Extracts from the Revenue Act (1767)


These extracts are from the British parliament’s Revenue Act, passed in 1767. This was one of several acts that legislated and implemented the trade duties that became known in America as the ‘Townshend duties’.


“Whereas it is expedient that a revenue should be raised in your majesty’s dominions in America, for… defraying the charge of the administration of justice, and for the support of civil government, in such provinces where it shall be found necessary… and towards further defraying the expenses of defending, protecting and securing the said dominions; be it enacted that:

There shall be raised, levied, collected and paid unto his Majesty, his heirs, and successors, for and upon the respective goods hereafter mentioned… imported from Great Britain into any colony or plantation in America… several rates and duties [on the] following: [glass, lead, painter’s colors, tea, and paper].

And it is hereby further enacted… that the said rates and duties, charged by this act upon goods imported into any British American colony or plantation shall be applied, in the first place, in such manner as is herein after mentioned, in making a more certain and adequate provision for the charge of the administration of justice and the support of civil government in such of the said colonies and plantations… and that the residue of such duties 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.

And whereas for preventing frauds and regulating abuses, in His Majesty’s customs… it is lawful for any officer of His Majesty’s customs, authorised by writ of assistance under the seal of his majesty’s court of exchequer, to take a constable or other public officer inhabiting near unto the place, and in the daytime to enter and go into any house, shop, cellar, warehouse, or room or other place, and, in case of resistance, to break open doors, chests, trunks, and other package there, to seize, and from thence to bring, any kind of goods or merchandise whatsoever prohibited or uncustomed, and to put and secure the same in his majesty’s storehouse next to the place where such seizure shall be made, be it enacted, and it is hereby enacted by the authority aforesaid…”