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No. 33.

Stamp Act

March 22, 1765

An act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, and other duties, in the British colonies and plantations in America, towards further defraying the expences of defending, protecting, and securing the same; and for amending such parts of the several acts of parliament relating to the trade and revenues of the said colonies and plantations, as direct the manner of determining and recovering the penalties and forfeitures therein mentioned.

WHEREAS by an act made in the last session of parliament, several duties were granted, continued, and appropriated, towards defraying the expences of defending, protecting, and securing, the British colonies and plantations in America: and whereas it is just and necessary, that provision be made for raising a further revenue within your Majesty’s dominions in America, towards defraying the said expences: . . . be it enacted . . . , That from and after . . . [November 1, 1765,] . . . here shall be raised, levied, collected, and paid unto his Majesty, his heirs, and successors, throughout the colonies and plantations in America which now are, or hereafter may be, under the dominion of his Majesty, his heirs and successors,

For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be ingrossed, written or printed, any declaration, plea, replication, rejoinder, demurrer, or other pleading, or any copy thereof, in any court of law within the British colonies and plantations in America, a stamp duty of three pence.

[Then follow specifications of numerous kinds of legal documents, with the several rates of duty thereon.]

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any note or bill of lading, which shall be signed for any kind of goods, wares, or merchandize, to be exported from, or any cocker or clearance granted within the said colonies and plantations, a stamp duty of four pence.

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . letters of mart, or commission for private ships of war . . . , a stamp duty of twenty shillings.

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any grant, appointment, or admission of or to any publick beneficial office or employment, for the space of one year, or any lesser time, of or above the value of twenty pounds per annum sterling money, in salary, fees, and perquisites . . . , (except commissions and appointments of officers of the army, navy, ordnance, or militia, of judges, and of justices of the peace) a stamp duty of ten shillings.

For every skin . . . on which any grant of any liberty, privilege, or franchise, under the seal of any of the said colonies or plantations, or under the seal or sign manual of any governor, proprietor, or publick officer alone, or in conjunction with any other person or persons, or with any council, or any council and assembly, or any exemplification of the same, shall be ingrossed . . . , a stamp duty of six pounds.

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any licence for retailing of spirituous liquors, to be granted to any person who shall take out the same . . . , a stamp duty of twenty shillings.

[Specifications of duties on other forms of liquor licenses follow.]

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any probate of a will, letters of administration, or of guardianship for any estate above the value of twenty pounds sterling money; within the British colonies and plantations upon the continent of America, the islands belonging thereto, and the Bermuda and Bahama islands, a stamp duty of five shillings.

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any such probate, letters of administration or of guardianship, within all other parts of the British dominions in America, a stamp duty of ten shillings.

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any bond for securing the payment of any sum of money, not exceeding the sum of ten pounds sterling money, within the British colonies and plantations upon the continent of America, the islands belonging thereto, and the Bermuda and Bahama islands, a stamp duty of six pence.

[Bonds for sums above £10 and not exceeding £20, one shilling; above £20 and not exceeding £40, one shilling and sixpence.]

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any order or warrant for surveying or setting out any quantity of land, not exceeding one hundred acres, issued by any governor, proprietor, or any publick officer alone, or in conjunction with any other person or persons, or with any council, or any council and assembly, within the British colonies and plantations in America, a stamp duty of six pence. [Further provision for larger grants.]

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any original grant, or any deed, mesne conveyance, or other instrument whatsoever, by which any quantity of land not exceeding one hundred acres shall be granted, conveyed, or assigned, within the British colonies and plantations upon the continent of America, the islands belonging thereto, and the Bermuda and Bahama islands (except leases for any term not exceeding the term of twenty one years) a stamp duty of one shilling and six pence. [Further provision for larger grants.]

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any such original grant . . . by which any quantity of land not exceeding one hundred acres shall be granted . . . within all other parts of the British dominions in America, a stamp duty of three shillings. [Further provision for larger grants.]

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any grant, appointment, or admission, of or to any publick beneficial office or employment, not herein before charged, above the value of twenty pounds per annum sterling money in salary, fees, and perquisites, or any exemplification of the same, within the British colonies and plantations upon the continent of America, the islands belonging thereto, and the Bermuda and Bahama islands (except commissions of officers of the army, navy, ordnance, or militia, and of justices of the peace) a stamp duty of four pounds.

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any such grant . . . within all other parts of the British dominions in America, a stamp duty of six pounds.

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any indenture, lease, conveyance, contract, stipulation, bill of sale, charter party, protest, articles of apprenticeship, or covenant (except for the hire of servants not apprentices, and also except such other matters as are herein before charged) within the British colonies and plantations in America, a stamp duty of two shillings and six pence.

For every skin . . . on which any warrant or order for auditing any publick accounts, beneficial warrant, order, grant, or certificate, under any publick seal, or under the seal or sign manual of any governor, proprietor, or publick officer alone, or in conjunction with any other person or persons, or with any council, or any council and assembly, not herein before charged, or any passport or let-pass, surrender of office, or policy of assurance, shall be ingrossed . . . (except warrants or orders for the service of the navy, army, ordnance, or militia, and grants of offices under twenty pounds per annum in salary, fees, and perquisites) a stamp duty of five shillings.

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any notarial act, bond, deed, letter of attorney, procuration, mortgage, release, or other obligatory instrument, not herein before charged . . . , a stamp duty of two shillings and three pence.

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any register, entry, or inrollment of any grant, deed, or other instrument whatsoever herein before charged . . . , a stamp duty of three pence.

For every skin . . . on which shall be ingrossed . . . any register, . . . not herein before charged . . . , a stamp duty of two shillings.

And for and upon every pack of playing cards, and all dice, which shall be sold or used . . . , the several stamp duties following (that is to say)

For every pack of such cards, the sum of one shilling.

And for every pair of such dice, the sum of ten shillings.

And for and upon every paper, commonly called a pamphlet, and upon every news paper . . . and for and upon such advertisements as are herein after mentioned, the respective duties following (that is to say)

For every such pamphlet and paper contained in half a sheet, or any lesser piece of paper . . . , a stamp duty of one half penny, for every printed copy thereof.

For every such pamphlet and paper (being larger than half a sheet, and not exceeding one whole sheet) . . . , a stamp duty of one penny, for every printed copy thereof.

For every pamphlet and paper being larger than one whole sheet, and not exceeding six sheets in octavo, or in a lesser page, or not exceeding twelve sheets in quarto, or twenty sheets in folio . . . , a duty after the rate of one shilling for every sheet of any kind of paper which shall be contained in one printed copy thereof.

For every advertisement to be contained in any gazette, news paper, or other paper, or any pamphlet . . . , a duty of two shillings.

For every almanack or calendar, for any one particular year, or for any time less than a year, which shall be written or printed on One side only of any one sheet, skin, or piece of paper parchment, or vellum . . . , a stamp duty of two pence.

For every other almanack or calendar for any one particular year . . . , a stamp duty of four pence.

And for every almanack or calendar written or printed . . . , to serve for several years, duties to the same amount respectively shall be paid for every such year.

For every skin . . . on which any instrument, proceeding, or other matter or thing aforesaid, shall be ingrossed . . . , in any other than the English language, a stamp duty of double the amount of the respective duties before charged thereon.

And there shall be also paid . . . a duty of six pence for every twenty shillings, in any sum not exceeding fifty pounds sterling money, which shall be given, paid, contracted, or agreed for, with or in relation to any clerk or apprentice, which shall be put or placed to or with any master or mistress to learn any profession, trade, or employment.

II. And also a duty of one shilling for every twenty shillings, in any sum exceeding fifty pounds, which shall be given, paid, contracted, or agreed, for, with, or in relation to any such clerk or apprentice.

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V. And be it further enacted . . . , That all books and pamphlets serving chiefly for the purpose of an almanack, by whatsoever name or names intituled or described, are and shall be charged with the duty imposed by this act on almanacks, but not with any of the duties charged by this act on pamphlets, or other printed papers . . .

VI. Provided always, that this act shall not extend to charge any bills of exchange, accompts, bills of parcels, bills of fees, or any bills or notes not sealed for payment of money at sight, or upon demand, or at the end of certain days of payment.

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X. Provided always, That this act shall not extend to charge any proclamation, forms of prayer and thanksgiving, or any printed votes of any house of assembly in any of the said colonies and plantations, with any of the said duties on pamphlets or news papers; or to charge any books commonly used in any of the schools within the said colonies and plantations, or any books containing only matters of devotion or piety; or to charge any single advertisement printed by itself, or the daily accounts or bills of goods imported and exported . . .

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XII. And be it further enacted . . . , That the said several duties shall be under the management of the commissioners, for the time being, of the duties charged on stamped vellum, parchment, and paper, in Great Britain: and the said commissioners are hereby impowered and required to employ such officers under them, for that purpose, as they shall think proper . . .

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XV. And be it further enacted . . . , That if any person or persons shall sign, ingross, write, print, or sell, or expose to sale, or cause to be signed, ingrossed, written, printed, or sold, or exposed to sale, in any of the said colonies or plantations, or in any other part of his Majesty’s dominions, any matter or thing, for which the vellum . . . is hereby charged to pay any duty, before the same shall be marked or stamped with the marks or stamps to be provided as aforesaid, or upon which there shall not be some stamp or mark resembling the same; or shall sign, ingross, . . . or expose to sale . . . , any matter or thing upon any vellum . . . that shall be marked or stamped for any lower duty than the duty by this act made payable in respect thereof; every such person so offending shall, for every such offence, forfeit the sum of ten pounds.

XVI. And be it further enacted . . . , That no matter or thing whatsoever, by this act charged with the payment of a duty, shall be pleaded or given in evidence, or admitted in any court within the said colonies and plantations, to be good, useful, or available in law or equity, unless the same shall be marked or stamped, in pursuance of this act, with the respective duty hereby charged thereon, or with an higher duty.

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XXI. And be it further enacted . . . , That if any register, puklick officer, clerk, or other person in any court, registry, or office within any of the said colonies or plantations, shall, at any time after . . . [November 1, 1765,] . . . enter, register, or inroll, any matter or thing hereby charged with a stamp duty, unless the same shall appear to be duly stamped; in every such case such register, publick officer, clerk, or other person, shall, for every such offence, forfeit the sum of twenty pounds.

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XXVII. And it is hereby further enacted . . . , That no person whatsoever shall sell or expose to sale any such pamphlet, or any news paper, without the true respective name or names, and place or places of abode, of some known person or persons by or for whom the same was really and truly printed or published, shall be written or printed thereon; upon pain that every person offending therein shall, for every such offence, forfeit the sum of twenty pounds.

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XXXII. And it is hereby further enacted . . . , That from and after . . . [November 1, 1765,] . . . in case any person or persons, within any of the said colonies . . . , shall sell, hawk, carry about, utter, or expose to sale, any almanack, or calendar, or any news paper, or any book, pamphlet, or paper, deemed or construed to be, or serving the purpose of, an almanack or news paper, within the intention and meaning of this act, not being stamped or marked as by this act is directed; every such person, shall for every such offence, forfeit the sum of forty shillings.

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LIV. And be it further enacted . . . , That all the monies which shall arise by the several rates and duties hereby granted (except the necessary charges of raising, collecting, recovering, answering, paying, and accounting for the same and the necessary charges from time to time incurred in relation to this act, and the execution thereof) shall be paid into the receipt of his Majesty’s exchequer; and shall be entered separate and apart from all other monies, and shall be there reserved to be from time to time disposed of by parliament, towards further defraying the necessary expences of defending, protecting, and securing, the said colonies and plantations.

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LVII. [Forfeitures and penalties incurred after September 29, 1765, for offences against the Sugar Act (4 Geo. III., c. 15,)], and for offences committed against any other act or acts of Parliament relating to the trade or revenues of the said colonies or plantations; shall and may be prosecuted, sued for, and recovered, in any court of record, or in any court of admiralty, in the respective colony or plantation where the offence shall be committed, or in any court of vice admiralty appointed or to be appointed, and which shall have jurisdiction within such colony, plantation, or place, (which courts 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.

LVIII. [Penalties and forfeitures incurred for offences against this act to be sued for and recovered as in Sec. LVII.]; and that from and after . . . [September 29, 1765] . . . , in all cases, where any suit or prosecution shall be commenced and determined for any penalty or forfeiture inflicted by this act, or by the said act made in the fourth year of his present Majesty’s reign, or by any other act of parliament relating to the trade or revenues of the said colonies or plantations, in any court of admirality in the respective colony or plantation where the offence shall be committed, either party, who shall think himself aggrieved by such determination, may appeal from such determination to any court of vice admiralty appointed or to be appointed, and which shall have jurisdiction within such colony, plantation, or place . . . ; and the forfeitures and penalties hereby inflicted, which shall be incurred in any other part of his Majesty’s dominions, shall and may be prosecuted, sued for, and recovered, with full costs of suit, in any court of record within the kingdom, territory, or place, where the offence shall be committed, in such and the same manner as any debt or damage, to the amount of such forfeiture or penalty, can or may be sued for and recovered.

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Chicago: Pickering, ed., "Stamp Act," Statutes at Large in Documentary Source Book of American History, 1606-1913, ed. William MacDonald (1863-1938) (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1916), 123–131. Original Sources, accessed December 6, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=KTJ8DS9HUE23UYA.

MLA: . "Stamp Act." Statutes at Large, edited by Pickering, Vol. XXVI, in Documentary Source Book of American History, 1606-1913, edited by William MacDonald (1863-1938), New York, The Macmillan Company, 1916, pp. 123–131. Original Sources. 6 Dec. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=KTJ8DS9HUE23UYA.

Harvard: (ed.), 'Stamp Act' in Statutes at Large. cited in 1916, Documentary Source Book of American History, 1606-1913, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York, pp.123–131. Original Sources, retrieved 6 December 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=KTJ8DS9HUE23UYA.