Carolina Fundmental Constitutions - 1698

The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina - April 11, 1698

Our late Sovereign Lord King Charles the Second having, out of his Royal Grace and Bounty, granted unto Us the Province of Carolina, with all the Royalties, Proprieties, Jurisdictions, and Privileges of a County Palatine, as large and ample as the County Palatine of Durham, with other great privileges; for the better Settlement of the Government of the said place, and Establishing the Interest of the Lords Proprietors with Equality, and without Confusion; and that the Government may be made most agreeable to the Monarchy under which we live, and of which this Province is a part; and that we may avoid Erecting a numerous Democracy: We, the Lords and Proprietors of the Province aforesaid, with the advice and consent of the Landgraves and Caciques and Commons in this present Parliament assembled, have agreed to this following form of Government, to be perpetually established amongst us, Unto which We do Oblige ourselves, our heirs and Successors, in the most Binding ways that can be devised.

1. The Proprietors' Court shall consist of the Palatine and Seven Proprietors, wherein nothing shall be acted without the presence and consent of the Palatine and three others of the Lords Proprietors. This Court shall have power to call and Dissolve Parliaments, to pardon all Offences, to make Elections of all Offices in the Proprietors' Disposal, to nominate and appoint Port towns; and also, shall have power, by their order to the Treasurer, to dispose of all public Treasure, Excepting money granted by the Parliament and by them Directed to some particular public Use; and also, shall have a negative upon all Acts, Orders, Votes, and Judgments of the Parliament; and shall have all power granted to the Lords Proprietors by their Patent from our Sovereign Lord the King, Except in such things as are limited by these Fundamental Constitutions.

2. During the absence of the Palatine and Proprietors from Carolina, the Governor, Commissioned by the Proprietors, together with their respective Deputies, shall be the Proprietors' Court there, and shall have all the Powers above mentioned, Excepting in pardoning Offences and Constituting Port towns.

3. In the Proprietors' Court, the Palatine and any Three of the Proprietors, or the Governor and any three of the Proprietors' Deputies, shall make a Quorum.

4. No Deputy of any Proprietor shall have any power whilst the Deputator is in any Part of Carolina, Except the Proprietor whose Deputy he is be a Minor.

5. During the Minority of any Proprietor, his Guardian shall have power to Constitute and appoint his Deputy.

6. There shall be a Parliament, consisting of the Proprietors, or their Deputies by themselves, the Landgraves, and Caciques in the upper house, and the Freeholders out of every County, to be chosen by the Freeholders of the said Counties respectively, together with the Citizens and Burgesses, to be Elected by the Cities and Boroughs (which shall be hereafter Created), in the lower House.

7. And since all Power and Dominion is most naturally founded in Property, and that it is reasonable that every man who is Empowered to dispose of the Property and Estate of others should have a Property of his own, whereby he is tiedf in Interest to the Good and Welfare of that place and Goverments whereby he is Entrusted with such Power, it is, therefore, Declared and appointed that no person shall be admitted, or shall continue to Sit or vote, in Parliament as a Landgrave who has not actually taken up, and has in his possession, at least _______ acres, part of the land granted him in his Patent, and ________ Slaves, or in the possession of his Tenants _________ acres of Land, and whose real and personal Estate shall not be worth at least ________ pounds; nor as a Cacique to sit or vote in Parliament who has not actually taken up, and has in his possession, at least ________ acres, part of the land Granted him in his Patent, and _______ Slaves, or in the possession of his Tenants _______ acres of land, and whose real and personal Estate shall not be worth at least ________ pounds.

8. No Person shall be admitted, or continue to sit or vote, in Parliament as a Representative of the Commons of Carolina who is not possessed of at least _______ acres of land, and whose real and personal Estate is not worth ________ pounds.

9. No person shall be capable of giving his voice for the Election of a Member to Serve in Parliament that is not actually possessed of ________ acres of land, and is a Householder, and has a family, and whose real and personal Estate does not amount to _________ pounds.

10 The present number of the Representatives of the Commons shall be ______, who, as the Country shall Increase, shall also proportionably be Increased, if the Commons do so desire, But shall in no future time be Increased beyond one hundred.

11. And pursuant to that Just Maxim of Government above mentioned, and for the preservation of the Balance of Power according to the proportion of the Property, it is Declared and appointed that the Number of the Representatives of the people to be sent from any County or place shall be more or less according to the charges borne and money paid by each respective Division of the country in the last General assessment foregoing such Election.

12. The Landgraves and Caciques who compose the upper houose shall not at any time Exceed half the number of the Commons.

13. The Landgraves and Caciques shall be created by the Lords Proprietors Letters Patents, under their Great Seal, by the Joint Election of the Proprietors, or a Quorum of them; which shall be the Hereditar Nobility of the Province of Carolina, and, by right of their Dignity, be Members of the upper hoouse of Parliament. Each Landgrave shall have _______ acres of land to be taken up in ________ Several Counties, and Each Cacique ________ acres of land to be taken up in _________ Several Counties. And the said honour and dignity shall descend to the eldest son unless by Deed or Will Devised to any other of the sons; or for want of sons, to the Eldest Daughter unless as aforesdaid; and for want of such, to the next Heir unless devised, as aforesaid, by Deed or will (to be attested by three credible Witnesses, whereof one, at least, to be of the nobility) to any other Person.

14. And to the End that such an Order of persons, being made noble and Invested with great powers and priveleges, whereby to Engage them in a more particular affection towards this Settlement and Country of Carolina, may not fall into Contempt or be any ways Injurious to the Constitution of the Government, it is Declared and appointed that whatsoever Landgrave or Cacique, his heirs and Successors, shall not be qualified as in Article 7, and so be Excluded from the aforesaid Privelege of Sitting and voting in the upper House, and shall continue Defective in the said qualification for the Space of forty years Successively, Suh Landgrave or Cacique, his Heirs and Successors, shall from thenceforth be for ever utterly Excluded, and his or their Dignity, honour, Privelege, and Title of Landgrave or Cacique shall Cease and 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 the Biennial Parliament, it shalkl be lawful for the Freeholders of the respective Precinct to meet the first Tuesday in September every two years, in the same town or place they last met in, to choose Parliament men, and there to choose those Members taht are to sit next November following, unless the Proprietors' Court shall, by sufficient notice _______ days before, appoint some other place for their meeting.

16. A New Parliament shall be assembled the first Monday of the Month of November every Second year, and shall meet and Sit in the Town they last sat in, without any Summons, unless by the Proprietors' Court in Carolina they be Summoned to meet at any other place; and if there shall be occasion of a Parliament in these Intervals, it shall be in the power of the Proprietors' Court to assemble them in _______ days' notice and at such time and place as the Court shall think fit.

17. At the opening of every Parliament, the first thing that shall be done shall be the reading of these Fundamental Constitutions, which the Palatine, and the Proprietors, and the Members then present shall subscribe; nor shall any person whatsoever Sit or vote in the Parliament till he has, in that Session, Subscribed these Fundamental Constitutions in a Book kept for that purpose by the Clerk of the Parliament.

18. Any act or order of Parliament that is ratified in open Parliament, during the same Session, by the Governor and three more of the Lords Proprietors' Deputies, shall be in force, and continue till the Palatine himself and three more of the Lords Proprietors themselves Signify their Dissent to any of the said acts or orders, under their hands and Seals; But if ratified under their hands and Seals, then to continue according to the time limited in such act.

19. The whole Province shall be divided into Counties by the Parliament.

20. No Proprietor, Landgrave, or Cacique shall hereafter take up a Seigniory or Barony that shall exceed Four thousand acres, or thereabout, for a Proprietor or Landgrave, and two thousand acres, or thereabout, for a Cacique, in one County.

21. No Cause, whether Civil or Criminal, of any Freeman shall be tried in any Court of Judicature without a Jury of his Peers.

22. No Landgrave or Cacique shall be tried for any criminal cause in any but the Chief Justice's Court, and that by a Jury of his Peers, unless a sufficient number of such cannot be legally had, and then to be supplied by the best and most sufficient Freeholders.

23. If, upon the Decease of the Governor, no person be appointed by the Lords Proprietors to succeed him, then the Proprietors' Deputies shall meet and choose a Governor till a new Commission be sent from the Lords Proprietors, under their hands and Seals.

24. Ballotting shall be continued in all Elections of the Parliament, and in all other Cases where it can be conveniently used.

25. No 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, and that God is publicly and solemnly to be worshipped.

26. As the Country comes to be sufficiently planted and Distributed into fit Divisions, it shall belong to the Parliament to take care for the building of Churches and the public maintenance of Divines, to be Employed in the Exercise of Religion according to the Church of England, which, being the only true and orthodox, and the National Religion of the King's Dominions, is so also of Carolina; and therefore, it alone shall be allowed to receive public Maintenance by Grant of Parliament.

27. Any Seven 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 Terms of admittance and Communion with any Church of profession shall be written in a Book, and thereine be subscribed by all the Members of the said Church or Profession, which shall be kepy by the public Register of the Precinct wherein they reside.

29. The time of every one's subscription and admittance shall be dated in the said Book of religious Records.

30. In the Terms of Communion 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:

1. That there is a God.
2. That God is publicly to be worshipped.
3. That it is lawful, and the Duty of every man, being thereunto called by those that govern, to bear witness to truth; and that every Church of Profession shall, in the terms of Communion, Set down the External way whereby they witness a truth as in the presence of God, whether it be by laying hands on or kissing the Bible, as in the Church of England, or by holding up the hand, or any sensible way.

31. No Person above Seventeen years of age shall have any benefits or protection of the 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, and but one religious Record at once.

32. No person of any Church or Profession shall Disturb or molest any Religious assembly.

33. No person whatsoever shall speak any thing in their Religious assembly Irreverently or seditiously of the Government or Governor or of State matters.

34. Any person subscribing the terms of Communion in the Record of the said Church or Profession before the Precinct Register and any Five Members of the said Church or Profession shall be thereby made a Member of the said Church or Profession.

35. Any perso striking out his own 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 of Profession.

36. No man shall use any reproachful, reviling, or abusive Language against the Religion of any Church or Profession, that being the certain way of disturbing the Peace, and of hindering the conversion of any to the Truth, by Engaging them in quarrels and animosities, to the 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 the Souls of all Men, and Religion ought to alter nothing in any man's civil Estate or Right, it shall be Lawful for Slaves, as well as others, to enter themselves and be of what Church or profession any of them shall think best, and thereof be as fully Members as any Freeman. But yet, no Slave shall hereby be Exempted from that Civil Dominion his Master has over him, but be in all other things in the same State and condition he was in before.

38. Assemblies, upon what pretence soever of Religion, not observing and performing the abovesaid Rules shall nto be Esteemed as Churches, but unlawful Meetings, and be punished as other Riots.

39. No person whatsoever shall disturb, molest, or persecute another for his Speculative opinions in Religion or his way of worship.

40. Every Freeman of Carolina shall have absolute power and authority over his Negro slaves, of what opinion or Religion soever.

41. Any person at his Admittance into any officer, or Place of Trust whatsoever, shall subscribe these Fundamental Constitutions in this Form:

I, A.B., do promise to bear faith and true allegiance to our Sovereign Lord King William; and will be true and faithful to the Palatine and Lords Proprietors of Carolina, their heirs and Successors; and, with my utmost power, will defend them and maintain the Government, according to this Establishment in thes Fundamenta Constitutions.

These Fundament Constitutions, in number Forty-one, anbd every part thereof, shall be, and remain, the Inviolable Form and Rule of Government of Carolina, for ever. Witness, out hands and Seals, this Eleventh day of April, 1698.

Bathe, Palatine
A. Ashley
Bathe, for the Lord Carteret
Wm. Thornburgh for Sir John Colleton
Tho. Amy
Wm. Thornburgh


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