Act regarding fugitive persons of the borders to the inland

Forasmuch as the king's majesty is resolved to purge the middle shires of this isle, heretofore called the borders of Scotland and England, of that barbarous cruelty, wickedness and incivility which by inveterate custom almost was become natural to many of the inhabitants thereof, and to reduce them to the knowledge, love and fear of God, reverence of his majesty's authority, obedience of his laws and duty to their neighbours, for accomplishing of that most royal design made choice [of one] to be commissioner in these bounds whom by many assured proofs, former employments of greatest consequence, his majesty knew [to] be attributed with all qualities necessary for so weighty a charge, who following precisely the rules of his majesty's most prudent directions and using all possible diligence and dexterity in prosecution thereof, made so happy progress in that good course as justly punishing the most perverse and rebellious ring leaders (whose amendment was desperate) and transporting others of them out of this isle, the rest were brought to very settled quietness and obedience of his majesty's laws, a very few number of outlaws only excepted, who being so earnestly searched and perceived in these bounds as all hope of escaping and longer impunity was taken from them, they have by most subtle and crafty means by changing their names and dissembling the place of their nativity convoyed themselves in the inland of this realm and insinuated themselves in service with noblemen and others of good quality, not only thereby eschewing their deserved punishment, but also abusing and harming his majesty's good subjects by their hidden thefts in the inland, transported, reset and quietly sold in the bounds of the late borders, and again stealing gear forth thereof and out of the bounds of these middle shires and outing and selling the same in the inland, beside that others of the said outlaws had been allured and had reset and oversight in the inland by some men of rank and power, to be instruments and executors of such revenge and mischief against those to whom they bear malice, grudge or quarrel, which for fear of his majesty's laws and authority they dare not attempt by themselves; for remedy whereof, his majesty, with advice and consent of the estates of parliament, statutes and ordains that no man shall hereafter either receive or retain any man born or long inhabited in the late borders in his service or company or upon his lands unless he have certain knowledge or a true and authentic testimonial of his majesty's great commissioner of the late borders or his deputes of the said border man's true name and surname, place of his nativity and report of his truth and loyalty, and that he is no known malefactor but reputed a dutiful and obedient subject, under the pain to incur the danger and to be made answerable, civilly and criminally, to his majesty and all his lawful subjects for all actions and crimes which might be in any way laid to the charge of the said broken men for any cause or occasion either preceding or during the time of their receiving or retaining them in their service, company or upon their lands as if the resetter had committed the said faults themselves. As likewise, because some who are not known to have committed any heinous offence in their own person obtaining testimonial of their name, birth and good report may give the same to broken men to be used by them in places where they are not known, it is statute and ordained that whosoever shall either give his testimonial to any man whereby it may be abused by another than him to whom it was truly granted, or who shall falsely use another man's testimonial or who shall forge to himself or use a false testimonial in the premises, shall be punished to the death. And to the effect his majesty's faithful and obedient subjects may have the better knowledge of the said fugitives and broken men, and that such as reset them may want all pretext and excuse of ignorance, it is statute and ordained that a roll shall be made by his majesty's great commissioner of the said middle shires containing the names of the said rebels, fugitives, outlaws and broken men, with the most notorious and evident marks and description of their age, stature, colour and other tokens whereby they may be most easily and readily known, and being imprinted shall be sent to the sheriffs and magistrates of the inland and proclaimed at the market crosses of the head burghs of the shires and other places needful, and thereafter be publicly affixed upon the said crosses or tolbooths of the said burghs, after which publication it is statute that the contraveners of this act or any head or article thereof shall be rigorously punished in their persons and goods in manner foresaid.

  1. NAS, PA2/17, f.44r-v. Back
  2. '17' written in margin beside heading. Back
  3. APS interpolation. Back
  4. APS interpolation. Back