Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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[2 November, 1643.]
Whereas many Thousands of the Natives and Good Subjects of this Kingdom of England, through the Oppression of the Prelates and other ill-affected Ministers and Officers of State, have of late Years, to their great Grief and miserable Hardship, been inforced to transplant themselves and their Families into several Islands, and other remote and desolate Parts of the West Indies, and having there through exceeding great Labour and Industry (with the Blessing of God), obtained for themselves and their Families some competent and convenient Means of Maintenance and Subsistance, so that they are now in a reasonable well settled and peaceable Condition; but fearing the outrageous Malice of Papists and other ill-affected Persons should reach unto them in their poor and low (but as yet peaceable) Condition, and having been informed that there hath been lately procured from His Majesty several Grants under the Great Seal, for erecting some new Governors and Commanders amongst the said Planters, in their aforementioned Plantations; whereupon the said Planters, Adventurers, and Owners of Land, in the said Foreign Plantations, have preferred their petition unto this present Parliament, That, for the better securing of them, and their present Estates there, obtained through so much extreme Labour and Difficulty, they might have some such Governors and Government as should be approved of and confirmed by the Authority of both Houses of Parliament; which Petition of theirs the Lords and Commons having taken into Consideration, and finding it of great Importance both to the Safety and Preservation of the aforesaid Natives and Subjects of this Kingdom, as well from all Foreign Invasions and Oppressions as from their own intestine Distractions and Disturbances, as also much tending to the Honour and Advantage of His Majesty's Dominions, have thought fit, and do hereby constitute and ordain, Robert Earl of Warwicke, Governor in Chief and High Lord Admiral of all those Islands, and other Plantations inhabited, planted or belonging to any His Majesty's the King of England's Subjects, or which hereafter may be inhabited, planted, or belonging to them, within the Bounds and upon the Coasts of America: And, for the more effectual, speedier, and easier Transaction of this so weighty and important a Business which concerns the Well-being and Preservation of so many of the distressed Natives of this and other His Majesty's Dominions the Lords and Commons have thought fit, that Phillip Earl of Pembroke, Edward Earl of Manchester, William Viscount Say and Seale, Phillip Lord Wharton, John Lord Roberts, Members of the House of Peers, Sir Gilbert Gerrard Knight and Baronet, Sir Arthur Heselrigg Baronet, Sir Henry Vane Junior Knight, Sir Benjamine Rudyer Knight, John Pym, Oliver Cromwell, Denis Bond, Miles Corbett, Cornelius Holland, Samuell Vassall, John Rolls, and William Spurstowe, Esquires, Members of the House of Commons, shall be Com missioners, to join in Aid and Assistance with the said Earl of Warwicke, Chief Governor and Admiral of the said Plantations; which Chief Governor, together with the said Commissioners or any Four of them, shall hereby have Power and Authority to provide for, order, and dispose, all Things which they shall from Time to Time find most fit and advantageous to the well-governing, securing, strengthening, and preserving of the said Plantations, and chiefly to the Preservation and Advancement of the true Protestant Religion amongst the said Planters and Inhabitants, and the further Enlargement and Spreading of the Gospel of Christ amongst those that yet remaineth there in great and miserable Blindness and Ignorance: And, for the better Advancement of this so great a Work, it is hereby further Ordained, by the said Lords and Commons, That the aforesaid Governor and Commissioners shall hereby have Power and Authority, upon all weighty and important Occasions which may concern the Good and Safety of the aforesaid Planters, to call unto their Advice and Assistance therein any other of the aforesaid Planters, Owners of Land, or Inhabitants of the said Islands and Plantations, which shall then be within Twenty Miles of the Place where the said Commissioners shall then be; and shall have Power and Authority to send for, view, and make Use of, all such Records, Books, and Papers, which do or may concern any of the said Plantations: And because the well-settling and establishing of such Officers and Governors as shall be laborious and faithful in the right Governing of all such Persons as be resident in or upon the said Plantations and due Ordering and Disposing all such Affairs as concern the Safety and Welfare of the same, is of very great advantage to the Public Good of all such remote and new Plantations, it is hereby further Ordained and Decreed, That the said Robert Earl of Warwicke, Governor in Chief and Admiral of the said Plantations, together with the aforesaid Commissioners, Phillip Earl of Pembroke, Edward Earl of Manchester, William Viscount Say and Seale, Phillip Lord Wharton, John Lord Roberts, Sir Gilbert Gerrard Knight and Baronet, Sir Arthur Haslerig Baronet, Sir Henry Vane Junior Knight, Sir Benjamine Rudyer Knight, John Pym, Oliver Cromwell, Dennis Bond, Miles Corbett, Cornelius Holland, Samuell Vassall, John Rolls, and William Spurstowe, Esquires, or the greater Number of them, shall have Power and Authority, from Time to Time, to nominate, appoint, and constitute, all such subordinate Governors, Counsellors, Commanders, Officers, and Agents, as they shall judge to be best affected, and most fit and serviceable for the said Islands, and Plantations, and shall hereby have Power and Authority, upon the Death or other avoidance of the aforesaid Chief Governor and Admiral, or any the other Commissioners before named, from Time to Time to nominate and appoint such other Chief Governors and Admiral, or Commissioners in the Place and Room of such as shall so become void; and shall also hereby have Power and Authority to remove any of the said subordinate Governors, Counsellors, Commanders, Officers, or Agents, which are or shall be appointed to govern, counsel, or negociate, the Public Affairs of the said Plantation, and in their Place and Room to appoint such other Officers as they shall judge fit: And it is hereby Ordained, That no subordinate Governors, Counsellors, Commanders, Officers, Agents, Planters, or Inhabitants whatsoever, that are now resident in or upon the said Islands or Plantations, shall admit or receive any other new Governors, Counsellors, Commanders, Officers, or Agents whatsoever, but such as shall be allowed and approved of under the Hands and Seals of the aforesaid Chief Governor and High Admiral of the said Plantation, together with the Hands and Seals of the aforementioned Commissioners, or any Six of them, or under the Hands and Seals of such as they shall authorize thereunto: And whereas, for the better Government and Security of the said Plantations and Islands, and the Owners and Inhabitants thereof, there may be just and fit Occasion to Assign over some Part of the Power and Authority (granted in this Ordinance to the Chief Governor and Commissioners aforenamed) unto the said Owners, Inhabitants, and others, it is hereby Ordained, That the said Chief Governor and Commissioners before mentioned, or the greater Number of them, shall hereby be authorized to assign, ratify and confirm, so much of their aforementioned Authority and Power, and in such Manner, and to such Persons, as they shall judge to be fit for the better governing and preserving the said Plantations and Islands from open Violence and private Disturbance and Distractions.
And lastly, that whosoever shall do execute, or yield Obedience, to any Thing contained in this Ordinance, shall, by virtue hereof, be saved harmless and indemnified.