Dominion of New england

Selections from the Minutes of the Dominion of New England  




This collection of documents reflect the changes James II put in place when he revoked the charters of Massachusetts Bay and other New England colonies, and instituted the Dominion of New England. The documents detail the structure of the new council, appointed by James’ appointed governor, Sir Edward Andros. The documents also include addresses from the Massachusetts subjects, minutes from the Lords of Trade and Plantation, and orders from the King and King in Council.

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Excerpts from “Proceedings of the Council of the Dominion of New England from 5th May to 16th December 1686”

May 25, 1686


The President and Councill being assembled the exemplification of the Indgiment against the Charter of the late Governour and company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England publickly (in open Court where were present divers of the Eminent Ministers, Gentlemen and inhabitants of the Town and Country) was read with an audible voice.

Then his Majestyes Commission of Government directed to the President and Council was likewise read in open Court.

The President then proceeded and took the oath of Allegiance and also the oath of confeined(?) in that Commission, which were administered to all the members of the Councill then present.

The President and Council took their places upon the bench leaving before Satromind(?) the table in the Councill Chamber.  The President addressed himself to the assembly in a sort and gratefull speech as Copie whereof in as follows.


Both my self, and the other honorable members of his Majestyes Councill present, have taken this Government and Bench by his Majestyes Speciall Command, wherein we are required all excises(?) set aside to take the charge and arrangement of this His Majestyes Territory and Dominion of New England, and by all means carefully to intend his Service, and the growth and flourishing of these plantations: And you have now seen us Solemnly swear according to the direction of his Majestyes Commission even recorted(?) and published unto you.  And you must allow me to tell you, that it is impossible for myself and these Gentlement, of all whose ability, industry and Loyalty I have no reason to doubt, except for my self, I say it impossible for us to bring his Majestyes desire and expectation, which we are well assured is no other then the happy increase and advance of the Provinces, by their more immediate dependence upon the Crown of England, unless all his good subjects intend and conspire the same by a sober Loyall and dutyfull Demeanour towards his Majestyes Government here, which therefore we now adivse you of as the plainest path unto your own happiness, and of which we may not doubt that you will [UNCLEAR] fail not.

The necessary alterations in the Rule and fform of Administration of this His Majestyes Government from the methodds last used by the Government which it stood by Charter, as (by his Majestyes Indulgence and favour) they need be but a fico(?), so we assure you Shall with all care and prudence be contrived as plain and [UNCLEAR] as is possible, and we shall hasten humbly to lay them at his most gracious Majestyes feet for his allowance and consideration.  

I may not omit to remark unto you in his Majestyes Commission that gracious and fovourable clause of Indulgence in matters of Religio so necessary for the Peace and fflourishing of this place, as also that of his Command unto his Resident and Councill here, that they further lay before him such methods and Rules in Government as are necessary for you and when we are Commanded to ask, we are aforered(?) that so just, and wise a Prince as our Soverigne (whome we Serve) is, doth not mean to deny.  It greatly imports us therefore, and I humbly Prey to God that WEE improve both the said Indulgence and direction of Address to his Majesty to his Majestyes satisfaction and our own future-lasting benefit.

If there be any ill minded as to support that we are now escaped from under a strict and severe Government and think to allow themselves in debauchery and ill-living (which hath hither to happily been prevented from overrunning these plantations, and which hath been the true cause of their being so much more considerable than their neighbours) we do asure them, and we do humbly render our thanks to God and his Majesty that his Commands and directions to us are expresly to the Contrary, and most agreeable to our own milinations(?)  And we do therefore justly expect from the severall Justices of the Peace, Constables, and other officers now presently to be comissioned and established that they carefully intend the suppression of all vice and illmanners, and We shall always strengthen your hands therein, and God can make the success happy.

I shall have done when I have sold you that for the Injuries late offered to my self by this People I should not once have mentioned them, but to asure you that I have perfectly forgotten them, and that I am a true and sincere Lover of my Country and Shall by all means (if I may therein be assisted and advised) not fail to demonstrate it unto you by the following short administration of Government; and this I say as remembring(?) that (you may know) I have an accompt to make immediately to his Majesty and finally to God the Judge of all.

A Proclamacon by the President and Councill (being Printed) was openly read in Court, and Commanded to be published by beat of drummer and sound of trumpet, which was accordingly done and many copies deliverd out to the People, and whereof as follows.

WHEREAS, We have received from his most Excellent Majesty our Sovereign Lord James the Second King of England Scottland France and Ireland Defendor of the ffaith & the Exemplificacon of a judgment in his high Court of Chancery under his Majestyes great seal of England being Date the thirteenth of October in the first year of his Majestyes Reigne, against the Governour and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England; whereby the Government thereof and all the members thereunto belonging is now in his Majestyes hands.

And his Majesty having been graciously pleased to declare that he is minded to give all protection and encouragement to all his good subjects therein, and to provide in the most effectuall manner that due and impartiall Justice may be administered in all cases civill and criminall, and all care taken for the quiet and orderly Government of the Same.  And in order thereto it hath pleased his most excellent Majesty by his Commission bearing Date the Eight day of October in the first year of His Reigne under the great seal of England to erect and constitute a President and Councill to take Care of all that his Territory and Dominion of New England called the Massachusetts Bay, the Provinces of New Hampshire and Maine, and the Narragansett Country, otherwise called the Kings Province with all the Islands Rights and Members thereunto belonging, and to order rule and govern the same, according to the Rules, methods and Regulations specifyed and Declared in the said Commission.  Together with His Majesteys Gracious Indulgence in matters of Religion.

And for the Execution of his Royall Pleasure in that behalfe he(his?) Majesty hath be pleased to appoint Joseph Dudley Esquire to be the first President of his Majestyes said Councill, and Vice Admirall of these Seas, and to continue in the said offices until his Majesty shall offieicioise(?) direct and also to appoint Simon Bradstreet, William Houghton, Peter Berkley(?), John Pimlicon(?), Robert Mason, Richard Wharton, Walt Winthrop, Nathaniel Saltinstall(?), Bartholomew Gidrey, Jonathan Ting, John Usther, Dudley Bradstreet, John Hinks, Francis Champernoon(?), Edward Tying, John Ffitz Winthrop and Edward Randolph Esquire to be his Majestyes Councill in the said Colonye and Territoryes. 

The President and Councill therefore being Convened according to the direction and form [UNCLEAr] the so(?) Commission, and haveing taken the oaths therein required and finding it Primarily needful that speedy and effectuall care be taken for the maintainance and preservation of the Peace, have accordingly appointed and authorized Justices of the Peace in the Severall Countyes, Precincts and Principall Townes throughout the serval Provinces and do also hereby continue all and every the guard Juries(?) of the Severall Countyes, Constables, Select Townsmen, and such as have lately had the charge of Watches in there severall and respective offices, charge and trust till(?) officers be orderly appointed to succeed them.  And the said President and Councill doe hereby in his Majestyes name ffirstly command and require the several Justices of the Peace, select Townsmen, overseers of the Poor, Surveyors of the High Wayes, Constables and other inferior officers, who have had the care of Watches and who are now commissionated or Continued as aforesaid, diligently and faithfully to [UNCLEAR], pursue and execute their severall and respective offices, charges and tenets(?) for the Preservacon of the Peace and for suppressing and disconnectnanring(?) all disorder and Vice.  And WE do hereby require all his Majestyes subjects within the said Colony and Territoryes to be obedient, aiding, safsisting(?) to all such Justices of the Peace, Constables and other officers in the execucon of their severall offices and placts(?) at their utmost Perrill.

God Save the King


That the Proclamation which this day read in open Court and Published by beat of Drummer and sound of Trumpet be sent to all the Townes belonging to His Majestyes government.

Adjourned till to morrow

At a Councill held in Boston N. England

July the 30th, 1686


Joseph Dudley Esquire President

William Stonghton D.P.

Peter Bulkley Esquire Richard Wharton Esquire

Wayt Winthrop Esquire B[UNCLEAR] Gedney &  Esquire

Edward Randolph Esquire

This day appeared William Johnson, Thomas Kendall and John Carter inhabitants of the Town of Woobern, being sumond by the President and Councill to answer the complaint of William Lynns Esquire for breaking the order of observing the Fast in this Government, and confessed their absence from the publique assembly that day, but in their serverall defenses gave great suspition of this disatfection to his Majestyes Government.  Whereupon twas ordered That they should take the Oath of Allegience upon paine of Imprisonment.  Johnson and Carter after some demarr(?) took the Oath of Allegience upon which they were acquitted paying their ffees.

Severall Depositions against John Gold of Toppsfield for speaking seditious words against the Government were presented by Major Gedney.

Mr. Gold and his suretyes entred into two hundred pounds prend(?) to make their appearance on Thursday next in the afternoon.


[August 5, 1686]

John Gold of Toppsfield was brought before the President and Councill and the Wittnesses then appearing makeing prooff that the said Gold had spoken treasonable words on or about the 11th of July last, was committed for close custody in the prison of Boston.


That Thursday the 19th of this Instant August be appointed for the tryall of John Gold and other prisoners in the Goal of Boston.

[August 25th, 1686]

Upon reading the petition of John Gold and considering the poverty of his family.

It is Ordered

That upon his payment of ffifty pounds in money and charges of Sucrecution(?) the Remainder of his fine be respitted(?), and he be released of his Imprisonment he giveing bond for his good behavior according to order of [UNCLEAR].

[Nov. 9th, 1686]

That John Gold be discharged of his bonds [UNCLEAR] good behaviour.

[December 8, 1686]

In answer to the Petition of the Pap(?) Wing and other inhabitants of the Town of Wehrester (?)


That the Inhabitants and Proprietors to choose five men from amongst them selves to mannage their prudentiall affaires, and to receive inhabitants, and the [UNCLEAR] for the said Towne are hereby impowered and required to finish those books by the last of Aprill and be ready to deliver them to the Eocnis(?) [UNCLEAR].

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