Indemnity and Oblivion Act

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The Indemnity and Oblivion Act 1660 is an Act of the Parliament of England (12 Cha. II c. 11), the long title of which is "An Act of Free and General Pardon, Indemnity, and Oblivion". [1] This act was a general pardon for everyone who had committed crimes during the Civil War and Interregnum with the exception of certain crimes such as murder (without a licence granted by King or Parliament), piracy, buggery, rape and witchcraft, and people named in the act such as those involved in the regicide of Charles I. It also said that no action was to be taken against those involved at any later time, and that the Interregnum was to be legally forgotten. [2]

Contents

History

The Indemnity and Oblivion Act fulfilled the suggestion given in the Declaration of Breda that reprisals against the establishment which had developed during the English Interregnum would be restricted to those who had officiated in the regicide of King Charles I.

The passage of the Indemnity and Oblivion Act through the Convention Parliament was secured by Lord Clarendon, the first minister of King Charles II, and it became law on 29 August 1660 during the first year of the English Restoration.

The lands of the Crown and the established Church were automatically restored, but lands of Royalists and other dissenters confiscated and sold during the Civil War and interregnum were left for private negotiation or litigation, meaning that the government would not help the Loyalists in regaining their property. Disappointed Royalists commented that the Act meant "indemnity for [Charles'] enemies and oblivion for his friends". [3] Historians, on the other hand, have generally praised the King and Clarendon for the generosity and clemency of the Act, in an age not normally noted for mercy. [4] Twenty years later, during the Popish Plot, Charles tried unsuccessfully to stand against the relentless demand for the execution of Catholic priests, and reminded the public sharply of how many of them had previously benefited from his reluctance to shed blood. [5]

The act is often viewed from the perspective of those who were not pardoned and thus condemned to death. However, the debate in Parliament continued almost every day for over two months and names were added and taken off the list of those who were not to be pardoned. Initially there were only seven on the list: [6] [7] Thomas Harrison, William Say, John Jones Maesygarnedd, Thomas Scot, John Lisle, Cornelius Holland, and John Barkstead. On 7 June, the Commons, mindful of the Declaration of Breda, stated they as the Commons could add to the list others who would not be covered by the general pardon. They immediately added John Cooke, Andrew Broughton, Edward Dendy, and the "Two Persons who were upon the Scaffold in a Disguise" (i.e. the executioners). [8] On 8 June, the Commons voted "That the Number of Twenty, and no more, (other than those that are already excepted, or sat as Judges upon the late King's Majesty) shall be excepted out of the Act of general Pardon and Oblivion, for and in respect only of such Pains, Penalties, and Forfeitures, (not extending to Life) as shall be thought fit to be inflicted on them by another Act, intended to be hereafter passed for that purpose". [9]

One of the people to benefit directly from the Act was John Milton, who was released from prison. [10]

Overview of sections

Sections: [2] [11]

Timeline for the English legislation

The Act was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1948.

Irish Act

An Irish act by the same name "An Act of Free and General Pardon, Indemnity, and Oblivion [for Ireland]" was sent to the Duke of Ormonde on 16 August 1664 by Sir Paul Davys, the Irish Secretary of State. [23]

See also

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References

Footnotes

  1. Charles II, 1660: An Act of Free and Generall Pardon Indemnity and Oblivion., Statutes of the Realm: volume 5: 1628–80 (1819), pp. 226–34. British History Online, Date. Retrieved 27 February 2007.
  2. 1 2 An act of free and general pardon, indemnity and oblivion
  3. "Indemnity and Oblivion, Act of" . Retrieved November 2013.Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  4. Kenyon, J.P. The Stuart Constitution 2nd Edition Cambridge University Press 1986 p.336
  5. Kenyon, J.P. The Popish Plot Phoenix Press Reissue 2000 pp. 174–5
  6. House of Commons Journal Volume 8, 5 June 1660, Proceedings against Regicides That the Seven Persons who, by former Order, are to be excepted out of the Act of general Pardon for Life and Estate, be named here in this House. Resolved, That Thomas Harrison be one of the Seven Persons.
  7. House of Commons Journal Volume 8, 5 June 1660.
  8. House of Commons Journal Volume 8, 7 June 1660
  9. House of Commons Journal Volume 8, 8 June 1660 House of Commons Journal Volume 8, 8 June 1660 The twenty who punishment did not extend to life were added to the list.
  10. Milton Agonistes By Tony Tanner for the New York Times 6 April 1997.
  11. "An Act of Free and Generall Pardon Indempnity and Oblivion" . Retrieved November 2013.Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  12. 9 May 1660, Pardon and Oblivion, British History On-line House of Commons Journal Volume 8 (www.british-history.ac.uk)
  13. 12 May 1660, Pardon and Oblivion, British History On-line House of Commons Journal Volume 8 (www.british-history.ac.uk)
  14. 17 May 1660, Bill of Pardon and Oblivion, British History On-line House of Commons Journal Volume 8 (www.british-history.ac.uk)
  15. 11 July 1660 Pardon and Oblivion, British History On-line House of Commons Journal Volume 8 (www.british-history.ac.uk)
  16. 20 July 1660 Proceedings of Regicides, British History On-line House of Commons Journal Volume 8 (www.british-history.ac.uk)
  17. 7 August 1660 Lords reminded of Bills, British History On-line House of Commons Journal Volume 8 (www.british-history.ac.uk)
  18. 11 Aug 1660 Pardon and Oblivion, British History On-line House of Commons Journal Volume 8 (www.british-history.ac.uk)
  19. 13 August 1660, British History On-line House of Commons Journal Volume 8 (www.british-history.ac.uk)
  20. August 16th, 1660, British History On-line House of Commons Journal Volume 8 (www.british-history.ac.uk)
  21. 28 August 1660 Pardon and Oblivion, British History On-line House of Commons Journal Volume 8 (www.british-history.ac.uk)
  22. 29 August 1660 Bills passed, British History On-line House of Lords Journal Volume 11 (www.british-history.ac.uk)
  23. Carte Calendar Volume 40, June–December 1664 Bodleian Library, University of Oxford Includes a number of correspondence on the "Act of Free and General Pardon, Indemnity, and Oblivion [for Ireland]".
  24. C.H. Firth, R.S. Rait (eds), Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642–1660, 1911 pp. 565–577
  25. C.H. Firth, R.S. Rait (eds), Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642–1660, 1911 pp. 1299–1304