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the statute, however large in themselves, must be confined to the objects stated in the preamble; and could not have been intended to reach a case where it was plain that the fact arose entirely out of a private dispute between persons engaged in the same trade, and was confined in its object to that alone: and that the general words therefore must be construed with relation to the antecedent offences, which are confined in their objects to mutiny and sedition. But the Court, though they did not upon the particular circumstances feel themselves called upon to give an express decision, appear to have entertained no doubt but that the case was within the statute. (6)
So where sixteen persons, with their faces blackened, met at a house at night, having guns with them, and intending to go out for the purpose of night poaching, and were all sworn not to betray their companions, and it was objected that this oath was not within the statute, as it was not for a mutinous or seditious object, and that the statute only prohibited those oaths of secrecy which related to some illegal act, and that the word “illegal” imported a criminal act and not a mere civil trespass, whereas it was a mere civil trespass which was contemplated at the time when the oath was administered; but it was held that the oath was within the statute; and as to the assembly itself, and its object, it was impossible that a meeting to go out with faces thus disguised, at night, and under such circumstances, could be other than an unlawful assembly: in which case, the oath to keep it secret was an oath prohibited by the statute. (c) So where an oath was administered to the members of a trades' union, binding them not to make buttons for less than the lodge prices, and not to divulge the secrets of the lodge; it was held that this was an oath within the statute, for to administer an oath or engagement not to reveal the secrets of any association, is within the 37 Geo. 3, c. 137, as explained by subsequent statutes, not because it has reference to any matter respecting wages, but on the ground that every association of that kind, bound together by an oath, not to disclose the proceedings of that society, is for that reason an unlawful combination within the statutes. (e)
So where an oath not to reveal what they saw or heard was administered by members of an association, which was formed for the purpose of raising wages by a general strike on the part of its members, and for other purposes in furtherance of that design, it was held that it was within the 37 Geo. 3, c. 123. ($)
The 52 Geo. 3, c. 104, s. 1, which was passed, to render the 52 Geo. 3, foregoing act more effectual in respect to oaths of a particular c. 104, s. 1. nature, enacts, “that every person who shall in any manner or form Administering whatsoever administer, or cause to be administered, or be aiding or in certain cases assisting at the administering of any oath or engagement, purporting felony. or intending to bind the person taking the same to commit any treason or murder, or any felony punishable by law with death,”
(b) Rex v. Marks, 3 East, 157. Law. necessity of the law." rence, J., said, “ It is true that the pream- (c) Rex v. Brodribb, 6 C. & P. 571. ble and the first part of the enacting clause Holroyd, J. are contined in their objects to cases of (e) Rex ». Ball, 6 C. & P. 563, Wil. mutiny and sedition ; but it is nothing liams, J. unusual in acts of parliament, for the enact- (f) Rex v. Loveless, 1 M. & Rob. 349; ing part to go beyond the preamble; the S. C. 6 C. & P. 596, Williams, J. See remedy often extends beyond the particular Rex v. Dixon, 6 C. & P. 601, Bosa:Act or mischief which first suggested the
Taking such oaths felony and transportation for life. Persons taking oaths by compulsion must disclose the same within a limited time.
shall, on conviction, be adjudged guilty of felony, and suffer death
persons taking the oaths mentioned in either of these acts by compulsion must make a full disclosure of the fact, and the circumstances attending it, within a limited time, in order to be justified or excused. The 37 Geo. 3, c. 123, s. 2, enacts, “that compulsion shall not justify or excuse any person taking such oath or engagement, unless he or she shall, within four days after the taking thereof, if not prevented by actual force or sickness, and then within four days after the hindrance produced by such force or sickness shall cease, declare the same, together with the whole of what he or she shall know touching the same, and the person or persons by whom, and in whose presence, and when and where, such oath or engagement was administered or taken, by information on oath before one of his Majesty's justices of the peace, or one of his Majesty's principal secretaries of state, or his Majesty's privy council; or in case the person taking such oath or engagement shall be in actual service in his Majesty's forces by sea or land, then by such information on oath as aforesaid, or by information to his commanding officer." The 52 Geo. 3, c. 104, s. 2, contains a similar enactment as to the oaths or engagements within that act, except that the words “ fourteen days” are substituted for “four days."
By the 37 Geo. 3, c. 123, s. 5, any engagement or obligation whatsoever in the nature of an oath, and by the 52 Geo. 3, c. 104, s. 6, any engagement or obligation whatsoever in the nature of an oath purporting or intending to bind the person taking the same to commit any treason or murder or any felony punishable by law with death, shall be deemed an oath within the intent and meaning of those acts, in whatever form or manner the same shall be administered or taken ; and whether the same shall be actually administered by any person or persons to any other person or persons, or taken by any person or persons without any administration thereof by any other person or persons.
If the oath administered was intended to make the party believe himself under an engagement, it is equally within the act, whether the book made use of be a testament or not. (h) So the precise form of the oath is immaterial; it is an oath within the meaning of the acts, if it was understood by the party tendering, and by the party taking it, as having the force and obligation of an oath. (*)
With repect to persons aiding and assisting at the administering or taking these unlawful oaths, the 37 Geo. 3, s. 3, enacts, that persons aiding and assisting at, or present and consenting to, the administering or taking of any oath or engagement before mentioned
What shall be
Persons aiding and assisting, or persons causing such oaths to be
(9) But this punishment was abolished by 1 Vict. c. 91, s. 1, by which, and sec. 2, the punishment nuw is transportation for life, or for any term not less than fifteen years, or imprisonment, with or without hard labour, in the common gaol or house of correction for any term not exceeding three years, and solitary confinement for any portion or portions of such imprison.
ment, or of such imprisonment with hard labour, not exceeding one month at a time, or three months in the course of one year, See the sections, ante, p. 92.
(h) Rex v. Brodribb, 6 C. & P. 571, Hol. royd, J., where an account book, called The Young Man's Best Companion, was used.
(i) Rex v. Loveless, M. & Rob, 349, Williams, J.
in that act; and persons causing any such oath or engagement to be taken, though administered or taken, though not present at the administering when they are or taking thereof, shall be deemed principal offenders, and tried as taken, are prinsuch; although the person or persons who actually administered cipals. such oath or engagement, if any such there shall be, shall not have been tried or convicted. A similar enactment is contained in the 52 Geo. 3, s. 4, with respect to persons aiding and assisting at the administering of any oath or engagement mentioned in that act; and persons causing any such oath or engagement to be administered, though not present at the administering thereof: such persons are to be deemed principal offenders, and, on conviction, to be adjudged guilty of felony, and to suffer death without benefit of clergy, (j) although the person or persons who actually administered the oath or engagement, if any such there shall be, shall not have been tried or convicted.
Both the statutes provide that it shall not be necessary to set forth In the indictin the indictment the words of the oath or engagement; and that it ment it is sufshall be sufficient to set forth the purport of such oath or engagement, forth the puror some material part thereof. (k) Upon an indictment on the 37 port of the Geo. 3, the fourth count charged, that the defendants administered oath or ento J. H. an oath “ intended to bind him not to inform or give
gagement. evidence against any member of a certain society formed to disturb the public peace for any act or expression of his or their's, done or made collectively or individually, in or out of that or other similar societies, in pursuance of the spirit of that obligation;" and the eighth count stated the oath to be “ intended to bind the said J. H. not to give evidence against any associate in certain associations and societies of persons formed for seditious purposes :" and the other counts stated the objects of the oath administered, and the objects of the society, differently and more generally adapted to several prohibitory parts of the statute. Upon objection taken at the trial to the generality of the statements in the indictment, Lord Avanley was of opinion that the act intended that it should be sufficient to allege and prove what the object of the oath and engagement was, without stating any words at all ; and that the offence being described in the words of the act, was well described : but that supposing the objection made to the generality of the counts was good, which he did not admit, yet that in the fourth and eighth a material part of the oath or engagement was set forth according to the clause of the act. The point was submitted to the judges, who, without giving any opinion against the other counts, all agreed that at any rate the fourth and eighth counts were good. (1)
If the indictment state the oath to have been not to inform or give evidence against any person belonging to a confederacy of persons associated together to do " a certain illegal act,” it is sufficient without going on to state what the illegal act was.
For the offence is not the illegal act, but the administration of the oath, which preceded it, and all that the rules of pleading require is that the offence—that is the oath itself-should be sufficiently set
(j) Abolished by 1 Vict. c. 91, s. ,1, see note (c) ante, for the present punishInent.
(k) 37 Geo. 3, c. 123, s. 4. 52 Geo. 3, c. 104, s, 5.
(1) Rex v. Moors and Others, 6 East, 419, note (b). The defendants were tried at Lancaster Summer Assizes, 1801 ; and the opinion of the judges was given in Michaelmas Term, 1801.
duce a paper
out. (m) Where an indictment charged that the prisoner administered" a certain oath” to J. Penny, and fifteen others, naming them, and it was proved that the sixteen were all sworn in the same manner, on the same book, two or three at a time, at the same meeting, it was held that this was sufficient, for it was the same act of administering. Or it might be taken to be a complete transaction with respect to each person sworn; and the charge would be substantiated by evidence of the prisoner having sworn any one of the party, in the same way as a man may be convicted of larceny on proof
of stealing one out of several articles named in an indictment (n) Evidence- Where
the witness, swearing to the words spoken by way of oath It is not ne- by the prisoner when he administered it, said that he held a paper in cessary to pro- his hand at the time when he administered the oath, from which from which it paper it was supposed that he read the words ; it was held, that is supposed that parol evidence of what he in fact said was sufficient, without the oath was read. And
giving him notice to produce such paper. (0) And where the oath parol evidence on the face of it did not purport to be for a seditious purpose, though may be given it was objected that no parol evidence could be given to shew that to explain the the “ brotherhood” mentioned in it was of a seditious nature, it was oath. held that declarations made at the time by the party administering
such oath were admissible to prove the real object of it. (p) Place of trial. Both the 37 Geo. 3, and 52 Geo. 3, provide that offences com
mitted on the high seas, or out of the realm, or in England, shall be
of the circuit courts in that part of the united kingdom. (9) Persons tried It is also provided by both these statutes that any person who
shall be tried and acquitted or convicted of any offence against the be tried for
acts, shall not be liable to be prosecuted again for the same offence as high trea- or fact as high treason, or misprision of high treason. And further,
that nothing in the acts contained shall be construed to extend to prevent any person guilty of any offence against the acts, and who shall not be tried for the same, as an offence against the acts, from being tried for the same, as high treason, or misprision of high
treason, in such manner as if those acts had not been made. (r) Societies tak- By the 57 Geo. 3, c. 19, s. 25, it is enacted, that all societies or ing unlawful
clubs, the members whereof shall be required or admitted to take any oaths, &c., to be deemed un
oath or engagement, which shall be an unlawful engagement within lawful combi- the 37th Geo. 3, c. 123, or the 52d Geo. 3, c. 104, or to take
any nations and oath not required or authorized by law; and every society or club, confederacies.
the members whereof, or any of them, shall take, or in any manner bind themselves by any such oath or engagement on becoming, or in order to become, or in consequence of being a member or members of such society or club; and every society or club, the members or any
member whereof shall be required or admitted to take, subscribe, oro assent to any test or declaration not required or authorized by law, in whatever manner or form such taking or assenting shall be
not liable to
the same fact
(m) Rex v. Brodribb, 6 C. & P. 571, Holroyd, J.
(p) Id. ibid.
(9) 37 Geo. 3, c. 123, s. 6; 52 Geo. 3, c. 104, s. 7.
(r) 37 Geo. 3, c. 123, s. 7; 52 Geo. 3, c. 104, s. 8.
(0) Rex v. Moors and Others, 6 East, 421.
performed, whether by words, signs, or otherwise, either on becoming, or in order to become, or in consequence of being a member or members of any such society or club; shall be deemed and taken to be unlawful combinations and confederacies within the meaning of the 39th Geo. 3, c. 79 (s) and may be prosecuted, proceeded against, and punished, according to the provisions of the said act. (t)
With respect to the administering or taking unlawful oaths Administering in Ireland, the 50 Geo. 3, c. 102, enacts," that any person or
in Ireland persons who shall administer, or cause to be administered, felony and tender, or cause to be tendered, or be present aiding and assisting at transportation the administering or tendering, or who shall by threats, promises, for life. persuasions, or other undue means, cause, procure, or induce to be taken by any person or persons in Ireland, upon a book or otherwise, any oath or engagement importing to bind the person or persons taking the same to be of any association, brotherhood, committee, society, or confederacy whatsoever, in reality formed, or to be formed, for seditious purposes, or to disturb the public peace, or to injure the persons or property of any person or persons whatsoever, or to compel any person or persons whatsoever, to do, or omit, or refuse to do, any act or acts whatsoever, under whatever name, description, or pretence such association, brotherhood, committee, society, or confederacy, shall assume, or pretend to be formed or constituted, or any oath or engagement importing to bind the person taking the same to obey the orders, or rules, or commands, of any committee or other body of men not lawfully constituted, or of any captain, leader or commander, (not appointed by or under the authority of his Majesty, his heirs and successors,) or to assemble at the desire and command of any such captain, leader, commander, or committee, or of any person or persons not having lawful authority, or not to inform or give evidence against any brother, associate, confederate, or other person, or not to reveal or discover his or her having taken any illegal oath, or not to reveal or discover any illegal act done or to be done, or not to discover any illegal oath or engagement which may be administered or tendered to him or her, or the import thereof, whether such oath shall be afterwards so administered or tendered, or not, or whether he or she shall take such oath, or enter into such engagement or not, being by due course of law convicted thereof, shall be adjudged guilty of felony, and be transported for life; and every person who shall take, in Ireland, any such oath or And taking engagement, importing so to bind him or her as aforesaid, and being such oaths in by due course of law thereof convicted, shall be adjudged guilty of Ireland, trans
for felony, and be transported for seven years.”
This statute further enacts, that a person compelled by inevitable Persons com necessity to commit any of these offences, shall be excused and pelled by nejustified upon proof of such necessity, if within ten days (not being cused if they prevented by actual force or sickness, and then within seven days disclose what after such actual force or sickness shall cease to disable him,) he dis- they know in a close to a justice of peace, by information on oath, the whole of what
(5) See this act, post, Book ii., Chap. 26. meetings, nor to meetings or societies for
( This statute is not to extend to charitable purposes, s. 26. By sec. 39, the Freemasons' lodges, nor to any declaration act is not to extend to Ireland. approved by two justices, nor to Quakers' VOL. I.