Primary Resource

"Cruelty of masters prohibited" (1662)

In this law, "Cruelty of masters prohibited," passed in its March 1662 (New Style) session, the General Assembly addressed the problem of indentured servants not being treated properly by their masters.

Transcription from Original

— page 117 —

WHEREAS the barbarous usuage of some servants by cruell masters bring soe much scandall and infamy to the country in generall, that people who would willingly adventure themselves hither, are through feare thereof diverted, and by that meanes the supplies of particuler men and the well seating his majesties country very much obstructed, Be it therefore enacted

— page 118 —

that every master shall provide for his servants compotent dyett, clothing and lodging, and that he shall not exceed the bounds of moderation in correcting them beyond the meritt of their offences; and that it shalbe lawfull for any servant giving notice to their masters (haveing just cause of complaint against them) for harsh and bad usage, or else for want of dyett or convenient necessaries to repaire to the next commissioner to make his or their complaint, and if the said commissioner shall find by just proofes that the said servants cause of complaint is just the said commissioner is hereby required to give order for the warning of such master to the next county court where the matter in difference shalbe determined, and the servant have remedy for his grievances.