George Washington Papers

[undated diary entry]

The following is the opinion of the late Lord Chanceller Cambden, and Chanceller York, on Titles derivd by the Kings Subjects from the Indians or Natives.

“In respect to such places as have been, or shall be acquired by Treaty or Grant from any of the Indian Princes, or Governments, your Majestys Letters Patents are not necessary, the Property of the Soil, vesting in the Grantee by the Indian Grants, Subject only to your Majestys Right of Sovereignty over the Settlements, and over the Inhabitants as English Subjects who carry with them, your Majestys Laws wherever they form Colonies, and receive your Majestys Protection, by Virtue of your Royal Chartres.

opinion of the late lord chancellor cambden: In 1757 the East India Company had requested an opinion from Charles Pratt, first Earl Camden, and Charles Yorke, two prominent English jurists, on the validity of land grants acquired in India from native rulers. The Camden-Yorke opinion, upholding the validity of such grants, was clearly intended to apply only to company grants in India. In 1772, however, the opinion was resurrected by agents of the Vandalia Company and bowdlerized versions, such as the one quoted here by GW, were widely circulated in America to give substance to the claims of land speculators that purchases from Indian tribes were valid without sanction from the crown (LIVERMORE description begins Shaw Livermore. Early American Land Companies: Their Influence on Corporate Development. New York, 1939. description ends , 106–7; ABERNETHY description begins Thomas Perkins Abernethy. Western Lands and The American Revolution. 1937. Reprint. New York, 1959. description ends , 116).

Index Entries