Everett Schermerhorn Stackpole.

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

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Online LibraryEverett Schermerhorn StackpoleHistory of the town of Durham, New Hampshire : (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes → online text (page 7 of 34)
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Extent it Runes nor nor west ninety six Rods to a stump markt W H and from
that stump East and be north to stonie brook on the south side of Jonathan
Woodmans orchard and so downe the aff ore mentioned Creek and from thence
the sd creek bounds this Land on the East till it comes to the Poynt where we

Mention is made above of the fact that Bartholomew Stephen-
son lived near the landing at the falls. He seems to have settled
here by right of squatter sovereignty, and in 1710 Nathaniel
Hill claimed the land that Stephenson was living on. The case
in court brought out several depositions that are worth more to
the historian than the land. Peter Coffin, aged about 79, tes-
tified that Valentine Hill lived on the north side of Oyster River
near the Mill and employed a great many men on his 500 acres
and that Coffin himself was one of the employees and afterward
was agent of Hill's estate.

William Leathers of full age testified, 19 October 17 10, that
Bartholomew Stevenson built a house upon "y« upland 23 years
ago, on land now in controversy between Nathaniel Hill and s^
Stevenson, and was never interrupted in s^ time."


The Deposition of Joseph Meader sen' & Stephen Jones both of full age
Testifieth & saith that Capt Nath" Hill built a house & erected Fences upon
a Tract of Land att y head of Oysterriver the salt River on the north side of
y« River & lived there Peacably without any molestation by any Persons for
twenty eight years ago or thereabouts & when Oysterriver was Part of it cut
of by the enemy John Dean was killed by y« enemy who lived in said Hills
house & ye s^ House was Burned by y« enemy which land s"! Hill sueth Barthol-
omew Stevenson for & now is in controversy and further saith not. [See Court
Filesat Concord, N.H. No. 15657.]

February 23, 1709/10:

The Deposition of Capt. Benjamin Matthews of Dover, aged 80 years or
thear about, that sixty years ago or thear about my mother asked my consent
to sell Valentine Hill that tract of land my father purchased of Mr. William
Hilton as appears by a dedeof sale under his hand and my mother told mc that
she sold that land to the said Hill by my consent and by surety of that sale
the sayd Hill built upon that land for sixty years ago or theare about and the
said Hill lived and died in peaccbell possession of that land without any moles-
tation by any persons to the best of my knowledge, which land lieth at the
hed of Oyster river the sallt river on the north side of that river joining to the
saw mill that was bought by Capt. Woodman and Ste. Jones and Nathaniel
Hill and furder saith by information Bartholomy Stevenson hasbewelt upone
and improved part of the same land and furder saith that he never heard that
the sayd Hill was molestet in his possession of the fresh nieddowc att Whelrits
pond and thear about by person or persons. [Court Files No. 17101.]

February 13, 1709/10:

The testimonie of John Medder sen' of Dover beeing eighty years of agge
testifieth and saith that the five hundred ackers of Land granted to Mr Valen-
tine Hill by the town of Dover at the head of Oyster river adjacent to his
sawmill the North Line of y« land running near aboutt the foott path going
from the falls to Stoney Brook near Capt. Woodmans orchard soe running
up the hill northerly between Capt. Woodmans house and A Littell barn west-
erly of the house, I being lately upon the Spote and acquainted to the above
premises, aboutte sixty fourc years, and further saith the westerly bounds of
that land Mr Valentine Hill sold to Patrick Jemison begins at the salt river
between a fence and a Littell Hill whcr plume trees grow and soe running upon
a straight Line to Stony Brook to an elm standing near Capt. Woodman De-
cesd orchard And the land wich ]\^r X'alentine Hill sold to Patrick Jemison is
noe part of that land wich Capt. Nath" Hill and Bartholmew Stevenson is now
in controversy with And I asked Mr Valentine Hill why hee would sell that
land to Patrick Jemison, Hee answered mee because hee was A usefull man to
mcc aboutte my mills hee was my Serv" and I would have him settled by mee
and further saith not. [Court Files, No. 17101.]

It appears from the above that Valentine Hill built a house on
the north side of the river and lived in it, that his son, Nathaniel
Hill, built another house about the year 1682, that John Dean



was living in said house in 1694, when Dean was killed and the
house was burned. Nathaniel Hill probably was then living in
the house his father built, and tradition says that the house
built by Valentine Hill forms a part of the Ffrost house on the
hill. This, then, must be the oldest house in Durham, and it is
doubtful whether there is another so old within the limits of
ancient Dover. This house must have been a garrison capable
of resisting the Indian attack of 1694.

As a result of the aforementioned suit possession was deliv-
ered, 15 March 1710, to Nathaniel Hill of "six acres of land

Head of Tide Water, Oyster River

bounded easterly with land now in the occupation of the widdow
Chesly, on the southerly and westerly side with the publick high
way and a lane northerly."

It appears as though Bartholomew Stevenson lived on the hill,
within the limits of the town landing as afterward laid out, about
where now stands an old white house, that a century ago was occu-
pied by Widow Elizabeth Dutch. The house in which John Dean
lived and which was burned in 1694 may have been under the
hill, where an old cellar is even now plainly visible.

The bounds of the Landing Place as laid out by John Tuttle,
Jeremiah Burnham, Tristram Heard and James Davis, in 1703,
further describe this region:


Beginning att high water mark by George Chesley his fence, so from high
water mark by y« fence eight rods northwesterly or as the said fence now layes,
which isnear thereabouts, from thence west and be south twenty nine Rods to
the Top of the hill by Bartholomew Stephenson his house, from thence nor nor
west to a pitch pine niarkt H standing on y« east side of y« mast path which
leads from Oyster River falls, from thence west to the fence on the west side
of the aforesaid path, then southward as y« s^ fence now goes tell it comes to
the fresh River above the sawmill, all which Land thus Laid out to Lay open for
a Public Landing Place.

Thus we come to the large estate of Valentine Hill. On the
29th of the 9th month, 1649, there was granted to Valentine Hill
and Thomas Beard "the fall of Oyster River," "for the Erickting
and setting up of a sawe mill," with accommodations of timber
for the mill. The annual rent for the same was ten pounds, to
be paid to the town, beginning the following September or earlier
if the mill began to run before that time. A little later Thomas
Kemble owned a large share in this mill. On the 14th of the 5th
month, 1651, the town granted to Valentine Hill five hundred
acres for a farm, "adjacent to his mills at Oyster River, provided
it doth not annoy the inhabitants, and laid out and bounded in
y* year 1660, y^ 3rd day of y^ iith mo. bounded upon a N and S
line from Oyster River 200 rods, and from that bound N W half
a point westerly 320 rods and from y* to Oyster River upon a
S. W and by S line 210 rods to y^ River and y^ River is y® bounds."

This tract embraced the greater part of the site of the present
village of Durham and was long in possession of the heirs of Valen-
tine Hill. In the mill he employed his "seven Scots" and had a
grant of four acres for their use, as has been before said. Though
he had a house near the mill, and probably it was a part of the
present Ffrost house, — yet in 1660 "the house of Mr. Valentine
Hill, which is his now dwelling house at Rockey Point," is men-
tioned in fixing the division line of Oyster River parish. This
was probably near the mouth of the river, on the north side, since
we have already seen that Hill owned a large tract of land there
at this time. He also had a grant of the mill privileges at Lam-
prey River, in 1652, with accommodations of timber on land a
mile wide on both sides of the river, for which he was to pay the
town twenty pounds annually.

John Thompson, who married Sarah, daughter of Capt. John
Woodman, about 1679, lived not far from his father-in-law. He
had a grant of land, 2 April 1694, on the north side of Mast Road



in Follett's swamp. The first Thompson house was on the present
farm of Lucien Thompson, and the road leading thereto from
the Mast Road was just west of the new Boston and Maine
Railroad station. His land extended to the King's highway
leading from Oyster River to Dover through what is locally
known as Bagdad. This was a strip directly north of the Kin-
caid and Hill lands. Here John Thompson, senior, and succeed-
ing generations were buried. He had a grant of two acres against
Woodman's land in 1702 and an additional grant of land adjoining
in 1720. Another grant was made to him in 1733. Successive

Upper End of College Reservoir, in "Follets Marsh"

generations had extensive grants and made purchases of a con-
siderable part of the Woodman farm. Robert Thompson built
his house on the corner of Thompson land nearest to the Wood-
man garrison for protection.

West of the Thompson land, in Follett's swamp, was land
granted to Eli Demeritt, 30 May 1699, in exchange for land
which had been granted to him near John Derry, ii April 1694.
This grant was laid out, 31 May 1699, "in follets swamp and is
bounded by four rods of Land Left for a path for cattle into the


woods and Jonathan Woodmans Land Lying on the north side
of it the first bounds being four rods south from a marked Hem-
lock tree and runs south west and by south forty rods to A Bass
tree marked and from thence norwest or there about eight score
rods to A marked Hemlock tree marked E J and from thence it
runs east and be north forty rods to A Hemlock tree marked
E J and from thence where it began." Signed by John Wood-
man, Jeremiah Burnum and John Smith, Lott Laiers.

The above grant is now a part of the three hundred acre farm
owned by Albert DeMeritt. The farm of Capt. George P.
Demeritt adjoining has also been in the family many genera-
tions, perhaps back to the first settler, Eli Demeritt.

The location of other settlers will best be told in the chapter on


The fact is well known that Oliver Cromwell took ten thou-
sand prisoners at the battle of Dunbar, 3 September 1650, and
as many more at the battle of Worcester, just one year later.
Those taken at Dunbar were marched down to Durham and
Newcastle b>' way of Berwick and entrusted to the care of Sir
Arthur Hcsclrig. Many perished on this march, and some were
shot because they could not or would not march. They had
little to eat for eight days. Disease swept off i ,500 in the course
of a few weeks. One hundred and fifty were sent over to Bos-
ton, Mass., in the ship Unity, and since a score or so of them
settled at what is now South Berwick, Me., that place was first
called the Parish of Unity. Many more of these Scotch prison-
ers were sent to Virginia, and more still were sent to West India

The prisoners taken at Worcester were marched up to London
and there confined for a few months in the artillery grounds at
Tuthill Fields, perhaps half a mile west of Westminster Palace.
Here they were allowed for daily rations a pound of bread and
half a pound of cheese. Shelter seems to have been provided
for the sick only. Two hundred and seventy-two of these pris-
oners were sent to Boston in the ship called the John and Sara
and were consigned to Thomas Kemble, a merchant of Charles-
town, Mass.

This Thomas Kemble was part owner with Valentine Hill in
the mills at Durham Falls and Lamprey River. He also owned
lands in Maine and did an extensive business in lumber. He
saw that the young Scotch prisoners would be useful men in saw-
mills and so he disposed of many of them in this way. Richard
Leader had charge of some Scotchmen at the Lynn Iron Works
and later, in 1652, took some of them with him to work in the
mills at South Berwick, then called Great Works.

All the Scotchmen brought in the two ships above mentioned
were sold to planters and others who needed workmen through-
out New England. The usual price paid was twenty pounds
per man, and after working from five to eight years, nominally
to pay their passage money, and to learn some trade as appren-



tices, they were given their liberty. Many of them received
grants of land in the towns where they had worked.

The records of Dover, under date of 5 October 1652, have the
following: "Given & granted unto Mr. Valentine Hill, his heires
Executors administrators or assigns foure acres of land adjoining
to Goodman Hudsons Lott for his Scots." Later, about 1663,
we find another record as follows, "Layd out and Bounded to
henrey Brown and James Ore fower ackers which were given and
granted unto Mr. Valentine Hills seven Scotes in the yeir 1652.
Said land lyeth on the northern side of the land that was granted
to Hudson and now in the hands of Edward Patterson." It bor-
dered on the "freshet," that is, the mill-pond above the dam at
Durham Falls, and was on the south side of the river, and on
the Newmarket road. It is probable that they worked by shifts
in the mills, having three days in the week to work in their gar-
dens. They were not allowed to marry till they got their liberty.
Some of them never married. Some married daughters of their
employers. Some married Irish maids who had been kidnaped
and brought over as house servants and to swell the population
of the colonies.

A study of these Scotchmen clears up a lot of mystery here-
tofore connected with certain names that appear in early tax-
lists of Dover and in court records. Let us see who they were.

Nyven Agnew, called also Nivin Agneau, is called "Nivin the
Scot" in the Dover tax-list of 1659, shortly after he got his free-
dom. He administered the estate of James Barry, another
Scotchman of South Berwick, Me., about 1676, and lived on the
land that Kittery had granted to Barry. Agnew's will, 16 Sep-
tember 1687, mentions debts due to him from James Barry, his
predecessor. He divides his property between Peter Grant and
John Taylor, two other Scotchmen. In the inventory of his
estate is this item, "To a sword that Peter Grant did say he
would give ten shillings for." Neither Barry nor Agnew married.

John Barber was taxed in Dover in 1659 and was received as
an inhabitant of Exeter in 1678. He had wife, "Sisly," and a
seat was assigned to him in the church at Amesbury, Mass., in
1667. He had at least two sons, John and Robert. John Bar-
ber, Jr., married Anne, daughter of Robert Smart and lived on
Hilton's Mill Grant in 1696. He had a grant of fifty acres in
1725. His wife, Anne, made a deposition, 23 June 1759, aged


83. They had sons, Joseph who was a soldier at Crown Point
in 1756, and John, who was living in 1768. Perhaps this was
the John Barber who married Jane Davis in Durham, 19 January

Robert Barber, son of John, senior, was born in Amesbury,
Mass., 4 March 1669/70. He had a grant of fifty acres in Exe-
ter in 1698 and was killed by Indians i July 1706. He had chil-
dren, Abigail, Mary, Daniel and Robert.

Henry Brown and James Orr, Oar, or Ore, lived together all
their lives, unmarried. They were admitted as inhabitants at
Oyster River, 10 November 1658, and w^ere taxed in 1659. They
and Edw^ard Errin bought in 1662 "a farm at Bradboate Har-
bour in Pischataq River at the Wadeing place, with 50 acres of
upland." This was near the line between Kittery and York,
called long afterward "Scotchman's Neck." In 1686 Brown and
Orr brought suit against John Bray for carrying aw^ay their grass
at Brave Boat Harbor. June 3, 1675, "Henry Brown and James
Oare, Scotchmen & now residents in the township of Wells",
bought 200 acres of Henry Sayward, at"Mowsome." In 1662
Brown and Ore had a grant of eight score acres near " Moharmits
marsh." October 9, 1669, James Ore of Saco Falls belonging to
Winter Harbor, for himself and Henry Brown, sold to James
Smith of Oyster River, tailor, land granted to them by Dover, a
"mile and a halfe or there abouts" from Oyster River, on the
south side of said river, eight acres. Brown and Orr lived many
years in Wells, Me., and ran a sawmill, having learned the trade
of Valentine Hill. They associated with them one Robert Stew-
art, another Scotchman, and left all their property to him.

Thomas Canyda has been already mentioned as killed by the
falling of a tree upon him near the house of Thomas Humphreys,
in 1660.

John Curmuckhell came in the John and Sara from the battle-
field of Worcester. John Cerniclc, called also Carnicle, was
taxed at Oyster River in 1657. John Chirmihill bought land of
John Pearce of York, 26 December 1660, and married Pearce's
daughter, Ann. He had a grant of upland at York Bridge in
167 1. Ann, wife of John Cyrmihill, was presented at court, 6
July 1675, " for not frequenting the pubiiciue worship of God on
the Lord's da\s." He died soon after this, and his w^idow mar-
ried Micum Mclntvre of York.


" Davey Daniel" is suspected of being a Scot. He is first men-
tioned in the settlement of a Scotchman's estate. It is known
that James Daniels was one of the thirty-five Scots employed at
the Lynn Iron Works in 1653. He is also called Danielson and
his son founded the town of Danielson, Conn. The Daniels
family of Durham was first called Daniel. The name originally
might have been McDaniel. The Mc was dropped, as in many
other names, when the Scotchmen came to New England. Later
its equivalent was added to the name, making Danielson, or
shortened to Daniels. See Daniel family in Genealogical Notes.

Patrick Denmark was taxed in Dover in 1662. He had wife,
Hannah, and children found in records of Dover, viz., Patrick
born 8 April 1664 and James born 13 March 1665. He is once
called Patrick Denmor. He removed to Saco, Me., soon after
1665, where children are recorded. In 1685 he petitioned for a
grant of 100 acres in Saco, "having now a great Charge of Chil-
dren." His son, James, married Elizabeth Littlefield of Wells.

Thomas Doughty was received as an inhabitant of Dover in
1658. He was born in 1630, as a deposition shows. In this
deposition he delares that he w^orked for Valentine Hill and cut
a road for Hill to his meadow at Wheelwright's Pond, where said
Hill built a house and kept cattle. Hill paid Doughty ten pounds
for cutting the road. Doughty removed to Great Works, South
Berwick, and managed the sawmill there a short time. He mar-
ried, 24 June 1669, Elizabeth Bulie of Saco. The Indians drove
him from Wells to Salem, Mass., where he died about the year
1705. He left children, viz., James who married, 10 April 1707,
Mary Robinson in Hampton, N. H., and settled in Cape Eliza-
beth, Me.; Joseph of Salem; Elizabeth who married Thomas
Thomes and went to Falmouth, Me.; Benjamin; Margaret,
who married Samuel Wilson of Maiden, Mass.; Abigail who
married in Lynn, Mass., 28 October 1717, Robert Edmonds;
and Patience who married Benjamin Follett of Salem, Mass.
The descendants of Thomas Doughty are many in Maine and

Edward Erwin was received as an inhabitant of Dover in 1658.
He was taxed as Edward Arrin in 1659. He with Henry Brown
and James Oar bought land in Kittery in 1662. "Edward Irwin
and Company" were taxed in Dover in 1662. Edward Eurin
died in Exeter, 9 November 1667. He is called Duren and Dow-


reing in the administration of his estate. James Kidd and George
Veasey were administrators, and John Roy, a Scotchman of
Charlestown, seems to have been his heir. I think he was the
Edward Dulen, so erroneously reported in the passenger list of
the John and Sara, and that he was captured at the battle of
Worcester, 3 September 1651.

William Furbish was taxed in Dover in 1659 as William Fer-
bush. The statement that he was taxed in Dover in 1648, made
in Old Kittery and Her Families, is an error, the result of the
misreading of the name William Furber. William Furbish was
in Scotland probably William ffarrabas, and a family of the same
surname in Massachusetts is now called Forbes, once pronounced
in two syllables. William Furbish owned land in Kittery, now
Eliot, before 1664, and had a grant from the town in 1668. He
died in 1701, having had seven children. He was punished in
1681 for calling His Majesty's authorities " Divills and hell
bound," thus showing his lasting antipathy to the rule of Eng-
lishmen. The fight at Dunbar was not yet ended in his breast.
His descendants are very numerous. See Old Kittery and Her
Families, pp. 121, 437.

William Gowen, alias Smith, was taxed as W'illiam Smith at
Oyster River in 1659. William Smith, alias Gowin, was fined
"for fighting and bloodshed on ye Lords day after ye afternoone
meeting," 30 June 1668. He was on a coroner's jury at Oyster
River in 1660. The Scotch word gowen means a smith, hence
the change of his name. "Elexander Gowing," perhaps the
same man, was taxed at Oyster River in 1661. William Gowen,
or Smith, was a carpenter. He first appears in Kittery, now
Eliot, in 1666. There he married, 14 May 1667, Elizabeth, sister
of Major Charles Frost, and had a grant of a house lot in 1670.
He died 2 April 1686, leaving eight children. See Old Kittery
and Her Families, p. 468.

Peter Grant was taxed at Oyster River in 1659. He had pre-
viously been employed in the Lynn Iron Works. He bought
land at what is now South Berwick, 21 October 1659. A deposi-
tion, made 13 September 1701, calls him "upwards of 70 years
old." He married, about 1664, Joan, widow of James Grant of
York, though court records show that both of them had wives in
Scotland, to whom they could not return. Peter Grant left eight
children and his descendants are numerous. See Old Kittery


and Her Families, p. 472. He was a member of the Scotch
Charitable Society in Boston in 1657.

John Hudson came in the John and Sara. He is mentioned at
Oyster River, 5 October 1652. He settled at Bloody Point, New-
ington. There were granted to John Hudson, 19 March 1693/4,
ten acres joining to land he bought of William Furber. He mar-
ried, 25 July 1689, Mary Beard. This was probably a second
marriage. He died about 1717, leaving most of his property to
his grandson, Hudson Peavey.

Walter Jackson came in the John and Sara and was received
as an habitant at Oyster River in 1658. He had wife, Jane, in
1663, and, Ann, in 1667. For family see Genealogical Notes.

James Jackson also came in the John and Sara. He was taxed
at Oyster River in 1663. June 27, 1661, James Jackson was
freed from training "by reason he hath lost one of his fingers."
Did he lose it at the battle of Worcester or in Valentine Hill's
sawmill? He married a daughter of John Smith of Cape Nedick,
York, where he had a grant of twenty-eight acres in 1667, next
to land of his father-in-law. He was probably killed by Indians,
with his wife and two children, in 1675. He left a daughter,
Elizabeth, who in 1685 acquits her uncle, John Smith, Jr., of
York, from any incumbrance, dues or demands concerning her
father's estate or concerning herself. See York Deeds, VH, 262.

Patrick Jameson came in the John and Sara. He seems to
have been the one who is called " Patrick the Scott" in the Dover
tax-list of 1657. Valentine Hill sold to " Patrick Gimison of the
same town," 1 1 May 1659, land on the north side of Oyster River,
that later was the estate of George and Deliverance Chesley.
The village school house is on this lot. Hill declared that Jame-
son had been a servant of his and was useful in his mills and,
therefore, he sold the land to Jameson. In 1664 Patrick Jame-
son was chosen with Philip Chesley to lay out a road from Oyster
River to Cochecho. Patrick Jennison, his mark, probably the
same man, witnessed a deed at Kennebunk, in 1674. He was
accused of crime at Oyster River, in 1669, and ordered to be
sent to Boston for further trial, but the case seems not to have
been pushed. In 1677 the administration of the estate of Pat-
rick Gynnison, deceased, was granted to Samuel Austin of York,
as court records at Alfred, Me., say. There is no record of any


Robert Junkins was taxed at Oyster River in 1657, and as
" Robard Junkcs" in 1663. He removed to York before 1674

Online LibraryEverett Schermerhorn StackpoleHistory of the town of Durham, New Hampshire : (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes → online text (page 7 of 34)