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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina
Carolina. Lords Proprietors.
April 11, 1698
Volume 02, Pages 852-858

[B. P. R. O. Colonial Entry Book. No. 22.]

Our late Soveraigne Lord King Charles ye Second having out of his Royall grace & Bounty granted unto Us ye Province of Carolina, with all ye Royaltys Proprietys Jurisdictions and Priviledges of a County Palatine as large & Ample as ye County Palatine of Durham with other great Privedges for ye better Settlement of ye Governmt of ye said place and Establishing ye Interest of ye Lords Proprietors with Equality & without Confusion and that ye Government may be made most Agreable to ye Monarchy under which we live, & of which this Province is a part, and that wee may avoid Erecting a numerous Democracy, Wee the Lords Proptors of ye Province Aforesaid with ye Advice & consent of ye Landgraves & Cassiques & Comons in this present Parliamt assembled have Agreed to this following forme of Governmt to be perpetually Established Amongst Us into which wee doe oblige ourselves, our heirs & Successors in ye most Binding Ways that can be devized.

1. The Proprietors Court shall consist of ye Palatine, and Seaven Proptors wherein nothing shall be acted without ye presence and consent of ye Palatine, and three others of ye Lords Proptors This Court shall have power to call & Dissolve Parliamts to pardon all offences to make Elections of all offices in the Proptors Disposall, to nominate & appoint Port townes and also shall have power by their Order to ye Treasurer to dispose of all publique Treasure Excepting money granted by ye Parliamt and by them Directed to some particuler publique Use, and also shall have a negative upon all Acts, Orders, Votes & Judgemts of ye Parliamt and shall have all power granted to ye Lords Proprietors by their

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Patent by our Sovereigne Lord ye King, Except in such thing as are limited by these Fundamentall Constitutions.

2. During ye Absence of ye Palatine & Proptors from Carolina ye Governor Comissionated by ye Proprietors together with their respective Deputys shall be the Proptors Court there and shall have all ye Powers above mentioned Excepting in pardoning offences & Constituting Port townes.

3. In ye Proptors Court the Palatine and any three of ye Proptors or ye Governor and any three of ye Proptors Deputys shall make a Quorum.

4. Noe Deputy of any Proptor shall have any Power whilst the Deputator is in any part of Carolina Except ye Proprietor (whose Deputy he is) be a Minor.

5. During ye Minority of any Proptor his Guardian shall have power to Constitute and Apoint his Deputy.

6. There shall be a Parliamt consisting of the Proprietors or their Deputys by themselves the Landgraves & Cassiques in ye Upper House, And the Freeholders out of every County to be chosen by ye Freeholders of ye said Countys respectively together with ye Citizens and Burgesses to be Elected by ye Cittys & Burroughs (which shall be hereafter Created) in ye lower House.

7. And since all Power & Dominion is most naturally founded in Property and that it is reasonable that every man who is Impowered to dispose of ye Property & Estate of others should have a Property of his owne whereby he is tyed in Interest to the Good & welfare of that place & Government whereby he is Intrusted with such Power it is therefore Declared & apointed that no person shall be admitted or shall continue to sitt or vote in Parliament as a Landgrave who has not actually taken up and has in his possession at least        acres part of ye land granted him in his Patent and        slaves or in ye possession of his Tenants        acres of Land, and whose reall & personall estate shall not be worth at least        pounds, nor as a Cassique to sitt or vote in parliament who has not actually taken up, and has in his possession at least        acres part of ye land Granted him in his Patent and        Slaves or in ye possession of his Tenants        acres of land and whose reall & personall Estate shall not be worth at least        pounds.

8. Noe person shall be admitted or continue to sitt or vote in Parliamt as a Representative of ye Com̄ons of Carolina who is not possest of at least        acres of land & whose reall & personall Estate is not worth        pounds.

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9. Noe person shall be capable of giving his voyce for the Election of a Member to serve in Parliament that is not actually possest of        acres of land and is a Householder, & has a family and whose reall & personall Estate does not amount to        pounds.

10. The present number of the Representatives of ye Com̄ons shall be        who as the Countrey shall encrease, shall alsoe proportionably be Encreased if the Com̄ons doe so desire, But shall in no future time be Encreased beyond one hundred.

11. And pursuant to that just maxime of Government above mentioned and for ye preservation of ye Ballance of Power according to ye proportion of ye Property it is Declared & apointed that ye number of ye Representatives of ye people to be sent from any County or place shall be more or less according to ye Charges borne & money paid by each respective Division of ye Country in ye last Generall, assesment foregoing such Election.

12. The Landgraves & Cassiques who compose ye upper house shall not at any time exceed half ye number of ye Comons.

13. The Landgraves & Cassiques shall be created by ye Lord Proptors Letters Patents under their great Seale by ye Joint Election of the Proprietors or a Quoram of them which shall be the Hereditary nobility of ye Province of Carolina, and by right of their Dignity be Members of the Upper House of Parliament & Each Landgrave shall have        acres of land to be taken up in        severall Countys and each Cassique        acres of land to be taken up in        severall Countys. And the said honour & dignity shall descend to ye eldest son unless by Deed or will divised to any other of ye sons or for want of sons to ye eldest Daughter unless as aforesaid, and for want of such to ye next Heir unless devisd as aforesaid by Deed or will (to be attested by three credible witnesses whereof one at least to be of ye nobility) to any other Person.

14. And to the end that such an order of Persons, being made noble & Invested with great powers and priviledges whereby to engage them in a more particular affection towards this Settlement & Country of Carolina may not fall into contempt or be any ways Injurious to ye Constitution of the Government, it is Declared & apointed that whatsoever Landgrave or Cassique his heirs & Successors shall not be qualifyed as in Article (7th) and so be Excluded from the aforesd Priviledge of sitting & voting in ye Upper House, & shall continue Defective in ye said Qualification for ye space of 40 years, successively Such Landgrave or Cassique his Heirs & successors shall from thenceforth be for ever utterly Excluded & his or their dignity honour, Priviledge, & Title of Landgrave

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or Cassique shall Cease & be utterly lost and the Letters Patents of Creation of such Dignity shall be vacated.

15. And in order to the due Election of Members for ye Biennial Parliamt it shall be lawfull for ye Freeholders of ye Respective Precinct to meet ye first Tuesday in September every two years in ye same towne or place they last met in to choose Parliamt men & there to choose those members that are to sitt next November following unless the Proptors Court shall by sufficient notice        days before apoint some other place for their meeting.

16. A new Parliamt shall be Assembled ye first Monday of ye month of November every Second year, & shall meet & sitt in ye towne they last satt in without any sum̄ons unless by the Proptors Court in Carolina they be sum̄oned to meet at any other place & if there shall be occasion of a Parliamt in these Intervalls, it shall be in ye power of ye Proptors Court to Assemble them in        days notice & at such time & place as ye Court shall think fitt.

17. At the opening of every Parliament the first thing that shall be done shall be the reading of these Fundamentall Constitutions which ye Palatine & ye Proptors & Members then present shall subscribe, nor shall any person whatsoever sitt or vote in the Parliamt till he has in that session subscribed these Fundamentall Constitutions in a Book kept for that purpose by ye Clerk of ye Parliamt.

18. Any Act or Order of Parliamt that is rattifyed in open Parliamt during ye same Session by ye Governor, & three more of ye Lords Proptors Deputys shall be in force, & continue till ye Palatine himself and three more of ye Lords Proptors themselves Signify their Dissent to any of the sd Acts or Order under their hands & Seales, But if ratifyed under their hands & Seales then to continue according to ye time limited in Such Act.

19. The whole Province shall be divided into Countys by ye Parliamt.

20.Noe Proprietor, Landgrave or Cassique shall hereafter take up a Seignory or Barony that shall exceed four Thousand acres or thereabout for a Proptor or Landgrave and two Thousand acres or thereabout for a Cassique in one County.

21. Noe Cause whether Civil or Criminall of any Freeman shall be tried in any Court of Judicature without a Jury of his Peers.

22. Noe Landgrave or Cassique shall be tried for any Criminall cause in any but the Chief Justices Court, And that by a Jury of his Peers unless a sufficient number of such cannot be legally had, and then to be supplyed by the best & most sufficient Freeholders.

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23. If upon the decease of ye Governor no person be apointed by ye Lords Proptors to succeed him, then ye Proptors Deputys shall meet & choose a Governor till a new Comission be sent from the Lords Proptors under their hands & Seales.

24. Balloting shall be continued in all Elections of ye Parliamt and in all other Cases where it can conveniently be Used.

25. Noe man shall be permitted to be a Freeman of Carolina or to have any Estate or habitation within it that does not acknowledge a God, & that God is publiquely & solemnly to be worshipped

26. As the Country comes to be sufficiently planted & Distributed into fitt Divisions, it shall belong to ye Parliamt to take care for ye Building of Churches and the publique maintenance of Divines to be employed in ye Exercise of Religion according to ye Church of England, which being the onely true & Orthodox & the Nationall Religion of ye Kings Dominions is so also of Carolina and therefore it alone shall be allowed to receive publique maintenance by Grant of Parliamt.

27. Any seaven or more persons agreeing in any Religion shall constitute a Church or Profession to which they shall give some name to distinguish it from others.

28.The Termes of admittance & Comunion with any Church or profession shall be written in a Book and therein be subscribed by all ye Members of ye said Church or Profession which shall be kept by ye publique Register of ye Precinct wherein they reside.

29. The time of every ones Subscription and Admittance shall be dated in the said Booke of religious Records.

30. In the Termes of Comunion of every Church or Profession, these following shall be Three without which no Agreement or Assembly of men upon pretence of Religion shall be accounted a Church or Profession within these Rules.

1st That there is a God.

2nd That God is publiquely to be worshipt.

3d That it is lawfull & the Duty of every man being thereunto called by those that governe to bear witness to truth & that every Church or Profession shall in their termes of Comunion Sett dawn ye Externall way whereby they witness a truth as in ye Presence of God whither it be by layeing hands on or Kissing ye Bible as in ye Church of England or by holding up ye hand or any sensible way.

31. Noe person above seaventeen years of age shall have any benefit or protection of ye Law or be Capable of any Place of profit or honour who is not a Member of some Church or Profession having his name recorded in some one & but one religious Record at once.

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32. Noe person of any Church or Profession shall Disturbe or molest any Religious Assembly.

33. Noe person whatsoever shall speak anything in their Religious Assembly Irreverently or seditiously of ye Government or Governor or of State Matters.

34. Any Person subscribing ye termes of Comunion in ye Record of ye said Church or Profession before ye Precinct Register and any Five Members of ye said Church or Profession shall be thereby made a Member of ye said Church or Profession.

35. Any person stricking out his owne name out of any Religious Records or his name being struck out by any officer thereunto Authorized by each Church or Profession respectively shall cease to be a Member of that Church or Profession.

36. Noe man shall use any reproachfull reviling or abusive Language against ye Religion of any Church or Profession, that being ye certain way of disturbing ye Peace & of hindring the conversion of any to ye truth of Ingaging them in quarrells & animositys to ye hatred of the Professors and that Profession which otherwise they may be brought to assent to.

37. Since Charity obliges us to wish well to ye Soules of all Men and Religion ought to alter nothing in any mans Civil Estate or Right it shall be Lawfull for Slaves as well as others to enter themselves and be of what Church or Profession any of them shall think best & thereof be as fully Members as any Freeman, But yett no slave shall hereby be Exempted from that Civill Dominion his master has over him but be in all other things in ye same state & Condition he was in before.

38. Assemblys upon what pretence so ever of Religion not observing & performing ye abovesaid Rules shall not be Esteemed as Churches but unlawfull meetings, and be punished as other Riots.

39. Noe person whatsoever shall disturbe, molest or persecute another for his Speculative opinions in Religion or his way of worship.

40. Every Freeman of Carolina shall have Absolute power & authority over his Negro slaves of what Opinion or Religion soever.

41. Any person at his Admittance into any Office or place of Trust whatsoever shall subscribe these Fundamentall Constitutions in this forme

I: A. B. doe promise to bear faith and true Allegiance to our Soveraigne Lord King William and will be true and faithfull to ye Palatine & Lords Proptors of Carolina their heirs & successors and with my utmost power will defend them and maintain ye Governmt according to this Establishment in these Fundamentall Constitutions.

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These Fundamentall Constitutions in number Forty one & every part thereof shall be and remain ye Inviolable Forme and Rule of Government of Carolina for ever witness our hands & Seales this eleventh day of Aprill 1698.

BATHE Palatine