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Charter Of Rhode Island [1663]

 

Charles the Second ...: whereas we have been informed, by the humble petition of our trustie and well beloved subject, John Clarke, on the behalfe of Benjamine Arnold, William Brenton, William Codington, Nicholas Easton, William Boulston, John Porter, John Smith, Samuell Groton, John Weeks, Roger Williams, Thomas Olnie, Gregorie Dexter, John Cogeshall, Joseph Clarke, Randall Holden, John Greene, John Roome, Samuell Wildbore, William Ffield, James Barker, Richard Tew, Thomas Harris, and William Dyre, and the rest of the purchasers and ffree inhabitants of our island, called Rhode Island, and the rest of the colonie of Providence Plantations, in the Narragansett Bay, in New-England, in America, that they, pursueing, with peaceable and loyall mindes, their sober, serious and religious intentions, of godlie edificing themselves, and one another, in the holie Christian ffaith and worshipp as they were persuaded: together with the gaineing over and conversione of the poore ignorant Indian natives, in those partes of America, to the sincere professione and obedience of the same ffaith and worship, did, not onlie by the consent and good encouragement of our royall progenitors, transport themselves out of this kingdome of England into America, but alsoe, since their arrivall there, after their first settlement amongst other our subjects in those parts, ffor the avoideing of discorde, and those manie evills which were likely to ensue upon some of those oure subjects not beinge able to beares in these remote partes, theire different apprehensiones in religious concernments, and in pursueance of the afforesayd ends, did once againe leave theire desireable stationes and habitationes, and with excessive labor and travell, hazard and charge, did transplant themselves into the middest of the Indian natives, who, as wee are infformed, are the most potent princes and people of all that country; where, by the good Providence of God, from whome the Plantationes have taken their name, upon theire labour and industries they have not onlie byn preserved to admiration, but have increased and prospered, and are seized and possessed, by purchase and consent of the said natives, to their ffull content, of such lands, islands, rivers, harbours and roades, as are verie convenient, both for plantationes and alsoe for buildinge of shipps, suplye of pype-staves, and other merchandise; and which lyes verie commodious, in manie respects, for commerce, and to accommodate oure southern plantationes, and may much advance the trade of this oure realme, and greatlie enlarge the territories thereof; they haveinge, by neare neighbourhoode to and friendlie societie with the greate bodie of the Narragansett Indians, given them encouragement, of theire owne accorde, to subject themselves, theire people and Andes, unto us; whereby, as is hoped, there may, in due tyme, by the blessing of God upon theire endeavours, bee layd a sure Foundation of happinesse to all America: And whereas, in theirs humble addresse, they have Freely declared, that it is much on their hearts (if they may be permitted), to hold forth a livelie experiment, that a most flourishing civill state may stand and best bee maintained, and that among our English subjects, with a full libertie in religious concernements; and that true pietye rightly grounded upon gospell principles, will give the best and greatest security to sovereignetye, and will lay in the hearts of men the strongest obligations to true loyaltye: Now know yee, that wee beinge willinge to encourage the hopefull undertakeinge of oure sayd loyall and loveinge subjects, and to secure them in the free exercise and enjoyment of all theire civill and religious rights, appertaining to them, as our loveing subjects; and to preserve unto them that libertye, in the true Christian ffaith and worshipp of God, which they have sought with soe much travaill, and with peaceable myndes, and loyall subjectione to our royall progenitors and our selves, to enjoye; and because some of the people and inhabitants of the same colonie cannot; in theire private opinions, conforme to the publique exercise of religion, according to the litturgy, formes and ceremonyes of the Church of England, or take or subscribe the oaths and articles made and established in that behalfe; and for that the same, by reason of the remote distances of those places, will (as wee hope) bee noe breach of the unitie and unifformitie established in this nation: . . . doe hereby . . . declare, That our royall will and pleasure is, that noe person within the sayd colonye, at any tyme hereafter, shall bee any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinione in matters of religion, and doe not actually disturb the civill peace of our sayd colony; but that all and everye person and persons may, from tyme to tyme, and at all tymes hereafter, freelye and fullye have and enjoye his and theire owne judgments and consciences, in matters of religious concernments, throughout the tract of lande hereafter mentioned; they behaving themselves peaceablie and quietlie, and not useing this libertie to Iycentiousnesse and profanenesse, nor to the civill injurye or outward disturbeance of others; any lawe, statute, or clause, therein contayned, or to bee contayned, usage or custome of this realme, to the contrary hereof, in any wise, notwithstanding. And that they may bee in the better capacity to defend themselves, in theire just rights and libertyes against all the enemies of the Christian ffaith, and others, in all respects, wee . . . further . . . declare, That they shall have and enjove the benefit of our late act of indempnity and ffree pardon, as the rest of our subjects in other our dominions and territoryes have; and to create and make them a bodye politique or corporate, with the powers and priviledges hereinafter mentioned. And accordingely . . . wee . . . doe ordeyne, constitute and declare, That they, the sayd William Brenton . . . [and others] . . . and all such others as now are, or hereafter shall bee admitted and made ffree of the company and societie of our collonie of Providence Plantations, in the Narragansett Bay, in NewEngland, shall bee, from tyme to tyme, and forever hereafter, a bodie corporate and politique, . . . by the name of The Governor and Company of the English Collonie of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England in America...and further, wee ... doe declare . . . that . . . there shall bee one Governour, one Deputie Governour and ten Assistants, to bee from tyme to tyme . . . chosen, out of the freemen of the sayd Company, for the tyme beinge, in such manner and fforme as is hereafter in these presents expressed; . . . and . . . wee doe . . . apoynt the aforesayd Benedict Arnold to bee the first and present Governors of the sayd Company, and the sayd William Brenton to bee the DeputyGovernor, and the sayd William Boulston, John Porter, Roger Williams, Thomas Olnie, John Smith, John Greene, John Cogseshall, James Barker, William Ffeild, and Joseph Clarke, to bee the tenn present Assistants of the sayd Companye.... and further, wee . . . doe ordeyne . . . that the Governor of the sayd Company, for the tyme being, or, in his absence, . . . the DeputyGovernor, . . . shall and may, ffrom tyme to tyme, upon all occasions, give order ffor the assemblinge of the sayd Company, and callinge them together, to consult and advise of the businesse and affaires of the sayd Company. and that forever hereafter, twice in every year, that is to say, on every first Wednesday in the moneth of May, and on every last Wednesday in October, or oftener, in case it shall bee requisite, the Assistants, and such of the ffreemen of the Company, not exceedinge six persons ffor Newport, ffoure persons ffor each of the respective townes of Providence, Portsmouth and Warwicke, and two persons for each other place, towne or city, whoe shall bee, from tyme to tyme, thereunto elected or deputed by the majour parte of the Freemen of the respective townes or places ffor which they shall bee so elected or deputed, shall have a general meetinge, or Assembly then and there to consult, advise and determine, in and about the affaires and businesse of the said Company and Plantations. and further, wee doe . . . graunt unto the sayd Governour and Company. . . that the Governour . . . [or DeputyGovernor] . . ., the Assistants, and such of the Freemen of the sayd Company as shall bee soe as aforesayd elected or deputed, or soe many of them as shall bee present att such meetinge or assemblye, as afforesayde, shall bee called the Generall Assemblye; and that they, or the greatest parte of them present, whereof the Governour or Deputy-Governour, and sixe of the Assistants, at least to bee seven, shall have . . . ffull power [and] authority . . . to apoynt, alter and change, such dayes, tymes and places of meetinge and Generall Assemblye, as theye shall thinke fitt; and further . . .wee doe . . . ordeyne, that yearelie, .. .: the aforesayd Wednesday in May, and at the towne of Newport, or elsewhere, if urgent occasion doe require, the Governour, DeputyGovernour and Assistants of the sayd Company, and other officers of the sayd Company, or such of them as the Generall Assemblye shall thinke ffitt, shall bee, in the sayd Generall Court or Assembly to bee held from that daye or tyme, newly chosen for the year ensueing, by such greater part of the sayd Company, for the tyme beinge, as shall bee then and there present; . . . Neverthelesse, our will and pleasure is, and wee doe hereby declare to the rest of oure (Collonies in NewEngland, that itt shall not bee lawefull ffor this our sayd Collony . . . to invade the natives inhabiting within the boundes and limitts of theire sayd Collonies without the knowledge and consent of the sayd other Collonies. And itt is hereby declared, that itt shall not bee lawfull to or ffor the rest of the Collonies to invade or molest the native Indians, or any other inhabitants, inhabiting within the bounds and Iymitts hereafter mentioned (they having subjected themselves unto us, ahd being by us taken into our speciall protection), without the knowledge and consent of the Governour and Company of our Collony of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations.... And ffurther, know ye, that wee . . . doe give, graunt and confirme, unto the sayd Governour and Company, and theire successours, all that parte of our dominiones in New-England, in America, conteyneing the Nahantick and Nanhyganset Bay, and countryes and partes adjacent, bounded on the west, or westerly, to the middle or channel of a river there, commonly called and known by the name of Pawcatuck, alias Pawcawtuck river, and soe along the sayd river, as the greater or middle streame thereof reacheth or Iyes vpp into the north countrye, northward, unto the head thereof, and from thence, by a streight Iyne drawne due north, untill itt meets With the south Iyne of the Massachusetts Collonie; and on the north, or northerly, by the aforesayd south or southerly lyne of the Massachusetts Collony or Plantation, and extending towards the east, or eastwardly, three English miles to the east and north-east of the most eastern and north-eastern parts of the aforesayd Narragansett Bay, as the sayd bay Iyeth or extendeth itself from the ocean on the south, or southwardly, unto the mouth of the river Which runneth towards the towne of Providence, and from thence along the eastwardly side or banke of the sayd river (higher called by the name of Seacunck river), up to the ffals called Patuckett ffalls, being the most westwardly Iyne of Plymouth Collony, and soe from the sayd Falls, in a streight lyne, due north, untill itt meets with the aforesayd lyne of the Massachusetts Collony; and bounded on the south by the ocean: and, in particular, the lands belonging to the townes of Providence, Pawtuxet, Warwicke, Misquammacok, alias Pawcatuck, and the rest upon the_maine land in the tract aforesaid, together with RhodeIsland, Blocke-Island, and all the rest of the islands and banks in the Narragansett Bay, and bordering upon the coast of the tract aforesayd (Ffisher's Island only excepted), . . . any graunt, or clause in a late graunt, to the Governour and Company of Connecticutt Collony, in. America, to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding; . . . and further, our will and pleasure is, that in all matters of publique controversy which may fall out betweene our Collony of Providence Plantations, and the rest of our Collonies in New-England, itt shall and may bee lawfull to and for the Governour and Company of the sayd Collony of Providence Plantations to make their appeals therein to Us . . ., for redresse in such cases, within this our realme of England: and that itt shall be lawfull to and for the inhabitants of the sayd Collony . . ., without let or molestation, to passe and repasse with freedome, into and through the rest of the English Collonies, upon their lawfull and civill occasions, and to converse, and hold commerce and trade, with such of the inhabitants of our other English Collonies as shall bee willing to admitt them thereunto, they behaveing themselves peaceably among them....