Habeas Corpus Act 1679

The Habeas Corpus Act 1679 is an Act of Parliament in England (31 Cha. 2 c. 2) during the reign of King Charles II.[2] It was passed by what became known as the Habeas Corpus Parliament to define and strengthen the ancient prerogative writ of habeas corpus, which required a court to examine the lawfulness of a prisoner's detention and thus prevent unlawful or arbitrary imprisonment.[3]

Habeas Corpus Act 1679[1]
Long titleAn Act for the better securing the Liberty of the Subject, and for Prevention of Imprisonment beyond the Seas
Citation31 Cha. 2. 2
Royal assent27 May 1679
Other legislation
Amended byStatute Law Revision Act 1888
Criminal Law Act 1967
Courts Act 1971
Bail Act 1976
Status: Amended
Text of the Habeas Corpus Act 1679 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk

Earlier and subsequent history

The Act is often wrongly described as the origin of the writ of habeas corpus. But the writ of habeas corpus had existed in various forms in England for at least five centuries before and is thought to have originated in the 12th Century Assize of Clarendon.[4] It was guaranteed, but not created, by Magna Carta in 1215, whose article 39 reads: "No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor will we send upon him except upon the lawful judgement of his peers or the law of the land."[3] The Act of 1679 followed an earlier Habeas Corpus Act of 1640, which established that the command of the King or the Privy Council was no answer to a petition of habeas corpus. Further Habeas Corpus Acts were passed by the British Parliament in 1803, 1804, 1816, and 1862, but it is the Act of 1679 which is remembered as one of the most important statutes in English constitutional history. Though amended, it remains on the statute book to this day.[5]


In criminal matters other than treason and felonies, the act gave prisoners or third parties acting on their behalf the right to challenge their detention by demanding from the Lord Chancellor, Justices of the King's Bench, and the Barons of the Exchequer of the jurisdiction a judicial review of their imprisonment. The act laid out certain temporal and geographical conditions under which prisoners had to be brought before the courts. Jailors were forbidden to move prisoners from one prison to another or out of the country to evade the writ. In case of disobedience jailers would be punished with severe fines which had to be paid to the prisoner.[6][7]

Parliamentary history

The Act came about because the Earl of Shaftesbury encouraged his friends in the Commons to introduce the Bill where it passed and was then sent up to the House of Lords. Shaftesbury was the leading Exclusionist—those who wanted to exclude Charles II's brother James, Duke of York from the succession—and the Bill was a part of that struggle as they believed James would rule arbitrarily. The Lords decided to add many wrecking amendments to the Bill in an attempt to kill it; the Commons had no choice but to pass the Bill with the Lords' amendments because they learned that the King would soon end the current parliamentary session.

The Bill went back and forth between the two Houses, and then the Lords voted on whether to set up a conference on the Bill. If this motion was defeated the Bill would stay in the Commons and therefore have no chance of being passed. Each side—those voting for and against—appointed a teller who stood on each side of the door through which those Lords who had voted "aye" re-entered the House (the "nays" remained seated). One teller would count them aloud whilst the other teller listened and kept watch to know if the other teller was telling the truth. Shaftesbury's faction had voted for the motion, so they went out and re-entered the House. Gilbert Burnet, one of Shaftesbury's friends, recorded what then happened:

Lord Grey and Lord Norris were named to be the tellers: Lord Norris, being a man subject to vapours, was not at all times attentive to what he was doing: so, a very fat lord coming in, Lord Grey counted him as ten, as a jest at first: but seeing Lord Norris had not observed it, he went on with this misreckoning of ten: so it was reported that they that were for the Bill were in the majority, though indeed it went for the other side: and by this means the Bill passed.[8]

The clerk recorded in the minutes of the Lords that the "ayes" had fifty-seven and the "nays" had fifty-five, a total of 112, but the same minutes also state that only 107 Lords had attended that sitting.[8]

The King arrived shortly thereafter and gave Royal Assent before proroguing Parliament. The Act is now stored in the Parliamentary Archives.

Application in New Zealand

The Habeas Corpus Act 1679[9] and the later acts of 1803, 1804, 1816 and 1862 were reprinted in New Zealand as Imperial Acts in force in New Zealand in 1881.[10]


  1. ^ The citation of this Act by this short title was authorised by the Short Titles Act 1896, section 1 and first schedule. Due to the repeal of that provision it is now authorised by the Interpretation Act 1978, section 19(2)
  2. ^ "Charles II, 1679: An Act for the better secureing the Liberty of the Subject and for Prevention of Imprisonments beyond the Seas". Statutes of the Realm: volume 5: 1628–80 (1819). British History Online. pp. 935–938. Retrieved 6 March 2007.
  3. ^ a b "A brief history of habeas corpus". BBC News. 9 March 2005. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  4. ^ "Assize of Clarendon, 1166". The Avalon Project. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Habeas Corpus Act 1679". Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  6. ^ Acevedo, John Filipe (212). Miller, Wilbur R., ed. The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America: An Encyclopedia. London, United Kingdom: SAGE Publications Ltd. p. 729.
  7. ^ Jon. E. Lewis., ed. (2003). A Documentary History of Human Rights. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers. p. 267. Habeas Corpus Act (1679). In 1660, the Stuarts re-ascended the throne of England. Old tendencies towards Catholicism and absolutism proved little diminished, however, and a prudently watchful parliament determined to pass an Act enshrining Habeas Corpus. This was an ancient English right that, if a man was imprisoned by a local lord, his friends could request the king to issue a writ commanding the man who "have the body" (Habeas Corpus) of the prisoner to bring the prisoner before a magistrate for a proper trial. Under a tyrannous king, such as Charles I, the process could be wilfully ignored. In 1679, Parliament passed the Habeas Corpus Act against future abuse.

    The following are the main provisions:

    Whereas great delays have been used by sheriffs... to whose custody any of the king’s subjects have been committed for criminal or supposed criminal matters... by other shifts to avoid their yielding obedience to [writs of Habeas Corpus], contrary to their duty and the known laws of the land, whereby many of the king's subjects have been... long detained in prison in such cases where by law they are bailable...

    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 consent of the lords... that whensoever any person or persons shall bring any habeas corpus directed to any sheriff... that the said officer... shall within three days... bring or cause to be brung the body of the party so committed... before the lord chancellor... unless the commitment of the said party by in any place beyond the distance of twenty miles from the place or places where such court of 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 of such delivery and not longer...

    V And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any officer or officers... shall neglect or refuse to make the returns aforesaid... [he]shall for the first offence forfeit to the prisoner or party grieved the sum of one hundred pounds...

    VI ... 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 again be imprisoned or committed for the same offence ... other than by the legal order and process of such [appropriate] court...

    X Provided also, and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that it shall and may be lawful to and for any prisoner and prisoners as aforesaid to move and obtain his or their habeas corpus as well out of the high court of chancery or court of exchequer as out of the court of king's bench or common pleas...
  8. ^ a b Quoted in J. E. Powell, Great Parliamentary Occasions 1966: The Queen Anne Press. p. 65.
  9. ^ "Habeas Corpus Act 1679". New Zealand Law online.
  10. ^ "Habeas Corpus Acts". New Zealand Law online.

See also

External links

Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights

Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Art.5 ECHR for short) provides that everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. Liberty and security of the person are taken as a "compound" concept - security of the person has not been subject to separate interpretation by the Court.

Article 5 – Right to liberty and security

1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:

a. the lawful detention of a person after conviction by a competent court;

b. the lawful arrest or detention of a person for non-compliance with the lawful order of a court or in order to secure the fulfilment of any obligation prescribed by law;

c. the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so;

d. the detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision or his lawful detention for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority;

e. the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts or vagrants;

f. the lawful arrest or detention of a person to prevent his effecting an unauthorised entry into the country or of a person against whom action is being taken with a view to deportation or extradition.2. Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he or she understands, of the reasons for his arrest and of any charge against him.

3. Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1.c of this article shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. Release may be conditioned by guarantees to appear for trial.

4. Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful.

5. Everyone who has been the victim of arrest or detention in contravention of the provisions of this article shall have an enforceable right to compensation.

Bill of Rights 1689

The Bill of Rights, also known as the English Bill of Rights, is an Act of the Parliament of England that sets out certain basic civil rights and clarifies who would be next to inherit the Crown. It received the Royal Assent on 16 December 1689 and is a restatement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William III and Mary II in February 1689, inviting them to become joint sovereigns of England. The Bill of Rights lays down limits on the powers of the monarch and sets out the rights of Parliament, including the requirement for regular parliaments, free elections, and freedom of speech in Parliament. It sets out certain rights of individuals including the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and reestablished the right of Protestants to have arms for their defence within the rule of law. Furthermore, the Bill of Rights described and condemned several misdeeds of James II of England.These ideas reflected those of the political thinker John Locke and they quickly became popular in England. It also sets out – or, in the view of its drafters, restates – certain constitutional requirements of the Crown to seek the consent of the people, as represented in Parliament.In the United Kingdom, the Bill of Rights is further accompanied by Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus Act 1679 and the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 as some of the basic documents of the uncodified British constitution. A separate but similar document, the Claim of Right Act 1689, applies in Scotland. The Bill of Rights 1689 was one of the inspirations for the United States Bill of Rights.

Along with the Act of Settlement 1701, the Bill of Rights is still in effect in all Commonwealth realms. Following the Perth Agreement in 2011, legislation amending both of them came into effect across the Commonwealth realms on 26 March 2015.

Civil Contingencies Act 2004

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (c 36) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that establishes a coherent framework for emergency planning and response ranging from local to national level. It also replaces former Civil Defence and Emergency Powers legislation of the 20th century.

Civil liberties

Civil liberties or personal freedoms are personal guarantees and freedoms that the government cannot abridge, either by law or by judicial interpretation, without due process. Though the scope of the term differs between countries, civil liberties may include the freedom of conscience, freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the right to security and liberty, freedom of speech, the right to privacy, the right to equal treatment under the law and due process, the right to a fair trial, and the right to life. Other civil liberties include the right to own property, the right to defend oneself, and the right to bodily integrity. Within the distinctions between civil liberties and other types of liberty, distinctions exist between positive liberty/positive rights and negative liberty/negative rights.

Civil liberties in the United Kingdom

Civil liberties in the United Kingdom have a long and formative history. This is usually considered to have begun with Magna Carta of 1215, a landmark document in British constitutional history. Development of civil liberties advanced in common law and statute law in the 17th and 18th centuries, notably with the Bill of Rights 1689. During the 19th century, working-class people struggled to win the right to vote and join trade unions. Parliament responded with new legislation, and attitudes to universal suffrage and liberties progressed further in the aftermath of the first and second world wars. Since then, the United Kingdom's relationship to civil liberties has been mediated through its membership of the European Convention on Human Rights. The United Kingdom, through Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, led the drafting of the Convention, which expresses a traditional civil libertarian theory. It became directly applicable in UK law with the enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998.

The relationship between human rights and civil liberties is often seen as two sides of the same coin. A right is something you may demand of someone, while a liberty is freedom from interference by another in your presumed rights. However, human rights are broader. In the numerous documents around the world, they involve more substantive moral assertions on what is necessary, for instance, for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", "to develop one's personality to the fullest potential" or "protect inviolable dignity". "Civil liberties" are certainly that, but they are distinctly civil, and relate to participation in public life. As Professor Conor Gearty writes,

Civil liberties is another name for the political freedoms that we must have available to us all if it to be true to say of us that we live in a society that adheres to the principle of representative, or democratic, government.

In other words, civil liberties are the "rights" or "freedoms" which underpin democracy. This usually means the right to vote, the right to life, the prohibition on torture, security of the person, the right to personal liberty and due process of law, freedom of expression and freedom of association.

European emigration

European emigration can be defined as subsequent emigration waves from the European continent to other continents. The origins of the various European diasporas can be traced to the people, who left the European nation states or stateless ethnic communities on the European continent.From 1815 to 1932, 60 million people left Europe (with many returning home), primarily to "areas of European settlement" in the Americas (especially to the United States, Canada, Brazil, the Southern Cone such as Argentina, and Uruguay), Australia, New Zealand and Siberia.

These populations also multiplied rapidly in their new habitat; much more so than the populations of Africa and Asia. As a result, on the eve of World War I, 38% of the world's total population was of European ancestry.More contemporary, European emigration can also refer to emigration from one European country to another, especially in the context of the internal mobility in the European Union (intra-EU mobility) or mobility within the Eurasian Union.

Excessive Bail Clause

The Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits excessive bail set in pre-trial detention.

The Clause was drafted in response to the perceived excessiveness of bail in England. Excessive bail was also prohibited by the English Bill of Rights. If a judge posts excessive bail, the defendant's lawyer may make a motion in court to lower the bail or appeal directly to a higher court.

Fundamental Laws of England

In the 1760s William Blackstone described the Fundamental Laws of England in Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book the First – Chapter the First : Of the Absolute Rights of Individuals as "the absolute rights of every Englishman" and traced their basis and evolution as follows:

Magna Carta between King John and his barons in 1215

confirmation of Magna Carta by King Henry III to Parliament in 1216, 1217, and 1225

Confirmatio Cartarum (Confirmation of Charters) 1253

a multitude of subsequent corroborating statutes, from King Edward I to King Henry IV

the Petition of Right, a parliamentary declaration in 1628 of the liberties of the people, assented to by King Charles I

more concessions made by King Charles I to his Parliament

many laws, particularly the Habeas Corpus Act 1679, passed under King Charles II

the Bill of Rights 1689 assented to by King William III and Queen Mary II

the Act of Settlement 1701Blackstone's list was an 18th-century constitutional view, and the Union of the Crowns had occurred in 1603 between Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland, and the 1628 Petition of Right had already referred to the fundamental laws being violated.

Habeas Corpus Act

Habeas Corpus Act may refer to several Acts of Parliament and Acts of Congress relating to Habeas Corpus:

Habeas Corpus Act 1640 (16 Cha I. c. 10) of the Parliament of England

Habeas Corpus Act 1679 (31 Cha. 2 c. 2) of the Parliament of England

Habeas Corpus Act 1816 (1816 c.100 56 Geo 3) of the Parliament of the United Kingdom

Habeas Corpus Act 1862 (20 & 26 Vict. c.20) of the Parliament of the United Kingdom

Habeas Corpus Act 1867 (sess. ii, chap. 28, 14 Stat. 385) of the United States Congress

Habeas Corpus Act 1640

The Habeas Corpus Act 1640 (16 Car 1 c 10) was an Act of the Parliament of England.

The Act was passed by the Long Parliament shortly after the impeachment and execution of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford in 1641 and before the English Civil War. It abolished the Star Chamber. It also declared that anyone imprisoned by order of the king, privy council, or any councillor could apply for a writ of habeas corpus, required that all returns to the writ "certify the true cause" of imprisonment, and clarified that the Court of Common Pleas also had jurisdiction to issue the writ in such cases (prior to which it was argued that only the King's Bench could issue the writ).The writ was amended by the Habeas Corpus Act 1679.

The words of commencement were repealed by section 1 of, and Schedule 1 to, the Statute Law Revision Act 1948.

The whole Act, so far as not otherwise repealed, was repealed by section 8(2) of, and Part I of Schedule 5 to, the Justices of the Peace Act 1968.

Habeas Corpus Bill of 1758

The Habeas Corpus Bill of 1758 was a failed bill that would have extended habeas corpus if passed.

The Habeas Corpus Act 1679 confirmed the common law tradition that subjects had a right to a writ of habeas corpus. However judges ruled that those impressed were exempt from the right to habeas corpus. The Chief Justice Lord Mansfield was in favour of this exemption but the Attorney-General Charles Pratt was not. Pratt, a "uniform Whig", prepared a bill for expanding habeas corpus, the object of which, according to William Holdsworth, "was to extend the Act of 1679 so as to give the benefit of the writ of Habeas Corpus ad subjiciendum, as improved by that Act, to persons who were imprisoned otherwise than on a criminal charge".It was introduced into the House of Commons (with its first reading on 8 March) where William Pitt the Elder and the Speaker Arthur Onslow supported it and, according to Horace Walpole, "the majority of the house cheerfully promoted it". The Duke of Newcastle tried on 10 March to dissuade Pitt from supporting it, but was met with "a history lesson on the Petition of Right".It passed easily through the Commons, with its third reading on 24 April, but there was no division at any stage. It reached the House of Lords, where it was read for the first time on 25 April and ordered to be printed, with its second reading on 9 May. Lord Hardwicke asked the judges for their opinions. Lord Temple protested that it was improper to inquire into the opinions of judges because such an opinion would be effected by the bill's proposal to inflict penalties on judges if they refused the writ. Hardwicke said that at a time when civil authority wanted the utmost support it would be wrong to pass the bill. Lord Granville initially spoke for the bill until (according to Walpole) he learned "how unwelcoming it was at St James's". Lord Mansfield and the Duke of Newcastle opposed it. The rest of the judges' views were inconclusive and so on 2 June Mansfield made a 2½ hours' speech against the bill, which Horace Walpole described:

I am not averse to own, that I never heard so much argument, so much sense, so much oratory, united. His deviations into the abstruse minutiae of the law, served but as a foil to the luminous parts of the oration. Perhaps it was the only speech, that, in my time at least, had real effect, that is, convinced many persons. Nor did I ever know how true a votary I was to liberty, till I found that I was not one of the number staggered by that speech.

Hardwicke argued that all judges should have power to issue the writ and, according to Walpole, "said that he would move to order the judges to bring in such a bill against the next session. Lord Temple's friends seemed glad to catch at this proposal; and bill was heard of no more!" When Pitt heard of its rejection in the Lords, he remarked that "it was more honourable to be an Alderman of the City of London than a peer".

Habeas Corpus Parliament

The Habeas Corpus Parliament, also known as the First Exclusion Parliament, was a short-lived English Parliament which assembled on 6 March 1679 (or 1678, Old Style) during the reign of Charles II of England, the third parliament of the King's reign. It is named after the Habeas Corpus Act, which it enacted in May 1679.

The Habeas Corpus Parliament sat for two sessions. The first session sat from 6 March 1679 to 13 March 1679, the second session from 15 March 1679 to 26 May 1679. It was dissolved while in recess on 12 July 1679.

Habeas corpus (disambiguation)

Habeas corpus is a legal action through which a person can seek relief from unlawful detention.

Habeas corpus may also refer to:

Habeas Corpus Act 1679, an Act of the Parliament of England passed during the reign of King Charles II to define and strengthen the writ of habeas corpus

Habeas Corpus (1928 film), a Laurel and Hardy short

Habeas Corpus, the name of the fictional film that is being made in the film The Player

"Habeas Corpus", an episode of the television series Ultraviolet

"Habeas Corpses", a 2003 episode of the television series Angel

Habeas Corpus (play), a 1973 comedy stage play by Alan Bennett

Habeas Corpus (pig), a fictional pet in the pulp magazine Doc Savage

Habeas Corpus (album), an album by Living Things

Habeas Corpus (band), a 1980s hardcore punk band from Oxnard, California


A pardon is a government decision to allow a person to be absolved of guilt for an alleged crime or other legal offense, as if the act never occurred. The pardon may be granted before or after conviction for the crime, depending on the laws of the jurisdiction.Pardons can be granted in many countries when individuals are deemed to have demonstrated that they have "paid their debt to society", or are otherwise considered to be deserving of them. Pardons are sometimes offered to persons who were either wrongfully convicted or who claim that they were wrongfully convicted. In some jurisdictions of some nations, accepting a pardon may implicitly constitute an admission of guilt; the offer is refused in some cases. Cases of wrongful conviction are nowadays more often dealt with by appeal rather than by pardon; however, a pardon is sometimes offered when innocence is undisputed in order to avoid the costs that are associated with a retrial. Clemency plays a very important role when capital punishment is applied.

Pardons are sometimes seen as a mechanism for combating corruption, allowing a particular authority to circumvent a flawed judicial process to free someone that is seen as wrongly convicted. Pardons can also be a source of controversy. In extreme cases, some pardons may be seen as acts of corruption by officials in the form of granting effective immunity as political favors.

Parliamentary Archives

The Parliamentary Archives of the United Kingdom preserves and makes available to public the records of the House of Lords and House of Commons back to 1497, as well as some 200 other collections of Parliamentary interest. The present title was officially adopted in November 2006, as a change from the previous title, House of Lords Record Office.

Over three million records are held by the Archives in the Victoria Tower of the Palace of Westminster on 5.5 miles of shelving. Some of the most important constitutional records of the United Kingdom are stored by the Archives, including the Petition of Right (1628), Death Warrant of Charles I (1649), the Habeas Corpus Act 1679, the draft and final Bill of Rights (1689), the Slave Trade Act (1807 and 1833), the Great Reform Act (1832), and successive Representation of the People Acts.

Its public search-room is open from Monday to Friday, 10:00 to 16:00, and is free to the public, although appointments to visit must be made owing to limited seating space. The Archives also oversees records management for Parliament, has an active outreach programme and frequently appears on radio and TV programmes.

Rights of Englishmen

The rights of Englishmen are the perceived traditional rights of citizens of England. In the 18th century, some of the colonists who objected to British rule in the British colonies in North America argued that their traditional rights as Englishmen were being violated. The colonists wanted and expected the rights that they (or their forebears) had previously enjoyed in England: a local, representative government, with regards to judicial matters (some colonists were being sent back to England for trials) and particularly with regards to taxation. Belief in these rights subsequently became a widely-accepted justification for the American Revolution.The American colonies had since the 17th century been fertile ground for liberalism within the center of European political discourse. However, as the ratification of the Declaration of Independence approached, the issue among the colonists of which particular rights were significant became divisive. George Mason, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, stated that "We claim nothing but the liberty and privileges of Englishmen in the same degree, as if we had continued among our brethren in Great Britain."

Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Baronet

Sir Edward Seymour, of Berry Pomeroy, 4th Baronet, MP (1632/1633 – 17 February 1708) was a British nobleman, and a Royalist and Tory politician.

Transportation Act 1717

The Transportation Act 1717 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain that established a regulated, bonded system to transport criminals to colonies in North America for indentured service, as a punishment for those convicted or attained in Great Britain, excluding Scotland. The act, (4 Geo. 1 c. 11) is long titled An Act for the further preventing Robbery, Burglary, and other Felonies, and for the more effectual Transportation of Felons, and unlawful Exporters of Wool; and for declaring the Law upon some Points relating to Pirates. The act established a seven-year transportation sentence as a punishment for people convicted of lesser felonies (those under the benefit of clergy), and a fourteen-year sentence for more serious crimes, in lieu of capital punishment. Completion of the sentence had the effect of a pardon; the punishment for returning before completion was death. An estimated 50,000 convicts (women, men and children) were transported to the British American colonies.The act established that merchants and others could contract transport convicts, after giving a surety bond that the transport would be made and the term of service would be completed. To accomplish this, the act declared that the contractor had a property and interest in the convict's transport and service. Significantly under section five, and after noting the many idle youth "lurking" about London and elsewhere, wanting employment, and otherwise tempted toward crime "if not provided for," the Transportation Act included that merchants and others could also contract with 15-20 year-olds, who were willing to be transported and serve up to eight years indentured service. Other sections of the act imposed stricter measures against fencing stolen goods, making them fourteen-year sentences instead of mere accessories to theft; imposed a seven-year transportation sentence for those imprisoned for, or breaking, the long-time prohibition on exporting wool in violation of the acts of trade. Unrelated to transportation, section seven concerns the suppression of piracy. The death penalty for most kinds of piracy was abolished by the Piracy Act 1837, which preserved the death penalty for piracy with intent to kill. The death penalty for piracy was abolished altogether in 1998. The 1717 Act was repealed in 1993.

William Gregory (1625–1696)

Sir William Gregory (1 March 1625 – 28 May 1696) was a British judge and politician. Born the son of the vicar of Fownhope, he was educated at Hereford Cathedral School and All Souls College, Oxford and was then called to the Bar. In 1653 he married Katharine, only daughter and heiress of James Smith of Tillington, by whom he had an only son, James, who died in 1691 before his father. It was not until 1677 that William gained prominence, being elected a Serjeant-at-law. In March 1677 the election of Sir Thomas Williams as a Member of Parliament for Weobly was called into question and declared void, so William Gregory offered himself as a candidate and was elected without opposition on 9 March.

After only a year in Parliament he was elected to serve as Speaker of the House of Commons in the Habeas Corpus Parliament, as a compromise between Parliament, who wished to reelect Sir Edward Seymour and the King, who was averse to him. During his time in Parliament Gregory was instrumental in the passing of the Habeas Corpus Act 1679, and was subsequently knighted and then confirmed as Baron of the Exchequer. In 1689 he was appointed Chief Justice of the King's Bench, a position he held until his death.In 1677 Gregory purchased the manor and estate of How Caple, Herefordshire, from Edward Caple, whose family had held it since 1289, and subsequently added to it with the purchase of lands in Woolhope and Fownhope, including the manors of Fownhope and Sellershope, spending most of his free time at the manor house at How Caple. He was afflicted with kidney stones, an illness he bore well: a 1694 letter to Sir Edward Harley says:

My distemper hath been very sharp upon me this winter, and I have not been out of my chamber these three months. My trust is that God, who hath hitheto of his goodness supported me under it, will sanctifie it unto me.

He left adequate funds in his will to rebuild the parish church of St Andrew and St Mary at How Cable (1693–1695), with the exception of the chancel, which remains medieval. The building is apparently admired for its architectural beauty despite being built in a time where architectural design was at its lowest ebb.A more detailed account of Sir William's political career is available at The History of Parliament Online

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