In the Classroom > Unit Overview > Lesson 2

Lesson 2
Excerpts from

the Compact with the Charter and Laws of the Colony of New Plymouth

Cursing a Parent
If any Childe or Children above sixteen years old, and of competent Understanding, shall Curse or Smite their Natural Father or Mother; he or they shall be put to Death, unless it can be sufficiently testified that the Parents have been very Unchristianly negligent in the Education of such Children, or so provoked them by extreme and cruel Correction, that they have been forced thereunto, to preserve themselves from Death or Maiming. [1671]

What does that mean?
Any normal child over the age of 16 who hits or swears at their father or mother will be put to death unless that parent was extremely cruel and was trying to badly hurt or kill them.

Composing Filthy Songs or Mock Sermons
...whosoever shall be convicted of composing, writing, printing or publishing of any filthy, obscene, or profane song, pamphlet, libel or mock sermon, in imitation or in mimicking of preaching, or any other part of divine worship, every person or persons offending in any of the particulars aforementioned, shall be punished by fine to her majesty not exceeding twenty pounds, or by standing on the pillory once or oftener, with an inscription of his crime in capital letters affixed over his head...[1712]

What does that mean?
Whoever writes, prints or publishes a dirty song or booklet or sermon that makes fun of a preacher or anything having to do with worship will have to pay a fine of 20 pounds or be put in the pillory (stocks) once or more with a sign over his head in capital letters stating his crime.

...what person soever, being sixteen years of age, shall wittingly or willingly make or publish any Lye, which may be tending to the damage or hurt of any particular person or with intent to deceive and abuse the people with false News or Reports, shall be fined for every such default ten shillings, and if the party cannot or will not pay the fine, then he shall sit in the stocks so long as the Court shall think meet...[1671]

What does that mean?
Anyone aged 16 or older who lies or publishes a lie that might hurt another or that is a false report or piece of news, has to pay a fine each time of 10 shillings. If they cannot pay the money, they must sit in the stocks as long as the court thinks is proper.

Traveling on Sunday
Whereas complaint is made of great abuses in sundry places of this Govrment of prophaning the Lords day by travellers both horse and foot by bearing of burdens carrying of packes &c. upon the Lords day to the great offence of the Godly welafected among us. It is therfore enacted by the Court and the authoritie therof that if any pson or psons shalbee found transgressing in any of the precincts of any towneship within this Govrment hee or they shalbee forthwith apprehended by the Cunstable of such a towne and fined twenty shillings to the Collonies use or else sit in the stockes foure houres except they can give a sufficient reason for theire soe doeing...[1658]

What does that mean?
A complaint has been made that too many people are traveling by horse or foot or they are carrying packs on Sunday and religious people do not approve of this kind of behavior. Therefore, the court has decided that anyone caught by the constable doing any of the above on a Sunday will have to pay of fine of 20 shillings or sit in the stocks for 4 hours unless the have a very good reason for what they did.

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