Primary Resource

"An act enabling freemen to vote for burgesses and preventing false returnes of burgesses" (1676)

The following law, "An act enabling freemen to vote for burgesses and preventing false returnes of burgesses," passed by the General Assembly in its June 1676 session, during the tumult of Bacon's Rebellion (1676–1677), defines the franchise as consisting of all freemen.

Transcription from Original

— page 356 —

BEE it enacted by the governour, councell and burgesses of this grand assembly, and by the authority thereof, that the act of assembly made in the 22d yeare of his majesties reigne that now is, which forbids freemen to have votes in the election of burgesses be repealed, and that they may be admitted together with the freeholders and housekeepers to vote as formerly in such elections. And whereas the frequent false returnes of sherriffs upon writts for election of burgesses, have caused great disturbances and endangered much the peace of his majesty and quiett of his subjects, for prevention whereof for the future. Bee it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any

— page 357 —

sherriff within this country shall at any time after publication hereof make false returne of any burgess or burgesses, and be thereof legally convict, shall be fined and pay twentie thousand pounds of tobacco to the use of the countie, and tenn thousand pounds of tobacco to the partie greived, together with all costs and damages.