Charles Townshend, Painting

Charles Townshend was the Chancellor of the Exchequer and designed the set of acts which are known as the Townshend Acts. Image Source: Wikipedia.

Townshend Acts, Commissioners of Customs Act Text

June 29, 1767

The Commissioners of Customs Act created the five-person American Board of Customs Commissioners. The Board was located in Boston and was responsible for enforcing shipping laws and the collection of customs duties. The Commissioners of Customs Act was one of the five Townshend Acts passed by Parliament.

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An Act to Enable His Majesty to Put the Customs, and Other Duties, in the British Dominions in America, and the Execution of the Laws Relating to Trade There, under the Management of Commissioners to be Appointed for that Purpose, and to be Resident in the Said Dominions.

WHEREAS in pursuance of an act of Parliament made in the twenty-fifth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, entitled, An act for the encouragement of the Greenland and Eastland trades, and for the better securing the plantation trade, the rates and duties imposed by that, and several subsequent acts of Parliament upon various goods imported into, or exported from the British colonies and plantations in America, have been put under the management of the commissioners of the customs in England for the time being, by and under the authority and directions of the high treasurer, or commissioners of the treasury for the time being; and whereas the officers appointed for the collection of the said rates and duties in America are obliged to apply to the said commissioners of the customs in England for their special instructions and directions, upon every particular doubt and difficulty which arises in relation to the payment of the said rates and duties, whereby all persons concerned in the commerce and trade of the said colonies and plantations are greatly obstructed and delayed in the carrying on and transacting of their business; and whereas the appointing of commissioners to be resident in some convenient part of his Majesty’s dominions in America, and to be invested with such powers as are now exercised by the commissioners of the customs in England by virtue of the laws in being, would relieve the said merchants and traders from the said inconveniences, tend to the encouragement of commerce and to the better securing of the said rates and duties, by the more speedy and effectual collection thereof; be it therefore enacted by the King’s most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons in this present Parliament assembled and by the authority of the same, that the customs and other duties imposed by any act or acts of Parliament upon any goods or merchandises brought or imported into, or exported or carried from any British colony or plantation in America, may from time to time be put under the management and direction of such commissioners to reside in the said plantations, as his Majesty, his heirs, and successors, by his or their commission or commissions under the great seal of Great Britain, shall judge to be most for the advantage of trade and security of the revenue of the said British colonies; any law, custom, or usage to the contrary notwithstanding.

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II. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid that the said commissioners to be appointed, or any three or more of them, shall have the same powers and authorities for carrying into execution the several laws relating to the revenues and trade of the said British colonies in America, as were, before the passing of this act, exercised by the commissioners of the customs in England, by virtue of any act or acts of Parliament now in force, and it shall and may be lawful to and for his Majesty, his heirs, and successors, in such commission or commissions, to make provision for putting in execution the several laws relating to the customs and trade of the said British colonies; any law, custom, or usage to the contrary notwithstanding.

III. Provided always, and it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all deputations and other authorities granted by the commissioners of the customs in England before the passing of this act, or which may be granted by them before any commission or commissions shall issue in pursuance of this act, to any officer or officers acting in the said colonies or plantations shall continue in force as fully, to all intents and purposes, as if this act had not been made, until the deputation, or other authorities so granted to such officer or officers, respectively, shall be revoked, annulled, or made void by the high treasurer of Great Britain, or commissioners of the treasury for the time being.

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