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The Pierce Patent, 1621



Caleb Johnson, a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, provides the following notes on this land patent:

When the Pilgrims created the Mayflower Compact, it lacked one important thing -- authorization by the English government.  The Mayflower Compact was a "quick fix", but even the Pilgrims knew they would need the authority of the English government behind them if they wanted to continue living at Plymouth.  When news from Plymouth returned to England in May, 1620 along with the Mayflower, the Merchant Adventurers (stockholders in the Plymouth Plantation) led by John Peirce went to the Council of New England to get the Pilgrims the rights to live and establish a government of their own at Plymouth.  The result was the 1621 Pierce Patent, which in a sense superceeds the Mayflower Compact.


This Indenture made the First Day of June 1621 And in the yeeres of the raigne of our soveraigne Lord James by the grace of god King of England Scotland Fraunce and Ireland defendor of the faith etc.  That is to say of England Fraunce and Ireland the Nynetenth and of Scotland the fowre and fiftith.  Betwene the President and Counsell of New England of the one partie And John Peirce Citizen and Clothworker of London and his Associates of the other partie Witnesseth that whereas the said John Peirce and his Associates have already transported and undertaken to transporte at their cost and chardges themselves and dyvers persons into New England and there to erect and build a Towne and settle dyvers Inhabitantes for the advancemt of the generall plantacon of that Country of New England Now the sayde President and Counsell in consideracon thereof and for the furtherance of the said plantacon and incoragemt of the said Undertakers have agreed to graunt assigne allott and appoynt to the said John Peirce and his associates and every of them his and their heires and assignes one hundred acres of grownd for every person so to be transported besides dyvers other pryviledges Liberties and commodyties hereafter menconed.  And to that intent they have graunted allotted assigned and confirmed, And by theis prentes doe graunt allott assigne and confirme unto the said John Peirce and his Associates his and their heirs and assignes and the heires and assignes of every of them severally and respectivelie one hundred severall acres of grownd in New England for every person so transported or to be transported, If the said John Peirce or his Associates contynue there three whole yeeres either at one or severall tymes or dye in the meane season after he or they are shipped with intent there to inhabit.  The same Land to be taken and chosen by them their deputies or assignes in any place or plaes wheresoever not already inhabited by any English and where no English person or persons are already placed or settled or have by order of the said President and Councell made choyce of, nor within Tenne myles of the same, unles it be the opposite syde of some great or Navigable Ryver to the former particuler plantacon, together with the one half of the Ryver or Ryvers, that is to say to the middest thereof, as shall adjoyne to such landes as they shall make choyce of together with all such Liberties pryviledges proffittes and commodyties as the said Land and Ryvers which they shall make choyce of shall yeild together with free libertie to fishe in and upon the Coast of New England and in all havens portes and creekes Thereunto belonging and that no person or persons whatsoever shall take any benefitt or libertie of or to any of the grownds or the one half of the Ryvers aforesaid, excepting the free use of highwayes by land and Navigable Ryvers, but that the said undertakers and planters their heirs and assignes shall have the sole right and use of the said grownds and the one half of the said Ryvers with all their proffittes and appurtennces.  And forasmuch as the said John Peirce and his associates intend to have undertaken to build Churches, Schooles, Hospitalls Towne howses, Bridges and such like workes of Charytie As also for the maynteyning of Magistrates and other inferior Officers, In regard whereof and to the end that the said John Peirce and his Associates his and their heires and assignes may have wherewithall to beare and support such like charges.  Therefore the said President and Councell aforesaid to graunt unto the said Undertakers their heires and assignes Fifteene hundred acres of Land more over and above the aforesaid proporcon of one hundred the person for every undertaker and Planter to be imployed upon such publique uses and the said Undertakers and Planters shall thinck fitt.  And they do further graunt unto the said John Peirce and his Associates their heires and assignes, that for every person that they or any of them shall transport at their owne proper costes and charges into New England either unto the Lands hereby graunted or adjoyninge to them within Seaven Yeeres after the feast of St. John Baptist next comming If the said person transported contynue there three whole yeeres either at one or severall tymes or dye in the mean season after he is shipped with intent there to inhabit that the said person or persons that shall so at his or their owne charges transport any other shall have graunted and allowed to him and them and his and their heires respectyvelie for every person so transported or dyeing after he is shipped one hundred acres of Land, and also that every person or persons who by contract and agreamt to be had and made with the said Undertakers shall at his and their owne charge transport him and themselves or any other and setle and plant themselves in New England within the said Seaven Yeeres for three yeeres space as aforesaid or dye in the mean tyme shall have graunted and allowed unto every person so transporting or transported and their heires and assignes respectyvely the like nomber of one hundred acres of Land as aforesaid the same to be by him and them or their heires and assignes chosen in any entyre place together and adjoyning to the aforesaid Landes and not straglingly not before the type of such choyce made possessed or inhabited by any English Company or within tenne myles of the same, except it be on the opposite side of some great Navigable Ryver as aforesaid Yeilding and paying unto the said President and Counsell for every hundred acres so obteyned and possessed by the said John Peirce and his said Associates and by those said other persons and their heires and assignes who by Contract as aforesaid shall at their owne charges transport themselves or others the Yerely rent of Two shillings at the feast of St. Michaell Tharchaungell to the hand of the Rentgatherer of the said President and Counsell and their successors forever, the first payment to begyn after the expiracon of the first seaven Yeeres next after the date hereof And further it shal be lawfull to and for the said John Peirce and his Associates and such as contract with them as aforesaid their Tennantes and servantes upon dislike of or in the Country to returne for England or elsewhere with all their goodes and chattells at their will and pleasure without lett or disturbaunce of any paying all debtes that justly shalbe demaunded And likewise it shalbe lawfull and is graunted to and for the said John Peirce and his Associates and Planters their heires and assignes their Tennantes and servantes and such as they or any of them shall contract with as aforesaid and send and imploy for the said plantacon to goe and returne trade traffique inport or transport their goodes and merchaundize at their will and pleasure into England or elswhere paying onely such dueties to the Kinges matie his heires and succesors as the President and Counsell of New England doe pay without any other taxes Imposicons burthens or restraintes whatsoever upon them to be imposed (the rent hereby reserved being onely excepted) And it shalbe lawfull for the said Undertakers and Planters, their heires and successors freely to truck trade and traffique with the Salvages in New England or neighboring thereabouts at their wills and pleasures without lett or disturbaunce.  As also to have libertie to hunt hauke fish or fowle in any place or places not now or hereafter by the English inhabited.  And the said President and Counsell do covenant and promyse to and with the said John Peirce and his Associates and others contracted with as aforesaid his and their heires and assignes, That upon lawfull survey to be had and made at the charge of the said Undertakers and Planters and lawfull informacon geven of the bowndes, meetes, and quantytie of Land so as aforesaid to be by them chosen and possessed they the said President and Counsell upon surrender of this pnte graunt and Indenture and upon reasonable request to be made by the said Undertakers and Planters their heires and assignes within seaven Yeeres now next coming, shall and will by their Deede Indented and under their Common seale graunt infeorre and confirme all and every the said landes so sett out and bownded as aforesaid to the firme all and every the said landes so sett out and bownded as afiresaid to the said John Peirce and his Associates and such as contract with them their heires and assignes in as large and beneficiall manner as the same are in theis pntes graunted or intended to be graunted to all intentes and purposes with all and every particular pryviledge and freedome reservacon and condicon with all dependances herein specyfied and graunted.  And shall also at any tyme within the said terme of Seaven Yeeres upon request unto the said President and Counsell made, graunt unto them the said John Peirce and his Associates Undertakers and Planters their heires and assignes, Letters and Grauntes of Incorporacon by some usuall and fitt name and tytle with Liberty to them and their successors from tyme to tyme to make orders Lawes Ordynaunces and Constitucons for the rule governement ordering and dyrecting of all persons to be transported and settled upon the landes hereby graunted, intended to be graunted or hereafter to be granted and of the said Landes and proffittes thereby arrysing.  And in the meane tyme untill such graunt made, It shalbe lawfull for the said John Peirce his Associates Undertakers and Planters their heires and assignes by consent of the greater part of them to establish such lawes and ordynaunces as are for their better governemt, and the same by such Officer or Officers as they shall by most voyces elect and choose to put in execucon And lastly the said President and Counsell do graunt and agree to and with the said John Peirce and his Associates and others contracted with and imployed as aforesaid their heires and assignes, That when they have planted the Landes hereby to them assigned and appoynted, That then it shalbe lawfull for them with the pryvitie and allowaunce of the President and Counsell as aforesaid to make choyce of and to enter into and have an addition of fiftie acres more for every person transported into New England wiht like reservacons condicons and pryviledges as are above granted to be had and chosen in such place or places where no English shalbe then setled or inhabiting or have made choyce of and the same entered into a booke of Actes at the tyme of such choyce so to be made or within thenne Myles of the same, excepting on the opposite side of some great Navigable Ryver as aforesaid.  And that it shall and may be lawfull for the said John Peirce and his Associates their heires and assignes from tyme to tyme and at all tymes hereafter for their severall defence and savetie to encounter expulse repell and resist by force of Armes aswell by Sea as by Land and by all wayes and meanes whatsoever all such person or persons as without the especiall lycense of the said President or Counsell and their successors or the greater part of them shall attempt to inhabit within the severall presinctes and lymmyttes of their said Plantacon, Or shall enterpryse or attempt at any tyme hereafter distruccon, Invation, detryment or annoyaunce to the said Plantacon.  And the said John Peirce and his associates and their heires and assignes do covennant and promyse to and with the said President and Counsell and their successors, That they the said John Peirce and his Associates from tyme to tyme during the said Seaven Yeeres shall make a true Certificat to the said President and Counsell and their successors from the chief Officers and the places respectyvely of every person transported and landed in New England or shipped as aforesaid to be entered by the Secretary of the said President and Counsell into a Register book for that purpose to be kept And the said John Peirce and his Associates Jointly and severally for them their heires and assignes do covennant promyse and graunt to and with the said President and Counsell and their successors That the persons transported to this their particuler Plantacon shall apply themselves and their Labors in a large and competent manner to the planting setting making and procuring of good and staple commodyties in and upon the said Land hereby graunted unto them as Corne and silkgrasse hemp flaxe pitch and tarre sopeashes and potashes Iron Clapbord and other the like materialls.  In witnes whereof the said President and Counsell have to the one part of this pnte Indenture sett their seales And to th'other part hereof the said John Peirce in the name of himself and his said Associates have sett to his seale geven the day and yeeres first above written.

Lenox     Hamilton     Warwick   Sheffield      Ferd: Gorges



Go to Caleb Johnson's Mayflower History page. Our thanks to Mr. Johnson for presenting this land patent from the Plymouth Colony court records.


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Last Modified: December 14, 2007



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