Penalties for 'seditious words and rumours'
against the queen, 1580-1
Catalogue reference: C 65/172, no. 2


Whereas in and by the lawes and statutes of this realme alreadye made and ordeyned againste sedicious wordes and rumors uttered againste the Queenes most excellent maiestie there ys not sufficient and condigue punishement provided for to suppresse the malice of suche as be euell affected towards her highenes. Bee yt therefore enacted and of this present session of parliament shall advisedlye and with a malicious intent of his or they owne imaginacoun speake any false, seditious and slaunderous newes, rumors, sayings or tales againste our said moste naturall soueraigne ladye the Queenes maiestie that nowe ys that then all and everye suche person and persons so offending being thereof lawfullye committed or attainted in fourme hereafter in this present acte expresse shall for everye suche firste offence eyther be in some market place within the shire, cittie or borough where the said wordes were or shalbe so spoken set openlye upon pillorie by the sheriffe or his ministers yf yt shall fortune to be without any citie or towne corporate. And yf yt shall happen to be within any cyttie or towne corporate then by the principall officer or officers of suche cittie or towne corporate or his or their ministers and ther to have both his eares cut of or at the elecion of the offendour paye two hundreth poundes to the Queenes highenesses use in her maiesties receipte of the exchequer two monethes next after the Judgement given of his said offence and also shall suffer imprisonment by the space of syxe monethes after suche his or their conviction without bayle or maineprise.

And be yt further enacted by the aucthoritie aforesaid that all and everye person and persons which after thend of the said fortie dayes shall advisedlye and with a malicious intent againste our said souveraigen ladye reporte any false seditious and slanderous newes rumors or tales to the slaunder and defamacon of our said soueraigne ladye the Queenes maiestie that nowe ys of the speaking or reporting of any other that then all and everye suche person or persons so reportinge being thereof convicted and attainted in fortune hereafter in this acte expressed shall for everye suche firste offence eyther be in some market place within the shire, cittie, borough or towne where the said wordes were or shalbe so reported set openyle upon pillorie by the sheriffe or his ministers, yf yt shall fortune to be without any cittie or towne corporate and yf yt shall happen to be within any cittee or towne corporate then by the principall officer or officers of such cittie or towne corporate or his or their ministers and there to have one of his eares cut of or at the election of the offendour paye two hundreth markes to the Queenes highenesses use in her maieties said receipte of the exchequer within two monethes next after the iudgement given of his said offence and also shall suffer ymprisonment by the space of three monethes after suche huis or their conviction without bayle or maineprise.
And be yt further enacted by thaucthoritie aforesaid that yf any person or persons once lawfully convicted for any of the offences aforesaid do afterwards [….] offende in any of the offences aforesaid that then euerye suche secound offence to be deemed and adiudged felonye and the offendour and the offenders therein to suffer suche paynes of deathe and forfeyture as in case of felonye without any benefitte of cleargie or sanctuarye to be allowed unto the offendour in that behlafe.


Be yt also enacted by the auctoritie aforesaid that yf any person or persons of what estate condicion or degree soeuer be or they bee at any tyme after the ende of the said fortie dayes and during and during the life of oyr said soueraigne ladye the Queenes maiestie that nowe ys eyther within her highnesses dominions or without, shall by setting or erecting of any figure or figures or by casting of nativities or by calculation or by any prophecieng wichcrafte [comurators] or other lyke unlawfull meanes whatsoeuer seeke to knowe and shall set for the by expresse wordes, deedes or writings howe longe her maiestie shall lyve or contynue or who shall raigne as King or Queene of this realme of England after her highnesses decease or else shall advisedlye and with a maliciouse intent againste her highenes utter any manner of directe prophecies to any suche intent or purpose or shall maliciousleye by any wordes writing or printing wishe, will or desire the deathe or any deprivation of our soueraigne ladye the Queenes matie that nowe ys or any thing directlye to the same effecte that then everye offence shalbe felonye and everye offendour and offendours therein and also all his or their aydours proturers and abettors in or to the said offences shalbe iudged as felons and shall suffer paynes of deathe and forfeyte as in case of felonye ys used without any benefite of cleargie or sanctuarye.


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