1606, King James of England granted the first charter to
the Virginia Company, which settled 120 people in Jamestown.
A second charter was granted in 1609, and a third was granted
in 1611-12, giving more independence to the company. The
portion of the 1606 Charter addressing religious liberty
is excerpted below.
Religious Institutions Group
by the grace of God [King of England, Scotland, France,
and Ireland, Defender of the Faith], etc. Whereas our loving
and well disposed subjects, Sir Thomas Gates and . . . .;
and divers others of our loving subjects, have been humble
sutors unto us, that wee woulde vouchsafe unto them our
licence to make habitacion, plantacion and to deduce a colonie
of sondrie of our people into that parte of America commonly
called Virginia, and other parts and territories in America
either appartaining unto us, or which are not nowe actuallie
possessed by anie Christian prince or people, scituate,
lying and being all along the sea coastes between fower
and thirtie degrees of northerly latitude from the equinoctiall
line, and five and fortie degrees of the same latitude,
and in the maine lande betweene the same fower and thirtie
and five and fourtie degrees, and the ilandes thereunto
adjacente or within one hundred miles of the coaste thereof;
greately commending, and graciously accepting of theire
desires to the furtherance of soe noble a worke, which may,
by the providence of Almightie God, hereafter tende to the
glorie of His Divine Majestie, in propagating of Christian
religion to suche people as yet live in darkenesse and miserable
ignorance of the true knoweledge and worshippe of God, and
may in tyme bring the infidels and salvages living in those
parts, to humane civilitie, and to a setled and quiet govermente:
doe, by theise our lettres patents, graciously accepte of,
and agree to, theire humble and well intended desires;
witness whereof, we have caused these our Letters to be
made Patents; Witness Ourself at Westminster, the tenth
Day of April in the fourth Year of our Reign of England,
France, and Ireland, and of Scotland the nine and thirtieth.
breve de privato Sigillo.
Source: The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters,
and Other Organic Laws of the United States 1888-93 (Ben
Berley Poore ed., 2d ed. 1878).