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To all People, to whom these Presents shall come, be seen, or heard, The Treasurer, Council, and Company of Adventurers and Planters for the city of London for the first Colony of Virginia, send Greeting. Know ye, that we, the said Treasurer, Council, and Company, taking into our careful Consideration the present State of the said Colony of Virginia, and intending, by the Divine Assistance, to settle a Form of Government there, as may be to the greatest Benefit and Comfort of the People, and whereby all Injustice, Grievances, and Oppression may be prevented and kept off as much as possible from the said Colony, have thought fit to make our Entrance by ordering and establishing such Supreme Councils, as may not only be assisting to the Governor for the Time being, in the Administration of Justice, and the executing of other Duties to this Office belonging; but also by their vigilant Care and Prudence, may provide, as well for a Remedy of all Inconveniences, growing from time to time, as also for the advancing of Increase, Strength, Stability and Prosperity of the said Colony:

We therefore, the said Treasurer, Council, and Company, by Authority directed to us from his Majesty under the Great Seal, upon mature Deliberation, Do hereby order and declare, that, from henceforward, there shall be Two Supreme Councils in Virginia, for the better government of the Colony aforesaid.

One of which Councils to be called the Council of State (and whose office shall chiefly be assisting, with their Care, Advice, and Circumspection, to the said Governor) shall be chosen, nominated, placed, and dis

placed, from time to time, by us, the said Treasurer, Council, and Company, and our Successors : Which Council of State shall consist for the present, only of these persons, as are here inserted, viz., Sir Francis Wyat, Governor of Virginia, Captain Francis West, Sir George Yeardley, Knight, Sir William Neuce, Knight, Marshal of Virginia, Mr. George Sandys, Treasurer, Mr. George Thorpe, Deputy of the College, Captain Thomas Neuce, Deputy for the Company, Mr. Pawlet, Mr. Leech, Captain Nathaniel Powell, Mr. Christopher Davidson, Secretary, Dr. Pots, Physician to the Company, Mr. Roger Smith, Mr. John Berkeley, Mr. John Rolfe, Mr. Ralph Hamer, Mr. John Pountis, Mr. Michael Lapworth, Mr. Harwood, Mr. Samuel Macock: Which said Coun. sellors and Council we earnestly pray and desire, and in his Majesty's Name strictly charge and command, that all Factions, Partialities, and sinister respect laid aside, they bend their Care and Endeavours to assist the said Governor; first and principally, in the Advancement of the Honour and Service of God, and the Enlargement of his Kingdom amongst the Heathen People ; and next, in erecting of the said Colony in due obedience to his Majesty, and all lawful Authority from his Majesty's Directions; and lastly, in maintaining the said People in Justice and Christian Conversation amongst themselves, and in Strength and Ability to withstand their Enemies. And this Council, to be always, or for the most Part, residing about or near the Governor.

The other, more generally to be called by the Governor, once Yearly, and no oftener, but for very extraordinary and important Occasions, shall consist, for the present, of the said Council of State, and of two Burgesses out of every Town, Hundred, or other particular Plantation, to be respectively chosen by the Inhabitants : Which Council shall be called the General Assembly, wherein (as also in the said Council of State) all Matters shall be decided, determined, and ordered, by the greater

Part of the Voices then present; reserving to the Gov. ernor always a Negative Voice. And this General Assembly shall have free Power to treat, consult and conclude, as well of all emergent Occasions concerning the Public Weal of the said Colony and every Part thereof, as also to make, ordain, and enact such general Laws and Orders, for the Behoof of the said Colony, and the good Government thereof, as shall from time to time appear necessary or requisite:

Whereas in all other Things, we require the said General Assembly, as also the said Council of State, to imitate and follow the Policy of the Form of Government, Laws, Customs, and Manner of Trial and other Administration of Justice, used in the Realm of England, as near as may be, even as ourselves, by his Majesty's Letters-patent, are required :

Provided, that no Law or Ordinance, made in the said General Assembly, shall be or continue in Force or Validity, unless the same shall be solemnly ratified and confirmed, in a General Quarter Court of the said Company here in England, and so ratified, be returned to them under our Seal: It being our Intent to afford the like Measure also unto the said Colony that after the Government of the said Colony shall once have been well framed and settled accordingly, which is to be done by Us, as by Authority derived from his Majesty, and the same shall have been so by Us declared, no Orders of Court afterwards shall bind the said Colony, unless they be ratified in like Manner in the General Assemblies.

In Witness whereof we have hereunto set our Common Seal, the 24th of July, 1621, and in the Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, James, King of England, etc., the .... and of Scotland the ...


The interest awakened by the little colony planted at Cape Ann in 1625 by Rev. John White, of Dorchester, England, led to the formation of the company known as “The Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England.” They first obtained a patent for lands from the Council for New England (Mar. 14, 1628) and then, in order to exercise power of

government, a charter from the king Mar. 4, 1629. The same year they transferred the government and charter to New England. As to the legality of this step historians and jurists have been divided. From the first there was a constant struggle on the part of the colonists to preserve the charter and to resist any infringement of it. The contest ended in the forfeiture of the charter in 1684, and the consolidation of the northern colonies under Sir Edmund Andros.

After the accession of William and Mary, Massachusetts solicited the restoration of the charter, but instead, in 1691, through the agency of Increase Mather, a new charter was issued. But the old liberty was lost, for the king reserved to himself the appointment of the governor, lieutenant-governor, and secretary. This, together with the supplementary charter of 1726, remained the fundamental law of Massachusetts till the State constitution of 1780, which is still in force.

Consult Palfrey's Hist. N. E., I., 290 ; Winsor's Memorial Hist. Boston, I., 87; Barry's Hist. Mass., First Period, 158; Bancroft's U. S., ist ed. I., 242 ; Cen. ed. I., 265 ; last ed. I., 224; Bryant and Gay's U. S., I., 518; Chalmers' Political An

nals, 135.



CHARLES, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, Kinge of England, Scotland, Fraunce, and Ireland, Defendor of the Fayth, etc. TO ALL to whome theis Presents shall come Greeting. WHEREAS, our most Deare and Royall Father, Kinge James, of blessed Memory, by his Highnes Letters-patents bearing Date at Westminster the third Day of November, in the eighteenth Yeare of his Raigne, HATH given and graunted vnto the Councell established at Plymouth, in the County of Devon, for the planting, ruling, ordering, and governing of Newe England in America, and to their Successors and Assignes for ever, all that Parte of America, lyeing and being in Bredth, from Forty Degrees of Northerly Latitude from the Equinoctiall Lyne, to forty eight Degrees of the saide Northerly Latitude inclusively, and in Length, of and within all the Breadth aforesaid, throughout the Maine Landes from Sea to Sea, together also with all the Firme Landes, Soyles, Groundes, Havens, Portes, Rivers, Waters, Fishing, Mynes, and Myneralls, as well Royall Mynes of Gould and Silver, as other Mynes and Mineralls, precious Stones, Quarries, and all and singular other Comodities, Jurisdiccons, Royalties, Priviledges, Franchesies, and Prehemynences, both within the said Tract of Land vpon the Mayne, and also within the Islandes and Seas adjoining: PROVIDED alwayes, That the saide Islandes, or any the Premisses by the said Letters-pat

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