Connecticut: Fundamental Orders of 1638
FORASMUCH as it hath pleased the Allmighty God by the wise disposition of his diuyne pruidence so to Order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Harteford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and vppon the River of Conectecotte and the Lands thereunto adioyneing; And well knowing where a people are gathered togather the word of God requires that to mayntayne the peace and vnion of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Gouerment established according to God, to order and dispose of the affayres of the people at all seasons as occation shall require; doe therefore assotiate and conioyne our selues to be as one Publike State or Commonwelth; and doe, for our selues and our Successors and such as shall be adioyned to vs att any tyme hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation togather, to mayntayne and prsearue the liberty and purity of the gospell of our Lord Jesus wch we now prfesse, as also the disciplyne of the Churches, wch according to the truth of the said gospell is now practised amongst vs; As also in or Ciuell Affaires to be guided and gouerned according to such Lawes, Rules, Orders and decrees as shall be made, ordered & decreed, as followeth:--
- It is Ordered, sentenced and decreed, that there shall be yerely two generall Assemblies or Courts, the on[e] the second thursday in Aprill, the other the second thursday in September, following; the first shall be called the Courte of Election, wherein shall be yerely Chosen fro tyme to tyme soe many Magestrats and other publike Officers as shall be found requisitte: Whereof one to be chosen Gouernour for the yeare ensueing and vntill another be chosen, and noe other Magestrate to be chosen for more then one yeare; pruided allwayes there be sixe chosen besids the Gouernour; wch being chosen and sworne according to an Oath recorded for that purpose shall haue power to administer iustice according to the Lawes here established, and for want thereof according to the rule of the word of God; wch choise shall be made by all that are admitted freemen and haue taken the Oath of Fidellity, and doe cohabitte wthin this Jurisdiction, (hauing beene admitted Inhabitants by the maior prt of the Towne wherein they liue,) or the mayor prte of such as shall be then prsent.
- It is Ordered, sentensed and decreed, that the Election of the aforesaid Magestrats shall be on this manner: euery prson prsent and quallified for choyse shall bring in (to the prsons deputed to receaue the) one single papr wth the name of him written in yt whom he desires to haue Gouernour, and he that hath the greatest nuber of papers shall be Gouernor for that yeare. And the rest of the Magestrats or publike Officers to be chosen in this manner: The Secretary for the tyme being shall first read the names of all that are to be put to choise and then shall seuerally nominate them distinctly, and euery one that would haue the prson nominated to be chosen shall bring in one single paper written vppon, and he that would not haue him chosen shall bring in a blanke: and euery one that hath more written papers than blanks shall be a Magistrat for that yeare; wch papers shall be receaued and told by one or more that shall be then chosen by the court and sworne to be faythfull therein; but in case there should not be sixe chosen as aforesaid, besids the Gouernor, out of those wch are nominated, then he or they wch haue the most written paprs shall be a Magestrate or Magestrats for the ensueing yeare, to make vp the aforesaid nuber.
- It is Ordered, sentenced and decreed, that the Secretary shall not nominate any person, nor shall any person be chosen newly into the Magestracy which was not prpownded in some Generall Courte before, to be nominated the next Election; and to that end yt shall be lawfull for each of the Townes aforesaid by their deputyes to nominate any two who they conceaue fitte to be put to election; and the Courte may ad so many more as they judge requisitt.
- It is Ordered, sentenced and decreed that noe person be chosen Gouernor aboue once in two yeares, and that the Gouernor be always a meber of some approved congregation, and formerly of the Magestracy wthin this Jurisdiction; and all the Magestrats Freemen of this Commonwelth: and that no Magestrate or other publike officer shall execute any prte of his or their Office before they are seuerally sworne, wch shall be done in the face of the Courte if they be prsent, and in case of absence by some deputed for that pur ose.
- It is Ordered, sentenced and decreed that to the aforesaid Courte of Election the seurall Townes shall send their deputyes, and when the Elections are ended they may prceed in any publike searuice as at other Courts. Also the other Generall Courte in September shall be for makeing of lawes, and any other publike occation, wch conserns the good of the Commonwelth.
- It is ordered, sentenced and decreed, that the Gournor shall, ether by himselfe or by the secretary, send out summons to the Constables of eur Towne for the cauleing of these two standing Courts, on[e] month at lest before their seurall tymes: And also if the Gourner and the gretest prte of the Magestrats see cause vppon any spetiall occation to call a generall Courte, they may giue order to the secretary soe to doe wthin fowerteene dayes warneing; and if vrgent necessity so require, vppon a shorter notice, giueing sufficient grownds for yt to the deputyes when the meete, or els be questioned or the same; And if the Gournor and Mayor prte of Magestrats shall ether neglect or refuse to call the two Generall standing Courts or ether of the, as also at other tymes when the occations of the Commonwelth require, the Freemen thereof, or the Mayor prte of them, shall petition to them soe to doe: if then yt be ether denyed or neglected the said Freemen or the Mayor prte of them shall haue power to giue order to the Constables of the seuerall Townes to doe the same, and so may meete togather, and chuse to themselves a Moderator, and may prceed to do any Acte of power, wch any other Generall Courte may.
- It is Ordered, sentenced and decreed that after there are warrants giuen out for any of the said Generall Courts, the Constable or Constables of ech Towne shall forthwth give notice distinctly to the inhabitants of the same, in some Publike Assembly or by goeing or sending fro[m] howse to howse, that at a place and tyme by him or them lymited and sett, they meet and assemble the selues togather to elect and chuse certen deputyes to be att the Generall Courte then following to agitate the afayres of the commonwelth; wch said Deputyes shall be chosen by all that are admitted Inhabitants in the seurall Townes and haue taken the oath of fidellity; pruided that non be chosen a Deputy for any Generall Courte wch is not a Freeman of this Commonwelth.
The a-foresaid deputyes shall be chosen in manner following: euery prson that is prsent and qualified as before exprssed, shall bring the names of such, written in seurrall papers. as they desire to haue chosen for that Employment, and these 3 or 4, more or lesse, being the nuber agreed on to be chosen for that tyme, that haue greatest nuber of papers written for the shall be deputyes for that Courte; whose names shall be endorsed on the backe side of the warrant and returned into the Court e, wch the Constable or Constables hand vnto the same.
- It is Ordered, sentenced and decreed, that Wyndsor, Hartford and Wethersfield shall haue power, ech Towne, to send fower of their freemen as deputyes to euery Generall Courte; and whatsoeuer other Townes shall be hereafter added to this Jurisdiction, they shall send so many deputyes as the Courte shall judge meete, a resonable prportion to the nuber of Freemen that are in the said Townes being to be attended therein; wch deputyes shall have the power of the whole Towne to giue their voats and alowance to all such lawes and orders as may be for the publike good, and unto wch the said Townes are to be bownnd.
- It is ordered and decreed, that the deputyes thus chosen shall haue power and liberty to appoynt a tyme and a place of meeting togather before any Generall Courte to aduise and consult of all such things as may concerne the good of the publike , as also to examine their owne Elections, whether according to the order, and if they or the gretest prte of them find any election to be illegall they may seclud such for prsent fro[m] their meeting, and returne the same and their resons to the Courte; and if yt proue true, the Courte muy fyne the prty or prtyes so intruding and the Towne, if the see cause, and giue out a warrant to goe to a newe election in a legall way, either in whole or in prte. Also the said deputyes shall haue power to fyne any that shall be disorderly at their meetings, or for not coming in due tyme or place according to appoyntment; and they may returne the said fynes into the Courte if yt be refused to be paid, and the tresurer to take notice of yt, and to estreete or levy the same as he doth other fynes.
- It, is Ordered, sentenced and decreed, that euery Generall Courte, except such as through neglecte of the Gournor and the greatest prte of Magestrats the Freemen themselves doe call, shall consist of the Gouernor, or some one chosen to moderate the Court, and 4 other Magestrats at lest, wth the mayor prte of the deputyes of the seuerall Townes legally chosen; and in case the Freemen or mayor prte of the through neglect or refusall of the Gouernor and mayor prte of the magestrats, shall call a Courte, that yt shall consist of the mayor prte of Freemen that are prsent or their deputyes, wth a Moderator chosen by the: In wch said Generall Courta shall consist the supreme power of the Commonwelth, and they only shall haue power to make laws or repeale the, to graunt leuyes, to admitt of Freemen, dispose of lands vndisposed of, to seuerall Townes or prsons, and also shall haue power to call ether Courte or Magestrate or any other prson whatsoever into question for any misdemeanor, and may for just causes displace or deale otherwise according to the nature of the offence; and also may deale in any other matter that concerns the good of this common welth, excepte election of Magestrats, wch shall be done by the whole boddy of Freemen: In wch Courte the Gouernour or Moderator shall haue power to order the Courte to giue liberty of spech, and silence vnceasonable and disorderly speakeings, to put all things to voate, and in case the vote be equall to haue the casting voice. But non of these Courts shall be adiorned or dissolued wthout the consent of the maior prte of the Court.
- It is ordered, sentenced and decreed, that when any Generall Courte vppon the occations of the Commonwelth haue agreed vppon any summe or somes of mony to be leuyed vppon the seuerall Townes wthin this Jurisdiction, that a Comittee be chosen to sett out and appoynt wt shall be the prportion of euery Towne to pay of the said leuy, prvided the Comittees be made vp of an equall nuber out of each Towne.
14th January, 1638, the 11 Orders abouesaid are voted.
THE OATH OF THE GOURNOR, FOR THE [PRSENT]
I N. W. being now chosen to be Gournor wthin this Jurisdiction, for the yeare ensueing, and vntil a new be chosen, doe sweare by the greate and dreadfull name of the everliueing God, to prmote the publicke good and peace of the same, according to the best of my skill; as also will mayntayne all lawfull priuiledges of this Commonwealth; as also that all wholsome lawes that are or shall be made by lawfull authority here established, be duly executed; and will further the execution of Justice according to the rule of Gods word; so helpe me God, in the name of the Lo: Jesus Christ.
I, N. W. being chosen a Magistrate wthin this Jurisdiction for the yeare ensueing, doe sweare by the great and dreadfull name of the euerliueing God, to prmote the publike good and peace of the same, according to the best of my skill, and that I will mayntayne all the lawfull priuiledges thereof according to my vnderstanding, as also assist in the execution of all such who some lawes as are made or shall be made by lawfull authority heare established, and will further the execution of Justice for the tyme aforesaid according to the righteous rule of Gods word; so helpe me God, etc.
FUNDAMENTAL AGREEMENT, OR ORIGINAL CONSTITUTION OF
THE COLONY OF NEW-HAVEN
June 4, 1639
The 4th day of the 4th month, called June, 1639, all the free planters assembled together in a general meeting, to consult about settling civil government, according to GOD, and the nomination of persons that might be found, by consent of all, fittest, in all respects for the foundation work of a church, which was intended to be gathered in Quinipiack. After solemn invocation of the name of GOD, in prayer for the presence and help of his spirit and grace, in those weighty businesses, they were reminded of the business whereabout they met, (viz.) for the establishment of such civil order as might be most pleasing unto GOD, and for the choosing the fittest men for the foundation work of a church to be gathered. For the better enabling them to discern the mind of GOD, and to agree accordingly concerning the establishment of civil order, Mr. John Davenport propounded divers queries to them publicly, praying them to consider seriously in the presence and fear of GOD, the weight of the business they met about, and not to be rash or slight in giving their votes to things they understood not; but to digest fully and thoroughly what should be propounded to them, and without respect to men, as they should be satisfied and persuaded in their own minds, to give their answers in such. sort as they would be willing should stand upon record for posterity.
THIS being earnestly pressed by Mr. Davenport, Mr. Robert Newman was intreated to write, in characters, and to read distinctly and audibly in the hearing of all the people, what was propounded and accorded on, that it might appear, that all consented to matters propounded, according to words written by him.
Query I. WHETHER the scriptures do hold forth a perfect rule for the direction and government of all men in all duties which they are to perform to GOD and men, as well in families and commonwealth, as in matters of the church? This was assented unto by all, no man dissenting, as was expressed by holding up of hands. Afterwards it was read over to them, that they might see in what words their vote was expressed. They again expressed their consent by holding up their hands, no man dissenting.
Query II. WHEREAS there was a covenant solemnly made by the whole assembly of free planters of this plantation the first day of extraordinary humiliation, which we had after we came together, that as in matters that concern the gathering and ordering of a church, so likewise in all public officers which concern civil order, as choice of magistrates and officers, making and repealing laws, dividing allotments of inheritance, and all things of like nature, we would all of us be ordered by those rules which the scripture holds forth to us; this covenant was called a plantation covenant, to distinguish it from a church covenant, which could not at that time be made, a church not being then gathered, but was deferred till a church might be gathered, according to GOD: It was demanded whether all the free planters do hold themselves bound by that covenant, in all businesses of that nature which are expressed in the covenant, to submit themselves to be ordered by the rules held forth in the scripture?
THIS also was assented unto by all, and no man gainsayed it; and they did testify the same by holding up their hands, both when it was first propounded, and confirmed the same by holding up their hands when it was read unto them in public. John Clark being absent, when the covenant was made, doth now manifest his consent to it. Also Richard Beach, Andrew Law, Goodman Banister, Arthur Halbridge, John Potter, Robert Hill, John Brocket, and John Johnson, these persons, being not admitted planters when the covenant was made, do now express their consent to it.
Query III. THOSE who have desired to be received as free planters, and are settled in the plantation, with a purpose, resolution and desire, that they may be admitted into church fellowship, according to CHRIST, as soon as GOD shall fit them thereunto, were desired to express it by holding up hands. According all did express this to be their desire and purpose by holding up their hands twice (viz.) at the proposal of it, and after when these written words were read unto them.
Query IV. ALL the free planters were called upon to express, whether they held themselves bound to establish such civil order as might best conduce to the securing of the purity and peace of the ordinance to themselves and their posterity according to God? In answer hereunto they expressed by holding up their hands twice as before, that they held themselves bound to establish such civil order as might best conduce to the ends aforesaid.
THEN Mr. Davenport declared unto them, by the scripture, what kind of persons might best be trusted with matters of government; and b sundry arguments from scripture proved that such men as were described in Exod. xviii. 2, Deut. 1. 13, with Deut. xvii. 15, and 1 Cor. vi. 1, 6, 7, ought to be intrusted by them, seeing they were free to cast themselves into that mould and form of commonwealth which appeared best for them in reference to the securing the peace and peaceable improvement of all CHRIST his ordinances in the church according to GOD, whereunto they have bound themselves, as hath been acknowledged.
HAVING thus said he sat down praying the company freely to consider, whether they would have it voted at this time or not. After some space of silence, Mr. Theophilus Eaton answered, it might be voted, and some others also spake to the same purpose, none at all oppossing it. Then it was propounded to vote.
Query V. WHETHER free burgesses shall be chosen out of the church members, they that are in the foundation work of the church being actuall free burgesses, and to choose to themselves out of the like estate of church fellowship, and the power of choosing magistrates and officers from among themselves, and the power of making and repealing laws, according to the word and the dividing of inheritances, and deciding of differences that may arise, and all the businesses of like nature are to be transacted by those free burgesses? This was was to vote and agreed unto by lifting up of hands twice, as in the former it was done. Then one man stood up and expressed his dissenting from the rest in part; yet granting, 1. That magistrates should be men fearing GOD. 2. That the church is the company where, ordinarily, such men may be expected. 3. That they that choose them ought to be men fearing GOD; only at this he stuck, that free planters ought not to give this power out of their hands. Another stood up and answered, that nothing was done, but with their consent. The former answered, that all the free planters ought to resume this power into their own hands again, if things were not orderly carried. Mr. Theophilus Eaton answered, that in all places they choose committees in like manner. The companies in London choose the liveries by whom the public magistrates are chosen. In this the rest are not wronged, because they expect, in time, to be of the livery themselves, and to have the same power. Some others intreated the former to give his arguments and reasons whereupon he dissented. He refused to do it, and said, they might not rationally demand it, seeing he let the vote pass on freely and did not speak till after it was past, because he would not hinder what they agreed upon. Then Mr. Davenport, after a short relation of some former passages between them two about this quest ion, prayed the company that nothing might be concluded by them on this weighty question, but what themselves were persuaded to be agreeing with the mind of GOD, and they had heard what had been said since the voting; he intreated them again to consider of it, and put it a again to vote as before. Again all of them, by holding up their hands, did show their consent as before. And some of them confessed that, whereas they did waver before they came to the assembly, they were now fully convinced, that it is the mind of GOD. One of them said that in the morning before he came reading Deut. xvii. 15, he was convinced at home. Another said, that he came doubting to the assembly, but he blessed GOD, by what had been said, he was now fully satisfied, that the choice of burgesses out of church members, and to intrust those with the power before spoken of is according to the mind of GOD revealed in the scriptures. All having spoken their apprehensions it was agreed upon, and Mr. Robert Newman was desired to write it as an order whereunto every one that hereafter should be admitted here as planters, should submit, and testify the same by subscribing their names to the order: Namely, that church members only shall be free burgesses, and that they only shall choose magistrates and officers among themselves, to have power of transacting all the public civil affairs of this plantation; of making and repealing laws, dividing of inheritances. deciding of differences that may arise, and doing all things and businesses of like nature.
THIS being thus settled, as a fundamental agreement concerning civil government, Mr. Davenport proceeded to propound something to consideration about the gathering of a church, and to prevent the blemishing of the first beginnings of the church work, Mr. Daven port advised, that the names of such as were to be admitted might be publicly propounded, to the end that they who were most approved might be chosen; for the town being cast into several private meetings, wherein they that lived nearest together gave their accounts one to another of GOD'S gracious work upon them, and prayed together and conferred to their mutual edification, sundry of them had knowledge one of another; and in every meeting some one was more approved of all than any other; for this reason and to prevent scandals, the whole company was intreated to consider whom they found fittest to nominate for this work.
Query VI . WHETHER are you all willing and do agree in this, that twelve men be chosen, that their fitness for the foundation work may be tried; however there may be more named yet it may be in their power who are chosen to reduce them to twelve, and that it be in the power of those twelve to choose out of themselves seven, that shall be most approved of by the major part, to begin the church?
THIS was agreed upon by consent of all, as was expressed by holding up of hands, and that so many as should be thought fit for the foundation work of the church, shall be propounded by the plantation, and written down and pass without exception, unless they had given public scandal or offence. Yet so as in case of public scandal or offence, every one should have liberty to propound their exception, at that time, publicly against any man, that should be nominated, when all their names should be writ down. But if the offence were private, that mens names might be tendered., so many as were offended were intreated to deal with the offender privately, and if he gave not satisfaction to bring the matter to the twelve, that they might consider of it impartially and in the fear of GOD.
GOVERNMENT OF NEW HAVEN COLONY
October 27/ November 6, 1643
It was agreed and concluded as a foundamentall order nott to be disputed or questioned hereafter, thatt none shall be admitted to be free burgesses in any of the plantations within this jurisdiction for the future, butt such planters as are members of some or other of the approved churches of New England, nor shall any butt such free burgesses have any vote in any election, (the six present freemen att Milforde enjoying the liberty with the cautions agreed,) nor shall any power or trust in the ordering of any civil affayres, be att any time putt into the hands of any other than such church members, though as free planters, all have right to their inherritance & to comerce, according to such grants, orders and lawes as shall be made concerning the same.
- All such free burgesses shall have power in each towne or plantation within this jurisdiction to chuse fitt and able men, from amongst themselves, being church members as before, to be the ordinary judges, to heare and determine all inferior causes, whether civill or criminall, provided that no civill Cause to be tryed in any of these plantation Courts in value exceed 20l, and thatt the punishment in such criminals, according to the minde of God, revealed in his word, touching such offences, doe nott exceed stocking and whipping, or if the fine be pecuniary, thatt itt exceed nott five pounds. In which Court the magistrate or magistrates, if any be chosen by the free burgesses or the jurisdiction for thatt plantation, shall sitt and assist with due respect to their place, and sentence shall according to the vote of the major part of each such Court, onely if the partyes, or any of them be nott satisfyed with the justice of such sentences or executions, appeales or complaints may be made from and against these courts to the Court of Magistrates for the whole jurisdiction.
- All such free burgesses through the whole jurisdiction, shall have vote in the election of all magistrates, whether Governor, Deputy Governor, or other magistrates, with a Treasurer, a Secretary and a Marshall, &c. for the jurisdiction. And for the ease of those free burgesses, especially in the more remote plantations, they may by proxi vote in these elections, though absent, their votes being sealed up in the presence of the free burgesses themselves, thatt their several severall libertyes may be preserved, and their votes directed according to their owne particular light, and these free burgesses may, att every election, chuse so many magistrates for each plantation, as the weight. of affayres may require, and as they shall finale fitt men for thatt trust. Butt it is provided and agreed, thatt no plantation shall att any election be left destitute of a magistrate if they desire one to be chosen out of those in church fellowship with them.
- All the magistrates for the whole juridsiction shall meete twice a. yeare att Newhaven, namely, the Munday immediately before the sitting of the two fixed Generall Courts hereafter mentioned, to keep a Court called the Court of Magistrates, for the tryall of weighty and capitall cases, whether civill or criminall, above those lymitted to the ordinary judges in the particular plantations. and to receive and try all appeales brought unto them from the aforesaid Plantation Courts, and to call all the inhabitants, whether free burgesses, free planters, or others, to account for the breach of any lawes established, and for other misdeameanours, and to censure them according to the quallity of the offence, in which meetings of magistrates, less then fower shall nott be accounted a Court, nor shall they carry on any busines as a Court, butt itt is expected and required, thatt all the magistrates in this jurisdiction doe constantly attend thc publique service att the times before mentioned, & if any of them be absent att one of the clock in the afternoone on Munday aforesaid, when the court shall sitt, or if any of them depart the towne without leave, while the court sitts, he or they Shall pay for any such default, twenty shillings fine, unless some providence of God occasion the same, which the Court of Magistrates shall judge off from time to time, and all sentences in this court shall pass by the vote of the major part of magistrates therein, butt from this Court of Magistrates, appeales and complaints may be made and brought. to the Generall Court as the last and highest of this jurisdiction; butt in all appeales or complaints from, or to, what court soever, due costs and damages shall be payd by him or them thatt make appeale or complaint without just cause.
- Besides the Plantation Courts and Court of Magistrates, there shall be a Generall Court for the Jurisdiction, which shall consist of the Governor, Deputy Governor and all the Magistrates within the Jurisdiction, and two Deputyes for every plantation in the Jurisdiction, which Deputyes shall from time to time be chosen against the approach of any such Generall Court, by the aforesaid free burgesses, and sent with due certifficate to assist in the same, all which, both Governor and Deputy Governor, Magistrates and Deputyes, shall have their vote in the said Court. This Generall Court shall always sitt att Newhaven, (unless upon weighty occasions the Generall Court see cause for a time to sitt e lsewhere,) and shall assemble twice every yeare, namely, the first Wednesday in Aprill, & the last Wednesday in October, in the later of which courts the Governor, the Deputy Governor and all the magistrates for the whole jurisdiction with a Treasurer, a Secretary and Marshall, shall yearly be chosen by all the free burgesses before mentioned, besides which two fixed courts, the Governor, or in his absence, the Deputy Governor, shall have power to summon a Generall Court att any other time, as the urgent and extraordinary occasions of the jurisdiction may require, and att all Generall Courts, whether ordinary or extraordinary, the Governor and Deputy Governor, and all the rest of the magistrates for the jurisdiction, with the Deputyes for the severall plantations, shall sitt together, till the affayres of the jurisdiction be dispatched or may safely be respited, and if any of the said magistrates or Deputyes shall either be absent att the first sitting of the said Generall Court, (unless some providence of God hinder, which the said Court shall judge of,) or depart, or absent themselves disorderly before the Court be finished he or they shall each of them pay twenty shillings fine, with due considerations of further aggravations if there shall be cause; which Generall Court shall, with all care and delligence provide for the maintenance of the purity of religion, and suppress the contrary, according to their best light from the worde of God, and all wholsome and sound advice which shall be given by the elders and churches in the jurisdiction, so farr as may concerne their civill power to deale therein.
Secondly they shall have power to mak and repeale lawes, and, while they are in force, to require execution of them in all the severall plantations.
Thirdly, to impose an oath upon all the magistrates, for the faithful discharge of the trust committed to them, according to their best abilityes, and to call them to account for the breach of any lawes established, or for other misdemeanors, and to censure them, as the quallity of the offence shall require.
Fowerthly, to impose and [an] oath of fidelity and due subjection to the lawes upon all the free burgesses, free planters, and other inhabitants within the whole jurisdiction.
5ly to settle and leivie rates and contributions upon all the severall plantations, for the publique service of the jurisdiction.
61y, to heare and determine all causes , whether civill or crominall, which by appeale or complaint shall be orderly brought unto them from any of the other Courts, or from any of the other plantations. In all which, with whatsoever else shall fall within their cognisance or judicuture, they shall proceed according to the scriptures, which is the rule of all rightous lawes and sentences, and nothing shall pass an act of the Generall Court butt by the consent of the major part of the magistrates, and the greater part of Deputyes.
These generalls being thus layd and settled, though with purpose thatt the scircumstantialls, such as the vallue of the causes to be tryed in the Plantation Courts, the ordinary and fixed times of meetings, both for the Generall Courts, and courts of magistrates, how oft and when they shall sitt, with the fines for absence or default, be hereafter considered off, continued or altered, as may best and most advance the course of justice, and best sute the occasions of the plantations, the Court proceed to present particular busines of the jurisdiction.
CHARTER OF CONECTICUT
CHARLES the Second, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting.
Whereas by the several Navigations, Discoveries, and Successful Plantations of divers of Our loving Subjects of this Our Realm of England, several Lands, Islands, Places, Colonies, and plantations have been obtained and settled in that Part of the Continent of America called New-England, and thereby the Trade and Commerce there, hath been of late Years much increased: And whereas We have been informed by the humble Petition of our Trusty and Well beloved John Winthrop, John Mason, Samuel Wyllys, Henry Clarke, Matthew Allyn, John Tapping, Nathan Gold, Richard Treat, Richard Lord, Henry Wolcott, John Talcott, Daniel Clarke, John Ogden, Thomas Wells, Obadias Brewen, John Clerke, Anthony Hawkins, John Deming, and Matthew Camfeild, being Persons principally interested in Our Colony or Plantation of Connecticut, in New-England, that the same Colony, or the greatest part thereof, was Purchased and obtained for great and valuable Considerations, and some other Part thereof gained by Conquest, and with much difficulty, and at the only Endeavors, Expence, and Charges of them and their Associates, and those under whom they Claim, Subdued, and Improved, and thereby become a considerable Enlargement and Addition of Our Dominions and interest there. NOW KNOW YE, That in consideration thereof, and in Regard the said Colony is remote from other the English Plantations in the Places aforesaid, and to the End the Affairs and Business which shall from Time to Time happen or arise concerning the same, may be duly Ordered and Managed. we have thought fit and at the humble Petition of the Persons aforesaid, and are graciously Pleased to create and make them a Body Politick and Corporate, with the Powers and Privileges herein after mentioned; and accordingly Our Will and Pleasure is, and of our especial Grace, certain Knowledge, and meer Motion, We have ordained, constituted and declared., and by these presents, for Us, Our Heirs and Successors, Do ordain, constitute and declare, that they the said John Winthrop, John Mason, Samuel Wyllys, Henry Clarke, Matthew Allyn, John Tapping, Nathan Gold, Richard Treat, Richard Lord, Henry Wolcott, John Talcott, Daniel Clarke, John Ogden, Thomas Wells, Obadiah Brwen, John Clerke, Anthony Hawkins, John Deming, and Matthew Camfeild, and all such others as now are, or hereafter shall be admitted and made free of the Company and, Society of Our Colony of Connecticut, in America, shall from Time to Time, and for ever hereafter, be One Body Corporate and politique, in Fact and Name, by the Name of, Governor and Company of the English Colony of Connecticut in New-England, in America;
And that by the same Name they and their Successors shall and may have perpetual Succession, and shall and may be Persons able and capable in the Law, to plead and be impleaded, to answer and to be answered unto, to defend and be defended in all and singular Suits, Causes, Quarrels, Matters, Actions, and Things, of what Kind or Nature soever; and also to have, take, possess, acquire, and purchase Lands, Tenements, or Hereditaments, or any Goods or Chattels, and the same to lease, grant, demise, alien, bargain, sell, and dispose of, as other Our liege People of this Our Realm of England, or any other Corporation or Body Politique within the same may lawfully do. And further, That the said Governor and Company, and their Successors, shall and may forever hereafter have a common Seal, to serve and use for all Causes, Matters, Things, and affairs whatsoever, of them and their Successors, and the same Seal, to alter, change, break, and make new from Time to Time, at their Wills and Pleasures, as they shall think fit. And further, We will and ordain, and by these Presents, for Us, our Heirs and Successors, do declare and appoint, that for the better ordering and managing of the Affairs and Business of the said Company and their Successors, there shall be One Governor, One Deputy-Governor, and Twelve Assistants, to be from time to Time constituted, elected and chosen out of the Freemen of the said Company for the Time being, in such Manner and Form as hereafter in these Presents is expressed, which said officers shall apply themselves to take Care for the best disposing and ordering of the general Business and affairs of and concerning the Land and Hereditaments herein after mentioned to be granted, and the Plantation thereof, and the Government of the People thereof: And for the better Execution of Our Royal Pleasure herein, We do for Us, Our Heirs, and Successors, assign, name, constitute and appoint the aforesaid John Winthrop to be the first and present Governor of the said Company, and the said John Mason, to be the Deputy-Governor, and the said Samuel Wyllys, Matthew Allyn, Nathan Gold, Henry Clerke, Richard Treaty John Ogden, John Tapping, John Talcott, Thomas Wells, Henry Wolcott, Richard Lord, and Daniel Clerke to Twelve present assistants of the said Company, to continue said several Offices respectively, until the second Thursday which shall be in the Month of October now next coming. And further we Will, and by these Presents for Us, Our Heirs, and Successors, Do ordain and grant, That the Governor of the said Company for the Time being, or in his Absence by occasion of Sickness, or otherwise by his Leave or Permission, the Deputy-Governor for the Time being, shall and may from Time to Time upon all Occasions, give Order for the assembling of the said Company, and calling them together to consult and advise of the Business and Affairs of the said Company, and that for ever hereafter, twice in every Year, That is to say, On every Second Thursday in October, and on every Second Thursday in May, or oftener in case it shall be requisite; the Assistants, and Freemen of the said Company, or such of them (not exceeding Two Persons from each Place, Town, or City) who shall be from Time to Time thereunto elected or deputed by the major Part of the Freemen of the respective Towns, Cities, and Places for which they shall be elected or deputed, shall have a General Meeting, or Assembly, then and there to consult and advise in and about the Affairs and Business of the said Company: and that the Governor, or in his Absence the Deputy-Governor of the said Company for the Time being, and such of the Assistants and Freemen of the said Company as shall be so elected or deputed, and be present at such Meeting or Assembly, or the greatest Number of them, whereof the Governor of Deputy-Governor, and Six of the Assistants at least, to be Seven, shall be called the General Assembly, and shall have full Power and authority to alter and change their Days and Times of Meeting, or General Assemblies, for electing the Governor, Deputy-Governor, and Assistants, or other Officers or any other Courts, Assemblies or Meetings, and to choose, nominate and appoint such and so many other Persons as they shall think fit, and shall be willing to accept the same, to be Free of the said Company and Body Politique, and them into the same to admit; And to elect and constitute such Officers as they shall think fit and requisite for the ordering, managing and disposing of the Affairs of the said Governor and Company, and their Successors:
And we do hereby for Us, Our Heirs and Successors, establish and ordain, That once in the Year for ever hereafter, Namely, the said Second Thursday in May, the Governor, Deputy-Governor, and Assistants of the said Company, and other Officers of the said Company, or such of them as the said General Assembly shall think fit, shall be in the said General Court and Assembly to be held from that Day or Time, newly chosen for the Year ensuing, by such greater Part of the said Company for the Time being, then and there present; and if the Governor, Deputy-Governor, and Assistants by these Presents appointed, or such as hereafter be newly chosen into their Rooms, or any of them, or any other the Officers to be appointed for the said Company shall die, or be removed from his or their several Offices or Places before the said general Day of Election, whom We do hereby declare for any Misdemeanor or Default, to be removable by the Governor, Assistants, and Company, or such greater Part of them in any of the said public Courts to be assembled, as is aforesaid, that then and in every such Case, it shall and may be lawful to and for the Governor, Deputy-Governor, and Assistants, and Company aforesaid, or such greater Part of them so to be assembled, as is aforesaid, in any of their Assemblies, to proceed to a new Election of one or more of their Company, in the Room or Place, Rooms or Places of such Governor, Deputy-Governor, Assistant, or other Officer or Officers so dying or removed, according to their Discretions, and immediately upon and after such Election or Elections made of such Governor, Deputy-Governor, Assistant or Assistants, or any other Officer of the said Company, in Manner and Form aforesaid, the Authority, Office and Power before given to the former Governor, Deputy-Governor, or other Officer and Officers so removed, in whose Stead and Place new shall be chosen, shall as to him and them, and every of them respectively, cease and determine.
Provided also, And Our Will and Pleasure is, That as well such as are by these Presents appointed to be the present Governor, Deputy-Governor, and Assistants of the said Company, as those that shall succeed them, and all other Officers to be appointed and chosen, as aforesaid, shall before they undertake the Execution of their said Offices and Places respectively, take their several and respective corporal Oaths for the due and faithful Performance of their Duties, in their several Offices and Places, before such Person or Persons as are by these. Presents hereafter appointed to take and receive the same; That is to say, The said John Winthrop, who is herein before nominated and appointed the present Governor of the said Company, shall take the said Oath before One or more of the Masters of Our Court of Chancery for the Time being, unto which Master of Chancery, We do by these Presents give full Power and Authority to administer the said Oath to the said John Winthrop accordingly: And the said John Mason, who is herein before nominated and appointed the present Deputy-Governor of the said Company, shall take the said Oath before the said John Winthrop, or any Two of the Assistants of the said Company, unto whom We do by these Presents give full Power and Authority to administer the said Oath to the said John Mason accordingly: And the said Samuel Wyllys, Henry Clerke, Matthew Allyn, John Tapping, Nathan Gold, Richard Treat, Richard Lord, Henry Wolcott, John Talcott, Daniel Clerke, John Ogden, and Thomas Wells, who are herein before nominated and appointed the present Assistants of the said Company, shall take the Oath before the said John Winthrop, and John Mason, or One of them, to whom We do hereby give full Power and Authority to administer the same accordingly.
And our further Will and Pleasure is, that all and every Governor, or Deputy-Governor to be elected and chosen by Virtue of these presents, shall take the said Oath before Two or more of the Assistants of the said Company for the Time being, unto whom We do by these Presents give full Power and Authority to give and administer the said Oath accordingly; and the said Assistants, and every of them, and all and every other Officer or Officers to be here after chosen from Time to Time, to take the said Oath before the Governor, or Deputy-Governor for the Time being, unto which Governor, or Deputy-Governor, We do by these Presents give full Power and Authority to administer the same accordingly. And further, Of Our more ample Grace, certain Knowledge, and meer Motion, We have given and granted, and by these presents for Us, Our Heirs and Successors, do give and grant unto the said Governor and Company of the English Colony of Connecticut, in New England, in America, and to every Inhabitant there, and to every Person and Persons trading thither, and to every such Person and Persons as are or shall be Free of the said Colony, full Power and Authority from Time to Time, and at all Times hereafter, to take Ship, Transport and carry away for and towards the Plantation and Defence of the said Colony, such of Our loving Subjects and Strangers, as shall or will willingly accompany them in, and to their said Colony and Plantation, except such Person and Persons as are or shall be therein restrained by Us, Our Heirs and Successors; and also to ship and transport all, and all Manner of Goods, Chattels, Merchandises, and other Things whatsoever that are or shall be useful or necessary for the Inhabitants of the said Colony, and may lawfully be transported thither; Nevertheless, not to be discharged of Payment to Us, our Heirs and Successors, of the Duties, Customs and Subsidies which are or ought to be paid or payable for the same.
And further, Our Will and Pleasure is, and We do for Us, Our Heirs and Successors, ordain, declare, and grant unto the said Governor and Company, and their Successors, That all, and every the Subjects of Us, Our Heirs, or Successors, which shall go to inhabit within the said Colony, and every of their Children, which shall happen to be born there, or on the Seas in going thither, or returning from thence, shall have and enjoy all Liberties and Immunities of free and natural Subjects within any the Dominions of Us, Our Heirs or Successors, to all Intents, Constructions and Purposes whatsoever, its if they and every of them were born within the realm of England; And We do authorize and impower the Governor, or in his Absence the Deputy-Governor for the Time being, to appoint Two or more of the said Assistants at any of their Courts or Assemblies to be held as aforesaid, to have Power and Authority to administer the Oath of Supremacy and Obedience to all and every Person or Persons which shall at any Time or Times hereafter go or pass into the said Colony of Connecticut, unto which said Assistants so to be appointed as aforesaid, We do by these Presents give full Power and Authority to administer the said Oath accordingly. And We do further of Our especial Grace, certain Knowledge, and meer Motion, give, and grant unto the said Governor and Company of the English Colony of Connecticut, in New-England, in America, and their Successors, That it shall and may be lawful to and for the Governor, or Deputy-Governor, and such of the Assistants of the said Company for the Time being as shall be assembled. in any of the General Courts aforesaid, or in any Courts to be especially summoned or assembled for that Purpose, or the greater part of them, whereof the Governor, or Deputy-Governor, and Six of the Assistants to be always Seven, to erect and make such Judicatories, for the hearing, and determining of all Actions, Cause, Matters, and Things happening within the said Colony, or Plantation, and which shall be in Dispute, and Depending there, as they shall think Fit, and Convenient, and also from Time to Time to Make, Ordain, and Establish all manner of wholesome, and reasonable Laws, Statutes, Ordinances, Directions, and Instructions, not Contrary to the Laws of this Realm of England, as well for settling the Forms, and Ceremonies of Government, and Magistracy, fit and necessary for the said Plantation. and the Inhabitants there, as for Naming, and Stiling all Sorts of Officers, both Superior and Inferior, which they shall find Needful for the Government, and Plantation of the said Colony, and the distinguishing and setting forth of the several Duties, Powers, and Limits of every such Office and Place, and the Forms of such Oaths not being contrary to the Laws and Statutes of this Our Realm of England, to be administered for the Execution of the said several Offices and Places as also for the disposing and ordering of the Election of such of the said Officers as are to be annually chosen, and of such others as shall succeed in case of Death or Removal, and administering the said Oath to the newly-elected Officers, and granting necessary Commissions, and for Imposition of lawful Fines, Mulcts, Imprisonment or other Punishment upon Offenders and Delinquents according to the Course of other Corporations within this our Kingdom of England, and the same Laws, Fines, Mulcts and Executions, to alter, change, revoke, annul, release, or pardon under their Common Seal, as by the said General Assembly, or the major Part of them shall be thought fit, and for the directing, ruling and disposing of all other Matters and things, whereby Our said People Inhabitants there, may be so religiously, peaceably and civilly governed, as their good Life and orderly Conversation may win and invite the Natives of the Country to the Knowledge and Obedience of the only true GOD, and the Saviour of Mankind, and the Christian Faith, which in Our Royal Intentions and the adventurers free Possession, is the only and principal End of this Plantation; willing, commanding and requiring, and by these Presents for Us, Our Heirs and Successors, ordaining and appointing, that all such Laws, Statutes and Ordinances, Instructions, Impositions and Directions as shall be so made by the Governor, Deputy-Governor, and Assistants as aforesaid, and published in Writing under them Common Seal, shall carefully and duly be observed, kept, performed, and put in Execution, according to the true Intent and Meaning of the same, and these Our Letters Patents, or the Duplicate, or Exemplification thereof, shall be to all and every such Officers, Superiors and Inferiors from Time to Time, for the putting of the same Orders, Laws, Statutes, Ordinances, Instructions, and Directions in due Execution, against Us, Our Heirs and Successors, a sufficient Warrant and Discharge.
And We do further for Us, Our Heirs and Successors, give and grant unto the said Governor and Company, and their Successors, by these Presents, That it shall and may be lawful to, and for the Chief Commanders, Governors and Officers of the said Company for the Time being, who shall be resident in the Parts of New-England hereafter mentioned, and others inhabiting there, by their Leave, Admittance, Appointment, or Direction, from Time to Time, and at all Times hereafter, for their special Defence and Safety, to Assemble, Martial-Array, and put in warlike Posture the Inhabitants of the said Colony, and to Commissionate, Impower, and Authorize such Person or Persons as they shall think fit, to lead and conduct the said inhabitants, and to encounter, expulse, repel and resist by Force of Arms, as well by Sea as by Land, and also to kill, slay, and destroy by all fitting Ways, Enterprises, and Means whatsoever, all and every such Person or Persons as shall at any Time hereafter attempt or enterprize the Destruction, Invasion, Detriment, or Annoyance of the said Inhabitants or Plantation, and to use and exercise the Law Martial in such Cases only as Occasion shall require; and to take or surprize by all Ways and Means whatsoever, all and every such Person and Persons, with their Ships, Armour, Ammunition and other shall in such hostile Manner invade or attempt the defeating of the said Plantation, or the hurt of the said Company and Inhabitants, and upon just Causes to invade and destroy the Natives, or other Enemies of the said Colony. Nevertheless, Our Will and Pleasure is, and We do hereby declare unto all Christian Kings, Princes, and States, that if any Persons which shall hereafter be of the said Company or Plantation, or any other by Appointment of the said Governor and Company. for the Time being, shall at any Time or Times hereafter rob or spoil by Sea or by Land, and do any Hurt, Violence, or unlawful Hostility to any of the Subjects of Us, Our Heirs or Successors, or any of the Subjects of any Prince or State, being then in League with Us, Our Heirs or Successors, upon Complaint of such Injury done to any such Prince or State, or their Subjects, We, Our Heirs and Successors will make open Proclamation within any Parts of Our Realm of England fit for that Purpose, that the Person or Persons committing any such Robbery or Spoil, shall within the Time limited by such Proclamation, make full Restitution or Satisfaction of all such Injuries done or committed, so as the said Prince, or others so complaining may be fully satisfied and contented; and if the said Person or Persons who shall commit any such Robbery or Spoil shall not make Satisfaction accordingly, within such Time so to be limited, that then it shall and may be lawful for Us, Our Heirs and Successors, to put such Person or Persons out of Our Allegiance and Protection; and that it shall and may be lawful and free for all Princes or others to prosecute with Hostility such Offenders, and every of them, their, and every of their Procurers, Aiders, Abettors and Counselors in that Behalf.
Provided also, and Our express Will and Pleasure is, and We do by these Presents for Us, Our Heirs, and Successors, Ordain and Appoint, that these Presents shall not in any Manner hinder any of Our loving Subjects whatsoever to use and exercise the Trade of Fishing upon the Coast of New-England, in America, but they and every or any of them shall have full and free Power and Liberty, to continue, and use the said Trade of Fishing upon the said Coast, in any of the Seas thereunto adjoining, or any Arms of the Seas, or Salt Water Rivers where they have been accustomed to fish, and to build and set up on the waste Land belonging to the said Colony, of Connecticut, such Wharves, Stages, and Work-Houses as shall be necessary for the salting, drying, and keeping of their Fish to be taken, or gotten upon that Coast, any Thing in these Presents contained to the contrary notwithstanding. And Know Ye further, That We, of Our abundant Grace, certain Knowledge, and mere Motion, have given, granted, and confirmed, and by these Presents for Us, our Heirs and Successors, do give, grant and confirm unto the said Governor and Company, and their Successors. all that Part of Our Dominions in New-England in America, bounded on the East by Narraganset-River, commonly called Narraganset-Bay, where the said River falleth into the Sea; and on the North by the Line of the Massachusetts-Plantation; and on the South by the Sea; and in Longitude as the Line of the Massachusetts-Colony, running from East to West, That is to say, From the said Narraganset-Bay on the East, to the South Sea on the West Part, with the Islands thereunto adjoining, together with all firm Lands, Soils, Grounds, Havens, Ports, Rivers, Waters, Fishings, Mines. Minerals, precious Stones, Quarries, and all and singular other Commmodities, Jurisdictions, Royalties, Privileges, Franchises, Preheminences, and Hereditaments whatsoever, within the said Tract, Bounds, Lands, and Islands aforesaid, or to them or any of them belonging. To have and to hold the same unto the said Governor and Company, their Successors and Assigns for ever, upon Trust, and for the Use and Benefit of Themselves and their Associates, Freemen of the said Colony, their Heirs and Assigns, to be holden of Us, Our Heirs and Successors, as of Our Manor of East-Greenwich, in free and common Soccage, and not in Capite, nor by Knights Service, yielding and paying therefore to Us, Our Heirs and Successors, only the Fifth Part of all the Ore of Gold and Silver which from Time to Time, and at all Times hereafter, shall be there gotton, had, or obtained, in Lieu of all Services, Duties, and Demands whatsoever, to be to Us, our Heirs, or Successors therefore, or thereout rendered, made, or paid.
And lastly, We do for Us, our Heirs and Successors, grant to the said Governor and Company, and their Successors, by these Presents, That these Our Letters Patents, shall be firm, good and effectual in the Law, to all Intents Constructions, and Purposes whatsoever, according to Our true Intent and Meaning herein before declared, as shall be construed, reputed and adjudged most favourable on the Behalf, and for the best Benefit, and Behoof of the said Governor and Company, and their Successors, although express Mention of the true Yearly Value or Certainty of the Premises, or of any of them, or of any other Gifts or Grants by Us, or by any of Our Progenitors, or Predecessors, heretofore made to the said Governor and Company of the English Colony of Connecticut, in New-England, in America, aforesaid, in these Presents is not made, or any Statute, Act, Ordinance, Provision, Proclamation, or Restriction heretofore had, made, enacted, ordained, or provided, or any other Matter, Cause, or Thing whatsoever, to the contrary thereof, in any wise notwithstanding. In Witness whereof, We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patents. Witness Ourself at Westminster, the Three and Twentieth Day of April, in the Fourteenth Year of our Reign.
By Writ of Privy Seal,