Disposition of the North Carolina Biennal Act 1737


When Governor Johnston's request to repeal the Biennial Act of 1715 reached the Board of Trade in England, the question was referred specifically to Francis Fane, its legal counsel. In the document that follows, Fane advises that the act be declared null and void, a recommendation that was eventually accepted. The fate of the North Carolina Biennial Act was also typical of the history of colonial triennial acts. In each case, with rare exceptions such as in South Carolina, these acts were nullified by the Crown.

By an Act passed in Carolina in the time of the Lords Proprietors relating to biennial and other assemblies and regulating elections and members, I observe that there is a power given to the assembly of this colony to meet with out the consent of the Crown. The charter to the Lords Proprietors does not warrant this proceeding. The power of calling of parliaments is admitted to be an inherent privilege in the Crown, and I believe this is the first instance that such an attempt has been made to deprive the Crown of it. I think you should show your disapprobation of a law which in so high a degree encroaches upon the prerogative of the Crown. But I must observe to you, if the facts are true which are stated in the me morial of Mr. Smyth the Chief Justice, I think it cannot be considered as an Act in force, not having received a due confirmation agreeable to the rules settled by the Lords Proprietors themselves.