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Charter of King Charles II of England to William Penn
(March 4, 1681)

(spelling and usage retained from original document)

Charles the Second, by the grace of God King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, defender of the faith, &c., To all to whome these presents shall come Greeting. Whereas our Trustie and well beloved Subject, William Penn, Esquire, sonn and heire of Sir William Penn, deceased, out of a commendable desire to enlarge our English Empire, and promote such usefull commodities as may bee of benefit to us and our Dominions, as alsoe to reduce the Savage Natives by gentle and just manners to the love of civill Societie and Christian Religion hath humbley besought leave of vs to transport an ample colonie vnto a certaine Countrey hereinafter described in the partes of America not yet cultivated and planted. And hath likewise humbley besought our Royall majestie to give grant, and confirme all the said countrey with certaine priviledges and Jurisdiccions requisite for the good Government and saffie of the said Countrey and Colonie, to him and his heires forever.

[Section I*] Know Yee, therefore, that wee, favouring the petition and good purpose of the said William Penn, and having regard to the memorie and merits of his late father, in divers services, and perticulerly to his conduct, courage and discretion vnder our dearest brother, James Duke of Yorke, in that signall battell and victorie, fought and obteyned against the Dutch fleeter commanded by the Heer Van Opdam, in the yeare One thousand six hundred sixtie five, in consideration thereof our special grace, certaine knowledge and mere motion, Have given and granted, and by this our present Charter, for vs, our heires and sucessors, Doe give and grant unto the said William Penn, his heires and assignes all that tract or parte of land in America, with all the Islands therein conteyned, as the same is bounded on the East by Delaware River, from twelve miles distance, Northwarde of New Castle Towne unto the three and fortieth degree of Northern latitude if the said River doeth extend soe farre Northwards; but if the said River shall not extend soe farre Northward, then by the said River soe farr as it doth extend, and from the head of the said River the Easterne bounds are to bee determined by a meridian line, to bee drawn from the head of the said River vnto the said three and fortieth degree, the said lands to extend Westwards, five degrees in longitude, to bee computed from the said Easterne Bounds, and the said lands to bee bounded on the North, by the beginning of the three and fortieth degree of Northern latitude, and on the south, by a circle drawne at twelve miles, distance from New Castle Northwards, and Westwards vnto the beginning of the fortieth degree of Northerne Latitude; and then by a straight line Westwards, to the limit of Longitude above menconed.

[Section II] Wee Doe alsoe give and grant vnto the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, the free and vndisturbed vse, and continuance in and passage into and out of all and singular Ports, harbours, Bayes, waters, rivers, Isles and Inletts, belonging vnto or leading to and from the Countrey, or Islands aforesaid; and all the soyle, lands, fields, woods, vnderwoods, mountains, hills, fenns, Isles, Lakes, Rivers, waters, rivulets, Bays and Inletts, scituate or being within or belonging vnto the Limitts and Bounds aforesaid together with the fishing of all sortes of fish, whales, sturgeons, and all Royall and other fishes in the sea, bayes, Inletts, waters or Rivers, within the premises, and the fish therein taken, and alsoe all veines, mines and quarries, as well discovered as not discovered, of Gold, Silver, Gemms and pretious Stones, and all other whatsoever, stones, metals, or of any other thing or matter whatsoever, found or to bee found within the Countrey, Isles, or Limitts aforesaid;

[Section III] and him the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, Wee Doe, by this our Royall Charter, for vs, our heires and successors, make, create and constitute the true and absolute proprietaries of the Countrey aforesaid, and of all other, the premises, saving always to vs, our heires and successors, the faith and allegiance of the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, and of all other, the proprietaries tenants and Inhabitants that are, or shall be within the Territories and precincts aforesaid; and saving alsoe vnto vs, our heires and Succesors, the Sovreignity of the aforesaid Countrey, To Have, hold and possesse and enjoy the said tract of Land, Countrey, Isles, Inletts and other the premises, vnto the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, to the only proper vse and behoofe of the said William Penn, his heirs and assignes forever. To bee holden of vs, our heires and Successors, Kings of England, as of our Castle of Windsor, in our County of Berks, in free and common socage by fealty only for all services and not in Capite or by Knights service, Yeelding and paying therefore to us, our heires and Successors, two Beaver Skins to bee delivered att our said Castle of Windsor, on the first day of January, in every yeare; and also the fifth parte of all Gold and silver Oare, which shall from time to time happen to bee found within the Limitts aforesaid, cleare of all charges, and of our further grace certaine knowledge and mere mocon, wee have thought fit to Erect, and wee doe hereby Erect the aforesaid Countrey and Islands, into a province and Seiginiorie, and doe call itt Pensilvania, and soe from henceforth wee will have itt called,

[Section IV] and forsasmuch as wee have hereby made, and ordeyned the aforesaid William Penn, his heires and assignes, the true and absolute Proprietaries of all the Lands and Dominions aforesaid. Know Yee therefore, that wee reposing special trust and confidence in the fidelities, wisedome, justice and provident circumspeccon of the said William Penn, for vs, our heires and successors, Doe grant free, full and absolute power, by vertue of these presents to him and his heirs, and to his and their Deputies, and Lieutenants, for the good and happy government of the said Countrey, to ordeyne, make, enact and vnder his and their Seales to publish any Lawes whatsoever, for the raising of money for the publick vse of the said province, or for any other end apperteyning either vnto the publick state peace, or safety of the said Countrey, or vnto the private vtility of particular persons, according vnto their best discretions, by and with the advice, assent and approbacon of the freemen of the said Countrey, or the greater parte of them, or of their Delegates or Deputies, whom for the Enacting of the said Lawes, when, and as often as need shall require. Wee Will, that the said William Penn, and his heires shall assemble in such sort and forme as to him and them shall seeme best, and the same lawes duely to execute vnto, and upon all people within the said Countrey and limits thereof;

[Section V] and Wee doe likewise give and grant unto the said William Penn, and his heiress and to his and their Deputies and Lieutenants, such power and authorities to appoint and establish any Judges, and Justices, magistrates and officers whatsoever, for what causes soever, for the probates of wills and for the granting of administracons within the precincts aforesaid, and with what power soever, and in such frome as to the said William Penn, or his heiress shall seeme most convenient. Alsoe to remitt, release, pardon and abolish, whether before Judgement or after, all crimes and offences, whatsoever committed within the said Countrey, against the said Lawes, treason and willful and malitious murder onely excepted; and in these cases, to grant reprieves until our pleasure may bee knowne therein, and to doe all and every other thing and things which vnto the compleate establishment of Justice vnto Courts and Tribunalls, formes of Judicature and manner of proceedings doe belong, altho' in these presents expresse mencon bee not made thereof; and by Judges by them delegated to award processes hold pleas and determine in all the said Courts and Tribunalls, all accons, suits and causes whatsoever, as well crminall as civill, personal, reall and mixt, which Lawes soe as aforesaid, to bee published, Our pleasure is, and soe Wee enjoyne require and command shall bee most absolute and avaylable in law, and that all the Liege people and Subjects of vs, our heires and successors, doe observe and keepe the same inviolable in those partes, soe farr as they concerne them, vnder the paine therein expressed, or to bee expressed. Provided; Nevertheles, that the said Lawes bee consonant to reason, and bee not repugnant or contrarie, but as neere as conveniently may bee agreeable to the Lawes, statutes and rights of this our Kingdome of England, and saveing and reserving to vs, our heires and successors, the receiving, heareing and determining of the appeale and appeales, of all or any person or persons, of, in or beloning to the territories aforesaid, or touching any Judgement to bee there made or given.

[Section VI] --And forasmuch as in the Government of soe great a Countrey, sudden accidents doe often happen, whereunto itt will bee necessarie to apply a remedie before the freeholders of the said Province, or their Delegates or Deputies can bee assembled to the makeing of Lawes neitheir will itt be convenient that instantly vpon every such emergent occasion, soe greate a multitude should be called together. Therefore, for the better Government of the said Countrey, Wee Will, and ordeyne, and by these presents for vs, our heires and successors, Doe grant vnto the said William Penn and his heires, by themselves or by their magistrates and officers, in that behalfe, duely to bee ordeyned as aforesaid, to make and constitute, fitt and wholesome ordinances from time to time within the said Countrey, to bee kept and observed as well for the preservacon of the peace, as for the better government of the people there inhabiting, and publickly to notifie the same, to all persons whome the same doeth or any way may concerne, which ordinances our will and pleasure is, shall be observed inviolable within the said Province, vnder paines therein to bee expressed, soe as the said ordinances bee consonant to reason and bee not repugnant nor contrary, but soe farre as conveniently may bee agreeable with the Lawes of our kingdome of England, and soe as the said ordinances be not extended in any sort to bind, charge or take away the right or interest of any person or persons, for or in their life, members, freehold, goods or Chattells; and our further will and pleasure is, that the Lawes for regulateing and governing of properties, within the said Province, as well for the descent and enjoyment of lands, as likewise for the enjoyment and succession of goods and Chattells, and like wise as to felonies, shall bee and continue the same as shall bee for the time being, by the generall course of the Law in our Kingdome of England, vntill the said Lawes shall bee altered by the said William Penn, his heires or assignes, and by the freemen of the said Province, their Delegates or Deputies, or the greater part of them.

[Section VII] And to the End the said William Penn, or heires, or other, the Planters, Owners or Inhabitants of the said Province, may not att any time hereafter, by misconstrucon of the powers aforesaid, through inadvertiencie or designe, depart from that faith and due allegianace, which by the Lawes of this our Realme of England, they and all our subiects, on our Dominions and Territories, always owe vnto vs, our heires and successors by colour of any extent or largenesse of powers hereby given, or pretended to bee given, or by force or colour of any lawes hereafter to bee made in the said Province, by virtue of any such powers. Our further will and pleasure is, that a transcript or Duplicate of all lawes which shall bee soe as foresaid, made and published within the said province, shall within five yeares after the makeing thereof, be transmitted and delivered to the privy Councell, for the time being, of vs, our heires and successors; and if any of the said Lawes within the space of six moneths, after that they shall be soe transmitted and delivered, bee declared by vs, our heires and successors in our or their privy Councell, inconsistent with the sovereignety or lawfull prerogative of vs, our heirs or successors, or contrary to the faith and allegiance due by the legall Government of this realme, from the said William Penn, or heires, or of the Planters and Inhabitants of the said province; and that therevpon any of the said Lawes shall bee adiuged and declared to bee void by vs, our heires or successors, vnder our or their Privy Seale, that then, and from thenceforth such Lawes concerning which such Judgement and declaracon shall be made, shall become voyd, otherwise the said lawes soe transmitted, shall remaine and stand in full force according to the true intent and meaneing thereof.

[Section VIII] Furthermore, that this new Colony may the more happily increase, by the multitude of people resorting thither. Therefore, Wee, for vs, our heires and successors, doe give and grant by these presents, power licence and libertie vnto all the liege people and subjects, both present and future of vs, our heires and successors, excepting those who shall bee especially forbidden, to transport themselves and families vnto the said Countrey, with such convenient shipping as by the lawes of this, our kingdome of England, they ought to vse with fitting provisions paying only the customes therefore due, and there to settle themselves, dwell and inhabit and plant for the publick and their own private advantage;

[Section IX] And Furthermore, that our subjects may bee the rather encouraged to undertake this expedicon with ready and cheerfull mindes. Know Yee, that wee of our especial grace certaine knowledge and meere mocon, Doe give and grant by vertue of these presents, as well vnto the said William Penn and his heires, as to all others who shall from time to time repaire vnto the said Countrey, with a purpose to inhabitt there, or to trade with the natives of the said Countrey, full license to lade and freight in any Ports whatsoever of vs, our heires and successors, according to the lawes made, or to be made within our kingdome of England, and into the said Countrey, by them, theire servants or assignes, to transport all and singular theire wares, goods and merchandizes, as likewise, all sorts of graine whatsoever, and all other things whatsoever necessary for food or cloathing, not phibited by the lawes and Statutues of our kingdoms and Dominions, to be carryed out of the said kingdoms without any lett or molestacon of vs, our heires and successors, or of any the officers of vs, our heires and successors, saveing always to vu, our heires and successors,the legall impossitons, customes and other duties and payments for the said wares and merchandize, by any law or statute due or to be due to vs, our heires and successors.

[Section X] And Wee Doe further for vs, our heirs and Successors, give and grant vnto the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, free and absolute power to Divide the said Countrey, and Islands, into Townes, Hundreds and Counties, and to erect and incorporate Townes into Borroughs, and Borroughs into Citties, and to make and constitute ffaires and marketts therein, with all other convenient privileges and immunities according to the meritt of the inhabitants, and the ffitnes of the places; & to doe all and every other thing and things touching the premises which to him or them shall seeme requisite, and meet, albeit they be such as of their owne nature might otherwise require a more especiall comandment and warrant, then in these presents is expressed.

[Section XI] We Will Alsoe, and by these presents for vs, our heires and successors, Wee doe give and grant licence by this our charter, vnto the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, and to all inhabitants and dwellers in pvince aforesaid, both present, and to come to import or vnlade by themselves or their Servants, ffactors or assignes, all merchandizes and goods whatsoever, that shall arise of the fruites and comodities of the said province, either by Land or Sea, into any of the Ports of vs, our heires and successors, in our kingdome of England, and not into any other countrey whatsoever. And Wee give him full power to dispose of the said goods in the said ports, and if need bee, within one yeare next after the unladeing of the same, to lade the said merchandizes and goods again into the same or other shipps, and to export the same into any other Countreys, either of our Dominions or fforreigne, according to lawe: Provided alwayes, that they pay such, customes and imposicons, subsidies and duties for the same to vs, our heires and successors, as the rest of our subjects of our kingdome of England, for the time being shall be bound to pay, and doe observe the acts of Navigation and other lawes in that behalfe made.

[Section XII] And Furthermore, of our more ample and especiall grace, certain knowledge and meere motion, Wee Doe, for vs, our heires and successors, Grant vnto the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, full and absolute power and authorities to make, erect and constitute within the said province, and the Isles and Isletts aforesaid, such and soe many Seaports, harbours, Creeks, Havens, Keyes and other places, for discharge and vnladeing of goods, & merchandize out of the shipps, boates and other vessels, and Ladeing them in such and soe many places, and with such rights, Jurisdiccons, liberties and priviledges unto the said ports, belonging as to him or them, shall seeme most expedient, and that all and singuler the shipps, boates and other vessels, which shall come for merchandize and trade, vnto the said pvince, or out of the same shall depart, shall be laden or vniaden onely att such ports as shall be erected and constituted by the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, any vse, custome or other thing to the contrary notwithstanding: Provided, that the said William Penn and his heires, and the Lieutenants and Governors for the time being shall admit and receive in and about all such ports, havens, Creeks and Keyes, all officers and their Deputies, who shall from time to time be appointed for that purpose, by the ffarmers or Comissioners of our customes, for the time being.

[Section XIII] And Wee Doe further appoint and ordaine, and by these presents for vs, our heires and successors, Wee Doe grant vnto the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, that he the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, may from time to time forever, have and enjoy the customes and subsidies in the ports, harbours and other Creeks, and places aforesaid, within the pvince aforesaid, payable or due for merchandizes and wares, there to be laded and vnladed, the said customes and subsidies to be reasonably assessed, vpon any occasion by themselues and the people there as aforesaid, to be assembled to whom Wee give power, by these presents for vs, our heires and successors, vpon just cause, and in a due pporcon, to assesse and impose the same, saveing vnto vs, our heires and successors, such imposcons and customes as by act of parliament are and shall be appointed;

[Section XIV] and it is our further will and pleasure, that the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, shall from time to time constitute and appoint an attorney or agent, to reside in or neare our Citty of London, who shall make knowne the place where he shall dwell or may be found, vnto the Clerks of Our privy Counsell, for the time being or one of them, and shall be ready to appeare in any of our Courts att Westminster, to answer for any misdemeanors that shall be comitted, or by any wilfull default or neglect pmitted by the said William Penn, his heires or assignes, against our Lawes of Trade or Navigacon, and after if shall be ascertained in any of our said Courts, what damages Wee or our heires or successors shall haue sustained, by such default or neglect, the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, shall pay the same within one yeare after such taxacon and demand thereof, from such attorney, or in case-there shall be noe such attorney, by the space of one yeare, or such attorney shall not make payment of such damages, within the space of one yeare, and answer such other forfeitures and penalties within the said time, as by the acts of parliament in England, are or shall be pvided, according to the true intent and meaning of these presents; Then it shall be lawfule for vs, our heires and successor, to seize and Resume the government of the said pvince or Countrey, and the same to retaine untill payment shall be made thereof. But notwithstanding any such seizure or resumption of the Government, nothing concerening the propriety or ownership of any Lands, Tenements or other hereditaments, or goods, or chattels of any of the adventurers, Planters or owners, other then the respective offenders there, shall be any way affected or molested thereby:

[Section XV] Provided alwayes, and our will and pleasure is that neither the said William Penn, nor his heires, nor any other the inhitants of the said pvince, shall at any time hereafter haue or maintain any correspondence with any other king, prince or State, or with any of theire subiects, who shall then be in warr against vs, our heires or successors;

[Section XVI] Nor shall the said William Penn, or his heires, or any other the inhabitants of the said pvince, make warre or doe any act of hosfilitie against any other king, prince or state, or any of their subiects, who shall then be in league or amity with vs, our heires or successors. And because in soe remote a Countrey, and scituate neare many Barbarous Nations, the incursions as well of the savages themselues, as of other, enemies, pirates and Robbers, may pbably be feared. Therefore, Wee have given and for vs, our heires and successors, Doe give power by these presents vnto the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, by themselues or their Captaines or other, their officers to levy, muster and traine all sorts of men, of what condicon, or wheresoever borne, in the said pvince of Pensylvania, for the time being, and to make warr and pursue the enemies and Robbers aforesaid, as well by Sea as by Land, yea, even without the Limits of the said pvince, and by God's assistance, to vanquish and take them, and being taken, to put them to death by the law of Warr, or to save them att theire pleasure, and to doe all and every other act and thing, which to the charge and office of a Captaine generall of an Army belongeth or hath accustomed to belong, as fully and ffreely as any Captaine Generall of an Army, hath ever had the same.

[Section XVII] And Furthermore, of our especiall grace and of our certaine knowledge and meere motion, Wee have given and granted, and by these presents for vs, our, heires and successors. Doe give and grant vnto the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, full and absolute power, licence and authoritie That he the said William Penn, his heires and Assignes, from time to time hereafter forever, att his or theire will and pleasure, may assigne alien, grant, demise or infeoffe of the premises, soe many, and such partes and parcells to him or them, that shall be willing to purchase the same, as they shall think ffitt. To Have And To Hold to them, the said person and persons willing to take or purchase, theire heires and assignes, in ffee simple or ffeetaile, or for the terme of life, or liues, or yeares, to be held of the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, as of the said Seigniory of Windsor, by such services, customes and rents, as shall seeme ffitt to the said William Penn, his heires and assignes,

[Section XVIII] and not immediately of vs, our heires and successors, and to the same person or persons, and to all and every of them, Wee Doe give and grant by these presents, for vs, our heires and successors, Licence, authoritie and power, that such person or persons may take the premises or any parcell thereof, of the aforesaid William Penn, his heires or assignes, and the same hold to them selues, their heires and assignes, in what estate of inheritance soever, in ffee simple, or in ffeetaile or otherwise, as to him the said William Penn, his heires and assignes, shall seem expedient. The Statutes made in the parliament of Edward, sonne of king Henry, late king of England, our predecessor, comonly called the Statute Quia Emptores terrarum lately published in our kingdome of England, in any wise notwithstanding,

[Section XIX] and by these presents, Wee give and grant licence vnto the said William Penn, and his heires, likewise to all and every such person and persons to whom the said William Penn, or his heires, shall at any time hereafter, grant any estate of inheritance as aforesaid, to erect any parcels of Land within the pvince aforesaid, into mannors, by and with the licence to be first had and obteyned for that purpose, vnder the hand and seale of the said William Penn, or his heiress and in every of the said mannors, to haue and to hold a Court Baron, with all things whatsoever, which to a Court Baron do belong; and to haue and to hold view of ffrankpledge, for the conservacon of the peace, and the better goverment of those partes by themselves or their Stewards, or by the Lords for the time being of other mannors to be deputed when they shall be erected, and in the same, to vse all things belonging to view of ffrankpledge; and Wee doe further grant licence and authoritie that every such person and persons, who shall erect any such mannor or mannors as aforesaid, shall or may grant all or any parte of his said lands to any person or persons, in ffee simple or any other estate of inheritance, to be held of the said mannors respectively, soe as noe further tenures shall be created, but that vpon all further and other alienacons thereafter, to be made the said lands soe aliened, shall be held of the same Lord and his heires, of whom the alien did then before hold, and by the like, rents and services, which were before due and accustomed.

[Section XX] And further, our pleasure is and by these presents for vs, our heires and successors, Wee doe Covenant and grant to and with the said William Penn, and his heires and assignes, that Wee, our heires and successors, shall att no time hereafter sett or make, or cause to be sett, any impossicion, custome or other taxacon, rate or contribucon whatsoever, in and upon the dwellers and inhabitants of the aforesaid pvince, for their lands tenements, goods or chattels, within the said province, or in and vpon any goods or merchandise within the said prvince, or to be laden or vnladen within the ports or harbours of the said pvince, vnles the same be with the consent of the pprietary, or chiefe Governor and Assembly, or by act of parliament in England

[Section XXI] And our pleasure is, and for us our heires and successors, Wee charge and comand, that this our Declaracon, shall from henceforward be received, and allowed from time to time in all our Courts, and before all the judges of vs, our heires and successors, for a sufficicient and lawful discharge, payment and acquittance, comanding all and singular the officers and ministers of vs, our heires and successors, and enioyneing them vpon paine of our high displeasure, that they doe not presume att any time to attempt any thing to the contrary of the premises, or that they doe in any sort withstand the same, but that they bee att all times aiding and assisting as is fitting vnto the said William Penn, and his heires, and to the inhabitants and merchants of the pvince aforesaid, their servants, ministers, ffactors and assignes, in the full vse and fruition of the beneffitt of this our Charter:

[Section XXII] And our further pleasure is, And Wee doe hereby, for vs, our heires and successors, charge and require that if any of the inhabitants of the said pvince, to the number of Twenty, shall att any time hereafter be desirous, and shall be any writeing or by any pson deputed for them signify such their desire to the Bishop of London, that any preacher or preachers to be approved of by the said Bishop, may be sent vnto them for their instruccon, that then such preacher or preachers, shall and may be and reside within the said pvince, without any Deniall or molestacon whatsoever;

[Section XXIII] and if pchance it should happen hereafter, any doubts or questions should arise concerning the true sence & meaning of any word, clause or sentence, conteyned in this our present charter, Wee Will ordaine and comand, that att all times and in all things such interpretacon be made thereof, and allowed in any of our Courts whatsoever, as shall be adjudged most advantageous and favourable unto the said William Penn, his heires and assignes: Provided alwayes, that no interpretacon be admitted thereof, by which the allegiance due vnto vs, our heires and successors, may suffer any preiudice or diminucon, although expres mencon be not made in these presents, of the true yearly value or certainty of the premises, or of any parte thereof, or of other guifts and grants made by vs, our pgenitors or predecessors, vnto the said William Penn, or any Statute, act ordinance, pvision, pclamacon or restraint heretofore, had made, published, ordained or pvided, or any other thing cause or matter whatsoever to the contrary thereof, in any wise notwithstanding. In Witness whereof Wee have caused these our letters to be made patents, Witness our selfe at Westminster, the fourth day of March, in the three and thirtieth yeare of our Reigne.

By Writt of privy Seale. PIGOTT

John Shaler, SHALER, chvr.

xxvij die Janry, 1682, Fir.


*The section numbers noted above do not appear in the original document. They were assigned by the Provincial Council in 1685 to facilitate reference.