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body themselves into church estate without the consent of the General Assembly, and the approbation of the neighboring churches, and no ministry or church administration was entertained or authorized separate from, and in opposition to, that openly and publicly observed and dispensed by the approved minister of the place, except with the approbation and consent aforesaid. Quakers, Ranters, Adamites, and other notorious heretics (as they were called), were to be committed to prison or sent out of the colony, by order of the governor and assistants. Nor does the zeal of persecution appear at all to have abated until, in pursuance of the statutes of 1 William and Mary, dissenters were allowed the liberty of conscience without molestation 3
§ 93. In respect to real estate, the descent and distribution was directed to be among all the children, giving the eldest son a double share; conveyances in fraud of creditors were declared void; lands were made liable to be set off to creditors on execution by the appraisement of three appraisers.
The process in courts of justice was required to be in the name of the reigning king. 6 Persons having no estate might be relieved from imprisonment by two assistants; but if the creditor required it, he should satisfy the debt by service. Depositions were allowed as evidence in civil suits. No person was permitted to plead in behalf of another person on trial for delinquency, except directly to matter of law,8 a provision somewhat singular in our annals, though in entire conformity to the English law in capital felonies. Bills and bonds were made assignable, and suits allowed in the name of the assignces. 9
Magistrates, justices of the peace, and ministers were authorized to marry persons; and divorces a vinculo allowed for adultery, fraudulent contract, or desertion for three years. Men and women, having a husband or wife in foreign parts, were not allowed to abide in the colony, so separated, above two years, without liberty from the General Court.
Towns were required to support public schools under regula
1 Colony Laws of Conn., edition by Greene, 1715–1718, folio (New London),
2 Id. p. 49.
3 Id. p. 134.
tions similar, for the most part, to those of Massachusetts; and an especial maritime code was enacted, regulating the rights and duties and authorities of ship-owners, seamen, and others concerned in navigation.2
Such are the principal provisions of the colonial legislation of Connecticut.
1 Colony Laws of Connecticut, edition by Greene, 1715–1718, folio (New London),
3 Id. p. 70. A similar code existed in Massachusetts, enacted in 1668.
§ 94. RHODE ISLAND was originally settled by emigrants from Massachusetts, fleeing thither to escape from religious persecution; and it still boasts of Roger Williams as its founder, and as the carly defender of religious freedoin and the rights of conscience. One body of them purchased the island which has given the name to the State, and another the territory of the Providence Plantations from the Indians, and began their settlements in both places nearly at the same period, namely, in 1636 and 1638.1 They entered into separate voluntary associations of government. But finding their associations not sufficient to protect them against the encroachments of Massachusetts, and having no title under any of the royal patents, they sent Roger Williams to England in 1643 to procure a surer foundation both of title and government. He succeeded in obtaining from the Earl of Warwick (in 1643) a charter of incorporation of Providence Plantations;2 and also, in 1644, a charter from the two houses of Parliament (Charles the First being then driven from his capital) for the incorporation of the towns of Providence, Newport, and Portsmouth, for the absolute government of themselves, but according to the laws of England.8 (a)
$ 95. Under this charter an assembly was convened in 1647, consisting of the collective freemen of the various plantations. 4 The legislative power was vested in a court of commissioners
11 Hutch. Hist. 72; 1 folmes's Annals, 225, 233, 246; 1 Chalm. Annals, 269, 270; Hutch. Coll. 413, 414, 415; Marsh. Colon. ch. 3, p. 99, 100; Robertson's America, B. 10; 2 Doug. Summ. 76 to 90; 1 Pitkin's Hist. 46. Mr. Chalmers says, that Providence was settled in the beginning of 1635; and Dr. Holmes, in 1636. (1 Chalm. Annals, 270; 1 Holmes's Annals, 233.)
3 1 Hutch. Hist. 39, note; Walsh's Appeal, 429; 1 Pitk. Hist. 46, 47, 48; 2 Doug. Sumin. 80.
8 i Chalm. 271, 272; Hutch. Coll. 415, 416.
* 1 Chalm. Annals, 273; 1 Holmes's Annals, 283; Walsh's Appeal, 429; 2 Doug. Summ. 80.
(a) i R. I. Hist. Rec. 143 ; Arnold, Hist. of Rhode Island, I. 114, 200.
of six persons, chosen by each of the four towns then in existence. The whole executive power seems to have been vested in a president and four assistants, who were chosen from the freemen, and formed the supreino court for the administration of justice. Every township, forming within itself a corporation, elected a council of six for the management of its peculiar affairs, and for the settlement of the smallest disputes. The council of state of the Commonwealth soon afterwards interfered to suspend their government; but the distractions at home prevented any serious interference by Parliament in the administration of their affairs; and they continued to act under their former government until the restoration of Charles the Second. That event seems to have given great satisfaction to these plantations. They immediately proclaimed the king, and sent an agent to England; and in July, 1663, after some opposition, they succeeded in obtaining a charter from the crown.3 (a)
§ 96. That charter incorporated the inhabitants by the name of the Governor and Company of the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England in America, conferring on them the usual powers of corporations. The executive power was lodged in a governor, deputy-governor, and ten assistants, chosen by the freemen. The supreme legislative authority was vested in a General Assembly, consisting of a governor, deputy-governor, ten assistants, and deputies from the respective towns, chosen by the freemen (six for Newport, four for Providence, Portsmouth, and Warwick, and two for other towns), the governor or deputy and six assistants being always present. The General Assembly were authorized to admit freemen, choose officers, make laws and ordinances, so as that they were “not contrary and repugnant unto, but as near as may be agreeable to, the laws of this our realm of England, considering the nature and constitution of the place and people; to create and organize courts; to punish offences according to the course of other corporations in England;” to array the martial force of the colony for the common defence, and enforce martial law; and
11 Chalm. Annals, 273; 1 Holmes's Annals, 283.
1 Chalm. Annals, 274; I Holmes's Annals, 297; Marsh. Colon. ch. 5. p. 133. 8 1 Chalm. Annals, 274; 1 Holmes's Annals, 329. • 2 llaz. Coll. 612 to 623; 2 Doug. Summ. 81.
(a) Arnold, Hist. of Rhode Island, I. 290 ; Palfrey, Hist. of New England, II. 665.
to exercise other important powers and prerogatives. It further provided for a free fishery on the coasts; and that all the inhabitants and children born there should enjoy all the liberties and immunities of free and natural subjects born within the realm of England. It then granted and confirmed unto them all that part of the king's dominions in New England containing the Narraganset Bay and the countries and parts adjacent, bounded westerly to the middle of Pawcatuck River, and so along the river northward to the head thereof, thence by a straight line due north, until it meet the south line of Massachusetts, extending easterly three English miles to the most castern and northcastern parts of Narragansct Bay, as the bay extended southerly unto the mouth of the river running towards Providence, and thence along the easterly side or bank of the said river up to the falls, called Patucket Falls, and thence in a straight line due north till it meets the Massachusetts line. The territory was to be holden as of the manor of East Greenwich in free and common socage. It further secured a free trade with all the other colonies.
§ 97. But the most remarkable circumstance in the charter, and that which exhibits the strong feeling and spirit of the colony, is the provision respecting religious freedom. The charter, after reciting the petition of the inhabitants, “ that it is much in their hearts (if they be permitted) to hold forth a lively experiment that a most flourishing civil state may stand, and be best maintained, and that among our English subjects, with a full liberty in religious concernments, and that true piety, rightly grounded upon gospel principles, will give the best and greatest security to sovereignty,” proceeds to declare:2 “We being will. ing to encourage the hopeful undertaking of our said loyal and loving subjects, and to secure them in the free exercise and cnjoyment of all their civil and religious rights appertaining to them as our loving subjects, and to preserve to them that liberty in the true Christian faith and worship of God, which they have sought with so much travail, and with peaceful minds and loyal subjection to our royal progenitors and ourselves to enjoy; and
i This is the substance but not the exact words of the boundaries in the charter, which is given at large in 2 Haz. Coll. 612 to 623, and in Rhode Island Laws, editions of 1789 and 1822.
3 2 Haz. Coll. 613.