Primary Resource

Proclamation from Governor Nicholson (1690)

On July 26, 1690, Virginia lieutenant governorFrancis Nicholson issued this proclamation in response to a series of suspected slave conspiracies in the colony. He hoped to remind citizens of a law passed in 1680. Governor Francis Howard, baron Howard of Effingham, made a similar proclamation in 1687.

Transcription from Original

By the Right Honorable their Majties Leiut Governor

Whereas there are divers good lawes made in England & Va restraining the profaining the Sabbath day & agt the wicked sins of cursing, swearing, drunkenesse & debauchery & for the good govermt of this country & amonge the rest of the good & wholesome lawes there are severall acts made for the well ordering of Negroes particularly 1 made at a genll assembly begun June 8, 1680 to prevent the rambling about of Negroes (which must frequently happen on the Sabbath day) & agt Masters of families & overseers that shall entertaine or suffer them to be in their plantacons. And whereas there is an act made that enjoynes the haveing grand juries in every county that all offenders may be presented & a due course taken for their punishmts to deter the like offences for the future. Now to the end that the Sabbath day may be kept holey, & that all prophainenesse & debaucheryes of what sort soever may be discouraged & deterred that the judgmts of God Almighty bee not drawne down upon all heads & that the good & wholesome lawes concerning the same be put in execution & all other lawes for the good governmt of this country, I Francis Nicholson Esq their Majties Leiut Gov. of Va by the advise & consent of the councill doe by this proclamacon in their Majties names will & require all & every the justices of the peace in their severall county cts & stations to take care to present & punish such as are Sabbath breakers & all other prophaine & scandalous livers to put the lawes agt prophainouss in execution, & all other the good lawes for the well ordering this their Majties country. And take escpeciall care that Grandjuries of the best & most substantiall men in their counties bee duly sworne & a strict charge given them to inquire agt all offences & offenders & to present them to the county cts whoe are to cause all due prosecutions to be had agt offenders & such punishmts & penalties to be inflicted on them as the serverall lawes injoynes & to take care that the act about Negroes be read in all county cts & churches as the lawes injoynes. Hereof noe person is to faile as they will answer the contrary att their attmost perills. Given under my hand & the seale of the collony July 26, 1690. Fr. Nicholson