At Cambridge, 26 August, 1629
UPON due consideration of the state of the Plantation now in hand for New England, wherein we, whose names are hereunto subscribed, have engaged ourselves, and having weighed the greatness of the work in regard of the consequence, God’s glory and the Church’s good; as also in regard of the difficulties and discouragements which in all probabilities must be forecast upon the prosecution of this business; considering withal that this whole adventure grows upon the joint confidence we have in each other’s fidelity and resolution herein, so as no man of us would have adventured it without assurance of the rest; now, for the better encouragement of ourselves and others that shall join with us in this action, and to the end that every man may without scruple dispose of his estate and affairs as may best fit his preparation for this voyage; it is fully and faithfully AGREED amongst us, and every one of us doth hereby freely and sincerely promise and bind himself, in the word of a Christian, and in the presence of God, who is the searcher of all hearts, that we will so really endeavour the prosecution of this work, as by God’s assistance, we will be ready in our persons, and with such of our several families as are to go with us, and such provision as we are able conveniently to furnish ourselves withal, to embark for the said Plantation by the first of March next, at such port or ports of this land as shall be agreed upon by the Company, to the end to pass the Seas (under God’s protection) to inhabit and continue in New England : Provided always, that before the last of September next, the whole Government, together with the patent for the said Plantation, be first, by an order of Court, legally transferred and established to remain with us and others which shall inhabit upon the said Plantation; and provided also, that if any shall be hindered by such just and inevitable let or other cause, to be allowed by three parts of four of these whose names are hereunto subscribed, then such persons, for such times and during such lets, to be discharged of this bond. And we do further promise, every one for himself, that shall fail to be ready through his own default by the day appointed, to pay for every day’s default the sum of £3, to the use of the rest of the Company who shall be ready by the same day and time.
SOURCE: Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History, ed. Donald S. Lutz (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1998).
NOTE: Of these twelve signatories, ten (all except Browne and West) sailed with the fleet the next Spring. A notable proviso concludes this document, that “the whole Government, together with the patent for the said Plantation” shall go with them to the new settlement. In effect, they are resolved to establish full independence of the plantation from any authority in England. The full Court of the Company, within a few days and after much discussion, agreed to this proviso, no doubt influenced by the signatories’ resolve, and the fact that their willingness to settle the plantation hinged upon this point. Previous patents had defaulted due to lack of action, and so the Company’s adventurers as a whole acquiesced to this loss of their authority to those of the Company who were ready to risk their lives and the lives of their families in an attempted settlement in New England. A majority of the adventurers, Puritans of a like mind, supported them. Their foresight in taking the Charter with them to the new settlement proved crucial when, in 1635, King Charles and Archbishop Laud sought to destroy it and force a viceregal dictatorship upon the settlers. Their efforts were thereby delayed until Parliamentary victories made the Massachusetts Bay Commonwealth secure in its rights. (Redacted and annotated by Marcia Elaine Stewart)