand and Seal of some Iustice of the Peace of the same County or place, the space of Ten days before the time of his Discharge, of his Intention to receive the Benefit of this Act, and of the Way and Course he intended to take for obtaining the same, before the time of their Discharge, as aforesaid. But that upon any Arrest for such Debt, Damages, or Summs of Money, it shall and may be Law­ful for them, shewing a Duplicate of their Dis­charges under the Hands and Seals of the Iu­stices of the Peace, by whom they were Dis­charged, or of any Two of them, or of such Iu­stices of the Peace, in Case such Prisoner be discharged after an Allowance of Maintenance by the Creditors for Threé Months, as afore­said, which the said Iustices are hereby Requi­red to give without Feé to every Prisoner so by them discharged, to retain an Attorney to appear for them, and File Common Bail to every such [Page 8] Action, and Plead thereunto, so that the Plan­tiff (if he please) may Recover and Enter Iudgment against such Prisoner, to be Execu­ted and Levyed upon the Lands, Tenements, Goods and Chattels of such Prisoner so dischar­ged, as aforesaid; his or her Wareing Apparel, Furniture for his or her Dwelling House, the said Furniture and Necessary Tools for his or her Trade and Occupation not exceéding Five pounds in Value, only Excepted, but not upon the person or persons of the Prisoners, the per­sons of such Prisoners being hereby for ever freéd and discharged from Imprisonment for any Debt, Trespass upon the Case, Duty, Summ or Summs of Money, or things there­unto relating, contracted or due before the time of their Discharge, having had Notice, as a­foresaid.

And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That in Case any Sheriff, Goaler, or Keéper of a Prison, shall refuse or delay for Threé days, to bring before such Iustice of the Peace, or after a Warrant of Discharge deliver­ed to him, as aforesaid, refuse or neglect to set at Liberty any Prisoner or Prisoners according to the said Order of the Iustice or Iustices of the Peace, made in the pursuance of this Act; every such Goaler, Sheriff, or Keéper of Prison shall Forfeit and pay to such Prisoner so detain­ed, contrary to such Order, the Summ of Twenty pounds, to be Recovered by Bill, Plaint, Sute, or Action of Debt, in any of His Majesty's Courts of Record, wherein no Essoyne Protection, or Wager of Law is to be allowed, nor more than one Imparlance Grant­ed; and shall also be liable and subject to such [Page 9] Fine and Imprisonment for such time, not ex­ceéding Two Months, as the said Iustices of the Peace shall, upon Complaint thereof to them made, Order and Award.

And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That upon any Action of Escape, or other Sute brought, or to be brought, against any Iustice of the Peace, Sheriff, Goaler, or Keéper of Prison, for any thing done in Obe­dience to this Act, it shall and may be Lawful to, and for any such Iustice of the Peace, She­riff, Goaler, and Keéper of Prison, to Plead the General Issue, and give this Act in Evi­dence, which shall be a Good and Sufficient Discharge, and save harmless every such Iu­stice of the Peace, Sheriff, Goaler and Keéper of Prison, Pleading the same; and if the Plan­tiff in any such Action be Non-Suted, or Ver­dict pass against him, the Defendant shall have Double Costs, to be Taxed by the Court where such Action is brought.

Provided always, That the Discharge of any person or persons by Virtue of this Act, shall not amount unto, or be construed to Free or Dis­charge any other person or persons joyntly or severally Bound for, or lyable to Answer or Satisfy the said Debt, or any part thereof, ei­ther as Principal or Surety, but that such o­ther person or persons shall be lyable to Answer the said Debt and Damages in such manner, to all Intents and purposes, as they were be­fore the Discharge of such prisoner.

Provided also, That no person by Virtue of this Act, shall be discharged out of prison who shall be Charged in Execution with more than [Page 10] the Summ of Fifty pounds to any one person principal Money and Damages.

Provided always, That if any prisoner who shall be released by Virtue of this Act, shall at any time afterwards be found, or suspected by any Creditor to have in ready Money, Goods or Chattels in his own hands and possession, or in the hands of any others to his or her use, or in Trust for him or her, in Value over and a­bove what he or she is allowed by this Act, other than such Goods in his Shop or Work-House, as he shall have beén Credited and Trusted with since the time of his Discharge, and for what he shall be really Indebted at the time of making such Oath, and he or she will not, or do not upon Covenient demand, pay his or her Debt or Debts therewith, as far as the same will reach, that then, and in such Case, at the request of any Creditor, the said Oath shall be tendered to him or her again by any Iustice of the Peace in this Act before Impowered to Ad­minister the said Oath for Discharge of Priso­ners, or by any Iudge of the Court wherein there is Iudgment against him when he or she refusing to take the said Oath, shall be Re­manded to prison, in Execution for such Debt or Debts, any thing in this Act to the contra­ry, Notwithstanding.

Provided also, That this Act shall not extend to any person or persons in Execution for any Fine on him or her Imposed for any Offence by him or her committed.

Prodided, that such person or persons as is, or are detained in Prison upon any Measne Process, if it shall be desired by [Page 11] any Creditor before any Iustice of the Peace, to whom such Prisoner has applyed for his Dis­charge, shall forthwith give a Warrant to some Attorney to appear, or File common Bail for him, or them, in the Court out of which the said Measne Process issued, and to receive a De­claration at the Plantiffs Sute; and that such Prisoner shall thereupon have the full Benefit of this Law, as to the Liberty of his person, against his said Imprisonment, upon the said Measne Process, and against any Iudgment, or Execution, that shall be had against him in that Sute, and against any other Sute that shall be brought against him for the same mat­ter, or cause of Action, to all intents and pur­poses as fully and beneficially, as if he had beén charged in Execution at the said Plantiffs Sute, before the First Day of August aforesaid; but such person in Prison upon Measne Process, shall in case of his refusal to give such Warrant of Attorney, loose the whole Benefit of this Act.

Provided always, That no Merchant Stran­ger, or other Alien or Foreigner, that hath beén Arrested, and is in Prison on any Action or Sute, for, or by reason of any Debt, or o­ther Engagement contracted, or Entred into beyond the Seas, shall have any Benefit of this Act; but that all, and every such Merchant Stranger, and other Alien and Foreigner, shall, and may be detained in prison, and proceéded against as if this Act had never beén made.

Provided always. That no prisoner shall be Discharged by Virtue of this Act, until he shall before the Iustices of Peace, who are by this Act impowered to Discharge him, declare upon his, or her Corporal Oath, which Oath [Page 12] the said Iustices are hereby appointed to Ad­minister, what Effects are belonging to him or her, and what Debt or Debts are then Owing to him or her, within any His Majesty's Do­minions, or elsewhere, and by whom, and for what Cause, and upon what Security; of all which a Schedule shall be made in the presence of such Iustices, and Subscribed by the Priso­ner, and shall be by such Iustices returned to the next Quarter-Sessions, there to be kept for the better Information of the Creditor of such Prisoner, who, or such of them as will joyn, may thereupon Sue for such Debts, or so much thereof, as will reasonably satisfie them, in the Name of the Prisoner; and after the same Re­covered and Received, to render the Over-plus thereof (their own Debts and Charges first De­ducted) to the Prisoner.

Provided always, and to Deterr all persons who are by the Charitable Intention of this Act to be Relieved, from abusing the Favour hereby to them intended.

Be it Enacted, That if any person who shall in pursuance of this Act, take his Oath for any the purposes hereby appointed, shall Forswear, or Perjure him or herself, then such person being Lawfully Convicted thereof, shall beyond, and over and above the Penalties which may by the Law now in being inflicted, Suffer Imprison­ment for the space of Seaven Years, without Bail or Mainprize.


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