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AN ORDINANCE OF His Excellency and Council For the Establishing Courts of Judicature For the Ease and Benefit of each respective City, Town and County within this Province of NEW-YORK

WHEREAS His most sacred Majesty by his Roya Letters Patents, bearing date the 18th Day of June, in the Nineth Year of his Majesties Reign, did among other things therein mentioned, give and grant unto his Excellency Richard Earl of Bellomont, Captain General and Gover­nour in chief over the Province of New-York, &c. full Power and Au­thority, with the advice and consent of his Majesties Council for this Provice, to erect, constitute and establish such and so many Courts of Judicature and publick Justice within the said Province and Ter­ritories depending thereon, as his said Excellency and Council shall [Page 2] think fit and necessary, for the hearing and determining of all Causes, as well Criminal as Civil, according to Law and Equity, and for award­ing Execution thereupon, with all reasonable and necessary Powers, Authorities, Fees and Priviledges belonging to them. His said Excel­lency the Governour, by and with the Advice and Consent of his Majesties said Council, by virtue of the Powers and Authorities derived unto them, by his said Majesties Letters Patents, Does by these Presents Ordain, and it is hereby Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, That every Justice of the Peace that resides within any Town or County within this Province, are by these Presents fully impowered and authorized to have Cogni­zance of all Causes and Cases of Debt and Trespasses to the value of Forty Shillings, or under; which Causes or Cases shall and may be heard, tryed and finally determined, without a Jury, by every Justice of the Peace residing, as aforesaid, he taking to his assistance, at the time of hearing and determining such Causes and Cases of Debt and Trespasses to the value aforesaid, One of the Free-holders of the Town or Place next to where the Cause or Action doth arise. The Process of Warning shall be by Summons under the Hand of the Justice, directed to the Constable of the Town or Precinct, or to any deputed by him, where the party complained against does live or reside. Which Sum­mons being personally served or left at the Defendants House or place of his Abode, two days before the hearing of the Plaint, shall be sufficient Authority for and to the said Justice, assisted as aforesaid, to proceed to hear such Cause or Causes, and to determine the same in the De­fendants absence, and to grant Execution thereupon against the De­fendants Person, or for want thereof, his Goods and Chattels, which the Constable or his Deputy of that Town or Precinct shall and may serve.

And his said Excellency and Council do by these Presents further Ordain, That there shall be kept and holden a Court of Common Pleas in each respective County within this Province, which shall be holden in each respective County, at such Places in each respective County as the General Sessions are usually held and kept, and to begin the next day after the Sessions of the Peace does end and terminate, and then only to hold and continue for the space and term of two days, and no longer. And that the several and respective Courts of Pleas hereby established, shall have Power and Jurisdiction to hear, try and finally to determine all Actions or causes of Action, and all matters and things tryable at Common Law, of what nature or kind soever.

Provided always, and it is hereby Ordain'd, That there may and shall be an Appeal or removal by Hebeas Corpus, or any other lawful Writ of any Person or of any Action or Suit depending, and of any Judgment or Execution that shall be determined in the said respective Courts of Pleas upwards of Twenty Pounds and of any action or Suit wherein the Right or Title of any Free-hold shall be brought in dispue or upon tryal.

And be it further Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, That there shall be held and kept at the City of New-York, a Supream Court of Judicature, which Supream Court is hereby fully impowered to have cognizance of all Pleas Civil, Criminal and Mixt, as fully and amply to all intents and [Page 3] purposes whatsoever, as the Courts of Kings Bench, Common Pleas and Exchequer, within his Majesties Kingdom of England, have or ought to have, in and to which Supream Court all and every Person and Persons whatsoever shall or may, if they see meet, commence any Action or Suit, the Debt or Damage laid in such Action or Suit being upwards of Twenty Pounds, and shall and may by Certiorari, Habeas Corpus, or any other lawful Writ, remove out of any of the respective Courts of Mayors and Aldermen, Sessions of the Peace or Common Pleas, any Information or Indictment there depending, or Judgment thereupon given, or to be given in any Criminal matter whatsoever cognizable before them, or any of them; as also all Actions, Pleas and Suits, real, personal or mixt, de­pending in any of the said Courts, and all Judgments thereupon given, or to be given. Provided always, That the Action or Suit depending or Judgment given, be upwards of the value of Twenty Pounds, or that the Action or Suit there depending or determined, be concerning the Right or Title of any Free-hold.

And out of the Office of which Supream Court at New-York, aforesaid, all Process shall issue out under the Test of the Chief Justice of the said Court, and to which Office all Returns shall be made; which Supream Court shall be holden at the City of New-York on the first Tuesday in April, and on the first Tuesday of October, annually, and every year; and each Sessions of the said Court shall only continue for the space of five days, and no longer.

And one of the Justices of the said Supream Court shall annually, or once in every year, if need shall so require, go the Circuit and hold and keep the said Supream Court for the City and County of Albany at Albany on the first Tuesday in May; for Ʋlster and Dutches County on the third Tuseday in May; for the County of West-Chester, the last Tuesday in June; for Kings-County, the first Tuesday in August; for Queens-County the second Tuesday in August; for the County of Suffolk the third Tues­day in August; for the County of Richmond the second Tuesday in June. Which Justice, when he goes the Circuit, shall in each respective County be attended with two or more of the Justices of the Peace, at least, during the time of two days, whilst the said Court, in the Circuit, is sitting, and no longer.

And it is further Ordained by the Authroity aforesaid, That all and every of the Justices or Judges of the several Courts afore-mentioned, be and are hereby sufficiently impowered and authorized to make, ordain and establish all such Rules and Orders for the more regular practising and proceeding in the said Courts, as fully and amply to all intents and pur­poses whatsoever, as all or any of the Judges of the several Courts of Kings Bench, Common Pleas and Exchequer in England legally do,

And it is further Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, That no Persons Right or Porperty shall be by any of the aforesaid Courts determined, except where matters of Fact are either acknowledged by the Parties, of Judgment confessed, or passeth by the Defendants fault, for want or Plea or Answer, unless the Fact be found by the Verdict of Twelve men of the Neighbourhood, as it ought to be done by the Law.

[Page 4] And be it further Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, That the General Sessions of the Peace shall be held in each respective City and County within this Province at the times and places hereafter mentioned that is to say, For the City and County of New-York, at the City-Hall of the said City, four General Sessions of the Peace annually and every year, upon the first Tuesday of May, the first Tuesday of August, the first Tuesday of November, and the first Tuesday of February. For the City and County of Albany, three General Sessions of the Peace at the City Hall of the said City, annually and every year on the first Tuesday of June, October and February. For the County of Westchester, two Gene­ral Sessions of the Peace annually and every year at Westchester on the first Tuesday of June and December. For Ʋlster and Dutches County, two General Sessions of the Peace annually and every year, at Kingston on the first Tuesday of March and September. For the County of Richmond two General Sessions of the Peace annually and every year, on the first Tuesday of March and September. For Kings-County two general Sessions of the Peace, annually and every year at Flatbush on the second Tuesday in May and November. For Queens-County two General Sessions of the Peace, annually and every year, at Jamaica on the third Tuesday of May and September. For the County of Suffolk two General Sessions of the Peace, annually and every year, at Southampton on the last Tuesday in March, and at Southold on the last Tuesday of September. Which General Sessions of the Peace in each respective City and County aforesaid shall only hold and continue for the space and term of two days, and no longer.

Always Provided, and be it further Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to infringe upon the Rights and Priviledges of the respectiv Courts of Mayors and Aldermen of the City of New-York and Albany, but that they and each of them may hold and keep their respective Courts of Mayor and Aldermen after such manner and form as they are acustomed to do, and to hear and de­termine all matters brought before them, as formerly accustomed, any thing to the contrary [...] in any ways notwithstanding, In Testimony whereof His Excellency and Council have caused the great Seal of this Province to be hereupon annexed, as New-York, this fifteenth day of May in the eleventh year of the Reign of Our Soveraign Lord William the Third, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. Anno (que) Domini, 1699.

Pursuant to an Order of Council, We do Report, this to be a proper Scheam for erecting the Courts of Judicature of this Province, whcih is humbly submitted,
  • W. Smith,
  • John Guest,
  • Ja. Graham.
FINIS.

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