Sugar Act 1764 (excerpts)


I. Revenue, from taxing foreign molasses, for the defense of British colonies 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 said 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. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That [the act, passed during the reign of George II, entitled An act for the better securing and encouraging the trade of his Majesty's sugar colonies in America, which was temporary] is hereby made perpetual.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That … there shall …be raised, levied, collected, and paid, unto his Majesty, his heirs and successors, for and upon every gallon of molasses 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 America, which now is, or hereafter may be, under the dominion of his Majesty, his heirs or successors, the sum of three pence.
And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all the monies [collected by this act shall be] disposed of by parliament, towards defraying the necessary expences of defending, protecting, and securing the British colonies and plantations in America.

II. Prohibition on foreign rum And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That … no rum or spirits of 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....

III. Customs certificates and bonds 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 … every person or persons loading on board any ship or vessel, in any of the British colonies or plantations in America, any rum or spirits, sugars or paneles, molasses or syrups, as of the growth, 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 grower, 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.
And whereas … bond and security … shall also be given to the collector or other principal officer of the customs…
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 her tackle, apparel, and furniture, and all the goods therein laden, shall be forfeited, and shall and may be seized and prosecuted....

IV. Bribing customs officials 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, recompence, 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 be 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....

V. Admiralty law And that all the forfeitures and penalties inflicted by this or any other act or acts of parliament 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 of admiralty or vice admiralty are hereby respectively authorized and required to proceed, hear, and determine the same) at the election of the informer or prosecutor. . . . And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That … 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. 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....