1786: 26 George 2 c.44: Relief of imprisoned debtors.

1786: 26 George 2 c.44: An act for the further relief of debtors, with respect to the imprisonment of their persons; and to oblige debtors, who shall continue in execution in prison beyond a certain time, and for sums not exceeding what are mentioned in the act, to make discovery of, and deliver upon oath, their estates for their creditors benefit.

WHEREAS it may be reasonable to extend the benefits of an act, passed in the thirty second year of the reign of his late majesty King George the Second, of glorious memory, entitled, An act for relief of debtors, with respect to the imprisonment of their persons; and to oblige debtors, who shall continue in execution in prison beyond a certain time, and for sums not exceeding what are mentioned in the act, to make discovery of, and deliver upon oath, their estates for their creditors benefit, to several persons who have neglected to take the benefit of the same, and also to several persons who were not entitled to any benefit under the said act: be it therefore enacted by the king’s most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and content of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That, from and after the passing of this act, every person now or hereafter in execution for any sum or sums of money, not exceeding two hundred pounds, shall be entitled to such relief as by an act passed in the thirty second year of his late majesty King George the Second, entitled, An act for relief of debtors, with respect to the imprisonment of their persons; and to oblige debtors, who shall continue in execution in prison beyond a certain time, and for sums not exceeding what are mentioned in the act, to make discovery of, and deliver upon oath, their estates for their creditors benefit, is granted to persons charged in execution for any sum or sums of money not exceeding one hundred pounds.

II And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid,  That every creditor or creditors, his, her, or their executors or Creditors for administrators, at whose suit any debtor shall be charged in execution for any sum or sums not exceeding the sum of two hundred pounds, shall have such remedy, by compelling such debtor to deliver up his or her estate and effects for the benefit of his or her creditors, as is provided by the before recited act, in cases where the sum for which such debtor shall be in execution does not exceed the sum of one hundred pounds.

III And whereas many persons are often committed on attachments, for not paying money awarded to be paid under submissions to arbitration by rules of court, or under submissions to arbitration bonds, and which submissions have been made rules of the court, in pursuance of an act passed in the ninth and tenth years of the reign of William the Third, for determining differences by arbitration, and likewise for not paying of costs duly and regularly taxed and allowed by the proper officer, after proper demands made for that purpose; and also upon any writ of excommunicato capiendo, or other process for, or grounded on the nonpayment of costs or expenses in any cause or proceeding in any ecclesiastical  court; it is hereby declared and enacted, That all such persons are and shall be entitled to the benefit of this act, and subject to the same terms and conditions as are herein expressed and declared with respect to prisoners for debt only.

IV And be it further enacted, That all gaolers and keepers of prisons are hereby directed and required to give notice of this act to all persons in their custody for debt, within three days after such persons shall have been respectively committed or charged in execution, so as to make the same clearly and perfectly understood; and if any gaoler or keeper of a prison shall neglect to give such notice according to the true intent and meaning of this act, he shall forfeit and pay, to any person who shall sue for the same, the sum of fifty pounds, to be recovered by him or her by action of debt in any of his majesty’s courts of record at Westminster, wherein no essoin, protection, wager of law, privilege, or imparlance, shall be admitted or allowed; and in every such action the proof shall lie on the person against whom the same shall be brought: provided nevertheless, that such action shall be brought within six calendar months after the cause of action accrued.

V And be it further enacted, That where any debtor as aforesaid shall have neglected to take the benefit of the said act, within the time limited by the said act, and shall have remained in prison by the space of one year, and shall make it appear to the court out of which such execution issued, that such neglect arose from ignorance or mistake, such debtor shall then be entitled to take the benefit of the said act, as if he or she had taken the same within the time by the said act so limited as aforesaid.

VI Provided always. That it shall be lawful for any creditor or creditors, at whose suit any debtor shall be so in execution as aforesaid, to file interrogatories for the examination of such prisoner, before his or her being admitted to take the benefit of this or the before recited act.

VII Provided always, That this act shall not extend to any debt or debts that may be owing to the crown, nor shall it affect any proceeding which at any time may be lawfully had under or by virtue of any commission of bankrupt.

VIII Provided also. That this act or anything herein contained, shall not extend to that part of Great Britain called Scotland.

IX. Provided also, That this act shall continue and be in force for five years, and from thence to the end of the then next session of parliament, and no longer.

Source: Pickering, Statutes at Large, volume 35.