1612: Dale’s code

Title page of Dale’s Code, 1612


In 1612, Virginia’s first governor Thomas Dale issues a long list of offenses known as Dale’s Code or Dale’s Laws. The code punishes speech and thought crimes like lèse-majesté, blasphemy, heresy and lying by death.


2     That no man speake impiously or maliciously, against the holy and blessed Trinitie, or any of the three persons, that is to say, against the knowne Articles of the Christian faith, upon paine of death

3     That no man blaspheme Gods holy name upon paine of death, or use unlawful oathes, taking the name of God in vaine, curse, or banne, upon paine of severe punishment for the first offence so committed, and for the second, to have a bloodkin thrust through his tongue, and if he continue the blaspheming of Gods holy name, for the third time so offending, he shall be brought to a martial court, and there receive censure of death for his offence.

4     No man shall use any traiterous words against his Majesties Person, or royall authority upon paine of death

5     No man shall speake any word, or do any act, which may tend to the derision, or despight of Gods holy word upon paine of death…

– Dale’s Code, 1612


Read the full code here.