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PART I. Statutes Relating to the Supreme and Superior Courts of Pennsylvania and the Rules Adopted by them.
Statutes Passed Under William Penn's First
FIRST APPELLATE COURT
The General Assembly in session at New Castle on May 3, 1684, enacted among other laws, Chapter 158, Duke of Yorke's Book of Laws, page 168, providing:
"That there shall be five Provinciall Judges appointed by the Governor under the great seal of this Province; Which Judges or anie Three of them, shall be a Provinciall Court and sitt twice every year in the town of Philadelphia; And any two of them att least shall every Fall and Spring yearly goe their Circuits into everie respective County of this Province and territories, and there hold a Provinciall Court. Which Court whether fixt or circular shall have the hearing and Determining of all Appealls from inferior Courts, Also, all trialls of Titles of Land, and all Causes as well Criminall as Civill both in Law and Equity, not Determinable by the respective County Courts; anie thing in this or any other act or Law of this Province or Territories to the Contrary in any wise notwithstanding."
There were settlers on both sides of the Delaware River in 1623. What little government they then had was under a company or organization of Holland traders called the Dutch West India Company. They called the country along the Delaware the New Netherlands. They built Fort Nassau on the Delaware River, the first settlement within the vicinage of Pennsylvania. It was near Gloucester Point, New Jersey. Colonies of fifty persons or more were chartered and granted tracts of lands. They were called Patroons. They could elect chiefs, hold small courts. All disputes involving fifty guilders or more were appealed to the Director General and Council in New Netherlands. In 1638 the Sweeds governed the settlers. They were in control from 1638
to 1655, when they were overthrown by Peter Stuyvesan, then in command at New Amsterdam, New York.
The Dutch were in power over the settlers under Peter Stuyvesan until 1664, when the colonies on the Delaware were conquered by the English. King Charles granted to the Duke of Yorke the territory in this country centering about New York, including the colonies on the Delaware River. There was, however, difficulty between Holland and England, and the Duke of Yorke did not come fully into possession of the territory until February 9, 1674, when a peace was signed between England and Holland. September 25, 1676, the Duke of Yorke promulgated some laws, called the Duke of Yorkes Laws. He established three courts, one at New Castle, one above, at Uplands, now Chester, and one at Whoreskill. He created no court of appeals. In civil cases involving more than twenty pounds appeals could be taken to the Court of Assizes of New York, also of crimes of a higher grade.
In 1681 King Charles granted the Charter to William Penn bounding the grant on the east by the Delaware River. Penn also took a deed or quit claim from the Duke of Yorke for all land west of the Delaware River and assumed all control and government. The charter authorized Penn to hold elections, have a council, and an assembly, and create courts, but no law was passed creating a Court of Appeals until the first mentioned law of May 3, 1684, which created a Court of Appeals by authorizing the Governor to appoint five provinciall judges. This law not only gives the provinciall judges the power to hear and determine appeals from the lower courts but "all trials of titles of land and all causes as well criminal as civil both in law and equity not determinable by the respective county courts.”
May 10, 1690, the Assembly passed a law but little changed from the Act of 1684; Duke of Yorke Laws, page 184, Chapter CXCVII as follows:
"And it is further enacted, That there shall be Five provincial Judges appointed by the Governour under the great Seal of the Province, Which Judges or anie three of them Shall be a Provincial Court, and Shall sitt twice in every year at the town of Philadelphia, on the twenty Fourth Day of the seventh month, and the tenth Day of the second month; and att Least two of the five every Fall, and Spring, yearlie shall go their circuit into