Origins of first introduction of colonial laws date from 1643, when Parliamentary Charter or Patent confirming & uniting the three original towns of Newport, Portsmouth & Providence under the title “the Incorporation of Providence Plantations in the Narragansett Bay in New England” was obtained from England. With fourth settlement of Shawmut (Warwick) established shortly thereafter representatives of the several towns convened as a single body at Portsmouth from May 19 - 21, 1647 and formulated a set rules & orders for the colony including an annual meeting of a “Courte of Election”, established of the office of President of the Province & adopted of a code of English laws. During the latter half of the 17th century several attempts by the legislature to compile, update and print the laws of the colony were unsuccessful. Committee appointed January 4, 1704 to “draw out the Collony laws, and fit them for the press” produced a second codification in 1705 that did not go to print. First compilation produced for distribution did not occur until 1719 when enactments from March, 1663 through 1718 was published by John Allen for Nicholas Boone at Boston entitled “Act and Laws of His Majesties Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in America.” Author: Kenneth S. Carlson
Staples, William R. & Charles Burnett Jr., Proceedings of the First General Assembly of the "Incorporation of Providence Plantations" and the Code of Laws Adopted by that Assembly in 1647, Providence, 1847, 64 pp.
Scope and Contents: 1705 reiteration of English Laws originally codified in the colony in 1647 (RI Colony Records 1646 – 1669, part II, pp. 215 – 231) detailing crimes & punishments, marriages & the probate of wills. Second codification provides additions & amendments as enacted through the June Session 1705 including laws respective of Indians, slavery & indenture, elections, fees, licenses etc.