Front Page Titles (by Subject) 52: Connecticut Code of Laws - Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History
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52: Connecticut Code of Laws - Donald S. Lutz, Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History 
Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History, ed. Donald S. Lutz (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1998).
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Connecticut Code of Laws
Partial text, with the original spelling, taken from Trumbull and Hoadly, Public Records, vol. 1, 509–63.
This code, sometimes cited as “Mr. Ludlow’s code,” after the man who drew it up, or “The Code of 1650,” appears at the end of volume 2 of The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut. It is immediately preceded by the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut , which is termed the “Constitution of 1639” and serves as a preface to this text. In effect, then, this document is an extension of the constitution, which underlines the constitutional status of colonial codes of law. Although the text is too long to reproduce in full, it is hoped that these selections will establish its rightful place as a foundation document. The portions omitted deal with the more mundane aspects of law, such as penalties for burglary and theft, weights and measures, heights of fences, fines, the militia, swearing, murder, and the keeping of records. The portions included deal more directly with rights, values, and other aspects of self-definition in which a people might engage.
established by the general court, may, 1650
Forasmuch as the free fruition of such Libberties, Immunities, Privileges, as Humanity, Civillity and Christianity, call for, as due to euery man in his place and proportion, without Impeachmt and infringement, hath euer beene and euer will bee the Tranquillity and Stabillity of Churches and Common wealths, and the denyall or deprivall thereof, the disturbance if not ruine of both:
It is therefore ordered by this Courte and Authority thereof, that no mans life shall bee taken away, no mans honor or good name shall bee stained, no mans person shall be arrested, restrained, banished, dismembered nor any way punished; no man shall bee deprived of his wife or children, no mans goods or estate shall bee taken away from him, nor any wayes indamaged, vnder colour of Law or countenance of Authority, vnless it be by the vertue or equity of some express Law of the Country warranting the same, established by a Generall Courte, and sufficiently published, or in case of the defect of a Law in any perticular case, by the word of God ...1
It is ordered and decreed by this Court and Authority thereof, that wheresoeuer the ministry of the word is established according to the order of the Gospell throughout this Jurissdiction, euery person shall duely resorte and attend therevnto respectiuely vppon the Lords day, and vppon such publique fast dayes and dayes of Thanksgiuing as are to bee generally kept by the appointment of Authority. And if any person within this Jurissdiction shall without just and necessary cause withdraw himselfe from hearing the publique ministry of the word, after due meanes of conviction vsed, he shall forfeit for his absence from euery such publique meeting, fiue shillings: All such offences to bee heard and determined by any one Magistrate or more, from time to time.
Forasmuch as the peace and prosperity of Churches and members thereof, as well as Ciuill rights and Libberties are carefuly to bee maintained,—It is ordered by this Courte and decreed, that the Civill Authority heere established hath power and libberty to see the peace, ordinances and rules of Christe bee obserued in euery Church according to his word; as allso to deale with any Church member in a way of Ciuill [justice] notwithstanding any church relation, office or interest, so it bee done in a Ciuill and not in an Eclesiasticall way; nor shall any church censure degrade or depose any man from any Ciuill dignitye, office or authority hee shall haue in the Commonwealth ...
It is ordered by this Courte and Authority thereof, that no person, howseholder or other, shall spend his time idlely or unprofitably, under paine of such punishment as the Courte shall thinke meet to inflict: and for this end, it is ordered, that the Constable of euery place shall vse speciall care and diligence to take knowledge of offendors in this kinde, especially of common Coasters, vnprofitable fowlers, and Tobacko takers, and present the same vnto any Magistrate, who shall haue power to heare and determine the case or transferr it to the [next] Courte.
It is ordered and decreed, that where any company of Indians doe sitt downe neare any English Plantations, that they shall declare whoe is their Sachem or Chiefe, and that the said Chiefe or Sachem shall pay to the saide English such tresspasses as shall be comitted by any Indian in the said plantation adioyning, either by spoyling or killing any Cattle or Swyne, either with trapps, doggs or arrowes; And they were not to pleade that it was done by strangers, vnless they can produce the prtye and deliuer him or his goods into the custody of the english: And they shall pay the double dammage if it were done voluntarily. The like ingagement this Courte all so makes to them in case of wrong or iniury done to them by the English, wch shall bee paid by the prty by whome it was done, if hee can bee made to appeare, or otherwise by the Towne in whose limmitts such facts are committed.
Forasmuich as or lenity and gentlnes towards Indians hath made them growe bold and insolent, to enter into Englishmens howses, and vnadvisedly handle swords and peeces and other instruments, many times to the hazzard of limbs or liues of English or Indians, and allso oft steale diuerse goods out of such howses where they resorte; for the preventing whereof, It is ordered, that whatsoeuer Indian shall hereafter meddle with or handle any English mans weapons, of any sorte, either in theire howses or in the fields, they shall forfeitt for euery such defaulte halfe a fathom of wampum; and if any hurte or injurye shall therevppon follow to any persons life or limbe, wound for wound, and shall pay for the healing such wounds and other dammages. And for anythinge they steale, they shall pay double, and suffer such further punnishment as the Magistrates shall adiudge them. The Constable of any Towne may attache and arrest any Indian that shall transgress in any such kinde before mentioned; and bring them before some Magistrate, whoe may execute the penalty of this order vppon offendors in any kinde beforementioned; and bring them before some Magistrate, whoe may execute the penalty of this order vppon offendors in any kinde except life or limbe, and any person that doth see such defaults may prosecute, and shall haue halfe the forfeiture.
It is ordered by this Courte and Authority thereof, that no man within this Jurissdiction shall, directly or indirectly, amend, repaire, or cause to bee amended or repaired, any gunn, small or great, belonging to any Indian, nor shall indeauor the same; nor shall sell nor giue to any Indian, directly or indirectly, any such gunn, nor any gunpowder, or shott, or lead, or shott mould, or any military weapon or weapons, armor, or arrowe heads; nor sell nor barter nor giue any dogg or doggs, small or great; vppon paine of ten pounds fyne for euery offence, at least in any one of the aforementioned perticulars; and the Courte shall haue power to increase the fyne, or to impose corporall punnishment where a fyne cannott bee had, at theire discretion.
And it is allso ordered, that no person nor persons shall trade with them at or about theire wigwams, but in there vessells or pinnaces, or at theire owne howses, vnder penalty of twenty shillings for each default ...
Whereas diuerse persons departe from amongst vs, and take vp theire aboade with the Indians, in a prophane course of life; for the preventing whereof,
It is ordered that whatsoeuer person or persons that now inhabiteth, or shall inhabitt within this Jurissdiction, and shall departe from vs and settle or joine with the Indians, that they shall suffer three yeares imprisonment at least, in the Howse of Correction, and vndergoe such further censure, by fyne or corporall punishment, the perticular Courte shall judge meet to inflict in such cases ...
This Courte, judging it necessary that some meanes should bee vsed to conuey the lighte and knowledge of God and of his Worde to the Indians and Natiues amongst vs, doe order that one of the teaching Elders of the Churches in this Jurissdiction, with the helpe of Thomas Stanton, shall bee desired, twise at least in every yeare to goe amongst the neighbouring Indians and indeauor to make knowne to them the Councells of the Lord, and thereby to draw and stirr them vp to direct and order all theire wayes and coversations according to the rule of his Worde; And Mr. Gouernor and Mr. Deputy, and the other Magistrates are desired to take care to see the things attended, and with theire owne presence so farr as may bee convenient, incourage the same.
This Courte hauing duly weighed the joint determination and argument of the Commissioners of the United English Colonyes at New Hauen, in Anno 1646, in reference to the Indians, and judging it to bee both according to rules of prudence and righteousness, doe fully assent thervnto, and order, that it bee recorded amongst the Acts of this Courte, and attended in future practice as occasions may present and require: The said conclusion is as followeth;—The Commissioners seriously considering the many willfull wrongs and hostile practices of the Indians against the English, together with theire interteining, protecting and rescuing of offenders, as late our experience showeth, (wch if suffered, the peace of the Colonyes cannot bee secured,) It is therefore concluded, that in such cases the Magistrates of any of the Jurissdictions may, at the charge of the Plaintiff, send some convenient strength of English, and according to the nature and value of the offence and damage, seize and bring away any of that plantation of Indians that shall interteine, protect or rescue the offender, though it should bee in another Jurissdiction, when through distance of place, commission or direction cannot bee had, after notice and due warning giuen them, as actors, or at least accessary to the iniurye and damage done to the English, onely women and children to bee sparingly seized, vnless knowne to bee some way guilty. And because it will bee chargeable keeping Indians in prison, and if they should escape they are like to prove more insolent and dangerous after, It was thought fitt that vppon such seizure, the delinquent or satisfaction bee againe demaunded of the Sagamore or plantation of Indians guilty or accessory as before; and if it bee denyed, that then the Magistrates of the Jurissdiction deliuer vp the Indian seized to the party or partyes endammaged, either to serue or be shipped out and exchanged for neagers, as the case will justly beare. And though the Comissioners foresee that such severe though just proceeding may provoake the Indians to an vniust seizing of some of ours, yet they could not at present finde no better meanes to preserue the peace of the Colonyes, all the aforementioned outrages and insolences tending to an open warr: Onely they thought fitt that before any such seizure bee made in any plantation of Indians, the ensuing Declaration bee published, and a Coppye giuen to the perticular Saggamores: the Commissioners for the Vnited Colonyes, considering how peace with righteousness may bee preserued betweixt all the English and the severall plantations of the Indians, thought fitt to declare and publish, as they will doe no iniurye to them, so if any Indian or Indians of what plantation so euer, doe any willfull dammage to any of the English colonyes, vppon proofe, they will in a peaceable way require just satisfaction, according to the nature of the offence and dammage. But if any Saggamore or plantation of Indians, after notice and due warninge, interteine, hyde, protect, keepe, conuey away or further the escape of any such offendor or offendors, the English will require satisfaction of such Indian and Saggamore or Indian plantation; and if they deny it, they will right themselues as they may, vppon such as so meinteine them that doe the wrong, keeping peace and all tearmes of Amity and Greement with all other Indians.
Forasmuch as there is a necessary vse of howses of Common Interteinment in euery Common wealth, and of such as retaile wine, beare and victualls, yet because there are so many abuses of that lawfull liberty, both by persons interteining and persons interteined, there is allso need of strict lawes and rules to regulate such an imployment;
It is therefore ordered by this Courte and Authority thereof, that no person or persons licensed for Common Interteinement shall suffer any to bee drunken or drinke excessiuely, viz: aboue halfe a pointe of wyne for one person at one tyme, or to continue tipling aboue the space of halfe an houre, or at vnseasonable times, or after nine of the clock at night, in or about any of theire howses, on penalty of fiue shillings for euery such offence. And euery person found drunken, viz: so that hee bee thereby bereaued or dissabled in the vse of this vnderstanding, appearing in his speech or gesture, in any of the said howses or elsewhere, shall forfeitt ten shillings; and for excessive drinking, three shillings, foure pence; and for continnuing aboue halfe an houre tipling, two shillings six pence; and for tipling at vnseasonable times, or after nien a clock at night, fiue shillings, euery offence in these perticulars, being lawfully convicted thereof; and for want of payment, such shall bee imprisoned vntill they pay, or bee set in the stocks, one houre or more, in some open place, as the weather will permitt, not exceeding three houres at one time; Provided notwithstanding, such licensed persons may interteine seafaring men or land trauellers in the night season when they come first on shoare, or from theire journye, for theire necessary refreshment, or when they prepare for theire voyage or journeye the next day early, [if there] bee no dissorder amongst them; and allso strangers and other persons in an orderly way may continnue [in] such howses of Common Interteinement during m[eal] times or vppon lawful buisines, what time their occasions shall require ...
juryes and jurors
It is ordered by the Authority of this Courte, that in all cases wch are entred vnder forty shillings, the sute shall bee tryed by the Courte of Magistrates as they shall judge most agreeable to equity and righteousness. And in all cases that are tryed by Juries, it is left to the Magistrates to impannell a Jury of sixe or twelue, as they shall judge the nature of the case shall require; and if four of sixe, or eight of twelue, agree, the verdict shall bee deemed to all intents and purposes sufficient and full; vppon wch judgement may bee entred and execution graunted, as if they had all concurred; but if it fall out that there bee not such a concurrence as is before mentioned, the Jurors shall returne the case to the Courte with theire reasons, and a speciall verdict is to bee drawne therevpon, and the voate of the greater number of Magistrates shall carrye the same; and the judgement to bee entred and other proceedings as in case of a verdict by a Jury...
It is ordered and decreed, that there shall bee a Grand Jury of twelue or fourteene able men warned to appeare euery Courte yearely in Septembr, or as many and oft as the Gouernor or Courte shall thinke meete, to make presentments of the breaches of any Lawes or orders or any other misdemeanors they shall know of in this Jurissdiction ...
This Courte being sensible of the great dissorder growing in this Common wealth, through the contempts cast vppon the Civill Authority, wch willing to prevent, doe order and decree:
That whosoeuer shall henceforth openly or willingly defame any courte of Justice, or the sentences and proceedings of the same, or any of the Magistrates or judges of any such Courte, in respect of any Act or sentence therein passed, and being thereof lawfully convicted in any Generall Courte or Courte [of] Magistrates, shall bee punnished for the same by fyne, imprisonment, dissfranchisement or bannishment, as the quality and measure of the offence shall deserue.
It being one chiefe project of that old deluder Sathan, to keepe men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former times keeping them in an unknown tongue, so in these latter times by perswading them from the vse of Tongues, so that at least the true sence and meaning of the originall might bee clouded with false glosses of saint seeming deceiuers; and that Learning may not bee buried in the Graue of or Forefathers, in Church and Common wealth, the Lord assisting our indeauers,—It is therefore ordered by this Courte and Authority thereof, that euery Towneshipp within this Jurissdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to the number of fifty houshoulders, shall then forthwith appoint one within theire Towne to teach all such children as shall resorte to him, to write and read, whose wages shall bee paid either by the parents or masters of such children, or by the inhabitants in generall by way of supplye, as the maior parte of those who order the prudentialls of the Towne shall appointe; provided that those who send theire children bee not oppresed by more than they can haue them taught for in other Townes. And it is further ordered, that where any Towne shall increase to the number of one hundred families or housholders, they shall sett vp a Grammer Schoole, the masters thereof being able to instruct youths so farre as they may bee fitted for the Vniversity. And if any Towne neglect the Performance hereof aboue one yeare, then euery such Towne shall pay fiue pounds pr Annum, to the next such Schoole, till they shall performe this order ...
It is ordered and decreed, that within twenty dayes after the session of euery Generall Courte, the Secretary thereof shall send forth Coppies of such Lawes and orders as are or shall bee made at either of them, wch are of generall concernement for the gouernement of this Commonwealth, to the Constables of each Towne within this Jurissdiction, for them to publish within fourteene dayes more, at some publique meeting in theire seueral Townes, and cause to bee written into a Booke and kept for the Vse of the Towne. And once euery yeare the Constables in each Towne shall read or cause to bee read in some publique meeting all the Capitall Lawes, and giue notice to all the Inhabitants where they may at any time see the rest of the Lawes and orders and acquaint themselues therewith: And the Secretary of the Courte Shall haue twelue pence for the Coppy of the orders of each Session aforesaid, from each of the Townes ...
Forasmuch as it is obserued that many abuses are crept in and committed by frequent taking of Tobacko, It is ordered by the Authority of the Courte, that no person vnder the age of twenty yeares, nor any other that hath not allready accustomed himselfe to the use thereof, shall take any Tobacko, vntill hee hath brought a certificate vnder the hands of some who are approued for knowledge and skill in phisick, that it is usefull for him, and allso that hee hath receiued a lycense from the Court for the same. And for the regulating of those whoe either by theire former taking it haue to theire owne aprehensions made it necessary to them, or vppon due advice are perswaded to the vse thereof, It is ordered, that no man within this Colonye, after the publication hereof, shall take any Tobacko publiquely in the street, high wayes, or any barne yards, or vppon training dayes in any open places, vnder the penalty of six pence for each offence against this order in any the perticulares thereof, to bee paid without gainsaying vppon conviction, by the testimony of one wittness that is without just exception, before any one Magistrate. And the Constables in the severall Townes are required to make presentment to each particular courte of such as they doe vnderstand and euict to bee transgressors of this order ...
It is ordered by this Courte and decreed, that if any person within these Libberties haue been or shall be fyned or whipped for any scandalous offence, hee shall not bee admitted after such time to haue any voate in Towne or Common wealth, nor to serue on the Juiry untill the Courte shall manifest theire satisfaction ...
[1. ]At this point the capital laws are reproduced word for word from the December, 1642 ordinance (see the Capitall Lawes of Connecticut ).