Monmouth Court of Common Pleas
New Jersey, March 21, 1770
New Jersey, Monmouth... By order of the Honourable John Anderson, John Taylor and John Wardell, James Lawrence Esqrs, four of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas for the said County, that James Everingham,
Prisoner for Debt, in said Goal, was this twenty-first day of March, 1770, qualified to the Schedule of his Estate, pursuant to the late Act of Assembly, An Act for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors, made this present tenth year of his Majesty's reign.
Monmouth Goal, March 21, 1770
N.Y. Journal or General Advertiser, No.1422, April 5, 1770
By modern standards, there is no doubt that England's eighteenth century laws were unjust regarding the lower classes. Under old English law, a person could be arrested as an insolvent debtor for an unpaid obligation of only a few shillings.
Although the colonists, under England's tight control, were unable to make major changes to the laws, they did manage to make reforms in some of England's legal procedures. One of those reforms pertained to insolvent debtors. It did not take a great deal of legal knowledge to realize if the person was confined in jail, he or she could not earn money to pay their creditors.
"An Act Abolishing imprisonment for Debt," was not approved until February 19, 1830, constituted the first major change to the colonial insolvent debtor laws. Henceforth, no person could be confined in jail for debt, except in cases of fraud.