How to Deal with Hitting and Slander in the Virginia Colony

Dateline: 1662, Virginia. Would you get on your knees to beg for forgiveness in the Council chamber? Primary sources here. Great for students and teachers of history.

The transcription is a modernized version.

March 23, 1661/2 (1662 by our dating)

Whereas seriously examining the evidences taken against John Partridge for several blows given by him to Thomas Harris, overseer to Capt. Thomas Stegg, and calling the said Partridge before us to hear what he could answer in his defence, mostly insolently said that well he might give him the said blows and further replied that he would be hanged at the door before he would serve in giving satisfaction:

It is therefore ordered by this present Grand Assembly that the sheriff keep him [in] safe custody until the pleasure of the House be further known herein, for his peremptory behavior.

Upon the humble submission of John Partridge for his peremptory language used before us and at the request of Maj. Gen. Hammond engaging himself for the said Partridge’s good behavior is released from his commitment (p. 17)

March 23, 1661/2 (1662)

It appears by two evidences in the case between Capt. John Ashton and Mr. George Harwood that he the said Harwood has spoken words tending much to the dishonor of the Right Honourable Governor Frances Morrison, Esq., and to the defamation and great discredit of the said Capt. Ashton by this Grand Assembly:

It is therefore ordered by this Grand Assembly that for his great offence in dishonouring the governor he presently ask forgiveness in open court upon his knees held in Warwick County; he ask forgiveness and acknowledge his error to Capt John Ashton for defaming him and pay two thousand pounds of tobacco, cost of suit. (p. 17)

RELATED

How to Punish A Servant for Slander 

SOURCE

Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1659/60-1693, ed. H. R. McIlwaine (Richmond: 1914).

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