“Concerning Huie and Cries.” (March 1657)


The following law, passed by the General Assembly in its March 1657 session, sets out the protocol for publicizing petitions to retrieve indentured servants who ran away. This is the earliest legislation in the Virginia colony concerning the business of apprehending fugitives. This law is based on the English tradition of hue and cry, in which the public’s aid was solicited in the apprehension of criminals. This tradition is a cornerstone of the history of the servant and slave patrols in early Virginia.


WHEREAS huy and cries after runnaway servants hath been much neglected to the great damage and loss of the inhabitants of this colloney Bee it therefore enacted and confirmed by the authority of this present Grand Assembly, that all such huy and cries shall be signed either by the Governour or some of the Councill, or vnder the hand of some com’r. nameing the countie where the said com’r. lives, and the same shall be conveyed from house to house with all convenient speed according as the direction thereof expresseth: And every com’r. of each county vnto whose house by this meanes the said huy and cry shall come shall then date and subscribe the same, And the master of everie house that shall make default in the speedy conveyance of any such huies and cries shall for everie such default forfeite and pay vnto the owners of any such runnawaie servant is found he shall be apprehended and sent from constable to constable vntill such runnawaie or runnawayes shall be delivered to his or their master or mistresse and if any neglect can be proved against the constable hee to be fined three hundred and fiftie pounds of tobacco.

APA Citation:
General Assembly. “Concerning Huie and Cries.” (March 1657). (2022, September 23). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
General Assembly. "“Concerning Huie and Cries.” (March 1657)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (23 Sep. 2022). Web. 17 Apr. 2024
Last updated: 2023, September 11
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