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Browsing: Legal Papers of John Adams, Volume 2


This note contained in document ADMS-05-02-02-0003-0002-0001
4. The Episcopalian relief measure was the Act of 19 Dec. 1727, c. 7, 2 A&R 459, which provided that members of the Church of England should be taxed at the same rate as members “of the churches established by the laws of this province,” but that if there were a minister of the Church of England within a town, taxes assessed against inhabitants who worshipped with him and lived within five miles of the church were to be paid over to him by the town treasurer. They were also exempt from meetinghouse taxes. For the problems of Episcopalians generally, and subsequent legislation concerning them, see Reed, Church and State in Mass. 141–143, 148–189; Meyer, Church, and State in Mass. 14, 27–30, 69–89. The Act of 20 June 1728, c. 4, §1, 2 A&R 495, exempted from tax the polls of Baptists and Quakers “enrolled or entred in their respective societies as members thereof, and who alledge a scruple of conscience as the reason of their refusal to pay any part or proportion of such taxes as are from time to time assessed for the support of the minister or ministers of the churches established by the laws of this province in the town or place where they dwell,” with the proviso that they attend “meetings of their respective societies” regularly and live within five miles of the meetinghouse. The provision for determining eligibility for exemption was in id., §3. Persons so exempted were barred from voting on church questions in town meeting. Id., §5. See note 7 below. By Act of 20 Dec. 1729, c. 6, 2 A&R 543, the estates of Baptists and Quakers were exempted under the same conditions. For the passage of this legislation, see Reed, Church and State in Mass. 128–135. After the expiration of these acts, separate measures were passed for Quakers until 1758. See id. at 135–144; Meyer, Church and State in Mass. 15–17. The exemption for Baptists “who alledge a scruple of conscience” was continued and extended to taxes for the construction of meetinghouses, by Act of 4 July 1734, c. 6, §1, 2 A&R 714. The certificate provision for determining exemption was in id., §2. It was superseded in 1753. See note 6 below. The 1734 act omitted the five-mile requirement, but provided that the exemption did not apply in “new towns.” See text at note 9 below. This statute was re-enacted in virtually identical form by Act of 30 June 1740, c. 6, 2 A&R 1021, renewed until 1757 by Act of 29 June 1747, c. 6, 3 A&R 362. For the Baptists' account of the passage and implementation of all of this legislation, see Petition of a Committee of Baptists to the General Court, 29 May 1754, 4 A&R 122–126. See also Reed, Church and State in Mass. 132–135, 141–143.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/