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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He was elected captain of the Artillery Company in 1642, and in 1644 he went to
England, ostensibly "about his private occasions," but he was commissioned soon after
his arrival as lieutenant-colonel in Rainsburrow's Parliamentary regiment. He died at
Lincoln, in England, in 1645, having made a will in London, July 17, 1644, which was
proved in Boston in 1646, by which he gave three hundred acres of land to Harvard

" Col. Stoughton was among the leading and influential men in the early period of
the colony. He gave great offence to the Court, in 1634, by the publication of a
book wherein he affirmed the power of the Governor to be but ministerial, and other-
wise opposed and slighted the power of the magistrates. He was called to account
for the offence, and although he had the modesty to confess his fault, and desired that
the book might be burned, he was disabled for three years from bearing any public
office." — Farmer. His disability was overlooked or removed, for in December, 1636, he
was again deputy, and was chosen assistant the following spring. In his will, he names
his sons: Israel (1645), the eldest; William (Har. Coll., 1650), who presided as chief
justice at the trials of the witches, and John. There were several daughters — names
not mentioned.

John Underhill (1637), the eleventh signer of the original roll of the Artillery
Company, was an Englishman who had seen service in the Netherlands and had been
brought over by Winthrop, in 1630, "to train the people in military discipline." He

Israel Stoughton (1637). Authorities: A letter of Col. Stoughton 's (1637), in regard

NewEng. Hist, and Gen. Reg., 1853-1S7S; Mather's to the Pequot difficulty, is given in Winthrop's His-

Magnalia, Yol. IL; Winthrop's Mist, of New Eng., tory, Savage's Ed., Vol. I., pp. 479-481, written at

\'ol. L; Hist, of Dorchester, by Antiq. and Hist. Pequid "2d day of the 61I1 week of our warfare,"

Soc.; Whitman's Hist. A. and H. A. Company. probably Aug. 14, 1637.



was a member of the First Church in Boston, and was admitted a freeman May 18,
1631. His wife Helena joined the church Dec. 15, 1633. He was one of the select-
men of Boston in 1634, and the same year a member of the General Court. In 1636
he organized the Boston train-band, which he exercised every Tuesday afternoon, on the
Common or in connection with the Roxbury train-band, on a training-field which was
the eastern portion of the triangle bounded by what are now Washington, Eustis, and
Dudley streets. Capt. Underbill never held any office in the Artillery Company, prob-
ably because he was principally engaged in Indian wars or on account of his religious
and irreligious troubles. He was a typical trooper, fond of a glass of spirits, a pipe of
tobacco, and the society of the gentler sex, and although he was a member of the First
Church, he was a sad reprobate, only tolerated because of his military experience.

Capt. Underbill (1637) was one of the sympathizers with the doctrine of Mrs.
Hutchinson, and, being banished from Boston, he took refuge in Dover, N. H. There
he obtained the appointment of Governor.' He soon became involved in a religious
controversy and returned to Boston, where, while making a confession of his manifold
sins, he was made " to sit on the stool of repentance in the church, with a white cap
on his head." This scene of humiliation occurred on the 3d of August, 1640, when,
we are told, " he came again to Boston, and on a lecture day, after the sermon, in
presence of the congregation, standing upon a form, in his worst clothes, without a
band, a foul linen cap pulled close to his eyes," he, who was so fond of " bravery of
apparel," with deep sighs and abundance of tears, laid open his wicked course, his
adultery, his hypocrisy, his persecution of God's people, and especially "his pride
and contempt of the magistrates." He justified all the punishments imposed upon
him, and dwelt with great pathos on the terrors of excommunication ; how
he had lost all his pretended assurance, being delivered over to the buffetings of
Satan, and the horrors of despair. " He spoke well," says Winthrop, an eye-witness of
the scene, " save that his blubberings interrupted him, and all along discovered a
broken and contrite heart." ^

Capt. Underbill (1637), after his restoration to church communion and the
removal of the penalty of banishment, removed to Stamford, Conn., where he was
appointed an assistant justice, and was a delegate from that town to the General Court
which met at New Haven in 1643.

On the breaking out of the war between the Indians and the New Netherlands,
Capt. Underbill (1637), whose former residence in Holland had made him familiar with
the Dutch language, was appointed to command a military force, which distinguished
itself by its bravery and by its barbarities, reviving at Greenwich, in February, 1644,
the horrors of the Pequot massacre.

Capt. Underbill (1637) next removed to Flushing, on Long Island, where, in
1653, he had some agency in detecting and exposing the intrigues of the Dutch

John Underhill (1637). AuxnoRrriES: Sav- 1 In 1638, Capt. Underbill (1637) succeeded

age's Edition ol Winthrop's Hist, of New Eng.; Burdett as "governor" at Dover, who in turn was

Savage's Gen. Diet.; New Eng. Hist, and Gen. succeeded by Thomas Roberts, the emigrant, of

Reg., 1892; Mem. Hist, of Boston; Whitman's Dover, the ancestor of the Roberts family in New

Hist. A. and H. A. Company, Ed. 1842; Wood England.

Sketch of Long Island. 2 The particulars of Capt. Underbill's offences.

He wrote a " Short Story " of his services in the trial, etc., are given in Winthrop's History; in

Pequot W'ar, entitled " News from America," which Farmer's Belknap, p. 23, ei sei]., and a long extract

was printed in London in 1638 and reprinted in therefrom is given in Whitman's Hist. A? and H

3 Mass. Hist. Coll. VI. A. Company, Ed. 1842, p. 47, et seq.


treasurer. In 1665, he was a delegate from the town of Oyster Bay to the Assembly,
holden at Hampstead by Gov. Nicholls, who appointed Underbill (1637) under-
sheriff of the North Riding of Yorkshire, or Queen's County. " In 1667, Matinenoc
Indians gave him one hundred and fifty acres of land, which have remained in the
family ever since and are now in possession of one of his descendants that bears his
name." Capt. Underbill is supposed to have died at Oyster Bay, in the year 1672.

Nathaniel Turner (1637), the twelfth signer of the original muster-roll of the
Artillery Company, lived on Nabant Street, Lynn, and owned the whole of the Sagamore
Hill. He applied to be admitted a freeman, Oct. 19, 1630, but did not take the oath
until July 3, 1632. He was a representative from Lynn in the first seven sessions of
the General Court ; was a member of the first County Court at Salem, in 1636, and was
appointed, in 1633, captain of the Saugus train-band, which he commanded during the
Pequot War in 1636-7. His house took fire from a defective oven-flue, on the night of
Jan. 10, 1636, and, with its contents, was destroyed.'

In 1638, Capt. Turner (1637) sold his land on Sagamore Hill to Mr. Edward
Holyoke, and removed, with other Massachusetts Bay families, to Quinnipiac, in Con-
necticut, where the settlement of New Haven was founded. He was one of the seven
members who organized the first church there, and he was appointed in 1639, in
connection with Rev. Mr. Davenport and four others, to "have the disposing of all house
lotts, yet undisposed of about this towne, to such persons as they shall judge meete for
the good of the plantation; and that none come to dwell as planters here without their
consent and allowance, whether they come in by purchase or otherwise."

In 1640, Capt. Turner (1637), as agent for New Haven, made a large purchase of
land on both sides of the Delaware River, sufficient for a number of plantations. The
purchase was made chiefly with a view to trade, though the establishment of Puritan
churches was also an end much desired. Trading houses were erected, and nearly fifty
families were sent out. In all fundamental matters, the Delaware colonies were to be
under the jurisdiction of New Haven. In the same year, he made the purchase for the
town, from the Indian Sagamore, Bonus, of the tract of land which is now the town of
Stamford. He gave for the whole, " twelve coats, twelve hoes, twelve hatchets, twelve
knives, two kettles and four fathom of white wampum." In a sale to the people of
Wethersfield, a short time after, the tract was valued at thirty pounds sterling.

Neither the land speculations at New Haven nor the trade upon the Delaware were
successful, and the Dutch at New Netherlands menaced the Connecticut colony.
Hoping to retrieve their fortunes by foreign trade, the colonists sent to Rhode Island,
and had a ship built, which, when completed, they freighted and placed under the
command of Capt. Lamberton. Capt. Turner (1637), with five other citizens, sailed
for England in this vessel in January, 1647, and she- was never heard of afterward.
Gov. Winthrop informed us that, in June, 1648, the apparition of a ship was seen under
full sail moving up the harbor of New Haven, a little before sunset, on a pleasant

Nathaniel Turner (1637). Authorities: 'ii mo. 10, 1636, "Capt. Turner's house in

Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 1S85, p. 777; Sagus took fire by an oven aljout midnight and

Savage's Gen. Diet ; Savage's \Vinthrop; Lewis's was burned down, with all that was in it, save the

Hist, of Lynn; 250th Anniversary of the Settlement persons." — Savage's Winthrop, Vol, /., p. 254.
of Lynn; Whitman's Hist. A. and H. A. Company,
Ed. 1842.


afternoon, and, as it approached the shore, it slowly vanished. This was thought to
have a reference to the fate of Capt. Lamberton's ship. The following epitaph was
written in memory of Capt. Turner (1637) : —

" Deep in Atlantic cave his body sleeps,
While the dark sea its ceaseless motion keeps,
While phantom ships are wrecked along the shore,
To warn his friends that he will come no more !
But He, who governs all with impulse free,
Can bring from Bashan and the deepest sea.
And when He calls our Turner must return,
Though now his ashes fill no sacred urn."

William Jennison (1637), of Watertown, was the thirteenth signer of the original
roll of the Artillery Company. He had been a resident of Bermuda. He was admitted
a freeman May 18, 1631, and was one of the first planters who located under Sir
Richard Saltonstall at Watertown, a frontier settlement, whose train-band was placed
by the General Court under the command of Capt. Patrick, who had served in the
Netherlands in the Prince of Orange's guard, and received a salary for drilling the
company weekly. The captain, not being able to accommodate himself to the strict
manners of the Puritan school, soon removed from its strict discipline to Greenwich,
Conn., where he had an altercation with a Dutchman, who drew a pistol and shot the
captain dead on the spot. William Jennison (1637) was, in 1631, appointed ensign in
Capt. Patrick's company, and on the return of the former from an expedition against
the Pequot Indians, in 1636, to avenge the murder of a settler named Oldham, he was
appointed captain.' He was selectman, 1635 to 1642, and 1644; representative to the
General Court, 1634 to 1642, and 1645, and therefore was a deputy, a colleague of
Capt. Keayne (1637) when the charter of the Artillery Company was granted. He was
dismissed from the General Court, Oct. 2, 1645, "being to goe for Virginia."

Capt. Jennison (1637) was probably at heart loyal to the King, during the Civil
War. At the meeting of the court, held in July, 1644, "Capt Jenyson, Captain
of the military company in Watertown, an able man, who had been there from the
first settling of that town, having a year before, (being then a Deputy) in private
conference, questioned the lawfulness of the Parliament's proceeding in England, was
sent for by the Deputies, and examined about it, and afterward before the magistrates.
He ingenuously confessed his scruple, but took offence, that being a church member,
and in public office, he should be openly produced merely for matter of judgment, not
having been first dealt \vith in private, either in a church way or by some of the
magistrates, which seemed to some of the Court to have been a failing. The Court was
unwilling to turn him out of place, having been a very useful man, &c., yet not seeing

William Jennison (1637). Authorities: murdered him in a most barbarous manner.' In

Savage's Edition of Winthrop's Hist, of New Eng.; .\ugust following, ninety men were sent off to find

Savage's Gen. Diet.; Bond's Watertown; Hist. A. and punish the savages. One of the commanders

and H. A. Company, by Whitman. was William Jennison. He acquired glory enough

"Oct. 17, 1633, Ensign Jennison went as pilot from that campaign to be made a captain, the next

in the 'Thunder' to Bermuda, and returned June month of March." — Hist, of Middlesex Co., by D.

I, \bl\:' — Savage' s Witithrop. Hamilton Htird, Vol. ///., /. 3S0.

' John Oldham, of Watertown, "' became a dis- In the testimony concerning the will of John

tinguished trader among the Indians, and in 1636 Loveran, the justice's name is spelled both ways

was sent to traffic with them at Block Island. The William Jennings and William Jennison. — See

Indians got possession of Oldham's vessel, and N. E. Hist, and Gen. Reg., 1849, /• 79-


how he might be trusted, being of that judgment, yet professing that he was assured that
those of the Parliament side were the more godly and honest part of the kingdom, and
that though, if he were in England, he should be doubtful whether he might take their
part against their prince, yet, if the King or any party from him should attempt any
thing against this Commonwealth, he should make no scruple to spend estate and life
and all in our defence against them ; he was dismissed to further consideration ; and
the Court being broken up, he came soon after to some of the magistrates, and told
them that this questioning in the Court had occasioned him to search further into the
point, and he was now satisfied that the Parliament's cause was good, and if he were in
England he would assist in defence of it."

In 1645, Capt. Jennison (1637) sold his fifty-acre homestead, in Watertown, on the
north side of Mount Auburn Street, between Common and School streets, to Rev. John
Knowles, and in 1651 returned to England. Robert Jennison, brother of William (1637),
acting as attorney for the latter, conveyed, in 1657, " estate of William Jennison," of
Colchester, Essex Co., England. J-JL4/24-f»'1

Richard Morris (1637), of Roxbury, whose name was the fourteenth on the original
roll of the Artillery Company, is supposed to have been baptized in Waltham Holy
Cross Abbey in England, on the Sth of December, 1595, and to have served in the
English army in the Low Countries. He came over in the company of Gov. Winthrop,
and took the oath of a freeman May 18, 1631. "Richard Maurice [1637] and his wife
Leonora" were recorded as members of the First Church, Aug. 27, 1630. He was
representative from Roxbury to the General Court in 1634 and 1635. Richard Morris
(1637) was appointed ensign in the Boston train-band, commanded by Capt. Underhill
(1637), March 4, 1632. Winthrop states that, in November of the same year, Morris,
" taking some distaste to his office, requested the magistrates that he might be dis-
charged of it, and so was, whereby he gave offence to the congregation of Boston, so as,
being questioned and convinced of sin in forsaking his calling, he did acknowledge his
fault, and, at the request of the people, was by the magistrates chosen Lieutenant to the
same Company, for he was a very stout man and an experienced soldier."

In March, 1635, he became lieutenant-commander of the fort which had been
erected on Castle Island, for the seaward defence of Boston, succeeding Capts.
Nicolas Simpkins (1650) and Edward Gibbons (1638). It was agreed, however, that he
should " receive ten pounds a year from Roxbury as long as he lay at the Castle and
did service to the town of Roxbury " ; he therefore continued to drill the train-band of
that town.

About two months after Lieut. Morris (1637) took command of the Castle, an
incident occurred which troubled the Massachusetts authorities as much as the cutting
of the cross from the King's colors by Endicott. "The ship 'St. Patrick,'" writes Mr.
J. F. Morris, of Hartford, Conn., a descendant of Lieut. Morris, " came into Boston
harbor, flying the King's colors. Lieut. Morris, who presumably reasoned that if it
was unlawful to use the cross in ensigns on land, it could not be lawful on the water,
brought the ' St. Patrick ' to, and made her strike her colors. Capt. Palmer, her master,
complained to the authorities of the act of the commander of the Castle as a flagrant

Richard Morris (1637). Authorities: Sav- Whitman's Hist. A. and A. Company, Ed. 1S42;
age's Edition of Winthrop's Hist, of New Eng. ; Records of Rhode Island. ■
Drake's Hist, of Roxbury; Savage's Gen. Diet.;


insult to his flag and country. The ' St. Patrick ' belonged to Sir Thomas Wentworth,
Earl of Strafford, Lord Deputy of Ireland, once an advocate of the liberal cause, but
which he had deserted, becoming a companion of Archbishop Laud and a strong
supporter of the absolutism of King Charles. Arbitrary and despotic as he was known
to be, policy dictated the necessity of avoiding the enmity of one so high in influence
with the King, and the complying with any demand which Capt. Palmer might make
as amends for the alleged insult to his flag and country. Lieut. Morris [1637] was
summoned before the magistrates, and in the presence of Capt. Palmer was told that
he had no authority to do as he had done (as the fort showed no flag), and was
ordered to make such atonement as Capt. Palmer should demand. The captain was
lenient, and only required of the lieutenant an acknowledgment of the error on his
ship, ' that so all the ship's company might receive satisfaction, and lest Lord Deputy
Wentworth should be informed that we had offered discourtesy to his ship which we
had never offered to any before.' Lieut. Morris [1637] submitted to this demand and
all parties became quieted.

" In about a fortnight after this event, the ship ' Hector,' Capt. Feme, arrived in
Boston. Some Boston people went on board. The mate of the ship, one Miller,
who probably had heard of the event just related, not seeing the King's colors
hoisted at the fort, denounced all the people as rebels and traitors. Henry Vane had
just been elected governor. He sent for the captain of the ship and informed him of
the matter. The captain promised to deliver the mate to the authorities. The
marshal and four sergeants were sent to the ship for him, but the captain not being
on board the crew would not deliver him up. The captain himself then went and
brought the mate to the Court, where his language was proved by two witnesses, and
he was committed. The matter so excited the crew of the ship that the captain, in
order to pacify them, requested the release of the mate and promised to bring him
before the Court again. The next day his request was granted and at the appointed
time the mate was produced in court. Then in the presence of the captains of all the
ships in the harbor, the mate acknowledged his offence and signed a paper to that
effect, and was discharged. These occurrences troubled the authorities lest reports
should be carried to England that they had rebelled, and that the contempt shown to
the King's colors was positive proof of the charge. In order to counteract such
representations. Gov. Vane called together the fifteen captains and asked them to
frankly state their feelings and opinions in regard to the matter, and if they were
offended, to state what satisfaction they required. They answered that if, on their return
to England they should be enquired of as to what colors they saw here, they should
state the facts, and that they should like to see the King's colors flying at the fort.

"Gov. Vane was scarcely twenty-three years of age when he arrived in this
country. He early became popular, and before he had been a year in the Colony was
chosen governor. His father at this time was comptroller of the King's household and
possessed power and influence. At the time of his election there were fifteen large
English ships in Boston Harbor, which joined in the congratulations of the people by
firing salutes. New regulations for the shipping were necessary, and the governor had
been conferred with as to their necessity and the way to bring them about. The gov-
ernor, though young in years, was old in the art of diplomacy. He had accompanied
his father on missions to foreign courts, and become an adept in managing men. He
invited the captains to dine with him, and, at the table, skilfully obtained their com-


pliance with the needed regulations. This was only a few days before the affair of the
mate of the ' Hector.' When the governor called the captains together for the purpose
of getting their views in regard to the colors, their memories of the dinner had not yet
passed away and they were still in an amiable mood and were disposed to allow the
matter to pass off as smoothly as possible. When they advised that the King's colors
should be hoisted at the Castle, they were told that the authorities had no King's colors.
Two of the captains then agreed to present them to the fort. The authorities, unwilling
to give up their prejudices, yet seeing the necessity of compliance, replied, that for their
part they were fully persuaded that the cross in the ensign was idolatrous, and for that
reason, they might not use it in their ensign, but as the fort was the King's, and main-
tained in his name, his own colors might be spread there. The governor accepted the
colors from Capt. Palmer of the ' St. Patrick ' and promised that they should be set up
at Castle Island.

"A conference had been held the day before the meeting with the captains, in
which the point of difference had been discussed. The standing council, consisting of
the governor, Mr. Dudley, and Mr. Winthrop, was present and also Mr. Cotton. The
governor, Mr Cotton and Mr. Dudley expressed the opinion that the colors might be
used on the fort. Mr. Winthrop and others did not concur in the distinction. Mr.
Winthrop, in his account of the matter, says, 'The governor and Mr. Dudley being two
of the council, being persuaded of the lawful use of the colors, might use their authority
to set them up. Yet others not being so persuaded and being doubtful, could not join
in the act; yet would not oppose it.' On the i6th of June, Gov. Vane, with Mr.
Dudley's consent, gave orders to Lieut. Morris [1637] to hoist the King's colors on
Castle Island, when the ships passed by, doubtless the same colors which he ordered
to be struck when the 'St. Patrick' entered the harbor.

" The reason given for allowing the flag to fly on the Castle — that ' the fort was the
King's, and maintained in his name,' was singular in view of the fact that its erection
was ordered by the Court for the express purpose of defence against the King's measures
which they feared. In March, 1637, Winthrop states 'the Castle Island being found to
be very changeable to maintain the garrison there, and of little use, but only to have
command of ships which would come hither with passengers, etc., there was a committee
appointed to dispose of the ammunition there.' This shows that the colony continued
to manage the affairs of the fort without reference to the King."

When that gifted and strong-minded woman, Mrs. Hutchinson, appeared on the
stage of Massachusetts politics and shook the young colony to its base, Lieut. Morris
(1637) favored her principles and cause, and signed the famous petition. The
consequence was that he, with his associates in belief, was publicly disarmed on the 20th
of November, 1637 ; but he recanted and was permitted to become one of the founders
of the Artillery Company. On the 6th of September, 1638, "he had leave to depart"
the Colony Records say, " (having offended in subscribing the petition of remon-
strance), being advised to forbear meddling with our people in the matters of opinion,
lest he be further dealt with, and was advised not to sit down within our limits, and was

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 6 of 73)