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Francis Nicholson Proclamation

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Francis Nicholson (1655-1728). Proclamation, 4 September 1700.

By proclamation, Governor Francis Nicholson in 1700 informed the population of Virginia that while he was absent from the colony on official business in New York his executive duties would be exercised by William Byrd (1652-1704), president of the Council, the governor's executive advisory body.

Nicholson had no way of communicating the news directly to all of the people at one time. He issued an official announcement in the form of a handwritten proclamation, read before the public at the Capitol. Scribes duplicated the text, and the secretary of the colony authenticated the copies and sent one to each of the county courts. There, the local justices had the proclamation read aloud to the assembled freeholders. By these several public steps, the official acts of the government at Jamestown, and later at Williamsburg, were eventually communicated to the people throughout Virginia's various jurisdictions.

This official copy is one of many thousands of documents originally preserved in the Essex County courthouse and later transferred to the Library of Virginia where, under the provisions of an act of the General Assembly creating the Circuit Court Records Preservation Program, the documents have been filed and described in accordance with modern archival practices.

Location: Essex County Circuit Court Papers