In 1629, King Charles I granted a charter to Puritan leaders of the New England Company, incorporating them as the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the same year Puritan leaders received authorization to migrate to New England & take the charter with them. All of these agreements were decided by men, as women in America did not get the right to vote until 1920.
Charter of Massachusetts Bay March 4, 1629
And further, That the said Governour & Companye, & their Successors, maie have forever one comon Seale, to be used in all Causes & Occasions of the said Company, & the same Seale may alter, chaunge, breake, & newe make, from tyme to tyme, at their pleasures. And our Will & Pleasure is, & Wee doe hereby for Us, our Heires & Successors, ordeyne & graunte, That from henceforth for ever, there shalbe one Governor, one Deputy Governor, & eighteene Assistants of the same Company, to be from tyme to tyme constituted, elected & chosen out of the Freemen of the saide Company, for the twyme being, in such Manner & Forme as hereafter in theis Presents is expressed, which said Officers shall applie themselves to take Care for the best disposeing & ordering of the generall buysines & Affaires of, for, & concerning the said Landes & Premisses hereby mentioned, to be graunted, & the Plantation thereof, & the Government of the People there. And for the better Execution of our Royall Pleasure & Graunte in this Behalf, Wee doe, by theis presents, for Us, our Heires & Successors, nominate, ordeyne, make, & constitute; our welbeloved the saide Mathewe Cradocke, to be the first & present Governor of the said Company, & the saide Thomas Goffe, to be Deputy Governor of the saide Company, & the saide Sir Richard Saltonstall, Isaack Johnson, Samuell Aldersey, John Ven, John Humfrey, John Endecott, Simon Whetcombe, Increase Noell, Richard Pery, Nathaniell Wright, Samuell Vassall, Theophilus Eaton, Thomas Adams, Thomas Hutchins, John Browne, George Foxcrofte, William Vassall, & William Pinchion, to be the present Assistants of the saide Company, to continue in the saide several Offices respectivelie for such tyme, & in such manner, as in & by theis Presents is hereafter declared & appointed.
And further, Wee will, & by theis Presents, for Us, our Heires & Successors, doe ordeyne & graunte, That the Governor of the saide Company for the tyme being, or in his Absence by Occasion of Sicknes or otherwise, the Deputie Governor for the tyme being, shall have Authoritie from tyme to tyme upon all Occasions, to give order for the assembling of the saide Company, & calling them together to consult & advise of the Bussinesses & Affaires of the saide Company, & that the said Governor, Deputie Governor, & Assistants of the saide Company, for the tyme being, shall or maie once every Moneth, or oftener at their Pleasures, assemble & houlde & keepe a Courte or Assemblie of themselves, for the better ordering & directing of their Affaires, & that any seaven or more persons of the Assistants, togither with the Governor, or Deputie Governor soe assembled, shalbe saide, taken, held, & reputed to be, & shalbe a full & sufficient Courte or Assemblie of the said Company, for the handling, ordering, & dispatching of all such Buysinesses & Occurrents as shall from tyme to tyme happen, touching or concerning the. said Company or Plantation; & that there shall or maie be held & kept by the Governor, or Deputie Governor of the said Company, & seaven or more of the said Assistants for the tyme being, upon every last Wednesday in Hillary, Easter, Trinity, & Michas Termes respectivelie forever, one greate generall & solemne assemblie, which foure generall assemblies shalbe stiled & called the foure greate & generall Courts of the saide Company.
In all & every, or any of which saide greate & generall Courts soe assembled, Wee doe for Us, our Heires & Successors, give & graunte to the said Governor & Company, & their Successors, That the Governor, or in his absence, the Deputie Governor of the saide Company for the tyme being, & such of the Assistants & Freeman of the saide Company as shalbe present, or the greater nomber of them so assembled, whereof the Governor or Deputie Governor & six of the Assistants at the least to be seaven, shall have full Power & authoritie to choose, nominate, & appointe, such & soe many others as they shall thinke fitt, & that shall be willing to accept the same, to be free of the said Company & Body, & them into the same to admitt; & to elect & constitute such officers as they shall thinke fill & requisite, for the ordering, mannaging, & dispatching of the Affaires of the saide Governor & Company, & their Successors; And to make Lawes & Ordinances for the Good & Welfare of the saide Company, & for the Government & ordering of the saide Landes & Plantation, & the People inhabiting & to inhabite the same, as to them from tyme to tyme shalbe thought meete, soe as such Lawes & Ordinances be not contrarie or repugnant to the Lawes & Statuts of this our Realme of England.
And, our Will & Pleasure is, & Wee doe hereby for Us, our Heires & Successors, establish & ordeyne, That yearely once in the yeare, for ever hereafter, namely, the last Wednesday in Easter Tearme, yearely, the Governor, Deputy-Governor, & Assistants of the saide Company & all other officers of the saide Company shalbe in the Generall Court or Assembly to be held for that Day or Tyme, newly chosen for the Yeare ensueing by such greater parte of the said Company, for the Tyme being, then & there present, as is aforesaide. And, if it shall happen the present governor, Deputy Governor, & assistants, by theis presents appointed, or such as shall hereafter be newly chosen into their Roomes, or any of them, or any other of the officers to be appointed for the said Company, to dye, or to be removed from his or their severall Offices or Places before the saide generall Day of Election (whome Wee doe hereby declare for any Misdemeanor or Defect to be removeable by the Governor, Deputie Governor, Assistants, & Company, or such greater Parte of them in any of the publique Courts to be assembled as is aforesaid) That then, & in every such Case, it shall & maie be lawfull, to & for the Governor, Deputie Governor, Assistants, & Company aforesaide, or such greater Parte of them soe to be assembled as is aforesaide, in any of their Assemblies, to proceade to a new Election of one or more others of their Company in the Roome or Place, Roomes or Places of such Officer or Officers soe dyeing or removed according to their Discretions, And, immediately upon & after such Election & Elections made of such Governor, Deputie Governor, Assistant or Assistants, or any other officer of the saide Company, in Manner & Forme aforesaid, the Authoritie, Office, & Power, before given to the former Governor, Deputie Governor, or other Officer & Officers soe removed, in whose Steade & Place newe shalbe soe chosen, shall as to him & them, & everie of them, cease & determine
Provided alsoe, & our Will & Pleasure is, That aswell such as are by theis Presents appointed to be the present Governor, Deputie Governor, & Assistants of the said Company, as those that shall succeed them, & all other Officers to be appointed & chosen as aforesaid, shall, before they undertake the Execution of their saide Offices & Places respectivelie, take their Corporal Oathes for the due & faithfull Performance of their Duties in their severall Offices & Places, before such Person or Persons as are by theis Presents hereunder appointed to take & receive the same…
And, further our Will & Pleasure is, & Wee doe hereby for Us, our Heires & Successors, ordeyne & declare, & graunte to the saide Governor & Company & their Successors, That all & every the Subjects of Us, our Heires or Successors, which shall goe to & inhabite within the saide Landes & Premisses hereby mentioned to be graunted, & every of their Children which shall happen to be borne there, or on the Seas in goeing thither, or retorning from thence, shall have & enjoy all liberties & Immunities of free & naturall Subjects within any of the Domynions of Us, our Heires or Successors, to all Intents, Constructions, & Purposes whatsoever, as if they & everie of them were borne within the Realme of England. And that the Governor & Deputie Governor of the said Company for the Tyme being, or either of them, & any two or more of such of the saide Assistants as shalbe thereunto appointed by the saide Governor & Company at any of their Courts or Assemblies to be held as aforesaide, shall & maie at all Tymes, & from tyme to tyme hereafter, have full Power & Authoritie to minister & give the Oathe & Oathes of Supremacie & Allegiance, or either of them, to all & everie Person & Persons, which shall at any Tyme or Tymes hereafter goe or passe to the Landes & Premisses hereby mentioned to be graunted to inhabite in the same.
And, Wee doe of our further Grace, certen Knowledg & meere Motion, give & graunte to the saide Governor & Company, & their Successors, That it shall & maie be lawfull, to & for the Governor or Deputie Governor, & such of the Assistants & Freemen of the said Company for the Tyme being as shalbe assembled in any of their generall Courts aforesaide, or in any other Courtes to be specially sumoned & assembled for that Purpose, or the greater Parte of them (whereof the Governor or Deputie Governor, & six of the Assistants to be alwaies seaven) from tyme to tyme, to make, ordeine, & establishe all Manner of wholesome & reasonable Orders, Lawes, Statutes, & Ordinances, Directions, & Instructions, not contrairie to the Lawes of this our Realme of England, aswell for setling of the Formes & Ceremonies of Government & Magistracy, fitt & necessary for the said Plantation, & the Inhabitants there, & for nameing & setting of all sorts of Officers, both superior & inferior, which they shall finde needefull for that Governement & Plantation, & the distinguishing & setting forth of the severall duties, Powers, & Lymytts of every such Office & Place, & the Formes of such Oathes warrantable by the Lawes & Statutes of this our Realme of England, as shalbe respectivelie ministred unto them for the Execution of the said severall Offices & Places; as also, for the disposing & ordering of the Elections of such of the said Officers as shalbe annuall, & of such others as shalbe to succeede in Case of Death or Removeall, & ministring the said Oathes to the newe elected Officers, & for Impositions of lawfull Fynes, Mulcts, Imprisonment, or other lawfull Correction, according to the Course of other Corporations in this our Realme of England, & for the directing, ruling, & disposeing of all other Matters & Thinges, whereby our said People, Inhabitants there, may be soe religiously, peaceablie, & civilly governed, as their good Life & orderlie Conversation, maie wynn & incite the Natives of Country, to the Knowledg & Obedience of the onlie true God & Savior of Mankinde, & the Christian Fayth, which in our Royall Intention, & the Adventurers free Profession, is the principall Ende of this Plantation.
Willing, commaunding, & requiring, & by theis Presents for Us, our Heires, & Successors, ordeyning & appointing, that all such Orders, Lawes, Statuts & Ordinances, Instructions & Directions, as shalbe soe made by the Governor, or Deputie Governor of the said Company, & such of the Assistants & Freemen as aforesaide, & published in Writing, under their common Seale, shalbe carefullie & dulie observed, kept, performed, & putt in Execution, according to the true Intent & Meaning of the same; & theis our Letters- patents, or the Duplicate or exemplification thereof, shalbe to all & everie such Officers, superior & inferior, from Tyme to Tyme, for the putting of the same Orders, Lawes, Statutes, & Ordinances, Instructions, & Directions, in due Execution against Us, our Heires & Successors, a sufficient Warrant & Discharge.
And Wee doe further, for Us, our Heires & Successors, give & graunt to the said Governor & Company, & their Successors by theis Presents, that all & everie such Chiefe Comaunders, Captaines, Governors, & other Officers & Ministers, as by the said Orders, Lawes, Statuts, Ordinances, Instructions, or Directions of the said Governor & Company for the Tyme being, shalbe from Tyme to Tyme hereafter imploied either in the Government of the saide Inhabitants & Plantation, or in the Waye by Sea thither, or from thence, according to the Natures & Lymitts of their Offices & Places respectively, shall from Tyme to Tyme hereafter for ever, within the Precincts & Partes of Newe England hereby mentioned to be graunted & confirmed, or in the Waie by Sea thither, or from thence, have full & Absolute Power & Authoritie to correct, punishe, pardon, governe, & rule all such the Subjects of Us, our Heires & Successors, as shall from Tyme to Tyme adventure themselves in any Voyadge thither or from thence, or that shall at any Tyme hereafter, inhabite within the Precincts & Partes of Newe England aforasaid, according to the Orders, Lawes, Ordinances, Instructions, & Directions aforesaid, not being repugnant to the Lawes & Statutes of our Realme of England as aforesaid…