1st Virginia Charter, 1606


April 10, 1606

In 1606, King James of England granted the first charter to the Virginia Company, which settled 120 people in Jamestown. A second charter was granted in 1609, and a third was granted in 1611-12, giving more independence to the company. The portion of the 1606 Charter addressing religious liberty is excerpted below.

Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie Religious Institutions Group

James, by the grace of God [King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith], etc. Whereas our loving and well disposed subjects, Sir Thomas Gates and . . . .; and divers others of our loving subjects, have been humble sutors unto us, that wee woulde vouchsafe unto them our licence to make habitacion, plantacion and to deduce a colonie of sondrie of our people into that parte of America commonly called Virginia, and other parts and territories in America either appartaining unto us, or which are not nowe actuallie possessed by anie Christian prince or people, scituate, lying and being all along the sea coastes between fower and thirtie degrees of northerly latitude from the equinoctiall line, and five and fortie degrees of the same latitude, and in the maine lande betweene the same fower and thirtie and five and fourtie degrees, and the ilandes thereunto adjacente or within one hundred miles of the coaste thereof;

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Wee, greately commending, and graciously accepting of theire desires to the furtherance of soe noble a worke, which may, by the providence of Almightie God, hereafter tende to the glorie of His Divine Majestie, in propagating of Christian religion to suche people as yet live in darkenesse and miserable ignorance of the true knoweledge and worshippe of God, and may in tyme bring the infidels and salvages living in those parts, to humane civilitie, and to a setled and quiet govermente: doe, by theise our lettres patents, graciously accepte of, and agree to, theire humble and well intended desires;

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In witness whereof, we have caused these our Letters to be made Patents; Witness Ourself at Westminster, the tenth Day of April in the fourth Year of our Reign of England, France, and Ireland, and of Scotland the nine and thirtieth.


Per breve de privato Sigillo.

See Source: The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the United States 1888-93 (Ben Berley Poore ed., 2d ed. 1878).