Primary Documents

Western Charter of 1634

King William's Act of 1699

Gov. Osborn's Commission, 1729

Palliser's Act, 1775

Judicature Act, 1791

Judicature Act, 1792

Judicature Act, 1824

Royal Charter, 1825

N.B. The 24 of May 1729 a Box was sent to the Lord Vere Beauclerk's in which was Eleven Sets Shaws Practical Justice of the Peace 2 Vol. each impressed on the Covers in gold Letters for

St. John's
Bay of Bulls
St. Maries
Bay de Verds
Trinity Bay
Old Parlekin

in Newfoundland

together with 13 Printed Acts to Encourage the Trade to Newfoundland, & one Bundle of the Acts relating to the Trade and Navigation of this Kingdom.

Governor Osborn's
Commission, 1729
With Instructions
Reproduced from C.O. 195, vol. 7 pp.183–204.

May 14th

NB. This has been compared with the commission under the Great Seals and the Words in Red ink supplied the Blanks left in this Draught.

George the Second by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France & Ireland King Defender of the Faith &c. To Our Trusty and Welbeloved Henry Osborn Esq. Comander of Our Ship Squirrel Squirrel, Greeting. Whereas We did, by Our Letters Patents, under Our Great Seal of Great Britain bearing Date at Westminster the Day of September in the Second Year of Our Reign, constitute and appoint Richard Philipps Esq. Governor of Placentia in Newfoundland and Our Captain General and Governor in Chief in and over Our Province of Nova Scotia or Accadie in America, for and during Our Will & Pleasure. And whereas We have since thought it necessary for Our Service, that Newfoundland, Placentia & all other the Forts, Islands & Places thereunto belonging should be under the Government of one and the same Person, and that a Governor should be appointed there to prevent the great Irregularities Outrages, Rapes, Felonies, Murders & other heinous Offences which are frequently committed in Our Island of Newfoundland, especially during the Winter Season, by wicked People, for want of proper Persons Legally Authorized to restrain and Punish such Offenders. Now Know You therefore, that We have revoked determined and made void & by these Presents do revoke determine and make void so much of the recited Letters Patents & every part, Cause and Article therein contain'd so far as the same mentions or relates to the Government of Our Garrison of Placentia or any other Fort, Place or Part of Our said Island of Newfoundland or the Forts or Garrisons erected or to be erected thereon or any the People or Inhabitants abiding or resorting thereto. And We reposing especial Trust and Confidence in the Prudence, Courage, and Loyalty of You the said Henry Osborn, of Our especial Grace certain knowledge & meer Motion have thought fit to Constitute & appoint you the said Henry Osborn to be Our Governor & Comander in Chief in and over Our said Island of Newfoundland, Our Fort and Garrison at Placentia & all other Forts and Garrisons Erected or to be Erected in that Island.

And We do hereby require and command You to do and Execute all things in due manner that shall belong to Your said Command and the Trust We have reposed in You according to the several Powers and Directions Granted or Appointed You by this present Commission and the Instructions either herewith given to You or by such further Powers, Instructions or Authorities as shall at any time hereafter be Granted or Appointed You under Our Signet or Sign Manual, or by Our Order in Our Privy Council.

And we do further give and grant unto You the said Henry Osborn full Power and Authority from time to time, and at any time hereafter, by your Self, or by any other to be Authoriz'd by you in that behalf, to Administer and give the Oaths mention'd in An Act pass'd in the first Year of Our late Royal Father's Reign Entituled, An Act for the further Security of His Majesty's Person & Government, and the Succession of the Crown in the Heirs of the late Princess Sophia being Protestants, And for extinguishing the Hopes of the Pretended Prince of Wales and his open & Secret Abettors, to all and every such Person & Persons as you shall think fit, who shall at any time or times pass into Our said Islands, or shall be resident or abiding there.

And We do by these presents give and Grant unto You full Power and Authority to Constitute and appoint Justice of the Peace, with other necessary Officers and Ministers for the better Administration of Justice and keeping the Peace and quiet of the said Island which Justices of the Peace so Authorized may and shall hold and keep general Quarter Sessions of the Peace in such Places as you shall appoint, according to the Custom of this part of Great Britain called England, and to adjourn such Session from time to time and from place to place as shall be most convenient and necessary for the Peace and Welfare of Our Subjects, Inhabiting there, provided you nor they do any thing by Virtue of this Commission or the Powers hereby granted, contrary or repugnant to the Act for encouraging the Trade to Newfoundland pass'd in the 10th: and 11th: Years of the Reign of King William the Third, nor any way Obstruct the Powers thereby given and granted to the Admirals of Harbours or Captains of Our Ships of War, or any other Matter or thing either prescribed by the said Act or by such Instructions as you shall receive from Us, as aforesaid.

And all such Justices of the Peace and their inferiour Officers and Ministers whom you or they shall appoint amongst the Planters or Inhabitants resident and abiding there, be strictly required and enjoyned in all Cases and times whenever necessary, to be aiding and assisting to the utmost of their Power to the Commadore or Commanders of Our Ships of War, and to the several Admirals in their respective Harbours, in putting in Execution the several good Rules and Orders Prescribed by the said Act for encouraging the Trade to Newfoundland.

And provided also that no Person or Persons so by you appointed to be Justices of the Peace as aforesaid, or other Officer or Ministers belonging or appertaining to them do presume or be suffered to Act in such Office or Place until he or they have taken the aforesaid Oaths mentioned in the said Act for the further Security of His Majesty's Person and Government and the Succession of the Crown in the Heirs of the late Princess Sophia being Protestants,: And for Extinguishing the hopes of the pretended Prince of Wales and his open & secret Abettors, as also to make & subscribe the Declaration mentioned in An Act of Parliament made in the Year of the Reign of King Charles the Second Entituled An Act for preventing dangers which may happen from Popish Recusants; And also to take such proper Oath or Oaths as are usually taken in this Kingdom by Persons executing such Offices and Trusts, which said Oaths and Declaration you shall Administer, and give or cause the same to be Administered and given to all and every Person and Persons who ought to take the same, according to the Laws and Customs of this Kingdom.

And We do hereby give and grant unto you the said Henry Osborn full Power to Erect appoint and set apart one or more convenient Court House or Court Houses for the more orderly meeting of such Justices of the Peace, in order to hold such their Quarter or other Sessions with a convenient Prison adjoining thereto for the keeping of such Offenders as may be found necessary to be committed to safe Custody, until such Court or Sessions can be conveniently held for Trying and Delivering Offenders against Our Laws and the Peace of Our Subjects.

And We do hereby require and command all Officers Civil and Military and all other Inhabitants of Our said Island, to be Obedient, Aiding and Assisting unto you, in the Execution of this our Commission and of the Powers and Authorities herein contained.

And in case of your Death Our Will and Pleasure is that William Coalssa First Lieutenant of Our Ship the Oxford on the First Lieutenant of Our Said Ship for the time being do take upon him the Administration of the Government of Our said Island, and Execute Our said Commission and Instructions and the several Powers and Authorities therein contained in the same manner to all intents and purposes as you our said Governor and Commander in Chief might or ought to do, for and during Our Will and Pleasure.

And We do hereby declare, ordain and appoint that you the said Henry Osborn shall and may hold, execute and enjoy the Place of Our Governor and Commander in Chief in and over Our said Island of Newfoundland, with all & singular the Powers and Authorities hereby Granted unto you for and during Our Will & Pleasure. In Witness & Witness. In Witness whereof We have caus'd those Our Letters to be made Patents. Witness Caroline, Queen of Great Britain, &c. Guardian of the Said Realm, &c. at Westminster, the 31st. day of May, in the Second Year of Our Reign.
By Writ of Privy Seal. Bisse & Bray

Instructions to Our Trusty and Welbeloved Our Governor and Commander in Chief in and over Our Island of Newfoundland in America, Our Fort and Garrison at Placentia, and all other Forts and Garrisons Erected or to be Erected in that Island Given at Our Court at St. James's the ___ Day of ___ 1729 In the second Year of Our Reign.

With these Our Instructions you will receive Our Commission under Our Great Seal of this Kingdom bearing Date the ___ Day of ___ 1729. Constituting You Our Governor and Commander in Chief in and over Our Island of Newfoundland in America Our Fort and Garrison at Placentia and all other Forts and Garrisons Erected or to be Erected in that Island with Directions to obey such Orders and Instructions as shall from time to time be given you under Our Signet and Sign Manual or by Order from Our Privy Council.

1st . . . . . You are therefore to fit your Self with all convenient speed, and to repair to Our said Island of Newfoundland in America and being arrived there You are to take upon you the Execution of the Place and Trust We have reposed in you and forthwith call together the principal Inhabitants of Our said Island; And with all due and usual Solemnity to cause Our said Commission under Our Great Seal of Great Britain, Constituting You Our Governor & Comander in Chief as aforesaid; to be read & published at the said Meeting.

2 . . . . . Whereas by An Act to encourage the Trade to Newfoundland it is directed that all Robberies Murthers and Felonies and all other Capital Crimes which shall be done and committed in or upon the Land in Newfoundland or in any of the Islands thereunto belonging shall and may be enquired of, Tryed, Heard Determined and Adjudged in any Shire or County of this Kingdom according to the Laws of this Land usd for the Punishment of such Robberies Murthers, Felonies, and other Capital Crimes done and committed within this Realm. You shall therefore take particular Care that all Persons guilty of such Capital Offences be sent over to this Kingdom with Witnesses and sufficient Proof of their Crimes along with them.

3 . . . . . And you shall strictly enjoyn both the present & future Garrison of Placentia and all Our Officers and Soldiers, & other Persons whatsoever belonging thereto not to concern themselves in the Fishery there; nor interrupt the Fishermen in the curing of their Fish, not to take up for themselves any Beaches, Stages, or Cook-rooms, upon any pretence whatsoever upon pain of Our Highest Displeasure.

4 . . . . . And you are particularly to suppress the Engrossing of Commodities, as tending to the prejudice of the Fishery and the Persons employ'd therein.

5 . . . . . You shall transmit unto Us and to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations an Account of the Arms, Ammunition and Stores that have been sent from Our Office of Ordnance here to Our Fort at Placentia, And likewise an Account of the State of Our said Fort, How the said Stores have been employ'd and whether any of them and how many of them have been sold, spent, lost, decayed or disposed of, and to whom & to what uses, together with an Inventory of all such Arms, Ammunition & Stores as are remaining in Our Magazines there, As also a Duplicate thereof to Our Master General or principal Officers of Our Ordnance which accounts are to express the particulars of Ordnance, Carriages, Ball Powder and all other sorts of Arms and Ammunition in Our publick Stores at your Arrival, and so yearly of what shall be sent thither Specifying the times of the Disposal and the occasion thereof.

6 . . . . . And you shall use your best endeavours to have all such Draughts or Maps of Newfoundland or any of the Bays, Harbours, Islands, Banks, Rocks, Fishing Places and Coasts thereof as you can obtain carefully Revised and Corrected and thereby procure one or more good and correct Map or Maps of the same with the exactest Description thereof that can be obtain'd and transmit the same unto Us, and to Our Commissioners for Trade & Plantations.

7 . . . . . Whereas by the Act for the Encouragement of Trade Passed in the 15th: Year of King Charles the Second no Commodities of the Growth Production or Manufacture of Europe, except Salt for the Fishery of New England & Newfoundland, Wines of the Growth of the Maderas or Western Islands or Azores, Servants, Horses, and all sorts of Victuals of the Growth and Production of Ireland shall be Imported into any of Our Colonies or Plantations but what shall be bona fide and without Fraud Laden and Ship't in Great Britain and in Ships duly qualified. And whereas complaint has been made of Masters of Ships & others carrying on a Clandestine Trade amongst the Fishing Ships from Great Britain with others from Our Colonies and Plantations in America contrary to the intent and meaning of the said Act. You shall use your utmost Endeavour for the due observance of the said Act.

8 . . . . . You are to permit a Liberty of Conscience to all Persons (except Papists) So they be contented with a quiet and peaceable enjoyment of the same, not giving Offence or Scandal to the Government.

9 . . . . . The Rt: Reverend Father in God Edmund Lord Bishop of London having Presented a Petition to His late Majesty humbly beseeching him to send Instructions to the Governors of all the several Plantations in America that they cause all Laws made against Blasphemy, Prophaness, Adultry, Fornication, Polygamy Incest Prophanation of the Lords Day, Swearing and Drunkenness in their respective Governments to be vigourously Executed: And We thinking it highly just that all Persons who shall offend in any of the particularities aforesaid should be Prosecuted and punished for their said Offences, It is therefore Our Will and Pleasure; that you take due care for the Punishment of the forementioned Vices, by Presentment upon Oath to be made to the Justices of the Peace in their Sessions by their Constables or other inferior Officers of the several Harbours at proper times of the Year to be appointed for that purpose: And for the further discouragement of Vice and Encouragement of Virtue & good Living; You are not to admit any Person to Act as a Justice of the Peace in the Island whose ill Fame or Conversation may occasion Scandal, And especially you shall take care that the Lords Day be devoutly and duly observed That the Book of Common Prayer as by Law Established in this Kingdom be read each Sunday & Holiday and the Blessed Sacrament Administred according to the Rites of the Church of England in all such Chapels or publick Places of Worship as are already settled there.

10 . . . . . And if any Orthodox Minister there shall appear to give Scandal either by his Doctrine or Manners or shall Preach or Administer the holy Sacraments in any Orthodox Church or Chappel, without being in due Orders, you shall give Account thereof to the Lord Bishop of London.

11 . . . . . And you are to take Especial care that a Table of Marriages established by the Cannons of the Church of England be hung up in every Orthodox Church or Chappel and duly observed.

12 . . . . . If any thing shall happen which may be of advantage or Security to Our said Island which is not herein or by your Commission Provided for We do hereby allow you to take order for the present therein giving to Us by One of Our principal Secretaries of State and to Our foresaid Commissioners for Trade & Plantations speedy notice thereof that so you may receive Our Ratification, if We shall approve the same. Provided always that you do not by colour of any Power or Authority hereby given you, Allow of or encourage any thing to be done contrary to the true intent and meaning of the aforesaid Act to Encourage the Trade to Newfoundland nor contrary to any of the Laws and Statutes of this Our Realme.

13 . . . . . And you are upon all Occasions to send unto Us by one of Our Principal Secretaries of State and to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations in particular Account of all your Proceedings, & of the Conditions of the Affairs of that Island and the Trade and Fishery thereof and of the Banks Seas and Parts adjacent.

14 . . . . . And whereas Our Trusty and Welbeloved Lord Vere Beauclerk Commadore and Commander in Chief of our Convoy appointed for the preservation of the Trade and Fishery of Newfoundland, has received Instructions from Us under Our Signet & Sign Manual in relation thereto & likewise to be aiding and assisting to you by his Advice and Direction in the Execution of the several Powers granted to you by Our said Commission; Now as We do repose especial Trust and great Confidence in the Prudence and Fidelity of the said Lord Vere Beauclerk, We have thought fit to Order and you are hereby required upon all Occasions to execute all such Matters as he shall propose to you for Our Service by any Memorial in Writing for that purpose Signed by him, So far as the same shall be agreeable to Law.

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