Every New York State Law, 1638-1922

12.18.12 Andy Cush

Don Rogerson, the guy who wrote this awesome-looking encyclopedia of Manhattan street names and ANIMAL’s new favorite historian, took on what must have been a seriously painstaking task and compiled nearly every law that was put on the books in New York State between 1638 and 1922.

Though the records are apparently available available through Google as well, according to Rogerson, “here is inconsistency among catalogers when entering these titles into Google’s database, as well as errors introduced as Google converts title information from image to text. This makes it difficult to use the search function within Google Books to find all of the published laws in one place.”

From 1662:

[T]he Director General and Council of New Netherland do, accordingly, hereby Order and Command all Inhabitants of the said Village, and all others whom it may any wise concern, from this time forth not to set fire to any Straw, Reed, or other Weeds in or within said Village, but when they desire to burn any Straw, Reed, &c., such shall be previously carried a musket-shot outside said Village…

From 1664:

Upon the Death of any person the Constable, with two Overseers of ye parish shall Repair to the house of the deceased party to enquire after the manner of his Death and of his Will and Testament, and in case none doth Appear, or shall be produced, it may be taken for granted that the Person Dyed intestate, And in the Presence of the Widow, Children, and other Relations, if any such there bee, or if any such refuse to be present, It shall be lawful for the said Constable in the presence of the Overseers to make a due Search and enquiry after the state of the deceased…

&c. Seriously, these are awesome, folks. Even if you’re not a legal buff and/or historian, any document that uses a “musket-shot” as a measure of distance can be appreciated for the old-timey language alone.

Check out the full index of laws here.