An Act for Regulating of Slaves.

 

1714

 

Be it Enacted by the Governour, Council and General Assembly, and by the Authority of the same, That all and every Person or Persons within this Province, who shall at any time after Publication hereof, buy, Sell, barter, trade or traffick with any Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slave, for any Rum, Wine, Beer, Syder, or other strong Drink, or any other Chattels, Goods, Wares or Commodities whatsoever, unless it be by the consent of his, her or their Master or Mistress, or the person under whose care they are, shall pay for the first Offence Twenty Shillings, and for the second and every other Offence, forty Shillings, Money according to the Queens Proclamation, the one half to the Informer, the other half to the use of the Poor of that Place where the Fact is committed, to be recovered by Action of Debt before any one of Her Majesties justices of the Peace.

 

And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all and every Person or Persons within this Province, who shall find or take up any Negro, Indian or Mullato Slave or Slaves, five Miles from his, her or their Master or Mistresses habitation, who hath not leave in writing from his, her or their Master or Mistress, or are not known to be on their service, he, she or they, so taken up, shall be Whipt by the party that takes them up, or by his order, on the bare back, not exceeding Twenty Lashes; and the Taker up shall have for his reward Five Shillings, Money aforesaid, for every one taken up as aforesaid, with reasonable Charges for carrying him, her or them home, paid him by the Master or Mistress of the Slave or Slaves so taken up; and if above the said five Miles, six pence per Mile for every Mile over and above, to be recovered before any one justice of the Peace, if it exceeds not Forty Shillings, and if more, by Action of Debt in the Court of Common Pleas in the County where the fact shall arise.

 

            And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That if any Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slaves, of or belonging to any other Province shall come into this Province without Lisence under the Hand of his, her or their Master or Mistress, or that is not known to be upon his or her business, every such Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slave shall be taken up by any Person within this Province and be whipt by the nearest Constable of the Place where the said Slave shall be taken up, not exceeding Twenty lashes on the bare back, and to be com­mitted by a Warrant from the next justice of the Peace to the Goal of that County, and the Person so taking them up and carrying them to be whipt, shall have for his reward Ten Shillings, Money aforesaid, for each Slave, and the Constable Three Shillings for whipping each Slave, to be paid by the Master or Mistress of such Slave or Slaves, and to remain in Prison till it be paid, with all reasonable Charges that may accrue thereby.

 

Be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all and every Negro, Indian or other Slave, who after the Publication of this Act shall Murder, or otherways kill (unless by Misadventure, or in Execution of justice) or conspire, or attempt the Death of any of Her Majesties Leige People, not being Slaves, or shall commit any Rape on any of the said Subjects, or shall willfully burn any Dwelling House, Barn, Stable, Out‑House, Stack or stacks of Corn or Hay, or shall willfully Mutilate, Mayhem or Dismember any of the said Subjects, not being Slaves, as aforesaid, or shall willfully Murder any Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slave within this Province, and thereof be convicted before three or more of Her Majesties Justices of the Peace, one whereof being of the Quorum who are hereby required and impowred to hear and determine the same, in conjunction with five of the Principal Free‑holders of the County wherein such Fact shall be committed, without a Grand‑Jury, Seven of whom agreeing, shall give Judgment and Sign the Execution, according to this Act, and he, she or they so offending shall suffer the Pains of Death in such manner as the Aggravation or Enormity of their Crimes (in the judgment of the justices and Free‑holders aforesaid) shall merit and require.

 

Be it further Enacted by‑the Authority aforesaid, That upon Complaint made to any one justice of the Peace against any Indian, Negro or Mullatto Slave or Slaves, who have or are supposed to have committed any of the Murders, Rapes, Mayhems, &c. mentioned in this Act, the said justice shall immediately issue out his Warrant to the next Constable, to apprehend the said Offender or Offenders, and for all or any Person or Persons to come before him that can give Evidence, and if upon Examination it appears that the Person or Persons are Guilty, he shall commit him or them to Prison, and also shall Certify to the two next justices the said cause, and to require them, by Virtue of this Act, to associate themselves to him, which the said justices are hereby required to do, and they so associated are to issue their Summons to five Freeholders, acquainting them with the cause, and appointing them the time and Place the same shall be heard and determined, at which Time and Place the justices are hereby impowered to appoint some Person to prosecute the said Offender or Offenders, and the Person appointed shall prefer an Accusation in Writing, specifying the Time, Place and Nature of the Offence, as near as conveniently may be, to which Accusation the Offender or Offenders shall be obliged to Plead, and upon Refusal to plead, the like judgment shall be given against the Person or Persons so accused, as if convicted by Verdict or Confession. And upon Pleading thereto the justices shall proceed to Tryal, in Conjunction with the said Free‑holders so summoned as aforesaid, to which Freeholders no Peremptory Challenge shall be allowed. And if upon hearing the Matter (the said Free‑holders being first Sworn by the said justices, to judge according to Evidence) they shall adjudge the Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slave or Slaves Guilty of the Offence complained of, they shall give Sentence to Death upon him, her or them, as aforesaid, and by their Warrant cause immediate Execution to be done by the common or any other Executioner in such manner as they shall think fit. Provided, That the Evidence of Indian, Negro or Mullato Slaves shall be Admitted and allowed on Tryals of such Slaves in all causes Criminal.

 

And whereas such Negro, Indian or Mullato Slave is the Property of some of her Majesties Subjects in this or the neighboring Provinces, Be it therefore Enacted, That any Master or Mistress of any Negro, Indian or Mullato Slaves, supposed to be Guilty, as aforesaid, may, upon their desiring the same, have a jury to try the said Slave Returned by the Sheriff, and the said Master or Mistress may have Liberty to make such Challenges to the jury as is admitted to be made in other Cases of the like Nature.

 

And Whereas such Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slave so put to Death will be a great Loss to the Owner of the same, who was no ways assisting, Countenancing or abetting his said Slave in the mischief done and perpetrated by the said Slave, and may induce the owner to transport the said Slave out of the Province, by which means the said Slave will be secured from the Punishment to be inflicted on him for his said Crime, and other Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slaves encouraged to do the like Mischief in hopes of the same security. For preventing of which for the future and that the owner of any Indian or Mullatto Slave may not be under any temptation of with‑drawing and securing the said Slave from the prosecution of justice, Be it Enacted by the Goaernour, Council and General Assembly and by the Authority of the same, That every Owner of any Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slave (such owner Residing in this Province) shall for every Man Slave Executed for any of the Crimes aforesaid, receive the Sum of Thirty Pounds, Money according to the Queens Proclamation, and for every Woman Slave executed as aforesaid, the Sum of Twenty Pounds, Money aforesaid, to be Levyed, Collected and paid in manner following, To wit, The Constables of every Town or District within this Province shall deliver a List of all the Negro, Indian and Mullatto Slaves within their and each of their Several and Respective Districts, both Men and Women, above the Age of Fourteen and under Fifty Years, which are not disabled or uncapable of performing their Master or Mistresses Service, unto the justices at their Courts of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace in every County in the Months of May and June, Yearly and every Year, who shall Order the Clerk of the Peace to file the same, when any Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slave shall happen to be Executed for any Crime, the Justices of the Peace of the County where the fact is committed, or any three of them, one being of the Quorum, at the desire of the Master or Mistress of such Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slave, shall meet together and call for the aforesaid List from the Clerk of the Peace, and according to said List they shall Assess the value of the said Slave or Slaves, so executed, equally on the Heads contained in the said List, To wit, Thirty Pounds, Money aforesaid, for a Man, and Twenty Pounds for a Woman, or less, as the said justices in their discretion shall think fit, and shall appoint a Collector to Collect and Receive the same, of which Assessment made as aforesaid, and the time of Payment thereof, the Constables shall give notice to the Masters or Mistresses of such Negro, Indian or Mullato Slaves, within their and each of their several and respective Districts within said County, and upon refusal or delay of payment, the said Collector shall deliver a List of the said Deficients to any justice of the Peace of the said County, who shall make out Warrants to the Constables of the several Towns and Districts to distrain for the same, and the said Distress to sell at a publick Out‑Cry, and pay the said Assessment to the said Collector, and Eighteen Pence to himself for the Charges of such Distress, and return the over‑plus (if any be) to the Owner; and the said Collector shall pay the said Money, so Collected, to the Master or Mistress of said Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slave so executed, as aforesaid and take his or her Receipt for the same, which he shall deliver to the justices at their next Sessions of the Peace to be tiled by the Clerk of the said Court.

 

And the Justices of the Peace are hereby allowed one Shilling for every Warrant of Distress, as aforesaid, the Collector for his trouble shall have one Shilling in the Pound for all Money Collected and paid by him by virtue of this Act, and each Constable shall have Three Shillings for giving notice as aforesaid.

 

And be it further Enacted, That if any Negro, Indian or Mullato Slave shall attempt to Ravish any White Woman or Maid, or that shall presume to Assault or strike any Free Man or Woman professing Christianity, any two justices of the Peace are hereby authorized to Inflict such Corporal Punishment (not extending to Life or Limb) upon such Slave or Slaves so offending as to the said justices shall seem meet.

 

And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slave shall steal to the value of Six Pence, or above, and under Five Shillings, and be thereof convicted before two justices of the Peace, one whereof being of the Quorum, such Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slave shall be Whipt on the bare back at the publick Whipping‑Place with Thirty Lashes, by the Con­stable of such Township or Place where the Offence was committed, or by such Person as he shall appoint. And that if any Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slave shall steal to the value of Five Shillings, or above, such Slave shall be Whipt on the bare back with Forty Stripes, as aforesaid, by the Constable, as aforesaid, the which Constable shall receive for Whipping of each Slave, Five Shillings, to be paid by the Master or Mistress of the said Slave, and in default of Payment to be levyed by Warrant from any justice of the Peace, out of the Goods of the said Master or Mistress.

 

And be it Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That every justice of the Peace, Constable or other Officer Neglecting, delaying or refusing to perform their several Duties enjoyned by this Act, shall for every such Offence forfeit the Sum of Five Pounds to Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, to be re­covered by Action of Debt in any of the Inferiour Courts of Common Pleas within this Province; and every Free‑holder and jurors summoned, as aforesaid, and refusing to serve, shall forfeit Twenty Shillings, to be levyed by the Con­stable, by Warrant of Distress from two of the justices of the Peace assembled to try the said Slave, who are hereby required immediately, upon such refusal, to issue their Warrant for levying the same accordingly.

 

Be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That no Person or Per­sons whatsoever shall hereafter imploy, harbour, Conceal or entertain other Peoples Slaves at their Houses, Out‑Houses or Plantation, without the consent of their Master or Mistress, either signified to them Verbally, or by Certificate in writing under the said Master or Mistresses Hand, excepting in Distress of Weather, or other extraordinary Occasions, upon the forfeiture of Forty Shil­lings for every Time they are so entertained and concealed, to be paid to the Master or Mistress of such Slave or Slaves (so that the Penalty for entertaining such Slave exceeds not the Value of the said Slave) And if any Person or Persons whatsoever shall be found guilty [of] so harbouring, entertaining or concealing of any Slave, or assisting to the conveying them away, if such Slave shall happen to be lost, Dead, or otherways rendered Unserviceable, such Person or Persons so harbouring, entertaining, concealing, assisting or conveying them away, shall be also liable to pay the value of such Slave to the Master or Mistress, to be recovered by Action of Debt in any Court of Record within this Province.

 

Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no Negro, Indian or Mullatto Slave, that shall hereafter be made free, shall enjoy, hold or possess any House or Houses, Lands, Tenements or Hereditaments within this Province, in his or her own Right in Fee simple or Fee Tail, but the same shall Escheat to Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors.

 

And Whereas it is found by experience, that Free Negroes are an Idle Sloathful People, and prove very often a charge to the Place where they are,

 

Be it therefore further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That any Master or Mistress, manumitting and setting at Liberty any Negro or Mullatto Slave, shall enter into sufficient Security unto Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, with two Sureties, in the Sum of Two Hundred Pounds, to pay yearly and every year to such Negro or Mullatto Slave, during their Lives, the Sum of Twenty Pounds. And if such Negro or Mullatto Slave shall be made Free by the Will and Testament of any Person deceased, that then the Executors of such Person shall enter into Security, as above, immediately upon proving the said Will and Testament, which if refused to be given, the said Manumission to be void, and of none Effect.

 

Passed 11 Mar. 1713/14.    Bradford (1714) 51‑56.