Friday, August 28, 2009

Connecticut: Ludlow's Code of 1650

The Code of 1650 or Ludlow’s Code

The "Code of 1650" is the first codification of Connecticut laws. Compiled by Roger Ludlow, the Code begins with a bill of rights "…that no mans life shall bee taken away, no mans honor or good name shall bee stained, no mans person shall be arrested, ...unless it bee by the vertue or equity of some express Law of the Country…." The laws that follow this declaration reflect the legal concerns of Connecticut residents some 350 years ago. The Code contains laws that not only prohibit murder, forgery and theft, but also prohibit heresy, idleness and stubbornness.




Being a compliation of the earliest laws and orders

of the

General Court of Connecticut:

also, the

Constitution, or Civil Compact,

entered into and adopted by the towns of

Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield

in 1638-9.

to which is added

some extracts from the Laws and Judicial

Proceedings of New-Haven Colony

Commonly Called


Hartford, Ct.

Published by Andrus & Judd


(page 38-39)


Fforassmuch as the good education of children is of singular behoofe and benefit to any commonwealth; and whereas many parents and masters are too indulgent and negligent of theire duty in that kinde:

It is therefore ordered by this courte, and authority thereof, That the selectmen of every towne in the severall precincts and quarters where they dwell, shall have a vigilant eye over theire brethren and neighbours, to see, first, that none of them shall suffer so much barbarisme in any of their families, as not to indeavor to teach by themselves or others, theire children and apprentices, so much learning, as may inable them perfectly to read the English tongue, and knowledge of the capitall lawes, upon penalty of twenty shillings for each neglect therein; also, that all masters of families, doe, once a week, at least, catechize theire children and servants, in the grounds and principles of religion, and if any bee unable to doe so much, that then, at the least, they procure such children or apprentices to learne some shorte orthodox catechisme, without booke that they may bee able to answer to the questions that shall bee propounded to them out of such catechisms by theire parents or masters, or any of the selectmen, where they shall call them to a tryall of what they have learned in this kinde; and further, that all parents and masters doe breed and bring up theire children and apprentices in some honest lawfull calling, labour or imployment, either in husbandry or some other trade proffitable for themselves and the commonwealth, if they will not nor cannot traine them up in learning, to fitt them for higher imployments; and if any of the selectmen, after admonition by them given to such masters of families, shall finde them still negligent of theire duty, in the particulars aforementioned, whereby children and servants become rude, stubborne and unruly, the said selectmen, with the helpe of two magistrates, shall take such children or apprentices from, them, and place them with some masters for years, boyes til they come to twenty-one, and girles eighteene years of age compleat, which will more strictly looke unto and force them to submitt unto governement, according to the rules of this order, if by faire meanes and former instructions they will not bee drawne unto it.