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Acts of the General Assembly hitherto unpublished 1694-1698, 1711-1729
Volume 38, Page 427   View pdf image (33K)
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In 1700 there was published in Annapolis by Thomas Redding, a
body of the Laws, the first known compilation of the Statutes of
Maryland. (See Archives XXIV, 83, 198). The Library of Con-
gress copy, the only one known to me, which formerly belonged to
John Bozman Kerr, is imperfect. The compilation begins with the
laws of 1692 and the copy shows that it contained at least 118 pages.
The dedication to William Bladen is of such interest that it is worth
while to reprint it here. In addition to its intrinsic interest, the
production vies with Dr. Bray's contemporaneous sermon before the
General Assembly (reprinted in Fund Publication No. 34) as to
being the earliest extant imprint from any Maryland press.

" To my Honoured and Ingenious Friend Mr. William Bladen at
the [Port] of Annapolis.

" Sir-
It is certainly an argument of a most Ingenious Minde as well as
.... Commonwealth, where a Man finds ways to advance his own
Interest .... together, which I doubt not but may be effectually
done by your happy .... designs the printing and publishing the
Laws of this Province, whereby the whole Body of them now in force
will be to be had at so reasonable a rate that scarce any .... willing
but may have them, and as it is a .... -able principle for every Mary-
land .... himself acquainted with the Laws of the County he lives
in, .... it is very dangerous to be ignorant of them by reason of
that maxim that Ignorance of the Law, .... no excuse, which
though it may seem a harsh maxim, when first discussed yet when
thoroughly understood is most just and reasonable .... encourag-
ing men to attain the knowledge of the Laws under which they live
and that .... by .... -chest springs of human nature hope and
fear, hope of knowledge and .... the nature and constitution of
the government they live in, which is in the most lively manner
discovered in the laws of the Country—and fear, being punished for
the breach of any of them that through a willful ignorance of them
.... know not: this maxim will appear more beautiful when
compared with .... if ignorance of the Law should excuse, then
the more ignorant the more .... could be punished by the law but
them that know it, so that knowledge would be a dangerous thing,
and yet it is the experience of all ages that the more knowledge people
have (which is to be more wise) they are the happier in their gov-
ernment and constitution: but this is but in general, this worthy


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Acts of the General Assembly hitherto unpublished 1694-1698, 1711-1729
Volume 38, Page 427   View pdf image (33K)
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