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Mariners, or other dissolute Persons joining with them, as should commit any Murther, Robbery, Felony, Mutiny, or other Outrage or Misdemeanour whatsoever, and by such summary Course and Order as is agreeable to Martial Law, and as is used in Armies in Time of War, to proceed to the Trial and Condemnation of such Offenders, and them to cause to be executed and put to Death according to the Law Martial:
VIII. By Pretext whereof some of Your Majesty's Subjects have been by some of the said Commissioners put to Death, when and where, if by the Laws and Statutes of the Land they had deserved Death, by the same Laws and Statutes also they might, and by no other ought to have been adjudged and executed:
IX. And also sundry grievous Offenders, by colour thereof claiming an Exemption, have escaped the Punishments due to them by the Laws and Statutes of this Your Realm, by reason that divers of your Officers and Ministers of Justice have unjustly refused or forborn to proceed against such Offenders according to the same Laws and Statutes, upon Pretence that the said Offenders were punishable only by Martial Law, and by Authority of Such Commissions as aforesaid: which Commissions, and all other of like Nature, are wholly and directly contrary to the said Laws and Statutes of this Your Realm.
X. They do therefore humbly pray Your most excellent Majesty, that no Man hereafter be compelled to make or yield any Gift, Loan, Benevolence, Tax or such like Charge, without Common Consent by Act of Parliament; and that none be called to make Answer, or take such Oath, or to give Attendance, or be confined, or otherwise molested or disquieted concerning the same, or for Refusal thereof; and that no Freeman, in any such Manner as is before mentioned, be imprisoned or detained; and that Your Majesty would be pleased to remove the said Soldiers and Mariners; and that Your People may not be so burthened in time to come; and that the aforesaid Commissions for proceeding by Martial Law, may be revoked and annulled; and that hereafter no Commissions of like Nature may issue forth to any Person or Persons whatsoever to be executed as aforesaid, lest by Colour of them any of Your Majesty's Subjects be destroyed, or put to Death contrary to the Laws and Franchise of the Land.
XI. All which they most humbly pray of Your most excellent Majesty as their Rights and Liberties, according to the Laws and Statutes of this Realm; and that Your Majesty would also vouchsafe to declare, that the Awards, Doings and Proceedings, to the Prejudice of Your People in any of the Premises shall not be drawn hereafter into Consequence or Example; and that Your Majesty would be also graciously pleased, for the further Comfort and Safety of Your People, to declare your Royal Will and Pleasure, that in the Things aforesaid all your Officers and Ministers shall serve You according to the Laws and Statutes of this Realm, as they tender the Honour of Your Majesty, and the Prosperity of this Kingdom.
Habeas Corpus Act
THE SAFEGUARD against violations of personal liberty known as the writ of habeas corpus goes back many centuries, and an early form of it is recognized in Magna Carta. The refusal to permit its exercise was one of the weapons used to suppress popular rights. Complaints of this are among the grievances mentioned in the Petition of Right. Under Charles II the writ was finally made secure by a legislative act on May 26, 1679, which is primarily a statement of procedure rather than of the right itself, enforcing the duty on the judges and making the application of it practical.
The text is from the Statutes at Large, 3. 232 (31 Car. II. c. 2). Portions not essential to an understanding of the principles of the act are omitted.
WHEREAS great Delays have been used by Sheriff's, Gaolers and other Officers, to whose Custody any of the King's Subjects have been committed for criminal or supposed criminal Matters, in making Returns of Writs of Habeas Corpus to them directed, by standing out an Alias and Pluries Habeas Corpus, and sometimes more, and by other Shifts to avoid their yielding Obedience to such Writs, contrary to their Duty and the known Laws of the Land, whereby many of the King's Subjects have been and hereafter may be long detained in Prison, in such Cases where by Law they are bailable, to their great Charges and Vexation:
II. For the Prevention whereof, and the more speedy Relief of all Persons imprisoned for any such criminal or supposed criminal Matters; 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 thereof, That whensoever any Person or Persons shall bring any Habeas Corpus directed unto any Sheriff or Sheriffs, Gaoler, Minister or other Person whatsoever, for any Person in his or their Custody, and the said Writ shall be served upon the said Officer, or left at the Gaol or Prison with any of the Under-Officers, Under-Keepers or Deputy of the said Officers or Keepers, that the said Officer or Officers, his or their UnderOfficers, Under-Keepers or Deputies, shall within three Days after the Service thereof as aforesaid (unless the Commitment aforesaid were for Treason or Felony, plainly and specially expressed in the Warrant of Commitment) upon Payment or Tender of the Charges of bringing the said Prisoner, ... make
Return of such Writ; and bring or cause to be brought the Body of the Party so committed or restrained, unto or before the Lord Chancellor, or Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England for the Time being, or the Judges or Barons of the said Court from whence the said Writ shall issue, or unto and before such other Person or Persons before whom the said Writ is made returnable, according to the Command thereof; and shall then likewise certify the true Causes of his Detainer or Imprisonment, unless the Commitment of the said Party be in any Place beyond the distance of twenty Miles from the Place or Places where such Court or Person is or shall be residing; and if beyond the Distance of twenty Miles, and not above one hundred Miles, then within the Space of ten Days, and if beyond the Distance of one hundred Miles, then within the Space of twenty Days, after such Delivery aforesaid, and not longer.
III. And to the Intent that no Sheriff, Gaoler or other Officer may pretend Ignorance of the Import of any such Writ; Be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all such Writs shall be marked in this Manner, Per Statutum tricesimo primo Caroli Secundi Regis, and shall be signed by the Person that awards the same; and if any Person or Persons shall be or stand committed or detained as aforesaid, for any Crime, unless for Felony or Treason plainly expressed in the Warrant of Commitment, in the Vacation Time, and out of Term, it shall and may be lawful to and for the Person or Persons so committed or detained (other than Persons Convict or in Execution by legal Process) or any one on his or their Behalf, to appeal or complain to the Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper, or any one of His Majesty's Justices, either of the one Bench or of the other, or the Barons of the Exchequer of the Degree of the Coif; and thereupon within two Days after the Party shall be brought before them, the said Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper, or such Justice or Baron before whom the Prisoner shall be brought as aforesaid, shall discharge the said Prisoner from his Imprisonment, taking his or their Recognizance, with one or more Surety or Sureties, in any Sum according to their Discretions, having regard to the Quality of the Prisoner and Nature of the Offence, for his or their Appearance in the court of King's Bench the Term following, or at the next Assizes, Sessions or general Gaol-Delivery, of and for such County, City or Place where the Commitment was, or where the Offence was committed, or in such other Court where the said Offence is properly cognizable, as the Case shall require, and then shall certify the said Writ with the Return thereof, and the said Recognizance or Recognizances into the said Court where such Appearance is to be made; unless it shall appear unto the said Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper, or Justice or Justices, or Baron or Barons, that the Party so committed is detained upon a legal Process, Order or Warrant out of some Court that hath Jurisdiction of criminal Matters, or by some Warrant signed and sealed with the Hand and Seal of any of the said Justices or Barons, or some Justice or Justices of the Peace, for such Matters or Offences for the which by the Law the Prisoner is not bailable.
V. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That if any Officer shall neglect or refuse to make the Returns aforesaid, or to bring the Body or Bodies of the Prisoner or Prisoners according to the Command of the said Writ, within the respective Times aforesaid, or upon Demand made by the Prisoner or Person in His behalf, shall refuse to deliver, or within the Space of six Hours after the Demand shall not deliver, to the Person so demanding, a
true Copy of the Warrant or Warrants of Commitment and Detainer of such Prisoner, which he and they are hereby required to deliver accordingly; all and every
shall for the first Offence forfeit to the Prisoner or Party grieved the Sum of one hundred Pounds; and for the second Offence the sum of two hundred Pounds, and shall and is hereby made incapable to hold or execute his said Office;. .
VI. And for the prevention of unjust Vexation by reiterated Commitments for the same Offence: Be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That no Person or Persons which shall be delivered or set at large upon any Habeas Corpus, shall at any Time hereafter be again imprisoned or committed for the same Offence by any Person or Persons whatsoever, other than by the legal Order and Process of such Court wherein he or thay shall be bound by Recognizance to appear, or other Court having Jurisdiction of the Cause; .
VII. Provided always and be it further enacted, That if any Person or Persons shall be committed for High Treason or Felony, plainly and specially expressed in the Warrant of Commitment, upon his Prayer or Petition in open Court the first Week of the Term or first Day of the Sessions of Oyer and Terminer or General Gaol-delivery, to be brought to his Trial, shall not be indicted some Time in the next Term ... after such Commitment; it shall and may be lawful to and for the Judges of the Court of King's Bench and Justices of Oyer and Terminer or General Gaol-delivery, and they are hereby required, upon Motion to them made in open Court the last Day of the Term ... either by the Prisoner or any one in his Behalf, to set at Liberty the Prisoner upon Bail, unless it appear to the Judges and Justices upon Oath made, that the Witnesses for the King could not be produced the same Term ... ; and if any Person or Persons committed as aforesaid, upon his Prayer or Petition in Open court the first week of the Term or first Day of the Sessions of Oyer and Terminer or General Gaol-delivery, to be brought to his Trial, shall not be indicted and tried the second Term . . . after his Commitment, or upon his
... Trial shall be acquitted, he shall be discharged from his Imprisonment.
IX. Provided always, and be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That if any Person or Persons, Subjects of this Realm, shall be committed to any Prison or in Custody of any Officer or Officers whatsoever, for any criminal or supposed criminal Matter, that the said Person shall not be removed from the said Prison and Custody into the Custody of any other Officer or Officers; unless it be by Habeas Corpus or some other legal Writ; or where the Prisoner is delivered to the Constable or other Inferior Officer to carry such Prisoner to some common Gaol, or where any Person is sent by Order of any Judge of Assize or Justice of the Peace, to any common Work-house or House of Correction; or where the Prisoner is removed from one Prison or Place to another within the same County, in order to his or her Trial or Discharge in due Course of Law; or in Case of sudden Fire or Infection, or other Necessity;...
X. Provided also, and be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That . . . if the said Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper, or any Judge or Judges, Baron or Barons for the Time being, of the Degree of the Coif, of any of the Courts aforesaid, in the Vacation-time, upon View of the Copy or Copies of the Warrant or Warrants of Commitment or Detainer, or upon Oath made that such Copy or Copies were denied as aforesaid, shall deny any Writ of Habeas Corpus by this Act required to be granted, being moved for as aforesaid, they
shall severally forfeit to the Prisoner or Party grieved the Sum of five hundred Pounds,
XII. And for preventing illegal Imprisonments in Prisons beyond the Seas; Be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That no Subject of this Realm that now is, or hereafter shall be an Inhabitant or Resiant of this Kingdom of England, Dominion of Wales, or Town of Berwick upon Tweed, shall or may be sent Prisoner into Scotland, Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, Tangier, or into Parts, Garrisons, Islands or Places beyond the Seas, which are or at any Time hereafter shall be within or without the Dominions of His Majesty, His Heirs or Successors; and that every such Imprisonment is hereafter enacted and adjudged to be illegal;
XIV. Provided always, and be it enacted, that if any Person or Persons lawfully convicted of any Felony, shall in open Court pray to be transported beyond the Seas, and the Court shall think fit to leave him or them in Prison for that Purpose, such Person or Persons may be transported into any Parts beyond the Seas; this Act, or any Thing therein contained to the contrary notwithstanding.