The Black Act 1723 (9 Geo. 1 c. 22) was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain passed in 1723 in response to a series of raids by two groups of poachers, known as the Blacks. The Act was expanded over the years and greatly strengthened the criminal code by specifying over 200 capital crimes, many with intensified punishment. Arson, for example, was expanded to include burning or the threat of burning haystacks. The London Building Act 1774, which imposed restrictions on exterior decoration, was also known as the Black Act.

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  • The Black Act 1723 (9 Geo. 1 c. 22) was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain passed in 1723 in response to a series of raids by two groups of poachers, known as the Blacks. The Act was expanded over the years and greatly strengthened the criminal code by specifying over 200 capital crimes, many with intensified punishment. Arson, for example, was expanded to include burning or the threat of burning haystacks. Also, the legal rights of defendants were strictly limited. For example, suspects who refused to surrender within 40 days could be summarily judged guilty and sentenced to execution if they were apprehended. Local villages were punished if they failed to find, prosecute and convict alleged criminals. The act originated in the aftermath of the South Sea Bubble collapse and the ensuing economic downturn. The Blacks gained their name from their habit of blacking their faces when they undertook poaching raids against landowners. They quickly demonstrated both "a calculated programme of action, and a conscious social resentment", and their activities led to the introduction of the Black Act to Parliament on 26 April 1723. The Act came into force on 27 May and introduced the death penalty for over 50 criminal offences, including being found disguised in a forest and carrying a weapon, and "no other single statute passed during the eighteenth century equalled [the Black Act] in severity, and none appointed the punishment of death in so many cases". A criminal law reform campaign in the early 19th century caused it to be largely repealed on 8 July 1823, when a reform bill introduced by Robert Peel came into force. The London Building Act 1774, which imposed restrictions on exterior decoration, was also known as the Black Act. (en)
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  • 984821652 (xsd:integer)
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dbp:commencement
  • 1723-05-27 (xsd:date)
dbp:longTitle
  • An Act for the more effectual punishing wicked and evil disposed Persons going armed in Disguise and doing Injuries and Violence to the Persons and Properties of His Majesty's Subjects, and for the more speedy bringing the Offenders to Justice (en)
dbp:parliament
  • Parliament of Great Britain (en)
dbp:repealDate
  • 1823-07-08 (xsd:date)
dbp:shortTitle
  • Black Act (en)
dbp:status
  • Repealed (en)
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  • 9 (xsd:integer)
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  • 1723 (xsd:integer)
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rdfs:comment
  • The Black Act 1723 (9 Geo. 1 c. 22) was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain passed in 1723 in response to a series of raids by two groups of poachers, known as the Blacks. The Act was expanded over the years and greatly strengthened the criminal code by specifying over 200 capital crimes, many with intensified punishment. Arson, for example, was expanded to include burning or the threat of burning haystacks. The London Building Act 1774, which imposed restrictions on exterior decoration, was also known as the Black Act. (en)
rdfs:label
  • Black Act 1723 (en)
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