Towne of East-Hampton

June 19th, 1682 Grievance and Petition for a
General and free Assembly of Representatives.

To the Honorable the Governour, under his Royal Highness the Duke of York, The Humble address of the Inhabitants of the Towne of East-Hampton, upon Long Island, Sheweth:

Wheras, at the time the Government of New-Yorke was established under our soveraigne Lord the King, by the Collonell Richard Nicholls, and these Gentlemen sent in Commission with him, Wee the Inhabitants of this Towne, soe well as the rest of the island being required, sent our messengers to attend their Honours, and then, both by word and writing, we were promised and engaged the Enjoyments of all privileges and liberties, which others of his Majesties Subjects doe enjoy, which was much to our content and satisfaction: Alsoe, afterwards being required by these, his Majesties Commissioners, to send up our Deputies to meete at Hempstead, and there the whole Island being Assembled in our Representatives, wee did then and there, upon the renewal of these former promises of our freedom and liberties, Grant and Compact with the said Colonel Nicolls, Governor under his Royall Highness, That wee would allow so much out of our Estates yearly, as might defray the charge of Publicke Justice amongst us, and for the killing of wolves, &c.

But may it Please your Honour to understand, that since that Time we are deprived and prohibited of our Birthright, Freedomes and Priviledges, to which both we and our ancestors were borne; Although we have neither forfeited them by any misdemeanor of ours, nor have we at any time beene forbidden the due use and exercise of them, by command of our Gratious King, that wee know of; And as yet neither wee nor the rest of his Majesties subjects upon this Island, have been at any time admitted since then , to enjoy a Generall and free Assembly of our Representatives, as other of his Majesties subjects have had the priviledge of; But Lawes and Orders have beene imposed uppon us from time to time, without our consent, and therein we are totally deprived of a fundamental Priviledge of our English Nation together with the obstruction of Trafficke and Negotiation with others of his Majesties Subjects, So that wee are become very unlike other of the King's subjects in all other Collonyes and Jurisdictions here in America and cannot but much resent our grievances in this respect, and remaine discouraged with respect to the Settlement of ourselves and Posteritie after us. Yet all this time payments and performance of what hath beene imposed uppon us, hath not been omitted on our parts, although performance of our promised Privileges aforesaid, have been wholly unperformed; and what payments from yeare to yeare, this many years hath been made by us Hath been made use of to other purposes than at first they were granted for and intended by us; Soe that wee cannot but feare, if Publicke affairs, of government shall continue in this manner as they have been, but hope better, least our freedomes should be turned into Bondage, and Antient Priviledges so infringed, that they will never arrive to our Posteritie. And wee ourselves may be justlie and highly culpable before his Majestie, for our Subjection to and Supporting of such a Government, Constituted so contrarie to the fundamentall Lawes of England; It being a principal part of his Majesties's Antiente and Just Government, to rule over a free people, endowed with many Priviledges above others, and not over Bondmen, oppressed by Arbitrary Impositions and Exactions. These things Considered, we cannot but humbly request your Honor to weigh our condition in the Balance of Equity, with seryousness, before you proceede to any Action of your owne, whereby to assert the proceedings of your Predecessors in Government, which wee now, with all Christian moderation doe complain of. And for the redresse hereof, an Addresse as we understand, hath been made to his Royall Highnesse, by a late court of Assize, in behalf of us and our Neighbors in this Colloney; Soe that we are not without hope your Honour hath received Directions to ease us in these our grievances, by the Remedies humbly represented by us, and petitioned for by the Inhabitants of this Island, to the last Court of Assize that did sitt att New-Yorke, to which as yet no satisfactorie answer hath been made. If, therefore, your Honour may bee an Instrument under God, and his Majestie our Soveraigne Lord the King, to relieve us, and the rest of his Majestie's good subjects upon this Island in our grievances, and bee a meanes to helpe us to the free Enjoyment of our Birthright Priviledges, which the fundamentall Constitution of our English National Government doth invest us with (which as we doubt not, will bee very pleasing to his Majestie, and all your Loyall Superiors,) Soe your Honor may bee assured it will firmly Engage and Oblige us, your humble Petitioners, and our Posteritie after us, to have your Prudence and Justice in Honourable Remembrance, as the first Restorer of our freedome and priviledges, to our great Contentment. But, Sir, if it shall fall out otherwise, which God forbid, and wee are very unwilling to suppose, and your Honor should, by reason of Counsells and Sugestions, pursue a contrary course to our humble Desires, soe as to continue or augment our grievances, then wee request your Honours Pardon and Excuse, if in our conscience to God, and in Honour and Submission to his Majestie, our Gratious Soverainge, we prostrate our Selves, and our State and Condition, before the Throne of his unmatchable Justice and Clemencie, where we doubt not to find Relief and Restauration, and can do no less, in the meane time, but Resent our forlorne and bereaved Condition. So, Sir, as our prayers are Continued for a happy and glorious Reighne to Sacred Majestie the King; and also our prayers shall be for you Honour, that you may be a blessed Instrument under God, in your Wisdome, Justice and Equity over us: And humblie make bold to subscribe ourselves his Majesties poore, depressed, though Loyall Subjects and our most Humble Servants.[ Source: History of East Hampton, Henry P. Hedges. p.201, Emphasis and spellings in original.]

Note: The above grievance and petition was drawn up at a General Training of the Militia on June 19th, 1682, and approved at an Easthampton town meeting on June 21st, 1682. It was circulated among and approved by all of the towns of Long Island before delivery to Anthony Brockholst, Governor of the colony of New York. Governor Brockholst was shortly thereafter (1683) replaced as Governor by the duke of York by Thomas Dongan, an Irish Catholic and Earl of Limerick. . The General Assembly of the duke's proprietary colony of New York was first convened on October 17th, 1683 and proceded to adopt the Charter of Liberties Priviledges on October 30th, 1683. The 1683 Charter is considered the original constitution of the State of New York and was the first constitution of democratic government for a colony established under royal authority in America.

The laws established by the Assembly, and then the Assembly itself, were discontinued shortly after the duke of York took the throne as King James II in 1685. The East Hampton "Dongan" Pattent was delivered in December of 1686. In 1688 the Glorious Revolution in England dethroned king James II led to the adoption of the English Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights establishing the supremecy of Parliament but put William and Mary on the throne as king and queen of England without consulting the colonists.