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cially it will be found to constitute the essential and conclusive reason in favor of state control of all public employments, and in opposition to state control, and all attempts to interfere with the fullest freedom of contract, as to all private property and private employ. ments.




In the early stages of English parliamentary government, we find a large number of statutes which put restrictions of many kinds on the freedom of the individual citizen, but especially on his right to choose his own field of labor, and his right to make his own price for his own labor and merchandise. In time, as has been stated, all these restrictions came to be practically ignored ; and most of them were formally abolished by a repeal of the statutes in question. The intention, as evidenced by the later statutes, was to repeal all. But many of the ancient statutes creating those restrictions remained unrepealed until a very recent date.

In order to get an adequate idea of the progress of the English law in this respect, it will be necessary to go into some degree of detail. And in order to get a complete idea of the character of such legislation, it is important to examine those statutes with some thoroughness.

The Statute of Labourers is the first one which calls for our attention. It will be necessary, in order to present satisfactorily the quality of the legislation embraced therein, to give it verbatim. It is as follows:

“ The Statute of Labourers, made 23 Edw. III. and Anno Dom. 1349.(a)

(a) 2 Pickering's Statutes, 26. All the English statutes here quoted are from Pickering's edition.

“ EDWARD by the grace of God, &c. to the reverend father in Christ, William, by the same grace archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, greeting. Because a great part of the people, and especially of workmen and servants, late died of the pestilence, many seeing the necessity of masters, and great scarcity of servants, will not serve unless they may receive excessive wages, (2) and some rather willing to beg in idleness, than by labour to get their living ; we, considering the grievous incommodities, which of the lack especially of ploughmen and such labourers may here. after come, have upon deliberation and treaty with the prelates and the nobles, and learned men assisting us, of their mutual counsel, ordained :

" CAP. I.

Every person able in body under the age of sixty years, not having to live on, being required, shall be bound to serve him that doth require him, or else committed to the gaol until he find surety to serve.

“ That every man and woman of our realm of England, of what condition he be, free or bond, able in body, and within the age of threescore years, not living in merchandize, nor exercising any craft, nor having of his own whereof he may live, nor proper land, about whose tillage he may himself occupy, and not serving any other, if he in convenient service (his Estate considered) be required to serve, he shall be bounden to serve him which so shall him require. And take only the wages, livery, meed, or salary, which were accustomed to be given in the places where he oweth to serve, the XX. year of our reign of England, or five or six other common years next before. Provided always, That the lords be preferred before other in their bondmen or their land tenants, so in their service to be retained : so that nevertheless the said lords shall retain no more than be necessary for them. And if any such man or woman, being so required to serve, will not the saine do, that proved by two true men before the sheriff or the bailiffs of our sovereign lord the King, or the constables of the town where the same shall happen to be done, he shall anon be taken by them or any of them, and committed to the next gaol, there to remain under strait keeping, till he find surety to serve in the form aforesaid.

• CAP. II.

If a workman or servant depart from service before the time agreed upon, he shall be imprisoned.

ITEM, If any reaper, mower, or other workman or servant, of what estate or condition that he be, retained in any man's service, do depart from the said service without reasonable cause or licence, before the term agreed, he shall have pain of imprisonment. And that none under the same pain presume to receive or to retain any

such in his service.

6. CAP. III.

“ The old wages, and no more, shall be given to servants.

ITEM, That no man pay, or promise to pay, any servant any more wages, liveries, meed, or salary than was wont, as afore is said. Nor that any

in other manner shall demand or receive the same, upon pain of doubling of that, that so shall be paid, promised, required, or received, to him which thereof shall feel himself grieved, pursuing for the same.

And if none such will pursue, then the same to be applied to any of the people that will pursue. And such pursuit shall be in the court of the lord of the place where such case shall happen.


If the lord of a town or manor do offend against this statute in any point, he shall forfeit the treble value.

Item, if the lords of the towns or manors presume in any point to come against this present ordinance either by them, or by their servants, then pursuit shall be made against them in the counties, wapentakes, tithings, or such other courts, for the treble pain paid or promised by them or their servants in the form aforesaid. And if any before this present ordinance hath covenanted with any so to serve for more wages, he shall not be bound by reason of the same covenant, to pay niore than at another time was wont to be paid to


upon the said pain shall presume any more to pay.

such person.

". CAP. V.

If any artificer or workman take more wages than were wont to be paid, he shall be committed to the gaol.

“ ITEM, That sadlers, skinners, white-tawers, cord-wainers, taylors, smiths, carpenters, masons, tilers, shipwrights, carters, and all other artificers and workmen, shall not take for their labour and workmanship above the same that was wont to be paid to such persons the said twentieth

and other common years next before, as afore is said, in the place where they shall happen to work. And if any man take more, he shall be committed to the next gaol, in manner as afore is said.


• CAP. VI.

" Victuals shall be sold at reasonable prices.

“ITEM, That butchers, fishmongers, regrators, hostelers, brewers, bakers, pulters, and all other sellers of all manner of victual, shall be bound to sell the same victual for a reasonable price, having respect to the price that such victual be sold at in the places adjoining, so that the me sellers have moderate gains, and not excessive, reasonably to be required according to the distance of the place from whence the said victuals be carried. (2) And if any sell such victuals in


manner, and thereof be convict in the manner and form aforesaid, he shall pay the double of the same that he so received, to the party damnified, or, in default of him, to any other that will pursue in this behalf. (3) And the mayors and hailiffs of cities, boroughs, merchant-towns, and others, and of the ports of the sea, and other places, shall have power to inquire of all and singular which shall in any thing offend the same, and to levy the said pain to the use of them at whose suit such offenders shall be convict. (4) And in case that the same mayors and bailiffs be negligent in doing execution of the premises, and thereof be convict before our justices, by us to be assigned, then the same mayors and bailiffs shall be compelled by the same justices to pay the treble of the thing so sold to the party damnified, or to any other in default of him that will pursue ; and nevertheless towards us they shall be grievously punished.


“No person shall give any thing to a beggar that is able to labour.

"ITEM, because that many valiant beggars, as long as they may live of begging, do refuse to labour, giving themselves to idleness and vice, and sometime to theft and other abominations ; none upon the said pain of imprisonment shall, under the colour of pity or alms, give any thing to such, which may labour, or presume to favour them towards their desires, so that thereby they may be compelled to labour for their necessary living.

Wherefore our said sovereign lord the King, the xiiii. day of June, the xxiii. year of his reign, hath commanded to all sheriffs of England by divers writs, that they shall do openly to be proclaimed and holden, all and sin

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