Defining the Franchise (1646)

Hening's Statutes at LargeHening's Statutes at Large

The following law, passed by the General Assembly in its October 1646 session, requires all freemen to vote in elections of burgesses or face a fine. Some spelling has been modernized.


— page 333 —
Hening's Statutes at Large

WHEREAS divers inconveniencies are likely to ensue by disorderly and illegal election Burgesses, by subscribing of hands contrary to the warrant directed for the sayd election, by which means it alsoe happeneth that few or none doe appeare personally according to sumons, Be it therefore inacted, That noe

— page 334 —
Hening's Statutes at Large

election shall be made of any Burgesse or Burgesses but by plurality of voices, and that no hand writing shall be admitted: Be it alsoe further inacted, That what freemen soever, haveing lawful sumons of the time and place for election of Burgesses, that shall not make repaire accordingly, Such person or persons unles there be lawfull cause for the absenting himselfe shall forfeit 100 lb. of tob’o. for his non appearance, ffreemen being covennt. servants being exempted from the said fine, to be levyed by distresse in case of refusall, And is to be disposed of towards the defraying of the Burgesses charges in the county.

October 1646
The General Assembly passes a law extending the right to vote to all "freemen," or any man who is not a slave or an indentured servant.
APA Citation:
General Assembly. Defining the Franchise (1646). (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
General Assembly. "Defining the Franchise (1646)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 18 May. 2024
Last updated: 2020, December 07
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