2nd Virginia Charter, 1609


May 23, 1609

In 1606, King James of England granted the first charter to the Virginia Company, which settled 120 people in Jamestown. This 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.] To all [to whom these presents shall come, greeting.]

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And forasmuch as it shalbe necessarie for all such our lovinge subjects as shall inhabitt within the said precincts of Virginia aforesaid to determine to live togither in the feare and true woorshipp of Almightie God, Christian peace and civill quietnes, each with other, whereby everie one maie with more safety, pleasure and profitt enjoye that where unto they shall attaine with great paine and perill, wee, for us, oure heires and successors, are likewise pleased and contented, and by theis presents doe give and graunte unto the said Tresorer and Companie, and their successors and to such governors, officers and ministers as shalbe, by oure said Councell, constituted and appointed, accordinge to the natures and lymitts of their offices and places respectively, that they shall and maie from time to time for ever hereafter, within the said precincts of Virginia or in the waie by the seas thither and from thence, have full and absolute power and aucthority to correct, punishe, pardon, governe and rule all such the subjects of us, oure heires and successors as shall from time to time adventure themselves in anie voiadge thither or that shall at anie tyme hereafter inhabitt in the precincts and territorie of the said Colonie as aforesaid, accordinge to such order, ordinaunces, constitution, directions and instruccions as by oure said Counsell, as aforesaid, shalbe established; and in defect thereof, in case of necessitie according to the good discretions of the said governours and officers respectively, aswell in cases capitall and criminall as civill, both marine and other; so alwaies as the said statuts, ordinannces and proceedinges as neere as convenientlie maie be, be agreable to the lawes, statutes, government, and pollicie of this oure realme of England.

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And lastely, because the principall effect which wee cann desier or expect of this action is the conversion and reduccion of the people in those partes unto the true worshipp of God and Christian religion, in which respect wee would be lothe that anie person should be permitted to passe that wee suspected to affect the superstitions of the Churche of Rome, wee doe hereby declare that it is oure will and pleasure that none be permitted to passe in anie voiadge from time to time to be made into the saide countrie but such as firste shall have taken the oath of supremacie; for which purpose wee doe by theise presents give full power and aucthoritie to the Tresorer for the time beinge, and anie three of the Counsell, to tender and exhibite the said oath to all such persons as shall at anie time be sent and imploied in the said voiadge.

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In witnes whereof [we have caused these our letters to be made patent. Witness ourself at Westminster, the 23d day of May (1609) in the seventh year of our reign of England, France, and Ireland, and of Scotland the ****]

Per ipsum Regem exactum.

See Source: The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the United States 1893-1902 (Ben Berley Poore ed., 2d ed. 1878).