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King's plea




3. And the third, concerning wares and manufactures.

You shall therefore enquire of the unlawful taking partridges, and pheafants, or fowle, the deftruction of the eggs of the wild-fowle, the killing of hares or deer, and the felling of venifon, or hares: for that which is for exercise, and fport, and courtefie, fhould not be turned to gluttony and fale victual.

You fhall alfo enquire, whether bakers, and brewers keep their affife, and whether aswell they, as butchers, inn-holders, and victuallers, do fell that which is whol fome, and at reasonable prices; and whether they do link and combine to raise prices..

Lastly, you shall enquire, whether the good statute be obferved, whereby a man may have that he thinketh he hath, and not be abufed or mifferved in that he 5 Eliz. c. 4. buyes: I mean, that statute that requireth that none ufe any manual occupation, but fuch as have been feven years apprentice to it, which law being generally tranfgreffed, makes the people buy in effect chaffe for corn, for that which is mifwrought will miswear.

There be many more things inquireable by you, throughout all the former parts, which it were over-long in particular to recite; you may be fupplyed either out of your own experience, or out of fuch bills and informations as fhall be brought unto you, or upon any question that you fhall demand of the Court, which will be ready to give you any further direction, as far as is fit: But thefe which I have gone through are the principal points of your charge, which to prefent, you have taken the name of God to witneffe; and in the name of God perform it.


A Certificate to his Majefty, touching the projects of Sir STEPHEN PROCTOR, relating to the penal Laws.

It may please your facred Majestic,

WITH the firft free time from your Majefty's

W service of more prefent dispatch, I have per

ufed the projects of Sir Stephen Proctor, and do find it a collection of extream diligence and inquifition, and more than I thought could have met in one man's knowledge. For though it be an easy matter to run over many offices and profeffions, and to note in them general abuses or deceipts: yet nevertheless to point at and trace out the particular and covert practices, shifts, devises, tricks, and as it were ftratagems in the meaner fort of the ministers of justice or publick fervice, and to do it truly and understandingly, is a discovery whereof great good ufe may be made for your Majefties fervice and good of your people. But because this work I doubt not hath been to the gentleman the work of yeres, whereas whereas my certificate must be the work but of houres or dayes, and that it is commonly and truely faid, that he that imbraceth much, ftreyneth and holdeth the leffe, and that propofitions have wings, but operation and execution hath leaden feet; I most humbly defire pardon of your Majefty, if I do for the present onely felect fome one or two principal points, and certifie my opinion thereof; referving the rest as a sheafe by me to draw out at further tyme further matter for your Majesty's information for fo much as I shall conceive to be fit or worthy the confideration.


For that part therefore of these projects which concerneth penal lawes, I doe find the purpose and scope to be, not to press a greater rigor or feverity in the execution of penal lawes; but to reprefs the abuses in common informers and fome clerks and under minifters that for common gaine partake with them: for if it had tended to the other point, I for my part fhould be very farre from advifing your Majefty to give ear unto it. For as it is faid in the Pfalme, If thou Lord fhould be extream to mark what is done amifs, who may abyde it? So it is most certaine, that your people is fo enfnared in a multitude of penal lawes, that the execution of them cannot be borne. And as it followeth; But with thee is mercy, that thou maieft be feared: fo it is an intermixture of mercy and juftice, that will bring you fear and obedience: for too much rigor makes people defperate. And therefore to leave this, which was the only blemish of King Henry VII. reigne, and the unfortunate fervice of Empfon and Dudley, whom the people's curfes, rather than any law, brought to overthrow; The other work, is a worke not only of profit to your Majefty, but of piety towards your people. For if it be true in any proportion, that within these five yeares of your Majesty's happy reigne, there hath not five hundred pounds benefit come to your Majesty by penal lawes (the fynes of the Starchamber, which are of a higher kind onely except) and yet nevertheless there hath been a charge of at least fifty thousand pounds which hath been layed upon your people, it were more than time it received a remedy.

This remedy hath been fought by diverse ftatutes, as principally by a ftatute in 18. and another of

31. of the

the late Queen of happy memory. But I am of opinion that the appointing of an officer proper for that purpofe, will doe more good than twenty ftatutes, and will do that good effectually, which thefe ftatutes aim at intentionally.

And this I do allow of the better, because it is none of thofe new fuperintendencies, which I fee many tymes offered upon pretence of reformation, as if Judges did not their duty, or ancient and fworn Officers did not their duty and the like: but it is only to fet a Cuftos or watchman, neither over Judges nor Clerks, but onely over a kind of people that cannot be fufficiently watched or overlooked, and that is the common Promoters or Informers; the very awe and noise whereof will do much good, and the practice much more.

I will therefore fet down first what is the abuse or inconvenience, and then what is the remedy which may be expected from the industry of this officer. and I will divide it into two parts, the one, for that that may concerne the cafe of your people (for with that I will crave leave to begin, as knowing it to be principal in your Majesty's intention) and the other for that, that may concerne your Majesty's benefit.

Concerning the ease of his Majesty's subjects, polled and vexed by common Informers.

The Abufes or Inconveni- The remedies by the industry

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one information, he will put an hundred feveral fubjects of this information. every one fhall take out copies, and every one shall put in his feveral anfwer. This will coft perhaps a hundred marks that done, no further proceeding. But the Clerks have their fees, and the Informer hath his dividend for bringing the water to the mylne.

It is to be noted, that this vexation is not met with by any ftatute. For it is no compofition, but a difcontinuance; and in that cafe there is no penalty, but cofts: and the poor fubject will never fue for his cofts, leaft it awake the Informer to revive his information, and fo it scapeth clearly.

2. Informers receive penfions of divers perfons to forbear them. And this is commonly of principal of fenders, and of the wealthieft fort of tradesmen. for if one tradesman may prefume to breake the law,


to inform the Court thereof, who thereupon may grant good costs against the Informer, to every of the fubjects vexed: and withal not fuffer the fame Informer to revive his information against any of them and lastly fine him, as for a mifdemeanor and abuse of juftice, and by that time a few of fuch examples be made, they will be foom weary of that practice.

2. This is an abuse that appeareth not by any proceeding in Court, because it is before fuite commenced, and therefore requireth a particular enquiry.

But when it shall be the care and cogitation of one


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