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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country and therefore my grief is the more to see this sometime flourishing and highly
prized Company that when the country grows more populous this company should grow
more thin and ready to dissolve for want of appearance but some are weary and thus
think they have got experience enough so the most begins to neglect but ray request is
that the entries, quartridge and fines for late and non-appearance (which last hath
been too long neglected) and will not be well with )j|e Company till it be taken up
again especially seeing the greatest part of that Company consists now of men in our
own town and we never had better nor more constant appearance than when fines
were duly taken may be preserved and kept in stock to lay out in powder, arms, ban-
doleers for the use of the Company and in canvas to make resemblance of trenches, half
moons, redoubts, forts, &c., Cannon baskets and such like necessary implements for
some special military service that might be performed once or twice a year, which
would be a singular help to the ordinary exercise and would add much not only to
the encouragement but to the experience both of officers and soldiers in some military
exercises which without such helps as these cannot be taught nor performed, and these
moneys would be far better employed and to the greater satisfaction and content of
the Company in such things than to be wasted and spent in eating and drinking and
needless invitations as it hath been a long time both to my own and to the grief and
offence of several of the company which hath occasioned some to leave the Company
and others unwilling to pay their quartridge, seeing the whole stock is still consumed
and the Company rather in debt than otherwise which hath been a chief thing to hinder
many other profitable exercises for want of means to bear the charge of them and
will in time be the overthrow and dissolution of the Company if it be not prevented


what hath made the Artillery Company in London so to flourish for so long a time
together but the stock of the Company well managed whereby they have done great
things and have been able to perform many exercises (though chargeable) both for
the delight of all beholders and the great benefit and experience of the soldiers and to
the increase of their number, and indeed I had in my purpose several other legacies
to have bestowed on this Company for their encouragement and the example of others
and have them in a readiness and of some consequence but the small appearance of the
Company and the declining of it daily which cannot be but a great discouragement to
the Capt and ofificers that command them, as also to the soldiers what do appear and
causes a kind of contempt instead of esteem in those that behold them, makes me fear
the final dissolution of it and so all gifts will sink with it and come to nothing hath
been the cause of altering my resolution, though I know a skilful commander though
he have a body of men but 4 files 6 deep which is but 24 soldiers, yea I would add
further, if he have but half so many but two files 6 or 8 deep, with them he may per-
form such variety of exercises, not only for the postures but the several motions
doublings facings counter marches wheelings yea such variety of forms of battles and
several kinds of firings and charges as should not only be delightful but very useful and
gainful to those that are exercised and not only for two or three training days, but
have matter enough to exercise them for several years which I should hardly have
believed, did not I know it to be true and have seen it with mine eyes, yet notwith-
standing what comfort or credit can a Capt have to go into the field with 6 or 12
soldiers and under the name of an Artillery or Military Company, it would be my
rejoicing if there could be any means thought on or used to increase and encourage
this Company that is and may be so honorable and advantageous to the whole country,
that it may remain and continue still in splendor and esteem increasing and not
declining, but all things have their changes."

Captain Keayne (1637) follows this expression of generosity, counsel, fear, and
hope, with other legacies. He makes gifts, to the town of Boston, three hundred
pounds; to the free school in Boston, fifty pounds; to "our own church," fifty pounds
for the relief of the poor ; to Harvard College, one hundred pounds, and, conditionally,
six hundred and twenty pounds more ; to Rev. John Cotton ; to his brother-in-law, Rev.
John Willson ; to Mr. John Willson ; to Elders Oliver and Colborne ; to Rev. Mr.
Norton ; to Mr. Bellingham, deputy ; to Edward Winslow ; to Major-General Gibbons
(1637); to his workmen and servants and others, various sums, amounting, probably,
to fifteen hundred pounds. Mr. Keayne (1637), in his will, estimates his property at
"_^4000 or thereabouts," and adds, ''it is well known to some that I brought over with
me two or 3000 lb in good estate of my own."

The three hundred pounds given to the town of Boston were for a market-place and
a conduit, the former to contain " some convenient room or two for the courts" (which
had hitherto been held in the meeting-house), "to meet in both summer and winter
and so for the Townsmen and Commissioners in the same building, or the like, and a
convenient room for a library, and a gallery, or some other handsome room for the elders
to meet in ; also a room for an armory."

In March, 1656-7, the town selected a committee to consider the " modell of the
towne house," as suggested in his will. One hundred and four citizens gave ^367 iij-.,
and Captain Keayne (1637), by will, ;^3O0 towards the contemplated structure, which
was completed in 1658, and occupied the site of what is now called "The Old State


House." Oct. 9, 1667, the Legislature ordered "the necessary full and suitable repair
of the Town and Court House in Boston, founded by the late Captain Robert Keaync."
This building was destroyed in the great fire in Boston, which occurred in the night of
Oct. 7, 1711. The library contemplated in Captain Keayne's will was established, and
existed probably until 1711.1

The conduit, not proving so successful as was expected, was removed in about
twelve years. His legacy to the free school was probably applied to what is now called
the Public Latin School in Boston, one of the greatest ornaments of the city.

Captain Keayne (1637) died in his own house in Boston on the 23d of March,
1655-6." The inventory of his estate amounted to ^^2,427 \zs. id., and his debts and
funeral expenses were ^274. The will was probated May 2, 1656, but the estate was
not finally settled until Jan. 29, 1683, when, both of the executors being dead, letters
of administration were granted to Colonel Nicholas Paige^ (1693) and Anna, his wife,
granddaughter of the deceased. His widow, Ann Keayne, married, on the i6th of
October, 1660, Samuel Cole (1637).

The burial-place of Captain Robert Keayne (1637) has been patiently sought, but
it is not positively known. It is believed that for thirty years (1630-60) what is now
called " King's Chapel Burial-Ground " was the only place of burial in the town. In
1645, Thomas Scotto sold to the town the present City Hall lot. It is described in the
deed as having the "Burying place toward the west." Aug. 20, 1660, the town "ordered
that the old burying place shall nott bee broken up any more withoutt leave of some two
of the select men first obtained " ; and Nov. 5, 1660, it "ordered, that the old burying
place shall bee wholly deserted for some convenient season, and the new places appointed
for burying onely made use off." In the year 1660, two new cemeteries — the North
Burial-Ground on Copp's Hill, and the South, or Granary Burial-Ground — were laid out
for use. In King's Chapel Burial-Ground, Governor Winthrop was buried in 1649, Rev.
John Cotton in 1652, Thomas Oliver in 1658, William Paddy (1652) in 1658, Jacob
Sheafe (1648) in 1658, all of whom were intimate friends of Captain Keayne (1637).
Therefore it seems reasonable to conclude that Captain Robert Keayne (1637) was
buried within the present limits of King's Chapel Burial-Ground.''

' "[16S3] Augt 2d Giuen David Edwards on ing that Mr. John Barnerd, Jr., having "Set the
ord' vndr ye select mens hands to receaue of Elder Towns Liberary in good order, he is allowed for

John \Vis«all cS: Doctr Elisha Cook, 34ld. 4s. in Sd Service two of those bookes of wch there are in

mony for severall things he brought from England ye Sd Liberary two of a Sort." — Report of Boston

for ye vse of the Librarj', by order of Cap' Brattle, Rec. Com., Vol. XL, pp. 26, 37.
& is in pte of a greate sume due from them, for In June, 1 713, an advertisement was printed for

Cap' Robt Keynes legacie to ye vse of sd Library, the purpose of having all books belonging to the

as appears fol. 47. . . . town's library "before the late fire" returned to the

"1694-5 March II. At a public meeting of town treasurer,
freeholders and inhabitants it was voted that the ^ "The 26<h of the ist month, 1656, Capt

bookes of the Register of Birthes and deathes in the Robert Keyn died. He was a man of good under-

Town of Boston shall be demanded by the Select standing and learning, both in divine, civil and

men in whose hands soever they be and that all military arts and knowledge. He gave to the town

Bookes or Other things belonging to the Library a considerable sum, in his will, towards a town-

and all the goods or Estate belonging to the Tow^n house and conduit." — Diary of John Hull {1660).

be demanded and Taken care of by the Select men." Boston Records say he died " 23d of the ist

— Report of Boston Rec. Com., Vol. VII., pp. 162 mo."
and 220. 3ji,e petition of Nicholas Paige (1693) and

"[1702] August 31" the selectmen "Ordered Anna, his wife, to administer on Capt. Robert

that Mr. John Barnerd jun. be desired to make a Keayne's estate, fan. 29, 1683-4, is given in the New

Cattalogue of all the bookes belonging to the Towns Eng. Hist, and Gen. Reg., 1S77, p. 105.
Liberary and to Lotlge the Same in ye sd Liberary." J Shurtleff's Topographical and Historical Dis.

Peb. 28, 1704, It was voted in the Board meet- of Boston; Drake's Hist, of Boston, pp. 99, 100.


"Captain Robert Keayne " (1637), said the Rev. Samuel K. Lothrop, in his
bi-centennial sermon, delivered before the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in
1838, "was one of those men, rare elsewhere, but of whom New England and this city
especially, have seen many, who belonging to what is commonly called the middling
interest, occupying neither a very exalted nor a very obscure station in society, pos-
sessing neither extraordinary wealth nor extraordinary talent, have yet been eminent for
their public usefulness, for their high moral worth as men, for their faithful services as
citizens. He fostered in his day and generation the most valuable interests of the
community, and promoted, by his influence and example, the cause of sound morals,
rational piety, social progress, order and happiness. And so long as this Company
continues to exist and worth and virtue are honored by its members, so long he will be
held in grateful remembrance as an honest man, a faithful citizen, a sincere Christian."

Robert Sedgwick (1637), the second signer of the original roll of the Company,
was a son of William and Elizabeth (Howe) Sedgwick, and was born in Woburn,
Bedfordshire, England, where he was baptized May 6, 161 3. He married, in England,

Joanna , who after his death became the second wife of Rev. Thomas Allen, of

Norwich, England, previously of Charlestown, Mass. Mr. Allen's first wife was Ann
(Sadler) Harvard, the widow of Rev. John Harvard.

Capt. Sedgwick (1637) and his wife Joanna joined the Charlestown church, Feb.
27, 1636-7, having emigrated to America in 1635. He became a freeman March 9,
1636-7, when he was appointed captain for the town, and the next month was chosen
a representative. He was repeatedly re-elected, and served in the General Court
sixteen terms. He was engaged in Charlestown in mercantile pursuits. His house
fronted on the square near where the Bunker Hill Bank now stands, and his wharves
were near the town dock. Mr. Whitman (1810) says, that "Capt Sedgwick [1637]
had been a member of the Artillery Company in London," but his name does not
appear on the records or roll of the Honourable Artillery. He was probably connected
with " the Military Garden of London," an association for improvement in the art of
war, distinct from the company above mentioned. Johnson (1637) plainly tells us that
Capt. Sedgwick (1637) was "nursed up in London's Artillery Garden."'

He was chosen captain of the first train-band in Charlestown, which he drilled
every Friday afternoon ; he was captain of the Artillery Company of the Massachusetts
in 1640, 1645, ^nd 1648; commander at the castle in 1641, and of the Middlesex
regiment in 1643. On the organization of the colonial militia, in 1644, he was
appointed "Sergeant Major" or commander of the Middlesex regiment. In a
pamphlet entitled "Good News from New England," the author says: —

" Prest to oppose haters of peace, with guide
Of officers, three regiments abide
In Middlesex, seven ensigns are displayed,
There disciplined by Major Sedgwicke's aid."

Robert Sedgwick (1637). Authorities: Major chosen to order the Regiment of Essex, stout

Hist, of Middlesex Co., by D. Hamilton Hurd; New and active in all feats of war, nursed up in London's

Eng. Hist, and Gen. Reg, 18S7, 1888, etc.; Froth- Artillery garden, and furthered with fifteen years

ingham's Charlestown; Johnson's Wonder- Work- experience in New England exact theory: besides

ing Providence; Wyman's Charlestown Genealogies the help of a very good head piece, being a frequent

and Estates; .Savage's Gen. Diet.; Whitman's Hist. instructor of the more martial troops of our artillery

A. and H. A. Company, Ed. 1842; Winthrop's Hist. men," etc. — Wonder- Working Providence, by Ed-

of New Eng., Savage's Edition. ward Johnson {ib;^"]), Ed. 1867,/. 192. "Noble

' Robert Sedgwick was " the first Sergeant Captain Sedgwick." — Woburn Records.


When, in 1645, a king's ship had been captured in Boston Harbor by Capt. Stagg,
who had been commissioned by Parliament, the General Court authorized and appointed
Sergt.-Major Gibbons (1637), of Boston, and Sergt.-Major Sedgwick (1637), of Charles-
town, " to keep the peace in the said towns, and not to permit any ships to fight in the
harbor, without license from authority."

Capt. Sedgwick (1637) was associated with John VVinthrop, Jr., and other leading
colonists, in establishing iron-works at Lynn, in 1643, the first, it is affirmed, on the
American continent. Smelting, forging, and casting were carried on for some years,
the bog- ore furnishing the raw material; but Hubbard says that soon, "instead of
drawing out bars of iron for the country's use, there was hammered out nothing but
contention and law-suits." After a^lingering existence of forty years, the fire of the
forges was finally extinguished, the buildings were razed, and heaps of scoria only
remained for vegetation, in the course of years, to convert into grassy hillocks. In
other business operations, Capt. Sedgwick (1637) subjected himself to admonition for
the same "frailty" which caused his friend, Capt. Keayne (1637), so much persecution
by church and state, " taking more than sixpence in the shilling profit " ; but he escaped
with an admonition.

In 1652, Sergt.-Major Sedgwick was^ promoted [to the rank of " Sergeant-Major
General," or commander-in-chief. He held the office for one year, during which time
he was actively engaged in improving the discipline and drill of the colonial forces,
spending his money freely, whenever and wherever it was needed.

Gen. Sedgwick (1637), attracting the favorable attention of Oliver Cromwell,
then Lord Protector of Great Britain, was authorized, with Capt. John Leverett (1639),
afterwards Governor, to organize an expedition against New Netherlands, now New
York. Cromwell furnished them with three ships and a small body of troops, and
authorized them to increase their force by recruits in New England. When, after some
delays, they arrived at Boston, the Dutch war was already over, and, before the Massa-
chusetts contingents could be enlisted, news of the peace reached Boston. The com-
missioners then determined to make Acadia the object of their attack. " It was," says
Hutchinson, " a time of peace between the two nations, but the English had good
right to the country, and the complaints of the French in Europe could not prevail
upon Cromwell to give it up again." The Lord Protector asserted that a sum of money,
promised by France in consideration of the cession of Acadia, had never been paid.
Gen. Sedgwick's (1637) account of his collecting an expedition is so Cromwellian in
its tone that it merits republication. It is dated, "From General Sedgwick [1637]
at Charles Town, New England, this 24th September, 1654," and is as follows : —

" I know you cannot but be acquainted with our first business we were designed
unto. God did not seem to smile upon us in that business, in many of his workings
towards us. But so it fell out, even when we were ready to advance with our forces to
the southward, we had countermands as touching that business ; we, then, being in a
posture of war, and soldiers here hsted in pay, attended the other part of our commis-
sion against the French, and the fourth of July set sail for Nantiisket with 3 ships, one
Catch and about two hundred Land Soldiers of old England and New. Our first place
designed for was St. John's Fort, there we arrived the 15 Ditto, and in four days took it
in, where we found a gallant Fort, above seventy proper Soldiers, seventeen peeces of
Ordnance, besides Murtherers, Stockefowlers and other Ammunition. Having sent
away the French and settled our Garrison, we set sail for Port Riall, and five days after


our arrival there, took in that Fort, as also a ship of France, that lay under the Fort ; In
the Fort, we found Seamen, Soldiers and Planters, about 135 fighting men. Our force
with which we landed, and lay intrenched against the Fort was but equal in number ;
there was in the Fort twenty peeces of Ordnance, above forty barrels of powder, with
other necessaries. Our work being finished there, we set sail for Penohscoiit, and took
that in, where we found a small Fort, yet very strong, and a very well composed peece with
eight peece of Ordnance one Brass, three murtherers, about eighteen Barrels of powder,
and eighteen men in garrison. I am willing to hope God intends a blessing in this affair
to the English Nation, and to the Plantations in particular. It 's a brave Countrey full
of fine Rivers, Airable Pastors, full of Timber, gallant Masts, full of Mines, Coal, Marble,
Iron, Lead, and some say. Copper. Many convenient places for fishing, making of Oyl,
and good quantities of trade for Beaver and Mous-skins."

Cromwell, who had once thought of emigrating to New England, often expressed a
tender regard for the setders there, and near the close of 1654 he undertook to carry out
a plan whereby he might mitigate their trials and hardships by providing homes for them
in a more congenial climate where there was a fertile soil. The expedition was repulsed
on the island of Hispaniola, but seized the island of Jamaica on the 17th of May, 1655.
The troops were soon reinforced by four regiments, one of which was commanded by
Gen. Sedgwick (1637), who was immediately detailed to act in the place of Edward
Winslow, deceased, as a commissioner to govern the conquered territory. In his first
report, he said that he found things " in a sad, deplorable and dejected condition," the
soldiers being " so lazy and idle as it cannot enter into the heart of any Englishman
that such blood should run in the veins of any born in England." As the original
commissioners were all dead. Gen. Sedgwick (1637), in conjunction with the principal
military officers, framed an instrument of civil government, constituting a Supreme
Executive Council, with himself at its head. Cromwell approved of what he did, and
promoted him to the rank of major-general, using every exertion to procure emigrants
from Scotland and Ireland for his colony. Gen. Sedgwick (1637) died on the 24th
of May, 1656, soon after he received his new appointment. His widow was living in
1667 at Stepney, near London. Their daughter, Sarah, was the second wife of Gov.
Leverett (1639). Gen. Sedgwick (1637) and wife, Joanna, had five children, of whom
William joined the Artillery Company in 1666, and Robert in 1674. The Book of
Possessions (City Document No. 39, p. 2), represents him as owning nine separate
pieces of property in Charlestown, containing about forty-eight acres. He was an active
citizen, devoted to the interests of the town, superintended the building of the first
fortifications in Charlestown, and was one of the most conspicuous persons of his time.

Joseph Weld (1637), of Roxbury, whose name stands third on the original
roll, was a merchant, and a brother of Rev. Thomas Weld of that place. He was
admitted a freeman in 1636 ; was a representative from Roxbury in the General Court,
1636-43; was selectman prior to 1643, and was the captain of the Roxbury Com-
pany, which in 1636 was included in the regiment of which John Winthrop was colonel
and Thomas Dudley lieutenant-colonel. He was chosen ensign of the Artillery Company

Joseph Weld (1637). Authorities: New Mr. Weld's (1637) first wife, Elizabeth, came

Eng. Hist, and Gen. Reg, 1853; Drake's Hist, of with him from England. She died in October, 163S,

Roxbury; Whitman's Hist. A. and H. A. Company, and, April 20, 1639, he married Barbara, niece of

Ed. 1842; Savage's Gen. Diet.; Mem. Hist, of Boston. Edward Clap, of Dorchester.




at its organization in 1638. Whitman (1810) says, that when Capt. Weld (1637) was
in London, in 1644, "the wife of La Tour having commenced an action against Capt.
Bayley, captain of the ship, which brought her from London by a six months voyage to
Boston, and recovered ^2000. damages; and the captain having also commenced an
action for his freight in which he was unsuccessful, Bayley was persuaded or advised
to attach Captain Weld [1637], who was one of the jury who tried the case, together
with Stephen Winthrop [i 641], the Governor's son, and Recorder of the Court. This
being done, they were forced to find sureties in a bond of ^4000. to answer him in
the Court of Admiralty. Bayley was finally obliged to give over this suit ; and then he
procured out of Chancery a ne exeat regnos (that they should not depart the realm)
against them ; but the cause being heard they were discharged, Captain Bayley losing
his charges and they, theirs. Weld [1637], Winthrop [1641], and Thomas Fowle
[1639], the owner of the ship, petitioned the General Court, for indemnity, but in

The homestead of Capt. Weld (1637), containing two acres of garden and orchard,
was between the Denison estate and that of Elder Heath. As a recognition of his
valuable services in behalf of the colony, he received from the town the valuable estate
in West Roxbury known recently as the " Bussey Farm," which he bequeathed to
his son. His "services" are indicated in a vote of the General Court, Oct. i, 1645 ■
" The Court thinks it meet that Mr. Peters and Mr. Weld, being sent over to negotiate
for the country, having been long absent, desire they may understand the Court's mind
that they desire their presence & speedily return."

During the four months' detention, "it being winter," of Mrs. Ann Hutchinson,
previous to her being driven into exile, for her unorthodox opinions, she was in the
custody of Capt. Weld (1637), at Roxbury.

Capt. Weld (1637) died while in command of the Roxbury train-band, Oct. 7,
1646, leaving a widow, Barbara, and an estate inventoried at ^^2,028 i is. 3;/., no
inconsiderable sum in those days. He was buried in the old burying-ground on Eustis
Street. His widow became the second of four successive wives of Anthony Stoddard,
who joined the Artillery Company in 1639.

Thomas Savage (1637), tailor, of Boston, was the fourth signer of the roll of
the Artillery Company, and he would undoubtedly have been named in the charter,
had he not been involved in the movement headed by his mother-in-law, Mrs. Ann

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 4 of 73)