|Pages 80-110||Pages 137-153|
|(Dated July 24, 1621. −−− Stiths's Appendix, No. 4)|
|I. TO all people, to whom these presents shall come, be seen, or heard, the treasurer, council, and company, of adventurers and planters for the city of London for the first colony of Virginia, send greeting. Know ye, that we, the said treasurer, council and company, taking into our careful consideration the present state of the said colony of Virginia, and intending by the divine assistance, to settle such a form of government there, as may be to the greatest benefit and comfort of the people, and whereby all injustice, grievances, and oppression may be prevented and kept off as much as possible, from the said colony, have thought fit to make our entrance, by ordering and establishing such supreme councils, as may not only be assisting to the governor for the time being, in the administration of justice, and the executing of other duties to this office belonging, but also by their vigilant care and prudence, may provide, as well for a remedy of all inconveniences, growing from time to time, as also for advancing of increase, strength, stability, and prosperity of the said colony:||Form of government for the first colony of Virginia.|
|II. We therefore, the said treasurer, council, and company, *by authority directed to us from his majesty under||Two supreme councils.|
|* Vide section XIV. and XXII. of the second charter, and section VIII. of the third.|
| the great seal, upon mature deliberation, do hereby order and declare, that, from hence
forward, there shall be two supreme councils in Virginia, for the better government of the said
III. The one of which councils to be called the council of state, (and whose office shall chiefly be assisting, with their care, advice, and circumspection, to the said governor) shall be chosen, nominated, placed, and displaced, from time to time, by us the said treasurer, council and company, and our successors: which council of state shall consist, for the present only of these persons, as are here inserted, viz. sir Francis Wyatt, * governor of Virginia, captain Francis West, sir George Yeardley, knight, sir William Neuce, knight, marshal of Virginia, Mr. George Sandys, treasurer, Mr. George Thorpe, deputy of the college, captain Thomas Neuce, deputy for the company, Mr. Powlet, Mr. Leech, captain Nathaniel Powel, Mr. Christopher Davidson, secretary, Doctor Pots, physician to the company, Mr. Roger Smith, Mr. John Berkeley, Mr. John Rolfe, Mr. Ralph Hamer, Mr. John Pountis, Mr. Michael Lapworth, Mr. Harwood, Mr. Samuel Macock. Which said counsellors and council we earnestly pray and desire, and in his majesty's name strictly charge and command, that (all factions, partialities, and sinister respect laid aside) they bend their care and endeavors to assist the said governor; first and principally, in the advancement of the honour and service of God, and the enlargement of his kingdom against the heathen people; and next, in erecting of the said colony in due obedience to his majesty, and all lawful authority from his majesty's directions; and lastly, in maintaining the said people in justice and christian conversation amongst themselves, and in strength and ability to withstand their enemies. And this council, to be always, or for the most part, residing about or near the governor.
__ James 1st.
Council of State.
|* It is to be noted, that the governor is always inserted in the old commissions, as a part, and the head of the council of state.|
| MS. Thorne; but as I am perfectly well acquainted with these names and persons, by perusing the ancient records, I shall take the liberty of correcting the errors of the transcriber. −−− Stith.|
| MS. Downtus.|
|IV. The other council, more generally to be called by the governor, once yearly, and no * oftener, but for very extraordinary and important occasions, shall consist for the present, of the said council of state, and of two burgesses out of every town, hundred, or other particular plantation, to be respectively chosen by the inhabitants: which council shall be called The General Assembly, wherein (as also in the said council of state) all matters shall be decided, determined, and ordered by the greater part of the voices then present; reserving to the governor always a negative voice. And this general assembly shall have free poser to treat, consult, and conclude, as well of all emergent occasions concerning the publick weal of the said colony and every part thereof, as also to make, ordain, and enact such general laws and orders, for the behoof of the said colony, and the good government thereof, as shall, from time to time, appear necessary or requisite;||1621.|
__ James 1st.
The other council to be called the general assembly, how chosen.
|V. Whereas in all other things, we require the said general assembly as also the said council of state, to imitate and follow the policy of the form of government, laws, customs, and manner of trial, and other administration of justice, used in the realm of England, as near as may be even as ourselves, by his majesty's letters patent, are required.||Their duty.|
|VI. Provided, that no law or ordinance, made in the said general assembly, shall be or continue in force or validity, unless the same shall be solemnly ratified and confirmed, in a general quarter court of the said § company here in England, and so ratified, be returned to them under our seal; it being our intent to afford the like measure also unto the said colony, that after the government of the said colony shall once have been well framed, and settled accordingly, which is to be done by us, as by authority derived from his majesty, and the same shall have been so by us declared, no orders of court afterwards, shall bind the said colony, unless they be ratified in||No law to be obligatory till ratified in a general quarter court in England.|
|* MS. officer.|
| MS. very and extraordinary important; which likewise makes sense, taking extraordinary adverbially.|
| MS. for present.|
|§ MS. Court.|
|like manner in the general assemblies. In witness whereof we have hereunto set our common seal the 24 of July, 1621, and in the year of our sovereign lord, James, king of England, &c. the **** and of Scotland the ****||1621.|
__ James 1st.
SIR FRANCIS WYATT, &c.
| (From Ancient Records, Vol. 3, containing Charters,
|THE TREASURER and COMPANY's Commission to Sir Francis Wyatt, Governor, and Council, which said council are to assist the governor in the administration of justice, to advance christianity among Indians, to erect the colony in obedience to his majesty and in maintaining the people in justice and christian conversation, and strengthening them against enemies. The said governor, council, and two burgesses out of every town, hundred or plantation, to be chosen by the inhabitants to make up a general assembly, who are to decide all matters by the greatest number of voices; but the governor is to have a negative voice, to have power to make orders and acts necessary, wherein they are to imitate the policy of the form of government, laws, customs, manner of tryal, and other administration of justice used in England, as||Commission to Sir Francis Wyatt, &c.|
| the company are required by their letters patents. No law to continue or be of force
till ratified by a quarter court to be held in England, and returned under seal.
−−− After the colony is well framed and settled, no order of quarter court in
England shall bind till ratified by the general assembly.
Dated 24th July, 1621.
7th James 1st.
Commission to Sir Francis Wyatt, &c.
|BY instructions dated 24th July, 1621: to keep up religion of the church of England as near as may be; −−− to be obedient to the king and do justice after the form of the laws of England; and not to injure the natives; and to forget old quarrels now buried:||Instructions to Sir Francis Wyatt, &c.|
|To be industrious, and suppress drunkenness, gaming, and excess in cloaths; not to permit any but the council and heads of hundreds to wear gold in their cloaths, or to wear silk till they make it themselves:|
|Not to offend any foreign princes; to punish piracies; to build fortresses and block-houses at the mouths of the rivers:|
|To use means to convert the heathens, viz. to converse with some; each town to teach some children fit for the college intended to be built:|
|After Sir George Yeardley has gathered the present year's crop, he is to deliver to Sir Francis Wyatt, the hundred tenants belonging to governor's place; Yeardley's government to expire the 18th November next, and then Wyatt to be published governor; to swear the council;|
|George Sandis appointed treasurer, and he is to put in execution all orders of court about staple commodities;|
|to whom is allotted fifteen hundred acres and fifty tenants. To the marshall Sir William Newce the same. To company's deputy the same. To the physician five hundred acres and twenty tenants; and the same to the secretary.||1621.|
__ James 1st.
|To review the commissions to Sir George Yeardley, governor, and the council, dated 18th November, 1618, for dividing the colony into cities, boroughs, &c. and to observe all former instructions (a copy whereof was sent) if they did not contradict the present; and all order of court (made in England:)|
|To make a catalogue of the people in every plantation, and their conditions; and of deaths, marriages and christenings:|
|To take care of dead persons' estates for the right owners; and keep a list of all cattle, and cause the secretary to return copies of the premises once a year:|
|To take care of every plantation upon the death of their chief; not to plant above one hundred pounds of tobacco per head; to sow great quantities of corn for their own use, and to support the multitudes to be sent yearly; to inclose lands; to keep cows, swine , poultry, &c. and particularly kyne, which are not to be killed yet:|
|Next to corn, plant mulbury trees, and make silk, and take care of the French men and others sent about that work; to try silk grass; to plant abundance of vines, and take care of the vignerors sent:|
|To put prentices to trades, and not let them forsake their trades for planting tobacco, or any such useless commodity:|
|To take care of the Dutch sent to build saw-mills, and seat them at the Falls, that they may bring their timber by the current of the water:|
|To build watermills, and block houses in every plantation:|
|That all contracts in England or Virginia be performed, and the breaches punished according to justice:|
| Tenants not to be inticed away; to take care of those sent about an
iron work, and especially Mr. John Berkeley, that they don't miscarry again, this being the
greatest hope and expectation of the colonies.
To make salt, pitch, tar, soap, ashes, &c. so often recommended, and for which materials had been sent; to make oyl of walnuts, and employ apothecaries in distilling lees of beer, and searching after minerals, dyes, gums, and drugs, &c. and send small quantities home:
__ James 1st.
|To make small quantity of tobacco, and that very good; that the houses appointed for the reception of new comers and public storehouses be built, kept clean, &c. to send the state of affairs quarterly, and a duplicate next shipping.|
|To take care of captain William Norton, and certain Italians sent to set up a glass house.|
|A copy of a treatise of the plantation business and excellent observances made by a gentleman of capacity is sent to lie among the records, and recommended to the councillors to study.|
|Mr. William Clayborne, a surveyor, sent to survey the planters lands, and make a map of the country:|
|Chief officers that have tenants reprimanded for taking fees; but require that the clerks have fees set for passes, warrants, copies of orders, &c.|
|Governor and council to appoint proper times for administration of justice; and provide for the entertainment of the council during their session, to be together one whole month about state affairs, and law suits; to record plaints of consequence; to keep a register of the acts of quarter sessions, and send home copies:|
|If a governor dies the major part of council to choose one of themselves within fourteen days; but if voices be divided, the lieutenant governor shall have the place; and next the marshall; next the treasurer; and one of the two deputies next:|
|Governor and chief officers not to let out their tenants as usual.|
| The governor only to summon the council, and sign warrants, and
execute or give authority to execute council orders, except in cases that do belong to the
marshall, treasurer, deputies, &c.
The governor to have absolute authority to determine and punish all neglects, and contempts of authority, except the council, who are to be tried at the quarter sessions and censured. Governor to have but the casting voice in council or court, but in the assembly a negative voice.
__ James 1st.
|That care be taken that there be no engrossing commodity, or forestalling the market:|
|All servants to fare alike in the colony, and their punishment for any offences is to serve the colony, in publick works:|
|To see that the earl of Pembroke's thirty thousand acres be very good:|
|To make discoveries along the coast, and find a fishery between James River and Cape Cod.|
|As to raising staple commodities, the chief officers ought to set examples and to aim at the establishment of the colony:|
|And lastly, not to let ships stay long, and to freight them with walnut, and any less valuable commodity.|
|The governor administered the following oath to the council.|
|"YOU shall swear to be a true and faithful servant unto the king's majesty, as one of his council for Virginia: You shall in all things to be moved, treated, and debated in that council concerning Virginia or any the territories of America, between the degrees of thirty four and forty five from the equinoctial line northward, or the trades thereof, faithfully and truly declare your mind and opinion, according to your heart and conscience; and shall keep secret all matters committed and revealed to you concerning the same, and that shall be treated secretly in that council, or this council of Virginia,|
|"or the more part of them, publication shall not (a) be made thereof; And of all matters of great importance, or difficulty, before you resolve thereupon, you shall make his majesty's privy council acquainted therewith, and follow their directions therein: You shall to your uttermost bear faith and allegiance to the king's majesty, his heirs, and lawful successors, and shall assist and defend all jurisdictions, preheminences, and authorities granted unto his majesty and annext unto the crown against all foreign princes, persons, prelates or potentates whatsoever, be it by act of parliament or otherwise: and generally, in all things, you shall do as a faithful and true servant and subject ought to do. So help you God and the holy contents of this book."||1621.|
__ James 1st.
|(a) The word "NOT" inserted by the editor. It is not in the MS., but it was certainly an omission of the transcriber.|
|LAWS OF VIRGINIA.|
|From the first Session of the Legislature in 1619, &c.|
|IN June, 1619, the first Assembly ever held in Virginia was convened by sir George Yeardley, then Governor, and met at James Town; which was at that time, and for many years afterwards, called "James Citty." Some account of the acts passed at this session, (taken from the Ancient Records relating to Virginia,) is given in a not prefixed to the acts of 1623-4; being those of the earliest period now extant.|
|In May 1620, we are told by historians, that another assembly was held in Virginia. Beverly, indeed, makes it the first legislature under the colonial government. But of the acts of this assembly there is no mention in the proceedings of the London Company; a circumstance which renders it extremely doubtful whether such an assembly was, in fact, ever held.|
|In November and December 1621, another assembly was held: an event not mentioned by Stith, or any of our early historians. The acts of this session are very briefly noticed in the minutes of the London Company; and relate entirely to the introduction and culture of such staple commodities as the company in England, recommended; particularly the article of silk, which seems to have engrossed nearly the whole attention of the legislature. Two acts, the one prescribing regulations for planting mulbury trees, the other directing, that in clearing land, no mulbury trees shall be destroyed, are first mentioned. The remaining acts of this session contain little more than an enumeration of the wants of the colony.|
|From this period to the year 1629, the acts of the legislature of Virginia, are scarcely noticed in the minutes of the London company; the proclamations of the governor supplying in almost every instance, the place of legislative acts. But from 1629, with but little intermission, for a series of years, the acts of each session, are accurately epitomised.|
|In March 1623-4, there was another assembly, the acts of which have been preserved, and are the first published in this volume. They are no further noticed in the minutes of the London company, than in an abstract of a letter from and council in Virginia, of the 17th of April, 1624, advising, that "since their last letters they had met in a General Assembly, and had sent Mr. John Pountis to solicit their common cause with the king and council." See ancient records, Vol. 3, p. 176.|
|Although we may regret the loss of the acts of a few sessions, in the early part of our legislative proceedings, as furnishing materials for history, and exhibiting monuments of the want of parliamentary skill in our ancestors, yet, as it respects the rights of property the loss will not be felt: For if we may judge from the subject matter embraced by such acts as have been preserved, the legislature was exclusively occupied in promoting an uniformity to the doctrines and discipline of the church of England, in enforcing attendance at church and other religious exercises; and in such temporary defensive operations against the Indians as the defenceless state of the colony rendered necessary. Besides, in February 1631-2, all the former laws, made by and assembly, were declared to be of no effect. See the 67th act of the session of February 1631-2. It was also a mode of legislation peculiar to those times, to repeal all former laws, and re-enact them in the very words in which they were originally passed. Hence we often find a repetition of the same act, in the laws of different sessions.|
|LAWS AND ORDERS|
| Concluded on by the General Assembly, March the 5th; |
|The MS. from which these acts were printed, is now in the Library of Congress, at Washington.|
| And immediately underneath, in the hand writing of Mr. Jefferson, is
"This was found among the manuscript papers of Sir John Randolph, and by the Honorable Peyton Randolph, Esqr. his son, was given to Thomas Jefferson."]
| Stith, in his history of Virginia, pa. 160,
says that in the latter end of June, 1619, Sir George Yeardley, then governor,
called the first assembly that was ever held in Virginia. Counties not being then laid off, the
representatives of the people were elected by townships; the boroughs of James Town, Henrico,
Bermuda Hundred and others, sending their members to the assembly; from which circumstance,
the lower house was first called the house of Burgesses. The acts of this assembly, says
Stith, were remitted to England and presented to the company, to be read in the court
the 20th of March following: For the company had then the regal power of confirming or
disannulling the acts of assembly: −−− but he could no where find, among
the papers extant, any account of the particulars that passes; only that Sir Edwin
Sandys, upon perusal of them, assures the company that they were very well and judiciously
formed; but were very intricate and difficult to be reduced into distinct and proper heads.|
Beverly (page 35) says that the first assembly was held at James-Town, in May 1620; and that the burgesses sat in the same house with the governor and council, after the manner of the Scotch parliament:
[This note continues on the next page and concludes on the following page.]
| No. of the|
|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|
|[This note began on the previous page, and
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 notes.
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 acts.
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 Sandy's 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 labor, he in their behalf desired the court to dispense with them til 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 printed. I have observed the same form, not only because I
[This note concludes on the next page.]
|not to be for any temporal use whatsoever, and a place empaled in, sequestered only to the buryal of the dead.||House of worship.|
|2.||That whosover shall absent himselfe from divine service any Sunday without an allowable excuse shall firfeite a pound of tobacco, and he that absenteth himselfe a month shall forfeit 50lb. of tobacco.||Penalty for being absent from church on Sunday.|
|3.||That there be an uniformity in our church as neere as may be to the cannons in England; both in substance and circumstance, and that all persons yeild readie obedience unto them under paine of censure.||To be an uniformity in the doctrine and discipline of the church.|
|4.||That the 22d of March* be yeerly solemized 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 arch-angell, then only the first to be observed by reason of our necessities.||The 22d of March to be observed as a holiday.|
|5.||That no minister be absent from his church above two months in all the yeare upon penalty of forfeiting halfe his means, and whosoever shall absent||Penalty on ministers absenting themselves|
|[note continued from previous
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. Se Burk's Hist. Virg. vol. 1, p.240.
|above fowre months in the year shall forfeit his whole means and cure.||from their church.|
|6.||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.||Penalty for disparaging a minister.|
|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.||Ministers to be satisfied before any tobacco disposed of.|
|8.||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.||Limitation of the power of the Governor as to taxes & impositions.|
|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 partiali-||Governor not to withdraw the inhabitants from their labours for his own service.|
|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.||Certain old planter and their posterity exempted from military service.|
|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.||Burgesses privileged from arrests.|
|12.||That there shall be courts kept once a month in the corporations of Charles City and Elizabeth Citty for 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 the places and such others as the governor and council shall appoint by commission shall be the judges, with reservation of apeal after sentence to the governor 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.|| Monthly courts. |
Right of appeal.
|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.||Lands to be surveyed and the bounds recorded. Appeal to the governor and council.|
|14.||For the encouragement of men to plant store of corne, the prise shall not be stinted, but it shall be free for every man to sell it as deere as he can.||Price of corn not to be limited.|
|15.||That there shall be in every parish a publick granary unto which there shall be contributed for every 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.||Public granery established in every parish.|
|16.||That three sufficient men of ever parish shall be sworne to see that every man shall plant and tender 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.||Persons to be appointed to see that a sufficiency of corn be planted.|
|17.||That all trade for corn with the salvages as well publick as private after June next shall be prohibited.||Trade for corn with the savages prohibited.|
|18.||That every freeman shall fence in a quarter of an acre of ground before Whitsuntide next to make a garden for planting of vines, herbs, roots, &c. subpna ten pounds of tobacco a man, but that no man for his own family shall be tyed to fence above an acre of land and that whosoever hath fenced a garden and of the land shall be paid for it by the owner of the soyle; they shall also plant Mulberry trees.||Regulations as to planting vines and mulberry trees.|
|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 uses.||Proclamation against swearing and drunkenness confirmed, &c.|
|20.||That a proclamation be read aboard every ship and afterwards fixed to the maste of such in, prohibiting them to break boulke or make privatt sales of any commodity until James City, without special order from the governor and counsell.||Ships not to break bulk till they arrive at James City.|
|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.||Rates of commodities.|
|22.||That there be no weights nor measures used but such as shall be sealed by officers appointed for that purpose.||Weights and measures.|
|23.||That every dwelling house shall be pallizaded n for defence against the Indians.*||Dwelling houses to be palisadoed.|
|24.||That no man go or send abroad without a sufficient partie will armed.||Precaution as to arming men.|
|25.||That men go not to worke in the ground without their arms (and a centinell upon them.)||The same.|
|26.||That the inhabitants go not aboard ships or upon any other occasions in such numbers, as thereby to weaken and endanger the plantations.||inhabitants not to absent themselves too much from their plantations.|
|27.||That the commander of every plantation take care that there be sufficient of powder and amunition within the plantation under his command and their pieces fixt and their arms compleate.||Precautions as to powder and arms.|
|28.||That there be dew watch kept by night.||Watch.|
|29.||That no commander of any plantation do either himselfe or suffer others to spend powder unneccessarily in drinking or entertainments, &c.||Powder not to be unnecessarily spent.|
|30.||That such persons of quality as shall be founde delinquent in their duties being not fitt to undegoe corporal punishment may notwithstanding be ymprisoned at the discretione of the commander & for greater offences to be subject to a ffine inflicted by the monthlie court, so that it exceed not the value aforesaid.||Persons of quality, delinquents, instead of corporal punishment to be imprisoned.|
|31.||That every man that hath not contributed to the finding a man at the castell shall pay for himself and||Castle duties.|
|* This and the subsequent acts grew out of the situation of the country, arising from the late massacre.|
|servants five pounds of tobacco a head, towards the discharge of such as had their servants there.|
|32.||That at the beginning of July next the inhabitants of every corporation shall fall upon their adjoyning salvages as we did the last yeare, those that shall be hurte upon service to be cured at the publique charge; in case any be lamed to be maintained by the country according to his person and quality.||When to fall on the savages, and provision for the wounded.|
|33.||That for defraying of such publique debts our troubles have brought upon us. There shall be levied 10 pounds of tobacco upon every male head above sixteen years of adge now living (not including such as arrived since the beginning of July last.)||Taxes.|
|34.||That no person within this colony upon the rumur of supposed change and alteration, presume to be disobedient to the present government, nor servants to their private officers, masters or overseers at their uttermost perills.||Obedience to superiors.|
|35.||That Mr. John Pountis, counsellor of state, goin to England, (being willing by our intreatie to accept of that imployment,) to solicite the general cause of the country to his majesty and the counsell, towards the charges of which voyage, the country consent to pay for every male head above sixteen years of adge then living, which have been here a yeare ffour pounds of the best merchantable tobacco, in leafe, at or before the last of October, next.||Commissioner sent to England.|
|SIR FRANCIS WYATT, Knt. Governor, &c.|
|FROM the year 1623 to 1629 there is no notice taken, in the proceedings of the London Company, of any assembly having been held in Virginia, except what can be gathered from the answer of the General Assembly to the letter of King Charles the 1st, of the 16th of June, 1628, recommending the introduction of various staple commodities. This answer bears date the 26th of March, 1628-9, is faithfully abridged in the Ancient Records (vol. 3, pa. 211) and an entire copy is preserved in the MS. containing the acts of six sessions from October, 1629, to august, 1633, with which the editor has been favoured by Mr. Jefferson. −−− (See note prefixed to Acts of 1629.)|
|During the above period, the governor and council, by proclamation, seem not only to have exercised legislative powers, but to have enforced in this manner laws of the General Assembly previously enacted. In some instances, reference is made in the proclamations to pre-existing laws (which were probably directed by the legislature to be promulgated in that way;) in others they appear to proceed entirely from the governor and council. Thus, in 1626, we find a proclamation, by the governor and council, prohibiting the trading with Indians for corn, there being a great scarcity of that article. In the same year there is a proclamation "concerninge divers orders about merchandisinge," which|
|contains regulations to be observed on the arrival of the ships from England, prohibitions against ingrossing, &c. and buying goods to sell again by retail; also, against any person's going on board a vessel, except a member of the council, without a warrant from the governor. −−− There is also a proclamation of the same year reciting a former act of assembly, and requiring, under severe penalties, that those who had neglected to palisado their houses, should do it by a given time.|
|1627. April 12th, a proclamation "To be careful of the Indians." August 1st, "Concerning the intent of paling in the forest." December 4th, "For paying of debts."|
|1628. April 4th, a proclamation, "concerning the Indians." April 30th, "forbidding to marry without lycence" or asking in church: −−− Same day −−− "Concerning the plantinge of tobacco and corn." This proclamation, which is said to have been made "by the governor together with the advice of the councell of state, and general assembly, upon full debate and consideration of the premises," directs that such a reasonable proportion of tobacco shall be planted, only, as may be cultivated without injury to a plentiful crop of corn; −−− that the plants should be set at least four feet and a half apart, and that not more than twelve leaves should be gathered from a plant; −−− and finally that great care should be taken not to burn it in the sweating. August 12th, another proclamation "Concerning the Indians," which had for its object the conclusion of a treaty of peace with them.|
|1628-9. March 20th. On this day eighteen commissions, all of the same tenor, issued (or perhaps were only renewed, as appears from an indorsement on the manuscript) constituting the person to whom each was addressed, either COMMANDER or PRINCIPAL COMMANDER of PLANTATIONS. On the same day two commissions issued appointing COMMISSIONERS for holding MONTHLY COURTS, in different parts of the colony.|
|As the power and jurisdiction of these officers both in their military and civil capacities, are fully expressed in their commissions, a form of each is inserted.|
COMMANDER OF PLANTATIONS.
|"BY THE GOVERNOR AND CAPTAINE GENERALL OF
|"TO all to whome these presents shall come, I John Pott, Esq. Governor and Captaine General of Virginia, send greeting, in our Lord God everlasting; whereas the affairs of this colony doe necessarily require that men of sufficiency and experience bee appoynted to command and governe the several plantations and inhabitants within the same, both for the better order of government in the conservation of the peace and in the execution of such orders and directions as from tyme to tyme shall be directed unto them, as alsoe for the preventing and avoyding of such mischiefes as may happen unto us by the intrusions and practizes of the Indians our irreconcileable enemies; NOW KNOW YE, that I the said John Pott out of the good opinion I conceive of the discretion, care and circumspection of lieutenant Edward Waters doe by these presents, with the consent of the councell of state, constitute and appoynt him the said Edward Waters to bee the present COMMANDER of and for the plantations within the precincts of Elizabeth Citty lying and being on Southampton rive and extending towards Fox-Hill and the places thereabouts. Gyving and by these presents granting unto him full power and authority to doe, execute and performe all such matters and things as are incident and appertayining to the place and office of Commander there. RESERVING allwaies unto Capt. Thomas Perfury all such privileges and authorities as are appertayning to the place of principale commander there.(a) WILLING and requireing him the said Edward Waters to see that all such orders||Recital. |
|(a) The commissions to the principal commanders, are the same, mutatis mutandis; only styling them principal commanders, and omiting whatever relates to the reservation of power in this commission.|
|"as heretofore have beene or hereafter shall be given by the Governor and Councell bee duly executed and observed. HEREBY alsoe chardging all persons residing and beeing, or which hereafter shall reside or bee within the same to yeild due respecte and obedience unto him the same Edward Waters, and to bee ayding and assisting unto him in all things which unto him or them respectively do belong or appertayne. IN WITNESS whereof I have hereunto sett my hand and the seale of the colony the twentieth day of March 1628-9, and in the fourth yeare of the reigne of our sovereign Lord Charles, by the Grace of God of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, king defender of the faith, &c. and in the two and twentieth (b) year of this plantation."|
|(b) In all the public papers of this period, the first settlement of the colony is computed from the year 1607; from the arrival of the expedition in the Chesapeake, on the 26th of April in that year, under the command of Newport, &c.|
APPOINTING COMMISSIONERS TO HOLD
|BY THE GOVERNOR AND CAPTAINE GENERALL OF
|"TO all to whome these presents shall come, I John Pott, Esq. Governor and Captain Generall of Virginia, send greeting, in our lord God everlasting, Whereas for the greater ease of the inhabitants of dyverse parts of this colony, and for the better conservation of this peace, and due execution of such laws and orders as are or shall bee established for the government of the people and inhabitants in the same, the Governor and Councell have thought fitt, and accordingly appoynted by an order of cort made the 7th daie of Marche last past, that there shall be monthly corts held and kepte in some of the more remote plantations thereof; Now|
|"KNOWE YE that according to the said order, these persons whose names are here inserted, are for the tyme being assigned and appoynted to be the present commissioners of and for the holding and keeping of monthly corts within the corporation of Elizabeth Citty and the partes near adioyning, viz. Capt. Thomas Purfury, Capt. Edward Waters, Lieut. Thomas Willoughby, Lieut. George Thompson, Mr. Adam Thoroughgood, Mr. Lyonell Coulston, Mr. William Kempe and Mr. John Downman; which sayd commissioners, or any three of them whereof, Capt. Thomas Purfury or Lieut. Edward Waters to be alwaies one, shall have power and authority to heere and determine all such suits and controversies between party and party as exceede not the value of one hundred pounds of tobacco, especially that they take into theire care the conservation of the peace, the quiet government and safety of the people there residing or being, and that all orders and proclamations bee kepte and observed and according to the same to inflicte a punishment upon all delinquents either by fine or otherwise (such offences only excepted as concerne the taking away of life or member.) PROVIDED alwaies, that it shall be lawfule for the plaintiff or defendant in any suit before the said commissioners depending, to appeall to the cort at James Citty there holden by the Governor and Councill. And they are hereby required from tyme to tyme to keepe records of all judgments, orders and other matters of moment as by them shall bee concluded and agreed on. GIVEN at James Citty, the 20th day of March, anno. Dom. 1628-9 and in the fourth yeare of the reigne of our soveraigne lord Charles by the grace of God of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. and in the two and twentieth year of this plantation."|
Commissions Monthly courts.
Right of appeal.
Records to be kept.
|A like commission was issued, on the same day, to sundry other commissioners for holding monthly courts in the "upper partes."|
|The remaining public papers of this period, consist of proclamations, authorising individuals to trade in|
|certain parts of the colony, of letters to the privy council, and instructions to commissioners sent to England on the affairs of the colony.|
|The answer of the General Assembly to the king's letter above noticed, is headed thus:|
|"MARCH, 26th, 1628"|
|"THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY."|
|"THE humble answere of the Governor and Councell, togeather with the Burgesses of the severall plantations assembled in Virginia, unto his majesties letter concerning our tobacco and other commodities."|
|The introductory part of this letter, details in a firm, but respectful manner, the injuries to which the planters in Virginia had been subjected by the mere report that their tobacco was to be monopolised in England; that it had so discouraged the adventurers, that they were afraid to turn their attention to any other subjects, having no assurance of enjoying the fruits of their labour; and seeing that all contracts had heretofore been concluded in England without their consent. That as to the other staple commodities recommended by the king, it was too great a work for their poor abilities. They then propose to contract with the king, for all their tobacco, at three shillings and six pence per pound, delivered here, and clear of freight or customs; or four shillings, if delivered in London, taking on themselves the dangers of the seas, and payment of freights, but not to pay any customs. And to insure the tobacco to be of good quality, they inform the king that it is all to be examined by men sworn for that purpose, before it is shipped. They request the king to take at least 500,000 weight, at the above price; and if he should not be disposed to take the overplus, if any, that they may be permitted to ship it to the Low Countries, Ireland, Turkey or elsewhere. They offer the contract for seven years, and request that if the consumption of England should exceed the supply from the Somer Islands, with the quantity above stipulated|
|that the quantity may be proportionably increased. In the event of the king's acceding to their terms, they request that the importation of Spanish tobacco may be prohibited; and again repeat that they have taken special care to insure their tobacco to be of the best quality, and have appointed sworn triers to examine it after being cured and before it shall be shipped; that they had also ordered a proclamation to be made, requiring the planters to set their plants four feet and a half apart, and to gather 12 leaves only from a plant, instead of 25 or 30 as heretofore. That they had reduced the quantity to be planted as low as they well could, considering the population of the colony, and having a due regard to the culture of a sufficiency of corn.|
|As to pitch and tar, the country abounded in pine trees, from which it could be produced; but, owing to the want of horses and carriages, and the danger of sending the people into the woods, on account of the Indians, it was deemed inexpedient at that time, to attempt to make those articles for exportation.|
|Pot-ashes had formerly been made, but the planters were not acquainted with the process.|
|Pipe-staves, barrel-boards, and clapp-boards, could be had in great abundance, but the freight was too dear to render it an object to export them.|
|The iron ore at Falling Creek was esteemed of good quality, and considerable progress had been made in erecting a furnace, when the settlement and most of the workmen were cut off by the Indians, at the massacre, and the tools thrown into the river; and that the work could not be resumed without a fresh supply of workmen, money, tools, &c.|
|As to mines of gold, silver, copper, &c. they have great hopes that the mountains are very rich, from the discovery of a silver mine made nineteen years ago, at a place about four days' journey from the falls of James river; but they have not the means of transporting the ore.|
|With respect to the planting of vines, they have great hope, that it will prove a beneficial commodity; but|
|the vignerors sent here either did not understand the business, or concealed their skill; for they spent their time to little purpose.|
|They expect great benefit from fishing in the bay, and upon the coast of Canada, where some trial had been made.|
|This letter (an abstract of which is given above) was signed by Francis West, the governor, five members of the council, and thirty-one members of the house of burgesses.|
|Pages 80-110||Pages 137-153|