Adams’ Minutes of the Argument1
Plymouth Court of General Sessions, October 1766
Plymton vs. Middleborough.
Benja. Shurtliff. Deer. 21st 1753. Marshall went from Plympton to Middleborough.
Josa. Marshall. 25 Aug. 1747 came to Plympton first, to 10 Novr. 1753. 7 July 1758, returned to Plympton from Middleborough, where I went first 21st Deer. 1753.
2 Years and 2 months at Pembroke. Came from there 4 Years ago last Spring.
Mem. This Cause was decided in my favour, who was for Middleborough, by a great Majority of the Court, upon this single Point, vizt. that Caution was not entered in the Clerks office within the Year. The Q. was upon the Words of Prov. Law. 4. Wm. & Mary, C. 12, the Act for Regulating Townships &c. The 9th Clause in the Act is “if any Person &c. sojourn or dwell &c. 3 months, &c. not having been warned by the Constable, and the Names, Abode and Warning returnd unto the Court of Quarter Sessions, &c. shall be reputed an Inhabitant, &c.”2 Not having been warned, and the Warning &c. not having been returned, within 3 months, in [is?] the obvious and grammatical Construction.
’Tho many other Points were stirred by me, particularly the Warrant to carry out, was given by Justice Bradford of Plympton, and so a Person interested, and I produced the Case of the two Parishes of Great Charte and Kennington B.R. 16. G. 2. Strange Rep. 1173. Order of 2 Justices quash’d, because one was an Inhabitant of the Parish from whence the Pauper was removed.3
Making an order of removal a Judicial Act, and the Party interested is tacitly excepted out of 13 & 14th C[harles] 2d, c. 12, which gives the Power to any 2 Justices of Peace, as our Prov. Law does to the next Justice.4 Lord Raymond went off the Bench when an order of Abbotts Langley the Parish where he lived came before the Court.5
1. In JA’s hand. Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 185.
2. Closing quotation marks supplied. JA is citing “An Act for Regulating of Townships, Choice of Town Officers, and Setting Forth Their Power,” 16 Nov. 1692, c. 28, §9, 1 A&R description begins The Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, ed. Ellis Ames, Abner C. Goodell, et al., Boston, 1869–1922; 21 vols. description ends 67: “[I]f any person or persons come to sojourn or dwell in any town within this province or precincts thereof, and be there received and entertained by the space of three months, not having been warned by the constable or other person whom the selectmen shall appoint for that service to leave the place, and the names of such persons with the time of their abode there, and when such warning was given them, returned unto the court of quarter sessions, every such person shall be reputed an inhabitant of such town or precincts of the same,” so as to charge the town for his support if he stands in need of relief, subject to a proviso if there are relatives, set out in No. 24, note 4. By the Act of 12 March 1701, c. 23, §§4, 5, 1 A&R description begins The Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, ed. Ellis Ames, Abner C. Goodell, et al., Boston, 1869–1922; 21 vols. description ends 453, no town was to be charged with a newcomer unless his presence had been approved by the selectmen of the town, or “unless such person or persons have continued their residence there by the space of twelve months next before, and have not been warned in manner as the law directs, to depart and leave the town, any law, usage or custom to the contrary notwithstanding.” The requirements for approval were made more stringent by the Act of 5 Jan. 1740, c. 9, §1, 2 A&R description begins The Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, ed. Ellis Ames, Abner C. Goodell, et al., Boston, 1869–1922; 21 vols. description ends 995. The time period was eliminated altogether and approval made the only basis for gaining a settlement in the Act of 19 March 1767, c. 17, §6, 4 A&R description begins The Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, ed. Ellis Ames, Abner C. Goodell, et al., Boston, 1869–1922; 21 vols. description ends 911.
3. Here and in the following paragraph, JA has paraphrased the case of Parish of Greate Charte v. Parish of Kennington, 2 Str. description begins John Strange, Reports of Cases in the courts of Chancery, King’s Bench, Common Pleas and Exchequer, London, 1755; 2 vols. description ends 1173, 93 Eng. Rep. description begins The English Reports; 176 vols. A collection and translation into English of all the early English reporters. description ends 1107 (K.B. 1742). The order of the two justices had been quashed in Sessions. In favor of the order it was argued before the King’s Bench that the practice was authorized by statute (note 4 below), was necessary because there might be a corporation with only two justices, and was saved because there was an appeal on the merits to the Sessions. For the result, see note 5 below.
4. In Greate Charte v. Kennington, note 3 above, it had been argued that the practice complained of was authorized by the statute, 13 & 14 Car. 2, c. 12, §1 (1662), which provided that upon complaint made to a justice by the churchwardens of any poor person within forty days after his arrival, it should be lawful “for any two justices of the peace, whereof one to be of the quorum, of the division where any person or persons that are likely to be chargeable to the parish shall come to inhabit, by their warrant to remove and convey such person or persons to such parish where he or they were last legally settled.” By §2, an appeal to the Quarter Sessions was provided for any person aggrieved. The “Prov. Law” referred to by JA is the Act of 16 Nov. 1692, c. 28, §10, 1 A&R description begins The Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, ed. Ellis Ames, Abner C. Goodell, et al., Boston, 1869–1922; 21 vols. description ends 68: “That any person orderly warned as aforesaid [under id., §9, note 2 above] to depart any town whereof he is not an inhabitant, and neglecting so to do by the space of fourteen days next after such warning given, may by warrant from the next justice of the peace be sent and conveyed from constable to constable unto the town where he properly belongs or had his last residence at his own charge, if able to pay the same, or otherwise at the charge of the town so sending him.” This provision was also eliminated by the Act of 19 March 1767, note 2 above, which, in §7, authorized removal of all persons not approved by the town. There is evidence, however, that the practice of warning was still followed. See 5 A&R description begins The Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, ed. Ellis Ames, Abner C. Goodell, et al., Boston, 1869–1922; 21 vols. description ends 260.
5. This paragraph is based on the conclusion of the court’s opinion in Greate Charte v. Kennington, note 3 above: “But the court held, that this was a judicial act, and the party interested is tacitly excepted. Lord Raymond, who lived in the parish of Abbotts-Langley, went off the Bench, when one of their orders came before the court. They said the practice could not overturn so fundamental a rule of justice, as that a party interested could not be a Judge. And as to the case of corporations, they said that if it appeared that there were no other justices, it might be allowed; to prevent a failure of justice. And therefore they confirmed the order of sessions.” The reporter adds, “Vide the act 16 Geo. 2, c. 18. to remedy this.” For this statute, see No. 27, note 10. The court’s last point is an interesting contrast to the absolute force given the proposition that a man may not be judge in his own cause in the authorities cited in the argument on the writs of assistance in 1761. See No. 44, note 19. For another Massachusetts case in which both Greate Charte and the latter authorities were cited, see Jeffries v. Sewal (Suffolk Inferior Court, Nov. 1762), reported in 1 JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, Mass., 1961; 4 vols. description ends 230–231. As to the parish of Abbotts Langley, see King v. Inhabitants of Abbots Langley, 1 Barn. K.B. description begins T. Barnardiston, Reports of Cases in the King’s Bench from 12 King George I to Trinity Term 7 King George II, London, 1744; 2 vols. description ends 148, 94 Eng. Rep. description begins The English Reports; 176 vols. A collection and translation into English of all the early English reporters. description ends 103 (1729), in which Lord Raymond, “being of this parish, ... said he would give no opinion.”