History of Virginia

Date: 1865

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No. 3.

Third Charter of Virginia

March 12/22, 1611/12

[The charter begins with a recital of the grant of 1609, and continues:]

III. Now, forasmuch as we are given to understand, that in those Seas, adjoining to the said Coasts of Virginia, and without the Compass of those two hundred Miles . . ., and yet not far distant from the said Colony in Virginia, there are, or may be, divers Islands, lying desolate and uninhabited, some of which are already made known and discovered, by the Industry, Travel, and Expences of the said Company, and others also are supposed to be and remain, as yet, unknown and undiscovered, all and every of which it may import the said Colony, both in Safety and Policy of Trade, to populate and plant, in Regard whereof, as well for the preventing of Peril, as for the better Commodity and Prosperity of the said Colony, they have been humble Suitors unto us, that we would be pleased to grant unto them an Enlargement of our said former Letters Patents . . . :

IV. WE therefore . . . do . . . GIVE, GRANT, and CONFIRM to the said Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters of the city of London for the first Colony in Virginia, and to their Heirs and Successors, for ever, all and singular those Islands whatsoever, situate and being in any Part of the Ocean Seas bordering upon the Coast of our said first Colony in Virginia, and being within three hundred Leagues of any of the Parts heretofore granted to the said Treasurer and Company, in our said former Letters Patents, as aforesaid, and being within or between the one and fortieth and thirtieth Degrees of Northerly Latitude; . . . Provided always, that the said Islands, or any the Premises herein mentioned, or by these Presents intended or meant to be granted, be not actually possessed or inhabited by any other Christian Prince or Estate, nor be within the Bounds, Limits, or Territories of the Northern Colony, heretofore by Us granted to be planted by divers of our loving Subjects, in the North Parts of Virginia . . .

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VII. AND We do hereby ORDAIN and GRANT . . . that the said Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters aforesaid, shall and may, once every Week, or oftener, at their Pleasure, hold and keep a Court and Assembly, for the better Order and Government of the said Plantation, and such things, as shall concern the same. . . .

VIII. AND that nevertheless, for the handling, ordering, and disposing of Matters and Affairs of greater Weight and Importance, and such, as shall or may, in any Sort, concern the Weal Publick and general Good of the said Company and Plantation, as namely, the Manner of Government from time to time to be used, the Ordering and Disposing of the Lands and Possessions, and the Settling and Establishing of a Trade there, or such like, there shall be held and kept, every Year; upon the last Wednesday, save one, of Hillary Term, Easter, Trinity, and Michaelmas Terms, for ever, one great, general, and solemn Assembly, which four Assemblies shall be stiled and called, The four Great and General Courts of the Council and Company of Adventurers for Virginia; In all and every of which said Great and General Courts, so assembled . . ., the said Treasurer and Company, or the greater Number of them, so assembled, shall and may have full Power and Authority . . . to elect and chuse discreet Persons, to be of our said Council for the said first Colony in Virginia, and to nominate and appoint such Officers, as they shall think fit and requisite, for the Government, Managing, Ordering, and Dispatching of the Affairs of the said Company; And shall likewise have full Power and Authority, to ordain and make such Laws and Ordinances, for the Good and Welfare of the said Plantation, as to them, from time to time, shall be thought requisite and meet: So always, as the same be not contrary to the Laws and Statutes of this our Realm of England. . . .

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XIV. AND furthermore, whereas we have been certified, that divers lewd and ill-disposed Persons, both Sailers, Soldiers, Artificers, Husbandmen, Labourers, and others, having received Wages, Apparel, and other Entertainment from the said Company, or having contracted and agreed with the said Company, to go, or to serve, or to be employed in the said Plantation of the said first Colony in Virginia, have afterwards, either withdrawn, hid, or concealed themselves, or have refused to go thither, after they have been so entertained and agreed withal; And that divers and sundry Persons also, which have been sent and employed in the said Plantation of the said first Colony in Virginia, at and upon the Charge of the said Company, and having there misbehaved themselves by Mutinies, Sedition, or other notorious Misdemeanors, or having been employed or sent abroad, by the Governor of Virginia or his Deputy, with some Ship or Pinnace, for our Provision of the said Colony, or for some Discovery, or other Business and Affairs, concerning the same, have from thence most treacherously, either come back again and returned into our Realm of England, by Stealth, or without Licence of our Governor of our said Colony in Virginia for the time being, or have been sent hither, as Misdoers and Offenders; And that many also of those Persons, after their Return from thence, having been questioned by our said Council here, for such their Misbehaviors and Offences, by their insolent and contemptuous Carriage in the Presence of our said Council, have shewed little Respect and Reverence, either to the Place, or Authority, in which we have placed and appointed them; And others, for the colouring of their Lewdness and Misdemeanors committed in Virginia, have endeavoured, by most vile and slanderous Reports, made and divulged, as well of the Country of Virginia, as also of the Government and Estate of the said Plantation and Colony, as much as in them lay, to bring the said Voyage and Plantation into Disgrace and Contempt; By Means whereof, not only the Adventurers and Planters, already engaged in the said Plantation, have been exceedingly abused and hindered, and a great Number of other our loving and well-disposed Subjects, otherwise well-affected, and inclined to join and adventure in so noble, christian, and worthy an Action, have been discouraged from the same, but also the utter Overthrow and Ruin of the said Enterprise hath been greatly endangered, which cannot miscarry without some Dishonour to Us and our Kingdom;

XV. Now, forasmuch as it appeareth unto us, that these Insolences, Misdemeanors, and Abuses, not to be tolerated in any civil Government, have, for the most part, grown and proceeded, in regard our said Council have not any direct Power and Authority, by any express Words in our former Letters Patents, to correct and chastise such Offenders; We therefore, for more speedy Reformation of so great and enormous Abuses and Misdemeanors, heretofore practised and committed, and for the preventing of the like hereafter, do . . . GIVE AND GRANT to the said Treasurer and Company, and their Successors for ever, that it shall and may be lawful for our said Council for the said first Colony in Virginia, or any two of them (whereof the said Treasurer, or his Deputy . . . , to be always one) by Warrant under their Hands, to send for, or to cause to be apprehended, all and every such Person and Persons, who shall be noted, or accused, or found, at any time or times hereafter, to offend, or misbehave themselves, in any the Offences before mentioned and expressed; And upon the Examination of any such Offender or Offenders, and just Proof made by Oath, taken before the said Council, of any such notorious Misdemeanors by them committed, as aforesaid; And also upon any insolent, and contemptuous, or indecent Carriage and Misbehaviour, to or against our said Council, shewed or used by any such Person or Persons, so called, convented, and appearing before them, as aforesaid; That in all such Cases, they, our said Council, or any two of them, for the time being, shall and may have full Power and Authority, either here to bind them over with good Sureties for their good Behaviour, and further therein to proceed, to all Intents and Purposes, as it is used, in other like Cases, within our Realm of England; Or else, at their Discretions, to remand and send back, the said Offenders, or any of them, unto the said Colony in Virginia, there to be proceeded against and punished, as the Governor, Deputy, or Council there . . . shall think meet; or otherwise, according to such Laws and Ordinances, as are and shall be in Use there, for the Well-ordering and good Government of the said Colony.

XVI. AND for the more effectual Advancing of the said Plantation, we do further . . . GIVE and GRANT, unto the said Treasurer and Company, full Power and Authority, free Leave, Liberty, and Licence, to set forth, erect, and publish, one or more Lottery or Lotteries, to have Continuance . . . for the Space of our [one] whole Year, next after the Opening of the same; And after the End and Expiration of the said Term, the said Lottery or Lotteries to continue and be further kept, during our Will and Pleasure only, and not otherwise. . . .

XVII. AND our further Will and Pleasure is, that the said Lottery and Lotteries shall and may be opened and held, within our City of London, or in any other City or Town, or elsewhere, within this our Realm of England, with such Prizes, Articles, Conditions, and Limitations, as to them, the said Treasurer and Company, in their Discretions, shall seem convenient:

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XX. AND further, our Will and Pleasure is, that in all Questions and Doubts, that shall arise, upon any Difficulty of Construction or Interpretation of any Thing, contained in these, or any other our former Letters-patents, the same shall be taken and interpreted, in most ample and beneficial Manner for the said Treasurer and Company, and their Successors, and every Member thereof.

XXI. AND lastly, we do, by these Presents, RATIFY AND CONFIRM unto the said Treasurer and Company, and their Successors, for ever, all and all Manner of Privileges, Franchises, Liberties, Immunities, Preheminences, Profits, and Commodities, whatsoever, granted unto them in any our former Letters-patents, and not in these Presents revoked, altered, changed, or abridged.


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Chicago: "Third Charter of Virginia," History of Virginia in Documentary Source Book of American History, 1606-1913, ed. William MacDonald (1863-1938) (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1916), 15–19. Original Sources, accessed May 25, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=K5WQWAFPH3Y9A4N.

MLA: . "Third Charter of Virginia." History of Virginia, in Documentary Source Book of American History, 1606-1913, edited by William MacDonald (1863-1938), New York, The Macmillan Company, 1916, pp. 15–19. Original Sources. 25 May. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=K5WQWAFPH3Y9A4N.

Harvard: , 'Third Charter of Virginia' in History of Virginia. cited in 1916, Documentary Source Book of American History, 1606-1913, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York, pp.15–19. Original Sources, retrieved 25 May 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=K5WQWAFPH3Y9A4N.