The authorities in determining the extent of the territory of the Commonwealth after the adoption of the Constitution of 1776 shall consist of:
1. The charter of April 10, 1606, granted by James the First, in the fourth year of his reign, that authorized the first plantation at any place upon the coast of the Commonwealth between the thirty-fourth and forty-first degrees of north latitude; and granted the territory from the seat of the plantation (which under this charter was begun at Jamestown), for 50 miles along the coast towards the west and southwest, as the coast lay, and for 50 miles along the coast, towards the east and northeast, or towards the north, as the coast lay, together with all the islands within 100 miles directly over against the seacoast, and all the territory from the same 50 miles every way on the seacoast, directly into the mainland for the space of 100 miles.
2. The second charter of James, dated May 23, 1609, in the seventh year of his reign, that granted all the territory from the point of land called Cape or Point Comfort, all along the seacoast to the northward 200 miles, and from the point of Cape Comfort all along the seacoast to the southward 200 miles, and all that space and circuit of land lying from the seacoast of the precinct, up into the land, throughout from sea to sea, west and northwest, and also all the islands lying within 100 miles along the coast of both seas of the precinct aforesaid.
3. The third charter of James, dated March 12, 1611-12, in the ninth year of his reign, that granted all the islands in any part of the seas within 300 leagues of any territory granted in the former patents.
4. The 1763 treaty of peace between Great Britain and France that established a line along the middle of the river Mississippi and became the Commonwealth's western boundary.
5. Section 21 of the Constitution of Virginia adopted June 29, 1776, that ceded, released, and confirmed to the people of Maryland, Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, such parts of the territory of the Commonwealth as were contained within the charters erecting those colonies, with all the rights in those parts that might have been claimed by the Commonwealth, except the free navigation of the Rivers Potomac and Pocomoke, with the property of the Commonwealth shore or strands bordering on either of the rivers, and all improvements thereon; and that at the same time laid down in the section that the western and northern extent of the Commonwealth should in all other respects stand as fixed by the charter of James the First, granted in 1609, and by the treaty of peace between Great Britain and France in 1763, unless by act of the legislature one or more territories should thereafter be laid off, and governments established, westward of the Alleghany mountains.
Code 1950, § 7-1; 1966, c. 102, § 7.1-1; 2005, c. 839.