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1. THAT there shall be in every plantation, where the people use to meete for the worship of God, a house or roome sequestred for that purpose, and
No. of the
And, according to Smith, they debated all matters, thought expedient for the good of the colony-See also Burk's Hist. Virg. vol. 1, pa. 203, and
This summer, 1619, were laid off four more corporations, which encreased the number of boroughs having a right to representation to eleven in all: Stith, 161.
The acts passed at the general assembly in 1619, were probably a crude, indigested mass, which never received the sanction of the treasurer and company for Virginia, in England; without whose approbation, in a great and general court, they could not have the force of laws.
After a careful examination of the ancient records relating to Virginia, the following is the only notice which I have been able to find of these
At "An extraordinary court held the 20th of March, 1620," Ancient Records, vol. 1, pa. 117, towards the close of the proceedings there is this entry: "The acts of the general assembly in Virginia being yet to read, together with a letter which Mr. Yeardley desireth should be read for the cleering of his brother Sir George Yeardley, because it was held inconvenient to spend an ordinary court therewith, it was agreed that Monday next in the afternoon should be appointed for that purpose.
"At an imperfect court held for Virginia at Sir Edwin Sandys' house, 8th of April, 1620," ancient records, vol. 1, pa. 118," Mr. Treasurer," (Sir Edwin Sandys,) " signified that having perused the acts of the general assembly, he found them in their greatest part to be very well and judiciously carried and performed, but because they are to be ratified by a great and general court, therefore he hath writ unto them that till then they cannot be confirmed; but in the mean time he moved that a select committee of choice men might be appointed to draw them into head, and to ripen the business that it might be in readiness against the said court."
A committee was thereupon appointed, consisting of eight members, four of the council, and four of the generality, as they were termed, to meet at a future day then assigned, with power to adjourn from day to day.
At a subsequent meeting, another member was added to the committee, and the proceedings of the "imperfect court," were confirmed. Ancient Records, vol. 1, pa. 132.
And "At a preparative court, held May 15th, 1620;" Ancient Records, vol. 1, pa 135, there is the following entry.
"For the committee chosen for the acts of the General Assembly, Mr. Treasurer signified that they had taken extraordinary pains therein, but forasmuch as they were exceeding intricate and full of labour, he in their behalf desired the court to dispense with them till the quarter court in midsummer term, which will be about six weeks hence, which the court with many thanks unto the committee for their great pains willingly assented unto."
No mention is made of these acts, at the next quarter court, or in any subsequent part of the proceedings.
*The acts of this session are numbered, in the margin, as they are here priated. I have observed the same form, not only because I
not to be for any temporal use whatsoever, and a place empaled in, sequestered only to the buryal of worship. the dead.
That whosover shall absent himselfe from divine. service any Sunday without an allowable excuse shall forfeite a pound of tobacco, and he that absent eth himselfe a month shall forfeit 50lb. of tobacco.
3. That there be an uniformity in our church as neere as may be to the canons in England; both in substance and circumstance, and that all persons yeild readie obedience unto them under paine of censure.
That the 22d of March* be yeerly solemnized as holliday, and all other hollidays (except when they fall two together) betwixt the feast of the annuntiation of the blessed virgin and St. Michael the archangell, then only the first to be observed by reason of our necessities.
think the original should be imitated as nearly as possible, but because, in all the subsequent acts, for a series of years, the former laws are referred to by the number of the act and not by the chapter. In the infancy of our legislation, there was no such thing as a division of the several acts by chapters.
It may not be improper to remark, that, in the course of this work, I shall preserve both the arrangement and orthography of the originals as far as practicable. I cannot well conceive any thing more improper than to give an ancient paper in a modern dress. Besides the suspicions, which are naturally excited, that the paper is spurious, we are deprived of an opportunity of tracing those gradual changes in language, from rudeness to refinement, which are observable in the progress of civilization in all nations. If it were possible I would give a fac simile of the hand writing. But this cannot be done. The most remarkable deviations from the modern characters, in the acts of this session, are, that the small "e" nearly resembles the letter "o" with a horizontal cross near the top;-the small "s" is exactly like the small round Greek sigma, with a circumflex proceeding from the top.
*This was in commemoration of the escape of the colony from entire extirpation by the fatal massacre of the Indians on the 22d of March, 1622. See Burk's Hist. Virg. vol. 1, p. 240.
Penalty absent for being from
church on Sunday.
To be an
uniformity trine and discipline
of the church.
5. That no minister be absent from his church above Penalty on ministers two months in all the yeare upon penalty of forfeitabsenting ing halfe his means, and whosoever shall absent them
to be observed as a holiday.
selves from their church.
Penalty for disparaging a minister.
Ministers to be satisfied before
any tobacto disposed of.
vernor as to taxes &
from their labours
Certain old planters and their pos
empted from mili
above fowre months in the year shall forfeit his whole means and cure.
not to withdraw
Governor 9. The governor shall not withdraw the inhabitants from their private labors to any service of his own upon any colour whatsoever and in case the publick service require ymployments of many hands before the holding a General Assemblie to give order for the same, in that case the levying of men shall be done by order of the governor and whole body of the counsell and that in such sorte as to be least burthensome to the people and most free from partiality.
That whosoever shall disparage a minister without bringing sufficient proofe to justify his reports whereby the mindes of his parishioners may be alienated from him, and his ministry prove the less effectual by their prejudication, shall not only pay 500lb. waight of tobacco but also aske the minister so wronged forgiveness publickly in the congregation.
7. That no man dispose of any of his tobacco before the minister be satisfied, upon pain of forfeiture double his part of the minister's means, and one man of every plantation to collect his means out of the first and best tobacco and corn.
That the Governor shall not lay any taxes or ympositions upon the colony their lands or comodities other way than by the authority of the General Assembly, to be levyed and ymployed as the said Assembly shall appoynt.
10. That all the old planters that were here before or came in at the last coming of sir Thomas Gates they and their posterity shall be exempted from their personal service to the warrs and any publick charge (church duties excepted) that belong particularly to their persons (not exempting their families) except such as shall be ymployd to command in chief.
11. That no burgesses of the General Assembly shall be arrested during the time of the assembly, a week before and a week after upon pain of the creditors forfeiture of his debt and such punishment upon the officer as the court shall award.
13. That every privatt planters devident shall be surveyed and laid out in several and the bounds recorded by the survey; yf there be any pettie differences betwixt neighbours about their devidents to be divided by the surveyor if of much importance to be referred to the governor and counsell: the surveyor to have 10 lbs. of tobacco upon every hundred acres.
12. That there shall be courts kept once a month in the Monthly corporations of Charles City and Elizabeth Citty for courts. the decyding of suits and controversies not exceeding the value of one hundred pounds of tobacco and for punishing of petty offences, that the commanders of tion. the places and such others as the governor and council shall appoint by commission shall be the judges, Right of with reservation of apeal after sentence to the gover- appeal. nor and counsell and whosoever shall appeal yf he be there cast in suit shall pay duble damages, The commanders to be of the quorum and sentence to be given by the major parties.
ed and the
bounds recorded. Appeal to and coun
Price of corn not
14. For the encouragement of men to plant store of corne, the prise shall not be stinted, but it shall be to be limitfree for every man to sell it as deere as he can.
established in every
15. That there shall be in every parish a publick garnary unto which there shall be contributed for every granery planter exceeding the adge of 18 years alive at the crop after he hath been heere a year a bushell of corne, the which shall be disposed for the publique uses of every parish by the major part of the freemen, the remainder yearly to be taken out by the owners at St. Tho's his day and the new bushell to be putt in the roome,
Persons to 16. That three sufficient men of every parish shall be
be appointed to see that a sufficiency of corn be planted.
sworne to see that every man shall plant and tende sufficient of corne for his family. Those men that have neglected so to do are to be by the said three men presented to be censured by the governor and counsell.
Trade for corn with
Regulations as to planting vines and mulberry
swearing and drun
kenness confirmed, &c.
17. That all trade for corne with the salvages as well publick as private after June next shall be prohibited.
they arrive at James
18. That every freeman shall fence in a quarter of an
Ships not 20. That a proclamation be read aboard every ship and afterwards fixed to the maste of such
19. The proclamations for swearing and drunkenness sett out by the governor and counsell are confirmed by this Assembly; and it is further ordered that the churchwardens shall be sworne to present them to the commanders of every plantation and that the forfeitures shall be collected by them to be for publique
in, probibiting them to break boulke or make privatt sales of any commodity until
James City, without special order from the governor and counsell,
Rates of 21. That the proclamation of the rates of commodities be still in force and that there be some men in every plantation to censure the tobacco.
Weights 22. That there be no weights nor measures used but such as shall be sealed by officers appointed for that purpose.