Dale's Code

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Dale's Code (the Lawes Divine, Morall, and Martial, also known as the laws of 1612) is a code enacted in 1612 by the deputy-governor of Virginia, Sir Thomas Dale.[1] The code, among other things, created a rather authoritarian system of government for the Colony of Virginia.[2] It established a "single ruling group" that "held tight control of the colony." The word "martial", contained in Dale's Code, referred to the duties of soldiers, while the terms "divine" and "morall" related to crime and punishment. The code prescribed capital punishment for any colonist who endangered the life of the colony by theft or other crimes.[3] Dale's Code remained in force until 1618.[4] Four centuries later, one scholar came up with a theory that it strongly influenced the justice system for decades afterwards, particularly in the governing and punishment of slaves.[5]


  1. ^ Tarter, Brent. "Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall". Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  2. ^ Miller, Elmer Isaiah (1907). The Legislature of the Province of Virginia: Its Internal Development. Columbia University (Doctorate Thesis). pp. 16–17. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  3. ^ Friedman, Lawrence M. (2005). A History of American Law: Third Edition. Touchstone. pp. 10–11. ISBN 0-684-86988-8.
  4. ^ Konig, Thomas (1982). "'Dale's Laws' and the Non-Common Law Origins of Criminal Justice in Virginia". The American Journal of Legal History. Temple University. 26 (4): 354. doi:10.2307/844941. JSTOR 844941.
  5. ^ Friedman, Lawrence M. (2010). A History of American Law, Revised Edition. Touchstone. pp. 41–42. ISBN 9781451602661.

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