Lucius R. (Lucius Robinson) Paige.

History of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register online

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make i-eturn of said Danforth's name, with depositions accord-
ingly. They also proceeded, — some time after the said Danforth
had fled and left the town as before mentioned, in the opinion of
said Committee and every true friend and well-wisher to [the]
rights and liberties of America, to join our unnatural enemies, or
elsewhere, for protection, agreeable to a Resolve of the Great and
General Court of this State in 1776, empowering Committees to
take immediate possession of all such persons' estates, and to
lease out all such real estate for the space of one year, — to take
possession of all such personal estate as could be found belonging
to said Danforth, and to lease out said real estate, and returned
an inventory thereof to Court, agreeable to said Act. They fur-
ther proceeded, after said Danforth had returned to town (he
being absent from the fore part of July till late in the Fall, the
same year), to bring him under examination, as before men-
tioned, he giving no direct answers to questions asked him, it


was onr candid opinion, — referring to a Resolve of tlie Conti-
nental Congress, recommending it to Committees that the most
bold, impudent, and dangerous, enemies of this kind ought to be
confined, — that it was not for the safety and welfare of the good
people for him to go at large ; therefore the said Committee, with
the advice of the principal men and Judges of the Inferior Court
for the County of Worcester, having no particular Act at hand
pointing out the method for commitment, proceeded to commit
him to Woi'cester Goal, having first laid the case before the town
at a full town meeting assembled, and having a very unanimous
vote therefor. After said Danforth had remained in goal for
some time, he was set at liberty by the Judges of the Superior
Court, the Committee not knowing that he was to be brought
upon trial at that time, and consequently had no opportunity to
be heard. And on his returning home, the inhabitants of the
town being very uneasy, thinking it not safe for the matter to
remain in such a situation, — and in conformity to an Act of the
Great and General Court, recommending it to Committees that
any persons that were found to be enemies to the liberties of the
people, that they enter complaint against such persons, and have
them brought before proper authority for examination and trial, —
thought it advisable to proceed with him agreeable to said act ;
and when coming to trial, and producing sufficient evidence
against him, as we supposed, yet he was after all very unex-
pectedl}' set at liberty, without any punishment or paying dam-
ages ; by which means he has taken encouragement to proceed
against said Town and Committee by endeavoring to take advan-
tage of law, and has interceded with some magistrate to grant
him a writ, by which means he has recovered the tea before men-
tioned, and has summoned the officer, who served the warrant to
take the tea, to make his appearance at the next Quarter Ses-
sions to be holden at Worcester, to answer for his default ; and is
further endeavoring to take advantage of the Town and Com-
mittee, in an insulting and impudent manner, by threatening to
commence divers law-suits against them for their proceedings
against him and his estate as before expressed.

"And whereas this town in a particular manner has had the
hard fortune to suifer greatly by being infested with villains of
this kind, beyond what has been undergone by many towns in
this State, it must give your petitioners great uneasiness to see
one which we think in no case ought to have the advantage of
law suffered to disturb the town, and, if it were in his power, in-


volve the whole land in ruin and misery. Your petitioners there-
fore humbly pray the Honorable Court would take the matter
into their wise consideration, and point out some effectual method
to bring the matter to a speedy issue. And your petitioners, as
in duty bound, shall ever pray. Dated at Hard wick, the 18'^ of
February 1778.

"William Paige, n

Thomas Robinson,

David Allen, y Selectmen.

Timothy Paige,

Timothy Newton,
" Signed per order, William Paige, Chairman "' (of the Com-
mittee of Correspondence.) ^

June 3, 1778. " In the House of Representatives, on a petition
of tlie Selectmen and Committee of Correspondence of the town
of Hardwick, setting forth that Jonathan Danforth of said Plard-
wick hath conducted in an inimical manner towards this and the
other United States, &c., and has commenced two actions at law,
one against Timothy Paige, the other against Thomas Robinson,
both of said town, which actions are to be tried at the next In-
ferior Court of Common Pleas to be holden at Worcester on the
second Tuesday of June instant : Resolved, that the petitioners
serve Jonathan Danforth of Hardwick with a copy of their peti-
tion and the order thereon, that cause may be shewn, if any there
be, on the second Tuesday of the next setting of the General
Court, wherefore the prayer of said petition should not be
granted ; and notice be given to said Danforth fourteen days at
least before the second Tuesday aforesaid ; and that all processes
brought against the inhabitants of said Hardwick by said Dan-
forth be stayed in the meantime. In Council. Read and con-
curred. Consented to by fifteen of the Council." ^

At the time appointed, the following depositions (and several
others) were presented, and are still preserved ; the first, here
inserted, was dated September 26, 1778, and taken by Paul Man-
dell, Esq. ; the others were taken at the house of Eliakim Spooner
in Hardwick, September 14, 1778, by John Mason, Esq., of Barre.
" I, Uriah Higgins, of Hardwick, of lawful age, testify and say,
that, in the month of December 1775, I was at Albany, and see
Jonathan Danforth of said Hardwick purchase about half a bar-
rel of Bohea Tea, which he brought to Hardwick for sale, as I
took it. Uriah Higgins." ^

1 Mass. Arch., ccxix. 440-443. ^ gfg^. Court Records, xxxviii. 538.

8 Mass. Arch., ccxix. 459.


" I, Gamaliel CoUings, of Hardwick, yeoman, of lawful age,
doth testify and saitb, that at Worcestei-, in the year 1776, at the
Inferior Court held there, I was in company with Deac. William
Paige of Hardwick, one of the Committee of Correspondence,
[who] had Jonathan Dan forth of said towui in possession as a
suspected person of treason against these States. Deacon Wil-
liam Paige not knowing what method to commit said Danforth,
and said Paige asking Judge Moses Gill in what manner he
should proceed with said Danforth, the said Judge Gill replying
that the Committee had authority to commit to goal any person
that the Committee should think was an enemy to their country.
Further saith not. Gamaliel Collings.

" Question put by the Committee to said Collings : Did Judge
Baker give any advice respecting said Danforth ? Answer : Yes;
after said Danforth was committed to goal, I heard Judge Baker
say that there had not been much law in the land, only the law
of the Committees, and that the Committees had a right to com-
mit any person for treason, till further order of the Court." ^

" I, Jonathan Warner of Hardwick, being of lawful age, testify
and say, that, agreeable to a Resolve of the Provincial Congress
directing the several towns to call on their constables for the out-
standing moneys in their hands, Jonathan Danforth being one of
the constables, said Danforth being at my house, the question be-
ing asked him where he would pay the money he had in his
hands, his answer was, he would not pay the money to Hardwick
or their Committee; he was not accountable to them for said
money ; he either would see them damned first, or he would be
damned before he would pay the money ; and said, I swear, be-
fore I wull pay the money to Henry Gardner, Esq., he would pay
the money to Harrison Gray. In May 1775, after the Battle of
Lexington, the people of Hardwick met for the purpose of raising
men ; said Danforth, instead of appearing with his arms like a
good soldier, he rode his horse round the companies in an insult-
ing manner. And further saith not. Jonathan Waener." ^

'•I, Thomas Robinson of Hardwick in the County of Worces-
ter, of lawful age, testify and saj', that in the month of Novem-
ber, 1774, being one of the Committee of the town of Hardwick
appointed to examine the constables concerning what public mon-
ies they had not paid in, Jonathan Danforth, being one of the
constables, refused to give any account to said Committee, which
refusal he repeated in public town-meeting; upon which, being

1 Mass. Arch., ccxix. 458. ^ Ibid., ccxix. 445.


told by the deponent that he must account for the monies as re-
quired, or he should be given up to the people, he replied, ' damn
you all.' 1 In the spring of the year 1775, the whole militia be-
ing together, consisting of divers companies, the said Danforth,
instead of bearing arms, rode amongst us, to the no small disturb-
ance of the companies. Further saith not.

"Thomas Robinson.

" Quest, put by said Danforth to said Robinson, whether the
riding of said Danforth in the spring of the year 1775, among
the militia was before the Lexington Battle ? Ans. Yea." ^

" We, Elijah Warner and Denison Robinson, both of Hard-
wick, being of lawful age, testify and say, that in the month of
February 1775, or thereabouts, being in Boston in company with
Daniel Warner, each of us having a team, the above named Dan-
iel Warner was arrested by Harrison Gray, Esq., and, as we un-
derstand, in consequence of Jonathan Danforth returning the
Province Warrant after the said Daniel Warner had given his re-
ceipt thereon to said Danforth in behalf of the town ; the said
Danforth having been previously compelled by said town to pay
the outstanding money in his hands to Henry Gardner, Esq., or
give security to the town for the same, as directed by [the] Pro-
vincial Congress. And further saith not.

"Elijah Waener,
Denison Robinson.

" Quest, put by the Committee to the above named persons:
How did you know that Daniel Warner was arrested on the re-
ceipt on the Province Warrant ? Ans. Mr. Mclntire first in-
formed us of the matter ; on which we went to the goal in Bos-
ton, and there we found the said Warner in custody of an officer ;
and we the said Robinson and Elijah Warner gave our bonds for
said Daniel Warner, for his, appearance at Court ; and said Rob-

^ Perhaps this was the time when some Being a man of giant form and strength,
individuals attempted to seize Mr. Dan- and known to be fearless and resolute, no
forth as he left the meeting-house. In- one cared to attack him ; and he succeeded
stead of then "giving him up to the peo- at last in conveying his charge to a place
pie," Mr. Robinson caught him by the of greater security, and finally to his home
shoulder and conducted him to the pound, in safety. Mr. Danforth told me in his
which then stood on the westerly side of old age, that he verily believed he should
the Common. He then addressed the have been killed at that time, if Mr. Rob-
multitude, endeavoring to persuade them inson had not protected him. This was
to disperse quietly ; and at length as- probably the nearest approach to the exe-
sured them, that however much he dis- cution of " lynch-law," which occurred
approved the offending individual's con- in this town during that period of high
duct, he would not see him abused, but excitement,
would defend him to the last extremity. 2 Mass. Arch., ccxix. 453.


inson declares that he read the writ, and read thereon, ' Take no
Rebels for bail.' " i

" I, Stephen Gorham, of Hardwickin the County of Worcester,
of lawful age, testify and say, that, in the Fall of the year A.
Dom. 1774, after Jonathan Danforth was dismissed from being a
minute-man, he asked me if I was going to take up arms against
King George. I told him, yea, if he was going to fight against me.
Then said Danforth said, we should be all styled Rebels, and often
repeated it. And further saith not. Stephen Gorham." ^

" I, Ebenezer Lawrence, Jr., of Hardwick in the County of
Worcester, of lawful age, testify and say, in the year 1775, in
conversation about Bunker Hill Fight, he told me they would
have Cambridge within a month ; and said Danforth told me,
that if I was you, I would not stir one step to help ; and said
Danforth advised me to stay at home about my business. Fur-
thermore saith not. Ebenezer Lawrence, Jr." ^

" I, Job Dexter, of Hardwick in the County of Worcester, be-
ing of lawful age, testify and say, that at a certain time, 1776, as
I was in conversation with Jonathan Danforth of said Hardwick,
and discoursing about secreting the estate of Richard Ruggles, he
said he was a damned fool for discovering to the Committee
where any thing of the said Richard Ruggles' estate was ; for
they had no more business with it than the Divil had. And fur-
ther saith not. Job Dexter." ^

" I, James Paige, of Hardwick, of lawful age, testify and saj^
having in May, 1776, a considerable discourse with Jonathan
Danforth, he God-damned the Committee, and the Selectmen,
and the whole town, repeatedly. And further saith not.

" James Paige.

" Quest, put by said Danforth to said Paige : Did not you tell
me that the Committee would have my estate, if I did not be-
have better ? Ans. I do not remember it now. Quest. Was I
in a passion when I discoursed with you ? Ans. Yes. Quest.
Did you ever hear me say any thing against any authority except
in the town of Hardwick ? Ans. No." °

After an examination of these and several other depositions of
like tenor, and a full consideration of the question at issue, the

1 Mass. Arch., ccxix. 447. not in the habit of using profane lan-

2 /i/f/., ccxix. 456. guage (at least while I knew him), ex-

* IbicL, ccxix. 451. cept when he was " in a passion," under

* 7/(i(/., ccxix. 446. strong provocation. He made very famil-
6 Ibid., ccxix. 457. In justice to Mr. iar use, however, of the word devil, al-

Danforth it should be said that he was ways pronounced by him divil.


General Conrt, on the 9th of October, 1778, entei-ed their deci-
sion on record : —

" In the House of Representatives. Whei'eas it appears to
this Court that Jonathan Danforth, late of Hardwick (now of
Barre), since September, 1774, from time to time hath behaved
in a very insolent and abusive manner towards the said town of
Hardwick, and especially towards the Committee of said town,
in their executing the duties of ofBce, particularly in his unrea-
sonable turbulent obstinacy in accounting for public monies in
his hands, when properly called thereto ; his endeavoring to con-
ceal the goods and effects of persons fled to the enemy ; his dis-
couraging and insulting speeches and behavior to and among the
good people of said town, when pursuing the orders of govern-
ment, &c. ; which line of conduct he continued till about July,
1776, when he, in a sudden and secret manner absconded, having
first secretly conveyed away his most valuable effects ; all which
gave the strongest presumptive evidence that he was actually fled
to the enemy, with others, his friends, that was known to be gone
thither. Under these circumstances the Committee of said town
proceeded agreeable to the Resolves of the General Court, and in
behalf of the Government took possession of his estates that could
be found, as a Refugee's estate. That, in about four or five
months after, said Danforth returned ; and without applying to
this Court for restoring his estates, taken as aforesaid, is harass-
ing said Committee with expensive and perplexing law-suits, and
is threatening to bring many more, not only to their damage, but
also to the disturbance of the good and liege people of this State.
Wherefore it is become absolutely necessary for this Court to
interpose in this matter :

" Therefore, Resolved, that the two actions brought by the
said Jonathan Danforth, one against Timothy Paige, for replevy-
ing a quantity of tea, the other against Thomas Robinson, for the
recovering of a certain house, claimed by said Danforth, which
are mentioned in the petition of the Selectmen and Committee of
the said town of Hardwick, addressed to this Court, and are now
pending in the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for the county
of Worcester, shall be, and they ai'e hereby, declared utterly null
and void ; and all further proceedings thereon shall cease forever ;
and that the said Danforth shall be, and he hereby is, utterly dis-
qualified and disabled forever from bringing any other action or
actions against said Committee, or either of them, or any other
person, either in his own name, or in the name of any other in


bis behalf, for the recovery of damages done or. supposed to be
done in consequence of the proceedings of said Committee or
town of Hai'dwick, dealing with him, the said Danforth, as a
person inimical to the common cause, without leave first had and
obtained from the General Court. And whereas it doth not
appear to this Court that the said Danforth has been guilty of
actually joining our unnatural enemies, or giving information to
or supplying them, but rather the contrary is supposed : there-
fore, Resolved, that the said Committee be, and they hereby are,
directed and ordered to acquit and release to the said Danforth
all the estate by them taken as the estate of said Danforth, the
inventory whereof is lodged in the Secretary's office. In Council,
Read and concurred. Consented to by fifteen of the Council." ^

This decision rendered substantial justice to both parties : it
justified the Committee, and protected them from further annoy-
ance or harm ; on the other hand, while Mr. Danforth was held
to have deserved what he had already suffered, in consequence of
his intemperate and exasperating opposition to the patriotic move-
ment, yet as he had not actually held correspondence with the
enemy, nor been guilty of any treasonable act, his liberty and
property were restored. He soon returned from Barre, and for
nearly half a century resided hei'e in quietness and tranquillity,
performing faithfully the duties of a good and loyal citizen, and
enjoying the confidence and esteem of his townsmen. Yet he
never entirely forgot his early conflicts. A characteristic story
was related of him by his pastor, the Rev. John Goldsbury. In
1831, when he was eighty-eight years old, Colonel Stephen Rice,
a member of the Revolutionary Committee of Correspondence,
died, at the age of ninety-five. Soon afterwards, Mr. Goldsbury
called on Mr. Danforth, who recounted some of his earl}'^ trials
and sufferings. Among other grievances, he said the Committee
of Correspondence prohibited him from leaving his own farm,
except to go to meeting on Sundays, and to attend funerals.
"One day," said he, "a member of the Committee informed me
there was to be a funeral, and inquired whether I wished to be
present ; I told him I always liked to go to funerals, and I hoped
I might live to attend the funerals of the whole Committee ; and
I have done it ; I have seen every divil of them under ground ;
Rice was the last of them."

1 Gen. Court Records, xxxviii. 673.



Declaration of Independence recorded by the Town Clerk. — Paper Money. —
Heavy Taxes. — Financial Distress. — Stay Law. — Scale of Prices. — Abor-
tive Attempts to make Paper equal with Gold. — Protest against a proposed
Bill for refunding the Public Debt. — Scale of Depreciation. — The Town
approves the Articles of Confederation of the United States, and almost
unanimously rejects a Form of Constitution proposed by the General Court.
— Eccentricities of the Town Clerk. — Delegates elected to a Constitutional
Convention. — The proposed Constitution accepted, but various Important
Amendments suggested. — Subsequent Constitutional Conventions.

SoOK after the Declaration of Independence was adopted on
the memorable 4tli of July, 1776, the Town Clerk entered a full
copy on the Town Records, " to remain as a perpetual memorial
thereof." Thenceforth all professions of loyalty to the King, and
desire for an amicable agreement between Great Britain and her
colonies disappear from the Records. The last recorded warrant,
"in his Majesty's name," bears date February 25, 1775 ; no war-
rants for the town-meetings, held April 24, July 5, and Septem-
ber 28, of that year, are recorded. The warrants, dated May 15,
1775, and February 14, 1776, required the constable to warn the
inhabitants " agreeable to the Constitution," that is, the charter,
which was frequently so designated ; and that which was dated
September 26, 1776, demanded the same service " agreeable to
the government and people of this State." This is the earliest
instance of such use of the word "State," which I have discovered
on the Town Records. From this time the town promptl}' and
energetically bore its full share of the burdens assumed by the
State, in the maintenance of national independence.

To defray the enormous expenses of the war, paper money was
issued by the several States and b}^ the United States, which soon
depreciated in value, and which ultimately became valueless, and
was utterly repudiated. Heavy taxes were imposed by the State,
and burdensome debts assumed hj the towns in addition to the


Ifirge sums raised by local taxation. General distress followed,
such as, a few years later, resulted in open rebellion. As early as
1776, " the people were so pressed with public claims, that they
were unable to meet private demands. Laws were made for their
relief by suspending legal processes for the collection of debts.
The paper money depreciated ; and the soldiers and their families
suffered much by it. A committee was appointed to meet others
from Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, to adopt
measures for preventing the depreciation of the bills, and a spirit
of monopoly and speculation which prevailed , the committees
had two meetings, but it was found impossible to remedy the
evil." 1 Again, in March, 1777, it is said, "the expenses and
debts of the State were such, at this period, as to require another
large emission of paper, and a tax of £100,000. The amount of
bills was X125,000 ; but these depreciated as soon as issued, and
the taxes were not easily collected. This was a time of very
great distress and suffering." ^ Among the " measures for pre-
venting the depreciation of the bills " was one which had many
times before been unsuccessfully adopted ; namelj^ definite prices
were fixed for various kinds of labor and merchandise, with the
hope that by such uniform prices the uniform purchasing value
of the bills might be maintained. The scale of prices prescribed
in Hardwick was very minute, and may seem tedious ; yet it is
not without interest, as exhibiting the various articles of traffic
and consumption, at that period, and their relative value. It
seems to have been adopted not long before March 17, 1777, on
which day the town granted nine shillings each to Thomas
Robinson and John Bradish, " for setting prices on articles in
this town."

"At a meeting of the Selectmen and Committee of Correspond-
ence for the town of Hardwick, agreeable to an Act of the Great
and General Court respecting the stating and affixing prices upon
labor, victualling, clothing, and other articles hereafter enumer-
ated :

" Farming labor, from the V^ of June to the 1®' of September, at
3s. per day ; from the 1**^ of Sept. to the 16^^ of Nov., 2s. 4:d. ;
from the 15"' of Nov. to the 15"^ of Mar., Is. 8d. ; from the 16^^
of Mar. to the 1**' of June, 2s. 4d. Carpenters' and house-joiners'
work, from the 1^* of April to the l^'' of Oct., 3s. id. ; from the
1^' of Oct. to the 1^' of April, 2s. Qd. Mill-wrights, from the 1^'
of April to tlie 1«* of Oct., 4s. ; from the 1^' of Oct. to the 1^' of

1 Bradford's Hist, of Mass., p. 273. 2 Ji,id., p. 275.


April, 3s. Masons' work, from the 1'' of March to the I'^of Nov.
[Oct. ?j 3s. 8 ; from the P* of Oct. to the V' of April [Mar. ?J
2s. 8d. For shoeing a horse round, steeled toe and heel, os. 4fZ. ;
for plain shoeing of a horse, 4s. For shoeing a pair of oxen,
steeled toe and heel, 9s. For a" falling axe, well steeled, 7s. Sd.
For a grass scythe, well steeled, 7s. Good plough-shares, well
steeled, 10c?. per lb. For making good men's and women's shoes,
2s. IQd. per pair, and all other shoe-making in proportion.

Online LibraryLucius R. (Lucius Robinson) PaigeHistory of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register → online text (page 12 of 73)