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The fourth volume of the Colonial Records of Rhode Island, includes thirty-three years of its annals. It begins with the proceedings of the February session of the General Assembly 1707, and ends with the October session of 1740.
The plan followed in selecting the matter for the present volume, is the same as that of the previous volumes, except that all legislative business of a private nature, has been omitted. In the early volumes, private matters were so blended with those of a public nature, and had so direct a bearing upon our colonial history, that it was deemed advisable to notice them. But during the period embraced in this volume, the business of a private character had so much increased, and possesses so little interest after the lapse of a century and a quarter ; and, moreover, has so little bearing on the history of the state, that it was thought best to omit it, after the printing of the volume had been commenced. The matter thus left out, includes all resolutions authorizing parties to sell real estate; the granting of letters of administration ; the appointment of guar
1; dians; the payment of salaries and accounts; records of decisions of law cases before the General Assembly, and proceedings relating thereto.
But even with the matters above stated, whenever the proceedings seemed to have a bearing upon, or illustrated the history of the time, they have been printed.
The public acts passed during the period in question, have also, with few exceptions, been omitted, as all, save those which were subsequently repealed, have already been printed in the volumes of public laws of 1719, 1730 and 1744. A few of these laws had been inserted before it was decided to change the plan, and insert merely the titles, with a reference to the printed volumes where found.
Notwithstanding the decision to omit the public laws, certain ones, which had a direct bearing upon, and important connection with the history of the state, have been inserted in their proper places. Some of these appear in the early printed digests of laws before mentioned, while others have been repealed. Among these, are the acts for the division of towns, with all that relates to their boundaries and organization ; and the acts relating to, and growing out of the wars of England with France and Spain. The proceedings of the colony, growing out of these wars, would not be complete or understood, without presenting the public laws arising therefrom. These acts provide for the defence of the colony; for raising and subsisting soldiers, both for defence and for foreign expeditions.
The acts relating to the disputed boundaries, both those of Massachusetts and Connecticut, as well as the proceedings and correspondence relating thereto, are also inserted at length.
The index will be found to contain a larger number of names than either of the previous volumes, as all who were admitted freemen, are referred to. The original orthography of these names is retained.
For many of the letters and public documents inserted in the volume, the editor is indebted to the liberality of his townsman, Mr. John Carter Brown, whose valuable manuscripts, copied from the originals in the state paper office, London, have been used in the previous volumes.
J. R. B.