Primary Resource

Third Charter of Virginia (1612)

On March 12, 1612, King James I of England granted the following charter to the investors of the Virginia Company of London. It extends the colony's boundaries to include the islands of Bermuda and authorizes a lottery in order to raise funds. Some spelling has been modernized, contractions expanded, and paragraphs formed.

Transcription from Original

A perpetuity for the first Colony in Virginia Dated the twelwth of March. 1611.

JAMES by the grace of God King of England Scotland ffrance and Ireland Defender of the faith

To all to Whom these presents Shall come Greeting

Whereas at the humble Suit of Divers and Sundry our Loving Subjects as well adventurers as Planters of the first Colony in Virginia and for the propagation of Christian Religion and Reclaiming of people Barbarous to Civility and humanity

We have by Our Letters patents bearing Date at Westminster the three and twentieth Day of May in the Seventh Year of Our Reign of England ffrance and Ireland and the two and fortieth of Scotland Given and Granted unto them That they and all Such and So many of Our Loving Subjects as Should from time to time for Ever after be joined with them as Planters or Adventurers in the said Plantation and their Successors for Ever Should be one Body Politick incorporated by the name of the treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters of the City of London for the first Colony in Virginia.

And whereas also for the Greater Good and benefit of the said Company, and for the better furtherance Strengthening and Establishing of the said plantation we did further Give Grant and Confirm by Our said Letters patents unto the Said treasurer and Company and their successors for Ever all those Lands Countries Or 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 coasts 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 or 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 the Seas of the precinct aforesaid with Divers Other Grants

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Liberties ffranchises and preheminences Privileges Profits benefits and Commodities Granted in and by Our said Letters patents to the said Treasurer and Company and their Successors for Ever:

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 by Us so Granted unto the Said Treasurer and Company as aforesaid 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 Comodity and Prosperity of the Said Colony they have been humble Suitors unto us that we would be pleased to Grant Unto them and [sic] Enlargement of Our Said former Letters patents as well for a more ample Extent of their Limits and territories into the Seas adjoining to and upon the Coast of Virginia as Also for Some Other matters and articles Concerning the better Government of the Said Company and Colony in which point our said former Letters Patents Do not Extend So far as time and Experience hath found to be needful and Convenient:

We therefore tendering the Good and happy Success of the said Plantation both in regard of the General Wheel of humain Society as in respect of the Good of Our Own Estate and Kingdoms and being willing to Give furtherance unto all Good Means that may advance the benefit of the Said Companies and which may Secure the Safety of Our Loving Subjects planted in Our Said Colony under the favour and protection of God Almighty and of Our Royal Power and Authority have therefore of Our Especial Grace Certain Knowledge and mere motion Given Granted and Confirmed and for us our heirs and Successors

We Do by those Presents 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

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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 fformer Letters patents as aforesaid and being within or between the One and fortieth and thirieth Degrees of northerly Latitude together with all and singular Soils Lands Grounds Havens Ports Rivers waters ffishings mines and minerals as well Royal mines of Gold and silver as Other mines and minerals Pearls pretious Stones Quarries and all and Singular Other Commodities Jurisdictions Royalties Privileges ffranchises and preheminences both within the said tract of Land upon the main and also within the Said Islands and Seas Adjoining whatsoever and thereunto or thereabouts both by Sea and Land being or Situate. And which by Our Letters Patents we may or Can Grant and in as ample manner and Sort as we or any our noble progenitors have heretofore Granted to any person or persons or to any Company Body Politick or Corporate or to any Adventurer or Adventurers Undertaker or Undertakers of any Discoveries Plantations or traffick of in or into any forrain Parts Whatsoever and in as Large and Ample manner as if the same were herein particularly named mentioned and Expressed Provided alwaies, 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.

To have and to hold Possess and Enjoy and and Singular the said Islands in the said Ocean Seas So Lying and bordering upon the Coast and Coasts of the territories of the said first Colony in Virginia, as aforesaid with all and Singular the Said Soils Lands Grounds and all and Singular Other the premises heretofore by these Presents Granted or mentioned to be Granted to them the said Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and planters of the City of London for the first Colony in Virginia and to their

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Heirs successors and Assigns for Ever to the Sole and proper use and Behoofe of them the said treasurer and Company and their heirs and Successors and Assigns for Ever

To be holden of us Our heirs and Successors as of our manner of East Greenwich, in free and comon Soccage and not in Capite

Yeilding and Paying therefore to us Our heirs and Successors the first part of the Oare of all the Gold and silver which shall be there Gotten had or Obtained for all manner of Services Whatsoever.

And further our Will and pleasure is and we Do by these presents Grant and Confirm, for the Good and Welfare of the said Plantation and that Posterity may hereafter know who have adventured and not been Sparing of their purses in Such a noble and Generous Action for the General Good of their Country and at the request and with the Consent of the Company aforesaid that Our trusty and wellbeloved Subjects George Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Henry Earl of Huntington Edward Earl of Bedford Richard Earl of Clanrickard &c. who Since Our said Last Letters patents are become adventurers and have Joined themselves with the former Adventurers and Planters of the said Company and Society shall from henceforth be reputed Deemed and taken to be and shall be Brethren and free members of the Company and shall and may Respectively and according to the proportion and value of their Several Adventures have hold and Enjoy all such Interest Right title Privileges Preheminences Liberties ffranchises immunities profits and Comodities whatsoever in as Large and Ample and beneficial manner to all intents Constructions and Purposes as any Other Adventurers nominated and Expressed in any our former Letters patents or any of them have or may have by force and virtue of these presents or any Our former Letters patents whatsoever.

And we are further pleased and we Do by these presents Grant and Confirm that Philip Earl of Montgomery William Lord Paget Sir John Starrington Knight &c. Whom the Said treasurer and Company have Since the said Last Letters patents nominated and Set Down as Worthy and Discreet persons fit to serve us as

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Councillors to be of Our Counsel for the said Plantation shall be reputed Deemed and taken as persons of Our said Counsel for the Said first Colony in Such manner and Sort to all intents and purposes as those who have been formerly Elected and Nominated as our Counsellors for that Colony and whose names have been or are inserted and Expressed in Our said former Letters Patents.

And we Do hereby Ordain and Grant by these presents that the Said Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and planters Aforesaid shall and may Once Every week or Oftenerat 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 and that any five Persons of Our Counsel for the said first Colony in Virginia, for the time being of which Company the Treasurer or his Deputy to be alwaies One and the number of fifteen Others at the Least of the Generality of the Said Company assembled together in Such manner as is and hath been heretofore used and Accustomed Shall be said taken held and Reputed to be and shall be a Sufficient Court of the Said Company for the handling and Ordering and Dispatching of all such casual and particular occurrences and accidental matters of Less Consequence and Weight as Shall from time to time happen touching and concerning the said Plantation.

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 Setling 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 Michalmas terms for Ever One Great general and solemn assembly which four assemblys Shall be Stiled and Called the four Great and General Courts of the Counsel and Company of Adventurers for Virginia In and Every of which Said Great and General Courts So Assembled Our will and pleasure is and we Do for Us our heirs and Successors for

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Ever Give and Grant to the said treasurer and Company and their Successors for Ever by these Presents That they the Said treasurer and Company or the greater number of them So Assembled shall and may have full power and authority from time to time and at all times hereafter to Elect and Choose Discreet Persons to be of Our Said Counsel 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 alwaies as the same be not contrary to the Laws and statutes of this Our Realm of England and shall in Like manner have power and authority to Expulse Disfranchise and put out of and from their said Company and Society for Ever all and Every Such person and persons as having Either Promissed or Subscribed their names to become Adventurers to the Said Plantation of the said first Colony in Virginia or having been nominated for adventurers in these or any Other Our Letters Patents or having been Otherwise Admitted and Nominated to be of the said Company have nevertheless Either not put in any Adventure at all for and towards the said Plantation or Else have refused or neglected or shall refuse and neglect to bring in his or their adventure by Word or Writing promised within Six Months after the same Shall be So payable and Due.

And whereas the failing and not payment of Such moneys as have been promised in adventure for the advancement of the said Plantation hath been Often by Experience found to be Dangerous and prejudicial to the Same and much to have hindered the progress and proceeding of the Said plantation and for that it seemeth unto us a thing Reasonable that Such persons as by their hand writing have Engaged themselves for the payment of their Adventures and Afterwards Neglecting their faith and promise should be compelled to make good and keep the Same

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Therefore our will and pleasure is that in any Suit or Suits Commenced or to be Commenced in any of our Courts at Westminister or elsewhere by the said Treasurer and Company or Otherwise against any Such Persons that our Judges for the time being both in Our Court of Chancery and at the Common pleas Do favour and further the Said Suits So far forth as Law and Equity will in any wise further and permit

And we Do for us our heirs and Successors further Give and Grant to the said Treasurer and Company or their Successors for Ever that they the said Treasurer and Company or the Greater part Of them for the time being So in a full and General Court Assembled as aforesaid shall and may from time to time and at all times for Ever hereafter Elect Choose and admit into their Company and Society any person or persons as well Strangers and aliens born in any Part beyond the Seas wheresoever being in amity with us as Our natural Liege Subjects born in any Our Realms and Dominions, And that all Such persons So Elected Chosen and admitted to be of the Said Company as aforesaid Shall thereupon be taken reputed and Held and Shall be free members of the Said Company and shall have hold and Enjoy all and Singular ffreedoms Liberties ffranchises, Privileges immunities benefits Profits and Commodities whatsoever to the said Company in any Sort belonging or appertaining as fully freely and amply as any Other Adventurers now being or which hereafter at any time Shall be of the said Company hath have shall may might or Ought to have and Enjoy the Same to all intents and purposes Whatsoever.

And we Do further of Our Especial Grace Certain knowledge and mere motion for us Our heirs and Successors Give and Grant unto the said Treasurer and Company and their Sucessors for Ever by these presents. That it shall be Lawful and free for them and their assigns at all and Every time and times hereafter Out of any Our Realms and Dominions whatsoever to take Lead Carry and transport in and into

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the said voyage and for and towards the said Plantation of Our said first Colony in Virginia all Such and So many of Our Loving Subjects or any other Strangers that will become our Loving Subjects and Live under Our allegiance as shall willingly accompany them in the said Voyages and Plantation with Shipping Armour weapons Ordinance munition Powder Shot Victuals and all manner of merchandises and wares and all manner of Cloathing implements furniture beasts Cattel Horses Mares and all other things necessary for the said Plantation and for their use and Defence and for trade with the people there and in Passing and Returning to and from without Paying or yielding any Subsidy Custom or imposition Either inward or Outward or any Other duty to Us our heirs and Successors for the same for the Space of Seven years from the Date of these presents.

And We Do further for us Our heirs and Successors Give and Grant to the said Treasurer and Company and their Successors for Ever by these presents That the said Treasurer of that Company or his Deputy for the time being or any two Other of the Said Counsel for the said first Colony in Virginia for the time being or any two other at all times hereafter and from time to time have full Power and Authority to minister and Give the Oath and Oaths of Supremacy and allegiance or Either of them to all and Every Person and persons which shall at any time or times hereafter Go or pass to the said Colony in Virginia.

And further that it shall be Lawful Likewise for the said Treasurer or his deputy for the time being or any two or Others of our said counsel for the said first Colony in Virginia for the time being from time to time and at all times hereafter to minister such a formal Oath as by their Discretion shall be reasonably devised as well unto any person or persons imployed in for or touching the Said Plantation for their honest faithfull and Just Discharge of their Service in all Such matters as Shall be Committed unto them for the good and benefit of the said Company Colony and

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Plantation as also unto Such Other person or persons as the said Treasurer or his Deputy with two Others of the said Counsel shall think meet for the Examination or Clearing of the truth in any Cause whatsoever Concerning the said plantation or any business from thence proceeding or thereunto belonging.

And furthermore whereas we have been certified that Divers Lewd and ill Disposed persons both Sailors Souldiers 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 imploied 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 imploied 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 imploied 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 thither as misdoers and Offenders and that many also of those persons after their Return from thence having been Questioned by our Counsel here for such their misbehaviors and Offences by their insolent and Contemptuous Carriage in the presence of Our said Counsel have showed Little respect and reverence Either to the place

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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 Enclined 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

Now fforasmuch as it Appeareth unto us that these insolences misdemeanors and abuses not to be tollerated in any Civil Government have for the most Part grown and proceeded in Regard our said Counsel 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 by these presents for us our heirs and successors Give and Grant to the said treasurer and Company and their Successors for Ever that it shall and may be Lawful for Our said Counsel for the said first Colony in Virginia or any two of them whereof the said Treasurer or his Deputy for the time being to be alwaies One by Warrant under their hands to Send for or to Cause to be apprehended all and Every Such person

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And persons who shall be noted or accused or found at any time or times hereafter to Offend or misbehave themselves in any the Offenses before mentioned and Expressed and upon the Examination of any Such Offender or Offenders and Just proof made by Oath taken before the said Counsel 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 Counsel showed or used by any such person Or persons So Called Converted and appearing before them as aforesaid. That in all Such Cases they our said Counsel 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 Counsel there for the time being 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.

And for the more Effectual advancing of the said Plantation

We Do further for us Our heirs and Successors of Our Especial Grace and favour by Virtue of Our Prerogative royal and by the Assent and Consent of the Lords and Others of Our privy Counsel 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 and to Endure and be held for the Space of one whole year next after the Opening of the same and after the End and Expiration of the said term the Said Lottery

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Or Lotteries to Continue and be further kept During our Will and Pleasure only and not otherwise

And Yet nevertheless we are Contented and pleased for the Good and Welfare of the said Plantation that the said Treasurer and Company shall for the Dispatch and finishing of the said Lottery or Lotteries have Six Months Warning after the said Year Ended before our will and pleasure shall for and On that behalf be Construed Deemed and adjudged to be in any wise Altered and Determined.

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 and it Shall and may be Lawfull to and for the said Treasurer and Company to Elect and Choose Receivers Auditors Surveyors Commissioners or any Other Officers whatsoever at their Will and pleasure for the better Marshalling Disposing Guiding and Governing of the said Lottery and Lotteries

And that it shall Likewise be Lawfull to and for the said Treasurer and any two of the said Counsel to minister to all and Every Such person So Elected and Chosen for Offices as Aforesaid One or more Oaths for their Good behaviour Just and true Dealing in and about the said Lottery or Lotteries to the intent and purpose that none of Our Loving Subjects putting in their names or Otherwise adventuring in the said General Lottery or Lotteries may be in any wise Defrauded and Deceived of their said Moneys or Evil and indirectly Dealt withal in their said Adventures

And we further Grant in manner and form aforesaid That it shall and may be Lawfull to and for the Said Treasurer and Company under the Seal of our said Counsel for the plantation to Publish or to Cause and procure to be published by proclamation or Otherwise (the said proclamation to be made in their name by virtue of these presents) the said Lottery or

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Lotteries in all Cities Towns Burroughs and Other places within our Said Realm of England.

And we Will and Command all mayors Justices of Peace Sheriffs Bayliffes Constables and Other Officers and Loving Subjects whatsoever that in no wise they hinder or Delay the progress and proceedings of the said Lottery or Lotteries but be therein touching the premises aiding and assisting by all honest Good and Lawful means and Endeavours

And further Our will and pleasure is That in all Questions and Doubts that shall arise upon any difficulty or 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

And lastly we Do by these presents ratifie 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 although express mention of the true Yearly Value or Certainty of the premises or any of them or of any other Gift or Grant by us or any Our progenitors or predecessors to the aforesaid Treasurer and Company heretofore made in these presents is not made or any Statute Act Ordinance provision proclamation or Restraint to the Contrary thereof heretofore made ordained or provided or any Other matter Cause or thing whatsoever to the Contrary in any wise notwithstanding.

In witness Whereof we have caused these our Letters to be made patents.

Witness ourself at Westminster the twelfth Day of March in the Ninth Year of Our Reign of England ffrance and Ireland and of Scotland the five and fortieth.

March 12.1611–12