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An act declaring who shall not bear office in this country (October 1705)

In "An act declaring who shall not bear office in this country," passed in October 1785, the General Assembly establishes eligibility requirements for holding office in Virginia. It also provides a legal definition of "mulatto."

Transcription from Original

CHAP. IV.
An act declaring who shall not bear office in this country.

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 no person whatsoever, already convicted, or which hereafter shall be convicted in her majestys kingdom of England in this or in her majestys kingdom of England in this or in any other her majestys dominion, colonies, island, territorys or plantations, or in any other kingdom, dominion or place, belonging to any foreign prince or state whatsoever, of treason, murther, fellony, blasphemy, perjury, forgery or any other crime whatsoever, punishable by the laws of England, this country, or other place wherein he was convicted with the loss of life or member, nor any negro, mulatto or Indian, shall, from and after the publication of this act, bear any office, ecclesiasticall, civill, or military, or be in any place of public trust or power, within this her majestys colony and dominion of Virginia, and that if any person convicted as aforesaid, or negro, mulatto or Indian shall presume to take upon him, act in, or exercise any office, ecclesiasticall, civill or military, or any place of publick trust or power, within this colony and dominion, notwithstanding he be thereunto in any manner whatsoever comissionated, appointed, chosen or impowered, and have a pardon for his crime, he shall for such his offence, forfeit and pay five hundred pounds current money, and twenty pounds of like money for every month he continues to act in or exercise such office or place after a recovery made of the said five hundred pounds, one moiety thereof to our sovereign lady the queen, her heirs and successors for and towards the better support of this government and the contingent charges thereof, and the other moiety to him or them that will inform or sue for the same, in any court of record within this here majestys colony and dominion, by action of debt, bill, plaint or information, wherein no essoin, protection, or wager of law, shall be allowed.

Provided nevertheless, and it is hereby meant and intended, That nothing in this act contained, shall extend to disable any person who before the making of this act hath been convicted as aforesaid in this her majestys colony and dominion, and hath obtained the king's or queen's pardon, from taking and bearing any office, ecclesiasticall, civill or military, or from accepting and exercising any place of public trust or power, whereunto he hat been heretofore, or shall be hereafter commissionated, appointed, chosen or impowered, but that it shall be lawfull for every such persons to take and bear any such office, and accept and exercise any such place without being lyable to any fine or penalty for the same, as if this act had never been made.

And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That no person whatsoever, shall, from and after the publication of this act, bear any office, civill or military, or be in any place of publick trust or power, within this her majestys colony and dominion of Virginia, untill he hath been a personal resident in the same the full term of three years, and that if any person whatsoever do presume contrary to this act to take upon him, act in, or exercise any office civill or military, or any place of trust or power within this colony and dominion, notwithstanding he be thereunto in any manner whatsoever comisionated, appointed or chosen before he hath personally resided therein three years as aforesaid, he shall for such his offence, forfeit and pay five hundred pounds current money, and twenty pounds of like money for every month he continues to act in, or exercise such office or place after a recovery made of the said five hundred pounds, untill he hath been three years in this country according to the tenor of this act, to be recovered an divided as aforesaid.

Provided always, and it is the true intent and meaning of this act, That all natives of this her majestys colony and dominion, and such persons as have commissions from her majesty, her heirs or successors, be excepted, and that it be lawfull for every such native and person to bear any office, civill or military, or to be in any place of trust or power before hath resided three years according to the directions of this act, without being lyable to an fine or penalty for it, any thing in this act before contained, to the contrary notwithstanding.

And for clearing all manner of doubts which hereafter may happen to arise upon the construction of this act, or any other act, who shall be accounted a mulatto,

Be it enacted and declared, and it is hereby enacted and declared, That the child of an Indian and the child, grand child, or great grand child, of a negro shall be deemed, accounted, held and taken to be a mulatto.

And be it further enacted, That all and every other act and acts, and every clause and article heretofore made for so much thereof as relates to declaring who shall not bear office in this country, is, and are hereby repealed and made void, to all intents and purposes as if the same had never been made.