New Haven Colonial Records


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No. 10.

Fundamental Articles of New Haven

June 4/14, 1639

The 4th day of the 4th moneth called June 1639, all the free planters assembled together in a ge[neral1] meetinge to consult about settling civill Government according to God, and about the nomination of persons thatt might be founde by consent of all fittest in all respects for the foundation worke of a church w[hich] was intend to be gathered in Quinipieck. After solemne invocation of the name of God in prayer [for] the presence and help of his speritt, and grace in those weighty businesses, they were reminded of t[he] busines whereabout they mett [viz] for the establishment of such civill order as might be most p[leas]ing unto God, and for the chuseing the fittest men for the foundation worke of a church to be gather[ed]. For the batter inableing them to discerne the minde of God and to agree accordingly concerning the establishment of civill order, Mr. John Davenport propounded divers quæres to them publiquely. . . .

This being earnestly pressed by Mr. Davenport, Mr. Robt. Newman was intreated to write in carracters and to read distinctly and audibly in the hearing of all the people whatt was propounded and accorded on that itt might appeare thatt all consented to matters propounded according to words written by him.

QUÆR. 1. Whether the Scripturs doe holde forth a perfect rule for the direction and government of all men in all duet[ies] which they are to performe to God and men as well in the government of famylyes and commonwealths as in matters of the chur.

This was assented unto by all, no man dissenting as was expressed by holding up of hands. Afterward itt was read over to them thatt they might see in whatt words their vote was expressed: They againe expressed their consent thereto by holdeing up their hands, no man dissenting.

QUÆR. 2. Whereas there was a covenant solemnly made by the whole assembly of free-planters of this plantation the first day of extraordenary humiliation which wee had after wee came together, thatt as in matters thatt concerne the gathering and ordering of a chur. so likewise in all publique offices which concerne civill order, as choyce of magistrates and officers, makeing and repealing of lawes, devideing allottments 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. . . . Itt was demaunded whether all the free planters doe holde themselves bound by thatt covenant in all businesses of thatt nature which are expressed in the covenant to submitt themselves to be ordered by the rules held forth in the scripture.

This also was assented unto by all, and no man gainesaid itt. . . .

QUÆR. 3. Those who have desired to be received as free planters, and are settled in the plantation with a purp[ose,] resolution and desire thatt they may be admitted into chur. fellowship according to Christ as soone [as] God shall fitt them thereunto: were desired to express itt by holdeing up of hands: Accordingly a[ll] did expresse this to be their desire and purpose by holdeing up their hands twice, [viz] both att the [pro]posall of itt, and after when these written words were read unto them.

QUÆR. 4. All the free planters were called upon to expresse whether they held themselves bound to esta[blish] such civill order as might best conduce to the secureing of the purity and peace of the ordina[nces] to themselves and their posterity according to God. In answer hereunto they expressed by hold[ing] up their hands twice as before. . . .

Then Mr. Davenport declared unto them by the scripture whatt kinde of persons might best be trusted with matters of government. . . . Having thus said he satt downe, praying the company freely to consider whether they would have [it] voted att this time or nott: After some space of silence Mr. Theophilus Eaton answered itt mi[ght] be voted, and some others allso spake to the same purpose, none att all opposeing itt. Then itt was propounded to vote.

QUÆR. 5. Whether Free Burgesses shalbe chosen out of chur. members they thatt are in the foundat[ion] worke of the church being actually free burgesses, and to chuse to themselves out of the li[ke] estate of church fellowship and the power of chuseing magistrates and officers from among themselves and the power off makeing and repealing lawes according to the worde, and the devideing of inheritances and decideing of differences thatt may arise, and all the businesses of like nature are to be transacted by those free burgesses.

This was putt to vote and agreed unto by the lifting up of hands twice as in the former itt was done . . . and Mr. Robert Newman was desired to write itt as an order whereunto every one thatt hereafter should be admitted here as planters should submitt and testefie the same by subscribeing their names to the order, namely, that church members onely shall be free burgesses, and thatt they onely shall chuse magistrates & officers among themselves to have the power of transacting all the publique civill affayres of this Plantation, of makeing and repealing lawes, devideing of inheritances, decideing of differences thatt may arise and doeing all things or businesses of like nature.

This being thus settled as a foundamentall agreement concerning civill government. Mr. Davenport proceeded to propound some things to consideration aboute the gathering of a chur. And to prevent the blemishing of the first beginnings of the chur. worke, Mr. Davenport advised thatt the names of such as were to be admitted might be publiquely propounded, to the end thatt they who were most approved might be chosen, for the towne being cast into severall private meetings wherein they thatt dwelt nearest together gave their accounts one to another of Gods gracious worke upon them, and prayed together and conferred to their mutuall ediffication, sundry of them had knowledg one of another, and in every meeting some one was more approved of all then any other, For this reason, and to prevent scandalls, the whole company was intreated to consider whom they found fittest to nominate for this worke.

QUÆR. 6. Whether are you all willing and doe agree in this thatt twelve men be chosen thatt their fitnesse for the foundation worke may be tried, however there may be more named yett itt may be in their power who are chosen to reduce them to twelve, and itt be in the power of those twelve to chuse out of themselves seaven that shall be most approved of the major part to begin the church.

This was agreed upon by consent of all as was expressed by holdeing up of hands, and thatt so many as should be thought fitt for the foundation worke of the church shall be propounded by the plantation, and written downe and passe without exception unlesse they had given publique scandall or offence, yett so as in case of publique scandall or offence, every one should have liberty to propound their exception att thatt time publiquely against any man that should be nominated when all their names should be writt downe, butt if the offence were private, thatt mens names might be tendered, so many as were offended were intreated to deale with the offender privately, and if he gave nott satisfaction, to bring the matter to the twelve thatt they might consider of itt impartially and in the feare of God. The names of the persons nominated and agreed upon were Mr. Theoph. Eaton, Mr. John Davenport, Mr. Robert Newman, Mr. Math. Gilbert, Mr. Richard Malbon, Mr. Nath: Turner, Eze: Chevers, Thomas Fugill, John Ponderson, William Andrewes, and Jer. Dixon. Noe exception was brought against any of those in publique, except one about takeing an excessive rate for meale which he sould to one of Pequanack in his need, which he confessed with griefe and declared thatt haveing beene smitten in heart and troubled in his conscience, he restored such a part of the price back againe with confession of his sin to the party as he thought himselfe bound to doe. And it being feared thatt the report of the sin was heard farther th[an] the report of his satisfaction, a course was concluded on to make the satisfaction known to as many as heard of the sinn. . . .

1 Words and letters in brackets are obliterated or illegible in the original. — ED.


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Chicago: "Fundamental Articles of New Haven," New Haven Colonial Records in Documentary Source Book of American History, 1606-1913, ed. William MacDonald (1863-1938) (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1916), 40–43. Original Sources, accessed December 10, 2023,

MLA: . "Fundamental Articles of New Haven." New Haven Colonial Records, in Documentary Source Book of American History, 1606-1913, edited by William MacDonald (1863-1938), New York, The Macmillan Company, 1916, pp. 40–43. Original Sources. 10 Dec. 2023.

Harvard: , 'Fundamental Articles of New Haven' in New Haven Colonial Records. cited in 1916, Documentary Source Book of American History, 1606-1913, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York, pp.40–43. Original Sources, retrieved 10 December 2023, from