The Sugar Act

April 05, 1764

WHEREAS it is expedient that new provisions and regulations should be established for improving the revenue of this kingdom, and for extending and securing the navigation and commerce between Great Britain and your Majesty’s dominions in America, which, by the peace, have been so happily enlarged: and whereas it is just and necessary, that a revenue be raised, in your Majesty’s and dominions in America, for defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the same; we,your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the commons of Great Britain, in parliament assembled, being desirous to make some provisions, in this present session of parliament, towards raising the said revenue in America, have resolved to give and grant unto your Majesty the several rates and duties herein aftermentioned

IV. And whereas an act was made in the sixth year of the reign of his late majesty King George the Second, intituled, An act for the better securing and encouraging the trade of his Majesty’s sugar colonies in America, which was to continue in force for five years… and which, by several subsequent acts…was, from time to time, continued; and, by an act made in the first year of the reign of his present Majesty, was further continued until the end of this present session of parliament; and although the said act hath been found in some degree useful, yet it is highly expedient that the same should be altered, enforced, and made more effectual; but, in consideration of the great distance of several of the said colonies and plantations from this kingdom, it will be proper further to continue the said act for a short space, before any alterations and amendments shall take effect, in order that all persons concerned may have due and proper notice thereof; bit therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said act made in the sixth year of the reign of his late majesty King George the Second, intituled, An act for the better securing and encouraging the trade of his Majesty’s sugar colonies in America, shall be, and the same is hereby further continued, until the thirtieth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and sixty four.

V. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from the twenty ninth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and sixty four, the said act, subject to such alterations and amendments as are herein after contained, shall be, and the same is hereby made perpetual.

VI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in lieu and instead of the rate and duty imposed by the said act upon melasses and syrups, there shall, from and after the said twenty ninth day of September one thousand seven hundred and sixty four, be raised, levied, collected, and paid, unto his Majesty, his heirs and successors, for and upon every gallon of melasses or syrups, being the growth, product, or manufacture, of any colony or plantation in America, not under the dominion of his Majesty, his heirs or successors, which shall be imported or brought into any colony or plantation in American, which now is, or hereafter may be, under the dominion of his Majesty, his heirs or successors, the sum of three pence…

XI. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all the monies which… shall arise by the several rates and duties herein before granted; and also by the duties which, from and after the said twenty ninth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and sixty four, shall be raised upon sugars and paneles, by virtue of the said act made in the sixth year of the reign of his said late majesty King George the Second (except the necessary charges of raising, collecting, levying, recovering, answering, paying, and accounting for the same) shall be paid into the receipt of his Majesty’s Exchequer, and shall be entered separate and apart from all other monies paid or payable to his Majesty, his heirs or successors: and shall be there reserved, to be, from time to time, disposed of by parliament, towards defraying the necessary expenses of defending, protecting, and securing, the British colonies and plantations in America

XVIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That… no rum or spirits fo the produce or manufacture of any of the colonies or plantations in America, not in the possession or under the dominion of his Majesty, his heirs or successors, shall be imported or brought into any of the colonies or plantations in America which now are, or hereafter may be, in the possession or under the dominion of his Majesty, his heirs or successors, upon forfeiture of all such rum or spirits, together with the ship or vessel in which the same shall be imported, with the tackle, apparel, and furniture thereof, to be seized by any officer or officers of his Majesty’s customs, and prosecuted in such manner and form as herein after is expressed; any law, custom, or usage, to the contrary notwithstanding…

XX. And, for the better preventing frauds in the importation of foreign sugars and paneles, rum and spirits, molasses and syrups, into any of his Majesty’s dominions, under pretence that the same are the growth, produce, or manufacture, of the British colonies or plantations, it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the twenty ninth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and sixty four, every person or persons loading on board any ship or vessel, in any of the British colonies or plantations in America, and rum or spirits, sugars or paneles, molasses or syrups, as of the growth, product, or manufacture, or any British colony or plantation, shall, before, product, or manufacture, of any British colony or plantation, shall before the clearing out of the said ship or vessel, produce and deliver to the collector or other principal officer of the customs at the loading port, an affidavit signed and sworn to before some justice of the peace in the said British colonies or plantations, either by the power, maker, or shipper, of such goods, or his or their known agent or factor, expressing, in words at length and not in figures, the quality of the goods so shipped, with the number and denomination of the packages, and describing the name or names of the plantation or plantations, and the name of the colony where the same grew or were produced and manufactured; which affidavit shall be attested, under the hand of the said justice of the peace, to have been sworn to in his presence; who is hereby required to do the same without fee or reward: and the collector or other principal officer of the customs to whom such affidavit shall be delivered, shall thereupon grant to the master, or other person having the charge of the ship or vessel, a certificate under his hand and seal of office (without fee or reward) of his having received such affidavit pursuant to the directions of this act; which certificate shall express the quality of the goods shipped on board such ship or vessel, with the number and denomination of the packages: and such collector or other principal officer of the customs shall also (without fee or reward) within thirty days after the sailing of the ship or vessel, transmit an exact copy of the said affidavit to the secretary’s office for the respective colony or plantation where the goods were shipped, on forfeiture of five pounds.

XXI. And it is further enacted, That upon the arrival of such ship or vessel into the port of her discharge, either in Great Britain or any other port of his Majesty’s dominions, where such goods may be lawfully imported, the master or other person taking the charge of the ship or vessel shall, at the time he makes his report of his cargo, deliver the said certificate to the collector or other person taking such goods may be lawfully imported, the master or other person taking the charge of the ship or vessel shall, at the time he makes his report of his cargo, deliver the said certificate to the collector or other principal officer of the customs, and make oath before him, that the goods so reported are the same that are mentioned in the said certificate, on forfeiture of one hundred pounds; and if any rum or spirits, sugars or paneles, molasses or syrups, shall be imported or found on board any such ship or vessel, for which no such certificate shall be produced, or which shall not agree therewith, the same shall be deemed and taken to be foreign rum and spirits, sugar and paneles, molasses and syrups, and shall be liable to the same duties, restrictions, regulations, penalties, and forfeitures, in all respects, as rum, spirits, sugar, paneles, molasses, and syrups, of the growth, produce, or manufacture, of any foreign colony or plantation, would respectively be liable to by law…

XXIII. And whereas by an act of parliament made in the twelfth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled, An act for encouraging and increasing of shipping and navigation, and several subsequent acts of parliament which are now in force, it is, amongst other things, directed, that for every ship or vessel that shall load any commodities, in those acts particularly enumerated, at any British plantation, being the growth, product, or manufacture thereof, bonds shall be given with one surety, to the value of one thousand pounds, if the ship be of less burthen than one hundred tons, and of the sum of two thousand pounds; if the ship be of greater burthen, that the same commodities shall be brought by such ship or vessel to some other British plantation, or to some port in Great Britain ; notwithstanding which, there is great reason to apprehend such goods are frequently carried to foreign parts, and landed there: and whereas great quantities of foreign molasses and syrups are clandestinely run on shore in the British colonies, to the prejudice of the revenue, and the great detriment of the trade of this kingdom, and it’s American plantations: to remedy which practices for the future, be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That… bond and security, in the like penalty, shall also be given to the collector or other principal officer of the customs at any port or place in any of the British American colonies or plantations, with one surety besides the master of every ship or vessel that shall lade or take on board there any goods not particularly enumerated in the said acts, being the product or manufacture of any of the said colonies or plantations, with condition, that, in case any molasses or syrups, being the produce of any of the plantations, not under the dominion of his Majesty, his heirs or successors, shall be laden on board such ship or vessel, the same shall (the danger of the seas and enemies excepted) be brought, without fraud or willful diminution, by the said ship or vessel to some of his Majesty’s colonies or plantations in America, or to some port in Great Britain; and that the master or other person having the charge of such ship or vessel, shall immediately upon his arrival at every port or place in Great Britain, or in the British American colonies and plantations, make a just and true report of all the goods laden on board such ship or vessel under their true and proper denominations; and if any such non-enumerated goods shall be laden on board any such ship or vessel before such bond shall be given, the goods so laden together with the ship or vessel and her furniture shall be forfeited, and shall and may be seized by any officer of the customs, and prosecuted in the manner herein after directed.

XXIV. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every master or person having the charge of any ship or vessel shall, before he departs from any British colony or plantation where he receives his lading, take a certificate under the hands and seals of the collector or other principal officer of the customs there (which certificate such officers are hereby required to grant without fee or reward) that bond hath been given, pursuant to the directions of this or any other act of parliament, as the case shall require; and the master or person having the charge of such ship or vessel, shall keep such certificate in his custody till the voyage is compleated, and shall then deliver the same up to the collector or other chief officer of the customs at the port or place where he shall discharge his lading, either in Great Britain or any British American colony or plantation, on forfeiture of one hundred pounds for each and every offence.

XXV. And it is hereby further enacted, That if any British ship or vessel laden, as aforesaid, with any goods of the produce or manufacture of any British colony or plantation in America, or having on board any molasses or syrups the produce of any foreign colony or plantation, shall be discovered by any officer of his Majesty’s customs within two leagues of the shore of any British colony or plantation in America, and the master or person taking charge of such ship or vessel shall not produce a certificate that bond has been given, pursuant to the directions of this or any other act of parliament, as the case may require; or if he shall not produce such certificate to the collector or other chief officer of the customs where he shall arrive, either in Great Britain or any British American colony or plantation, such ship or vessel, with here tackle, apparel, and furniture, and all the goods therein laden, shall be forfeited, and shall and may be seized and prosecuted…

XXVII. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the twenty ninth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and sixty four, all coffee, pimento, cocoa nuts, whale fins, raw silk, hides, and skins, pot and pearl ashes, of the growth, production, or manufacture, of any British colony or plantation in America, shall be imported directly from thence into this kingdom, or some other British colony or plantation, under the like securities, penalties, and forfeitures, as are particularly mentioned in two acts of parliament made in the twelfth and twenty fifth years of the reign of King Charles the Second, the former intituled, An act for the encouraging and increasing of shipping and navigation, and the latter intituled, An act for the encouragement of the Greenland and eastland trades, and for the better securing the plantation trade, or either of them, with respect to the goods in those acts particularly enumerated; any law, custom, or usage, to the contrary notwithstanding.

XXVIII. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That… no iron, nor any sort of wood, commonly called Lumber, as specified in an act passed in the eight year of the reign of King George the First, intituled, An act for giving further encouragement for the importation of naval stores, and for other purposes therein mentioned, of the growth, production, or manufacture, of any British colony or plantation in America, shall be there loaden on board any ship or vessel to be carried from thence, until sufficient bond shall be given, with one surety besides the master of the vessel, to the collector or other principal officer of the customs at the loading port, in a penalty of double the value of the goods, with condition, that the said goods shall not be landed in any part of Europe except Great Britain

XXIX. And for the better prevention frauds in the importation or exportation of goods that are liable to the payment of duties, or are prohibited, in the British colonies or plantations in America, it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That… no goods, wares, or merchandizes, of any kind whatsoever, shall be shipped of laden on board any ship or vessel in any of the British colonies or plantations in America, to be carried from thence to any other British colony or plantation, without a sufferance or warrant first had and obtained from the collector or other proper officer of the customs at the port or place where such goods shall intended to be put on board; and master of every such ship or vessel shall, before the same be removed or carried out from the port or place where he takes in his lading, take out a cocket or cockets expressing the quantity and quality of the goods, and marks of the package, so laden, with the merchants names by whom shipped and to whom consigned… which cocket or cockets shall be produced by the master of such ship or vessel, to the collector or other principal officer of the customs at the port or place where such ship or vessel shall arrive in any of the British colonies or plantations in America, before any part of the goods are unladen or put on shore: and if any goods or merchandizes shall be shipped as aforesaid without such sufferance, or the vessel shall depart and proceed on her voyage without such cocket or cockets, or the goods shall be landed or put on shore before such cocket or cockets are produced at the port or place of discharge, or if the goods do not agree in all respects therewith, the goods in any or either of those cases, shall be forfeited and lost…

XXX. …That…no ship or vessel shall, upon any pretence whatsoever, be cleared outwards from any port of this kingdom, for any land, island, plantation, colony, territory, or place, to his Majesty belonging, or which shall hereafter belong unto or be in the possession or under the dominion of his Majesty, his heirs, or successors, in America, unless the whole and entire cargo of such ship or vessel shall be bona fide, and without fraud, laden and shipped in this kingdom…

XXXI. Provided always, That this act shall not extend, nor be construed to extend, to forfeit, for want of such cocket or clearance, any salt laden in Europe for the fisheries in New England, Newfoundland, Pensylvania, New York, and Nova Scotia, or any other place to which salt is or shall be allowed by law to be carried; wines laden in the Madeiras, of the growth thereof; and wines of the growth of the Western Islands, of Azores, and laden there; nor any horses, victuals, or linen cloth, of and from Ireland, which may be laden on board such ships or vessels …

XXXVIII. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That… if any officer of his Majesty’s customs shall, directly or indirectly, take or receive any bribe, recompense, or reward, in any kind whatsoever; or connive at any false entry, or make any collusive seizure or agreement; or do any other act or deed whatsoever by which his Majesty, his heirs or successors, shall or may be defrauded in his or their duties, or whereby any goods prohibited shall be suffered to pass either inwards or outwards, or whereby the forfeitures and penalties inflicted by this or any other act of parliament relating to his Majesty’s customs in America may be evaded; every such officer therein offending shall, for each and every offence, forfeit the sum of five hundred pounds, and he rendered incapable of serving his Majesty in any office or employment civil or military: and if any person or persons whatsoever shall give, offer, or promise to give, any bribe, recompense, or reward, to any officer of the customs, to do, conceal, or connive at, any act, whereby any of the provisions made by this or any other act of parliament relating to his Majesty’s customs in America may be evaded or broken, every such person or persons shall, for each and every such offence (whether the same offer, proposal, or promise, be accepted or performed, or not) forfeit the sum of fifty pounds …

XLI. …that all the forfeitures and penalties inflicted by this or any other act o acts of parliaments relating to the trade and revenues of the said British colonies or plantations in America, which shall be incurred there, shall and may be prosecuted, sued for, and recovered in any court of record, or in any court of admiralty, in the said colonies or plantations where such offence shall be committed, or in any court of vice admiralty which may or shall be appointed over all America (which court or vice admiralty are hereby respectively authorized and required to proceed, hear, and determine the same) at the election of the informer or prosecutor…

XLV. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the twenty ninth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and sixty four, if any ship or goods shall be seized for any cause of forfeiture, and any dispute shall arise whether the customs and duties for such goods have been paid, or the same have been lawfully imported or exported, or concerning the growth, product, or manufacture, of such goods, or the place from whence such goods were brought, then, and in such cases, the proof thereof shall lie upon the owner or claimer of such ship or goods, and not upon the officer who shall seize or stop the same; any law, custom, or usage, to the contrary notwithstanding.

XLVI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That… in case any information shall be commenced and brought to trial in America, on account of any seizure of any ship or goods as forfeited by this or any other act of parliament relating to his Majesty’s customs, wherein a verdict or sentence shall be given for the claimer thereof; and it shall appear to the judge or court before whom the same shall be tried, that there was a probable cause of seizure, the judge or court before whom the same shall be tried shall certify on the record or other proceedings, that there was a probable cause for the prosecutors seizing the said ship or goods; and, in such case, the defendant shall not be intitled to any costs of suit whatsoever; nor shall the persons who seized the said ship or goods, be liable to any action, or other suit or prosecution, on account of such seizure…

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