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2: General Laws and Liberties of New Hampshire - Donald S. Lutz, Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History 
Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History, ed. Donald S. Lutz (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1998).
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General Laws and Liberties of New Hampshire
The text is taken from N. Bouton et al., eds., New Hampshire Provincial, Town, and State Papers: Vol. i, 1623–1686 (Concord and Nashua, N.H., 1867), 386–409. The document is reproduced completely and with the original spelling.
March 16, 1680
This document can be compared with such similar documents as the Pilgrim Code of Law, 1636 ; the Massachusetts Body of Liberties, 1641 ; the Connecticut Code of Laws, 1650 ; the Pennsylvania Charter of Liberties, 1701 ; and the three Virginia codes [69, 70, and 72]; all of which functioned as codes of law. These early legal summaries, however, inevitably had a constitutional status as well. For one reason, they defined the basic laws of what amounted to new polities because colonial charters granted significant independence for the creation and operation of local government. For another reason, because they selectively appropriated and altered English common law in light of their own beliefs and local situation, these codes amounted to a conscious refounding of English constitutionalism. More than a simple code of law, then, this document, and others like it, contains the beginning of a bill of rights, as well as a description of the basic institutions, and served as a constitution.
The Generall Lawes and Liberties of the Province of New Hampshire, made by the Generall Assembly in Portsmo the 16th of March 1679/80 and approved by the Presidt and Councill.
For as much as it hath pleased our Sovereigne Lord the King, out of his Princely Grace and favour, to take vs, the Inhabitants of New Hampshire, into his imediate Governmt and Protection, the wch, as we are ever bound to acknowledge wth great thankfulnesse, soe we have great reason to hope and believe yt his Majesty will still continue to countenance and incourage vs with ye Injoymt of such Libertyes, Imunities and ppties as belong to free borne Englishmen, and whereas his Majesty hath been pleased by his Letters Pattents, sent to vs, to confer such power upon ye Generall Assembly as to make such Lawes and ordinances as may best sute wth ye good Governmt and quiet settlemt of his Majesties subjects within this Province:
It is therefore ordered and inacted by this Generall Assembly and the authority thereof, that no Act, Imposition, Law or Ordinance be made or imposed upon us but such as shall be made by the said Assembly and approved by the Presidt and Councill from time to time. That Justice and Right be equally and imparshally administered vnto all: not sold, denied or causelessly deferred unto any. 9 Hen. 3, 29 Stat.; 2 Edw. 3, 8 State.; 5 Edw. 3, 9 Stat; 14 Edw. 28: Edw. 3, 3 Stat.; 11 R. 2, 10, 17; Caro. 1, 10,
1. It is enacted by ye Assembly and ye authority thereof, yt if any pson having had the knowledge of the true God, openly and manifestly have or worship any other God but the Lord God, he shall be put to death. Ex. 22:20; Deu. 13; 6 and 10.
2. If any pson wthin ye Province professing ye true God shall wittingly and willingly presume to blaspheme the wholly name of God, Father, Son or Holy Ghost, wth direct, express, presumptions or high-handed blasphemy, either by willful or obstinate denying ye true God or his creation or Governmt of ye world, or shall curse God, Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, such pson shall be put to death. Levit. 24: 15 and 16.
3. Treason against ye pson of our Souereigne, ye King, the State, and Comon Wealth of England, shall be punished wth death.
4. If any man conspire and attempt any Invasion or insurrection or Publique Rebellion against this his Majesties Province, or shall endeavor to surprise any towne or townes, fort or forts therein, or shall treacherously or perfidiously attempt the alteration and subversion of the fundamental frame of ye Government, according to his Majesties constitution by his Letters Pattents, every such pson shall be put to death, or otherwise greveously punished.
5. If any pson shall comitt wilfull murther by killing any man, woe; or child, upon premeditated malice, hatred or cruelty, not in a way of necessary and just defence, nor by casualty against his will, he shall be put to death.
6. If any pson slayeth another pson sudenly, in his anger and cruelty of passion, he shall be put to death.
7. If any pson shall slay another through guile, either by pysoning or other such devilish practice, he shall be put to death.
8. If any Christian, soe called, be a witch, yt is, hath or consulted wth a familiar spirit, he or they shall be put to death.
9. If any man lie wth a beast or bruite creature by carnall copulation, they shall surely be put to death, and ye beast shall be slaine and buried, and not eaten.
10. If any man lieth with mankind as he lieth wth a woman, both of them hath committed abomination; they shall be surely put to death, unless the one pty were forced or be vnder 14 years of age; and all other sodomitical filthiness shall be sevearly punished according to the nature of it.
11. And if any pson rise up by false witness, and of purpose to take away a man’s life, he shall be put to death.
12. If any man stealeth mankind, he shall be put to death or otherwise grieviously punished.
13. If any child or children above 16 years old, of competent understanding, shall curse or smite their natural father or mother, he or they shall be put to death, unless it can be sufficiently testified that the parents have been very unchristianly negligent of ye education of such children, or soe provoked them by extreme cruell correction yt they have been forced thereunto to preserve themselves from death or maiming.
A Rebellious Son.
14. If any man have a rebellious or stubborne son of sufficient years and vnderstanding, viz. 16 years of age or upwards, wch shall not obey ye voyce of his father or ye voyce of his mother, yt when they have chastened him will not hearken vnto them, then shall his father and mother, being his naturall parents, bring him before the Majestrates assembled in court, and testifie vnto them that theire son is rebelleous and stubborne, and will not obey theire voyce and chastizemt but lives in sundry notorious crimes, such son shall be put to death, or otherwise severely punished.
15. If any man shall ravish a maid or woeman by committing carnal copulation wth her, that is above 10 years of age, or if she were vndr 10 years of age, though her will was gained by him, he shall be punished wth death, or some other greivous punishmt as the fact may be circumstanced.
16. Whosoever shall wilfully or on purpose burn any house, ship, or barque, or any other vessell of considerable value, such pson shall be put to death, or otherwise greviously punished, as ye case may be circumstanced.
1. It is ordered by the Assembly and the authority thereof that wt pson soever is to answer any criminal ofence, whether they be in prison or under baile, his case shall be heard and determined at the court yt hath cognizance therof.
2. It is Inacted by this Assembly that whosoever shal comitt Adultery wth a married woe: or one betrothed to another man, both of them shall be sevearly punished by whiping two severall times, not exceeding 40 lashes, vizt., once when ye Court is sitting at wch they were convicted of the fact, and ye 2d time as the court shall order, and likewise shall ware 2 cappitall letter a.d. cut out in cloth and sowed on theire upermost garmts on theire arms or back, and if at any time they shall be found wthout the said letters so woren whilst in this Governmt, to be forthwth taken and publiquely whiped, and so from time to time as often they are found not to weare them.
3. It is ordered by this Assembly and the authority thereof that if any man comit Fornication with any single woe: they shall be punished, either by injoyning marriage, or fine or corporall punishmt, or all or any of these, as ye judges of ye court yt hath cognizance of ye case shall appoint, and if any comitt carnall copulation after contract before marriage, they shall be amerced each of them 50s. and be imprisoned, if the court see reason; and if any cannot and will not pay ye fine, then to be punished by whiping. And for ye more discountenancing this prevailing evill, the Assembly hath further determined yt such as transgress in any of these wayes, shall be convicted in publique court, theire fines shall be paid in money.
4. For as much as many psons of late years have been and are apt to be injurious to the Lives and Goods of others, notwithstanding all Laws and means to prevent the same, it is therefore ordered by this Assembly and ye authority thereof yt if any pson shall comitt Burglary by breaking vp any dwelling house or ware house, or shall foreceably robb any pson in ye field or high wayes, such offenders shall for the first offence be branded on the right hand wth ye letter B; and if he shall offend in the like kind a 2d time he shall be branded on the other and be sevearly whiped, and if either were comitted on ye Lord’s day his brand shall be sett on his forehad, and if he shall fall into the like offence the 3rd time he shall be put to death as being incoragable, or otherwise greviously punished, as ye court shall determine.
5. And whosoever shall steale or attempt to steale any ship, barque or vessell of burden, or any publique amunition, shall be sevearly punished according to the nature of such a fact, provided it extends not to Life or Limb.
6. That if any strangers or inhabitants of this Province shall be legally convicted of stealing or purloyning any horses, chattels, money, or other goods of any kind, he shall be punished by restoring 3 fold to the ptie wronged, and a fine or corporall punishmt, as the court or 3 of the councell shall determine. Provided that such sentance, where not given by ye court, it shall be at the liberty of ye delinquent to appeale to ye next court, putting in due caution there to appeare and abide a Tryall.
Council’s Power in Criminals.
7. That any one of ye Councill may heare and determine such small thefts and pilferings as exceeds not ye damage or fine of 40s., or penalty of stocking or whipping not exceeding 10 strypes, or only legall admonition, as he shall see cause, saveing liberty of appeale to the delinquent as aforesd.
8. It is ordered by this Assembly and the authority thereof yt if any pson wthin this province shall sweare rashly or vainly by the holy name of God, or other oathes, he shall forfeit to the common Treasury for every such offence 10s., and it shall be in the power of any member of the Councill by warrant to ye Constable to call such pson before him, and vpon suffissient profe, to sentence such offenders and to give orders to levy ye fine; if such pson be not able or shall refuse the said fine, he shall be comitted to the stocks, there to continue for a time not exceeding 3 hours, nor less than 1 houre; and if any pson shall sweare more oathes than one at a time before they remove out of the roome or company where hee soe sweared, he shall then pay 20s., the like penalty shall be inflicted for profane and wicked cursings of any pson or creature, and for multiplying the same as it is appoynted for profaine swearing; and in case any pson so offending by multiplying oathes or curses shall not pay his or theire fine forthwith, they shall be whipped or comitted to prison till they shall pay the same, at the discresion of ye Court or Judges that shall have cognisence thereof.
Profaning the Lord’s Day.
9. Upon information of sundry abuses and misdemeanors comitted by divers persons on ye Lord’s Day, It is therefore ordered and inacted by this Generall Assembly, That wt pson soever wthin this Governmt shall pfane ye Lord’s Day, by doeing unnessary servell worke or travell, or by sports or recreations, or by being at ordinarys in time of publique worship, such pson or psons shall forfeite 10s., or be whipt for every such offence, and if it appeares yt ye sin was proudly or presumptiously, and wth a high hand, comitted against the known comand and authority of ye Blessed God, such person therein dispising and reproaching ye Lord, shall be sevearly punished, at ye Judgmt of ye Court.
Contempt of God’s Word, or Ministers.
10. It is inacted c., for as much as ye open contempt of God’s word and ye messengers thereof, is ye desolating sin of sevell States and Churchs, It is therefore enacted, that if any Christian, so called, in this Province, shall speak contempteously of the Holy Scriptures, or of ye holy penmen thereof, such pson or psons shall be punished by fine or corporall punishmt, as ye Court shall see reason, so as it extend not to life or limbe, or shall behave himself contempteously toward the Word of God preached, or any minister thereof called and faithfully dispensing ye same in any congregation, either by manifest interrupting him in his ministeriall dispensations, or falsely or peremtorily charging him with teaching error, to ye disparagmt and hinderance of ye work of Christ in his hands; or manifestly or contempteously reproach ye wayes, churches or ordinances of Christ, being duely convicted thereof, he or they, for the first transgression, be amerced 20s. to the province use, or to sett in ye stocks not exceeding 4 hours; but if he or they go on to transgres in ye same kind, then to be amerced 40s., or to be whiped for every such trancegression.
Forcible Detaining Possession.
11. It is ordered c., yt where a judgement is given in any Court, for any pson, or house, or lands, upon ye tryal of the title thereof, or other just cause, if the pson against whome ye Judgmt is given doth either forceably detaine possesion thereof, either against the officer impowered to serve an execution thereon, or otherwise after execution served, enter upon it again, and soe retain possession by force, he shall be accounted a high offendr against ye Law, and breaker of the publique peace; therefore, speedily to redress such a criminall offence, every of the Councill is impowered, and by his place hath power to give warrant and comand to ye Marshall, officer and other men whome he thinks meet to be imployed in the case or business, the Marshall or other officers requiring aid greater or less as need require to suppress ye force and give possession to ye owner, and to imprission such as doe appear to be delinquents and their aiders and abettors, to be forth coming at ye next Court, yt did give ye Judgmt in the case, there to make their answer, and whom the court doth find guilty, to sett such fine or other punishmt upon them, as the merrit of their severall cases doth require.
Conspiricie Against This Province, Etc.
12. It is ordered &c., That whosoever shall disturb or undermine the peace of this Province or Inhabitants thereof, by plotting wth others, or by his own tumultuous and offenceive carrage, traducing, quarreling, challenging, or assaulting, or any other way tending to publicque disturbance, in wt place soever it be done, or shall defame any Court of Justice, or any of his Majesties councill, or Judges of any court in this Province, in respect of any act or sentence therein passed, every such offender upon due proof made shall be by ye Councill punished by fine, imprisonmt, binding to ye peace or good behaviour, according to the quality and measure of the offence or disturbance to them, seeming just and equall.
And that such as beate, hurt or strike an other person, shall be lyable to pay unto ye ptie hurt or stricken, together wth such fine to the Province, as, on consideration of the ptie smiting or being smitt, and wth wt instrument, danger more or less, time, place, provocation, c., shall be judged just and reasonable, according to the nature of the offence.
Forgery of Deeds.
13. It is ordered, &c., yt if any pson shall forge any deed or conveiance, testimt, bond, bill, release, acquittances, letters of attourney, or any writing, to the injury of another, to prevent equity and justice, he shall pay ye ptie agreived double damage, and be fined so much himself, to ye Province’s vse, and if he cannot pay it, to be publiquely whiped and be branded with a Roman F in ye forehand.
14. Be it also enacted, yt if any notary, or keeper of publique records or writings, shall wilfully imbazle or make away any such records or writings of concernmt comitted to his keeping and trust, or shall on ppose falsefie or deface them by raceing out, adding to them, or otherwise, such corrupt officer shall loose his office, be disfranceized and burned in the face, according to ye circumstances of the case.
None to Endeavor to Corrupt Ye Officers.
15. And if any person shall endeavour to corrupt any officer yt keepeth such publique records or paps of concernmt, to procure him to deface, corrupt, alter, imbazle any of them, he shall be sevearly punished by fine, imprisonmt or corporall punishmt, as ye matter may be circumstanced.
16. It is inacted by this Assembly, c., That wt pson soever, being 16 yeares of age, or upward, shall wittingly or willingly make or publish any lie wch may be tending to ye damage or hurt of any pticular pson, or wth intent to deceive and abuse the people with false news or reports, shall be fined for every such defalt 10s., and if ye ptie cannot or will not pay ye fine, then he shall sit in ye stocks as long as the court shall think meete; and if the offenders shall come to any one of councill aforesd to execute ye law upon him where he liveth, and spare his appearance at ye Court, but in case when ye lie is greatly prnitious to ye comon weale, it shall be more sevearly punished according to the nature of it.
17. It is inacted by this Assembly, c., That if any pson shall willfully, and of sett purpose, burn any man’s fence, he shall make good the damage to the ptie wronged, and be amerced 40s. and be bound to the good behavior, if the court so meets.
Breaking Down Fences.
18. It is further ordered, That if any pson shall wilfully and on purpose brake down an other man’s fence, gate or bridge, to ye anoyance either of a pticular person or a neighborhood, he shall make up such fence, gate or bridge, at his own charge, pay ye damage thereby sustained, and be amersed according to the nature of the offence, sauing the right of him yt pulls up a fence sett on his land without his approbation.
19. And whosoever shall willfully pluck up, remove or deface any Landmark or bound betweene ptie and ptie, yt hath been or shall be orderly set up by psons therunto appointed, he or they shall be fined from 20s. to 5 pounds, as the offence may be circumstanced.
Unlawful Gaming in Publique Houses.
20. Be it inacted by this Assembly, c., That noe Innhoulder or publique house keeper shall suffer any unlawful games, nor any kind of gaming, in or about his house, for money or moneys worth liquors, wine, beer or the like, on forfeit of 40s., to be paid by the master or keep of such house, and 10s. by each gamester for every such default.
21. Be it further inacted, yt no pson in this Province shall play at cards, dice, or any such unlawful games wherein there is Lottery, at any private house or elsewhere in the Province, on penalty of 10s. fine, to be paid by evry one yt soe playeth, and 20s by the master or head of a family yt shall know of and suffer any such gameing where he hath to command.
22. For as much as it is observed yt ye sin of drunkenness doth greatly abound, to the dishonor of God, improverishing of such as fall into it, and grief of such as are sober minded, for ye prevention of ye growing and prevailing evill, It is inacted by this Assembly, and ye authority thereof, yt wtsoever pson shall be found drunk at any time in any Taverne, ordinary, alehouse, or elsewhere in this Province, and be legally convicted thereof, he or they shall for ye first defalt be fined 5s. to ye use of the Province—for the 2d defalt 10s.; and if he or they will not or can not pay ye fine, then to be sett in ye Stocks not exceeding 2 houres, and for the 3d transgression to be bound to ye good behavior; and if he shall transgress a 4th time, to pay 5 pounds or be publickly whipt, and so from time to time as often as they shall be found trancegressors in that kind. By drunkenness is to be understood one yt lisps or falters in his speach by reason of over much drink, or yt staggers in his going, or yt vomits by reason of excessive drinking, or that cannot by reason thereof follow his calling.
23. Whereas many have sustained great damage by indiscreet and untimely fireing of the woods, It is ordered, that none shall fire ye woods at any time but between ye 1st of March and ye latter end of April; and if any shall unnessesarily fire the woods, or not observe this order, damnifie any, he shall make good the damage and be fined 10s., or sett in the Stocks.
Councill’s Power in Criminals.
24. It is hereby inacted, yt it shall be in ye power of any member of the councill to hear and determine all criminall cases where the fine doth not exceed 40s., or ye punishment 10 stripes or committing to stocks, always allowing liberty to the delinquent of appeale to ye next Court for tryalls of actions wthin ye Province; and further, in cases doubtful or difficult, it shall be in ye power of ye Judge before whom ye pson is convicted, to bind them over to the next Court in this Province, to comitt to prison as ye fact may deserve, allowing also for entering Judgmt and fileling evidences 2s. 6d.
Prison Keeper’s Charge.
25. It is ordered by this Assembly and ye authority thereof, yt no Prison keeper wthin this Province shall suffer any pson to goe wthout the presinks of the prison, yt is delivered unto them for debt, by virtue of any execution, and it is further ordered the houses and yards of the said keepers shall be allowed & accounted the presinks of the sd prison, and yt it shall be lawful for any officer wthin this Province, if he have occation to carry any prisoner to the neerest Prison in the Province, and yt if any Prison keeper shall suffer any such prisoner to goe wthout the presinks of ye sd prison, they shall be liable to satisfie the whole debt for wch ye sd Prisoner was imprisoned, and the sd keeper’s fees shall be 5s. for turning the key, to be paid by the person imprisoned, before he be set at liberty.
26. It is ordered by this Assembly and the authority thereof, yt it shall be lawful for either of the marshalls in this Province to levy executions, attachmt and warrants in any pt of ye sd Province, and yt feese for serving attachmt wthin theire owne towns shall be 2s. for every attachmts, to be paid by them yt imploy them before they shall be compelled to serve it, and 2 for a warrt: for warrts served upon criminal offenders.
Judgmt and Execution to Stand Good Yt Were Before Ye Late Change.
27. It is ordered by this Generall Assembly and that authority thereof, yt all Judgmts and Executions granted on any civill or criminal cases by former Courts of Justice wthin this Province, or ye County Court of Norfolk to any of our Inhabitants within this Province, shall be held as good and vallued for and against any pson as when they were granted by the Court at the time of tryall.
general lawes. townships, &c, confirmed.
1. To prevent contention that may arise amongst vs by reason of the late change of Governmnt, it is ordered by this Assembly and the authority thereof yt all land, Townships, Town grants, wth all other grants lying wthin the limitts of this Province, and all other rights and prop’ties, shall stand good, and are hereby confirmed to ye townes and psons concerned, in the same state and condition as they did before this late alteration. 33 Ed: 1.
Controversies of Land to Be Tried by a Jury.
2. And it is further ordered, yt if any difference or controversy shall hereafter arise amongst us about the titles of land wthin this Province, it shall not be finally determined but by a Jury of 12 able men, chosen by the freemen of each towne according to law and custome, and sworne at ye Quarter Court wch shall take cognisance of the case.
Contracts to Be Paid in Specia.
3. For preventing deceite in trade, yt all men may be on a certainty in matters of contracts and bargains, It is ordered by this Generall Assembly and the authority thereof, that all contracts, agreemts or covenants for any specia whatsoever shall be paid in the same specia bargained for, any law, vseage or custome to the contrary notwithstanding.
4. It is ordered by this Assembly and ye authority thereof, that ye brand markets mentioned in the Law, title horses, to brand horses wth, shall be as followeth: for the towne of Portsmouth P, for ye towne of Hampton H. for ye towne of Dover D, and for the towne of Exeter E.
For the preventing of damage being done by horses wthin this Province, by reason of ye goeing upon our lands and pastures wthout some fettering, it is ordered by this Assembly and ye authority thereof yt no horse or horse kind shall be suffered to goe vpon any of our lands and pastures wthout fence wthin this Province, from ye 1st day of May vnto ye 1st of 8ber, without a sufficient pr of iron fetters on his feete, or a clog equivelent, vpon ye penalty for evry owner of any such horse or horse kind yt shall be taken doeing damage, or wthin any man’s corne field, meadowes or inclosures, paying 5s. in mo, besides all damage to yt ptie yt impounded them; and if they be found doing damage wthout ye towne brande to wch they belong, ye owners of them shall pay 20s. in mony; and it is likewise ordered yt every towne wthin this Province shall have a distant brand marke, wch they shall brand theire horses wth all yt goe in ye comons from time to time.
It is further ordered that no horse or horses shall be suffered to goe vpon any of our lands and pastures wthout fense wthin this Province yt is known to be vnruly, wthout the approbation of ye selectmen, or ye major pt of them of ye severall townes, vnder ye penalty of every owner of such horse paying 10s. in money to ye ptie yt soe find them contrary to this order, or loose his ye sd horse soe taken.
Time and Place for Keeping Courts.
5. For the better adminstration of justice, It is ordered by this Assembly and the authority thereof, yt these courts following shall be annually kept wthin this Province: a generall assembly, to meete at Portsmo ye 1st Tuesday in March, to make and constitute such Lawes and ordinances as may best conduce to ye good governmt of this his Majesties Province, as allso wth the Presidt and Counll, to heare and determine all actions of appeale from Inferior Court, whither of civill or criminall nature. Alsoe, there shall be 3 other courts held at time and place hereafter mentioned by ye Presidt and Councll, or any 6 of ye Councll, whereof ye Presidt or his Deputy be one, together wth a Jury of 12 honest men, chosen and called as ye law directs, for such as desire to be tried by a Jury; evry of wch Courts shall have full power to heare and determine all cases, civill and criminall, allowing one liberty of appeale from such sentance or judgmt as shall be passed in sd Court or Courts, to ye residt and Councll, together with the Generall Assembly as above sd, provided such appellant give bond to prosecute according to law. The time and place for holding such shall be as followeth:
At Dover ye first Tuesday in June; at Hampton ye first Tuesday in 7ber; at Portsmo the first Tuesday in 10ber.
All Tryalls by Jury.
6. It is further enacted yt all tryalls, whether capitall, criminal, or between man and man, both respecting meritine affairs as well as others, be tryed by a Jury of 12 good and lawfull men, according to the good & commendable custome of England, except the ptie or pties concerned doe refer it to the bench, or some express law doth refer it to their judgmt and tryall, or the tryall of some other court where jury is not, in wch case any ptie agreived may appeale, and shall have tryall by a jury; and it shall be in ye liberty of both plant and defendt, or any delinquent yt is to be tryed by a jury, to challenge any of ye jury, and if ye challenge be found just and reasonable by ye bench, it shall be allowed him, and others wthout just exception shall be impanelled in theire roome; and if it be in case of life and death the prisoner shall have libertye to except against 6 or 8 of ye jury wthout giving any reason for his exceptions.
Constables to Clear Their Rate in the Year.
7. For the better clearing of ye arrears in the hands of the constables.
It is ordered yt if any Constable shall faile to clear vp his rates wthin his yeare, he shall be lyable to have his estate distrained by warrt from ye Treasr, directed to ye Marshall or Marshalls wthin this Province; and for all rates for ye ministry and other towne rates, ye selectmen shall direct their warrts to ye Constables next chosen, to distraine upon the estates of such Constables as shall faile of their duties therein.
8. It is ordered by this Assembly and the authority thereof, yt all Englishmen, being Protestants, yt are settled Inhabitants and freeholders in any towne of this Province, of ye age of 24 years, not viceous in life but of honest and good conversation, and such as have £20. Rateable estate wthout heads of persons having also taken the oath of allegiance to his Majs, and no others shall be admitted to ye liberty of being freemen of this Province, and to give theire votes for the choic of Deputies for the Generall Assembly, Constables, Selectmen, Jurors and other officers and concernes in ye townes where they dwell; provided this order give no liberty to any pson or psons to vote in the dispossion or distribution of any lands, timber or other properties in ye Towne, but such as have reall right thereto; and if any difference arise about sd right of voting, it shall be judged and determined by ye Presidt and Councill wth the Genll Assembly of this Province.
9. As the ordinance of Marriage is Honrable amongst all, so should it be accordingly solemnized. It is therefore ordered by this Assembly and the authority thereof, that any member of ye Councill shall have liberty to joyne any persons together in marriage; and for prevention of unlawfull marriages it is ordered yt no pson shall be joyned in marriage before the intention of the pties pleeding therein have been 3 times published, at some publique meeting in ye townes, where ye pties, or either of them doe ordinarily reside, or be sett up in writing upon some post of theire meeting house door, in publique view, there to stand soe as it may be easily read, by ye space of 14 dayes.
10. That thear may be a just and eaquall way of raising means for defraying ye publique charge, boath in church and civill affairs, whereof every pson doth or may receive ye benefit, their persons and estates shall be asseassed or rated as followeth, vizt: to a single rate of a penny in ye pound, every male person above the age of 16 yeares, is vallued at 18 l., and all land within fense, meddow or marsh, mowable, shall be at 5s. [per] acres; all pasture lands without fence, rate free; all oxen 4 yeares old and upward, 3 l.; steers, cows and heiffers of 3 yeare old, at 40s., steers and heiffers, of 2 yeares old, at 25s.; yearlings at 10s.; horses and mares of 3 yeares old and upward, at 20s., sheepe above 1 yeare old, at 5s.; swine above one yare old at 10s.; and all other estates whatsoever in ye hands of whome it is at ye time when it shall be taken, shall be rated by some equall proportion, by ye selectmen of each towne, wth grate care yt pticulars be not wronged; and all ships, ketches, barques, boates, and all other vessells wchsoever, shall be rateable, as allso, all dwellings houses, ware houses, wharffs, mills, and all handy-crafts men, as carpenters, masons, joiners, shoemakers, taylors, tanners, curriers, butchers, bakers, or any other artificers, victuallers, merchts and inn keepers shall be rated by estymation. If any persons be greved at their being over-rated, they shall have liberty to complain to ye next quarr Court, who shall give them all just reliefe.
Selectmen Take Accounts.
11. For ye more eaquall and imparshall valluing of houses and ships and other estates of mrchts, traders, handycraft, wch must necessarily be rated by estymatyon—
Be it enacted by this Assembly and the authority thereof, yt ye selectmen of ye severall townes shall forthwth take an accot of all such estates, wth ye vallue thereof according to theire ordinary way of rating; a list of wch estates, so taken and vallued, shall be trancmitted to a committee of 4 men chosen by this Assembly out of Dover, Portsmo, Hampton and Exetor, together wth 2 of ye Counll, wch comitte shall examine and compare sd list and bring sd estates to an equall valluation, having respect to the places where they lie, yt no towne or psons be burthened beyond proportion; wch act of said committee in the vtion of sd estates shall stand as a rule, according to which rates and asseasmts shall be made for ye future; ye psons chosen for this Comittee are Richd Walderne, Esqr, Elias Stileman, Esqr, Mr. Ro: Elliott, Mr. Anthony Nutter, Mr. Ralph Hall, Mr. Edward Gove, and ye time of meeting ye 2d Tuesday in Aprill in Portsmoo.
A List of Males and Estates to Be Taken.
12. It is ordered by this Generall Assembly yt warrts be forthwith ishued out to ye Selectmen of ye severall townes wthin this Province, yt they doe forthwth take a list of all ye male psons of 16 yeares old and vpward in theire respective townes, wth ye valluation of all their estates, according to such rules as are past this court; and all psons yt are so rated are to be rated by estymatyon and make returns thereof to ye commitee appointed for yt affaire, at or before the 2d Tuesday in Aprill next.
Bounty for Killing Woolf.
13. It is ordered by this Assembly yt evry psons wthin this Province yt shall, after ye date hereof, kill any woolfe wthin this Province, they shall forthwth carry the head of every such woulfe unto ye constable of ye same towne, who shall bury or deface the same by cutting the eares off, and ye sd constable shall give ye sd ptie a sirtifficate, attested under his hand, of ye day and ye rect thereof; and ye sd ptie procuring such a surtificate shall be allowed by ye Treasurer of ye Province for every woulfe soe killed 40s. out of ye next rate made for the Province, but if the ptie be an Indian that killed ye woulfe, he shall be allowed but 10s., and the sd Indian shall make proof that he killed ye sd woulfe wthin this sd Province.
Former Laws to Stand.
14. For a presant settlemt of matters in civill and criminall proceedings, and directions to Courts, Judges and all other officers, it is ordered that those Lawes wch we have fformrly been directed and governed by, shall be a rule to vs in all Judiciall proceedings, soe far as they will sute our constitution and be not repugnante to ye Laws of England, vntill such acts and ordinances as have beene or shall be made by this assembly and approved by ye Hond Presdt and Council, may be drawned up and legally published. The like lawes shall be a rule to all the selectmen in each towne for ye managmt of all theire prudenciall affaires, according to the lawdable customs hitherto vsed.
15. For defraying to ye publique charge of the Province, It is ordered by this Assembly and ye authority thereof, yt a rate be made of 1½d. in ye pound, upon all psons and estates (ye Presdt and Council, ministers and elders of churches excepted), in this Province, according to ye valuation made by this Assembly, and yt ye Selectmen in ye severall Towns doe forthwth pforme the duty of theire places in ye valuation made by this Assembly, and yt ye Selectmen in ye severall Towns doe forthwth pforme the duty of theire places, in ye making such rates and comitting them to the respective constables, to be imediately collected, and the same to be transmitted to the Treasr of the Province. This rate is to be paid in the speatiaes at ye prices following, vizt:
M’ble boards at any mills in Piscataqua Rivr at ye vsiall place of delivery, at 30s. p. M. M’ble wt oak pipestaves, at some convenient landing place, where yye constable shall apoint,
And whosoever shall pay theire rates in shall be abated ⅓ pt.
Constables to Clear Their Rates Within the Year.
16. It is inacted by this Assembly and the authority thereof, That whereas ye Constables of the severall Townes are injoyned to cleare their rates, on penalty of making good ye same out of theire owne Estates—
Penalty for Refusing to Pay.
17. It is therefore ordered yt if any pson or psons wthin this Province, rateable, shall refuse to pay his rate or rates, or discover any estate to the Constable, yt the Constable shall have power to seize his person and carry him to the next prison, there to remaine till he pay his sd rates, or give good security soe to doe.
Marshalls to Levy Fines.
18. It is further ordered, yt every marshall in ye Province shall diligently and faithfully collect and levy all such fines and sums of money, of every person for wch he shall have arrt or execution signed by the Treasurer, or other authority constituted by his Majesty in ye Province, and sd sums soe leyed he shall wyth all convenient speed deliver to ye sd Treasurer or ptie, or attorney yt obtained ye Judgmt or executions wyth wt hee hath done by vertue thereof, vnder his hand, at the next Quart Court, or Sessions in ye Province, after ye receipt thereof vnto ye Treasurer, Secty or Clark yt granted ye same; to be by him kept, and if ye execution or warrt be not fully satisfied the sd Secty., Clark, or treasurer may grant execution for ye remainder.
19. And it is hereby ordered yt ye Marshall’s fees shall be as followeth: For all executions and warrs levyed by them vnder five pound, five shillings; for all executions not exceeding tenn pounds, twelve pence in ye pound; for all executions above tenn pounds and not exceeding forty pound, 10s. for ye 10 l., and six pence in ye pound for evry pound above forty, and one penny in ye pound for every pound abouve 100 l., out of the estate of ye pson the execution is served upon, over and above, besides ye execution, and in all cases where ye above sd fees for levying executions or fines will not answer the Marshall’s travell, & other necessary charge, he shall have power to demand 6d.p.mile, and vpon refusall or nonpayment to levy the same, togeather wyth his other fees.
Marshalls May Call for Assistance.
20. And whereas the sd Marshalls have oftentimes need of Assistance in the execution of ye office, it is therefore ordered yt ye Marshall or Constables wthin ye Province shall and have liberty to charge any pson to assist them in ye execution of yt office, if they see need; and whosoever shall neglect or refuse to assist them when thereunto required, the ptie soe refusing, complaint being made vnto any member or members of ye Councill or Court, he shall pay such a fine in money, vnto yye Treasurer of the Province, as Judge or Court yt hath cognisance thereof shall determine, according to the nature of the offence.
Where Marshals Shall Make Demands.
21. And in all cases of fines and assesmts to be levyed, and upon execution in civil actions, the Marshall or Constable shall make a demand at ye place of the pties vsiall abode, if it be knowne, and of the ptie if he be there to be found; if not, the marshall or Constable so employed shall leave at ye sd house his demand of ye same, and lyable to be paid by virtue of sd execution, rate or warrt, for fine attested under his hand; and upon refusal or nonpaymt accordingly, the officer or Marshall shall have power, calling assistance, if they see cause to break open the door of any house, chest or place, where he shall have notice yt any goods lyable to such levyes or execution shall be; and if he be to take ye pson, he may do ye like, if ypon demand he shall refuse to surrender himself. And wtsoever charge the officer shall nessessarily be put vnto upon any such occasion, he shall have power to levy the same as he doth debt, rate, fine or execution, And where the officer shall levy any such goods vpon execution, yt cannot be conveyed to ye place where ye ptie dwells, for whome such execution shall be levyed (if they be to be there delivered), wthout considerable charge, shall levy ye sd charge also wth ye execution, and in no case shall any officer be put to seek out any man or estates, farther yn his place of abode; but if ye ptie will not discover his estate, the officer may take this pson, and if any officer shall doe injury to any by couller of this office, in this or any other case, he shall be lyable vpon complaint of the ptie wronged, by action or information, to make full resstitution, and no marshall or constable shall in any case make a deputy.
Fines to Be Paid Forthwith.
22. It is farther ordered yt whn any Delinquents are fined to ye Province, they shall forthwth pay their fines in money, or yt wch is equivalent, or give good security to the Treasurer for the same, or ye pson shall be secured till they do it.
Near Relations Not to Vote.
23. For preventing all occation of ptiallity in Courts of Justice, and avoiding of jellousies, It is ordered yt in all civill cases betweene ptie and ptie, where the judges or jurors are neerly related to either ptie, as ye relation of ffather and son, either by nature or marriage, brother and brothrs, vnkle and nephew, landlord and tennant, yt judge or juror soe related shall not vote or give sentence in any case wherein his relations are ye pties concerned.
No Imprisonment Before Sentence.
24. Be it farther enacted yt no man’s pson shall be restrained or imprisoned by any authority wtsoever before the law hath sentenced him therevnto, if he can and will put in suffisient security, bail or maine price, for his appearance and good behavior in ye mean time, vnless it be in crimes captall, or contempt in open Court, but in such cases where some express act of court doth allow it.
Legal Notice in Case of Attachment.
25. And it is farther ordered, yt in all attachmts of goods and chattells, Land or Heredittem ts by ye officer, notice shall be given to the ptie against whom the suite is comenced, either by reading ye attachmt to him, or leaving a sumons or a copie of ye attachmt, vnder ye hand of ye officer, at his house or place of vsiall abode, or else ye case shall not proceed; but if ye ptie be out of ye Province and not like to return before ye court, ye case shall proceed to triall, but judgmt shall not be entered, untill a month after, and execution shall not be granted vntil ye plaintife have given suffissient security to respond, if ye defendant shall reverse ye judgment wthin the space of one year.
Ye Freemen of Each Towne to Chuse Their Officers and Make Orders for Their Townes.—Penalty for Offences.
26. Whereas pticular Townes have many things wch concerne only themselves and ye ordering of yr owne affairs of disposing of business in their owne Towne, It is therefore ordered yt ye freemen of every towne shall have power to chuse yr owne pticular officers, as Consta: Grand Juror, and Jury of Tryalls, Surveyors for ye highways, and like, annually, or otherwais as need requires, and to make such laws and constitutions as may concerne ye well fare of ye towne; provided they be not of a criminall but of a prudenciall nature, and yt the penalty exceed not 20s. for one offence, and that they be not repugnante to ye publique laws and orders of this Province; and if any Inhabitant shall neglect or refuse to observe them, they shall have power to levy the appointed penalty by distress; and if any man shall behave himself offencively at any town meeting, ye rest yr present shall have power to sentence him for such offense, soe as ye penalty exceed not 20s.
27. And ye freemen of every towne shall have power to chuse yearly, or for a less time, a convenient number of fitt men to order ye prudenciall affairs of ye Towne, provided nothing be done by them contrary to ye Lawes and orders of this Province, and yt ye number doe not exceed 7 for one towne; and ye selectmen in evry town shall take care from time to time to order and dispose all single psons and inmates wthin yr townes to service or otherwise; and if any pson be greived at any such order or disposall, they have liberty to appeale to the next court of this Province, yt by law hath prop. cognicence thereof.
None to Cast Ballast into the River.
28. It is ordered yt no ship or other vessell shall cast out any ballast in ye channel, or other place inconvenient, in any Harbor or River wthin this Province, upon ye penalty of tenn pounds.
Age to Make a Valid Act.
29. It is ordered by the Generall Assembly, &c, That no pson in this Province shall have power to pass away lands, Herridittamts, or any other estates, or make any legall or vallued act, or be capable of suing or being sued in any of our Courts, in his or her own pson, vntill they attaine vnto ye age of 21 years; but any orphan may choose yr Gardean, to act for them at ye age of 14 years, to secure or Defend yr estates During ye minority; also yt all parents and masters shall have power in all civill cases to prosecute and Defend ye Rights of yr children or sevants during the time of their nonage, and in all criminal cases every person, younger as well as elder, shall be Lyable to answer in yr owne person for any misdemeanures charged upon them, and may also Inform against any other person to any Court, member of ye Counll, or Grand Jury man wthin this Province.
Any Member of Ye Council or Clark to Grant Attachmts, and How Attachments Are to Be Served.
30. And it is further ordered, yt it shall be in ye Power of any member of ye Counll or any Clarke of ye writs allowed of by any of our gen. Courts, to grant sumons and attachmts in all civil proceedings.
It is ordered, yt all sumons or attachmts shall be served 6 days inclusively before ye court where ye case is to be tryed, and ye cause or ground of ye action shall in ye said process be briefly Declared, and wt capassity ye Plaintiffe sheweth, whither in his owne name, or as Attorney, assigne, gardian, executr, Adminr, Agent, or such like: or in Defect thereof, if exception be taken before ye pties Joyne Ishew, it shall be accoumpted a Legall barr, and ye Plaintiff shall be lyable to pay Cost, but no circumstantiall error in a sumons or attachmt where ye ptie and case intended may be Rationaly understood, shall be taken as a sufficeint ground for a nonsuit.
Plant. or Defendt Not Apearing, to Be Nonsuited.
31. And if either plaintif or Defendant doe make default of appearing, having been 3 times distinctly called by ye Marshall, or other office appointed by ye court to call, the plaintiff shall be nonsuited and Lyable to pay the Defendant Cost.
Ye Defendt Not Apearing, Ye Surety or Goods Attached to Stand.
32. It is enacted by ye General Assembly and authority yrof, yt if ye Defendant faile of his appearance, if it apears by ye process yt goods were attached or surety or sureteis bound for his apearance after ye surety hathe been 3 times called, ye action shall proceed to tryall, and if ye Judgmt be granted to ye plaintif, execution shall Ishew forthe against ye Defendant, and ye surety or goods attached shall stand good for 1 moth after Judgmt., but if the execution be not extended wthin one moth after judgment, ye goods attached or suretys bound shall be Released.
No Officer to Baile Any Wthout Good Surety.
33. And yt no pson may Loose or be Defrauded of his Just debt, it is ordered yt no Marshall, Constable or other officer shall baile any pson yt he hath attached, wthout sufficient surety; vizt, one or more yt is a settled inhabitant wthin this province, and yt hathe a visible Estate to be Responsible, according to ye bond Required.
Judgment to Be Acknowledged Before 2 of Ye Counll, &c.
34. It is further enacted, yt any pson yt is attached to our gen. Court, and desirous to prevent farther charge, shall have Liberty, upon notice given to ye plaintiff or his attorney, to appear before 2 of ye members of ye Counll and ye Clark or Recorder of any gen. Court wthin this province, and acknowledge a Judgment, wch shall stand good and valid in Law, provided yt ye goods attached or surety bound shall not be Released till a month after ye acknowledgmt of such Judgmt, unless ye Crr give under his hand yt he is satisfied, and yt such pson as Live out of ye Province, the acknowledgmt of a Judgmt shall not free ym. unless they shall produce a sufficient surety yt is a settled inhabitant wthin ye Judgmt, and ye Execution to stand good against ye surety for a full month after.
Persons Notified Not Apearing, Ye Penalty.
35. Be it farther enacted, that if any pson summoned to answer any presentmt, or for any fact or misdemeanor, do not appear at ye time appointed, he or they shall be proceeded aginst for contempt, except it appears they have been prevented by the hand of God.
Plaint. May Wthdraw His Action.
36. It is also enacted, yt it shall be at ye Liberty of the Plaintiff to wthdraw his action at any time before ye Judge or Jury have given in yr verdict in ye case, in wch case he shall pay full Cost to ye Defendant.
None to Pretend Great Damage to Vex His Adversary.
37. And yt no pson, in his suit or plaint against another, shall falsely pretend great damage or debts, to vex or discredit his adversary, and if it appears to ye Court yt any plaintife hath wittingly wronged ye Defendant in vexatious suits or complaints, he shall pay ye Defendant double cost, and be fined to ye province 40s. or more, according to the demerrit of his fact.
Actions May Be Reviewed.
38. It is further enacted, yt it shall be in ye liberty of any pson to review any suit or action wherein he hath been plaintife or Defendant in any Court wthin this province, but if any ptie be tweice Cast upon a Review, and shall still persist in a Course of Law, if he be Cast a 3d time his Case shall be Judged vexatious, and shall pay double Cost and such fine as ye Court shall award, not exceeding five pounds.
Innkeepers to Sell No Strong Drinks to Children or Servants.
39. Be it also enacted, yt no ordinary or Innkeeper suffer any Servants, or Children vnder family governmt, to buy (or to set drinking of) any Liquor, wine or other drink, in their houses or where they have to doe, or to spend their time there, wthout ye Leave of yr parents or Masters, unless it be in Case of necessity, on pain of 10s. forfeiture for every offence, ½ to ye informer and ye other to ye poore of ye towne.
A Person Being 3 Mos in Town Shall Be an Inhabitant, Except.
40. Likewise it is further orderrd, yt if any pson come into any town wthin this province, and be there reced & entertained 3 moths, if such person fall sick or Lame, he shall be relieved by yt towne where he was so long entertained, but if ye Constable of yt Towne, or any of ye selectmen, have given warning to such psons wthin ye space of 3 moths yt ye towne will not admit of him, if such pson shall stand in need of Reliefe ye towne shall supply his necessity, until ye Prest and Counll can dispose of him, as to ym shall seem most just and Equall.
Persons Sent From Other Towns, Ye Towns They Are Sent From to Pay the Charge.
41. It is also ordered, yt if any Children or elder pson shall be sent or come from one towne to another, to school, or to nurse, or otherwise to be educated, or to a phisition or Chirurgion, to be cured or healed, if such shall stand in need of Relief they shall be Relieved at the charge of ye towne from whence they came or doe belong, and not by ye towne to wch they are sent; and in case they be sent from any towne wthout ye Province, the taker, nurse, phisition or Chirurgion to whome they are sent, shall take good security to save ye town and Province chargless, or shall be Responcable themselves, for such as need Releife.
President or Deputy to Have Casting Vote.
42. It is further ordered, yt ye Presidt, or in his absence his Deputy, shall have a Casting vote, whensoever there shall be an Equivote, either in ye General Assembly, genl Courts, or Councll.
None to Bring in or Entertain Strangers Wthout Leave.
43. Be it also enacted yt no pson, mstr of any vessell, or other, do bring into any of our townes wthin this Province, any pson or psons, wthout ye approbation of ye Prest or 3 of any pson or psons, wthout ye approbation of ye Prest or 3 of ye Counll, or ye, selectmen of each Towne, nor yt any Inhabitant wthin this Province, doe entertaine in his family any pson yt is not soe allowed, for more than one weeke, wthout giving notice thereof to 1 of ye Counll or to ye Selectmen of ye towne to wch they belong, on penalty of forfeiting 5 l. to ye towne, and be lyable to be sued and give bond to free ye towne from Damage. Provided this ordr shall not hinder any man from taking of any apprentice or Cov’ent servant, for a year or yeares, yt is at present sound and well; and if such servant shall fall sick or Lame he shall be maintained by his Master during ye Date of his Indentures or Covenant, and afterwards by ye towne, in case of necessity.
Constables to Warn Freemen’s Meetings to Choose Deputies.
44. It is enacted by this assembly and the authority thereof, yt ye severall constables in each towne of ye province doe warne and call together the free men of theire Respective townes, on ye first Monday in february, annually, and from among themselves to make their election of Deputies for ye Genll Assembly, who are to meet at Portsmo on ye first Tuesday of March, by 10 of ye Clock in ye forenoone, and ye number of Deputies for each towne to be as followeth, vizt: 3 for ye towne of Portsmo, 3 for ye towne of Dover, 3 for ye towne of Hampton, and 2 for ye towne of Exeter, whose names, after their election and acceptance, ye severall Consas shall make Return of to ye Assembly, as above vnder their hands; and if any Constable neglect his Duty in calling the free men together, or making Returns of ye names of ye Deputies chosen as above, he shall pay ye sum of 5 l. to ye Treasurer, for ye use of ye Province, for every such neglect; and if any Deputy, after his Election and acceptance, shall neglect his attendance at ye time and place of meeting, or absent himself from ye said Assembly wthout Leave, he shall pay a fine of 20s. to the Province, for Every Dayes absence, and so proportionably for every pt. of a day, vnless some Enevatable provindence or such other occation Hinder, as shall be judged by ye Majr pt of sd Assembly a sufficient excuse for sd absence.
Pay for Entry of Actions.
45. And it is ordered, that for ye entry of all actions of appeale from ye qrtr Courts, shall be paid 20s. in money.
[Agreement Between the Settlers at New Plymouth] (The Mayflower Compact)
The complete text, with original spelling, is taken from the John Carter Brown Library copy of Nathaniel Morton’s New Englands Memoriall (Cambridge [Mass.], 1669); the library has the oldest surviving reprinting of the document. The original document disappeared sometime during the seventeenth century.
November 11, 1620
Also known as “The Plymouth Combination,” the Compact was usually referred to by Plymouth inhabitants as “The Combination” and not until 1793 was it termed the “Mayflower Compact,” when it was reprinted for the first time outside of Massachusetts by a historian in New York. The historical context surrounding its writing, as well as an analysis of its contents, can be found in Harry M. Ward, Statism in Plymouth Colony (Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1973); in Willmoore Kendall and George M. Carey, The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972); and in Donald S. Lutz, The Origins of American Constitutionalism (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988). Unlike colonies further south such as Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas where the presence of some settlers of higher social rank produced a natural, legitimate governing class, New England was settled by men of “the middling sort.” In place of a government composed of men of “standing and reputation,” the Pilgrims and other New England settlers resorted to formal agreements, signed by all males, as the basis for legitimate government. For this reason, while southern colonies moved gradually in the same direction, New England settlements immediately formed under what we now recognize as constitutional government based on popular consent. The Mayflower Compact is the oldest surviving compact based on popular consent; but see also documents 5, 7, 11, 12, 19, 21, 23, and 32–38.
[The Plymouth Combination, or The Mayflower Compact]
IN the Name of God, Amen. We whose Names are under-written, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Soveraign Lord King James, by the grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defendorof the Faith &c. Having undertaken for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our K[i]ng and Countrey, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the Northern parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one another, Covenant and Combine our selves together into a Civil Body Politick, for our better ordering and preservation, and furtherance of the ends aforesaid: and by virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our Names at Cape Cod, the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Soveraign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty fourth, Anno Dom. 1620.