Everett Schermerhorn Stackpole.

History of the town of Durham, New Hampshire : (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes online

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town clerk, and thereafter the records are of great historical
importance. "Dicesimo Septimo die lomo, 1647, it was ordered
concluded and agreed upon that the inhabitants of Dover should
condescend unto a form of levying rates and assessments for
raising of public charges according to an order of court made and
held at Boston." Funds for the ministry and other public ex-
penses must have been raised before that time by voluntary con-
tributions. We have the first rate list, which has been repeatedly
published. We here copy only the names of those who lived in
Oyster River Plantation.

The Towne Rate Made the 19th loth mo [16] 48.

George Webb, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
John Goddard, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Richard Yorke, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Ambrose Gibbons, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Willm Beard, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Tho: Stephenson, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
William Drue, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Matthew Gyles, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Mrs Matthews Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Jonas Binns, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Charles Adams, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
John Bickford, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Philip Chasely, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Tho: Willey, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
John Allt, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Darby ffeild. Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is

£ s. d.


0072 :o8 :oo








003 1 :oo :oo



0071 :io:oo

0069 :oo :oo

0081 :oo:oo

£ 5. d.
0002 :02 :02
0001 :o8 :oo
0001 :03 :04
0003 :03 :o2
0002 :03 :02
0001 :o6:o6
0001 :03 :oo
0001 :o7:oo



Oliuer Kent, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Tho: Johnson, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Geo:Branson, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Willm Roberts, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
Tho: ffootman. Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is
John Martin, Rated

and to pay 4d p£ is

£ s. d.


0030 :oo :oo




£ s. d.
0000:011 :4

This Rate within specified Is to bee paid in such commodities, time and
place, as foUoweth, viz'. One fourth part in Corne, to bee pd and brought in
at the rates as followes viz'. Indian Corne at 4s p bushell, wheat and pease
at 5s p bushell, and to bee paid by the lo"> day of the next mo at the house of
W" Pomfrett and the rest of the rate to bee pd in by the io"> day of March
next ensueing at the saw pitt below Tho. Cannys, for one place of receipt, for
part of the said rate, and the other to bee paid in at the back Cove, to the
Constable or his Assignes. All pipe staues are to bee delivded in at the rate
of 3:10:0, and hh staues at 02:05:0. And for default of paym' in either or
eny of the said paym" in p' or in all contrary to the forme aforesaid Wee doe
hereby authorize and giue vnto the Constable full pow to arrest and attach
the goods of such pson or psons as shall make denyall. Witnes o' hands, this
I9»i' day of 10"' mo 1648.

Ambrose Gibbons
Hatevill Nutter
William Pomfrett
Antho Emerey
Tho: Layton.

This list shows that twenty-three out of fifty-three inhabitants
of Dover hved at Oyster River. The next year two new names
appear at Oyster River, John Hill and William Follett, and in
1650 we first find the names of Rise Howell and Mr. Valentine

The following first appear in the rate list of 1657, Ed Patterson,
John Meader, Patrick the Scot [Patrick Jameson], Robert Burn-
ham, William Williams, James Bunker, Robert Junkins, Mathew
Williams, Richard Bray, John Davis, John Woodman, Joseph
Field, William Pitman, and John Hance.

In the rate list of 1659 appear the following new names, Thomas
Humphrey, William Graves, James Jackson, Walter Jackson,
Henry Browne, Thomas Doughty, James Oer, James Middleton,


Edwin Arwin, John Barber, Benjamin Matthews, Benjamin
Hull, John Diuill, William Jones, and Steven ye Westingman
(?) which may mean either Stephen Jones or Stephen Robinson,
both of whom appeared about that time.

In i66i we first find Hugh Dunn, Alexander McDaniel, Henry
Hollwell or Halloway, Teague Riall or Royall, Joseph Smith, and
Davey Daniel.

In 1662 the list shows the new names of Philip Cromwell or
Crommett, William Perkinson or Perkins, James Smith and
John Smith.

In 1663 appear Thomas Morris and Patrick Denmark. W^il-
liam Durgin was first taxed in 1664.

In 1666 we find Nicholas Harris, Robert Watson, Joseph
Stimson or Stevenson, Salathiel Denbo, Arthur Bennet, Thomas
Edgerly, Abraham Collens, Zachariah Field, Michael Simmons,
James Huckins, Edward Leathers and Thomas Chesley.

In 1681 appear as new names, Samuel Burnham, Dennis
Bryant, Jerimie Crommet, Abraham Clarke, John Davis, junior,
Nicholas Doe, James Derry, John Derry, Nicholas Follett,
George Goe, Joseph Hill, Samuel Hill, Charles Landeau, Joseph
Kent, Nathaniel Lumocks [Lamos], John Meader, junior, John
Mickmord [Muchmore?] John Pinder, John Rand, John Simons,
Robert Smart, junior, Edward Small, Bartholomew Stevenson,
William Tasket or Tasker, James Thomas, John Tompson,
William Williams, junior, John Willie, Stephen Willie, and John

In 1682 we notice David Davis, Nicholas Dunn, Nathaniel
Hill, William Hill, William Hucklie, William Jonson, Ezekiel
Pitman, Francis Pitman, Roger Rose, Joseph Stevenson.

This is not the place to enter into details concerning the troubles
of New Hampshire with Massachusetts, with the heirs of Capt.
John Mason, and with the Cranfield administration. The
following brief citation froril an article in the Granite Monthly
of February 1902, written by the Hon. Frank B. Sanborn of
Concord, Mass., sufficiently sets forth the part Oyster River had
in those affairs. Robert Burnham, who was born at Norwich,
England, in 1624 and married in Boston in 1646 or earlier "was
in 1664 a petitioner to King Charles for a separation from Massa-
chusetts and appears to have been then a Church of England
man; but in 1684 he refused to pay Mason his quit-rents and was


nominally ejected by Mason from his farm in Durham. More-
over, at the time of Monmouth's rebeUion and after the death of
Charles II it was testified by PhiHp Chesley of Dover, April 26,
1685, 'that he heard Robert Burnham of Oyster River say there
was no speaking treason at present against the king, for there was
no king, and that the Duke of Monmouth was proclaimed and
crowned in Scotland and gone for Ireland, and that the Duke of
York was not yet crowned, and it was a question whether he ever
would be.' In 1665 Burnham had joined with Champernoon
and John Pickering of Portsmouth, and Edward Hilton and John
Folsom of Exeter in petitioning that King Charles 'would take
them under his immediate protection and that they might be
governed by the known laws of England,' and one reason for
this request was 'that they might enjoy both the sacraments,
which they have been so long deprived of.' In 1684 he joined
with the Waldrons, Wiggins, Sanborns, etc., in petitioning against
the exactions of Cranfield and Mason, and among his fellow-
petitioners was Joseph Stevenson of Oyster River, who said, not
long after, 'I owe the governor nothing, and nothing will I pay
him; I never knew him, nor had any dealings with him.

Exasperated by the arbitrary methods of Cranfield the people
of Exeter, Hampton, Portsmouth and Dover decided to make
complaint to the king, and Nathaniel Weare of Hampton was
appointed their agent and sent to England in 1685. In the
petition that he carried from Dover are found the following
Oyster River names, John Meader, Philip Chesley, Joseph Steven-
son, Thomas Chesley, Stephen Jones, Edward Small, Nathaniel
Lamos, James Huckins, Zacharias Field, Robert Burnham,
Samuel Burnham, Jeremiah Burnham, Samuel Hill, Peter Mason,
John Woodman, senior, John Woodman, junior, Jonathan Wood-
man, John Davis, senior, John Davis, junior, Joseph Field, John
Bickford, Thomas Edgerly, John Hill, Charles Adams, Charles
Adams junior, William Parkinson [Perkins], Joseph Hill and
Nathaniel Hill. [See N. H. Province Papers, Vol. I, p. 561.]

It is worthy of note that during Cranfield's administration
the Rev. Joshua Moody was tried at the Quarter Sessions before
Capt. Walter Barefoot, Nathaniel Fryer, Henry Green, Peter
Cofhn, Henry Robie and Thomas Edgerly, the last being a well
known name of Oyster River. The justices debated a little;
four of them entered their dissent, viz., Messrs Fryer, Green,


Robie and Edgerly; but Barefoot and Coffin were for Mr.
Moody's condemnation. In the morning, after outside influ-
ences had been used, Green and Robie consented to his condem-
nation. Justice Edgerly was cashiered and bound over to the
Quarterly Sessions. By the governor's order he was discharged
from being Justice of the Peace and from being in any other
public employment. In the records of the Quarter Sessions
the Clerk of the Court gave the substance of the debate as follows:
"Justice Edgerly — that since his Majesty has been pleased to
grant liberty of conscience to all Protestants here, the said Moody
is not liable to the penalty of the statutes for refusing to admin-
ister the sacraments according to the form thereof."

A petition dated 20 February, 1689/90, was addressed to the
Massachusetts authorities by the inhabitants and train soldiers
of New Hampshire, requesting that they might be taken under
the government and protection of Massachusetts Among the
petitioners are the following names of men then residing at
Oyster River. Those followed by a cross thus X made their
mark Philip Duday X, James Thomas X William Perkins X,
Steven Robeson, Francis Pitman, Robert Burnam, Jeremiah
Burnum, John Buss, Joseph Meder X, John Meder junior,
Stephen Willey X Joseph Davis Moses Davis, Thomas Bick-
ford, Charles Adams, C. A. his mark, Benjamin Mathews X,
John Bunker X, Joseph Kent, Salathiel Denbow X, William
Durgin by order, John Bickford, John Davis, James Smith,
Nathaniel Hill, John Woodman, Thomas Edgerly, Zacharias
Field, Thomas Chesley, Philip Chesle, Robert Watson, Stephen
Jones, Thomas Arsh X [Ash], Edward Lethers X, Philip Ches-
ley X, John Pitman, James Derry X, John Davis junior, Samuel
Burnum, Thomas Davis X, and William Pitman.— [N. H. Prov-
ince Papers, Vol. II, pp. 34-39.]

The fruitless petition of Oyster River in 1669 to the General
Court of Massachusetts may be seen in the chapter on Church
History. Another petition was made to the General Court of
New Hampshire in 1695, asking that Oyster River be made a

To the Hont"« John Usher Esq'., Leut. Governor, Comand' in Chief of his
Majes'" Province of New Hampshire and to the Honti* Councill,

Wee the Subscribers, Inhabitants of Oyster River, Humbly Petition
and Pray



That whereas his most Sacred Majesty King William has been pleased
through his grace and favor to grant unto yo' Hon" by his Royall Comission
with y Councill full powers and authorities to Erect and Establish Townes
within this his Majesties Province, and whereas wee yo' petitioners have by
divine providence Settled and inhabited that Part of his Majes'» Province
Commonly called Oyster Riuer, and have found that by the Scituation of
the place as to distance from Douer or Exeter, but more especially Douer,
wee being forced to wander through the Woods to y place to meet to and
for y Management of our affaires are much Disadvantaged for y« Present
in our Business and Estates, and hindered of adding a Town & People for
the Hon' of his Majesty in the Inlargement and Increase of his Province,
Wee humbly supplicate that yo' Hon" would take it to yo' Consideration
and Grant that wee may have a Township Confirmed by yo' honours, w^
wee humbly offer the bounds thereof may extend as followeth, to begin at the
head of Rialls his Cove and so to run upon a North west line Seven Miles,
and from thence with Douer line Paralell until wee meet with Exeter line
that yo' Hon" would be pleased to grant this Petition, which will not only
be a great benefit Both to the settlement of our minestrey, the population of
the place, the ease of the Subject, and the Strengthening and Advantaging
this his Majis" Province, but for an engagement for yo' Petitioners ever to
pray for the Safety and Increase of yo' Hon" and prosperity.

John Woodman
Stephen Jones

Davis X

Samson Doe
James Bunker Sen X
Jeremiah Cromet
James durgin X
William willyoums
Elias Critchett
Nathaniell Meder
John Cromell
Jeremiah Burnum
John Smith
Thomas Bickford
John Pinder
francis mathes
Henry Nock
John Willey
Thomas Edgerly
Edward Leathers X
Henry marsh
Joseph Meder
Edward Wakeham
Philip Chastlie Sin
Thomas Chastlie Jun
George Chastlie

William Jackson

Joseph Bunker

John Smith

Joseph Jones

John Doe

John Williams

Thomas Williams

William durgin X

Henry Vines (?)

Philup Cromel X

John Meder Jr.

William tascet X [Tasker]

James dere [Derry]

philip duly X

Ele meret [Eli Demeritt]

Joseph Jengens

Jems Bonker X

James Thomas


John Edgerly
William durgin X
Joseph Smith
Thomas Wille
Thomas Chastlie
francis Pitman


This petition as printed in the Memoranda of Ancient Dover
has been compared with the same as found in N. H. Town
Papers, Vol. IX, p. 234, and appears to be more correct, espe-
cially as to names of inhabitants.

Nothing resulted from this petition, and the thought of
making Oyster River a separate township passed out of mind
for more than a generation. The rights of an independent parish,
secured in 1716^, satisfied the inhabitants for a time, and the
dispute between the people at the Point and those at the Falls
and the western part of the parish concerning the location of
the meeting house engaged attention for a long time. In 1729
a dispute arose about the division line between Oyster River
Parish and the rest of Dover, and a committee was appointed by
the General Assembly to run the line. Parties living near the
border desired to be included in the Oyster River precinct,
where they had considered themselves as belonging and where
it was more convenient for them to attend church. The follow-
ing petition of "sundry aggrieved inhabitants of Oyster River"
best explains the situation

To the Honorable John Wintworth Esq' Lieu' Governor and Commander
in Chief in and over his Maj««» Province of New Hampshire in New England
and to the Honorable his Majs"=« Council and Representatives for said

The Humble Petition of Sundry aggrieved Inhabitants of the parish of
Oyster River most humbly Sheweth Whereas we the Subscribers in Habitance
of said parish Have allways been Constant hearers and Paid our Rats to the
Minist,er of said Parish as by the Rait List of assessment Will make appear
and Likewise Sundry of us have Been at a Consederabel Charge in Bulding
a Meating House in said parish it being Nier and more Convenent for us
to attend upon the Publick Worship of God at Oyster River Meeting House
then at Cochecho Meeting House which is a great way further for us to go tho
Never the Less as we understand we are in Danger of Being Excluded from
our said Priviledges by such an Unequal Line of Boundary between the
parish of Oyster River and Cochecho which if being so stated will be greatly
to the Damage of yo' Petitioners. -

We do therefore Humbly Crave Liberty of the more Mature and Superior
Judgment of your honours in the General Assembly praying yo' honours to
take it in Consideration that there may be a more Equal Line of Bound'ry Set
so that yo' aggrieved petitioners may not be under such Grat hardships, and
yc petitioners shall ever pray,

Joseph Jones in behalf of the rest whose
names are to be given in.

ISee chapter entitled Sketch of Church History.


Joseph Daniel Zachrah Edgerly

William Brown William Glines

James Jackson Samuel Davis

Thomas Lethers Joseph Hiks

John Tasker James Busell

Samuel Chasley Morres Fouller

Joshua Chasley John Busell

Joseph Parkins Eli Demerett

Thomas Bickford William Demerett

Ralph Horll [Hall] John Demerett

Samuel Parkins John Huckins

Joseph Jones Jun' Job Demerett

Benj Jones Derry Pitman

John Jones Thomas Willey Jun

John Rand Joseph Daniel the third

John Remiss [Remick?] Noel Crose

Timothy Moses John Daniel

Thomas . Benjamin Evens

Samuel Chesle Harvey Buswell

John Allan William Buswell
Dec. 10, 1729.

As a result of this petition a hearing was granted, and the
matter was put off until the spring session. Mr. Jones petitioned
a second and a third time, and still no action was taken. Sep-
tember 18, 1 73 1, the Rev. Hugh Adams asked for a hearing
with reference to the division line of the parishes, and a hearing
was ordered for 23 September, but no record of the result is to
be found. September 24, 1731, Stephen Jones, Hubbard Stevens
and John Woodman petitioned for a hearing on the same matter,
representing that they were a committee authorized by the
Oyster River Parish and that the previous hearing had not been
held as ordered. In response to this petition a hearing was
ordered for 6 May, 1732, which by adjournment was held 9
May, 1732. As a result a bill was drawn up and in a few days
passed, incorporating Durham as a Township. The Journal of
the House calls it the Parish of Durham. The records of the
Council call it a Township. The Charter calls it a Township.
The name Durham was suggested by the Rev. Hugh Adams,
as claimed by him in an address to the General Assembly in
1738. See N. H. Province Papers, Vol. V, p. 35. See also Miss
Mary P. Thompson's Landmarks in Ancient Dover, p. 67.

The Charter as given below is copied from the Town Record
Book, the first thing recorded in the book that contains the


records from the year 1820 to the year 1841. It has been com-
pared with a copy made from the original in 1828. The original
act was found among the papers of Secretary Richard Waldron
in the hands of Richard Russell Waldron of Portsmouth, Feb-
ruary, 1827. It does not bear the Province Seal:

Anno Regni Regis Georgii Secundi Quinto.

An act for making that part of Dover formerly called Oyster River into a
township by the name of Durham.

Be it enacted by his Excellcy the Governor, Councill and Representatives
conven'd in General Assembly and by the authority of the same, That all
those lands lying on the southerly side of a west north west halfe a point
north line from Johnsons Creek at the bridge (in the county rhoad) to the
head line of Dover township, and from the said bridge southeast and by east
down to a pine tree on a point or neck of land called Cedar Point on the west
side of the mouth of the Back River in Dover be erected and made into a
distinct and separate town by the name of Durham by the bounds aforesaid :
all the lands lying within the township of Dover on the southerly side of the
lines aforesaid from Johnsons Bridge: And that the inhabitants of Durham
have, use, exercise and enjoy all such powers and privileges which other
towns have, and do by law use, exercise and enjoy so that theykeep &maintaine
a learned orthodox minister of good conversation among them: and make
provision for an hon^ie support and maintenance for him and that in order
thereto they be discharged from payment to any other minister: and that all
the common land within said town of Durham to be the present inhabitants
as the maj' part thereof shall grant and that (if there be occasion to call a
town meeting for making choice of any town ofhcers for the present yeare)
that Capt. Francis Mathes is hereby impowered and directed to notifie and
summon the inhabitants duely quallified for voters to assemble & meet to-
gether for the choosing such ofificers or making such rates as are needfull for
the present yeare untill theire annuall meeting.

And be it further enacted, That the said town of Durham have power to
send a Representative to the Gen" Assembly from time to time.

In the House of Represent May 13th 1732.

Read three tims in the House of Representatives and passed to be enacted.

Andrew Wiggin, Speaker
In Couno eod die Read and Concurr'd.

R. Waldron, Secry
May 15, 1732. I assent to the enacting this bill.

J. Belcher.

The first town meeting was called by Capt. Francis Mathes
and held 26 June 1732. It was voted to divide the common
and undivided lands among the present inhabitants, and a
committee for that purpose was appointed 28 January 1733/4.
The warrant of 6 March, 1733/4, under the hands of the select-



men, called a meeting of the freeholders' and inhabitants, who
were so in 1732, to assemble at the meeting house, where the
Sullivan monument now is, on Monday, 18 March 1733/4,
to pass votes relating to the division of the common lands.
It appears that the previous committee did not act. The meet-
ing chose Jonathan Thompson as Moderator and the following
committee to make the division, viz., Job Runals, Joseph Jones,
Jr., Stephen Jones, Ichabod Chesle, Thomas Stevenson, Samuel
Smith, Elezar Bickford, Daniel Davis, Francis Mathes, Joseph
Thomas, John Smith, Jr., John Williams, Jon=* Tomson, John
Burnum and John Woodman.

X »

ji/dAMMi ^

iw^ ^ 1







Durham Village as Seen From Broth Hill
" Distance lends enchantment to the view."

Samuel Smith was chosen Proprietors' Clerk, and 19 Decem-
ber 1734, it was voted "that not any person that was not an
inhabitant in town when the charter was given and granted
should have any part or share of the common or undivided
lands in said town."

On 20 December, 1734, the committee "voted that no person
under the age of twenty one years of age when the charter was
given & granted should have any part or share of the common
& undivided lands in said town."

At a subsequent meeting it was decided that twenty-five
acres should constitute a whole share, and that whoever had



farmed or improved any of the common lands since 1701 and
before the charter was given should have the privilege of laying-it
out "when it comes their turns by the numbers that they draw,"
and if they refused then the others could lay out the same.
The Rev. Hugh Adams, in a petition to the Governor, Council
and Assembly, in 1738, states that "the inhabitants of said
town proceeded by their chosen committee at their most general
meeting to divide their commons, voting the minister aforesaid
should, as he did, draw lots for them all." The division was
made in the meeting house, the land divided being largely
located near Little River, in that part of Durham which is now
Lee. Later it was voted by the town that "each whole Share
man pay y'' Comite eight shillings & each lesser Share man
according to their proportion & to pay when their lots are drawn."
The division was made 18 March, 1733/4, and the following is
a list of those who received lands:




125 Joseph Atkinson
Sam' Adams
Hugh Adams

3I Joseph Baker
25 Joseph Bickford
25 Benjn Bickford
25 John Bickford
25 Elizer Bickford
i6| Walter Briant
25 John Burnum
25 James Burnum
25 Robert Burnum

3I Charles Bamford
25 Joseph Bunker
25 James Bunker
25 Abraham Bennick
I2§ John Buss



John Buss Jr.
Jonathan Chesle
Ruben Chesley
Joseph Chesle
Ichabod Chesle
Philip Chesle
Joshua Chesle
Lemuel Chesle
Eli Clark
Joshua Cromet
John Cromat


25 W" Clay

25 Elias Critchet
8| James Conner

25 Joseph Davis
Ephraim Davis
Joshua Davis
John Davis
Benjamin Davis
Jeremiah Davis
Samuel Davis
James Davis Jr.
Daniel Davis
Solomon Davis
James Davis
Jabez Davis
Ebenezer Davis
John Drew
Joseph Drew
Wm Drew
Thomas Drew

i6§ Joseph Durgin

25 Francis Durgin
John Durgin
James Durgin Jr.
James Durgin
William Durgin

i6f Wm Durgin Jr.

i6f Jonathan Durgin

















I2| Benjamin Diirgin

i6f John Doo Jr. [Doe]

25 John Doo

i6| Joseph Doo

25 John Daniels

25 Joseph Duda

25 Joseph Daniels Jr.

12 Peter Dennio [Denbo, now

25 Richd Dinbo
I2§ Benjamin Daniel

6j Joseph Daniels
25 Samuel Emerson

Online LibraryEverett Schermerhorn StackpoleHistory of the town of Durham, New Hampshire : (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes → online text (page 2 of 34)