Nova Scotia Constitutional Timeline

An expanded version of what’s put forth by the Nova Scotia legislature.

1493 – May 4, Alexander VI, Pope of Rome, issued a bull, granting the New World. Spain laid claim to the entire North American Coast from Cape Florida to Cape Breton, as part of its territory of Bacalaos.

1496 – March 5, Henry VII, King of England issued a commission to John Cabot and his sons to search for an unknown land

1498 – March 5,  Letters Patents of King Henry the Seventh Granted unto John Cabot and his Three Sonnes, Lewis, Sebastian and Sancius for the “Discouerie of New and Unknowen Lands”

1502 – Henry VII commissioned Hugh Eliot and Thomas Ashurst to discover and take possession of the islands and continents in America; “and in his name and for his use, as his vassals, to enter upon, doss, conquer, govern, and hold any Mainland or Islands by them discovered.”

1524 – Francis I, King of France, said that he should like to see the clause in Adam’s will, which made the American continent the exclusive possession of his brothers of Spain and Portugal, is said to have sent out Verrazzano, a Florentine corsair, who, as has generally been believed, explored the entire coast from 30° to 50° North Latitude, and named the whole region New France.

1534 – King Francis commissioned Jacques Cartier to discover and take possession of Canada; “his successive voyages, within the six years following, opened the whole region of St. Lawrence and laid the foundation of French dominion on this continent.”

1578 – June 11, Letters patent granted by Elizabeth, Queen of England to Sir Humphrey Gilbert, knight, for “the inhabiting and planting of our people in America”.

1584 – March 25, Queen Elizabeth renewed Gilbert’s grant to Sir Walter Raleigh, his half-brother. Under this commission, Raleigh made an unsuccessful attempt to plant an English colony in Virginia, a name afterwards extended to the whole North Coast of America in honor of the “Virgin” Queen.

1603 – November 8, Henry IV, King of France, granted Sieur de Monts a royal patent conferring the possession of and sovereignty of the country between latitudes 40° and 46° (from Philadelphia as far north as Katahdin and Montreal). Samuel Champlain, geographer to the King, accompanied De Monts on his voyage, landing at the site of Liverpool, N.S., a region already known as “Acadia.”

1606 – April 10, King James claimed the whole of North America between 34° and 45° North latitude, granting it to the Plymouth and London Companies. This entire territory was placed under the management of one council, the Royal Council for Virginia. The Northern Colony encompassed the area from 38° to 45° North latitude.

1620 – November 3, Reorganization of the Plymouth Company in 1620 as the Council of Plymouth for New England, encompassing from 40° to 48° North latitude.

1621 – September 29, Charter granted to Sir William Alexander for Nova Scotia

1625 – July 12, A grant of the soil, barony, and domains of Nova Scotia to Sir Wm. Alexander of Minstrie

1630 – April 30, Conveyance of Nova-Scotia (Port-royal excepted) by Sir William Alexander to Sir Claude St. Etienne Lord of la Tour and of Uarre and to his son Sir Charles de St. Etienne Lord of St. Denniscourt, on condition that they continue subjects to the king of Scotland under the great seal of Scotland.

1632 – March 29, Treaty between King Louis XIII. and Charles King of England for the restitution of the New France, Cadia and Canada and ships and goods taken from both sides. Made in Saint Germain

1638 – Grant to Charnesay and La Tour

1654 – August 16, Capitulation of Port-Royal

1656 – August 9, A grant by Cromwell to Sir Charles de Saint Etienne, a baron of Scotland, Crowne and Temple

1667 – July 31, The treaty of peace and alliance between England and the United Provinces made at Breda

1668 – February 17, Act of cession of Acadia to the King of France

1689 – English Bill of Rights enacted

1691, October 7, A charter granted by king William and Queen Mary to the inhabitants of the province of Massachusetts Bay, in New England

1713 – March 31, Treaty of peace and friendship between Louis XIV. King of France, and Anne, Queen of Great Britain, made in Utrecht

1713 – April 11, Treaty of navigation and commerce between Louis XIV, king of France, and Anne, Queen of Great Britain

1719 – June 19, Commission to Richard Philips to be Governor (including a copy of the 1715 Instructions given to the Governor of Virginia, by which he was to conduct himself)

1725 – August 26, Explanatory Charter of Massachusetts Bay

1725 – December 15, A treaty with the Indians (Peace and Friendship Treaty, ratification at Annapolis)

1727 – July 25, Ratification at Casco Bay of the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1725

1728 – May 13, Ratification at Annapolis Royal of the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1725

1748, October 7–18, The general and definitive treaty of peace concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle

1749 – September 4, Renewal of the Peace and Friendship treaty of 1725

1752 – November 22, Treaty between Thomas Hopson, Governor in Chief in and over His Majesty’s Province of Nova Scotia and Major Jean Baptiste Cope, Chief Sachem of the Tribe of the MickMack Indians inhabiting the Eastern Coast…

1758 – Nova Scotia Legislature established (consisting of the Lieutenant Governor, his Council and the newly established, elected legislative assembly called the House of Assembly)

1760 – March, Treaty of Peace and Friendship concluded by the Governor of Nova Scotia with Paul Laurent, Chief of the La Heve tribe of Indians

1761 – November 9, Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Jonathon Belcher and Francis Muis

1763 – February 10, France ceded, for the last time, the rest of Acadia, including Cape Breton Island (‘île Royale), the future New Brunswick and St John’s Island (later re-named Prince Edward Island), to British (Treaty of Paris) and it was joined to Nova Scotia

1763 – October 7, Royal Proclamation

1769 – Prince Edward Island established as a colony separate from Nova Scotia

1779 – September 22, Treaty signed at Windsor between John Julien, Chief and Michael Francklin, representing the Government of Nova Scotia

1784 – Cape Breton Island and New Brunswick established as colonies separate from Nova Scotia

1820 – Cape Breton Island re-joined to Nova Scotia

1838 – Separate Executive Council and Legislative Council established

1848 – Responsible government established in Nova Scotia (Members of the legislature had the ability to elect a majority of those in the Legislative council)

1867 – “Union” of provinces of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as the “self-governing” federal colony of the Dominion of Canada (British North America Act, 1867 — now known in Canada as Constitution Act, 1867) & the Parliament of Canada established (consisting of the Queen, the Senate and the House of Commons)

1928 – Abolition of the Legislative Council (leaving the Legislature consisting of the Lieutenant Governor and the House of Assembly)

1931 – Canadian independence legally recognized (Statute of Westminster, 1931)

1960 – Canadian Bill of Rights enacted

1982 – patriation of the amendment of the Constitution of Canada & adoption of the Constitution Act, 1982, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Canada Act 1982)

Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the State of Virginia. J. Stockdale, 1787. https://tile.loc.gov/storage-services/service/gdc/lhbcb/04902/04902.pdf

Legislature of the State of Maine. “The Revised Statutes of the State of Maine, Passed August 29, 1883, and Taking Effect January 1,1884.”, Portland, Loring, Short & Harmon and William M. Marks. 1884. https://lldc.mainelegislature.org/Open/RS/RS1883/RS1883_f0005-0017_Land_Titles.pdf

Kennedy, William P. Statutes, Treaties and Documents of the Canadian Constitution: 1713-1929. Oxford Univ. Pr., 1930. https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.9_03428

Harvard Law School Library. “Description Legislative history regarding treaties of commerce with France, Spain relating to New Foundland, Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton,” ca. 1715? Small Manuscript Collection, Harvard Law School Library. https://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HLS.LIBR:19686447, Accessed 07 June 2021

Thorpe, Francis Newton. “The Federal and State constitutions: colonial charters, and other organic laws of the States, territories, and Colonies, now or heretofore forming the United States of America” Washington : Govt. Print. Off. 1909. https://archive.org/details/federalstatecons07thor/page/n5/mode/2up

Murdoch, Beamish. “Epitome of the laws of Nova-Scotia” [Halifax, N.S.? : s.n.], 1832 (Halifax, N.S. : J. Howe) Volume One: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.59437, Volume Two: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.59438, Volume Three: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.59439, Volume Four: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.59440

Marshall, John G. “The justice of the peace, and county and township officer in the province of Nova Scotia : being a guide to such justice and officers in the discharge of their official duties” [Halifax, N.S.? : s.n.], 1837 (Halifax [N.S.] : Gossip & Coade) https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.36869, Second Edition: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.38224

Livingston, Walter Ross. Responsible Government In Nova Scotia: a Study of the Constitutional Beginnings of the British Commonwealth. Iowa City: The University, 1930. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/wu.89080043730https://archive.org/details/responsiblegover0000livi

Bourinot, John George. “The constitution of the Legislative Council of Nova Scotia” [S.l. : s.n., 1896?] https://archive.org/details/cihm_10453/page/141, https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.10453/14?r=0&s=1

Laing, David, editor. “Royal letters, charters, and tracts, relating to the colonization of New Scotland, and the institution of the Order of knight baronets of Nova Scotia. -1638“. [Edinburgh Printed by G. Robb, 1867] https://archive.org/details/royallettersc11400lainuoft

Labaree, Leonard Woods. “Royal Instructions to British Colonial Governors 1670–1776“. Vol. I and Vol. II. The American Historical Association. (New York : D. Appleton-Century Company, 1935) https://archive.org/details/royalinstruction0001laba, https://archive.org/details/royalinstruction0002laba

Beamish Murdoch, “On the origin and sources of the Law of Nova Scotia” (An essay on the Origin and Sources of the Law of Nova Scotia read before the Law Students Society, Halifax, N.S., 29 August 1863), (1984) 8:3 DLJ 197. https://digitalcommons.schulichlaw.dal.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1399&context=dlj

Shirley B. Elliott, “An Historical Review of Nova Scotia Legal Literature: a select bibliography”, Comment, (1984) 8:3 DLJ 197. https://digitalcommons.schulichlaw.dal.ca/dlj/vol8/iss3/12/

On the Nature of a Colonial Constitution

What was Nova Scotia’s colonial constitution?

According to Hon. Martin I. Wilkins, attorney general at the time of the imposition of the BNA, Nova Scotia possessed a chartered constitution, irrevocable except through force. Nova Scotia, once known as Acadia, was possessed by both the French and English, ultimately becoming British territory after a conquest and subsequent cession by Louis XIV to Queen Anne in 1713.

The treaty of Utrecht solidified Nova Scotia’s status as belonging to the British Crown “forever.” This grant to Queen Anne is emphasized as absolute ownership, surpassing typical property titles. Wilkins argues that neither the people nor the Parliament of England had jurisdiction over Nova Scotia at that time; it belonged solely to the Queen and her heirs.

In 1747, under George II, a patent was issued to Lord Cornwallis, granting Nova Scotia a constitution. This constitution mimicked Britain’s, establishing a Governor, Council (Senate), and House of Assembly. Wilkins highlights the power vested in Cornwallis to summon general assemblies and enact laws for the province’s welfare, emphasizing the constitution’s permanence.

However, subsequent governors delayed convening the Legislative Assembly, preferring to govern through the Council. In 1755, Nova Scotians protested, arguing that only the House of Assembly could enact laws under the granted charter. The matter was referred to England, where Attorney and Solicitor Generals affirmed that the Governor and Council alone lacked authority to make laws for the colony.

The irrevocability of the charter is underscored, with a comparison drawn to a similar case in Grenada (now known as Cambell v Hall). After issuing a commission similar to Cornwallis’, the King attempted to impose taxes on Grenada, leading to a legal challenge. The Court of King’s Bench, led by Lord Mansfield, ruled that the King had relinquished legislative authority over Grenada upon issuing the commission, thus invalidating the taxes.

Wilkins asserts that Nova Scotia’s charter is binding and immutable, having been granted by the Crown. The legal precedents cited affirm that once such charters are granted, the Crown relinquishes legislative authority, making any subsequent attempts to impose laws or taxes illegitimate.

Speeches delivered by Hon. Martin I. Wilkins, (attorney general) in the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia, session 1868, on resolutions relative to repeal of the “British North America Act, 1867”. Wilkins, Martin I. (Martin Isaac), 1804-1881. https://archive.org/details/cihm_23507

On Resolutions Relative to Repeal of the “British North America Act, 1867”

RESOLUTIONS LAID ON THE TABLE OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF NOVA SCOTIA, BY THE HON. ATTORNEY GENERAL, ON THE 5th FEBRUARY, 1868.

  1. That the Members of the Legislative Assembly of this Province, elected in 1863, simply to legislate under the Colonial Constitution, had no authority to make, or consent to, any material change of such Constitution, without first submitting the same to the people at the Polls:
  2. That the Resolution of the 10th April, which preceded the enactment of the British North America Act, and is as follows : “Whereas, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that a Confederation of the British North American Provinces should take place; Resolved therefore, That His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor be authorized to appoint delegates to arrange with the Imperial Government a scheme of Union which will effectually ensure just provision for the rights and interests of this Province — each Province to have an equal voice in such delegation. Upper and Lower Canada being, for this purpose, considered as separate Provinces,” was the only authority possessed by the delegates, who procured the enactment of the “Act for the Union of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick;
  3. That even if the House of Assembly had the constitutional power to authorize such delegation, which is by no means admitted, the foregoing resolution did not empower the delegates to arrange a federal union of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, without including, in such confederation, the Colonies of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island;
  4. That no delegates from the two last named Colonies having attended, and an unequal number from each of the others being present, the delegation was not legally constituted, and had no authority to act under the said resolution — which expressly required each of the Colonies tr be represented by an equal number of delegates;
  5. That the delegates did not “ensure just provision for the rights and interests of this Province,” as they were, by the express terms of such resolution, bound to do, in arranging a scheme of Union, but, on the contrary, they entirely disregarded those rights and interests, and the scheme by them consented to would, if finally confirmed, deprive the people of this Province of their rights, liberty, and independence, — rob them of their revenues, — take from them the regulation of their trade, commerce, and taxes, the management of their railroads and other public properly, —expose them to arbitrary and excessive taxation, by a Legislature over which they can have no adequate control, and reduce this hitherto free, happy, and self-governed Province to the degraded condition of a dependency of Canada;
  6. That no fundamental or material change of the constitution of the Province can be made, in any other constitutional manner than by a statute of the Provincial Legislature, sanctioned by the people after the subject matter of the same had been referred to them at the Polls, the Legislature of a Colonial Dependency having no power or authority, implied from their relation to the people, as their legislative representatives, to overthrow the constitution under which they were elected;
  7. That the scheme of confederating Canada, New Brunswick, and Nora Scotia, was never submitted to the people of this Province, at the Polls, before the 18th day of September last, upwards of two and a half months after the British North America Act was, by the Queen’s Proclamation, declared to be in force, when the people were thereby informed that they had been subjected, without their consent to the absolute dominion of more populous and more powerful Colonies, and had lost their liberty;
  8. That there being no statute of the Provincial Legislature, confirming or ratifying the British North America Act, and the same never having been consented to, or authorized, by the people at the Polls, nor the consent of this Province in any other manner testified, the preamble of the Act. reciting that this Province had expressed a desire to be confederated with Canada and New Brunswick, is untrue ; and when the Queen and the Imperial Legislature, were led to believe that this Province had expressed such a desire, a fraud and imposition were practiced upon them :
  9. That the truth of the preamble of the British North America Act, reciting the desire of Nova Scotia to be Confederated, is essential to the constitutionality of the statute ; and if the same is false, the statute is defective, because a statute cannot be rendered constitutional, by falsely assuming as true the condition which is indispensable to its constitutionality;
  10. That from the time the scheme of Confederation was first devised in Canada, until it was consummated by the Imperial Act in London, it was systematically kept from the consideration of the people of Nova Scotia at the Polls ; and the Executive Council and Legislature, in defiance of petitions signed by many thousands of the electors of this Province, persistently and perseveringly prevented the same from being presented to the people;
  11. That at the recent Election, the question of Confederation, exclusively occupied the attention of the people, who were then, for the first time, enabled to express their will on a subject of the most vital importance to their happiness; and the result has proved, that this Province does not desire to be annexed to Canada, and that the people of Nova Scotia repudiate the enforced provisions of the British North America Act, which, for the reasons set forth in the foregoing Resolutions, they believe to be unconstitutional, and in no manner binding upon them;
  12. That the Quebec Scheme, which is embodied in the British North America Act, imprudently attempted to be forced on the people of Nova Scotia, not only without their consent, but against their will, has already created wide-spread irritation and discontent; and unless the same be withdrawn, will, we fear, be attended with the most disastrous consequence”, as the loyal people of this Province, are fully conscious of their rights as British subjects, set an inestimable value upon their free institutions, and will not willingly consent to an invasion of those rights, or to be subjected to the dominion of any other power, than their lawful and beloved Queen;
  13. That the Colonies were politically allied to each other, by their common relationship to the Queen and her Empire, in a more peaceable and less dangerous Connexion, than under any scheme of Colonial Confederation that could be devised, even on the fairest, wisest, and most judici9U8, principles;
  14. That the people of Nova Scotia do not impute to Her Majesty the Queen, and her Government, any intentional injustice, as they are well aware, that fraud and deception were practiced upon them, by those who misrepresented the public sentiment of this country’, and who, for reasons which we will not venture to assign, desired that confederation might be forced upon this Province, without the consent and against the will of the people;
  15. That an humble address be presented to the Queen, embodying the substance of the foregoing resolutions, informing Her Majesty, that her loyal people of Nova Scotia, do not desire to be in any manner confederated with Canada, and praying Her Majesty to revoke her Proclamation, and to cause the British North America Act to be repealed, as far as it affects the Province of Nova Scotia.

HON. ATTORNEY GENERAL’S SPEECH, ON MOVING THE REPEAL RESOLUTION IN THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ON MONDAY, 10th FEBRUARY, 1868.

Hon. Attorney General addressed the House as follows: I regret proceeding to the debate on these resolutions in the absence of the hon. member for Inverness, but having been informed that lie is not likely to be in his place for some days, I find it necessary to go on with the discussion. I do so with the less regret because I know that this debate will be reported with accuracy, and that consequently that learned and honorable gentleman will be put in possession of the arguments which I and my friends on this side of the House intend to use. I am about to lay before the members of the House, before the people of this country, and probably before the people of England, the facts of one of the most important political cases that ever arose in the Colonies, and in order to do so satisfactorily, I shall endeavor to shew the true condition in which this country was placed before certain political changes took place in its constitution.

I shall endeavor in the first place to show that Nova Scotia was a well-governed and law-respecting, a contented and happy country. She was well-governed, because her institutions were constructed in miniature on the model of the British constitution, which is the finest political system by which any nation was ever governed — a system calculated to maintain order and harmony among all orders of people — a system under which obedience to law, and the necessary result of obedience to law, liberty, have been better maintained than in any other country; for, sir, however paradoxical it may seem, it is a literal truth that the highest degree of freedom consists in obedience to law. It is obedience to law which preserves to me my rights and liberties, my property and my life: and therefore, however inconsistent it may seem, it is a literal truth that the highest degree of freedom consists in obedience to law; and that country which possesses institutions calculated to produce that result in perfection must be the happiest nation on the earth. Now the constitution of Nova Scotia was based upon the principles of the British Constitution — those principles which best suit the genius of the people.

Its whole condition was different from those of any other country on the Continent of America, and the constitution which was granted to the people of this province by King George II, and which hid been enlarged and greatly improved by his successors on the throne of England, was a well-working constitution. It was as much like the British constitution as it was possible to make things which are different in their nature. There were some defects in it, among which the greatest certainly was the want of a court for the impeachment and punishment of political offenders. That was a deficiency in our system,— without it no system of Responsible Government can be perfect, and it is certainly curious, but by no means very remarkable, that the great statesmen who have originated this splendid constitution for the confederation of Canada have taken precious good care in its manufacture, — whilst they have established courts for the administration of ordinary justice, as well as courts of appeal — to leave out the court of impeachment, which, considering the nature of the men who formed that constitution, and who are likely to be instrumental in carrying it out, would be the most desirable court of all.

When we compare our constitution in Nova Scotia with that of the Great Republic, the contrast must be favorable to this province. We admire the people of that country, we have sincerely sympathized with them in their recent distress and troubles. We feel towards them all the emotions of fraternal affection, but we do not approve of their constitution. We consider that their institutions are possessed of two fatal defects — the one is democracy, the other confederation. We consider that having our little constitution moulded upon the monarchical institutions of England makes it infinitely superior to that of the United States, although the latter is a master work of human hands, and the finest piece of composition ever prepared by men for political purposes. It was manufactured by men who were really statesmen — by men who loved their country — by men who had been educated in an English school— by men who had sense enough to perceive the beauties of the British constitution — by men who endeavored with the utmost imaginable pains and skill to apply the principles of the British constitution to a democratic system and form of government; but the people of the United States were unfortunate, after having separated from England in 1783, in the political system which they instituted.

Had they combined in a legislative union — had they incorporated all the States under one Legislature, having one set of laws and revenues, they would undoubtedly, at this time, be the greatest nation upon the earth. They certainly would not have been second to any other; but, unfortunately, they chose Confederation, and that Confederation has resulted as every Confederation must result, for it is impossible so to adjust the rival and discordant interests of different countries under a confederation as to maintain permanent harmony. It is not in the nature of things that they should continue as separate and individual countries, having separate legislatures and individualities, without clashing with one another at some time or other. We have seen, notwithstanding the skill with which that famous constitution of the United States was made — notwithstanding the intelligence of that people, that great evils have made their appearance already. The Confederation was broken, an internecine civil war deluged their land with blood, and they expended in three years more than probably three times the amount of the national debt of England, in money, and the destruction of their property ; and, sir, at this moment there is no man on earth who is able to say what is to be the result of the political affairs of that great country. An earthquake is growling under their feet, and no man can tell when and where the volcano is to burst, bringing with it destruction and ruin. I make these observations with the greatest possible regret, for I believe that every man in Nova Scotia wishes well to the people of the United States, although the people of this province have no desire to be connected with them. They are too wise, too sensible to desire for a moment to part with their own well-working public institutions, and enter into union with the States.

I shall now turn your attention to another Confederation — the Confederation of Canada — and contrast it with the United States, and show you that if it be not desirable to enter into Union with the United States, Confederation with Canada is absolutely hateful and detestable to the people of this country. We object to a union with the American States, because we disapprove of Democracy and Confederation, but there is a worse political combination, that is Oligarchy and Confederation. If we dislike the constitution of the United States we are bound to hate and detest the constitution which the Confederation act has prepared for the people of these fine colonies. If we were to join the United States, Nova Scotia would possess all the freedom that every State in the Union possesses. We would have the choice of our own Governors, of our Senators, of our Legislators; we would have the power of self-taxation and self-government in the highest degree; but what would be our position if we suffered ourselves to be dragged into this hateful union with Canada, where would Nova Scotia’s freedom be?

Before the British America Act was imposed upon us Nova Scotia was as free as the air. How could the people of this country be taxed? There was no power to tax them except this House, their own servants, whom they commissioned to tax them. Is that the state of things now? Have we any power over the taxation of this country? Does not the Act in question confer upon Canada the fullest power of taxing all the property of Nova Scotia at their arbitrary will? What is our control over that Legislature? We have but a paltry voice of 19 members in the popular branch, not a single one in the other. We have, therefore, to protect the rights of this country from spoliation, only 19 members out of 253. If we should continue in Confederation we should not be governed by the people, as is the case in the United States, but by a little knot of Executive Councillors in Canada. Therefore we have no disposition to unite with one or the other — neither with the United States nor with Canada; and, sir, if we were driven to the necessity of making a choice between the two calamities, we would be bound to choose the least, and that would be, to join the United States of America, and participate in their liberty and prosperity rather than submit to the tyranny of Canada. We would have to prefer the democratic tyranny of the one country to the oligarchical tyranny of the other, and there would be no difficulty in making a choice; but thank heaven we are not called upon to choose between them. We have a constitution of our own, and that belongs to the people of Nova Scotia; and I am going to show you that the constitution they enjoy is their own property — that the Parliament of England had no power to take it away from them — that the British North America Act is entirely unconstitutional — that Nova Scotia has never been legally confederated with Canada — and it rests with her to say whether she will ever be so or not.

Before I come to look at the constitution of this country, I must make a few remarks with regard to England. We intend to send to the mother country certain gentlemen authorized to present to the Queen our humble address, praying Her Majesty to relieve us from this Confederation with Canada. We go in the most perfect confidence that our prayer will be heard. We know to whom we are going to appeal. We are not placed in the condition that the old thirteen colonies were in under King George III. We have a very different person to deal with in Queen Victoria. We have to approach ministers very different from those of the last century. We have no stubborn King George III.; we have no prejudices of the royal mind to counteract; we have not the infatuation of his ministers to meet. We have the greatest princess that ever adorned a human throne, a most virtuous Queen, who, when she accepted the sceptre, took an oath that she would rule the country according to the laws, customs and statutes of the realm. She has most nobly fulfilled her obligations, and, in answer to the prayers of her own church, ” has been most plenteously endued with heavenly gifts.” In her person she is an example of every virtue; her obedience to the laws exalts her above all other monarchs. Her personal virtues are brighter than all the gems which adorn her Imperial diadem. It is to a Queen like this that the people appeal.

Have the people no right to present themselves before their Sovereign? Has not this ever been the most loyal portion of her dominions? Did not our forefathers flee from their country because they would not participate in rebellion? Did they not leave their property for their king’s sake? I have seen a resolution passed by the Legislature of Nova Scotia at the time the thirteen colonies rebelled actually petitioning the King to impose taxes upon the Province to assist the Empire in its extremity. From that time to this the people of Nova Scotia have been the most loyal that ever dwelt in any part of Her Majesty’s dominions. They will have confidence in presenting themselves before the Queen, and asking to be restored— to what? To any thing that they have no right to demand? Simply to their own. Can any man suppose for a moment that they will be rejected by a Sovereign like ours? We need be under no apprehension. We are pursuing the proper course to obtain a legitimate end, and there is no power on earth that can prevent the people from being restored to their rights but downright tyranny, and that we cannot expect from the hands of the Queen and her Government.

Do not let the loyalty of Nova Scotia be suspected. Has any one a right to suspect it! Look at the injuries done to the people of this Province within the last six months. See their liberties taken away; see them taxed by a foreign and alien Legislature; see their property taken from them; all their customs handed over to others, collected by strangers before their very eyes. See stamp duties and tea duties imposed upon them. Those very acts which forced the old thirteen colonies to rebellion have been imposed upon Nova Scotia with the same extraordinary fatuity. And yet have the people rebelled? I have heard of no movement of agitation on the part of the people beyond the simple burning in effigy of one of the delegates. If that delegate had belonged to the United States, instead of being burned in effigy, he would have been burned in reality. If men commissioned by any State in the American Union to negotiate any arrangement affecting the constitution returned with such a bargain as those men returned with, they would not have been permitted to live. The slow process of justice would not have been extended to them, but that has not been the case in Nova Scotia. This law-respecting people have made no movement, but they are going to submit no longer.

The time for forbearance is at an end. They had no means of constitutionally speaking until now, and they intend to make use of it. If it should be unsuccessful, I may be asked what will be the consequence? I am hardly going to anticipate that the appeal of the people can be unsuccessful. I deny the possibility of failure, but then I assert on the behalf of the people as long as the Queen of England extends to the people of Nova Scotia her protection so long will the people refuse to withdraw their allegiance. So long as they are protected they will be loyal and faithful; and, sir, let it happen that the Queen of England and her ministers in Parliament, regardless of the past, regardless of the loss of the old colonies, shall determine to trample on the rights and liberties of this country ; if they should do so, then it will indeed be a dark and gloomy hour. Sir, when by the decrees of inexorable fate the flag of England and the name of Englishmen shall be taken away from the people of Nova Scotia, and the flag and name of any other country substituted, then I prophesy that this Province will be turned into a house of mourning, and every eye will shed hot burning tears of bitter regret and inexpressible woe.

Now, having made these preliminary remarks, I shall call your attention to the history of our Constitution. I have heard men assert that we have no valid constitution — that it is made up of despatches. I have been at the pains of examining into this question, and can show you that Nova Scotia has had a chartered constitution, an irrevocable constitution — one that no power on earth can take away except by force or violence. Neither the Queen nor Parliament of England has any right to touch or abrogate that constitution. This country was originally known by the name of Acadia, and was in the possession of the French at one time, and in that of the English at another — was long, in fact, debatable ground. The French at last made the settlement of Port Royal, at present called Annapolis, They fortified it in the early part of the 18th century; but an expedition was fitted out by a person of the name of Nicholson, from Boston, who came over and forced the French garrison to capitulate. Consequently the Province was at this time conquered by the British. In 1713, soon after the conquest, by the treaty of Utrecht, Louis XIV. assigned Acadia to Queen Anne of England, and her heirs forever.

I have before me the language or this treaty; it is striking and plain: ” Yielded and made over to the Queen of Great Britain and to her heirs forever.” From that time to this Nova Scotia has continued to belong to the British Crown, and the first inquiry we meet is this, What was the effect of that conquest and subsequent cession by Louis XIV to Queen Anne? What was her title?

Her title was absolute, in fee simple — higher than the title any man in England or America possesses to his estate — higher than the title possessed by the Prince of Wales when he purchased, the other day, a hunting-ground in England. The Prince of Wales holds his estate from the Queen, who is the lady paramount of all the lands in the country, and he may forfeit it to Her Majesty; but that was not the case with the gift to Queen Anne. She became the absolute owner of Nova Scotia. It did not belong to the people or Parliament of England, who had no more to do with it than the people of Turkey. It was properly transferred, and belonged absolutely to Anne, the Queen of England, and her heirs forever.

For thirty-four years after this cession it remained the property of the Queen and her heirs, and she could do with it just as she pleased — just as any man in this House might do with an estate belonging to him. She might put a tenant on it, and regulate the covenants under which the tenant should hold it. In 1747 it came into the hands of George II., and he, being desirous of having it settled by English subjects, promised the people of England who would undertake the settlement of the country that he would give them the British Constitution in miniature. Accordingly he ordered a patent to be drawn up, with the Great Seal — a seal larger than the crown of a hat — for Lord Cornwallis, by which he granted to the people of Nova Scotia the constitution they were to possess. I shall call your attention briefly to the words of that part of the patent which refers to the establishment of a Legislative Assembly in the Province. He established by this patent a Governor in the place of King, a Council in the place of Lords, and a House of Assembly in the place of Commons, and made the constitution of the colony as nearly like that of Great Britain as he could.

“And we do hereby (this Charter is dated 6th May, 1747,) give and grant unto you (Edward Cornwallis) full power and authority, with the advice and consent of our said Council, from time to time, as need shall require, to summon and call general assemblies of the freeholders and planters within your jurisdiction, according to the usage of the rest of our plantations in America, and that you, the said Edward Cornwallis, with the advice and consent of our House of Assembly or the major part of it, shall have full power and authority to make and ordain (here is power given to the Legislature) laws, statutes, and ordinances for the public peace and welfare and good government of our said Province, and of the people and inhabitants thereof, and such measures as shall tend to the benefit of us and our successors, which said laws and ordinances are not to be repugnant, but as nearly agreeable as possible to the statutes of this our said Kingdom of England.”

This solemn deed and covenant cannot be repudiated. After Cornwallis obtained this patent in 1747, he and the other governors who succeeded him were very slow in calling together the freeholders in order to give the people the benefit of this Assembly, and accordingly in 1767, or ten years after the granting of the patent, a correspondence took place between the ministers of George II. and Governor Lawrence, in which the ministers called upon the latter to execute that deed, and give to the people their Legislative Assembly. Mr. Lawrence thought he could make as good laws as any Assembly, and he and his Council persisted in passing laws. From the time the constitution was given, instead of calling the Legislature together, he summoned the Council, and with them made laws for the government of the Province.

In 1755 the subject was brought to the notice of the Crown Officers of England, for the people of Nova Scotia complained that their charter had not been carried into effect, and some of them refused obedience to the orders in Council, on the ground that no rules and regulations could be made lor the government of the people except through the House of Assembly, after that charter had been given. The matter was referred to William Murray and Richard Lloyd, the Attorney and Solicitor Generals of England, the former of whom subsequently became Lord Mansfield, one of the most eminent of English jurists. And here is their opinion : “We have taken the said observations into our consideration, and we are humbly of opinion that the Governor and Council alone are not authorized by His Majesty to make laws.” Here is the opinion of these distinguished jurists, that the king could not make laws for the Colony. The king having given the charter in question, had no power to make laws. Where or a country is conquered, the conqueror to whom it is ceded has power to do as he o she pleases in its management. He may, if he chooses, allow the inhabitants of that country to make their own laws, or put them all to death, or he may send them a code of laws made by himself, and allow his Governors to execute them within the country. But if he confers upon the country any privileges, the deed is obligatory upon himself and heirs, and he cannot annulled; he is bound to submit to it. It is just the same with an individual: as soon as he signs and seals a deed for a piece of land to his neighbor, neither he nor his heir can afterwards dispute the seal.

The day the king signed that deed, and appended the seal to the commission of the Governor, he conceded the power to make laws. Both his Attorney and Solicitor Generals tell him, we have looked at Lord Cornwallis’ patent, and you have not the power to make such laws. No law can be binding upon the people of Nova Scotia, except such as are passed in accordance with that charter.

To show how completely irrevocable these charters are, I will briefly call your attention to a case which arose many years after, in 1774. Lord Mansfield then delivered the opinion of the Court of King’s Bench upon a case which had been a number of times solemnly argued. After the conquest of Grenada, the King of England gave a commission to a gentleman of the name of Melville, almost identically the same as that he gave to Cornwallis. This deed was signed in the month of April, 1764, but Governor Melville did not proceed to take charge until the following December. In the meantime the King issued letters patent under the great seal, on the 20th July, 1764, laying a tax upon the people of Grenada— performing in fact an act of legislation. The case was brought up for argument ; the merchant who had paid the tax having come over to England, and having been allowed to try it by the Attorney General. The judgment of the Court was that the tax was illegal, because the King, when he signed that Commission to Melville, ceased to have any power over Grenada. Here are some of the observations made by Lord Mansfield:

“After full consideration, we are of opinion that before the letters patent of the 20th July, 1764, the King had precluded himself from the exercise of the legislative authority over the island of Grenada.” Again he said: “We therefore think that after the two Proclamations, and the Commission of Governor Melville, the king had immediately and irrecoverably granted to all who are or shall become inhabitants of Grenada, the right of having their legislation exercised by an Assembly and a Governor in Council.”

Now, Mr. Speaker, I shall endeavor to bring this argument to a close by inviting the attention of the House, and of the people of England, to whom I am speaking at this moment, to the great importance of Nova Scotia to the British Empire. This is a subject which has never been well considered. The old colonies are the most valuable portion of the earth — by the stubbornness of a British King, and the stupidity of his Ministers, they were lost to the Empire; and that dismemberment was the most serious that ever befell the British nation. Lord Chatham actually died protesting against it. Nova Scotia stands in the front of the American continent, just as England does in that of Europe. She possesses great mineral wealth, the source of England’s greatness. Her coal and iron, with the energy of her people, have brought the mother country to her present proud condition. We possess the same advantages — we, too, are almost an island. If Nova Scotia were lost to England she might bid adieu to New Brunswick, to Prince Edward Island, and to Newfoundland. These four Maritime Provinces together have a territory similarly situated to the British Isles, and are capable of sustaining a population equal to theirs. Now Great Britain has been to Nova Scotia a very affectionate parent. She has been most kind to us, but we sometimes hear the statesmen of England grumbling a little about the expense incurred in defending these colonies. I must confess I cannot see what that expense is. Great Britain is a maritime nation and a military power. She must have the best navies on the ocean, and one of the strongest’; armies in the field. Where could she maintain her troops and navy more economically than in these Colonies? The climate is a very healthy one; the statistics show that the mortality here is less than in any other part of the world. The people of England would never consent to a standing army remaining in their own country. Therefore the scattering of the troops through these Colonies has been a kind of necessity, and so far from these Colonies costing England anything, they are little or no expense to her.

She was always a kind mother, although not a wise one at times. When she adopted her trade policy in 1848 she left these colonies entirely unprotected. She left the trade of Nova Scotia to be managed by people who knew nothing about it. She had up to that time managed our trade herself; she withdrew her fostering care, and left us to walk alone. — We have managed to live very happy and contentedly, but she did not act wisely towards these colonies. Since 1848 no less than six millions of people have left England, Ireland and Scotland; where have they gone to? They have gone directly past us into the United States- If England had been a judicious foster-mother she would have diverted the emigration into these colonies, if she had encouraged the commercial advantages of Nova Scotia, and the agricultural capabilities of Canada, we would now be a strong nation, instead of having only four millions of souls in our midst. We would have a population of nine or ten millions, and instead of being afraid of invasion, the people of the United States would be pleased to think, during their internecine war, that such was the peaceful character and orderly disposition of Her Majesty’s Colonies in America that, there was no danger to be apprehended from them.

I believe there is no time that a parent knows the value of the child he loves until he hears the cold earth falling upon the coffin, and the sad words, “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Let England transfer this little province to the United States, and she will, after a few years’ time, wake up to the loss she has sustained. If the people of the United States succeed in restoring the union, in healing the difference between the North and the South, and in concentrating their tremendous energies, she; must become one of the greatest powers of the world. She is now a great naval power, but give her the harbour of Halifax, — which in her hands could be made just as impregnable as Gibraltar. Give her the coal, iron, and fisheries of Nova Scotia, and her power will be largely increased, arid millions of people will pour into this country. The fisheries alone of these provinces would be to the United States a nursery for a million or a million and a half of seamen. How long would England then boast of her maritime supremacy? When the Americans had only a few miserable ships they brought more disgrace upon the British flag than any other nation ever succeeded in doing. What would they be if, when challenged to the test by Great Britain, they had possession of the Colonies in addition to their ordinary strength? Suppose in the order of things France, another great naval power, should combine her energies with the United States, against England, in what position would the mother country be? How could she contend with such maritime nations as these? Therefore the loss of these colonies might lead to the degradation of England, and instead of standing at the head of nations she might be lowered to the condition of a secondary state, if indeed she were not converted into a province of France.

I shall now very briefly call the attention of the House to the resolutions before it. They develop the arguments on which we ask for a repeal of the Union. The first clause contends that the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia had no power to change the constitution; they had none except what was given them in the charter. Parliament had no power over this country — it never had any. This country belonged to the Queen of England, and our Assembly had no constitutional right to consent to or make the slightest alteration in the constitution under which they were elected to make laws. That is the position which we take, and I would like to see the British constitutional authorities examine this subject, for I am convinced they will acknowledge that I am correct. The second resolution is to the effect that the only authority which the Delegates had thus derived from the Assembly, who had no power to give any such authority at all. Even this authority, however, they disregarded. Their authority simply extended to the negotiation of the terms of a Federal union between all the British North American Colonies. They had no power to select three provinces and confederate them, and therefore in that respect they did not act up to their authority. Then, sir, their delegation was not legally constituted.

If I gave a power of Attorney to A. B. and C. to transact business for me, A. and B. cannot do it without C, unless I make it optional for them to do it jointly or revorally ; but if I authorize three men jointly to execute a deed for me, or do any other act, any two of them cannot legally perform the duty. If the House of Assembly authorized a delegation to be constituted, consisting of an equal number of men from Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Prince Edward’s Island, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia, the delegates had no power to act unless this stipulation was carried out. No constituent assembly was constituted — it could make no constitution, or do any act until all the delegates were present. If there were 5 from one province and 6 from another, the whole proceeding was a nullity, because the delegation was not constituted according to their instructions. Then again they were told that they were to make just provision for the rights and interests of Nova Scotia. How did they do that? They gave the whole province away. We had a well-working constitution ; we made our own laws, raised our own revenues, and taxed ourselves. We owned railways, fisheries and other public property but, they gave them all away for nothing. We can at any moment be taxed to any extent arbitrarily by an oligarchy in Canada.

The sixth resolution states that no change can be made without an appeal to the people. Here is a self-evident proposition. The constitution belongs to whom The House of Assembly? No. To the Legislative Council! No. It is the property of the people of Nova Scotia — every man, woman and child are the owner, and it cannot be taken away from them without their consent. Even the arbitrary monarchies of Europe admit that principle. When Napoleon seized upon the Empire what did it do? At all events lie went through the ceremony of sending around the ballot box, and asking the people whether they were willing to change their constitution. The other day two States of Italy, Nice and Savoy, were transferred after the Austrian campaign, and what was done ? Did one king sit down and cede the country to the other? No; the people were called upon to decide whether they were prepared to accept the change of constitution or not. No constitution can be lawfully and constitutionally taken away without consulting the people who own the constitution. This is a self-evident proposition— just as evident as the fact that no man can have his farm taken away from him without his consent.

These resolutions go on to argue that the people of Nova Scotia were never consulted until the 18th September, 1867, after the British North America Act had passed the Parliament, and the Queen had given it force by her proclamation. They were then for the first time asked whether they were willing to accept the change of constitution. Then did the people answer emphatically that they would have nothing to do with it. These resolutions state that the preamble of the Imperial Statute is false, and I believe that when the Quebec scheme went home no such words were in it. But no sooner did the crown officers cast their eyes over it than they, knowing the constitutional course in all such matters, perceived that it was impossible for the Imperial Government to legislate upon the question without the consent or request of the people of these colonies.

Accordingly they added the preamble declaring that ” whereas the people of Canada. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick desire to be federally united, &c.” That statute could not have been placed before the Imperial Parliament unless it had these words in it, for it would be unconstitutional unless the people of these colonies had testified their assent to it. Therefore the preamble being false, the statute is unconstitutional and falls to the ground.

The resolutions go on to say that the people were not only not consulted, but that they were purposely and designedly prevented from being consulted. Is not that a true statement ? What did the House of Assembly, who recently set upon these benches, with no great credit to them, do in the month of March last? When it was moved that the people of Nova Scotia had a right to be consulted at the polls, whether they would consent to be confederated or not. that resolution was negatived by 32 against 10 representatives of the people. Whose servants were these 32 persons ? The servants of the Executive Council ; they ignored the authority of the people, and said that the constitution of Nova Scotia belonged to Dr. Tupper and a few others. Then I think we have asserted strictly in accordance with the fact that the people of Nova Scotia were systematically and perseveringly kept from passing upon the subject of confederation.

We have also stated with truth that the last election turned entirely upon confederation. I have heard men venture to assert that other issues entered into that election, but men who say this will state anything. No man living before or during the election, can venture to deny the fact that confederation was the great question which excited the people from one end of the province to the other. Now there is another clause which tells us that these colonies were, in the opinion of the people of Nova Scotia, united to each other by a connection better and superior to that of any confederation that could be devised even upon the fairest and wisest terms. I believe that to be literally true. It is a matter of political opinion. I have always thought that the system of confederation was the worst by which we could be united. It is impossible so to regulate the conflicting interests of the different countries in a manner that will prevent conflicts and difficulties arising. If you leave to the several countries their individuality and allow them to retain their local legislatures whilst you attempt to combine them at the same time under one general head, the experiment will be fatal — in time it must and will end in civil war and the shedding of blood. I believe that has been the experience of the world with respect to confederation. The provinces have now five governments instead of three. If they were really united they would be stronger, inasmuch as the whole is stronger than the parts, they would have one head, one legislature, one revenue, one set of laws, one tariff. On the other hand, for the reasons I have previously given the system of confederation is, in reality, the worst that could be devised for these Colonies, if the wish is to promote harmony and prosperity among them. ‘

We shall pass these resolutions, and we may, if necessary, add one or two more; and when we have done so, it is the design of the Government and House to send Delegates to England as soon as we can, to submit to the Queen an humble Address, embracing the substance of these resolutions ; and I have much pleasure in announcing, so far as I am able to judge, my belief and conviction that the Delegation cannot possibly fail of success.


“Speeches delivered by Hon. Martin I. Wilkins, (attorney general) in the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia, session 1868, on resolutions relative to repeal of the “British North America Act, 1867”. Wilkins, Martin I. (Martin Isaac), 1804-1881. https://archive.org/details/cihm_23507

A State of the Title of the Massachusetts-Bay, March – May 1774

“Octr. 3d. of Wm. & Mary King William and Queen Mary, by their Letters Patents, reciting the aforesaid Grant to the Council of Plymouth, and their aforesaid Indenture to Sir Henry Roswell and others, and also the aforesaid Letters Patents of King Charles the first, and the Bounds both in the said Indenture and Charter, did upon the Petition of several Persons employed as Agents, in behalf of said Colony of Massachusetts Bay, of their the said King and Queens Special Grace, certain Knowledge and mere Motion, will and ordain “That the Territories and Colonies commonly called or known by the Names of the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay, and Colony of New Plymouth the Province of Main, the Territory called Accada or Nova Scotia; and all that Tract of Land lying between the said Territories of Nova Scotia, and the said Province of Main, be erected, united and incorporated And their said Majestys did “by those Presents unite, erect and incorporate the same into one real Province by the Name of our Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England And their said Majestys did, in and by said Letters Patents, “give and grant unto [unfinished]”

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/06-02-02-0007-0005

I. Charles Phelps’ State of His Case, March – May 1774

“For the Discussion whereof it may not be amiss to premiss the following Facts.

Cabot. H. 7 1st. The Continent of N. America was discovered by one Sebastian Cabot1 in Behalf of the English Crown in the Reign of H. 7. under Commission from him from the 40th to 67th deg. N. Lat. within which Limits, the Land under Consideration and the whole Government of Mass. Bay lieth. The Truth whereof it is supposed None will contradict.

1606. J. 1st. 2. In 1606. K. James the first, of England, granted all the Continent from 34 to 45 Deg. of Northerly Lat. which he divided into two Colonies, the Southern Virginia to certain Merchants of London, the Northern, N. England to Merchants of Plymouth in the County of Devon in England.

1607 3. In 1607. Some of the Patentees of the Northern Colony, began a Settlement at Sagadahoc, George Popham President. He died soon. Seven other eminent officers came over with him and about 100 People more, to settle the Country. The Winter being hard and 1608 severe, what survived returned to England in 1608 and so the design of settling the Country by them was at an End, and it seems none did much in reviving the design of settling for 9 or 10 years after. But

1620 4. In 1620 Novr. 3d. King James made a new Patent incorporating the Adventurers to the Northern Colony, by the Name of the Council of Plymouth for the settling, or Planting, Ruling, ordering and governing New England in America, and to their Successors and Assigns all that Part of America lying and being in Breadth from 40 deg. of Northerly Lat. from the Equinoctial Line to the 48 deg. of N. Lat. inclusively and in Length of and within all the Breadth aforesaid throughout, all the main Land from Sea to Sea, together with all the firm Lands &c. which includes the whole of the above first described Lands, and all other the Lands, within the Limits of the Bay Province in its first utmost Dimensions, equally.

1628 5. The Council of Plymouth, A.D. 1628 made a Grant of the same Lands above at first described with all the other Lands, in the last mentioned Province (i.e.) the Bay Province), of which them Lands are Part, Roswell & Young unto Sir Henry Roswell and Sir John Young Knights and four others, named in the Grant, and to their Heirs and Assigns and to their Associate forever by their Deed indented of Bargain and Sale for valuable Consideration under their common Seal as a Corporate Body Politick, who undertook to see to the Settlement of New England in America, the Patentees having engaged to accomplish it, as the meritorious Consideration of the Deed, at the Expence of the Adventurers without any Cost and Charge of the English Crown to enlarge the British Empire, populate so great a Territory in such a distant and remote Part of the Kings Dominions, the Atlantic 1000 Leagues lying between, a vast Number of Savage Barbarous Indians to encounter and Subdue all at their own Expence, to do and perform all which seems to have been the great Object in View both by the Royal Granter of the Premisses to said Council and the said Council’s in their Grant by their said Indenture to said Roswell and his associates above mentioned being six Grantees in the whole.

1629. March 4. Car. 1. 6. Who having joined 20 more Associates with the Six Grantees mentioned in the Deed indented as aforesaid, the Year following viz. 4 March 1629, they obtained a confirmatory Corporation Grant of the same Land, to themselves and their Heirs and assigns, included in the said Deed indented, the Northern Boundary whereof is expressed, “Three Miles northward of Merrimack River, or to the Northward of any and every Part thereof, and East and West bounded from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, within which Limits the Lands first mentioned are all included.

1684. Q. whether this Decree affected Roswells Indenture. 7. That Patent of King Charles the first was vacated in 1684.

8. The Inhabitants of the Massachusetts Bay Province was Re-incorporated by a Charter of King William and Queen Mary A.D. 1691. with new Plymouth and other Colonies, by which all the Lands at first described, were granted and confirmed to the said Inhabitants and their Successors, and infranchised with the Powers of Government and impowered to make Grants of the Lands, within the Same, not before by them granted, in Consequence whereof.”

“About the Year 1718 Captn. Coram formed a Scheme for obtaining a Grant from the Crown of the Appendix to the Votes of the House 1762 Page 9. Lands bet. Nova Scotia and the Province of Main and a Petition was signed by Wm. Armstrong and divers others praying such Grant might be made to them. The Petition being referred to the then Solicitor General, part of his Report thereon was a[s] follows “The King cannot make a Grant of these Lands, the Crown having already devested itself of its Rights.””

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/06-02-02-0007-0002

Commission and Instructions to the Earl of Orkney for the Government of Virginia, 1715

In 1719 the Board of Trade drew up instructions for their newly installed Governor Philipps. They directed him, in the absence of a civil government yet to be established in Nova Scotia, to follow the 1715 instructions to the Earl of Orkney as governor of Virginia, which are as follows.



George R.
Our Will and Pleasure is that you prepare a Bill for our Royal Signature to pass our great Seal of Great Britain in the Words or to the Effect following.
George by the Grace of God of great Britain, France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith &c to our right Well beloved Cousin George Earl of Orkney, Greeting, We reposing Special Trust and confidence in the Prudence, Courage and Loyalty of you the said Earl of Orkney of our Special Grace Certain Knowledge and Meer Motion have thought fit to constitute and appoint.

And by these Presents do constitute and Appoint you the said Earl of Orkney to be our Lieutenant and Governor Genll of our Colony and Dominion of Virginia in America with all the rights Members & Appurtenances whatsoever thereunto belonging, and we do hereby require & Command you to do and Execute all things in due Manner that shall belong unto your said Command & the Trust we have repos’d in you According to the Several Powers and Directions granted & Appointed you by the Present Commission, And the Instructions & Authority herewith given You Or by such further Powers Instructions & Authoritys as shall at any time hereafter be granted or appointed you under our Signet and Sign Manual or by our Order in our Privy Council and according to such reasonable Laws & Statutes as are now in force or hereafter Shall be made and agreed upon by you with the Advice & Consent of our Council and Assembly of our said Colony under Your Government in such form as is hereafter Express’d.

And Our Will and Pleasure is That you the said George Earl of Orkney (after the Publication of these our Letters Patents) do in the first Place take the Oaths appointed by Act of Parliament to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy & the Oaths mention’d in an Act pass’d in the Sixth Year of her late Majesty’s Reign Intitul’d an Act for the Security of her Majesty’s Person & Government & of the Succession to the Crown of Great Britain in the Protestant Line, As also that you make and Subscribe the Declaration mention’d in an Act of Parliament made in the 25 Year of the Reign of King Charles the Second, Entituled an Act for Preventing Dangers which may happen from Popish Recusants And likewise that you take the usuall Oath for the due Execution of the Office and Trust of Our Lieuten’t and Governor Generall of our said Colony & Dominion for the due and Impartial Administration of Justice, and further that you take the Oath required to be taken by Governors of Plantations to do their utmost that the Several Laws relaing to Trade and the Plantations be observ’d, which said Oaths & Declaration our Council in our said Colony or any three of the Members thereof have hereby full Power and Authority and are required to tender and Administer unto you, & in your Absence to our Lieut Governor if there be any upon the Place all which being duly perform’d you shall Administer unto each of the Members of our said Council as also to our Lieut Governor if there be any upon the Place the Oaths appointed by Law, to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance & Supremacy, And the Oath mention’d in the said Act, Entituled an Act for the Security of her Majesty’s Person & Governm’t and of the Succession to the Crown of Great Britain in the Protestant Line, As also to Cause them to make and Subscribe the aforemention’d Declaration, And to Administer unto them the Oath for the due Execution of their Places & Trusts And we do hereby give and grant unto you full Power and Authority to suspend any of the Members of our said Council from Sitting, Voting & Assisting therein if you shall find just Cause for so doing, And if it shall at any time happen that by the Death, Departure out of our said Colony, Suspension of any of our said Councillors, or otherwise there shall be a Vacancy in Our said Council any three whereof we do hereby appoint to be a Quorum.

Our Will and Pleasure is, That you Signify the Same unto us by the first Opportunity, that we may under our Signet & Sign Manual Constitute & Appoint Others in their Stead-But that our Affairs may not Suffer (for want of a due Number of Councellors) at that distance if ever it shall happen that there be less than Nine of them residing in our said Colony-We do hereby give & grant unto you the said George Earl of Orkney full Power and Authority to chuse as many Persons out of the principal freeholders Inhabitants thereof As will make up the full Number of our said Council to be Nine & no more, which Persons so chosen & appointed by you, shall be to all intents and Purposes Councellors in our said Colony untill either they shall be confirmed by us, or that by the Nomination of others by us under our Sign Manual & Signet, our said Council shall have Nine or more Persons in it, and we do hereby give and grant unto you full Power and Authority with the advice and consent of our said Council from time to time as need shall require to Summon & call General Assemblys of the said freeholders & Planters within Your Government according to the Usage of our Colony and Dominion of Virginia, Our Will and Pleasure is, That the Persons thereupon duly Elected by the Major Part of the Freeholders of the respective Countys and Places, and so return’d shall before their Sitting take the Oaths appointed by Act of Parliament to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and the Oaths mention’d in the foresaid Act Entituled An Act for the Security of her Majesty’s Person & Government and of the Succession to the Crown of Great Britain in the Protestant Line, As also make and Subscribe the foremention’d Declaration (Which Oaths & Declaration you shall Commissionate fit Persons under our Seal of Virginia to tender and Administer the same unto them, and untill the Same shall be so taken and Subscrib’d No Person shall be capable of Sitting tho’ Elected.

And we do hereby declare that the Persons so Elected & Qualify’d Shall be call’d & Deem’d the General Assembly of that Our Colony & Dominion. And that you the said George Earl of Orkney with the Consent of our said Council & Assembly or the Major Part of them respectively shall have full Power & Authority to make, Constitute, and Ordain Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances for the Publick Peace Welfare & good Government of our said Colony, & of the People and Inhabitants thereof, and such others who shall resort thereunto, and for the benefit of us our Heirs & Successors-Which said Laws Statutes & Ordinances are not to be repugnant but as near as may be agreeable to the Laws and Statutes of this our Kingdom of Great Britain- Provided that all such Laws Statutes & Ordinances of what Nature or duration soever be within three Months or Sooner after the making thereof, transmitted unto us under our Seal of Virginia for our Approbation or disallowance of the Same, as also duplicates thereof by the next Conveyance.

And in Case any or all of the said Laws Statutes & Ordinances not before confirm’d by us, shall at any time be disapprov’d & not allow’d, & so signify’d by Us our heirs and Successors, under our or their Sign Manual or Signet, or by Order of our or their Privy Council unto you the said George Earl of Orkney, or to the Commander in Chief of our said Colony for the time being then such and so many of the said Laws Statutes & Ordinances as shall be so disallow’d and disapprov’d, shall from thenceforth Cease determine and become utterly void, and of None Effect, anything to the Contrary thereof Notwithstanding.


And to the End that nothing may be pass’d or done by our said Council or Assembly to the Prejudice of us our Heirs & Successors, We will & Ordain that you the said George Earl of Orkney shall have & enjoy a Negative Voice in making & passing all Laws Statutes & Ordinances as aforesaid.
And you shall & may likewise from time to time as you shall Judge it Necessary Adjourn Prorogue & Dissolve all General Assemblys as aforesaid. Our farther Will & Pleasure is, That you shall and may keep and Use the Publick Seal of our

Colony of Virginia for Sealing all things whatsoever that pass the great Seal of our said Colony of Virginia. And we do further give & Grant unto you the said George Earl of Orkney from time to time and at any time hereafter by your self or by any other to be Authorized by you in that behalf to Administer & give the Oaths appointed by Act of Parliament to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance & Supremacy to all and every such Person or Persons as you shall think fit, who shall at any time or times pass into our said Colony or shall be resident or abiding there.

And we do by these presents give & and grant unto you the said George Earl of Orkney full Power & Authority with the Advice & Consent of our said Council to erect Constitute & Establish such & so many Courts of Judicature & Publick Justice within our said Colony & Dominion, as you & they shall think fitt & Necessary for the hearing & Determining of all Causes as well Criminal as Civil according to Law & Equity & for awarding of Execution thereupon with all reasonable & Necessary Powers & Authoritys, fees, & Privileges belonging thereunto.

As also to Appoint & Commissionate fit Persons in the Several Parts of your Government to Administer the Oaths appointed by Act of Parliament to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance & Supremacy & the Oaths mention’d in the foresaid Act Entituled An Act for the Security of her Majestys Person & Government, and of the Succession to the Crown of Great Britain in the Protestant Line. And also to tender & Administer the aforesaid Declaration unto Such Persons belonging to the said Courts as shall be oblig’d to take the Same. And we do hereby Authorize & impower you to Constitute and Appoint Judges.

And in Cases requisite Commissioners of Oyer & Terminer Justices of the Peace & other Necessary Officers & Ministers in our said Colony for the better administration of Justice & putting the Laws in Execution And to Administer or Cause to be Administer’d unto them Such Oath or Oaths as are usually given for the due Execution & Performance of Officers & Places, and for the Clearing of truth in Judicial Cases. And we do hereby give & grant unto you full Power & Authority where you shall see Cause or shall

Judge any Offender or Offenders in Criminal Matters or for any fines or forfeitures due unto us, fit Objects of our Mercy to Pardon all such Offenders, and to remit all such Offences fines & forfeitures, Treason & Wilful Murder only Excepted, in which Cases you shall likewise have Power upon Extra- ordinary Occasions to grant Reprieves to the Offenders untill & to the Intent our Royal Pleasure may be known therein.

And we do by these Presents Authorize & Impower you to Collate any Person or Persons to any Churches, Chappels, or any other Ecclesiastical Benefices within Our said Colony as often as any of them shall happen to be void, And we do hereby give & grant unto you the said George Earl of Orkney by Your Self or by your Captains & Commanders by you to be Authorized full Power & Authority to Levy, Arm, Muster, Command & Employ all Persons whatsoever residing within our said Colony & Dominion of Virginia, And as Occasion shall Serve to march from one Place to another, and to Embark them for the resisting & with standing of all Enemys, Pirates, & Rebels both at Sea & Land, And to Transport such Forces to any of our Plantations in America if Necessity shall require for the Defense of the same against the Invasion or Attempt of any of our Enemies, And such Enemies Pirates & Rebels (if there shall be Occasion) to Pursue & Prosecute in or out of the Limits of our said Colony & Plantations or any of them.

And if it shall Please God them to Vanquish Apprehend & take, & being taken according to Law to put to Death, or keep & preserve alive at your Discretion. And to Execute Martial Law in time of Invasion, Insurrection, or War. And to do & Execute all & every other thing & things, which to our Lieutenant & Governor General doth or ought of right to belong. And we do hereby give & grant unto you full Power & Authority by & with the Consent & Advice of our said Council of Virginia to erect raise & build in our said Colony & Dominion Such & so many Forts & Platforms, Castles, Cities, Burroughs, Towns & Fortifications as you by the Advice aforesaid shall Judge Necessary, And the same or any of them to Fortifie & furnish with Ordnance, Ammunition & all Sorts of Arms, fit & Necessary for the Security & Defence of our said Colony And by the Advice aforesaid the same again or any of them to demolish or dismantle as may be most Convenient.

And forasmuch as divers Mutinies & disorders may happen by Persons Ship’t & employ’d at Sea during the time of War. And to the End that Such as are Shipped & Employ’d at Sea during the time of War, may be better Govern’d & Order’d, we do hereby give & grant unto you the said George Earl of Orkney full Power & Authority, to Constitute and appoint Captains, Lieutenants, Masters of Ships and other Commanders and Officers. And to grant to such Captains, Lieut’s, Masters of Ships and other Commanders & Officers, Commissions to Execute the Law Martial during the time of War.

And to the Use such Proceedings, Authorities, Punishments, Corrections & Executions upon any Offender or Offenders, who shall be Mutinous, Seditious, disorderly, or unruly either at Sea, or during the time of their abode or residence in any of the Ports, Harbors, or Bays of our said Colony and Dominion as the Cause shall be found to require according to Martial Law during the time of War as aforesaid Provided that nothing herein contained shall be Construed to the Enabling you or any by Your Authority to hold Plea or have any Jurisdiction of any Offence, Cause, Matter, or thing Committed or done upon the high Seas or within any of the Havens, Rivers or Creeks of our said Colony and Dominion under your Government by any Captain, Commander, Lieut, Master, Officer, Seaman, Soldier or Person whatsoever, who shall be in Actual Service and Pay in or on board any of our Ships of War or other Vessels Acting by immediate Commission or Warrant from our Commissioners for Executing the Office of our high Admiral, or from Our high Admiral of Great Britain for the time being under the Seal of our Admiralty But that such Captain, Commander, Lieut, Master, Officer, Seaman, Soldier, or other Person so Offending shall be left to be proceeded against & try’d as their Offences shall require, either by Com- mission under our great Seal of Great Britain as the Statute of the 28th of Henry the 8th directs, or by Commission from our said Commissioners for Executing the Office of our high Admiral, or from our high Admiral of Great Britain for the time being, According to the Act of Parliament passed in the 13th Year of the Reign of King Charles the Second Entituled an Act for the Establishing Articles & Orders for the Regulating & better Government of his Majesty’s Navys, Ships of War & forces by Sea and not otherwise.

Provided Nevertheless that all Misdemeanors & disorders committed on Shore by any Capt., Commander, Lieut, Master, Officer, Seaman, Soldier or other Person whatsoever, belonging to our Ships of War or other Vessels Acting by immediate Commission or Warrant from our Commissioners for Executing the Office of high Admirall, or from our high Admiral of Great Britain for the time being, under our Seal of our Admiralty, may be try’d and Punished according to the Law of the Place where any such Disorders, Offences or Misdemeanors shall be committed on Shore Notwithstanding such Offender be in our Actual Service and Born in our Pay, on board any such our Ships of War, or other Vessels Acting by immediate Commission or Warrant from our Commissioners for Executing the Office of high Admiral, or from our high Admiral of great Britain for the time being as aforesaid, So as he shall not receive any Protection for the avoiding of Justice for such Offences Com- mitted on Shore, from any Pretence of his being employ’d in our Service at Sea, And our further Will and Pleasure is, That all Publick Moneys rais’d or which shall be rais’d by any Act hereafter to be made within our said Colony be issued out by Warrant from You by and with the Advice and Consent of the Council and disposed of by you for the Support of the Government, And not otherwise And we do likewise give & grant unto you full Power and Authority, by and with the Advice & consent of our said Council to Settle and Agree with the Inhabitants of our Colony & Dominion aforesaid for such Lands Tenements & Hereditaments as now are, or hereafter shall be in our Power to dispose of And them to grant to any such Person or Persons, & upon such terms, & under such Moderate Quitrents, Services & Acknowledgments to be thereupon reserv’d unto us, as you by & with the Advice aforesaid shall think fit, which said Grants are to pass and be Seal’d with our Seal of Virginia, And being entered on Record by such Officer or Officers as shall be Appointed thereunto, shall be good & Effectual in Law against us our heirs & Successors And we do hereby Give unto you the said George Earl of Orkney full Power to Order & appoint Fairs, Marts, & Markets, as also such & so many Ports, harbors, Bays, Havens, & other Places for Conveniency & Security of Shipping, and for the better loading & unloading of Goods & Merchandize, as you with the Advice & Consent of the said Council shall think fit & Necessary.

And We do hereby require and Command all Officers & Ministers Civil & Military, and all other Inhabitants of our said Colony & Dominion to be obedient aiding & assisting unto you the said George Earl of Orkney in the Execution of this our Commission, and of the Powers & Authioities herein con- tain’d, & in Case of your Death or Absence out of our said Colony to be obedient aiding & Assisting unto such person as shall be appointed by us to be our Lieut Govemour or Commander in Chief of our said Colony To whom we do thereby these Presents Give & Grant all & Singular the Powers & Authorities herein granted to be by him Executed & Enjoy’d during our Pleasure, or untill your Arrival within our said Colony-If upon your Death or Absence out of our said Colony there be no Person upon the Place commissionated or appointed by us to be our Lieut Governor or Commander in Chief of the said Colony Our Will and Pleasure is, That the Eldest Councellor whose Name is first Plac’d in our said Instructions to you, and who shall be at the time of your Death or Absence, residing within our said Colony & Dominion of Virginia, shall take upon him the Administration of the Govemnent, and Execute our said Commission & Instructions, And the Several Powers & Authorities therein Contained, in the Same Manner, And to all Intents & Purposes as other our Governor or Commander in Chief shou’d or ought to do in Case of your Absence until your Return, or in all Cases untill our further Pleasure be known therein, And We do hereby declare, Ordain, and Appoint that You the said George Earl of Orkney, shall and may hold, Execute & Enjoy, the Office and Place of our Lieut & Governor General of our said Colony & Dominion with all its Rights Members & Appurtenances whatsoever together with all & Singular the Powers & Authoritys hereby Granted unto you, for & during our Will & Pleasure, Lastly we have revoked Determin’d & made Void

And by these Presents do revoke Determine & make Void certain Letters Patents Granted by her late Majesty Queen Anne unto you the said George Earl of Orkney for the Government of our said Colony & Dominion of Virginia under the Great Seal of Great Britain bearing Date at Westminster the day of in the Year of her said late Majesty’s Reign And every Clause, Article & thing therein Contain’d, In Witness whereof we have caused these our Letters to be made Patents.

Witness Our Self at Westminster the day of in the first Year of our Reign. And for so doing this shall be your Warrant Given at our Court at St. James the 15th day of January 1714 in the first Year of our Reign.


GEORGE R.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR OUR RIGHT TRUSTY & RIGHT WELL BELOVED COUSIN GEORGE EARL OF ORKNEY OUR LIEUTENANT & GOVERNOR GENERAL OF OUR COLONY & DOMINION OF VIRGINIA IN AMERICA.
And in his Absence to the Lieutenant Governor or Commander in Chief of our said Colony for the time being, Given at our Court at St James’s the 15th day of April 1715 in the first Year of our Reign.

  1. With these our Instructions you will receive our Commission under our Great Seal of Great Britain, Constituting you our Lieutenant & Governour General of our Colony & Dominion of Virginia in America.
  2. You are therefore to fit your self with all convenient speed & to repair to our said Colony of Virginia, And being there Arriv’d, You are to take upon you the Execution of the Place & Trust we have repos’d in You. And forthwith to Call together the Members of Our Council for Our Colony and Do- minion, by Name, Viz. Edmund Jennings, Robt. Carter, James Blair, Phillip Ludwell, John Lewis, William Byrd, William Basset, Nat Harrison, Mann Page, Dudley Digges, Peter Beverley and John Robinson Esq”.
  3. And You are with due and Usual Solemnity to Cause our said Commission under our great Seal of Great Britain Constituting You our Lieutenant and Governor General of our said Colony & Dominion, to be read and Publish’d at the said meeting of our Council.
  4. Which being done you shall yourself take-and also Administer unto each of the Members of Our Councill, As well the Oaths Appointed by Act of Parliament to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance & Supremacy, And the Oath mention’d in an Act pass’d in the Sixth Year of her late Majesty’s Reign Entituled An Act for the Security of her Majesty’s Person and Government and of the Succession to the Crown of Great Britain in the Protestant Line, as also to make and Subscribe, & cause the Members of our Council to make and Subscribe the Declaration Mentioned in our Act of Parliament made in the 25th Year of the Reign of King Charles the Second, Entituled, an Act for Preventing Dangers which may happen from Popish Recusants, And you and every of them are likewise to take an Oath for the due Execution of Your and their Places and Trusts, as well with regard to your and their equal and Impartial Administration of Justice, and you are also to take the Oath required to be taken by Governors of Plantations to do their Utmost that the Laws relating to the Plantations be observ’d.
  5. You are forthwith to Communicate unto our said Council Such & so many of these our Instructions wherein their Advice and Consent are Mention’d to be requisite, as likewise all such others from time to time as you shall find Convenient for our Service to be imparted to them.
  6. You are to permit the Members of our Said Council of Virginia, to have and enjoy freedom of Debate, and Vote in all Affairs of Publick Concern, that may be Debated in Council.
  7. And also by our Commission aforesaid, we have thought fitt to direct that any three of our Councelors make a Quorum, It is Nevertheless Our Will and Pleasure that you do not Act without a Quorum of less than five Members unless upon Extraordinary Emergencies when a greater Number cannot be conveniently had..
  8. And that we may be always informed of the Names & Characters of Persons fit to Supply the Vacancies that shall happen in Our said Council, You are to transmit unto us by one of our Principal Secretarys of State And to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations with all Convenient Speed the Names and Characters of Twelve Persons Inhabitants of our said Colony, whom you shall esteem the best qualifi’d for that Trust, and so from time to time when any of them shall dye, depart out of our said Colony, or become otherwise unfit, You are to Nominate so many others in their Stead, that the list of twelve Persons fit to Supply the said Vacancys may be always Compleat.
  1. You are from time to time to send unto us as aforesaid & to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, the Name or Names and Quality’s of any Member or Members by you put into our said Council, by the first Conveniency after your so doing.
  2. And in the Choice and Nomination of the Members of our said Council, as also of the Chief Officers, Judges, Assistants, Justices and Sheriffs, You are always to take Care that they be Men of good Life & well Affected to our Government, and of Good Estates, and Abilities, and not Necessitous People, or much in debt.
  3. You are neither to Augment nor diminish the Number of our said Council as it is hereby Established, Nor to Suspend any of the Members thereof without good and Sufficient Cause nor without the Consent and Majority of the said Council, And in case of Suspension of any, You are to Cause your Reasons for so doing, together with the Charges and Proofs, against the said Persons, and their Answer thereunto, (Unless you have some Extraordinary Reason to the Contrary) to be duly enter’d upon the Council Books, And you are forthwith to transmit the same together with your Reasons for not Entring them upon the Council Books (in Case you do not Enter them) unto us, And to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations as aforesaid.
  4. You are to Signify our Pleasure unto the Members of our said Council, that if any of them shall hereafter absent themselves from our said Colony, and continue absent above the Space of Twelve Months together without leave from you, or from the Commander in Chief for the time being, first Obtain’d or shall remain absent for the Space of Two Years or the greater Part thereof Successively without our Leave given them under our Royal Sign Manual their Place or Places in our said Council shall immediately thereupon become Void, & that we will forthwith appoint others in their Stead.
  1. And whereas we Subscribe that Effectual care ought to be taken to Oblige the Members of Our said Council to a due Attendance therein, in order to prevent the many Inconveniences that may happen from the Want of a Quorum of the Council to Transact Business as Occasion may require IT IS OUR WILL AND PLEASURE that if any of the Members of the said Council shall hereafter Wilfully absent themselves when duly Summon’d without a just and Lawfull Cause, And shall persist therein after Admonition, You Suspend the said Councellors so absenting them till Our further Pleasure be known, Giving us timely Notice thereof, And We hereby Will and require you that this our Royall Pleasure be Signify’d to the Several Members of our Council aforesaid, and that it be enter’d in the Council Book of our said Colony as a standing Rule.
  2. You are to observe in the Passing of Laws that the Stile of Enacting the Same be by the Governor Council & Assembly and no other. You are as much as Possible to Observe in the Passing of all Laws that whatever may be requisite upon each different Matter be accordingly provided for by a different Law without intermixing in One & the Same Act such things as have no Proper relation to each other. And You are more Especially to take Care that no Clause or Clauses be Inserted in or Annext to any Act which shall be foreign to what the Title of such respective Act imports, & that no perpetual Clause be part of any Temporary Law, and that no Act whatever be Suspended, Alter’d, Reviv’d, Confirm’d or Repeal’d by General Words but that the Title & Date of such Act so Suspended, Alter’d, Reviv’d Confirm’d or Repealed be Par- ticularly Mention’d & Expressed.
  3. You are also to take Care that no Private Act be pass’d in which there is not a Saving Us Our Heirs & Successors all Bodys Politick or Corporate & of all other Persons except such as are mention’d in the Act.
  1. And Whereas great Mischief may Arise by Passing Bills of an Unusual & Extraordinary Nature & Importance in the Plantations which Bill remain in force there from the time of Enacting untill Our Pleasure be Signify’d to the Contrary, We do hereby Will and Require you not to Pass or give Your Consent hereafter to any Bill or Bills in the Assembly of our said Colony of unusual and Extraordinary Nature & Importance, Wherein our Prerogative or property of our Subjects may be prejudiced, without having either first Transmitted to us the Draught of such a Bill or Bills and our having Signinify’d our Royal Pleasure or that you take Care in the Passing of any Act of unusual and Extraordinary Nature that there be a Clause inserted therein Suspending and deferring the Execution thereof Untill our further Pleasure be known concerning the said Act to the End our Prerogative may not Suffer & that Our Subjects may not have reason to complain of hardships put upon them on the like Occasions.
  2. You are to transmit Authentick Copies of all Laws Statutes and Ordinances that are now made and in force which have not yet been sent, or which at any time hereafter shall be made or Enacted within our said Colony each of them Seperately under the Publick Seal unto Us & to our Commissioners for Trade & Plantations within three Months or by the first Opportunity after their being Enacted together with Duplicates thereof by the next Conveyance upon Pain of our highest displeasure and of the forfeit of that Years Salary Wherein you shall at any time upon any Pretence Whatsoever omit to send over the said Laws Statutes & Ordinances aforesaid within the time above limitted as also of such other Penalty as we shall Please to inflict But if it shall happen that during the time of War No shipping shall come from our said Colony within three Months after the Making such Laws Statutes and Ordinances whereby the same may be transmit- ted as aforesaid then the said Laws Statutes & Ordinances are to be transmitted as aforesaid by the next conveyance after the making thereof whenever it may happen for our Approbation or disallowance of the same
  1. And Our further Will and Pleasure is That in every Act which shall be transmitted there be the Several Dates & Respective times when the Same Pass’d the Assembly The Council and receiv’d your Assent, And you are to be as Particular as may be in your Observations to be sent to our Commissioners for Trade & Plantations upon every Act, that is to say whether the same is Introductive of a New Law Declaratory of a former Law, or does repeal a Law then before in being and you are likewise to send to our said Commissioners the Reasons for the Passing of such Law unless the same do fully appear in the Preamble of the said Act.
  2. And Whereas it hath been represented that the Taxes which have been levied by Poll within our said Colony have been heavy and burthensome unto our Subjects there, You are to recommend to the General Assembly the Consideration and Settling such a way for raising Money upon Necessary Occasions as shall be more equal and Acceptable to our subjects there than the Method of Levying by Poll and Titheables.
  3. And it having been further represented that a Duty to be raised upon Liquors Imported into our said Colony would be the most easy Means that can be found out for the better Support of that Government, You are therefore to recommend to the Assembly the raising of such Impost & continuance of the same, which you shall Permit them to Appropriate in such Manner that it be apply’d to the Uses of the Government and to None Other whatsoever.
  1. You are to take Care that in all Acts or Orders to be Pass’d within that our Colony in any Case for Levying Money or Imposing fines & Penalties express mention be made that the Same is Granted or reserv’d to Us Our Heirs and Successors for the Publick Uses of that Our Colony, and the Support of the Government thereof, as by the said Act or Order Shall be directed.
  2. Whereas we have been inform’d that during the late War Intelligence has been had in France of the State of our Plantations by letters from private Persons to their Correspondents in great Britain taken on board Ships coming from the Plantations and carry’d into France which may be of Dangerous consequence OUR WILL & PLEASURE is that you Signify to all Merchants Planters and Others that they be very Cautious in time of War whenever that shall happen in giving any Account by Letters of the Publick State and Condition of our Colony & Dominion of Virginia, and You are further to give directions to all Masters of Ships or Other Persons to whom you may Intrust your Letters that they put Such Letters into a Bagg, with Sufficient Weight to Sink the Same immediadiately in Case of Iminent Danger from the Enemy, and you are also to let the Merchants and Planters know how greatly it is for their Interest that their Letters shou’d not fall into the hands of the Enemy and therefore that they shou’d give the like Orders to the Masters of Ships in relation to their Letters; And you are further to advise all Masters of Ships that they do Sink all Letters in Case of Danger in the Manner aforesaid.
  3. And Whereas in the late War the Merchants and Planters in the West Indies did Correspond and Trade with the French and Carry Intelligence to them to the great Prejudice and Hazard of the British Plantations, You are therefore by all Possible Methods to endeavour to hinder all such Trade and Correspondence with the French whose Strength in the West Indies gives very Just Apprehensions of the Mischiefs that may ensue if the utmost Care be not taken to prevent them.
  4. And Whereas Several Inconveniencies have Arisen to Our Government in the Plantations by Gifts and Presents made to our Governors by the General Assembly IT IS OUR EXPRESS WILL AND PLEASURE that neither you our Govemor Lieutenant Governor Commander in Chief or President in the Council of our Colony of Virginia for the time being do give your or their Consent to the Passing any Law or Act for any Gift or Present to be made to you or them by the Assembly and that neither you nor they do receive any Gifts or Presents from the Assembly or others on any Account; or in any Manner whatsoever upon Pain of our highest displeasure and of being recall’d from that our Government.
  5. And we do further direct and require that this declaration of our Royal Will and Pleasure be Communicated to the Assembly at their first Meeting after your arrival in that Colony and Enter’d in the Registers of our Council and Assembly that all Persons whom it may concern may govern themselves accordingly.
  6. And Whereas we are Willing in the best Manner to provide for the Support of the Government in Virginia by Setting a Part a Sufficient allowance to such as shall be our Lieutenant Governor or Commander in Chief residing for the time being within the Same OUR WILL AND PLEASURE THERE FORE IS That when it shall happen that you shall absent yourself from Our said Colony, one full Moiety of the Salary & of all Perquisites & Emoluments whatsoever which wou’d otherwise become due unto you shall during the time of your Absence from the said Colony be paid and Satisfy’d unto Such Lieut. Governor, or Commander in Chief or President of our Council who shall be resident upon the place for the time being, which we do hereby Order and allot to him towards his Maintenance and for the better Support of the Dignity of our Government.
  7. And Whereas great Prejudice may happen to our Service and to the security of that Colony by your Absence from those Parts without Sufficient Cause & Especial Leave from us for Prevention thereof You are not upon any Pretence whatsoever to come to Europe from your Government without having first Obtain’d leave for so doing from us under Our Sign Manual and Signet or by our Order in our Privy Council, Yet Neverthe- less in Case of Sickness you may go to New York or any other of our Neighbouring Plantations and there stay for such a Space of time as the recovery of your Health may absolutely require.
  8. You are not to Permit any Clause whatsoever to be inserted in any Law for Levying Money or the Value of Money whereby the same shall not be made lyable to be accounted for unto us here in Great Britain and to our Commissioners of our Treasury or Our High Treasurer for the time being.
  1. And We do particularly require and Enjoin you upon Pain of Our Highest displeasure to take care that fair Books of Accounts of all Receipts and Payments of all such Money be duly kept and the truth thereof Attested upon Oath, And that the said Book be transmitted every half Year or Oftener to our Commissioners of our Treasury or to our high Treasurer for the time being and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations and Duplicates thereof by the next Conveyance in which Books shall be Specify’d every Particular Sum rais’d or dispos’d of together with the Names of the Persons to whom any Payment shall be made to the End we may be Satisfy’d of the Right and due Application of the Revenues of our Said Colony.
  2. You are not to Suffer any Publick money whatsoever to be issued or Dispos’d of otherways than by Warrant under your hand by and with the Advice of our said Council, But the Assembly may nevertheless be permitted from time to time to View & Examine the Accounts of Money or Value of Money dispos’d of by Vertue of Laws made by them, which you are to Signify unto them as there shall be Occasion.
  3. AND IT IS OUR EXPRESS WILL AND PLEASURE that no Law for raising any Imposition on Wines and other Strong Liquors be made to Continue for less than one whole Year as also that all other Laws whatsoever for the good Government and Support of the said Colony be made Indefinite and without Limitation of time except the Same be for a Temporary end and which shall expire and have its full Effect within a Certain time.
  4. AND THEREFORE you Shall not Re-Enact any Law which hath or Shall have been once Enacted there Except upon very Urgent Ocassions, but in no Case more than once without our Express consent.
  1. You shall take Care that an Act Pass’d here in the Sixth Year of the Reign of her late Majesty Queen Anne for Ascertaining the Rates of foreign Coins in our Plantations in America be daily observ’d and put in Execution.
  2. And You are particularly not to pass any Law, or do any Act, by Grant Settlement or Otherwise whereby our Revenue may be lessen’d or Impair’d without our Especial leave or Command therein.
  3. You shall take Care that the Members of the Assembly be Elected only by Freeholders as being more agreeable to the Custom of this Kingdom to which you are as near as may be to Conform yourself.
  4. You shall reduce the Salary of the Members of the Assembly to such a Moderate Proportion as may be no grievence to the Country wherein Nevertheless you are to use your discretion, so as no inconvenience may arise thereby.
  5. Whereas an Act has been Pass’d in Virginia on 16 April in the Year 1684 Entitled an Act for Altering the time of holding General Courts, You are to Propose to the Next Assembly (if the Same be not already done) that a clause be added to the said Act whereby it may be provided that the Power of Appointing Courts to be held at any time whatsoever remain in you or the Commander in Chief of that our said Colony for the time being.
  6. You shall not remit any fines or forfeitures whatsoever above the Sum of Ten Pounds, nor dispose of any Escheats fines or forfeitures whatsoever until upon Signifying unto our Commissioners of our Treasury, or Our high Treasurer for the time being, and to our Commissoners for Trade and Plantations, the Nature of the Offence and the Occasion of such fines forfeitures or Escheats with the Particular Sums or Value thereof which you are to do with all Speed Until you shall have receiv’d our Directions therein, But you may in the mean time Suspend the Payment of the said Fines and Forfeitures.
  7. You are to require the Secretary of our Said Colony or his Deputy for the time being to furnish you with Transcripts of all such Acts and Publick Orders as shall be made from time to time together with a Copy of the Journals of the Council to the end the same transmitted Unto us, and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations as above directed, which he is duly to perform upon Pain of incurring the Forfeiture of his Place.
  1. You are also to require from the Clerk of the Assembly or other Proper Officer Transcripts of all the Journals and other Proceedings of the said Assembly to the end the same may in like manner be transmitted as aforesaid.
  2. You are likewise to send a list of all Officers Employ’d under your Government together with all Publick Charges, and an Account of the Present Revenue with the Probability of the Increase or Diminution of it under every head or Article thereof.
  3. You shall not displace any of the Judges, Justices, Sherifs or other Officers or Ministers within our said Colony without good and Sufficient cause to be Signified to us and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.
  4. And to prevent Arbitrary removals of Judges and Justices of the Peace You are not to express any Limitation of time in the Commissions which you are to Grant (with the Advice and Consent of our said Council) to Persons fit for those Employments nor shall you Execute by yourself or Deputy any of the said Offices nor Suffer any Person to Execute more Offices than One by Deputy.
  5. Whereas there are Several Offices within our said Colony Granted under our Great Seal of this Kingdom and that our Service may be very much prejudiced by reason of the absence of the Patentees and by their Appointing Deputies not fit to Officiate in their Stead You are therefore to Inspect the said Offices and to Enquire into the Capacity and behaviour of the Persons now Exercising them, and to Report thereupon to us and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations what you think fit to be done or Alter’d in relation thereunto, & you are upon the Misbehaviour of any of the said Patentees or their Deputies to Suspend them from the Execution of their Places till you shall have represented the whole Matter and receive our Directions therein, and in Case of the Suspension of any such Officer IT IS OUR EXPRESS WILL AND PLEASURE that you take Care that the Person appointed to Execute the place during such Suspension do give Sufficient Security to the Person Suspended to be answerable to him for the Pro- fits accruing during such Suspension in Case we shall think fit to restore him to his Place again But you shall not by Colour of any Power or Authority hereby or Otherwise Granted or mention’d to be Granted unto you take upon you to give Grant Dispose of any Office or Place within our said Colony which now is or shall be Granted under the Great Seal of Great Britain any otherwise than that you may upon the Vacancy of any such Place or Office or Suspension of any such Officer by you as aforesaid put in any fit Person to Officiate in the Interval till you shall have represented the Matter unto us and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations as aforesaid, which you are to do by the first Opportunity and till the said Office or Place be dispos’d of by Us, Our Heirs or Successors under the Great Seal of Great Britain, or that our further Directions be given therein And OUR WILL AND PLEASURE is that you do Countenance and give all due Encouragement to all our Patent Officers in the Enjoyment of their Legal and Accustomed Fees, Rights, Privileges, and Emoluments according to the true Intent and meaning of their Patents.
  1. Whereas We are above all things desirous that, all Our Subjects may enjoy their Legal Rights and Properties You are to take Especial Care that if any Person be Committed for any Criminal Matters unless for Treason & Felony, plainly and Especially expressed in the Warrant of Commitment to have free Liberty to Petition by himself or otherwise the Chief Barron or any one of the Judges of the Common Pleas for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, which upon such Application shall be granted and Served on the Provost Marshall Goaler or other Officer having the Custody of such Prisoner, or shall be left at the Goal or Place where the Prisoner is confin’d and the said Provost Marshall or other Officer shall within three days after such service on the Petitioners Paying the Fees & Charges, and giving Security that he will not escape by the way make return of the Writ and Prisoner before the Judge who granted out the said Writ and there Certify the true Cause of the Imprisonment, and the said Baron or Judge shall Discharge such Prisoner taking his Recognizance and Sureties for his Appearance at the Court where the Offence is Cognizable, and Certifie the said Writ and Recognizance into the Court unless Such Offences appear to the said Baron or Judge not Bailable by the Law of England.
  1. And in Case the Said Baron or Judge shall refuse to grant a Writ of Habeas Corpus on View of the Copy of Commitment or upon Oath made of such Copy having been deny’d the Prisoner or any Person requiring the Same in his behalf or shall delay to discharge the Prisoner after the granting such Writ the said Baron or Judge shall incur the forfeiture of his Place.
  2. You are likewise to declare our Pleasure that in Case the Provost Marshal or other Officer shall Imprison any Person above Twelve Hours except by a Mittimus setting forth the Cause thereof he be removed from his said Office.
  3. And upon the Application of any Person wrongfully Committeed the Baron or Judge shall issue his Warrant to the Provost Marshall or other Officer to bring the Prisoner before him who shall be discharged without Bail or Paying Fees, & the Provost Marshall or other Officer refusing Obedience to such Warrant shall be thereupon removed, and if the said Baron or Judge denies the Warrant he shall likewise Incur the forfeit- ure of his Place.
  4. And You shall give directions that no Prisoner being set at large by an Habeas Corpus be recommitted for the said Offence but by the Court where he is bound to appear and if any Baron, Judge, Provost Marshall or other Officer contrary hereunto shall recommit such Person so Bail’d or deliver’d you are to remove him from his Place, and if the Provost Marshall or other Officer having the Custody of the Prisoner neglects to return the Habeas Corpus or refuses a Copy of the Committment within Six hours after demand made by the Prisoner or any other in his behalf shall likewise Incurr the forfeiture of his Place.
  1. And for the better Prevention of long Imprisonments you are to appoint two Courts of Oyer & Terminer to be held Yearly, Viz, on the Second Thursday in December and the Second Tuesday in June, the Charge whereof to be paid by the Publick Treasury of Our said Colony not exceeding One Hundred Pounds each Session.
  2. You are to take Care that all Prisoners in Case of Treason or Felony have free Liberty to Petition in Open Courts for their Tryals, that they be indicted at the first Court of Oyer and Terminer unless it appears upon Oath that the Witnesses against them cou’d not be produced and that they be try’d the Second Court or discharg’d and the Baron or Judge upon Motion made the last Day of the Sessions in Open Court is to Bail the Prisoners, or upon the refusal of the said Baron or Judge and Provost Marshal or Other Officer to do their respective Duties herein they shall be remov’d from their Places.
  1. Provided always that no Person be discharged out of Prison who stands Committed for Debt for any decree of Chan- cery or any Legal proceedings of any Court of Record.
  2. And for the preventing any Executions that may be made upon Prisoners, You are to declare Our Pleasure that no Baron or Judge shall receive for himself or Clerks for granting a Writ of Habeas Corpus more than Two Shillings and Six Pence and the like Sum for taking a Recognizance and that the Provost Marshall shall not receive more than five Shillings for every Commitment, One Shilling & three Pence for the Bond the Prisoner is to Sign, One Shilling & three Pence for every Copy of a Mittimus & one Shilling & three Pence for every Mile he bringeth Back the Prisoner.
  1. And further you are to Cause this our Royal Pleasure hereby Signify’d to you to be made Publick & Register’d in the Council Books of our said Colony.
  2. And Whereas Commissions have been granted unto Several Persons in our Respective Plantations in America for the trying of Pirates in those Parts pursuant to the Act for the more Effectual Suppression of Piracy and by a Commission sent to our Colony of Virginia You as our Lieutenant and Governor General of our said Colony are impower’d together with others therein mention’d to proceed accordingly in Reference to Our said Colony. Our Will and Pleasure is that in all Matters relating to Pirates You govern yourselves according to the intent of the Act and Commission aforemention’d. But as whereas Accessories in Cases of Piracy beyond the Seas are by the said Act left to be try’d in this Kingdom according to the Statute of the twenty Eighth of King Henry the Eighth we do hereby further direct and require you to send all such Accessories in Case of Piracy in Our foresaid Colony into this Kingdom with the Proper Evidences that you may have against them in Order to their being Try’d here.
    IT IS OUR FURTHER PLEASURE that no Person for the future be sent as Prisoners to this Kingdom from our said Colony and Dominion of Virginia without Sufficient Proof of their Crimes, and that Proof transmitted along with the said Prisoners.
  3. In Case any Goods Money or other Estate of Pirates or Piratically taken or brought or found within our said Colony of Virginia or taken on board any Ships or Vessels You are to Cause the same to be Seiz’d and Secur’d until You shall have given us an Account thereof and receiv’d our Pleasure Concerning the Disposal of the Same. But in Case such Goods or any Part of them are Perishable the Same shall be Publickly Sold and Disposed of, and the Produce thereof in like Manner secur’d until our further Order.
  1. You shall not Erect any Court or Office of Judicatory not before Erected or Established nor dissolve any Court or Office already Erected or Established without our especial Order: But in Regard we have been inform’d that there is a Want of a particular Court for determining of small Causes You are to recommend it to the Assembly of our said Colony that a Law be pass’d (if not already done) for the Constituting such Court or Courts for the ease of our Subjects there, and you are from time to time to transmit to our said Commissioners for Trade and Plantations an Exact Account of what Causes have been determin’d what shall be then Depending, as likewise an Abstract of all proceedings of the Several Courts of Justice within our said Government.
  2. You are to Transmit to Us & to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations with all convenient Speed a Particular Account of all Establishments of Jurisdictions Courts Offices and Officers Powers Authorities Fees and Priviledges Granted or Settled within our said Colony to the End you may receive our farther Directions therein.
  3. COMPLAINT having been made that the Members of our said Council in all Matters of Civil Right where any of them are Defendants claim a Priviledge of Exemption from the Ordinary forms of Process by Writ, so that they cannot be arrested, and that it being the Practice in all such Cases that the Secretary Summon them to an Appearance by a Letter, either Comply with the Same or Neglect it at their own Pleasure by which Means the Course of Justice is obstructed & the Plaintiffs who are not of the Council are left destitute of relief. You are therefore to take Special Care that according to the Order made in the said Council of Virginia the 27 March 1678 (by which the Members thereof claim’d the Aforesaid Priviledge) a Letter of Summons to any of the said Councelors Sign’d either by your self or by the Secretary of our said Colony be deem’d as binding and as Strict in Law for their Appearance as a Writ and that upon their Neglect to Comply with any such Summons (Except only in time of General Assembly) they be liable to the Ordinary forms of Common Process.
  1. And you are with the Advice and Consent of our said Council to take Especial Care to regulate all Salaries and Fees belonging to Places or Paid upon Emergencies that they be within the Bounds of moderation and that no Exaction be made upon any Occasion whatsoever, as also that Tables of all Fees be Publickly hung up in all Places where such Fees are to be paid and you are to transmit Copies of all such Tables of Fees to Us & to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations as aforesaid.
  2. WHEREAS it is necessary that our Rights & Dues be preserved and recover’d and that speedy and Effectual Justice be administer’d in all Cases relating to our Revenue, You are to take Care that a Court of Exchequer be call’d and do meet at all such times as shall be needfull and You are upon your Arrival to inform us and our Commissioners for Trade & Plantations whether Our Service may require that a constant Court of Exchequer be Settled & Established there.
  3. You are to take Care that no Man’s Life Member freehold or Goods be taken away or harm’d in our said Colony otherwise than by establish’d and known Laws, not repugnant but as near as may be agreeable to the Laws of this Kingdom.
  4. You shall administer or Cause to be administer’d the Oaths appointed by Act of Parliament to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and the Oath Mention’d in the foresaid Act Entituled an Act for the Security of Her Majesty’s Person and Government and of the Succession to the Crown of Great Britain in the Protestant Line, to the Members and Officers of our Council & Assembly and to all Judges and Justices and all other Persons that hold any Office or Place of Trust or Profit in our said Colony whether by Vertue of any Patent under our Great Seal of this Kingdom or the Publick Seal of Virginia or otherwise and you shall also Cause them to make and Subscribe the aforesaid Declaration without the doing of all which you are not to admit any Person whatsoever into any Publick Office, nor Suffer those that have been admitted formerly to Continue therein.
  1. You are to Permit a Liberty of Conscience to all Persons except Papists, so they be contented with a quiet and peaceable Enjoyment of the Same not giving Offence or Scandal to the Government.
  2. You shall send to us & our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations by the Conveyance of our Ships of War, an Account of the present Number of Planters and Inhabitants-Men Women and Children as well Masters as Servants, Free and Unfree, And of the Slaves in our said Colony as also a Yearly account of the Increase and decrease of them and how many of them are fit to bear Arms in the Militia of our said Colony.
  3. You shall also Cause an Exact Account to be kept of all Persons born Christened and Buried and you shall Yearly send fair Abstracts thereof unto us and to Our foresaid Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.
  4. You shall take Care that all Planters and Christian Servants be well and fitly provided with Arms, and that they be listed under good Officers and when and as often as shall be thought fit Muster’d and Train’d whereby they may be in a better readiness for the Defense of our said Colony and Dominion under your Government, and you are to use your utmost Endeavours that such Planters do each of them keep such Numbers of White Servants as by Law Directed and that they appear in Arms when thereunto required.
  5. You are to take especial Care that neither the frequency nor unreasonableness of the Marches Musters and Trainings be an unnecessary Impediment to the Affairs of the Inhabitants.
  6. And for the greater Security of that Our Colony You are to Appoint fit Officers and Commanders in the Several Parts of the Country bordering upon the Indians who upon any Invasion may raise Men and Arms to oppose them untill they shall receive your directions therein.
  7. You shall not upon any Occasion whatsoever Establish or put in Execution any Articles of War or other Law Martial upon any of Our Subjects Inhabitants of our said Colony of Virginia without the advise and Consent of our Council there.
  1. AND WHEREAS there is no Power given you by Our Commission to Execute Martial Law in time of Peace upon Soldiers in Pay and yet nevertheless it may be necessary that some Care be taken for the keeping good Discipline amongst those that we may at any time hereafter think fit to send into our said Colony (which may properly be provided for by the Legislative Power of the same) You are therefore to recommend unto the General Assembly of our said Colony that (if not already done) they Prepare such Act and Law for the Punishing Mutiny Desertions and fake Musters, and for the better pre- serving of good Discipline amongst the Said Soldiers as may best Answer those ends.
  2. AND WHEREAS together with other Powers of Vice Admiralty You will Receive Authority from our Commissioners for executing the Office of our high Admiral of great Britain and of our Plantations upon the refusal or Neglect of any Captain or Commander of any of our Ships of War to Execute the Written Order he shall receive from you for Our Service and the Service of our Colony under your Government, or upon his Neglect & undue Execution thereof to suspend such Captain or Commander from the Exercise of his said Office of Captain or Commander and to committ into Safe Custody either on Board his own Ship or elsewhere at Your Discretion in Order to his being brought to Answer for such refusal or Neglect by Commission either under Our great Seal of this Kingdom or from our Commissioners for executing the Office of our high Admiral of Great Britain for the time being And whereas you will likewise receive directions from our said Commissioners for Executing the Office of our high Admiral of Great Britain and of our Plantations that the Captain or Commander so by you suspended shall during such his Suspension and Commitment be succeeded by such Commission or Warrant Officer of our said Ship ap- pointed by our said Commissioners for Executing the Office of our high Admiral of Great Britain for the time being as by the known Practice and Discipline of our Navy does and ought next to Succeed as in case of Death, Sickness or any other ordinary disability happening to the Commander of any of our Ships of War and not otherwise You standing Accountable for the truth and Importance of the Crime & Misdemeanor for which you shall so proceed to the Suspending any such Captain or Commander You are not to Exercise the said Power of Suspending any such Captains or Commanders of our Ships of War otherwise than by Vertue of such Commission or Authority from our said Commissioners for executing the Office of our high Admiral of Great Britain any former Custom or usage Notwithstanding.
  1. You are to demand an Account from all Persons concern’d of the Arms Ammunition and Stores sent to our said Colony from our Office of Ordnance here as likewise what other Arms Ammunition and Stores have been bought with the Publick Money for the Service of our said Colony and how the Same have been employ’d, and whether any of them and how many of them have been sold, Spent, Lost, Decay’d or dispos’d of and to whom and to what use and to transmit the said Account to Us and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations afore- said.
  2. You shall take an Inventory of all Arms Ammunition and Stores remaining in any of our Magazines or Garrisons in our Colony under your Government, and immediately after your Arrival to transmit the same unto Us and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations and the like Inventory afterwards half Yearly, as also a Duplicate thereof to our Master General or Principal Officers of our Ordnance, which Accounts are to express the Particulars of Ordnance Carriages, Powder, Balls, and all other Sorts of Arms and Ammunition in our Publick Stores at your said Arrival, and so from time to time of what shall be sent you or bought with the Publick Money and to specify the time of the disposal and the Occasion thereof.
  3. You are to take especial Care that fit Storehouses be Settled throughout our said Colony for receiving and keeping of Arms Ammunition and Publick Stores.
  4. You shall cause a Survey to be made of all the Considerable landing Places and Harbours in our said Colony, and with the Advice of our Council there Erect in any of them such Fortifications as shall be necessary for the Security and Advantage of that Colony which shall be done at the Publick Charges of the Country, in which we doubt not of the Chearfull concurrence of the Inhabitants, thereunto from the common Security and benefit they will receive thereby.
  5. OUR WILL AND PLEASURE IS that all Servants that shall come to be Transported to Our Colony of Virginia shall serve their respective Masters for the Terms prescrib’d by the Laws of our said Colony, and the said Servants shall at the end of the said Term have 50 Acres of Land Assign’d and set out to every of them respectively to Have and to Hold to them and every of them their Heirs and Assigns for ever under the Rules and Duties usually Paid and reserved.
  6. AND WHEREAS it has been represented that the Grant of King James the first heretofore made to that our Colony to Exempt the Planters from paying Quitrents for the first Seven ‘Years did tun to the great Prejudice of the same and that many took Occasion thereby to take and Create to themselves a Title of such Quantitys of Land which they never intended to or in truth cou’d Occupy or Cultivate but thereby only kept out others who would have Planted and manured the Same, and King Charles the Second having therefore by his Instructions given to Sir We, Berkly revok’d all such Grants as contrary to the Intention of the said King James the first and to the good of our Subjects there We do likewise give the same directions unto you, that if any Such Grants Shou’d be still Insisted on the ‘same be look’d on and taken to be void and of None Effect And you are likewise to restrain the unlimited practice of taking more Lands than can reasonably be Cultivated and to regulate all Abuses therein.
  7. You shall with the Advice of Our Council there take Care to appoint Men fitly Qualify’d to be Surveyors throughout all the Several Districts of Our said Colony, and that they be sworn to make true and exact Surveys of all Lands requir’d to be set out according to the best of their Skill 80. You shall likewise take Care that a General Survey be made of all the said Colony and Dominion, and of each County in it, and that an Exact Map or Maps be thereupon drawn, and ‘Transmitted to Us and to our foresaid Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.
  8. You shall likewise take Care that a General Survey be made of all the said Colony and Dominion, and of each County in it, and that an Exact Map or Maps be thereupon drawn, and ‘Transmitted to Us and to our foresaid Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.
  1. And You are further to take Care that an Exact Account be forthwith drawn of all Arrears of Quitrents due unto Us ex- pressing from what Persons, for what Quantity of Land, and for what time those Arrears are due, and likewise an Account Specifying what Particular Persons throughout all our said Colony are possess’d above 20,000 Acres of Land a Piece, by what Titles they hold the said Lands, and how much each of them is possess’d of above that Quantity. Both which Accounts you are without Delay to transmit to Us and to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.
  2. WHEREAS it was represented to her Late Majesty by the President and Council of our said Colony that the Method of Granting Lands as directed by the Instructions given to Robert Hunter Esq’ bearing Date at St. James’s the 30th of April 1707 is not agreeable to the Laws Constitution and Practice of our said Colony. OUR WILL AND PLEASURE THEREFORE IS That for the future the Method of Granting of Land be in such form and Manner, and under the like Conditions Covenants and Reservations of Quitrent as are by the Charter and Laws of that our Colony allow’d and Directed to be made and as were permitted to be made before the Instructions given to Robert Hunter Esq’ as aforesaid, PROVIDED due care be taken that in all such Grants hereafter to be made regard be had to the profitable and unprofitable Acres, and particularly that every Patentee be obliged in the best and most Effectual Manner to Cultivate & Improve three Acres part of every fifty Acres so granted within the term of three Years after the Passing of such Grant and in Case of failure thereof such Grant or Grants to be void and of None Effect.
  3. That we may be the better inform’d of the Trade of our said Colony, You are to take especial Care that Due enteries be made in all Ports of our said Colony of all Goods and Commodities their Species and Quantities Imported or Exported from thence, with the Names Burden and Guns of all Ships Exporting and Importing the same, also the Names of their Commanders and likewise expressing from and to what Place the said Ships do come and go (a Copy whereof the Naval Officer in each respective District is to furnish you with) and you are to transmit the Same unto us Our Commissioners of our Treasury or our high Treasurer for the time being, and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations Quarterly, and Duplicates thereof by the Next Conveyance.
  1. You are to take especial Care all Tobacco ship’d in Virginia from what part soever do come they pay Virginia Duties.
  2. You are likewise to Examine what Rates and Duties are Charged and Payable upon any Goods Imported and Exported within our Colony of Virginia, whether of the Growth or Manufacture of our said Colony or otherwise and to use your best Endeavours for the Improvement of the Trade in those Parts.
  3. AND WHEREAS Orders have been given for the Commissionating of fit Persons to be Officers of our Admiralty and Customs in our Several Plantations in America, and it is of great importance to the Trade of this Kingdom, and to the welfare of Our Plantations that illegal Trade be every where discouraged, you are therefore to take especial Care that the Acts of Trade and Navigation be duly put in execution, and in Order thereunto you are to give Constant Protection and all due Incouragement to the Officers of our Admiralty and Customs in the Execution of their Respective Offices and Trusts.
  4. AND WE FURTHER WILL AND REQUIRE You to be aiding and Assisting unto such Persons as are or shall be appointed by our Commissioners of Our Treasury to be Agent in the West Indies or such other Agent as shall be appointed in his Room in the discharge of his Office according to such Instructions as he hath receiv’d from our Principal Commissioners for that Purpose, also for preventing Imbezelments and Recovering of Prize Goods which may happen to be Imbezel’d or Conceal’d, as well as the Execution of all Orders to him or them directed in Relation to Prizes by any Court of Admiralty Legally Established by Our Commissioners of our Admiralty in our said Plantations And you are likewise to Transmit unto Our Commissioners of our Treasury from time to time exact Accounts of all Occurances concerning Prizes that happen to be brought into that our Colony of Virginia under your Government in the Same Manner as you are required to do in other Matters under your Care.
  1. AND WHEREAS We have been Inform’d that the Fees for the Condemnation of a Prize Ship in our Courts of Admiralty in the Plantations are considerably greater than those demanded on the like occasions in our High Court of Admiralty here, And Whereas we are willing that our Subjects in the Plantations shou’d have the same ease in the Obtaining Condemnations of Prizes there as in this Kingdom. You are to Signifie our Will and pleasure to the Officers of our Admiralty Court in Virginia that they do not presume to demand or Exact other Fees than what are taken in this Kingdom which amount to about Ten Pounds for the Condemnation of each Prize according to the List of Fees herewith deliver’d to you.
  2. You are from time to time to give an Account as before directed what Strength your bordering Neighbors have be they Indians or others, by Sea and Land, and of the Condition of their Plantations and what Correspondence you do keep with them.
  3. You shall take Especial Care that God Almighty be devoutly and duly served throughout your Government, the Book of Common Prayer as by Law established read each Sunday and Holy day and the Blessed Sacraments administer’d according to the rites of the Church of England.
  4. You shall be carefull that the Churches already built there be well and Orderly kept, and that more be built as the Colony shall by the Blessing of God be improved, and that besides a Competent Maintenance to be Assign’d to the Ministers of each Orthodox Church a convenient House be built at the Common charge for each Minister and a competent Portion of Glebe Assign’d him.
  5. And You are to take Care that the Parishes be so bounded and Settled as you shall find most convenient for the accomplishing this good Work.
  6. You are not to refer any Minister to any Ecclesiastical Business in that our Colony without a Certificate from the Right Reverend Father in God the Lord Bishop of London of his being conformable to the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of England, and of a good Life and Conversation, and if any Person preferr’d already to a Benefice shall appear to you to give Scandal, either by his Doctrine or Manners, you are to use the proper and usual Means for removal of him and to supply the Vacancy in such Manner as we have directed.
  1. You are to give Order forthwith (if the same be not already done) that every Orthodox Minister within your Govern- ment be one of the Vestry in his respective Parish, and that no Vestry be held without him except in Case of Sickness, or that after Notice of a Vestry Summon’d he omit to come.
  2. You are to Enquire whether there be any Ministers within your Government, who Preaches and Administers the Sacraments in any Orthodox Church or Chappel without being in due Orders, and to give an Account thereof to the said Lord Bishop of London.
  3. And to the end the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of the said Lord Bishop of London may take Place in that Our Colony so far as conveniently may be, We do think fit that you give all countenance and encouragement to the exercise of the same, excepting only the Collating to Benefices, granting Licences for Marriages and Probates of Wills, which we have reserved to you our Governor or Commander in Chief of our said Colony for the time being.
  4. We do Further direct that no School Master be henceforth Permitted to come from this Kingdom and to keep School within our said Colony without the Licence of the said Lord Bishop of London, and that no other Person now there or that Shall come from other Parts be admitted to keep School without your Licence first Obtain’d.
  5. And you are to take especial Care that a Table of Marriages Establish’d by the Cannons of the Church of England be hung up in every Orthodox Church, and duly observ’d & you are to Endeavour to get a Law pass’d in the Assembly of that Colony (if not already done) for the Strict Osbervation of the said Table.
  6. You are to take Care that Drunkenness and Debauchery, Swearing and Blasphemy be discountenanced and Punished. And for the further Discountenance of Vice and encouragement of Vertue and good living (that by such Examples the Infidels may be invited and desire to Partake of the Chris- tian Religion) You are not to Admit any Person to Publick Trusts and Employments in our said Colony whose ill fame and Conversation may Occasion Scandal.
  1. And you are to Suppress the Ingrossing of Commoditys as tending to the prejudice of that freedom which Trade and Commerce ought to have and to Settle Such Orders and Regulations therein with Advice of our said Council as may be most Acceptable to the generality of the Inhabitants.
  2. And Upon Several Representations made concerning a Trade with the Indian Natives, it has been thought fit to permit a free Trade between our Subjects of Virginia and the Indians, and We being willing to continue the same Permission to all our Subjects or that Colony, You are therefore to Signify the same to the next Assembly, and to give them to understand that out of our great Care for the Welfare of that Colony, We have preferr’d the Particular Benefit of our Subjects before any other Advantage that might accrue unto us by restraining that Trade with the Indians, Whereof we expect they shoul’d have a due Sence and provide by some Means for the better Support of the Government.
  3. You are to give all due Encouragement and Invitation to Merchants and others who shall bring Trade to our Colony or any way contribute to the Advantage thereof and in Particular to the Royal Affrican Company.
  4. And as we are willing to recommend unto the said Company that the said Colony may have a constant and Sufficient Supply of Merchantable Negroes at Moderate Rates in Money or Commodities so you are to take especial Care that Payment be duly made & within a competent time according to their Agreements.
  5. And whereas the said Company have frequently great Sums of Money owing to them in our Plantations in America, they have been much hindered in the recovery of their Just debts there, and discouraged in their Trade by the too frequent Adjournments of Courts, and it being absolutely necessary that all Obstructions in the Course of Justice be Effectually remov’d, You are to take Care that the Courts of Justice be duly and frequently held in our Colony and Dominion under your Government, so that all our Subjects in the said Colony, and Particularly the Royal African Company may enjoy the Benefit thereof, and not receive any undue hinderance in the recovery of their Just Debts.
  1. And you are to take care that there be no Trading from Virginia to any Place in Africa within the Charter of the Royal African Company otherwise than prescribed by Law.
  2. And we do further expressly Command and require you to give unto us, & to our Commissioners for Trade & Plantations an Account every half Year of what Number of Negroes the said Colony is Supply’d with, that is what Number by the African Company, and what by Seperate Traders, and at what rates Sold.
  3. You are likewise from time to time to give unto us and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations as aforesaid an Account of the Wants and Defects of our said Colony, what are the Chief Products thereof, new Improvements are made therein by the Industry of the Inhabitants or Planters, and what further Improvements you conceive may be made, or Advantages gain’d by Trade, & which way we may contribute thereunto.
  4. You are not to grant Commissions of Mark or Reprizal against any Prince or State or their Subjects in Amity with us, to any Person whatsoever without our Special Command.
  5. Whereas great Inconveniencies do happen by Merchants Ships and other Vessels in the Plantations wearing the Colours born by our Ships of War under Pretence of Commissions granted to them by the Governors of the said Plantations, and that by Trading under those Colours not only amongst our Own Subjects, but also those of other Princes and States and committing divers Irregularities, they do very much dishonour our Service, For prevention whereof you are to oblige the Commanders of all such Ships to which you shall grant Commissions to wear no other Jack than according to the Sample here described, that is to say, such as is worn by our Ships of War with a distinction of a White Escutcheon in the middle thereof and that the said Mark of distinction may ex- tend itself to one half of the Depth of the Jack and one third of the Fly thereof.
  1. Our Will and Pleasure is That Appeals be permitted to be made in Cases of Error from the Courts in our said Colony unto you and our Council there in General Court & in Your Absence from that our Colony to the Commander in Chief for the time being, and the said Council in Civil Causes, wherein such of our said Council as shall be at that time Judges of the Court from whence such Appeals shall be made to You our Governor and Council, or to the Commander in Chief for the time being, and Council in General Court as aforesaid shall not be admitted a vote upon the said Appeal, but they may Nevertheless be present at the hearing thereof to give the reasons of the Judgment given by them in the Cause wherein such Appeal shall be made.
  2. And Inasmuch as it may not be fit that Appeals be too frequently and for too Small a Value brought unto Our Governor and Council, as aforesaid, You shall therefore with the Advice of our said Council propose a Law to be pass’d wherein the Method and Limitation of Appeals unto Our Governor and Council may be Settled and Restrain’d in such Manner as shall be most Convenient and easy to Our Subjects in Virginia.
  3. And if either Party shall not rest Satisfy’d with the Judgement of you or the Commander in Chief for the time being & Council as aforesaid, they may then Appeal unto Us in Our Privy Council, provided the Sum or Value so appeal’d for unto us do exceed £300 Sterl and that such Appeal be made within one fortnight after Sentence and good Security given by the Appellant that he will Effectually prosecute the same, and Answer the Condemnation as also pay such Costs as shall be awarded by us in Case the Sentence of you the Governor or Commander in Chief for the time being and Council be Affirmed, & provided also that Execution be not Suspended by reason of any such Appeal unto Us.
  4. You are also to Permit Appeals unto Us in Council in all Cases of Fines imposed for Misdemeanors, provided the Fines so impos’d amount to, or Exceed the Value of £200 the Appellant first giving good Security that he will Effectually prosecute the same, and Answer the Condemnation of the Sentence by which such Fine was impos’d in Virginia in case the said Sentence shall be confirm’d.
  1. You are for the better Administration of Justice to Endeavour to get a Law pass’d (if not already done) wherein shall be Set the Value of Men’s Estates either in Goods or Lands under which they shall not be capable of Serving as Jurors.
  2. You are to take Care that no Courts of Judicature be adjourned but upon good Grounds, and whereas Complaint hath been made that the Orders of Court are entered in the Absence of the Magistrates and sometimes penn’d in Private at the Magistrates House, you are to take care to prevent the said abuses, and particularly that no Orders of any Court of Judicature be enter’d or allow’d which shall not be first read and approv’d of by the Magistrates in Open Court, which Rule you are in like manner to see observ’d with relation to the Proceedings in Our Council of Virginia and that all Orders there made be first read and approved in Council before they are enter’d in the Council Books.
  3. You shall Endeavour to get a Law pass’d (if not already done) for the restraining of any Inhuman Severities which by ill Masters or Overseers may be used towards their Christian Servants, and their Slaves, and that Provision be made therein that the Wilfull killing of Indians and Negroes may be punish’t with Death, and that a fit Penalty be impos’d for the Maiming of them. And you are also with the Assistance of the Council and Assembly to find out the best Means to facilitate and encourage the Conversion of Negroes and Indians to the Christian Religion.
  4. And whereas an Agreement has been formerly made with the Indians of Virginia and of New York for their Peaceable living with Our Subjects and Submission to Our Government, We do hereby approve the Same, and do require you to endeavour as much as in you lyes that the said Agreement be Punctually observ’d and renew’d if it shall be Necessary, as conducing to the Welfare of our Colony under your Government.
  1. You are to Endeavour with the Assistance of our Council to provide for the raising of Stocks and building Publick Warehouses in convenient places for the employing of Poor and indigent People.
  2. You are to propose an Act to be pass’d in the Assembly wherby the Creditors of Persons becoming Bankrupts in this Kingdom and having Estates in Virginia may be reliev’d and Satisfy’d for the Debts owing to them.
  3. In Case of Distress of any other of our Plantations You shall upon the Application of the Respective Governors thereof to you, Assist them with what Aid the Condition of Our Colony under Your Government can Spare.
  4. You are to take Care by and with the Advice and Assistance of our Council that such Prisons there as want Reparation be forthwith repair’d and put into and kept in such a Condition as may Sufficiently Secure the Prisoners that are or shall be there in Custody.
  5. And for as much as we have thought fit for the Dignity of the Government that a House be built for our Governor or Commander in Chief, for defraying of which Expence a Levy has been made, You are to hasten the Building and fitting up such a House if not already done.
  6. Our Will and Pleasure is, that you do take to yourself as Governor Two Thousand Pounds Sterl. per Annum by Quarterly Payments, and shall also Cause to be paid out of the Revenues of our said Colony to the Councelors & other Judges and Officers as well Civil as Military, and to the Mar- shal, Clerk of the Assembly Gunner and Matrosses the Several Salaries and allowances formerly paid, or such other reas- onable Ones as you with Advice of Our Council there shall think requisite a true Account whereof you shall from time to time transmit unto the Commissioners of Our Treasury or Our High Treasurer for the time being, and to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.
  7. Provided always that you do not dispose of any Part of our Quitrents, nor Suffer the same to be issued out upon any Occasion untill upon your Certifying to us the Value of what shall remain thereof from time to time in Our Treasury or be due Unto Us we shall Order the Same to be dispos’d of as we shall find Occasion for our Service.
  1. And for the better improving the Value of Our Quit-rents, You are to take Care they be not only duly Collected, but they be sold every Year Openly by Inch of Candle to the highest Bidder in the respective County Courts, and that due Notice be given of the time and Place of any such intended Sale in such Manner as may make it most Publickly known to all People a Competent time before hand.
  2. Whereas upon considering the Entries of our Custom house here in this Kingdom with the Payment of the two Shillings per Hogsh on Tobacco, and other Duties and Impositions due unto us in Virginia there has been certain Information given of great Frauds and Abuses both in Payment thereof by Masters of Ships and others, and in the Collection by Our Officers, You are to use all Lawfull Means for the Prevention there- of and for the Improvement of our said Revenues. And whereas such Abuses cannot be committed without apparent Negligence of the Collectors or their connivance with the said Masters of Ships and other Persons, You are to take great Care with the Advice of Our Council in appointing fit and duly Qualify’d Persons for the Collecting of those duties and the like for the Employment of Naval Officers.
  3. You shall not commit the Care of those different Employments to One and the same Person, nor any of them unto Persons much concern’d in Trade who may be apt thereby to be byassed from their respective Duties, nor unto the Members of our said Council.
  4. You shall take Care that each of the Persons appointed by you to the said Employments (as well Naval Officers as Collectors) be sworn to Execute faithfully and diligently their Respective Offices in their Own Persons and not by Deputies unless in Cases of Absolute Necessity, and that those Deputies be then likewise sworn to the faithfull and diligent execution of their respective Offices. And that each of the said Officers or their Deputies be required accordingly to give their Attendance at such certain times and Places as you with the Advice of our said Council shall direct.
  1. You are Strictly to charge and Command them and every of them in our Name to be more carefull and diligent for the future, under Penalty of the forfeiture of our respective Places by your putting others in their Stead on the first offence, and of our highest displeasure, and you are from time to time to give Us Our Commissioners of our Treasury or high Treasurer for the time being, and to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations a Particular Account of your Proceedings therein, and of the Duties and Impositions Collected and dispos’d of pursuant to former directions in that behalf
  2. And whereas Complaints have been made of Several undue Practices in the Office of Secretary or Register of that Colony by the Clerks or other Persons employ’d therein, You are to make Inspection into what has been the State and Management of the said Office, and Report to Us and to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations how you find the Same, together with your opinion by what Methods any former Mismanagements may for the future be best Prevented and in the meanwhile to take all possible care that the Records of the said Office be well and faithfully kept, and in Order thereunto that not only the Secretary or Register himself but his Clerks also be under Oath for the due Execution of the trust repos’d in them, and that they accordingly give Sufficient Security for their faithful performance.
  3. Whereas Our Council of Virginia has formerly made Complaints that the Lord Baltimore hath insisted on a pre- tended Right to the whole River of Potomack, which did very much discourage the Merchants and Masters of Ships trading to that our Colony, You are to Assert our Rights in those Parts, & to take care that the Trade of our Subjects be not disturb’d by the said pretences, or any other whatsoever.
  4. Whereas We have been pleas’d by our Commission to direct that in Case of your Death or Absence from our said Colony, & in Case there be at that time no Person upon the Place Commission’d or appointed by us to be our Lieutenant Governor or Commander in Chief the Eldest Councellor whose Name is first placed in our Instructions to you, and who shall be at the time of your Death or Absence residing within our said Colony and Dominion of Virginia, shall take upon him the Administration of the Government and Execute our said Commission and Instructions and the Several Powers and Authorities therein contain’d, in the manner thereby directed. It is nevertheless Our Express Will and Pleasure that in such Case the said President shall forbear to pass any Acts but what are Immediately necessary for the Peace and Welfare of our said Colony without our Particular Order for that Purpose.

The Randolph Manuscript. Virginia Seventeenth Century Records (Continued). (1912). The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 20(4), 337–346. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4243223

The Randolph Manuscript. Virginia Seventeenth Century Records (Continued). (1913). The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 21(1), 1–8. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4243241

The Randolph Manuscript. Virginia Seventeenth Century Records (Continued). (1913). The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 21(2), 113–121. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4243258

The Randolph Manuscript: Virginia Seventeenth Century Records (Continued). (1913). The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 21(3), 225–233. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4243279

The Randolph Manuscript. Virginia Seventeenth Century Records (Continued). (1913). The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 21(4), 347–358. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4243299

The Powers of the Governors of the Governor in Early Eighteenth-Century Virginia

“The powers of the royal governor were generally defined in the commission which he received from the crown. The governor’s instructions were more specific in nature and usually stated the exact manner in which the governor was to execute his powers. The commissions and instructions were “issued in the spirit of government ’by royal grace and favor’ and remained static and unchanging throughout the century prior to the American Revolution.

These documents nevertheless, retained an Important place in the governmental system of the colonies. Constitutionally speaking, they formed a basis for the provincial constitutions, and “there were no documents above these to which appeal could be taken.” They were to serve the governor as a guide to the actual frame of government and to the policies which the home officials expected him to pursue.

Of these two documents, the commission was the highest in authority. It was issued under the great seal of England and contained the actual appointment of the governor to his post.”

Lonnes, Anita Joy, “The Powers of the Governor in Early Eighteenth-Century Virginia” (1964). Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects. William & Mary. Paper 1539624556. https://dx.doi.org/doi:10.21220/s2-fxhg-fx54

Dominion Disallowance of Provincial Legislation in Canada

Federal disallowance of Provincial Legislation has been a significant aspect of the Canada’s system of “federalism”, allowing the central government to nullify provincial acts deemed contrary to federal interests. This power, unique to Canada, contrasts with the American federal system, reflecting a “differing approach” to federalism. From 1867 to 1935, the Dominion government disallowed at least 114 provincial acts and territorial ordinances, highlighting its considerable powers over provincial legislation.

The process of disallowance involved the submission of provincial acts to the governor-general, with the governor-general in council having the authority to disallow them, typically based on recommendations from the Ministry of Justice, in the same way colonies previous to Confederation would submit their legislation through Lieuitenant Governors to the Crown. Disallowance had to occur within one year of receiving the act. While the British government couldn’t directly interfere with provincial acts after confederation, it could express its concerns to the Dominion government instead, as could other foreign governments.

The reasons for disallowance varied widely, including conflicts with federal legislation, exceeding provincial powers outlined in the British North America Act, violation of treaty rights, or infringement on individual rights and property. The subjects of disallowed acts ranged from immigration and banking to mining and liquor regulation, indicating the Dominion’s broad oversight.

Historically, the frequency of disallowance fluctuated, with peaks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries followed by a decline in recent years. Initially, the crown and its Federal government, themselves involved in a parent-child relationship, viewed a strong central government as necessary, akin to a parent-child relationship with provinces. Where that leaves “the people” is clear.

Evolving interpretations of “Canadian federalism” have more recently emphasized provincial rights and autonomy, more in keeping with the American meaning of the term. Decisions by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and advocacy for provincial rights led to a shift in attitudes toward disallowance. Provinces began to assert their legislative independence, advocating for minimal federal interference. By the early 20th century, calls for disallowance were expected to be justified by clear attempts to infringe on federal jurisdiction.


“Although there is a federal form of government in both the Dominion of Canada. and the United States, there are striking differences in the two types of federalism. Some of these differences are to be found in fundamentals, such as the basis upon which the powers of government are divided in the two countries. Less striking, but nevertheless significant, are still other points of variance. Among these is the power which the dominion government has to disallow legislative acts of the provinces. Just why the fathers of the Canadian federation thought this power should be given to the central government is not clear. The fact remains, however, that in the years from 1867 to 1935, at least 114 provincial acts and territorial ordinances were set aside. It is important to note that these acts were dis- allowed by executive officers of the dominion government. Executive officers of the national government in the United States do not possess similar powers where state legislation is concerned.”

“A survey of the law-making efforts of provincial legislatures which have been set aside by the dominion government indicates that the central government has interfered with some of the most important fields in which provincial legislation might be enacted.”

“The frequency with which the dominion’s power of disallowance has been used has varied considerably at different periods in Canada’s history. In the years from 1867 through 1895, no less than 72 acts and ordinances were set aside. In the years from 1896 through 1920, a period of almost equal length, 37 provincial acts and ordinances were annulled. From 1920 to 1935, only five acts passed by provincial legislatures fell before the disapproval of the dominion government. In the first period mentioned, the greatest number of acts to be disallowed in one province was 26, in Manitoba. British Columbia, with 20, was a close second. Seven ordinances (as distinct from legislative acts) were set aside in the Northwest Territory, while in Ontario and Nova Scotia six acts in each province were disallowed. The remainder of the 72 can be accounted for by the disallowance of four statutes in Quebec, two in Prince Edward Island, and one in New Brunswick. In the second period, British Columbia headed the list with 22, while Manitoba and Saskatchewan had three each. Ontario and Quebec each had one act annulled. Seven ordinances were set aside, five in the Yukon Territory and two in the Northwest Territory. Since 1920, legislative acts in only three provinces have been disallowed. Three were annulled in Nova Scotia and one each in Alberta and British Columbia.”

“To many Americans, it is, of course, striking that the central government in a federation should possess this degree of control over certain types of legislation enacted by the member units in that federal organization. In the Canada of 1864-66, however, there were many who, like J. A. Macdonald, wished to see a strong central government created. They believed that the war between the states to the south of them was due, in part, to weakness at the center. That the dominion government should be able to disallow provincial legislation did not seem strange to them.”

Heneman, H. J. (1937). Dominion Disallowance of Provincial Legislation in Canada. The American Political Science Review, 31(1), 92–96. https://doi.org/10.2307/1948049

US Federal, State, Territorial and Tribal Constitutions

Federal:

The United States: https://constitution.congress.gov/constitution/

State:

Alabama: https://alison.legislature.state.al.us/constitution
Alaska: https://ltgov.alaska.gov/information/alaskas-constitution/
Arizona: https://www.azleg.gov/constitution/
Arkansas: https://www.jonesboro.org/DocumentCenter/View/290/Arkansas-Constitution-PDF
California: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codesTOCSelected.xhtml?tocCode=CONS&tocTitle=+California+Constitution+-+CONS
Colorado: https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/info_center/laws/COConstitution/ColoradoConstitution.pdf
Connecticut: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/Content/constitutions/Constitution_State_CT.pdf
Delaware: https://delcode.delaware.gov/constitution/
Florida: https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Constitution
Georgia: https://sos.ga.gov/sites/default/files/2023-08/Georgia%20Constitution%20-%20Electronic%20Version%20-%20January%2C%202023.pdf
Hawaii: https://lrb.hawaii.gov/constitution/
Idaho: https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idconst/
Illinois: https://www.ilga.gov/commission/lrb/conmain.htm
Indiana: https://iga.in.gov/laws/const
Iowa: https://publications.iowa.gov/9883/1/CONSTITUTION_OF_THE_STATE_OF_IOWA.pdf
Kansas: https://kslib.info/405/Kansas-Constitution
Kentucky: https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/law/constitution
Louisiana: https://senate.la.gov/Documents/LAConstitution.pdf
Maine: https://legislature.maine.gov/doc/10674
Maryland: https://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/43const/html/const.html
Massachusetts: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/Constitution
Michigan: https://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(acma0gdbf2kc22n3fyibycee))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-Constitution
Minnesota: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/constitution/
Mississippi: https://www.sos.ms.gov/content/documents/ed_pubs/pubs/Mississippi_Constitution.pdf
Missouri: https://www.sos.mo.gov/CMSImages/Publications/CurrentMissouriConstitution.pdf?v=202212
Montana: https://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/title_0000/chapters_index.html
Nebraska: https://nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/Current/PDF/Constitution/constitution.pdf
Nevada: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/const/nvconst.html
New Hampshire: https://www.nh.gov/glance/constitution.htm
New Jersey: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/constitution
New Mexico: https://lawlibrary.nmcourts.gov/new-mexico-constitution/
New York: https://dos.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2022/01/Constitution-January-1-2022.pdf
North Carolina: https://www.ncleg.gov/EnactedLegislation/Constitution/NCConstitution.pdf
North Dakota: https://ndlegis.gov/constitution
Ohio: https://www.ohiosos.gov/globalassets/publications/election/constitution.pdf
Oklahoma: https://oklahoma.gov/labor/transparency/oklahoma-state-constitution.html
Oregon: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/lawsstatutes/IndexORConstitution.pdf
Pennsylvania: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/00/00.HTM
Rhode Island: https://www.rilegislature.gov/riconstitution/Pages/default.aspx
South Carolina: https://www.scstatehouse.gov/scconstitution/SCConstitution.pdf
South Dakota: https://sdlegislature.gov/Constitution
Tennessee: https://publications.tnsosfiles.com/pub/blue_book/05-06/46-tnconst.pdf
Texas: https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/SDocs/THETEXASCONSTITUTION.pdf
Utah: https://le.utah.gov/xcode/constitution.html
Vermont: https://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/constitution-of-the-state-of-vermont/
Virginia: https://law.lis.virginia.gov/constitution/
Washington: https://leg.wa.gov/CodeReviser/RCWArchive/Documents/2019/WA%20Constitution.pdf
West Virginia: https://www.wvlegislature.gov/wvcode/wv_con.cfm?lv=true
Wisconsin: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/constitution/wi.pdf
Wyoming: https://sos.wyo.gov/Forms/Publications/WYConstitution.pdf

Territorial:

Tribal:

Alabama:

Poarch Band of Creek Indians Constitution – Muni Code

Alaska:

Arizona:

California:

Connecticut:

Idaho:

Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Constitution and Bylaws

Indiana:

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Constitution

Iowa:

Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa Constitution

Kansas:

Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation Constitution

Louisiana:

Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana Constitution and Bylaws

Maine:

Massachusetts:

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Constitution

Michigan:

Minnesota:

Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Constitution and Bylaws – Consists of the Chippewa Indians of the White Earth, Leech Lake, Fond du Lac, Bois Forte (Nett Lake), and Grand Portage Reservations and the Nonremoval Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians

Lower Sioux Indian Community Constitution

Prairie Island Indian Community Constitution and By-Laws

Mississippi:

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Tribal Constitution

Montana:

Nebraska:

Nevada:

New Mexico:

New York:

North Dakota:

Oklahoma:

Oregon:

South Dakota:

Texas:

Washington:

Wisconsin:

Coalition Government on Trial (The New Constitution Defined)

The political landscape of Nova Scotia in the 1840s was marked by a struggle for power and influence between various factions. The newly appointed Lieutenant Governor expressed concerns over the perceived excessive political power of the populace due to low suffrage qualifications. He advocated for maintaining the Crown’s power and prerogative within local government to balance this.

A coalition government was formed, with Liberal leaders strategically included in the Executive Council to win elections, but they lacked control over the Lieutenant Governor’s actions and policies. While the Liberal party held sway in the House of Assembly, the old Conservative party retained influence in the Upper House and public offices.

When the new government convened in February 1841, Joseph Howe, a Reform leader, became Speaker of the House. The Lieutenant Governor’s speech emphasized cooperation between branches of government while asserting the preservation of royal prerogative.

Debates ensued over the meaning of the new constitution, with Howe defending the coalition government as a step towards responsible government. However, disagreements persisted within the government regarding the interpretation of the constitution and the extent of its reforms.

Conservative leaders in the Legislative Council challenged Howe’s assertions, arguing that the Executive Council remained independent of the legislature. This disagreement highlighted the uncertainty surrounding the government’s responsibilities and authority.


“The new Lieutenant Governor had warned Lord John Russell that the people of Nova Scotia “possessed too great a degree of political power” because of the low suffrage qualifications and that it should be held in check by preserving in the local government the power of the Crown and the influence of the prerogative.

The Liberal leaders had been cleverly brought into the Executive Council and by their influence the elections had been won for the new administration; but they had not gained control over the actions of policies of the Lieutenant Governor. Reform and constitutional opposition had been swallowed up in a coalition arrangement in which the avowed enemies of democratic self-government held the majority control. But while Howe and his friends were a minority in Council, their party held the power in the House of Assembly. The old Conservative party, therefore, remained under cover entrenched in the Upper House and in possession of the public offices of the province.

On February 3, 1841, the new Assembly and the new government of Nova Scotia met to begin their work, and to justify the hopes and expectations of the friends and supporters of the new constitutional program. Joseph Howe, already a member of the new Executive Council, was elected Speaker of the House of Assembly.

In the speech from the throne Lord Falkland studiously avoided a direct statement in regard to the responsibility of the Executive Council to the majority party in the House, suggesting rather that the prosperity of the province made it indispensable “that a sufficient degree of reciprocal confidence should exist between the three branches of the Legislature to insure from each a fair and candid construction of the acts of the other constituent powers.” Cooperation was also necessary, he said, to enable the representative of the Crown to carry out the beneficent intentions of the Queen. While he was prepared to cooperate fully with the Legislature in all matters purely local, it was his purpose to maintain inviolate the royal prerogative.

The reply of the Assembly was couched in terms equally diplomatic. They assured Falkland of the warm attachment of the citizens to British institutions, and of the earnest desire to maintain the prerogative, “while guarding and preserving the rights of the people.” They assured him also that the “most effective means of securing the cooperation of the Commons will be at all times a conviction that the British principle has been observed, and Your Excellency surrounded by advisers enjoying the public confidence.”

On February 11 the House, organized as the committee of the whole, debated the meaning of the new constitution. The task of defending the principles on which the new government had been constructed fell naturally to the Reform leader, Joseph Howe, and his speech was something of a defense of his own act in accepting a place in the new organization. He declared that the changes had not been exactly according to his views and those of his party, but were the best that could be obtained under the circumstances. The British government had conceded to them the principle that harmony must be the rule as between the Executive Council and the Assembly.

The Governor-General had given them all to understand that no one was to sit in the Council unless he occupied a seat in one of the legislative bodies. Thomson had urged him to enter the Council, and he had done so reluctantly, with the “distinct understanding” that harmony was to prevail between the Executive and the Legislative departments. This principle would lead ultimately to the establishment of responsible government as understood by the Liberal party and its leaders, and the new system was a long step in that direction. To Howe the Coalition was simply a temporary convenience, out of which would come in time a permanent system under which the will of the people would be recognized as the supreme law. Meanwhile, a good and efficient government would be carried on concerning itself primarily with the peace and prosperity of the province.

Falkland evidently was following an entirely different point of view. To him it seemed that Howe’s acceptance of a seat in the Executive body had broken the back of the Liberal opposition. He had even taken in some of Howe’s friends and followers in order to strengthen the popular leader, to make of him a stronger support for the government, and to keep in line the Liberal members of the newly elected Assembly. Herbert Huntington, however, refused to accept either a seat in the Council or the compromise of principle. He continued to insist that the control of the casual and territorial revenues should be in the hands of the local government and that the Executive Council should be reorganized by dismissing all those who had opposed the Reform program. But Huntington’s following was small, and Falkland’s government, with the support of Howe and Uniacke, could easily command a majority in the Assembly.

The leader of the old Conservative party, Solicitor-General J. W. Johnston, spoke in the Legislative Council, the strong citadel of the old order, on February 17. His speech may be taken as a reply to Howe’s attempt in the Assembly to define the constitution. He thought it impossible to recognize any fundamental change whatsoever. No statute existed which defined the power of any part of the British government, and the same principle held true for their local constitution. The “good sense” and “good feeling” of all branches explained the success of its operations. “Direct responsibility” was entirely “inconsistent with the circumstances of a colony,” because of a lack of proper checks and balances, such as existed in the mother country; the well defined orders of society, and nicely balanced economic interests did not exist in Nova Scotia.

“The change cannot be defined in specific terms. It is not a change of the constitution as has been said elsewhere. The three branches will continue as before; the change simply is that it becomes the duty of the representatives of Her Majesty to ascertain the wishes and feelings of the people through their representatives and to make the measures of Government conform to these so far as it is consistent with his duty to the mother country. This is not to be effected by any declaration that he should do so; nor any power of the assembly to say that it has not been done, but by calling to his Councils individuals possessing influence in the Legislature, who may advise measures that would secure confidence and harmony. Supposing they did not command the confidence, is the Governor bound at the bidding of the people, to change his Councils? If that question were put in writing it would receive a negative from the Home Government. Yet who will say, that in the present position of the Executive, some such power exists . I cannot lay my hand on any theoretic change. The system is not that sought last year by the action of the Assembly on the vote of want of confidence.”

This was a calm explanation by the Conservative leader of the new order of things in Nova Scotia, and a flat repudiation of the claims of the Liberal members of the Government. The will of the Assembly was only a matter of convenience for the Lieutenant-Governor. His responsibility was to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and through him to the Crown of England; to go beyond this was to court the disruption of the Empire. Could Nova Scotia continue moving in the direction of self-government and still remain loyal to the British King? If so, a constitutional revolution was certainly in progress.

Alexander Stewart, another member of the new government with a seat in the Legislative Council, was even more outspoken against the claims asserted by Howe. The Executive Council was completely independent of the other branches of the government. Responsible government in a colony would mean independence, severing the bonds of the empire, and in his opinion, it was “responsible nonsense.”

The view thus expressed by the Conservative leaders was a challenge to Joseph Howe. He had entered the government with these men, understanding that a new constitution had been established. He met the issue, therefore, emphatically and at once, in a statement from the floor of the Assembly in which he said that “if any man in the colony, in this House or the other, says that there is no change in the constitution, the person so speaking does not state what is the fact.”

The principle had been established if the House was true to itself, that the Executive Council depended for its continuation upon the support of the popular branch, and must resign in case of a vote of censure by that body. The next day he spoke at length on the same question asserting again with considerable spirit that the constitution sought by the Liberal party had been fully established. It was the British system, and now, in case of an adverse vote by the Assembly, the Lieutenant-Governor must do one of three things: discharge the Executive Council, change his policy, or appeal to the people by dissolving the Assembly.

It is clear from these statements that the members of Falkland’s government did not agree as to the meaning of the constitution under which they served, and that there was a serious lack of harmony among the members of the new Executive Council. Each side claimed that the British constitution had been granted to Nova Scotia, but each had a different interpretation as to its fundamental meaning. The same difference of opinion would have been found at the same time even among the members of the British Parliament.

The whole question of the responsibility of the ministry was quite unsettled, and at this time Lord John Russell himself would hardly have dared to venture an opinion as to the exact definition of that responsibility. The task of the ministry in England was not to quibble over a theoretical point, but to carry on the government as successfully as circumstances would permit. This same task faced the coalition government of Nova Scotia. In most instances an opposition party would have debated with the members of the government the theories upon which it rested, but in the case of Nova Scotia the opposition was now a part of the government, so the argument was carried on among its own members.”

Livingston, Walter Ross. Responsible Government In Nova Scotia: a Study of the Constitutional Beginnings of the British Commonwealth. Iowa City: The University, 1930. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/wu.89080043730https://archive.org/details/responsiblegover0000livi

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