An Act for the enforcing the Laws which restrain Marriages without Licence or Banns, and for the better registring Marriages, Births, and Burials. [1696.]
Whereas by an Act of Parliament made in the fifth and sixth Years of the Reign of his Majesty King William, and the late Queen Mary of Blessed Memory, intituled, An Act for granting to their Majesties several Duties upon Vellum, Parchment, and Paper, for four Years, towards carrying on the War against France, it is amongst other Things enacted, That a Duty or imposition of five shillings shall be rated, levied collected and paid, for every Piece of Paper or Parchment, upon which any Licence or Certificate of Marriage should be written or ingrossed: And whereas by Clause in another Act of Parliament made in the sixth and seventh Years of his Majesty’s Reign, intituled, An Act for granting to his Majesty certain Rates and Duties upon Marriages, Births, and Burials, and upon Batchelors and Widowers, for a Term of five Years, for carrying on the War against France with Vigor, it is amongst other Things enacted and provided That no Person shall be married at any Place pretending to be exempted from the Visitation of the Bishop of the Diocese without a Licence first had and obtained. except the Banns shall be published and certified according to Law; and that every Parson, Vicar, and Curate, who shall marry any Persons contrary to the true Intent and Meaning thereof, shall forfeit the Sum of one hundred Pounds, Which Clause was so enacted and provided for the better ascertaining, levying, and collecting the aforesaid Duty of five Shillings upon every Licence or Certificate of Marriage, but by Experience is found ineffectual for the same, in regard the said Penalty of one hundred Pounds is not extended to every Offence of the same Parson, Vicar, or Curate, so offending as aforesaid And whereas the Force and Intent of the said Clause is otherwise eluded and made of none effect, by several Parsons, Vicars, and Curates, who, to avoid the said Penalty of one hundred Pounds, do substitute and employ, and knowingly and wittingly suffer and permit, divers other Ministers to marry great Numbers of Persons in their respective Churches and Chapels, without Publication of Banns, or Licences of Marriage first had and obtained ; many of which Ministers so substituted, employed, permitted, and suffered to marry as aforesaid, have no Benefices or settled Habitations, and are poor and indigent, and cannot easily be discovered and convicted of the Offences aforesaid: And whereas divers Ministers, being in Prison for Debt and otherwise, do marry in the said Prisons, many Persons resorting thither for the Purposes aforesaid, and in other Places for Lucre and Gain to themselves ; by all which Means the Duties and Impositions upon Licences of Marriage, as aforesaid, are greatly diminished and substracted, and many other great Inconveniencies do arise :‘ For the remedying and preventing whereof,
II. 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 Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That from and after the four and twentieth Day of June in the Year of our Lord one thousand six hundred ninety and six, every Parson, Vicar, or Curate, who shall marry any Persons in any Church or Chapel, exempt or not exempt, or in any other Place whatever, without Publication of the Banns Matrimony between the respective Persons according to Law, or without Licences for the said Marriages first had and obtained, shall for every such Offence forfeit the Sum of one hundred Pounds.
III. And for the more effectual preventing the Abuses aforesaid, be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That every Parson, Vicar, or Curate, who shall substitute or employ, or knowingly and wittingly shall suffer and permit, any other Minister to marry any Persons in any Church or Chapel to such Parson, Vicar, or Curate belonging or appertaining, without Publication of Banns or Licences of Marriage first had and obtained, shall for every. such Offence forfeit the Sum of one hundred Pounds; the aforesaid respective Forfeitures to be recovered by Action of Debt, Bill, Plaint, or Information, in any of his Majesty’s Courts of Record, wherein no Ession, Wager, or Protection of Law, or any more than one Imparlance, shall be allowed ; one Moiety thereof to his Majesty, his Heirs and Successors, and the other Moiety to him or them who shall inform or sue for the same.
IV. And for the better ascertaining, levying, and collecting, the said Duties on Marriages and Licences, as aforesaid; Be it further enacted by the Authority aforsaid, That from and after the four and twentieth Day of June in the Year of our Lord one thousand six hundred ninety and six, every Man so married without Licence or Publication of Banns, as aforesaid, shall forfeit the Sum of ten Pounds, to be recovered, together with Costs of Suit, in manner as aforesaid, by any Person who shall inform or sue for the same; and likewise that every Sexton, or Parish Clerk, or other Person acting as Sexton or Parish Clerk, who shall knowingly and wittingly aid, promote, and assist at such Marriages so celebrated without Banns or Licences, as aforesaid, shall forfeit the Sum of five Pounds, to be recovered with Costs of Suit in manner as aforesaid by any Person who shall inform or sue for the same.
V. And whereas divers Children who are born within this Kingdom are not christned according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England, and many are in private Houses, nor are the Parents of such Children obliged by the aforesaid Act to give Notice to their respective Ministers, of ‘ the Births of such Children; for want whereof an exact Register of all Persons born is not kept, and many Persons chargeable with the Duties in the said Act mentioned do thereby escape the Payment of the several Sums due to his Majesty, and charged upon them by the said Act, by reason of the Births of such Children : For Remedy whereof be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, that from and after the four and twentieth Day of June, which shall be in the Year one thousand six hundred ninety and six, the Parents of every Child, which shall at any Time be born after the said Day and Year, and during the Continuance of the said Acts, or one of them, shall within five Days after such Birth give Notice to the respective Rector, Vicar, Curate, or Clerk of the Parish or Place where such Child was born, of the Day of the Birth of every such Child: And in case any Parent shall neglect to give such Notice as aforesaid, he or she shall forfeit the Sum of forty Shillings, one Moiety thereof to the king’s Majesty and the other Moiety to the informer; the which said Rector, Vicar, Curate, or Clerk of the Parish, or their Substitutes, are hereby required, during the Continuance of the said Act, to take an exact and true Account, and keep a distinct Register of all and every Person or Persons so born in his or their respective Parishes or Precincts, and not christened ; for doing which the Parents of such Child, or one of them, shall pay to every such Parson, Rector, Vicar, Curate, or Clerk of the Parish, the Sum of Six Pence ; and if any such Rector, Vicar, Curate, Parson, or Minister, shall refuse or neglect to keep a true Register thereof, as before is directed, such Parson or other Minister, so offending shall forfeit the Sum of forty shillings, to be recovered by such Persons, and in such Manner, as in the said recited Act the Forfeitures therein mentioned are appointed to be recovered; any thing in the said Law contained to the contrary notwithstanding.
Commissioners to administer Oaths to the Collectors. Parsons to produce twice a Year, to the Commissioners, such Licences, Certificates, and Registers. 4 Annæ, c. 12. §. 10 indemnifies Omissions in this Case. Parsons to give Notice, within ten Days, of Persons buried in their Parishes,
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