Religious Freedom



(March 11, 1686/7)

KING JAMES II of England

Grants Freedom of "Conscience"

To the Colony of RHODE ISLAND

"... we would be graciously pleased to allow

them liberty of conscience (Freedom of Religion)...."

James II of England was a Roman Catholic and for that reason was continually in trouble with his Protestant British subjects. He was therefore much inclined to grant a request such as this one, so that toleration would be granted to the Catholics along with the others.The reason for the strange date; 1686/7, is that the New Year’s Day in England was March 25. Thus, all dates after December 31, 1686 but before March 25, 1687 were still referred to as the year 1686. However, if we were to use the same calendar as we do today, those same dates would have been part of the year 1687. The English Act of 1751 changed New Year’s Day to January 1st.

James R

Trusty and Welbeloved We greet you well. Whereas Our Trusty and Welbeloved Subjects the Inhabitants of Rhode Island in America have by their humble Petition prayed Us, that We would be graciously pleased to allow them Liberty of conscience and such other Privileges and Immunities formerly enjoyed by them, as may be consistent with Our Instructions and Commission to; We taking into Our consideration the duty and affection, the said Inhabitants have expressed to Us, by the free surrender of their character, and by other testimonies We are informed, they have given of their loyalty, particularly since your



arrival in New England, have thought fit to condescend to their said request; and We do accordingly hereby signify the same to you, to the end you may give order from time to time, that Our said Subjects of Rhode Island receive the benefit of these Our gracious intentions to them, in enjoying such Privileges, as you shall judge consistent with Our Service as aforesaid. And so We bid you Farewell. Given at Our Court at Whitehall the 11th day of March 168 6/7 in the third year of Our Reign

By his Maj(estys) command.

Sunderland P