On this day in 1611, Sir Thomas Dale issued military regulations for his soldiers intended to supplement civil orders released a year earlier by Sir Thomas Gates. The combined orders were printed in London in 1612 with the title For the Colony in Virginea Britannia. Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall, &c.
To give you a sense of how the two Sir Thomases envisioned Virginia, they ordered a seven-page prayer to be read publicly twice a day. Any form of robbery, meanwhile, whether of “Apparrell, Linnen, or Wollen, Hose or Shooes, Hats or Caps, Instruments or Tooles of Steele, Iron, etc.,” was punishable by death.
Also, bakers were expected to bake. This might seem obvious, but the Sir Thomases nevertheless urged their baker to “take notice of [his duties], upon paine for the first time offending herein of losing his eares.” Same for the cook.
And the Sir Thomases were understandably hard on those who wasted everybody’s time “detracting, murmuring, calumniating, or slandering” their betters. Oh, and don’t even get them started on the sodomites.
While it may be true that the laws were sometimes overly strict, let’s face it: post–Starving Time, Virginia needed the discipline. And when the Sir Thomases were done, you could practically bounce a quarter off her.
IMAGES: Sir Thomas Dale and the cover of the published Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall, &c. (1612)