Third time, almost the charm – Pilgrim Tercentenary Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin
Today, the Pilgrim Tercentenary Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin tells the story of the third patent for the Plymouth colony.
On January 13, 1630, the pilgrims gained much of what they wanted for their relatively new colony with the signing of the third patent.
Three history books from the nineteenth century provided insights into the objectives and results of that day 385 years ago.
History of New England – John Gorham Palfrey – 1858
The Council for New England conveyed to William Bradford, his heirs, associates, and assigns, a tract of land including New Plymouth, and another on the Kennebec, — both of which, however, for want of geographical knowledge, were imperfectly defined.
The patent recites, that it is given ” in consideration that William Bradford and his associates have for these nine years lived in New England, and have there inhabited, and planted a town called by the name of New Plymouth, at their own proper costs and charges; and now, by the special providence of God and their extraordinary care and industry, they have increased their plantation to near three hundred people, and are upon all occasions able to relieve any new planters or other his Majesty’s subjects who may fall upon that coast.”
It empowers Bradford, “his associates, his heirs, and assigns, at all times here after, to incorporate, by some usual or fit name and title, him or themselves, or the people there inhabiting under him or them, with liberty to them and their successors from time to time to frame and make orders, ordinances, and constitutions,” not contrary to the laws of England, or to any frame of government established by the Council, ” and the same to put or cause to be put in execution by such officers and ministers as he and they shall authorize and depute”; and, ” for their several defence, to encounter, expulse, repel, and resist by force of arms, as well by sea as by land, by all ways and means whatsoever, and to take, apprehend, seize, and make prize of all such persons, their ships and goods, as shall attempt to inhabit or trade with the savage people of that country within the several precincts and limits of his and their several plantation, or shall enterprise or attempt, at any time, destruction, invasion, detriment, or annoyance to his and their said plantation.”
In short, the patent invested Bradford and his associates, in respect to the granted territory, with all the power which the Council, by its charter, was made capable of conveying to its assigns. A royal charter, with the same powers as that of the Massachusetts Company, was much desired by the Plymouth people.
At Allerton’s solicitation, orders were given by the Privy Council for the preparation of such an instrument; and the business seemed proceeding prosperously, when a clause for exonerating the colony from the payment of customs for seven years, which appears to have been inserted by Allerton without instructions, occasioned objections, delay, and finally complete disappointment.
New Plymouth Colony, though soliciting it often, and at no small expense, was never able, before its annexation to Massachusetts, to obtain any better foundation for its government than the patent of the Plymouth Company.
The Ecclesiastical History of New England – Joseph Barlow Felt – 1855
1630, January 13. In accordance with the enterprising and useful plan of the company here, to expand their trade and means of support, the council grant them territory on each side of the Kennebec River.
The motive of the latter body is thus expressed: ” Whereby soe hopeful a plantacon may subsiste, as alsoe that they may bee incouraged the better to proceed in soe pious a worke, which may especially tend to the propagation of religion.”
The applause here given was truly deserved. It was nobly won by the constant exhibition of compliance with duty, under the heavy pressure of adversities.
The patent, so assigned, was extensive, and secured to the grantees all the rights and privileges of colonial government on the premises.
The party in England who had striven to crush their religious liberty, in the day of their weakness, must have been disappointed in perceiving the circle of their wide control, on the very soil intended as the stronghold of Episcopacy and royalty.
The same instrument which makes so desirable a conveyance enlarges and confirms their first territory.
It says of them, ” Seeinge by the spetiall Prouidence of God, and their extraordinary care and indvstry, they have encreased their plantacon to neere three hundred people, and are vppon all occasions able to reliue any new planters or other of his majestie’s subiects, whoe may fall vppon that coaste.”
Instead of it, they had made great exertion for a charter with the royal seal. One reason why they did so was, that they might have privileges equal to those of Massachusetts.
Another was, that, if successful, they should feel more secure, in case the grants of the council should be nullified, which was expected and dreaded by those interested.
Their experiment cost them five hundred pounds, hired from thirty to fifty per cent. This result, so burdensome to them, had some alleviation in the accompanying advantages of territorial enlargement.
Annals of North America – Edward Howland – 1877
The council for New England made a patent to William Bradford and his associates of the land occupied by the colony on 1630, January 13.
Its boundaries were defined, as ” all that tract of New England lying between a rivulet called Cohasset at the north, and the river Narragansett towards the south, and the great Western Ocean towards the east, and between and within a straight line directly extending up into the main land towards the west, from the mouth of the said river Narragansett to the extremest limits and bounds of a place or country called Pokanacut, alias Sowamset.
Westward, a tract for fishery, which had been granted in 1627, was embraced in this conveyance. This tract extended from Cobisecontee towards the Western Ocean to a place called the Falls of Neguamkike, with fifteen miles in width on either side of the Kennebec.
This gave them a title to the land.
To exercise the right of government, a charter from the king was supposed to be necessary, and the colony made efforts to obtain one, with no success.
By the force of circumstances they gradually assumed these powers. The laws were made in a general assembly of the freemen. The governor and the assistants, at first one, then five, then seven, made the executive. The church was for eight years without a pastor. At the sessions a question was given, and any one spoke.
They did not achieve all that they wanted. Regardless, we remember the challenges of those brave people and salute their successes.
The Pilgrim Tercentenary Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows with a view of John Bunyan’s book Pilgrim’s Progress.