of the Province of Massachusetts Bay
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The Massachusetts Governor's Council (also known as the Executive Council) is a governmental body that provides advice and consent in certain matters – such as judicial nominations, pardons, and commutations – to the Governor of Massachusetts. Councillors are elected by the general public and their duties are set forth in the Massachusetts Constitution.
The Massachusetts Bay Colony received its first royal charter in 1629, with the founding of Boston following the arrival in 1630 of Governor John Winthrop and a fleet of principally Puritan settlers. The colony's governance was based on this charter, which included the establishment of a "council of assistants". The assistants were a body of magistrates who not only decided judicial cases, but also played a role in the colony's lawmaking. The assistants were elected by the colony's freemen.
After the colony's original charter was revoked in 1684, there was the short-lived Dominion of New England (1686-1689), which was succeeded in the territories of modern Massachusetts and Maine by the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The charter for the province called for "eight and twenty assistants, or counsellors, to be advising and assisting to the governor" who were to be chosen annually by the Great and General Court. It further specified that the council was to assume the duties of the governor in the absence of both the royal governor and lieutenant governor (who were appointed by the crown), and enumerated some of the specific issues on which the council was to advise the governor. During the provincial period, the relationship between the governor and council was sometimes difficult, since the council represented colonial interests which diverged from the crown interests of the governor.