Skip to main content

Massachusetts Body of Liberties


MASSACHUSETTS BODY OF LIBERTIES. To curb the power of the magistrates, deputies in the Massachusetts General Court agitated for a code of laws. In November 1639 a committee adopted a code presented by Nathaniel Ward, formerly an English lawyer. The General Court submitted it to the towns for review, then shortened and adapted the code, which was adopted as law in 1641. Similar to bills of rights and based largely on English common law, the Massachusetts Body of Liberties invested the magistrates with considerable authority. Therefore, after a probationary period of three years, deputies replaced the code with The Book of the General Lawes and Libertyes.


Dufour, Ronald P. Modernization in Colonial Massachusetts,16301763. New York: Garland, 1987.

Kammen, Michael G., ed. Politics and Society in Colonial America:Democracy or Deference? New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1967; Huntington, N.Y.: Krieger, 1978.

Raymond P.Stearns/s. b.x

See alsoAssemblies, Colonial ; Colonial Councils ; General Court, Colonial .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Massachusetts Body of Liberties." Dictionary of American History. . 21 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Massachusetts Body of Liberties." Dictionary of American History. . (January 21, 2019).

"Massachusetts Body of Liberties." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved January 21, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.