Richard of Jamestown - James Otis
And now before I am come to the most terrible time in the history of our town of James, let me set down that which the London Company has decreed, for it is of great importance to all those who, like Nathaniel and me, came over into this land of Virginia before they were men and women grown.
Master Hunt has written the facts out fairly, to the end that I may understand them well, he having had the information from Captain Newport, for it was the last decree made by the London Company before the John and Francis sailed.
I must say, however, that the reason why this decree, or order, whichever it may be called, has been made, was to the end that men and women, who had large families of children, might be induced to join us here in Jamestown, as if we had not already mouths enough to feed.
The Council of the Company has decided to allow the use of twenty-five acres of land for each and every child that comes into Virginia, and all who are now here, or may come to live at the expense of the Company, are to be educated in some good trade or profession, in order that they may be able to support themselves when they have come to the age of four and twenty years, or have served the time of their apprenticeship, which is to be no less than seven years.
It is further decreed that all of those children when they become of age or marry, whichever shall happen first, are to have freely given and made over to them fifty acres of land apiece, which same shall be in Virginia within the limits of the English plantation. But, these children must be placed as apprentices under honest and good masters within the grant made to the London Company, and shall serve for seven years, or until they come to the age of twenty-four, during which time their masters must bring them up in some trade or business.