Statute Law in Colonial Virginia
Governors, Assemblymen, and the Revisals That Forged the Old Dominion
Warren M. Billings
Between 1632 and 1748, Virginia’s General Assembly revised the colony’s statutes seven times. These revisals provide an invaluable opportunity to gauge how governors, councilors, and burgesses created a hybrid body of colonial statute law that would become the longest strand in the American legal fabric. In Statute Law in Colonial Virginia, Warren Billings presents a series of snapshots that depict the seven revisions of the corpus juris the General Assembly undertook. In so doing, he highlights the good, the corrupt, and the loathsome applications of broad legislative authority throughout the colonial era. Each revision was built on prior written law and embodies the members’ legal knowledge and statutory craftsmanship, revealing their use of an unbridled discretion to further the interests they represented. Statutes undergirded Virginia’s evolving legal culture, and by examining these revisals and their links, Billings casts light on the hybrid nature of Virginia statute law and its relation to English laws.