Front Page Titles (by Subject) draft of a bill establishing county courts 1 - The Works, vol. 2 (1771-1779)
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draft of a bill establishing county courts 1 - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 2 (1771-1779) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 2.
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draft of a bill establishing county courts1
v. s. a.
[Nov. 4, 1776.]
For fixing the places of holding courts for the counties of Pittsylvania & Henry. Be it enacted by the General assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia that it shall & may be lawful for the freeholders of the said county of Pittsylvania qualified by law to vote for representatives in general assembly, & they are hereby required to meet at the house of Richard Faithing in the said county on the day of next, then & there to chuse the most convenient place (having due regard as well to the extent of the said county as to the populousness of its several parts) for holding courts for the said county in future.
And be it further enacted that notice shall be given to the freeholders of the said county of Pittsylvania by the Sheriff, ministers & readers, in the same manner & under the like penalties as are directed for giving notice of an election of representatives to serve in General assembly & that the election shall be held by the said Sheriff in the same manner as such election of representatives to serve in General assembly, writing down the names of the places voted for, every one in a separate column of his poll, & the names of every freeholder voting under the place for which he votes: & the place for which the most votes shall be given shall thenceforth be the place for holding courts for the said county: & after the election shall be made the sheriff shall return the original poll, attested by himself, to the clerk’s office of the said county, by whom the same shall be recorded.
And be it further enacted that the same rules & proceedings shall be observed in every article relating to the said election & all persons failing to do their respective duties shall incur the same and be subject to the same actions as are prescribed by law in case of an election of representatives to serve in General assembly.
And be it further enacted that it shall and may be lawful for the freeholders of the said county of Henry qualified by law to vote for representatives to serve in General assembly, & they are hereby required, at the time & place to make their first choice of representatives (which place is hereby declared to be the plantation of John Rolands) to make choice also of the most convenient place for holding courts for the said county of Henry in future having due regard as well to the extent of the said county as to the populousness of it’s several parts, which election shall be notified & held, & in all circumstances to be conducted by the same rules & proceedings, & all persons failing to do their respective duties shall incur the like penalties & be subject to the same action as before directed for the county of Pittslyvania.
Provided that if the freeholders of either of the said counties of Pittsylvania or Henry shall be prevented by rain snow or accidental rise of watercourses from assembling at the places of election on either of the days beforementioned that then it shall & may be lawful for the Sheriff & he is hereby required to postpone the election so prevented until that day week, & so in like manner from week to week so often as the case shall happen.
And whereas by the usual course of the law sheriffs can not be qualified for their offices but by the justices of the peace in open court at the court-house of their counties; and no court can be held for the qualification of a sheriff for the said county of Henry until a place for holding the same is fixed on as before directed; be therefore that the sheriff for the county of Pittsylvania shall have authority & power & he is hereby required to notify & hold the sd election for the county of Henry as well of a place for holding courts as aforesaid as for making their first choice of representatives to serve in General assembly, in like manner & subject to the same penalties & actions as are before presented in the case of the election for the county of Pittsylvania.
[1 ]On Oct. 25th, leave was granted to introduce this bill, and Jefferson, Williams, Bullitt, and Terry were named to do it. On Nov. 4th, it was read for the first time and on the 5th, it was read a second time and committed to the Committee of the Whole. On Nov. 21st, it was sent back to the drafting committee, to which the members from Pittsylvania were added. It was reported again on Dec. 2d, and passed on the 5th. It is difficult to discover the cause for dissatisfaction with Jefferson’s draft, which led to its recommittal, for a comparison with the act as passed gives no indication of it, but it undoubtedly was intended to aid the western counties in the struggle to obtain equal privileges with those on the tide-waters.