THE RARE BOOK AND
MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Treasures


38 Laws established by the authority of his Majesties letters patent ...to James Duke of York
Manuscript, 132 p., Hempstead, N.Y., April 2, 1664-1667
The first laws of the English province of New York were promulgated on March 1, 1664/5, at a General Meeting of representatives of the towns of Long Island (which, at the time, included Westchester and Staten Island). Known as the "Duke's Laws," they are the foundation for all New York legislation since the seventeenth century for the topics they covered. Arranged alphabetically by subject, the more than eighty laws dealing with civil actions, court system, law enforcement, militia, town government, taxation and property rights went into effect immediately, even though James, Duke of York (later King James II), did not approve them until November 4, 1667. Also bound in the volume are manuscript copies of nine sets of amendments and additions which were issued between 1665 and 1667. Since the text of the laws was not printed, a manuscript copy was prepared for each of the seventeen towns of Long Island. This copy, one of the few extant, was probably prepared for Jamaica; the East Hampton copy was used by the New-York Historical Society to issue the first printed version in 1811.
Gift of Mrs. Charles Blythe Martin

Collections and Treasures