Dominion of New England

Last updated
Dominion of New England in America
Colony of the Kingdom of England
1686 (1686)–1689 (1689)
Flag of New England under Sir Edmund Andros.svg Seal of the Dominion of New England.jpg
Flag Seal
"Nunquam libertas gratior extat"
"Never does liberty appear in a more gracious form"
Location of Dominion of New England Dominion-of-new-england no-border.png
Location of Dominion of New England
Map of the Dominion, as of 1688
Capital Boston, Massachusetts
42°21′N71°3′W / 42.350°N 71.050°W / 42.350; -71.050 Coordinates: 42°21′N71°3′W / 42.350°N 71.050°W / 42.350; -71.050
Government Constitutional monarchy
  1686 (1686) Joseph Dudley
  1686 (1686)–1689 (1689) Edmund Andros
Lieutenant Governor
  1688 (1688)–1689 (1689) Francis Nicholson
Legislature Council of New England
Historical era Colonial history of the United States
  Established1686 (1686)
   Boston revolt April 18, 1689 (1689-04-18)
   New York revolt May 31, 1689 (1689-05-31)
  Disestablished1689 (1689)
Today part ofFlag of the United States.svg  United States

The Dominion of New England in America (1686–89) was an administrative union of English colonies covering New England and the Mid-Atlantic Colonies (except for the Colony of Pennsylvania). Its political structure represented centralized control similar to the model used by the Spanish monarchy through the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The dominion was unacceptable to most colonists because they deeply resented being stripped of their rights and having their colonial charters revoked. Governor Sir Edmund Andros tried to make legal and structural changes, but most of these were undone and the Dominion was overthrown as soon as word was received that King James II had left the throne in England. One notable change was the introduction of the Church of England into Massachusetts, whose Puritan leaders had previously refused to allow it any sort of foothold.

New England Region of the United States

New England is a geographical region composed of six states of the northeastern United States: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the northeast and north, respectively. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east and southeast, and Long Island Sound is to the south. Boston is New England's largest city as well as the capital of Massachusetts. The largest metropolitan area is Greater Boston with nearly a third of the entire region's population, which also includes Worcester, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island.

New Spain viceroyalty of the Spanish Empire (1535-1821)

The Viceroyalty of New Spain was an integral territorial entity of the Spanish Empire, established by Habsburg Spain during the Spanish colonization of the Americas. It covered a huge area that included territories in North America, South America, Asia and Oceania. It originated in 1521 after the fall of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the main event of the Spanish conquest, which did not properly end until much later, as its territory continued to grow to the north. It was officially created on 8 March 1535 as a viceroyalty, the first of four viceroyalties Spain created in the Americas. Its first viceroy was Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, and the capital of the viceroyalty was Mexico City, established on the ancient Mexico-Tenochtitlan.

Edmund Andros British governor of several North American colonies

Sir Edmund Andros was an English colonial administrator in North America. He was the governor of the Dominion of New England during most of its three-year existence. At other times, Andros served as governor of the provinces of New York, East and West Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.


The Dominion encompassed a very large area from the Delaware River in the south to Penobscot Bay in the north, composed of the Province of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay Colony, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut Colony, Province of New York, and Province of New Jersey, plus a small portion of Maine. It was too large for a single governor to manage. Governor Andros was highly unpopular and was seen as a threat by most political factions. News of the Glorious Revolution in England reached Boston in 1689, and the Puritans launched the 1689 Boston revolt against Andros, arresting him and his officers.

Delaware River major river on the East coast of the United States of America

The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States. It drains an area of 14,119 square miles (36,570 km2) in five U.S. states: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania. Rising in two branches in New York state's Catskill Mountains, the river flows 419 miles (674 km) into Delaware Bay where its waters enter the Atlantic Ocean near Cape May in New Jersey and Cape Henlopen in Delaware. Not including Delaware Bay, the river's length including its two branches is 388 miles (624 km). The Delaware River is one of nineteen "Great Waters" recognized by the America's Great Waters Coalition.

Penobscot Bay Bay in Maine, United States

Penobscot Bay is an inlet of the Gulf of Maine and Atlantic Ocean in south central Maine. The bay originates from the mouth of Maine's Penobscot River, downriver from Belfast. Penobscot Bay has many working waterfronts including Rockland, Rockport, and Stonington, and Belfast upriver. Penobscot Bay is between Muscongus Bay and Blue Hill Bay, just west of Acadia National Park.

Province of New Hampshire English, from 1707, British, possession in North America between 1680 and 1776

The Province of New Hampshire was a colony of England and later a British province in North America. The name was first given in 1629 to the territory between the Merrimack and Piscataqua rivers on the eastern coast of North America, and was named after the county of Hampshire in southern England by Captain John Mason, its first named proprietor. In 1776 the province established an independent state and government, the State of New Hampshire, and joined with twelve other colonies to form the United States.

Leisler's Rebellion in New York deposed the dominion's lieutenant governor Francis Nicholson. After these events, the colonies that had been assembled into the dominion reverted to their previous forms of government, although some governed formally without a charter. New charters were eventually issued by the new joint rulers William III of England and Queen Mary II.

Leislers Rebellion

Leisler's Rebellion was an uprising in late-17th century colonial New York in which German American merchant and militia captain Jacob Leisler seized control of the colony's south and ruled it from 1689 to 1691. The uprising took place in the aftermath of Britain's Glorious Revolution and the 1689 Boston revolt in the Dominion of New England, which had included New York. The rebellion reflected colonial resentment against the policies of deposed King James II.

Francis Nicholson British general and colonial official

Lieutenant-General Sir Francis Nicholson was a British Army general and colonial official who served as the Governor of South Carolina from 1721 to 1725. He previously was the Governor of Nova Scotia from 1712 to 1715, the Governor of Virginia from 1698 to 1705, the Governor of Maryland from 1694 to 1698, the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 1690 to 1692, and the Lieutenant Governor of the Dominion of New England from 1688 to 1689.

William III of England 17th-century Stadtholder, Prince of Orange and King of England, Scotland and Ireland

William III, also widely known as William of Orange, was sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from 1672 and King of England, Ireland and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II. He is sometimes informally known in Northern Ireland and Scotland as "King Billy".


A number of English colonies were established in North America and in the West Indies during the first half of the 17th century, with varying attributes. Some originated as commercial ventures, such as the Virginia Colony, while others were founded for religious reasons, such as Plymouth Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony. The governments of the colonies also varied. Virginia became a crown colony, despite its corporate beginning, while Massachusetts and other New England colonies had corporate charters and a great deal of administrative freedom. Other areas were proprietary colonies, such as Maryland and Carolina, owned and operated by one or a few individuals.

Plymouth Colony English colonial venture in North America (1620-1691)

Plymouth Colony was an English colonial venture in North America from 1620 to 1691 at a location that had previously been surveyed and named by Captain John Smith. The settlement served as the capital of the colony and developed as the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. At its height, Plymouth Colony occupied most of the southeastern portion of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Bay Colony English possession in North America between 1628 and 1684

The Massachusetts Bay Colony (1628–1691) was an English settlement on the east coast of North America in the 17th century around the Massachusetts Bay, the northernmost of the several colonies later reorganized as the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The lands of the settlement were located in southern New England in Massachusetts, with initial settlements situated on two natural harbors and surrounding land, about 15.4 miles (24.8 km) apart—the areas around Salem and Boston.

Crown colony, dependent territory or royal colony were dependent territories under the administration of United Kingdom overseas territories that were controlled by the British Government. As such they are examples of dependencies that are under colonial rule. Crown colonies were renamed "British Dependent Territories" in 1981, and since 2002, Crown colonies have been known officially as British Overseas Territories.

Following the English Restoration in 1660, King Charles II sought to streamline the administration of these colonial territories. Charles and his government began a process that brought a number of the colonies under direct crown control. One reason for these actions was the cost of administration of individual colonies, but another significant reason was the regulation of trade. Throughout the 1660s, the English Parliament passed a number of laws to regulate the trade of the colonies, collectively called the Navigation Acts. The American colonists resisted these laws, particularly in the New England colonies which had established significant trading networks with other English colonies and with other European countries and their colonies, especially Spain and the Dutch Republic. The Navigation Acts also outlawed some existing New England practices, in effect turning merchants into smugglers while significantly increasing the cost of doing business.

Charles II of England King of England, Ireland and Scotland

Charles II was king of England, Scotland and Ireland. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 until his death.

Navigation Acts

The Navigation Acts, or more broadly The Acts of Trade and Navigation were a long series of English laws that developed, promoted, and regulated English ships, shipping, trade, and commerce between other countries and with its own colonies. The laws also regulated England's fisheries and restricted foreigners' participation in its colonial trade. While based on earlier precedents, they were first enacted in 1651 under the Commonwealth. The system was reenacted and broadened with the restoration by the Act of 1660, and further developed and tightened by the Navigation Acts of 1663, 1673, and 1696. Upon this basis during the 18th century, the acts were modified by subsequent amendments, changes, and the addition of enforcement mechanisms and staff. Additionally, a major change in the very purpose of the acts in the 1760s — that of generating a colonial revenue, rather than only regulating the Empire's trade — would help lead to revolutionary events, and major changes in implementation of the acts themselves. The Acts generally prohibited the use of foreign ships, required the employment of English and colonial mariners for three quarters of the crews, including East India Company ships. The acts prohibited the colonies from exporting specific, enumerated, products to countries and colonies other than those British, and mandated that imports be sourced only through Britain. Overall, the Acts formed the basis for English British overseas trade for nearly 200 years, but with the development and gradual acceptance of free trade, the acts were eventually repealed in 1849. The laws reflected the European economic theory of mercantilism which sought to keep all the benefits of trade inside their respective Empires, and to minimize the loss of gold and silver, or profits, to foreigners through purchases and trade. The system would develop with the colonies supplying raw materials for British industry, and in exchange for this guaranteed market, the colonies would purchase manufactured goods from or through Britain.

Some of the New England colonies presented specific problems for the king, and combining those colonies into a single administrative entity was seen as a way to resolve those problems. Plymouth Colony had never been formally chartered, and the New Haven Colony had sheltered two of the regicides of Charles I, the king's father. The territory of Maine was disputed by competing grantees and by Massachusetts, and New Hampshire was a very small, recently established crown colony.

New Haven Colony English possession in North America between 1639 and 1665

The New Haven Colony was a small English colony in North America from 1637 to 1664 in what is now the state of Connecticut.

Charles I of England 17th-century monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland

Charles I was the monarch over the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649.

Massachusetts had a long history of virtually theocratic rule, in addition to their widespread resistance to the Navigation Acts, and they exhibited little tolerance for non-Puritans, including supporters of the Church of England (which was most important for the king). Charles II repeatedly sought to change the Massachusetts government, but they resisted all substantive attempts at reform. In 1683, legal proceedings began to vacate the Massachusetts charter; it was formally annulled in June 1684. [1]

The primary motivation in London was not to attain efficiency in administration, but to guarantee that the purpose of the colonies was to make England richer. England's desire for colonies that produced agricultural staples worked well for the southern colonies, which produced tobacco, rice, and indigo, but not so well for New England due to the geology of the region. Lacking a suitable staple, the New Englanders engaged in trade and became successful competitors to English merchants. They were now starting to develop workshops that threatened to deprive England of its lucrative colonial market for manufactured articles, such as textiles, leather goods, and ironware. The plan, therefore, was to establish a uniform all-powerful government over the northern colonies so that the people would be diverted away from manufacturing and foreign trade. [2]


Following the revocation of the Massachusetts charter, Charles II and the Lords of Trade moved forward with plans to establish a unified administration over at least some of the New England colonies. The specific objectives of the dominion included the regulation of trade, reformation of land title practices to conform more to English methods and practices, coordination on matters of defense, and a streamlining of the administration into fewer centers. The Dominion initially comprised the territories of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Plymouth Colony, the Province of New Hampshire, the Province of Maine, and the Narraganset Country (present-day Washington County, Rhode Island).

King James II James II (Kneller).jpg
King James II

Charles II had chosen Colonel Percy Kirke to govern the dominion, but Charles died before the commission was approved. King James II approved Kirke's commission in 1685, but Kirke came under harsh criticism for his role in putting down Monmouth's Rebellion, and his commission was withdrawn. [3] A provisional commission was issued on October 8, 1685 to Massachusetts Bay native Joseph Dudley as President of the Council of New England, due to delays in developing the commission for Kirke's intended successor Sir Edmund Andros. [4]

Dudley's limited commission specified that he would rule with an appointed council and no representative legislature. [5] The councillors named as members of this body included a cross-section of politically moderate men from the old colonial governments. Edward Randolph had served as the crown agent investigating affairs in New England, and he was appointed to the council, as well. [6] Randolph was also commissioned with a long list of other posts, including secretary of the dominion, collector of customs, and deputy postmaster. [7]

Dudley administration

Dudley's charter arrived in Boston in May 14, 1686, and he formally took charge of Massachusetts on May 25. [8] His rule did not begin auspiciously, since a number of Massachusetts magistrates refused to serve who had been named to his council. [9] According to Edward Randolph, the Puritan magistrates "were of opinion that God would never suffer me to land again in this country, and thereupon began in a most arbitrary manner to assert their power higher than at any time before." [10] Elections of colonial military officers were also compromised when many of them refused to serve. [11] Dudley made a number of judicial appointments, generally favoring the political moderates who had supported accommodation of the king's wishes in the battle over the old charter. [12]

Joseph Dudley Joseph Dudley.jpg
Joseph Dudley

Dudley was significantly hampered by the inability to raise revenues in the dominion. His commission did not allow the introduction of new revenue laws, and the Massachusetts government had repealed all such laws in 1683, anticipating the loss of the charter. [13] Furthermore, many refused to pay the few remaining taxes on the grounds that they had been enacted by the old government and were thus invalid. [14] Attempts by Dudley and Randolph were largely unsuccessful at introducing the Church of England due to a lack of funding, but were also hampered by the perceived political danger of imposing on the existing churches for their use. [15]

Dudley and Randolph enforced the Navigation Acts, although they did not adhere entirely to the laws. Some variations were overlooked, understanding that certain provisions of the acts were unfair (some resulted in the payments of multiple duties), and they suggested to the Lords of Trade that the laws be modified to ameliorate these conditions. However, the Massachusetts economy suffered, also negatively affected by external circumstances. [16] A dispute eventually occurred between Dudley and Randolph over matters related to trade. [17]

During Dudley's administration, the Lords of Trade decided on September 9, 1686 to include into the dominion the colonies of Rhode Island and Connecticut, based on a petition from Dudley's council. Andros's commission had been issued in June, and he was given an annex to his commission to incorporate them into the dominion.

Andros administration

Andros had previously been governor of New York; he arrived in Boston on December 20, 1686 and immediately assumed power. [18] He took a hard-line position, claiming that the colonists had left behind all their rights as Englishmen when they left England. The Reverend John Wise rallied his parishioners in 1687 to protest and resist taxes; Andros had him arrested, convicted, and fined. An Andros official explained, "Mr. Wise, you have no more privileges Left you then not to be Sold for Slaves." [19]

His commission called for governance by himself, again with a council. The initial composition of the council included representatives from each of the colonies which the dominion absorbed, but the council's quorums were dominated by representatives from Massachusetts and Plymouth because of the inconvenience of travel and the fact that travel costs were not reimbursed.

Sir Edmund Andros Sir Edmund Andros.jpg
Sir Edmund Andros

Church of England

Shortly after his arrival, Andros asked each of the Puritan churches in Boston if its meetinghouse could be used for services of the Church of England, [18] but he was consistently rebuffed. He then demanded keys to Samuel Willard's Third Church in 1687, [20] and services were held there under the auspices of Robert Ratcliff until 1688, when King's Chapel was built. [21]

Revenue laws

After Andros' arrival, the council began a long process of harmonizing laws throughout the dominion to conform more closely to English laws. This work was so time-consuming that Andros issued a proclamation in March 1687 stating that pre-existing laws would remain in effect until they were revised. Massachusetts had no pre-existing tax laws, so a scheme of taxation was developed that would apply to the entire dominion, developed by a committee of landowners. The first proposal derived its revenues from import duties, principally alcohol. After much debate, a different proposal was abruptly put forward and adopted, in essence reviving previous Massachusetts tax laws. These laws had been unpopular with farmers who felt that the taxes were too high on livestock. [22] In order to bring in immediate revenue, Andros also received approval to increase the import duties on alcohol. [23]

The first attempts to enforce the revenue laws were met by stiff resistance from a number of Massachusetts communities. Several towns refused to choose commissioners to assess the town population and estates, and officials from a number of them were consequently arrested and brought to Boston. Some were fined and released, while others were imprisoned until they promised to perform their duties. The leaders of Ipswich had been most vocal in their opposition to the law; they were tried and convicted of misdemeanor offenses. [24]

The other provinces did not resist the imposition of the new law, even though the rates were higher than they had been under the previous colonial administration, at least in Rhode Island. Plymouth's relatively poor landowners were hard hit because of the high rates on livestock.

Town meeting laws

One consequence of the tax protest was that Andros sought to restrict town meetings, since these were where that protest had begun. He, therefore, introduced a law that limited meetings to a single annual meeting, solely for the purpose of electing officials, and explicitly banning meetings at other times for any reason. This loss of local power was widely hated. Many protests were made that the town meeting and tax laws were violations of the Magna Carta, which guaranteed taxation by representatives of the people. [25]

Land titles and taxes

Andros dealt a major blow to the colonists by challenging their title to the land; unlike England, the great majority of Americans were land-owners. Taylor says that, because they "regarded secure real estate as fundamental to their liberty, status, and prosperity, the colonists felt horrified by the sweeping and expensive challenge to their land titles." [26] Andros had been instructed to bring colonial land title practices more in line with those in England, and to introduce quit-rents as a means of raising colonial revenues. [27] Titles issued in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine under the colonial administration often suffered from defects of form (for example, lacking an imprint of the colonial seal), and most of them did not include a quit-rent payment. Land grants in colonial Connecticut and Rhode Island had been made before either colony had a charter, and there were conflicting claims in a number of areas. [28]

The manner was doubly divisive in which Andros approached the issue, since it threatened any landowner whose title was in any way dubious. Some landowners went through the confirmation process, but many refused, since they did not want to face the possibility of losing their land, and they viewed the process as a thinly veiled land grab. The Puritans of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay were among the latter, some of whom had extensive landholdings. [29] All of the existing land titles in Massachusetts had been granted under the now-vacated colonial charter; in essence, Andros declared them to be void, and required landowners to recertify their ownership, paying fees to the dominion and becoming subject to the charge of a quit-rent.

Andros attempted to compel the certification of ownership by issuing writs of intrusion, but large landowners who owned many parcels contested these individually, rather than recertifying all of their lands. The number was small of new titles issued during the Andros regime; 200 applications were made, but only about 20 of those were approved. [30]

Connecticut charter

Andros' commission included Connecticut, and he asked Connecticut Governor Robert Treat to surrender the colonial charter not long after his arrival in Boston. Connecticut officials formally acknowledged Andros' authority, unlike Rhode Island, whose officials acceded to the dominion but in fact did little to assist him. Connecticut continued to run their government according to the charter, holding quarterly meetings of the legislature and electing colony-wide officials, while Treat and Andros negotiated over the surrender of the charter. In October 1687, Andros finally decided to travel to Connecticut to personally see to the matter. He arrived in Hartford on October 31, accompanied by an honor guard, and met that evening with the colonial leadership. According to legend, the charter was laid out on the table for all to see during this meeting. The lights in the room unexpectedly went out and, when they were relit, the charter had disappeared. It was said to have been hidden in a nearby oak tree (referred to afterward as the Charter Oak) so that a search of nearby buildings could not locate the document. [31]

Francis Nicholson Francis nicholson Dahl.jpg
Francis Nicholson

Whatever the truth of the legend, Connecticut records show that its government formally surrendered its seals and ceased operation that day. Andros then traveled throughout the colony, making judicial and other appointments, before returning to Boston. [32] On December 29, 1687, the dominion council formally extended its laws over Connecticut, completing the assimilation of the New England colonies. [33]

Inclusion of New York and the Jerseys

On May 7, 1688, the provinces of New York, East Jersey, and West Jersey were added to the Dominion. They were remote from Boston where Andros had his seat, so New York and the Jerseys were run by Lieutenant Governor Francis Nicholson from New York City. Nicholson was an army captain and protégé of colonial secretary William Blathwayt who came to Boston in early 1687 as part of Andros' honor guard and had been promoted to his council. [34] During the summer of 1688, Andros traveled first to New York and then to the Jerseys to establish his commission. Dominion governance of the Jerseys was complicated by the fact that the proprietors' charters had been revoked, yet they had retained their property and petitioned Andros for what were traditional manorial rights. [35] The dominion period in the Jerseys was relatively uneventful because of their distance from the power centers and the unexpected end of the Dominion in 1689. [36]

Indian diplomacy

In 1687, governor of New France Jacques-René de Brisay de Denonville, Marquis de Denonville launched an attack against Seneca villages in what is now western New York. His objective was to disrupt trade between the English at Albany and the Iroquois confederation, to which the Seneca belonged, and to break the Covenant Chain, a peace that Andros had negotiated in 1677 while he was governor of New York. [37] New York Governor Thomas Dongan appealed for help, and King James ordered Andros to render assistance. James also entered into negotiations with Louis XIV of France, which resulted in an easing of tensions on the northwestern frontier. [38]

On New England's northeastern frontier, however, the Abenaki harbored grievances against English settlers, and they began an offensive in early 1688. Andros made an expedition into Maine early in the year, in which he raided a number of Indian settlements. He also raided the trading outpost and home of Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin on Penobscot Bay. His careful preservation of the Catholic Castin's chapel was a source of later accusations of "popery" against Andros. [39]

Andros took over the administration of New York in August 1688, and he met with the Iroquois at Albany to renew the covenant. In this meeting, he annoyed the Iroquois by referring to them as "children" (that is, subservient to the English) rather than "brethren" (that is, equals). [40] He returned to Boston amid further attacks on the New England frontier by Abenaki parties, who admitted that they were doing so in part because of French encouragement. The situation in Maine had also deteriorated again, with English colonists raiding Indian villages and shipping the captives to Boston. Andros castigated the Mainers for this unwarranted act and ordered the Indians released and returned to Maine, earning the hatred of the Maine settlers. He then returned to Maine with a significant force, and began the construction of additional fortifications to protect the settlers. [41] Andros spent the winter in Maine, and returned to Boston in March upon hearing rumors of revolution in England and discontent in Boston.

Glorious Revolution and dissolution

The religious leaders of Massachusetts, led by Cotton and Increase Mather, were opposed to the rule of Andros, and organized dissent targeted to influence the court in London. After King James published the Declaration of Indulgence in May 1687, Increase Mather sent a letter to the king thanking him for the declaration, and then he suggested to his peers that they also express gratitude to the king as a means to gain favor and influence. [42] Ten pastors agreed to do so, and they decided to send Mather to England to press their case against Andros. [43] Edward Randolph attempted to stop him; Mather was arrested, tried, and exonerated on one charge, but Randolph made a second arrest warrant with new charges. Mather was clandestinely spirited aboard a ship bound for England in April 1688. [44] He and other Massachusetts agents were well received by James, who promised in October 1688 that the colony's concerns would be addressed. [45] However, the events of the Glorious Revolution took over, and by December James had been deposed by William III and Mary II. [46]

Engraving depicting Andros under arrest AndrosaPrisonerInBoston.png
Engraving depicting Andros under arrest

The Massachusetts agents then petitioned the new monarchs and the Lords of Trade for restoration of the old Massachusetts charter. Mather furthermore convinced the Lords of Trade to delay notifying Andros of the revolution. [47] He had already dispatched a letter to previous colonial governor Simon Bradstreet containing news that a report (prepared before the revolution) stated that the charter had been illegally annulled, and that the magistrates should "prepare the minds of the people for a change." [48] News of the revolution apparently reached some individuals as early as late March, [49] and Bradstreet is one of several possible organizers of the mob that formed in Boston in April 18, 1689. He and other pre-Dominion magistrates and some members of Andros' council addressed an open letter to Andros on that day calling for his surrender in order to quiet the mob. [50] Andros, Randolph, Dudley, and other dominion supporters were arrested and imprisoned in Boston. [51]

In effect, the dominion then collapsed, as local authorities in each colony seized dominion representatives and reasserted their earlier power. In Plymouth, dominion councilor Nathaniel Clark was arrested on April 22, and previous governor Thomas Hinckley was reinstated. Rhode Island authorities organized a resumption of its charter with elections on May 1, but previous governor Walter Clarke refused to serve, and the colony continued without one. In Connecticut, the earlier government was also rapidly readopted. [52] New Hampshire was temporarily left without formal government, and came under de facto rule by Massachusetts Governor Simon Bradstreet. [53]

News of the Boston revolt reached New York by April 26, but Lieutenant Governor Nicholson did not take any immediate action. [54] Andros managed during his captivity to have a message sent to Nicholson. Nicholson received the request for assistance in mid-May, but he was unable to take any effective action due to rising tensions in New York, combined with the fact that most of Nicholson's troops had been sent to Maine. [55] At the end of May, Nicholson was overthrown by local colonists supported by the militia in Leisler's Rebellion, and he fled to England. [56] Leisler governed New York until 1691, when King William commissioned Colonel Henry Sloughter as its governor. [57] Sloughter had Leisler tried on charges of high treason; he was convicted [58] in a trial presided over by Joseph Dudley and then executed. [59]

Massachusetts and Plymouth

The dissolution of the dominion presented legal problems for both Massachusetts and Plymouth. Plymouth never had a royal charter, and the charter of Massachusetts had been revoked. As a result, the restored governments lacked legal foundations for their existence, an issue that the political opponents of the leadership made it a point to raise. This was particularly problematic in Massachusetts, whose long frontier with New France saw its defenders recalled in the aftermath of the revolt, and was exposed to French and Indian raids after the outbreak of King William's War in 1689. The cost of colonial defense resulted in a heavy tax burden, and the war also made it difficult to rebuild the colony's trade. [60]

Agents for both colonies worked in England to rectify the charter issues, with Increase Mather petitioning the Lords of Trade for a restoration of the old Massachusetts charter. King William was informed that this would result in a return of the Puritan government, and he wanted to prevent that from happening, so the Lords of Trade decided to solve the issue by combining the two colonies. The resulting Province of Massachusetts Bay combined the territories of Massachusetts and Plymouth along with Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and the Elizabeth Islands that had been part of Dukes County in the Province of New York.


This is a list of the chief administrators of the Dominion of New England in America from 1684 to 1689:

NameTitleDate of commissionDate office assumedDate term ended
Percy Kirke Governor in Chief (designate) of the Dominion of New England1684Appointment withdrawn in 1685Not applicable
Joseph Dudley President of the Council of New EnglandOctober 8, 1685May 25, 1686December 20, 1686
Sir Edmund Andros Governor in Chief of the Dominion of New EnglandJune 3, 1686December 20, 1686April 18, 1689

See also

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations English, from 1707, British, possession in North America between 1636 and 1776

The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was one of the original Thirteen Colonies established on the east coast of North America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It was an English colony from 1636 until the American Revolution in 1776, when it became the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

Province of Massachusetts Bay English/British possession in America (1691–1776)

The Province of Massachusetts Bay was a crown colony in British America and one of the thirteen original states of the United States from 1776 onward. It was chartered on October 7, 1691 by William III and Mary II, the joint monarchs of the kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The charter took effect on May 14, 1692 and included the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Plymouth Colony, the Province of Maine, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the direct successor. Maine has been a separate state since 1820, and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are now Canadian provinces, having been part of the colony only until 1697.

Joseph Dudley Royal governor of Massachusetts

Joseph Dudley was an English colonial administrator, a native of Roxbury, Massachusetts, and the son of one of its founders. He had a leading role in the administration of the Dominion of New England (1686–1689), which was overthrown in the 1689 Boston revolt. He served briefly on the council of the Province of New York where he oversaw the trial which convicted Jacob Leisler, the ringleader of Leisler's Rebellion. He then spent eight years in England in the 1690s as Lieutenant-Governor of the Isle of Wight, including one year as a Member of Parliament for Newtown. In 1702, he returned to New England after being appointed governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay and Province of New Hampshire, posts that he held until 1715.

Simon Bradstreet Last governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, husband of poet Anne Bradstreet

Simon Bradstreet was a colonial magistrate, businessman, diplomat, and the last governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Arriving in Massachusetts on the Winthrop Fleet in 1630, Bradstreet was almost constantly involved in the politics of the colony but became its governor only in 1679. He served on diplomatic missions and as agent to the crown in London, and also served as a commissioner to the New England Confederation. He was politically comparatively moderate, arguing minority positions in favor of freedom of speech and for accommodation of the demands of King Charles II following his restoration to the throne.

Thomas Danforth was a politician, magistrate, and landowner in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A conservative Puritan, he served for many years as one of the colony's councilors and magistrates, generally leading opposition to attempts by the English kings to assert control over the colony. He accumulated land in the central part of the colony that eventually became a portion of Framingham, Massachusetts. His government roles included administration of territory in present-day Maine that was purchased by the colony.

William Stoughton (judge) Salem witch trial magistrate, Massachusetts colonial official

William Stoughton was a colonial magistrate and administrator in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. He was in charge of what have come to be known as the Salem Witch Trials, first as the Chief Justice of the Special Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692, and then as the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature in 1693. In these trials he controversially accepted spectral evidence. Unlike some of the other magistrates, he never admitted to the possibility that his acceptance of such evidence was in error.

A charter is a document that gave colonies the legal rights to exist. A charter is a document, bestowing certain rights on a town, city, university or an institution. Colonial Charters were empowered when the king gave a grant of exclusive powers for the governance of land to proprietors or a settlement company. The charters defined the relationship of the colony to the mother country, free from involvement from the Crown. For the trading companies, charters vested the powers of government in the company in England. The officers would determine the administration, laws, and ordinances for the colony, but only as conforming to the laws of England. Proprietary charters gave governing authority to the proprietor, who determined the form of government, chose the officers, and made laws, subject to the advice and consent of the freemen. All colonial charters guaranteed to the colonists the vague rights and privileges of Englishmen, which would later cause trouble during the revolutionary era. In the second half of the seventeenth century, the Crown looked upon charters as obstacles to colonial control, substituting the royal province for corporations and proprietary governments.

Thomas Hinckley was the last governor of the Plymouth Colony. Born in England, he came to North America as a teenager, and was a leading settler of what is now Barnstable, Massachusetts. He served in a variety of political and military offices before becoming governor of the colony in 1680, a post he held until the colony was folded into the Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1692. A monument, created in 1829 at the Lothrop Hill cemetery in Barnstable, attests to his "piety, usefulness and agency in the public transactions of his time."

John Richards was a colonial military officer, businessman, politician, and magistrate, best known for his participation in the Salem witch trials in 1692.

Walter Clarke (governor) Rhode Island colonial governor

Walter Clarke (1640–1714) was an early governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and the first native-born governor of the colony. The son of colonial President Jeremy Clarke, he was a Quaker like his father. His mother was Frances (Latham) Clarke, who is often called "the Mother of Governors." While in his late 20s, he was elected as a deputy from Newport, and in 1673 was elected to his first of three consecutive terms as assistant. During King Philip's War, he was elected to his first term as governor of the colony. He served for one year in this role, dealing with the devastation of the war, and with the predatory demands of neighboring colonies on Rhode Island territory during the aftermath of the war.

Henry Bull (1610–1694) was an early colonial Governor of Rhode Island, serving for two separate terms, one before and one after the tenure of Edmund Andros under the Dominion of New England. Sailing from England as a young man, Bull first settled in Roxbury in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but soon became a follower of the dissident ministers John Wheelwright and Anne Hutchinson, and was excommunicated from the Roxbury church. With many other followers of Hutchinson, he signed the Portsmouth Compact, and settled on Aquidneck Island in the Narragansett Bay. Within a year of arriving there, he and others followed William Coddington to the south end of the island where they established the town of Newport.

1689 Boston revolt April 1689 revolt in Boston

The 1689 Boston revolt was a popular uprising on April 18, 1689 against the rule of Sir Edmund Andros, the governor of the Dominion of New England. A well-organized "mob" of provincial militia and citizens formed in the town of Boston, the capital of the dominion, and arrested dominion officials. Members of the Church of England were also taken into custody if they were believed to sympathize with the administration of the dominion. Neither faction sustained casualties during the revolt. Leaders of the former Massachusetts Bay Colony then reclaimed control of the government. In other colonies, members of governments displaced by the dominion were returned to power.

Edward Randolph was an English colonial administrator, best known for his role in effecting significant changes in the structure of England's North American colonies in the later years of the 17th century. In 1676 he was the bear of a royal letter to the governor and council of Massachusetts to resolve claims of Robert Mason and Ferdinando Gorges in the provinces of New Hampshire and Maine. Called "evil genius of New England and her angel of death", his reports to the Lords of Trade convinced King Charles II to revoke the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1684, and he was a leading figure in the unpopular Dominion of New England. Randolph served as secretary of the dominion. While in that position, he argued for tighter Crown control over proprietary and charter colonies whose administrations lacked such oversight, and he was often given the difficult task of enforcing England's Navigation Acts in whichever colony he was posted to, often against significant local popular and political resistance. His actions were a significant contribution to the development of Great Britain's colonial administrative infrastructure, but he remained unpopular in the dominion. During the 1689 Boston revolt, which deposed Andros and overthrew the dominion, he was jailed. In 1691 the subject was appointed surveyor general of the customs in the American mainland, as well as, some of the island colonies and a year later received an additional appointment as deputy auditor of Maryland. The subject having visited all the colonies north of the Bahamas made a presentation to the government with a view to have the charters revoked in the American colonies by the parliament of 1700. Facing a postponed bill, the lawyer filed his evidence in a chancery court.

John Albro was an early settler of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, a magistrate, and a long-time military officer in the Portsmouth Militia in the colony. He immigrated to New England in 1634 as a minor under the care of early Portsmouth settler William Freeborn. He was very active in civil as well as military affairs, and was an Assistant to the Governor for nine one-year terms between 1671 and 1686. During King Philip's War when the colony needed the advice and counsel of "the most judicious inhabitants" in the colony, his was one of 16 in a 1676 list of names, which included Governor Benedict Arnold and former President Gregory Dexter.

Isaac Addington was a longtime functionary of various colonial governments of Massachusetts, including a brief period as the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature, the highest court in the Province of Massachusetts Bay.


  1. Hall, Michael G. (1979). "Origins in Massachusetts of the Constitutional Doctrine of Advice and Consent". Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Third Series. Massachusetts Historical Society. 91: 5. JSTOR   25080845. Randolph's efforts at reporting unfavorably on the autonomous and "democratically government of Massachusetts brought about in 1684 total annulment of the first charter and in position of a new, arbitrary, prerogative government.
  2. Curtis P. Nettels, The Roots of American Civilization: A History of American Colonial Life (1938) p. 297.
  3. Barnes, p. 45
  4. Barnes, pp. 47–48
  5. Barnes, p. 48
  6. Barnes, p. 49
  7. Barnes, p. 50
  8. Barnes, pp. 50,54
  9. Barnes, p. 51
  10. Barnes, p. 53
  11. Barnes, p. 55
  12. Barnes, p. 56
  13. Barnes, p. 58
  14. Barnes, p. 59
  15. Barnes, p. 61
  16. Barnes, pp. 62–63
  17. Barnes, p. 68
  18. 1 2 Lustig, p. 141
  19. Alan Taylor, American Colonies: The Settling of North America (2001) p277
  20. Lustig, p. 164
  21. Lustig, p. 165
  22. Barnes, p. 84
  23. Barnes, p. 85
  24. Lovejoy, p. 184
  25. Barnes, p. 97
  26. Taylor, p 277
  27. Barnes, p. 176
  28. Barnes, p. 182, 187
  29. Barnes, pp. 189–193
  30. Barnes, pp. 199–201
  31. Federal Writers Project (1940). Connecticut: A Guide to Its Roads, Lore and People. p. 170.
  32. Palfrey, pp. 545–546
  33. Palfrey, p. 548
  34. Dunn, p. 64
  35. Lovejoy, p. 211
  36. Lovejoy, pp. 212–213
  37. Lustig, p. 171
  38. Lustig, p. 173
  39. Lustig, p. 174
  40. Lustig, p. 176
  41. Lustig, pp. 177–179
  42. Hall (1988), pp. 207–210
  43. Hall (1988), p. 210
  44. Hall (1988), pp. 210–211
  45. Hall (1988), p. 217
  46. Barnes, p. 234
  47. Barnes, pp. 234–235
  48. Barnes, p. 238
  49. Steele, p. 77
  50. Steele, p. 78
  51. Lovejoy, p. 241
  52. Palfrey, p. 596
  53. Tuttle, pp. 1–12
  54. Lovejoy, p. 252
  55. Lustig, p. 199
  56. Lovejoy, pp. 255–256
  57. Lovejoy, pp. 326–338
  58. Lovejoy, pp. 355–357
  59. Kimball, pp. 61–63
  60. Barnes, p. 257