In my US History book, the text reads the following:

As a slap at Massachusetts, Charles II gave rival Connecticut in 1662 a sea-to-sea charter grant, which legalized the squatter settlements.

I don't understand why expanding Connecticut land would give Connecticut a cutting edge in the competitiveness between the colonies. My simple question is what was the purpose of this action? What could squatter settlements offer to the colony of Connecticut that was so important for Charles II to act as he did?

Thank you!

  • 1
    My, admittedly cursory, read is that absorbing the squatter settlements as a by-product of the charter: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – user13123
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 3:57
  • So you're saying that it's not so much as the squatter settlements were important to Charles II so much as providing the charter was the main form of assistance he offered and as a result the squatter settlements just were a part of that? If so, thank you so much for the easy response. Your way with words is amazing, by the way! Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 4:11
  • Land is wealth.
    – MCW
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 13:41

2 Answers 2


In order to allow "Connecticut" to "rival" or "compete with" Massachusetts, the king had to keep it out of Massachusetts.

The reason was that several bands of refugees had left what we now know as Massachusetts (mainly Boston), and wandered to and settled parts of what we now know as Connecticut. These included enclaves of the Connecticut colony around the present-day capital of Hartford, Saybrook, and New Haven.

These were "squatter" settlements because they had been made without any authority. On the other hand, Massachusetts had been settled under the auspices of the Massachusetts Bay Company, which in turn derived its authority from the king.

In granting a royal charter to these three settlements under the heading of Connecticut, King Charles II 1) made these settlements "legitimate," confirming titles to the land, and 2) made them independent of Massachusetts. Otherwise, Massachusetts might some day claim that these settlements had been made by "its" citizens, and claim the lands for itself. Connecticut was now officially a separate colony, with (sea) borders ranging from the Naragansett Sound, to as far west as the sea would go, theoretically to the Pacific.

King Charles II had an incentive to do this because during the English Civil War, Massachusetts had been strongly in favor of the Puritans or Cromwellites. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."


I've been reading a bit more.

Before 1662, Connecticut had no charter - land titles were not officially recognised by England before then. It was colonised from the north/east by puritan businessman and settlers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Other settlements, such as those around New Haven and Saybrook also started about the same time.

Since the titles of land were not recognised by England, these settlements were considered "squatters" within legal definition - but this doesn't imply squalid camps. The settlements became established towns and trading hubs (thought not terribly successfully).

In the 1650s, there began a movement to consolidate the settlements into Connecticut and obtain a royal charter - this would legitimise the settlements, and grant land titles to the settlers who had built their homes there. It would also protect the colony from land grabs by the neighbouring colonies.

The charter was given by Charles II in 1662 - extending from around the Narragansett Bay in the east, under Massachusetts, and all the way to the Pacific. It even included most of Long Island. Connecticut obviously gave up much of this charter in the following years.

Finally, the settlements at New Haven and Saybrook officially joined the colony in order to legitimise their land claims under English law.

  • Thank you so much! The clarification comes once sgain, you stand by your claim earlier of squatter towns simply being a by-product? I'm trying to understand why the whole squatter thing was mentioned in the text in the forst place if there wasn't any advantage to these towns that Charles II maybe didn't realize at the time. Once again, thanks for the help! Very much appreciated! Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 4:43
  • I think the main problem for me comes down to careful definition I might have mistaked. Is squatter towns referencing the developed cities/civilizations in the Connecticut area before the colony's charter? Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 4:49

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