History of Virginia

Date: 1865

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No. 2.

Second Charter of Virginia

May 23/June 2, 1609

[The charter begins with a recital of the grant of 1606, and continues:]

II. Now, forasmuch as divers and sundry of our loving Subjects, as well Adventurers, as Planters, of the said first Colony . . . have of late been humble Suitors unto Us, that (in Respect of their great Charges and the Adventure of many of their Lives, which they have hazarded in the said Discovery and Plantation of the said Country) We would be pleased to grant them a further Enlargement and Explanation of the said Grant, Privileges, and Liberties, and that such Counsellors, and other Officers, may be appointed amongst them, to manage and direct their affairs, as are willing and ready to adventure with them, as also whose Dwellings are not so far remote from the City of London, but that they may, at convenient Times, be ready at Hand, to give their Advice and Assistance, upon all Occasions requisite.

III. WE . . . DO . . . GIVE, GRANT, and CONFIRM, to our trusty and well-beloved Subjects, Robert, Earl of Salisbury . . . [and others1] . . . ; AND to such, and so many, as they do, or shall hereafter, admit to be joined with them, in Form hereafter in these Presents expressed, whether they go in their Persons, to be Planters there in the said Plantation, or whether they go not, but adventure their Monies, Goods, or Chattels; THAT they shah be one Body or Commonalty perpetual, and shall have perpetual Succession, and one common Seal, to serve for the said Body or Commonalty; And that they, and their Successors, shall be KNOWN, CALLED, and INCORPORATED by the Name of, The Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters of the City of London for the first Colony in Virginia:

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VI. AND we do also . . . GIVE, GRANT and CONFIRM, unto the said Treasurer and Company, and their Successors, under the Reservations, Limitations, and Declarations, hereafter expressed, all those Lands, Countries, and Territories, situate, lying, and being, in that Part of America called VIRGINIA, from the Point of Land, called Cape or Point Comfort, all along the Sea Coast, to the Northward two hundred Miles, and from the Said Point of Cape Comfort, all along the Sea Coast, to the Southward two hundred Miles, and all that Space and Circuit of Land, lying from the Sea Coast of the Precinct aforesaid, up into the Land, throughout from Sea to Sea, West, and Northwest; And also all the Islands, lying within one hundred Miles, along the Coast of both Seas of the Precinct aforesaid. . . .

VII. AND nevertheless, our Will and Pleasure is, and we do, by these Presents, charge, command, warrant, and authorise, that the said Treasurer and Company, or their Successors, or the major Part of them, which shall be present and assembled for that Purpose, shall, from time to time, under their Common Seal, DISTRIBUTE, convey, assign, and set over, such particular Portions of Lands, Tenements, and Hereditaments, by these Presents, formerly granted, unto such our loving Subjects, naturally born, or Denizens, or others, as well Adventurers as Planters, as by the said Company (upon a Commission of Survey and Distribution, executed and returned for that Purpose), shall be nominated, appointed, and allowed; Wherein our Will and Pleasure is, that Respect be had, as well of the Proportion of the Adventurer, as to the special Service, Hazard, Exploit, or Merit of any Person, so to be recompenced, advanced, or rewarded.

VIII. AND forasmuch, as the good and prosperous Success of the said Plantation cannot but chiefly depend, next under the Blessing of God, and the Support of our Royal Authority, upon the provident and good Direction of the whole Enterprize, by a careful and understanding Council, and that it is not convenient, that all the Adventurers shall be so often drawn to meet and assemble, as shall be requisite for them to have Meetings and Conference about the Affairs thereof; Therefore we DO ORDAIN, establish, and confirm, that there shall be perpetually one COUNCIL here resident, according to the Tenour of our former Letters-patents . . .

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XIII. AND further . . . we do . . . GIVE and GRANT full Power and Authority to our said Council, here resident, as well at this present Time, as hereafter from time to time, to nominate, make, constitute, ordain, and confirm, by such Name or Names, Stile or Stiles, as to them shall seem good, And likewise to revoke, discharge, change, and alter, as well all and singular Governors, Officers, and Ministers, which already have been made, as also which hereafter shall be by them thought fit and needful to be made or used, for the Government of the said Colony and Plantation:

XIV. AND also to make, ordain, and establish all Manner of Orders, Laws, Directions, Instructions, Forms, and Ceremonies of Government and Magistracy, fit and necessary, for and concerning the Government of the said Colony and Plantation; And the same, at all times hereafter, to abrogate, revoke, or change, not only within the Precincts of the said Colony, but also upon the Seas in going and coming, to and from the said Colony, as they, in their good Discretion, shall think to be fittest for the Good of the Adventurers and Inhabitants there.

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XVI. AND we do further . . . ORDAIN and establish, that the said Treasurer and Council here resident, and their Successors, or any four of them, being assembled (the Treasurer being one) shall, from time to time, have full Power and Authority, to admit and receive any other Person into their Company, Corporation, and Freedom; And further, in a General Assembly of the Adventurers, with the Consent of the greater Part, upon good Cause, to disfranchise and put out any Person or Persons, out of the said Freedom or Company.

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XIX. AND for their further Encouragement . . . we do . . . YIELD and GRANT, to and with the said Treasurer and Company, and their Successors, and every of them, their Factors, and Assigns, that they, and every of them, shall be free of all Subsidies and Customs in Virginia, for the Space of one and twenty Years, and from all Taxes and Impositions, for ever, upon any Goods or Merchandises, at any time or times hereafter, either upon Importation thither, or Exportation from thence, into our Realm of England, or into any other of our Realms or Dominions, by the said Treasurer and Company, and their Successors, their Deputies, Factors, or Assigns, or any of them: EXCEPT only the five Pounds per Cent. due for Custom, upon all such Goods and Merchandises, as shall be brought or imported into our Realm of England, or any other of these our Dominions, according to the ancient Trade of Merchants; WHICH FIVE POUNDS per Cent. ONLY being paid, it shall be thenceforth lawful and free for the said Adventurers, the same Goods and Merchandises to export, and carry out of our said Dominions, into foreign Parts, without any Custom, Tax, or other Duty, to be paid to us . . . or to any other our Officers or Deputies: PROVIDED, that the said Goods and Merchandises be shipped out, within thirteen Months, after their first Landing within any Part of these Dominions.

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XXIII. AND forasmuch, as it shall be necessary for all such our loving Subjects, as shall inhabit within the said Precincts of Virginia, aforesaid, to determine to live together, in the Fear and true Worship of Almighty God, Christian Peace, and civil Quietness, each with other, whereby every one may, with more Safety, Pleasure, and Profit, enjoy that, whereunto they shall attain with great Pain and Peril; WE . . . do GIVE and GRANT unto the said Treasurer and Company, and their Successors, and to such Governors, Officers, and Ministers, as shall be, by our said Council, constituted and appointed, according to the Natures and Limits of their Offices and Places respectively, that they shall and may, from time to time for ever hereafter, within the said Precincts of Virginia, or in the way by Sea thither and from thence, have full and absolute Power and Authority, to correct, punish, pardon, govern, and rule, all such the Subjects of Us . . . as shall, from time to time, adventure themselves in any Voyage thither, or that shall, at any time hereafter, inhabit in the Precincts and Territories of the said Colony, as aforesaid, according to such Orders, Ordinances, Constitutions, Directions, and Instructions, as by our said Council, as aforesaid, shall be established; And in Defect thereof, in case of Necessity, according to the good Discretions of the said Governor and Officers, respectively, as well in Cases capital and criminal as civil, both marine and other; So always, as the said Statutes, Ordinances, and Proceedings, as near as conveniently may be, be agreeable to the Laws, Statutes, Government, and Policy of this our Realm of England.

XXIV. AND we do further . . . GRANT, DECLARE, and ORDAIN, that such principal Governor, as, from time to time, shall duly and lawfully be authorised and appointed, in Manner and Form in these Presents heretofore expressed, shall have full Power and Authority, to use and exercise Martial Law, in Cases of Rebellion or Mutiny, in as large and ample Manner, as our Lieutenants in our Counties, within this our Realm of England, have, or ought to have, by Force of their Commissions of Lieutenancy.

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XXIX. AND lastly, because the principal Effect, which we can desire or expect of this Action, is the Conversion and Reduction of the People in those Parts unto the true Worship of God and Christian Religion, in which Respect we should be loath, that any Person should be permitted to pass, that we suspected to affect the superstitions of the Church of Rome; We do hereby DECLARE, that it is our Will and Pleasure, that none be permitted to pass in any Voyage, from time to time to be made into the said Country, but such, as first shall have taken the Oath of Supremacy; For which Purpose, we do, by these Presents, give full Power and Authority, to the Treasurer for the time being, and any three of the Council, to tender and exhibit the said Oath, to all such Persons, as shall at any time, be sent and employed in the said Voyage. . . .

1 "The incorporators of this charter were 56 city companies of London and 659 persons; of whom 21 were peers, 96 knights, 11 doctors, ministers, etc., 53 captains, 28 esquires, 58 gentlemen, 110 merchants, and 282 citizens and others not classified." Brown’s Genesis of the United States, I., 228, note 1. The list of incorporators is given in full by Brown. — ED.


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Chicago: "Second 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), 10–14. Original Sources, accessed May 25, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=KEPRJAXF2IKNNY6.

MLA: . "Second 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. 10–14. Original Sources. 25 May. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=KEPRJAXF2IKNNY6.

Harvard: , 'Second 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.10–14. Original Sources, retrieved 25 May 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=KEPRJAXF2IKNNY6.