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Royal Instruction, 1761

Draft of an Instruction for the Governors of Nova Scotia New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia forbidding them to Grant Lands or make Settlements which may interfere with the Indians bordering on those Colonies.


WHEREAS the peace and security of our Colonies and plantations upon the Continent of North America does greatly depend upon the Amity and Alliances of the several Nations or Tribes of Indians bordering upon the said Colonies and upon a just and faithful Observance of those Treaties and Compacts which have been heretofore solemnly entered into with the said Indians by Our Royal Predecessors Kings & Queens of this Realm, 

And whereas notwithstanding the repeated Instructions which have been from time to time given by Our Royal Grandfather to the Governor of Our several Colonies upon this head the said Indians have made and so still continue to make great complaints that Settlements have been made and possession taken of Lands, the property of which they have by Treaties reserved to themselves by persons claiming the said lands under pretence of deeds of Sale and Conveyance illegally, fraudulently and surreptitiously obtained of the said Indians; 

And Whereas it has likewise been represented unto Us that some of Our Governors or other Chiefs Officers of Our said Colonies regardless of the Duty they owe to Us and of the Welfare and Security of our Colonies have countenanced such unjust claims and pretensions by passing Grants of the Land so pretended to have been purchased of the Indians. 

We therefor taking this matter into Our Royal Consideration, as also the fatal Effects which would attend a discontent amongst the Indians in the present situation of affairs, and being determined upon all occasions to support and protect the said Indians in their just Rights and Possessions and to keep inviolable the Treaties and Compacts which have been entered into them, 

Do hereby strictly enjoin & Command that neither yourself nor any Lieutenant Governor, President of the Council or Commander in Chief of Our said Colony/Province of do upon any pretence whatever upon pain of Our highest Displeasure and of being forthwith removed from your or his office, pass any Grant or Grants to any persons whatever of any lands within or adjacent to the Territories possessed or occupied by the said Indians or the Property Possession of which has at any time been reserved to or claimed by them. 

And it is Our further Will and Pleasure that you do publish a proclamation in Our Name strictly enjoining and requiring all persons whatever who may either wilfully or inadvertently have seated themselves on any lands so reserved to or claimed by the said Indians without any lawful Authority for so doing forthwith to remove therefrom 

And in case you shall find upon strict enquiry to be made for that purpose that any person or persons do claim to hold or possess any lands within Our said Province/Colony upon pretence of purpose made of the said Indians without proper licence first had and obtained either from Us or any of Our Royal Predecessors or any other person acting under Our or their Authority you are forthwith to cause a prosecution to be carried on against such person or persons who shall have made such fraudulent purchases to the end that the land may be recovered by due course of Law 

And whereas the wholesome Laws that have at different times been passed in several of our said Colonies and the instructions which have been given by Our Royal Predecessors for restraining persons from purchasing lands of the Indians without a License for that purpose and for regulating the proceedings upon such purchases have not been duly observed,

It is therefore Our express Will and Pleasure that when any application shall be made to you for license to purchase lands of the Indians you do forebear to grant such License until you shall have first transmitted to Us by Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations the particulars of such applications as well as in respect to the situation as the extent of the lands so proposed to be purchased and shall have received Our further directions therein; 

And it is Our further Will and Pleasure that you do forthwith cause this Our Instruction to you to be made public not only within all parts of your said Province/Colony inhabited by Our Subjects, but also amongst the several Tribes of Indians living within the same to the end that Our Royal Will and Pleasure in the Premises may be known and that the Indians may be apprised of Our determined Resolution to support them in their just Right, and inviolably to observe Our Engagements with them.