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The Second Year of George I

A.D. 1715

Chap. X.


An Act to restrain Papists from being High or Petty Constables, and for the better

Regulating the Parish Watches.



Whereas the due execution of the laws, and the preservation of the publick peace, do greatly depend on the diligence and fidelity of the high and petty constables: and forasmuch as the said offices in most parts of this kingdom, and especially in such places as are for the greatest part inhabited by papists, are placed in the hands of persons of the popish religion, who in favour to such as are of their own persuasion, and by the instigation and authority of the popish priests, and others of the popish religion, do wilfully neglect to execute warrants to them directed; by means whereof the many good and wholesome laws against notorious criminals, and especially against papists, have not the intended effect: for remedy whereof, and for the better execution of the laws in all times to come, 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 from and after the twenty fourth day of June one thousand seven hundred and sixteen no person of the popish religion shall be capable of being nominated, appointed, presented, or sworn, or any ways serve as high constable in any county, barony, or half barony, or as petty constable, in any manor, ward, parish, constable-wick, or place within this kingdom.

II. And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every person who shall be appointed an high or petty constable after the twenty fourth day of June one thousand seven hundred and sixteen, within this kingdom, shall be first presented by



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the grand jury of the county, or county of a city or town, at the general quarter-sessions of the peace to be held for such county, or county of a city or town, to the justices of the peace in the general quarter-sessions; or in towns corporate by the grand jury at the sessions to be held within such towns corporate, and within manors in courts-leet; in which presentment shall be mentioned the name and place of abode of the person and persons so presented to be high or petty constables; and if there be no reasonable exception to the said presentment, the justices of assize, or justices in their quarter-sessions or other sessions of the peace in towns corporate, and the seneschals of manors within their respect and several courts-leet, shall immediately confirm the same, and direct and order a warrant to be issued by the clerk of the crown or peace, or seneschal of such court leets respectively; which said warrant the said clerk of the crown and peace, or seneschal, are hereby required to issue without fee or reward, requiring the said person or persons to appear within six days before some justice of the peace of the said county, or county of a city or town, or, within a manor, before the seneschal thereof; before whom the said person or persons, so presented and ordered to be high or petty constables, shall take the Oath of Allegiance and Supremacy, and make and repeat The Declaration, as the same is appointed by an act made in the second year of her late Majesty's reign, intituled, An act to prevent the further growth of Popery; and take and subscribe the Oath of Abjuration following, (viz.)

I A.B. do truly and sincerely acknowledge, profess, testifie, and declare in my conscience, before God and the world, that our Sovereign Lord King George is lawful and rightful King of this realm, and of all other his Majesty's dominions and countries thereunto belonging. And I do solemnly and sincerely declare, That I do believe in my conscience, that the person pretending to be prince of Wales during the life of the late King James, and since his decease pretending to be, and taking upon himself the style and title of King of England by the name of James the third, or of Scotland by the name of James the eighth, or the stile and title of King of Great Britain, hath not any right or title whatsoever, to the crown of this realm, or any other the dominions thereunto belonging; and I do renounce, refuse, and abjure any allegiance or obedience to him. And I do swear, that I will bear faith and true allegiance to his Majesty King George, and him will defend to the utmost of my power, against the traiterous conspiracies and attempts whatsoever, which shall be made against his person, crown, or dignity. And I will do my utmost endeavour to disclose and make known to his Majesty, and his successors, all treasons and traiterous conspiracies, which I shall know to be against him, or any of them. And I do faithfully promise to the utmost of my power to support, maintain, and defend the succession of the crown against him the said James, and all other persons whatsoever; which succession by an act intituled, An act for the further limitation of the crown, and better securing the rights and liberties of the subjects, is, and stands limited to the Princess Sophia, electoress and dutchess dowager of Hanover, and the heirs of her body being protestants. And all these things I do plainly and sincerely acknowledge and swear according to these express words by me spoken, and according to the plain and common sense and understanding of the same words, without any equivocation, mental evasion, or secret reservation whatsoever. And I do make this recognition, acknowledgment, abjuration, renunciation, and promise, heartily, willingly, and truly, upon the true faith of a christian:

So help me God.

And also The oath of the office of a constable in such manner and form, and in the express words, hereafter mentioned and expressed to be the form of an oath of an high and petty constable; which said oaths and declaration the said justices of the peace and seneschals respectively are hereby required and impowered to administer, and to return a certificate thereof under his hand to the clerk of the peace



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at the next quarter-sessions, who is hereby required to file the same without fee or reward.

III. And whereas in many places of this kingdom the number of the papists do far exceed the protestants, whereby the said offices of high and petty constables will become very burthensome and chargeable to the protestants, unless some reasonable provisions be made to remedy the same: be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That at the general Easter quarter-sessions of the peace, that shall be in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventeen, and within manors, at the next court leet that shall be after Easter-Sunday, in the said year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventeen, and so yearly at any general Easter sessions and court-leet to be held next after Easter-Sunday in case the justices and grand jury of seneschals and juries of leets, shall find the same necessary and expedient, the high and petty constables shall return upon oath a full, true, and exact list of all protestants and popish inhabitants within their respective baronies, half baronies, parishes, constable-wicks, and places where they shall serve as high and petty constables; and thereupon the several and respective grand juries of the several counties, counties of cities and towns, within this kingdom, and juries in manor-courts-leet, shall present the number of petty constables necessary to serve yearly in the several and respective parishes and constable-wicks throughout this kingdom; and likewise shall present the names and numbers of popish inhabitants, and likewise the names and numbers of protestant inhabitants, who are of ability to serve as high constable within each barony, half barony, or manor, and as petty constable in each respective manor, parish, constable-wick, or place; and the justices and grand juries at every general Easter sessions, and the seneschals and juries of leets within manors at each court-leet, to be held next after Easter-Sunday, shall annually applot from and after the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixteen upon such popish persons, as are so presented to be capable of serving as high constables, such proportion of the sum of ten pounds, or of such lesser sum as they shall think to be a suitable reward for the service of such office as the proportion of the numbers of such papists, so presented for high constables, bears to the number of protestants of the like condition, in each respective barony and half barony; and shall annually applot and levy upon such popish persons as are so presented to be capable of serving as petty constables, such proportion of the sum of four pounds, or of such lesser sum as they shall think to be a suitable reward for the service of such office, as the proportion of the number of papists, so presented for petty constables, bears to the protestants of the like condition in each respective barony or half barony, parish, constable-wick, or place; which said several sums shall from time to time be applotted and levied on the said persons respectively in such manner and form, as the publick taxes are levied in such barony, half barony, or district, and shall be annually collected by and paid to the respective protestant high constable and petty constables at the twenty fifth day of December next ensuing their presentment and election into such respective offices.

IV. And for the more constant and regular keeping of watches in the several parishes of this kingdom, whereupon the safety of his Majesty's good subjects greatly depends; be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful to and for the justices of the peace and grand juries of the respective counties aforesaid at the general quarter sessions to limit, ascertain, and appoint the number of watch-houses, which shall be erected within their respective counties, the place where the same shall be kept, and what district or proportion of the parishes adjoining to such watch-houses shall contribute to the building, repairing, and keeping such watch-houses, and keeping watch therein; as also to ascertain and provide a sufficient number of watch bills, staves, and halberts for arming the watch, to be provided and paid for as aforesaid; and that all our money raised for the said purposes


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shall be paid into the hands of such persons as shall by such presentment be appointed overseers of the said work, who are hereby required to lay out the same to the uses herein expressed, and to no other use whatsoever, and to render an account thereof upon oath at the next general assizes, or general quarter-sessions, to be held for the said county where the said work is done.

V. And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That so many of the respective inhabitants within the several and respective parishes in this kingdom as any one or more of the justices of the peace, inhabiting within or next to the said several and respective parishes, shall limit and direct, and within corporations so many as the chief magistrate shall limit and direct, shall be from time to time the settled and established watch or watches for the said parish and parishes respectively, to watch every night from the twenty ninth day of September to the twenty fifth day of March, or to begin earlier, and continue longer, as the said justice or justices of chief magistrates shall direct or appoint; which watchmen are hereby impowered and authorized to stop and examine all suspected persons, and, where they find any who shall not give a good account of themselves, to arrest, detain, and keep such person or persons in custody till the next day, and him, her, or them to carry before the next justice of the peace, to be dealt with accordingly to law.

VI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That where it shall be found necessary and expedient, that watches should be kept on the confines and borders of several parishes, that then and in such case it shall and may be lawful to and for the grand juries of the several and respective counties, counties of cities and towns, within this kingdom, at the general quarter sessions of the peace, and within manors by jury of the leet by presentment, to direct and appoint the building of a watch house or watch houses on such borders and confines; and likewise for the justices of the peace, inhabiting in or next to the said respective parishes, from time to time to order, direct, and appoint, the number of the inhabitants of the said several and respective parishes which shall be the settled and established watch to be kept on the said confines or borders of the said several parishes, to serve and attend the said watch in their turn, as is herein directed and appointed, and under the same forfeitures and penalties as are herein inflicted on such persons, as shall neglect or refuse to watch in their turn.

VII. And whereas it is necessary for the common safety, and particularly for the safety of his Majesty's protestant subjects, that although in time of peace and tranquility the papists as well as protestants may be permitted to watch promiscuously in their turns, yet in times of tumult and danger the said watchmen be of the protestant religion: be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the said twenty fourth day of June one thousand seven hundred and sixteen, every inhabitant within the several and respective parishes of this kingdom, liable to the payment of hearth-money, shall in their respective turns by himself, or some other sufficient person to be sent or appointed by him, keep watch and ward in the parish wherein he, she, or they shall inhabit or reside; and that the constable or constables of every parish and constable-wick throughout this kingdom shall at the Easter general quarter-sessions of the peace in every year make and return upon oath a full, true, and perfect list of all such inhabitants as aforesaid within the said several and respective parishes and constable-wicks; which person so returned shall be the watchmen, who shall keep watch and ward within the said several and respective parishes, according to the intention and direction of this act, for one year ensuing from the date of such presentments, in such order as the said persons are named in the said watch, and not continuing there from sun setting till sun rising, or not sending some other sufficient person in his or her stead to continue for the time aforesaid, shall forfeit the sum of twelve pence, to be levied of his or her goods and chattles by warrant from such justice of the peace before whom such default shall be made appear, and in default thereof to be committed to the stocks, there to remain for any



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time or space not exceeding twelve hours: and that whenever it shall seem fit and necessary to the lord lieutenant, or other chief governor or governors of this kingdom for the time being, that the parish watches in this kingdom shall be kept in the several parishes by protestant watchmen only, it shall and may be lawful to and for the lord lieutenant, or other chief governor or governors of this kingdom for the time being, to issue out a proclamation, thereby requiring all justices of the peace to issue out their warrants to the several high and petty constables in their respective counties within this kingdom, requiring and commanding them the said high and petty constables, and every of them, to settle and fix protestants, and none other, to be watchmen in and for their several and respective parishes; and that then and in such case, when and as often as it shall come to the turn of the papist or papists to watch, such papist or papists shall provide a protestant or protestants, to be approved of by one or more justices of the peace residing within such parish; and in case there be no such justice resident within the said parish, then to be approved of by the next justice of the peace to watch in his or their turn; and for default thereof, the said justice or justices are hereby required to appoint a protestant or protestants to serve in the stead of such papist and papists, and to issue his or their warrants for the levying and raising by distress and sale of the goods of such papist or papists, in whose turn or turns such protestant or protestants shall serve, the sum of twelve pence for each night, to be paid to such protestant as shall watch in the turn of such papist; and in case such protestant or protestants, so nominated and appointed by such justice or justices of the peace, shall neglect or refuse to watch according to such appointment or nomination, or to find a protestant or protestants to serve in his or their stead, he and they shall incur the same forfeitures and penalties herein before inflicted on persons, who neglect or refuse to watch in their turn: and the oath to be administered to high and petty constables by justices of the peace, according to the intent and meaning of this act before expressed, shall be in the form and words following, viz:

You shall swear, that you well and truly serve our Sovereign Lord King George in the office of high constable in the barony or half-barony of A. or as petty constable in the parish of B. You shall see and cause his Majesty's peace to be well and duly kept and preserved according to your power: you shall arrest all such papists as you shall find wearing, carrying, or having any arms or ammunition without license from the King's Majesty, or those in authority under him, contrary to law: you shall likewise arrest all such as commit or make any riot, or meet on patron days at wells to perform the superstitious devotions of the church of Rome, likewise all such as commit any affray, or unlawfully assemlble themselves, or commit any other breach of his Majesty's peace: you shall use your best endeavour to apprehend all traitors, all popish archbishops, popish bishops, fryars, monks, jesuits, and all other regulars of the popish clergy, and all papists exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and all other popish secular priests, who are not registered, or who have officiated as such, not having taken the oaths of abjuration, and all popish school-masters, popish ushers, or coadjutors, and all harbourers of them, contrary to the statutes in such cases made and provided: and further, you shall endeavour to suppress all riots and unlawful assemblies, and to apprehend all felons, rioters, or persons riotously assembled; and if any such offender or offenders shall make resistance with force, you shall raise hue and cry; you shall do your best endeavour, that the watches in your parish be duly and regularly kept, without favour or affection, malice, or evil will, according to the direction and intention of an act intituled, An act to restrain papists from being high or petty constables, and for the better regulating the parish watches; and that the statutes made for punishing of rogues and vagabonds, and night-walkers, and such other idle persons, coming within your bounds or limits, be duly put in execution: you shall have a watchful eye to such persons as shall maintain or keep any common house or place where any unlawful game is or shall be used; as also to such as shall frequent or use such places, or shall use or exercise any unlawful games there or elsewhere, contrary to the law and



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statutes of this kingdom: you shall well and duly execute all precepts and warrants to you directed from the justices of the peace of this county according to law: and you shall well and duly, according to your power, knowledge, and ability, do and execute all other things belonging to the office of a constable, so long as you shall continue in this office: and you shall well and truly account for and pay all such publick money as you shall collect, levy, or raise, within your district, pursuant to any warrant or precept to you directed, pursuant to your duty.

So help you God.

VIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the justice of the peace, at the time of administering the said oath to any high or petty constable within this kingdom, shall deliver in writing to such high or petty constable, such directions for keeping the several parish watches as is herein before directed, together with a copy of the said oath.

IX. Provided always, That nothing in this act contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, to alter or change the manner of electing constables in the city of Dublin: but that the said elections shall continue in the same manner as they usually were; any thing in this act contained to the contrary notwithstanding.

X. And whereas by the laws of this kingdom the several house-keepers dwelling or inhabiting in any house or houses within the city of Dublin and other cities, being persons able and fit to watch, or to find an able or fit person to watch for him, her, or them, or in his, her, or their stead, ought by reason of their habitation, occupation, and dwelling in such city, to keep watch within the said city or town wherein he, she, or they do inhabit, for the preservation of the King's peace, and for the arresting and apprehending all night walkers, malefactors, and suspected persons, who shall be found passing, wandring, or misbehaving themselves: nevertheless the watches of the city of Dublin have of late been found to be very weak and of little use, by reason of many ill affected persons, not willing to do any duty for the publick safety, who will not yield obedience to the government of the said city, but refuse to watch, when they are thereto required, whereby the watches are generally much neglected, and the city and the inhabitants therein oftentimes in great danger: and whereas by reason of the great numbers of popish inhabitants, and of the great concourse of people resorting from all parts of the city of Dublin, it is found of absolute necessity, that a strong and sufficient watch, consisting all of protestants, should be regularly kept every night within every ward of the said city and the liberties thereof, and that the said watchmen should be posted within every ward at such distances, and in such manner and order, that constables and watches of every ward may maintain and keep a correspondence and intelligence with each other, and be ready upon some sound or sign to be made or given to join suddenly upon any disorder or other occasion to the help and assistance of one another: and whereas by reason of the great number of popish house-keepers and inhabitants of the city of Dublin, and of others, refusing to watch when thereunto required, it is found, as the law now stands, altogether unpracticable to establish a protestant watch in the said city according to the aforesaid regulations: be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the lord mayor and aldermen of the city of Dublin for the time being, and the seneschals of the respective liberties of St. Sepulchre's, Thomas-court and Donore, shall have full power and authority for the better ordering and establishing of the watches to be duly kept within the said city and liberties, and within all other liberties in or adjoining to the city of Dublin, from and after the twenty fourth day of June, which will be in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixteen, from time to time to appoint such constables, and such and so many persons, being protestants, to watch every night in each and every the wards of the said city and the said liberties, from eleven of the clock in the evening till five in the morning from the first of April till Michaelmas day, and from



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Michaelmas day until the first of April from ten of the clock in the evening till six in the morning, as they shall judge necessary for the security of the publick peace, and safety of the said city and liberties; the said watchmen to be placed at due differences one from another, to the intent that if there should be any disorder or disturbance in the streets, the said watchmen may be ready to join and assist each other.

XI. And for the support and maintenance of such watchmen, and the building or erecting of watch-houses, where the same shall be found necessary; be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all and every the houses within the county of the said city of Dublin, and the liberties aforesaid, shall pay and are hereby charged with the sum of three pence in the pound for every pound of the yearly value of every such house or houses, as the said valuations are returned for the collection of ministers money; and where there is no such valuation to the minister, then to pay such sum as such houses pay to the poor-house in the city and liberties aforesaid; and where no such valuation is or shall be returned, the said houses shall pay three pence in the pound per annum, according to the rent payable by the tenants in possession; which said three pence per pound shall from the twenty fourth day of June, which will be in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixteen, be a charge on the inhabitant or inhabitants of every such house or houses, and shall be levied and received by the church-wardens, of the respective parishes, and in places extra-parochial by the church-wardens of the adjoining parish, at such time, in such manner, and under such penalties, as the ministers money in the said city and liberties aforesaid is levied by a statute, made in this kingdom in the seventeenth and eighteenth years of King Charles the second, intituled, An act for provision of ministers in cities, corporate towns, and making the church of St. Andrew's in the suburbs of the city of Dublin presentative for ever; and by them respectively paid over to the treasurer of the city for the time being, or to such other person or persons as the lord mayor, aldermen, and seneschals aforesaid, shall appoint for treasurer of the said money; which charge of three pence in the pound on the several houses in the said city and liberties aforesaid shall and is hereby declared to be a discharge to the several house-keepers of the said city from watching in person, or sending an able person in his, her, or their stead; any law, custom, or usage to the contrary notwithstanding.

XII. Provided, That nothing in this act shall extend, or be construed to extend, to charge waste houses, whilst they are so waste and untenanted.

XIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the lord mayor, aldermen, and seneschals aforesaid shall at the end of every six months lay before the chief governor or governors of this kingdom, and the privy council thereof, a true and perfect account of the annual produce of the said respective sums of money as aforesaid charged, as also how the same have been applied; which account shall be on oath of the officer of officers concerned in receiving or paying thereof, if they shall be thereunto required; and in case of such persons forswearing himself, he shall incur the same penalties as a person convicted of wilful perjury at common law: and in case any surplus profits shall remain after defraying the necessary charges for the support and maintenance of such watchmen and the building and erecting of watch-houses, such surplus shall be applied towards the buying engines for the quenching fires, that may happen in the said city or liberties.

XIV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any action, suit, plaint, or information, shall be commenced or prosecuted against any person or persons, for what he or they shall do in pursuance or in execution of this act, such person or persons so sued in any court whatsoever shall and may plead the general issue, and upon any issue joined may give this act and the special matter in evidence; and if the plaintiff or prosecutor shall become nonsuit, or forbear further prosecution, or suffer a discontinuance, or if verdict shall pass against him, the



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said defendant or defendants shall recover his or their double costs; for which he and they shall have the like remedy as in case where costs by law are given to the defendants.

XV. Provided always, That this act of Parliament shall continue and be in force for three years, and to the end of the next session of Parliament, and no longer.

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