THE FIRST PARTON HARBOUR ACT, 1705
The "Act for Enlarging the Pier and Harbour of Parton in the County of Cumberland" was passed in the Parliamentary session covering the 4th and 5th years of the reign of Queen Anne, (1705-6 in modern reckoning). This abstract and partial transcript is taken from the copy in Whitehaven Record Office (ref. DH532/1). Spot the careful wording of several sections to protect against Lowther interference (and though the final paragraph is standard wording, it would also be a powerful defence).
"Whereas the harbour at Parton in the County of Cumberland is not capable of receiving ships or vessels sufficient for the coal-trade, which might be carried on there, but might be so enlarged by carrying the pier further into the sea, as to make it capable of receiving ships sufficient for the same, which would not only tend much to the better supplying of the maritime ports of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire, and the Kingdom of Ireland, with coals, but also advance her Majesties Customs, be of improvement to the coal trade, of considerable advantage to that part of the country, a means of increasing seamen, and a place of safety to ships and vessels when they cannot reach the neighbouring harbours, or when the neighbouring harbours have a greater number of ships than can lye there, without great hazard and damage to both ships and loading: But forasmuch as to effect the same, would cost more than the inhabitants of Parton can raise, Be it therefore enacted by the Queens most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That from and after the first day of May, which shall be in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and six, for and during, and until the full end and term of eleven years then next ensuing, and fully to be completed and ended, there shall be paid unto the trustees herein after named, their collectors or deputies (that is to say) To Thomas Fletcher of Moresby and Thomas Lamplugh of Lamplugh, both of the said county of Cumberland, Esqs; and their heirs for the time being, Sir William Pennington Baronet, Sir Richard Musgrave Baronet, Sir James Montague Knight, George Fletcher, Richard Musgrave, Thomas Stanwix, the honourable James Stanhope, Robert Lamplugh and Thomas Addison, Esquires; Richard Senhouse senior, Peter Senhouse, William Ferrys, Rowland Jackson, Robert Blakelock, Clement Nicolson, Thomas Lutwidge, Ebenezer Gale, Elisha Gale, John Gale jun., Nathaniel Dixon, Rich. Philbeck, Robert Waters, Will. Dixon of Moreside, John Dickinson of Lamplugh, Rich. Sanderson, John Shephard and Peter Walker, Gent. all of the aforesaid county, for and towards the enlarging, deepning, cleansing, maintaining and repairing the said pier and harbour, by every coal owner, or proprietor of coals that shall deliver or put or cause to be delivered, or put any coals on board any ship or vessel there, two pence for every one hundred and ninety two gallons of coals, to be paid within ten days after such coals are shipped, and also by every master or owner of any ship that shall load or take and coals on board any ship or vessel there, two pence for every one hundred and ninety two gallons of coals so taken; and from and after the expiration of the said term of eleven years, one farthing for every one hundred and ninety two gallons of coals, which shal be shipped or taken on board any ship or vessel there, to be paid by the master or owner of the ship or vessel so shipping or taking on board such coals there; the said respective sums of two pence for eleven years, and one farthing for ever hereafter, to be paid upon reasonable demand after the shipping the said coals, and before each respective ship go out of the said harbour, or proceed on any such voyage."
empower the Trustees to employ collectors of the above charges;
require that all money apart from the expense of collection (which is not to exceed 6d in the pound) must be spent on the harbour;
that the Trustees must take security from the collectors to ensure that they perform their duties honestly;
that the Trustees must meet at Parton at least once a year, in May, to take accounts etc.;
the Trustees have power to issue warrants to seize coals, waggons, containers and beasts of burden from ship masters or coal owners who fail to pay the charges within 10 days;
the Trustees have power to inspect ships in the harbour to check the amount of coal they are actually carrying;
that Customs officials may not issue cockets or other permits for ships to leave the harbour until the charges have been paid to the collectors;
that the Trustees (or any 7 of them- this quorum is specified in numerous sections of the Act- see next quotation) may make contracts with any workmen etc. required for the bulding & repair of the harbour;
"that it shall and may be lawful for the said Trustees, or any seven of them, to assign the place for building and carrying on the said pier, for enlarging the said harbour, upon such ground betwixt high and low water mark as they, or any seven of them, shall think fit or necessary for the better effecting and carrying on the same...";
to borrow money on mortage of the charges, at 6% per annum, to a maximum of £1500
that the accounts must be presented to the Justices of the Peace for Cumberland at the Quarter Sessions for examination. JPs are empowered to fine any person found guilty of misapplying harbour money an amount "not exceeding treble the money so misapplied". JPs may also fine the Trustees up to £40 if they fail to supply the accounts (half of this fine to the Crown, half to the harbour repair fund);
On the death of any Trustee except Thomas Fletcher or Thomas Lamplugh, the surviving Trustees must choose another within 60 days;
"And for the keeping the said harbour clean, be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that from and after the first day of September next, no person or persons whatsoever shall presume to throw or empty any ballast or dust, ashes, earth, rubbish, stones, or do any other annoyance to the said harbour"- trustees may impose fine of up to 40s, to be added to the harbour repair fund; "
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any action, suit, or information, shall be commenced or prosecuted against any person or persons for any thing that he or they shall do or cause to be done in pursuance of this Act, and executing any of the powers and authorities, or any of the orders or dicrections therein mentioned, all and every person and persons so sued in any court whatsoever, shall and may plead the General Issue, and give this Act and the special matter in evidence, and if in any such suit, the plaintiff or prosecutor shall become nonsuit, or forbear prosecution, or discontinue the suit, or if a verdict shall pass against him, or judgement given against him upon a demurrer, then in any of the said cases, the defendant or defendants shall recover full costs, for which he and they shall have the like remedy as where costs by law are awarded..."