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[206] now given to Virginia an opportunity of legislation
Chap. VI.} 1643.
independent of European control; and the voluntary act of the assembly, restraining religious liberty, adopted from hostility to political innovation, rather than from a spirit of fanaticism, or respect to instructions, proves conclusively the attachment of the representatives of Virginia to the Episcopal church and the cause of royalty. Yet there had been Puritans in the colony almost from the beginning: even the Brownists were freely offered a secure asylum;1 ‘here,’ said the tolerant Whitaker, ‘neither surplice nor subscription is spoken of,’ and several Puritan families, and perhaps2 some even of the Puritan clergy, emigrated to Virginia. They were so content with their reception, that large numbers were preparing to follow, and were restrained
only by the forethought of English intolerance. We have seen, that the Pilgrims at Plymouth were invited to remove within the jurisdiction of Virginia; Puritan
merchants planted themselves on the James River without fear, and emigrants from Massachusetts had
recently established themselves in the colony. The honor of Laud had been vindicated by a judicial sentence, and south of the Potomac the decrees of the court of high commission were allowed to be valid; but I find no traces of persecutions in the earliest history of Virginia. The laws were harsh: the administration seems to have been mild. A disposition to non conformity was soon to show itself even in the council. An invitation, which had been sent to Boston for Punitan ministers, implies a belief that they would be admitted

1 Bradford, in Prince.

2 ‘I muse that so fewof our English ministers, that were so hot against the surplice and subscription, come hither, where neither is spoken of.’ Whitaker, in Purchas, b. IX. c. XI.

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