Document Signed

HUNTER, Robert (1664-1734)

From Main Street Fine Books & Mss, ABAA (Galena, IL, U.S.A.)

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The colonial governor of New York and New Jersey (1710-20) had earlier been lieutenant governor of the Virginia Colony (1707-09) and later served as governor of Jamaica (1728-34). DS, 1p, 12" X 16", Chesterfield, New Jersey, 1716 January 26. Good only. Jagged and irregular edges (not affecting text), with entire left and right edges bearing old archival reinforcement; three original horizontal folds, the upper two of which bear the same old archival reinforcement. Overall bold and legible, though, penned in brown ink in a large flamboyant hand. "An Act To Prevent Unseasonable burning the Woods," it is titled in oversize script. "Whereas by Continual Experience fireing the Woods in the fall and winter is found very Prejudicial and Dangerous to the Inhabitants of this Province Be it therfore Enacted by the Governour Councill and Representatives in General Assembly met and Convened and by the authority of the same That if any person fire the woods at any time whatsoever Excepting between the fourteenth day of February and the fourteenth day of Aprile next following of every year shall forfeit the sum of fourty shillings Proclamation money for every such offense." Goes on to spell out additional penalties should anyone be injured during a burning, and specifies that this act does not apply to burning wood on one's own land. At lower left is penned the place and date and "I assent to this bill Enacting the same and order it to be Enrolled," below which Hunter signs large and bold. At lower right this bill is countersigned on behalf of the legislature by JOHN KINSEY (1693-1750). Kinsey was speaker of the New Jersey Assembly, and later moved to Philadelphia and held the same position with the Pennsylvania Assembly, where he led the Quaker faction; he later served as chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Here he signs large and bold, adding "Spkr" (Speaker) after his signature (largely obscured by archival repair). Among the dockets on the verso, the lead docket reads "Du Jours 27 1716 This bill having been three times read is past & ordered to be sent up to the Councill for their Concurrence," and is boldly signed "Will Bradford," followed by what appears to be a title in a stylized script, perhaps reading "CP" -- Councill Printer? WILLIAM BRADFORD (1663-1752) was the pioneering printer of the Middle Colonies; he was named the King's Printer in 1693 and held that post until 1725, monopolizing the printing of all government acts and documents; he opened the first paper mill in America in 1690, printed the first New York paper currency in 1709, the first American "Book of Common Prayer" in 1719, the first newspaper in New York in 1725 and the first history of New York in 1727. The purpose of Bradford's docket here is unclear. Perhaps the procedure was to docket each of the three official readings of a proposed act before the legislature, as appears here -- at which time the act would be signed into law and passed along to Bradford. His docket would verify that the act had been transmitted to the official printer for setting into type. There are no official seals, stamps or blind embossing of any kind on this document, which suggests it was a file copy of some sort -- perhaps a copy retained by the printer himself -- and not an official legislative copy. Hunter documents are uncommon, and this interesting piece bears an exceptionally large and bold signature. Bradford documents are extremely scarce in any form, and this is a choice, highly desirable example. Bookseller Inventory # 27902

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Main Street Fine Books & Manuscripts has been buying and selling quality books, autographs and ephemera since 1991. We specialize in general antiquarian, first editions, signed books and autographs and documents. We are members of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA), Midwest Antiquarian Booksellers Association (MWABA), Universal Autograph Collectors Club (UACC) and The Manuscript Society.

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