The Irish Rebellion of 1641 had broken out five months earlier, and the Act was designed to pay the army needed to subdue the rebellion by using borrowed money. Repayment would come from confiscating the rebels' lands and selling them.
The main Act
It was passed by the Long Parliament on 19 March 1642 as a way of raising funds to suppress the Irish Rebellion of 1641. The Act invited members of the public to invest £200 for which they would receive 1000 ac (400 ha) of lands that would be confiscated from rebels in Ireland. 2,500,000 ac (1,000,000 ha) of Irish land were set aside by the English Government for this purpose. The entire country of Ireland is roughly 20,000,000 ac (8,442,009 ha).
The enactment was done at the request of King Charles in the House of Lords, joined by the Commons, and was unanimously accepted, without any debate. The Bill had been placed before the Houses for inspection but was not formally read into the record. The title of the Act – "An Act for the speedy and effectual reducing of the Rebels, in His Majesty's Kingdom of Ireland, to their due Obedience to His Majesty, and the Crown of England" – was read out to Parliament, followed by the statement: "le roy le veult"
The "Adventurers" were so called because they were risking their money at a time when the Crown had just had to pay for the Bishops' Wars in 1639-40. "Reducing" the rebels meant leading them back (Latin: reducere) to the legal concept of the "King's Peace". King Charles could not subsequently enforce the Act, but it was realised by his political opponents following the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1649-53, and formed the main legal basis for the contentious Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652.
The Adventurers' Act was extended and amended by three other acts the Lands of Irish Rebels; Adventurers' Subscriptions Act 1640 (c. 34), Lands of Irish Rebels; Adventurers' Subscriptions Act 1640 (c. 35), and Irish Rebels Act 1640 (c. 37). All four received Royal Assent in the summer of 1642, just before the start of the English Civil War, but are usually referred to as 1640 acts—the year the Long Parliament started to sit—and as that year was the 16th year of Charles I's reign are formally known as 16 Cha. I c.33 etc.
In July 1643, Parliament passed the Doubling Ordinance which doubled the allocation of land to anyone who increased their original investment by 25%. The purpose of the Act was twofold, firstly to raise money for Parliament to help suppress the rebellion in Ireland, and secondly to deprive the King of the lands seized from rebels that would be his by prerogative.
To enforce the Acts the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland was launched in 1649. In 1653, Ireland was declared subdued and the lands were allocated to the subscribers in what became known as the Cromwellian Settlement.
The Adventurers Act, and the other three statutes (c.33 to 35, and 37), were repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1950.
- Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652
- Act of Settlement 1657
- Act of Settlement 1662
- Confederate Ireland
- Charles I, 1640: An Act for the speedy and effectuall reducing of the Rebells in his Majesties Kingdome of Ireland to theire due obedience to his Majesty & the Crowne of England, Statutes of the Realm: volume 5: 1628-80 (1819), pp. 168-72. Website of British History Online. Date accessed: 18 April 2007.
- Manganiello, Stephen C.(2004). The Concise Encyclopedia of the Revolutions and Wars of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 1639-1660 Scarecrow Press, Great Britain ISBN 0-8108-5100-8. p.10
- http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=35806 'House of Lords Journal Volume 4: 19 March 1642', Journal of the House of Lords: volume 4: 1629-42 (1767-1830), pp. 653-658. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=35806 Date accessed: 12 September 2014.
- An Act for adding unto & explaining of certain Clauses in another Act made this Parliament Intituled An Act for the speedy & effectuall reducing of the Rebels in his Majesties Kingdome of Ireland to theire due obedience to his Majestie and the Crowne of England (c.34: Lands of Irish Rebels; Adventurers' Subscriptions Act 1640) British History Online ,Date accessed: 14 February 2008.
- An Act to inable Corporations & Bodies Politique to participate of the benefit of an Act lately passed entituled An Act for the speedie and effectuall reducing of the Rebells in his Majesties Kingdome of Ireland to theire due obedience to his Majestie and the Crowne of England (c.35: Lands of Irish Rebels; Adventurers' Subscriptions Act 1640), British History Online, Date accessed: 14 February 2008.
- An Act for the further advancement of an effectuall and speedy reduction of the Rebels in Ireland to the obedience of his Majestie and the Crowne of England (c.37: Irish Rebels Act 1640), British History Online ,Date accessed: 14 February 2008.
- Adrian J M Stevenson, Mid-1600s Acts affecting property in Ireland: the Acts of Settlement and Explanation, kintree - Genealogy Research in Ireland, Date accessed: 14 February 2008.
- Manganiello, Stephen C.(2004). The Concise Encyclopedia of the Revolutions and Wars of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 1639-1660 Scarecrow Press, Great Britain ISBN 0-8108-5100-8. p.160
- July 1643: An Ordinance for the encouragement of Adventurers, to make new Subscriptions for Towns, Cities, and Lands in Ireland., Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660 (1911), pp. 192-97. British History Online .Date accessed: 3 May 2007.
- As King Charles I of England would not assent to Bills from a Parliament at war with him, decrees of Parliament before the Third English Civil War were styled Ordinance. (Stephen C. Manganiello (2004). The Concise Encyclopedia of the Revolutions and Wars of England, Scotland 1639-1660, Scarecrow Press, ISBN 0-8108-5100-8, p. 401