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Old Town Laws Strict

Footnotes to Long Island History

Old Town Laws Strict

by

Thomas R. Bayles


       Things were a lot tougher in the old days.

      A girl or boy couldn't be on the streets after 9p.m. on Sunday without having to pay a fine to the local court, and man couldn't even run his own horse in town. Take a look at the following Brookhaven town ordinances passed on July 8,1674 and then see if you think present laws are too stringent.

      "Whereas they have been much abuse and prophenaing of the lord's day by the younger sort of people in discoursing of vaine things and running of races. Therefore we make an order whereas it have been to coman in this towne for young men and maieds to be out of their father's and mother's house unsesonable tiems of niete. It is therefore ordered that whosever of the younger sort shall be out there fathers of mothers house past nien of the clock at niet, shall be summoned in to the next cort, and ther to pay cort charges, with what punishment the court shall se cause to lay upon the except they can give suffisient reson of there being out late.

       "Whereas God have been much dishonored much pressious tyme misspent and men impoverished by drinking and tippling, either in ordnery or other private houses therefore we macke this order that whosever shall thus transgress or sett drinking above two hours, shall pay 5s and the man of the house for letting of them have it after the time perfixed, shall pay 10s, exsept strangers only.

        Rases or run otherwise a horsback in the streets or within the towne platt, shall forfeit 10s. to the use of the towne."

         The early settlers exercised vigilance in guarding against the admission of undesirable persons to the rights of citizenship and property owners. In 1662 a man by the name of Richard Bulleck came into the town and bought some timber of John Ketcham for building a boat. The townsmen learning of this agreed to give four months time to complete his boat and leave the town and instructed him not make any disturbances or buy any land in the town.

        Again in April 1672 the records show that a Mr. Alcock was accepted as a townsmen upon condition he brought a letter of recommendation of his good behavior. It was also voted and agreed at that meeting that "there shall be no more land given out to strangers." 

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