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Act for the Better Preservation of the Peace of Virginia


An Act for the better preservation of the Peace of VIRGINIA, and preventing Unlawfull and Treasonable Associations.

Whereas, many evil and ill-disposed persons, inhabitants of this his Majesty' s Colony and Dominion of Virginia, contrary to their duty and allegiance, on or about the first of May, in the thirty-fourth year of his Majesty' s reign, and divers other days and times tumultuously and mutinously assembled and gathered together to cut up and destroy all Tobacco Plants, and to perpetrate the same in a traitorous and rebellious manner, with force and arms entered the Plantations of many of his Majesty' s good subjects of this Colony, resolving, by open force, a general and total destruction of all Tobacco Plants within this his Majesty' s Dominion, to the hazarding the subversion of the whole Government, and ruin and destruction of his Majesty' s good subjects,


if, by God' s assistance, and the prudent care and conduct of the then Lieutenant Governour and Council, the mutinaries had not been timely prevented, for which treasons and rebellions against his Majesty, and this his Government, some notorious actors have been indicted, convicted, and some of them executed, and suffered such pains and punishments as for their treasons and rebellions they justly deserved. Now to the end and purpose that none of his Majesty' s subjects may be at any time hereafter seduced by the specious pretences of any persons, that such tumultuous and mutinous assemblies to cut up or destroy Tobacco Plants or any other the crop or labours of the inhabitants of the said Colony, are but riots and trespasses; and to the end, his Majesty' s subjects of this his Dominion may be the better secured in their estates and possessions, the Burgesses of this present General Assembly pray that it may be enacted, And be it enacted by the Governour, Council, and Burgesses of this Assembly, That if any person or persons whatsoever, to the number of eight or above, being assembled together, shall, at any time after the first day of June, now next ensuing, intend, go about, practice, or put in use with force, unlawfully to cut, pull up, or destroy any Tobacco Plants, either in beds or hills, growing within the said Colony, or to destroy the same either curing or cured, either before the same is in hogsheads, or afterwards, or to pull down, burn, or destroy the houses or other places where any such Tobacco shall be, or to pull down the fences or enclosures of any Tobacco Plants, with intent to cut up or destroy the same, (and such person or persons being commanded or required, in his Majesty' s name, by the Governour or other Commander-in-Chief, or any one of the Council, or one or more of the Justices of the Peace of the said Colony, commanding and requiring such persons to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations) shall continue together by the space of four hours after such Proclamation made, at or nigh the place where such persons shall be so assembled, that then every such persons so willingly assembled, in forceable manner to do any of the acts before mentioned, and so continuing together as aforesaid, and being thereof lawfully convicted, shall be deemed, declared, and adjudged to be traitors, and shall suffer pains of death, and also lose and forfeit as in cases of high treason: Provided always, That no person or persons whatsoever shall incur the pains and penalties hereby inflicted, unless he or they be prosecuted and indicted thereupon, within twelve months after the offence committed, any thing herein contained to the contrary notwithstanding.