Thomas Jefferson Papers

Act to Empower the Justices of Cumberland and Fluvanna Counties to Appoint New Places for Holding Their Courts, 24 December 1777

Act to Empower the Justices of Cumberland and Fluvanna Counties to Appoint New Places for Holding Their Courts

[Williamsburg, 24 Dec. 1777.] Act repeals Act of preceding session directing justices of Cumberland to lay off a town called Effingham where the courthouse was to be located; petitions both from Cumberland and Fluvanna request that Assembly authorize justices to “re-consider their said appointments” of places for the respective courthouses. The Act also repeals that part of the Act of the previous session creating the town of Effingham, since petitions from Cumberland request that it “not be laid off.” Justices of both Cumberland and Fluvanna directed to Assembly on fourth Monday in Mch. 1778 and fix places near the center of respective counties for courthouses, pillories, prisons, stocks, &c.

MS not located. Text from Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends ix, 437–8.

As originally introduced, this Bill pertained only to Cumberland co. At its second reading, 24 Dec. 1777, it was committed to a committee composed of Randolph, Carrington, TJ, and Bullitt. At the same time, most probably at TJ’s motion, the committee were instructed to incorporate a clause or clauses pursuant to a resolution of 4 Dec. made by the Committee on Propositions and Grievances. That resolution was to the effect that the petition of inhabitants of Fluvanna county asking for permission to fix the courthouse in a more convenient location was reasonable. The House had directed the Committee of Propositions and Grievances to prepare a bill for this purpose, but no such bill had been reported. The committee appointed on 24 Dec. then amended the Bill so as to apply both to Cumberland and Fluvanna, reporting the amending Bill on 1 Jan., when the amendments were read the second time and the Bill ordered to be engrossed. It was passed on 3 Jan. (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Oct. 1777, 1827 edn., p. 56, 89, 95, 98). Since TJ had had a part in the establishment of Fluvanna county (see Petition from Some Inhabitants of Albemarle County, under date of 12 May 1777), it is probable that the amendments offered to the Cumberland Bill were his. The location of the courthouse was not the only issue that disturbed the people of the new county of Fluvanna: scarcely had the session of Assembly opened in Oct. 1777 when a petition was received from Fluvanna claiming that the office of clerk of court had been purchased by one John Cobb for £250 (same, p. 7).

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