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1757 Georgia Law to Encourage Immigration by Debtors

Georgia Commons House of Assembly

An Act to Encourage Immigration of Debtors

July 19, 1757

“WHEREAS it is of the greatest Importance to the safety of the British Empire in America that the Province of Georgia should be Peopled with a Number of Inhabitants sufficient to repel any Invasion or Incroachment [sic] of foreign Powers, and to prevent any Incursion of the Indians AND WHEREAS many of your Majesty’s Subjects are through unavoidable Misfortunes, and the obduracy of their Creditors, constrained to abandon their Country and seek Refuge in the Islands and Territories of other Princes and States, who if protected for a season, in this your Majesty’s Colony of Georgia from Actions of Debt, might become useful to their Mother Country and add great Strength and Riches to this Frontier We therefore humbly pray your most sacred Majesty that it may be Enacted, AND BE IT ENACTED by His Honor Henry Ellis Esquire Lieutenant Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Province of Georgia by and with the Advice and Consent of the Honourable Council and Commons-House of Assembly of the said Province in general Assembly met and by the authority of the same, that all and every Person and Persons who may or shall at any time within the Space of three Years from and after the first Day of August next arrive in and become an Inhabitant of this Province from any other Province, Island or Country, whether under the Dominion of the Crown of Great Britain, or subject to any other Prince or State, (that part of South-Carolina lying to the Northward of the River Savannah only excepted) shall be protected and free, and are hereby protected, freed, exempted and discharged from all Arrests, Suits and Actions whatsoever, for any Debt, Sum or Sums of Money whatsoever, from them owning, and which shall or may have been contracted at any time before and prior to the Day of their arrival within this Province … .

AND for the better ascertaining the time of the Arrival of such Person and Persons, as may claim the Protection of this Act, every such Person and Persons, is and are hereby required within the space of Three Months, after his her or their arrival to file an Affidavit in the Secretary’s Office of this Province setting forth the Day Month and Year in which he, she or they arrived in this Province the Place from whence he, she or they came, together with the Number of his her or their Family, and the Number of his her or their Slaves, and to take out a Certificate thereof and the said Secretary is hereby required to Register such Affidavit, in a Book to be by him kept for that purpose, and to give Certificates thereof taking for his trouble for the whole Two shillings and no more and such Register and Certificate or either of them shall be admitted and allowed as legal Evidence in proof of the arrival of such Person so registered in all and every Court and Courts of Record within this Province.”

Alden T. Vaughn and Deborah A. Rosen eds., Early American Indian Documents: Treaties and Laws, 1607-1789, Volume XVI Carolina and Georgia Laws (Bethesda, Md.: University Publications of America, 1998), pp. 398-399. Originally taken from Allen D. Candler ed., Colonial Records of Georgia, Vol. XVIII, pp. 191-196.