Oliver Ayer Roberts.

History of the Military company of the Massachusetts, now called the Ancient and honorable artillery company of Massachusetts. 1637-1888 (Volume 1) online

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This very complete history of the iincient and Honorable
Company of Boston (five volumes), the oldest military orfranization
in this country, and next to the Honourable Artillery Company of
London, probably the oldest in the vjorld, comprising, se it does, a
membership from 1637 to 1905, is one of the most valuable publications
in the United States, It contains portraits of most of its past
ji commanders, with brief historical genealogical sketches of all of its
captains, non-commissioned officers and privates, with their dates of
Joining, and much other valuable information.

In it are the records of Captain William Davis, my gr^grand-
father who married (R) Huldah Symmes, daughter of Rev. Zechariah Symmes,
first minister of Charlestown, Mass, whose daughter, Huldah, married
Edward Hainsford, founder of the "Old South Church", and was brother
of Sir Richard Hainsford, Lord High Chancellor of England (see p. 129,
Vol. I.) Captain Davis was captain in 1543, 1664 and 1672, having been
elected sergeant, ensign and lieutenant prior thereto. He v/as in Eing
Philip's war 1675-6 and was wounded. He v;as for many years Selectman of
;S!op„/n; also, overseer of the poor, and one of the founders of the "Old
South Church". Two of his sons, Benjamin and 7/illiam, also joined the
Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, the former in 1673 and the
latter in 1677 fsee p.p. 129^130, Vol. I.)

Another gr^grandfather, John Goldthwaite, of Salem and Boston
(1711) fl720) Joined (see p. 375, Vol. I) and subsequently two of his
sons. Captain Joseph (1732) and Benjamin (1740), both Colonial soldiers
of distinction. (See my records - printed - of their long military
service.) Ifeny contemporaries of these, my ancestors — whom I had
heard my mother and grandmother refer to — Joined during the 18tb century,

Page #2.

During the 19th century, many of ray friends — mostly members
' the Military Order of the Loyal Legion - joined this celebrated
c ^any, as well as friends whom I had known in the "Boston Tigers"
id "First Corps of Cadets". These I have indicated by a red check.
.e index is very correct and in every v^ay the entire work is almost
valuable to me as a book of reference. -•

R. G. C.




The Military Company of tlie Massachusetts


The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company

of Massachusetts.




VOLUME 1. — 1637-1738.



24 Franklin Street.











of massachusetts.

Faneuil Hall, Boston,
November i, 1S95.

To the Members of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts :

By votes of the Company passed in 1886 and subsequently, the Committee on
Military Museum and Library were instructed to have the history of the Company, from
1637 to 1888, written and printed.

The work was immediately undertaken, and arrangements were made with Major
Ben : Perley Poore to be the historian. He had made but little progress when his labors
were cut short by his sudden death. This sad event was a great disappointment to the
committee. Fortunately, however, they found an able successor in Mr. Oliver Aver
Roberts, of Melrose, who brought great zeal and ability to the undertaking, and has so
far progressed that he has now nearly the whole history in manuscript. It will give the
record of about six thousand members, and will probably be comprised in four volumes.
The committee have now the pleasure of presenting the first volume, including the
period from 1637 to June i, 1738.

The committee cannot fail to mention another serious loss they experienced, in
the death of their first chairman, Captain John Lindsay Stevenson.

Captain Stevenson was a firm friend of the Company, through many years rendering
it efficient service, and perhaps to him more than to any other is the Company indebted
for laying the foundation of the work now so nearly completed.




AIR. ZACHARIAH G. WHITMAN, who joined the Ancient and Honorable Artillery
Company in 1810, did a commendable work in preparing a complete roster of the
Company in 1819. This so intensified his interest in matters pertaining to the Company
that he wrote its history. He published the first edition of it in 1820; and a second
edition, with many additions written by him, was published by a committee of the Com-
pany in 1.S42, just after Mr. Whitman's death. A more complete history was a fond hope
of Mr. Francis Brinley (1847), who gathered some material; but death ended his earthly
labors before his self-imposed task was hardly begun. His material was kindly forwarded
to the compiler of this volume. About 1875, Major Ben : Perley Poore (1848) began a
history of the Company ; but his prolific pen was laid aside before he had gathered his
material for the first half century. The history by Mr. Whitman (1810), and the material
gathered by Mr. Brinley (1847) and Major Poore (1848), which came into my possession,
have been utilized in this volume. The first six pages are the writing of Major Poore
(1848). They are inserted as a fit introduction to the work, and in memory of an
earnest, busy, and loyal friend and brother.

The present volume has been prepared under many difficulties, and it does not
reach that state of completeness which the writer fondly desired. The total loss of the
records of the first sixty years of the Company ; the incompleteness of early family and
town records ; the different spellings of the same name ; the identification of a person
who lived two hundred years ago, there being two and sometimes more persons of the
same name in the same locality, have multiplied the difficulties and chances of error.
Such conditions call for wise judgment, and the writer has used the best he had.

An arbitrary system has been followed in the preparation of this volume. Each
year, from 1637 to 1738, is complete in itself. The history of each year is commenced
by giving the names of the officers of the Company for that year, which is followed by
such historic facts as relate to the Company or to its members ; then the recruits for the
year are named, followed by biographical sketches. The records of the Company
(beginning in 1698, page 314) are then quoted, and the account for the year is
concluded with a short biographical sketch of the preacher for that year. In this

respect this work differs from all previous written or printed histories of the Company.
All the original records of the Company prior to 1738 are printed, under their appro-
priate years, in this volume. The date inclosed in a parenthesis, following a name,
signifies the year when the person named joined the Company.

The compiler is under great obligations to several persons, who have kindly assisted
by furnishing biographical data. Their names are given in the notes, as are the names
of the most important works consulted. He is under special obligations to the librarians
of the New England Historic, Genealogical, and Massachusetts Historical Societies for
the privilege of consulting books in those libraries, and to Mr. William H. Whitmore for
the Reports of the Record Commissioners of Boston.

All human works are imperfect, and doubtless errors will be detected on these
pages, yet the writer hopes that the perusal of this volume will add somewhat to the
pleasure of the members of the Company, and increase their interest in, and strengthen
their loyalty to, the oldest military company in America.

Melrose, Nov. 7, 1895.


Frontispiece — Autograph of Capt. Robert Keayne.
Portrait — Oliver A. Roberts, Historian of the Company.

Photograph of the Charter facing page lo

Pequot Fort " " 31

Portrait — Gov. John Winthrop " " 47

Meeting-house of the First Church

Old Town-house



Diving Bell "

Meeting-house of the Second Church " "168

Portrait — Thomas Savage (1637) <i ,, j.q

Portrait — John Leverett (1639) " " 172

North Battery • <. « j_g

Hull's Coins, — 1652 >. <i j^.

Old South Church " " 211

Plan of Artillery Farm at Dunstable « « 222

Province House " " 251

King's Chapel .. « j.g

South Battery « <r 379

Paper Money <i « 288

Portrait — Wait Winthrop (1692) « <. 290

Portrait — Samuel Shrimpton (1670) <i <r ,qj

Portrait — John Walley (1671) « « j,_

Portrait — Samuel Sewall (1679) ,< « ,,q

Portrait — Charles Hobby (1702) « .. ,,.

Portrait — Adam Winthrop (1694) ■< « ,._

Portrait — Thomas Fitch (1700') i< <. ,g.


Portrait — Edward Winslow (1700) i< <. ^g.

Portrait — William Dummer (1702) .1 .1 ^o.

Profile — Samuel Thaxter (1728) .< .< _j^.

Plan of Farm at Rutland 441

Portrait — Nathaniel Cunningham (1720) facing page 445

Portrait — Jacob Wendell (1733) >. u ^^^

Portrait — Richard Saltonstall (1733) .... ^^^

Harvard College in 1756 .... ^§2



Military Company of the Massachusetts


The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company

of Massachusetts.

|\/[ ASSACHUSETTS was colonized by Englishmen, descendants of the victors of Cressy,
•'■'-'■ Poitiers, and Agincourt, who nobly supported the fame of their renowned ances-
tors. Animated by religious zeal, search of fortune, or desire of fame, they turned from
the comforts of their English homes, the love of kindred and friends, and the certain and
tried paths of a moderate ambition, to meet on a rock-bound coast with peril in all its
forms, intensified by religious hatreds, conflicting claims, and petty jealousies. The spirit
of adventure which distinguished them, the patient endurance with which they suffered
the most trying privations, their constant exertion of vigilance and presence of mind, and
the valor which they displayed in conquering their savage foes and in guarding against
invasion by the French on their northern borders, proved that they were worthy descend-
ants of that sea-girt isle. Martial courage thus inherited and displayed proves a nation's
strength ; combined with industry, moderation, reverence, and good sense in the people,
it forms that national character to which is given the prolonged enjoyment of glory and
power, and of all the sources of prosperity and happiness.

It is, however, a noticeable fact that the religious and political leaders among the
" Pilgrims " of Plymouth Colony and the " Puritans," who were the original settlers on
the shores of Massachusetts Bay, were not fighting men. They could make preparations
for defence, or direct hostilities ; but the utmost indulgence of fanatical conceit, or the
most presumptuous confidence in their own judgment, did not prompt them to come
to the front when their respective colonies were threatened by savages or Frenchmen.
The victorious Captain Myles Standish, of the Plymouth Colony, and the brave Captain
Southcot, of Massachusetts Bay, had each seen service in the Low Countries, but they
were not among the elect. The first sergeant-major (then the commander's title) of
the Suffolk Regiment was Edward Gibbons, a rollicking soldier of fortune, whose life
had been an adventurous and a merry one. The first captains of the train-bands in
Boston, Underhill and Patrick, who had each served in the Netherlands, and who, on
their arrival in 1630, were voted salaries for training their respective commands in the
use of arms, could not accommodate themselves to the strict manners of the Puritan
school, and after the Pequot War they migrated to the southwestern part of Connecticut,
where the Dutch claimed jurisdiction.

Those, however, who had the control of the colonization of Massachusetts made
generous preparations for armed defence. The charter given by King Charles on the


i8th of March, 1628, authorized the Governor and Company "from tyme to tyme, and at
all tymes hereafter, for their special defence and safety, to incounter, expulse, repell and
resist by force of amies, as well by sea as by lande, and by all fitting waies and nieanes
whatsoever, all such person and persons, as shall at any tyme hereafter attempt or enter-
prise the destruccon, invasion, detriment or annoyance to the said plantation or inhab-
itants." Before the charter containing this provision had been signed by King Charles,
the council of the Company had ordered a supply of arms and of munitions of war.
There were " eight peeces of land ordnance for the forte," and an abundance of small
arms, viz. : " Two partizans for capten and lieftenant ; three drums, to ech two pere of
hedds ; two ensignes ; three halberts, for three sarjants ; eighty bastard muskets, with
snapances, four ffoote in the barrill without rests ; ten ffull musketts, four ffoote barrill,
with match cocks and rests ; ninety bandeleers for the muskets, each with a bullett bag ;
one hundred swords and belts ; sixty cosletts and sixty pikes ; twenty half pikes " ; with a
supply of powder and ball for the cannon and muskets. A few days later, a contract
was entered into "with Mr. Thomas Steeuens, armorer in Buttolph Lane, for twenty
armes, viz : coslett, brest, back, culet, gorgett, tases, and head-peece to each, varnished
all black, with lethers and buckles, at 17s each armour, excepting four, wch are to bee
with close head peeces, and these four armours at 24s apeece, to bee delivered all by the
20th of this monthe ; whereof one left nowe for a sample." Another contract was made
"with John Gace, of London, turner, ffor forty bandeleers, made of neates leather, broad
girdles, each with twelve charges." It was decided in October, 1629, that the ordnance,
arms, powder, and munitions, delivered for public use, " bee accompted as pt of the
ioynt stock of the company."

The weapons and munitions of war thus provided were promptly issued after they
had been received by the colonists, for train-bands were at once organized ; and, as new
towns were settled, more arms and equipments were procured from London. On the 3d
of September, 1634, it was "Ordered, that all the musketts, bandeleros, and rests lately
come ouer this yeare shall be equally divided amongst the seual plantacons, and the
townes to have att all tymes soe many in a readynes as a town stocke."

These train-bands were organized like those which had existed in London since the
reign of Henry VIIL Originally archers, the English associations gradually adopted
pikes and then muskets, while some of them became artillerists. On the 25th of August,
1537, a charter was granted by Henry VHL to certain subjects belonging to the Fraternity
of St. George, as a "Guylde of Artillary of Longbowes, Crosbowes and Handegomes." A
piece of ground was set apart for the use of this corps, and it was known as " The Artil-
lery Garden." During the long reign of Queen Elizabeth, important services were several
times rendered by the Company in this Artillery Garden, by fitting citizens for the com-
mand of the train-bands. In 1598, the Artillery Company, as it was called, was six
hundred strong, and in its ranks were all the commanders and commissioned ofificers of
the train-bands and auxiliaries.

King Charles I. recognized the great utility of the Artillery Company by addressing
the following warrant to Alderman Humphrie Smith, its commander, dated March 8,
1632 : —

" Charles R.

" Trustie and well beloved, we greet you well. Whereas we are informed that the
worthie and commendable institucon of yor voluntary Company of the Artillerie garden,


hath been soe well pursued by yor industrious and forward endeavors that you are not
only become ready and skilfull in the knowledge and use of arms and military discipline,
but that, from thence as from a fruitful Nursery, all the trayned bands of our Citie of
l>ondon and divers of the Companyes of the counties adjoining have beene supplyed with
fitt and able Leaders and Officers whereby our service hath received much advantage and
the kingdome in genii a very great benefitt. And being unwilling that a Societie of soe
good use unto the publique and of so much safetie and honor to our renowned Citie of
London should be dissolved or discontinued as we are given to understand it is in great
danger through some distractions wch you have lately suffered about the Election of yor
Captaine : We have thought fitt hereby to will you not to be hastie to disband but if ye
find that ye are molested needlessly or unjustly, by any, then have recourse to us, and you
shall have find such due encouragement as soe commendable a Societie deserves.

" Given att our Court att Newmarkett the eighth day of March, in the Seventh yeare
of our Raigne.

"To our trustie and well-beloved Humphrie Smith, Alderman, President of the
Company e.xercising Amies in the Artillerie garden, London, and to the Rest of
the Companie."

The officers of the Artillery Company were elected annually by the Court of Alder-
men of the City of London, from candidates nominated by the Company, until 1632, when
difference having arisen between the Aldermen and the Company, King Charles L inter-
posed the right of appointing the captain. The Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen were
authorized to appoint the civil officers of the Company, viz. : a president, a deputy presi-
dent, and twenty-four assistants. The military officers were to be chosen and appointed
by the Company, viz. : two lieutenants, two ensigns, four surveyors of arms, a clerk, a
treasurer, four sergeants, four drummers, a fifer, an armorer, a gunsmith, a cloak-keeper,
and a beadle.

The London Artillery Company had, from its organization, annual "feasts," arranged
by eight stewards, to which the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the city of London were
invited, and donated the large supplies of wines drank at the table. In 1623, " the Lords
of His Majesty's Most HonouraJ)le Privy Council" were also invited, and "the Court of
Aldermen were pleased, in token of their good respect to the Society, to bestow upon
them, towards the charge of the feast, one hogshead of clarett wyne, thirty gallons of
sacke, and thirty gallons of Renishe wyne."

It was also customary, certainly as far back as Cromwell's time, to have a sermon
preached annually before the Company at St. Paul's, or some other church in the city of
London. The officiating clergyman invariably received, by vote, " the thanks of the
company and three twenty shilling pieces of broad gold"; and after the sermon came
the "feast," at which distinguished invited guests were present.

There was in the latter part of May in each year a "General March," when the Com-
pany marched through the city, accompanied by a train of artillery, consisting of six field-
pieces and two wagons, and two " General Exercise" days in the latter part of June or
August, when the Company marched to Balmes, or to some other place in the suburbs.
The sermon and "feast" day occurred usually about the middle of September, and the
Company often paraded on " Lord Mayor's Day," in October, to escort the newly chosen
chief magistrate to Westminster. In the evening, the officers of the Company supped
together, and every file of four men received as rations, " a bottle of sack, a bottle of
claret, and a large fowl." If the provisions did not hold out, the files, unprovided for,
were to have six shillings in money.


The armorial bearings, originally granted to the Company by Charles I., and subse-
quently confirmed by James I. and by George IV., have "supporters," — a privilege
generally limited in England to peers of the realm and knights of the royal orders of
knighthood,— which give an idea of the uniform and equipments worn at the commence-
ment of the seventeenth century. One of the " supporters " is a pikeman, wearing a hel-
met and corselet and carrying a pike ; the other " supporter " is a musketeer, wearing a
helmet and buff-coat, and carrying a musket and rest. Each carries a sword, and wears
" plumes of red feathers," in accordance with " the ancient and constant." The crest,
an uplifted arm in armor, with the hand grasping a pike, may have suggested the crest of
Massachusetts^ an uplifted arm in armor, with the hand grasping a sword.

Captain Walter Neale, who was "Captain of the Artillery Garden" from 1635 until
1639 inclusive, had been one of the pioneer settlers of New England. The Council
chartered by Janves I. in 1622, "for the planting, ruling, and governing of New England,"
conveyed to John Mason the tract of land bordering the sea-coast, and bounded by the
Merrimack and Piscataqua rivers, with the proviso that the Governor should be Captain
Walter Neale, of London. He sailed in the summer of 1630, with a party of London
colonists, and located on the Piscataqua River. Learning from the Indians that there was
a country in the interior called " Laconia," with great lakes, where peltries were abun-
dant, he penetrated inland almost to Lake Winnipiseogee, and in after years he made
glowing representations of his official management. According to his own statement, he
discovered rivers and harbors ; exerted himself for the general good of the country by
reforming abuses ; punished the natives for their cruelties, and compelled them to live in
peace, and was able to settle a staple trade of commodities, especially for building ships.
But his employers did not find that he had opened the lucrative trade in peltries which
they had expected, and he was recalled to London, the Council of New England granting
his plantations on the Piscataqua and on the Black Point rivers to others.

Captain Walter Neale, on returning to London, was chosen captain of the '"Com-
pany of the Artillery Garden," and brought it to greater perfection than it had ever
before attained. The city train-bands were furnished with able commanders out of the
Artillery Company, and the private soldiers were drilled for the general musters, but the
captain complained that he received only fifty pounds a year. In 1638, he endeavored
to obtain the appointment of " Muster-Master of the City," but King Charles recom-
mended Captain Fisher, who was accordingly appointed; and in October, 1639, at the
King's request, Captain Neale was superseded as commander of the Artillery by Captain
Philip Skippen. He then petitioned the King to appoint him marshal in Virginia, in
charge of all martial affairs there, with an allowance of twenty shillings per diem, to be
paid out of the customs arising from the commodities of the country. Again unsuccess-
ful, Captain Neale once more petitioned the King, a few years later, setting forth his
past services, and praying that he might be appointed governor of Massachusetts ; but no
notice was taken of his application. Indeed, at that time, the governors of Massachu-
setts were elected annually.

The name and fame of the Honourable Artillery Company of London were trans-
planted to Massachusetts soon after its colonization, by some of its members, and a
junior company was established at Boston, which is the oldest military organization on
the American continent. It is recruited, to a great extent, from those who have been
active members of the volunteer militia. It elects its officers annually ; has its stated
spring and fall parades ; listens once a year to a sermon preached in a church, which


is followed by a " feast" in Faneuil Hall, with distinguished invited guests, and is jealous
of its prerogatives and its traditions.

The history of the Honourable Artillery Company of Old England can be traced
through the fierce struggle which has gradually changed the unwritten British constitu-
tion from the aspect it wore in feudal times into that form of rational liberty which it
now bears, and has made dear old England as young in energy, capability, and progress
as she was when the Honourable Artillery Company of London was summoned to the field
by Queen Elizabeth, the type of Queen Victoria, as well in the truly English complex-

Online LibraryOliver Ayer RobertsHistory of the Military company of the Massachusetts, now called the Ancient and honorable artillery company of Massachusetts. 1637-1888 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 73)