Government of New Haven Colony

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Government of New Haven Colony  (1643) 
October 27/November 6, 1643.

It was agreed and concluded as a foundamentall order nott to be disputed or questioned hereafter, thatt none shall be admitted to be free burgesses in any of the plantations within this jurisdiction for the future, butt such planters as are members of some or other of the approved churches of New England, nor shall any butt such free burgesses have any vote in any election, (the six present freemen aft Milforde enjoying the liberty with the cautions agreed,) nor shall any power or trust in the ordering of any civill affayres, be aft any time putt into the hands of any other than such church members, though as free planters, all have right to their inherritance & to comerce, according to such grants, orders and lawes as shall be made concerning the same.

2. All such free burgesses shall have power in each towne or plantation within this jurisdiction to chuse flit and able men, from amongst themselves, being church members as before, to be the ordinary judges, to heare and determine all inferior causes, whether civill or criminal!, provided that no civill cause to be tryed in any of these plantation Courts in value exceed 201, and thatt the punishment in such criminals, according to the mince of God, revealed in his word, touching such oflences, doe nott exceed stocking and whipping, or if the fine be pecuniary, thatt itt exceed nott five pounds. In which Court the magistrate or magistrates, if any be chosen bv the free burgesses or the jurisdiction for thatt plantation, shall sift and assist with due respect to their place, and sentence shall according to the vote of the major part of each such Court, onely if the partyes, or any of them be nott satisfyed with the justice of such sentences or executions, appeales or complaints may be made from and against these courts to the Court of Magistrates for the whole jurisdiction.

3. All such free burgesses through the whole jurisdiction, shall have vote in the election of all magistrates, whether Governor, Deputy Governor, or other magistrates, with a Treasurer, a Secretary and a Marshall, &c. for the jurisdiction.. And for the ease of those free burgesses, especially in the more remote plantations, they may by proxi vote in these elections, though absent, their votes being sealed up in the presence of the free burgesses themselves, thatt their several severall libertyes may be preserved, and their votes directed accord~ng to their owne particular light, and these free burgesses may, att every election, chuse so many magistrates for each plantation, as the weight of aflayres may require, and as they shall finde fitt men for thatt trust. Butt it is provided and agreed, thatt no plantation shall aft any election be left destitute of a magistrate if they desire one to be chosen out of those in church fellowshipp with them.

4. All the magistrates for the whole juridsiction shall meete twice a yeare att Newhaven, namely, the Munday immediately before the sitting of the two fixed Generall Courts hereafter mentioned, to keep a Court called the Court of Magistrates, for the tryall of weighty and capitall cases, whether civill or criminall, above those lymitted to the ordinary judges in the particular plantations, and to receive and try all appeales brought unto them from the aforesaid Plantation Courts, and to call all the inhabitants, whether free burgesses, free planters, or others, to account for the breach of any lawes established, and for other misdeameanours, and to censure them according to the quallity of the offence, in which meetings of magistrates, less then tower shall nott be accounted a Court, nor shall they carry on any busines as a Court, butt itt is expected and required, thatt all the magistrates in this jurisdiction doe constantly attend the publique service att the times before mentioned, & if any of them be absent aft one of the clock in the afternoons on Munday aforesaid, when the court shall sift, or if any of them depart the towne without leave, while the court sifts, he or they shall pay for any such default, twenty shillings fine, unless some providence of God occasion the same, which the Court of Magistrates shall judge of from time to time, and all sentences in this court shall pass by the vote of the major part of magistrates therein, butt from this Court of Magistrates, appeales and complaints may be made and brought to the Generall Court the last and highest of this jurisdiction; butt in all appeales or complaints from, or to, what court soever, due costs and damages shall be payd by him or them thatt make appeale or complaint without just cause.

5. Besides the Plantation Courts and Court of Magistrates, there shall be a Generall Court for the Jurisdiction, which shall consist of the Governor, Deputy Governor and all the Magistrates within the Jurisdiction, and two Deputyes for every plantation in the Jurisdiction, which Deputyes shall from time to time be chosen against the approach of any such Generall Court, by the aforesaid free burgesses, and sent with due certificate to assist- in the same, all which, both Governor and Deputy Governor, Magistrates and Deputyes, shall have their vote in the said Court. This Generall Court shall always sift aft New-haven, (unless upon weighty occasions the Generall Court see cause for a time to sift elsewhere,) and shall assemble twice every yeare, namely, the first Wednesday in Aprill, & the last Wednesday in October, in the later of which courts the Governor, the Deputy Governor and all the magistrates for the whole jurisdiction with a Treasurer, a Secretary and Marshall, shall yearly be chosen by all the free burgesses before mentioned, besides which two fixed courts, the Governor, or in his absence, the Deputy Governor. shall have power to summon a Generall Court att any other time, as the urgent and extraordinary occasions of the jurisdiction may require, and aft all Generall Courts, whether ordinary or extraordinary, the Governor and Deputy Governor, and all the rest of the magistrates for the jurisdiction, with the Deputyes for the several! plantations, shall sift together, till the affayres of the jurisdiction be dispatched or may safely be respited, and if any of the said magistrates or Deputyes shall either be absent aft the first sitting of the said Generall Court, (unless some providence of God hinder, which the said Court shall judge of,) or depart, or absent themselves disorderly before the Court be finished he or they shall each of them pay twenty shillings fine, with due considerations of further aggravations if there shall be cause; which Generall Court shall, with all care and delligence provide for the maintenance of the purity of religion' and suppress the contrary, according to their best light from the worde of God, and all wholsome and sound advice which shall be given by the elders and churches in the jurisdiction, so fare as may concerne their civill power to deale therein.

Secondly they shall have power to mak and repeale lawes, and, while they are in force, to require execution of them in all the several! plantations.

Thirdly, to impose an oath upon all the magistrates, for the faithful discharge of the trust committed to them, according to their best abilityes, and to call them to account for the breach of any lawes established, or for other misdemeanors, and to censure them, as the quallity of the opulence shall require.

Fowerthly, to impose and [an] oath of fidelity and due subjection to the lawes upon all the free burgesses, free planters, and other inhabitants within the whole jurisdiction.

5ly to settle and leivie rates and contributions upon all the severall plantations; publique service of the jurisdiction.

6ly, to heare and determine all causes, whether civill or crominall which by appeale or complaint shall be orderly brought unto them from any of the other Courts, or from any of the other plantations In all which, with whatsoever else shall fall within their cognisance or judicature, they shall proceed according to the scriptures, which is the rule of all rightous lawes and sentences, and nothing shall pass an act of the Generall Court butt by the consent of the major part of the magistrates, and the greater part of Deputyes.

These generalls being thus land and settled, though with purpose thatt the scircumstantialls, such as the vallue of the causes to be tryed in the Plantation Courts, the ordinary and fixed times of meetings, both for the Generall Courts, and courts of magistrates, how oft and when they shall silt, with the fines for absence or default, be hereafter considered oR, continued or altered, as may best and most advance the course of justice, and best sute the occasions of the plantations, the Court proceed to present particular busines of the jurisdiction.