Sunday, January 5, 2014

Code of the Gentleman

There were several wealthy and prominent business men in the colony, viz: Lawrence Evans, John Chew, Thomas Stegg, George Ludlow and Thomas Burbage.  Since many of the factors representing planters proved themselves to be untrue, numerous suits arose in consequence of their defalcations. Boards of Arbitration were often appointed by the General Court and arbitrators were appointed in the case of Lawrence Evans in 1638.  Business was transacted on a basis of credit, whether the residence was Virginia or England, but much of this debt was impossible to collect. The planter, after having nurtured and picked his crop, was always subject to such a danger. In those days, a gentleman could be trusted and his word was his bond.  Thus, it seems that those who had left England to find prosperity in the American colonies, maintained class distinctions for very sound reasons. In England, one identified himself by his dress and titles.  This practice also became a tradition of the colonials. Those planters who shirked their debts found refuge from their creditors in Maryland.

Source: British State Papers, Colonial, vol. X, Nos. 15, I, II, III; Records of General Court, p. 61.

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