Legal Settlements: Jurisdiction in the English Atlantic, 1603-1643

Bibler, Ryan, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Halliday, Paul, Department of History, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines the proliferation of English jurisdictions that accompanied and in many ways drove early seventeenth century English Atlantic settlement. It presents a process of jurisdictional definition, refinement, and performance by which the king, his council, and all the proprietors, governors, and planters engaged in Atlantic enterprise established frameworks for government in the king’s Atlantic dominions. In establishing English jurisdictions in Atlantic places, these actors both extended England’s legal regime to new shores and also integrated places like Barbados and Virginia into the king’s composite monarchy. The dissertation seeks to integrate two historiographies that are often held distinct: the story of domestic English legal development and the story of “imperial” legal development. By viewing legal development and English Atlantic settlement through the lens of jurisdiction this study shows that the domestic and the imperial were inextricably intertwined. Yet the novel circumstances of Atlantic settlement prompted significant legal innovation, particularly as the prominent model of colonial government shifted from corporate authority to proprietorial authority. As jurisdiction became commoditized with the introduction of proprietary grants, colonial legal development began to diverge and the possibility of a distinct imperial sphere began to emerge, though it remained nebulous and ill-formed.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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