Maine Historical Society.

Collections of the Maine historical society (Volume 1) online

. (page 6 of 34)
Online LibraryMaine Historical SocietyCollections of the Maine historical society (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


expenses of making a settlement. The financial ques-
tion led them to seek enlargement of privileges by a
new charter. Clamorous opposition arose, and a de-
mand to have the coast free to fishermen. Wrangling
and popular discontent hindered any efficient steps for
two years. Hence the official report shows that by
the company's agency no settlement had as yet been
effected. Certainly, therefore, no colony had been
maintained by Francis Popham for a dozen years, for
he was a member of the company, and its report speaks
in his name, as it also discloses what he personally
undertook.

Having detailed affairs so far chiefly discouraging,
the Relation finally indicates that Dermer's action for
two years in examining the coast, in making peace
between the native tribes, was bearing fruit for the
company "who have a peaceable plantation at the
present among them, where our people doth prosper."
Hence not till 1621 or 1622 was any plantation estab-



74 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

lished in their limits according to the recital of pres-
ident and council. No better authority nor more in-
genuous statement could be required, for failure
might have been concealed, but strong reasons would
have enforced mention of success.

The Brief Narration, written by Sir Ferdinando
Gorges many years after, traverses the same ground,
and is in full agreement.

Capt. John Smith was employed to make a tenta-
tive voyage in 1614. It is well known how he fished
for whales in vain, got fish and furs in the vicinity of
Monhegan, ranged and mapped the coast, examining
it with reference to occupation. That no colonists
were then there, no settlements yet begun, he testifies
explicitly : " When I first went there the northern
colony [Sagadahoc] had dissolved and there was not
one Christian in all the land." He found no European
located anywhere, though he boated alongshore from
Penobscot to Cape Cod, entered rivers, sounded twen-
ty-five harbors, and visited some forty native villages.
He also tells that it had been intended for him to stay
in the countr}" with ten men to keep possession.
His glowing report moved the company to action, and
he was dispatched again next season, and with a small
number of adventurers, sixteen, was to remain and
begin a plantation. But storms and pirates assailed
him, and that year's enterprise was frustrated. He
tells how, in the succeeding years fishing ships made
remunerative voyages, but all his endeavors, by dis-
tribution of books and maps, and by personal advocacy,
availed no more to induce merchants and others to ad-



BEGINNINGS AT PEMAQUID. 75

venture funds to establish plantations " than to hew
rocks with oyster shells."

The alleged colonial scheme of Sir Francis Popham
is dissipated wholly by these three narrators, the main
sources of information. The first relates that Popham,
gaining control of the ships of the discouraged com-
pany, sent divers times for trade and fishing. The
second tells that he could not so give it over but con-
tinued to send thither for several years after in hopes
of better fortunes. Smith is more accurate, writing,
" He sent divers times one Captain Williams to Mon-
liegan only to trade and make core fish." Likewise
he asserts that nothing was effected in the way of set-
tlement till some Brownists [Pilgrims] went. These
writers, interested parties, knew whereof they affirmed,
and clearly relate the attempts, reverses, hindrances,
and slow maturing of plans for occupation. They do
not introduce a sentence mentioning or suggesting
that any persons had gained a foothold on the land
until 1622. Biencourt's party coasted as far as the
Kennebec in pursuit of Englishmen to whom to make
protest for insults to the French, but found none.
Smith asserts that up to 1614 there was not a Euro-
pean as inhabitant or planter, and admits failure in
their enterprise in following years. He declares that
Capt. Hunt, his associate in the first voyage, kid-
napped twenty-four savages in order to prevent the
proposed plantation, so as to keep the country in ob-
scurity in order to furnish him better chance for trade.
If there seem to be lack of positive disproof, yet
various incidentals in these narrations are inconsistent



76 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

with the presence of colonists. These matters have
an indirect bearing on the question : — benumbed in-
terest of former patrons and general disgust ; coloni-
zation regarded a task too great for individuals and
requiring aggregated capital and endeavors; succes-
sive voyages for information ; natives formerly de-
coyed away sent back as guides and assistants in ex-
ploration; Hawkins' fruitless voyage; the Jesuit's
visit and narrative ; Gorges, vexed at failure, sending
his own agents and ship, and hiring at high rates men
to stay over winter once or more as if to prove it
feasible ; the refusal of merchants to adventure any-
thing ; Smith's representation of healthful climate,
fertile soil, grain supply from the natives, all based on
his own experience, without a word of better testi-
mony from residents for several years, had there been
any ; his engagement to stay to hold possession evi-
dently against other nations, needless, if English col-
onists were there ; agreement to locate at Pemaquid
in alliance with Nahanada for mutual protection ; Som-
erset's broken English learned from men of the fish-
ing ships about Monhegan, not settlers on shore; the
stories of the mutineers and the shipwrecked French-
men, and murder of Gorges' men, but not a word of
meeting English residents, were any located at various
points ; the wars of the savages and hostile feeling
toward Europeans, such that only colonies of consid-
erable numbers and equipment could have maintained
themselves. Indeed, a distinctly colored background
in these narrations itself proclaims the non-entry of
settlers even in small parties. Those conditions which



BEGINNINGS AT PE3IAQUID. 77

repelled occupation hy the owners and patentees
would be prohibitive of individuals or little handfuls.
For they must have means to ensure transportation
and subsistence for a time, to meet the hard winters,
to make outlay to establish themselves and construct
defenses. When peace was established by Dormer
this last and great difficulty was removed. In those
years Gorges would have eagerly engaged any ready
to go and take the risks, if conditions had made entry
feasible ; but failure followed every attempt. All re-
ports carried to England by shipmasters and agents
proclaimed how imprudent and Quixotic to adventure
by twos or threes to make homes on that foreign shore.
The assumption that a few men here and there held
points on the Maine coast in the decade after the Sag-
adahoc disruption reaches to the height of the improb-
able or the absurd.

Sir Ferdinando Gorges, energetic and unfaltering,
sent over his ship (the Katherine, probably, one hun-
dred and eighty tons), and with it Richard Vines, who
remained one winter.^ In 1G18 Capt. Rocraft sailed
in employ of Gorges. He had insubordination on
board, and in the late autumn put the mutineers on
shore at Saco, furnished with some provisions, in hopes
by this forced sojourn they might get information of
value. He must have believed there were no settlers
on that part of the coast. They made their way to
Monhegan, manifestly to the place of most frequent

iThe year Is a matter of inference, 1617-18, or the preeedinf^. It seems to
have been subsequent to the native war which was raging late in 1615, and contin-
ued two years, or three, as Gorges writes. Drake reclions that ihe terrible plague
which followed the war began in 1617. Vines' sojourn was in the time of the dis-
ease, but the date is very uncertain.



78 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

visits of ships, where they could hope most readily to
find a way to leave the country. They did, however,
winter there, " with bad lodging and worse fare," yet
in good health, though one sickly man died. A back-
ground of color to this incident forces the interpreta-
tion that they were alone, and fished and foraged as
best they were able. No one would have written this
so if any residents were able to supply them.

In the next year Capt. Dermer followed with sup-
plies for Rocraft, which in June he desired to leave at
Monhegan. But he could not spare men from his
crew to guard them. Evidently there could have been
then no residents, nor workmen or agents of Gorges
on the island, to whom the provisions could be in-
trusted. Crews of fishing ships temporarily tarried
(the Sampson from Virginia was then there), and ship
stores landed would have been very insecure.

In the summer of 1620 five of Gorges' men were
assailed by the savages, and three slain. It is most
probable that the Nausites from Massachusetts Bay,
who killed them, were on a raid eastward, and fell in
with the men, perhaps a boat's crew, at Saco or Sag-
adahoc, or wherever they were employed. Two es-
caped to Monhegan, but the fact carries no proof of
occupation there other than by the ordinary fishing
crews. The island undoubtedly had been the chief
anchorage station of the ships of Gorges and associ-
ates since the voyage of Smith, and its vicinity was
" the usual fishing-place," of which he writes. We
know that a few years later, 1622, he had a plantation
there, which will indicate an established business. In



BEGINNINGS AT PEMAQUID. 79

1623 Capt. West discharged cargo at Damariscove, be-
fore calling at Moiihegan, where was a plantation of
Gorges. Probably it was this one referred to in the
Relation as already established in 1622, and the peo-
ple prospering. Indeed, the president and council
relate that by the latter year " they had settled sev-
eral plantations along this coast and granted patents
for many more." Parties holding their grants had
begun settlements, and the company also had at the
least one, of which their own people gave hopeful
report and were loth to leave.

It is well assured that the undismayed Gorges had
gained no foothold in the patents, at the time of Der-
mer's operations. The latter must have returned to
the Maine coast from Virginia in 1620, and doubtless
died in that 3^ear, though statements are obscure and
conflictinir. Goro;es was much troubled at the loss of
so valuable an agent. In that and the next year he
was soliciting royal favor and managing to secure the
largest privileges by the new patent. The public
clamor against the monopoly, and resistance in the
House of Commons, which Gorges was forced to meet,
allowed nothing but preparatory steps toward -a>- new
settlement till the summer of 1621. Popular senti-
ment, now forcibly voiced in parliament, secured for
the coast free fishery, so distasteful to the company.
Yet it served to turn enterprise thither.

Here we must notice if the patentees, men of
wealth and in high stations, had thus far been foiled
in schemes for a colony, surely other and weak par-
ties could not have made entries along the coast.



80 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

They must have obtained licenses, or risked expulsion,
at the loss of expenditures and improvements ; must
have braved native hostility, as cozening and kidnap-
ping bore fruit. It was Dermer's testimony that
almost everywhere, if of any strength, they sought to
betray the English. Nor does it seem possible that
those undismayed leaders of the patentees, applying
themselves with zeal and assiduity in the midst of
calamity and impediments, to get a secure foothold in
the country, could have published what they did and
omitted mention of entry on their lands or of a feeble
band located at any point. If private enterprise could
have gained such success, the patentees would have
been eager to turn it to their own advantage as nu-
cleus of settlement.

So far as the various narratives permit conclusions,
Monhegan had precedence in settlement. Its situa-
tion favored the fisheries which induced auxiliary
occupation of points on shore. Damariscove had
equal adaptation, and its curious and secure harbor
would have given it preference. Business may have
earlier centered there, requiring abodes or storehouses.
There are less items in the early writings to exhibit
its history.^

1 Of this group Capt. Smith nialces the earliest mention, and applies the name
Dameril's Isles. Next the outer and important island with its unique har-
bor wears the designation Damaril's Cove (or in other forms Damirel's, Dame-
rell's, etc.) I have tound eleven instances in the writings of that century, though
Damarln's and Damaris Cove appear twice as variations. In the next century
the latter becomes the chief or only form. One Humphrey Damerill of Boston,
dyiug about IGoO, claimed to own part or all of this island. The name and owner-
ship make strong presumption that " Humphrey Damerill Seaman," or another of
that name, had used its harbor and shore privileges several j'ears before 1G14, so
that his name was commonly associated with it as Smith found.

Au opinion has derived the name from " Damarine," a mythical and wholly un-
supported title of Robinhood.



BEGINNINGS AT PEMAQUID. 81

Operations on these conspicuous and serviceable
islands cast light on Pemaqiiid and adjacent points,
and aid conclusions. The islands offered equal or su-
perior advantages to fishermen, and were more secure
against native treachery. We assume they M^ere first
utilized. Still Sagadahoc had special note in the early
years. Anchorage near the main was requisite for
lucrative fur traffic. Smith advocated fishing planta-
tions. The name savors less of agriculture than a
business plant — a station where all the appurtenances
of the fishery were located, and whence the business
was conducted. Hence there would be lodo;ino:s,
buildings for storage of provisions, tackle, boat outfits,
for furs and fish and articles of traffic ; agriculture
would in a degree be pursued, and domestic animals
kept. When Jennens disposed of his business at Mon-
hegan in 1626 a large amount of " trading goods"
were sold, and also "a parcell of goats."

The trend of evidence therefore will not warrant the
opinion that final effective action for plantations could
have been taken by the patentees earlier than 1621.
Plans preliminary may have had attention in the pre-
ceding year — the order to prepare the patent for the
king's signature having been signed July 23. It is
difficult to believe that Pemaquid could have preceded
Monhegan. Its harbor, as others on the coast, prob-
ably sheltered ships, as the daily catch of fish was
cured on shore. Groups of workmen, a little popula-
tion, changing with every ship, enlivened the islands
and chosen loctilities on the main in the summer; the
winter brought back primeval quiet. It would be
Vol. VI. 7



82 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

gratifying to know when the first company held on
during the whole year and built substantial abodes.
Gorges may have hired a winter's crew for Monhe-
gan when Vines stayed through at Saco. Winter pi-
oneers must be left wholly to conjecture, excepting
Vines' company and Rocraft's seamen.

The temporary and the permanent lie closely, even
overlap and interlace. Three stages are separable : — •
first, trade or fishing by factors and crew, with the
ship alone ; second, shelters, lodgings, storehouses,
occupied in the busy season, and sometimes for a win-
ter; third, permament dwellings, shops and ware-
houses, enlarged agriculture, the family. An occa-
sional rover, French or English, bartering knives, fish-
hooks, trinkets, may have visited Pemaquid, and no
chronicler left name or date.

Two decades of the century of settlement touch
very lightly the peninsula, by the voice of records ex-
tant. Waymouth's flag at the Georges in 1605 drew
Pemaquid's untamed sons to his ship, whose curiosity
and fears showed slight or no knowledge of visitors
from beyond the sea. Every presumption will say
that Chief Justice Popham's agent, Capt. Thomas
Henham, keenly surveyed the advantages of harbor
and peninsula. The visits of the Sagadahoc colonists
a year later need no mention. The French leader
from Port Royal, in 1611, and his exploring crew and
boat drew to land here quite surely. We can conjec-
ture that New Harbor was the " porte " where Francis
Popham moored his ship in successive years, and gath-
ered up the furs of Nahanada's skilled trappers. This



BEGINNINGS AT PEMAQUID. 83

sachem's acquaintance with Capt. Smith indicates that
the adventurer became familiar with Pemaquid. For
the next half-dozen years we can trace no person nor
ship to its vicinity, but the increase of fishing craft
warrants belief that some came hither.

In June, 1621, was written the grant to John
Pierce, cloth-worker, of London, nominally for himself,
really for the Cape Cod pilgrims. Could we know
when he or his agent entered upon it, that would
furnish a positive bound of beginning in the history
of Pemaquid. All that precedes is transient or misty.
Obscurity wholly covers the entrance of Pierce to his
patent. His misfortunes render his coming hither
doubtful, but if at all it was early in 1622 or pre-
viously. An agent, or a person of a similar name,
may have begun the alleged plantation. The tradition
may be error.

Who explored and set the bounds of his grant is
beyond conjecture. Indeed, Smith's map could have
offered sufficient information. A Barnstable ship,
The Eagle, Witheridge master, made this his station
for trade in 1623. Others, of course, came unre-
corded, for Levett found in that year more than thirty
sail on the coast. He learned that Pemaquid had
already been granted.

A definite stage of Pemaquid history begins with
purchase, with legal forms, from the honored Somer-
set, or Samoset, and Unnongoit, Sagamores, in 1625.
The purchaser, whose name enters this pioneer con-
veyance of New England soil, had already been so
long resident as to be styled John Brown of New Har-



84 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

bor. His name stands first among I^nown and actual
residents. Of his associates and neiglibors at that
time the page is blank. Curiosity will ask and get no
answer, in what year, earlier or later than Brown's,
had a nucleus of settlement been formed on the west
side of the peninsula, at or near the spot where such
momentous events afterward transpired, as pirate and
chief and warrior, governor, plumed leader, armed
ships, came for conquest or vengeance. This westerly
hamlet grew apace, gained importance, and by 1G30
had its protecting fort.

These are the known and inferred beginnings of
Pemaquid. From this time onward its history is fairly
well outlined.

A somewhat vague opinion has currency of a pre-
historic stage in Pemaquid history. Pavements, rel-
ics, excavations, have excited surprised inquiry, nor
gained wholly satisfactory explanation. Desirable and
demanded is the gathering and record of all assured
and reputed facts, vigorous sifting and weighing, and
thence conclusions as the result will warrant.

The inquiry will arise, if here are traces of an un-
known and buried settlement, how did they escape
notice by early explorer and visitor? It seems impos-
sible but that some word of mention would find record.
Many chroniclers then sought for the marvelous as
much as to write the simple and actual. There is an
entire blank without a hint of ancient works, suggest-
ing a former people and civilization. The void has
weight as evidence. Certainly pavements hidden un-



SKETCHES OF THE LIVES OF EARLY MAINE MINISTERS. 85

der many inches of soil witness to no greater antiquity
tlian similar buried stones at Castine or Fort Rich-
mond. No inscriptions have come to light having any
force whatever to prove great age of settlement. No
relics bear marks to prove their origin in an unre-
corded period of history. The present can emphati-
cally repeat the former opinion of Prof. Johnston, his-
torian of Pemaquid, whose cautious and judicious
handling of the matter wins confidence, that on the
question of mooted earlier settlement " the answer is
decidedly in the negative."



SKETCHES OF THE LIVES OF EARLY
' MAINE MINISTERS.



KY WILLIAM D. WILLIAMSON.



Presented to the Maine Hlfttorical Society, with an Introduction by Joseph
Williamson, December 10, 1891.

[continued.]
REVEREND BENJAMIN STEVENS.

Rev. Benjamin Stevens, Harvard College, 1740,
A. B. ; 1785, D. D. ; was ordained May 1, 1751, colleague
pastor with Reverend Mr. Newmarch, the second set-
tled minister at Kittery point. His ancestors were
among the early settlers of Andover, and his father was
the Reverend Joseph Stevens of Charlestown, Massa-
chusetts, who was a distinguished scholar, and fellow of
the university, and |^who died in 1722, leaving his son
Benjamin, a child of two years old. But he proved
himself to be worthy of so pious and talented a father.
Possessing strong intellectual powers, he engaged with



86 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

great ardor and diligence in the pursuits of science,
and became truly distinguished for his learning. His
intelligent conversation rendered his society exceed-
ingly engaging, and in his compositions he shone to
the greatest advantage, for by them he showed himself
always in his own orbit. Though his voice was strong,
it was neither clear nor musical, therefore, he wanted
the graces of delivery. One says that in him were
united " the grave divine, the cheerful Christian, the
laborious pastor, the faithful friend and the tender par-
ent ; " and that he held a high place in the esteem and
affection of his brethren. Another speaks of him as
eminent for piety. But another remarks that though
his society was flourishing when he was settled, and his
ministry was continued forty years, there was " no
special revival of religion" in that time, the church
declined, and at his death but few male members were
left. Surely he was a man of God, given to fasting
and prayer for the conversion of souls, and waiting
anxiously to see the consolations of the gospel showered
upon his people ; great must have been his regrets to
have perceived his ministry crowned with no more am-
ple success. But he, in his day, witnessed great
changes in the people and place of his pastorate.
Trade declined, elegant houses deteriorated, and most
of his early friends had gone to the grave before him,
leaving him in the midst of a new-born generation.

Dr. Stevens closed his earthly career. May 18,
1791, in the seventy-first year of his age, having be-
queathed his library which was large and valuable, to
the use of the Congregational ministers of Kittery



SKETCHES OF THE LIVES OF EARLY MAINE MINISTERS. 87

and York. His epitaph : The grave contains the
feeble, molclering cLay ; the spirit triumphs in eternal
day.

REV. EPHRAIM CLARK.

Rev. Ephraim Clark, the successor of Rev. Benjamin
Allen, was installed May 21, 1756, the second settled
minister in the Purpooduck parish, the present town
of Cape Elizabeth. He had the year previously, been
dismissed from the pastoral care of a church in Boston.
Great opposition was made to his settlement by a for-
midable, energetic minority ; some afterwards assailed
his reputation, and as many as twenty-four of the num-
ber refusing to pay their rates were committed to gaol
in the same year. Indeed, the controversy was of such
an aggravated character and carried to such a repre-
hensible height, that the disciples of religion mourned,
and the ministers in the neighborhood kept a day of
fasting on the occasion of these contentions. Such
were the ravages of a mere spark, smitten from the
flint and steel of hardened hearts ; a spark which re-
ligion could easily have extinguished. For though it
be true, as the foes of Mr. Clark alleged, that he was
" a man of small talents, and those not cultivated by a
a liberal education," he certainly proved himself a bold
and persevering champion in war, as he fought a suc-
cessful fight and won the victory. It is sometimes
wise to resist turbulent, abusive spirits to the utmost.
To contend for right is lawful. Too much forbearance
often emboldens ill treatment, and excites suspicions
of one's innocence.



88 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

At length, the parish became quiet ; those who were
disaffected withdrew or seceded, and Christian charities,
which disputes so effectually paralyze, appeared to
revive. Mr. Clark died December 11, 1797, without
issue and there can hardly be a juster commentary on
the usefulness of his ministry, than that it was protracted
to the great length of forty-one years and six months.
Perhaps his former trials made him more humble, more



Online LibraryMaine Historical SocietyCollections of the Maine historical society (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 34)