72 HISTORY OF THE COLONIES. [BOOK I.
§ 84. CONNECTICUT was originally settled under the protection of
Massachusetts; but the inhabitants in a few years afterwards (1638) felt at
liberty (after the example of Massachusetts) to frame a constitution of
government and laws for themselves.1 In 1630 the Earl of Warwick obtained
from the council of Plymouth a patent of the land upon a straight line near
the seashore towards the southwest, west and by south, or west from
Narraganset river forty leagues, as the coast lies, towards Virginia, and
all within that breadth to the South sea. In March, 1631, the Earl of
Warwick conveyed the same to Lord Say and Seale and others. In April,
1635,2 the same council granted the same territory to the Marquis of
Hamilton. Possession under the title of Lord Say and Seale and others was
taken of the mouth of the Connecticut in 1635.3 The settlers there were
not, however, disturbed; and finally, in 1644, they extinguished the title
of the proprietaries, or Lords, and continued to act under the constitution
C H. VII.] CONNECTICUT. 73
1 1 Hutch. Hist. 98, 99; 2 Hutch. Hist. 202; 1 Hanz. Coll. 321; 1
Holmes's Annals, 269, 220, 228, 231, 232, 251; I Chalm. Annals, 286,
287,289; 2 Doug. Summ. 158, &c.; I Hutch. Hist. 100.
The substance of this frame of government is given in 1 Holmes's Ann.
251; and a full copy in I Haz. Collec. 437, 441.
2 2 Hutch. History, 203; 1 Haz. Coll. 318; 1 Holmes's Annals, 208; I
Chalm. Annals, 299.
3 I Chalm. Ann. 288, 289, 290, 300; 2 Hutch. Hist. 203; 1 Haz. Coll.
395,396; 1 Holmes's Ann. 229; 1 Hutch. Hist. 47; 1 Winthrop's Journ.
170, 397; 3 Hutch. Coll. 412, 413.
government, which they had framed in 1638. By that constitution, which was
framed by the inhabitants of the three towns of Windsor, Hartford, and
Weathersfield, it was provided, that there should be two general assemblies
annually; that there should be annually elected, by the freemen, at the
court in April, a governor and six assistants, who should "have power to
administer justice according to the law here established, and for want
thereof according to the rule of the word of God." And that as many other
officers should be chosen, as might be found requisite.1 To the general
court each of the above named towns was entitled to send four deputies; and
other towns, which should be afterwards formed, were to send so many
deputies, as the general court should judge meet, according to the
apportionment of the freemen in the town. All persons, who were
inhabitants and freemen, and who took the oath of fidelity, were entitled
to vote in the elections. Church-membership was not, as in Massachusetts,
an indispensable qualification. The supreme power, legislative, executive,
and judicial, was vested in the general court.2
§ 85. The colony of New-Haven had a separate origin, and was settled by
emigrants immediately from England, without any title derived from the
patentees. They began their settlement in 1638, purchasing their lands of
the natives; and entered into a solemn compact of government.3 By it no
person was admitted to any office, or to have any voice at any election,
unless he was a member of one of the churches allowed in the
74 HISTORY OF THE COLONIES. [Book I.
1 1 Haz. Coll. 437; 1 Holmes's Ann. 251.
3 1 Hutch. Hist. 82, 83; 1 Holmes's Ann. 244, 245; 1 Chalm. Ann. 290;
Robertson's America, B. 10; 3 American Museum, 523.
dominion. There was an annual election of the governor, the deputy,
magistrates, and other officers, by the freemen. The general court
consisted of the governor, deputy, magistrates, and two deputies from each
plantation;1 and was declared to be "the supreme power, under God, of this
independent dominion," and had authority "to declare, publish, and
establish the laws of God, the Supreme Legislator, and to make and repeal
orders for smaller matters, not particularly determined in Scripture,
according to the general rules of righteousness; to order all affairs of
war and peace, and all matters relative to the defending or fortifying the
country; to receive and determine all appeals, civil or criminal, from any
inferior courts, in which they are to proceed according to scripture light,
and laws, and orders agreeing therewith."2 Other courts were provided for;
and Hutchinson observes, that their laws and proceedings varied in very few
circumstances from Massachusetts, except, that they had no jury, either in
civil nor criminal cases. all matters of facts were determined by the
§ 86. Soon after the restoration of Charles the Second to the throne, the
colony of Connecticut, aware of the doubtful nature of its title to the
exercise of sovereignty, solicited and in April, 1662, obtained from that
monarch a charter of government and territory.4 The charter included within
its limits the whole colony of New-Haven; and as this was done without the
consent of the latter, resistance was made to the incorporation, until
1665, when both were indissolubly united,
CH. VII.] CONNECTICUT. 75
1 3 American Museum, 523.
2 1 Hutch. Hist. 83, note.
3 I Hutch. Hist. 84, note; 1 Chalm. Annals, 290.
4 2 Haz. Coll. 586; 1 Chalm. Ann. 292,293; 1 Holmes's Ann. 320; 2
Doug. Summ. 164.
and have ever since remained under one general government.1
§ 87. The charter of Connecticut, which has been objected to-by Chalmers
as establishing "a mere democracy, or rule of the people," contained,
indeed, a very ample grant of privileges. It incorporated the inhabitants
by the name of the Governor and Company of the Colony of Connecticut in
New-England, in America. It ordained, that two general assemblies shall be
annually held; and that the assembly shall consist of a governor; deputy
governor, twelve assistants, and two deputies, from every town or city, to
be chosen by the freemen, (the charter nominating the first governor and
assistants.) The general assembly had authority to appoint judicatories,
make freemen, elect officers, establish laws, and ordinances "not contrary
to the laws of this realm of England," to punish offenses " according to
the course of other corporations within this our kingdom of England," to
assemble the inhabitants in martial array for the common defense, and to
exercise martial law in cases of necessity. The lands were to be holden as
of the manor of East Greenwich, in free and common soccage. The
inhabitants and their children born there were to enjoy and possess all the
liberties and immunities of free, natural-born subjects, in the same manner
as if born within the realm. The right of general fishery on the coasts
was reserved to all subjects; and finally the territory bounded on the east
by the Narragansett river, where it falls into the sea, and on the north by
Massachusetts, and on the south by the sea, and in longitude, as the line
of the Massachusetts colo-
76 HISTORY OF THE COLONIES. [Book I.
1 1 Holmes's Ann. 338; I Chalm. Annals, 296; Marsh. Colon. 134; 1
Chalm. Ann. 294; 2 Doug. Summ. 164,167.
ny running from east to west, that from Narraganset bay to the South sea,
was granted and confirmed to the colony.1 The charter is silent in regard
to religious rights and privileges.
§ 88. In 1685, a quo warranto was issued by king James against the colony
for the repeal of the charter. No judgment appears to have been rendered
upon it; but the colony offered its submission to the will of the crown;
and Sir Edmund Andros, in 1687, went to Hartford, and in the name of the
crown, declared the government dissolved.2 They did not, however, surrender
the charter; but secreted it in an oak, which is still venerated; and
immediately after the revolution of 1688, they resumed the exercise of all
its powers. The successors of the Stuarts silently suffered them to retain
it until the American Revolution, without any struggle or resistance.3 The
charter continued to be maintained as a fundamental law of the State, until
the year 1818, when a new constitution of government was framed and adopted
by the people.
§ 89. The laws of Connecticut were, in many respects, similar to those of
Massachusetts.4 At an early period after the charter they passed an act,
which may be deemed a bill of rights. By it, it was declared, that "no man'
s life shall be taken away; no man's honour or good name shall be stained;
no man's person shall be arrested, restrained, banished, dismembered, nor
any ways punished; no man shall be deprived of his wife
CH. VII.] CONNECTICUT. 77
1 2 Haz. Coll 597 to 605; 1 Holmes's Ann. 320; I Chalm. Annals, 293,
294; Marsh. Colon. ch. 5, p. 134
2 1 Holmes's Ann. 415, 421, 429, 442; 1 Chalm. Ann. 297, 298, 301, 304,
306; 1 Hutch. Hist. 339, 406, note.
4 2 Doug. Summ. 171 to 176, 193 to 202.
or children; no man's goods or estate shall be taken away from him, nor any
way endangered under colour of law, or countenance of authority, unless it
be by virtue or equity of some express law of this colony, warranting the
same, established by the general court, and sufficiently published; or in
case of the defects of a law in any particular case, by some clear and
plain rule of the word of God, in which the whole court shall concur."1 The
trial by jury, in civil and criminal cases, was also secured; and if the
court were dissatisfied with the verdict, they might send back the jury to
consider the same a second and third time, but not further.2 The governor
was to be chosen, as the charter provided, by the freemen. Every town was
to send one or two deputies or representatives to the general assembly; but
every freeman was to give his voice in the election of assistants and other
public officers.3 No person was entitled to be made a freeman, unless he
owned lands in freehold of forty shillings' value per annum, or 40 personal
§ 90. In respect to offenses, their criminal code proceeded upon the same
general foundation, as that of Massachusetts, declaring those capital,
which were so declared in the Holy Scriptures, and citing them as authority
for this purpose. Among the capital offenses were idolatry, blasphemy of
Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, witchcraft, murder, murder through guile by
poisoning or other devilish practices, bestiality, sodomy, rape, man-
78 HISTORY OF THE COLONIES. [Book I.
1 Colony Laws of Connecticut, edition by Greene, 1715-1718, folio.
(New-London,) p. 1.
2 Idem p. 2. -- This practice continued down to the establishment of the
new constitution in 1818.
3 Idem. p. 27, 30.
4 Idem. 41.
stealing, false witness, conspiracy against the colony, arson, children
cursing, or smiting, father or mother, being a stubborn or rebellious son,
§ 91. In respect to religious concerns, their laws provided, that all
persons should attend public worship, and that the towns should support and
pay the ministers of religion. And at first, the choice of the minister
was confided to the major part of the house-holders of the town; the
church, as such, having nothing to do with the choice. But in 1708, an act
was passed, (doubtless by the influence of the clergy,) by which the choice
of ministers was vested in the inhabitants of the town, who were church
members; and the same year the celebrated platform, at Saybrook, was
approved, which has continued down to our day to regulate, in discipline
and in doctrine, the ecclesiastical concerns of the State.2
§ 92. The spirit of toleration was not more liberal here, than in most of
the other colonies. No persons were allowed to embody themselves into
church estate without the consent of the general assembly, and the
approbation of the neighbouring churches, and no ministry or church
administration was entertained or authorized separate from, and in
opposition to that openly and publicly observed and dispensed by the
approved minister of the place, except with the approbation and consent
aforesaid.3 Quakers, Ranters, Adamites, and other notorious heretics (as
they were called) were to be committed to prison or sent out of the colony
by order of the governor and assistants.4 Nor does the zeal of per-
CH. VII.] CONNECTICUT. 79
1 Colony Laws of Connecticut, edition by Greene, 1715-1718, folio. (New
London,) p. 12.
2 Id. p. 29, 84, 85, 110, 141.--The Constitution of 1818 has made a
great change in the rights and powers of the ministers and parishes in
3 Id. p. 29.
4 Id. p. 49.
secution appear at all to have abated until, in pursuance of the statutes
of I William and Mary, dissenters were allowed the liberty of conscience
§ 93. In respect to real estate, the descent and distribution was
directed to be among all the children, giving the eldest son a double
share; conveyances in fraud of creditors were declared void; lands were
made liable to be set off to creditors on executions by the appraisement of
The process in courts of justice was required to be in the name of the
reigning king.3 Persons having no estate might be relieved from
imprisonment by two assistants; but if the creditor required it, he should
satisfy the debt by service.4 Depositions were allowed as evidence in
civil suits.5 No person was permitted to plead in behalf of another person
on trial for delinquency, except directly to matter of law,6 a provision
somewhat singular in our annals, though in entire conformity to the English
law in capital felonies. Bills and bonds were made assignable, and suits
allowed in the name of the assignees.7
Magistrates, justices of the peace, and ministers were authorized to marry
persons; and divorces a vinculo allowed for adultery, fraudulent contract,
or desertion for three years. Men and women, having a husband or wife in
foreign parts, were not allowed to abide in the colony so separated above
two years without liberty from the general court.
80 HISTORY OF THE COLONIES. [BOOK I.
1 Colony Laws of Conn. edition by Greene, 1715-1718, folio. (New
London,) p. 134.
Towns were required to support public schools under regulations similar,
for the most part, to those of Massachusetts;1 and an especial maritime
code was enacted, regulating the rights, and duties, and authorities of
ship-owners, seamen, and others concerned in navigation.2
Such are the principal provisions of the colonial legislation of Connecticut.
1 Colony Laws of Conn. edition by Greene, 1715-1718 folio. (New London,)
2 Id. p. 70.--A similar code existed in Massachusetts, enacted in 1668.