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therefore authorised Mr. Samuel Pleasants, the then printer to the commonwealth, to publish three hundred and fifty copies, for a certain stipulated sum; the editor retaining the copy-right, and all the materials to himself. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th volumes had been publislied, when the interruptions produced by the war, and the death of Mr. Pleasants, with the sale of his printing establishment, and the abandonment of the business by his representatives, suspended the further progress of the work. The strong terms in which its prosecusion was recommended, by the committee of revision, in their report to the legislature, at the session of 1817, aided by the correct views of its importance, taken by the members of that body, gave rise to the act of the 10th of March, 1819, which is prefixed to this volume.
If the publication had progressed, as was originally contemplated, the work would, by this time, have been nearly completed. As so much delay has unavoidably ensued, the edit will endeavour, by the most unremitted exertions, to fill up the chasm which has been produced.
The fifth and sixth volumes will be published during the present year, and the seventh put to press. At the meeting of the legislature, in 1820, he expects to present them with a volume containing the laws of the revolution.
In this volume, the revised acts of 1748 commence; the operation of which was suspended until the tenth of June 1751. They were first published, as enacted by the colonial assembly, in the edition of 1752, without waiting for the royal assent. But the king, as announced by a proclamation of the governor of the eighth of April 1752, baving repealed ten of the acts of 1748, their titles are published at the end of the volume, with a notification that they are so repealed. From hence it may be infered that, the printing of the edition of 1752, had too far progressed before a notification of the repeal of these acts was received, to omit them in their proper places. The proclamation, at large, is inserted at the end of this volume. * This exercise of the royal prerogative was received with great sensibility by the legis. lature of Virginia, and its constitutionality strongly questioned; as may be perceived by the joint representation of the Governor Council, and Burgesses, to the King, published in a note to chapter II of the acts of 1748, decluring sluves to be personal estate, &c.t In this representation, the reasons and necessity of enacting these laws are pressed with great weight, and the propriety of the veto exercised by the king repelled with equal firmness. The repeal of these acts, together with the incorrect manner in which the edition of 1752 bad been printed, without doubt,
* See pa. 567
t See pa: 432
produced the edition of 1769, in which the errors of the edition of 1752 are corrected, the repealed acts of 1748 omitted, and such laws of a public nature inserted, as had been passed, or re-enacted, with amendments, since the revisal of 1748. The editor has in his possession the very copy of the edition of 1752, from which that of 1769, was printed. Every act noted in manuscript “ not to be printed” is omitted, in the edition of 1769; every correction introduced; the marginal notes printed word for word, as they are written; and the chapters numbered precisely as they are marked in manuscript. Besides, in various parts of the volume, the words “ Examin'd so far with the Rolls" occur; and the prirter's notes in the margin, sbew the page on which each sheet of the edition of 1769 commences. On comparing the acts contained in the last mentioned edition, with the former laws, of which it was composed, it will be perceived, that although the chapters are differently numbered, yet the sections remain unaltered, and that no new matter, except mere corrections, is introduced. All these circumstances prove, that the laws contained in the edition of 1769, are a mere compilation, provided for by a resolution or order of the General Assembly, as appears by the title page; for no act can be found authorising a revisal at that period.
That collection was long known by the appellation of the OLD BODY OF THE LAWS, as contradistinguished, from the subsequent edi. tions, and has ever been considered as of undoubted authority.
At the end of this volume is inserted the official proclamation repealing certain laws passed at the revisal of 1748, already noticed, and the form of giving the Royal Assent to an act of assembly, passed under the colonial government.* These papers are preserved in a book in the office of the General Court, formerly under the direction of the Secretary of the Colony, who united, in his own person, the present offices of Clerk of the Council, Register of the Land Office, and with whose office that of the Clerk of the General Court was connected. It may not be unimportant to remark, that there are now, in the clerk's oilice of the General Court, a number of papers and records, which properly belong to the Executive department, and that of the Re. gister of the Land Office. But it would require considerable labour to collate them. At one period, the Secretary scems to have had the papers of his office recorded, without regard to method, or the subject matter. In the same volume, we often meet with proclamations, pleas of the crown, and patents for land. And there can be but little doubt, that there are now in the office of the Geveral Court, a number of patents for land, for which ineffectual
See pa. 559.
searches have been made in the Register's Office. Indeed, the negtigence of the Secretary was at one time so great, as to excite the animadversion of the General Assembly, and to render a special act necessary.*
Notwithstanding every effort has been made by the editor, he has to regret that there are a few private and local acts which he has been compelled to publish for the present by their titles only; it having been impossible to procure entire copies of the acts themselves, in this country. But he has sent to England a list of the titles, to which the acts are deficient, from whence he has every reason to expect the entire acts will be obtained, though at a very great expense. Should he succeed in procuring them, of which he has the best founded hopes, they will be published in an Appendix to the last volume, together with a General digested Index to the whole work. At a very early period of the colonial government, two copies of the laws of each session were sent to England; one to the lord Chancellor, or one of the Principal Secretaries of State, and another to the lords Commissioners for Trade and foreign Plantations,t to whom they were always referred by the king in council, before the royal assent or disallowance was signified. In consequence of this information, imparted by the editor, the entire copy of a private act had alrea, dy been obtained from England, of which the title only had been preserved in this country. From the end of the year 1748 down to the present time, the editor has the satisfaction to state that, he has in his possession every act of the General Assembly, and every ordinance of Convention, passed in Virginia.
WILLIAM WALLER HENING.
List of Governors of Virginia, during the
period comprised in this Volume. WILLIAM GOOCH, esq. wbo was appointed go- Wm. Gooch vcrnor in 1727, (see vol. 4. pa. 3.) continued in office esq. during the whole period comprised in this volume, and until some time between 1749, and 1753.
An Act concerning the publication of the
Statutes at Large.
[Passed March 10th 1819.] I. Be it enacted, by the General Assembly, That in order to ensure the publication of the Statutes at Large, which was authorized by an act passed on the fifth day of February one thousand eight hundred and eight, the Governor be, and he is hereby authorized and required to subscribe on behalf of the Commonwealth, on such terms as are prescribed by the said act, for so many copies of the said work yet to be printed, as will make the whole number amount to eight hundred copies, including the number mentioned in the act aforesaid; the surplus copies of which, after distributing to public officers, in their discretion, so many as the Executive may deem expedient, not exceeding one hundred and fifty copies, shall be sold on public account, in such manner as the Executive may think proper to direct; the impression not to exceed one thousand copies of each volume. The Commonwealth taking the copies aforesaid, is entitled to the exclusive copy-right thereof.
2. And be it further enacted, That upon the certificate of any two members of the Executive Council, for the time being, annexed to each volume, that the said laws have been carefully compared by them, with the original laws, and found to be truly and accurately printed, they shall be received and considered of equal authority in the courts of this Commonwealth, as the originals from which they are taken.
3. This act shall commence and be in force from and after the passage thereof.