Regarding the customing of goods

Forasmuch as it is understood to the king's majesty and estates of this present parliament that by diverse acts of parliament, laws and constitutions heretofore observed all manner of English goods brought within this realm are and have been ever subject and in use of payment to his highness of a certain custom and duty properly appertaining to his majesty as a part of the patrimony of his crown, likewise also other sorts of cloth, silk stuffs and merchandise brought within this realm from foreign nations are by an act of his majesty's nobility, council and estates, of the date 13 May 1597, ratified and approved in the parliament held at Edinburgh in the month of December that same year, subject in the payment of a certain custom to his highness, and the merchant importers of the said goods ought not to unload, unpack nor dispose thereupon until the same be first entered, then marked and duly customed by the customs officials appointed thereto. Notwithstanding, the custom of the said goods is very much ignored, to the great hurt and discommodity of his majesty, in respect there is no seal appointed to be hung to the said goods according to the use and custom observed in other nations, whereby the customed goods could in no way be known by the goods on which no custom has been paid, and so by their confusion the merchant owners and importers of the said goods immediately after the arriving and coming of the said goods within this realm unload, unpack, sells and conceal the same and never offer nor present any part thereof to be customed according to the order, to the great prejudice of his highness. Which being now considered by his highness, his said nobility, council and estates, and they finding that by the want of the seal his majesty is and has been greatly defrauded of his customs, ordain therefore the whole customs officials within this realm to cause make and print a seal and stamp of seal containing two halves for every burgh and sea port within this realm where they are established customs officials, the one half thereof containing 'Jacobus Rex', with his highness's arms and crown, and the other half the name of the burgh where the same shall remain; which seal and stamp shall be applied to lead, being so struck and printed with the said stamp, shall be hung to every piece and length of cloth, silk and stuff of whatsoever nation that hereafter shall be brought within this realm by sea or land before the same be presented to open market, sold or any way disposed upon; and the one half of the said seal to be kept by the customs official and the other half by the clerk of the cocket, the owners of the said cloth, silks and stuffs, paying the custom thereof. And to the effect the cloth, silks and stuffs presently within this realm may be known and determined from that which hereafter shall be brought within the same, it is also decreed and ordained that the customs official of every burgh and sea port shall repair to the dwelling house and booths within every one of the same burghs and ports where they are particularly appointed customs officials and there receive the oaths of the owners of such pieces and lengths of cloth, silks and stuffs as are therein, whether the same has paid the custom thereof or not; and such as have not paid custom that the same be then instantly paid and the said seal, in taking thereof, hung thereto and to all the other pieces and lengths which shall be apprehended within the said booths and houses whereof the custom has been paid of before, upon the expense always of the said customs official; and that the owners of the said cloth and stuffs require the customs officials within every burgh and part particularly to repair to their said booths and houses to this effect within 14 days after the publication hereof, and further to do and perform all other things which to every one of them is appointed to be done in manner foresaid, under the pain of confiscation of all the pieces and lengths of cloth and stuff that shall be apprehended thereafter wanting the said seal, and that no manner of importers of the said cloth, silk and stuff within this realm in time coming presume nor take upon to sell nor dispose upon the same nor any part thereof to the time the same be presented to the customs officials within the custom house, the custom thereof paid and the said seal, in taking thereof, hung to every particular piece of the same as said is, under the pain of escheating of the same; certifying them and those who fail that all and whatsoever lengths and pieces which shall be apprehended wanting the said seal shall be confiscated and intromitted with to his majesty's use as escheat with all rigour and extremities in example of others, and that letters of publication be directed hereupon through which none pretend ignorance of the same.

  1. NAS, PA2/16, f.25r-v. Back
  2. 'V' written in margin beside heading. Back