Importation Act 1667

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Importation Act 1667
Long title An additional Act against the importation of foreign cattel [sic]
Citation 19 & 20 Cha. II c. 12
Royal assent January 1667
Repealed 28 July 1863
Other legislation
Repealed by Statute Law Revision Act 1863
Status: Repealed

The Importation Act 1667 was an Act of the Parliament of England (citation 19 & 20 Cha. II c. 12) which banned Irish cattle from being sold in England. It was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1863.

The Bill was first introduced in 1663 and proved extremely contentious. It was the work of George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, who saw it as a means to injure his enemies James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde and Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon. Ormonde as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland believed that it would prevent economic recovery in Ireland, while Clarendon, though not greatly interested in Irish affairs, promised Ormonde, his close friend and ally in Government, to use his authority to see it defeated. Its passage would therefore greatly weaken them and strengthen Buckingham.

Buckingham said that "whoever was against the Bill had either an Irish interest or an Irish understanding", giving great offence to Ormonde and his family as a result, but his difficulty was that England did not have a single "interest". The Bill was strongly supported by those whom Samuel Pepys called "the Western gentlemen", the landed gentlemen of the North and West of England, and Wales, who believed that the Bill would increase the value of their cattle. It was opposed by the graziers of Norfolk and Suffolk, who made their living partly by fattening Irish cattle, and by Londoners, who were one of the biggest markets for Irish beef. Pepys also reports fears, unfounded in the event, that passing the Bill would lead to a repetition of the Irish Rebellion of 1641.

In September 1666, against Government opposition, the Bill was reintroduced in the House of Commons. Pepys thought that this was "against the general sense of the House" but that the "Western gentlemen" might carry it by a small majority. Clarendon until too late was confident that the two Houses would reject it or that if all else failed the King would veto it; but preoccupied as he was with the Second Anglo-Dutch War, he seriously underestimated his opponents. Sir William Coventry, more realistically, warned Ormonde that in his view it would pass the Commons, that the House of Lords would make no difficulty, and that the King, embroiled with domestic problems and the Dutch war, would not risk offending Parliament by using his veto. Coventry's predictions were correct: although the King gave his assent with great reluctance, he was acting on Parliament's unofficial pledge to pass two crucial financial Bills on condition that the Importation Bill become law, as it duly did in January 1667.


  • Scottish Society, 1707-1830: Beyond Jacobitism, Towards Industrialisation, Christopher A Whatley, Manchester University Press
  • 'Charles II, 1667 & 1668: An Additional Act against the Importation of Forreign Cattel', Statutes of the Realm: volume 5: 1628-80 (1819), pp. 641-42. URL: Date accessed: 6 March 2007.
  • The Diary of Samuel Pepys, R.C Latham and W. Matthews editors, Volumes VII and VIII.
  • Ollard, Richard Clarendon and his Friends Macmillans 1987