early 15c., "provide with a charter," from charter (n.). Meaning "to hire by special contract" is attested from 1806. Related: Chartered; chartering.
"formal written instrument bestowing privileges and rights, serving as legal evidence of them," c. 1200, from Old French chartre (12c.) "charter, letter, document, covenant," from Latin chartula/cartula, literally "little paper," diminutive of charta/carta "paper, document" (see chart (n.)). Meaning "aircraft hired for a particular purpose" is from 1922.
"collection of charters," 1570s, from Medieval Latin chartularium, from Latin chartula "a charter, record" (see charter (n.)).
older uses refer to schools in Ireland begun 1733 by the Charter Society to provide Protestant education to poor Catholic children. Modern use in U.S. began c. 1988, as an alternative to state-run public education.
1839 in English political history, in reference to the reform party active 1836-48, from "The People's Charter," which contained their principles (universal suffrage, abolition of the property qualification for serving in Parliament, equal representation, etc.). Related: Chartist (1838).
1660s, a variant of patron used in foreign contexts, from Dutch patroon (a French loan-word) or French patron "master, patron," from Old French (see patron; also see -oon); used from 1758 in parts of New York and New Jersey colonies for "landholder," especially one with certain manorial privileges (abolished gradually in the early republic) under the old Dutch governments by the charter of 1629.
Latin name of Britain, preserved in poetry and as the proper name of the female figure who personifies the place on coinage, etc.
When Britain first, at Heaven's command
Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:
"Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
"Britons never will be slaves."
[James Thomson, 1740]