Document 10: An Act of Parliament for amending and widening the road from Falmouth to Marazion, Cornwall, 1760.
(Catalogue reference: C 65/739 membrane 2)
In this section:
The Act, which consists of 20 membranes, forms part of a Parliament roll. This section describes the location and condition of the road in question. The Act goes on to grant permission for the road in question to be declared a turnpike road, for gates to be erected and tolls collected, and names a long list of trustees.
An Act of Parliament was required because the common law of the land and right of passage over the king's highway made it illegal to charge tolls to pass along existing roads, unless permission was specifically granted by Parliament. The maintenance of public roads was otherwise the responsibility of the local parish. The gradual increase in trade and traffic, however, put pressure on the parish-based system, particularly where the parish was unfortunate enough to encompass a heavily used through-road. Many turnpike trusts were set up in Cornwall in the 18th century, partly owing to the pressures put on the roads by the rise in the county's production and export of tin.
Turnpike Acts were solicited by local residents concerned with improving a particular road. A petition was drawn up and given to a local member of parliament, who would present it in the House of Commons. If it was passed there and in the House of Lords, and royal assent was obtained, the bill became law. The Act would then be enrolled on a Parliament roll.
This document is written in Chancery hand.