Timothy Brooks Jun''
William Chamberline, jr
Mr. Oliver Whiting
Caleb Farley Jun'
Peter Frederick Subloon Samuel Danforth"
Jacob French Jun'
The following explains itself: â€”
"19. 1, 1675 ^^e received an order from y^ selectmen of Cambridg to
run yf' bounds between us, on yÂ« 29 day instant. The selectmen sent their
order back again, and underwrlt the same as followeth :
" 'Gent'", if this your order had come to our hand one day sooner, our
towne might have had y'^ cognizance of it & have impowered us to have
acted in it. All that we can say at present is this : That this time six j-ears
j'our selves sent to us to con)e down to you, to come to an agreement about
192 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.
it. We attended your order, and made two Journeys to you about it. We
offered to chuse a committee of indifferent men to determine it (which was
acording to our articklcs of agreement), but you refused to act, for want
of power from your towne. Wee have heard notliing from you since that
time, tho we have expected it; for us to send to meet at y*" line acording to
your ordeuis but loss of time, vntill we come to an agreement what to do
and wliere^to run. We are yet ready to wait upon you for an agreement
about it, as soon as you please ; in y^ mean time we remain your
'"Dated 20. 1"% 77-78. Selectm. of Billerica.
'"Pray let us know your mind by a line or two from your selves.'"
The place which Harvard College had in the hearts and plans of
the Colon}' is shown in a record, "20, 10", 1678. Simon Crosbee
was appointed to collect w' was 3'et behind to 3'^ colledg contribution
& to transmit it to y*" colledg oner seers, acording to y^ order of 3*^
gen'. Court." A letter,^ dated " 14, 8, 1678," illustrates the subject
more full3' : â€”
"Mr. laine: This day Mr. Whiting and the Selectmen made choice of
yourself to returne an answ'' to y^ Ilonr^i generall Court, vpon y" 18"> day
of this instant, (which is acoi'ding to their order,) in reference to our
contribution to y^ colledge ; and our Answer which we desire your self to
returne is this : AYee have bin very diligent to gather what is at present
to be had, and sent it into Mr. Manning, of Cambridg, acording to y*^ court
order; and there yet remaines about six pound, 8 shill. 10 p; y^ most of it
we hope we shall get as soon as corne is marchantable ; we have faire
promises for it; but some psons that did contribute with us are gone to
England and left no order for y'= payment of it, therefore we question
whither we shall ever get it ; for those that yet are in this country (tho
removed out of our towne). we shall do our utmost indeauor to gather y^
same spedily as maybee ; not further to add but o"^ Humble service psented
to y*^ Hon'^'' Court, we take leave, earnestly praying for y'^ Lord's presence
& blessing to bee with you in all yo"' weighty affairs.
"In y" name and by y'= order of y"^ Reverend [Mr.] Samuel AVhiting &
y^ rest of y^ selectmen.
It cost these plain farmers of Billerica something in their povert3'
to raise such a sum for the College. But they understood its impor-
tance to them and their children, and cheerfulh' taxed themselves to
do their part.
3 Loaned by George M. Elliott, of Lowell.
GLEANINGS FROM THE RECORDS.
In 1679 the government called upon the towns for a general
statement of their condition. Billerica answered: â€”
'â€¢In observance of a warrant from ye Hon'
date the 30"\ lO"". 1679, our answer is as folio weth:
'â€¢ As to a list of the number of males & rateable estate in our towne,
wee have sent the list that was taken the last August, and returned from
the commissioners meeting. As to the number of families, there is al)out
liuety that are able to bare vp publick charges ; there is more of the aged,
that are Helpless, y^ widdows & poor persons, that want releife, ten in
nuuiber, which is all.
â– â€¢As to ye annual alowance to our reverend paster, our agreement is
seventy pounds p anni, in Country pay. as for scliools. we liave no gramei"
schooles ; ensigne Tompson is appointed to teach those to write & read
that will come to him ; also severall School Dames. As for tithing men,
we haue flue in number; their names are [as above], and all swoi-ne to the
faithful discharge of theire seruice acording to law. As for j'oung psons
and inmates, we know of none amongst us but are orderly. And Ensign
Joseph Tomi^son is chosen to attend the Honourd f'ourt. acording to said
The tax-list^ above mentioned
polls, and amount of tax: â€”
exhibits the following names,
Â£0 3 2
J no Rogers Sen'
Jno Rogers Jun'
Dan Shed Jun''
W"' Chainbeilain Sen
\ym Chamberlain jun
Tho : Carrier
* New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Vol. V, p. 173.
HISTORY OF BILLERICA,
One other early list has hy good chance been preserved, and foi-
comparison here follows: â€” ^
'â€¢'list of y*^ Numbor of M;iles and
son, Coniinssnr. & their Selectmen, y
Henry Aldin, 1 pson & estate *01
Michael Bacon, 3 pson & est 12
John Baldwin. 2 pson & est 07
jonath Baldwin, 1 pson & est 02
Peter Bracket, 1 pson & est 04
Simon Crosbe, 2 pson & est 11
Simon Crosbe Jun, 1 pson 01
Tho Crosbe, 1 pson 01
Willâ„¢ Chamberlin, 1 pson 01
Edmund Chamberlin, 1 pson &
Capt Danforth, 3 pson & est 12
jonath Danforth, Jun, 1 p & est 04
John Dunkin his estate 03
Tho Dutton, Sen, 1 p & est 03
Tho Dutton, Jun, his estate 04
John Dutton, 2 pson & estate 04
Joseph Ellice, 1 pson & est 03
John f rencli his estate 02
Jacob french. 3 pson & estate 12
Patrick Fassit, 2 pson & est 08
Stephe Farr, 1 pson & estate 03
Sami' frost, 2 pson & estate 07
James frost, 3 pson & estate 09
Joseph foster, 1 pson & estate 06
Georg farlee, 1 pson & estate OG
Sam' farlee his estate 02
Edw<* farmar, 2 pson & estate 08
Left Hill. 3 pson & estate 12
Nath Hill, 4 pson & estate 13
Jonath Hill, 3 pson & estate 10
Georg Grimes, 1 pson & est 04
Abra Gorton, 1 pson & estate 03
Heny jefteson. 2 psons & est 06
James Kidder, 1 pson & estate 03
Eaph Kidder, 1 pson & estate 02
Steph Kidder. 1 pson & estate 02
Enoch Kidder. 1 pson & est 02
Rateable estate, taken by Li(ft Tomp-
*â– 24 of August, 168S.
John Kitterage, 1 pson & est 03 06
John Lane, 1 pson & estate 13 02
John Levistone, 1 i)son & est 04 00
Sam' Manning. Sen, 2 p & est 07 10
Sam^ Planning, Jun, 1 p & est 02 08
John Marshall, 2 pson & est 09 01
James i)attison. 2 pson & est 07 03
Benj Parker, 1 pson & estate 03 02
Tho Pattin, 4 pson & estate 13 09
â€¢ Nath Page, 2 pson 08 09
Widdow Rogers, 1 pson & est 03 10
John Rogers, 2 pson & estate 08 00
Dani Rogers. 1 pson & estate 02 02
Nath Rogers, 1 pson & estate 03 06
Tho Richison, 1 pson & estate 07 06
Daniel Shead, 1 pson & estate 05 01
jolm Shead, 1 pson & estate 03 09
Zach Shead, 1 pson & estate 03 02
Sami Shead. 1 pson & estate 02 02
John Sandern, 1 pson & estate 04 07.
John Sheldin 2 pson & estate 08 04
Isack Starns, 1 pson & estate 04 04
Tho Starns, 1 pson & estate 02 11
Leift Tompson, 3 pson & est 09 05
Xath' Tay, 1 pson & estate 03 06
John Trull, 2 pson & estate 06 05
Sam" Trull, 1 pson & estate 03 03
Joseph Walker, 1 pson & est 05 09
John Wilson, 1 pson & estate 07 01
James Kitterage, 1 pson & est 02 03
Roburt Sharp, 1 pson & estate 03 01
Obe Johnson, 1 pson & estate 02 03
John More, 1 pson 01 08
Georg Smith, 1 pson & cow 01 11
Hugh Ditson. 1 pson 01 08
John Parker, 1 p & one cow 01 11
Â£19 11 05
* New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Vol. XXXI, p. 303.
GLEANINGS FROM THE RECORDS. 195
These lists afford interesting information and comparisons. The
first inchides forty-seven names and forty-five polls ; the later,
seventy-three names and one hundred and three polls, marking the
comparatively rapid progress of nine 3"ears. In 1679 it snrj>rises
us to find that, next to Mr. Lane and Captain Danforth, Thomas
Carrier has the highest list. At that time Mr. Lane is the only
person who pays more than half-a-pound ; in 1688 Mr. Patten is
highest, and there are eight who pay more than half-a-pound. The
absence from the list, in 1679, of the names of Baldwin, Kittredge,
and Stearns is observable, while that of 1688 adds, among others,
Ditson, Dunkin, Dutton, Farmer, (Trimes, Page, and Wilson.
In May, 1680, ule selectmen order the constable to " forbare
sitting y'^ watch at y^ present, and vntill there appeared more
In November, 1680, Samuel Manning was granted six acres of
swamp, on condition of his building "a good and sufficient Damm
or Damms, to drowne that swamp commonly called the mill swamp."
He was to raise the water "one foot higher than at present," and
"to keep the said swamp vnder water two j-ears together from the
time of the first finishing of the same, and to maintain the wholl
worke of damms, slewces, and water courses, for the space of seven
years from y^ first finishing, as aforesaid ; and to keep the same
vnder water all the winter seasons," and to leave all in good repair
at the end. This Mill Swamp was on Content Brook toward the
outlet of Long Pond.
Another side of the life of those da}'s is seen in the record,
"16, 1, 1681," when James Speen, Indian, received Â£8 for four
wolves' heads, brought to Constable Sheldon.
The following curious record occurs : "8, 11"', 82. The select-
men at the same time did order, that whereas Edmond Chamberlain,
b}' order of j*" Count}- Court, * was ordered to submitt himselfe to
y^ gouermeut of 3-'^ select of this towne, the^' do order him, y*
said Edmond Chamberlain, to live with his master, Joseph Walker,
for y* space of six moneths next ensuing, after the manner of a
Journeyman, to attend family orders and gouerment therein acording
to law. Also, not to make an}' bargain with any man without his
master's approbation ; and at the end of six moneths, as aforesaid,
to declare to the selectmen where he intends to reside and what
courses of life he intends to lead, and his said master engageth to
have a speciall inspection unto his s'^ seruant in y^ interim, and to
196 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.
inform y*^ seloctmeii in case he cannot keep him to good order and
diligence." We may liope that Chamberlain profited by such care.
Jn 1084 a measurement of Captain Gookin's farm proved that it
contained one hundred and fifty acres more than the grant, whicii
was five hundred acres. It was then owned by Robert Thompson,
Esq., and the town sold him the excess on pa_yment in his behalf, l)y
AVilliam Stoughtou, Esq., of Â£23 in silver. ''18, 10'", 1G84. Lt.
Tompson laid out in mone}' at Boston eighteen shillings. G'', for
Roger Toothakar's family, for which hee bought 4 pair of shoes, one
pound whalebone, 1 yard farrindine for caps, and one blue Apron."
In 1686, "Simon Crosbee, who formerly hath kept a house of
publick entertainment, doth now refuse to hold it any longer, &
Nathaniel Tay being desirous to take it up is alowed, b}^ authority"
of the selectmen, to do so. But Mr. Crosby did not long refuse to
entertain the public, and in 1688 the selectmen at their meetings had
"victuals and Drink" of him. His license as innkeeper is preserved
at Cambridge, and he was commonly the earl}- landlord of the town.
The charges for which he received pay are now amusing and remind
us of Falstaff's "intolerable deal of sack," including such items as
" cydar 14P, liquour 2^"; "four suppers 16", drink 8"" ; "2 potts
of cydar" ; "a pot of rosted cyder" ; "half a pint of rhnm," and
many like these. In Januar}-, 1692-3, a meeting was held with the
County Commissioners, Major Thomas Henchman and Mr. Mather
Johnson, for the inspection of the list. One day they had "eight
diners, besides our drink, 00-04-00." Another da}' : "we had
drink before dinner, a pynt of rum, 00- 01 ; a pot of cyder and jill
of Rhum, 00-00-05, and six pots of cider, 00-01-00 ; and a dinner
for eight persons, 8 pence per man, 00 - Oo - 04 ; and eight pots of
cider, 00-01-02." The list made up at this meeting included 111
oxen, valued at Â£2 per ox ; 220 cows, valued Â£1, 10s., per cow ; 77
horses, at 40s. per horse, and 280 sheep, at Â£4 per score. The
number of polls, besides the superannuated, was 92, assessed 10s.
each; and "cituations & stock" were assessed "21, 05, 02."
This was the period of the witchcraft troubles and trials, to
which, however, the Billerica Records make no allusion. The aid
given to Toothaker's family betrays his neglect of them while
engaged in the Salem fooleries ; and the .deaths of Mrs. Rebecca
Chamberline and John Durrent, "in y*" prison at Cambridge," in
September and October, 1692, suggest the inference of Mr. Farmer,
that the charge on which they were imprisoned was probably witch-
GLEANINGS FROM THE RECORDS. 197
craft. A Billerica woman, whose later residence had been Andover,
Mrs. Martha Carrier, became one of the most notable of the sufferers,
being executed at the same time with the Rev. George Burroughs.
Her bearing at the trial is distinguished by courage and good sense,
and must challenge the admiration of those who examine the drearj^
literature of this terrible delusion. Her own child of eight testified,
that her mother made her "touch the book; it was in Andrew
Fuller's pasture, Elizabeth Johnson was thei'e * her Aunt Toothaker
and cousin, when she was baptized" ; and Roger Toothaker bore
swift witness in language too filthy for quotation.Â® That good men
could trust such testimony, and rest such action upon it, is an
unexplained marvel of human credulity.
The following official document belongs to this period: â€” ''
''To ye Constable of Billerica. Greeting:
â€¢^ Wee command you to warn & give notice unto Capt. Danforth, John
Rogers, [and others], that they and everj- one of them be and personally
appear at y^ Court of Oyer & Terminer, to be held by adjournment at
Salem, on Tuesday next, at Ten of y"^ Clock in y^ morning, there to testify
ye truth, to the best of their knowledge, on certain Indictments to be
exhibited against Martha Carrier, of Andover. And hereof they nor you
are to fail at your utmost peril, making return hereof vnder your hand.
Dated in Salem, July 30, 1692. & in ye fourth year of our Reign.
''Stephen Sewall, CZA-."
James Paterson was the constable, and endorses this return :
"According to this warrant I have showed it to Capt. Danforth,
and his answer is, that he can say nothing in y" case that is worth
mentioning. I have warned John Rogers & he saith he will attend,
if his garrison may [be] guarded in his absence. Billerica, August
1", 92." Mr. Rogers had been near neighbor to Mrs. Carrier, who
lived on the road to Wamesit, at North Billerica, but he does not
seem to have been anxious to testify' against her, and did not ; and
it is a pleasure to find that, unlike so many others, Mr. Danforth
could "say nothing" in this case. This sad record is revived in
1710, when Mr. Carrier appealed to the authorities for pa3'ment of
expenses he had incurred. At the demand of the'sherifli' he paid
fifty shillings, and prison fees to the keeper, for his wife and four
children. Â£4, 16s. His "humble request^ is that the Attainder may
^ See Upham'-s S'aleiii Witchcraft, Vol. II, pp. 145 and 208 ; and MSS. Deposition in the
Archives at Salem.
' See Boivditch Papers, of The Massachusetts Historical Society, No. IS.
* Massachusetts Archives. Vol. CXXXV.
198 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.
be taken oft," and that he ma}" be paid the loss sustained, Â£7, 6s.
He adds : "I found ray wife and children provisions during their
In February, 1692-3, the question arose of '"dismissing one
theire deputies, whereas the Town had hither unto sent down two,"
and the town did dismiss Joseph Tompson and continued Capt.
Ralph Hill "in that service." Records of the annual election of a
deput}- are not always found, and none appears for ten 3'ears after
1680. Perhaps a deputy once chosen was expected to hold the
office until the election of his successor ; or, as the towns then paid
the charges of their representatives, they may have omitted to send
occasionally and saved the expense. In 1693 the town, to prevent
so much loss of time as was generall}' spent without profit at the
town meeting, agreed that distinct notice be given of the hour of
meeting, and "that the town clerk shall constantly attend at that
time, and that any vote or grant passed by the inhabitants orderly'
within one hour after the time set * shall be always accounted
vallid, although there ma}- want man}' of the inhabitants ; and that
no vote passed at any time after y" sun is set shall be * vallid ;
and the town clerk (in cloud\' weather) shall delare when the sun
The preservation of shade trees received attention, and a com-
mittee was appointed, "15, 12, 93, to mark with the letter T so
man}^ trees as they shall judge needful upon y^ Country roads and
town Comons * from the house of Joseph Walker to the house
of Capt. Brackit, and from Capt. Hill's to y" Brow of Rockie Hill,
leading to Andover." This included for several miles the two main
highways, which crossed each other in the village.
The instructions to the selectmen (see p- 61) were annually
repeated, with slight variations. They were usually read in public,
and sometimes recorded anew. But, after the reading in 1694,
March 23, the clei'k adds: "answered by the Town, that the law
hath provided for what was contained in the instructions ; our
instructions laid aside for the year" ; and they do not reappear.
A committee, in 1694, April, was directed "to lay out a suphi-
cient highway from Mr. Michael's farm through Mrs. Page's land to
Shawshin River ; and over Shawshin River unto Lt. John Willson's
mill, and to Cambridge line ; and from the same road to lay out
a suphicient highway through Mrs. Page's land unto the land of
Patrick Fassit, unto the house of Patrick Fassit ; and from thence
GLEANINGS FROM THE RECORDS. 199
to state th? highway iu the most convenient place from Patrick
Fassitt's house, leading up to Concord Road, and from tliere to
Mr. Laine's." JNIr. Fasset lived near the residence of Mrs. Lane,
on the main street, a half-mile east of Bedford ; but this description
can hardly belong to the present Bedford Sti-eet, for if that had been
laid out before 1708, it must have been mentioned in describing the
grants then made to Hill and Fasset, which were separated by it not
long after. Probably this record belongs to the " ])iae-hill road,"
alluded to above (p. !).t).
May G, 1694, the town appointed John Wilson, Sen., and Joseph
Torapson ''to search the Countr}' Records to find both the grant &
the returne of Mr. Winthrop's farm, that lyeth on the mouth of
Concord Riuer" ; and the selectmen, Avith Captain Danforth, were
directed "to prosecute the Town's inteiest in wemessek land to
efect, and the town doth engadge to stand by them in the same."
This record may explain one which follows soon after. The town
"had enformation that sum persons have eregularly marked out
Land in our Towne comons, without our knowledge and appro-
bation" ; and Thomas Richardson, Edward Farmer, and Joseph
Walker, Sen., were sent "to deface & extinguish & abolish all such
marks, & to pluck up all such stakes or boundes of land so bounded
or marked ; in as much as in them lyeth to make all such markes
and stakes to be a niility."
The various expenses of the town from year to year are recorded.
From these we gather that the deputy to the General Court had three
shillings per day ; that the widow Ruth Shead had sometimes Â£1 and
sometimes twenty-five shillings for "sweeping the meeting house";
that, in 1694, Â£12 was paid for ammunition ; in 1696 seven shillings
was paid for transporting two impotent persons "to oborn, by order"
of Major Henchman ; that the cost of the land controversy west of
C'oncord River, in 1696, was about Â£8; and that the clerk, Mr.
Tompson, received Â£2, 5s., for keeping the records and making five
town rates. A town meeting was held, 1695, December 3, at Mr.
Farmer's, and the town clerk adds, "Terible cold." July 17th,
"our inhabitanee (being warned before by a warrant, given to
the constables) sware alegiance unto King William before Major
The primitive method of aiding the poor appears from a record,
14 January-, 1696-7, which was "a day of humiliation," and a con-
tribution was taken, amounting to thirty-two shillings and eightpence,
200 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.
for Thomas Stearns. In Februar}', another "collection in public"
was taken of fourteen shillings and sixpence ; and three persons
appearing before the selectmen, "it being a low time with them," it
was agreed "to divide that small matter equally between them," and
to give each a bushel of Indian corn.
The arrears in minister's rates were a constant source of trouble.
In February, 1696-7, an obligation was presented for subscriptions
by persons who would promise to pa}' their arrears before Ma}' 20 ;
"otherwise the constable to make distraint forthwith upon such as
shall refuse." In November these prices were fixed for payments of
minister's rates : corn at three shillings and fourpence, rye at four
shillings and sixpence, and wheat at five shillings and eightpence per
bushel ; pork at fourpence per pound, if merchantable. Whoever
paid in money might have an abatement of one-seventh. The next
year the prices fixed were less.
At this period Mr. Farmer's house seems to have been the tavern
and place where the selectmen met. In 1699, Samuel Hnnt also is
approved of b}' the selectmen to sell victuals and drink "only three
months in y*" 3-ear," April, May, and June ; and Jonathan Bacon
received the same license, not limited to three months.
Clocks and watches were few, and in 1697 Captain Dan forth was
paid for an hour-glass and for repairing the horse-block, six shillings
and twopence. Th? town also voted, that "every Tythingman bring
his staff at oui" next annual choice of Town officers ; otherwise to
continue in that place if the Town do se meet."
1703, May: "Complaint being made of the want of a watch
house," a committee was appointed "to vew the old meeting house,"
who reported that it might be made feasible and comfortable "to
answer the end of the same." The report, was approved.
A careful account was taken of the stock of ammunition in the
hands of Captain Danforth ; and, in August, "there did appear so
great danger of the iuem}', and many of our inhabitants being in
great want of Ammunition," a distribution was made to Thomas
Dutton, Samuel Rogers, John Dunken, Daniel Shead, Corp. John
Frencly Samuel Hunt, Nathan Crosb}', Samuel Fasset, Captain
Tomson. Dr. Samuel Frost, and John Chamberlin. After this
military use of the old meeting-house, it stood until 1708 and was
disposed of. The following pecuniary record will not only be of
interest for itself, but as an illustration of the method annuall}'
GLEANINGS FROM THE RECORDS. 201