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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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Holman, Richard Collicot, Joseph Pendleton, Edward Tomlins, Nicholas Upshall, and
Edward Johnson.

The above-named founders of the Company merit our first and especial attention.
They will be considered in the order in which they signed the roll; but after 1637-8,
the members will be briefly sketched, their names each year being arranged alpha-

Captain Robert Keayne (,1637) deserves grateful recognition as the founder of
the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, and merits its reverential respect and
gratitude. His name is first on the roll, and stands first in the charter. He was born at
Windsor, England, in the year 1595, and was the son of John Keayne, a butcher. After
having served an eight years' apprenticeship with John Heyfield, of Birchinlane, at
London, beginning on the 9th of March, 1606, he was admitted to the freedom £)f the
Merchant Tailors'" corporation on the 17th of April, 1615. He joined the Honourable
Artillery Company of London on the 6th of May, 1623.

Robert Keayne (1637) came in the "Defence" from London to America, in the
year 1635, when he was forty years of age ; his wife Ann was thirty-eight, and their son
Benjamin was sixteen years of age.

"Marriage Licenses Granted by Bishop of London 1598 to 1639. [1617] xviii Junij
W* dale appeared Robert Kayne of St. Michaell, in Cornehill, London Mrchan-
tayler and a batchelor aged xxnij'-' yeres or thereabouts and at his owne gov't and did
allege that he intendeth to marie w"' one Anne Mansfeild maiden aged xxj"' yeres or

thereabouts the daughter of Mansfeild late of Henly in the Countie of Buck, gent.

dec. long since. And then appeared W"' Jackson curate of St. Michaells aforesaid and

testified of his owne knowledge that M'* Mansfeild of Henley aforesaide, widdowe

mother of said Anne is privie and consentinge to this intended marriage, etc. ; St.

"Christened. — 1618, May 14, Benjamin Kaine, son of Rob' and Ann Kaine.
1620, June 15, John Kaine, son of Robert and Ann Kaine. 1622, May 9, Joseph, son
of Robart and An Keayne. 1624, Oct. 18, John, son of Robart and Ann his wife.

" Buried. • — 1621, JVIar. 27, John Kaine, son of Robt. and Anne Kaine. 1625, Jan.
16, John, son of Robart and Ann Keayne. 1626, Mar. 28 Joseph, son of Robert and
Ann Keayne. 1633, Feb. 10, Mansfield, mother of Mrs. Cane in Bergin (Birch-
ing?) Lane." '

Capt. Robert Keayne (1637). Author:- tices of their Conformitie and ht they are no sub-

TIES: Winthrop's Hist. New Eng.; New Eng. Hist. sedy man — Robert Keayne 40: Ann Keayne 38:

and Gen. Reg., 1852,1877,610.; Boston /)(?;/)• C/nfe, Ben. Keayne 16." — London Records.
Dec. 24, 1893, C. W. Ernst; Mem. Hist, of Boston; "The first military commander in Braintreewas

Report of Boston Rec. Com., 1634-1660; same, Capt Robert Keayne who was sent from Boston to

Miss. Papers, Vol. X.; Savage's Gen. Diet. ; Whit- organize and drill them for proper duty." — Hist.

man's Hist. A. and H. A. Company, Ed. 1S42. Braintree and Quincy. PaUee, 1S78, p. 358.

" 17 July 1635. Theis vnder written names are ' Communicated to Essex Institute Hisl. Coil's,

to be transported to N. England inlarged in the Salem, April and September, 1891, by Henry F.

Defence p'red pr Cert, from the ministers and Jus- Waters.


He located as a tailor in a house, which was his shop and his residence, on the
southeast corner of State and Washington streets. On that corner, in provincial times,
Daniel Henchman (1675) kept his well-known book shop; and in it Henry Knox was
brought up. Nicholas Boone kept a book shop on that lot, in the early part of the
eighteenth century. Captain Keayne (1637) soon became, by his industry, energy, and
capital, a leading colonist. He was orthodox in his religious faith, though not illiberal,
and he was a devoted adherent of Governor Winthrop. He became the owner of several
pieces of land, by grant and by purchase, one of them being a tract of over three hun-
dred acres at Rumney Marsh, now in the town of Revere. He did not confine himself to
the limitations of his trade, but availed himself of every opportunity to make an invest-
ment which promised to be profitable. Shrewd and successful, he was soon regarded as
sharp at a bargain, and, although one of the leading spirits in town and colony affairs,
he was publicly rebuked for his offences. They were. First, Inasmuch "as he was a pro-
fessor of religion," he should not strive to make money. Second, Inasmuch "as he was
a man of eminent ability," he should not strive to make money. Third, Inasmuch " as
he was already wealthy, and had but one child," he should not strive to make money.
Fourth, Inasmuch "as he came over for conscience' sake," he should not strive to make
money. Fifth, Inasmuch "as he had already been warned by church elders against
money-making, and had promised with tears, to strive not to do so," he should the more
strive not to make money ; he should curb his financial ability and turn the guineas away
from his own till. The General Court, therefore, sentenced Mr. Keayne (1637) to
pay two hundred pounds ; but the magistrates regarded the fine as too heavy and the
matter was finally compromised by his paying eighty pounds, receiving a respite for the
remainder. After the General Court had tried Mr. Keayne (1637), found him guilty of
extortionate charges and fined him, the First Church of Boston called him to account.
Appearing before the pastor and his fellow-church-members, he acknowledged with tears,
as he had done in the court, his covetous and corrupt beha\ior, and offered as an excuse
that he had been misled by adopting as business rules: " ist. That if a merchant lost
on one commodity, he might help himself in the price of another : 2nd, That, if through
want of skill or other occasion, his commodity cost him more than the price of the
market in England, he might then sell it for more than the price of the market in New

The Rev. John Cotton, in the next Thursday lecture, reviewed Mr. Keayne's (1637)
defence, and cited other false principles of trade, after which he laid down the following
business rules : " ist. A man may not sell above the current price : /. f. such a price as
is usual in the time and place, and as another (who knows the worth of the commodity)
would give for it, if he had occasion to use it, as that is called current money which
every man will take, etc. 2nd. When a man loseth in his commodity, for want of skill,
etc. he must look at it as his own fault or cross and therefore must not lay it upon
another. 3rd. Where a man loseth by casualty at sea, or, etc., it is a loss cast upon
"himself by Providence, and he may not ease himself of it by casting it upon another ;
for so a man should seem to provide against all providences, etc., that he should never
lose : but where there is a scarcity of the commodity, there men may raise their price,
for now it is a hand of God upon the commodity, and not the person. 4th. A man may
not ask any more for his commodity than his selling price, as Ephron to Abraham, the
land is worth so much."

When the church took up the case for decision, an earnest debate is said to have



ensued, some members desiring to have Mr. Keayne (1637) excommunicated, while the
majority thought an admonition would be sufficient. Mr. Cotton stated the causes which
required excommunication, deducing them from ist Corinthians v. 11.

" But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a
fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no not
to eat."

" The point now in question was, whether these actions did declare him to be such a
covetous person, etc. Upon which he showed that it is neither the habit of covetousness
(which is in every man in some degree), nor simply the act, that declares a man to be
such ; but when it appears that a man sins against his conscience, or the very light of
nature, and when it appears in a man's whole conversation. But Mr. Keayne [1637] did
not appear to be such, but rather, upon an error in his judgment, being led by false
principles ; and besides he is otherwise liberal as in his hospitality and in church
communion, etc." In the end, therefore, the church consented to an admonition.

Another absurd clamor raised against Mr. Keayne (1637) has been humorously
chronicled by General Henry K. Oliver (1837), who was one of his successors in the
command of the military company which he founded. It seems that a curly-tailed speci-
men of " the swinish multitude " had been found " going at large," in the streets of
Boston, and had been " rooting " in premises outside her proper domain. Hungry,
vagrant swine are dangerous quadrupeds. To stop annoyance and prevent danger, the
beast was impounded in Captain Keayne's sty with a bristly sister, and due notice was
given by the town crier that the owner of the vagrant hog might prove property, pay
styage, and take the animal to its rightful place. Divers inquirers came, but no claimant.
At the end of a year from the time of impounding, during which interval the two had
fared well, the captain relegated his own animal to the knife and the pork-barrel. Then
there suddenly came forward one widow Sherman, who proved as great a thorn to Captain
Keayne (1637) as his bitterest enemy could wish. Widow Sherman proclaimed that she
had lost a hog, and that not the living but the slaughtered hog was hers. The whole town
was roused into a tumult, and the case, urged on by a rival tradesman, was brought
before the elders of the church, who after strict examination and due trial discharged
the Captain. Appeal was made by the widow to the civil court, and again the Captain
was triumphantly acquitted, recovering costs and forty pounds damages for slander. The
widow still pressed her suit, and her case came up in the Great and General Court. It
was debated for seven days, at the end of which time, the matter was sent to referees.
General Gibbons (1637) and Colonel Tyng (1642), both of whom were members of the
Artillery Company. It seems that they most sensibly permitted the thing to die of its
own folly, the kind-hearted defendant remitting his right to damages.

Two years after. Captain Keayne (1637) was elected a deputy from Boston, and
ser\'ed as such four of the five next following years, 1645-50,' in which station his activity
and usefulness were alike conspicuous. This act of his townsmen certainly indicates
that he still retained their confidence and unimpaired respect. In fact he was, above
contradiction, a most earnest man and practical benefactor, turning his gains into a
beneficent direction, and doing as much, if not more, than any other man of his day
and locality, for the town, the church, the schools, and the colony. Nor were his enemies

' Capt. Keayne was also a member of the General Court during 1638 and 1639, and was chosen speaker
of the House of Deputies for the first day of sitting, Oct. 7, 1646. — Records of Col. of Mass. Bay.


unwilling to accept his generous donations. He gave fifty pounds for the benefit of the
poor identified with the very church which had persecuted him.

Captain Keayne (1637) must have been a man of untiring industry. In addition
to his private business and his public duties, he was a regular attendant on the Sunday
services and the Thursday lectures, often taking notes of what was said in a short-hand,
probably of his own invention. There is in the library of the Massachusetts Historical
Society a small volume of these manuscript notes, entitled, " Mr. Cotton our Teacher.
His Sermons or Expositions upon the Bookes of the New Testament, 1639." Another
" volume contains the substance of expository discourses delivered in the First Church,
Boston, on Lord's Day afternoon from 1643 'o 1646, by Rev. John Cotton. A/so, The
Substance of a Sermon by the Senior Pastor, Rev. John Wilson, Mo. 2-20-1645. Like-
wise, The Substance of a Sermon by Rev. Mr. Cobbet — Probably of Ipswich or Boston
N. E. Mo. 5-i3-i64S-afternoon. It is yiXSi inches, has 482 pages, bound in
leather, and once had two brass clasps. In it is written in his own handwriting, ' Robert
Keayne of Bost : New England his Booke 1643, price 6d.' This second volume is in
the Library of the Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence. Each page is closely
written." '

When the colonists began to see the necessity for having military organization upon
which to depend in case of invasion by foreign or native foes, Mr. Keayne (1637),
remembering his London training, suggested the establishment of a similar institution
in the home of his adoption. Through his superior military knowledge, his expenditures
of money and his persistency, he succeeded in establishing the Company upon such a
permanent basis that it became one of the solid institutions of Boston. He was a
public spirited and liberal citizen, and his benefactions were large, considering his
wealth. He gave two hundred and fifty pounds to Harvard College ; a like sum for a
town library in Boston, and two hundred and fifty pounds for introducing pure water
into his neighborhood. He thus aided the introduction of water, by artificial means,
for the use of the people of this peninsula. He was active on the " 23rd of the nth
moneth, 1635," " in raysing of a new Worke of fortification upon the Forthill," and "at
a general meeting of the richer inhabitants," Aug. 12, 1636, he contributed liberally
" towards the maintenance of a free school master." He supported with his means
and influence every cause that was intended to secure benefits for the people. Not
a picture of this " first citizen " has ever been found, after unwearied search ; in fact,
he died without leaving a trace behind, except his benefactions, as set forth in his last
will and testament.

This interesting document, which filled one hundred and fifty folio pages, was " all
in his own hand." A transcript of it extends from page 116 to page 264, Vol. I. of
the Records of Suffolk County. It is printed in Vol. X. [Document 150-1886] of the
Reports of the Record Commissioners of Boston, and occupies fifty-three pages,
containing about fifty-one thousand words. The following extracts will give an idea of
its style, legacies, and provisions. The original spelling is not preserved : —

" I Robert Keayne, citizen and merchant tailor of London by freedom, and by the
good Providence of God now dwelling at Boston in New England in America ... do
therefore now in my health make, ordain and declare this to be my Last Will and Testa-
ment. . . .

' Letter of Capt. A. A. Folsom (1867).


" First and before all things, I commend and commit my precious soul into the
hands of Almighty God : ... As for my burial I shall not desire any great outward
solemnity to be used further than that which shall be decent and civil as becomes Chris-
tians : Knowing that extraordinary solemnities can add nothing to the peace or benefit of
the deceased, yet having been trained up in Military discipline from my younger years,
and having endeavored to promote it the best I could since God hath brought me into
this country and seeing he hath been pleased to use me as a poor instrument to lay the
foundation of that noble Society of the Artillery Company in this place, that hath so far
prospered by the blessing of God as to help many with good experience in the use of
their arms and more exact knowledge in the Military Art and hath been a nursery to raise
up many able and well experienced soldiers that hath done since good service for their
country, therefore to declare my affections to that exercise and the society of soldiers, I
shall desire to be buried as a soldier in a Military way."

He then provides for his debts, for an inventory of his estate, and divides the prin-
cipal part of his property between his wife and son. He sets apart two hundred pounds,
that " if any man or woman, young or old, in Old England or New, could justly challenge
or make it appear by good proof or reason that I had in anything unjustly wronged or
defrauded them, that they might have full satisfaction allowed them. . . .

" I, having long thought and considered of the want of some necessary things of
public concernment which may not be only commodious but very profitable and useful
for the Town of Boston, as a Market place and conduit, the one a good help in danger
of fire, . . . the other useful for the country people that come with their provisions,
. . . also to have some convenient room or two for the Courts to meet in both in Winter
and Summer, and [aljso for the townes' men and Commissioners of the town, also ... a
convenient room for a Library and a gallery or some other handsome room for the Elders
to meet in and confer together. . . . Then in the same building there may be also a room
for an armory to keep the arms of the Artillery Company and for the soldiers to meet in
when they have occasion."

Captain Keayne (1637) then makes a donation of three hundred pounds for a
market-house, one hundred pounds for a " Granere," and books for the beginning of
the library. Having provided, by a legacy, for refreshment for the elders when they
meet and confer, he continues : —

" And if a convenient, fair room in one of the buildings before mentioned be
sequestered and set apart for an Armory and the meeting of the .^rtiller)', if there it be
thought convenient or if some other place be provided for that use more convenient,
with the officers of that Company's advice, I am not strict for the very place so they
have content in it, though yet I think the very heart and securest part of the town
(and no out or by place) is the most fit for a Magazine for Arms because of the danger
of surprising of them, the place that they now use will be fit, to scour and tend the
arms in and the other to lay them up and keep them in, which will be a comely sight
for strangers to see and a great ornament to the room and also to the town where the
soldiers may arm themselves every time they go to exercise, such a place being provided,
I give and bequeath five pounds for the encouragement of that Company to be laid out
in pikes and bandoleers for the use of such soldiers of that Company that live in other
towns. . . .

" Item I give and bequeath further to this Artillery Company of Boston five pounds
more towards the erecting of a platform planked underneath for two mounted pieces of


ordnance to stand upon, a greater and a smaller, with a shed of boards raised over it,
to keep them dry and preserve them from sun and weather and this to be raised in
the most convenient part in the training place in Boston where it shall be most fit for
that use and where at a convenient distance against some hill or rising ground there
may be a good butt or kind of bulwark raised of earth that may receive the shot of those
pieces and may be free from endangering any that may unexpectedly pass by or behind
the butt in case they should overshoot, which butt may be cast up or digged at the
bottom of a hill without any charge by the Company themselves, in two or three of
their training days and my end in this is, that the Company may be trained up, (or so
many of them as desire it) in the use, exercise and experience of the great ordnance as
they are in their muskets that they may learne how to traverse, load, mount, level and
fire at a mark, &c. which is as needful a skill for a soldier as the exercise of their
ordinary arms. I suppose the Country will willingly lend the Company two such pieces
for so good a use as this is, if the town itself hath none such to spare and will give
them a barrel of powder or two to encourage them, to begin a service that will be so
singularly useful for the country, the bullets will be most of them found and saved again
if the hill or butt against which they shoot be not so low and narrow that they over-
mount and shoot aside at random, now as many of that company or others which desire
to learn that art of gunnery (so needful for every Captain and officer of a Company to
be experienced in) they may enter their names to be scholars of the Great Artillery
and to agree that every one that enters his name may give so much for entry and so
much a year afterwards as you do at the Artillery which money will serve to lay in
provision of powder, shot, spunges, budge-barrels, cannon baskets and some allowance
to the Mr. Gunner that shall take pains to instruct them, if there cannot be some
skilful and sufficient man found, that will think the honor of the place to instruct such
a society in so noble a service recompense sufficient that they have an opportunity
not only to exercise their own skill, but to do good to the country and to willing
scholars that so thirst after experience as we see the Capt and rest of the officers
of the small Artillery do freely expend their time to instruct others in the best skill
themselves have attained, and l»ok at it as reward enough that their pains are accepted
and the company edified by it, besides there being many ship masters and gunners
that resort to this country who have good skill in this art, the Company I doubt not
upon their request might have their help sometimes and direction herein and he that
is chosen to this place may have the title of the Capt of the great Artillery or Mr.
Gunner and there may be a time appointed once in a week or fortnight for the scholars
to meet to spend two or three hours, either forenoon or afternoon for their instruction
in it. Now all that meet cannot expect to make every one a shot apiece or but one
man two shots at one time and the rest may observe as much by the manner of their
performing it as if they had done it themselves, and for further encouragement to help
on this exercise besides the five pounds given before towards the platform and the other
five pounds for pikes, &c. . . .

" I give and bequeath two heifers or cows to the Captain and officers of the first
Artillery Company to be kept as a stock constantly and the increase or profit of these
cows yearly to be laid out in powder or bullets, &c., for the use of the exercise of the
great Artillery, only the stock at no time or the value of it not to be diminished and
these to be delivered to the Capt that shall have the command of that company or
whom himself and officers shall appoint when the platform and butt is finished, and two


pieces mounted thereon, with all materials thereto belonging fit to exercise with, when
a Master or Captain of the great Ordnance is chosen, a convenient company of soldiers
entered for scholars as between ten and twenty and all things settled in a good posture
for the beginning and continuance of that exercise, but if the Artillery Company shall
neglect to accomplish this before expressed above two years after my decease, then
these three legacies, viz. both the five pounds and the two cows to be void and to be to
the use of my executor, but if the things before mentioned be accomplished and this
new company do go on as I desire it may then my will is that the Capt with the consent
of the Company may appoint some able man either of the Company or otherwise that
shall give bond to my executors or overseers for these two cows or the value of them
at the time of delivery that the stock shall be preserved and the increase or benefit of
them only to be disposed of for the use of this new Company and if this Company
should break off and not continue their exercise then the two cows to be returned to
my executor or some of my overseers for his use or the just value that they were worth
at the time of their first delivery, now any man that shall have the cows to keep will be
willing to give such a bond if the Company order it so, in case that exercise should fall
to the ground, for the two first five pounds I desire no bond nor any returns of it
though the Company should not continue very long, I would make it my dying request
to our first Artillery Company (if there shall be such a Company in being when it shall
please God to take me out of this miserable world) many know what my earnest
endeavors and desires hath been to promote and encourage what I could since the Lord
hath brought me into this country and my desires have not been altogether frustrated
for out of this small Company the Lord hath raised up many a well experienced soldier
that hath done good ser%'ice and hath been of good esteem both here and in our native

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 3 of 73)