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January 22, 2012


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Jon Weinberg

Here's a snippet from a footnote in the current draft of a paper I'm putting together:

Of the fourteen laws enacted by the 1696 Virginia assembly, nine stemmed from petition. Bailey, supra n. 275, at 19; compare 3 Hening’s Statutes at Large: Being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia 137-67 (1696), available at, with 3 Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia 65-79 (H.R. McIlwaine ed.) (1696-97) [available on HeinOnline]. One of those Virginia petition-prompted statutes recited that “many great and grievous mischeifes have arisen and dayly doe arise by clandestine and secret marriages to the utter ruin of many heirs and heiresses and to the great greif of all the relations.” It imposed stiff fines on ministers who solemnized marriages without publication of banns as set out in the statute; forbade county clerks to issue marriage licenses without parental permission; and modified inheritance law to nullify the effects of certain noncomplying marriages. See Hening, supra, at 150-51. The House Journal doesn’t recite the circumstances of the petition, and one can only wonder.


What a great story...great and scary. I am with you. Property and family were all to those folks.

Alfred Brophy

Jon--that's what I'm talking about! Keeping property within the family. I'd love to read your paper when you're circulating it for comments.

There's a great vignette in the diary about how a china set given by LaFayette to the family was lost when an elderly man married a younger woman and then on his death the set went to his widow rather than his daughters. Also, some stuff on a struggle within the family over emancipation via will.

Of course I agree with you, Annette -- our foremost expert on family in the old South and its shifting meaning over time. What I want to spend some more time with down the road is the shift from Holcombe's parents' ideas about slavery (they freed their human property and then moved to Indiana) and Holcombe's -- he is perhaps best remembered for arguing that slavery was consistent with natural law.

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