28. See 4 Geo. 3, c. 15, §§37, 41, 42 (1764), quoted, text at notes
, below. In England the Attorney General would proceed for penalties owed the Crown, but where forfeitures were divided between informer and Crown, the usual form was the qui tam
action brought by the informer for himself and other parties. See 3 Blackstone, Commentaries
*160, 261–262; 4 id.
at *303–304. The form of the information shows that Sewall was proceeding in the latter capacity. See note
below. It has been suggested that retainers of £72 each paid to Sewall and Fitch in Oct. and Feb. for “sundry causes” disguise a single large fee necessary to get them to take on Hancock's case. Dickerson, Navigation Acts
263 note. The suggestion is refuted by the fact that on the docket of the Vice Admiralty Court at this period were seven forfeiture actions pending, as well as three penal suits. Vice Adm. Min. Bk.
, Oct. 1768—Feb. 1769. See, for example, No. 47
, No. 48
, No. 49
. See also note 26