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PRINTED BY ORDER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
JOHN RUSSELL BARTLETT,
SECRETARY OF STATE.
1678 To 1706.
The Third Volume of the Colonial Records of Rhode Island commences with the proceedings of the April session of the General Assembly, in the year 1678, and ends with the October session of that body, in the year 1706; thereby including twenty-nine years of the Colonial Annals.
The events of this period are among the most important in our Colonial History. They include first, a discussion of the several claims for the ownership of Mount Hope and the Narragansett Country; the latter, from royal grants, the limits of which had never been defined. The Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Arran, Major Atherton, Governor Winthrop, of Connecticut and his associates, with others, claimed large portions of this country. Connected with these, is the official Report of the Narragansett Commissioners, who were appointed by Charles the Second, to inquire into the respective claims and titles of individuals, as well as Corporations, to the jurisdiction of that country, known also as the King's Province.
Next follow the complaints to the King against the Colony, by Edward Randolph, with articles of misdemeanor; in consequence of which, writs of quo warranto were issued by the King against the colonies of Rhode Island and Connecticut, the latter of which was also the subject of complaint . The documents connected with these transactions, including the orders in Council, and the addresses from the Colony, elucidate much in the annals, which would otherwise be obscure. The proceedings of Joseph Dudley, Governor of the New England Colonies and President of the Council, close this portion of our history.
The subversion of the Charter government, and the administration of Sir Edmund Andros, render the year 1686 an important era in our Colonial history. The Colony was now merged into the government of New England, under that Royal Governor, and degenerated into a mere county. No meetings of the General Assembly took place under his government, and the only records that in any way show what was done in the Colony during this period, are those of the Courts of Quarter Sessions. These, though meagre, have been introduced into this volume as a link in the chain of our annals. Further to elucidate this portion of our history, the commission of, and instructions to, Sir Edmund Andros, from James the Second, with a variety of letters, addresses, etc., have been introduced. The particulars connected with the arrest and imprisonment of Andros in Boston, and the first revolution in New England that followed the accession of William and Mary to the English throne in 1689, complete the history of his administration of the American colonies. No records of the official proceedings of the Council of Sir Edmund Andros are known to exist. It appears that they were forwarded to England, during the administration of Sir Edmund, but they are not now to be found in the English State Paper Office.
The valuable documents so important to fill up this chasm in our annals, are taken from the collection of papers in the possession of our townsman, John Carter Brown, Esq., for whom they were copied from the originals in Her Majesty's State Paper Office, London; from the "Usurpation Papers," or documents relating to the administration of Sir Edmund Andros, in the "Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society;" and from the "Documents relating to the Colonial History of New York," recently printed by that State.
The Colonial Records, beginning with the assumption of the Charter in Februrary, 1690, after the fall of Andros, are now followed to the year 1706, where the volume ends. It is to be regretted, however, that the proceedings of certain sessions are wanting in 1691-93, '94 and '95, and are not known to exist among the State Records, or among the archives of any towns in the State. Our little Colony continued to suffer greatly from without; and it is probable that among the constant calls from the Home government for the proceedings and public acts of the Colony, that the original records now missing, were sent to England.
This opinion is strengthened from the fact, that after the printing of this volume had proceeded to the year 1695, there was found among the manuscript volumes in Mr. Brown's collection, copies of the entire proceedings of the General Assembly of Rhode Island, for the sessions of May and June,