During the English Republic (1649-1660), the English captured the island of Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655. It was a relatively economically unimportant island to the Spanish, but to the English it offered another opportunity to duplicate the success of its other sugar island, Barbados. Many historians have argued that the 1661 Barbados slave code was developed on-the-ground by the settler colonists and served as the basis for other slave codes that developed in the English Atlantic, including the 1664 Jamaica slave code featured below. This analysis leans heavily on tracing the movement of people—primarily elite landowners—as they acquired land in different colonies. But often these historians overlook the role that the crown, royalist sympathizers, and crown officials played in disseminating the body of codes that encouraged chattel slavery and strictly managed forced labor.
While the monarchy was abolished by the English Civil War and during the interregnum period, English subjects and officials in the far-flung periphery were not as easily removed from power or converted to republicans. When the English Republic ended in 1660 and Charles II was appointed king, these officials were waiting to resume the royal efforts to craft a labor and economic system that enhanced the crown’s power and coffers. Thomas Modyford, the royal governor of Jamaica, consented to this code. Modyford had been a planter/slaveholder in the English colony of Barbados and was Governor of Jamaica between 1664 and 1671. Following his appointment, he traveled from Barbados to Jamaica, bringing several hundred fellow Bajan planters who accelerated Jamaica’s transition to plantation agriculture.
It is notable that the end record of this code mentions that the code passed the colonial council—all appointed by Modyford—and was merely signed by the speaker of the colonial assembly, lacking the typical verbiage indicating it was voted on and passed by the colonial assembly.
As you read through these codes, consider what the regulations within them intend to do. Why are obligations placed on white settlers? What are the punishments outlined in the codes? What do these punishments accomplish? Why are certain offenders given harsher punishments? How do these codes create a demand for slaves? Why would they do so?
- Amussen, Susan Dwyer. Caribbean Exchanges: Slavery and the Transformation of English Society, 1640-1700. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009. [Especially Chapters 4 and 5]
- Brown, Vincent. The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010.
- Burnard, Trevor G. Planters, Merchants, and Slaves: Plantations Societies in British America, 1650-1820. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. [Especially Chapter 4]
- Newman, Brooke N. A Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018.
- Rugemer, Edward B. Slave Law and the Politics of Resistance in the Early Atlantic World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2018. [Especially Chapter 5]
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Please be aware that many of the works in this project contain racist and offensive language and descriptions of punishment and enslavement that may be difficult to read. However, this language and these descriptions reveal the horrors of slavery. Please take care when transcribing these materials, and see our Ethics Statement and About page.
An Act for the better ordering & Governing of Negro Slaves
[Page 1 of 8]
Whereas heretofore many good Lawes & ordinances have bin made
for the governing regulateing and ordering the Negroes Slaves in this
Island & Sundry punishments appointed for many theire Misdemeanors crimes
and offenses which yet have not met the effect hath bin desired, and might
have reasonably bin expected, had the Mmasters of familyes & other the
Inhabitants of this Island bin soe careful of theire obedyance &
complyance with the said Laws as they ought to have bin & these formal Laws being in many clauses imperfect & not fully comprehending the true constitution of this Government in relation to theyre Slaves especially the Negroes an heathenish brutish & an uncertaine & dangerous kind of people to whome if surely in any thing wee may extend the llegyislative power, given us of privisionary Laws for the benifit & good of this Island, not being contradictory to the Laws of England there being in all the Body of that Law noe perfect track to guide us where to walke Nor any exect rule sett us how to governe such Slaves as wee have or as Negros are Yet wee well know by the right rule of reason & order wee are not to leave them to the arbitrary cruell and outrageous will of every evill disposed person But soe farr to protect them as wee doe mens’ other goods & chattels & and alsoe some what further as being created men though without the knowledge of God in theis world. Wee have therefore upon mature & Serious consideracon of the premises thought good to renew & revive whatsoever wee have found necessary & usefull in the Laws of England concerning the governing & ordering of Slaves & to add there unto such further Laws & ordinances as at this time wee thinke absolutely Needfull for the publique Safety & may prove in the future behovefull to the ßPeace & utillity of this Island. Bee it therefore enacted ordeined & published & it is by the Governor, Councell & assembly of this Island & by the aucthority of the Lawe enacted ordained and publishe
[On the Left Margin:] Negroe’s goeing abroad
That no Master or Mistresse, Commander or Overseer of any family within this Island Shall give theyre Slaves leave on Sundays holydays or in the night time to goe out of theyre Plantacons’ (except such Slaves as usually wayte uppon them at home & abroad) without a ticket under his Master or Mistresse Commander or Overseers hand the said ticket specifying the time of his or her comeing from the plantation & the time allowed for his or her returne Nor at any other tyme or working dayes above four(?) Myles from theyre Ssayd Plantation without the like ticket upon paines of forfeiting for every Slaves so permitted to goe abroad without the aforesaid Tticket one pound Ssterling halfe of the Ssayd forfeiture to bee to the informer & the other halfe to the cChurch wardens to bee disposed as is directed in the act for maintenance of Ministers. And if any Master Mistress Commander or Overseer of a Plantacon shall finde any Slave or Slaves in theyre plantacon on Sunday holy day or the night time or any time few(?) Miles from theyre Meisters plantation without a ticket expressing the business from his said Meister & doe not apprehend them or apprehending them shall not punish them by a moderate whipping shall forfeiiet one pound Ssterling to bee disposed of as aforesaid the said Penaltyes to bee recorded before any one Justice
[Page 2 of 8]
of the peace of that precinct where such default shall bee made who is hereby authorized & required upon complaint made to examine upon oath to heare & determine the Lawe & by warrant under hand directed to the constable to cause the said penalty to bee levyed as in case of Servants wages the constable to receive for his paines as in the act for Servants is appointed.
[On the Left Margin:] 2 In case Negreo’s strike Christians
It is further enacted & ordeyned, by the authority aforesayd, that if any Slaves either Man or Womaen shall offer any vyolence to any christian as by strikeing or the like such Slaves shall for his or her fyirst offence by informacon given to the next Justice bee Severly whipped by the next constable by order of the next Justice, for his Second offense of that nature by order of the Justice of the peace, hee shall bee severly whipped, his nose slitt & hee burned in some part of his face, & for his thyrd offence hee shall receive by order of the Governor & councell such greater corporall Punishment as they shall thinke meet to inflict Providing allwaies that such strikeing or conflict bee not in the lawfull defence of theire Masters Mistresse or ownsers of theire famyilyes or of theire goods.
[On the Left Margin:] 3 Negroes to have cloathes
And it is further enacted, ordeyned & published by the authority aforesaid that the Slaves shall have cloathes to cover theire Naked (Nakedness)[UNCLEAR] once every yeare (that is to say) drawers & capps for men & petticoats for women.
[On the Left Margin:] 4 of fugitive & runnaway Negroes
And, whereas the Inhabitants of this Island have much suffered by the running away of theyre Slaves & by the injurious keeping of such runaway or fugitive Slaves by Severall persons in theyre plantacons It is hereby enacted, published, & declared by the authority aforesaid that all persons who are now possessed of any fugitive or runaway Slaves doe within six dayes after the publicacon of this Act (except the Inhabitants [UNCLEAR] the North side who are allowed thyrty dayes) bring them in & deliever them to theyre proper owners if they know them or into the custody of the Marshall or Goaler nearest to the Plantacon where such Slaves or Slaves soe are apprehended upon paynes of paying one hundred pounds sterling for damage unto the owner of the said Slave to bee by the said owner recovered in any Courts of record within this Island by action of debt or Informacon in which noe essoin protection Iniuncon or wager of Law shall bee permitted or allowed. And if any christian Servant soe possessed of any such Slave or Slaves not acquainting his Master thereof doe fayle or Neglect to bring them in within the time before limitted is before enioyned the said Servant shall immediately upon conviction thereof receive 39. leyshes upon his naked back by order from the next Justice of the peace to some Constable or the comon Execuconer & after the expyracon of his time of service shall serve the owner of the said Slave or Slaves the full terme & space of seaven yeares as(and? a?) record thereof, to bee made by the Justice before whom such conviction shall bee had.
And further it is enacted by the aucthority aforesaid that all Overseers of plantacons doe twice in every weeke Search theire Slaves houses for runnaway Slaves And what Overseers shall neglect to doe the same shall forfeit one pound sterling for every default the one halfe to the informer the other halfe to the publique use etc.
[Page 3 of 8]
[On the Left Margin:] [UNCLEAR WORD] the/two Negroes
And bee it further enacted by the aucthority aforesayd, that whosoever hereafter shall take up any runnaway Slave or Slaves that such persons shall within one & twenty Dayes after bring the sayd runawayes to his or theyre proper owner or to the next Marshall or Goale as aforesaid, uppon paine of forfeiture for every day hee shall keepe such Negroes or Negroe beyond the said one & twenty dayes & thereafter bee convicted by confession or verdict the [UNCLEAR] of twenty pounds sterling to bee levyed by the [UNCLEAR](provost?) Marshall or his deputy by order from the Governor for the tyme being upon the person soe neglecting to bring the said runnaway uppon his lands goods or chattels the one halfe thereof to bee to the owner of the said Slave or Slaves & the other to him or them that shall informe thereof out of which the said Marshalls’ fees shall be deducted. And if the said person or persons informing bee Servant or Servants to the party soe deteining the said Slaves that then the said person or persons soe informing shall bee from thenceforth absolutely free & clear from his service any Indenture or by wage to the contrary Notwithstanding And whosoever shall worke the said Slave or Slaves dureing the aforesaid one & twenty dayes’ shall forefeit twenty pounds sterling to bee paid & recovered as aforesaid.
[Left Margin: [OBSCURED] for takeing up runnawayes]
And it is further enacted by the authority aforesayd that all persons which shall hereafter take up any runnaway or fugitive Slaves’ & shall soe bring them unto the said next Marshall or Goale shall receive one pound sterling of the said Marshall who is hereby appointed to pay the same. And in case hee shall refuse to make the said payment uppon the presentment(delivery?) of the said Slave and thereof oath bee made before any Justice of the peace the said Justice of the peace is hereby aurthorized to direct his warrant to any Constable to cause the vallue thereof to bee imediately levyed out of the goods for the Said Marshall (Treasurer). And the said goods bee delivered to the said party.
[Left Margin: Negroes[?] dutyes to be[?] tatysyed[?] detained]
And bee it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that it shall & may bee Lawfull for the said Marshall to deteyne & keepe in custody the bodyes of all such runnaways until the owner of them or their appucnes?[UNCLEAR] shall pay unto him one pound two shillings & six pence sterling & alsoe six pence sterling for every foure & twenty houres the said fugitive Slave hath bin in his custody Provided allwayes that the said prou?[UNCLEAR] Meirshall doe furnish the said Negro with sufficient food & drinke as potatoes grains [UNCLEAR] plantans & water.
And, it is further provided & ordeined by the authority aforesaid that if any of the said Slaves shall dye for want of food or dry & convenient Lodgings the said Marshall shall bee responsable for them to the owner or his Appuines?[UNCLEAR]. And if the said Marshall shall suffer any Sleve to escape before hee bee duely delivered to the owner or his appuynes?[UNCLEAR] then the said Marshall shall pay unto the owner of the said Slave soe much as hee shall bee censured & condemmed to by the Governor and Councell for the time being or by verdict of a Jury at comon Law.
And further it is ordeined & enacted by the authority aforesaid that all such persons as shall apprehende & bring any runnawayes to any Marshall for the time being or to the prison shall uppon such bringing downe such runnaway Slaves’ deliver unto the said Marshall before hee shall receive the consideracon before appointed an accompt of his owner Name & place of aboad with the time when & place where hee apprehended such fugitive slave which the said Marshall is hereby requyred to take & enter into a booke to the intent that all owners of such slaves may come to the
[Page 4 of 8]
[OBSCURED (approx. 7 words)—TOP OF PAGE CUT OFF] when theire Slaves’ were apprehended and [UNCLEAR] whome and whether they might wrongfully bee taken up or not And that the sleep(Keep?) of the prison at the delivery of any Slaves doe take a [UNCLEAR] the person to whome delivered & therein to insert the marke or description of [UNCLEAR] Negro delivered any usuage or custome to the contrary heretofore had [UNCLEAR] wise(wife?) Notwithstanding.
On the Left Margin: Search to bee made for Negroe Weapons
And it is hereby further enacted & published by the authority aforesaid that every Overseer of a Fffamily in this Island shall cause all his Negro Slaves houses to bee Searched dilligently & effectually once every fourteen dayes for clubbs wooden swords, & mischevious weapons & finding any to take them away & cause them to bee burned.
On the Left Margin: Search for stollen Goods
And alsoe for cloaths goods or any other things or comodityes particularly Suspected flesh that is not given them by theyre Master Mistresse Comander or overseer & honestly come by, in whose custody they finde any thing of that kinde suspect or know to bee stollen goods the same they(?) shall seize & take into theire custody & a full & ample descripcon of the perticulers thereof in writeing withein six dayes after the discovery thereof to send to the clerke of the parish(?) for the time being who is hereby required to receive the same & to enter uppon it the day of its receipt & the perticulers to file & keepe to himselfe but to set up upon the post of the church doore a short briefe that such lost goods are found whereby any person that hath lost his goods may the better come to the knowledge where it is by further inquiry of the clarke who is not to shew the perticulers untill the partyes inquiring for stolln goods shall first declare what hee hath lost, & given the descripcon thereof, & paid him twelve pence for the same, by which if the said clarke shall bee convinced that any part of the goods apptaines(?) to the party inquireing hee is to direct the said party inquireing to the place & person where the goods bee who is hereby required to make restitucon of what is in being to the true Owner upon the penalty of the forfeiture of two pounds sterling for every Neglect by the overseer or clarke as aforesaid in any of the perticulers to bee levyed uppon theyre goods & chattels for the breach of either of those two last clauses in this branch(?) by precept or warrant from the Judge or Justice before whome the convicon shall bee hed(had?) the one halfe of the forfeit [UNCLEAR] aforesayd to goe to the church wardens of the respective perishes to bee [UNCLEAR] disposed of as aforesayd, the other halfe to the person that shall inform.
On the Left Margin: 12 [UNCLEAR] for Negroes to take up runnaway Negroes
And that all other Slaves likewise may receive incouragement to take up fugitive & runnaway Slaves It is further ordeined & enacted by the authoritys aforesayd that whatsoever Slaves shall at any time of his owne accord take up any runnaway Slave that hath been out above 12 Months shall have for his soe doeing two pounds sterling to bee paid by theire owner if hee will redeeme him within one Moneth after Notice dureing which time the Master of the Slave that tooke up such runnaway hath power to keepe him for the purpose aforesaid, but if the owner of the said runnaway Slave will not or doth not redeeme him within the sayd time then the Master in whose custody hee is hath hereby power to sell the aforesayd fugitive or runnaway Slave & to reserve two pounds sterling to himselfe for his Slave & the rest to returne to the Master of the Slave soe taken up & whosoever shall deprive or deceive any Slave that hath soe taken up any fugitive of the boone or reward given him by this Law for soe doeing shall forefeyt six pounds sterling one third to the church wardens, one third to the informer
[Page 5 of 8]
and one third to the Slave soe wronged. Which gift & forfeiture shall be justly imployed by the Master of the Slave in clothes for the said Slaves to weare with a badge of a redd crosse on his Arme whereby hee may be knowne & cherished by all good people for his good Service to the country the aforesaid forfeyture to bee recovered by him that shall sue for it in any Court of record by accon of debt or Informacon in which no essoine protecon Ininicon or wager of Law shall bee allowed.
On the Left Margin: 13 [OBSCURED] stealing away of Negroes
And whereas divers evill dysposed persons have heretofore attempted to steale away Slaves by specious pretences & promiseing them freedome in another country against(?) which pernicious practice noe punishment suitable hath bin yet provided. Bee it therefore enacted & ordeined by the authority aforesaid that what person soe shall directly or indirectly at any time after publicacon hereof tempt or perswade any Negro to leave theire Masteres or Mistresses Service to whome they are Slaves out of an intent & designe to carry away any of them out of this Island or howsoever to defraud theire said Master or Misstresse of them & bee thereof convicted by theire owne confession or the oath of two credible wittnesses or by the confession of such Negro Slave or Negroes with reasonable circumstances concurring shall bee by the Governor of the Island for the time being, or by any Judge of record or any two Justices of the peace aduidged to pay to the Master of the said Slave or Slaves Sixty pounds sterling, by precept or warrant from the aforesaid Governor, Judge or Justices before whome the conviction is made to bee levyed upon the Lands goods or chattels of the person soe offending by such constable to whome the aforesaid warrant shall bee directed & delivered to the party grieved by way of damage. And the Surplusage (if any) shall bee returned to the owner & in case the party offending shall not bee found worth Lands goods or chattels to the vallue aforesaid then shall the said Governor, Judge or Justice adiudge him Servant to the party iniured for seaven yeares, & soe deliver him over to him & make record thereof, But if any man shall soe tempt & practice with any Slaves and them actually soe tempted convey(?) carry or send off the Island & bee after apprehended in the Island for the same Hee shall bee by the Governor and Councell for the time being condemmed to pay the owner of such Slaves three times the vallue of them. And execucon for the same from the Governor to issue accordingly unto the Provost Marshall or his deputy.
On the Left Margin: 15 [OBSCURED] tryall of Negroes for Murder & fellons
And whereas menny heinous & grievious crymes as murder, burglary and robbery upon the high way burning of houses or canes bee meny times comitted by Slaves, which offenders for danger of escape are not long to bee imprisoned being brutish Slaves deserve not for the basenes of their condicons to bee tryed by the legall tryall of twelve of their peeres or Neighborhood (which neither truly can bee rightly done) as the freemen of England are, nor is execucon to bee delayed towards them in case of such horrid crimes comitted. It is therefore enacted, ordeyned & published by the Governor, Councell & Assembly & by the authority of the same, that when any such crime as aforesaid shall bee comitted by any Slave or Slaves & the Sayd criminalls bee apprehended & brought before any of his Maties(Majesties?) Justices of the peace wherein the Island(?) the Justice before whome the criminals are brought shall take security for theire forth comeing or send them to [UNCLEAR] & with all convenyent speed shall by theyre warrant or precept call to them three able
[Page 6 of 8]
good & loyall Fffreeholders of the place nearest where the said crime was comitted & these five persons (viz.(?)) the two Justices & the three Fffreeholders shall heare & aimme(?) all evidencs proofes & testimonyes of the fact comitted & if they shall finde such Slave or Slaves guilty thereof, they shall give sentence of death upon him or them accordingly as is provided by Law of such capitall offenders, the said freeholders being first sworne before the two Justices whoe are hereby impowered to administer the Lawe(same?), & forthwith by theire warrant cause execucon to bee done upon such Slave or Slaves by the comon execuconer or by what other execuconer can bee gott, Slave or other, And it is further provided that if any ffreeholder shall make default to app(appear?) upon such Sumons before the Justices as is before menconed or apping(appearing?) refuse to ciyne(sign?) with them as before is appointed and soe shew noe good cause for such default to be approved by the said Justices that then the aforesaid Justices Set a fine upon him of 5 (pounds?) sterling & forthwith by theyre warrant or precept to the next Constable or what Constable they shall thinke fitt to levy the same uppon the aforesaid Fffreeholders his goods or chattells accordingly. Provided allwayes nevertheles that the
On the Left Margin: 15 All petty fellons by Negroes how to bee tryed
petty fellons under the vallue of twelve pence, & all small broyles(?) & misdemeanors shall be heard & determined by the Master of the Slave or Slaves comytting the same upon the complaint of the party inuired, But if such Master shall not give such Slaves punishment in the presence of the complaynt to his satisfacon the party iniured shall carry his complaint to the next Justice of the peace who is hereby required & authorized to heare the same, and upon conviction by confession, wittnesses, or oath of the party iniured, to inflict such corporall paines or punishments not iniurious to life, Limbe, or member, as hee in his discrecon shall Judge fitt & reasonable, And whereas Severall petty Larcenyes & trespasses are dayly comitted by Slaves as in maimeing one the other killing of horses or cattle Stealing of Horses & divers others of like nature which would bee too tedyous & chargeable to take ordinary course of Justice against them, for the more speedy proceeding therein for the future Bee it enacted & ordeined by the aucthority aforesaid that upon complaint made to(?) any of his Majesties Justices of the peace dwelling in the parish where the offense is comitted the said Justice shall issue his warrant for the apprehending the Slave or Slaves complained of & for all persons that can give evydense against them, And if upon examinacon it doth probably app(appear?) that the said Slave or Slaves are guilty of the crimes complained of, that the said Justice is to certify the same to the Justice dwelling next to him, & to desire him by vertue of this Act, to associate himselfe to him, which such Justice is hereby required on such desire to doe, and both of them soe associated are to issue out theire sumons to three sufficient Fffreeholders of the said parish where the fact complayned of was comitted acquainting them with the said matter & appointing them a day hour & place where & when the same shall be heard & determined by the Judgment of the said Fffreeholders and themselves or the major part of them at which day hour & place the said Justices & Fffreeholders shall requyre & cause all the said offenders & evidences against them to bee produced. And if they shall uppon the said evydence or confession of the said offender or offenders adiudge them guilty of the part complayned of they shall then condemme the owner or owners of the said offender or offenders respectively to make reparacon & satisfacion to the compaynt for the damage which hee hath rect(rent?), which if the said owner or owners shall refuse to make according to his or theyre proportion by the said Justices & ffreeholders or the majoryt(majority?)
[Page 7 of 8]
of them adjudged & appointed, then in such case the sayd offending Slave or Slaves belonging to such owner or owners soe refusing shall first receive such corporall punishment as the said Judges shall thinke fitt and after bee awarded to the said party iniured. To have & to holde the sayd Slave to him & his heires for ever, And in case the Sayd Justice & Fffreeholders or any or either of them shall neglect or refuse to performe theire dutyes which by this Act is required of them they Shall severally for such theyre respective defaults forfeit the cist(?) quantity of fifty pounds sterling one halfe to our Soveraigne Lord the King his heires & successors & the other halfe to the party aggrieved if hee shall prosecute for the same in the court of the permits where the default is made or else where.
On the left margin: Negro rebells to bee [UNCLEAR] Marshall Law
And it is further enacted ordeined & published by the Governor Councell & assembly & by the authority of the same that if any Negro shall make Insurrection or rise in rebellion against this place or people or make preparation of Arms powder(?) bullets or offensive Weapons or holde any Councell or conspiracy for riseing(?) Mutinys or rebellion in this Island as hath bin formerly attempted that for speedy remedy thereof the Governor of the Island or superior officer for the time being shall appoint a field officer & soe commission officers out of the respective Regiments of this Island or any four of them, the field officer to bee one to meet in councel & proceed by Marshall Law against the Actors contrivers Raisers fomenters & Counceallors(?) of such munity & rebellion & them punish by Death or some other paines as theire crimes shall deserve & as to the aforesaid field officer commission officers or any four of them shall seeme fitt And that noe Master Mistresse or Comander of a family shall bee affrighted by feare of losse to search into & discover theire owne Slaves soe evilly intended. It is therefore enacted & ordeyned that the losse of Slaves executed shall bee borne by the publique, And when the present treasury is not sufficient to satisfy the losse, a publique levy shall bee presently made upon the Inhabitants for a reparacon of the same.
On the Left Margin: 17 For the apprehending of runnawayes
And whereas divers Slaves at this present(?) are & long time have bin runn away into the woods & other fastnes(?) of the Island doeing continually much mischeife to severall Inhabitants of this Island hideing sometimes in one place & sometimes in another soe that with much difficulty they are to bee found unless by some sodame(sudden?) attempt or surprise Bee it therefor ordeined & enacted that from & after publicacon hereof it shall & may bee law full for any Justice of peace Constable or Captain of a Company with in this Island, that shall have notice of the residence or hideing place of any runnaway Slaves, fugitives, or Outlawes to rise & Arme any number of men, not exceeding twenty, to apprehend & take them either live or dead, & for every Slave which they shall take alive having been runnaway from his Master above six Moneths they shall receive five pounds sterling from the owner Master or Comander of the said Slaves, but if killed they shall receive the five pounds from the publique.
On the Left Margin: 18 The killing of Negroes intenconally(?) & wilfully
And it is further enacted & ordeyned by the authority aforesaid that if any Slaves under punishment by his Master or his order for running away or any other crime or misdemeanor towards his said Master shall suffer in life or in member noe person whatsoever shall bee accomptable to any Law therefore but if any Man shall of wantonness or only bloody minded & cruel intencon willfully kill a Slave if his owne hee shall pay unto the King his heires & successors thirty pounds sterling. But if
[Page 8 of 8]
hee shall soe kill another mans’ hee shall soe pay to the owner of the Slave double the vallue & unto our Soveraigne Lord the King his heires & successors fifty pounds sterling, And hee shall further by the next Justice of the peace bee bound to the good behavior dureing(?) the pleasure of the Governor & Councell & not bee lyable to any other punishment or forfeiture for the Same. Neither shall hee that kills another mans’ slave by accydent bee lyable to any other penalty but the owners’ accon at Law but if any poore man small freeholder or other person shall kill a slave by night out(?) of the roade & comon path or stealing his provision(?) swine or other goods hee shall not bee accomptable for it Any Law Statute or ordinance to the contrary Notwithstanding.
On the left margin: For listing of runnaway Negroes
And to the intent it may be allways certainly knowe which (Negroes?) are out in rebellion against theire Owners & to the endangering the (public?) peace It is by the authority aforesaid enacted & ordeyned that all Owners of Slaves within this Island doe within tenn dayes after publicacon hereof send an Accompt to the Secretary for the time being what Slave or Slaves hee hath fledd & runn away and of the time they have been gone & soe for the time to come within tenn dayes after any Slave shall(?) absent himselfe from his service under penalty of paying tenn pounds sterling the one halfe whereof to bee to our Soveraigne Lord the King his heires & successors & the other halfe to the informer to bee recovered(?) by him that shall sue for it in any Court of Record by Action of debt or Informacon in which noe essoyne Proteccon Injunction or wager of Law shall bee permitted or Allowed.
On the left margin: 20 The Marshall shall give notice of all Negroes comitted
Bee it further enacted & ordained by the authority aforesaid that the Marshall shall at all times hereafter upon the comittment of any Negro or Negroes to his or his deptyes custodyes give notice by (certificate?) under his hand to bee affixed upon Posts in the most publique & [UNCLEAR] places at Port Royall & St. Katharins And shall in the said certificate give descripcon of the said Negros’ markes as alsoe as neare as hee can knowe(?) how long the said Negroes’ have bin absent from theire Masters plantacon with theire Names that notice may bee given to the Inhabitants of each parish of all such Negroes’ And that upon neglect soe comitted by the (said?) Marshall or his deputy or deputyes hee or they shall forfeit the sum(?) of five pounds sterling for every such default as aforesaid to bee [UNCLEAR] in any Court of record the one halfe to bee paid unto our Soveraigne Lord king his heires & successors & the other halfe to the complaynt.
On the Left Margin: 21 The yearly publicacon of this act
Safety & the intent of this Act & every Clause & branch thereof may receive full execucon & noe person plead Ignorance therein it is ordeyned & enacted by the aucthority aforesaid that this act be read & published in all respective parish Churches in this Island the first Sunday in (March?) & the first Sunday in September in every yeare ensueing the date & first publicacon thereof.
Past the Councell the 2nd Till(?) Hibsfone Speaker
of November 1664
Pe. Pugh Secretary I consent to this
EARLY ACCESS: Transcription is under editorial review and may contain errors.
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CONTENT WARNING: Please be aware that many of the works in this project contain racist and offensive language and descriptions of punishment and enslavement that may be difficult to read. However, this language and these descriptions reveal the horrors of slavery. Please take care when transcribing these materials.