Scope and Content Note

The series is a charter from Charles II, King of England, granting land to his brother James, Duke of York (later James II King of England). By setting up this proprietary colony by granting this secret royal patent, it was hoped that the Dutch influence in North America could be curtailed and that the independent tendencies of the Massachusetts Bay Company could be brought under control. The charter was awarded on March 12, 1664, and gave James the authority to send an armed force to compel the Dutch surrender of the New Netherland province to the English. It grants territory that now comprises most of Maine, part of Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and part of Pennsylvania to James and his heirs in perpetuity. It also specifies details of governance, including powers, privileges, and duties that accrued to the grant, and provides for its management by allowing James and his heirs to delegate administrative functions (relating to matters of law, trade, rebellion, and defense) to assigned deputies, agents, commissioners, or governors.

The charter is hand written on parchment and sewn onto a parchment border. Some text is obscured by damage. An extensive India ink decoration along the top portion of the recto depicts birds and flowers flanking a bordered crest that is apparently that of Charles II. The sheet is hand ruled in red ink. The text is written in English in iron gall ink and includes decorative capital letters. The mounted parchment measures 25 x 34" (71 x 86 cm) overall. The document ends with a note "By the King" and the name "Howard" (apparently referring to the royal secretary). There is neither a signature nor a seal of the king.

The verso of the charter shows several notations. Text along the lower left corner reads "In Perpetuity granted to his Royal Highness James Duke of Yorke." A somewhat faded note, not contemporary to the charter, labels the document as "Charter of New York from Ch. II" and states that a "copy is recorded in Book 1. Patents 1664. 1667 page 109." This note refers to series 12943-78, Letters Patent, which is a copy from the original patent books in which the charter appeared on page 109 (in the series copy it appears on page 139). Finally, there are other brief faded abbreviations and a small amount of illegible text, the sense of which is a witnessing of the grant on March 12th in the 16th year of Charles reign.