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Title: Oaths of Allegiance in Colonial New England
Author: Evans, Charles
Language: English
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American Antiquarian Society

OATHS OF ALLEGIANCE IN COLONIAL NEW ENGLAND

by

CHARLES EVANS



Reprinted from the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society
for October, 1921



Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Published by the Society
1922

The Davis Press
Worcester, Massachusetts



CONTENTS

    In England.
        The Oath of Supremacy
        Tenor of The Oath of Allegiance, &c. to be Taken and
           Subscribed by Recusants
        The Oath of Abjuration
    In New Plymouth Colony.
        Combination for Foundation of Government known as The
           Mayflower Compact
        Oath of Allegiance and Fidelity
        The Oath of a Ffreeman
        The Oath of a Resident
        The Oath of a Ffreeman
        The Oath of a Ffreeman
    In Massachusetts-Bay Colony.
        The Oath of a Freeman, or of a Man to be made ffree.
        The Oath of Residents
        The Oath of a Freeman
        The Oath of a Free-man
        Freemans Oath
        Freemans Oath
        Oath of Fidelitie
        Oath of Fidelitie
        Strangers Oath
        Oath of Fidelitie
        Freemans Oath
    In Connecticut and New Haven Colonies.
        An Oath for Paqua’ and the Plantations there
        The Oath of a Freeman
    In New Haven Colony.
        Freeman’s Charge
        Oath of Fidelity
        Oath of Allegiance
    In Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
        Civil Compact
        Second Civil Compact
        The Engagement of the Officers
        The Reciprocal Engagement of the State to ye Officers
        The Preamble to the Law Against Perjury
    In New Hampshire Colony.
        The Combination for Government at Exeter, with the Forms
           of Oaths for Rulers and People
        The Elders or Rulers Oath
        The Oath of the People
        The Combination of the People of Dover to Establish a Form
           of Government
        Freemen
    In Province or County of Maine.
        Oath of Councilors of Province of Mayne



              OATHS OF ALLEGIANCE IN COLONIAL NEW ENGLAND


The antiquity of the custom of giving and taking Oaths, or the debatable
questions of their observance being a religious or legal ceremony, and
whether the moral or political aspect has the greater effect upon the
minds of men, are subjects with which this paper has nothing to do.

And as the substance of Oaths for particular officers is to engage them
to a faithful discharge of their places and trusts to the best of their
ability, it has been considered, in general, unnecessary to give them,
especially as these offices carry with them the assumption that the
general Oaths required of all citizens have first been complied with. No
Oaths of office were administered or required in the New Plymouth
Colony, the power of the Church being, in effect, superior to the civil
power.

For the main purpose of this paper it will not be necessary to go
further back in history than to the reign of James the First, of
England, 1603–1625, during which time the providences of God directed
the course of the voyage of the Pilgrims away from the Colony of
Virginia to their settlement at Plymouth in New England, in December,
1620; or to carry the subject beyond the time, in the short-lived reign
of James the Second, 1685–1689, when, in December, 1686, Sir Edmund
Andros, knight, arrived in Boston with a commission to govern New
England, and the Colonial period of New England came to an end.



_In England._


When Henry the Eighth renounced the authority of the Pope, in 1534, an
Act of Parliament was obtained declaring him the only supreme head of
the Church in England on the earth; and utterly abolishing the authority
of the Roman Pontiff within the British Dominions. To give effect to
this Act there was further enacted:


                         THE OATH OF SUPREMACY

  I, A. B. do utterly testifie and declare in my Conscience, that the
  Kings Highness is the only Supream Governour of this Realm, and of
  all other His Highness Dominions and Countries, as well in all
  Spiritual and Ecclesiastical things (or causes) as Temporal: And
  that no Forraign Prince, Person, Prelate, State, or Potentate, hath,
  or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, preheminence
  or authority, Ecclesiastical or Spiritual within this Realm: and
  therefore I do utterly renounce and forsake all forreign
  jurisdiction, powers, superioritie, and authorities, and do promise
  that from henceforth I shall bear Faith and true Allegiance to the
  Kings Highness, His Heirs and lawful Successors, and (to my power)
  shall assist and defend all jurisdiction, priviledge, preheminence,
  & authority granted or belonging to the Kings Highness, His Heirs
  and Successors, and united and annexed to the imperial Crown of the
  Realm. So help me God, _&c._

The Act of Supremacy which broke the power of the Roman Catholic Church
in England, under Henry the Eighth, and his successor, Edward the Sixth,
was repealed under Mary Tudor, and revived under Elizabeth, in 1558.
Following the Gunpowder Plot, James the First, in 1605, had enacted an
Oath of Allegiance, also, which all British subjects were required to
take. This Oath of “submission and obedience to the King as a temporal
Sovereign, independent of any other power upon earth” contained no
acknowledgment of the King as the head of the Church, and, by this
omission, Roman Catholics could take it without denying the supremacy of
the Pope in spiritual affairs:


   TENOR OF THE OATH OF ALLEGIANCE, &C. TO BE TAKEN AND SUBSCRIBED BY
                               RECUSANTS

  I. A.B. doe truely and sincerely acknowledge pfesse testifie and
  declare in my Conscience before God and the Worlde, That our
  Soveraigne Lorde Kinge James is lawfull and rightfull King of this
  Realme and of all other his Majesties Dominions and Countries; And
  that the Pope, neither of himselfe nor by any Authority of the
  Churche or Sea of Rome, or by any other meanes with any other, hath
  any Power or Authoritye to depose the King or to dispose any of his
  Majesties Kingdomes or Dominions, or to authorize any Forraigne
  Prince to invade or annoy hym or his Countries, or to discharge any
  of his Subjects of their Allegiaunce and Obedience to his Majestie,
  or to give Licence or Leave to any of them to beare Armes raise
  Tumult or to offer any violence or hurte to his Majestie Royall Pson
  State or Government or to any of his Majesties Subjects within his
  Majesties Dominions. Also I doe sweare from my heart, that
  notwithstanding any Declarac̄on or Sentence of Excommunicac̄on or
  Deprivac̄on made or graunted or to be made or graunted by the Pope
  or his Successors, or by any Authoritie derived or p̄tended to be
  derived from hym or his Sea against the saide King his Heires or
  Successors, or any Absolution of the saide Subjects from theire
  Obedience; I will beare Faithe and true Allegiaunce to his Majestie
  his Heires and Successors, and hym or them will defend to the
  uttermost of my power against all Conspiracies and Attempts
  whatsoever which shalbe made against his or theire persons theire
  Crowne and Dignitie by reason or colour of any such Sentence or
  Declarac̄on or otherwise, and will doe my best endevour to disclose
  and make knowen unto his Majestie his Heires and Successors all
  Treasons and traiterous Conspiracies which I shall knowe or heare of
  to be against hym or any of them. And I doe further sweare, That I
  doe from my heart abhor, detest and abjure as impious and hereticall
  this damnable Doctrine and Position, that Princes which be
  excōmunicated or deprived by the Pope may be deposed or murthered
  by theire Subjects or any other whosoever. And I doe beleeve and in
  my Conscience am resolved, that neither the Pope nor any pson
  whatsoever hath power to absolve me of this Oath or any parte
  therof, which I acknowledge by good and full Authoritye to be
  lawfully ministered unto mee, and doe renounce all Pardons and
  Dispensac̄ons to the contrarie; And all these things I do plainly
  and sincerely acknowledge and sweare, according to these expresse
  wordes by me spoken, and according to the playne and cōmon sense
  and understanding of the same wordes, without any equivocac̄on or
  mentall evasion or secret reservac̄on whatsoever; And I doe make
  this recognic̄on and acknowledgment heartily willingly and truly
  upon the true Faithe of a Christian: So help me God. Unto which Oath
  so taken, the saide pson shall subscribe his or her Name or Marke.
  [1605.]

Both of these Oaths were commanded during the reign of Charles the
First, 1625–1649.

By the third Charter of the Virginia Company, their Treasurer, or any
two of the Council, were empowered to administer the Oaths of Supremacy,
and of Allegiance, to all persons going to their Colony. And the
Pilgrims, through their chief men, agreed with the Virginia Company:
“The Oath of Supremacy we shall willingly take, if it be required of us,
if that convenient satisfaction be not given by our taking the Oath of
Allegiance. John Robinson. William Brewster.”

The Charter of the Massachusetts-Bay Company gave them broader powers in
that it did not exact this provision from them but gave the Company
liberty to admit new members, called “Freemen” of the Company, and no
method, conditions, or qualifications were presented for conferring this
privilege. Their leaders, as we shall see, were quick to take advantage
of the opportunity given them to frame their own Oaths of citizenship.
Too late the government in England, or rather that part which was
representative of the Church of England, realized the powers of
colonization this gave the dissenting churchmen; and, in 1637, a
Proclamation was issued, aimed principally to prevent the emigration of
Puritan Ministers, which commanded that none should be suffered to go to
New England “without a certificate that they had taken the Oaths of
Supremacy and Allegiance, and had conformed to the discipline of the
Church of England.” In 1638, another Proclamation “commanded owners and
masters of vessels that they do not fit out any with passengers and
provisions to New-England, without license from the Commissioners of
Plantations.”

Another Oath, drawn up in England, also claims a place here because it
was sometimes voluntarily taken by settlers in the New England Colonies.
In the year 1655, during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, an Oath,
probably similar to that prescribed by the Rump Parliament to the
Council of State, was enacted which was known as:


                         THE OATH OF ABJURATION

  I do hereby swear that I do renounce the pretended title of Charles
  Stuart, and the whole line of the late King James; and of any other
  person, as a single person pretending, or which shall pretend to the
  crown or government of these nations of England Scotland and
  Ireland, or any of them; and that I will, by the grace and
  assistance of Almighty God, be true, faithful and constant to the
  Parliament, and Commonwealth; and will oppose the bringing in, or
  setting up any single person or House of Lords, and every
  of them, in this Commonwealth.

Soon after the Restoration, Charles the Second, by Proclamation
commanded that the Oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance be tendered to all
persons disaffected to the Government and, in case of refusal, that they
were to be prosecuted under the Statute of the 7th of James. During the
reign of his Roman Catholic successor, James the Second, the Oath of
Supremacy was allowed to lapse, and the Oath of Allegiance, only, was in
full force in the Colonies, up to the publication of his declaration of
liberty of conscience for all denominations in England and Scotland, in
1687–1688, which sealed his doom.

These preliminaries are necessary to a full understanding of our subject
which naturally begins, in point of time, with the settlement



_In New Plymouth Colony._


Strictly speaking, Plymouth was not a New England Colony. It was without
a Charter, and the functions of its government were those of a
Corporation. The power of the Oath of Allegiance their leaders had
assented to always seemed to hang over them, and paralyze the initiative
they should have taken. Their attempts to increase their circumscribed
boundaries at New Plymouth were futile; and, in the case of their
attempted settlement in Maine, disastrous both to the business
reputation of their leaders, and to the Corporation. They could spare
neither the men nor the means from the parent settlement to form
permanent settlements elsewhere. They seemed doomed to failure. And yet
hardly that, when we consider the impress upon our Nation made by their
sterling qualities of mind and heart, their patience and fortitude under
severe trials, the hopes and ambition of their teachings, and their
never-failing trust in God’s Providence. These high qualities still
animate and live in the great and growing number who proudly claim their
ancestry from the Pilgrims at New Plymouth.


                COMBINATION FOR FOUNDATION OF GOVERNMENT
                                known as
                         THE MAYFLOWER COMPACT

  In y^e name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwriten, the loyall
  subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord, King James, by y^e grace of
  God, of Great Britaine, Franc, & Ireland, king, defender of y^e
  faith, &c. haveing undertaken, for y^e glorie of God, and
  advancement of y^e Christian faith, and honour of our king and
  countrie, a voyage to plant y^e first colonie in y^e Northerne parts
  of Virginia, doe by these presents solemnly & mutualy in y^e
  presence of God, and one of another, covenant & combine our selves
  togeather into a civill body politick, for our better ordering &
  preservation & furtherance of y^e ends aforesaid; and by vertue
  hearof to enacte, constitute, and frame such just & equall lawes,
  ordinances, acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as
  shall be thought most meete & convenient for y^e generall good of
  y^e Colonie, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
  In witnes wherof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cap-Codd
  y^e 11 of November, in y^e year of y^e raigne of our soveraigne
  lord, King James, of England, France, & Ireland y^e eighteenth, and
  of Scotland y^e fiftie fourth. An^o: Dom. 1620. [Forty-one names.]

The Mayflower Compact has received full and adequate treatment in the
paper read before this Society in October, 1920, by Arthur Lord, LL.D.

The exact date of the two forms of Oaths first given has not been
determined, but they are certainly later than the formation of the first
Council in 1624.


                    OATH OF ALLEGIANCE AND FIDELITY

  The forme of Oath ... which liue in this Colonie ... the Oth of
  alegance to his maj ... fidelity to the same.

  You shall sweare by the name of the Great God ... & earth & in his
  holy fear, & presence that you shall not speake, or doe, deuise, or
  aduise, anything or things, acte or acts, directly, or indirectly,
  By land, or water, that doth, shall, or may, tend to the destruction
  or ouerthrowe of this present plantation, Colonie, or Corporation of
  this towne Plimouth in New England.

  Neither shall you suffer the same to be spoken, or done, but shall
  hinder, & oposse the same, by all due means you can.

  You shall not enter into any league, treaty, Confederac̄ or
  combination, with any, within the said Colonie or without the same
  that shall plote, or contriue any thing to the hurte, & ruine of the
  growth, and good of the said plantation.

  You shall not consente to any shuch confederation, nor conceale any
  known vnto you certainly, or by conje but shall forthwith manifest &
  make knowne the same, to the Gouernours of this said towne for the
  time being.

  And this you promise & swear, simply, & truly, & faithfully to
  performe as a true christian [you hope for help from God, the God of
  truth & punisher of falshoode.]

  The forme of the Oath which ... of the Gouernour, & Counsell at
  euery Election of any of them.

  You shall swear, according to that wisdom, and measure of discerning
  giuen vnto you; faithfully, equally & indifrently without respect of
  persons; to administer Justice, in all causes coming before you. And
  shall labor, to aduance, & furder the good of this Colony, &
  plantation, to the vtmost of your power; and oppose any thing that
  may hinder the same. So help you God.

The words, “a true Christian” were afterwards crossed out, and the form
used later: “as you hope for help from God, the God of truth and
punisher of falsehood” was substituted.

By the Laws of 1636, every freeman was required to take the following
Oath:


                         THE OATH OF A FFREEMAN

  You shall be truly loyall to our Sov Lord King Charles, his heires &
  successors, [the State & Govern^t of England as it now stands.] You
  shall not speake or doe, devise or advise any thing or things act or
  acts directly or indirectly by land or water, that doth shall or may
  tend to the destrucc̄on or overthrow of this pr̄nt plantac̄ons
  Colonies or Corporac̄on of New Plymouth, Neither shall you suffer
  the same to be spoken or done but shall hinder oppose & discover the
  same to the Govr̄ & Assistants of the said Colony for the time being
  or some one of them. You shall faithfully submit unto such good &
  wholesome laws & ordnanc & as either are or shall be made for the
  ordering & governm^t of the same, and shall endeavor to advance the
  growth & good of the severall Colonies plantations w^{th} in the
  limit & of this Corporac̄on by all due meanes & courses. All w^{ch}
  you promise & sweare by the name of the great God of heaven & earth
  simply truly & faithfully to pforme as you hope for help frō God
  who is the God of truth & punisher of falsehood. [1636]

Following the outbreak of civil war in England in 1638, the words “our
sovereign lord King Charles his heirs and successors” were erased, and
loyalty to “the State and Government of England as it now stands”
substituted. The modern rendering intermixed is probably an attempt by
the transcriber to fill out missing or undecipherable paragraphs or
sentences.

According to Francis Baylies’ “Historical Memoir of New Plymouth,” (I:
235,) the following Oath was prescribed to be taken by any residing in
the government of New Plymouth:


                         THE OATH OF A RESIDENT

  You shall be truly loyal to our sovereign lord King Charles, his
  heirs and successors, and whereas you choose at present to reside
  within the government of New Plymouth, you shall not do or cause to
  be done any act or acts directly or indirectly, by land or water,
  that shall tend to the destruction or overthrow of the whole or any
  of the several plantations or townships within the said government
  that are or shall be orderly erected or established, but shall
  contrariwise hinder, oppose, and discover the same, and such intents
  and purposes as tend thereunto, to the Governor for the time being,
  or some one of the assistants with all convenient speed. You shall
  also submit unto and obey all such good and wholesome laws,
  ordinances, and offices as are or shall be established within the
  limits thereof. So help you God. [1636.]

The disturbed state of England is also reflected in the 1658 revision of
the Laws when “our sovereign lord the King, his heirs and successors” is
substituted for “the present State and Government of England,” as
follows:


                         THE OATH OF A FFREEMAN

  You shalbee truely Loyall to the present State and Goūment of
  England [our Sou^r Lord the King his heires and Successors.] You
  shall not speake or doe deuise or aduise Any thinge or thinges Acte
  or Actes directly or Indirectly by Land or Water that doth shall or
  may tend to the destruction or ouerthrow of these present
  plantations or Townshipes of the Corporation of New Plymouth neither
  shall you suffer the same to bee spoken or done but shall hinder
  oppose and discouer the same to the Gou^r And Assistants of the said
  Collonie for the time being; or some one of them; you shall
  faithfully submitt vnto such good and wholesome Lawes and ordinances
  as either are or shalbee made for the ordering and Gou^rment of the
  same; and shall Indeuor to aduance the grouth and good of the
  seuerall townshipes and plantations within the Lymetts of this
  Corporation by all due meanes and courses; All which you pmise and
  Sweare by the Name of the great God of heauen and earth simply
  truely and faithfully to pforme as you hope for healp from God who
  is the God of truth and the punisher of falchood. [1658.]

At the time of the 1671 revision of the Laws, Charles the Second had
been firmly seated on the English throne for ten years, but his name is
omitted from the superscription of the following Oath. The intensity of
the feeling in the New England Colonies towards even the name of the two
kings is shown in the fact that until after the middle of the next
century Harvard College had only three graduates, if the three Charles
Chaunceys, with whom it was a family name in England, are omitted, and
Yale College only one graduate who bore the Christian name of Charles.


                         THE OATH OF A FFREEMAN

  You shalbee truely Loyall to our Sou^r Lord the Kinge his heires and
  Successors; you shall not doe nor speake deuise or aduise any thinge
  or thinges act or actes directly or Inderectly by Land or water;
  that shall or may tend to the destruction or ouerthrow of any of
  these plantations or towneshipes of the Corporation of New Plymouth;
  neither shall you suffer the same to bee spoken or done but shall
  hinder oppose and discouer the same to the Gou^r and Assistants of
  the said Collonie for the time being or some one of them; you shall
  faithfully submitt vnto such good and wholesome lawes and
  ordinances; as either are or shalbee made for the ordering and
  Gou^rment of the same; and shall endeauor to advance the good and
  grouth of the seuerall Towneshipes and plantations within the
  Lymetts of this Corporation by all due meanes and courses; all which
  you p^rmise and sweare by the Name of the great God of heauen and
  earth simply truely and faithfully to pforme as you hope for healpe
  from God whoe is the God of truth and the punisher of ffalchood.
  [1671.]



_In Massachusetts-Bay Colony._


When on the 4th of March 1628/9, Charles, “by the grace of God, Kinge of
England, Scotland, Fraunce, and Ireland, Defender of the Fayth, &c. in
the fourth yeare of our raigne” did by letters patent grant unto Sir
Henry Rosewell and his twenty-five associates, their heirs and assigns
forever, all that certain part of the grant of New England which his
“deare and royall father, Kinge James of blessed memory ... hath given
and graunted vnto the Counsell established at Plymouth in the County of
Devon” and which the said Council by deed dated the 19th of March,
1627/8, had “given, graunted, bargained, soulde, enfeoffed, aliened and
confirmed” to Sir Henry Rosewell, Sir John Young, Knightes, Thomas
Southcott, John Humphrey, John Endecott and Symon Whetcombe, their heirs
and associates forever, “To be houlden of vs our heires and successors,
as of our manor of Eastgreenewich, in the County of Kent, within our
realme of England,” under the name of the “Governor and Company of the
Mattachusetts Bay in Newe England, one bodie politique and corporate in
deede, fact, and name, ... and that by that name they shall have
perpetuall succession,”—may acquire lands, &c. have a common seal; and
that there shall be one Governor, one Deputy Governor, and eighteen
assistants to be chosen out of the freemen. He went farther, and
constituted “our welbeloved Mathewe Cradocke to be the first and present
Governor; Thomas Goffe to be Deputy Governor, and eighteen of the other
associates to be Assistants, who before they undertake the execution of
their offices and places shall respectively take their corporal oaths
for the faithful performance of their duties.” The Oath for Matthew
Craddock, as Governor, to be administered by a Master of the Chancery,
the Governor was then empowered to administer the oaths to the Deputy
Governor and Assistants nominated in the Charter. Oaths to subsequent
officers being arranged: the new Governor to take the Oath before the
old Deputy Governor, or two Assistants; and the new Deputy Governor,
Assistants and all other officers hereafter chosen to take the oath
before the Governor for the time being. They were empowered to transport
any of our loving subjects, or any strangers willing to become our
loving subjects, and any seven at least of their number had “full power
and authoritie to choose, nominate, and appointe such and soe many
others as they shall thinke fitt, and that shall be willing to accept
the same, to be free of the said Company and Body, and Them into the
same to admitt.” All subjects inhabiting the lands granted, and their
children “which shall happen to be borne there, or on the seas in goeing
thither, or retorning from thence shall have and enjoy all liberties and
immunities of free and natural subjects, ... as yf they and everie of
them were borne within the realme of England.” And the Governor and
Deputy Governor, and any two or more of the Assistants, at any of their
Courts or Assemblys shall and may at all times have full power to give
the Oath of Office and Oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance, or either of
them, to every person who may go to New England to inhabit in the same.
They were also authorized to make “the formes of such Oathes warrantable
by the lawes and statutes of this our realme of England as shalbe
respectivelie ministered vnto them, for the execuc̄on of the said
severall offices and places ... and ministring the said oathes to the
newe elected officers.”

At the end of the Charter appeared the Oath of Governor:

  PRÆDICT, Matthaeus Cradocke Juratus est de Fide et Obedientiâ Regi
  et Successoribus suis, et de Debitâ Exequutione Officij Gubernatoris
  iuxta Tenorem P^r sentium, 18^o Martij, 1628. Coram me, Carola
  Cæsare, Milite, in Cancellariâ Mr̃o.

                                                          Char. Cæsar.

By this Charter, under the privy seal of Cardinal Wolseley, was,
unwittingly, planted the seed of the fairest flower that ever bloomed in
the garden of colonization since Eden.

Up to August, 1630, the business of the Massachusetts-Bay Company was
transacted in London. But the business of the Massachusetts-Bay Colony
may be said to have really begun in May, 1631.

At “A Gen^rall Court holden att Boston, the 18th day of May, 1631. John
Winthrop, Esq̃ was chosen Goun^r for a whole yeare nexte ensueinge by
the gen^rall consent of the Court, according to the meaneing of the
pattent, and did accordingly take an oathe to the place of Goun̄^r
belonginge.”

“Tho: Dudley, Esq̃, is also chosen Deputy Gouñ^r for this yeare nexte
ensuing, & did in p^rsence of the Court take an oath to his place
belonginge.” And “to the end the body of the com̄ons may be p^rserued of
honest & good men, it was likewise ordered and agreed that for time to
come noe man shalbe admitted to the freedome of this body polliticke,
but such as are members of some of the churches within the lymitts of
the same.”

The Law that all freemen must be church members, while assented to in
Salem in 1631, was modified in 1632, probably for local reasons, that no
civil magistrate could be an elder in the church.

To give force to this law an Oath of Freemen was required, and this
service the newly appointed Governor and the Deputy Governor elected to
perform. The result of their labors, the original draft of the Oath of a
Freeman, in the handwriting of the first and greatest of the Governors
of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Oath of a Servant, in the
handwriting of the second Governor—a document perhaps only surpassed in
historical interest and importance by, and worthy to rank with, the
Declaration of Independence—is now, appropriately, in the possession of
the Public Library of the City of Boston, and its preservation assured.

Through the courtesy of the Trustees, this Society is permitted again to
give publicity to the excellent facsimiles of these interesting
documents, together with transcriptions of the somewhat obscure
handwriting, with interlineations and cancelled words showing, line for
line, the changes made by the authors, which first appeared in the
_Bulletin_ of the Library for July, 1894.


          THE OATH OF A FREEMAN, OR OF A MAN TO BE MADE FFREE.

  I, A. B. &c. being, by the Almighties most wise disposic̄on, become
  a memb^r of this body, consisting of the Goūn^r, Deputy Goūn^r,
  Assistants, & a com^nlty of the Mattachusets in Newe England, doe,
  freely & sincerely acknowledge that I am iustly & lawfully subject
  to the goūm^t of the same, & doe accordingly submitt my pson &
  estate to be ptected, ordered, & goūned by the lawes &
  constituc̄ons thereof, & doe faithfully pmise to be from time to
  time obedient & conformeable therevnto, & to the authie of the said
  Goūn^r & Assistants & their success^rs, & to all such lawes,
  orders, sentences, & decrees as shalbe lawfully made & published by
  them or their successors; and I will alwaies indeav^r (as in dutie I
  am bound) to advance the peace & wellfaire of this bodie or
  com̄onwealth to my vtmost skill & abilitie; & I will, to my best
  power & meanes, seeke to devert & prevent whatsoeuer may tend to the
  ruyne or damage thereof, or of any the said Goūn^r, Deputy Goūn^r,
  or Assistants, or any of them, or their success^rs, and will giue
  speedy notice to them, or some of them, of any sedic̄on, violence,
  treachery, or other hurt or euill which I shall knowe, heare, or
  vehem^tly suspecte to be plotted or intended against the said
  com̄onwealth, or the said goum^t established; and I will not att any
  time suffer or giue consent to any counsell or attempt that shalbe
  offered giuen, or attempted for the impeachm^t of the said goūm^t,
  or makeing any change or alterac̄on of the same, contrary to the
  lawes & ordinances thereof, but shall doe my vtmost endeav^r to
  discover, oppose, & hinder, all & eūy such counsell & attempts. Soe
  helpe me God. [1631.]

[Illustration:

  Fac-simile of the Freemen’s Oath


                           The oath of a serv^t.

  I. N. N. serv^t of &c. haveinge heard and vnderstoode that
    our—soveraigne Lord Kinge Charles hath by his łres patents vnder
    the great seale of England graunted power and aucthoryty vnto a
    Governo^r a Deputy Governo^r &. 18. Assistants to rule governe &
    Judge all ꝑsones wch doe or shall inhabyte =in or=
    betweene =the= Charles ryver &. 3. myles southward &
    merimack ryver &. 3. myles northwards in new England & soe
    westwards to the south sea, =beinge= wthin wch
    =compa= lymitts I doe nowe—inhabyt

  Doe promise =to be= at all tymes hereafter Dureinge my
    abode in America +to be+ obedyent to all lawes orders
    constitutions & comaunds wch by the =s b= said Governo^r
    Deputy Governo^r and assistants +for the tyme being+ or
    the greater ꝑte of them shall be +lawfully+ made or
    given—forth & shall come to my =k= heareinge, And to be
    true and faith full to them & their governemt, And I likewise
    promise that if I shall know +heare of =or heare of=
    or suspect+ =of= any hurt or losse intended against
    any of them I will reveale the same to one or more of them wth all
    convenyent—speede, And to bind my selfe to the faithfull ꝑformance
    of this promise, I sweare by the name of the onely true God the
    lover of truth & the avenger of falshood]

[Illustration:

           The oath of a man +free or+ to be made free.

  I. N. N. vt supra. and +=being=+ =having
    likewise heard and vnderstoode= said. N.N. =of=
    being now by the said Governo^r & assistants to be made a free man
    of the said plantac̄on & +thereby enabled+ to have a
    voice in the choise of the said. 20. Deputed ꝑsones soe
    aucthorised as aforesaid as =the sai= any of their places
    are or shalbe voide =and I shalbe therevnto called in a
    lawfull assembly, doe hereby promise vt supra= I doe promise
    that =when I s= at all tymes when I shalbe there vnto
    lawfully called by the said Governem^t, to give my voice for the
    electing of such ꝑsone =therevnto= & ꝑsones vnto such
    voide places as I =the= shall =und= thinke to be
    =the wisest godliest & ablest for the discharg= men of
    wisedome & courage—feareinge God & hateing covetousnes all
    ꝑtyalyty =& by= sett aside, and to bind &c vt supra.]

[Illustration:

                           The Oath of ffreemen:

  I A: B: &c: =beinge= beinge by the Allmightyes most wise
    despositiō become a member of this bodye consisting of the
    Governor +Deputye+ Assistants & Com̄onalty of the
    Mattachusetts in n: e: doe freely & sincerely acknowledge that I
    am iustlye & lawfully subiect to the Goverment =there= of
    the same +=both Civill & Ecclesiasticall=+ & doe
    accordingly submitt my ꝑson & estate to be protected ordered &
    governed by the Lawes & Constitutns therof: & doe faithfully
    promise to be from tyme to tyme obedient & conformable therevnto,
    & to the Authe of the sd Governor & Assistants & their successors,
    & to all such Lawes orders sentences & decrees as shalbe
    +lawfully+ made & published by them or their successors.
    And I will allwayes endeavo^r (as in dutye I am bounde) to advance
    the peace & wellfare of this bodye or Com: w: to my vttmost
    =power= +skill & ability.+ =&= And I
    will to my =vtmost power= best =ability= power &
    meanes seeke to deverte & prevent whatsoever may tende to the
    ruyne or damage thereof or of any the sd Governor Deputy Governor
    =&= +or+ Assistants or any of them or their
    successors: & will give spedye notice to them or some of them of
    any =evill= seditiō, violence, treacherye or other hurt
    or evill, wch I shall knowe, heare, or vehemently suspecte to be
    =intended or= plotted or intended ag^t them =sd=
    or ag^t the said =Goverment= Com: w: or the sd Goverm̄
    established:

  And I will not at any tyme suffer or give Consent to any
    Counsell or Attempt that shalbe offered =or= given or
    Attempted for the impeachment of the sd Goverment or makinge
    any change or Alteratiō of the same, contrary to the Lawes &
    =Customes= ordinances =of the same= thereof,
    but shall doe my vtmost endeavo^r to discover & oppose & hīer
    all & everye such Counsells]

                  *       *       *       *       *

  Att a Gen^rall Court, holden att Newe Towne [Cambridge]. March 4th,
  1634.

  It is further ordered that eūy man of or above the age of sixteene
  yeares, whoe hath bene, or shall hereafter be, resident within this
  iurisdicc̄on by the space of sixe monethes, (as well servants as
  others,) & not infranchized, shall take the oath of residents before
  the Goūn^r, Deputy Goūn^r, or two of the nexte Assistants, whoe
  shall haue power to convent him for that purpose, & vpon his
  refuseall, to binde him ouer to the nexte Court of Assistants, &
  vpon his refuseall the second tyme, to be punished att the
  discrec̄on of the Court.

  It is ordered that the ffreemens oath shalbe gyven to eūy man of or
  above the age of 16 yeares, the clause for the elecc̄on of
  magistrates onely excepted.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  At A Court holden att Boston, Aprill 1th, 1634.

  It was further ordered, that eūy man of or above the age of twenty
  yeares, whoe hath bene or shall hereafter be resident within this
  jurisdicc̄on by the space of sixe monethes, as an householder or
  soiorner, and not infranchised, shall take the oath herevnder
  written, before the Goūn^r, or Deputy Goūn^r, or some two of the
  nexte Assistants, whoe shall haue power to convent him for that
  purpose, and vpon his refuseall, to binde him ouer to the nexte
  Court of Assistants; and vpon his refuseall the second tyme, hee
  shalbe banished, except the Court shall see cause to giue him
  further respite.


                         THE OATH OF RESIDENTS

  I doe heare sweare, and call God to witnes, that, being nowe an
  inhabitant within the lymitts of this juridicc̄on of the
  Massachusetts, I doe acknowledge myselfe lawfully subject to the
  aucthoritie and gouerm^t there established, and doe accordingly
  submitt my pson, family, and estate, to be ptected, ordered, &
  gouerned by the lawes & constituc̄ons thereof, and doe faithfully
  pmise to be from time to time obedient and conformeable therevnto,
  and to the aucthoritie of the Goūn^r, and all other the Magistrates
  there, and their success^rs, and to all such lawes, orders,
  sentences, & decrees, as nowe are or hereafter shalbe lawfully made,
  decreed, & published by them or their success^rs. And I will alwayes
  indeav^r (as in duty I am bound) to advance the peace & wellfaire of
  this body pollitique, and I will (to my best power & meanes) seeke
  to devert & prevent whatsoeuer may tende to the ruine or damage
  thereof, or of y^e Goūn^r, Deputy Goūn^r, or Assistants, or any of
  them or their success^{rs}, and will giue speedy notice to them, or
  some of them, of any sedic̄on, violence, treacherie, or oth^r hurte
  or euill w^{ch} I shall knowe, heare, or vehemently suspect to be
  plotted or intended against them or any of them, or against the said
  Com̄on-wealth or goum^t established. Soe helpe mee God. [1634.]

                  *       *       *       *       *

  Att a Gen^rall Courte, holden att Boston, May 14th, 1634.

  It was agreed & ordered, that the former oath of ffreemen shalbe
  revoked, soe farr as it is dissonant from the oath of ffreemen
  herevnder written, & that those that receaved the former oath shall
  stand bound noe further thereby, to any intent or purpose, then this
  newe oath tyes those that nowe takes y^e same.


                         THE OATH OF A FREEMAN

  I, A. B., being, by Gods providence, an inhabitant & ffreeman within
  the jurisdicc̄on of this com̄onweale, doe freely acknowledge my
  selfe to be subiect to the goverm^t thereof, & therefore doe heere
  sweare, by the greate & dreadfull name of the euerlyveing God, that
  I wilbe true & faithfull to the same, & will accordingly yeilde
  assistance & support therevnto, with my pson & estate, as in equity
  I am bound, & will also truely indeav^r to mainetaine & preserue all
  the libertyes & previlidges thereof, submitting my selfe to the
  wholesome lawes & orders made & established by the same; and
  furth^r, that I will not plott nor practise any evill against it,
  nor consent to any that shall soe doe, but will timely discover &
  reveale the same to lawfull aucthority nowe here established, for
  the speedy preventing thereof. Moreouer, I doe solemnely binde
  myselfe, in the sight of God, that when I shalbe called to giue my
  voice touching any such matter of this state, wherein ffreemen are
  to deale I will giue my vote & suffrage, as I shall iudge in myne
  owne conscience may best conduce & tend to the publique weale of the
  body, without respect of psons, or fav^r of any man. Soe helpe mee
  God in the Lord Jesus Christ. [1634.]

  Further, it is agreed that none but the Gen̄ all Court hath power to
  chuse and admitt freemen.

[Illustration:

  FAC-SIMILE OF ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT RECORD

  In the Handwriting of Secretary Simon Bradstreet
  last Colonial Governor of Massachusetts Bay]

The text of the Oath given above is that given in the body of the Colony
Records, in the handwriting of Simon Bradstreet, the Secretary, and
differs only in the spelling of words from that of the transcriber (who
may have been Secretary Bradstreet himself) of the copy in the
Miscellaneous Records, which were transferred by the Compiler from their
regular order to the end of the first volume of the Records at page 354.


                         THE OATH OF A FREE-MAN

  I (A. B.) being by Gods providence an Inhabitant, and Freeman,
  within the Jurisdiction of this Commonwealth; do freely acknowledge
  my self to be subject to the Government thereof: And therefore do
  here swear by the great and dreadful Name of the Ever-living God,
  that _I_ will be true and faithfull to the same, and will
  accordingly yield assistance & support thereunto, with my person and
  estate, as in equity _I_ am bound; and will also truly endeavour to
  maintain and preserve all the liberties and priviledges thereof,
  submitting my self to the wholesome Lawes & Orders made and
  established by the same. And further that _I_ will not plot or
  practice any evill against it, or consent to any that shall so do;
  but will timely discover and reveal the same to lawfull Authority
  now here established, for the speedy preventing thereof. Moreover,
  _I_ doe solemnly bind my self in the sight of God, that when _I_
  shal be called to give my voyce touching any such matter of this
  State, in which Freemen are to deal, _I_ will give my vote and
  suffrage as _I_ shall judge in mine own conscience may best conduce
  and tend to the publike weal of the body, without respect of
  persons, or favour of any man. So help me God in the Lord Jesus
  Christ. [1634.] From the copy given in John Childe’s “New-Englands
  Jonas cast up at London.” (London, 1647), which the preface states
  was printed in Massachusetts-Bay, by itself.

To this form of The Oath of a Free man attaches the great additional
interest of being the first work printed in the United States of
America.

Under date of Mo. 1. (March, 1638/9) John Winthrop’s Journal states: “A
printing house was begun at Cambridge by one Daye, at the charge of Mr.
Glover, who died on sea hitherward. The first thing which was printed
was the freemen’s oath; the next was an almanac made for New England by
Mr. William Peirce, mariner; the next was the Psalms newly turned into
metre.”

For nearly three hundred years no copy of this printed paper has been
known to be extant. The ceaseless search for a copy in this country by
antiquarians, bibliographers and historians would long ago have been
successful, if even a single copy had been preserved in either the
institutions of the State, or Nation, or in individual or family
possession.

It would be difficult to exaggerate the patriotic feeling of our people,
if it were known that a copy of this interesting and valuable state
paper, the first fruit of the printing-press in this country, whose
ringing sentences of freedom preceded by nearly a century and a half the
Declaration of Independence, had been discovered at this late day.

Fully a quarter of a century ago, while engaged in making a search for
early printed American publications in the Catalogue of printed books in
the British Museum—a great and monumental work, worthy in its scholarly
completeness of the Government which fostered its publication, and of
inestimable importance and benefit to scholars in every land—the
following entry under the heading “Freeman” seemed to me to warrant more
than passing observation and curiosity which the intervening years have
failed to satisfy:

                     —The Oath of a Freeman. B. L.
          [_London_, 1645?] _s. sh._ 12º. 11,626. aa. (1, 2.)

An analysis of this entry seems to show points of resemblance following
closely the known facts regarding the first work printed in this
country.

The title is the one given by John Childe presumably from the earliest
printed copy in his possession. The abbreviated title, freemen’s oath,
as given by John Winthrop, first appearing in the Code of 1648, which
seems to justify the belief that Winthrop wrote his Journal some years
after the press was established.

The letters B. L. indicate that the printed text is in black-letter.
While there is no evidence of the number and kinds of fonts of type
purchased for the first press by Joseph Glover, there is an itemized
statement of the number and names of the fonts of type for the second
press sent over later by the Society for Propagating the Gospel among
the Indians in New England, for printing the Bible in the Indian
language, and among them is a small font of “blacks,” i.e. black-letter,
which would indicate that a small font of that letter was generally
considered a part of the equipment of a printing-office of the period.
Even if this was not so, on the good authority of Isaiah Thomas, the
type used in printing the Bay Psalm Book, of 1640, was “small bodied
English,” a type commonly used for works in quarto and folio, which
approximates in size to black-letter, but without the ceriphs, or fine
projecting points of that letter. It is not unreasonable to suppose that
a cataloguer might, hastily, consider the thickly inked, heavy
press-work we find in the Bay Psalm Book, under the same conditions in a
somewhat crudely printed sheet, to be black-letter printing.

The brackets enclosing the imprint indicate that the place and date
given do not appear on the printed sheet, but are the personal judgment
of the cataloguer regarding them. Having already determined the printing
to be in black-letter English, it naturally follows in his judgment that
the place of printing is London. His guess of the year, 1645, which he
queries, is a close one; but is open to the criticism that an Oath of a
Freeman could never have been printed or exacted in England during the
reign of Charles the First. Ten years later, under Cromwellian rule, it
might have been done. But the only place on earth it could have been
printed and exacted without imprisonment, in 1645, was in the freemen’s
Colony of Massachusetts-Bay.

In this connection it may be well to observe, as a further illustration
that Governor Winthrop wrote his Journal years later than the events he
records, that his date of 1638/9, should be one year later, for the date
of the half-sheet almanac by William Peirce, mariner. Following
Winthrop, if the almanac was calculated for the year beginning in March,
1639, it would suppose its printing sometime before the 25th of March,
or in the Julian year 1638. This would leave nearly a whole year during
which no other printing was done. If the almanac was calculated for the
year beginning in March, 1640—the year the Bay Psalm Book is dated—then
it would suppose the Oath, and the Almanac, printed in the eleventh or
twelfth months of the Julian year 1639, which is more probable. Isaiah
Thomas, writing in 1810, leaves this question in doubt by not stating
whether his January, 1639, refers to the Julian, or the Gregorian
Calendar.

To continue our analysis: The format, and size, agrees with the known
facts that the Oath was printed “on the face of a half sheet of small
paper.” The shelf-mark indicates the permanent place on the shelves of
the Library.

The singular appearance of the only known copy of this important and
interesting document in the Colonial history of New England, nearly
three hundred years after its printing, so far from its place of
publication, calls for explanation, which is apparently furnished in a
work published in London, in April, 1647, entitled: “New-Englands Jonas
cast up at London.” On the title-page it purports to be written by Major
John Childe, a brother of Doctor Robert Childe, of Hingham, who was
detained by order of the General Court of Massachusetts-Bay; but
according to William Hubbard, in his History, and affirmed by John
Winthrop, in his Journal, the real author of everything, except the
Preface, was William Vassall.

[Illustration:

  FAC-SIMILE OF ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT
  in the Handwriting of Thomas Dudley,
  in the Public Library of the City of Boston

  Issued with Bulletin, July, 1894]

[Illustration:

  FAC-SIMILE OF ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT
  in the Handwriting of Thomas Dudley,
  in the Public Library of the City of Boston

  Issued with Bulletin, July, 1894]

[Illustration:

  FAC-SIMILE OF ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT
  in the Handwriting of John Winthrop,
  in the Public Library of the City of Boston

  Issued with Bulletin, July, 1894]

Its odd title was suggested by a remark made by the Reverend John
Cotton, in a Thursday-Lecture, preached November 5, 1646, just previous
to the departure of the vessel which was carrying back to England some
of the dissatisfied signers of a Petition to the General Court, who
rumor gave were taking with them this and other incriminating documents
against the Government of the Colony. The learned preacher took for his
text, Canticles, II: 15. “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, which
destroy the vines,” and made pointed allusions to the current rumors,
and the punishment which their acts would receive in a stormy voyage,
and how it could be averted. But later we shall let Vassall tell the
story in his own words. The effect upon his hearers was so great that
some who had engaged passage withdrew rather than risk the dangers of a
stormy voyage in the winter season.

After a brief summary of the reasons for publication the Preface states
that the Relation is made up of the following particulars:

  First, the Petition of the greater part of the Inhabitants of
  Hingham, and the proceedings therein.

  Secondly, a Petition of Doctor Child and others delivered to the
  General Court at Boston with some passages thereon.

  Thirdly, the Capital Laws of the Massachusetts Bay, with the
  Freemans Oath, _as they are printed there by themselves_.

The italics are mine. Here, then, we have direct proof confirming the
statement of John Winthrop that the Freeman’s Oath was printed at
Cambridge in 1639, and, in the body of the work, is given the full text
of The Oath of a Free man as printed. It is probable that only the
number of copies necessary for officials authorized to administer the
Oath were printed, and the copy taken to England was surreptitiously
obtained from some member of the Government. Its importance lay in the
fact that it afforded printed evidence that nowhere in it is any
reference made to the King’s Majesty, or of allegiance to any power on
earth save that of their own Government as constituted.

[Illustration:

  FAC-SIMILE OF ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT
  in the Handwriting of John Winthrop,
  in the Public Library of the City of Boston

  Issued with Bulletin, July, 1894]

The Capital Laws were printed at Cambridge in 1642, probably under the
same restriction, as to number; and, as printed evidence, open to the
same construction as the Oath. Whatever the purpose, however, it had
been forestalled some four years earlier when the Capital Laws were
re-printed in London in a folio broadside. The copy in the British
Museum bears the Colophon: “Printed first in New-England, and re-printed
in London for Ben. Allen in Popes-Head Allen [_sic_] 1643.”

  Fourthly, a relation of that story of Jonas verbatim as it was
  delivered to me in writing by a Gentleman that was then a passenger
  in the ship.

  “When the first ship that came this year 1646 from New-England, was
  almost ready to come from thence; Mr. Cotton in his Thursday-Lecture
  at Boston, preached out of that Scripture, Cant. 2, 15. Take us the
  little Foxes, &c. In his uses took occasion to say, That if any
  shall carry any Writings, Complaints against the people of God in
  that Country it would be a Jonas in the ship. * * He also advised
  the Ship-Master, that if storms did arise, to search if they had not
  in any Chest or Trunk any such Jonas aboard, which if you find (said
  he) I do not advise you to throw the persons over-board, but the
  Writings; or words to that effect. Whereupon, having great storms
  (as could not be otherwise expected) some of the Passengers
  remembering Mr. Cotton’s Sermon, it seems were much affected with
  what he had said; and a woman amongst them came up from between the
  decks about Midnight, or after, in a distracted passionate manner to
  Mr. William Vassall who lay in the great Cabin, but for the present
  was in the Sterage-door-way looking abroad: she earnestly desired
  him, if there were any Jonas in the ship, that as Mr. Cotton had
  directed it might be thrown over-board, with many broken expressions
  to that purpose. He asked her why she came to him? and she said
  because it was thought that he had some Writings against the people
  of God: but he answered her, He had nothing but a Petition to the
  Parliament that they might enjoy the liberty of English subjects,
  and that could be no Jonas; and that if the best of New-Englands
  friends could shew him any evil in that, he would not prefer it.
  After this she went into the great Cabin to Mr. Tho. Fowle in like
  distracted manner; who told her he had nothing but the Copy of
  Petition which himself and others had presented to the Court at
  Boston; and showed, and read it to her, and then told her, That if
  she and others thought that to be the cause of the storm, she and
  they might do what they would with it; but he professed that he saw
  no evil in it, neither was his Conscience troubled with it. So she
  took it and carried it between Decks to them from whom she came, and
  they agreed to throw it over-board and it was thrown over-board: but
  the storm did not leave us upon the throwing of the Paper over-board
  as it is reported; for they had many great storms after that; much
  lesse was the great and wonderfull deliverance which by Gods mercy
  he gave unto them from shipwrack and drowning at the Isles of Silly,
  upon the throwing of that Writing over-board; for that was thrown
  over long before, at least 14 dayes. Also the error is the more in
  this, That the report is that it was the petition to the Parliament
  that was thrown over-board; and it was only a Copy of a Petition to
  their own Court at Boston, and the Petition to the Parliament was
  still in the ship, together with another copy of that which was
  thrown over-board, and other writings of that nature, some of which
  are printed in this book, and were as well saved as their lives and
  other goods, and are here in London to be seen and made use of in
  convenient time.”

It is true that at any time in the intervening years of a quarter of a
century I could have written to the British Museum authorities and been
sure of a courteous reply; but the matter seemed too important to be
settled in so prosaic a way. This, and the hope that sometime I might be
able to determine the matter personally, and achieve the honor that
would attach to its discovery, deterred me.

I suppose that men of all professions, in their callings, feel an
unwonted glow in the achievement of some object; but I know of no
greater joy than that which fills the lover of books when his long
search for a rare book is rewarded. Then it is that you seem to enter
into the holy of holies of delight, when the whole body thrills with
suppressed emotions, the eyes moisten, and the trembling hand stretched
out to take the volume does so with a touch which is almost a caress.
The feeling, I think, must be somewhat akin to the “buck fever” of the
deer hunter, whose mind and shaking limbs refuse to function, as he
looks into the luminous eyes, and notes the startled look, and graceful
beauty of his prey, until it has bounded into safety in the forest. Why,
I reasoned with myself, should I give to another the pleasure of these
emotions which were mine by right of discovery.

The opportunity of voyaging to England, which I had so long looked
forward to, did not come to me until the Spring of the present year, and
the pleasant anticipations with which I set out were comparable in my
own mind with those which must have animated the Knights of Arthur’s
Round Table in their quest for the holy grail. The morning after my
arrival in London found me an early visitor at the British Museum. The
preliminaries of admittance to the Reading-Room are not difficult, and
are soon over with, and I found myself within the great rotunda, its
walls lined in tiers with what is best in the literatures of the world,
and from which has gone out so much that is worth while in English
literature. From the Catalogue I filled out slips for some half dozen
works, artfully to conceal the one uppermost in my mind, handed them in
at the desk, and returned to my chosen seat to await with such calmness
as I could command the culmination of years of desire. Heeding the
legend that when the grail was approached by any one not perfectly pure
it vanished from sight; and that to be qualified to discover it one must
be perfectly chaste in thought and act, I endeavored to prepare myself
for its appearance. Somewhere I have read of an Oriental visionary who
attained a high degree of saintly perfection by fixing his gaze
steadfastly for hours upon his navel, which a growing embonpoint made an
easy thing to do, and I sought for holiness in the same way.

In time the white slips of my wants came fluttering back to me by
messengers, all marked, very properly for security on account of rarity,
that they could only be consulted in the North Library, until all were
in but the one most desired. Then followed a much longer wait and
then—the slip was handed back to me with a notation that I had given a
wrong shelf-mark! Gone in an instant were all the perfectly pure and
chaste thoughts with which I had been regaling myself while I was
apparently looking at the wrong button on my vest. I think I could have
stood the blow better if it had been that hoary old fiction of careless
assistants that it was “out”, but this is a boon denied to any assistant
in the British Museum, where nothing is allowed to go out. A comparison
with the printed Catalogue showed an exact correspondence, and I sought
the Superintendent of the Reading-Room, who assured me that the matter
would have his personal attention; and for the rest of the day I busied
myself with my other wants in the North Library without any word of the
missing broadside reaching me. That evening, in communion with myself, I
determined to throw off the mask of secrecy and frankly confide the
importance of my quest to the Keeper of the Printed Books—the somewhat
expressive and imposing title of the Librarian of the British Museum.

Before calling upon him I sought as an introducer Henry N. Stevens—the
worthy son of an illustrious father who follows closely in his footsteps
as the best authority on early printed American books in Europe—at his
shop across the street from the imposing Museum building, and to him I
told my story. As I proceeded his interest grew, and before I had
finished he excitedly grasped my arm with one hand and his hat with the
other, exclaiming: “Come with me. This is not a subject for underlings,”
and rushed me across the street without pause until we were in the
sanctum sanctorum of the learned and accomplished Keeper, Alfred W.
Pollard. And to him I told my simple tale, and asked his assistance. Mr.
Pollard is himself a bibliographer of note in his special field, and my
story was not without interest to him, but he refused to share my belief
that the missing broadside was what I supposed it to be, laying much
stress upon the black-letter feature as proof of its English origin. The
unsuccessful search for the missing broadside had evidently been called
to his notice, and the failure to produce anything in the millions of
books catalogued in that vast collection, he considered a challenge to
the efficiency of himself and his staff of assistants. A few days later,
he acknowledged failure; but gave me the interesting information that in
tracing the broadside back to its accession he had found that it was
acquired by the Museum in the year 1865, and formed part of a bundle of
miscellaneous matter, being considered of so little importance as not
even to have been mentioned in the contents of the bundle. Printing of
the letter F of the Catalogue was completed in 1888, and since that time
an expansion of the classification of books upon the shelves had been
made, from which dated its disappearance. He would not, however,
discontinue his efforts to find it. After apologizing for giving him a
“bad half-hour,” which only the importance of the broadside excused, our
second interview ended. On my last day in London, I went again with Mr.
Stevens to call on Mr. Pollard about the matter, and told him that I had
made my arrangements to fly from London to Paris on the morrow, and
asked him if these old eyes of mine were never to behold the holy grail.
“In black-letter?” he queried, touching the weak spot in my armor. “In
duodecimo!” I countered, pointing to the rent in his own. And the third
interview ended with his assurance that the search would go on until the
missing broadside was found.

And there the matter rests, very much in the condition of the story of
the cook who asked the skipper: “Is any thing lost when you know where
it is?” And to the skipper’s gruff response, “Of course not,” he
pleasantly replied: “I am glad to know that our only iron soup kettle
wasn’t lost when it fell over-board into the Bay.”

Through the courtesy of our fellow-members, Henry Edwards Huntington,
Esquire, and the accomplished bibliographer and librarian of his
unrivaled collection of books and art, George Watson Cole, the Society
is permitted to give a reproduction from the only known copy of “The
Book of General Lawes and Libertyes concerning the Inhabitants of the
Massachusetts”—the long-lost Code of 1648. No copy or fragment of a copy
was known to be extant for over two hundred and fifty years, when, in
1906, this copy was discovered in a small private library in England,
and was sold to the late Edmund Dwight Church for the highest price ever
paid for an American printed book—a record which is not likely to be
surpassed. The almost miraculous recovery of this volume, will, I have
given my reasons to hope, sometime have a counterpart in the recovery of
the only known copy of the first work printed in the United States of
America—The Oath of a Free man. From the year 1641, this bore the
abbreviated title of the


                             FREEMANS OATH

  I (A. B.) being by Gods providence an Inhabitant within the
  Jurisdiction of this Common-wealth, and now to be made free; doe
  heer freely acknowledge my self to be subject to the Government
  therof: and therfore do heer swear by the great and dreadfull Name
  of the Ever-living God, that I will be true and faithfull to the
  same, & will accordingly yeild assistance & support therunto, with
  my person and estate, as in equitie I am bound, and will also truly
  indeavour to maintein & preserve all the Liberties and Priviledges
  therof, submitting my self unto the wholsom Laws made and
  established by the same. And farther, that I will not plot or
  practice any evil against it, or consent to any that shall so doe;
  but will timely discover & reveal the same to lawfull authoritie now
  heer established, for the speedy prevention therof.

  Moreover, I do solemnly binde my self in the sight of God, that when
  I shall be called to give my voice touching any such matter of this
  State, wherin Free-men are to deal; I will give my vote and
  _suffrage_ as I shall in mine own conscience judge best to conduce
  and tend to the publick weal of the Body, without respect of
  persons, or favour of any man. So help me God in our Lord Jesus
  Christ. [1641.] From Code of 1648.


                             FREEMANS OATH

  I [A. B.] being by Gods providence an inhabitant within the
  Jurisdiction of this Common-wealth, and now to be made free; doe
  here freely acknowledg my self to be subject to the Government
  thereof: And therefore do here Swear by the great and dreadfull Name
  of the Ever-living God, that I will be true and faithfull to the
  same, and will accordingly yeild assistance and support thereunto,
  with my person and estate, as in equity I am bound, and will also
  truely indeavour to maintain and preserve all the Liberties and
  Priviledges thereof, submitting my self unto the wholsom Laws made
  and established by the same. And farther, that I will not plot or
  practice an evill against it, or consent to any that shall so doe;
  but will timely discover and reveal the same to lawfull Authority
  now here established, for the speedy prevention thereof.

  Moreover, I do solemnly bind my self in the sight of God, that when
  I shall be called to give my voice touching any such matter of this
  State, wherein Free-men are to deal; I will give my vote and
  suffrage as I shall in mine own conscience judg best to conduce and
  tend to the publick weal of the Body, without respect of persons, or
  favour of any man. So help me God &c. [1641.] From Code of 1660.

  It is Ordered and by this Court declared, that no man shall be urged
  to take any Oath or subscribe to any _Articles_, _Covenants_ or
  _Remonstrances_, of publick and Civil nature, but such as the
  Generall Court hath Considered, allowed and required, and no Oath of
  any Magistrate or of any Officer, shall bind him any further or
  longer, then he is Resident or Reputed an Inhabitant of this
  Jurisdiction. [1641.]

  Every Court in this Jurisdiction, where two Magistrates are present,
  may admitt any church members that are fitt, to be Freemen, giving
  them the Oath, and the Clerke of each Court, shall certify their
  names to the Secretary at the next General Court. [1641 [2]].

[Illustration:

  FREEMAN’S OATH

  Reproduced from “The Book of General Lawes and Libertyes concerning
    the Inhabitants of the Massachusetts”-–1648

  By the courtesy of Henry Edwards Huntington]

In 1643, the Colonies of Massachusetts-Bay, New Plymouth, Connecticut,
and New Haven, concluded a Confederacy by which they entered into a
solemn compact to afford each other mutual advice and assistance on all
necessary occasions, whether offensive, defensive, or prudential. Among
the reasons assigned for this Union were the dependent condition of the
colonists; the vicinity of the French and Dutch, who were inclined to
make encroachments; the warlike attitude of the neighboring Indians; the
commencement of civil war in England, and impracticability of aid from
thence in any emergency; and the sacred ties of religion which already
bound them. The Province of Maine was not included because it was
subject to rulers of Episcopal tenets, and was infrequently an asylum
for excommunicants. This Union lasted for forty years without any
general Oath of Allegiance being required from the inhabitants of the
several Colonies.


                           OATH OF FIDELITIE

  I (A B) being by Gods providence an Inhabitant within the
  Jurisdiction of this Common-wealth, doe freely and sincerely
  acknowledge my selfe to be subject to the Government thereof. And
  doe heer swear by the great and dreadful name of the Everliving God,
  that I will be true and faithfull to the same, and will accordingly
  yeild assistance therunto, with my person and estate, as in equitie
  I am bound: and will also truly indeavour to maintein and preseve
  all the Liberties & Priviledges thereof, submitting my self unto the
  wholsom Laws made, & established by the same. And farther, that I
  will not plot or practice any evil against it, or consent to any
  that shall so doe: but will timely discover and reveal the same to
  lawfull Authoritie now heer established, for the speedy preventing
  thereof. So help me God in our Lord Jesus Christ. [1646.] From Code
  of 1648.


                           OATH OF FIDELITIE

  I [A. B.] being by Gods providence an inhabitant within the
  Jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, do freely and sincerely
  acknowledge my selfe to be subject to the Government thereof. And do
  here Swear by the great and dreadful name of the everliving God,
  that I will be true & faithfull to the same, and will accordingly
  yeild assistance thereunto, with my person and estate, as in equity
  I am bound: And will also truely endeavour to Maintain and preserve
  all the Liberties & Priviledges thereof submitting my self unto the
  wholesom Laws made, and established by the same.

  And farther that I will not plot or practice any evill against it,
  or consent to any that shall so do: but will timely discover and
  reveal the same to lawfull Authority now here established, for the
  speedy preventing thereof. So help me God in our Lord Jesus Christ.
  [1646.] From Code of 1660.

  _To the end the body of the freemen may be preserved of honest and
  good men_, It is Ordered, That henceforth no man shall be admitted
  to the freedome of this Common-wealth, but such as are members of
  some of the Churches, within the limits of this Iurisdiction; _And
  whereas many members of Churches to exempt themselves from Publick
  Service, will not come in to be made freemen_, It is Ordered, That
  no members of Churches within this Iurisidiction, shall be exempt
  from any publick service, they shall be chosen to, by the
  Inhabitants of the severall Townes, as Constables, Iurors, Select
  men, surveiors of the High-wayes. And if any such person shall
  refuse to serve in, or to take upon him any such Office, being
  legally chosen therunto, he shall pay for every such refusall, such
  fine, as the Town shall impose not exceeding _Twenty shillings_ for
  one Offence. [1647.]

  Any non freemen, who have taken or shall take the Oath of fidelity
  to this government could be jury men and vote in certain matters,
  after he had attained the age of 24 years. [1647.]

  _For as much as divers Inhabitants of this Jurisdiction who have
  long continued amongst us, receiving Protection, from this
  Government, have as we are informed uttered Offencive speeches,
  whereby their fidelity to this Government may justly be suspected,
  and also that divers strangers of forreign parts do repaire to us of
  whose fidelity we have not that Assurance which is Commonly required
  of all Governments._

  It is therefore Ordered by this Court and the Authority thereof.
  That the County Courts or any one Magistrate out of Court, shall
  have power and is hereby Authorized to Require the Oath of fidelity
  of all settled Inhabitants amongst us who have not already taken the
  same, as also to Require the Oath under written, of all strangers,
  who after two months have their abode here; And if any Person shall
  refuse to take the Respective Oath, he or they shall be bound over
  to the next County Court or Court of Assistants, where if he shall
  refuse, he shall forfeit _five pound a week_ for every week he shall
  Continue in this Jurisdiction after his sayd Refusall, unles he can
  give sufficient security to the satisfaction of the Court or
  Magistrate for his fidelity, during his or their residence amongst
  us.


                             STRANGERS OATH

  _You A. B. Do acknowledge your self subject to the Lawes of this
  Jurisdiction during your Residence under this Government, and do
  here Swear, by the Great Name of the Everliving GOD, and engage your
  self to be true and faithfull to the same, and not to plot,
  contrive, or conceal any thing that is to the hurt or detriment
  thereof._ [1652.].

This was, apparently, aimed at the Quakers, whose offensive attitude
towards the Government was made the subject of further drastic laws and
orders by the General Court, in October, 1656, and May, 1658.

  _This Court having considered of the proposals presented to this
  Court by several of the inhabitants of the County of Middlesex_; Do
  Declare and Order, That no man whosoever, shall be admitted to the
  Freedome of this Body Politick, but such as are members of some
  Church of Christ and in full Communion, which they declare to be the
  true intent of the ancient Law, _page the eighth of the second
  Book_, Anno. 1631. [1660.]

This was construed as being directed against the members of the Church
of England, and was largely responsible for the strained relations with
his Majesty’s Commission in 1665. It was repealed before the 1672
Revision of the Laws.

For causes already mentioned the publication of the first Code of Laws,
in 1648, was unnoticed in England; but it was very different with the
publication of the second Code, in 1660. When it appeared its provisions
were subjected to critical scrutiny by enemies of the Puritan
Commonwealth, and the worst possible constructions placed upon them. In
particular, the loyalty of the framers, who took an Oath of Fidelity to
their Government, and none to the King, was questioned; and the
provisions for the admission of freemen which, practically, prohibited
members of the Church of England. By letter, his Majesty ordered a
redress of these grievances, and appointed a Commission who proceeded,
in a partisan manner, to execute their powers. In 1665, the
Commissioners presented to the General Court a list of twenty-six
changes which they desired to have made in the Code of 1660. The
principal ones were the substitution of an acknowledgment of the royal
authority for all expressions of the supremacy of the Commonwealth; a
recognition of the Church of England; and a repeal of the long-standing
limitation of citizenship to church members. To one or two of their
points the General Court gave consent. A comparison with the Code of
1672, shows that while the recognition of his majesty’s supremacy was
allowed, in a score of instances the powers of the government under
their Charter were asserted. The right of strangers to become citizens
was nominally conceded, but on conditions which afforded only a minimum
of relief to members of the Church of England.

  On the 3 August, 1664 it was Ordered by the General Court:

  _In Answer to that part of his Majestyes Letter_, of June 28, 1662,
  _concerning admission of freemen_. This Court doth Declare, That the
  Law prohibiting all persons, except Members of Churches, and, that
  also for allowance of them in any County Court, are hereby Repealed,
  And do hereby also Order and Enact That, from henceforth all English
  men presenting a Certificate under the hand of the Ministers, or
  Minister of the Place where they dwell, that they are Orthodox in
  Religion, and not vicious in their Lives, and also a certificate
  under the hands of the Select men of the place, or of the major Part
  of them, that they are Free-holders: and are for their own propper
  Estate (without heads of Persons) Rateable to the Country in a
  single Country Rate, after the usuall manner of valuation in the
  place where they live, to the full vallue of _Ten Shillings_, or
  that they are in full Communion with some Church amongst us; It
  shall be in the Liberty of all and every such Person or Persons,
  being _twenty-four_ yeares of age, Householders and settled
  Inhabitants in this Jurisdiction, from time to time to themselves
  and their desires to this Court, for their addmittance to the
  freedome of this commonwealth, and shall be allowed the priviledge,
  to have such their desire Propounded and put to Vote in the General
  Court, for acceptance to the freedome of the body pollitick, by the
  sufferage of the major parte according to the Rules of our Patent.
  [1664.].

                  *       *       *       *       *

  It was also Ordered by the General Court on the 19 October, 1664.

  _Forasmuch as several Persons who from time to time are to be made
  freemen, live remote and are not able without great trouble and
  charge to appear before this Court to take their respective Oaths_:
  It is therefore Ordered, that henceforth it shall be in the power of
  any County Court, to administer the Oath of Freedome to any persons
  approved of by the General Court who shall desire the same, any Law
  or Custome to the contrary notwithstanding. [1664.]

                  *       *       *       *       *

  And, at the May, 1665, session, to conform to the criticism of his
  Majesty’s Commission concerning the Oath of Allegiance:

  It is ordered by this Court, & the authority thereof, that the
  following oath be annexed vnto the oathes of euery freeman & oath of
  fidellity, & to the Gouerno^r, Dep^{t-}Gouerno^r, & Assistants, & to
  all other publicke officers, as followeth:—

  The oath of a freeman & fidelity to runne thus:—


                           OATH OF FIDELITIE

  Whereas I [A. B.] am an inhabitant within this Jurisdiction,
  Considering how I stand Obliged to the Kings Majesty, his heires and
  Successors by our Charter and the Government established thereby; Do
  Swear accordingly by the great and dreadfull Name of the Ever-Living
  God, that I will bear Faith and true Allegiance to our Soveraingn
  Lord the King, his Heires and Successors; and that I will be True
  and Faithfull to this Government, and accordingly yeild Assistance
  thereunto, with my person and estate, as in equity I am bound;

  And will also truely endeavour to Maintain and Preserve all the
  Liberties and Priviledges thereof, Submiting my self unto the
  wholesom Laws made and established by the same.

  And farther that I will not Plot or practice any evill against it,
  or consent to any that shall so do: but will timely discover and
  reveal the same to Lawfull Authority now here established, for the
  speedy preventing thereof. So help me God in our Lord Jesus Christ.
  [1665.]


                             FREEMANS OATH

  Whereas I [A. B.] being an inhabitant of the Jurisdiction of the
  _Massachusets_, and now to be made free. Do hereby acknowledge my
  selfe to be subject to the Government thereof (Considering how I
  stand obliged to the Kings Majesty, his Heires and Successors, by
  our Charter and the Government established thereby Do Swear
  accordingly, by the Great and Dreadfull Name of the Ever-Living GOD,
  that I will bear Faith and true Alegiance to our Soveraigne Lord the
  King, his heires and Successors,) and that I will be true and
  Faithfull to the same, and will accordingly yeild Assistance and
  Support thereunto with my person and estate, as in equity I am
  bound; And will also truely endeavour to maintain and preserve all
  the Liberties and priviledges thereof, submitting my selfe to the
  wolesome Laws made and established by the same.

  And farther that I will not Plot nor Practice any Evill against it,
  or consent to any that shall so do, but will timely discover and
  reveal the same to Lawfull Authority now here established, for the
  speedy prevention thereof.

  Moreover I do Solemnly bind my selfe in the sight of God, that when
  I shall be called to give my Voyce touching any such matter of this
  State wherein Freemen are to deal, I will give my Vote and Suffrage
  as I shall in mine own Conscience judge best to conduce and tend to
  the Publick Weale of the body, without respect of persons or favour
  of any man. So help me God in our Lord Jesus Christ. [1665.]

                  *       *       *       *       *

  The oath of the Goūno^r, Dept Goūno^r, & other publicke officers,
  to runne thus:—

  Whereas I, A. B., am chosen Gouerno^r, &c., considering how I stand
  obliged to the kings majesty, his heires & successors, by our
  charter and the gouerment here established thereby, doe sweare, &c,
  as aboue. [1665.]

In their demand for changes in the 1660 Book of the General Laws and
Liberties, the Commissioners in their 14th section proposed: “That, page
33, ‘none be admitted freemen but such as are members of some of the
churches w^{th} in the limitts of this jurisdiction’ may be explained, &
comp̄hend such as are members of y^e church of England.”

  At the General Court of 23 May, 1666.

  It is ordered that the Secretary, at the request of all such as are
  admitted to the freedome of this Colony or any in their behalf, give
  a true copy out of this Courts Records, of their names, by them to
  be delivered to the clerks or recorders of those Courts in the
  severall Counties to which they do belong, with a copy of the Oath
  of Freemen as it is now stated, that they may there take their
  Oathes &c. [1666.]

                  *       *       *       *       *

  At the General Court of 15 October, 1673:

  As an addition to the Law, title Freemen, section the third, it is
  ordered by this Court and the authority thereof that henceforth the
  names of such as desire to be admitted to the freedome of this
  Com̄on-wealth, not being members of churches in full comunion, shall
  be entred w^{th} the secretary, from tjme to tjme, at the Court of
  election, and read ouer before the whole Court sometime that
  sessions and shall not be put to vote in the Court till the Court of
  election next followg. [1673.]

  This order of Court was repealed 9 February 1682/3.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  Att a Generall Court, held at Boston, 10^{th} of October, 1677.

  Whereas many secret attempts haue binn lately made by euil minded
  persons to set fire in the toune of Boston and other places, tending
  to the destruction of the whole, this Court doeth account it their
  duty to vse all lawfull meanes to discouer such persons and prevent
  the like for time to come.

  Bee it therefore ordered & enacted by this Court and the Authority
  thereof, That the Law, _title_ Oathes and Subscriptions, page 120
  sect. 2., requiring all persons, as well inhabitants as strangers,
  (that have not taken it) to take the Oath of Fidelity to the
  Country, be revived and put in practice through this Jurisdiction.
  And for the more effectual execution thereof, It is ordered by this
  Court; That the select men, Constables, and Tithing-men, in every
  town do, once every quarter of a year so proportion and divide the
  precincts of each town, and go from house to house, and take an
  exact list of the Names, quality and callings of every person,
  whether Inhabitant or Stranger, that have not taken the said Oath,
  and cannot make due proof thereof; and the Officers aforesaid are
  hereby required forthwith to return the names of such persons unto
  the next magistrate, or County Court, or chief military officer in
  the town where no Magistrate is, who are required to give such
  persons the said Oath prescribed in the Law, wherein not only
  Fidelity to the Country, but Allegiance to our King, is required;
  And all such as take the said oath shall be Recorded and Enrolled in
  the County Records by the clerk of each County Court. And all such
  as refuse to take the said Oath, they shall be proceeded against as
  the said Law directs. And further, this Court doth Declare; That all
  such refusers to take the said Oath shall not have the benefit of
  our Laws to Implead, Sue, or recover any Debt in any Court or Courts
  within this Jurisdiction, nor have protection from this Government
  whilest they continue in such obstinate refusal.

  And furthermore, It is Ordered; That if any Officer intrusted with
  the Execution of this Order, do, neglect, or omit his or their duty
  therein, they shall be fined according to their demerits, not
  exceeding five pounds for one offence, being complained of, or
  presented to the County Courts or Court of Assistants, And this Law
  to be forthwith Printed and Published, and effectually executed from
  and after the last of _November_ next. And that all persons that
  administer the Oath abovesaid, shall in like manner make return of
  the Names of such persons so sworn to the respective Clerks of the
  County Courts. Made October 10, 1677.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  Att the second sessions of the Gen̄ll Court held at Boston, 2
  October, 1678.

  _Whereas it hath pleased his most excellent Majesty, our gracious
  king by his letter bearing date the twenty-seventh of Aprill, 1678,
  to signifie his Royall pleasure, That the Authority of this his
  Colony of Massachusetts in New-England, do give forth Orders that
  the Oath of Allegiance, as it is by Law established within his
  Kingdome of England, be administred and taken by all his subjects
  within this Colony who are of years to take an oath_:

  In Obedience whereunto, and as a demonstration of our Loyalty; It is
  ordered and enacted by this Court and the Authority thereof, that,
  as the members of this Court now sitting have readily taken the Oath
  of Allegiance, so, by their Example and Authority, they do require
  and command that the same Oath be given and taken by all his
  Majesties subjects within this Jurisdiction that are of sixteen
  years of age and upwards. And to the end this Order be duely
  executed, it is hereby Ordered, that a convenient number of printed
  Copies of the said Oath of Allegiance, exactly agreeing with the
  written copy inclosed in his majesties Letter, and signed by the
  Secretary of State, to be sent forth unto every Magistrate and
  Justice of peace, and to the Constable of every town within this
  Jurisdiction.

  And it is further Ordered that the Magistrates and Justices, or such
  as are Commissioned with Magistratical Authority in every County of
  this Colony do with all convenient speed repair to the several Towns
  and Villages within this Jurisdiction, at such time, and in such
  order as they best may, and accomplish the same; giving forth their
  warrant to the Constables of each Town to convene all the
  inhabitants of the Age abovesaid, and taking their names in writing,
  administer the said Oath of Allegiance to each of them, and return
  their Names to the Recorder of each County Court to be enrolled. And
  if any shall refuse to take the said Oath, or absent themselves
  unless in case of sickness, the Names of such shall be returned to
  the Recorder of the County, who are to be proceeded against by the
  County Courts respectively, for the first offence whereof he is
  legally convicted, to pay such a fine as the County Court shall
  impose, not exceeding five pounds, or three Moneths Imprisonment in
  the common prison or house of Correction: And for the second offence
  whereof he shall be lawfully convicted, what summe the County Court
  shall inflict, provided it exceed not ten pounds, or six Moneths
  Imprisonment without Baile, or Mainprise. [1678.]

The officials of the Government, ignoring the copy of the Oath of
Allegiance given them by the royal commissioners, took the Oath in Court
as it is given in Michael Dalton’s “The Countrey Justice,”—a work of
much esteem in its time, which passed through some ten or eleven
editions, three of which are in the valuable Library of this Society,
and one of them, there is reason to believe, may have been the volume
used in this historical incident,—all of them declaring that the same is
to be understood as not infringing the liberties and privileges granted
in his Majesty’s royal Charter to this Colony of the Massachusetts.

Regarding the manner of taking the Oath; the New England custom was by
holding up the right hand, as opposed to the custom in England of
holding, or laying the hand on the Bible, or kissing it. This was one of
the irritating questions in dispute between the Colonists and the Andros
faction. Samuel Sewall, in his Diary, under date of June 11, 1686, says:
“I read the Oath myself holding the book in my left hand, and holding up
my right hand to Heaven.” And, in 1687, Increase Mather discoursed on
the “laying the hand on and kissing the booke in swearing.” This
question continued to irritate, and was one of the predisposing causes
of the Revolutionary War in the Province of New York. In 1772, a Bill
was lost in Council, “For Removing Doubts in the administration of
Oaths.” This Bill was designed to favor a number of people, chiefly from
Scotland and the north of Ireland, who held conscientious scruples
against the present legal form of kissing the Bible; and allow them to
use the form in use in Scotland and the New England Colonies of lifting
up the right hand. The weight of Episcopal authority denied them this
right.

In the colonization of New England the figure of John Winthrop looms
colossal. Given time, he would have built an Empire whose only ruler
would have been the Lord of Hosts. He can hardly be called a Puritan—his
conversion came too late—but he was a Congregationalist. His method was
so simple as to be open to the understanding of anyone, but it was a
firm principle of government. As an illustration: when he was appealed
to by a small group of settlers near the border line of New Hampshire
for information as to how they could become freemen of the Colony of
Massachusetts-Bay, his reply was: “Get a Minister.” When they answered
that they had no Minister, and did not know where to get one, again came
back his uncompromising reply: “Get a Minister.” In this reply rested
his whole system of colonization. It was simplicity itself. The English
Government recognized its power when, by Proclamation, they endeavored
to prevent the emigration of Puritan Ministers from England. “Get a
Minister!” Gather about him! Build him a church, and homes for
yourselves and families. This done, you have a Plantation. When you have
thus qualified to become freemen, and have taken the Oath of a Freeman,
you will be entitled to hold office; assist in framing laws, and
enforcing those already made; and, as members of the Commonwealth, be
assured that all your rights will be protected. This principle of
government was firm, but not repellent. If you could not conform to it
there was no reason for remaining among them. The world was wide enough
for every one. And you could go to Maine, or Rhode Island. Under it was
formed a government that has never been equalled in prosperity, morality
and all that makes for happiness. No less a personage than Hugh Peters
has declared that in the six years of his residence in the Colony of
Massachusetts-Bay, he had never seen a drunken man or heard a profane
oath.

The limits of their territory they continually enlarged by firmly
insisting upon the border lines of their Patent, and even stretching
them when near some natural boundary; by purchasing the rights of New
Plymouth in the Colony of Maine, for 400 pounds, they added a tract of
seven hundred square miles; by the purchase of the Gorges Patent, for
1,250 pounds sterling, they acquired a jurisdiction over the rest of the
Province of Maine which made it a District of Massachusetts down to the
year 1820. There has been a good deal of sympathy, and many unnecessary
tears have been shed over the so-called banishment of Roger Williams to
Rhode Island; but it was his friend, John Winthrop, who whispered in his
ear the desirability of the location of the Providence Plantations. And
there was no reason why Roger Williams could not have gone out from
Salem with head erect, and with his gaze fixed on the stars, as every
good missionary should go, knowing that the powers of the government of
Massachusetts-Bay was as much behind his settlement, without an Oath, as
it was behind the colonists of Connecticut, and New Haven, who had gone
out from Cambridge, Watertown and Roxbury, carrying with them the Oath
of a Freeman as a principle of their governments. In the Union of the
Colonies of Massachusetts-Bay, New Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven,
of which John Winthrop was the first President, a new idea was advanced
in his system of government, which eventually attained greater results.

It cannot be said that John Winthrop accomplished these things unaided.
There were others who ably assisted him, whose names, also, should be
held in honored remembrance. But through it all, can be seen the firm,
directing mind and purpose of a man whose vision looked beyond his
present to a future, and a Republic that was to be.

And this is why our people should look upon The Oath of a Freeman, which
was his work, not alone as the glorious first fruit of the
Printing-Press in this Country; but also as a great state paper which
accomplished without bloodshed, on a smaller scale it is true, all that
was achieved, one hundred and thirty-seven years later, after seven
years of warfare, through the Declaration of Independence.



_In Connecticut and New Haven Colonies._


The colonists of Connecticut, in the main, followed closely the general
system of laws of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, from which they had
emigrated. Their form of government was theocratic, the Oath of a
Freeman being the test of citizenship. The settlers of Windsor, who came
from Dorchester with John Warham, in 1635, did not, however, make church
membership a necessary qualification for holding civil office.

The settlers of Guilford, who were joined to New Haven Colony, exercised
their powers of government by a system which conformed to the grant from
Lord Say and Brook to Theophilus Eaton and his company. Like that at New
Haven it was an aristocracy, but modelled in a singular way. As a part
of New Haven Colony they were entitled to one Magistrate, who was their
head and invested with the whole executive and judicial power. The
settlers were divided into two classes, freemen and planters. The
freemen could consist only of those who were church members, and partook
of the sacrament. They were all under oath agreeably to their form of
government. Out of their number were chosen three or four deputies to
sit with the Magistrate in General Courts, and all public officers. The
planters consisted of all inhabitants above the age of twenty-one years,
with a certain estate, which qualified them to vote in town meetings.

  5 ^{to} Ap^r 1638. A gen^rall Cort at Hartford.

  Forasmuch as it has pleased the Allmighty God by the wise
  disposition of his diuyne p^ruidence so to Order and dispose of
  things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford
  and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and vppon the
  River of Conectecotte and the Lands thereunto adioyneing; And well
  knowing where a people are gathered togather the word of God
  requires that to mayntayne the peace and vnion of such a people
  there should be an orderly and decent Gouerment established
  according to God, to order and dispose of the affayres of the people
  at all seasons as occation shall require: doe therefore assotiate
  and conioyne our selues to be as one publike State or Com̄onwelth;
  and doe, for our selues and our Successors and such as shall be
  adioyned to vs att any tyme hereafter, enter into Combination and
  Confederation togather, to mayntayne and p^rsearue the liberty and
  purity of the gospell of our Lord Jesus w^{ch} we now p^rfesse, as
  also the disciplyne of the Churches w^{ch} according to the truth of
  the said gospell is now practiced amongst vs; As also in o^r Ciuill
  Affaires to be guided and gouerned according to such Lawes, Rules,
  Orders and decrees as shall be made, ordered & decreed, as
  followeth: [The eleven Fundamentalls.] [1638.]

In Connecticut, it would appear that the Oath of Fidelity required of
all that were admitted freemen up to July 1640, was as follows:


             AN OATH FOR PAQUA’ AND THE PLANTATIONS THERE:


  I A. B. being by the P^ruidence of God an inhabitant w^{th}in the
  Jurisdiction of Conectecotte, doe acknowledge my selfe to be subject
  to the gou^rment thereof, and doe sweare by the great and dreadfull
  name of the eu^r liueing God to be true and faythfull vnto the same,
  and doe submitt boath my P^rson & estate thereunto, according to all
  the holsome lawes & orders that ether are or hereafter shall be
  there made by lawfull authority: And that I will nether plott nor
  practice any euell agaynst the same, nor consent to any that shall
  so doe, but will tymely discou^r the same to lawfull authority
  established there; and that I will maynetayne, as in duty I am
  bownd, the honor of the same & of the lawfull Magestrats thereof,
  promoteing the publike good thereof, whilst I shall so continue an
  Inhabitant there, and whensou^r I shall give my vote, suffrage or
  p^rxy, being cauled thereunto touching any matter w^{ch} conserns
  this Com̄onwelth, I will giue y^t as in my conscience may conduce to
  the best good of the same, w^{th}out respect of p^rson or favor of
  any man; So helpe me God in the Lo: Jesus Christ. [1640.]


                         THE OATH OF A FREEMAN

  I, A. B. being by the P^ruidence of God an Inhabitant w^{th}in the
  Jurisdiction of Conectecotte, doe acknowledge myselfe to be subiecte
  to the Gouerment thereof, and doe sweare by the great and fearefull
  name of the euerliueing God, to be true and faythfull vnto the same,
  and doe submitt boath my p^rson and estate thereunto, according to
  all the holsome lawes and orders that there are, or here after shall
  be there made, and established by lawfull authority, and that I will
  nether plott nor practice any euell ag^t the same, nor consent to
  any that shall so doe, but will tymely discouer the same to lawfull
  authority there established; and that I will, as I am in duty bownd,
  mayntayne the honner of the same and of the lawfull Magestratts
  thereof, p^rmoting the publike good of y^t, whilst I shall soe
  continue an inhabitant there; and whensoeu^r I shall giue my voate
  or suffrage touching any matter w^{ch} conserns this Com̄on welth
  being cauled there unto, will give y^t as in my conscience I shall
  judge may conduce to the best good of the same, w^{th}out respect of
  p^rsons or favor of any man. Soe helpe me God in o^r Lord Jesus
  Christe. Aprill the xth, 1640.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  At a Generall Assembly held at Hartford, Aprill 20th, 1665, there
  was presented to the Court the Propositions of his Majesty’s Royal
  Commission which were read and answered as follows;

  1. That all householders inhabiting this Colony take the oath of
  allegiance, and that the administration of justice be in his
  Majesties name.

  To this we returne, that according to his Majesties pleasure exprest
  in o^r Charter, o^r Gouernour formerly hath nominated and appoynted
  meet persons to administer the oath of allegiance, whoe haue,
  according to their order, administred the s^d oath to seuerall
  persons allready; and the administration of justice amongst us hath
  been, is and shall be in his Majesties name.

  2nd Propos: That all men of competent estates and of ciuill
  conuersation, though of different judgments, may be admitted to be
  freemen, and haue liberty to chuse or to be chosen officers, both
  military and ciuill.

  To the 2d, our order for admission of freemen is consonant w^{th}
  that proposition.

  3. Propos: That all persons of ciuill liues may freely injoy the
  liberty of their consciences, and the worship of God in that way
  which they thinke best, prouided that this liberty tend not to the
  disturbance of the publique, nor to the hindrance of the maintenance
  of Ministers regularly chosen in each respectiue parish or township.

  To the 3d Propos: We say, we know not if any one that hath bin
  troubled by us for attending his conscience, prouided he hath not
  distu^rbed the publique.

  4 Propos: That all lawes and expressions in lawes, derogatory to his
  Majestie, if any such haue bin made in these late troublesome times,
  may be repealed, altered and taken off the file.

  To the 4th p^rpos: We return, we know not of any lawe or expressions
  in any law that is derogatory to his Majesty amongst us; but if any
  such be found, we count it o^r duty to repeal, alter it, and take it
  off the file, and this we attended upon the receipt of our Charter.
  [1665].

                  *       *       *       *       *

  At a Gen^{ll} Assembly for election held at Hartford, May 11, ‘65.
  This Court declare that it is their full sense and determination
  that such persons as are or hereafter shalbe approued to be freemen
  of this Corporation shal take y^e Oath that is already established
  vpon record to be administered to y^e respectiue freemen: And
  further, that all such as shal refuse to take the said oath, though
  otherwise approued p^rsons yet shal not p^rtake of the privilidges
  of those that have bene formally incorporated into this civil
  society, vntil y^e said Oath be administred vnto them: Provided that
  this order includes not either freemen formerly admitted and sworne
  or Assistants and Com̄issioners that haue taken their corporal oaths
  or Deputies that haue bene accepted into y^e Gen^{ll} Assembly to
  assist in ye concernments of this corporation. [1665.]



_In New Haven Colony._


“On the 4^{th} day of the 4^{th} month called June 1639, all the free
planters of the town to be called a year later Newhaven, assembled
together in a general meetinge to consult about settling ciuill
Gouernm^t according to God. * * * Mr. John Davenport propounded divers
(6) quæries to them publiquely praying them to consider seriously * * *
and to giue their answers in such sort as they would be willing they
should stand upon recorde for posterity.”

These six fundamental agreements were assented to by the lifting up of
hands twice: once at the proposal and again after when the written words
were read unto them.

And on the 25th of October next, the following charge was given and
accepted by them:


                            FREEMAN’S CHARGE

  Yow shall neither plott, practise, nor consent, to any euill, or
  hurt, against this Jurisdiction, or any part of it, nor against The
  Civill Gouerment here established: And if you shall know any person
  or persons w^{ch} intend, plott, or conspire anything, w^{ch} tends
  to the hurt, or prjudice, of the same, you shall timely discouer the
  same to Lawfull Authority here established, and you shall assist,
  and be helpfull, in all the affaires of the Jurisdiction, and by all
  meanes shall promoue the publique wellfare of the same, according to
  yo^r place, abillity, and opportunity; you shall giue due hono^r to
  the Lawfull Magistrats, and shall be obedient, and subject, to all
  the wholesome Lawes, and Orders, allready made, or w^{ch} shall be
  hereafter made, by Lawfull Authority afforesaide, and that both in
  yo^r person, and estate, and when you shall be duely called, to giue
  yo^r vote, or suffrage, in any Election, or touching any other
  matter, w^{ch} concerneth this Common wellth, yow shall giue it, as
  in yo^r conscience, you shall judg may conduse to the best good of
  the same. [1639.]

                  *       *       *       *       *

  At A Gen. Court held att Newhaven the 3^d of Aprill 1644.

  This day, a forme of an oath for the Governo^r and magistrats to
  take, and another forme of an oath to be imposed upon all the
  inhabitants w^thin this jurisdiction was propounded to the
  consideratiō of the court, who, after some serious debate and
  consideratiō rested satisfyed w^th the said formes. And therevpon
  ordered thatt itt should be forthw^th putt in executiō, and whereas
  the Governo^r doth shortly intend a journey to Stamforde on other
  occasions, the Court desired him to improve thatt opportunity, both
  at Stamforde and att Milford, for the giveing of the oath, and the
  like att Guilforde in time convenient. Itt was further ordered thatt
  no person or persons shall hereafter be admitted as an inhabitant in
  this jurisdictiō or any of the plantations therein butt he or they
  shall take the said oath vpon his or their admittance.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  On the 23 of June, 1644, The formes of two oathes were propounded to
  the Court to be taken the next second day in the morning, by all the
  inhabitants in this plantatiō, one of them is to be taken by all,
  and the other by the Governo^r onely.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  Att a Gen^{rll} Court held att Newhaven the 1^t of July, 1644. The
  Governo^r tooke this oath as followeth,

  I [Theophilus Eaton] being att a Gen^{rll} Co^{rt} in October last,
  chosen Governo^r w^thin Newhaven Jurisdictiō for a yeare then to
  ensue, and vntill a new Governo^r be chosen, do sweare by the great
  and dreadfull name of the ever living God, to promove the publique
  good and peace of the same, according to the best of my skill, and
  will allso maintaine all the lawfull priviledges of this
  comōwealth, according to the fundamentall order and agreem^t made
  for governm^t in this jurisdictiō, and in like manner will endeuo^r
  thatt all wholsome lawes thatt are or shall be made by lawfull
  authority here established be duely executed, and will further the
  executiō of justice according to the righteous rules of Gods worde,
  so help me God in o^r Lord Jesus Christ.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  The Governo^r haveing allso received the


                            OATH OF FIDELITY

  as followeth,

  I [Theophilus Eaton] being by the providence of God an inhabitant
  w^thim Newhaven Jurisdictiō, doe acknowledge myselfe to be subject
  to the goverm^t thereof, and doe sweare by the great and dreadfull
  name of the ever living God, to be true and faithfull vnto the same,
  and doe submitt both my person and my whole estate thervnto
  according to all the wholsome lawes and orders thatt for present are
  or hereafter shall be there made and established by lawfull
  authority, and thatt I will neither plott nor practise any evill
  agst the same, nor consent to any thatt shall so doe, butt will
  timely discover the same to lawfull authority here established, and
  thatt I will as I am in duety bounde, maintaine the hono^r of the
  same and off the lawfull magistrates thereoff, promoting the
  publique good of the same whilest I shall continue an inhabitant
  there. And whensoever I shall be duely called a free burgesse,
  according to the fundamentall order and agreem^t for governm^t in
  this jurisdictiō to give my vote or suffrage touching any matter
  w^ch concerneth this comō wealth, I will give itt as in my
  conscience I shall judge may conduce to the best good of the same
  w^thout respect of persons, So help me God in our Lord Jesus Christ.

  Then he gave itt to all those whose names are herevnder written,
  [Two hundred and sixteen names.] [1644.]

In May, 1665, the Colonies of Connecticut, and New Haven were united as
the Colony of Connecticut in New England.


                           OATH OF ALLEGIANCE

  Administered at New Haven, in May 1666, under powers granted by
  Governor John Winthrop, according to his Maj^{ties} Charter granted
  to this Colony of Connecticut in New England.

  You J[asper] C[rane], doe sweare faith and Allegeance to his
  Maj^{tie} Charles y^e Second, as duty binds according to y^e word of
  God. And yo^u doe hereby acknowledge that the Pope, nor any other
  potentate hath powe^r or autority or iurisdiction in any of his
  Maj^{ties} dominions, and y^t only his Ma^{tie} our sover^n Lord
  King Charles hath under God, supreme power in his Ma^{ties}
  dominions. And I doe abhor y^e detestable opinion y^t the pope hath
  pow^r to Depose princes. And this I doe from my hart, soe help me
  God.

On the 31 October, 1687, Sir Edmund Andros, Knt. took over into his
hands the government of the Colony of Connecticut in New England.



_In Rhode Island and Providence Plantations._


The settlement of Rhode Island by Roger Williams, being partly
occasioned by his refusal to take either the Oath of Fidelity, or the
Stranger’s Oath to the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay will account for the
absence of all Oaths of Allegiance in the early history of the Colony
which he founded. From the first settlement of the Colony of Rhode
Island and Providence Plantations to the present time an Oath could not
be required of any one; but in its place is required a property
qualification and an Affirmation.


                             CIVIL COMPACT

  We whose names are hereunder, desirous to inhabit in the town of
  Providence, do promise to subject ourselves in active and passive
  obedience to all such orders or agreements as shall be made for
  public good of the body in an orderly way, by the major consent of
  present inhabitants, masters of families, incorporated together in a
  Towne fellowship, and others whom they shall admit unto them only in
  civil things. [Richard Scott, and twelve others.] August the 20th,
  [1637.]

This limiting of the powers of town meetings to “civil things,” is the
first expression in the new world of a severance of the bonds of Church
and State, and of that principle of freedom of conscience for which the
founder had contended. This first Civil Compact was followed, on the 7th
day of the first month, 1638, by the settlers at Aquidneck, with a


                          SECOND CIVIL COMPACT

  We whose names are underwritten do here, solemnly, in the presence
  of Jehovah incorporate ourselves into a Bodie Politick and as he
  shall help, will submit our persons, lives and estates unto our Lord
  Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and to all those
  perfect and most absolute lawes of his given us in his holy word of
  truth, to be guided and judged thereby. Exod. 24. 3. 4, 2 Cron.
  11.3, 2 Kings, 11. 17. [William Coddington, and eighteen others.]

  The 7th of the first month, 1638. We that are Freemen Incorporate of
  this Bodie Politick do Elect and Constitute William Coddington,
  Esquire, a Judge amongst us, and so covenant to yield all due honour
  unto him according to the lawes of God, and so far as in us lyes to
  maintaine the honour and privileges of his place which shall
  hereafter be ratifyed according unto God, the Lord helping us so to
  do.

                                            William Aspinwall, Sec’ry.

  I, William Coddington, Esquire, being called and chosen by the
  Freemen Incorporate of this Bodie Politick, to be a Judge amongst
  them, do covenant to do justice and Judgment impartially according
  to the lawes of God, and to maintaine the Fundamentall Rights and
  Privileges of this Bodie Politick, which shall hereafter be ratifyed
  according unto God, the Lord helping us so to do.

  On the 3d Month, 13 day, 1638. It is ordered that none shall be
  received as inhabitants or Freemen to build or plant upon the Island
  but such as shall be received in by the consent of the Bodye, and do
  submitt to the government that is or shall be established, according
  to the word of God. [1638.]

From this arrangement, the first recorded Act regarding freemen in the
Colony, a minority seceded, taking the Records with them, and drew up
the following instrument:

                              It is agreed

  By vs whose hands are underwritten, to propagate a Plantation in the
  midst of the Island or elsewhere; And doe engage ourselves to bear
  equall charges, answerable to our strength and estates in common;
  and that our determinations shall be by major voice of judge and
  elders; the Judge to have a double voice. [William Coddington, and
  eight others.] On the 28th of the 2d Month, 1639.

Agreeing and ordering that the Plantation now begun shall be called
Newport.

The remaining members of the Aquidneck settlement then organized a new
government.

                         Aprill the 30th, 1639.

  We whose names are underwritten doe acknowledge ourselves the legall
  subjects of his Majestie King Charles, and in his name doe hereby
  binde ourselves into a civill body Politicke, assenting unto his
  lawes according to right and matters of justice. [William
  Hutchinson, and thirty associates.]

                  *       *       *       *       *

  By the Body Politicke on the Ile of Agethnec, inhabiting this
  present, 25 of 9 = month, 1639.

  In the fourteenth yeare of y^e Raign of our Sovereign Lord King
  Charles. It is agreed, That as natural subjects to our Prince, and
  subject to his Lawes, all matters that concerne the Peace shall be
  by those that are officers of the Peace transacted; And all actions
  of the Case or Dept, shall be in such Courts as by order are here
  appointed, and by such Judges as are Deputed: Heard and Legally
  Determined.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  At the Generall Court of Election began and held at Portsmouth, from
  the 16th of March to the 19th of the same mo., 1641.

  1. It was ordered and agreed before the Election, that an Ingagement
  by oath should be taken of all the officers of this Body now to be
  elected, as likewise for the time to come; the ingagement which the
  severall officers of the State shall give is this; To the execution
  of this office I judge myself bound before God to walk faithfully,
  and this I profess in y^e presence of God.

  3. It is ordered and unanimously agreed upon that the Government
  which this Bodie Politick doth attend vnto in this Island, and the
  Jurisdiction thereof, in favour of our Prince is a Democracie, or
  popular Government; that is to say, It is in the Powre of the Body
  of Freemen orderly assembled, or the major part of them, to make or
  constitute Just Lawes, by which they will be regulated, and to
  depute from among themselves such Ministers as shall see them
  faithfully executed between Man and Man.

  16. It is ordered that Ingagement shall be taken by the Justices of
  the Peace in their Quarter Sessions of all men or youth above
  fifteen years of age, eyther by the oath of Fidelity, or some other
  strong cognizance.

  28. It is ordered and received, that the Ingagement that already was
  given by the Freemen was and is of the same force as that oath is
  which is authorized to be administered to the Inhabitants, which
  oath Nicholas Easton, Rob’t Jeoffreys, and Wm. Dyre did take in
  presence of the Courte.

  29. It is ordered, that if any person or persons on the Island,
  whether Freeman or Inhabitant, shall by any meanes open or covert,
  endeavour to bring in any other Powre than what is now established
  (except it be from our Prince by lawfull commission), shall be
  accounted a delinquent under the head of Perjurie.

  30. It is ordered, that the Law of the last Court made concerning
  Libertie of Conscience in point of Doctrine is perpetuated.


                     THE ENGAGEMENT OF THE OFFICERS

  You, A. B. being called and chosen vnto public employment, and the
  office of ——, by the free vote and consent y^e Inhabitants of the
  Province of Providence Plantations (now orderly met), do, in the
  present Assemblie, engage yourself faithfully and truly to the
  utmost of your power to execute the commission committed vnto you;
  and do hereby promise to do neither more nor less in that respect
  than that which the Colonie have or shall authorize you to do
  according to the best of your understanding.


         THE RECIPROCAL ENGAGEMENT OF THE STATE TO Y^E OFFICERS

  We, the Inhabitants of the Province of Providence Plantations being
  here orderly met, and having by free vote chosen you ——, to public
  office and officers for the due administration of Justice and the
  execution thereof throughout the whole Colonie, do hereby engage
  ourselves to the utmost of our power to support and vphold you in
  your faithfull performance thereof. [1641.]

  This Engagement was also agreed to by the Court of Commissioners and
  Election. September y^e 13th, 1654.

  It is ordered by the present Assemblie, that this is y^e engagement
  of y^e Generall officers any former forme to the contrarie
  notwithstandinge.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  At the General Court of the 21st of May, 1661, the words: “in his
  Majesties name” was added after (“now orderly met”).

                  *       *       *       *       *

  And Att a Generall Assembly of the Collony of Rhode Iland and
  Providence Plantations the 4th of May, 1664:

  This Assembly alsoe declareth against any parson acting in any
  publike office, except hee first take the engagement according to
  the forme hear subjoyned.

  You, A. B., &c., sollemly engage to be true and faythfull vnto our
  Soveraigne Lord the King, Charles the Second, of England, Scotland,
  France and Ireland, and dominiones and terrytoryes therevnto
  belonging; and to his sayd Majesty, his heirs and successors, true
  allegeance to beare and exicute your commission, charge and office,
  according to the best of your skill and knowledge without
  partiallyty or affection to any; and that according to the lawes
  already established, or to be established in this Colony. This
  ingagement you make and ingage to obsearve, vnder the penalty of
  perjury....

  At the taking of the ingagement by any, ther must bee a
  re-engagement given in the Colloneys name, to stand by and assist
  such parsones in the exicution of ther offices and performance of
  ther dutyes.

  It is alsoe the pleasuer and appoynment of this Generall Assembly,
  that none presume to vote in the matters afforesayd, but such whome
  this Generall Assembly expresly by ther writting shal admit as
  freemen.

  The 19^{th} of the ii^{th} Month, 1645. Wee whose names are heere
  after Subscribed, having obteyned a free Grante of Twenty five Akers
  of Land a peece with right of Commoning, according to the said
  proportion of Land; from the free Jnhabitants of this Towne of
  providence; doe thankfully acsept of the same; And heereby doe
  promise to yield Actiue; or passiue Obeydience to the authority of
           established in this Collonye; according to our Charter; and
  to all Such wholesome Lawes & Orders, that are or shall be made, by
  the major consent of this Towne of Providence; As alsoe not to
  clayme any Righte, to the Purchasse of the Said plantation; Nor any
  privilidge of Vote in Towne Affaires; untill we shall be received as
  free = Men of the said Towne of Providence. [1645.]


                THE PREAMBLE TO THE LAW AGAINST PERJURY

  Forasmuch as the consciences of sundry men, truly conscionable, may
  scruple the giving or the taking of an oath, and it would be nowise
  suitable to the nature and constitution of our place, who profess
  ourselves to be men of different consciences and not one willing to
  force another to debar such as cannot do so, either from bearing
  office among us or from giving in testimony in a case depending; be
  it enacted by the authority of this present Assembly, that a solemn
  profession or testimony in a court of record, or before a judge of
  record, shall be accounted, throughout the whole colony, of as full
  force as an oath. [1647.]

This is the more remarkable because at this time the Friends did not yet
as a distinct Society, hold to the unlawfulness of oaths. And it is in
complete concordance with the teachings of Roger Williams.

  Acts and Orders of the Generall Assembly, sitting at Newport, May
  the 3, 1665.

  Ordered, that this following shall be the forme for engaging all
  officers in this Collony, called to place of publicke concernment,
  &c., for the administration of justice, (viz):

  Whereas, you are, A. B., by the free vote of the freemen of this
  Collony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, &c., called and
  chosen vnto the place and office of ——, in the said Collony, &c.,
  doe sollemly engage true eleageance vnto his Majestye, his heires
  and successors, to beare, and in your said office equall justice and
  right to doe vnto all persones within this jurisdiction to the
  vtmost or best of your skill and ability without partiality,
  according to the laws established, or that shall be established in
  this said jurisdiction; [according to the Charter as well in matters
  military as civill.] And this engagement you make and give vpon the
  perill of the penalty of perjury.

  The reciprocall engagement is as follows, ordered to be given by he
  that takes or administers the abovesaid engagement.

  I doe, in the name and behalfe of this Collony, &c., re-ingage to
  stand by you and to support you by all due assistance and
  incouradgment in your performance and execution of your aforesaid
  office according to your engagement.

  Ordered, that the forme of engagement aforesaid shall be used vntill
  further order; any former order or forme vsed or prescribed to the
  contrary, or differing herefrom notwithstanding. [1665.] These forms
  were re-enacted in 1677.

The Commission appointed by the King to assert the rights of the Crown
to the seven New England Colonies, as the first of the propositions of
his Majesty’s will and pleasure in Rhode Island, proposed:

  That all householders inhabiting this Collony take the oath of
  alleagence and the administration of justice be in his Majestyes
  name.

  Wherevpon, and in a deepsence of his Majestyes most Royall and
  wonderful grace and favour more pertickerlerly ... in his letters
  pattents ... in which is expresed his ... indulgence extended to
  tender consiences, differing in matters of religious worshipe and
  conceanments; and more especially in matters of formes of oathes and
  cerimonyes or circumstances relating therevnto, ... considering
  therein the liberty of concience therein granted.

  The Assembly doe with one consent ... in all cheerfull obediance ...
  and therein minding the preveledge granted to tender conciences, doe
  in the first place order and declare: that whereas in this Collony
  it hath ben alwayes accounted and granted a liberty to such as make
  a scruple of swearing and taken an oath, that in stead thereof they
  shall engage, under the penalty of false swearing, though they
  sweare not in publicke engagement, as well as if they did sweare,
  that therefore this most loyall and resonable engagement be given by
  all men capable within this jurisdiction for their allegiance to the
  King, &c.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  The forme of which engagement shall be as followeth:

  You, A. B., sollemly and sincearly engage true and faithfull
  aleagiance vnto his Majestye Charles the Second, King of England,
  his heires and successors, to beare and due obediance vnto the lawes
  established, from time to time in this jurisdiction, to yeald vnto
  the vtmost of your power, according to the previlidge by his said
  Majesty granted, in religioues and civill concearnments to this
  Collony in the Charter; which said engagement you make vnder the
  perill and penalty of perjury. [1665.]

They further ordered that “this engagement shall be administered to all
that are already admitted freemen, and that no man shall be admitted a
freeman, and all men that are householders or aged eighteen or more,
shall take the engagement or loose the priviledge of freemen until they
give the engagement premised.” The passage of this law led to a long
agitation by those who thought it to be hard on the consciences by many
whom it rendered incapable from carrying on the affairs of the
corporation. And, in the following year, the Assembly ordered and
declared, “That such as are free in their conscience so to do, give the
Engagement, or if they rather choose to give the oath of allegiance now
required in England, that shall be taken; but if there are some words in
either which, in conscience they cannot condescend to say or use, may in
open court, or before two Magistrates adopt in equivalent words
significant of allegiance and submission to yield obedience actively and
passively, to the laws made by virtue of his Majesty’s authority, he
shall be restored or admitted as freeman, any former law to the contrary
notwithstanding.”

  At a Court held in his Majesty’s name, and under his authority, at
  the towne of Westerly, in the King’s Province, the 17th of
  September, 1679.

  The inhabitants of Westerly, being by warrant required to appeare at
  this Court to give the oath of allegiance to his Majesty, and of
  fidellity to his Majesty’s authority for this Collony, these persons
  hereunder named appeared and gave oath, viz. [Thirty-three names.]

  The oath given by the above written persons was in these followinge
  words:

  I doe truly and sincerely acknowledge, profess, testify and declare
  in my conscience before God and the world, that our Soverreign Lord,
  King Charles, is lawfull and rightfull King of the Realm of England,
  and of all other his dominions and countries; and that the Pope,
  neither of himselfe, nor by any authority of the Church, or See of
  Rome, or by any other meanes with any other, hath any power or
  authority to depose the King, or to dispose of his Majesty’s
  kingdoms or dominions, or to authorize any forreigne prince to
  invade, or annoy him, or his country, or to discharge any of his
  subjects from their allegiance and obedience to his Majesty; or to
  give license or leave to any of them to beare armes, raise tumults,
  or offer any violence or hurt to his Majesty’s Royall person, State
  or Government, or to any of his Majesty’s subjects within his
  Majesty’s dominions. Alsoe I doe sweare from my heart, that
  notwithstanding any declaration or sentence of ex-communication, or
  deprivation, made or granted, or to be made or granted by the Pope
  or his successors, or by any authority derived or pretended to be
  derived from him or his See against the said King, his heires or
  successors, or any absolution of the said subjects from their
  obedience, I will beare faith and true allegiance to his Majesty,
  his heires and successors, and him and them will defend to the
  uttermost of my power against all conspiracies and attempts
  whatsoever which shall be made against his or their persons, their
  Crowne and dignity, by reason or clause of any such sentence or
  declaration or otherwise, and will doe my best endeavour to
  disclose, and make knowne unto his Majesty, his heires and
  successors, all treasons and traiterous conspiracies, which I shall
  know or hear of, to be against him or any of them. And I doe further
  sweare that I doe from my heart, abhor, detest and abjure as impious
  and herritical, this damnable doctrine and position, that princes
  which be excommunicated or deprived by the Pope, may be deposed or
  murthered by their subjects, or any other whatsoever. And I doe
  believe and in my conscience am resolved, that neither the Pope nor
  any person whatsoever, hath power to absolve me of this oath, or any
  part thereof, which I acknowledge by good and full authority to bee
  ministered unto me; and doe renounce all pardons and dispensations
  to the contrary. And all these things I doe plainly and sincerely
  acknowledge and sweare according to these express words by me
  spoken, according to the plaine and common sense and understandinge
  of the same words, without any equivocation or mentall evasion or
  secrett reservation whatsoever. And further, I doe here solemnly
  engage all true and loyall obedience unto his Majesty’s authority
  placed and established in this his Collony of Rhode Island and
  Providence Plantations, and King’s Province. And I doe make this
  recognition heartily, willingly, and truly, upon the true faith of a
  Christian. So help me God. [1679.]

No further oaths, or engagements, appear until the Administration of Sir
Edmund Andros, in 1686, reduced the Colony to the nature of a County
under his government.



_In New Hampshire Colony._


As there was no constituted authorities over the patent of New
Hampshire, the Exeter settlers, under the leadership of John
Wheelwright, who had purchased a tract thirty miles square from certain
Indian Sachems in April, 1638, were driven to the expedient of agreeing
upon a voluntary association for governmental purposes. The executive
and judicial functions were vested in a board of three magistrates or
elders, of whom the chief was styled Ruler. They were chosen by the
whole body of freemen, who were the electors and legislators, their
enactments, however, requiring the approval of the Ruler. An inhabitant
had to be admitted a freeman, before he could enjoy the privileges of an
elector. Under this association, an agreement was drawn up by the
Reverend John Wheelwright, their leader, as follows:


 THE COMBINATION FOR GOVERNMENT AT EXETER, WITH THE FORMS OF OATHS FOR
                           RULERS AND PEOPLE

  Whereas it hath pleased the lord to moue the heart of our Dread
  Soveraigne Charles by the grace of God, King of England, Scotland,
  France & Ireland, to grant license & liberty to sundry of his
  subjects to plant themselves in the Westerne partes of America: Wee,
  his loyall subjects, brethren of the church of Exeter, situate &
  lying upon the river of Piscataquacke, wh other inhabitants there,
  considering w^{th} ourselves the holy will of god and our owne
  necessity, that we should not live w^{th}out wholsome lawes &
  government amongst us, of w^{ch} we are altogether destitute; doe in
  the name of Christ & in the sight of god combine ourselves together,
  to erect & set up amongst us such government as shall be to our best
  discerning, agreeable to the will of god, professing ourselves
  subjects to our Soveraigne Lord King Charles, according to the
  libertys of our English Colony of the Massachusets & binding
  ourselves solemnely by the grace & helpe of Christ & in his name &
  feare to submit our selves to such godly & Christian laws as are
  established in the realme of England to our best knowledge, & to all
  other such lawes wch shall upon good grounds be made & inacted
  amongst us according to god y^t we may live quietly & peaceably
  together in all godliness and honesty. Mon. 5th d., 4th, 1639. [John
  Whelewright, and thirty-four others.]

This was soon found to be unsatisfactory to some other settlers, who
thought its expressions too lavish of loyalty to the King, and, in
consequence, of prelacy; and while they were willing to acknowledge in a
general way his sovereignty, and that they were his subjects, they had
no disposition to make any unnecessary professions of allegiance.
Another compact was then drawn of the same purport, simply acknowledging
the King to be their Sovereign, and themselves his subjects. This was
executed in due form and went into effect as the basis of government.
But it did not bear the test of trial. Curiously, because it did not
contain loyalty enough. And the original Combination was re-executed
with the following explanatory preamble:

  Whereas a certen combination was made by us, the brethren of the
  Church of Exeter, with the rest of the Inhabitants, bearing date
  Mon. 5th. d. 4, 1639, wh afterwards, upon the instant request of
  some of the brethren, was altered, & put into such a forme of
  wordes, wherein howsoever we doe acknowledge the King’s Majesty our
  dread Sovereigne & ourselves his subjects: yet some expressions are
  contained therein wh may seeme to admit of such a sence as somewhat
  derogates from that due Allegiance wh we owe to his Highnesse, quite
  contrary to our true intents and meanings: We therefore doe revoke,
  disannull, make voyd and frustrate the said latter combination, as
  if it never had beene done, and doe ratify, confirme and establish
  the former, wh wee onely stand as being in force & virtue, the wh
  for substance is here set downe in manner and form following. Mon.,
  2d d., 2, 1640.

Both the Elders and the People were required to take certain prescribed
oaths, as follows:


                       THE ELDERS OR RULERS OATH

  You shall sweare by the great and dreadfull Name of the high God
  maker & Gov^r of heaven and earth, and by the Lord Jesus Christ y^e
  Prince of the Kings and Rulers of the earth that in his name and
  feare you will Rule and Governe this people according to the
  righteous will of God’s Ministeringe Justice and Judgm^t upon the
  workers of iniquity and Ministering due incurreagm^t and Countenance
  to well doers protecting of people so farre as in you by the helpe
  of God lyeth from forren Annoyance and inward disturbance that they
  may live a quiett and peacable life in all godlyness and honesty.
  Soe God bee helpful and gratious to you and yo^{rs} in Christ Jesus.


                         THE OATH OF THE PEOPLE

  Wee doe here sweare by the Great and dreadful name of y^e high God,
  maker and Gouern^r of Heaven & earth and by the Lord Jesus X y^e
  King & Savio^r of his people that in his name & fear we will submitt
  o^r selves to be ruld & gouerned by, according to y^e will & Word of
  God and such holsome Laws & ordinances as shall be derived theire
  from by O^r honr^d Rulers and y^e Lawfull assistance with the
  consent of y^e people and y^t wee will be ready to assist them by
  the helpe of God in the administration of Justice and p^rservacon of
  peace with o^r bodys and goods and best endeavo^{rs} according to
  God, so God protect & saue us and O^{rs} in Christ Jesus. [1640.]


          THE COMBINATION OF THE PEOPLE OF DOVER TO ESTABLISH
                          A FORM OF GOVERNMENT

  Whereas sundry Mischiefes and inconveniences have befaln us, and
  more and greater may in regard of want of Civill Government, his
  Gratious Matie haveing hitherto settled no Order for us to our
  knowledge:

  Wee whose names are underwritten being inhabitants upon the River
  Piscataquack have voluntarily agreed to combine our selves into a
  Body Politique that wee may the more comfortably enjoy the benefit
  of his Maties Lawes. And do hereby actually ingage our Selves to
  Submit to his Royal Maties Lawes together with all such Orders as
  shalbee concluded by a Major part of the Freemen of our Society, in
  case they bee not repugnant to the Lawes of England and administered
  in the behalfe of his Majesty.

  And this wee have mutually promised and concluded to do and so to
  continue till his Excellent Matie shall give other Order concerning
  us.

  In Witness wee have hereto Set our hands the two & twentieth day of
  October in the sixteenth yeare of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord
  Charles by the grace of God King of Great Brittain, France & Ireland
  Defender of the Faith &c. Annoq Domi, 1640. [John Follett, and
  forty-one others.]

Under these forms the administration of the affairs of Exeter, and
Dover, went on satisfactorily until, together with Hampton and
Portsmouth, they came under the sway of Massachusetts-Bay in 1643; a
part of the price the latter were ready to pay for the extension of
their jurisdiction was that the citizens of the New Hampshire towns were
to be allowed the elective franchise without reference to their being
church members. This arrangement continued under the Laws of
Massachusetts-Bay, as a part of Norfolk County, until New Hampshire
became, in 1680, a Royal Province.

  In the Generall Lawes and Liberties of the Province of New
  Hampshire, made by the Generall Assembly in Portsm^o the 16th of
  March, 1679/80 and Aproved by the Presid^t and Councill. The
  following is given as the status of


                                FREEMEN

  8. It is ordered by this Assembly and the authority thereof y^t all
  Englishmen being Protestants, y^t are settled Inhabitants and
  freeholders in any towne of this Province, of y^e age of 24 years,
  not viceous in life but of honest and good conversation, and such as
  have 201 Rateable estate w^{th}out heads of persons having also
  taken the oath of allegiance to his Maj^s, and no others shall be
  admitted to y^e liberty of being freemen of this Province, and to
  give theire votes for the choice of Deputies for the Generall
  Assembly, Constables, Selectmen, Jurors and other officers and
  concernes in y^e 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 y^e Towne,
  but such as have reall right thereto; and if any difference arise
  about s^d right of voting, it shall be judged and determined by y^e
  Presid^t and Councill w^{th} the Gen^{ll} Assembly of this Province.

This Body of Laws when sent to England for Royal approval was
disallowed.



_In Province or County of Maine._


The Colonization of what is called in the Charter granted by Charles the
First to Sir Ferdinando Gorges in 1639, “The Province or Countie of
Mayne,” presented many difficulties. The extraordinary governmental
powers given to the Lord-Proprietary, which were transmissible with the
property to his heirs and assigns, made of it a vast landed estate in
which there could not be much voluntary co-operation. To assist in its
government a board of Councilors was appointed who before taking office
were required to “take the Oath of Allegiance according to the forme now
used in this his highness’ realme of England, and shall alsoe take the
Oath hereunto subscribed.”


                OATH OF COUNCILORS OF PROVINCE OF MAYNE

  I do swear and protest before God Allmighty and by the holy contents
  of this Book to be a faithfull Servant and Councellor unto Sir
  Ferdinando Gorges Knight my Lord of the Province of Mayne, and to
  his heirs and assigns, to do and perform to the utmost of my power
  all dutiful respects to him or them belonging, concealing their
  Councells, and without respect of persons to do, perform and give my
  opinion in all causes according to my conscience, and best
  understanding both as I am a Councellor for hearing of causes, and
  otherwise freely to give him or them my opinion as I am a Councellor
  for matters of State or Common-wealths and that I will not conceal
  from him or them and their Councell any matter of conspiracy or
  mutinous practice against my said Lord and his heirs but will
  instantly after my knowledge thereof discover the same, and
  prosecute the authors thereof with all diligence and severity
  according to Justice, and thereupon do humbly kiss the Book. Taken
  September 2, 1639.

On the death of Sir Ferdinando in 1647, his estate in Maine passed to
his son, John Gorges, who totally neglected his inheritance not even
replying to repeated letters from the Gorges Colonists.

A Patent for lands on the Kennebeck River had been given to the New
Plymouth Colony in 1629. In 1649, they let the trade upon it for a
period of three years to Governor William Bradford, and four associates.
In 1652, the trade was sold to the same men for three years longer. In
that year, from actual survey, the east line of the Massachusetts-Bay
Colony was found to encroach upon the liberties of the trade sold by and
to the New Plymouth officers; and, in 1653, Thomas Prence was authorized
to summon all and every inhabitant of the Kennebeck country to assemble
and receive from him the instructions of the Plymouth General Court: “1.
That the people should take the Oath of fidelity to the State of
England, and to the government of New Plymouth. 2. That they were to be
made acquainted with the Colony laws, applicable to them, and establish
suitable rules and regulations to guide and govern them in their civil
affairs. 3. None were to be inhabitants there but such as should take
the Oath of Allegiance. 4. None could vote for an Assistant but such as
should take the Oath.”

The Oath required was in these words:

  You shall be true and faithfull to the State of England, as it is
  now established, and whereas you chuse at present to reside within
  the government of New Plymouth, you shall not do, or cause to be
  done, any act, or acts, directly or indirectly by land or water,
  that shall, or may tend to the destruction or overthrow of the whole
  or part of this government, that shall be ordered, erected or
  established; but shall contrarywise, hinder, oppose, or discover
  such intents and purposes, as tend thereunto, to those that are in
  place for the time being; that the government may be informed
  thereof with all convenient speed; You shall also submitt, and
  observe all such good and wholesome laws, ordinances, and officers
  as are, or shall be established within the several limits thereof,
  So help you God, who is the God of Truth and the punisher of
  falsehood. [1653.]

This action constituted them freemen of Massachusetts, on taking the
Oath, without the prerequisite of church membership. It was followed by
a growing discontent against the chief officers in New Plymouth being
lessees of the trade. The large returns which had been confidently
expected were not being realized, and a jealousy of the people against
those in power, finally led to the sale of the Patent, embracing seven
hundred square miles, to a committee representing the Massachusetts-Bay
Colony, for four hundred pounds. In 1677, after much controversy and
trouble with the heirs, Ferdinando Gorges, a grandson of the
Lord-Proprietary, sold his rights to the Massachusetts-Bay Colony for
one thousand two hundred and fifty pounds sterling, and the Territory of
Maine became a District of Massachusetts down to the year 1820.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The power of an Oath is a subject for the Casuist. But, in the brief
period of this paper—less than the span of life the Psalmist gives to
man—we have seen an Oath throne and dethrone monarchs; build up and
destroy flourishing Commonwealths; make and unmake Statehoods; be a
guarantee of peace, and an incentive for war. Who, under these
conflicting conditions, can measure their influence but Him in whose
name and power they are made!



------------------------------------------------------------------------



Transcriber’s note:

 1. Spelling in oaths or quoted sections is uncorrected.

 2. Silently corrected typographical errors.

 3. Table of contents added by transcriber.





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