Charter of the Council of New England
“JAMES, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. to all whom these Presents shall come, Greeting, Whereas, upon the humble Petition of divers of our well disposed Subjects, that intended to make several Plantations in the Parts of America, between the Degrees of thirty-ffoure and ffourty-five; We according to our princely Inclination, favouring much their worthy Disposition, in Hope thereby to advance the in Largement of Christian Religion, to the Glory of God Almighty, as also by that Meanes to streatch out the Bounds of our Dominions, and to replenish those Deserts with People governed by Lawes and Magistrates, for the peaceable Commerce of all, that in time to come shall have occasion to traffique into those Territoryes, … And lastly, because the principall Effect which we can desire or expect of this Action, is the Conversion and Reduction of the People in those Parts unto the true Worship of God and Christian Religion, in which Respect, Wee would be loath that any Person should be permitted to pass that Wee suspected to affect the Superstition of the Ch[urch] of Rome, Wee do hereby declare that it is our Will and Pleasure that none be permitted to pass, in any Voyage from time to time to be made into the said Country, but such as shall first have taken the Oathe of Supremacy; for which Purpose, Wee do by these Presents give full Power and Authority to the President of the said Councill, to tender and exhibit the said Oath to all such Persons as shall at any time be sent and imployed in the said Voyage.”
Note three things:
(1) the purpose of the grant is for the conversion of “the people in those parts” and the furtherance of the Gospel;
(2) not only Roman Catholics, who were treasonous, but also anyone who refused to accept the King’s supremacy over the English Church were excluded (and thus, presumably, the Separatists, who denied not only the Royal Supremacy but also the legitimacy of the English Church as a whole);
(3) the territory overlapped in its southern and western region with the northern region of the (first) Virginia Company. The land on which the Pilgrims landed thus was covered by a royal charter at the time of their arrival, but they had been at sea for so long that they were unaware of that grant.