Primary Resource

An Act Continuing the Act directing the building the Capitol and the city of Williamsburg; with additions (1699)

With this act, passed in 1699, the General Assembly relocates the capital of Virginia to Williamsburg from Jamestown.

Transcription from Original

I. WHEREAS by an act made at a General Assembly begun at James City the twenty-seventh day of April, and in the eleventh year of his late Majesty's reign, entituled, An Act directing the building the Capitol, and the City of Williamsburg, it is enacted, that Whereas the state-house where the general assemblies and general courts for this his majesty's colony and dominion of Virginia, were kept and held, hath been unhappily burnt down; and it being of absolute necessity that another building be erected, with all the expedition possible, for the convenient sitting and holding of the general assemblies and courts, at a healthy, proper and commodious place, suitable for the reception of a considerable number and concourse of people, that of necessity must resort to the place where the general assemblies will be convened, and where the council and supreme court of justice for his majesty's colony and dominion will be held and kept:

And forasmuch as the place commonly called and known by the name of the Middle Plantation, hath been found by constant experience, to be healthy, and agreeable to the constitutions of the inhabitants of this his majesty's colony and dominion, having the natural advantage of a serene and temperate air, dry and champaign land, and plentifully stored with wholesome springs, and the conveniency of two navigable and pleasant creeks, that run out of James and York rivers, necessary for the supplying the place with provisions and other things of necessity.

II. Be it enacted, by the governor, council, and burgesses of this present general assembly, and the authority thereof, and it is hereby enacted, That four hundred seventy-five foot square of land, lying and being at the said Middle Plantation, which hath been already agreed

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upon by his excellency the governor, council and burgesses, of this present general assembly, to be taken up and surveyed, as a convenient place for such uses, be the ground appropriated to the only and sole use of a building for the general assemblies and courts to be held and kept in: And that the said building shall forever hereafter be called and known by the name of the Capitol, of this his majesty's colony and dominion of Virginia; and that the space of two hundred foot of ground, every way from the said capitol, shall not be built upon, planted, or occupied, forever, but shall be wholly and solely appropriated and kept for the said use, and to no other use or purpose whatsoever.

III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That the said capitol shall be erected and built in manner and form according to the rules and dimensions following, viz. That the said building shall be made in this form and figure H, that the foundation of the building shall be four bricks thick, up to or near the surface of the ground; and that the walls of the said building, from thence, shall be three bricks and a half thick, to the water table; and from the water table, to the top of the first story, three bricks thick; and from thence to the top of the second story, two bricks and a half thick; the length of each side or part of which building shall be seventy-five foot, from inside to inside; the breadth thereof, twenty-five foot from inside to inside; and the first story of each part or side, shall be fifteen foot pitch, one end of each side or part of which shall be semi-circular, and the lower rooms at the said end, fifty foot long, and shall be parted by a wall, from the rest of the building, on each side or part; which other part shall be divided into four divisions, whereof one to be for a large and handsome staircase: That the middle of the front, on each side of the said building, shall have a circular porch, with an iron balcony upon the first floor over it, and great folding gates to each porch, of six foot breadth both; and that four galleries shall be in the room below, that shall be called the general court house; the upper story of each side to be ten foot pitch, and be divided as shall be directed by the committee appointed to revise the laws: That the two parts of the building shall be joined by a cross gallery of thirty foot long, and

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fifteen foot wide each way, according to the figure herein before specified, raised upon piazzas, and built as high as the other parts of the building; and in the middle thereof, a cupola to surmount the rest of the building, which shall have a clock placed in it; and on the top of the said cupola shall be put a flag upon occasion: That the said windows to each story of the building, shall be sash windows, and that the roof shall be a hip roof, with dormant windows; and shall be well shingled with ciprus shingles; and that the great room below, of each building, shall be laid with flag stones: One part or side of which building, shall be, and is hereby appropriated to the use of the general court, and council, for the holding and keeping of the said general court, and council therein, and the several offices thereto belonging; and the other part or side of the said building, shall be and is hereby appropriated to the use of the house of burgesses, and the officers thereof, and to no other use or uses whatsoever.

IV. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That the committee appointed for the revisal of the laws, are hereby impowered [sic] and required, from time to time, to inspect and oversee the said building, until it shall be finished; and to covenant and agree with such and so many undertakers or overseers of the said building, as they shall think fit, and to give such necessary orders and directions therein, from time to time, as they shall see cause for the carrying on, furtherance and finishing of the said work, according to the aforesaid rules and dimensions; and that the said committee be likewise empowered, by virtue of this act, on the public account and risque, to send for, out of England, iron-work, glass, paint, stone and all other materials, as they shall think necessary, for and towards the carrying on and finishing the said building.

V. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That the said committee as often as they shall have occasion for money for the uses aforesaid, shall, from time to time, apply themselves to the governor, or commander in chief, for the time being, to issue out his warrant to the treasurer of this his majesty's colony and dominion, requiring him to pay so much money as they shall have occasion for,

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not exceeding the sum of two thousand pounds sterling; who is hereby impowered and required to deliver and pay the same to the said committee, upon such warrant: Which said sum or sums, the said committee shall account for to the next meeting of the assembly, and also make report of their proceedings in the building of the said Capitol.

VI. And for as much as the general assemblies, and general courts, of this his majesty's colony and dominion, cannot possibly be held and kept at the said capitol, unless a good town be built and settled adjacent to the said capitol, suitable for the accommodation and entertainment of a considerable number of persons, that of necessity must resort thither: And, whereas, in all probability, it will prove highly advantageous and beneficial to his majesty's roial college of William & Mary, to have the conveniencies of a town near the same,

VII. Be it therefore enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That two hundred eighty-three acres, thirty-five poles and a half of land, situate, lying and being at the Middle Plantation, in James City and York counties, bounded according to a draught, plot, or survey made, by the order of a governor, council and burgesses, of this present general assembly, and now lying in the assembly-office of his majesty's colony and dominion, shall be and is hereby reserved and appropriated for the only and sole use of a city to be there built, and erected, and to no other use, intent, or purpose whatsoever.

VIII. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That two hundred and twenty acres of the said land, according to the bounds of the aforesaid draught or plot, shall be and is hereby appointed and set a-part for ground, on which the said city shall be built and erected, according to the form and manner laid down in the said draught or plot; which said city, in honour of our most gracious and glorious king William, shall be forever hereafter called and known by the name of the city of Williamsburg: And fifteen acres, forty-four poles and a quarter, of land, according to the aforesaid draught or plot, shall be and is hereby appointed and set a-part for a road or way from the said city, to the creek commonly known by the name of Queen's creek, running into

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York river: And fourteen acres, seventy-one poles and a quarter of land, according to the aforesaid draught or plot, lying on the said Queen's creek, shall be and is hereby appointed and set a-part for a port, or landing place, for the said city of Williamsburg, on the said creek; which said part or landing place, in commemoration of the late Queen Mary, of blessed memory, shall forever hereafter be called and known by the name of Queen Mary's port; and the afore-mentioned road or way leading thereto, shall be called Queen's road: And ten acres forty two poles and a half of land, according to the aforesaid draught or plot, shall be and is hereby appointed and set a-part for a road or way from the said city of Williamsburg, to the creek commonly called and known by the name of Archer's Hope creek, running into James river; which said creek, shall forever hereafter be called and known by the name of Princess creek: And twenty three acres, thirty-seven poles and a half, of land, according to the aforesaid draught or plot, lying upon the said Princess Creek, shall be and is hereby appointed and set a-part for a port or landing place, for the said city of Williamsburg, on the said creek; which said port or landing place, in honour of her roial highness the Princess Anne of Denmark, shall be called and known by the name of Princess Anne port forever hereafter; and the afore-mentioned or way leading thereto, shall be called Princess road.

IX. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That the ground or land, by virtue of this act, set a-part for the use of the said city of Williamsburg, shall be laid out and proportioned into half acres; every of which half acre shall be a distinct lot of ground, to build upon, in manner and form as is hereafter expressed; (that is to say,) That whosoever shall build in the main street of the said city of Williamsburg, as laid out in the aforesaid draught or plot, shall not build a house less than ten foot pitch, and the front of each house shall come within six foot of the street, and not nearer; and that the houses in the several lots in the said main street shall front alike; which said street, in honour of his highness William Duke of Gloucester, shall forever hereafter be called and known by the name of Duke of Gloucester street: And that the other streets and lanes shall be built in such manner, and according to such rules and orders as shall be given and made by the directors, by virtue of this act; hereafter appointed, or by the incorporation of the Mayor, Alderman, and Commonalty of the City of Williamsburg.

X. And to the end, reasonable satisfaction may be paid, allowed, and given, for all such land and ground, as by virtue of this act is taken up, and appropriated to the use aforesaid,

XI. Be it enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and is hereby enacted, That his excellency the governor, or the governor or commander in chief, for the time being, is hereby impowered and desired to issue out his warrants to the several sheriffs of James City, York, and New Kent counties commanding them respectively to impanel four of the most able and discreet freeholders in each of their bailiwicks, no ways concerned in interest in the said land, or any ways related to the owners or proprietors thereof, to meet at such time, as he shall think fit; who shall be sworn by such person or persons as he shall appoint; and upon their oaths, value and appraise the said land or ground, in so many several and distinct parts and parcels, as shall be owned and claimed therein, by several and distinct owners, proprietors, and claimers thereof: and after such valuation and appraisement so made, the said jury shall forthwith return the same under their hands and seals, to the secretary's office of this his majesty's colony and dominion: And after such valuation and return made as aforesaid, the feoffees or trustees, and every one of them, shall be vested with, and seized of and in, a pure, absolute, perfect, and indefeasible estate of inheritance in fee, in trust to and for the intents, uses, and purposes hereafter mentioned; and shall be binding and effectual in law, (without further or other act or acts) to all intents and purposes, against all and every the said owners, claimers and proprietors, (whether they be capable of consenting thereto, or disabled by nonage, coverture, intail, or other impediments,) and all and every their heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, forever, or any claimer or pretender thereto.

XII.

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Provided always, and be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That the said jury, in the said valuation, shall have due regard to the respective interests and estates in the same; and shall make a valuation and estimation thereof, accordingly.

XIII. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That Lewis Burwell, Phillip Ludwell, Junior, Benjamin Harrison, Junior, James Whaley, Hugh Norwell, and Mongo Ingles, Gentlemen, shall be and are hereby nominated and appointed Feoffes or Trustees of the land appropriated to the uses aforesaid: Which said Feoffees or Trustees, in manner aforesaid, shall have, hold, and enjoy, a good, pure, absolute, and indefeasible estate in fee, of and in the aforesaid two hundred eighty-three acres, thirty-five poles and a half of land; in special trust and confidence, to and for the uses hereafter mentioned, (that is to say) to the uses, intents and purposes, that the said Feoffees and Trustees, or any two or more of them, shall, out of two hundred and twenty acres of the said land hereby appropriated for the use of the said city of Williamsburg, convey and assure, in fee, unto any person requesting the same, and paying the said Feoffees or Trustees, the first cost of the purchase thereof, and fifty per cent. advance, one or more half acre, or half acres, of the said land or ground, by such good and sufficient deed, and assurance, in the law, unto such person or persons, their heirs and assigns, for ever, as by such person or persons, or their council learned in the law, shall be required.

XIV. Provided always, and be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That if such grantee, his heirs or assigns, shall not, within the space of twenty-four months, next ensuing the date of such grant, begin to build, and finish, on each half acre or lot so granted, one good dwelling house, containing twenty foot in width, and thirty foot in length, at the least (if in the main street, called Duke of Glouchester street, of ten foot pitch, and within six foot of the street,) if in any other place, according to the rules and directions that shall be given by the directors hereafter appointed; that then such

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grant and conveyance, so made, shall be utterly void, and null in law; and the lands therein granted, liable to the choice and purchase of any other person or persons, and shall be immediately re-invested in the said Trustees or Feoffes, to the uses aforesaid, in as full and ample manner, as if the same had never been disposed of.

XV. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That the costs and charges of the purchase of the said two hundred eighty-three acres, thirty-five poles and a half of land, shall be paid and satisfied by the public, at the next session of assembly, to the several and respective proprietors and owners thereof, according to the valuation and appraisement made, in manner as is before expressed: And also, that the aforesaid Feoffees and Trustees shall render an account of the produce and profits of the several half acres, or lots of land, by them sold, in manner aforesaid, to the next general assembly; which shall be then allowed and disposed of, for the reimbursement of the public, in the first purchase of the said land; and until the same be fully paid and reimbursed, and to no other use, intent, or purpose whatsoever.

XVI. Provided always, and be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That in case of the death, removal out of the country, or into remote parts, or other legal disability, of one or more of the said Feoffees or Trusteees, his excellency the governor, or the governor or commander in chief, for the time being, is hereby impowered and desired to nominate such and so many Feoffees or Trustees, as shall, from time to time, be under the number of six: which said Feoffees or Trustees, so nominated and appointed, shall be immediately vested with equal rights and title to the aforesaid land and ground, to the uses aforesaid, as the Feofees or Trustees appointed by virtue of this act, might or could have, or as if they were by this act particularly nominated and appointed.

XVII. Provided likewise, and be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That the lots at the aforementioned ports or landings shall be proportioned at the discretion of the directors here-

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after mentioned: Provided, That each lot shall not exceed sixty foot square; which said lots shall be disposed of in manner aforesaid, and the produce thereof to be accounted for, by the said Feoffees or Trustees, in manner as is before expressed; any thing in this act to the contrary, in any wise, notwithstanding.

XVIII. Provided also, That a sufficient quantity of land at each port or landing place shall be left in common, at the discretion of the directors hereafter appointed.

XIX. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That it shall and may be lawful to and for his excellency the governor, and to and for his majesty's governor or commander in chief of this his majesty's colony and dominion, for the time being, by letters patents, under the seal of this his majesty's colony and dominion, to incorporate all and every person and persons, who, from time to time, or at any time hereafter, shall have an interest, free-hold or habitation, in the said city, to be one body politic and corporate, by the name of the mayor, aldermen, and commonalty of the city of Williamsburg; and by that name, to have perpetual succession, and a common seal; and that they, and their successors, by the name aforesaid, shall be able and capable in law, to have, purchase, receive, enjoy, possess, and retain to them and their successors forever, any lands, rents, tenements, and hereditaments, of what kind, nature, or quality soever; and also to sell, grant, demise, alien, or dispose of the same: and by the same name, to sue and implead, be sued and impleaded, answer, and be answered, in all courts of record, and any other place whatsoever: and from time to time, under their common seal, to make and establish such bylaws, rules, and ordinances, (not contrary to the laws and constitutions of England, and this his majesty's colony and dominion), as shall by them be thought requisite and necessary for the good ordering and government of such persons as shall, from time to time, reside within the limits of the said city and corporation, or shall be concerned in interest therein; and by the name aforesaid, to do and execute all and singular other matters and things, that to them shall and may appertain to do.

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XX. And that there may not be any defect in the good ordering or management of the said land appropriated by this act, for the building of the said city, and in providing for the better regulation thereof, until the next meeting of assembly,

XXI. Be it enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That his Excellency Francis Nicholson, esq. his majesty's lieutenant and governor general of Virginia, Edmund Jennings, esq. of his majesty's honourable council, Philip Ludwell, esq. and Thomas Ballard, gentlemen, members of the right worshipful house of burgesses of this present general assembly, Lewis Burwell, Philip Ludwell, Junior, John Page, Henry Tyler, James Whaley, and Benjamin Harrison, Junior, gentlemen, or any five, or more of them, shall be and are hereby nominated, authorized, and impowered, by the name of the directors appointed for the settlement and encouragement of the city of Williamsburg, to make such rules and orders, and to give such directions in the building of the said city and ports, not already provided for by this act, as to them shall seem best and most convenient.

XXII. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That his excellency the governor, or the governor or commander in chief of this his majesty's colony and dominion, for the time being, is hereby impowered and desired, by letters patents, under the seal of this his majesty['s] colony and dominion, to grant unto the said city of Williamsburg, the liberty and privilege of holding and keeping such and so many markets and fairs, at such time and times, and upon such conditions, and under such limitations, as he shall think fit.

XXIII. Provided always, and be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That no lot or lots of any half acre, or half acres of land, shall be sold or disposed of, to any person or persons whatsoever, before the twentieth day of October next ensuing the date of this act: To the end, that the whole country may have timely notice of this act, and equal liberty in the choice of the lots.

XXIV. Now, forasmuch as several parts and clauses recited in the aforesaid act, are not executed, others necessary to remain in force, and for confirming every

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thing already done, by any person or persons whatsoever, by virtue of, and pursuant to, the aforesaid act, Be it enacted, by the governor, council, and burgesses of this present general assembly, and it is hereby enacted, by the authority of the same, That the afore-recited act, and every part and clause thereof, be and are hereby declared to be in full force.

XXV. And be it further enacted, If any person shall hereafter take a grant of two lots, or half acres of land, upon the great street of the said city, commonly called Duke of Gloucester street, and within the space of four and twenty months next ensuing such grant, upon the said lots or half acres, or either of them, shall build and finish one house fifty foot long and twenty foot broad, or within the space aforesaid upon the said lots, or half acres, or either of them, shall build and finish one brick house, or framed house, with two stacks of brick chimnies, and cellars under the whole house, bricked, forty foot long, and twenty foot broad, either of the said performances, shall be sufficient to save the grant of both the said lots, or half acres, from becoming void, and shall be so adjudged, deemed, and taken; any law, usage, or custom heretofore, to the contrary, notwithstanding.

XXVI. And if any person shall hereafter take a grant of two lots, or half acres of land, upon the great street of the said city, and one or more lots, or half acres backward, and within the space of four and twenty months next ensuing such grant, upon the lots or half acres contiguous to the great street, or either of them, shall build and finish in ordinary framed work, as much dwelling housing, as will make five hundred square feet superficial measure, on the ground plat, for every lot, or half acre taken up; or within the space aforesaid, upon the said two lots, or half acres, or either of them, shall build and finish, in brick work, or framed work, with brick cellars under the whole, and brick chimnies, as much dwelling housing, as will make four hundred square feet superficial measure on the ground plat, for every lot, or half acre taken up, either of the said performances shall be sufficient to save the grant of all and every of the said lots, or half acres, from becoming void, and shall be so adjudged, deemed, and taken; any law, usage, or custom heretofore, to the contrary, notwithstanding.

XXVII.

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Provided always, That the building of one house be the dimensions thereof never so large, shall not save more than two lots, or half acres, on the great street; and that whatever lots, or half acres more, the builder is willing to take a grant of, shall be taken backwards.

XXVIII. And be it further enacted, That every person having any lots, or half acres of land, contiguous to the great street, shall inclose the said lots, or half acres, with a wall, pails, or post and rails, within six months after the building, which the law requires to be erected thereupon, shall be finished, upon penalty of forfeiting and paying five shillings a month for every lot or half acre, so long as the same shall remain without a wall, pails, or rails, aforesaid: To be recovered before any justice of the peace of York or James City county, upon the complaint of any one of the trustees or directors, and to be disposed of by the directors as they shall think fit, for the use and benefit of the said city and ports thereunto belonging.

XXIX. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That none of the lots, or half acres of land in the city of Williamsburg, whereon any houses were standing, at the laying out of the said city, shall vest in the said feoffees and trustees of the said city, to be disposed of, as the rest of the lots, and half acres may be, by virtue of the said act, made at a general assembly begun at James City, the twenty-seventh day of April, one thousant [sic] six hundred ninety-nine, intitutled, An act directing the building of the capitol, and the city of Williamsburg; but that all and every of the said lots and half acres, shall remain and continue the proper estate of the respective proprietors unaltered by the said act, and so shall be adjudged, deemed, and taken; any thing in the said act to the contrary, or seeming to the contrary, notwithstanding.

XXX. And be it also enacted, That the four lots, or half acres, which at the first laying out of the land for the said city, were laid out and appropriated for the buildings then erected on the same, by Benjamin Harrison, jr. esq. shall remain and continue to the use of the said Benjamin Harrison, his heirs and assigns, and shall not lapse for want of other buildings thereon; any thing in this act to the contrary, notwithstanding.

XXXI.

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And whereas, by the death, removal out of the country, or into remote parts, of several of the persons nominated directors in the afore-recited act, and the refusal of others to concern themselves therein, the powers and authorities to them granted, have not been so fully executed as was intended; and it being necessary, for the better regulating and ordering the building of the said city of Williamsburg, that a competent number of directors be appointed and continued to inspect the same:

XXXII. Be it therefore enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That his excellency Edward Nott, esq. her majesty's lieutenant and governor general of Virginia, Edward Jennings, Philip Ludwell, William Byrd, and Benjamin Harrison, jr. Esqrs. Henry Tyler, David Bray, Frederick Jones, Archibald Blair, Chichley-Corbin Thacker, and William Robertson, gentlemen, or any five, or more of them, be, and they are hereby authorised and impowered, by the name of the directors of the settlement and encouragement of the city of Williamsburg, from time to time, and at all times hereafter, until the said city shall be erected into a corporation, in manner aforementioned, to direct and order the laying out the lots and streets of the said city, where the bounds and marks thereof are worn out, to lay out a convenient space of ground for the Churchyard, to enlarge the market-place, and to alter any of the streets or lanes thereof, where the same are found inconvenient; and also to settle and establish such rules and orders for the more regular and orderly building of the houses in the said city, as to them shall seem best and most convenient.

XXXIII. Provided always, That the main street, called Duke of Glouchester street, extending from the capitol, to the utmost limits of the city westward, 'till it joins on the land belonging to the college, shall not hereafter be altered, either in course or dimensions thereof.

XXXIV. And be it further enacted, That in case of death, removal out of the country, or other legal disability, of any one or more of the directors before named, it shall and may be lawful for the surviving or remaining directors, from time to time, to elect and chuse so many other persons, in the room of those so

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dead or removed, as shall make up the number of ten; which directors so chosen, shall be, to all intents and purposes, vested with the same power, as any other in this act particularly nominated and appointed.