A grant made by the sovereign, either to the whole people or to a portion of them, securing to them the enjoyment of certain rights. Of the former kind is the late charter of France, which extended to the whole country; the charters which were granted to the different American colonies by the British government were charters of the latter species.
A charter differs from a constitution in that the former is granted by the sovereign, while the latter is established by the people themselves: both are the fundamental law of the land.
This term is susceptible of another signification. During the middle ages almost every document was called carta, charta, or chartula. In this sense the term is nearly synonymous with deed.
The act of the legislature creating a corporation is called its charter.
Mar. Contr. An agreement by which a vessel is hired by the owner to another; as A B chartered the ship Benjamin Franklin to C D.