Records of the Colony
of New Plymouth in New England

Hypertext Editor's Notes

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To make the substance of these laws and records fully accessible by the search engine in this Plymouth Colony Archive, abbreviations and contractions from the original laws and records have been translated by Christopher Fennell of the University of Virginia:

  • Words appearing in square "[ ]" brackets are those for which abbrevations or contractions have been translated into full text. David Pulsifer's 1861 edits also included additions and corrections placed in square brackets, and those appear in this hypertext version as well.

  • Deletions appear in curved "{ }" brackets. Elipses indicate omissions in the original record, as indicated by David Pulsifer's notations. Curved brackets and the word "unintelligible" indicate illegible or unintelligible entries in the original records as indicated by Pulsifer.

  • Words appearing in full text in the original records have been retained in their original spellings. Some abbreviated prepositions have not been altered. Superscript has been translated to normal typeface.

Some translation decisions are worth noting here:

  • The abbreviation of "Maties" appears frequently in these Plymouth laws and court records, with a symbol by David Pulsifer indicating that one or more letters adjacent to the "a" appear to have been omitted in the original records. This abbrevation has varying meanings depending upon the specific context in which it appears. In many instances, this is an abbreviation for "Majesties" or "Majesty's." In other instances it appears to refer to "Magistrates." References to the "Maties Court" provide an interesting example. While this could be a contraction of "Majesty's Court," neither the original patents nor the laws of Plymouth Colony made provision for a "Majesty's Court." Similarly, the Plymouth Colony lacked a royal charter from which one could infer such a reference. The Plymouth laws instead refer to "Magistrates" as a synonym for the "Assistants," and the Court of Assistants was created early in the Colony's legal structure. Perhaps references to the "Majesty's Courts" in the Colony were made nonetheless for aspirational and salutary purposes, although legally inaccurate. William Bradford and others worked continually, but unsuccessfully, to try to obtain a royal charter throughout the seventy-year lifetime of the Colony's government.

  • When using the search engine to access these laws, use the likely root of the word for which you search. For example, to search for provisions concerning the regulation of mills, a search for the current word of word "mill" will yield no results. A search for "mil" will yield many results concerning "milnes," which is the spelling for this concept as used in the Plymouth Colony laws.

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by Patricia Scott Deetz and Christopher Fennell