A reporte of the manner of proceedings in the General assembly convented at James citty in Virginia, July 30, 1619, consisting of the Gouvernor, the Counsell of Estate and two Burgesses elected out of eache Incorporation and Plantation, and being dissolved the 4th of August next ensuing.
First. Sir George Yeardley, Knight Governor & Captaine general of Virginia, sente his sumons all over the Country, as well to invite those of the Counsell of Estate that were absente as also for the election of Burgesses. . . .
The most convenient place we could finde to sitt in was the Quire of the Churche Where Sir George Yeardley, the Governour, being sett down in his accustomed place, those of the Counsel of Estate sate nexte him on both handes, excepte onely the Secretary then appointed Speaker, who sate right before him, John Twine, clerke of the General assembly, being placed nexte the Speaker, and Thomas Pierse, the Sergeant, standing at the barre, to be ready for any Service the Assembly should comaund him. But forasmuch as men's affaires doe little prosper where God's service is neglected, all the Burgesses tooke their places in the Quire till a prayer was said by Mr. Bucke, the Minister, that it would please God to guide and sanctifie all our proceedings to his owne glory and the good of this Plantation. Prayer being ended, to the intente that as we had begun at God Almighty, so we might proceed wth awful and due respecte towards the Lieutenant, our most gratious and dread Soveraigne, all the Burgesses were intreatted to retyre themselves into the body of the Churche, wch being done, before they were fully admitted, they were called in order and by name, and so every man (none staggering at it) tooke the oathe of Supremacy, and then entred the Assembly. . . .
These obstacles removed, the Speaker, who a long time had bene extreame sickly and therefore not able to passe through long harrangues, delivered in briefe to the whole assembly the occasions of their meeting. Which done, he read unto them the comission for establishing the Counsell of Estate and the general Assembly, wherein their duties were described to the life.
Having thus prepared them, he read over unto them the greate Charter, or comission of priviledges, orders and lawes, sent by Sir George Yeardly out of Englande. Which for the more ease of the Committies, having divided into fower books, he read the former two the same forenoon for expeditious sake, a second time over and so they were referred to the perusall of twoe Comitties, wch did reciprocally consider of either, and accordingly brought in their opinions. But some men may here objecte to what ende we should presume to referre that to the examination of the Comitties wch the Counsell and Company in Enggland had already resolved to be perfect, and did expecte nothing but our assente thereunto? To this we answere that we did it not to the ende to correcte or controll anything therein contained, but onely in case we should finde ought not perfectly squaring wth the state of this Colony or any lawe wch did presse or binde too harde, that we might by waye of humble petition, seeke to have it redressed, especially because this great Charter is to binde us and our heyers for ever. . . .
After dinner the Governor and those that were not of the Comitties sate a seconde time, while the said Comitties were employed in the perusall of those twoe bookes. And whereas the Speaker had propounded fower severall objects for the Assembly to consider on: namely, first, the great charter of orders, lawes, and priviledges; Secondly, which of the instructions given by the Counsel in England to my lo: la: warre, Captain Argall or Sir George Yeardley, might conveniently putt on the habite of lawes; Thirdly, what lawes might issue out of the private conceipte of any of the Burgesses, or any other of the Colony; and lastly, what petitions were fitt to be sente home for England. It pleased the Governour for expedition sake to have the second objecte of the fower to be examined & prepared by himselfe and the Non-Comitties. Wherein after having spente some three howers conference, the twoe Committies brought in their opinions concerning the twoe former bookes, (the second of which beginneth at these words of the Charter: And forasmuche as our intente is to establish one equall and uniforme kinde of government over all Virginia &c.,) wch the whole Assembly, because it was late, deffered to treatt of till the next morning. . . .
There remaining no farther scruple in the mindes of the Assembly, touching the said great Charter of lawes, orders and priviledges, the Speaker putt the same to the question, and so it had both the general assent and the applause of the whole assembly, who, as they professed themselves in the first place most submissivily thankfull to almighty God, therefore so they commaunded the Speaker to returne (as nowe he doth) their due and humble thankes to the Treasurer, Counsell and company for so many priviledges and favours as well in their owne names as in the names of the whole Colony whom they represented.
This being dispatched we fell once more debating of suche instructions given by the Counsell in England to several Governor, as might be converted into lawes, the last whereof was the Establishment of the price of Tobacco, namely, of the best at 3d and the second at 18d the pounde, . . .
Here begin the lawes drawen out of the Instructions given by his Maties Counsell of Virginia in England to my lo: la warre, Captain Argall and Sir George Yeardley, knight. By this present Generall Assembly be it enacted, that no injury or oppression be wrought by the Englishe against the Indians whereby the present peace might be disturbed and antient quarrells might he revived. And farther be it ordained that the Chicohomini are not to be excepted out of this lawe; untill either that suche order come out of Englande, or that they doe provoke us by some newe injury.
Against Idleness, Gaming, durunkeness & excesse in apparell the Assembly hath enacted as followeth:
First, in detestation of Idlenes be it enacted, that if any men be founde to live as an Idler or renagate, though a freedman, it shalbe lawfull for that Incorporation or Plantation to wch he belongeth to appoint him a Mr to serve for wages, till he shewe apparent signes of amendment.
Against gaming at dice & Cardes be it ordained by this present assembly that the winner or winners shall lose all his or their winninges and both winners and loosers shall forfaicte ten shillings a man, one ten shillings whereof to go to the discoverer, and the rest to charitable & pious uses in the Incorporation where the faulte is comitted.
Against drunkenness be it also decreed that if any private person be found culpable thereof, for the first time he is to be reprooved privately by the Minister, the second time publiquely, the thirde time to lye in boltes 12 howers in the house of the Provost Marshall & to paye his fee, and if he still continue in that vice, to undergo suche severe punishment as the Governor and Counsell of Estate shall thinke fitt to be inflicted on him. But if any officer offende in this crime, the first time he shall receive a reprooff from the Governour, the second time he shall openly be reprooved in the churche by the minister, and the third time he shall first be comitted and then degraded. Provided it be understood that the Governor hath alwayes power to restore him when he shall, in his discretion thinke fitte.
Against excesse in apparell that every man be cessed in the churche for all publique contributions, if he be unmarried according to his owne apparrell, if he be married according to his owne and his wives, or either of their apparrell. . .
Be it enacted by this present assembly that for laying a surer foundation of the conversion of the Indians to Christian Religion, eache towne, citty, Borrough, and particular plantation do obtaine unto themselves by just means a certaine number of the natives' children to be educated by them in the true religion and civile course of life--of wch children the most towardly boyes in witt & graces of nature to be brought up by them in the first elements of litterature, so to be fitted for the Colledge intended for them that from thence they may be sente to that worke of conversion.
As touching the business of planting corne this present Assembly doth ordaine that yeare by yeare all & every householder and householders have in store for every servant he or they shall keep, and also for his or their owne persons, whether they have any Servants or no, one spare barrell of corne, to be delivered out yearly, either upon sale or exchange as need shall require. For the neglecte of wch duty he shalbe subject to the censure of the Governr and Counsell of Estate. Provided always that the first yeare of every newe man this lawe shall not be of force. . . .
All ministers shall duely read divine service, and exercise their ministerial function according to the Ecclesiastical lawes and orders of the churche of Englande, and every Sunday in the afternoon shall Catechize suche as are not yet ripe to come to the Com. And whosoever shalbe found negligent or faulty in this kinde shalbe subject to the censure of the Governor and Counsell.
All persons whatsoever upon the Sabaoth days shall frequente divine service and sermons both forenoon and afternoon, and all suche as beare arms shall bring their pieces, swordes, poulder and shotte. And every one that shall transgresse this lawe shall forfaicte three shillings a time to the ues of the churche, all lawful and necessary impediments excepted. But if a servant in this case shall wilfully neglecte his Mr's commande he shall suffer bodily punishmente.
No maide or woman servant, either now resident in the Colonie or hereafter to come, shall contract herselfe in marriage wthout either the consente of her parents, or of her Mr or Mris, or of the magistrat and minister of the place both together. And whatsoever minister shall marry or contracte any suche persons wthout some of the foresaid consentes shalbe subjecte to the severe censure of the Governr and Counsell of Estate. . .
In sume Sir George Yeardley, the Governor prorogued the said General Assembly till the firste of Marche, which is to fall out this present yeare of 1619, and in the mean season dissolved the same.
1This account is taken from the official report of the assembly, of which Twine was clerk. It is printed in the "Colonial Records of Virginia," and in Hart's "American History Told by Contemporaries."