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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Preface to Volume 23 of the State Records of North Carolina
Clark, Walter, 1846-1924
June 01, 1905
Volume 23

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A vast deal of the history of a people is to be found in its laws. For this reason, the laws of the Province, and State, of North Carolina from 1663 to 1 Jan., 1791, so far as they could be gathered up, have been collected and will appear as Volumes 23, 24 and 25 of the “State Records.” The collection begins with the “Six Confirmed Laws” of 1715, which were really a codification (the first codification of laws in this State) of all the statutes prior to 1715 which were not deemed obsolete. There was a subsequent codification reported to the Legislature in 1749 (the “Yellow Jacket”), by Samuel Swann, but first printed in 1752 by James Davis, and private codifications printed by the latter in 1765 and again in 1773, and another codification by legal authority by James Iredell printed in 1791. Each of these collections omitted laws or parts of laws which had then become obsolete, and the original statutes in many instances were never printed or all copies have been lost in the process of time. After careful collation of the above several codifications, to obtain the statutes thus preserved in print, the omitted laws and parts of laws were supplied as far as possible by research among the manuscript laws in the office of the Secretary of State at Raleigh and among the manuscript records of the Province in the British Archives at London. These missing laws, as far as they could be found, have been intercalated at their proper places chronologically. There have been several codifications since “Iredell's Revisal” in 1791, but these do not concern us.

Subsequently some other manuscript laws were discovered in London and these have been copied and printed as a Supplement at the end of Vol. 25. The laws prior to 1715 are still very fragmentary, but the above discoveries in manuscript, including those printed in the Supplement, enable us to present a nearly complete body of the statutes, both public and private, enacted from 1715 down to 1 Jan., 1791. The private laws, embracing charters and similar statutes, are often specially interesting as historical information. There is no division in this publication between public and private statutes, as no end could be served thereby.

Two hundred and fifty extra copies of Volumes 23, 24 and 25 have been printed for the benefit of lawyers who may wish to buy these volumes separately, and there will be an Index at end of Vol. 25 for these three volumes of the laws, though the same matter will be incorporated into and will become part and parcel of the General Index in Vol. 27.

Walter Clark

1 June, 1905.