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1641: The Tonnage and Poundage Act

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31. The Tonnage and Poundage Act.

[June 22, 1641. 17 Car. I. cap. 8. Statutes of the Realm, v. 104. See Hist. of Engl. ix. 400.]

A subsidy granted to the King, of tonnage, poundage, and other sums of money payable upon merchandise exported and imported.

1. Whereas upon examination in this present Parliament of divers of the farmers, customers, and collectors of the customs upon merchandise, and likewise upon their own confession, it appeared that they have taken divers great sums of money of His Majesty’s subjects, and likewise of merchants aliens for goods imported and exported by the names of a subsidy of tonnage and poundage, and by colour of divers other impositions laid upon merchandise, which have been taken and received against the laws of the realm, in regard the said sums of money and impositions were not granted by common consent in Parliament, and for so doing have deserved condign punishment. Be it therefore declared and enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty and the Lords and Commons in this present Parliament assembled: and it is hereby declared and enacted, That it is and hath been the ancient right of the subjects of this realm, that no subsidy, custom, impost, or other charge whatsoever ought or may be laid or imposed upon any merchandise exported or imported by subjects, denizens, or aliens without common consent in Parliament: yet nevertheless the Commons before whom those examinations were taken, taking into their consideration the great peril that might ensue to this realm by the not guarding of the seas, and the other inconveniences which might follow in case the said sums of money should upon the sudden be forborne to be paid by and with the advice and consent of the Lords in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, do give and grant to our supreme liege Lord and Sovereign one subsidy called tonnage, that is to say, of every tun of wine that is or shall come into this realm or any His Majesty’s dominions by way of merchandise the sum of three shillings, and so after that rate, and of every tun of sweet wines, as well malmsey as other, that is or shall come into this realm by any merchant alien three shillings, and so after the rate over and above the three shillings above mentioned, and of every awme of Rhenish wine that is or shall so come in twelve pence; and also one other subsidy called poundage, that is to say, of all manner of goods and merchandise of every merchant, denizen and alien carried or to be carried out of this realm, or any His Majesty’s dominions, or to be brought into the same by way of merchandise, of the value of every twenty shillings of the same goods and merchandise twelve pence, and so after the rate; and of every twenty shillings value of tin and pewter vessel carried out of this realm by every or any merchant alien, twelve pence over and above the twelve pence aforesaid, except and foreprized out of this grant of subsidy of poundage all manner of woollen cloth made or wrought, or which shall be made or wrought within this realm of England and by every or any merchant denizen, and not born alien, carried or to be carried out of this realm; and all manner of wools, woolfells, hides, and backs of leather, that is or shall be carried out of this realm; and all wines not before limited to pay subsidy or tonnage, and all manner of fresh fish and bestial coming or that shall come into this realm.

II. And further the said Commons by the advice, assent, and authority aforesaid, do give and grant unto our said liege Lord, our Sovereign for the causes aforesaid, one other subsidy, that is to say, of every merchant born denizen of and for every sack of wool thirty-three shillings four pence, and of and for every two hundred and forty woolfells thirty-three shillings four pence, and of and for every last of hides and backs three pounds six shillings eight pence, and so after the same rate for every less or greater quantity for any the same merchandise more or less; and of every merchant stranger not born denizen, of and for every sack of wool three pounds six shillings eight pence; and of and for every two hundred forty woolfells three pounds six shillings eight pence, and for every last of hides and backs three pounds thirteen shillings four pence, and so of all the said wools, woolfells, hides and backs, and of every of them after the rate, and such other sums of money as have been imposed upon any merchandise either outward or inward by pretext of any letters patents, commission under the Great Seal of England or Privy Seal, since the first year of the reign of his late Majesty King James of blessed memory, and which were continued and paid at the beginning of this present Parliament; to have, take, enjoy, and perceive the subsidies aforesaid, and other the fore-mentioned sums and every of them, and every part and parcel of them to our said liege Lord and Sovereign from the five and twentieth of May, one thousand six hundred forty-one, to the fifteenth of July next ensuing.

III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid: that the said subsidy of tonnage, poundage, wools, and other sums of money shall be taken and employed during the time aforesaid to and for the intents and purposes, and upon and under such provisions, clauses, and limitations as are contained in one Act made in the Parliament held in the first year of the reign of his said late Majesty King James of blessed memory, entitled An Act for the granting of a Subsidy to the King, of Tonnage, Poundage, Wools, &c.

IV. And it is hereby declared that the sums of money hereby granted upon merchandise are not the rates intended to be continued, but the same to be hereafter in this present Parliament altered in such manner as shall be thought fit.

V. Provided that no penalty or forfeiture contained in this present Act or in the said Act made in the first year of King James do or shall ensue to any person or persons, unless they refuse to compound for any merchandise or goods imported or exported after notice given of this act, penalty, and forfeiture by proclamation, where the said goods are or ought to be entered.

VI. And it is further enacted that any customer or comptroller, or any other officer or person that after the determination of this grant shall take or receive or cause to be taken or received the said subsidy, sums of money or any other imposition upon merchandise whatsoever exported or imported (except the same by grant in Parliament be due, or by such grant shall become due or have been continually paid from the end of the reign of the late King Edward the Third until the beginning of the reign of the late Queen Mary), shall incur and sustain the pains, penalties, and forfeitures ordained and provided by the Statute of Provision and Premunire made in the sixteenth year of King Richard the Second, and shall also from thenceforth be disabled during his life to sue or implead any person in any action real, mixed or personal, or in any court whatsoever.

VII. Provided always that this Act shall not extend to any imposition or charge upon any sort of tobacco of English plantations, but that the said tobaccos shall be charged only with the payment of two pence in the pound and no more.

Last modified April 10, 2014