Regarding the prices of writs and seals

Forasmuch as upon diverse and sundry complaints exhibited to the lords of privy council regarding the exorbitant prices taken at the registers and seals, whereby not only his majesty's subjects were heavily damnified, but also his highness's rents of treasury, comptrollership and collectory greatly prejudiced and hindered, his majesty's lieges being scared from completing of their rights and securities by reason of the said extraordinary extortion, the said lords, by a special act and ordinance bearing date 4 February 1606, set down the just and ordinary price of all letters, acts and writs proper to whatsoever clerkship within this kingdom, together with the prices of the signet, privy and great seals, which prices the clerks and keepers of the seals and registers were ordained by the said act to write on the back of every one of the said writs, and subscribe the same with their hand, under the pain of deprivation of them from their offices, as the said act containing diverse other clauses, heads and articles at length bears; which act, albeit for some short space it received effect and execution, nevertheless it is now become in disuse and the former abuse, scaffery2 and extortion is not only renewed, but risen to a far greater height, to the hurt and prejudice of his majesty's subjects and to the slander and reproach of this nation that such liberty and freedom should be given to such shameful scaffery and extortion; therefore the estates presently convened ratify, allow and approve the foresaid act and ordinance containing the prices of writs and seals as said is in all points, articles and clauses thereof and after the form and tenor of the same, with this addition: that the contravener of the said act in any point thereof, either in exceeding the prices specified in the said act or not writing of the price under their hand upon the back of every letter and writ, shall not only incur the pain of deprivation from the seal, register and office which they possess, but they shall be called and convened before his majesty's council and shall be censured and punished in their persons and goods as shameful extortioners of his majesty's subjects, and the person or persons whatsoever who will complain upon [them],3 shall not only have summary and ready justice, but the one half of the fine and penalty which shall be enjoined and laid upon the said contravener.

  1. NAS, PC1/24, 382-383.
  2. Defined in DSL as the action of obtaining improperly money, goods or benefits, as by wheedling, importuning, threatening or cheating.
  3. APS interpolation.