Laws on Slavery
October 1629-ACT IX.
[Although this law did not rule out the possibility that English women would work in the tobacco fields, it did begin the process of creating a distinction between the work that English and African women performed in the colony.]
IT is thought fitt that all those that worke in the ground of what qualitie or condition soever, shall pay tithes to the ministers.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 1, p. 144.
September 17th, 1630.
[Perhaps Hugh Davis received a whipping and had to acknowledge that he committed fornication with an African woman because the legislators believed that interracial fornication was more sinful. Compare Davis's punishment with that handed out to Robert Sweat in 1640.]
Hugh Davis to be soundly whipped, before an assembly of Negroes and others for abusing himself to the dishonor of God and shame of Christians, by defiling his body in lying with a negro; which fault he is to acknowledge next Sabbath day.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 1, p. 146.
January 1639/40-ACT X.
[This statute created a legal distinction between white and black men.]
ALL persons except negroes to be provided with arms and ammunition or be fined at pleasure of the Governor and Council.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 1, p. 226.
March 1642/3-ACT I.
[This statute enacted the first legal distinction between English and African women. The difference reflects that fact that Virginia's legislators believed that English and African women would play different roles in the colony.]
Be it also enacted and confirmed That there be tenn pounds of tob'o. per poll & a bushell of corne per poll paid to the ministers within the severall parishes of the collony for all tithable persons, that is to say, as well for all youths of sixteen years of age as upwards, as also for all negro women at the age of sixteen years.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 1, p. 242.
February 1644/5-ACT VIII.
[African women and their descendants were counted among the tithes in 1644/5.]
And because there shall be no scruple or evasion who are and who are not tithable, It is resolved by this Grand Assembly, That all negro men and women, and all other men from the age of 16 to 60 shall be adjudged tithable.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 1, p. 292.
October 1649-ACT II.
[This act concerning tithes did not mention African women.]
WHEREAS it appeareth to severall Grand Assemblies that the lists of tithable persons are very imperfect, and that notwithstandinge the yearly importation of people into the collonie, the number of tithables in the said lists is rather diminished then augmented, which is in great part conceived, by this Assembly, to happpen, in that all under the age of sixteen yeeres are exempted from the lists, and that once passing under that age they are seldom or never acknowledged to exceed the same, in respect of the impossibility of, or at least unlikelyhood of produceinge convinceing proofes against them: Bee it therefore enacted, for the preventing of the like abuse hereafter through false & imperfect lists, That all male servants imported hereafter into the collony of what age soever they be, shall be brought into the lists and shall be liable to pay country leavyes, excepting in this act such as are natives of this collony and such as are imported free, either by theire parents or otherwise, who are exempted from leavies, being under the said age of sixteen years.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 1, p. 361 (Commonwealth).
March 1655/6-ACT I. An Induction to the Acts concerning Indians
[Colonial legislators created a distinction between Native Americans and Africans in this statute.]
If the Indians shall bring in any children as gages of their good and quiet intentions to us and amity with us, then the parents of such children shall choose the persons to whom the care of such children shall be intrusted and the countrey by us their representatives do engage that wee will not use them as slaves, but do their best to bring them up in Christianity, civillity and the knowledge of necessary trades; And on the report of the commissioners of each respective country that those under whose tuition they are, do really intend the bettering of the children in these particulars then a salary shall be allowed to such men as shall deserve and require it.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 1, p. 396 (Commonwealth).
March 1657/8-ACT XLVI. What Persons are Tithable.
[This statute (passed during the Commonwealth period) noted that all imported African women and female Native Americans were tithable unless they were Christians born in the colony or free when their parents imported them into Virginia.]
BEE it enacted for the prevention of the greate abuse used by presenting of imperfect lists, that all male servants hereafter imported into this collony of what age soever they be, shall bee brought into the lists and shall be liable to pay countrey levies; and all negroes imported whether male or female, and Indian servants male or female however procured, being sixteen years of age, to be listed and pay leavies as aforesaid; such christians onlie to be excepted as are natives of this countrey, or such as are imported free either by parents or otherwise, who are exempted from levies being under the age of sixteen years.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 1, p. 454 (Commonwealth).
March 1659/60-ACT XVI. An Act for the Dutch and all other Strangers for Tradeing to this Place
[When the Virginia government dropped the export duty of ten shillings per hogshead of tobacco to two shillings, it encouraged colonists to trade tobacco to the Dutch in exchange for slaves. In the 1660s most of the bound laborers in the colony were indentured servants. In 1660, the English Parliament, aiming to strengthen England's international commerce and to weaken the Dutch rivals, prohibited Dutch ships from trading in the English colonies. Virginia planters had to look elsewhere if they wanted to purchase Africans to labor on their plantations. Some individuals made their own arrangements to purchase Africans in the West Indies and others bought slaves from ship captains who traded between the Caribbean and the mainland.]
WHEREAS the restriction of trade hath appeared to be the greatest impediment to the advance of the estimation and value of our present only commodity tobacco, Bee it enacted and confirmed, That the Dutch and all strangers of what Xpian nation soever in amity with the people of England shall have free liberty to trade with us, for all allowable comodities, And receive protection from us to our utmost powers while they are in our jurisdiction, and shall have equall right and justice with our own nation in all courts of judicature, Provided they give bond and pay the impost of tenn shillings per hogshead laid upon all tobacco exported to any fforreigne dominions and give bond according to act, Allwaies provided, That if the said Dutch or other forreiners shall import any negro slaves, They the said Dutch or others shall, for the tobacco really produced by the sale of the said negro, pay only the impost of two shillings per hogshead, the like being paid by our owne nation.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 1, p.540.
March 1660/1-ACT XXII. English running away with negroes.
[This law indicates that some Africans and their descendants were not servants for life. However, if an indentured servant ran away with a black person who was considered a servant for life, the white servant had to serve additional time to compensate a master (or masters) for his/her absence and for the absence of the black individual.]
BEE itt enacted That in case any English servant shall run away in company with any negroes who are incapable of makeing satisfaction by addition of time, Bee it enacted that the English so running away in company with them shall serve for the time of the said negroes absence as they are to do for their owne by a former act.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 26.
March 1661/2-ACT CII. Run-aways
[This statute indicates that there were Africans who were not slaves in March 1661/2. The legislators continued to try to discourage white indentured servants from running away with enslaved blacks by increasing the punishment that a white man or woman would receive after their capture. After March 1661/2 a white servant who ran away with a black servant for life was responsible for additional service or a fine if a black person became lost or died while they were away from their master(s).]
WHEREAS there are diverse loytering runaways in this country who very often absent themselves from their masters service and sometimes in a long time cannot be found, that losse of the time and the charge in the seeking them often exceeding the value of their labor: Bee it therefore enacted that all runaways that shall absent themselves from their said masters service shalbe lyable to make satisfaction by service after the times by custome or indenture is expired (vizt.) double their times of service soe neglected, and if the time of their running away was in the crop or the charge of recovering them extraordinary the court shall lymitt a longer time of service proportionable to the damage the master shall make appeare he hath susteyned, and because the adjudging the time they should serve is often referred untill the time by indenture is expired, when the proofe of what is due is very uncertaine, it is enacted that the master of any runaway that intends to take the benefitt of this act, shall as soone as he hath recovered him carry him to the next commissioner and there declare and prove the time of his absence, and the charge he hath bin at in his recovery, which commissioner thereupon shall grant his certificate, and the court on that certificate passe judgment for the time he shall serve for his absence; and in case any English servant shall run away in company of any negroes who are incapable of making satisfaction by addition of a time, it is enacted that the English soe running away in the company with them shall at the time of service to their owne masters expired, serve the masters of the said negroes for their absence soe long as they should have done by this act if they had not beene slaves, every christian in company serving his proportion; and if the negroes be lost or dye in such time of their being run away, the christian servants in company with them shall by proportion among them, either pay fower thousand five hundred pounds of tobacco and caske or fower yeares service for every negroe soe lost or dead.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, pp. 116-117.
March 1661/2-ACT CV. Against trading with servants.
[The following statute suggests that white and black servants and apprentices traded with those who lived near their masters.]
WHEREAS diverse ill disposed persons doe secretly and covertly track and trade with other mens servants and apprentices who to the greate injury of their masters are thereby induced and encouraged to steale perloyne and imbezell their masters goods, Bee it therefore enacted that what person or persons soever shall buy, sell, trade or truck with any servant for any comodity whatsoever without lycense or consent of the said servants master, he or they soe offending against the premisses, shall suffer one months imprisonment without baile or mainprise, give bond with security for his good behaviour, and also forfeite to the master of the said servant fower times the value of the things soe bought, sold, trucked or traded for.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, pp. 118-119.
March 1661/2-ACT CXXXVIII. Concerning Indians.
[The legislators decided that Native American and English servants were to serve their masters the same length of time.]
And be it further enacted that what Englishman, trader, or other shall bring in any Indians as servants and shall assigne them over to any other, shall not sell them for slaves nor for any longer time than English of the like ages should serve by act of assembly.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 143.
[Members of the Assembly ruled that Metappin should be free. They noted that he spoke perfect English and wanted to be baptized.]
METAPPIN a Powhatan Indian being sold for life time to one Elizabeth Short by the king of Wainoake Indians who had no power to sell him being of another nation, it is ordered that the said Indian be free, he speaking perfectly the English tongue and desiring baptism.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 155.
December 1662-ACT XII. Negro womens children to serve according to the condition of the mother.
[As of December 1662, the child of an enslaved mother was also a slave for life. The statute was a dramatic departure from the English tradition in which a child received his or her status from his or her father. Members of the General Assembly also hoped that an increased fine would discourage white men and women from having sexual partners who were African or of African descent.]
WHEREAS some doubts have arrisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a negro woman should be slave or ffree, Be it therefore enacted and declared by this present grand assembly, that all children borne in this country shalbe held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother, And that if any christian shall committ ffornication with a negro man or woman, hee or shee soe offending shall pay double the ffines imposed by the former act.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 170.
December 1662-ACT XIII. Women servants whose common imployment is working in the ground to be accompte tythable.
[In December 1662, legislators placed a tithe on all female servants; perhaps this was an attempt to create a distinction between English women who worked in the fields and those who did not, in addition to the distinction between English women who labored in the house and African women.]
WHEREAS diverse persons purchase women servants to work in the ground that thereby they may avoyd the payment of levies, Be it henceforth enacted by the authority aforesaid that all women servants whose common imployment is working in the crop shalbe reputed tythable, and levies paid for them accordingly; and that every master of a family if he give not an accompt of such in his list of tythables shalbe fined as for other concealments.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 170.
September 1663-ACT XVIII. An act prohibiting servants to go abroad without a lycence.
[The colonial legislators hoped to control the movement of all laborers-white servants, black servants, and enslaved blacks-in this statute.]
FOR better suppressing the unlawful meetings of servants, it is thought fitt and enacted by this present grand assembly and the authority thereof that all masters of ffamilies be enjoyned and take especiall care that their servants doe not depart from their houses on Sundayes or any other dayes without perticuler lycence from them, and that the severall respective counties (as they find cause) to take espetiall care to make such by laws within themselves, as by the act dated the thrid of December 1662, they are impowred as may cause a further restraint of all unlawfull meetings of servants and punish the offenders.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 195.
September 1667-ACT III. An act declaring that baptisme of slaves doth not exempt them from bondage.
[The passage of this statute indicates that Christianity was important to the concept of English identity. Legislators decided that slaves born in Virginia could not become free if they were baptized, but masters were encouraged to Christianize their enslaved laborers.]
WHEREAS some doubts have risen whether children that are slaves by birth, and by the charity and piety of their owners made pertakers of the blessed sacrament of baptisme, should by vertue of their baptisme be made ffree; It is enacted and declared by this grand assembly, and the authority thereof, that the conferring of baptisme doth not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage or ffreedome; that diverse masters, ffreed from this doubt, may more carefully endeavour the propagation of christianity by permitting children, though slaves, or those of greater growth if capable to be admitted to that sacrament.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 260.
September 1668-ACT VII. Negro women not exempted from tax.
[The passage of this law indicates that legislators decided that English women and free black women were to be treated differently. The payment of a tithe was a financial burden and an indication that free black women made a different contribution to the colony based on their agricultural labor. This is the first reference to free blacks in the statutes.]
WHEREAS some doubts, have arisen whether negro women set free were still to be accompted tithable according to a former act, It is declared by this grand assembly that negro women, though permitted to enjoy their ffreedome yet ought not in all respects to be admitted to a full fruition of the exemptions and impunities of the English, and are still lyable to payment of taxes.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 267.
October 1669-ACT I. An act about the casuall killing of slaves.
[Colonial leaders decided that corporal punishment was the only way in which a master could correct a slave since his or her time of service could not be extended. This law represents the loss of legal protection for a slave's life in Virginia. It also was the first of several laws passed during the last thirty years of the seventeenth century that reduced the personal rights of black men and women.]
WHEREAS the only law in force for the punishment of refractory servants resisting their master, mistris or overseer cannot be inflicted upon negroes, nor the obstinacy of many of them by other then violent meanes supprest, Be it enacted and declared by this grand assembly, if any slave resist his master (or other by his masters order correcting him) and by the extremity of the correction should chance to die, that his death shall not be accompted ffelony, but the master (or that other person appointed by the master to punish him) be acquit from molestation, since it cannot be presumed that prepensed malice (which alone makes murther ffelony) should induce any man to destroy his owne estate.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 270.
October 1670-ACT IV. Noe Negroes nor Indians to buy christian servants.
[The number of blacks and Native Americans in Tidewater Virginia was small when this act was passed. The legislators knew that access to labor was necessary to succeed.]
WHEREAS it hath beene questioned whither Indians or negroes manumited, or otherwise free, could be capable of purchasing christian servants, It is enacted that noe negroe or Indian though baptised and enjoyned their owne ffreedome shall be capable of any such purchase of christians, but yet not debarred from buying any of their owne nation.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, pp. 280-281.
October 1670-ACT XII. What tyme Indians to serve.
[This law created an additional distinction between African Americans and Native Americans. It was an attempt to make lifetime servitude the normal condition for all Africans imported into Virginia. The legislators repealed this statute in November 1682.]
WHEREAS some dispute have arisen whither Indians taken in warr by any other nation, and by that nation that taketh them sold to the English, are sevants for life or terme of yeares, It is resolved and enacted that all servants not being christians imported into this colony by shipping shalbe slaves for their lives; but what shall come by land shall serve, if boyes or girles, untill thirty yeares of age, if men or women twelve yeares and no longer.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 283.
1670-Enquiries to the Governor of Virginia from the Lords Commissioners of Foreign Plantations. Answered by Sir William Berkeley in 1671
15. What number of planters, servants and slaves; and how many parishes are there in your plantation?
Answer. We suppose, and I am very sure we do not much miscount, that there is in Virginia above forty thousand persons, men, women, and children, and of which there are two thousand black slaves, six thousand christian servants, for a short time, the rest are born in the country or have come in to settle and seat, in bettering their condition in a growing country.
16. What number of English, Scots, or Irish have for these seven yeares last past come yearly to plant and inhabite within your government; as also what blacks or slaves have been brought in within the said time?
Answer. Yearly, we suppose there comes in, of servants, about fifteen hundred, of which, most are English, few Scotch, and fewer Irish, and not above two or three ships of negroes in seven years.
17. What number of people have yearly died, within your plantation and government for these seven years last past, both whites and blacks?
Answer. All new plantations are, for an age or two, unhealthy, 'till they are thoroughly cleared of wood; but unless we have a particular register office, for the denoting of all that died, I cannot give a particular answer to this query, only this I can say, that there is not often unseasoned hands (as we term them) that die now, whereas heretofore not one of five escaped the first year.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 515.
September 1671-ACT IV. An act providing how negroes belonging to orphants of intestates shall be disposed of.
[The legislators noted the financial importance of slaves to an orphan's estate. They decided that the county courts would be responsible for handling the enslaved laborers inherited by an orphan.]
WHEREAS in the former act concerning the estates of persons dying intestate, it is provided that sheep, horses, and cattle should be delivered in kind to the orphant, when they came of age, according to the several ages the said cattle were of when the guardian took them into his possession, to which some have desired that negroes may be added; this assembly considering the difficulty of procureing negroes in kind as alsoe the value and hazard of their lives have doubted whither any sufficient men would be found who would engage themselves to deliver negroes of equall ages if the specificall negroes should dye, or become by age or accident unserviceable; Be it therefore enacted and ordayned by this grand assembly and the authority thereof that the consideration of this be referred to the county courts who are hereby authorized and impowred either to cause such negroes to be duly apprized, sold at an outcry, or preserved in kind, as they then find it most expedient for preservation, improvement or advancement of the estate and interest of such orphants.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 288.
September 1672-ACT III. An act concerning tythables borne in the country.
[The legislators decided that each tithe taker was responsible for keeping track of the age of all black, mulatto, and Native American children in their precinct. In addition, each master was to have the birth of a black or a mulatto child registered in his or her parish within one year.]
FOR the better discovery of what persons borne in this country are and ought to be accounted tythables, and the ages of the younger better known, Be it enacted by the governor, counsell and burgesses of this grand assembly and by the authority thereof that all persons who are appointed by the county courts to take the lyst of tythables, in each county shall take an account of all negro, molatto, and Indian children, within their severall precincts, and the masters and owners of such children are to make appeare upon oath or evidence the ages of them. And that all negro, and molatto children, and slaves that shalbe borne in the country, shall by their respective masters or owners within twelve months after their birth be registred in the parish register with their exact ages, and in default thereof, the said master or owner shall pay levy for them that yeare, and soe yearley till such register be made; And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all negro women borne in this country shall be accompted tythable at sixteene yeares of age.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 296.
September 1672-ACT VIII. An act for the apprehension and suppression of runawayes, negroes and slaves.
[The members of the General Assembly hoped to suppress the rebellious activities of slaves throughout the colony. In addition, they wanted to keep servants and Native Americans from joining the slaves in any unlawful activities. They decided that it was legal to wound or kill an enslaved person who resisted arrest.]
FORASMUCH as it hath beene manifested to this grand assembly that many negroes have lately beene, and now are out in rebellion in sundry parts of this country, and that noe meanes have yet beene found for the apprehension and suppression of them from whome many mischeifes of very dangerous consequence may arise to the country if either other negroes, Indians or servants should happen to fly forth and joyne with them; for the prevention of which, be it enacted by the governour, councell and burgesses of this grand assembly, and by the authority thereof, that if any negroe, molatto, Indian slave, or servant for life, runaway and shalbe persued by the warrant or hue and crye, it shall and may be lawfull for any person who shall endeavour to take them, upon the resistance of such negroe, molatto, Indian slave, or servant for life, to kill or wound him or them soe resisting; Provided alwayes, and it is the true intent and meaning hereof, that such negroe, molatto, Indian slave, or servant for life, be named and described in the hue and crye which is alsoe to be signed by the master or owner of the said runaway. And if it happen that such negroe, molatto, Indian slave, or servant for life doe dye of any wound in such their resistance received the master or owner of such shall receive satisfaction from the publique for his negroe, molatto, Indian slave, or servant for life, soe killed or dyeing of such wounds; and the person who shall kill or wound by virtue of any such hugh and crye any such soe resisting in manner as aforesaid shall not be questioned for the same, he forthwith giveing notice thereof and returning the hue and crye or warrant to the master or owner of him or them soe killed or wounded or to the next justice of peace. And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid that all such negroes and slaves shalbe valued at ffowre thousand five hundred pounds of tobacco and caske a peece, and Indians at three thousand pounds of tobacco and caske a peice, And further if it shall happen that any negroe, molatto, Indians slave or servant for life, in such their resistance to receive any wound whereof they may not happen to dye, but shall lye any considerable tyme sick and disabled, then alsoe the master or owner of the same soe sick or disabled shall receive from the publique a reasonable satisfaction for such damages as they shall make appeare they have susteyned thereby at the county court, who shall thereupon grant the master or owner a certificate to the next assembly of what damages they shall make appeare; And it is further enacted that the neighbouring Indians doe and hereby are required and enjoyned to seize and apprehend all runawayes whatsoever that shall happen to come amongst them, and to bring them before some justice of the peace whoe upon the receipt of such servants, slave, or slaves, from the Indians, shall pay unto the said Indians for a recompence twenty armes length of Roanoake or the value thereof in goods as the Indians shall like of, for which the said justice of peace shall receive from the publique two hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco, and the said justice to proceed in conveying the runaway to his master according to the law in such cases already provided; This act to continue in force till the next assembly and noe longer unlesse it be thought fitt to continue.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, pp. 299-300.
June 1676-ACT I. An act for carrying on a warre against the barbarous Indians.
[In 1676 many Virginians were alarmed by Governor Berkeley's poor leadership and weak response in handling the Indian threat by merely suggesting a series of forts be built along the frontier rather than dispatching troops. Nathaniel Bacon, a member of England's gentry newly arrived in Virginia, became the military leader of a band of Virginians who armed themselves against the Indians in defiance of the governor in the spring of that year. Berkeley responded by unsuccessfully dispatching men to confront Bacon and declared him a rebel. Until Bacon's death from natural causes on October 26, 1676 he and Governor Berkeley struggled to control Virginia militarily and politically, embroiling Virginians in civil war. After the Assembly enacted many of Bacon's demands, Bacon with five hundred men captured the government and demanded from Berkeley the power to fight the Indians. That was granted on June 25 but later withdrawn. The governor, however, could not raise loyal troops to assert his authority and was forced to retreat to the Eastern Shore. Berkeley later returned to Jamestown to prepare for Bacon's attack but was forced to return to the Eastern Shore while Bacon burned the capital. Virginians, hesitant to fight one another, continued to vacillate in their support of Berkeley and Bacon in the ever-increasing confusion. Bacon's men, however, now turned to plundering loyalist plantations in Gloucester County and elsewhere. Bacon's sudden death left his men without a strong leader, and in January 1677 Berkeley returned to power and sought reparations for the loyalists. During the Rebellion the Indians probably suffered the most. Many were killed and a number of their villages were destroyed. In June of 1676 members of the Assembly decided that Native Americans captured during the rebellion would become slaves for life.]
And bee it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all Indians taken in warr be held and accounted slaves dureing life, and if any differences shall arise in cases about plunder or slaves, the cheife commander of the party takeing such slaves or plunder is to be the sole judge thereof to make equall division as hee shall see fit.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 346 (BACON'S LAWS).
[The Royal Commissioners tried to discourage the Assembly from treating Native Americans who were captured during Bacon's Rebellion as slaves. They did not succeed.]
IT is ordered that all such souldiers who either already have taken or hereafter shall take prisoners any of our Indian enemies, or any other Indian plunder, and at the tyme of takeing such Indians or Indian goods then were or shall hereafter be under a lawfull comand from due and full authority, that they reteyne and keepe all such Indian slaves or other Indian goods as they either have taken or hereafter shall take to their owne proper use for their better encouragement to such service.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 404.
April 1679-ACT I. An act for the defence of the country against the incursions of the Indian enemy.
[This statute reflected the bias against Native Americans in the years after Bacon's Rebellion.]
And for the better encouragement and more orderly government of the souldiers, that what Indian prisoners or other plunder shalbe taken in warre, shalbe free purchase to the souldier taking the same.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 440.
June 1680-ACT V. An act for cohabitation and encouragement of trade and manufacture.
And all goods, wares, English servants, negroes and other slaves, and merchandizes whatsoever that shalbe imported into this colony from after the twenty ninth day of September which shall be in the yeare 1681, shalbe landed and layd on shore, bought and sould at such appointed places aforesaid and at noe other place whatsoever, under like penalty and forfeiture thereof.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 475.
June 1680-ACT VII. An act assertaining the time when Negroe Children shall be tythable.
[The colonial leaders decided that enslaved children should be counted as tithes (capable of working) at the age of twelve and that Christian servants should be included on a list of tithes at the age of fourteen.]
WHEREAS it is deemed too hard and severe that children (as well christians as slaves) imported into this colony should be lyable to taxes before they are capable of working, Bee it enacted by the kings most excellent majestie by and with the consent of the generall assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all negroe children imported or to be imported into this colony shall within three months after the publication of this law or after their arrivall be brought to the county court, where there age shalbe adjudged of by the justices holding court, and put upon record, which said negroe, or other slave soe brought to court, adjudged and recorded shall not be accompted tythable untill he attaines the age of twelve yeares, any former law, usuage, or custome to the contrary notwithstanding. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, that noe christian servants imported into this colony shalbe tythable before they attaine the age of fourteene yeares any former law, usuage, or custome to the contrary notwithstanding.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, pp. 479-480.
June 1680-ACT X. An act for preventing Negroes Insurrections.
[This law represents an attempt to restrict the freedom and personal rights of enslaved persons. The members of the Assembly also decided that a slave who resisted a white individual was to be punished. The statute designated the punishments for three crimes: leaving a plantation without the permission of one's master, raising a hand against a Christian, and resisting capture after running away.]
WHEREAS the frequent meeting of considerbale numbers of negroe slaves under pretence of feasts and burialls is judged of dangerous consequence; for prevention whereof for the future, Bee it enacted by the kings most excellent majestie by and with the consent of the generall assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority aforesaid, that from and after the publication of this law, it shall not be lawfull for any negroe or other slave to carry or arme himselfe with any club, staffe, gunn, sword or any other weapon of defence or offence, nor to goe or depart from of his masters ground without a certificate from his master, mistris or overseer and such permission not to be granted but upon perticuler and necessary occasions; and every negroe or slave soe offending not haveing a certificate as aforesaid shalbe sent to the next constable, who is hereby enjoyned and required to give the said negroe twenty lashes on his bare back well layd on, and soe sent home to his said master, mistris or overseer. And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid that if any negroe or other slave shall presume to lift up his hand in opposition against any christian, shall for every such offence, upon due proofe made thereof by the oath of the party before a magistrate, have and receive thirty lashes on his bare back well laid on. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid that if any negroe or other slave shall absent himself from his masters service and lye hid and lurking in obscure places, comitting injuries to the inhabitants, and shall resist any person or persons that shalby any lawfull authority by imployed to apprehend and take the said negroe, that then in case of such resistance, it shalbe lawfull for such person or persons to kill the said negroe or slave soe lying out and resisting, and that this law be once every six months published at the respective county courts and parish churches within this colony.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, pp. 481-482.
November 1682-ACT I. An act to repeale a former law making Indians and others ffree.
[Two acts passed in November of 1682 joined Native Americans and Africans into one racial category-"negroes and other slaves."]
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that all servants except Turkes and Moores, whilest in amity with his majesty which from and after publication of this act shall be brought or imported into this country, either by sea or land, whether Negroes, Moors, Mollattoes or Indians, who and whose parentage and native country are not christian at the time of their first purchase of such servant by some christian, although afterwards, and before such their importation and bringing into this country, they shall be converted to the christian faith; and all Indians which shall hereafter be sold by our neighbouring Indians, or any other trafiqueing with us as for slaves are hereby adjudged, deemed and taken to be slaves to all intents and purposes, any law, usage or custome to the countrary notwithstanding.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, pp. 491-492
November 1682-ACT II. An act declaring Indian women servants tithables.
WHEREAS it hath bin doubted whether Indian women servants sold to the English above the age of sixteene yeares be tythable, Bee it enacted and declared, and it is hereby enacted and declared by the governour, councill and burgesses of this generall assembly and the authority thereof, that all Indian women are and shall be tythables, and ought to pay levies in like manner as negroe women brought into this country doe, and ought to pay.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, p. 492.
November 1682-ACT III. An additional act for the better preventing insurrections by Negroes.
[This statute placed an additional restriction on the mobility of enslaved persons: slaves were not to gather at a plantation other than that of their master for more than four hours.]
WHEREAS a certaine act of assembly held at James Citty the 8th day of June, in the yeare of our Lord 1680, intituled, an act preventing negroes insurrections hath not had its intended effect for want of due notice thereof being taken; it is enacted by the governour, councell and burgesses of this generall assembly, and by the authority thereof, that for the better putting the said act in due execution, the church wardens of each parish in this country at the charge of the parish by the first day of January next provide true coppies of this present and the aforesaid act, and make or cause entry thereof to be made in the register book of the said parish, and that the minister or reader of each parish shall twice every yeare vizt. some one Sunday or Lords day in each of the months of September and March in each parish church or chappell of ease in each parish in the time of divine service, after the reading of the second lesson, read and publish both this present and the aforerecited act under paine such churchwarden minister or reader makeing default, to forfeite each of them six hundred pounds of tobacco, one halfe to the informer and the other halfe to the use of the poore of the said parish. And for the further better preventing such insurrections by negroes or slaves, Bee it likewise enacted by the authority aforesaid, that noe master or overseer knowingly permitt or suffer, without the leave or licence of his or their master or overseer, any negroe or slave not properly belonging to him or them, to remaine or be upon his or their plantation above the space of four houres at any one time, contrary to the intent of the aforerecited act upon paine to forfeite, being thereof lawfully convicted, before some one justice of peace within the county where the fact shall be comitted, by the oath of two witnesses at the least, the summe of two hundred pounds of tobacco in cask for each time soe offending to him or them that will sue for the same, for which the said justice is hereby impowered to award judgment and execution.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 2, pp. 492-493.
April 1691-ACT XVI. An act for suppressing outlying slaves.
[The legislators detailed a systematic plan to gather a force of men to recapture "outlying slaves" in this statute. This document also contains the first legal restriction on the manumission of slaves. The law required a master to transport an emancipated slave out of the colony within six months. In addition, partners in an interracial marriage could not stay in Virginia more than three months after they wed. Lawmakers did not want white women to bear mulatto children because the free black population would increase. They decided to punish white women who gave birth to mulattos and to require a longer term of servitude (until the age of thirty) for these children than they did for poor orphans or illegitimate white boys (until the age of twenty-one) and girls (until the age of eighteen). Finally, in this law, the General Assembly first used the term "white" as an additional way to legally separate the English and Europeans from Africans and Native Americans.]
WHEREAS many times negroes, mulattoes, and other slaves unlawfully absent themselves from their masters and mistresses service, and lie hid and lurk in obscure places killing hoggs and committing other injuries to the inhabitants of this dominion, for remedy whereof for the future, Be it enacted by their majesties lieutenant governour, councell and burgesses of this present general assembly, and the authoritie thereof, and it is hereby enacted, that in all such cases upon intelligence of any such negroes, mulattoes, or other slaves lying out, two of their majesties justices of the peace of that county, whereof one to be of the quorum, where such negroes, mulattoes or other slave shall be, shall be impowered and commanded, and are hereby impowered and commanded to issue out their warrants directed to the sherrife of the same county to apprehend such negroes, mulattoes, and other slaves, which said sherriffe is hereby likewise requred upon all such occasions to raise such and soe many forces from time to time as he shall think convenient and necessary for the effectual apprehending such negroes, mulattoes and other slaves, and in case any negroes, mulattoes or other slaves or slaves lying out as aforesaid shall resist, runaway, or refuse to deliver and surrender him or themselves to any person or persons that shall be by lawfull authority employed to apprehend and take such negroes, mulattoes or other slaves that in such cases it shall and may be lawfull for such person and persons to kill and distroy such negroes, mulattoes, and other slave or slaves by gunn or any otherwaise whatsoever.
Provided that where any negroe or mulattoe slave or slaves shall be killed in pursuance of this act, the owner or owners of such negro or mulatto slave shall be paid for such negro or mulatto slave four thousand pounds of tobacco by the publique. And for prevention of that abominable mixture and spurious issue which hereafter may encrease in this dominion, as well by negroes, mulattoes, and Indians intermarrying with English, or other white women, as by their unlawfull accompanying with one another, Be it enacted by the authoritie aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, that for the time to come, whatsoever English or other white man or woman being free shall intermarry with a negroe, mulatto, or Indian man or woman bond or free shall within three months after such marriage be banished and removed from this dominion forever, and that the justices of each respective countie within this dominion make it their perticular care that this act be put in effectuall execution. And be it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That if any English woman being free shall have a bastard child by any negro or mulatto, she pay the sume of fifteen pounds sterling, within one moneth after such bastard child be born, to the Church wardens of the parish where she shall be delivered of such child, and in default of such payment she shall be taken into the possession of the said Church wardens and disposed of for five yeares, and the said fine of fifteen pounds, or whatever the woman shall be disposed of for, shall be paid, one third part to their majesties for and towards the support of the government and the contingent charges thereof, and one other third part to the use of the parish where the offence is committed, and the other third part to the informer, and that such bastard child be bound out as a servant by the said Church wardens untill he or she shall attaine the age of thirty yeares, and in case such English woman that shall have such bastard child be a servant, she shall be sold by the said church wardens, (after her time is expired that she ought by law to serve her master) for five yeares, and the money she shall be sold for divided as is before appointed, and the child to serve as aforesaid.
And forasmuch as great inconveniences may happen to this country by the setting of negroes and mulattoes free, by their either entertaining negro slaves from their masters service, or receiveing stolen goods, or being grown old bringing a charge upon the country; for prevention thereof, Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That no negro or mulatto be after the end of this present session of assembly set free by any person or persons whatsoever, unless such person or persons, their heires, executors or administrators pay for the transportation of such negro or negroes out of the countrey within six moneths after such setting them free, upon penalty of paying of tenn pounds sterling to the Church wardens of the parish where such person shall dwell with, which money, or so much thereof as shall be necessary, the said Church wardens are to cause the said negro or mulatto to be transported out of the countrey, and the remainder of the said money to imploy to the use of the poor of the parish.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, pp. 86-88.
April 1692-ACT III. An act for the more speedy prosecution of slaves committing Capitall Crimes.
[This law represents the first time that the members of the General Assembly detailed the procedure for a slave brought to trial for a capital offense. A slave had a trial in a court of oyer and terminer. The literal translation of "oyer and terminer" is "to hear and determine." Four of a county's justices of the peace heard the trial and decided the fate of the person charged with a crime. The slave was denied the right to a jury trial that white men and women had. This statute also decreed that enslaved individuals were not permitted to own horses, cattle, and hogs after December 31, 1692.]
WHEREAS a speedy prosecution of negroes and other slaves for capital offences is absolutely necessarie, that others being detered by the condign punishment inflicted on such offenders, may vigorously proceed in their labours and be affrighted to commit the like crimes and offences, and whereas such prosecution has been hitherto obstructed by reason of the charge and delay attending the same.
Be it therefore enacted by their Majesties Lieutenant Governour, Councell and Burgesses of this present Generall Assembly and the authority thereof, and it is hereby enacted, That every negro or other slave which shall after this present session of Assembly commit or perpetrate any cappitall offence which the law of England requires to be satisfyed with the death of the offender or loss of member, after his commiting of the said offence, shall be forthwith committed to the common gaol of the county within which such offence shall be committed, there to be safely continued, well laden with irons, and that the sheriff of the said county doe forthwith signifie the same to the governour for the time being, who is desired and impowered to issue out a commission of oyer and terminer directed to such persons of the said county as he shall think fitt, which persons forthwith after the receipt of the said commission are required and commanded publicly at the courthouse of the said county to cause the offender to be arraigned and indicted, and to take for evidence the confession of the part or the oathes of two witnesses or of one with pregnant circumstances, without the sollemnitie of jury, and the offender being found guilty as aforesaid, to pass judgment as the law of England provides in the like case, and on such judgment to award execution.
And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That all horses, cattle and hoggs marked of any negro or other slaves marke, or by any slave kept, and which shall not by the last day of December next, be converted by the owner of such slave to the use and marke of the said owner, shall be forgeited to the use of the poore of the parish wherein such horse, beast, or hogg shall be kept, seizable by the church wardens thereof.
And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That where it shall happen that any damage shall be hereafter commited by any negro or other slave living at a quarter, where there is noe christian overseer, the same damage shall be recompenced by the owner of such slave to the party injured.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, pp. 102-103.
April 1699-ACT VI. An act for the punishment of slaves for the first and second offence of Hog stealing.
WHEREAS the third act of assembly made at James Citty the 16th day of Aprill 1691, entituled an act for the more speedy prosecution of slaves commiting capitall crimes hath been found inconvenient by makeing the first offence of hog stealing felony, which is not so by the former laws of this his majestyes colony and dominion.
Be it therefore enacted by the Governour, Councell and Burgesses of this present Generall Assembly, and the authority thereof, and it is hereby enacted, That for the first offence of hog stealing commited by a negro or slave he shall be carried before a justice of the peace of the county where the fact was commited before whome being convicted of the said offence by one evidence or by his owne confession he shall by order of the said justice receive on his bare back thirty nine lashes well laid on, and for the second offence such negro or slave upon conviction before a court of record shall stand two hours in the pillory and have both his eares nailed thereto and at the expiration of the said two hours have his ears cutt off close by the nailes, any thing in the aforesaid act or in any other law to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, p. 179.
April 1699-ACT XII. An act for laying an imposition upon servants and slaves imported into this country, towards building the Capitoll.
[The legislators hoped that this statute would raise money so that a new Capitol building could be erected in Williamsburg. They did not want to discourage the slave trade. Members of the General Assembly renewed the duty in 1701, 1704, and 1705.]
WHEREAS the state house of this his majesties colony and dominion in which the generall assemblyes and general courts have been kept and held hath been unhappily destroyed and burnt downe, and it being absolutely necessary that a capitoll should be built with all expedition, and foreasmuch as a more suitable expedient cannot be found for avoiding the laying a levy upon the poll for the building the same than by laying an imposition upon servants and slaves imported into this his majesties colony and dominion,
Be it enacted by the Governour, Councill and Burgesses of this present generall assembly and the authority thereof, and it is hereby enacted, That from and after the publication of this act the sume of fifteen shillings per poll for every servant not born in England and Wales and twenty shillings for every negro or other slaves which shall be imported into this his majesties colony and dominion shall be from time to time paid and satisfyed to his majestie, his heirs and successors for and towards the erecting a builidng a conventient capitoll for this his majesties colony and dominion and for no nother use, intent or purpose whatsoever, which said sume or sumes shall be paid by the imported or importers of such [blank] and for the better levying and collecting the said duty and impost,
Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That from and after the publication thereof no servant or servants, negro or negroes imported into this country shall be landed or put on shoar out of any shipp or vessell before due entry first made with the officer or collector appointed for the customes in such port or place where the same shall be imported, nor before the master of the said shipp or vessell hath made oath to such officer or collector who is hereby impowered and required to administer the same of the number of servants or slaves imported in such shipp or vessell and of the reputed place of the birth of such servant or servants, nor before the duty due and payable for the same shall be fully paid ans satisfyed to such officer or collector, and that every warrant for the landing of such servants or slaves shall be under the hand and seale of the said officer or collector respectively upon paine that all such servants or slaves as shall be landed or putt on shore contrary to this act or the vallue thereof shall be forfeited and lost and shall be recovered of the importer or proprietor of the same.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, pp. 193-194.
August 1701-ACT II. An act for the more effectuall apprehending an outlying negro who hath commited divers robberyes and offences.
[The legislators offered a reward for anyone who killed Billy and punishment for anyone who helped to conceal this enslaved man.]
WHEREAS one negro man named Billy, slave to John Tillit, but lately the slave of Thomas Middleton, and formerly of James Bray, gentleman, of James City county, has severall years unlawfully absented himselfe from his masters services, lying out and lurking in obscure places suposed within the countys of James City, York, and New-Kent, devouring and destroying the socks and crops, robing the houses of and committing and threatening other injuryes to severall of his majestyes good and leige people within this his colony and dominion of Virginia in contempt of the good laws thereof,
Be it therefore enacted by the governour, councell and burgesses of this present generall assembly, and the authority therefor, and it is hereby enacted, That the said negro slave Billy stand and be adjudged by the authority of this present act convicted of unlawfully lying out, lurking and destroying the stocks and crops and comiting robberyes as aforesaid, and that he suffer the paines of death. And for further encouragement in a more speedy and effectual apprehending or destroying the said negro and discovering and punishing his accomplices,
Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That whosoever shall kill or destroy the said negro slave Billy and apprehend and deliver him to justice in this colony and dominion, he, she or they shall be paid and allowed for the same by the publick one thousand pounds of tobacco: and that all persons whatsoever within this his majestyes colony and dominion that from and after the publication of this act shall witingly and wilingly enteraine, assist, harbour, conceale, truck or trade with the said negroe Billy, and every of them, shall be and by authority of this present act be adjudged guilty of felony and incur the paines, penaltyes and forfeitures lyable by law to be inflicted for felony, any thing in this act or any other act contained to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding. Provided alwayes, that if the said negro Billy shall be kiled in pursuance of this act, his master or owner shall be paid by the publick four thousand pounds of tobacco, as is provided by a former act in the like cases.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, pp. 210-211.
August 1701-ACT V. An act continuing the acts laying impositions on lyquors, servants and slaves untill the 25th of December, 1703.
BE it enacted by the governour, councell and burgesses of this present generall assembly and the authority thereof, and it is hereby enacted, That the 11th act of assembly made at James City the 27th day of Aprill 1699, intituled an act for lesening the levy by the pole and laying an imposition upon liquors for and towards the building the Capitoll and other publick uses as also the 12th act of assembly made at James City the said 27th day of April 1699 intituled an act for laying an imposition upon servants and slaves imported into this country towards building the Capitoll be and are hereby continued in full force untill the 25th day of December which shall be in the year of our lord 1703.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, pp. 212-213.
October 1705-CHAP. I. An act for laying an Imposition upon Liquors and Slaves.
FORASMUCH as the late Impositions upon liquors and upon servants and slaves imported into this colony and dominion have proved very usefull and advantageous, and that no better expedient can be found to lessen the levy by the poll or to defray the charge of any publick design than impositions of that nature,
Be it therefore enacted by the Governour, Councill and Burgesses of this present generall assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same . . . . That the sum of twenty shillings shall be paid for every negro or other slave which after the said five and twentieth day of May shall be imported or brought into this colony and dominion from any port or place whatsoever by the importer or importers of the same . . . .
And be it further enacted, That this act shall continue in force for two years from the said five and twentieth day of May and no longer.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, pp. 229-235.
October 1705-CHAP. IV. An act declaring who shall not bear office in this country.
[The text of this act suggests that a free man of color did hold an office sometime before October of 1705. The statute contains the first definition of a mulatto in Virginia's laws.]
BE it enacted by the governor, council and burgesses, of this present general assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That no person whatsoever, already convicted, or which hereafter shall be convicted in her majestys kingdom of England in this or in any other her majestys dominion, colonies, islands, territorys or plantations, or in any other kingdom, dominion or place, belonging to any foreigh prince or state whatsoever, of treason, murther, fellony, blasphemy, perjury, forgery or any other crime whatsoever, punishable by the laws of England, this country, or other place wherein he was convicted with the loss of life or member, nor any negro, mulatto or Indian, shall, from and after the publication of this act, bear any office, ecclesiasticall, civill or military, or be in any place of public trust or power, within this her majestys colony and dominion of Virginia, and that if any person convicted as aforesaid, or negro, mulatto or Indian shall presume to take upon him, act in, or exercise any office, ecclesiasticall, civill or military, or any place of publick trust or power, within this colony and dominion, notwithstanding he be thereunto in any manner whatsoever comissionated, appointed, chosen or impowered, and have a pardon for his crime, he shall for such his offence, forfeit and pay five hundred pounds current money, and twenty pounds of like money for every month he continues to act in or exercise such office or place after a recovery made of the said five hundred pounds.
And for clearing all manner of doubts which hereafter may happen to arise upon the construction of this act, or any other act, who shall be accounted a mulatto,
Be it enacted and declared, and it is hereby enacted and declared, That the child of an Indian and the child, grand child, or great grand child, of a negro shall be deemed, accounted, held and taken to be a mulatto.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, pp. 250-251, 252.
October 1705-CHAP. VII. An act concerning Tithables.
[It is possible that the decision to exempt free black women from tithes was designed to benefit white men who had such women as servants.]
I. BE it enacted, by the Governor, Council, and Burgesses of this present general assembly, and it is hereby enacted, by the authority of the same, That all male persons, of the age of sixteen years, and upwards, and all negro, mulatto, and Indian women, of the age of sixteen years, and upwards, not being free, shall be, and are hereby declared to be tithable, or chargeable, for defraying the public, county, and parish charges, in this her majesty's colony and dominion; excepting such only, as the county court, and vestry, for reasons, in charity, made appear to them, shall think fit to excuse.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, pp. 258-259.
October 1705-CHAP. XI. An act for the speedy and easy prosecution of Slaves, committing Capitall Crimes
[This statute continued the practice (begun in 1692) of trying convicted slaves in a court of oyer and terminer.]
WHEREAS a speedy prosecution of slaves for capitall crimes is absolutely necessary, and that the same be done without the extraordinary charge usually attending the tryalls of criminalls in the generall court,
Be it enacted, by the Governor, Council and Burgesses of this present General Assembly, and it is hereby enacted, by the authority of the same, That every slave comitting such offence as by the law ought to be sattisfyed by the death of the offender, or loss of member, shall be forthwith comitted to the comon gaol of the county within which such offence shall be comitted, there to be safely kept, and that the sheriff of such county, upon such commitment, shall forthwith certify such comitment with the cause thereof to the governor or comander in chief of this her majestys colony and dominion for the time being, who is thereupon desired and impowered to issue out a comission of oyer and terminer, directed to such persons of the county as he shall think fitt, which persons forthwith after the receipt of such comission, are impowered and required to cause the offender to be publickly indicted and arraigned at the court-house of the said county, and to take for evidence the confession of the party or the oath of two credible witnesses, or of one with pregnant circumstances without the solemnity of a jury, and the offender being by them found guilty to pass such judgment upon such offender as the law provides in the like crimes, and on such judgment to award execution.
Provided always, and it is hereby intended, That the master or owner of any slave to be indicted or arraigned by virtue of this act, may appear at the tryall and make what just defence he can for such slave, so that such defence do only relate to matters of fact, and not to any formality in the indictment or other proceedings of the court.
And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That when any slave shall be convicted and condemned upon any tryall to be had by virtue of this act, the justices that shall sitt in tryall shall put a valuation in money upon such slave so condemned, and certify such valuation to the next assembly, that the said assembly may be enabled to make a suitable allowance thereupon, to the master or owner of such slave.
And be it further enacted, That all and every other act and acts, and every clause and article thereof heretofore made for so much thereof as relates to the speedy and easy prosecution of slaves comitting capitall crimes, or to any other matter or thing whatsoever, within the purview of this act, is, and are hereby repealed and made void, to all intents and purposes, as if the same had never been made.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, pp. 269-270.
October 1705-CHAP. XII. An act to prevent the clandestine transportation or carrying of persons in debt, servants, and slaves, out of this colony.
[This act required the master of any vessel to have the permission of a master or a license in order to transport a servant or slave out of the colony.]
II. And be it also enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That after publication of this act, no master of a ship, sloop, boat or other vesse, shall transport or carry any servant whatsoever, or any negro, mulatto, Indian, or othe rslave, out of this colony and dominion, without a licence, or pass as aforesaid, or the consent, leave, or permission of the person or persons to whom such servant or slave doth of right belong, upon penalty of forfeiting and paying, in current money, the sum of fifty pounds for every servant, and the sum of one hundred pounds for every slave transported or carried hence, contrary to this act; one moiety to our sovereign lady the Queen, her heirs and successors, for and towards the better support of this government, and the contingent charges thereof; and the other moiety to the party grieved: To be recovered, with costs, in any court of record within this colony and dominion, by action of debt, bill, plaint, or information, wherein no essoin, protection, or wager of law, shall be allowed.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, p. 271.
October 1705-CHAP. XIV. An act against stealing Hogs.
I. BE it enacted, by the Governor, Council, and Burgesses of this present general assembly, and it is hereby enacted, by the authority of the same, That if any person or persons shall, from and after the publication of this act, steal any hog, shoat, or pig, every person so offending, shall, for the first offence, receive on his or her bare back, twenty-five lashes, or pay down ten pounds current money of Virginia; and if a negro, mulatto, or Indian, thirty-nine lashes well laid on, at the common whipping-post of the county wherein such offence shall be committed, or the party offending, arrested; and moreover, shall pay and satisfy four hundred pounds of tobacco, for every such hog, shoat, and pig; one half of the afore-mentioned fine to be to the owner of such hog, shoat, or pig; and the other half to the informer: To be recovered, with costs, at the suit of the informer, by action of debt, bill, plaint, or information, in any court of record in this her majesty's colony and dominion, wherein no essoin, protection, or wager of law, shall be allowed. And if any person or persons, shall the second time offend, by stealing any hog, shoat, or pig, he or she so offending, and being thereof the second time convicted, shall stand two hours in the pillory, on a court day, and have both ears nailed thereto, and at the end of the said two hours, have the ears cut loose from the nails: which judgment, the county courts in this colony, are hereby impowered to give respectively, and to award execution thereon accordingly: Saving always and reserving to each party concerned, liberty of appealing to the general court; provided they give bond, with good security, in the sum of twenty pounds sterling, for his or personal appearance in the general court, according to the appeal, and to perform and abide what they shall award therein; and moreover, each party offending as aforesaid, shall pay and satisfy four hundred pounds of tobacco for every such hog, shoat, and pig: To be recovered and divided as aforesaid.
III. And if such person so offending, be a slave, then the owner of such slave shall pay and satisfy two hundred pounds of tobacco to the owner of the hog; and judgment shall go accordingly.
V. Provided always, That this clause shall not be constued to extend to owners of slaves paying more than once for one hog; but that having paid once two hundred pounds of tobacco for each hog so stolen, shall be acquit: And if slaves of several masters be concerned together in one offence of hog stealing, then the pay for such hogs or hogs, shall be paid by the owners of such slaves, in proportion.
VI. And if any person or persons shall the third time offend, by stealing a hog, shoat, or pig, he or she so offending, shall be adjudged a felon, and shall suffer death, as in the case of felony.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, pp. 276-278.
October 1705-CHAP. XIX. An act for establishing the General Court, and for regulating and settline the proceedings therein.
[This law denied all blacks the right to testify as witnesses in court.]
XXXI. "That popish recusants convict, negroes, mulattoes and Indian servants, and others, not being christians, shall be deemed and taken to be persons incapable in law, to be witnesses in any cases whatsoever.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, p. 298.
October 1705-CHAP. XXII. An act declaring the Negro, Mulatto, and Indian slaves within this dominion, to be real estate.
[The legislators defined enslaved men, women, and children as real property in this act. See also the 1669 statute entitled An act about the casuall killing of slaves for another example of masters treating slaves as property.]
I. FOR the better settling and preservation of estates within this dominion,
II. Be it enacted, by the governor, council and burgesses of this present general assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That from and after the passing of this act, all negro, mulatto, and Indian slaves, in all courts of judicature, and other places, within this dominion, shall be held, taken, and adjudged, to be reat estate (and not chattels;) and shall descend unto the heirs and widows of persons departing this life, according to the manner and custom of land of inheritance, held in fee simple.
III. Provided always, That nothing in this act contained, shall be taken to extend to any merchant or factor, bringing any slaves into this dominion, or having any consignments thereof, unto them, for sale: But that such slaves whilst they remain unsold, in the possession of such merchant, or factor, or of their executors, administrators, or assigns, shall, to all intents and purposes, be taken, held, and adjudged, to be personal estate, in the same condition they should have been in, if this act had never been made.
IV. Provided also, That all such slaves shall be liable to the paiment of debts, and may be taken by execution, for that end, as other chattels or personal estate may be.
V. Provided also, That no such slaves shall be liable to be escheated, by reason of the decease pf the proprietor of the same, without lawful heirs: But all such slaves shall, in that case, be accounted and go as chattels, and other estate personal.
VI. Provided also, That no person, selling or alienating any such slave shall be obliged to cause such sale or alienation to be recorded, as is required by law to be done, upon the alienation of other real estate: But that the said sale or alienation may be made in the same manner as might have been done before the making of this act.
VII. Provided also, That this act, or any thing therein contained, shall not extend, nor be construed to extend, to give any person, being owner of any slave or slaves, and not seized of other real estate, the right or privilege as a freeholder, meant, mentioned, and intended, by one act of this present session of assembly, intituled, An act for regulating the elections of Burgesses, for settling their privileges, and for ascertaining their allowances.
VIII. Provided also, That it shall and may be lawful, for any person, to sue for, and recover, any slave, or damage, for the detainer, trover, or conversion thereof, by action personal, as might have been done if this act had never been made.
IX. Provided always, That where the nature of the case shall require it, any writ De Partitione facienda, or of dower, may be sued forth and prosecuted, to recover the right and possession of any such slave or slaves.
X. Provided, and be it enacted, That when any person dies intestate, leaving several children, in that case all the slaves of such person, (except the widow's dower, which is the be first set apart) shall be inventoried and appraised; and the value thereof shall be equally divided amongst all the said children; and the several proportions, according to such valuation and appraisement, shall be paid by the heir (to whom the said slaves shall descend, by virtue of this act) unto all and every the other said children. And thereupon, it shall and may be lawful for the said other children, and every of them, and their executors or administrators, as the case shall be, to commence and prosecute an action upon the case, at the common law, against such heir, his heirs, executors and administrators, for the recovery of their said several proportions, respectively.
XI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any widow, seised of any such slave or slaves, as aforesaid, as of the dower of her husband, shall send, or voluntarily permit to be sent out of this colony and dominion, such slave or slaves, or any of their increase, without the lawful consent of him or her in reversion, such widow shall forfeit all and every such slave or slaves, and all other the dower which she holds of the endowment of her husband's estate, unto the person or persons that shall have the reversion thereof; any law, usage or custom to the contrary notwithstanding. And if any widow, seized as aforesaid, shall be married to an husband, who shall send, or voluntary permit to be sent out of this colony and dominion, any such slave or slaves, or any of their increase, without the consent of him or her in reversion; in such case, it shall be lawful for him or her in reversion, to enter into, possess and enjoy all the estate which such husband holdeth, in right of his wife's dower, for and during the life of the said husband.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, pp. 333-335.
October 1705-CHAP. XXIV. An act for settling the Militia.
[The members of the General Assembly decided that a white overseer in charge of four or more slaves, any imported servant, and all slaves were not to serve in the militia. This act did not restrict the participation of free black men in the militia.]
Provided nevertheless, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to give any power or authority to any colonel or chief officer whatsoever, to list any person that shall be, or shall have been of her majesty's councill in this colony, or any person that shall be, or shall have been speaker of the house of burgesses, or any person that shall be, or shall have been her majesty's attorney general, or any person that shall be, or shall have been a justice of the peace within this colony, or any person that shall have born any military commission within this colony as high as the commission of captain, or any minister, or the clerk of the councill for the time being, or the clerk of the general court for the time being, or any county court clerk during his being such, or any parish clerk or school-master during his being such, or any overseer that hath four or more slaves under his care, or any constable during his being such, or any miller who hath a mill in keeping, or any servant by importation, or any slave, but that all and every such person or persons be exempted from serving either in horse or foot. Any thing in this act heretofore to the contrary notwithstanding.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, p. 336.
October 1705-CHAP. XLIX. An act concerning Servants and Slaves.
[This statute included a definition of who would become a slave upon entering Virginia and repeated previous restrictions placed upon enslaved persons in addition to new constaints. The law contained some modifications on the punishments placed on white women who bore a mulatto child and white individuals who married a person of color in 1691. The legislators made it clear that Christianity was not the path to freedom for a slave.]
IV. And also be it enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That all servants imported and brought into this country, by sea or land, who were not christians in their native country, (except Turks and Moors in amity with her majesty, and others that can make due proof their being free in England, or any other christian country, before they were shipped, in order to transportation hither (shall be accounted and be slaves, and as such be here bought and sold notwithstanding a conversion to christianity afterwards.
V. And be it enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That if any person or persons shall hereafter import into this colony, and here sell as a slave, any person or persons that shall have been a freeman in any christian country, island, or plantation, such importer and seller as aforesaid, shall forfeit and pay, to the party from who the said freeman shall recover his freedom, double the sum for which the said freeman was sold. To be recovered, in any court of record within this colony, according to the course of the common law, wherein the defendant shall not be admitted to plead in bar, any act or statute for limitation of actions.
VI. Provided always, That a slave's being in England, shall not be sufficient to discharge him of his slavery, without other proof of his being manumitted there.
XI. And for a further christian care and usage of all christian servants, Be it also enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That no negros, mulattos, or Indians, although christians, or Jews, Moors, Mahometans, or other infidels, shall, at any time, purchase any christian servant, nor any other, except of their own complexion, or such as are declared slaves by this act: And if any negro, mulatto, or Indian, Jew, Moor, Mahometan, or other infidel, or such as are declared slaves by this act, shall, notwithstanding, purchase any christian white servant, the said servant shall, ipso facto, become free and acquit from any service then due, and shall be so held, deemed, and taken: And if any person, having such christian servant, shall intermarry with any such negro, mulatto, or Indian, Jew, Moor, Mahometan, or other infidel, every christian white servant of every such person so intermarrying, shall, ipso facto, become free and acquit from any service then due to such master or mistress so intermarrying, as aforesaid.
XV. And also be it enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That no person whatsoever shall, buy, sell, or receive of, to, or from, any servant, or slave, any coin or commodity whatsoever, without the leave, licence, or consent of the master or owner of the said servant, or slave: And if any person shall, contrary hereunto, without the leave or licence aforesaid, deal with any servant, or slave, he or she so offending, shall be imprisoned one calender month, without bail or main-prize; and then, also continue in prison, until he or she shall find good security, in the sum of ten pounds current money of Virginia, for the good behaviour for one year following; wherein, a second offence shall be a breach of the bond; and moreover shall forfeit and pay four times the value of the things so bought, sold, or received, to the master or owner of such servant, or slave: To be recovered, with costs, by action upon the case, in any court of record in this her majesty's colony and dominion, wherein no essoin, protection, or wager of law, or other than one imparlance, shall be allowed.
XVI. Provided always, and be it enacted, That when any person or persons convict for dealing with a servant, or slave, contrary to this act, shall not immediately give good and sufficient security for his or her good behaviour, as aforesaid: then in such case, the court shall order thirty-nine lashes, well laid on, upon the bare back of such offender, at the common whipping-post of the county, and the said offender to be thence discharged of giving such bond and security.
XVIII. And if any woman servant shall have a bastard child by a negro, or mulatto, over and above the years service due to her master or owner, she shall immediately, upon the expiration of her time to her then present master or owner, pay down to the church-wardens of the parish wherein such child shall be born, for the use of the said parish, fifteen pounds current money of Virginia, or be by them sold for five years, to the use aforesaid: And if a free christian white woman shall have such bastard child, by a negro, or mulatto, for every such offence, she shall, within one month after her delivery of such bastard child, pay to the church-wardens for the time being, of the parish wherein such child shall be born, for the use of the said parish fifteen pounds current money of Virginia, or be by them sold for five years to the use aforesaid: And in both the said cases, the church-wardens shall bind the said child to be a servant, until it shall be of thirty one years of age.
XIX. And for a further prevention of that abominable mixture and spurious issue, which hereafter may increase in this her majesty's colony and dominion, as well by English, and other white men and women intermarrying with negroes or mulattos, as by their unlawful coition with them, Be it enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That whatsoever English, or other white man or woman, being free, shall intermarry with a negro or mulatto man or woman, bond or free, shall, by judgment of the county court, be committed to prison, and there remain, during the space of six months, without bail or mainprize; and shall forfeit and pay ten pounds current money of Virginia, to the use of the parish, as aforesaid.
XX. And be it further enacted, That no minister of the church of England, or other minister, or person whatsoever, within this colony and dominion, shall hereafter wittingly presume to marry a white man with a negro or mulatto woman; or to marry a white woman with a negro or mulatto man, upon pain of forfeiting and paying, for every such marriage the sum of ten thousand pounds of tobacco; one half to our sovereign lady the Queen, her heirs and successors, for and towards the support of the government, and the contingent charges thereof; and the other half to the informer; To be recovered, with costs, by action of debt, bill, plaint, or information, in any court of record within this her majesty's colony and dominion, wherein no essoin, protection, or wager of law, shall be allowed.
XXIII. And for encouragement of all persons to take up runaways, Be it enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That for the taking up of every servant, or slave, if ten miles, or above, from the house or quarter where such servant, or slave was kept, there shall be allowed by the public, as a reward to the taker-up, two hundred pounds of tobacco; and if above five miles, and under ten, one hundred pounds of tobacco: Which said several rewards of two hundred, and one hundred pounds of tobacco, shall also be paid in the county where such taker-up shall reside, and shall be again levied by the public upon the master or ownmer of such runaway, for re-imbursement of the public, every justice of the peace before whom such runaway shall be brought, upon the taking up, shall mention the proper-name and sur-name of the taker-up, and the county of his or her residence, together with the time and place of taking up the said runaway; and shall also mention the name of the said runaway, and the proper-name and sur-name of the master or owner of such runaway, and the county of his or her residence, together with the distance of miles, in the said justice's judgment, from the place of taking up the said runaway, to the house or quarter where such runaway was kept.
XXIV. Provided, That when any negro, or other runaway, that doth not speak English, and cannot, or through obstinacy will not, declare the name of his or her masters or owner, that then it shall be sufficient for the said justice to certify the same, instead of the name of such runaway, and the proper name and sur-name of his or her master or owner, and the county of his or her residence and distance of miles, as aforesaid; and in such case, shall, by his warrant, order the said runaway to be conveyed to the public gaol, of this country, there to be continued prisoner until the master or owner shall be known; who, upon paying the charges of the imprisonment, or giving caution to the prison-keeper for the same, together with the reward of two hundred or one hundred pounds of tobacco, as the case shall be, shall have the said runaway restored.
XXV. And further, the said justice of the peace, when such runaway shall be brought before him, shall, by his warrant commit the said runaway to the next constable, and therein also order him to give the said runaway so many lashes as the said justice shall think fit, not exceeding the number of thirty-nine; and then to be conveyed from constable to constable, until the said runaway shall be carried home, or to the country gaol, as aforesaid, every constable through whose hands the said runaway shall pass, giving a receipt at the delivery; and every constable failing to execute such warrant according to the tenor thereof, or refusing to give such receipt, shall forefeit and pay two hundred pounds of tobacco to the church-wardens of the parish wherein such failure shall be, for the use of the poor of the said parish: To be recovered, with costs, by action of debt, in any court of record in this her majesty's colony and dominion, wherein no essoin, protection or wager of law, shall be allowed. And such corporal punishment shall not deprive the master or owner of such runaway of the other satisfaction here in this act appointed to be made upon such servant's running away.
XXIX. And be it enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That if any constable, or sheriff, into whose hands a runaway servant or slave shall be committed, by virtue of this act, shall suffer such runaway to escape, the said constable or sheriff shall be liable to the action of the party agrieved, for recovery of his damages, at the common law with costs.
XXXII. And also be it enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That no master, mistress, or overseer of a family, shall knowingly permit any slave, not belonging to him or her, to be and remain upon his or her plantation, above four hours at any one time, without the leave of such slave's master, mistress, or overseer, on penalty of one hundred and fifty pounds of tobacco to the informer; cognizable by a justice of the peace of the county wherein such offence shall be committed.
XXXIV. And if any slave resist his master, or owner, or other person, by his or her order, correcting such slave, and shall happen to be killed in such correction, it shall not be accounted felony; but the master, owner, and every such other person so giving correction, shall be free and acquit of all punishment and accusation for the same, as if such incident had never happened: And also, if any negro, mulatto, or Indian, bond or free, shall at any time, lift his or her hand, in opposition against any christian, not being negro, mulatto, or Indian, he or she so offending shall, for every such offence, proved by the oath of the party, receive on his or her bare back, thirty lashes, well laid on; cognizable by a justice of the peace for that county wherein such offence shall be committed.
XXXV. And also be it enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That no slave go armed with gun, sword, club, staff, or other weapon, nor go from off the plantation and seat of land where such slave shall be appointed to live, without a certificate of leave in writing, for so doing, from his or her master, mistress, or overseer: And if any slave shall be found offending herein, it shall be lawful for any person or persons to apprehend and deliver such slave to the next constable or head-borough, who is hereby enjoined and required, without further order or warrant, to give such slave twenty lashes on his or her bare back well laid on, and so send him or her home: And all horses, cattle, and hogs, now belonging, or that hereafter shall belong to any slave, or of any slaves mark in this her majesty's colony and dominion, shall be seised and sold by the church-wardens of the parish, wherein such horses, cattle, or hogs shall be, and the profit thereof applied to the use of the poor of the said parish: And also, if any damage shall be hereafter committed by any slave living at a quarter where there is no christian overseer, the master or owner of such slave shall be liable to action for the trespass and damage, as if the same had been done by him or herself.
XXXVI. And also it is hereby enacted and declared, That baptism of slaves doth not exempt them from bondage; and that all children shall be bond or free, according to the condition of their mothers, and the particular direction of this act.
XXXVII. And whereas, many times, slaves run away and lie out, hid or lurking in swamps, woods, and other obscure places, killing hogs, and committing other injuries to the inhabitants of this her majesty's colony and dominion, Be it therefore enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That in all such cases, upon intelligence given of any slaves lying out, as aforesaid, any two justices (Quorum unus) of the peace of the county wherein such slave is supposed to lurk or do mischief, shall be and are impowered and required to issue proclamation against all such slaves, reciting their names, and owners names, if they are known, and thereby requiring them, and every of them, forthwith to surrender themselves; and also impowering the sheriff of the said county, to take such power with him, as he shall think fit and necessary, for the effectual apprehending such out-lying slave or slaves, and go in search of them: Which proclamation shall be published on a Sabbath day, at the door of every church and chapel, in the said county, by the parish clerk, or reader, of the church, immediately after divine worship: And in case any slave, against whom proclamation hath been thus issued, and once published at any church or chapel, as aforesaid, stay out, and do not immediately return home, it shall be lawful for any person or persons whatsoever, to kill and destroy such slaves by such ways and means as he, she, or they shall think fit, without accusation or impeachment of any crime for the same: And if any slave, that hath run away and lain out as aforesaid, shall be apprehended by the sheriff, or any other person, upon the application of the owner of the said slave, it shall and may be lawful for the county court, to order such punishment to the said slave, either by dismembring, or any other way, not touching his life, as they in their discretion shall think fit, for the reclaiming any such incorrigible slave, and terrifying others from the like practices.
XXXVIII. Provided Always, and it is further enacted, That for every slave killed, in pursuance of this act, or put to death by law, the master or owner of such slave shall be paid by the public:
XXXIX. And to the end, the true value of every slave killed, or put to death, as aforesaid, may be the better known; and by that means, the assembly the better enabled to make a suitable allowance thereupon, Be it enacted, That upon application of the master or owner of any such slave, to the court appointed for proof of public claims, the said court shall value the slave in money, and the clerk of the court shall return a certificate thereof to the assembly, with the rest of the public claims.
XL. And for the better putting this act in due execution, and that no servants or slaves may have pretense of ignorance hereof, Be it also enacted, That the church-wardens of each parish in this her majesty's colony and dominion, at the charge of the parish, shall provide a true copy of this act, and cause entry thereof to be made in the register book of each parish respectively; and that the parish clerk, or reader of each parish, shall, on the first sermon Sundays in September and March, annually, after sermon or divine service is ended, at the door of every church and chapel in their parish, publish the same; and the sheriff of each county shall, at the next court held for the county, after the last day of February, yearly, publish this act, at the door of the court-house: And every sheriff making default herein, shall forfeit and pay six hundred pounds of tobacco; one half to her majesty, her heirs, and successors, for and towards the support of the government; and the other half to the informer. And every parish clerk, or reader, making default herein, shall, for each time so offending, forfeit and pay six hundred pounds of tobacco; one half whereof to be to the informer; and the other half to the poor of the parish, wherein such omission shall be : To be recovered, with costs, by action of debt, bill, plaint, or information, in any court of record in this her majesty's colony and dominion, wherein no essoin, protection, or wager of law, shall be allowed.
XLI. And be it further enacted, That all and every other act and acts, and every clause and article thereof, heretofore made, for so much thereof as relates to servants and slaves, or to any other matter or thing whatsoever, within the purview of this act, is and are hereby repealed, and made void, to all intents and purposes, as if the same had never been made.
Source: Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, pp. 447-462.