Lucius R. (Lucius Robinson) Paige.

History of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register online

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at the end of this volume ; but a brief and rapid sketch here also
may be pardoned.

Samuel Robinson was apparently born to command. While he
resided in Hardwick, for nearly thirty years, he was conspicuous
for his activity in civil, military, and ecclesiastical affairs ; he al-
most constantly held some important town office ; commanded a
company in the French War during five campaigns, from 1755 to
1759 inclusive ; assisted in organizing the First Church, and was
afterwards one of its deacons ; and still later held the same office
in the Separate Church, which also he assisted to organize. In
Bennington, he " was the acknowledged leader in the band of pi-
oneers ; " ^ the first justice of the peace in what is now the State

1 Memorials of a Century, by Kcvereud ^ Ibid., p. 204.
Isaac Jennings, pp. 19-22.



CIVIL HISTORY. 53

of Vermont ; an active participant in the bitter controversy be-
tween New Hampshire and New York in regard to jurisdiction ;
the agent of the settlers to represent them at New York and aft-
erwards at London, where he died of small-pox, October 27, 1767,
having partially accomplished the object of his mission. Of his
children, Leonard fought bravely and effectively in the battle of
Bennington, being a member of his brother Samuel's compan}^ ;
Samuel commanded a company in that battle, was afterwards
colonel of militia, representative in the General Assembly, jus-
tice of the peace, and one of the judges of the Special Court
which convicted Redding. He was one of the few persons who
managed a correspondence with the British General Haldimand
during the Revolutionary War, securing Vermont fi-om invasion ; ^
Moses was a deacon of the church, town clerk, colonel of the mil-
itia, a member of the famous Council of Safety, chief justice of
the Supreme Court, governor of Vermont, and senator in Con-
gress ; ^ *S'«7as was active and suffered nearly a year's imprison-
ment during the New York controversy, and bore arms in his
brother Samuel's company at the Bennington battle ; David
fought in the same battle and in the same company, was after-
wards major-general of militia, sheriff of the county twenty-two
years, and United States marshal eight years ; Jonatlian, the
youngest son of Samuel, Sen., was a lawyer, judge of the Su-
preme Court and of the Court of Probate, representative in the
General Assembly, and senator in Congress. Such a family is
not often found.

John Fassett was a deacon of the church, and captain of the
first military company organized in Bennington ; he was a rep-
resentative in the first General Assembly of Vermont, and judge
of probate. Of his children, John was captain of militia, rep-
resentative in the General Assembly' six years, a member of the
Council fifteen years, judge of the Supreme Court, and chief
justice of the County Court ; Jonathan was representative two
years; Amos was an assistant judge of the County Court; Be7i-
janiin was a commissary in the Revolutionary War, and aft-
erwards colonel of militia. It is worthy of remark, that the
father and his sons John and Jonathan held seats at the same
time in the first General Assembly, in 1778.

Stephen Fay was a captain of militia, and landlord of the
famous "Catamount Tavern" in Bennington. He was active

^ See Early Hist, of Vermont, ■p-'iOS. Governor of Vermont in 1853, was a
^ John Staniford Robinson, who was grandson of Governor Moses Robinson.



54 HISTORY OF HARDWICK.

in the controversy with New York, and in 1772 was sent with
his son, Dr. Jonas Fay, as special agents to make known to
Governor Tryon " the gronnds of their opposition to govern-
ment." ^ When open hostilities with Great Britain commenced,
he was active in a civil capacity, and his house was the head-
quarters of the Committee of Safety. He was then too old to
perform military service ; but he was represented by four or five
of his sons : John, the eldest son, was killed in the Bennington
battle, August 16, 1777 ; Jonas was surgeon in the army,
member and secretary of many conventions, notably of that
which met at Westminster in Januarj^, 1777, and adopted the
Declaration of Independence, of which he was the author, mem-
ber and vice-president of the Council of Safety, member of the
State Council, judge of probate five j^ears, judge of the Supreme
Court in 1782, and delegate to the Congress of the United
States, in 1777, 1779, 1781, 1782, and 1783. His public services
are mentioned more fully in the Genealogical Register ; Ben-
jamin " was the first sheriff in the county and State ; " ^ Joseph
was secretary of the Council of Safety and of the State Council,
and secretary of state. He was also one of the managers of the
negotiation with General Haldimand ; David was a lawyer,
state attorney. United States attorney, judge of probate, and
judge of the Supreme Court of Vermont.

The comparative influence of the Hardwick element in the
affairs of Bennington and of Vermont is indicated by the ac-
tivity of its representatives in the pioneer work of the town and
church, and in the long and bitter territorial controvers}' with
New York ; moreover, when the civil government of the State
was organized, John Fassett was the first representative of Ben-
nington in the General Assembly (two of his sons representing
other towns at the same session) ; Jonas Fay was a member of
the first Council ; Joseph Fay was the first secretai-y of state ;
and ]\Ioses Robinson was the second governor, and also was the
first senator in Congress after the State was admitted into the
Union, — all Hardwick men. In 1781, while Vermont was
refused admission into the Union, and was contendnig single-
handed with New York and New Hampshire for jurisdiction
over its own territory, to avoid invasion by the common enemy,
a plan was adopted by a few leading individuals to deceive the
British officers "by feigning or endeavoring to make them believe

1 Vermont Hist. Mag., i. 171. "^ Jennings' Memorials of a Century, p.

258.



CIVIL HISTORY. 55

that the State of Vermont had a desii-e to negotiate a treaty of
peace with Great Britain ; " the proceedings were necessarily-
concealed from the public ; the managers, however, signed a
" certificate for the protection of Colonel Ira Allen," their agent
in the negotiation : " We are of the opinion that the critical
circumstances this State is in, being out of the union with the
United States and thereby unable to make that vigorous defence
we could wish for, — think it to be a necessary political man-
oeuvre to save the frontiers of this State. Jonas Fay, Samuel
Safford, Samuel Robinson, Joseph Fay, Thomas Chittenden,
Moses Robinson, Timothy Brownson, John Fassett." ^ Of these
diplomatic leaders, all except Sali'ord, Chittenden, and Brown-
son, were Hardwick men. One more case may be cited : " A
special term of the Superior Court was held at Westminster,
Sept. 11, 1782, for the trial of the prisoners. The court con-
sisted of Moses Robinson, chief judge; and Dr. Jonas Fay,
John Fassett, and Paul Spooner, side judges," ^ — all Hardwick
men.

A second emigration commenced in the spring of 1775, under
the leadership of Asa Whitcomb, which laid the foundation of
Barnard, Vermont. That town " was chartered July 17, 1761,
to William Story, Francis Barnard, and their associates. James
Call chopped the first timber here, in 1774, but left in the fall.
The settlement was commenced in March 1775, by Thomas
Freeman, his son William, and John Newton. The same season,
Lot Whitcomb, Nathaniel Paige, William Cheedle, and Asa
Whitcomb, moved their families into town. Thomas Freeman,
Jr., came into town June 7,1775." ^ All these were from Hard-
wick, with the possible exception of William Cheedle. They
were very soon followed by many others. Asa Whitcomb had
been appointed by the proprietors of the township as their agent
to make sale of the land and bring forward the settlement. He
first secured an energetic man, Thomas Freeman, as a leading
pioneer, who removed in 1775 with at least four stalwart sons,
(though yet in their minority), William, Thomas, Joshua, and
Elisha, and his son-in-law, John Newton. He then induced
many of his own relatives, both by blood and marriage, to era-

^ Coll. Vermont Hist. Soc.,\\. 135. "prisoners" were political adherents of

^ Hall's History of Vermont, p. 396. New York, who resisted the authority of

Paul Spooner was probably born in Vermont.

Hardwick, but was young when his ^ Thompson's Hist, of Vermont, art-
father removed to Petersham. The "Barnard."



56 HISTORY OF HARUWICK.

bark in the enterprise of building a new town in the wilderness ;
among whom were his brother, Lot Whitcomb ; his cousin,
Joshua Whitcomb ; his brother-in-law, Solomon Aiken, with his
sons James, Nathaniel, Solomon, and Elijah ; Steward South-
gate, whose wife was sister to the wife of Whitcomb ; his neph-
ews Nathaniel, Asa, and George Paige, and his nephews Seth,
Robert, and Nathaniel Dean. Besides these were Timothy and
Gideon, brothers of John Newton, and Thomas Martin W^right,
who married their sister; Joseph Byam ; Captain Benjamin
Cox, with his sons George, Benjamin, and Ebenezer ; Prince
Haskell, and his brother Nathaniel ; Captain Edmund Hodges ;
Elkanah Steward and his son Samuel ; and Thomas W. White.
A few of these persons were then minoi's, but all were in Barnard
very soon after the emigration commenced, and all remained and
reared families. Within ten years after the town was organized,
it i-eceived iurther accessions fi'om Hardwick : James Byram ;
Shiverick Crowell, and his brother Nathaniel (their sister
Salvina had married Nathaniel Paige); Aaron Fay, and his
brothers Moses and Eliakim ; Jacob Lawton ; Sylvanus Wash-
burn ; and perhaps others. How much the population was in-
creased by arrivals from other towns I know not ; but the Hard-
wick men had almost all the important offices at the organization
of the town. The first town meeting was held at the house of
William Cheedle, April 9, 1778, by virtue of a warrant issued
on the 4th of the same month, by " Thomas Freeman and Lot
Whitcomb, Committee of Safety." The officers then elected
were Thomas Freeman, Moderator ; Thomas W. White, Town
Clerk ; Thomas Freeman, Asa Whitcomb, Solomon Aiken, Se-
lectmen ; Captain Edmund Hodges, Thomas W. White, Captain
Benjamin Cox, Assessors ; Thomas Freeman, Treasurer ; Wil-
liam Cheedle, Grand Juror ; Joseph Byam, Joseph Bowman,
Constables ; Henry Curtis, John Newton, Surveyors of High-
ways ; Ebenezer Caul, Tythingman ; and "at a meeting of this
Town, July 7, 1778, chose Asa Whitcomb, Justice Peace."

Although this emigration was not, like that to Bennington, a
distinctively religious movement,^ the pioneers evinced their re-
gard for religion by erecting a meeting-house at an early day. I
quote from the Town Records : " July 5, 1779. " Met agreeable
to adjournment, and made choice of Capt. Hodges, Moderator.
Voted, to build a meeting-house at the spruce tree where the

1 The emigrants to Bennington were removed for the purpose of gaining greater
connected with the Separate Church, and freedom in ecclesiastical affairs.



CIVIL HISTORY. 67

town made the centre. Voted, to build a log meeting-house, and
to meet at the centre the IS*'^ of this month with axes, in order
to peel bark and cut timber for the said house." When they had
become moi'e able to do so, they voted, March 18, 1782, to build
a meeting-house, 40 X 30 feet, and 16 foot posts, with a con-
venient galleiy.

In order to show the perils, as well as the hardships encountered
by these emigrants, one fact is added : " On the 9th of August,
1780, this town was visited by a party of twenty-one Indians,
who made prisoners of Thomas M. Wright, Prince Haskell, and
John Newton, and carried them to Canada. Newton and Wright
made their escape the spring following, and Haskell was ex-
changed in the fall. They suffered many hardships while prison-
ers and on their return ; but they arrived safely at Barnard, and
were all living in 182*4 upon the farms from which they were
taken." ^

^ Thompson's Hist, of Vermont, art. in the Genealogical Register at the end
"Barnard." A more particular notice of of this volume,
the emigrants to Barnard may be found



CHAPTER VI.



CIVIL HISTORY.



American Revolution. — Taxation without Representation. — Stamp Act. —
Congress at New York. — Brigadier Ruggles, its President, refuses to sign
its Petitions ; bis Reasons therefor unsatisfactory to the Representatives,
who reprimand him, but satisfactory to his Townsmen. — Riot in Boston. —
The Town refuses, but afterwards consents, that the Damage may be paid
"out of the Province Treasury." — Brigadier Ruggles stands alone in
Opposition to a Bill ostensibly designed to encourage Domestic Manufac-
tures, and renders his Reasons publicly. — The Town instructs its Repre-
sentative in 1773, to stand fast in Defence of its Chartered Rights and
Privileges. — Final Departure of Brigadier Ruggles from Hardwick. —
Form of Association prepared by him; his Letter of Explanation; he refuses
to bear Arms against his Country, and retires to Nova Scotia. — Post of
Honor assigne;d to him in an Act of Banishment. — His Death, Public Ser-
vices, and Character.

In this history of a small town, it ms.j not be expected that
all the causes of the American Eevolution should be enumerated
and discussed, or the various events recounted, which occurred
during its progress. Some of those causes and events, however,
should be mentioned, in "svhich this town was more or less actively
engaged ; especially because its most eminent citizen was among
the foremost actors on one side of the controversy, in its early
stages, while the town itself, though for a few years apparently
following his leadership, stood manfully and almost unanimously
on the other side, when the struggle came to a crisis.

One very prominent question at issue, in the commencement of
this political and ultimately sanguinary controversy, was whether
or not the Britisli Parliament had a legal right to impose taxes
on the American Provinces without their consent. In the exer-
cise of this pretended right of supremacy, among other methods
for raising a revenue from the provinces, Parliament enacted a
law, styled the " Stamp Act," and directed that it should take
effect November 1, 1765. It does not appear that the town took
any action on this subject in town meeting ; but the House of
Representatives acted promptly and decisively. Tliey sent a cir-



CIVIL HISTORY. 69

cular to the other Provinces, or Colonies, proposing concerted
action : —

" Boston, June, 1765. Sir, the House of Representatives
of this province, in the present session of the General Court,
have unanimously agreed to propose a meeting, as soon as may
be, of committees from the House of Representatives, or Bur-
cesses of the several British colonies on this continent, to consult
together on the present circumstances of the colonies, and the
difficulties to which they are and must be reduced by the opera-
tion of the acts of parliament for levying duties and taxes on the
colonies; and to consider of a general and united, dutiful, loyal,
and humble representation of their condition to his majesty and
to the parliament, and to implore relief. The house of repre-
sentatives of this province have also voted to propose that such
meeting be at the city of New York, in the province of New
York, on the first Tuesday in October next, and have appointed,
the committee of three of their members to attend that service,
with such as the other houses of representatives or bui-gesses, in
the several colonies, may think fit to appoint to meet them ; and
the committee of the house of representatives of this province
are directed to repair to the said New York, on the first Tuesday
in October next, accordingl}'^ ; if, therefore, your honorable house
should agree to this proposal, it would be acceptable that as early
notice of it as possible might be transmitted to the speaker of
the house of representatives of this province.

" Samuel White, Speaker." i

Governor Hutchinson remarks, that " the delegates from Mas-
sachusetts Bay were James Otis, Oliver Partridge, and Timothy
Ruggles. The two last named had the character of friends to
government. Mr. Ruggles accepted the trust, expecting nothing
would be required of him that was not expressed in the vote of
the assembly, and left the house in order to prepare for his jour-
ney. He was afterwards informed that the house of representa-
tives had passed a set of instructions to their delegates, in which
they were required to insist upon an exclusive right in the colon-
ies to all acts of taxation. He determined, thereupon, to excuse
himself from serving ; but, being urged by his friends, he changed
his mind, and went on to New York."^

The several committees assembled in New York " on Monday
the 7"" of October, 1765," and exhibited their credentials. " Then

1 Journal of the Continental Congress of 2 Hutchinson's Hist, of Mass., iii. 118.
1765, pp. 7, 8.



60 HISTORY OF HARDWICK.

the said committees proceeded to choose a chairman by ballot ;
and Timothy Ruggles, Esq., on sorting and counting the votes,
appeared to have a majority, and thereupon was placed in the
chair." On the next day (the day fixed for the meeting), " the
Congress took into consideration the rights and privileges of the
British American colonists, with the several inconveniences and
hardships to which they are and must be subjected by the oper-
ation of several late acts of parliament, particularly the act called
the stamp act ; and after some time spent therein, the same was
postponed for further consideration." ^ The Congress met from
day to day until October 24, 1765, when it adjourned without
day. During this time a Declaration of Rights was adopted, to-
gether with an address "to the King's most excellent majesty," a
memorial to the House of Lords, and a petition to the House of
Commons, of Great Britain ; in all which the Congress professed
allegiance to the King, but protested against the recent enact-
ments of Parliament. To the House of Commons it was said
that " it is with the most ineffable and humiliating sorrow that
we find ourselves of late deprived of the right of granting our
own property for his majesty's service, to which our lives and for-
tunes are entirely devoted, and to which, on his royal i-equisi-
tions, we have been ready to contribute to the utmost of our abil-
ities. We have also the misfortune to find that all the penalties
and forfeitures mentioned in the stamp act, and divers late acts of
trade extending to the plantations, are, at the election of the in-
formers, recoverable in any court of admiralty in America.
This, as the newly erected court of admiralty has a general ju-
risdiction over all British America, renders his majesty's subjects
in these colonies liable to be carried, at an immense expense, from
one end of the continent to the other. . . . By this means we
seem to be, in effect, un'happily deprived of two privileges essen-
tial to freedom, and which all Englishmen have ever considered
as their best birthright, — that of being free from all taxes but
such as they have consented to in person or by their representa-
tives, and of trial by their peers." ^ For these and similar reasons
an earnest appeal was made for the repeal of the objectionable
and oppressive laws.

President Ruggles refused to affix his official signature to these
documents, for reasons which he afterwards formally presented to
the Massachusetts House of Representatives. By their printed

1 Journal of the Cont. Congress o/'1765, - Ihid., p. 38.
pp. 25, 26.



CIVIL HISTORY. 61

journal it appears that on the 26th of January, 1766, the House
then being in session, " the following letter was signed by the
Speaker and directed to be forwarded to Brigadier Ruggles, viz.,
Sir, the House of Representatives have this day resolved to take
into consideration the services of their committee at the late Con-
gress at New York, and some things having been mentioned in
general relating to your conduct which the House think proper to
inquire into, — they direct your attendance on Thursday the 6th
day of February ensuing." The subsequent proceedings were
published in the printed journal as follows : February 6, 1766.
" The House, accoi-ding to the order of the day, entered into the
conduct and services of the committee at the late Congress at New
York ; and after a debate, the question was put, whether the rea-
sons offered by Brigadier Ruggles for his not signing the petitions
prepared by the late Congress at New York be satisfactory to this
House? It passed in the negative. Then the question was put,
whether the reasons offered by Brigadier Ruggles for leaving the
late Congress at New York before they had completed their busi-
ness,^ be satisfactory to tiiis House? It passed in the negative.
Resolved, unanimously, that the account given by James Otis
and Oliver Partridge, Esquires, of their conduct at the late Con-
gress at New York, is satisfactory to this House." February 12,
1766. " Resolved, that Brigadier Ruggles, with respect to his
conduct at the Congress at New York, has been guilty of neglect
of duty, and that he be reprimanded therefor by the Speaker."
February 13, 1766. " Brigadier Ruggles appearing in the House,
Mr. Speaker said to him as follows, viz., —

" Brigadier Ruggles, the House last evening voted, that with
respect to your conduct at the late Congress at New York, you
were guilty of neglect of duty, and thereupon ordered, that you
should receive a reprimand from the Speaker of this House.
Therefore

" Sir, in discharge of my duty as Speaker of this House, and
in pursuance of their order, I do reprimand you accoi'dingly. Sir,
it gives me very sensible pain, that a gentleman who lias been
heretofore in such high estimation in this House, should fall
under their publick censure.

" I hope. Sir, that by your future conduct, you will not only
regain the good opinion this House have heretofore entertained of

1 The only business which remained sign, he did not choose to wait for his as-
unfinished was the signing of the docu- sociates.
ments by the committees ; as he would not



62 HISTORY OF HARDWICK.

you, bat also the good opinion of all those whose displeasure you
may have fallen under on this occasion."

A vote was then passed by the House permitting the publica-
tion in their Journal of the reasons which he offered in justifica-
tion of his conduct ; but, February 19, 1766, " Brigadier Hag-
gles (according to order) laid upon the table his reasons for his
conduct at the Congress at New York, which being read, after a
debate, the question was put, whether the paper offered as con-
taining his reasons be printed in the Journal of the House ?
It passed in the negative." Having thus been denied the priv-
ilege before promised to him, he caused his Reasons to be pub-
lished in the " Boston Post Boy and Advertiser," May 5, 1766 : —

" Brigadier Rnggles's Reasons for his dissent from the Resolu-
tions of the Congress at New York, as given into the House, Feb-
ruary 19, 1766.

" The Honourable House having on my motion been graciously
pleased to indulge me with adjoining the Reasons in justification
of my conduct to a publication of the Proceedings of said Con-
gress, ordered by the House to be inserted at the end of the Jour-
nals of the present Sessions, first laying them before the House,
— I bes leave to offer the folio wino- : —

" First. ]\Iy instructions from this honorable house, conceived
in the following words, viz., ' It is the expectation of the house
that a most loyal and dutiful address to his Majesty and his Par-
liament will be prepared b}^ the congress, praying as well for the
removal of the grievances the colonies labor under at present, as
for the preventing others for the future ; which petitions, if drawn
up as far as you shall be able to judge agreeable to the mind of
this house, you are empowered to sign and forward.' The peti-
tion agreed upon by the congress to be presented to his majesty
not being conceived in terms clearly enough expressive of that
duty and loyalty which are due to the best of sovereigns, and con-
sequently not agreeable to my above instructions from this house,
left as a mere matter of judgment and discretion, if I had signed
it I must have acted in direct opposition to those instructions, and
thereby have exposed myself not only to the censures- of this
house, but to the reproaches of my own conscience, a tribunal



Online LibraryLucius R. (Lucius Robinson) PaigeHistory of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register → online text (page 7 of 73)