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The New York Act of Attainder, or Confiscation Act.

 

The New York Act of Attainder, or Confiscation Act, in full.

As this Act is difficult of access, being only found in "Greenleaf's Laws of New York from the First to the Twentieth Session Inclusive," Vol. I., p. 26, and in one or two other collections of laws, only to be seen in the largest public law libraries, it is here printed in full for the benefit of the general reader. It is Chapter XXV. of the Laws of the Third Session of the New York Legislature, and was passed on the 22d of October, 1779.

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LAWS OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, PASSED IN THE THIRD SESSION OF THE LEGISLATURE, HELD AT KINGSTON, IN ULSTER COUNTY.

Chap. XXIV.

An Act for the Forfeiture and Sale of the Estates of Persons who have adhered to the Enemies of this State, and for declaring the Sovereignty of the People of this State, in respect to all Property within the same.

Passed 22d October, 1779.         

Preamble
Whereas, during the present unjust and cruel war, waged by the King of Great Britain, against this State and the other United States of America, divers persons holding or claiming property within this state, have voluntarily been adherent to the said King, his fleets and armies, enemies to this State and the said other United States, with intent to subvert the government and liberties of this state and the said other United States, and to bring the same into subjection to the crown of Great Britain; by reason whereof, the said persons have severally justly forfeited all rights to the protection of this state, and to the benefit of the laws under which such property is held or claimed: And whereas, the public justice and safety of this state absolutely require that the most notorious offenders should be immediatly hereby convicted and attainted of the offence aforesaid, in order to work a forfeiture of their respective estates, and vest the same in the people of this state; And whereas, the constitution of this state hath authorized the legislature to pass Acts of attainder for crimes committed before the termination of the present war.

 

Persons by name, Ipso Facto, attainted of the offence of adhering to the enemies of the State, and their Estates forfeited to the People of this State.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their estates forfeited.

I.   Be it therefore enacted by the People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That John Murray, earl of Dunmore, formerly governor of the colony of New York; William Tryon, Esq., late governor of the said colony; John Watts, Oliver De Lancey, Hugh Wallace, Henry White, John Harris Cruger, William Axtell, and Roger Morris, Esquires, late members of the council of the said colony; George Duncan Ludlow, and Thomas Jones, late justices of the Supreme Court of the said Colony; John Tabor Kempe, late attorney-general of the said colony; Willaim Bayard, Robert Bayard, and James De Lancey, now or late of the City of New York, Esquires; David Matthews, late Mayor of the said city; James Jauncey, George Folliot, Thomas White, William McAdam, Isaac Low, Miles Sherbrook, Alexander Wallace, and John Wetherhead, now or late of the said city, merchants; Charles Inglis, of the said city, clerk, and Margaret, his wife; Sir John Johnson, late of the county of Tryon, Knight and Baronet; Guy Johnson, Daniel Claus, and John Butler, now or late of the said county, Esquires, and John Joost Herkemer, now or late of the said county, yeoman; Frederick Philipse, and James De Lancey, now or late of the said county of Westchester, Esquires; Frederick Philipse (son of Frederick) now or late of said county, gentleman; David Colden, Daniel Kissam the Elder, and Gabriel Ludlow, now or late of Queen's county, Esquires; Philip Skeene, now or late of the county of Charlotte, Esq.; and Andrew P. Skeene, son of the said Philip Skeene, late of Charlotte County; Benjamin Seaman, and Christopher Billop, now or late of the county of Richmond, Esquires; Beverly Robinson, Beverly Robinson the younger, and Malcolm Morrison, now or late of the county of Dutchess, Esquires; John Kane, now or late of said county, gentleman; Abraham C. Cuyler, now or late of the county of Albany, Esq.; Robert Leake, Edward Jessup, and Ebenezer Jessup, now or late of the said county, gentlemen; and Peter Du Bois, and Thomas H. Barclay, now or late of the county of Ulster, Esquires; Suannah Robinson, wife of the said Beverly Robinson, and Mary Morris, wife of the said Roger Morris; John Rapalje, of Kings county, Esq.; George Muirson, Richard Floyd, and Parker Wickkam, of Suffolk county, Esquires; Henry Lloyd, the elder, late of the State of Massachusetts Bay, merchant; and Sir Henry Clinton, Knight, be, and each of them are hereby severally declared to be, Ipso Facto, convicted and attainted of the offence aforesaid; and that all and singular the estate, both real and personal, held or claimed by them the said persons severally and respectively, whether in possession, reversion or remainder, within this State, on the day of the passing of this Act, shall be and hereby is declared to be forfeited to and vested in the people of this state.

The said persons banished from this State and declared Felons, without benefit of clergy, if found within it.
II.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said several persons herein before particularly named, shall be and hereby are declared to be for ever banished from this State; and each and every of them, who shall at any time hereafter be found in any part of this State, shall be, and are hereby adjudged and declared guilty of felony, and shall suffer death as in cases of felony, without benefit of clergy.

For the purpose of attainting other offenders.

 

Indictments to be found against persons either in full life, or deceased, in any county, without regard to that in which the offence was committed. Not necessary to state whether the offender is at the time in full life or deceased.

III.   And to the end, That for the purpose aforesaid, convictions and attainders for the offence aforesaid, may, in pursuance of this act, be had against other offenders than those herein before particularly named; Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful for the grand jurors at any supreme court of judicature to be held for this state, or any court of oyer and terminer and general goal delivery, or general and quarter sessions ot the peace, to be held and for any county within this state, whenever it shall appear to such grand jurors by the oath of one or more credible witness or witnesses, that any person or persons, whether in full life or deceased, generally reputed, if in full life, to hold or claim, or if deceased to have held or claimed, at the time of their death respectively, real or personal estate within this state, hath or have been guilty of the offence aforesaid, to prefer bills of indictment against such persons as shall then be in full life, for such offence, and in relation to the offence committed by such persons in their lives time, as shall then be deceased, severally and respectively, notwithstanding that such offence many have been committed elsewhere than in the county for which such grand jurors shall be summoned. That in every indictment to be taken in pursuance of this act, the offence or offences shall be charged to have been committed in the county where the indictment shall be taken, notwithstanding such offence or offences may have been committed elsewhere; and it shall not be necessary to set forth specially, whether the several persons charged in such indictment were respectively deceased or in full life, or were reputed to hold or claim real or personal estate within this state. And on every such indictment shall be indorsed that the same was taken in pursuance of this act, and the day when the same was preferred into court.

Notices of indictments to be published by the Sheriffs.
IV.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That whenever and as often as any such indictment shall be taken, against any person or persons, the sheriffs of the respective counties where such indictments shall be taken, shall forthwith cause notices thereof, agreeable to such form as is hereinafter mentioned, to be published in one or more of the public newspapers within this state, for at least four weeks.

Forfeiture thereon by Default or on conviction, on Traverse, and judgment accordingly when the forfeited estates to vest in the people.
V.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in every case of a neglect to appear and traverse agreeable to the sheriff's notice, the several persons charged in such indictment, whether in full life or deceased, shall respectively be and hereby are declared to be, and shall be adjudged guilty of the offences charged against them respectively. And the several persons who shall, in pursuance of this act, either by reason of such defaults, in not appearing and traversing as aforesaid, or upon trial, be convicted of the offence aforesaid, shall forfeit all and singular the estate, both real and personal, whether in possession, revision or remainder, held or claimed by them respectively, within this state, to the people of this state; and judgment shall accordingly be awarded in the supreme court of this state, against the said persons respectively. And such forfeitures, as well of the estates which were at the time of their death, respectively of persons deceased, as of persons in full life, at the time of conviction, shall be deemed to have accrued; and the estates accordingly attached to and vested in the people of this state, at and from the day charged in each respective indictment, most distant from the day of the taking thereof.
Proviso in favour of persons pardoned.

 

 

Proviso in favour of those who shall have taken the oath of allegiance before the 4th of April 1778, before whom, and how to operate.

Provided, nevertheless, That where a trial shall be had upon any indictment, the forfeiture shall in such case be deemed to have accrued from the day to be found by the verdict of the jury, by which such persons shall be respectively convicted, most distant from the day of the taking of the indictment; any other day to be charged in the indictment notwithstanding. And provided further, That the several persons who shall have been pardoned in pursuance of a declaration or ordinance of the convention of this state, passed the tenth day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven, offering free pardon to such of the subjects of the said state, as, having committed treasonable acts against the same, should return to their allegiance; or, in consequence of any proclamation or proclamations heretofore issued by the commander-in-chief of the army of the United States of America, may respectively plead their pardons to indictments, taken in pursuance of this act, in like manner as they might or could do to indictments for high treason, taken in the ordinary course of law. And provided further, That each and every person, who shall at any time before the fourth day of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, have taken the oath of allegiance to this state, before the convention or councils of safety of this state; or before the committee of the said convention, appointed for enquiring into, detecting and defeating all conspiracies, which may be formed in this state, against the liberties of America; or the commissioners appointed for the like purpose, or a county, district or precinct committee; shall and may plead such taking the oath of allegiance in bar to any indictment, to be taken in pursuance of this act, for offences committed before the day on which they respectively took such oath.

All indictments on this law, taken in the other courts, to be returned into the Supreme Court, and there tried. On such trial, no greater number of witnesses necessary than in cases of felony.
VI.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all indictments to be from time to time taken in pursuance of this act, at any court of oyer and terminer, or general goal delivery, or general or quarter session of the peace, shall, by the clerk of the said courts, respectively be returned, under their respective hands and seals, into the supreme court of this state, and shall be tried at the bar of the said court; and upon the trial of such indictment, no greater number of witnesses shall be required than are required by law in cases of felony, without benefit of clergy.

Sheriff's returns of the numbers of the newspapers in which their Notices were published, to remain as records of Court till Judgment.
VII.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the several sheriffs shall, from time to time, respectively return, under their hands and seals, into the supreme court of this state, the several numbers of the newspapers containing the notices published by them respectively, there to remain as records of such notices, until judgments shall be had against the several persons named in such notices respectively.

Prosecutions not to be affected by defects of form. Indictments sufficient if generally charging Adherence to the enemy, fixing the times and places.

The grand jurors to deliver into court the examinations of the witnesses. Defendants to have copies of Indictments and Examinations.

VIII.   And to the end, That in prosecutions for the offence aforesaid, in pursuance of this act, no advantage may be taken of mere matters of form; and that the defendants may, notwithstanding, be fully apprized of the several matters charged against them; in order to their defence, Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall be sufficient in all indictments to be taken for the offence aforesaid, in pursuance of this act, to charge generally, that the several persons therein charged, did, on the several days, and at the several places therein mentioned, adhere to the enemies of this state, and the grand jurors shall, at the time they deliver any such indictment into court, deliver into court the examinations or depositions of the witness or witnesses, upon whose testimony such indictment was found, to be filed in court, together with the indictment; and the defendants shall respectively, upon application, be entitled to copies of the indictments against them respectively, and of such examinations or depositions; and the prosecutor on the part of the state, shall not, upon the trial, be permitted to give evidence of any overt acts, other than such as shall be charged in such examination or depositions; and the clerks of the several courts of oyer and terminer, and general goal delivery, and general or quarter sessions of the peace, shall return such examinations or depositions, into the supreme court, in like manner as is herein before directed, with respect to indictments, taken at the courts of oyer and terminer, and general goal delivery, or general or quarter sessions of the peace.

What overt acts shall be deemed evidence of High Treason.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IX.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That besides the several matters by the law of England, declared to be evidence and overt acts of high treason, in adhering to the King's enemies, and which are hereby declared to be evidence and overt acts of high treason, in adhering to the enemies of the people of this state, as sovereign thereof; the following matters shall be, and are hereby declared to be evidence and overt acts of adhering to the enemies of the people of this state, whereon and for which persons may, in pursuance of this act, be indicted and convictef for the offence aforesaid; that is to say, Being at any time since the ninth day of July, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six (the day of the declaration of the independence of this state within the same), in any part of the United States, not in the power or possession of the fleets or armies of the King of Great Britain, and afterwards voluntarily withdrawing to any place within the power or possession of the King of Great Britain, his fleets or armies; or being apprehended by order of, or authority from the commander-in-chief of the armies of the said United States; or, of or from the provincial congress, or conventions, or committees thereof, or councils of safety of this state; or the commissioners above mentioned, appointed for enquiring into, detecting and defeating all conspiracies which may be formed in this state against the liberties of America; or county, district, or precinct committees within this state; or by the supreme executive authority of this state, and confined within certain limits upon engagement, by parole or otherwise, not to go beyond such limits, and breaking such engagements, and voluntarily escaping to any place in the power of the fleets or armies of Great Britain; or being so confined as aforesaid, and afterwards permitted by proper authority to go to any place in the power of the fleets or armies of Great Britain, upon engagement to return within a certain given time; and not returning within such time, but afterwards remaining at any place within the power or possession of the fleets or armies of Great Britain.

Preamble with respect to certain persons in the power of the Enemy.

 

 

Exemptions in their behalf.

X.   And whereas, divers persons, inhabitants and well affected subjects of this state, at the time of the declaration of the independence thereof, who had their fixed residence in the southern district of this state, were obliged, on the invasion of the said district by the enemy, to fly before their superior force, into parts of this, or some other or others of the said United States, and some of them having thereby abandoned all or the greatest part of their property, were so reduced as to have been respectively obliged, through absolute necessity and the want of sufficient habitations and the necessary means of support and subsistence, to return to their respective places of abode; and other of them, for the same cause, having deserted their habitations, and fled in manner aforesaid, have for particular reasons been permitted either by the commander in chief of the armies of the said United States, or other lawful authority, in the places to which they respectively fled, to return within the power of the enemy, where they also severally do reside; Be it therefore further enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby provided, That nothing in this act contained shall be constructed to extend or to affect the said persons, severally and respectfully, or any or either of them, except such of them as since his, her or their return to any place or places within the power of the enemy, has or have done any act or thing, which in judgment of the law would be construed, deemed and adjudged an adherence to the enemies of this state, and high treason against the people thereof, had such person or persons respectively, voluntarily and freely, and without any such cause as aforesaid, returned within the power of the enemy. In which case such return with the power of the enemy, and such act or thing as aforesaid, shall in judgment of law be construed, deemed, and is hereby declared to be adjudged an adherence to the enemies of the people of this state.

No attainder under this law to exempt from punishment in ordinary course.
XI.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby provided, That no conviction or attainder in pursuance of this act, shall be construed to exempt any person or persons from being apprehended, tried, convicted, attainted and executed for high treason, according to the ordinary course of law.

Conveyances since 9th July, 1776, by any of the parties attainted by this act to be presumed fraudulent.

 

And proof of their being otherwise to lay upon the claimant.

XII.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all conveyances and assignments of any real or personal estate, made or executed since the ninth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, by any or either of the persons, who are immediately convicted and attainted by this act; or any or either of the persons who shall be convicted or attainted in pursuance of this act; or any or either of the persons who shall be convicted or attainted of high treason, in the ordinary course of law, for offences committed during the present war, shall be presumed to be fraudulent and to have been made with intent to prevent a forfeiture of the estates by such conveyances or assignments respectively intended to be conveyed or assigned; and upon every trial wherein any such conveyance or assignment shall come in question, the burden of the proof shall lay upon the person or persons claiming under such conveyances or assignment, that the same was made and executed bona fide, for a valuable consideration, and not with intent to prevent a forfeiture as aforesaid.

Executory Devise and contingent remainders subjected to Forfeiture.
XIII.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all titles, estates and interests, by executory devise or contingent remainder, claimed by any person hereby or by virtue of the law to be convicted, shall, on conviction, be as fully forfeited to all intents, constructions and purposes, in the land whatsoever, to the people of this State, as any other titles, claims, estates, or interests whatsoever.

Crown Lands, etc., vested in the People, and their Sovereignty and Seignory therein declared, from the 9th of July, 1776.

 

XIV.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the absolute property of messuages, lands, tenements and hereditaments, and of all rents, royalties, franchises, prerogatives, privileges, escheats, forfeitures, debts, dues, duties and services, by whatsoever names respectively the same are called and known in the law, and all right and title to the same which next and immediately before the ninth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, did vest in, or belong, or was, or were due to the crown of Great Britain, be, and the same and each and every of them, hereby are declared to be, and ever since the said ninth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, to have been, and forever thereafter shall be, vested in the people of this state, in whom the sovereignty and seignory thereof are and were united and vested, on and from the said ninth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six.

Commissioners to be appointed for the sale of forfeited estates in each of the Great Districts of the State, at public vendue. How they are to proceed.

Amended and altered 4th sess., ch. 13 and 51; 5th sess., ch. 45; 7th sess., ch. 64.

 

 

Powers given commissioners by this act repealed, 7th sess., ch. 64, sec. 54.

Commissioners' Deeds to operate as Warranty Deeds.

 

XV.   And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That the person administering the government of this state for the time being, shall be, and he is hereby authorized and required, by and with the advice and consent of the council of appointment, to appoint, during the pleasure of the said council and commission under the great seal of this state, three commissioners of forfeitures, for each of the great districts of this state. That the said commissioners, or majority of them, shall be and hereby are authorized and required, from time to time, to sell and dispose of all real estates within their respective districts, forfeited or to be forfeited to the people of this state, at public vendue, to the highest bidder or bidders, and in such parcels as they shall from time to time think proper, first giving eight weeks' notice of each sale, in one or more public newspapers in this state, containing a description as to the quantitiy, by estimation, of the lands or tenements to be sold, the situation thereof, and the name or names of the person or persons by the conviction and attainder of whom the said lands or tenements are deemed to have become forfeited; and to make, seal and deliver to the purchaser or purchasers respectively, good and sufficient deeds and conveyances, in the land, to vest the same in them respectively, and their respective heirs and assigns, upon such purchaser or purchasers respectively producing such receipt from the treasurer, as is hereinafter mentioned: That every such purchaser and purchasers shall, by virtue of such deeds and conveyances respectively, be so vested in title, seisin and possession of the lands and tenements so purchased, as to have and maintain in his, her or their name or names, any action for the recovery thereof, or damages relating thereto, any actual seisin or possession thereof, in other person or persons, notwithstanding: That every such deed and conveyance shall be deemed to operate as a warranty from the people of this state to the purchaser or purchasers respectively, and their respective heirs and assigns, for the lands and tenements thereby respectively granted and conveyed, against all claims, titles and incumbrances whatsoever; and such purchaser or purchasers respectively, and their respective heirs and assigns, shall, in case of eviction, have such remedy and relief upon such warranty, in such manner as shall be more particularly provided for in such further act or acts of the legislature, as are hereinafter mentioned.
Not to sell more than 500 acres in one parcel, and no more than one farm in one sale.

No sales to be made before first October, 1780. Partly repealed by 3d session, ch. 51, passed 10th March, 1780.

Provided, That the said commissioners shall not be authorized to sell any lands in larger parcels than the quantity of five hundred acres in each parcel; that no more than one farm shall be included in one and the same sale; and that the sales shall be made in the county where the lands or tenements to be sold respectively lie. And provided further, That nothing in this law contained shall be construed, deemed, esteemed or adjudged to authorize the commissioners to be appointed by virtue hereof, to make sale of any of the lands, messuages, tenements or hereditaments hereby forfeited, or by virtue hereof to become forfeited, before or until the first day of October next; and that all such sales shall be, and the same hereby are wholly prohibited until that day.

 

Public Faith pledged to the commissioners for their pay and expenses by the Legislature.

XVI.   And whereas, it is impossible at present to form an estimate of what will be a proper compensation to the said commissioners, for their services and expenses in executing the business hereby committed to them; Be it therefore further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the public faith of this state shall be, and hereby is pledged to the said commissioners, for such allowance and compensation to them for their services and expenses (besides the expenses of surveyors, clerks, and other incidental charges) as shall hereafter by the legislature be deemed just and reasonable.

Not exceeding £2,000 advanced to the commissioners of each District for expenses.
XVII.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the treasurer of this state shall be, and he is hereby authorized, out of the monies which now are, or hereafter may be in the treasury, to advance to the said commissioners for each district a sum not exceeding two thousand pounds, to defray the expenses of the business hereby committed to them.

Provision in favor of tenants of forfeited lands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XVIII.   And whereas, in many instances, lands, the reversion or remainder whereof is or may become forfeited to this state, are possessed by tenants who have, at considerable expense, made or purchased the improvements on the same, and which tenants have certainly, uniformly and zealously, since the commencement of the present war, endeavoured to defend and maintain the freedom and independence of the United States; Be it therefore further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That where lands, the reversion or remainder whereof is hereby, or may become forfeited to the people of this state, shall be possessed by any tenant of the character above described, and who or whose ancestor, testator or intestate, shall have made or purchased the improvements on the same, they shall continue in possession of their former rents, and be at liberty as heretofore, to transfer their improvements, until the fee simple of the said lands shall be sold, they paying their respective rents, and the present arrearages thereof in money, equal to the current prices of the articles of produce, in which their rents were heretofore paid, into the treasury of this state, if such rents were reserved in produce, or if reserved in money, then in so much money as will be equivalent to the price of wheat at seven shillings per bushel; and that when the fee simple of the said lands shall be sold by the commissioners, to be appointed in pursuance of this act, they shall cause such lands to be appraised by three appraisers, at what shall be deemed the then present value thereof, exclusive of the improvements thereon, at the time of appraising; that one of the said appraisers shall be elected by the commissioners, another by the tenant claiming the benefit intended by this clause, and the third by the said other two appraisers; that the said appraisers, previous to the making of such appraisement, shall each of them take an oath, and which oath the said commissioners are hereby authorized to administer, well and truly to appraise the lands held by such tenant, at what shall be deemed the then value thereof, exclusive of the improvements thereon; and upon payment into the treasury by such tenant of the sum at which such lands shall be so appraised within three months after the making of such appraisement, together with all arrearages of rents then due thereon; the commissioners shall convey the lands so appraised to such tenants, in like manner as if such lands had been sold at public vendue, and such tenant had appeared, and been the highest bidder for the same: Provided, That no person being a tenant himself, or of affinity or consanguinity to the tenant requiring such appraisement to be made, shall be an appraiser.

How tenants to avail themselves of the above provision.

 

 

 

XIX.   And in order that the commissioners may be enabled to determine who are the proper objects of the benefit intended by the aforegoing clause, Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no tenant shall be entitled to such benefits, unless he or she shall, within one month after the same shall be required of him or her by the said commissioners, produce to them a certificate to be subscribed by at least twelve reputable inhabitants of the county, of known and undoubted attachment to the American cause, to be approved of by the commissioners, and which inhabitants shall severally declare upon oath, the truth of the matter by them certified, before a justice of the peace of the county who is hereby authorized to administer such oath, certifying that such tenant hath constantly and uniformly, since the said ninth day of July, one thousand, seven hudnred and seventy-six, demeaned himself or herself, as a friend to the freedom and independence of the United States; and that, as far forth as his or her circumstances would admit, taken an active and decisive part to maintain and promote the same.

Memorandums in writing to be made of all sales, and given to purchasers.

 

 

 

 

XX.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That whenever the said commissioners shall, within their respective districts, make sale of any lands, either at public vendue or upon such appraisement as aforesaid, and the commissioners, and the person or persons to whom such sale shall be made, having reciprocally subscribed a memorandum or note, in writing, of such sale; the commissioners shall immediately thereupon give to the person or persons to whom such sale shall be made, a certificate thereof, to contain the sum for which the lands purchased by such person or persons were sold, and if such sale was made upon such appraisement, then also of the arrearages of rent due on such lands. That the said person or persons to whom such certificates shall be given, shall, within three months from the date thereof, pay into the treasury of this state the sums in such certificates respectfully specified; and the treasurer is hereby required and authorized to receive the same, and to give to the said person or persons paying, duplicate receipts for the monies by them respectively paid; and the several persons to whom such receipts shall be given shall, upon their respectively producing and lodging with the said commissioners one of the said receipts, be entitled to deeds and conveyances for the lands by them respectively purchased.

Commissioners to sue purchasers for non-performance of contracts.

XXI.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the Commissioners for the respective districts, shall and may, in their own names, commence and prosecute any suit upon a contract for the sale of any estate against any person or persons who shall have subscribed such note or memorandum in writing thereof as aforesaid; and all damages which shall be recovered by the said commissioners in such suits, shall be by them paid into the treasury of the state.

All purchases in which commissioners shall be interested declared void.

Each commissioner to take oath before entering on his office.

XXII.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all purchases made at such vendues by the said commissioners, or any or either of them, or by any other person, to or for the use of them, or any or either of them, shall be null and void; and that each commissioner, before he enters upon the execution of his office, shall appear before one of the judges of any of the counties within the district for which such commissioner shall be appointed, and take and subscribe the following oath, which such judge is hereby authorized and required to administer, viz:
Form of the oath.

 

 

I, A. B., appointed a commissioner of forfeiture, for the              district, do solemnly and sincerely swear and declare in the presence of Almighty God, that I will faithfully and honestly execute the said office in such manner as I shall conceive most for the benefit and advantage of the people of this state, according to the true intent and meaning of an act entitled "An act for the forfeiture and sale of the estates of persons who have adhered to the enemies of this state, and for declaring the sovereignty of the people of this state, in respect to all property within the same."
No lands to be sold while in the power of the enemy.

XXIII.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby provided, That the said commissioners shall not be authorized to sell any lands which, at the time of the sale thereof, shall be within the power of the enemy, any thing herein before mentioned notwithstanding.

The Treasurer, in his account of sales, to specify the Persons to whom the Estates respectively belonged, that debts due by them may be collected.

XXIV.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the treasurer of this state shall, in his accounts of the moneys arising by sales of forfeited estates, specify the names of the several persons to whom the several estates immediately before the forfeiture thereof were deemed to belong, as the same shall appear from the certificate of the commissioners; To the end, That when the lesislature shall, by future act or acts, to be passed for the purpose, provide for the payment of the debts due from the said persons respectively the amount of the moneys arising from the sales of their respective estates may with the greater ease be ascertained.

Forms of the several proceedings and conveyances under this law.
XXV.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the forms of the several proceedings to be had in pursuance of this act, and of the deeds or conveyances, to be executed by the commissioners to be appointed in pursuance of this act, shall be as follows, that is to say:

(The following forms are here omitted, — to wit:)

"Form of the Notices by the Sheriff."

"The Form of a Record where Judgment shall be entered by Default."

"Form of a Record where a Trial shall be had."

"Form of a General Verdict."

"Form of the Conveyances from the Commissioners."

Forms of proceedings not herein particularly described to be similar to those in cases of Felony without benefit of Clergy.

On Traverse by Representatives of a dead person, the Proceedings to be the same as if he was living.

And that all the forms of Proceedings in Prosecutions for the offence aforesaid, to be had in pursuance of this Act, other than such as are hereby otherwise specially directed, shall be, as nearly as may be, similar to the forms of the Proceedings in cases of Felony without benefit of Clergy, except that the word, or words, "Offence," or "Offences," (as the case may be) shall be used instead of the word, or words, "Felony," or "Felonies," and that when a Traverse shall be put in by any person or persons claiming any Estate or Interest, under a person deceased as aforesaid, all and singular the Proceedings and Proceses, shall, notwithstanding, be of the same form as if the respective persons charged in the several Indictments had been severally in full life, and had in their own respective proper Persons, appeared and traversed; and for the want of such Traverse, as if such Person had made default in full Life.

Representatives on affidavit of interest to be permitted to traverse.

 

 

After traverse any other person applying on affidavit, may be admitted to join in the defence.

XXVI.   And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That each and every person, or persons, claiming an Estate or Interest, under any person deceased, shall, and may, upon affidavits of such claim, and of the death of the person under whom such claim shall be made, to be read and filed in court, be admitted to traverse the indictments against the persons under whom they so respectively claim. That in every case of such traverse as last aforesaid, no trial shall be had thereon until after the expiration of the time herein before limited for putting in such traverse. That where two or more persons shall appear at one and the same time, and produce such affidavit, and thereupon apply to be admitted to traverse, the court may compel such persons to join in the traverse; and that where any person or persons, so claiming as aforesaid, shall have been admitted to traverse, and shall have traversed accordingly, and any other person or persons shall afterwards apply to be admitted to traverse, the person or persons so afterwards applying having respectively produced such affidavit of a claim as aforesaid, shall, upon the trial of such traverse, be permitted to employ counsel, produce witnesses, sue forth subpœnas, for the attendance of witnesses, cross-examine the witnesses on the part of the state, and do every other act and thing, in and about a defence, in like manner, and as fully as the person or persons by whom the traverse shall have been put in.

 

[The struggle to enact this legislation is detailed in Volume II of Judge Jones' "History of New York during the Revolutionary War," commencing at page 524. The act was drawn up by John Morin Scott, aided by Sir James Jay, introduced initially on 24 June, 1778 and finally passed on 22 October, 1779. The individuals named in Section I appear to have been targets of the personal animosity of Sir James. - RWH]


4.5.2