EARLY GRANTS SHAW>HIN. O
Soou after, the Court granted lands on the west side of Concord
river. "ICaO. Nov. o. the Court granted Increase Nowell his 500
acres " [granted in June] â€¢' on the north side of the bounds of Concord,
beyond the rvver, over again.st the Governo'* 1200 acres ioyning
to the bounds of Concord. Mi-. Thorn : Allen is gi-anted his 500
acres "to ioyne to Increase Xowell on the north side of the said
Increase Xowell, his grant." Mr. Xowell was a prominent citizen
of Charlestown and secretary of the colony ; and Mr. Allen was the
'teacher' of the church in Charlestown. Then follows a grant,
made at the same time, June. lOoO. but not located till October.
1(34(Â». which came within the bounds of Billerica. â€¢â€¢M'^ Thom :
AVelde. pasto' of Roxbury. is gi'auted 533 acres next to Mr. Thom :
Allen, teacher of Charles Towue. beyond Concord Ryver, w''of 200
was granted by the country. & the other 333 is p""! of the 4000 acres
granted to Roxberry." This farm occupied the south part of
Billerica. west of Concord River, and was afterwards bought by
One other and still larger grant remains to be mentioned. 1640,
May 13, â€¢â€¢ There is 3000 acres of land granted to Mrs. AVinthrope,
the wife of Mr. John Wiuthrope, our late Goveruo"". to bee at her
disposeing. for her and her sonns, where they shall desu-e it. w'^'out
piudice to any former grant." And 1641, Dec. 10. "Mrs. Maro-'
Winthrope hath her 3000 acres of land, formerly granted her. to bee
assigned about the lower end of Concord Ryver. near Merrimack,
to bee layde out by Mr. Flint & Leift. Willard. w"^ ^^r. Oliver
or some other skilful in mea=iuring. so as it may not hinder a
plantation. & any p"t thereof they may pnrchase of any Indians that
have right to it." This grant was between the Merrimack and the
Concord, on the east side of the latter, and was subsequentiv
laid out by Jonathan Danforth, "in a true circle." including a
part of Lowell and the adjacent section of Tewksbury.
With 1640. a new force was turned into the currcut setting
towards the settlement of Shawshin. To appreciate its significance
we need to recall certain facts in the general condition of the colony.
This was a time of hardship and financial embarrassment. The
meeting of the Long Parliament.' and the increasing power of the
Puritans in England, had checked the emigration to Xew England,
and the Pequot war had taxed the new settlements. The financial
difficulties of many of the colonists were serious, and Mr. Shepard
and the Cambridge people were particularly involved. As a
measure of relief they seriousl}' considered the question of follow-
G IIISTOHV OF lULLEHlCA.
iiiu; .Ml-, llooki'i- and his coinijauv, whose houses and lands they
had lÂ»(tu<>lit in ('anil)iid,<>e, and joining them in Connecticut.
JNIr. Shepard iiad married the daughter of Mr. Hooker, who
strongly urged the removal of liis son-in-law.'
The authorities of Massachusetts naturally deprecated a second
disrui)tion of Camliridge. Its influence on the colony and the infant
college would h:' disastrous. And they strengthened their argu-
ments with Mr. Shepard and his church by the proposal to enlarge
their bounds nearer home. On the same da}', 1640, Oct. 7, when
Charlestovvn received a grant four miles square, which was the germ,
of Woburn, the Court took the following action: â€”
"The town of Cambridge is granted a month to consider of
Shawshin for a village for them, & if they like it not, the town of
Roxberry hathe liberty to consider of it for a village for them
till the nexte Crene'all Courte." The result was, 1641, June 2:
"Shawshin is granted to Cambridge, p''vided the}- make it a village,,
to have 10 families there setled Av"'in three 3'ears ; otherwise the
Court to disj)ose of it."
But the time was not ripe, and Cambridge was not ready to
grapple with the difficulties of a new settlement so far in the
wilderness. The General Court, however, at last secures a report
descriptive of Shawshin ; but it was so far unfavorable, that whether
intentionally or not, it must have discouraged the hopes of such as
contemi)lated a settlement. This report bears date 1642, June 14,
as follows : â€”
'â€¢A\'ee. whose names are underwritten, being appointed to viewe Shaw-
shin, & to take notice of what fitness it was for a village, & accordingly to
o"" apprehpntion'5 make returne to the Co't; wee therefore manifest thus
nuich : that f(jr the quantity it is sufficient, but for the quality in o''
app''liensions no way fit. the ujiland being very barren & very little medow
there about, nor any good timber almost fit for any use. Wee went after
wee came to Shawshin house, by estimation, some 14 or 16 miles at th?
least, in compass ; fro'" Shawshin house wee began to go downe the ryver
4 or 5 miles near East ; then wee left that point & went neere upon north,
came to Concord liy vej-. a little belowe the falls, about one mile or neare ;
then wee went up the ryver some 5 miles untill w.ee came to a place called
the Two Brethren ; and fro'" thence it is about two miles & i to Shawshin,
& the most p' of all the good land is given out already ; more land there is
at the south side of the house, between the side of Concord line & the
lieade of Cambridge line, but littell medow. & the upland of little worth ;
& this is what we can sav hearin.''
*SÂ«e hli letter to Shepard In History 0/ Cambridge, page 46.
EARLY GRANTS SHAWSHIX. 7
The signers of this report were prominent citizens of Concord
and Woburn, and neighbors are not always best friends. "We need
not doubt the intention of these gentlemen to do justice to Shawshin,
if we do suspect that they were unconsciously influenced b}* the
thought that some advantage and possible enlargement might come
to their own towns, if Shawshin were not occupied as a distinct
settlement. The ''Shawshin house," wh^re their route begins, must
have been on the Shawshin river, in Bedford, at the place where
Vine brojk, ''the riveret from Woburne," empties into it. Going
down the river about to the present line of t!ie railroad, they ma}-
have followed that line to North Billerica. Thence to the Two
Brothers, and across Bedford to the starting point, would make
about the distance estimated ; and if they did not leave this route,
they saw little of the better portions of Shawshin. I'his Shawshin
house was the first building in the town. B\- whom it v,'as built, or
for what purpose, or how .long it remained, we know not. If
Mrs. AVinthrop availed herself of the leave granted b}' the Court the
previous October, "to build a house & a hog or goate pen by the
lower part of Concord Ryver," this ma\' have been the second
civilized structure in Shawshin.
After receiving this report, the General Court at the same session
renewed the grant to Cambridge, giving Shawshin for the first time
specific bounds. '-All the land lying upon Shaweshin Ryver, &
between that & Concord Ryver, & between that & Merrimack
Ryver, not formerly granted b}' this Co't, are granted to Cambrido-e,
so as they erect a village there w"'in o yeares & so as it shall not
extend to preiudice Charlcstowne village or the village. of Cochitawit,
nor the farms formerly granted to the now Gove''uor of 1260 ae''s, to
Thorn: Dudley, Esq., 1500 ac's, & 301)0 ac'"s to Mrs. Wiuthrope ;
& Mr. Flint & Mr. Stephen Winthrope are to set out their heade
line towards Concord." Remembering that Cochitawit was Andover,
and Charlestown Village, Woburn, the terms of this grant are very
clear. Mr. Flint and Mr. Stephen Winthrop were survevors, and
are instructed to make the line of Concord the South- West bound?
as it was in fact, of the Winthrop farm. The time within which the
settlement must be effected is, b}' this grant, extended from 1G4J: to
164:7. The difficulty of the undertaking, however, seams to have
made it doubtful whether Cambridge could fulfil the conditions, even
in the extended time, and inducements to remove to Connecticut
CDutinuiug to influence her leading citizens, the Court again modified
8 HISTOKY OF HILLEKICA.
the terms of tlu^ grant, in order to hold Cambridge to the Shawshin
i' l(;.l;3_4, March 7, Shaweshin is granted to Cambridge, w^'out
any condition of making a viUage there, & the laud between them
& Concord is granted them, all save what is formerl}- granted to the
military company or othei-s, p'vided the' church & p'"sent elders con-
tinue at Cambridge." The proviso shows distinctly that these
grants, with tlieir increasing inducements, were designed to prevent
the removal of Mr. Shepard and liis friends. And the polic}- was
successful. They remained in Cambridge, and some of them
became early inliabitants of Shawshin. It is hardly too nuich to
suppose that this Shawshin grant prevented a second disruption
of the mother town.
Cambridge could now proceed at her convenience in the settle-
ment of Shawshin, without fear of losing the grant, and she made
haste slowly. The only allusion found for four years to the place
comes incidentally from AVoIxn-n. 1G44, May 9, the Court "ordered
that the ryver at Shawshin shalbe called b}- the name of Shawshin
Ryver, not only belowe, but a'lso above the riveret w'^'' falls into
said ryver in AVooburne bounds above halfe a mile from Cambridge
line." The interest of the Court in this name of the river was not
purely geographical. The western bound of Woburn was contin-
gent upon it. In the original grant of "Charles Towne village," the
Court says "they shall not crosse Cambridge line nor come w"Hn a
mile of Shaweshin Ryver." Vine brook, as it is now known, runs
westerly from Burlington, then a part of Woburn, and crosses the
line "above half a mile from Cambridge," now Lexington. If the
Shawshin could be held to begin at the point where this riveret
comes in, the western bound of Woburn might legally have been
extended above, so far even as to meet Concord. But if the river
were the Shawshin from its rise in Lincoln, the bound of Woburn
was limited accordingly. A petition, therefore, was presented from
Woburn, signed b}- Edward Johnson, Edward Converse and John
Mousall. " Humbly Beeseaching this Honored Corte to give direction
for sending in a cleere way. About the laying oute the Bounds of the
s'^ towne next Shawshin River ; first, whether it be mente wee shall
keepe one mile fro the place called Shawshin, from whence wee
conceave the River hath its Denomination, or whether wee must
keep one Mile From any of the Riverets ; "ind, AVhether wee must
wave our bounds out & in as the River doth (Being Straightened
EARLY GRANTS 8HAWSHIN. 9
Beyond Exi)ectations by Liu Village one the other side) . Would
ucrt Willingly delude ourselves with vayue Hopes Againe, But if it
prove we Are Straightened by Shawshiu River, likewise, wee may
Indevor the gaineing (if it Be possible) some Handicraftsmen unto
us, that the Blessed ordinances of God may Be upheld, the Lord
helping in the use of means," etc. But the Court guarded the
interests of Cambridge and .Shawshiu, and answered Woburu in the
action given above.
The policy of "gaining some handicraftsmen" was, however,
fairly successful in our sister town. The}' have been able, in spite
of this defeat of their hopes, to maintain "the Blessed ordinances
of God," and to give portions to three thrifty daughters, even from
their contracted bounds.
The earliest action of Cambridge for the settlement of Shawshin,
of which the record has been preserved, was taken, 1648, April 9.*
'â€¢It was agreed at a general meeting, when the whole town had special
warning to meet for the disposing of Shawshine, that there should be a
farm laid out of a thousand acres, to be for a public stock, and improved
for the good of the church, & that part of the chuix'h that here shall
continue ; and everj' person or persons that shall from time to time remove
from tlie church, do hereby resign up their interest therein to the I'emaining
part of the church of Cambridge. This thousand acres of land, given to
the use aforesaid, shall be laid out, either all together or else severally,
part in one place & part elsewhere, according to the discretion of the men
that are appointed to lay out the land."
"Also, there were granted to several brethren that had no house-right
in the town, if they did desire it, farms at Shawshin," ''Imprimis:
Capt. Googine a farm, if he buy a house in the town; also to Bro. Edward
Oaks,. Tho. Oakes. and Eichard Hildreth. each of them a farm for their
encouragement, if they see it may make for their support and desire it.
Further, it is granted to Mi-. Henrj^ Duuster and Edward Collins. Hberty
to have their small farms at Shawshine, and. to be considered in their
quantity more than others in regard of their work ond place."
1649, April, one year later, the town "Agreed that Mr. Hemy
Dunster, President of Harvard College, should have 500 acres
whereof four hundred is granted by the town to his own person and
heirs, to enjo}' freel}', forever, and the other 100 acres, for the use
of Harvard College. Item, unto Mr. Daniel Googine, 500 acres.
Item, unto Mr. Edward Collins, in lieu of his small farm within the
town bounds, with some addition in respect of his place in the
Deacon's office, it was agreed that he should have' 500 acres."
6 History of Cambridge, page 57.
10 HISTOHY OF BILLEKICA.
The next movi'iiu'iit on record preparatory to the occupancy of
Shawshin was in in:)!. Governor Dudley, whose farm of 1500 acres
embrac?d an attractive part of the town, petitions the Court, Oct. 15,
for a d;Minition of his river hound. Aftar statement of the grant, he
says : ''but is not expr3ss2d how far th3 said 1500 acres should go
along bv the ryver-side (although the said Thomas Dudley took it
for granted, & yet does, that he might goe as farr by the ryver side
as he would) yet to make it certain, & that no difference or questions
may arise in times to come, the said petitiouor does now intreat of
this honored Court that it may be recorded that the 1500 acres so
granted unto him may be laid out two myles & a halfe along by
the ryver side, and so that he may make upp for 1500 acres from
the ryver side to the land ward, ifor which he shall render due
thanks," etc. He received favoral)le answer, and the way was thus
prepared for the sale of his grant. This took place 28 Feb., 1G51-2,
to three citizens of Woburn, Thomas Charaberline, James Parker,
and Isaac Learned. This was the earliest sale and one of the
largest which was ever made of land" in Billerica, and for these
reasons, as well as for illustration of the methods of exchange of
that daA', I quote its provisions at some length.
'â€¢This witnesseth that VAhereas, by several grants of divers General
Courts, there is conveyed to Thomas Dudley, the Deputy Governor. & his
hoyres. 1500 acres of laud, lying & being about 6 miles northerly from
Concord. * * Now, the said Thomas Dudley, for & in consideration of
one hundred & ten pounds of lawful money, to be payed unto him * *
b}' Thomas Chamberline. Isack? Ijearnsd, and James Parker, all of
Woburne, in Xew England, in such goods & at such times as hereafter
hoercin appeareth. ba;b granted * * all the right * * which he, the
said Thomas Dudley, or his hsja-es, hath therein, by virtue of tb? said
grants of the general Courts, or by any purchase from any Indian * *
together with all woodes, tr.ees, waters, fishings. & other appurtenances to
th3 same belonging. To have and to hold * * Provided always, that if
the said * * shall not well & truly pay * * the summe of fifty & five
pounds of lawful money, oxen, steers, cowes. heifers, or calves, sound &
good cattle, none of them to be above six years old, at his now dwelling-
house in Poxburv. in New Enghmd. upon the eight & twentieth day of
Aprill which shall be in the year of our Lord 1053; & the like suuune of 55
pounds, in like cattailo or in corne at the place aforesaid, in such kind of
corn? as hereafter foUoweth : that is to saj', Twenty pounds thereof in
Wheate, & five & thirty pounds thereof in Rye, pease, or Indian corne, of
each a like equal quantity, all good and clean dressed, upon the eight &
twentieth day of Aprill, which sliall be in * 1G54; the said cattle & corne
to be valued at the several times of deliverance thereof by one man chosen
EARLY GRANTS SHAWSHIN. 11
by said Thomas Dudley, and another man chosen by the [purchasers] ;
and if these two cannot agree, then by a third man to be chosen l)y those
two. And it is agreed, that if the [purchasers] shall pay any part of the
last pajnnenc in c jrna. they shall give 3 months warning in writing * *
how much they will so pay in corne, & if they shall pa,v but part of the
last payment in corne, then it shall be proportioned according to the kinds
of corne before expressed."
Governor Dudley's signature to this deed is witnessed b}' Thomas
Dudley, Jr., Tobias Davis, and John Remkens, and the agreement
is added ' â– that what oxen shall be payed, may be seven years old
and no more." The deed was recorded b^- Thomas Danforth,
19 Sept., 1G56
These three men. who purchased so large an interest in Shawshin,
all became citizens of Chelmsford, wliich was receiving its earl}'
settlers at the same time. But James Parker resided here three or
four years, and John Stearns, whose name is so prominent in our
history, was the brother of Isaac Learned's wife, Mary. William
Chamberline, who settled in Shawshin, was probably a relative
of Thomas ; and George Farley, Henry Jefts, and the Hills were
their neighbors in Woburn, and purchased of them parts of the
Cambridge also soon began to take more eft'ective measures.
There had been, doubtless, debates going on how the settlement
might be effected with some profit to those citizens of Cambridge
who had no intention of removing to Shawshin. But the problem
was not eas\' of solution. The clearing and occupancy of the wilder-
ness was felt to entitle the pioneers to the full benefit of their toil
and sacrifice, and immigrants could not be induced to make their
homes here and subject themselves to an\' considerable tribute to
Some things indicate, also, that the question whether the benefit
of the grant of Shawshin was to a crue to the church or the town
of Cambridge created embarrassment. Town and church were in
those days so nearly identical that it was not always easy to draw
the line, and sometimes it was left obscure. While the grant of
Shawshin is not specifically to the church, but simply to Cambridge,
the language does imply that the General Court had the church in
view in making it. And although the action, making grants in 1G48
and 1649, had been by the town, it appears from the next quotation
that the Shawshin grant was really held by the church. 1G52,
12 . IlISTOKV OF MILLEiaCA.
.hine !) (four months alter Diidloy had sold his fann) "it was agreed
by the ehnrch that Shawshiue should be divided as foUoweth : â€”
"'J'o Mr. Michcll. live ImiKhed acres. To Edw. Okes, three hundred
aeros. To Thomas Okes. on? Imudred and fiftj^ acres.
"It Avas a""rocd that these thres above named should have their lots
laid out by a committee with as littJ!' prejudice to any lot as may be, and
so not to draw any lot.
"Also, the Church d ith agree, that although the land be, by grant of
the General Court, jjeculiar to the rimrch only, yet the whole town. viz. :
such as are owners of liouse and lanil in tlie town, shall come into the
'â€¢Also, it is agrei'd. that every man shall have a proportion f)f land,
more or less, according to the proportion now allotted him.
'"Also, that every man shall have a part of the meadow in pi'oportion
with his upland; to l)e laid out after th? same rule that the upland is, both
by lot and quantity.
"Also, it is agreed, that, after the farms formerh' granted are laid out.
the remainder of the land shall be divided into three breadths, viz. : t\A o
of the said breadths to lie between the rivers, and the third on this
side Shawshine Kiver. The first lot to begin upon a line continued over
Shawshine River, the same that is between Woburn' and us, running
towards Concord, until it meet with Mr. AVinfrop's farm; and so the said
first lot to butt South upon that line & on Shawshine River and Mr. AVin-
trop's farm ; and so each lot to proiieed one after another, by due parallels,
until they come clear of the farms already laid out. and then to extend in
two divisions between the Rivers, and a third division on the east side
Shawshine River; and so every man's lot to follow one another, taking all
the three breadths at once, the nearest laud to the first center being still
always the next lot in order.
"The nuuiber of ev(^ry man's lot & quantitj- of acres is as followeth
on the other side."
Here follows a list of 113 names' regularly numbered, and two
others appended, of persons to whom grants varying from 10 to 450
acres were made in Shawshin, amounting to a total of 9800 acres.
Add th3 2450 acres above mentioned, granted specially' to six
leading citizens, and the whole numV)er of acres granted b..
Cambridge to individuals reaches 12,250. Most of these grants
were never located, but were sold to Billerica, as wdll subsequentl}'
appear. For convenience of reference and comparison with the
later list in the deed of sale, I give these names, recast alphabeti-
cally, with memoranda added as to the disposition of'the rights.
EARLY GRANTS SIIAM'SHIN.
I also insert, without numbers, the six names of other citizens
who had large grants in JShawshin, but were not included in the dis-
tribution by lot. The figures at the left of the names give the num-
ber of acres. The original list may be found in the History of
Cambridge, pp. 58-9. The original spelling is preserved, except
that the initial 'ff,' often used, gives place to the capital 'F.'
LIST or CAMBRIDGE GRANTEES.
Arrington. See Erringtoii.]
Andrews. Mr. [Samuel."
Angler. Mr. [Edmund.]
French, John's children.
French. Lt. William.
Frost, Mr. Edmund.
Greene, Nath. & Mother
Cleraniance. AVilliam, Seii. 30
Corlet, Mr. Elijath.
HISTORY OF BILLERICA.
Jacson, John. 50
Jaoson. m. 200
Jacson, Mv. 400*
Konipster. Daniell. 80
I^onghorne, Thomas. 60
Man. William. 70
Manning, Will'". 60
Man-ct, Tho. 200
Michell, Mr. 500
MiclK'lson, Edw; 150*
Miller, Joseph. 15*
Moore, Fr., sen"". 50