The Third Virginia Charter, 1612
James, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith; To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting. Whereas at the humble Suit of divers and sundry our loving Subjects, as well Adventurers as Planters of the first Colony in Virginia, and for the Propagation of Christian Religion, and Reclaiming of People barbarous, to Civility and Humanity, We have, by our Letters-Patents, bearing Date at Westminster, the three-and-twentieth Day of May, in the seventh Year of our Reign of England, France, and Ireland, and the two-and-fortieth of Scotland, Given and Granted unto them that they and all such and so many of our loving Subjects as should from time to time, for ever after, be joined with them as Planters or Adventurers in the said Plantation, and their Successors, for ever, should be one Body politick, incorporated by the Name of The Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters of the City of London for the first Colony in Virginia; And whereas also for the greater Good and Benefit of the said Company, and for the better Furtherance, Strengthening, and Establishing of the said Plantation, we did further Give, Grant and Confirm, by our Letters- Patents unto the said Company and their Successors, for ever, all those Lands, Countries or Territories, situate, lying and being in that Part of America called Virginia, from the Point of Land called Cape or Point Comfort all along the Sea Coasts to the Northward two hundred Miles; and from the said Point of Cape Comfort all along the Sea Coast to the Southward two hundred Miles; and all that Space and Circuit of Land lying from the Sea Coast of the Precinct aforesaid, up into the Land throughout from Sea to Sea West and North-west; and also all the Islands lying within one hundred Miles along the Coast of both the Seas of the Precinct aforesaid; with divers other Grants, Liberties, Franchises and Preheminences, Privileges, Profits, Benefits, and Commodities granted in and by our said Letters-patents to the said Treasurer and Company and their Successors for ever. Now forasmuch as we are given to understand, that in those Seas adjoining to the said Coasts of Virginia, and without the Compass of those two hundred Miles by Us so granted unto the said Treasurer and Company as aforesaid, and yet not far distant from the said Colony in Virginia, there are or may be divers Islands lying desolate and uninhabited, some of which are already made known and discovered by the Industry, Travel, and Expences of the said Company, and others also are supposed to be and remain as yet unknown and undiscovered, all and every of which it may import the said Colony both in Safety and Policy of Trade to populate and plant; in Regard whereof, as well for the preventing of Peril, as for the better Commodity of the said Colony, they have been humble suitors unto Us, that We would be pleased to grant unto them an Enlargement of our said former Letters-patents. . . . all and singular those Islands whatsoever situate and beiiig in any Part of the Ocean Seas bordering upon the Coast of our said first Colony in Virginia, and being within three Hundred Leagues of any of the Parts heretofore granted to the said Treasurer and Company in our said former Letters-Patents as aforesaid. . . . To have and to hold, possess and enjoy, all and singular the said Islands in the said Ocean Seas so lying and bordering upon the Coast and Coasts of the Territories of the said first Colony in Virginia, as aforesaid. With all and singular the said Soils, Lands, Grounds, and all and singular other the Premises heretofore by these Presents granted or mentioned to be granted to them. . . . And We are further pleased, and We do by these Presents grant and confirm, that Philip Earl of Montgomery, William Lord Paget, sir John Starrington, Knight etc., whom the said Treasurer and Company have since the said last Letters-Patents nominated and set down as worthy and discreet Persons fit to serve Us as Counsellors, to be of our Council for the said Plantation, shall be reputed, deemed, and taken as Persons of our said Council for the said first Colony, in such Manner and Sort, to all Intents and Purposes, as those who have been formerly elected and nominated as our Counsellors for that Colony, and whose Names have been, or are inserted and expressed in our said former Letters-Patents. And we do hereby ordain and grant by these Presents that the said Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters aforesaid, shall and may, once every week, or oftener, at their Pleasure, hold, and keep a Court and Assembly for the better Order and Government of the said Plantation, and such Things as shall concern the same:
And that any five Persons of our Council for the said first Colony in Virginia, for the Time being, of which Company the Treasurer, or his Deputy, to be always one, and the Number of fifteen others, at the least, of the Generality of the said Company, assembled together in such Manner as is and bath been heretofore used and accustomed, shall be said, taken, held, and reputed to be, and shall be a sufficient Court of the said Company, for the handling and ordering, and dispatching of all such casual and particular Occurrences, and accidental Matters, of less Consequence and Weight, as shall from Time to Time happen, touching and concerning the said Plantation And that nevertheless, for the handling, ordering, and disposing of Matters and Affairs of greater Weight and Importance, and such as shall or may, in any Sort, concern the Weal Publick and general Good of the said Company and Plantation, as namely, the Manner of Government from Time to Time to be used, the ordering and Disposing of the Lands and Possessions, and the settling and establishing of a Trade there, or such like, there shall be held and kept every Year, upon the last Wednesday, save one, of Hillary Term, Easter, Trinity, and Michaelmas Terms, for ever, one great, general, and solemn Assembly, which four Assemblies shall be stiled and called, The four Great and General Courts of the Council and Company of Adventurers for Virginia; In all and every of which said Great and General Courts, so assembled, our Will and Pleasure is, and we do, for Us, our Heirs and Successors, for ever, Give and Grant to the said Treasurer and Company, and their Successors for ever, by these Presents, that they, the said Treasurer and Company, or the greater Number of them, so assembled, shall and may have full Power and Authority, from Time to Time, and at all Times hereafter, to elect and chuse discreet Persons, to be of our said Council for the said first Colony in Virginia, and to nominate and appoint such Officers as they shall think fit and requisite, for the Government, managing, ordering, and dispatching of the Affairs of the said Company; And shall likewise have full Power and Authority, to ordain and make such Laws and Ordinances, for the Good and Welfare of the said Plantation, as to them from Time to Time, shall be thought requisite and meet: So always, as the same be not contrary to the Laws and Statutes of this our Realm of England. . . .
An Ordinance And Constitution Of The Virginia Company