Page images

I DO hereby certify, that I examined, in "conjunction with William Munford, the proof sheets, as they came from the press, of the CONTINUATION OF THE REVISED CODE OF LAWS, comprised in this volume, except from page (105) to page (120) inclusive, of the Appendix No. IX. printed during his unavoidable absence from Richmond; which edition has been published by Samuel Pleasants, jun. pursuant to an act of the General Assembly, passed on the 7th day of January, 1807, entituled, “ An Act authorising Samuel Pleasants, jun. to publish a collection of certain Public Laws of this Commonwealth, and for other purposes ;” that I have carefully compared this edition of the acts with the original laws contained in the several sessions acts, from which they were selected, and have found them to be truly and accurately printed, except with the variations herein after mentioned, which took place during the absence of Mr. Munford, with whom I examined the abovementioned pages after his return. In some few instances, where unimportant typographical errors had occurred in the sessions acts, particularly in those of *1802 and 1803, they have been corrected by a reference to the Inrolled Bills.

The variations above alluded to are the following: Page (108) of the Appendix No. IX. ch. 18, sect. 1, line 8, for " thefore,read therefore. Page (117)

line 10 from the top, for “ disability," read inability. Page (118)

ch. 29, sect. 1, line 17, for “ Suthampton,' read Southampton. Given under my hand, at Richmond, this 2nd of September, 1808.


I do hereby certify, that I examined, in conjunction with William Waller Hening, the proof sheets, as they came from the press, of the CONTINUATION OF : THE REVISED Code of Laws, comprised in this volume, except sixteen pages of the Appendix No. IX. being from page (105) to page (120) inclusive, which were printed during my absence from Richmond, and examined after my return; that I have carefully compared this edition with the original printed acts of Assembly, of the several sessions, from which its materials were selected, and have found the work truly and accurately printed, except as to the variations mentioned in Mr. Hening's certificate. In some instances, typographical errors in the sessions acts have been corrected by a reference to the Inrolied Bills. Given under my hand, at Richmond, this 2nd day of September, 1808.



N a government emanating from the people, whose will, expressed in the form of laurs, is the only sovereign, it must necessarily follow, that those laws will be numerous. If a doubt exist with respect to the meaning of a statute, which canpot be removed by the judges according to settled rules of interpretation, or, if it be defective, the explanation in the one case, or the amendment in the other, can only be made by the legislative authority, rested in the representatires of the people. Not so, in a despotic government, where the will of the prince, supplies the defects of the law, and his dictum is regarded as the law itself. Yet, strange as it may appear, how often have we heard the concise code of Frederick of Prussia extolled as a model worthy of imitation! How often has a wish been expressed by some of those living under our free government, that our code of laws should be assimilated to his! Is there a man who, upon serious reflection, would consent to give up his liberty with his volumes of laws, and become a slave that he might be governed by a concise code? Would he be willing to exchange the right of selfgovernment for a despotism? Such would be the effect of yielding to a system cf legislation which substitutes the will of an individual for the voice of the people.

That spirit of liberty which caused thousands of our ancestors to migrate to this western world, was very early manifested in their laws. And, notwithstanding the restrictions imposed by the British government on the colonial legislatures, and the severe conflicts which frequently arose, respecting the prerogative of the kings of England, and the rights of the people of America, in matters of selfoverninent, the legislature of Virginia, lost no opportunity in providing a code

laws adapted to the situation of the country.

From the year 1619, when the first legislature met in Virginia, to the present time, our laws have been various and complicated. This produced the necessity of having frequent revisals ; some of which, being made before any printing presses were introduced in America, have remained till this day in manuscript. Those in print are, Purvis's collection, published in London, (supposed in the year 1682,) and the editions of 1733, 1752, 1769, 1785, 1794, and 1803. In some of those collections all the acts relating to the same subject were consolidated into single bills, by a committee of revisors, and re-enacted by the legislature: but in others, there was a mere compilation of the acts of a public nature then in force.

The last revisal of our laws, came down to the end of the session of 1801 ; since which period, a variety of public acts of great importance have been passed. These form in the present collection, ONE HUNDRED AND THIP.TY-TWO CHAPTERS, which are dispersed through the different sessions acts. When it is considered, that upwards of one thousand magistrates in Virginia, appointed within the last four years, have been but partially furnished with those sessions acts, and that none of them have the aid of a complete and general INDEX, the utility and tren necessity of this compilation must be obvious.

But the continuation of the Revised Code, so far as it respects a collection of the acts of a public and permanent nature, is far from being the most valuable part of the publication. The appendices at the end of the volume, it is believed, will be found to contain matter of equal importance with that in the body of the work; which additional matter, is the more valuable, as it has hitherto been of more difficult access.





Laws relating to subjects, in which either the state or a great proportion of its citizens have an interest, should form a part of every revisal. This rule was so strictly observed in all the editions of our laws prior to that of 1794, that even the acts concerning particular rivers, with many others, on subjects merely local, were inserted. The laws, in this collection, which come within the general principle just laid down, are those FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE James River, PotowMAC, APPOMATTOX, AND DISMAL SWAMP CANAL Companies, in all of which, the state holds a number of shares; those concerning the NORTHERN Neck, (a considerable portion of the state, and part of the laws relating to which were regularly inserted in the editions of 1752, 1769, 1785, and 1794, but all those passed since 1785 were omitted ;) those AUTHORISING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF TURNPIKE Roads, AND

of Toll BRIDGES; CONCERNING THE MUTUAL ASSURANCE SOCIETY AGAINST FIRE ON BUILDINGS; RELATING TO WASTE AND UNAPPROPRIATED LANDS ON THE EASTERN AND WESTERN WATERS; ESTABLISHING FERRIES; and CONCERNING THE PUBLIC GUARD; all of which, are here digested and arranged under their respective heads. To these are added, A LIST OF TITLES OF PRIVATE AND LOCAL ACTS, passed since the October session of 1783 ; a TABLE OF FINES, FORFEITURES, PENALTIES AND AMERCEMENTS, designating to whose use respectively appropriated; and a collection of acts of a general nature OMITTED in former editions.

It may at first view excite some degree of surprize, that so many acts and resolutions, of a public and permanent nature, should have been omitted in the editions of 1794, and 1803 ; but the history of those revisals will readily account for it. In the session of 1789, (a) the legislature passed an act, providing for a new edition of the laws of this commonwealth, which was amended at the next session, (b.) A difference of opinion having arisen among the revisors as to the objects of the legislature with respect to one branch of their duty, a resolution was adopted at the session of 1791, declaring that it was the intention of the legislature, in assigning that particular duty to the revisors, “ that the several laus ex. “ isting on the same subject should be consolidated into single bills, but that no

new matter should be introduced into the system.” (c.) In conformity with this construction, the revisors digested a code of laws, introducing under one title the several acts relating to the same subject. These were prepared in the form of bills, and reported to the legislature, in two volumes, at their session of 1792. The subject of the revisal was taken up during the same session ; and several of the bills, (some with amendments, and some without) were re-enacted into laws. But the legislature, not having time to go through the whole of the bills as reported by the revisors, directed that certain laws formerly enacted should be published in the Revised Code, by their specific titles. (d.) The consequence of which was, that nothing could be inserted in those acts, when republished in the Revised Code, but what before existed in them, under the titles by which they were parti. cularly directed to be published, though some parts had been repealed by subsequent acts, under different titles; and thus all the matter collected by the revisors, from various other acts on the same subjects, was omitted. For example: the act " concerning election of members of General Assembly," was one of those directed to be published by its title. It is accordingly inserted in the Revised Code, as it passed in the year 1785, (e.) By the 22nd sect. of that act, it is declared, that " Every act of the General Assembly, hereafter to be made, shall commence and

(a) See Appendix No, IX. p. (104.)-(6) Ibid. p. (108.)-() Ibid. p. (113.)
(d, See Revised Cude, vol. I. ch. 149, p. 292.-(e) Ibid. ch. 17, p. 19.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »