And every six months a just dividend shall be made among the creditors of the money received; and so, if the effects lie abroad, authentic procurations shall be signed by the bankrupt to the commissioners, who thereupon correspond with the persons abroad, in whose hands such effects are, who are to remit the same as the commissioners order; the dividend to be made, as before, every six months, or oftener, if the court see cause.
If any man thinks the bankrupt has so much favour by these articles, that those who can dispense with an oath have an opportunity to cheat their creditors, and that hereby too much encouragement is given to men to turn bankrupt; let them consider the easiness of the discovery, the difficulty of a concealment, and the penalty on the offender.
1. I would have a reward of 30 per cent. be provided to be paid to any person who should make discovery of any part of the bankrupt's estate concealed by him, which would make discoveries easy and frequent.
2. Any person who should claim any debt among the creditors, for the account of the bankrupt, or his wife or children, or with design to relieve them out of it, other or more than is, bona fide, due to him for value received, and to be made out; or any person who shall receive in trust, or by deed of gift, any part of the goods or other estate of the bankrupt, with design to preserve them for the use of the said bankrupt, or his wife or children, or with design to conceal them from the creditors, shall forfeit for every such act 500 pounds, and have his name published as a cheat, and a person not fit to be credited by any man. This would make it very difficult for the bankrupt to conceal anything.
3. The bankrupt having given his name, and put the officer into possession, shall not remove out of the house any of his books; but during the fourteen days' time which he shall have to settle the accounts shall every night deliver the books into the hands of the officer; and the commissioners shall have liberty, if they please, to take the books the first day, and cause duplicates to be made, and then to give them back to the bankrupt to settle the accounts.
4. If it shall appear that the bankrupt has given in a false account, has concealed any part of his goods or debts, in breach of his oath, he shall be set in the pillory at his own door, and be imprisoned during life without bail.
5. To prevent the bankrupt concealing any debts abroad, it should be enacted that the name of the bankrupt being entered at the office, where every man might search gratis, should be publication enough; and that after such entry, no discharge from the bankrupt should be allowed in account to any man, but whoever would adventure to pay any money to the said bankrupt or his order should be still debtor to the estate, and pay it again to the commissioners.
And whereas wiser heads than mine must be employed to compose this law, if ever it be made, they will have time to consider of more ways to secure the estate for the creditors, and, if possible, to tie the hands of the bankrupt yet faster.
This law, if ever such a happiness should arise to this kingdom, would be a present remedy for a multitude of evils which now we feel, and which are a sensible detriment to the trade of this nation.
1. With submission, I question not but it would prevent a great number of bankrupts, which now fall by divers causes. For,
(1.) It would effectually remove all crafty designed breakings, by which many honest men are ruined. And
(2.) Of course 'twould prevent the fall of those tradesmen who are forced to break by the knavery of such.
2. It would effectually suppress all those sanctuaries and refuges of thieves, the Mint, Friars, Savoy, Rules, and the like; and that these two ways:-
(1.) Honest men would have no need of it, here being a more safe, easy, and more honourable way to get out of trouble.
(2.) Knaves should have no protection from those places, and the Act be fortified against those places by the following clauses, which I have on purpose reserved to this head.