Excerpt from The American Colonial Charter: A Study of English Administration in Relation Thereto, Chiefly After 1688
The first and most natural. Form Of colonial enterprise was due to individual initiative, the desire of some needy noble or daring younger son to carve out for himself an estate On the virgin continent, where land was to be had for the asking. The first form Of the colonizing charter, therefore, was a fief, but a fief Of a special type, that known as a county palatine, suitable to outlying portions of the kingdom. Where the exigencies of defense and protection needed a government almost sovereign, trammeled but little by the central power. Such were the counties palatine Of Chester and Durham, and under a charter granting a fief Of this type Cabot started forth On his discoveries. In 1598 the palatinate charter was revived for Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who had authority to set tle and govern the lands he should discover, and Raleigh's lost colony of Roanoke was a proprietorship in embryo.
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