TREASON ACT 1649. An Act Declaring what Offences Shall be adjudged Treason. Die Martis, 17 Julii, 1649. Ordered by the Parliament, That this Act be forthwith printed and published. Hen: Scobell, Cleric. Parliamenti. London: Printed by Edward Husband and John Field, Printers to the Parliament of England, 1649.
Small folio (10 x 6 6/8 inches) 8-pages, printed on 7: , 353-357, . Woodcut arms of the Commonwealth of England on the cover/title, 10-line woodcut initial. Self-wrappers, removed from a sammelband.
The Treasons Act of 1649 was passed on the 17th July 1649 by the so-called Rump Parliament during the Commonwealth of England. It superseded the Act declaring what offences shall be adjudged Treason passed about two months earlier on the 14th of May 1649. The Rump Parliament was part of the Long Parliament in Britain that continued to sit after the forced exclusion of Presbyterian members in 1648. It voted for the trial that resulted in the execution of Charles I.
With the execution of Charles I at the end of January in 1649, and with the old traitors now in charge of the Commonwealth, new Treason Acts were necessary to replace those that had previously addressed offences against the King, with those that addressed threats that faced the Commonwealth. As with all acts and ordinances passed by Parliament during the Civil War and the Interregnum, which did not have Royal Assent, this Act was made null and void following the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660.
This particular Act makes it a treasonable offence to:
- say in writing or verbally that "the [Commonwealth] government is tyrannical, usurped, or unlawful, or that the commons in parliament assembled are not the supreme authority of this nation,"
- "plot, contrive, or endeavour to stir up or raise force against the present government, or for the subversion or alteration of the same,"
- attempt or incite the subversion of the government, or insurrection against the government,
- counterfeit the Commonwealth version of the great seal of England, or to counterfeit or clip coins, or import counterfeit coins (whether they were Commonwealth coins or foreign coins current within England).
For anyone who was not a member of the New Model Army, it was treasonable to:
- plot or incite a mutiny,
- "withdraw any soldiers or officers from their obedience to their superior officers, or from the present government,"
- "procure, invite, aid, or assist any foreigners or strangers to invade England or Ireland," or to "adhere to" the enemies of the Commonwealth parliament or government.
The penalty for treason under the Act was death and forfeiture of lands and goods, "as in case of high treason hath been used by the laws and statutes of this land." ESTC R492187. Catalogued by Kate Hunter