The Virginia Gazette

Today in the 1770s: July 16

WILLIAMSBURG, July 16, 1772.
LAST Saturday, at a Court of Common Hall, a bye Law was passed for constituting a WATCH, to consist of four sober and discreet People, who are to patrol the Streets of this City from ten o'Clock every Night until Daylight the next Morning, to cry the Hours, and use their best Endeavours to preserve Peace and good Order, by apprehending and bringing to Justice all disorderly People, Slaves, as well as others. They are likewise to have the Care of the FIRE ENGINES, and to be ready, in Cases of Accidents by Fire, to give their Assistance towards extinguishing the same. For which Services each Person is to receive a Salary of thirty Pounds a Year. This Regulation, it is hoped, may prove extremely beneficial, not only to this City, but to the Neighbourhood in general. But as much will depend on those to be employed as Watchmen, such only as will answer the above Description (to which must be added Honesty and Diligence) need apply; and they are to give in their Names, with the necessary Certificates, to the Mayor, to be laid before the Common Hall to be held on the first Tuesday in next month, when the WATCH will be appointed.

Virginia Gazette (Purdie & Dixon) July 16, 1772
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A few months later, on November 19, Purdie and Dixon reported, "The Utility of Watchmen was very visible last Amonday Night, for had not that Measure been lately adopted the Jail of this City would have been burnt to the Ground, and in all Likelihood some of the adjoining Buildings; a Negro Fellow who was committed there that Day having found Means to set the Floor on Fire, and having Accomplices without, escaped through a Hole made in the Underpinning. The people on duty that Night have had each a Reward of five Pounds, which we hope will encourage them to use the same Care and Vigilance in future."

Sources: VA Gaz 11/19/72, p2

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