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Monday, July 8, 2013

Oppressive Government: Seal Money

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In 1684, Francis, Lord Howard of Effingham (1682-92, pictured), was sent over as governor of the colony of Virginia. In order to increase is perquisites, he imposed the charge of an annual under seal of twenty shillings each for school masters; five pounds for lawyers at the general court, and fifty shillings each lawyer at the county courts. He also extorted an excessive fee for putting the seal to all probates of wills and letters of administrations, even when the estates of the deceased were of the meanest value. Neither could any be favored with such administration or probate without paying that extortion. If anyone presumed to remonstrate against it, his lordship's behavior towards that man was very severe. He kept several persons in prison and confined, from court to court, without bringing them to trial. Complaints were made to the king of his oppressive behavior and Colonel Ludwell was appointed the agent to appear against him in England. This resulted in the seal-money being taken off.

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