For punishment of persons that despicably remain rebels and at the horn, chapter 8

Forasmuch as the contempt of our sovereign lord's authority and of the laws and ordinary justice of the realm is the ground and fountain from which the most part of all confusion and disorder proceeds, and amongst other evils the disobedience of the process of horning is so great and common that the persons denounced as rebels take no fear thereof and the parties hurt and interested that have obtained decreets and letters with their infinite expenses and cost can get no execution nor redress; and albeit by one act and ordinance made by the lords of session it was provided that all officers immediately after their denunciation of any persons to the horn should pass to the sheriff of the shire where they dwelt and intimate to him the same, requiring him, in our sovereign lord's name and authority, to make a just inventory of all the said person's goods, to the effect that the same might be brought to his highness's use for their contempt, and that the said officers should deliver to the said sheriff an authentic copy of the said letters, with the execution of the same subscribed with their hand, and within eight days thereafter should pass to the treasurer or his clerks and deliver to them one other copy of the said letters, with the execution of the same, in like manner subscribed with the said officer's hands to the effect aforesaid, conforming to the said act and ordinance. Nevertheless, the same has been neglected for the most part and is in no way followed by the said officers, so that the impunity of such heinous attempts and open rebellion has brought our sovereign lord's authority in contempt and made the multitude of rebels so great that it shall be difficult to know them from the king's obedient subjects unless some hasty remedy be provided, notwithstanding that by the aforesaid ordinance of the lords of session and other lovable laws and acts of parliament established by his highness and his most noble progenitors, good order has been taken for avoiding of the said confusion, yet the negligence of the due execution thereof has bred this great inconvenience, which now our sovereign lord, for the furtherance of his obedience and universal good of his subjects, presently intends, as God shall grant opportunity, to remedy. Therefore his highness, with advice of his three estates in this present parliament, statutes and ordains that all letters of horning executed and endorsed, or that shall happen to be executed and endorsed before the publication of this present act, shall, within the space of 15 days after the publication thereof and in all time thereafter within the space of 15 days after the denunciation, be brought to the sheriff clerk of every sheriffdom who shall register the same in the sheriff books and deliver the principal letters again executed and endorsed, noted on the back, registered such a day and subscribed with his hand, and within 24 hours after the receipt thereof, shall receive from the party, owner and presenter of the said letters, for his labours only 6s 8d; the which letters and executions thereof so registered and subscribed on the back by the said sheriff clerk, or the copy thereof authentically extracted out of the said sheriff books subscribed by the said sheriff clerk, shall be esteemed as authentic, and shall have effect and force in whatsoever judgement they happen to be produced during the time that the party so denounced to the horn obtains for himself an orderly relaxation therefrom, which relaxation shall also be made publicly at the market cross of the shire where he dwells and where the denunciation of horning was made; and that the said relaxation and execution thereof shall be likewise registered in the said sheriff books within 15 days after the publication thereof at the said market cross and be also registered and subscribed on the back in manner aforesaid, otherwise the said letters of horning and relaxation shall in no way be held lawfully and orderly executed, but the executions thereof null. And that all sheriffs have honest, reputable men to their clerks who, by themselves or their sufficient deputes, shall be held to be always resident within the head burgh of the shire for receiving and registering of the said hornings and relaxations as they shall occur, and shall do the same truly and orderly within 24 hours under the pain of payment of the damage and interest that the party harmed happens to sustain in their default, at the sight and modification of the lords of council and session; and that each sheriff cause the names of the whole persons so denounced and remaining in his register to be openly published and proclaimed at the market cross of the head burgh of the shire upon the market days preceding the three head courts yearly, and affix the catalogue of their names both on the market cross and the tolbooth, that if any of them have actions to pursue they may be debarred from conducting them and names to be deleted out of the said catalogue until they be lawfully and duly relaxed from the horn. And that every sheriff, within the space of 15 days after the head court, send the catalogue of the names of the rebels registered in his books and a brief note of the causes for which they are denounced to our sovereign lord's treasurer or his clerk, who shall be held with all diligence to raise letters and cause take up the escheats of the rebels to our sovereign lord's use. And when our sovereign lord's comptroller, collector general or any other person presents letters of horning duly executed and endorsed to the said lord treasurer or his clerk for special sums of money or debt, the treasurer shall cause raise letters thereupon at his instance for taking up of the escheat directed either to the sheriff of the shire and his deputes or to officers of arms, as it may best serve, by advice of the complainer; of the readiest and first end of the which escheat, the party complainer shall be paid of his just debt, with the officer's expenses and the surplus of the said escheat to be brought in to his majesty's treasurer within the space of one month thereafter, providing that the party complainer and presenter of the letters to the treasurer make the first expenses upon the sheriff or officer that shall be directed for taking up of the said escheated goods until the escheat itself may relieve the said expenses, and then the same to be taken and allowed off the escheat. And in case the officer directed to take up of the said escheat is violently impeded and stopped in execution of his office, then, upon the complaint of the said lord treasurer or of the officer or party that wants payment of his debt, letters shall be directed by deliverance of the lords of council charging the sheriff of the shire or his deputes, or if it be understood that the sheriff will not or may not, charging some of the noblemen, barons or gentlemen of good power within the sheriffdom, best affected to the setting forth of our sovereign lord's authority and justice, to convene his highness's lieges in war-like manner, and to pass and concur with the said officer that before was impeded and stopped and see the command of the letters executed really and with effect before they depart of the ground where the said escheated goods remains; in the which execution, they shall have all freedoms, privileges and immunities that are granted by the laws of this realm to such persons as pursue the king's rebels to bring them to his laws, providing that this act nor nothing therein contained be prejudicial to the lords of regalities or their bailies, but they are to use and enjoy their right and privileges both in execution of letters and in taking up of escheats as they might have done before the making of this present act; and howsoever the escheat be taken up upon horning executed for sums of money, whether by the sheriffs and other ordinary judges by their own authority or at command of our sovereign lord's letters, that always the party complainer be first satisfied of his just debt with the officers' expenses.

  1. NAS, PA2/12, ff.26v-27r. Back
  2. 'P' written in margin. Back