Blue Laws, a term sometimes applied to the early enactments of several of the New England states, but more frequently limited to the laws of New Haven colony. The origin of the term is not exactly known. The most probable derivation is that given by Professor Kingsley, who thinks the epithet "blue" was applied to any one who in the times of Charles II. looked with disapprobation on the licentiousness of the times. Thus, in Hudibras, For his religion, it was fit To match his learning and his wit;
'Twas Presbyterian true blue.
In the colonies this epithet was applied not only to persons, but to the customs, institutions, and laws of the Puritans. Hence, probably, a belief with some that a distinct system of laws, known as the blue laws, must somewhere have had a local habitation. The existence of such a code of blue laws is fully disproved. The only authority in its favor is Peters, who is notoriously untrustworthy. The traditions upon this subject, from which Peters framed his stories, undoubtedly arose from the fact that the early settlers of New Haven were uncommonly strict in their application of the "general rules of righteousness.1' Judge Smith, in his continuation of the history of New York, published in "New York Historical Collections,11 vol. iv., crives evidence against the existence of the blue laws, which is particularly valuable, as it was put on record some 15 years before Peters's history was published. He writes: "Few there are who speak of the blue laws (a title of the origin of which the author is ignorant), who do not imagine they form a code of rules drawn up for future conduct, by an enthusiastic precise set of religionists; and if the inventions of wits, humorists, and buf-foons were to be credited, they must consist of many large volumes.
The author had the curiosity to resort to them when the commissioners met at New Haven for adjusting a partition line between New York and Massachusetts in 17G7; and a parchment-covered book of demi-royal paper was handed him for the laws asked for, as the only volume in the office passing under this odd title. It contains the memorials of the first establishment of the colony, which consisted of persons who had wandered beyond the limits of the old charter of Massachusetts Bay, and who, as yet unauthorized by the crown to set up any civil government in due form of law, resolved to conduct themselves by the Bible. As a necessary consequence, the judges they chose took up an authority which every religious man exercises over his own children and domestics. Hence their attentions to the morals of the people in instances with which the civil magistrate can never intermeddle in a regular well policed constitution, because to preserve liberty they are recognizable only by parental authority." "The good men and good wives were admonished and fined for liberties daily corrected, but never made criminal by the laws of large and well poised communities; and so far is the common idea of the blue laws being a collection of rules from being true, that they are only records of convictions consonant in the judgment of the magistrates to the word of God and the dictates of reason.'1 See also Palfrey's "History of New England," vol. ii., p. 32, note.