VOSTRIKOV P.V. The Sociocultural Significance of Court Institutions in Colonial Virginia

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2017.3.5

Pavel V. Vostrikov

Candidate for a Degree,

Department of World History, Kursk State University, 

Zolotaya St., 8, 305000 Kursk, Russian Federation

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http://orcid.org/0000-0001-9043-6622


Abstract. In this article the author examines the sociocultural significance of courts in colonial Virginia. Virginia was agrarian “tobacco” colony, where the settlements of urban type did not get proper development. In this connection, court days were very important occasions for social gatherings, when colonists not only might participate in court hearings, but became involved in various social interactions such as news exchange, business transactions, cockfighting, horse racing and attending taverns. If not found in rare towns court buildings weresituated at road junctions and other convenient places to be more easily accessible for inhabitants of the colony.

The author also provides a glimpse into the issues of law and order, crime and punishment as well as the general state of the colonial system of justice. During the colonial period the differences between judicial, executive and legislative branches of government were not distinct yet and the institution of the county court had immense importance as it combined all the three types of power on a local level. The court of oyer and terminer dealt with criminal offences. The General court in Williamsburg, the colonial capital, was the main court in Virginia which considered the most crucial cases. The colonial legal system was initially based on English traditions and precedents but it was constantly modified largely due to the singularities of the colony such as abundance of free land and chattel slavery.

Key words: colonial Virginia, court day, peace justices, crime and punishment, law and order, social life.

Citation. Vostrikov P.V. The Sociocultural Significance of Court Institutions in Colonial Virginia. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Serija 4, Istorija. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnoshenija [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2017, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 52-63. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2017.3.5.

Лицензия Creative Commons

The Sociocultural Significance of Court Institutions in Colonial Virginia by Vostrikov P.V. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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