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GRAND ASSEMBLY

HELD AT JAMES CITTIE, MARCH 13TH, 1657-8.*

3d Revisal of the laws.

[From a MS. received from Edmund Randolph, Esq. The MS. from

which was once the property of Sir John Randolph, of this session who transmitted it to his son Peyton Randolph, Esq. were printed is after whose death, it was purchased, with his library, now in the liby Thomas Jefferson, Esq. from whom it was bor- brary of Conrowed by Edmund Randolph, Esq.]

Washington.

gress, at

Major JOHN SMITH, Speaker.

The Burgesses elected and returned by the sherrifis

for the severall plantations to sitt and act in this present Grand Assembly were as followeth: For Henrico County.

For Charles Cittie County.
Major Wm. Harris.

Mr. War’m Horsmenden,
Capt. Robert Wynne.

* Mr. Burk, in his History of Virginia, vol. 2, pa. 118, says that of the transactions from the period of which he was speaking (1656) to the restoration (1660) “ there is an entire chasm in the records.” It is to be regretted that the MSS. to which this author had access, did not furnish him with the documents which this publication so abundantly supplies. In no portion of our history during the commonwealth, have the materials been so copious, as from 1656 to 1660. Besides an entire revision of our laws in 1657S, comprised in one hundred and thirty-one acts, and adapting them to our republican institutions, various other proceedings of the assembly prove, that at no former period were the civil and religious rights of the people so well secured (if we except the act * for suppressing the Quakers," passed after the election of Sir William Berkeley, governor, in March, 1659-60,) or justice and humanity towards our neighbors, the Indians, so sacredly regarded. In the very first act of this session, for settling the church government, instead of enjoining obedience to the doctrines and discipline of the church of England, as had been invariably the case in all former acts upon this subject, no such injumction appears. On the com

For James Citty County. V pper Norfolket Countg. Mr. Hen. Soane,

Leift. Coll. Edw'd Carter, Major Richard Webster, Mr. Thomas ffrancis, Mr. Tbomas Loveinge, Mr. Giles Webb. Mr. William Corker,

Lower Norfolke County. Surry County.

Coll. John Sidney,
Lev't. Coll. Thos. Swann, Major Lemuell Masonn.
Mr. William Edwards,
Major Wm. Butler, Elizabeth Cittie Countie.
Capt. Wm. Cawfeild,

Major William,
Mr. John Powell.

trary, all matters relating to the church, the ministers and other parochial affairs, are left at the entire discretion of the people,

During this period a severe conflict arose between the two branches of the government, as to the constitutional power of the governor and council to dissolve the assembly. A dissolution of the house of burgesses was ordered by the governor and council; but they peremptorily refused to be dissolved, and passed a resolution de claring that any member who should depart from his post, should be “ censured as a person betraying the trust reposed in him by his country.” Several other resolutions equally display the republican sentiments of the assembly; and the firmness of its members. They took an oath of secrecy ; passed an order directed to the high sheriff of James City county, commanding him in the name of the Lord Protector, to obey no warrant or precept directed to him from any power, except the speaker of the house of burgesses, and finally declared “ that they had in themselves the full power of the election and appointment of all officers in this country, until such time as they should have order to the contrary, from the supreme power in England;" and that they were “not dissolvable by any power yet extant in Virginia, but their own.” The house of bur. gesses had a complete triumph. They declared all former elections of governor and council null and void ; re-elected coll. Samuel Mathewes, by whom, with his council, an attempt had been made to dissolve them; and prescribed the mode of electing the governor and council in future.

+ In March, 1645-6, (See ante pa. 321) the vanie of " Upper Norfolk” was changed to “ Nansimum ;" since which time the county of Nansimum and not Upper Norfolk appears to have been regularly represented in the grand assembly. In this and several of the succeeding assemblies Upper Norfolk has resumed its name and Nansimum disappears.

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New Kent County.

Warwick County.
William Blacky.

John Smith,* Sp’ker,

Thomas Davis.
Gloster County.
Leift. Coll. Anth. Elliott, Yorke Countye.
Capt. Thomas Ramsey.

Mr. Jeremy Hain,
Rappahannock Countie. Mr. Robert Borné.
Mr. Thomas Lucar.

Northumberland Counties
Lancaster County. Mr. Peter Knight,

Mr. John Haney.
Coll. John Carter,
Mr. Peter Montague.

Northampton Countie.
Isle of Wight County.

Mr. William Kendall, Major John Bond, Mr. William Mellinge, Mr. Thomas Tabenor, Capt. William Michell, Mr. John Brewer, Mr. Randall Revell, Mr. Joseph Bridger.

Mr. John Willcox. WHEREAS it appeares by act of Assembly held Recital of the at James Cittie in May, 1652, That it was agreed vp- provisional on and thought best by the then comissioners for the government. parliament, and the Burgesses of the then assembly, That the right of election of all officers of this collony should be and appertaine to the Burgesses, the representatitives of the people, Now know yee, That wee the present Burgesses of this Grand Assembly have accordingly constituted and ordained the severall persons vnder written to be the Governour,t Councill & comissioners of this country of Virginia vntil the next Assembly or vntilll the further pleasure of the supreame power in England shall be knowne.

Part of the manuscript having been torn off the title of these members is obliterated; and by the same accident some words of the last act in the preceding session are necessarily omitted.

+ This was the third election of Governor and Council, under the Commonwealth. Richard Bennett was elected on the 30th of April, 1652, (see ante pa. 371;) Edward Diggs, on the 31st of March, 1655, (see ante pa. 408 ;) and Samuel Matthewes, this 13th of March, 1657-8

The Honourable SAMUEL MATTHEWES, Esq'r,
Governour and Captain Generall of Virginia.

RICHARD BENNETT, Esquire.
Coll. Wm. CLAIBORNE, Secretarie of State.
Coll. John West,

Lev't. Coll. John
Coll. Thomas Pettus, Coll. George
Coll. William. Bernard, Coll. Abraham Wood,
Coll. Thomas Dew, Coll. John Carter,
Coll. Obedience Robins, Mr. War'm. Horsmenden,
Capt. Henry Perrie, Lt. Coll. Anthony Elliotte.

Theise three last not to be sworne yntill the desolution of the Assembly.

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Motives for this revisal.

The preamble to the Acts of Assembly made by a Grand

Assembly holden at James Cittie, March the 13th, 1657-8.

WHEREAS the acts of Assembly of this country through multiplicitie of alterations and repeales are become so difficult, that the course of justice is thereby obstructed and those that are by the lawes intrusted with power to execute them, may by such their vocertainety be drawne to comit vnwilled errors, This Grand Assembly takeing the same into their serious consideration have accordinge to the duty they owe 10 God, and the trust reposed in them by the countrey, endeavoured the remedie of the like inconveniencies by makeing a dilligent review of all the acts formerly in force, and have by theise presents enacted, That all acts be reduced into one body and after enterie thereof vpon the records, severall coppies sent into the severall counties respectively, And that those only here mentioned and expessed be esteemed and bee the lawes only in force, for all officers to proceed by in their judgments severally or in the courts of judicature, willing also and requireing all people to take notice hereof and accordingly to yield their due obedience therevnto.

les as

ACT I.

Church Goverment Settled.

BEE it enacted by this present Grand Assembly con- Of the vestry; cerning Church goverment as followeth, that all matters ministers,

church-warconcerning the vestrey, their agreements with their deos, poor and ministers, touching the church-wardens, the poore and parochial matother things concerninge the parishes or parishoners ters, the peorespectively be referred to their owne ordering and disposal. disposeing from time to time as they shall think fitt, That register bookes be kept by their appointments of all christenings, burialls and marriages and the mi

Registers of nisters only shall celebrate marriages and not without birihs, marlycense as formerly or theire publication of banes vp- riages and pon three severall dayes shall be fined tenne thousand

Marriages, pounds of tobacco to ease the leavye of that county : how celebraNo lycense to be granted without certificate vnder the ted. hands of the parents, masters or guardians of the parties to be married.

deaths.

ACT II.

Against Drunkennes, &c. THAT all good meanes be vsed in the severall Persons guilty countie courts and parishes respectively for the sup

of drunken

ness, blasphe pressing of the odious sinnes of drunkenesse, blasphe- mo

mous cursing mous swearing and curseing, scandalous liveing in and swearing, adultery and fornication, And that all such person & adultery and persons of what degree or qualitie soever be seveerly capable of bepunished and gennerally to be held incapable of being ing a witness å wittnes between partie and partie, and of bearing any any public publique office in the goverment of this collony ; Hee office. that shall be three times convicted in open court of either of the said offences shall be accounted a common drunkard, swearer, sc. the first offence of drunkeness Pecuniary pe

nalties. to be fiftie pounds of tobacco, the first offence of swearing to be twelve pounds of tobacco, and for servants & Servants and people vnder age to be relerred to the magistrates or minors how com’rg. in the county courts to give them correction in punished, case the parents or masters refuse to pay the fine, The second offence theise mulkts and punishments to le doubled.

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