The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 38, Issue 2

Article 6
A Comparison of Laws Importing and Regulating the Servants of Virginia and Jamaica in the Seventeenth Century

Vicki Crow Via


Colonial laws maintained the social and physical security of English settlements in the New World. This essay compares those laws that attempted to define and regulate servants and labour in seventeenth-century Virginia and Jamaica. The laws reveal differences in the social composition of their early populations and in the relationships each colony had with the imperial government. Earlier laws reflect a greater concern with the economic value of labour. In the last two decades, however, the laws defined new social constructs that would dominate slave laws in the next century.