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INHABITANCY AND WARNING OUT IN CONNECTICUT.-EARLY
COLONY AND STATE LAWS.-ILLUSTRATIONS OF ACTION OF
In no part of New England was the admission of inhabitants, transfer of land, and warning out of persons who sought to be inhabitants without being admitted by the towns more carefully guarded than in Connecticut. The early laws passed by the General Court for the Colony were very strict and specific with regard to these matters. By subsequent additions to and amendments of these early statutes the Connecticut Code of Laws with regard to admission of inhabitants, liability of support for those admitted, and with regard to removing persons who came into towns without being admitted, was more elaborate, complicated, and severe, than that of any other New England Colony or State. For this reason and because these early laws are not easily accessible I have thought it best to reproduce these statutes at length, although some of the provisions contained in them may not be of particular importance as bearing upon the matter of warning out.*
The admission of inhabitants was carefully provided for by the “Fundamentals,” so called, adopted at Hartford, January 14, 1638. The first one of these provided that the choice of officers
*The early laws of Connecticut were compiled and printed in 1702, but only two complete copies are now known to exist. From one of these copies the Acorn Society of Hartford published a reprint in 1901, in an edition of one hundred copies. It is from this reprint that the citations are here made.
Out in New England shall be made by all that are admitted freemen and haue taken the Oath of Fidelity, and doe cohabitte wthin this Jurisdiction, (hauing beene admitted Inhabitants by the maior p't of the Towne wherein they liue,) or the mayor p'te of such as shall be then p'sent.
The words in parentheses are not in the original record, but were interlined in a different handwriting at a later period. Presumably this was done after 1643, for we find this record on November 10, 1643:
Whereas in the fundamentall Order yt is said (that such who haue taken the Oath of fidellity and are admitted inhabitants) shall be alowed as quallified for chuseing of Deputyes, The Court declares their judgement, that such only shall be counted admitted inhabitants, who are admitted by a generall voate of the mayor p'te of the Towne that receaueth'them.*
Again at a joint Court fon February 26, 1656, the qualifications of inhabitants were stated by the following order:
This Court doth order, that by admitted inhabitants, specified in the 7th Fundamentall, are meant only housholders that are one & twenty yeares of age, or haue bore office, or haue 301. estate.
The 7th Fundamental here referred to was the one providing for the choice of deputies by all that were admitted inhabitants in the several towns. I
May 17, 1660, it was ordered by the General Court that
None shalbe receaued as Inhabitant into any Towne in the Collony but such as are knowne to be of an honest conversation, and accepted by a maior part of the Towne.
It is alsoe ordered, that noe Inhabitant shall haue power to
* Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, Vol. I, pp. 21, 96.
"The magistrates and deputies then met together and acted jointly as one body. They first acted as two bodies in October, 1698.” Trumbull, p. 399.
1 Ibid., p. 293.
make sale of his assomodat" of house and lands vntil he haue first propounded the sale thereof to ye Towne where it is situate and they refuse to accept of ye sale tendred.*
In the laws of 1673 it was provided that every town should maintain their own poor, and also that
If any person come to live in any Town in this Government, and be there received and entertained three months, if by sickness, lameness or the like, he comes to want reliefe; he shall be provided for by that Town wherin he was so long entertained, and shall be reputed their proper charge, unless such person have within the said three months been warned by the Constable, or some one or more of the Select men of that Town, not there to abide without leave first obtained of the Town, and certifie the same to the next Court of Assistants, who shall othersise Order the charge arising about him according to Justice.†
By the laws of 1702 it was
ORDERED AND ENACTED That no inhabitant in this Colony, shall have power to make sale of his Accomodations, of House or Lands, to any but the Inhabitants of the Township wherein the said House and Lands is Scituate, without the consent of the Town, and unless he have first propounded the Sale thereof, to the Town, where it is Scituate and they refuse the Sale tendred, or to give so much as another Chapman will. I
It was also provided that
WHEREAS several persons of an Ungoverned Conversation, thrust themselves into our Townships, and by some under hand way, as either upon pretence of being hired Servants, or of hiring Lands or Houses, become inhabitants in our Townships, whereby much Inconveniency doth arise to such places, such persons often proving vicious, chargeable and burthensome to the places where they come: which to prevent,
IT IS ENACTED AND ORDAINED That no person shall be received an Inhabitant into any Town in this Colony, but such as are
* Trumbull, p. 351.
known to be of an honest Conversation, and accepted by the major part of the Town.
And that no transient person shall be allowed to Reside, and make his or her abode in any Township in this Colony, (Apprentices under age, and Servants bought for time excepted) upon pretence of Hiring, or being Hired, or Tennantship or Inmates, without the approbation of the Authority, and Select-men of such Town.
And if any person or persons shall contrary to the intent of this Act, entertain or hire any stranger or transient person, or Lett any House or Land to such stranger or transient person, except he or they shall first give good security to the acceptance of the said Authority, and Select-men, that such Town or Plantation shall not be burthened and charged by him or them, he shall forfeit and pay to the use of the poor of the Town whereto he or they belong, the Sum of Twenty Shillings per Week, for every Week, he shall harbour, entertain, or hire any such person.
AND IT IS FURTHER ENACTED AND ORDAINED That the Civil Authority, when and so often as there shall be occasion in any Town or Plantation in this Colony, shall be, and are hereby Impowered to order any vagrant or suspected person or persons, to be sent back from Constable to Constable, to the place or places from whence he or they came; unless such person or persons can produce good Certificate, that he or they are persons of good behaviour, free from all ingagements, and at liberty to remove themselves as he or they shall see meet: and if such person shall return after they are sent back as aforesaid, and abide and continue in said Town after warning given them to depart, they shall be severely Whipt, not exceeding Ten Stripes.*
And it was further
ENACTED, That if any person or persons shall come to live in any Town in this Colony, and be there received and entertained by the space of three months, and if by Sickness, lameness, or the like, he or they come to want relief, every such person or persons shall be provided for by that Town wherein he or they was so long entertained, at their own proper charge; unless such person or persons have within the said three months, been warned by the Constable, or some one or more of the Select-men of that Town,
* Acts and Laws of Colony of Connecticut, 1702, p. 58.
to depart and leave the place: which if the said Constable, or any one or more of the Select-men shall do, and thereof certifie the next Court of Assistants to be held in this Colony, the said Court of Assistants shall and may otherwise order the defraying of the Charge arising about such person or persons.*
In 1750 it was provided that
If any Person, or Persons shall come to Live in any Town in this Colony, and be there Received, and Entertained by the space of Three Months: and if by Sickness, Lameness, or the like, he, or they come to want Relief, every such Person, or Persons shall be Provided for by that Town wherein he, or they were so long Entertained, at said Towns own proper Cost, and Charge; Unless such Person, or Persons by Law are to be provided for by any particular Inhabitant of such Town: Or unless such Person, or Persons wanting Relief have within the said Three Months been Warned as the Law directs, to Depart, and Leave the Place: And if such Warning be given, and the same be Certified to the next Superiour Court to be held in the same County, the said Court shall, and may otherwise Order the Defraying the Charge arising about such Indigent Person, or Persons.†
In 1769 an Act for the admission of inhabitants in towns, and for the preventing of charge on account of such as are not admitted therein, was passed as follows:
WHEREAS several Persons of ungoverned Conversation, thrust themselves into the Towns in this Colony, and by some underhand Way, as upon pretence of being hired Servants; or of hiring Lands or Houses; or by purchasing the same, endeavour to become Inhabitants in such Towns.
And whereas Persons are sometimes Entertained, and set to Work by those who live in the Skirts and obscure Places of said Towns, out of the View and Observation of the Officers of the Town, whereby much Inconvenience doth arise; such Persons often proving Vicious, and Chargeable and Burthensome to the Places where they come.
* Acts and Laws of Colony of Connecticut, 1702, p. 95.