Foundations of Colonial America: A Documentary History - Vol. 3

By W. Keith Kavenagh | Go to book overview

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Introduction

The early settlers of the southern colonies brought with them traditional English institutions of local government. Because of the new environment and the varieties of experiences of the settlers these institutions underwent modifications which resulted in the elimination of many of the old forms and the alteration of others. In some areas the local units of government gained powers over their English counterparts; in others they lost much of their power and were of minor importance. Some official positions such as the beadle, the reeve, and the seneschal never found a place in the new society, while others such as the sheriff, the constable, and the bailiff became central figures in local governments. Many of the early settlers were yeomen from the small propertied and skilled labor classes in England. Although some had held local offices in England, most were unfamiliar with the precise duties of local officials even though they had probably come into frequent contact with them by custom or compulsion in the towns, parishes, or manors which they left behind them. Consequently, when called upon to create similar offices and jurisdictions or to perform their functions they did so with an eye to what was practical and realistic under the circumstances rather than adhering to by form and precedent.

During the seventeenth century in Virginia as the population expanded outward there arose a need for local governments. As early as 1618 a form of local government had emerged but the distinction between it and the central government remained

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Foundations of Colonial America: A Documentary History - Vol. 3
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Foundations of Golonial America *
  • Preface v
  • Foundations of Colonial America *
  • Contents xi
  • Colonial Charters *
  • The Structure and Function of Government *
  • The Regulation of the Status and Activities of Individuals *
  • Taxation *
  • Regulation of Economic Activity *
  • Ecclesiastical Affairs *
  • Acts of Parliament and Royal Pr Oclama Tions *
  • Local Government *
  • Land Acquisition *
  • Laws Affecting Property Ownership *
  • Public and Private Records of Land Distribution Deeds, Grants, Patents *
  • Public and Private Records of Land Distribution: Wills and Estates *
  • Glossary *
  • Table of Regnal Years *
  • Bibliography *
  • Index *
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