Event of the Week: Signing of Mass Bay Colony Charter

On Oct 8, 1633 the Massachusetts Bay Colony held its first formal meeting in America led by Governor John Winthrop but was attended by only eight freemen. An additional 116 settlers were admitted to the general court as freemen in 1631. The government included a governor and deputy governor, a general court of its shareholders (known as freemen), and a council of assistants. The charter granted the general court the authority to elect officers annually and to make laws for the colony. After a protest over the imposition of taxes by a meeting of the council of assistants, the general court ordered each town to send two representatives, known as deputies, to meet with the court to discuss matters of taxation.

Eventually, the colonial government was established with a governor and deputy governor, a bicameral legislature that included a representative lower house, and a body of freemen who were authorized to vote in elections. The council of assistants sat as the upper house of the legislature, and served as the judicial court of last appeal.

Tomorrow, History of the Mass Bay Colony     Rita Bay

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