An online resource
You can’t be a genuine law geek without breaking into a smile when you discover that one city, in one state, reprinted an entire body of its earliest colonial laws — and included a whole introduction outlining the known sources of manuscripts used.
And you can’t be a genuine law geek without breaking into a happy dance when you discover that the reprint has been digitized and is online, free.
So… without further ado… the source of today’s happy dance:
The Colonial Laws of Massachusetts: Reprinted from the Edition of 1672 with the Supplements Through 1686.1
Now maybe it doesn’t float your boat to read that Phillip White was fined in 1642 for drunkenness,2 or that there were substantial bounties on wolves to be paid in 16613 or that ships’ masters and seamen were barred in 1663 from drinking healths or shooting off their guns after dark or on Sunday.4
Maybe you’re not interested in the fact that it was illegal even to possess cards or dice for gaming in 1670,5 that it was heresy — and illegal to boot — for any Christian over the age of 16 to deny the Books of the Old Testament or any of the New Testament as as “the written and infallible Word of God,”6 or that there was a system in place as early as the 1630s for settling wage disputes between masters and servants.7
It’s possible that you don’t really care that Massachusetts minted 12-penny, six-penny and three-penny coins in the 1650s,8 that a man couldn’t be whipped for a crime “unless his Crime be very shameful, and his course of life vicious and profligate,”9 or that — talk about a statute near and dear to a genealogist’s heart — anybody damaging or defacing a public record might be locked up for two months or “stand in the Pillory two hours in Boston Market, with a Paper over his head written in Capital Letters, A DEFACER OF RECORDS.”10
Maybe those things don’t interest you.
But as for The Legal Genealogist…?
Um… don’t bother me.
I’m reading old statutes.
- William Henry Whitmore, ed., The Colonial Laws of Massachusetts: Reprinted from the Edition of 1672 with the Supplements Through 1686 (Boston: Rockwell & Churchill, City Printers, 1890); digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 13 Apr 2015). ↩
- Ibid. at 3. ↩
- Ibid. at 160. ↩
- Ibid. at 140. ↩
- Ibid. at 58. ↩
- Ibid. at 59. ↩
- Ibid. at 105. ↩
- Ibid. at 117. ↩
- Ibid. at 119. ↩
- Ibid. 1t 131. ↩