Primary Resource

Laws Concerning Indentured Servants (1619)

In these ordinances recorded by the General Assembly on August 4, 1619, the government of the Virginia colony attempts for the first time to regulate customs of indentured servitude. Some spelling has been modernized and contractions expanded.

Transcription from Original

That no man living in this Colony, but shall between this and the first of January nexte ensuing come or sende to the Secretary of State, to enter his own & all his servants names, & for what terme, or upon what conditions they are to serve, upon penalty of paying 40s to the said Secretary of State. Also whatsoever Masters or people doe come over to this plantation, that within one month of their arrivall (notice being first given them of this very Lawe,) they shall likewise resorte to the Secretary of State & shall Certifie him upon what termes or conditions they be come hither, to the ende that he may recorde their grauntes and commissions, and for how long time and upon what conditions their servants (in case they have any) are to serve them, and that upon paine of the penalty nexte above mentioned.

[…]

— page 14 —

No maide or woman servant, either now resident in the Colonie, or hereafter to come, shall contract herselfe in marriage without either the consente of her parents or Her Master or Mistress, or of the magistrate & Minister of the place both together. And whatsoever Minister shall marry or contracte any such persons without some of the foresaid consentes shall be subjecte to the severe censure of the Governour & Counsell of Estate.

Be it enacted by the present assembly, that whatsoever servant hath heretofore, or shall hereafter contracte himselfe in Englande, either by way of Indenture or otherwise, to serve any Master here in Virginia, and shall afterward, against his said former contracte, depart from his Master without leave, or being once imbarked, shall abandon the ship he is appointed to come in, & so being lefte behinde, shall put himselfe into service of any other man that will bring him hither; that then at the same servants arrival here, he shall first serve out his time, with that Master that brought him hither and afterward also shall serve out his time with his former Master according to his covenant.