Oath of Allegiance Signed by Citizens of Albemarle County
We whos names are hereunto subscribed do swear that we renounce and refuse all Allegiance to George the third King of Great Britain, his heirs and successors and that I will be faithfull and bear True Allegiance to the commonwealth of Virginia as a free and independent state, and that I will not at any [time] do or cause to be done, any matter or thing that will be prejudicial or injurious to the freedom and independence thereof as declared by congress and also that we will discover and make known to some one justice of the peace for the said state all treasons or traiterous conspiracies which we now or hereafter shall know to be formed against this or any of the united states of America So help me God.
Tr in Diary of George Gilmer (ViHi).
On 28 June 1777 the General Assembly passed “An Act to oblige the free male inhabitants of this state above a certain age to give assurance of allegiance to the same and for other purposes,” and the House of Delegates directed that the public printer print, without delay, one copy of the Act for each magistrate within the commonwealth, together with a sufficient number of certificates, and send the same to the several counties (Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends ix, 281–3; JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , May 1777, 1827 edn., p. 110). The Act provided that all free-born male inhabitants above the age of sixteen, except imported servants, were to subscribe to the oath on or before 10 Oct. 1777 before the justices of the peace in their counties, boroughs, or cities and that the justices of the peace were to keep fair registers of the names of such persons; and before the first of January in every year following, to submit to the clerk of the court for the county a list of the persons who had signed. Upon signing, each person was to receive a certificate which read: “I do hereby certify, that hath taken and subscribed the oath or affirmation of allegiance and fidelity‥‥ Witness my hand and seal this day of .” The presence of a copy of the oath of allegiance and of the names of the signers in George Gilmer’s Diary (the original MS has not been found) seems to indicate that George Gilmer was the justice of the peace charged with taking the oaths and keeping a record of the signers. From the last entries it appears that the record was cumulative through Apr. 1779. Gilmer was a justice of the peace in Albemarle county, 12 June 1771 (“Justices of the Peace of Colonial Virginia,” Va. State Libr., Bull., xiv , 109). The certificate which TJ received on signing the oath has not been located. The printed certificate issued to James Madison, 11 August 1777, is located in DLC: Madison Papers, 1: 28.