Tapping the Scales of Justice - A Dose of Connecticut Legal History
The "Code of 1650" is the first codification of Connecticut laws.
Compiled by Roger Ludlow, the Code begins with a bill of rights "...that no
mans life shall be taken away, no mans honor or good name shall bee stained,
no mans person shall be arrested, ...unless it bee by the vertue or equity
of some express Law of the Country...." The laws that follow this
declaration reflect the legal concerns of Connecticut residents some 350
years ago. The Code contains laws that not only prohibit murder, forgery and
theft, but also prohibit heresy, idleness and stubbornness.
Roger Ludlow was educated at Oxford and a member of the Inner Temple, an association of
lawyers dedicated to the study and instruction of the law in London. Ludlow
arrived in America in 1630 as an assistant to the Massachusetts Bay Company.
In 1636, dissatisfied with the political issues developing in Massachusetts,
Ludlow joined other settlers in Connecticut and helped establish the town of
Windsor. Since he was the only lawyer in the colony, it is believed he
drafted the "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut", considered to be the first
constitution in America.
Ludlow later founded the town of Fairfield and
continued his work as a magistrate until politics again called him back to
England. He left a legacy that became the foundation for other constitutions
and laws that have endured to the present time. His "Code of 1650" may still
be purchased through rare or used book dealers.
Several articles in the
Connecticut Bar Journal and the Connecticut Law Review provide enlightening
narratives of Ludlow's career:
1 Conn. Bar J. 110, 13 Conn. Bar J. 52,
64 Conn. Bar J. 330, and 1 Conn. L. R. 386.
Doses of Connecticut Legal History