Primary Resource

Sir Walter Raleigh's Patent to Settle Virginia (1584)

Dated December 14, 1584, this bill confirms Walter Raleigh's right to settle in those parts of North America not already claimed by a Christian power. The bill, which passed the English House of Commons but not the House of Lords, was not necessary—Queen Elizabeth had already granted Raleigh these powers—but Raleigh likely used the occasion to gain support and funds for his new expedition to Roanoke Island. Some spelling has been modernized.

Transcription from Original

An acte for the confermacion of the Quenes majesties Lettres Patentes graunted to Walter Ralegh Esquire Touchinge the discoverie and Inhabitinge of certeyn Foreyne Landes & Cuntries

Wheras the Queenes most exelent Majestie of her most gracious disposicion to the Benyfite and proffite of her Realme of Englande emongeste sondrie other the singuler frewtes of her goodnes towardes the same Hath by all good meanes endeavored, that the gospell of our savior Jesus Christe might be trewlye and syncerelie sette forth, And Ignoraunce error and supersticion Abolished within her Majesties Domynions, And is also desirous that the knowledge of god and trewe religion might by her heighnes Labors be propagatyd Amongeste foreign Nacions, The people of this her heighnes Realme mainteyned and encresed And traficke to the most benefitte and Comodytie of her lovinge subjectes as otherwise shulde spende there tyme in Idellnes to the greate prejudice of the Common Welthe be trayned in vertuous and Commodyous Labor, And beynge enformed of some greate hope of a discoverie to be hadd by her trustie and well beloved servaunte Walter Raleigh Esquier of an unknowen Lande never heretofore possessed by anye Christian Prynce or Christian people The nerenes whereof and Infynite Comodities of the same mighte yelde unto this her Realme of Englande the benefittes before remembred and manye others, Her majestie for the consideracions aforesaid hath by her heighnes Letteres Patentes under her greate Seale of England graunted unto the said Walter Raleigh in manner and forme folowinge vindelicet …

Sythence which Letters Patentes made & graunted as aforesaid to the said Walter Rawleigh, There is discoverd by the meanes charge Labor & procurement of the said Walter Rawleigh a Land called Wyngandacoia, not inhabited by anye Christian Prince or Christian people And some of the people borne in those parties brought home into this our Realme of England by whose meanes & direccion & by suche of her majesties subjectes as were sent thyther by the said Walter Rawleigh singular great comodities of that Lande are revealed & made knowen unto us which discoverie hath byn heretofore attempted by dyverse persons & never brought to any suche perfection

It maye therefore please the Queenes most exelent majestie with thassent of the Lordes spirituall & temporall And the Comons in the presente parliament assembled And by the aucthoritie of the same That it be enacted That the said Walter Rawleigh his heires & assignes shall & maye by the aucthoritie of this present parliament from henceforth for ever Have holde & enjoye the saide Land so discoverd with all realties previledges powers prehemynences & authorities menconed & conteyned in the said Lettres Patenes and all and singuler the grauntes Liberties priviledges & other thinges therein conteyned shalbe by aucthoritie aforesaid Established approved confirmed allowed and be effectuall unto the said Walter Rawleigh his heires & assignes according to the tenour & purport of the said Lettres Patentes

Provided allwayes that this Acte or anie thinge therein contayyned shall not in any wise be intended to geve any Licence power or Aucthority to any person or persons beinge in Prison either vppon Execucion at the sute of any person for debte or being imprisoned or under Arreste for any other cause whatsoever or the wife ward or apprentyce of any other person or persons to departe this Realme or to geve Any Lycence power or Aucthority to the said Walter Rawley hys heyres or assignes to enlardge any such person or to take or sende any such person or persons over Sea or [illegible word] or take any shipping, or furnyture for shipping withowt the assent & good wylle of the person or persons this Acte or any thinge therein contayngned to the contrary hereof in any wyse notwithstandinge