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1629: Agreement of the Massachusetts Bay Company

Source: Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History, ed. Donald S. Lutz (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1998).

6 [Agreement of the Massachusetts Bay Company at Cambridge, England]

The complete text, with the original spelling, is taken from E. S. Morgan, ed., The Founding of Massachusetts: The Historians and Their Sources (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1964), 183–84.

Although not written on American shores, the Agreement at Cambridge was written not by any English authorities but by the colonists themselves before embarking. It stands, therefore, in the same category as the Mayflower Compact, which some historians believe was also composed in England before departure and only brought out for signing before debarking in America. The signatures affixed to the following document were put there in England, however.

The true coppie of the Agreement of Cambridge, August 26. 1629.

Upon due consideracion of the state of the plantacion now in hand for New England, wherein wee (whose names are hereunto subscribed) have ingaged ourselves: and having weighed the greatnes of the worke in regard of the consequences, Gods glory and the churches good: As also in regard of the difficultyes and discourgements which in all probabilityes must be forcast upon the prosecucion of this businesse: Considering withall that this whole adventure growes upon the joynt confidence we have in each others fidelity and resolucion herein, so as no man of us would have adventured it without assurance of the rest: Now for the better encourragement of ourselves and others that shall joyne with us in this action, and to the end that every man may without scruple dispose of his estate and afayres as may best fitt his preparacion for this voyage, It is fully and faithfully agreed amongst us, and every of us doth hereby freely and sincerely promise and bynd himselfe in the word of a Christian and in the presence of God who is the searcher of all hearts, that we will so really endevour the prosecucion of his worke, as by Gods assistaunce we will be ready in our persons, and with such of our severall familyes as are to go with us and such provisions as we are able conveniently to furnish ourselves withall, to embarke for the said plantacion by the first of march next, at such port or ports of this land as shall be agreed upon by the Company, to the end to passe the Seas (under Gods protection) to inhabite and continue in New England. Provided alwayes that before the last of September next the whole governement together with the Patent for the said plantacion bee first by an order of Court legally transferred and established to remayne with us and others which shall inhabite upon the said plantacion. And provided also that if any shall be hindered by such just and inevitable Lett1 or other cause to be allowed by 3 parts of foure of these whose names are hereunto subscribed, then such persons for such tymes and during such letts to be dischardged of this bond. And we do further promise every one for himselfe that shall fayle to be ready through his owne default by the day appointed, to pay for every dayes defalt the summe of 3 li2 to the use of the rest of the Company who shall be ready by the same day and tyme.

This was done by order of Court the 29th day of August. 1629.

  • rich: saltonstall
  • tho: dudley
  • william vassall
  • nich: west
  • isaack johnson
  • john humfrey
  • tho: sharp
  • increase nowell
  • john winthrop
  • will: pinchon
  • kellam browne
  • william colbron

Endnotes

[1. ]Hindrance, obstruction, or delay.

[2. ]The archaic symbol for an English pound.

Last modified April 10, 2014