Structure of Town Governments

October 10, 1639

The Townes of Hartford, Windsore and Wethersfield, or any other of the Townes within this jurissdiction, shall each of them haue power to dispose of thei r owne lands vndisposed of, and all other comodityes arysing out of their owne lymitts bounded out by the Court, the libertyes of the great River excepted, as also to choose their owne officers, and make such orders as may be for the well ordering of their owne Townes, being not repugnant to any law here established, as also to impose penaltyes for the breach of the same, and to estreat and levy the same, and for non-payment to distrayne, and yf there be noe personall estate, to sue to the Court to sell his or their house or land, for making satisfaction. Also each of the aforesayd Townes shall haue power by a generall consent once every yeare to choose out 3, 5, or of their cheefe Inhabitants, whereof one to be chosen moderator, who having taken an oath prouided in that case, shall haue a casting voice in case they be equall, wch sayd prsons shall meett once in every 2 monthes & being mett together, or the major part of them, whereof the moderator to be one, they shall haue power to heare, end and determine all controversies, eyther trespasses or debts not exceeding 40s. provided both partyes live in the same Towne; also any two of them or the moderator may graunt out summons to the party or partyes to come to their meetings to answere the actions; also to administer oath to any witnesses for the clearing of the cause, and to giue judgement and execution against the party offending. But yf eyther party be grieved att the sentence, he shall haue liberty to appeale to a higher Court, prvided it be before judgment and execution be graunted. But yf it fall out there be noe ground for the appeale, the Court to confirme the judgment and giue good costs, and fine or punish the prty appealing.

The Townes aforesayd shall each of them prvide a Ledger Booke, with an Index or alphabett vnto the same: Also shall choose one who shall be a Towne Clerke or register, who shall before the Generall Court in Aprill next, record every man’s house and land already graunted and measured out to him, with the bounds & quantity of the same, and whosoever shall neglect 3 monthes after notice given to bring into the sayd Towne Clerke or Register a note of his house and land, with the bounds and quantity of the same, by the nearest estimacion, shall forfeit 10s. and soe 10s. a month for every month he shall soe neglect. The like to be done for all land hereafter graunted and measured to any; and all bargaines or morgages of land whatsoever shall be accounted of noe value vntill they be recorded, for wch entry the Register shall receaue 6d. for every parcell, delivering every owner a coppy of the same vnder his hand, whereof 4d. shall be for himself and 2d. for the Secretary of the Court. And the sayd Register shall, every Generall Court, in Aprill and September, deliver into the same a transcripte fayrely written of all such graunts, bargaines or ingagements recorded by him in the Towne Booke, and the Secretary of the Court shall record it in a booke fayrely written prvided for that purpose, and shall preserue the coppy broutht in vnder the hand of the Town Clerke. Also the sayd Towne Clerke shall haue for evrery serch of a parcell 1d. and for every coppy of a parcell 1d.; and a coppy of the same vnder the hands of the sayd Register or Towne Clerk and two of the men chosen to governe the Towne, shall be a sufficient evidence to all that haue the same.

After the death and decease of any person posessed of any estate, be it more or lesse, and who maketh a will in writing or by word of mouth, those men wch are appointed to order the affayres of the Towne where any such person deceaseth, shall within one month after the same, at furthest, cause a true Inventory to be taken of the sayd estate in writing, as also take a coppy of the sayd will or testament and enter it into a booke or keepe the coppy in safe custody, as also enter the names vppon record of the Children and Legatees of the Testator of deceased prson, and the sayd orderers of the Affayres of the Towne are to see every such will and Inventory to be exhibited into the publique Court, within one quarter of a yeare, where the same is to be registered; and the sayd orderers of the affayres of the Towne shall doe their indeauour in seeing that the estate of the Testator be not wasted nor spoyled, but improved for the best advantage of the Children or Legatees of the Testator, according to the mind of the Testator, for their and euery of their use, by their and every of their allowance and approbacion. But when any prson dyeth intestate, the sayd orderers of the affayres of the Townes shall cause an Inventory to be taken, and then the publique Court may graunt the administracion of the Goodes and Chattells to the next of kin, jointly or severally, and divide the estate to the wiefe (yf any be), children or kindred, as in equity they shall see meet; and yf no kindred be found, the Court to administer for the publique good of the Common, prvided there be an Inventory registered, that yf any f the kindred in future tyme appeare they may haue justice and equity done vnto them; and all charges that the publique Court or the orderers of the affayres of the Townes are att about the trust committed to them, eyther for writing or otherwise, it is to be payd out of the estate.

Within 20 days after the end of this Court, the Secretary shall provide a coppy of all the penall lawes or orders standing in force, and all other that are of generall concernement for the governement of the Commonwealth, and shall giue direction to the Constables of every Towne to publish the same within 4 dayes more, att some publique meeting in their severall townes, and then shall cause the sayd lawes and orders to be written into a booke in their severall Townes and kept for the use of the Towne, and soe for future tyme for all lawes or orders that are made as aforesayd, each session of the Generall Courts; and once every yeare the Constables, in their severall Townesm, shall read or cause to be read in some publique meeting all such lawes as then stand in force and are not repealed; and the Secretary of the Court shall haue 12d. for the coppy of the orders of each session of every generall Court, from each of the Townes.

Also, the Secretary of the Court shall have xid. For every action that is entred, to be payed by him that enters the action, and he that is cast in the suit to allow it in costs.

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