American Historical Documents, 1676-77
The concessions and agreements of the proprietors, freeholders and inhabitants of the province of West New-Jersey, in America
We do consent and agree as the best present expedient, that such persons as shall be from time to time deputed, nominated and appointed commissioners by the present proprietors, or the major part of them, by writing under their hands and seals, shall be commissioners for the time being, and have power to order and manage the estate and affairs of the said province of West New-Jersey, according to these our concessions hereafter following, and to depute others in their place and authority in case of death or removal, and to continue until some other persons be deputed, nominated and appointed by the said proprietors or the major part of them, to succeed them in that office and service. And the commissioners for the time being, are to take care, for setting forth and dividing all the lands of the said province as be already taken up, or by themselves shall be taken up and contracted for with the natives; and the said lands so taken up and contracted for, to divide into one hundred parts, as occasion shall require; that is to say, for every quantity of land that they shall from time to time lay out to be planted and settled upon, they shall first, for expedition, divide the same into ten eqial parts or shares, and for distinction sake, to mark in the register, and upon some of the trees belonging to every tenth part, with the letters A. B. and so end at the letter K. And after the same is so divided and marked, the said commissioners are to grant unto Thomas Hutchinson, of Beverly, Thomas Pearson, of Bonwicke, Joseph Helmsly, of Great Kelke, George Hutchinson, of Sheffield, and Mahlon Stacy, of Hansworth, all of the county of York, or their lawful deputies, or particular commissioners, for themselves and their friends, who are a considerable number of people, and many speedily promote the planting of the said province.
That they may have free liberty to make choice of any one of the said tenth parts or shares, which shall be first divided and set out, being also done with their consent, that they may plant upon the same as they see meet; and afterward any other person or persons who shall go over to inhabit, and have purchased to the number of ten proprieties, they shall and may have liberty to make choice of any of the remaining parts or shares to settle in: And all other proprietors who shall go over to settle as aforesaid, and cannot make up amongst them the number of ten proprietors; yet nevertheless, they shall and may have liberty to make choice of settling in any of the said tenth shares, that shall not be taken up before: And the commissioners have hereby power to see the said one tenth part, that they shall so mnke choice of, laid out and divided into ten proprieties, and to allot them so many proprieties out of the same as they have order for; and the said commissioners are to follow these rules, until they receive contrary order from the major part of the proprietors, under their hands and seals.
The said commissioners for the time being, have hereby power for appointing and setting out fit places for towns, and to limit the boundaries thereof; and to take care they be as regular built as the present occasion, time, and conveniency of the places will admit of. And that all towns to be erected and built, shall be with the consent of the commissioners for the time being, or the major part of them. And further, the said commissioners are to order the affairs of the said province, according to these concessions, and any other instructions that shall be given them by the major part of the proprietors, until such time as more or other commissioners shall be chosen by the inhabitants of West-Jersey, as here in these concessions is mentioned and appointed.
And it is further expressly provided and agreed to, that whereas there is a contract or agreement granted by William Penn, Gawen Lawrie and Nicholas Lucas, unto Thomas Hutchinson, Thomas Pearson, Joseph Helmsly, George Hutchinson and Mahlon Stacy, dated the second day of the month called March, 1676, instant, wherein they grant unto the said persons, certain privileges for a town to be built, whereby they have liberty to choose their own magistrates and officers for executing the laws according to the concessions within the said town; which said contract or agreement is to be held firm and good to all intents and purposes, and we do by these our concessions confirm the same.
And that all and every person and persons, may enjoy his and their just and equal propriety and purchase of lands, in the said province; it is hereby agreed, concluded and ordained, that the surveyor or surveyors, that the said proprietors have deputed and appointed, or shall depute and appoint; they failing, that the commissioners shall depute and appoint, or that the general free assembly hereafter shall depute and appoint, shall have power by him or themselves, or his or their lawful deputy or deputies, to survey, lay out or bound, all the proprietors lands, and all such lands as shall be granted from any of the proprietors to the freeholders, planters, or inhabitants, and a particular or terrior thereof, to certify to the register, to be recorded.
That hereafter upon further settlement of the said province, the proprietors, freeholders, and inhabitants, resident upon the said province, shall and may, at or upon the five and twentieth day of the month called March, which shall be in the year according to the English account, one thousand six hundred and eighty; and so thence forward, upon the five and twentieth day of March yearly, by the ninth hour in the morning of the said day, assemble themselves together, in some publick place to be ordered and appointed by the commissioners for the time being; and upon default of such appointment, in such place as they shall see meet, and then and there elect of and amongst themselves, ten honest and able men, fit for government, to officiate and execute the place of commissioners for the year ensuing, and until such time as ten more for the year then next following, shall be elected and appointed: Which said elections shall be as followeth, that is to say, the inhabitants each ten of the one hundred proprieties, shall elect and choose one, and the one hundred proprieties shall be divided into ten divisions or tribes of men.
And the said elections shall be made and distinguished by balloting trunks, to avoid noise and confusion, and not by voices, holding up of the hands, or otherwise howsoever: Which said commissioners so yearly to be elected, shall likewise govern and order the affairs of the said province, (pro tempore) for the good and welfare of the said people, and according to these our concessions, until such time as the general free assembly shall be elected and deputed in such manner and wise as is hereafter expressed and contained.
And that the planting of the said province be the more speedily promoted, it is consented, granted, concluded, agreed and declared, First, That the proprietors of the said province, have and do hereby grant unto all persons, who by and with the consent of one or more of any of the proprietors of the said province, attested by the certificate, under his or their hands and seals, adventure to the said province of west New- Jersey, and shall transport themselves or servants, before the first day of the month commonly called April, which shall be in the year of our lord one thousand six hundred seventy and seven, these following proportions, viz. For his own person arriving, seventy acres of land, English measure; and for every able man servant that he shall carry with him, and arriving there, the like quantity of seventy acres of land, English measure: And whosoever shall send servants before that time, shall have for every able man servant, he or they so send as aforesaid, and arriving there, the like quantity of seventy acres; and for every weaker servant, male or female, exceeding the age of fourteen years, which any one shall send or carry, arriving there, fifty acres of land; and after the expiration of their time of service, fifty acres of land for their own use and behoof, to hold to them and their heirs forever. All such person and persons, freemen or servants, and their respective heirs and assigns, afterwards paying yearly to the proprietor, his heirs and assigns, to whom the said lands belong, one penny an acre, for what shall be laid out in towns, and one half penny an acre, for what shall be laid out elsewhere: The first yearly payment to begin within two years after the lands are laid out.
Secondly, To every master or mistress, that by and with such consent aforesaid, shall go hence the second year, before the first day of the month called April, which shall be in the year one thousand six hundred seventy and eight, fifty acres of land; and for every able man servant, that he or she shall carry or send, and arriving there, the like quantity of fifty acres of land; and for every weaker servant, male or female, exceeding the age of fourteen years, arriving there, thirty acres of land; and after the expiration of their service, thirty acres of land, for their own use and behoof; to hold to them and their heirs forever: All the said persons, and their respective heirs and assigns, yearly paying as aforesaid, to the proprietor, his heirs and assigns, to whom the land belongs, one penny farthing the acre, for all such lands as shall be laid out in towns, and three farthings the acre, for all that shall be laid out elsewhere.
Thirdly, To every freeman that shall arrive in the said province, within the third year, from the first day of the month commonly called April, in the year one thousand six hundred seventy and eight, to the first of the said month called April, one thousand six hundred seventy and nine, (with an intention to plant) forty acres of land, English measure; and for every able man servant, that he or she shall carry or send as aforesaid, forty acres of land, of like measure; and for every weaker servant, aged as aforesaid, that shall be so carried or sent thither, within the third year as aforesaid, twenty acres of land, of like measure; and after the expiration of his or their time of service, twenty acres of land for their own use and behoof; to hold to them and to their heirs forever: All the said persons and their heirs and assigns, paying yearly as aforesaid, to the proprietor, his heirs and assigns, with whom they contract for the same, one penny half penny the acre, for what shall be laid out in towns, and one penny the acre for what shall be laid out elsewhere. All which lands that shall be possessed in the said province, are to be held under, and according to the concessions and conditions as is before mentioned, and as hereafter in the following paragraph, is more at large expressed. Provided always, that the before mentioned land that shall be taken up and so settled in the province as aforesaid, shall from the date hereof, be held upon the conditions aforesaid, containing at least, two able men servants, or three such weaker servants as aforesaid, for every hundred acres; and so proportionably for a lesser or greater quantity as one hundred acres, besides what a master or mistress shall possess, which was granted for his or her own person; in failure of which, upon notation to the present occupant or his assigns, there shall be three years given to such, for the compleating the said number of servants, and for their sale or other disposure of such part of their lands as are not so peopled: Within which time of three years, if any persons holding any land, shall fail by himself, his agents, executors or assigns, or some other way, to provide such number of persons, (unless the general assembly shall without respect to poverty, judge it was impossible for the party so failing to keep his or her number of servants to be provided as aforesaid) in such case the commissioners are to summon together twelve men of the neighbourhood, upon such inquest, verdict and judgment past of such default; they are and have power of disposing of so much of such land, for any term of years, not exceeding 20 years, as shall not be planted with its due nnmber of persons as aforesaid, to some other that will plant the same; reserving and preserving to the proprietor, or his lawful assigns, the rents to become due and owing, for or in respect of the same, according to the tenor and effect of these concessions. And further, that every proprietor that goeth over in person, and inhabit in the said province, shall keep and maintain upon every lot of land that they shall take up, one person at least; and if the lot shall exceed 200 acres, he shall keep and maintain for every 200 acres, the like quantity of one person at the least.
And for all other proprietors that doth but go over in person, and inhabit in the said province, shall keep and maintain upon every lot of land that shall fall to them, one person at the least; and if the said lot exceed one hundred acres, then upon every hundred acres that fall to them as aforesaid, they shall keep and maintain one person at the least: And if any neglect or deficiency shall be found in any of the proprietors, of their keeping and maintaining the number of persons before mentioned; that then and in that case, the commissioners are to dispose upon the said lands for any term of years not exceeding twenty, to any person or persons that will keep and maintain upon the said lands the number of persons as before is mentioned; reserving always unto the said proprietors, the rents that shall fall due for the same, as before is reserved and appointed to be so. Always provided, that the keeping and maintaining of the said number of persons upon the several lots and number of acres before mentioned, is to continue for ten years from the date of the concessions, and no longer; except where there have been any deficiency, so as the commissioners have let the lands for a longer time, to any person or persons, they are to enjoy the same during the term granted them by the commissioners; any thing in this last proviso, to the contrary notwithstanding.
And for the regular laying out of all lands whatsoever in the said province, this method is to be followed by the register and surveyor. That the register to be appointed as aforesaid, having recorded any grant from any of the proprietors, to any person, for any quantity or quantities of acres, shall make out a certificate to the surveyor or his deputy, enjoining him to lay out, limit and bound [number to be stated] acres of land, for A. B. out of the several lots of C. D. one of the proprietors, in the proportions following; that is to say, [a specific percentage] part thereof in the lot of said C. D. in [specific location, or named tract] which the surveyor or his deputy. shall lay out, limit and bound accordingly, and shall certify back to the register on what point of the compass the several limits thereof lie, and on whose lands the several parcels butt and bound; which last certificate shall be entered by the said register or his deputy, in a book for that purpose, with an alphabetical table of the proprietors names, and the name of the planter or purchaser referring to the said certilicate, shall by the said register be endorsed in the back of the grant, with the folio of the book in which it is entered, and his name subscribed to the said endorsement.
And that the commissioners for the time being, are hereby impowered to ascertain the rates and fees of the public register, surveyor and other officers, as they shall see meet and reasonable, how much or what every one shall pay for registering any conveyance, deed, lease, speciality, certificate, or other writing; as also what shall be paid by every proprietor for surveying, dividing, and laying out of any lands in the said province; which said register, surveyor, or other officer, is not to exact or demand any more or greater rates as shall be established as aforesaid.
We do also grant convenient portions of land for highways, and for streets, not under one hundred feet in breadth, in cities, towns and villages; and for wharffs, keys, harbours, and for publick houses, in such place as the commissioners for the time being (until there be a general assembly) shall appoint; and that all such lands laid out for the said uses and purposes, shall be free and exempt from all rents, taxes, and other charges and duties whatsoever; as also, that the inhabitants of the said province have free passage through or by any seas, bounds, creeks, rivers, rivulets in the said province, through or by which they must necessarily pass to come from the main ocean to any part of the province aforesaid; as also by land in ways laid out or through any lands not planted or enclosed.
That all the inhabitants within the said province of West-Jersey, have the liberty of fishing in Delaware river, or on the sea coast; and the liberty of hunting and killing any deer or other wild beasts, the liberty to shoot or take any wild fowls within the said province. Provided always, that they do not hunt, kill, shoot, or take any such deer, wild beasts, or fowls, upon the lands that is or shall be surveyed, taken up, inclosed, sown and planted, except the owners of the said lands or their assigns.
The commissioners are to take care, that lands quietly held, planted and possessed seven years after its being first duly surveyed by the surveyor or surveyors, his or their lawful deputies, which shall be appointed by the said proprietors, and registered in manner as aforesaid, shall not be subject to any review, resurvey or alteration of bounds, upon any pretence, or by any pretence, or by any person or persons whatsoever.
The commissioners are to take care, that no man, if his cattle stray, range, or graze on any ground within the said province, not actually appropriated or set out to particular persons, shall be liable to pay any trespass for the same: Provided, that custom of commons be not thereby pretended to, nor any person hindered from legally taking up and appropriating any land so grazed upon.
The commissioners are to see, that all courts established by the laws and constitutions of the general assembly, and pursuant unto those concessions, do execute their several duties and offices respectively, according to the laws in force; and to displace or punish them for violating the said laws, or acting contrary to their duty and trusts, as the nature of their offences shall require; and where they see cause of condemnation or sentence passd upon any person or persons, by any judge, justice, or court whatsoever, the said commissioners have power to reprieve and suspend the execution of the sentence, until the cause be presented, with a copy of the whole trial, proceeding and proofs, to the next general assembly; who may accordingly either pardon or command execution of the sentence on the offender or offenders, (who are to be kept in the mean time in safe custody until the sense of the general assembly be known therein.)
To act and do all other thing or things that may conduce to the safety, peace and well-government of the said province, and these present concessions, and that all inferior officers be accountable to the commissioners, and they to be accountable to the general assembly. The commissioners are to take care, that the constables of the said province, shall collect such of the proprietors rents, who dwell not in the said province, but in England, Ireland, or Scotland; and shall pay it to the receiver that they shall appoint to receive the same; unless the general assembly shall prescribe some other way whereby they may have their rents duly collected, without charge and trouble to the said proprietors.
They are not to impose or suffer to be imposed, any tax, custom or subsidy, tollage, assessment, or any other duty whatsoever, upon any colour or pretence how specious soever, upon the said province and inhabitants thereof, without their own consent first had, or other than what shall be imposed by the authority and consent of the general assembly, and that only in manner and for the good ends and uses as aforesaid.
That that the said commissioners, registers, surveyors, and all and every other publick officers of trust whatsoever, already deputed and chosen, or hereafter from time to time to be deputed and chusen shall subscribe (in a book or books to be provided for that purpose) that they will truly and faithfully discharge their respective trusts according to the law of the said province, and tenor of these concessions, in their respective offices and duties; and do equal justice and right to all men, according to their best skill and judgment, without corruption, favour, or affection; and the names of all that shall subscribe, to be entered in the said book; and whosoever shall subscribe, and shall violate, break or any wise falsify his promise after such subscription, shall be liable to be punished or fined, and also be made incapable of any publick office within the said province. The Charter or fundamental laws of West New-Jersey, agreed upon.
That these following concessions are the common law or fundamental rights of the province of West New-Jersey.
That the common law or fundamental rights and privileges of West New- Jersey, are individually agreed upon by the proprietors and freeholders thereof to be the foundation of the government; which is not to be altered by the legislative authority, or free assembly hereafter mentioned and constituted; but that the said legislative authority is constituted according to these fundamentals, to make such laws as agree with and maintain the said fundamentals, and to make no laws that in the least contradict, differ, or vary from the said fundamentals, under what pretence or allegation soever.
But if it so happen, that any person or persons of the said free assembly, shall therein designedly, wilfully and maliciously move, or excite any to move, any matter or thing whatsoever, that contradicts or any ways subverts any fundamental of the said laws in the constitution of the government of this province, it being proved by seven honest and reputable persons; he or they shall be proceded against as traitors to the said government.
That these concessions, law or great charter of fundamentals, be recorded in a fair table, in the assembly house; and that they be read at the beginning and dissolving of every general free assembly: And it is further agreed and ordained, that the said concessions, common law, or great charter of fundamentals, be writ in fair tables, in every common hall of justice within this province; and that they be read in solemn manner four times every year, in the presence of the people, by the chief magistrates of those places.
That no men, nor number of men upon earth, hath power or authority to rule over men’s consciences in religious matters; therefore it is consented, agreed and ordained, that no person or persons whatsoever, within the said province, at any time or times hereafter shall be any ways, upon any pretence whatsoever, called in question, or in the least punished or hurt, either in person, estate or privilege, for the sake of his opinion, judgment, faith or worship towards God, in matters of religion; but that all and every such person and persons, may from time to time, and at all times, freely and fully have and enjoy his and their judgments, and the exercise of their consciences, in matters of religious worship throughout all the said province.
That no proprietor, freeholder or inhabitant of the said province of West New-Jersey, shall be deprived or condemned of life, limb, liberty, estate, property, or any ways hurt in his or their privileges, freedoms or franchises, upon any account whatsoever, without a due trial, and judgment passed by twelve good and lawful men of his neighbourhood first had; and that in all causes to be tried, and in all trials, the person or persons arraigned, may except against any of the said neighbourhood, without any reason rendered, (not exceeding thirty-five) and in case of any valid reason alledged, against every person nominated for that service
And that no proprietor, freeholder, free-denison or inhabitant in the said province, shall be attached, arrested, or imprisoned, for or by reason of any debt, duty, or other thing whatsoever, (cases felonious, criminal and treasonable, excepted) before he or she have personal summon or summons left at his or her last dwelling place, if in the said province, by some legal authorized officer, constituted and appointed for that purpose, to appear in some court of judicature for the said province, with a full and plain account of the cause or thing in demand; as also the name or names of the person or persons at whose suit, and the court where he is to appear; and that he hath at least fourteen days time to appear and answer the said suit, if he or she live or inhabit within forty miles, English, of the said court; and if at further distance, to have for every twenty miles, two days time more, for his and their appearance, and so proportionably for a larger distance of place.
That upon the recording of the summons, and non-appearance of such person and persons, a writ or attachment shall or may be issued out to arrest or attach the person or persons of such defaulters, to cause his or their appearance in such court, returnable at a day certain, to answer the penalty or penalties in such suit or suits; and if he or they shall be condemned by legal tryal and judgment, the penalty or penalties shall be paid and satisfied out of his or their real or personal estate so condemned or cause the person or persons so condemned to lie in execution ’till satisfaction of the debt and damages be made. Provided always, if such person or persons so condemned, shall pay and deliver such estate, goods and chattels, which he or any other person hath for his or their use, and shall solemnly declare and aver, that he or they have not any further estate, goods or chattels whatsoever, to satisfy the person or persons (at whose suit he or they are condemned) their respective judgments, and shall also bring and produce three other persons as compurgators, who are well known and of honest reputation, and approved of by the commissioners of that division where they dwell or inhabit, which shall in such open court likewise solemnly declare and aver, that they believe in their consciences, such person and persons so condemned, have not wherewith further to pay the said condemnation or condemnations; he or they shall be thence forthwith discharged from their said imprisonment; any law or custom to the contrary thereof heretofore in the said province notwithstanding. And upon such summons and default of appearance recorded as aforesaid, and such person and persons not appearing within forty days after, it shall and may be lawful for such court of judicature, to proceed to trial of twelve lawful men, to judgment against such defaulters, and issue forth execution against his or their estate, real and personal, to satisfy such penalty or penalties, to such debt and damages so recorded, as far as it shall or may extend.
That there shall be in every court, three justices or commissioners, who shall sit with the twelve men of the neighbourhood, with them to hear all causes, and assist the said twelve men of the neighbourhood in cases of law; and that they the said justices shall pronounce such judgment as they shall receive from and be directed, by the said twelve men, in whom only the judgment resides, and not otherwise.
And in cases of their neglect and refusal, that then one of the twelve, by consent of the rest, pronounce their own judgment, as the justices should have done: And if any judgment shall be passed in any case, civil or criminal, by any other person or persons, or any other way than according to the agreement and appointment; it shall be held null and void; and such person or persons so presuming to give judgment, shall be severely fined, and upon complaint made to the general assembly, by them be declared incapable of any office or trust within this province.
That in all matters and causes, civil and criminal, proof is to be made by the solemn and plain averment of at least two honest and reputable persons; and in case that any person or persons shall bear false witness, and bring in his or their evidence contrary to the truth of the matter, as shall be made plainly to appear; that then every such person or persons, shall in civil causes, suffer the penalty which would be due to the person or persons he or they bear witness against: And in case any witness or witnesses on the behalf of any person or persons indicted in a criminal cause, shall be found to have borne false witness, for fear, gain, malice, or favour, and thereby hinder the due execution of the law, and deprive the suffering person or persons of their due satisfaction; that then and in all other cases of false evidence, such person or persons shall be first severely fined; and next, that he or they shall forever be disabled from being admitted in evidence, or into any publick office, employment or service within this province.
That all and every person and persons whatsoever, who shall prosecute or prefer any indictment or information against others, for any personal injuries or matter criminal, or shall prosecute for any other criminal cause (treason, murder and felony only excepted) shall and may be master of his own process, and have full power to forgive and remit the person or persons offending against him or herself only, as well before as after judgment and condemnation, and pardon, and remit the sentence, fine and punishment of the person or persons offending, be it personal or other whatsoever.
That the trials of all causes, civil and criminal, shall be heard and decided by the verdict or judgment of twelve honest men of the neighbourhood, only to be summoned and presented by the sheriff of that division or propriety where the fact or trespass is committed; and that no person or persons shall be compelled to fee any attorney or counsellor to plead his cause, but that all persons have free liberty to plead his own cause if he please: And that no person or persons imprisoned upon any account whatsoever, within this province, shall be obliged to pay any fees to the officer or officers of the said prison either when committed or discharged.
That in all publick courts of justice for trial of causes, civil or criminal, any person or persons, inhabitants of the said province, may freely come into and attend the said courts, and hear and be present at all or any such trials as shall be there had or passed, that justice may not be done in a corner, nor in any covert manner; being intended and resolved by the help of the lord, and by these our concessions and fundamentals, that all and every person and persons inhabiting in the said province, shall as far as in us lies, be free from oppression and slavery.
For the preventing of fraud, deceit, collusion in bargains, sales trade and traffick, and the usual contests, quarrels, debates and utter ruin, which have attended the people in many nations, by costly, tedious, and vexatious law suits, and for a due settlement of estates.
It is agreed, concluded and ordained, that there be kept a register at London, within the nation of England; and also another register within the province of New West-Jersey; and that all deeds, evidences, and conveyances of land, in the said province of New-West-Jersey, that shall be executed in England, may also be there registered; and once every year, the register of the said deeds and conveyances, so registered, shall be duly transmitted under the hands of the register, and three proprietors, unto the commissioners in New West-Jersey, to be enrolled in the publick register of the said province: As also that the chief register, which the said proprietors have deputed or chosen, or shall depute or choose, failing, that the commissioners shall depute or choose, or which the general assembly of the said province, hereafter mentioned, shall depute or choose, shall keep exact entries and registers, in fair books, or roll for that purpose to be provided, of all publick affairs; and therein shall record and enter all grants of land, from the proprietors to the planters; and all conveyances of land, house or houses, from man to man; as also all assignments, mortgages, bonds, and specialties whatsoever; and all leases for land, house or houses, made or to be made, from landlord to tenant, and from person to person; which conveyances, leases, assignments, mortgages, bonds and specialties, which shall be executed in West New- Jersey, shall be first acknowledged by the grantor, assignor and obligor, before the said commissioners, or two of them at least, or some two of their lawful deputies, for the time being; who shall under their hands, upon the back side of the said deed, lease, assignment, mortgage or specialty, attest the acknowledgment thereof as aforesaid; which shall be a warrant for the register to record the same; and such conveyance or specialty, if sealed, executed, acknowledged before three proprietors, in the nation of England or Ireland, and recorded or registered there, within three months after the date thereof; or if sealed, executed and acknowledged in the said province, or elsewhere out of England, and recorded or registered within six months after the date thereof; shall be good an effectual in law; and for passing or transferring of estates in lands, tenements, or hereditaments, shall he as effectual as if delivery and siezen were executed of the same: And all other conveyances, deeds, leases or specialties, not recorded as aforesaid, shall be of no force or effect. And the said register shall do all other thing or things the said proprietors by their instructions shall direct, or the commissioners or assembly shall ordain, or the good and welfare of the said province.
That there may be a good understanding and friendly correspondence between the proprietors, freeholders, and inhabitants of the said province, and the Indian natives thereof.
It is concluded and agreed, that if any of the Indian natives within the said province, shall or may do any wrong or injury to any of the proprietors, freeholders or inhabitants, in person, estate, or otherways howsoever; upon notice thereof; or complaint made to the commissioners, or any two of them, they are to give notice to the sachem, or other chief person or persons, that hath authority over the said Indian native or natives, that justice may be done, and satisfaction made to the person or persons offended, according to law and equity, and the nature and quality of the offence and injury done or committed. And also in case any of the proprietors, freeholders, or inhabitants, shall any wise wrong or injure any of the Indian natives there, in person, estate, or otherwise; the commissioners are to take care, upon complaint to them made, or any one of them, either by the Indian natives, or others, that justice be done to the Indian natives, and plenary satisfaction be made them, according to the nature and quality of the offence and injury: And that in all trials wherein any of the said Indian natives are concerned, the trial to be by six of the neighbourhood, and six of the said Indian natives, to be indifferently and impartially chosen by order of the commissioners; and that the commissioners use their endeavour to perswade the natives to the like way of trial; when any of the natives do any ways wrong or injure the said proprietors, freeholders or inhabitants, that they choose six of the natives, and six of the freeholders or inhabitants, to judge of the wrong and injury done, and to proportion satisfaction accordingly.
It is agreed, when any lands is to be taken up for settlements of towns, or otherways, before it be surveyed, the commissioners or the major part of them, are to appoint some persons to go to the chief of the natives concerned in that land, so intended to be taken up, to acquaint the natives of their intentions, and to give the natives what present they shall agree upon, for their good will or consent; and take a grant of the same in writing, under their hands and seals, or some other publick way used in those parts of the world: Which grant is to be registered in the publick register allowing also the natives (if they please) a copy thereof; and that no person or persons take up any land, but by order from the cornmissioners, for the time being.
That no ship master or commander of any ship or vessel, shall receive into his ship or vessel, to carry unto any other nation, country or plantation, any person or persons whatsoever, without a certificate first had and obtained under the hands and seals of the commissioners, or any two of them, that the said person or persons are clear, and may be taken on board, signifying that the said person or persons names have been put up in three publick places of the province, appointed by the commissioners for that purpose, for the space of three weeks, giving notice of his or their intention to transport themselves.
That men may peaceably and quietly enjoy their estates.
It is agreed, if any person or persons shall steal, rob, or take any goods or chattels, from or belonging to any person or persons whatsoever, he is to make restitution two fold, out of his or their estate; and for want of such estate, to be made work for his theft, for such time and times as the nature of the offence doth require, or until restitution be made double for the same; or as twelve men of the neighbourhood shall determine, being appointed by the commissioners, not extending either to life or limb.
If any person or persons, shall wilfully beat, hurt, wound, assault, or otherways abuse the person or persons of any man, woman or child, they are to be punished according to the nature of the offence; which is to be determined by twelve men of the neighbourhood, appointed by the commissioners.
For securing estates of persons that die, and taking care of orphans.
First. If any person or persons die, the commissioners are to take care, that the will of the deceased be duly performed, and security given by those that prove the will; and that all wills or testaments be registered in a publick register appointed for that purpose; and the person or persons that prove the same, to bring in one true inventory under their hands, of all the estate of the deceased, and to have a warrant under the hand of three commissioners, and the publick seal of the province, intimating, that they have brought in an inventory of the estate, and given security; then, and not before, are they to dispose upon the estate.
Second. If any person die intestate, leaving a wife and children; the commissioners are to take security from the person that shall administer, to secure two parts of the estate for the children, and the third to the wife, if there be any; and if there be no child, then half to the next of kin, and the other to the wife.
Third. If the parents of children be dead, and no will made, then the commissioners are to appoint two or more persons to take the charge of the children and estate, and to bring an inventory of the estate to be registered; and that the said persons are to make good to the children, what part of the estate shall come unto their hands, and to give a true account of their receipts and disbursements, to be approved of by the commissioners.
Fourth. If parents die, leaving child or children, and no estate, or not sufficient to maintain and bring up the said child or children, in that case the commissioners are to appoint persons to take care for the child or children, to bring them up in such manner as the commissioners shall appoint, and the charges thereof to be borne by the publick stock of the province; and if none be established, then by a tax to be levied by twelve men of the neighbourhood with the consent of the commissioners, or the main part of them.
In cases when any person or persons kill or destroy themselves or be killed by any other thing.
It is agreed, if any man or woman shall wilfully put hand, and kill him or herself, the estate of such person or persons is not to be forfeited, but the kindred, heirs, or such other as of right the estate belongs to, may enjoy the same; or if any beast or ship, boat or other thing, should occasion the death of any person or persons nevertheless the said beast, ship boat or other thing is not to be forfeited; but those to whom they belong may enjoy the same. Provided always, that the said beast did not wilfully kill the said person, or hath been known to attempt, or addicted to mischief, or hath been found to hurt or kill any person; then the said beast is to be killed.
All such person or persons as shall be upon trial found guilty of murder or treason, the sentence and way of execution thereof is left to the general assembly to determine, as they in the wisdom of the lord shall judge meet and expedient. The general assembly and their power.
That so soon as divisions or tribes, or other such like distinctions are made, that then the inhabitants, freeholders, and proprietors resident in the said province, or several respective tribes or divisions, or distinctions aforesaid, do yearly and every year meet on the first day of October, or the eighth month, and choose one proprietor or freeholder for each respective propriety in the said province (the said province being to be divided into one hundred proprieties) to be deputies, trustees, or representatives, for the benefit, service, and behoof of the people of the said province; which body of deputies, trustees or representatives, consisting of one hundred persons chosen as aforesaid, shall be the general free and supreme assembly of the said province for the year ensuing, and no longer: And in case any member of the said assembly, during the said year, shall decease, or otherwise be rendered incapable of that service; that then the inhabitants of the said proprieties, shall elect a new member, to serve in his room, for the remainder of the said year.
And to the end the representative members of the yearly assembly to be chosen, may be regularly and impartially elected.
That no person or persons who shall give, bestow or promise, directly or indirectly, to the said parties electing, any meat, drink, money or money’s worth, for procurement of their choice and consent, shall be capable of being elected a member of the said assembly: And if any person or persons, shall be at any time corruptly elected, and sufficient proof thereof made to the said free assembly, such person or persons so electing or elected, shall be reckoned incapable to choose or sit in the said assembly, or execute any other publick office of trust within the said province, for the space of seven years thence next ensuing: And also, that all such elections as afore said, be not determined by the common and confused way of cries and voices; but by putting balls into balloting boxes, to be provided for that purpose, for the prevention of all partiality, and whereby every man may freely choose according to his own judgment, and honest intention.
To appoint their own times of meeting, and to adjourn their sessions from time to time (within the said year) to such times and places as they shall think fit and convenient, as also to ascertain the number of their quorum; provided that such numbers be not less than one half of the whole, in whom (or more) shall be the full power of the general assembly; and that the votes of two thirds of the said quorum, or more of them, if assembled together as aforesaid, shall be determinative in all cases whatsoever coming in question before, them, consonant and conformable to these concessions and fundamentals.
That the said proprietors and freeholders, and their choice of persons, to serve them in the general and free assemblies of the province, give their respective deputies or trustees, their instructions at large, to represent their grievances, or for the improvement of the province; and that the persons chosen, do by indentures under hand and seal, covenant and oblige themselves to act nothing in that capacity, but what shall tend to the fit service and behoof of those that send and employ them; and that in case of failure of trust, of breach of covenant, that they be questioned upon complaint made, in that or the next assembly, by any of their respective electors.
And that each member of the assembly, chosen as aforesaid, be allowed one shilling per day, during the time of the sitting of the general assembly, that thereby he may he known to be the servant of the people: Which allowance of one shilling per day, is to be paid him by the inhabitants of the propriety or division that shall elect him.
That in every general free assembly, every respective member hath liberty of speech; that no man be interrupted when speaking; that all questions be stated with deliberation, and liberty for amendments; that it be put by the chairman, by them to be chosen, and determined by plurality of votes; Also that every member has power of entering his protest, and reasons of protestations. And that if any member of such assembly shall require to have the persons names registered, according to their yeas and nos, that it be accordingly done: And that after debates are past, and the question agreed upon, the doors of the house to be set open, and the people have liberty to come in to hear, and be witnesses of the votes, and the inclinations of the persons voting.
And that the said assembly do elect, constitute and appoint ten honest and able men, to be commissioners of estate, for managing and carrying on the affairs of the said province, according to the law therein established, during the adjouruments and dissolutions of the said general free assembly, for the conservation and tranquility of the same.
That it shall be lawful for any person or persons, during the session of any general free assembly in that province, to address, remonstrate or declare, any suffering, danger or grievance, or to propose, tender or request, any privilege, profit or advantage to the said province, they not exceeding the number of one hundred persons.
To enact and make all such laws, acts, and constitutions, as shall be necessary for the well government of the said province, (and them to repeal) provided, that the same be as near as may be, conveniently agreeable to the primitive, antient and fundamental laws of the nation of England. Provided also, that they be not against any of these our concessions or fundamentals, before or hereafter mentioned.
By act as aforesaid, to constitute all courts, together with the limits, powers and jurisdictions of the same (consonant to these concessions) as also the several judges, officers and number of officers belonging to each court, to continue such time as they shall see meet, not exceeding one year, or two at the most, with their respective salaries, fees and perquisites, and their appellations; with the penalties that shall be inflicted upon them for the breach of their several and respective duties and trusts; and that no person or persons whatsoever, inhabitants of the said province, shall sustain or bear two offices in the said province, at one and the same time.
That all the justices and constables be chosen by the people; and all commissioners of the publick seals, treasuries and chief-justices, embassadors and collectors, be chosen by the general free assembly.
That the commissioners of the treasury of the said province, bring in their account at the end of their year, unto the general free assembly, there to be seen and adjusted; and that every respective member carry a copy thereof unto that hundred or propriety he serves, for to be registered in the capital publick court of that propriety.
By act as aforesaid, to lay equal taxes and assessments, and to raise money or goods, upon all lands or persons within the several proprieties, precincts, hundreds, tribes, or whatsoever other divisions shall hereafter be made and established in the said province, as oft as necessity shall require; and in such manner as to them shall seem most equal and easy for the inhabitants; in order to the better supporting of the publick charge of the said government, as also for the publick benefit and advantage of the said people and province.
By act as aforesaid, to sub-divide the said province into hundreds, proprieties, or such other divisions and distinctions, as they shall think fit; and the said divisions to distinguish by such names as shall be thought good; as also within the said province to direct and appoint places for such and so many towns, cities, ports, harbours, creeks, and other places for the convenient lading and unlading of goods and merchandize, out of the ships, boats, and other vessels, as shall be expedient; with such jurisdictions, privileges and franchises to such cities, ports, harbours, creeks or other places, as they shall judge most conducing to the general good of the said province and people thereof; and to erect, raise and build within the said province, or any part thereof, such and so many market towns and villages; and also appoint such and so many markets and fairs, and in such place and places, as they shall see meet, from time to time, as the grant made and assigned unto the said proprietors will permit and admit.
In testimony and witness of our consent to and affirmation of these present laws, concessions and agreements: We, the proprietors, freeholders, and inhabitants of the said province of West New Jersey, whose names are under written, have to the same voluntarily and freely set our hands, dated this third day of the month commonly called March, in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred seventy six:
Gawen Lawrie, Wm. Penn, Wm. Emley, Josh. Wright, Nicho. Lucas, Wm. Haig, Wm. Peachee, Rich. Matthews, John Harris, Francis Collins, Wm. Kent, Benj. Scot, Tho. Lambert, Tho. Hooton, Henry Stacy, Edw. Byllinge, Rich. Smith, Edw. Nelthorp, John Penford, Dan. Wills, Thomas Olive, Tho. Rudyard, William Biddle, Robert Stacy, John Farrington, Wm. Roydon, Rich. Mew, Percival Towle, Mahlon Stacy, Tho. Budd, Sam. Jenings, John Lambert, Will. Heulings, George Deacon, John Thomson, Edw. Bradway, Rich. Guy, James Nevill, Wm. Cantwell, Fospe Ontstout, Machgijel Baron, Casper Herman, Turrse Psese, Robert Kemble, John Corneliesse, Garrat Van Jumne, Wm. Gill Johnson, Mich. Lackerouse, Markus Algus, Evert Aldricks, Hendrick Everson, Jules Tomesen, Claas Jansen, Paul Doequet, Aert Jansen, John Surige, Tho. Smith, James Pearce, Edw. Webb, John Pledger, Rich. Wilkison, Christo. Sanders, Renear Van Hurst, William Johnson, Charles Bagley, Sam. Wade, Tho. Woodrose, John Smith, Tho. Peirce, Will. Warner, Joseph Ware, Isaac Smart, And. Thomson, Thomas Kent, Henry Jenings, Rich. Wortsaw, Christopher White, John Maddocks, John Forrest, James Vickory, William Rumsey, Rich. Robinson, Mark Reeve, Thomas Watson, Sam. Nicholson, Dan. Smith, Rich. Daniel, Will. Penton, Will. Daniel, Robert Zane, Walter Peiterson, Anthony Page, Andrew Bartleson, Woolley Woollison, Anthony Dixon, John Derme, Tho. Benson, John Pain, Rich. Buffington, Sam. Lovett, Henry Stubbens, Will. Willis, George Haselwood, Roger Pedrick, Will. Hughes, Abra. Van Highest, Hipolitas Lefever, Will. Wilkinson, Andrew Shenneck, Lause Cornelious, Sam. Hedge, Will. Massler, John Grubb, John Worlidge, Edw. Meyer, Tho. Barton, Robt. Powel, Tho. Harding, Matthew Allen, Bernard Devenish, Thomas Stokes, Thomas French, Isaac Marriott, John Butcher, George Hutcheson, Tho. Gardiner, Tho. Eves, John Borton, John Paine, Eleazer Fenton, Samuel Oldale, Will. Blak, Anthony Woodhouse, Dan. Leeds, John Pancoast, Francis Belwicke, Will. Luswall, John Snowdon, Rich. Fenemore, Gruna [or Grena] Jacobson, Tho. Scholey, Tho. Wright, Godfrey Hancock, John Petty, Abraham Heulings, John Newbould, John White, John Roberts, John Wood, John Gosling, Tho. Revell.
* In the way dates are reckoned today (called “New Style” since 1752), the Concessions and Agreements were signed on March 3, 1677. At the time the document was actually signed, however, the New Year, for dating purposes, did not begin until March 25th. Therefore the original text of the document indicates that it was signed on March 3, 1676 (called “Old Style”). The conversion from Old Style to New Style dating occurred in 1752. Some historians will denote the old dates to indicate both methods, such as 3 March 1676/7. This only pertains to dates falling from January 1st to March 24th, inclusive.
Copyright of this document is held in the Public Domain.