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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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ion of her character as in the hold she possessed over the hearts of the Anglo-Saxon race.

The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in New England is also a living
link between generations, past and present, and has outlived every institution, except the
Christian Church and the Public School, that was in existence on the American continent
when it was chartered. The members of each of these honorable companies have a
right to be proud of their traditions, as the brave and patriotic deeds of one generation
become the precious heritage of the next, growing in interest and value as time wears
on, and flower after flower is added to the chaplets of honor of the respective compa-
nies. The sentiment of antiquity is of more avail than merely to foster feelings of pride
or vanity. The consciousness of unstained lineage involves duties as well as privileges,
and each member of the two artillery companies should feel more and more, as genera-
tions pass away, that his responsibility is greater to his company, to his country, and to
himself : that his part is to aim high, act well, and feel —

"The name of every gallant ancestor
A bond upon his soul against disgrace."

North America became, within a century and a half after its discovery, the adopted
home of those Europeans who were disposed to renounce their allegiance to the despot-
ism of crowned heads, sustained by a feudal aristocracy, and to seek for freedom in a
New World. Humble navigators had called from the deep a New Spain of greater wealth
than the mother country ; a New Netherlands of greater commercial importance than the
Old ; and a New England, which, united with the Virginias, was destined to perpetuate
the Anglo-Saxon tongue among a people more numerous than the inhabitants of the
fatherland. Pontiffs established boundaries and monarchs granted charters, but the
genius of free adventure, crossing the ocean, laid the foundations of the great imperial
Republic of the United States of America. New areas were opened to commerce, and
new regions to adventure, while a fresh field was offered for experiments in government.
The Puritans of Old and of New England established the free governments which the
English-speaking race now enjoys and maintains. To use the words of Bishop War-
burton : " The interests of liberty were conducted and supported by a set of the greatest
geniuses for government that the world ever saw embarked together in a common cause."

The Plymouth Colony was settled in 1620, but the Colony of Massachusetts Bay was
not fairly organized until there was a large immigration from England in 1630, headed
by Governor John Winthrop. Seventeen ships, equipped at an expense of nearly one
hundred thousand dollars, conveyed to the new settlement nearly fifteen hundred emi-
grants. They brought, in their number, clergymen, physicians, magistrates, military
officers, millers, mechanics, and others, possessed of horses, cattle, and other property.
They founded a number of towns along the Atlantic coast, each being a miniature republic,
with its religious, military, and civil officers.


The principal settlement was called Boston, in memory of that place in Lincolnshire,
whence Isaac Johnson and other prominent emigrants came.

Those who seek political advancement by professing to have raised themselves from
what they term " the lower ranks of life," have adopted the declaration of Green that the
early settlers of Massachusetts were " poor men and artisans." This is an error, as has
been proven by those who have thoroughly investigated the social position of the immi-
grants. They may justly be considered the most remarkable party of colonists, in point
of intelligence, firmness of purposes, and an exalted standard of conscience, which ever
left their native shores to lead the way in the establishment of great civil institutions.
"Poor men and artisans" have not usually the enterprise or means to engage in such
undertakings, and to carry them forward to successful completion. Doubdess there were
poor men among them, for some had been despoiled of their substance by ecclesiastical
and State persecution. They would naturally seek the companionship of "artisans," to
assist them in their exploration and settlement of a wilderness ; but the great majority
of the immigrants were " well-to-do " in the world, and there were some of wealth and
high social position.'

Governor Winthrop had no sooner landed than he took possession of the govern-
ment, which Governor John Endicott had undertaken to make a pure theocracy. The
settlement at Merry Mount, which had sought to transplant some of the festivities of
"Merrie England" to Massachusetts, had been broken up; men of character and ability,
like John and Samuel Brown, who would not conform to the strict code established, had
been summarily banished, and the cross was cut from the King's colors at Salem, on the
ground that it was an emblem of popery. On the arrival of Governor Winthrop, with
higher powers, the superseded Endicott humbly recognized his authority, placing himself
at the new governor's disposal, "both as to time and place." Governor Winthrop
responded with dignified courtesy, but recognized no local authority in his predecessor,
whom he addressed as " Mr. Endicott." He visited him at Salem, however, " where
they supped on good venison pasty and good beer."

Military distinction and heraldry were the only appendages of monarchical govern-
ment tolerated in the province of Massachusetts Bay, for the only allegiance recognized
was to God and the Commonwealth. The clergy pointed out their narrow road to
heaven, and the drill sergeants taught men of dauntless energy how to use weapons for
the defence of themselves and their colony. The armorial bearings, emblazoned in
water colors and neatly framed, which were the only ornaments in nearly every house,
were justified by the declaration in the book of Numbers, that " every man of the
children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father's
house." It ministered largely to men's pride, without trenching on their purses; it
pandered to pomp without taxing prudence, and conferred honor without imposing
danger. Tombs and gravestones not unfrequently bore the arms of those who were
interred within or beneath, a few of which still remain as memorials of the earliest years
of the colony.

' " By computation, the passijge of the persons ammunition and great artillery cost twenty-two

that peopled New England cost at least ninety-five thousand pounds; besides which hundred and

thousand pound: the transportation of their first ninety-two thousand pounds the adventurers laid

small stock of cattle, great and small, cost no less out in England what was not inconsiderable. About

than twelve thousand pound besides the price of an hundred and ninety-eight ships were employed

the cattle themselves; the provisions laid in for sub- in passing the perils of the seas, in the accomplish-

sistence, till tillage might produce more, cost forty- ment of this renowned settlement; whereof, by the

five thousand pounds; the materials for their first way, but one miscarried in those perils." — Mather's

cottages cost eighteen thousand pounds; their arms. Magnolia, Hartford Ed., Vol. I., p.(i<).


The colonists lost no time in organizing train-bands, which were supplied with the
weapons and equipments sent out from England and were drilled by veteran officers,
who were paid for their services. At a Court of Assistants, held at Boston, July 26,
1631, it was " Ordered, that evy first Thursday in evy month there shal be a genall
traineing of Capt Vndrhill's company att Boston and Rocksbury, and evy first Friday in
evy month there shal be a genall traineing of the remaindr of them who inhabitt att
Charlton, Misticke and the New Towne, att a convenient place aboute the Indian
wigwams, the traineing to begin at one of the clocke in the afternoon,"

Among the distinguished immigrants who came to Boston in 1635, was Sir Henry
Vane, a noble-hearted young man, of good education and exemplary character, described
by John Milton in a sonnet, beginning, —

" Vane, young in years, liut in sage counsel, old."

The Liberals, soon after his arrival, elected him governor, and it was soon apparent that
the orthodox portion of the colonists were losing their ascendancy. Mrs. Hutchinson, a
woman of rare ability, seconded by her brother, the Rev. John Wheelwright, were the
champions of the tolerant views advanced by Governor Vane, and the more zealous
Puritans saw that unless they could crush out such liberal ideas, they would be obliged
to relinquish their assumed power. Fortunately for the Liberals, among whom were
nearly all the military men of the colony, it became evident that the Pequot Indians
were negotiating a hostile alliance with the Narragansetts for the extermination of the
British settlers along the coast. This threatened war made the Puritans more tolerant
than they would otherwise have been, but by a great effort they re-elected Mr. Winthrop
as governor, and Sir Henry Vane returned to England, where he subsequently partici-
pated in the rebellion, and was beheaded after the restoration of Charles II. Mrs.
Hutchinson was tried, convicted of heresy, and banished.

In the Colony Records, Vol. I., pp 207-8, are given the names of those persons who
were "seduced and led into dangerous errors " by " the opinions and revelations of Mr.
Wheelwright and Mrs. Hutchinson." The " whereas " provides, " that all those whose
names are underwritten shall before the 30"" day of this month of November, deliver in
at Mr. Cane's [Robert Keayne's] house at Boston all such guns, pistols, swords, powder,
shot, and match, as they shall bee owners of, or have in their custody, upon paine of
tenn pounds for every default to bee made thereof," etc.

Fifty-eight are names of persons living in Boston ; five in Roxbury ; two in Charles-
town, and several in Salem, Newbury, and Ipswich. Of the fifty-eight in Boston, the
following were or became members of the Artillery Company, viz. : Captain John Under-
hill (1637), William Aspinwall (1643), Samuel Cole (1637), John Button (1643),
Richard Cooke (1643), Richard Fairbanks (1654), Thomas Marshall (1640), John
Oliver (1637), John Biggs (1641), Richard Gridley (1658), Zacheus Bosworth (1650),
James Johnson (1638), Thomas Savage (1637), John Odlin (1638), Edward Hutchin-
son (1638), Robert Harding ( 1637), Richard Waite (1638), Edward Bendall (1638),
Mr. Clarke (1638), and Hugh Gunnison (1646), or one third of the entire number.
One in Roxbury, Richard Morris (1637) ; one in Charlestown, James Brown (1638).

On the 7th of October, 1636, there were ten train-bands in Massachusetts, which
were officered as follows: Boston, Captain John LTnderhill (1637), Lieutenant Edward
Gibbons (1637), and Ensign Robert Hardinge (1637) ; Charlestown, Captain Robert
Sedgwick (1637) and Lieutenant Norton (1643); Dorchester, Captain Humphrey


Atherton (1638), Lieutenant Ezekiel Stoughton, and Ensign Nathaniel Duncan (1638) ;
Watertown, Captain William Jennison (1637), Lieutenant George Woodman, and
Ensign Richard Kent; Braintree, Captain William Tyng (1638); Cambridge, Cap-
tain George Cooke (1638) and Lieutenant William Spencer (1637) ; Saugus, Lieutenant
Daniel Howe (1637) and Ensign Richard Walker (1638); Ipswich, Captain Daniel
Denison (1660), Lieutenant Richard Davenport (1639), and Ensign Thomas Whitting-
ham; Lynn, Captain Nathaniel Turner (1637), Lieutenant Daniel Howe (1637), and
Ensign Robert Walker; Newbury, Captain John Spencer, Lieutenant Edward Woodman,
and Ensign Richard Kent.

Many of these officers had belonged in England either to the Honourable Artillery
Company, which had control of the Artillery Garden, or to another military association
in London which met at the Military Garden. These two grounds for drill and martial
exercises are described in a work entitled " The Artillery and the Military Gardens of
London," by Lieutenant-Colonel Elton, who says in his introductory remarks : " The
great delight in handling of arms in Military Exercises makes the City of London and the
suburbs thereof famous throughout the world, by reason, as I conceive, of those two great
Nurseries or Academies of Military Discipline, the Artillery and the Military Gardens,
from whence, as out of pure fountains, all other private meetings are derived." There
was also the " Martial Yard," at Horseldown, where the train-bands of Southwork used
to exercise, and an " Artillery Ground," where the Middlesex and Westminster train-
bands were drilled Other military societies, similar to the Artillery Company, were
formed during the reign of Charles L On the 22d of October, 1625, the captains and
trained men of Bristol humbly begged to be allowed to establish " an Artillerie Yarde " ;
North Yarmouth next applied, on the loth of January, in the following year, and William
Dutton, gentleman, of Chester, asked to be permitted to establish an artillery yard in
that city, at his own expense, and to be appointed captain of it. Ipswich applied for a
like permission on the 29th of September, 1629, and Nottingham did likewise on the 31st
of December in the same year ; all of whom, were authorized to establish artillery yards,
according to their requests.

Recollections of these organizations doubtless prompted twenty-four of the Massa-
chusetts officers, in 1637-8, to form an artillery company in New England, which
would serve as a military school, in which the officers of the scattered town companies
could acquire uniformity of tactics and drill.

The following Hst has been prepared from a comparison of the rolls of the Hon-
ourable Artillery of London and of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of
Massachusetts. It is based on the similarity of names and of the dates of becoming
members. It is not intended to assert that all of the following were members of both
companies, but, so far as names and dates are concerned, they might have been : —

,, Joined the Came io Joined

^"'""- London Co. America. A.&'H.A.Co.

1 Adams, Thomas March 10, 1639 1643 1644

2 Baker, Richard Jan. 15, 163S 1639 1658

3 Bourne, Nehemiah ' March 2, 1639 1638 1638

4 Buckley, Thomas Dec. 25, 1680 — 1685

5 Clarke, Hon. Thomas Sept. 13, 1631 1636 1638

' Joined the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company first.



, , joined the

Names. t i r^

London Co.

6 Clarke, Thomas, Jr May 14, 1633

7 Clarke, William June 23, 1629

8 Clements, William May 22, 1657

9 Collicott, Richard 161 2

10 Davie, Humphrey Aug. 16, 1659

11 Davis, John March 14, 1627

(^2 Davis, William July 6, 1641

13 Evans, Josias June 16, 1642

14 Fletcher, Edward May i, 1627

15 Fogg, Ralph Oct. 15, 1622

16 Glover, Thomas . Aug. 20, 1622

17 Harrison, John May 5, 1629

18 Hasey, William May 30, 1643

19 Hawkins, Thomas April 4, 1620

20 Hawkins, Thomas Feb. 26, 1639

21 Hill, John July 28, 1635

22 Hunt, Thomas Sept. 14, 1668

23 Keayne, Robert May 6, 1623

24 Kent, William Sept. 22, 1657

25 Milan, John May 24, 1614

26 Morris, Richard Nov. 15, 1614

27 Parker, Richard Nov. i, 1614

28 Perkins, William Oct. 10, 16 14

29 Phillips, Henry Sept. 30, 1623

30 Price, Richard May 2, 1643

31 Robinson, William July 3, 162 1

32 Shaw, John March 21, 1619

33 Smith, John Aug. 22, 1637

34 Spencer, William 161 1

35 Stanley, Thomas June 8, 1619

36 Stowe, Thomas June 18, 1620

37 Underbill, John Sept. 27, 1614

38 Walker, Richard May 28, 1622

39 Webb, John June 9, 1631

40 Williams, Robert Aug. 21, 1635

41 Wright, Robert ...... Jan. 22, 1621

Came to
















&- I/.A.Co.














The veterans accordingly formed a military company in 1637, and petitioned Gov-
ernor Winthrop for a charter of incorporation, but at first without success. Governor
Winthrop says of the original application: "Mo. 12 [1637] Divers gentlemen and
others, being joined in a military company, desired to be made a corporation, but the
Council considering (from the example of the Praetorian band among the Romans, and
the Templars in Europe,) how dangerous it might be to erect a standing authority of
military men, which might easily in time overthrow the civil power, thought fit to stop it


betimes; yet they were allowed to be a company, but subordinate to all authority." ^
Another writer, using nearly the same words, adds : " Thus were the chief rulers of the
country not only ready to espy, but timely prevent any inconveniency that might in after
times arise." It has also been intimated that the Governor and his Council, who had so
recently been kept out of power for a year by the adherents of Sir Henry Vane and Mrs.
Hutchinson, were unwilling to incorporate a body chiefly composed of those who had
supported this revolutionary movement. The reason for this rejection of the petition may
appear by the following quotation from Governor VVinthrop's History of New England,
Vol. I., p. 257 : "At this Court [i mo., 1638] divers of our chief military officers, who
had declared themselves favorers of the familistical persons and opinions, were sent for,
and being told, that the court having some jealousy of them for the same, and therefore
did desire some good satisfaction from them, they did ingenuously acknowledge, how
they had been deceived and misled by the pretence, which had been held forth, of
advancing Christ, and debasing the creature, etc., which since they have found to be
otherwise, and that their opinions and practices tended to disturbance and delusions ;
and so blessed God, that they had so timely discovered their error and danger to them."

The cause of the Court's jealousy having been removed by the acknowledgments of
the chief military officers, the charter of the Military Company of the Massachusetts
was soon after granted.

The newly formed Company, however, was permitted to organize and to present the
names " of two or three to the Council, to choose a Captain out of them." Robert
Keayne was probably selected, as a subsequent order of the Council provides that
" Captain Keayne and the Military Company have povi^er to exercise where they please
and to make use of so many of the common arms as they need, and a warrant from any
of the Council is sufficient for the delivery of them to Captain Keayne or to such as he
shall appoint."

The Company did not relax its exertions to obtain the desired charter. It was
finally successful, as appears from the following extract from the original Records of the
Colony of Massachusetts Bay, under the date of "the r3"' of the First Month, (a) 1638,"
/. (?., March 13, 1638.

" Orders for the Military Company, made by the Governor and Council and con-
firmed by the General Court.

" Whereas divers Gentlemen and others, out of their care of the publick weal and
safety, by the advancement of the military art and exercise of arms, have desired license
of the Court to join themselves in one Company, and to have the liberty to exercise
themselves, as their occasions will best permit ; and that such liberties and privileges
might be granted them, as the Court should think meet, for their better encouragement
and furtherance in so useful an employment ; which request of theirs being referred unto
us of the Standing Council, we have thought fit, upon serious consideration, and confer-
ence with divers of the principal of them, to set down and order herein as followeth :

^'Imprimis. We do order, that Robert Keayne, Nathaniel Duncan, Robert Sedg-
wick, William Spencer, Genriemen, and such others as are already joined with them, and
such as they shall from time to time take into their Company, shall be called the
Military Company of the Massachusetts.

"adly. They or the greater number of them, shall have liberty to choose their

' Winthrop's Hist, of New Eng., Vol. I., p. 253.

7f .liV <S»

,^K.___.^.-_,^, - ^^



Captain, Lieutenant, and all other officers. Their Captain and Lieutenant to be always
such as the Court or Council shall allow of ; and no officer be put upon them, but of
their own choice.

" 3dly. The first Monday in every month is appointed for their meeting and exer-
cise ; and to the end that they may not be hindered from coming together, we do hereby
order, that no other training in the particular towns, nor other ordinary town meetings,
shall be appointed on that day ; and if that day prove unseasonable for the exercise of
their arms, then the sixth of the same week is appointed for supply. This not to extend
to Salem, or the towns beyond, nor to Hingham, Weymouth, Dedham or Concord.

" 4thly. They have liberty and power to make orders amongst themselves, for the
better managing their military affairs ; which orders are to be of force, when they shall
be allowed by the Court or Council ; and they may appoint an officer to levy any fines
or forfeitures, which they shall impose upon any of their own company, for the breach
of any such order, so as the same exceed not twenty shillings for any one offence.

"5thly. The said Military Company are to have one thousand acres of land, (in
some place as may not be prejudicial to any plantation,) to be granted by the Court to
some of the said Company, for the use of the present Company, and such as shall suc-
ceed in the same ; to be improved by them within a time convenient, for providing
necessaries for their military exercises, and defraying of other charges, which may arise
by occasion thereof.

" 6thly. The said Company shall have liberty, at the time before appointed, to
assemble themselves for their military exercises, in any town within this jurisdiction, at
their own pleasure ; provided always, that this order or grant, or anything therein con-
tained, shall not extend to free the said Company, or any of them, their persons or
estates, from the civil Government and jurisdiction here established.

"John Winthrop, Governor,
"Thomas Dudley, Dep. Governor."

Mr. Whitman (1810) states, in the second edition of his History of the Ancient and
Honorable Artillery Company, that " in the early records of the Company, and transcript
made in pursuance of Daniel Henchman [1675], the commander's orders, under date
of 1702, is incorporated another article numbered '3d' and inserted between 3dly and
4thly of the Charter as here printed, viz. : 'None of the said Military Company, (except
such as shall be officers of any other train-band in any particular town,) shall be bound
to give attendance upon their ordinary trainings.' Snow, in his History of Boston,
inserts this as an original part of the charter ; but he took it from the charter as printed
then, for the use of the members, or from their records, rather than looking at the records
of the colony. The first By-Laws adopted, 1657, seem to be founded on such an
article, but it is presumed none such ever existed. It was a custom adopted rather at
the commencement of the Company and so handed down, until, by tradition and use, it
became merged or interpolated in the charter. It is, however, an important privilege of
the Company, going to exempt all citizens, otherwise liable to duty, from doing such
duty in companies, within whose bounds they may reside ; and, as such, has always
received such construction."

The charter says : —

" Imprimis. We do order, that Robert Keayne, Nathaniel Duncan, Robert Sedg-
wick, William Spencer, Gentlemen, and such others as are already joined with them," etc.


The number recorded as "already joined with them " in 1637 is twenty-four, includ-
ing three named in the charter ; the name of Nathaniel Duncan not appearing on the
roll until 1638. They are as follows: Robert Keayne, Robert Sedgwick, Joseph Weld,
Thomas Savage, Daniel Howe, Thomas Huckens, John Oliver, Joshua Hewes, Samuel
Cole, Israel Stoughton, John Underhill, Nathaniel Turner, William Jennison, Richard
Morris, Edward Gibbons, William Spencer, Robert Harding, Thomas Cakebread, John

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 2 of 73)