Massachusetts Historical Legal Documents and Laws
Mayflower Compact: Agreement Between the Settlers at New Plymouth, 1620. An agreement drawn up by the Plymouth colonists in which the signers agreed to pledge allegiance to the King of England, govern the settlement by majority rule, allow every freeman the equal right of participation in the colony's government, and elect a governor annually.
Charter of New England, 1620.
Charter of Massachusetts Bay, 1629.
Massachusetts Body of Liberties, 1641. "Perhaps no other writing from the Puritan Era had so far-reaching an effect as this document, which laid the foundations of Massachusetts liberties, for which New Englishmen fought against the Empire in the 1680's and during the American Revolution, and which became a pattern of the United States Constitution. It is remarkable as a code of law, in that it lays out a structure of jurisprudence in terms of liberties rather than restrictions. In this it echoes the Magna Charta, and foreshadows our Bill of Rights. Drawing upon the Magna Charta and English Common Law, it was largely the work of one man, the remarkable Puritan thinker and writer, Nathaniel Ward."
The Book of the General Lawes and Libertyes Concerning the Inhabitants of the Massachusets (Selections), 1648. This is not the whole book, but does contain most topics of general interest, such as capital crimes, laws concerning strangers, ana-baptists and jesuits and more.
Penalty for Keeping Christmas, 1659. Law that banned the celebration of Christmas.
Charter of Massachusetts Bay, 1691. This charter expanded the original colony of Massachusetts Bay and provided for the Governor's appointment by the Crown rather than election, and at the same time broadened the Governor's powers.
Revised Statutes (1836)
General Statutes (1860)
Public Statutes (1882)