Declaration for Resignation of the Charter by the Council for New England

April 25, 1635

Forasmuch as we have found by a long experience that the faithful endeavors of some of us that have sought the advancement of the plantation of New England have not been without frequent and inevitable troubles of companions to our undertakings from our first discovery of that coast to the present by great charges and necessary expenses, but also depriving us of diverse of our friends and faithful servants employed in that work abroad while we at home were assaulted with sharp litigious questions before the lords of his Majesty’s most honorable Privy Council, by the Virginia Company, and that in the very infancy thereof, who finding they could not prevail in that way they failed not to prosecute the same in the House of Parliament, pretending our said plantation to be a grievance to the Commonwealth, and for such presented it to King James of blessed memory, who, although his justice and royal nature could not so relish it, but was otherwise pleased to give his gracious encouragement for prosecution thereof, yet such was the times, as the affections of the multitude were thereby disheartened, and so much the more by how much it pleased God about that time to bereave us of the most noble and principal props thereof, as the Duke of Lenox, Marquis Hamilton, and many other strong stays to this work of building, then followed the claim of the French ambassador, taking advantage of the divisions made of the sea coasts between ourselves, to whom we made a just and satisfactory answer, as it seems, for that he rested contented therewith, and since that we have heard no more thereof. Nevertheless these crosses did draw upon us such a disheartened weakness as there only remained a carcass in a manner breathless til the end of the last Parliament when there were certain that desired a patent of some lands in the Massachusetts Bay to plant upon, who, presenting the names of honest and religious men, easily obtained their first desires. But these being once gotten they used other means to advance themselves and step beyond their first proportions to a second grant surreptitiously gotten of other lands also justly past unto Captain Robert Gorges long before, who, being made governor of those parts, went in person and took an absolute seizure and actual possession of that country by a settled plantation he made in the Massachusetts Bay, which afterwards he left to the charge and custody of his servants and certain other undertakers and tenants belonging to some of us, who were thrust out by those intenders that had exorbitantly bounded their grant from east to west through all that main land from sea to sea, being near about three thousand miles in length, with all riding over the heads of all those lords and others that had their portions assigned to them in his late Majesty’s presence and with his Highness’ approbation by lot upon the south coast from east to west some eighty or one hundred leagues long. But herewith not yet content, they labored and obtained unknown to us a confirmation of all this from his Majesty, and unwitting thereof by which means they did not only enlarge their first extents to the west limits spoken of, but wholly excluded themselves from the public government of the council authorized for those affairs, and made themselves a free people, and for such hold themselves at the present. Whereby they did rend in pieces the first foundation of the building and so framed to themselves both new laws and new conceits of matters of religion and forms of ecclesiastical and temporal orders and government, punishing diverse that would not approve thereof, some by whipping, others by burning their houses over their heads, and some by banishing and the like, and all this partly under other pretences, though indeed for no other cause save only to make themselves absolute masters of the country, and unconscionable in your new laws. So as those complaints posting first to ourselves that had no sufficient means to redress or give satisfaction to the persons aggreived, they were at last of necessity petitioners to his Majesty who, pitying their cases, referred them to the lords to examine the truth thereof, and to consider of the means of reformation, who calling some of us to give account by what authority or by whose means these people were sent over, and conceiving some of us to be guilty thereof, we were called for from our houses far remote in the country at unseasonable times to our great charge and trouble. But as innocence is confident, so we easily made it appear that we had no share in the evils committed, and wholly disclaimed having any hand therein, humbly referring to your lordships to do what might best sort with your wisdoms who found matters in so desperate a case as that they saw a necessity for his Majesty to take the whole business into his own hands, as otherwise we could not undertake to rectify what was brought to ruin. But, finding it a task too great for us to perform, we rather chose to resign all into his Majesty’s hands to do therein as he pleased, to whom we conceived it did principally belong to have care of a business of so high a consequence as it is now found to be.

After all these troubles and upon these considerations, it is now resolved that the patent shall be surrendered to his Majesty with reservation of all such lawful rights as any is or has been seized with either before or since the patent granted to those of the Bay of Massachusetts. And that it may please his Majesty to pass particular grants to us of such proportions of lands as we have mutually agreed upon and are recorded before in this book that we, having his Majesty’s grants of the same under a settled government, may the more cheerfully proceed in the planting of our several provinces, and with the better courage and assurance prosecute the same to a full settling of the state of those countries, and a dutiful obedience of all such as shall come under us to his Majesty’s laws and ordinances there to be established and put in execution by such his Majesty’s lieutenants or governors as shall be employed for those services to the glory of Almighty God, the honor of his Majesty, and public good of his faithful subjects. And thus much we have thought fit to be recorded and, in convenient time, published that posterity may know the reasons and necessities moving us to quit ourselves of these inconveniences and dangers that might have fallen upon the plantations for want of power in us to reform the same.

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