Royal Charter and the Charter Oak

The Ancient Burying Ground - Hartford's Oldest Historic Site

John Allyn, 1696

John Allyn was a key player in one of the most famous and significant events in Connecticut history: securing the Royal Charter of 1662 from the clutches of a royal representative sent to take it back.

In 1662 King Charles II granted Connecticut a royal charter with powers of self-government that made the colony all but independent of England, with the authority to elect many of its own officers, including the governor. In 1687 his successor, King James II, wanted to combine Connecticut and several other colonies into a single entity, the Dominion of New England. Toward that goal, King James sought to revoke Connecticut’s 1662 charter.

Connecticut resisted. In October of 1687 Dominion of New England Governor Sir Edmond Andros came to Hartford with an armed force to retrieve the document. Legend says that when the Royal Charter was laid on the table before Andros in a candle-lit room, the lights were suddenly extinguished. When they were re-lit, the Royal Charter had vanished – spirited away to be hidden in a hollow in an ancient oak tree that would become world-famous as the Charter Oak. 

John Allyn was Secretary of the Colony of Connecticut at the time. He was one of three men into whose joint custody the Royal Charter was entrusted until King James II was deposed in 1689. Connecticut then safely returned to governing itself under the cherished document


Photo of Inscription on tablestone for Lieutenant Colonel John Allyn, 1696
HERE LYES IN TERRED THE BODY OF THE HONOURABLE LIEUT COL ONELL JOHN ALLYN WHO SERVED HIS GENERATION IN THE OVALITY OF A MAGISTRATE SECRETARY OF THE COLONY OF CONECTICOT 34 YEARS WHO DYED NOV. 6 IN THE YEAR 1696.

Learn more about the stories of people buried at the Ancient Burying Ground: