THE FUNDAMENTAL AGREEMENTS OF THE
FREEHOLDERS, AND INHABITANTS
PROVINCE OF WEST NEW JERSEY
** November 25, 1681 **
[Text from a manuscript copy apparently dating from the late
seventeenth century in the New Jersey Bureau of Archives and
History, bound with a copy of the West New Jersey
Concessions and Agreements of 1677; text collated with that
in Aaron Leaming and Jacob Spicer, "The Grants, Concessions,
and Original Constitutions of the Province of New-Jersey"
(Philadelphia, ), 423-425. There is no copy of the
Fundamental Agreements of 1681 among the records of the
Proprietors of West New Jersey at Burlington.]
Att A Generall Free Assembly held in the Towne of
Burlington the 25th day of the ninth Month called November in
the Yeare 1681.
Forasmuch as itt hath pleased God to bring us into this
Province of West New Jersey, and Settle us here in safety,
that we may be a people to the praise and honour to his name
who hath so dealt with us, and for the good and welfare of
our posterity to come Wee the Governor Propriators
Freeholders and Inhabbittants of West Jersey by mutuall
consent and agreement for the prevention of innovacion and
opression either upon us or our posterity, and for the
preservation of the peace and tranquility of the same. And
that all may be encouraged to goe on Chearfully in their
Severall places, Wee doe make and constitute these our
agreements to be as fundamentals to us and our posterity, to
be held and kept inviolable. And that no person or persons
whatsoever shall or may make voyd or disanull the same upon
any pretence whatsoever.
1st That there shall be a generall Free Assemblye for
the Province aforesaid yearly and every year at a day
certaine chosen by the free people of the said Province
wherein all the representatives of the said Province shall be
summoned to apeare to consider of the affaires of the said
Province, and to make and ordaine such acts and lawes as
shall be requisite and necessary for the good Government and
prosperity of the Free people of the said Province, and if
necessity shall require the Governor for the time being with
the consent of his Councell, may and shall Issue out Writts
to convene the Assembly sooner, to consider and answer the
necessities of the people of the said Province.
2dly That the Governor of the Province aforesaid his
heirs or Successors for the time being shall not susspend or
deferr the signeing sealeing and confirmeing all such acts
and laws as the Generall assembly (from time to time to be
Elected by the Free people of the Province aforesaid) shall
make or Act for the secureing the libberties, and properties
of the said free people of the Province aforesaid.
3dly That itt shall not be lawfull for the Governor of
the said Province his heires or sucsessors for the time being
and Councell or any of them at any time or times hereafter to
make or raise Ware uppon any accompt or pretence whatsoever,
or raise any Millitary Forces within the Province aforesaid
without the Consent and act of the General Free Assembly for
the time being.
4thly That itt shall not be lawfull for the Governor of
the said Province his heires or Sucsessors for the time being
and Counsell or any of them at any time or times hereafter to
make or enact any law or lawes for the said Province without
the Consent act and Concurrance of the Generall Assembly.
And if the Governor for the time being his heires or
sucsessors and Councell or any of them, shall attempt to
enact or make any such law or lawes of him or them selfes
without the consent act and Concurrance of the Generall
Assembly, That from thenceforth he, they or so many of them
as shall be guilty thereof, shall upon legall conviction be
demed and taken for enimies to the Free people of the said
Province, and it shall and may be lawfull for the Generall
Free Assembly for the time being, to punish such ofender or
ofenders, according to the nature of the Offence, and such
act soe attempted to be made to be of no force.
5thly That the Generall Free Assembly from time to time,
to be Chosen as aforesaid, as the Representatives of the
people, shall not be prorouged or dissolved (before the
expiracion of one whole yeare, to commence from the day of
there Electcion) without their owne Free Concent.
6thly That it shall not be lawfull, for the Governor of
the said Province, his heires or sucsessors for the time
being, and Councell or any of them, to levey or raise any
Summ or Summs of money, or any other tax, without the act
consent and concurrance of the Generall Free Assembly.
7thly That all Officers of State or trust relateing to
the said Province, shall be nominated and elected by the
Generall Free Assembly for the time being, or by their
appoyntment, which Officer and Officers shall be accomptable
to the Generall Free Assembly, or such as the said Assembly
8thly That the Governor of the Province aforesaid his
heires or Sucsessors, for time being, or any of them shall
not send Embassadors or make Treaties or enter into alience
upon the publique accompt of the said Province, without the
consent of the Generall Free Assembly.
9thly That no Generall Free Assembly hereafter to be
Chosen by the Free people of the Province aforesaid shall
give to the Governor of the said Province for the time being
his heires or Sucsessors, any Tax or Custome for a longer
time then one whole yeare.
10thly That libberty of Conscience in matters of faith
and Worshipp towards God shall be granted to all people
within the Province aforesaid who shall live peaceably and
quietly therein, and that none of the Free people of the said
Province shall be rendered incapable of Office in respect of
their faith and Worshipp. In Testimony whereof I have
hereunto put my hand and Seale the day and yeare above
Subscribed and Sealed by
SAMUELL JENINGS Deputie Governor.
Upon the Governors acceptance and performance of the
proposealls before expressed, We the Generall Free Assembly,
Propriators and Freeholders of the Province of West New
Jersey aforesaid doe accept and recive Samuell Jenings as
THOMAS OLIVE Speaker to the General Free
Assembly. By Order of the Whole Assembly.