For organic acts relating to the land now included within Delaware,
see in other parts of this work:
Virginia Charter of 1606 (Virginia, p. 3783).
Dutch West India Company, 1621 (p. 59).
Maryland Charter, 1632 (Maryland, p. 1669).
Grant to the Duke of York, 1664 (Maine, p. 1637).
Grant to the Duke of York, 1674 (Maine, p. 1641).
Grant to Penn, 1681 (Pennsylvania, p. 3035).
Concessions to Pennsylvania, 1681 (Pennsylvania, p. 3044).
Frames of Government of Pennsylvania, 1682, 1683, 1696 (Pennsylvania,
pp. 3052, 3064, 3070).
For the charter
to the Swedish South Company see Hazard, Annals of Pennsylvania, pp. 16--20,
Jameson, William Usselinx, 114-117.
CHARTER OF DELAWARE-1701
WILLIAM PENN, Proprietary and Governor of the Province of Pennsylvania
and Territories thereunto belonging, To all to whom these Presents shall
come, sendeth Greeting.
WHEREAS King CHARLES the Second, by his Letter Patents, under the
Great Seal of England, bearing Date the Fourth Day of March, in
the Year One Thousand Six Hundred and Eighty, was graciously pleased to
give and grant unto me, and my Heirs and Assigns for ever, this Province of Pennsylvania,
with divers great Powers and Jurisdictions for the well Government thereof.
AND WHEREAS the King's dearest Brother, JAMES Duke of YORK and ALBANY,
&c. by his Deeds of Feoffment, under his Hand and Seal duly perfected,
bearing Date the Twenty-Fourth Day of August, One Thousand Six
Hundred Eighty and Two, did grant unto me, my Heirs and Assigns, all that
Tract of Land, now called the Territories of Pennsylvania, together
with Powers and Jurisdictions for the good Government thereof.
AND WHEREAS, for the Encouragement of all the Freemen and Planters,
that might be concerned in the said Province and Territories, and for the good
Government thereof, I the said WILLIAM PENN, in the Year One Thousand Six
Hundred Eighty and Three, for me, my Heirs and Assigns, did grant and
confirm unto all the Freemen, Planters and Adventurers therein, divers
Liberties, Franchises and Properties, as by the said Grant, entituled, The
Laws of the Government of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex Upon Delaware,
Published by Order of the Assembly, Philadelphia: Printed and sold by B. Franklin,
at the New Printing Office, Market- Street, MDCCXLI. 3-8.
a The counties of "New-Castle, Kent and Sussex, upon
Delaware," were granted by James Duke of York, to William Penn in 1682,
and were known as "the Territories."
of the Province of Pennsylvania, and
Territories thereunto belonging, in America, may appear; which Charter or
Frame being found, in some Parts of it, not go suitable to the present
Circumstances of the Inhabitants, was in the Third Month, in the Year One
Thousand Seven Hundred, delivered up to me, by Six Parts of Seven of
the Freemen of this Province and Territories, in General Assembly met,
Provision being made in the said Charter, for that End and Purpose.
AND WHEREAS I was then pleased to promise, That I would restore the
said Charter to them again, with necessary Alterations, or in lieu thereof,
give them another, better adapted to answer the present Circumstances and
Conditions of the said Inhabitants; which they have now, by their
Representatives in General Assembly met at Philadelphia, requested me
KNOW YE THEREFORE, That for the further Well-being and good Government
of the said Province, and Territories; and in Pursuance of the Rights and Powers
before-mentioned, I the said William Penn do declare, grant and confirm,
unto all the Freemen, Planters and Adventurers, and other Inhabitants in this
Province and Territories, these following Liberties, Franchises and Privileges,
so far as in me lieth, to be held, enjoyed and kept, by the Freemen, Planters
and Adventurers, and other Inhabitants of and in the said Province and
Territories thereunto annexed, for ever.
BECAUSE no People can be truly happy, though under the greatest
Enjoyment of Civil Liberties, if abridged of the Freedom of their Consciences,
as to their Religious Profession and Worship: AndAlmighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights
and Spirits; and the Author as well as Object of all divine Knowledge, Faith
and Worship, who only doth enlighten the Minds, and persuade and convince the
Understandings of People, I do hereby grant and declare, That no Person or
Persons, inhabiting in this Province or Territories, who shall confess and
acknowledge One almighty God, the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the
World; and professes him or themselves obliged to live quietly under the Civil
Government, shall be in any Case molested or prejudiced, in his or their Person
or Estate, because of his or their consciencious Persuasion or Practice, nor be
compelled to frequent or maintain any religious Worship, Place or Ministry,
contrary to his or their Mind, or to do or suffer any other Act or Thing,
contrary to their religious Persuasion.
AND that all Persons who also profess to believe in Jesus Christ, the
Saviour of the World, shall be capable (notwithstanding their other Persuasions
and Practices in Point of Conscience and Religion) to serve this Government in
any Capacity, both legislatively and executively, he or they solemnly
promising, when lawfully required, Allegiance to the King as Sovereign, and
Fidelity to the Proprietary and Governor, and taking the Attests as now
established by the Law made at Newcastle, in the Year One Thousand
and Seven Hundred, entituled, An Act directing the Attests of several
Officers and Ministers, as now amended an confirmed this present Assembly.
FOR the well
governing of this Province and Territories, there shall be an Assembly yearly
chosen, by the Freemen thereof, to consist of Four Persons out of each
County, of most Note for Virtue, Wisdom and Ability, (or of a greater Number
at any Time, as the Governor and Assembly shall agree) upon the First Day
of October for ever; and shall sit on the Fourteenth Day of the
same Month, at Philadelphia, unless the Governor and Council for the
Time being, shall see Cause to appoint another Place within the said Provinces
or Territories: Which Assembly shall have Power to chuse a Speaker and other
their Officers; and shall be Judges of the Qualifications and Elections of
their own Members; sit upon their own Adjournments; appoint Committees; prepare
Bills in order to pass into Laws; impeach Criminals, and redress Grievances;
and shall have all other Powers and Privileges of an Assembly, according to the
Rights of the free-born Subjects of England, and as is usual in any of
the King's Plantations in America.
AND if any
County or Counties, shall refuse or neglect to chuse their respective
Representatives as aforesaid, or if chosen, do not meet to serve in Assembly,
those who are so chosen and met, shall have the full Power of all Assembly, in
as ample Manner as if all the Representatives had been chosen and met, provided
they are not less than Two Thirds of the whole Number that ought to
AND that the
Qualifications of Electors and Elected, and all other Matters and Things
relating to elections of Representatives to serve in Assemblies, though not
herein particularly expressed, shall be and remain as by a Law of this
Government, made at Newcastle, in the Year One Thousand Seven
Hundred, entituled, An Act to ascertain the Number of Members of
Assembly, and to regulate the Elections.
THAT the Freemen in each respective County, at the Time and Place of
Meeting for electing their Representatives to serve in Assembly, may as often
as there shall be Occasion, chuse a double Number of Persons to present to the Governor
for Sheriffs and Coroners, to serve for Three Years, if so long they
well; out of which respective Elections and Presentments, the Governor
shall nominate and commissionate one for each of the said Offices, the Third
Day after such Presentment, or else the First named in such
Presentment, for each Office as aforesaid, shall stand and serve in that Office
for the Time before respectively limited; and in case of Death or Default, such
Vacancies shall be supplied by the Governor, to serve to the End of the said
That if the said Freemen shall at any Time neglect or decline to chuse a Person
or Persons for either or both the aforesaid Offices, then, and in such Case,
the Persons that are or shall be in the respective Offices of Sheriffs or
Coroners, at the Time of Election, shall remain therein, until they shall be
removed by another Election as aforesaid.
.AND that the
Justices of the respective Counties shall or may nominate and present to the
Governor Three Persons, to serve for
Clerk of the Peace for the said County, when there is a Vacancy, one
of which the Governor shall commissionate within Ten Days after such
Presentment, or else the First nominated shall serve in the said Office
during good Behaviour.
THAT the Laws of this Government shall be in this Stile, viz. By the
Governor, with the Consent and Approbation of the Freemen in General Assembly
met; and shall be, after Confirmation by the Governor, forthwith recorded
in the Rolls Office, and kept at Philadelphia, unless the Governor and
Assembly shall agree to appoint another Place.
THAT all Criminals shall have the same Privileges of Witnesses and
Council as their Prosecutors.
THAT no Person or Persons shall or may, at any Time hereafter, be
obliged to answer any Complaint, Matter or Thing whatsoever, relating to
Property, before the Governor and Council, or in any other Place, but in ordinary
Course of Justice, unless Appeals thereunto shall be hereafter by Law
THAT no Person within this Government, shall be licensed by the
Governor to keep an Ordinary, Tavern, or House of publick Entertainment, but
such who are first recommended to him, under the Hands of the Justices of the
respective Counties, signed in open Court; which Justices are and shall be
hereby impowered, to suppress and forbid any Person, keeping such
Publick-House as aforesaid, upon their Misbehaviour, on such Penalties as the
Law doth or shall direct; and to recommend others, from time to time, as they
shall see Occasion.
IF any Person, through Temptation or Melancholy, shall destroy
himself, his Estate, real and personal, shall notwithstanding descend to his
Wife and Children, or Relations, as if he had died a natural Death; and if any
Person shall be destroyed or killed by Casualty or Accident, there shall be no
Forfeiture to the Governor by Reason thereof.
AND no Act, Law or Ordinance whatsoever, shall at any Time hereafter,
be made or done, to alter, change or diminish the Form or Effect of this
Charter, or of any Part or Clause therein, contrary to the true Intent and
Meaning thereof, without the Consent of the Governor for the Time being, and Six
Parts of Seven of the Assembly met.
BUT, because the Happiness of Mankind depends so much upon the
Enjoying of Liberty of their Consciences, as aforesaid, I do hereby
solemnly declare, promise and grant, for me, my Heirs and Assigns, That the First
Article of this Charter relating to Liberty of Conscience, and every Part
and Clause therein, according to the true Intent and Meaning thereof, shall be
kept and remain, without any Alteration, inviolably for ever.
AND LASTLY, I the said William Penn, Proprietary
and Governor of the Province of Pennsylvania, and Territories thereunto
belonging, for myself, my Heirs and Assigns, have solemnly declared, granted
and confirmed, and do hereby solemnly declare, grant and confirm, That neither
I, my Heirs or Assigns, shall procure or do any Thing or Things whereby the
Liberties in this Charter contained and expressed, nor any Part thereof, shall
be infringed or broken: And if any thing shall be procured or done, by any
Person or Persons, contrary to these Presents, it shall be held of no Force or
IN WITNESS whereof, I the said William Penn, at
Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, have unto this present Charter of
Liberties, set my hand and broad Seal, this Twenty-Eighth Day of October,
inthe Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and One, being
the Thirteenth Year of the Reign of King WILLIAM the Third, over
England, Scotland, France, and Ireland,&c., and the Twenty-first Year
of my Government.
AND NOTWITHSTANDING the Closure and Test of this
present Charter as aforesaid, I think fit to add this following Proviso
thereunto, as Part of the same, That is to say, That notwithstanding any
Clause or Clauses in the above-mentioned Charter, obliging the Province and
Territories to join together in Legislation, I am content, and do hereby
declare, that if the Representatives of the Province and Territories shall not
hereafter agree to join together in Legislation, and that the same shall be
signified unto me, or my Deputy, in open Assembly, or otherwise, from under the
Hands and Seals of the Representatives, for the Time being of the Province and
Territories, or the major part of either of them, at any Time within Three Years
from the Date hereof, that in such Case, the Inhabitants of each of the Three
Counties of this Province, shall not have less than Eight Persons to
represent them in Assembly, for the Province; and the Inhabitants of the Town
of Philadelphia (when the said Town is incorporated) Two Persons to
represent them in Assembly; and the Inhabitants of each County in the
Territories shall have as, many Persons to represent them in a distinct
Assembly for the Territories, as shall be by them requested as aforesaid.
NOTWITHSTANDING which Separation of the Province
and Territories, in Respect of Legislation, I do hereby promise, grant and
declare, That the Inhabitants of both Province and Territories, shall
separately enjoy all other Liberties, Privileges and Benefits, granted jointly
to them in this Charter, any Law, Usage or Custom of this Government,
heretofore made and practised, or any Law made and passed by this General
Assembly, to the Contrary hereof, notwithstanding.
This Charter of Privileges being distinctly read in Assembly, and the
whole and every part thereof being approved and agreed to, by us, we do
thankfully receive the same from our Proprietary and Governor, at Philadelphia,
this Twenty-Eighth Day of October, One Thousand Seven Hundred and One. Signed
on Behalf, and by Order of the Assembly,