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Legislation Relating to Fences in Colonial Virginia

1631 "Every man shall enclose his ground with a sufficient fence."
1643 "...that every man shall make a sufficient fence about his cleared ground."
1646 "...that fence shall be adjudged sufficient which is four feet and a half in height substantial close down to the bottom."
1658 "that every planter shall make a sufficient fence about his cleared ground at least fower foote and a half high."
1667 "Whereas the dispatch of busines in this country is much obstructed for want of bridlewayes to the severall houses and plantations. It is enacted by this grand assembly and the authority therefor, that every person having a plantation shall, at the most plaine and convenient path that leades to his house, make a gate in his fence for the convenience of passage of man and horse to his house about their occasions at the discretion of the owners."
1705 An Act for prevention of trespasses by unruly horse, cattle, hogs, sheep, and goats; and by taking away boats and canoes.
"Be it enacted, by the Governor, Council, and Burgesses of this present General Assembly, and it is hereby enacted, by the authority of the same, That if any horses, mares, cattle, hogs, sheep, or goats, shall break into any grounds, being inclosed with a strong and sound fence, four foot and half high, and so close that the beasts or kine breaking into the same, could not creep through; or with an hedge two foot high, upon a ditch of three foot deep, and three foot broad, or instead of such hedge, a rail fence of two foot and half high, the hedge or fence being so close that none of the creatures aforesaid can creep through, (which shall be accounted a lawful fence,) the owner of the said horses, mares, cattle, hogs, sheep, or goats, and of any one of them, shall, for the first trespass by any of them committed, make reparation to the party injured, for the true value of the damage he shall sustain, with costs of suit; and for every trespass afterwards, double damages, and costs of suit: To be recovered in any court of record in this her majesty's colony and dominion, in such manner as the law, in the like cases, directs."
1705 In Williamsburg "...every person having any lots or half acres of land, continuous to the great street shall in close the said lots, or half acres with a wall, pails, or post and rails, within six months after the building, which the law requires to be erected thereupon."
1710 Act of Assembly concerning the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg
"...and that a convenient kitchen garden be laid out on the said land and be enclosed with pailes, and that an orchard and pasture ground be made on the said land and be enclosed with a good ditch and fence."
1748 "Lawful fence - a strong sound fence 5 feet high - or a hedge 2 feet high upon a ditch 2 feet deep and three feet broad - or a rail fence 2 ½ feet high upon a ditch 3 feet deep and 3 feet broad - all so close together that horses, mares, cattle,hogs, sheep, and goats cannot creep through."


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