James I, King of England and Wales (1566–1625)
The Order [banishing rogues to the New Found Lands]
London: Imprinted ... by Robert Barker,
Printer to the Kings most Excellent Maiestie, 1603
Call number: Rare Books HV 4491 E58 1603 oversize
Bequest of Paul Mellon
Detail view (103k)
The earliest printed proclamation relating to Virginia, this broadside inaugurated England's policy of
"transporting" criminals to the colonies, a practice that ended only with the onset of the American Revolution.
Crime was a relative term in seventeenth-century England, as there were more than three hundred offenses that
brought capital punishment to the unfortunate offender. Still, there were enough real miscreants among the
innocents that transporting felons to Virginia proved an enduring and contentious issue between the colony and the
mother country. As historian Robert Beverley complained of these "Newgaters" in 1722, "As for the Malefactors
condemn'd to Transportation, tho' the greedy Planter will always buy them, yet it is to be fear'd they will be
very injurious to the Country, which has already suffer'd many Murthers and Robberies."
These were precisely the types of "desperate villaines" that James I's Privy Council had in mind when it
issued this proclamation during the first year of the new king's reign, decreeing that "any such incorrigible or
dangerous Rogues shall bee banished and conveyed according to the said statute . . . [to] these Countries and
places following, viz. The New-found Land [Virginia], the East and West Indies, France, Germanie, Spaine, and
the Low-countries, or any of them." Reaction in mainland Europe to becoming the designated dumping ground
for England's criminal class is unrecorded.
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