Legislation on the slave trade
Legislation on the slave trade

Royal NavySlave trade legislation ► Acts of Parliament

Anno tricesimo septimo Georgii III, cap. CIV

An Act for regulating the Shipping and carrying of Slaves in British Vessels from the Coast of Africa.

[19th July 1797]

  'WHEREAS it is expedient to regulate the shipping and carrying Slaves in British Vessels from the Coast of Africa, for a limited Time;' be it therefore enacted, &c.
[See Stats.
29 Geo. 3. c. 66.
30 Geo. 3. c. 33.
31 Geo. 3. c. 54.
32 Geo. 3. c. 52.
35 Geo. 3. c.90.]
"No Vessel clearing out from Great Britain, to carry Slaves from Africa in greater Numbers than herein specified. Vessels to be deemed of the Tonnage set forth in their Certificates of Registry. Masters of Vessels to forfeit 30l. for every Slave exceeding the limited Number. If more than Two-fifths of the Slaves be Children, five of the Surplus to be deemed equal to four Slaves, &c. Masters of Vessels, before they land any Slaves in the West Indies, to give in a written Declaration to the Officer of the Customs of the burthen of the Vessel, &c.; and if they land Slaves contrary hereto, to forfeit 500l. Officers of the Customs to take an Account of the Slaves on Board such Vessels, &c. on Penalty of 500l. Where there is no Officer of the Customs, any Civil Officer to receive the Declaration of the Master, &c. Penalty on taking false Declaration. No Vessel to carry any Slaves, unless entered for that Purpose at clearing out, nor unless the Surgeon give Bond to keep a Journal of the Slaves during the Voyage; Journal is to be delivered to the Officer of the Customs, at the first British Port of Arrival, &c. Officer to deliver to the Master a Copy of his Declaration, and to the Surgeon a Copy of his Journal, and transmit Duplicates to the Commissioners of the Customs. Masters or Surgeons acting contrary hereto to forfeit 100l. If Penalty on Masters be not paid within fourteen Days, their Vessels may be seized and sold. On Arrival of Vessels in America or the West Indies, the Owners to give Bond for Payment of Penalties. Vessels not to be admitted to Entry till Bond is given. Suits to be commenced within one Month. Penalties may be sued for in any Court of Vice Admiralty in America, or the West Indies, where the Offence shall have been committed, or Cargo disposed of, or in Courts of Record at Westminster, or the Court of Exchequer at Edinburgh. The upper and lower Cabin, and the Space between Decks, to be allotted to the Slaves. If any Person take the Command of a Vessel, who is not qualified as herein directed, he, and also the Owner, shall forfeit 500l. Former Acts recited, and nothing therein to make void Insurances made in the same general Terms as other Insurances; but under them no Damages shall be recoverable in certain Cases. No Vessel to be cleared out that has not a Surgeon who has passed his Examination, &c. If the Officer at the Port of Discharge shall be satisfied that there have not died on the Voyage more than two Slaves in the hundred, he is to give Certificates to the Master and Surgeon; and on Production thereof to the Commissioners of the Customs, they are to order the Master 100l. and the Surgeon 50l. Like Certificates to be given where the Mortality has not been more than three in the hundred, which are to entitle the Master to 501. and the Surgeon to 251. Before any Vessel is cleared Outwards, the Master, Officers, and Mariners, to execute Articles of Agreement in the Forms annexed to the Act; and no other Form to be used on Penalty of 50l. Muster Roll to be regularly kept and delivered on Penalty of 100l. and six Months Imprisonment. No Officer, &c. to be turned over or discharged, but under the Circumstances herein mentioned. No Slops, &. to be Supplied, beyond One-fourth of the Monthly Wages. Regulations with regard to Officers, &c. behaving in a riotous, seditious, or mutinous Manner. Master to cause a printed Abstract of this Act, &. to be hung up in the most public Place in his Vessel, on Penalty of 20l. If mutinous Officers, & be taken into Custody, in Africa or the West Indies, a Statement, upon Oath, to be lodged with the Governor, &c. and if the Witnesses do not appear at the Trial, they shall incur a Penalty. Officers, &c. to continue in Pay till the Vessel is cleared Inwards. Wages of Run Men to go to Greenwich Hospital, &c. Where Offences may be tried, and Penalti es sued for. Limitation of Actions. Delivery of Writs on Board Vessels to be deemed legal Service. Persons taking false Oaths to incur the Pains of Perjury, &c. This Act to continue in force till August 1, 1798."
Clause in former Acts respecting the Certificates of Qualification required to be given by Master, recited.

Doubts arising by whom Certificates to be attested.

Policies of Insurance made before the passing of this Act, not to be void by reason of Certificates given under recited Acts, &c.
XXV. 'And whereas by an Act, passed in the thirty-second Year of the Reign of his present Majesty, and which was afterwards continued by several subsequent Acts passed in the thirty-third, thirty-fourth, and thirty-fifth Years of his said present Majesty's Reign, it was enacted, That from and after the first day of August one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two, it shall not be lawful for any Person to become a Master, or take or have the Command or Charge of any such Ship or Vessel, at the Time he shall clear out from any Port of Great Britain for purchasing and carrying Slaves from the Coast of Africa, unless such Master or Person taking or having the Charge or Command of any such Ship or Vessel shall have made Oath, and delivered in to the Collector or other Chief Officer of the Customs at the Port were such Ship or Vessel shall clear out, a Certificate, attested by the respective Owner or Owners, that he has already served in such Capacity during one Voyage, or shall have served as Chief Mate or Surgeon during the Whole of two Voyages, or either as Chief or other Mate during three Voyages, in purchasing and carrying Slaves from the Coast of Africa, under Pain that such Master or other Person taking or having the Charge or Command of any such Ship or Vessel, and also the Owner or Owners who shall hire or employ such Person, shall, for every such Offence, respectively forfeit and pay the Sum of five hundred pounds: And Whereas Doubts have arisen respecting the Construction of the abovementioned Clause, whether the Certificate thereby required to be delivered in to the Collector or other Chief Officer of the Customs should be attested by the respective Owner or Owners of any Ship or Vessel wherein the Person or Persons then about to take the Command of the Ship or Vessel required to be cleared out, had formerly sailed in some or one of the Capacities by the said Act specified and required, or by the respective Owner or Owners of the Ship or Vessel in which such Person or Persons was or were then about to sail as the Master or Commander thereof, as believing the Facts stated in the Affidavit of such Person or Persons then about to have or take the Charge or Command of any such Ship or Vessel, to be true: And whereas, in consequence of such Doubts, the Collectors or other Chief Officer of the Customs at the Ports of London and Liverpool, doubting the Meaning and Construction of the said Acts, have required and taken Certificates attested in both the Ways before mentioned, and cleared out Ships or Vessels under each Form of Certificate, in consequence of which great Inconveniences have arisen, and Doubts have been made touching the Legality of the Policies of Insurance made upon such Ships or Vessels;' be it therefore further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That nothing in the said former Acts of Parliament hereinbefore mentioned, or in any of them contained, shall extend, or be construed to extend, impeach, invalidate, or make void, any Policy or Policies of Insurance which shall have been made before the passing of this Act, by reason or in consequence of any Certificate or Certificates which have been required and given in order to the clearing out any Ship or Vessel, employed in the Slave Trade, to the Coast of Africa, by the Owner or Owners of the Ship or Vessel then about to clear out and to sail, or by the Owner or Owners of some other Ship or Vessel in whose Employ the Person then about to sail had been formerly employed and sailed, or to inflict any Penalty or Penalties upon the Owner or Owners of such Ship or Vessel.

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