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would rather have continued at the former five pounds, and have run all risks, than have purchased an exclusive privilege, in the gross, at so high a price.
The finances, and even the resources, of Government, must have been very low at this moment, or Ministry could never have stooped to so paltry and oppressive an expedient, to raise so small a sum as would arise from these Licences, By the increase of the number of Coaches from four hundred at five pounds per annum, to seven hundred at four pounds per annum, the gain to the Treasury was ^6.800 annually :—and what did the licences at fifty pounds each Coach, for the term of twenty-one years, yield to the State ? — ^.3,500! Whereas, had such lease of the privilege of driving a Coach been kept at the rack rent of five pounds per annum, it had produced in that period ^,14,700.
Thus, however, the matter rested, till the ninth year of Queen Anne, 1^10, when a Statute was made, which brought the business to its present standard, with a few variations, which will be observed in the order of time. By this Act every circumstance was new modelled; for thereby the Crown was impowered to appoint five Commissioners for, regulating and licensing both Hackney Coaches and Chairs, from the time the late Statute of the fifth of William and Mary should expire, viz. at Midsummer A. D. 1715, authorizing such Commissioners to grant licences to eight hundred Hackney Coaches from that time for the term of thirtytwo years, which should be allowed to be driven in the Cities of London and Westminster, and the Suburbs thereof, or any where within the Bills of Mortality; each Coach paying for such privilege the sum of five shillings per week *. It was at the same time enacted, that from the 24th of June, 17H, all horses to be used with an Hackney Coach shall be fourteen hands high, according to the standard; and further, that every Coach and Chair shall have a mark of distinction, "by figure or otherwise," as the Commissioners shall think fit; and " the said mark shall be placed on each side of every such Coach and Chair respectively, in the
most convenient place to be taken notice of, to the end that they may be known if any complaints shall be made of them *."
This was all that could then be done respecting the Coaches, forasmuch as the old term of twenty-one years, granted in the fifth year of William and Mary, 1694, was subsisting, whereby seven hundred Coaches were allowed, and for which privilege the Owners had paid fifty pounds each, on whom Government shewed some tenderness. With regard, however, to regulation, &c. there was, no doubt, room sufficient for the exercise of the powers given to the Commissioners. There was, likewise, another object involved in this Statute; viz. the Chairs, which were not comprehended in the same agreement and contract with the Coaches, but were open immediately to new laws. Therefore under the same commissions was placed the management and licensing of the Hackney Chairs, to commence from the 24th of June in the following year, 1711, for the said term of thirty-two years; which were thereby limited to the number of two hundred, each paying for such licence the annual sum of ten shillings *. As the number of both Coaches and Chairs was enlarged, whereby many new persons would come forward, perhaps to the ousting of the old Coach-Masters and Chair-Masters, it is required by this Act that the Commissioners shall give a preference to such of the Lessees, as I may call them, whose terms had not then expired, whether the right remained in themselves or their widows, if they applied within a given time f.
* The Figures of the i Chairs are too small and inconspicuous; there stosld be one both on the outside and inside of each.
By this statute likewise the rates were limited to time and distance, at ten shillings by the Day.—One shilling and six pence for the first Hour, and one shilling for every succeeding Hour.—One shilling for the distance of a mile and a half.—One shilling and six pence for any distance more than a mile and a half, and not exceeding two miles; and so on, in the proportion of six pence for every succeeding half mile.
* By Quarterly Payments. Thus the Power of the Commissionersover the Chairs arose before that over the Coaches.
t Some Lawsuits having arisen from this Clause, it was explained by a short Act of the 12tbyear of the Queen (1713), subjecting such Widows to the same Rules, Penalties, &c. made, or to be made, as any acting Chairman. And thus it continues to this day; for the owner of & Figure, as it is called, is answerable for certain faults of his or her assignee.
The Chairs are likewise at the same time rated at two-thirds of the distance prescribed to the Coaches, so that they were allowed to take one shilling for a mile, and six pence for every succeeding half mile.
Though the time of waiting is not specified in the Act with regard to the Chairs, yet it follows, by implication, to be intended the same
as the Coaches. These have been altered bv a
very late Statute, 1785. It is well known that it is left iu the option of either Coachmen or Chairmen, whether they will be paid by the distance or the time, which is but a reasonable privilege; but there is another circumstance, not generally known, of which the passengers are not perhaps aware, viz. that if the room which a Coach will occupy in turning about should exceed the distance