Whereas elections of members to serve in Parliament are grown burthensome and grievous to candidates, and ruinous to their estates, by many evil and dilatory practices, which have been allowed of at such elections by sheriffs and other returning officers: and whereas by an act of Parliament passed in this kingdom in the first year of the reign of his present Majesty king George the second, intituled, An Act for the further regulating the election of members of Parliament, and preventing the irregular proceedings of sheriffs and other officer in electing and returning
such members, it is enacted, "That no person shall be admitted to vote as a free-holder at the election of any knight, citizen, or burgess, whose free-hold is at the time of such election under the value of ten pounds per annum, unless a memorial of the deed or deeds, by which such free-hold is granted, be entered six months before with the clerk of the peace in a book to be kept by him, to which all persons may resort, and which he is hereby required to keep for that purpose; which entry shall contain the nature of the free-hold, name of the grantor and grantee, lessor and lessee, with the quantity of land granted, and the consideration rent reserved, and date of the deed; for making which entry, and endorsing that it was made on the back of the grant or lease, the clerk of the peace shall have as a fee the sum of six pence, and no more: provided that nothing therein contained shall extend to hinder any free-holder from voting, where such free-hold came to him by descent, marriage, marriage-settlement, devise, presentation to some benefice in the church, or promotion to some office unto which such free-hold is annexed, within six months before the day of elections:" and whereas the good design of the said act, which was to prevent the multiplying votes, and to give due notice to every candidate of the number, nature, situation, and value of such free-holds, may be greatly evaded by the corruption, neglect, or ignorance of the clerk of the peace: 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and by the authority of the same, That the said recited part of the said recited act of Parliament be from henceforth repealed, and made null and void.
II. And for the more easy and publick registry of free-holds of the yearly value of forty shillings and under ten pounds per annum; be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every such free-hold of the yearly value of forty shillings and under ten pounds per annum shall at some quarter-sessions after the passing this act, and before the election at which any free-holder shall offer himself to vote, be registered six months before the election in manner following: that is to say, every such free-holder shall in open court before the justices of the peace at the quarter-sessions for the county, where such free-hold lieth, make and take the following affidavit, or, if a Quaker, the following affirmation:
N.N. of A. in the county of B. maketh oath or affirmeth, as the case shall be, that he hath a free-hold of the clear yearly value of forty shillings lying and being at C. in the county of D.
which said affidavit or affirmation, when duly sworn or affirmed, shall be read and allowed in open court, and delivered by order of the court to the acting clerk of the peace of the said county to be filed and kept amongst the records, and the acting clerk of the peace shall immediately write, or cause to be written, in a book to be by him kept in an alphabetical order for that purpose the following entry or registry, N.N. of A. in the county of B. hath registered his free-hold lying at G. in this county this ____________day of____________in the year of our Lord________________; for which affidavit or affirmation, entry of registry, the sum of six pence and no more, shall be paid by such free-holder to the person acting as a clerk of the peace at the time of such registry respectively as aforesaid, and no more; and in case such free-hold shall not have been so registered six calendar months before the election, such free-holder shall not be intitled to vote for such free-hold at such election.
III. Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the acting clerk of the peace do and shall from time to time on or before the last day of every session deliver to the treasurer of the said county a true copy of such entry and registry so by him from time to time made; which copy shall be kept by the said treasurer amongst the accounts of the said county.
IV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the first day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty six, That instead of the oath mentioned and appointed by an act passed in this kingdom in the second year of his late Majesty King George the first, intituled, An act for the more effectual preventing fraudulent conveyances in order to multiply votes for electing members to serve in Parliament, and for preventing the irregular proceedings of sheriffs and other officers in electing and returning such member, to be taken by every free-holder, before he is admitted to poll at such election, if required by any of the candidates, or any other person having a right to vote at such election, the following oath or affirmation, as the case shall be, shall be taken, if required, in manner therein mentioned: (that is to say)
I A.B. do swear, or do solemnly and truly affirm, as the case shall be, that I am a free-holder, and have a free-hold estate in lands, tenements, or hereditaments, lying or being at______________in the county of______________ of the clear yearly value of ten pounds, or of forty shillings (as the case shall happen to be) above all charges payable out of the same, and that I believe the same may be so let to a responsible tenant, and that I did not accept
of such free-hold estate fraudulently, or on purpose to qualify me to give my vote at this election, and that the place of my abode is at__________________and that I have not been polled before at this election, and that I am not a Papist, or married to a Papist, nor do I educate, or suffer to be educated, any of my children under the age of fourteen years in the popish religion.
So help me God.
V. And whereas disputes frequently arise about the intent and meaning of laws heretofore made to restrain free-holders or freemen from voting, who have not been free-holders or freemen for some certain time: to obviate such disputes and to remove all doubts arising on said laws, be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no person shall vote at any election of a member or members to serve in Parliament by virtue of any free-hold, of which he shall not be in possession, or shall not have received the rents or profits, or be intituled to receive the same before the vacancy happened, to supply which the election shall be then held; unless such lands or tenements came to such person within the time aforesaid by descent, marriage, marriage-settlement, devise, or presentation to some benefice in the church, or by some promotion to some office unto which such free-hold is annexed, or unless such vacancy happened six calendar months before such election.
VI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no person shall be admitted to vote as a freeman at the election of any member to serve in Parliament, who shall not be free before the vacancy happened, to supply which the election shall be then held; unless such freeman came in free by service to some trade, art, or mystery, or by birth-right, or unless such vacancy happened six calendar months before such election; and if any person shall vote contrary to the express words herein contained, he shall forfeit ten pounds to each candidate at such election; to be recovered as the penalty for administering an oath contrary to this act is appointed to be recovered.
VII. Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That where any person, who was educated in the popish religion, and shall have conformed to the church of Ireland as by law established, shall tender his vote at any election for members to serve in Parliament, the words following in the oath herein before mentioned shall be omitted: (to wit) I am not married to a papist, and instead thereof shall be inserted, That I was educated in the popish religion, and have conformed to the church of Ireland as by law established, and have not since my conformity married a popish wife; and that all and every person and persons,
who shall falsely and wilfully swear or affirm contrary to the true intent and meaning of this act, being thereof indicted and convicted, shall suffer such pains, penalties, and disabilities, as persons convicted of wilful and corrupt perjury.
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