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‘That Abominable Mixture and Spurious Issue’
April 1691, Virginia Race-Mixing Statute

And for prevention of that abominable mixture and spurious issue which hereafter may encrease in this dominion, as well by negroes, mulattoes, and Indians intermarrying with English, or other white women, [1] as by their unlawfull accompanying with one another, Be it enacted by the authoritie aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, that for the time to come, whatsoever English or other white man or woman being free shall intermarry with a negroe, mulatto, or Indian man or woman bond or free [2] shall within three months after such marriage be banished and removed from this dominion [3] forever, and that the justices of each respective countie within this dominion make it their perticular care that this act be put in effectuall execution.

And be it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That if any English woman being free shall have a bastard child by any negro or mulatto, she pay the sume of fifteen pounds sterling, within one moneth after such bastard child be born, to the Church wardens of the parish where she shall be delivered of such child, and in default of such payment she shall be taken into the possession of the said Church wardens and disposed of for five yeares, and the said fine of fifteen pounds, or whatever the woman shall be disposed of for, shall be paid, one third part to their majesties for and towards the support of the government and the contingent charges thereof, and one other third part to the use of the parish where the offence is committed, and the other third part to the informer, [4] and that such bastard child be bound out as a servant [5] by the said Church wardens untill he or she shall attaine the age of thirty yeares, and in case such English woman that shall have such bastard child be a servant, she shall be sold by the said church wardens, (after her time is expired that she ought by law to serve her master) for five yeares, and the money she shall be sold for divided as is before appointed, and the child to serve as aforesaid.

And forasmuch as great inconveniences may happen to this country by the setting of negroes and mulattoes free, by their either entertaining negro slaves from their masters service, or receiveing stolen goods, or being grown old bringing a charge upon the country; [6] for prevention thereof, Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That no negro or mulatto be after the end of this present session of assembly set free by any person or persons whatsoever, unless such person or persons, their heires, executors or administrators pay for the transportation of such negro or negroes out of the countrey within six moneths after such setting them free, [7] upon penalty of paying of tenn pounds sterling to the Church wardens of the parish where such person shall dwell with, which money, or so much thereof as shall be necessary, the said Church wardens are to cause the said negro or mulatto to be transported out of the countrey, and the remainder of the said money to imploy to the use of the poor of the parish.


1. Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German Catholics from the Rhineland

2. Resistance to the planter class was now predominantly in the hands of mixed race groups of runaways and displaced Indian tribes who had adopted runaways and captives heavily to replace losses from disease. Banishment rather than service was an extreme leap under Virginia law, indicating that substantial populations of runaways and mixed-race Indians lived in the hinterlands.

3. Virginia

4. Informers were just as important in plantation America as they have been in any 20th Century communist regime.

5. Bond out is to be “sold into slavery.”

6. Slave masters generally had no desire to support worn out old slaves and would typically cast them out, sometimes building an unheated death shack in the winter woods where the person would expire out of sight. Such persons able to make their way to a church might then become “a charge upon the country” as churches were supposed to provide for the destitute. Despite the Anglican Church’s deep involvement with human trafficking, its clergy and wardens did abide by a moral code that planters generally spurned, with this legislation being part of the evidence that the church took seriously its role in alleviating the suffering of the destitute, which was an ancient tradition reaffirmed in numerous English “poor laws” since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

7. Such laws mark a realization that free blacks, as had whites, would assist members of their race to freedom. The absence of communities of free blacks was one of the reasons they were imported at such high expense, that they would have no place to flee to. However, as of 1676, maroon communities were living in tribal seclusion in wilderness holdouts [mostly in wetlands, not the mountains where the whites typically fled to] and provided a support base for runaways. Thus were enacted laws that would even prevent the first president of the United States from freeing his slaves.

So Her Master May Have Her Again

A History of Runaway White Slaves in Plantation America: Part Two

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