The Riot Act of 1714

Now you too can Read The Riot Act !

here is is folks, a scanned image the original riot act of 1714, repealed sometime in the nineteen sixties.
read it out to a crowd, but dont wait for the Kings' Thugs; run like hell!

God ▀av the King!

Benefit of clergy  is a legal term.  From medieval times, it meant that a bona-fide clergyman could not be executed by the civil authority. A reprieve from execution for an ordinary felon thus became known as benefit-of-clergy.   Judges had a measure of discretion when applying the death penalty even though in these old times the death penalty applied to mostly everything. For rioters, under this act ,the judge had NO such discretion.  
It certainly did not mean that the clergy were excluded from your execution! Reading the riot act  simply meant shouting out (from a safe distance !) the words prescribed on the second page.

This image was taken from an ancient Statute Book, it reads a bit like Hansard, but there was no Hansard service running in the parliament of the day.  

Captain Carrot, in one of Terry Pratchett's remarkable books , said "Whereas..." to a riotously assembled crowd and was (wisely) stopped by Commander Vimes. I forget which book it was now.

See also

there is more but that is all I have. My thanks to my old friend Irving Gribbish for finding this in a dusty statute book somewhere in the bowels of the Victorian State Library in Melbourne.