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Browsing: Legal Papers of John Adams, Volume 1

This foot note contained in document ADMS-05-01-02-0002-0001-0002
21. Act of 28 Jan. 1764, c. 18, 4 A&R 669, extended to 1 July 1770 by Act of 21 Feb. 1766, c. 33, 4 A&R 859. The first section of the 1764 Act gave the collectors and constables of Boston a remedy against the agents, factors and trustees of an “absconding person” like that which “other creditors have for recovery of their debts.” Under §2, “where any person duly rated in the said town hath removed, or shall remove, out of it, into some other town in this province, ... before payment of such rates, and where, the time for payment to the respective treasurers [i.e. province, county, and town] being elapsed, the collectors or constables in the said town shall have paid the whole sums given them to collect in each year; in all such cases it shall and may be lawful for the collectors or constables of the said town ... to sue for such rates and taxes; and they shall have all the like remedies for recovery thereof, as other creditors have for recovering their proper debts.” This act was presumably passed in response to the dictum of the Superior Court in Ruddock v. Gordon, Quincy, Reports 58, 59 (SCJ Suffolk, Feb. 1763), that no action of assumpsit lay for the recovery of taxes by a collector when the only statutory remedy was distress. See Act of 3 Oct. 1730, c. 1, §§12–17, 2 A&R 552–554. An action of debt was the usual remedy in a right of action given by statute. See Shipman, Common-law Pleading 137–138. Although it is not made explicit in the pleading, it seems probable that Doane was being sued under the second section of this act as one who had “removed.” Later one of JA 's clients, he was an extremely wealthy man, owning property in Boston as well as in Wellfleet and elsewhere. See No. 58, note 12 and Doc. I. The tax acts in question were the Act of 21 June 1765, c. 18, 4 A&R 818, and the Act of 27 June 1766, c. 6, 4 A&R 883.