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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Quakers. He, " in much tenderness and love," warned the magistrates to take heed lest
they should "be foimd fighting against God." In the New England Tragedies, his
words are thus expressed in verse: —

" I testify against these cruel laws !
Forerunners are they of some judgment on us;
And in the love and lendcrncss I liear
Unto this town and people, I beseech you,
O Magistrates, take heed, lest ye be found
As fighters against God."

A fine of twenty pounds was exacted from him. Gov. Endicott saying, " I will not
bate him one groat." He was also banished, to depart in thirty days, including four in
prison, and was fined three pounds more for not attending worship after banishment.

An exile and a wanderer, Nicholas Upshall (1637) sought refuge in Rhode Island,
and on his return to Boston, in about three years, he was thrust into prison. Because
" many Quakers & others affected to that sect " visited him in his confinement, he was
removed to Castle Island, " there to remain vpon his own charge." His wife and family
petitioned for his release, and, in 1662, he was moved, by order of the court, " ovt of
prison forthwith to ye house of John Capen [1646]," in Dorchester, "provided he does
not corrupt any with his pernicious influences," or does not teach "the diabolical
doctrines and horrid tenets of the cursed sect, the Quakers."

Mr. Upshall (1637) resided at Mr. Capen's (1646) from 1662 until his death, Aug.
20, 1666, "aged 70 years." He and his wife, with their friend Copp, were buried in


that part of Copp's Hill Burial-Ground appropriated for people of color, where their
gravestones still lemain. His property inventoried, after deducting debts, ^543 10s.,
no inconsiderable property in those days. His friends, "the Quakers," were remem-
bered by him in his will.

Edward Johnson (1637), of Charlestown, whose name is the twenty-fourth and
last in the list of founders of the Artillery Company, came to New England with the
Winthrop immigration from the parish of Heme Hill, in Kent County, England. He was
admitted a freeman May 18, 1631. Not long after, he returned to England; but came
back in 1636 or 1637, bringing with him his wife Susan, seven children, and three
servants, and settled at Charlestown. His possessions there were two dwelling-houses,
with garden plots, " on the south side of mill-hill," "butting South upon Charles River,"
and about two hundred acres of land. In 1642, he removed to what was at first called
Charlestown Village, but which was soon organized as a town and called Woburn.

Capt. Johnson (1637), who had evidently received a military training, was the
captain of the first train-band of Woburn, and was captain in the Middlesex Regiment at
the organization of the militia in 1644. He was ensign of the company commanded
by Capt. George Cooke (1638), with Humfrey Atherton (1638) as lieutenant, on the
expedition, in 1643, for the arrest of Samuel Gorton and his followers, who had estab-
lished an independent settlement in the Indian country. After enduring a siege in their
block house for several days, Gorton and his men surrendered, and were taken to
Boston, where they were brought before Gov. Winthrop " in a military order, viz., the
soldiers being in two files, and after every five or six soldiers, a prisoner." The soldiers,
after having delivered their prisoners to the civil authorities, saluted the Governor with
" three vollies of shot, and so departed to the inn where he had appointed some refresh-
ing to be provided for them above their wages." These "wages" were ten shillings,
or about two dollars and a half a week, the soldiers to victual themselves. " Very
liberal," says Winthrop ; " as is needful in such commonwealths as desire to be served
by volunteers."

Capt. Johnson (1637) took such an active part in establishing the church in
Woburn that some have supposed he was a clergyman ; but he was not, although it is
possible he might have officiated occasionally as a ruling elder. He was the town clerk
of Woburn for thirty years, and represented that place in the General Court from 1643
to 1672, with the exception of 1648, serving as speaker of the House of Deputies for a
short time in 1655.

When the revolution in Great Britain restored King Charles II. to his father's
throne, Capt. Johnson (1637) was appointed by the General Court, with Gen. Gookin
(1644), Mr. Danforth, Major Lusher (1638), and Capt. Hill (1647), a committee in
relation to sending Messrs. Bradstreet and .Norton (1643) as agents to F^ngland. This
committee met at the Anchor Tavern, in Boston, Jan. 4, 1662, to adopt measures and
hasten the journey of their agents. The subject was very important, considering that
by the temporizing policy of the Massachusetts colonists, as it respects the King and
Parliament, they had everything to apprehend on the restoration. They had prudently

Edward Johnson (1637). AUTHnRllMhs: Eil. of Winthrop 's Ilisl. of New Kng.; Mem. Hist.

New Eng. Hist, anrl Gen. Reg., 1847; Ilurd's Hist. of Boston; Records of Mass. Bay; Sewall's Hist, of

Middlesex Co., Vol. L, p. 337; Drake's Gen. Diet.; Woburn.
Report of Boston Rec. Com., Vol. IH.; Savage's



and cautiously acknowledged Oliver Cromwell and the Parliament, but from 1656 to
1660 they were silent, and abstained from saying or doing anything that would give
offence to either party, and they had declined to acknowledge Richard Cromwell as
Protector. Their instructions, address to the King, and letters to divers lords, are
preserved in Hutchinson's Collections. Capt. Johnson (1637) was one of the four
to whom the original charter and a duplicate of it were delivered for safe keeping in
1664. The Colonial Records give frequent evidence of his public services and the
confidence he enjoyed from the people of Massachusetts.

Capt. Johnson (1637) is best known as the author of the Wonder-Working Provi-
dence of Zion's Saviour in New England, the original edition of which was printed in
London in 1654. This first published history of the planting of Massachusetts is written
in military style, " rude in speech," and laudatory of the spiritual, material, and martial
condition of the colony. " The Lord has been pleased," the captain tells us, " to turn
all the wigwams, huts, and hovels the English dwelt in at their first coming into orderly,
fair, and well-built houses ; well furnished, many of them, with orchards filled with goodly
fruit-trees and garden flowers." The military organization of the colony is graphically
described by Capt. Johnson (1637). "None are exempt," he says, "except a few
timorous persons that are apt to plead infirmity if the church choose them not as
deacons, or they cannot get to serve some magistrate or minister; but, assuredly, the
generality of this people are very forward for feats of war, and many, to further this work,
have spent their time and estates." Each soldier was required to keep constantly by
him "powder, bullets, and match." "There are none chosen to office in any of these
bands but such as are freemen, supposed to be men endued with faith in Jesus Christ " ;
whereupon the captain adds this weighty caution : " Let all people know that desire the
downfall of New England, they are not to war against people only exercised in feats of
arms, but men, also, who are experienced in the deliverances of the Lord from the
mouth of the lion and the paw of the bear. And now, woe be to you ; when the same
God that directeth the stone to the forehead of the Philistine guides every bullet that is
shot at you, it matters not for the whole rabble of anti-Christ on your side, the God of
armies is for us, a refuge high ; Selah ! "

Capt. Johnson (1637) died at Woburn on the 23d of April, 1672, leaving a widow,
Susanna, five sons, and two daughters. His estate was large and valuable, including lands
at Heme Hill and other places in England, which he bequeathed to several of his grand-
children. William Johnson, his third son, succeeded him as a representative to the
General Court, and was an assistant in 1684, and when Sir Edmund Andros arrived.

Of the twenty-four men who signed the original roll of the Artillery Company prior
to June I, 1638, and who are entitled to a permanent place in its history, several had
served in the war of the Netherlands, and all but three held military commissions under
the government of Massachusetts Bay. That the Artillery Company was a Massachusetts
Bay, and not merely a Boston, organization, is shown not only by its name but by the
residences of its original members, of whom ten belonged in Boston, three in Dor-
chester, three in Lynn, three in Roxbury, two in Watertown, two in Charlestown, and
one in Cambridge.

Four of the twenty-four held the office of assistant ; three were speakers of the
House of Deputies ; seventeen were members of the General Court ; sixteen were select-
men ; two were major-generals ; one was a colonel ; one, major ; eight, captains ; four,

\A> - SMnv6n^k •


lieutenants ; three, ensigns ; two, sergeants (either before or during their membership in
the Company), and three are unknown as to military positions.

Gov. John Winthrop, the founder of Massachusetts, to whom the Military Company
of the Massachusetts was indebted for its charter, merits recognition in this volume. He
was the peer of other leading colonists in character, while he was their superior in social
position, in mental endowments, in education, and in administrative ability. The
military veterans, invited by him to emigrate to the New World, always received his
protection ; and he gave to some of them, and their associates, the charter of the Artillery
Company against the protests of some of his Council, who feared that, like the Prae-
torian Band among the Romans, an organization of military men might easily, in time,
overthrow the civil government.

His Journal of the Transactions and Occurrences in the Settlement of Massachu-
setts and the other New England Colonies, from the year 1630 to 1644, is invaluable.
It contains much relative to the founders of the Artillery Company, and the public affairs
of the time in which they were participants.

^ p. The "Military Company of the Massachusetts," as the Artillery

I O^O'Q* Company was first called, was organized at Boston on the first Monday

*J ^ in June, 1638. In the afternoon, between the hours of three and
four, there was a great earthquake,' the precursor of many rain-storms on election days.
The officers elected on that day, in accordance with the second article of the charter,
were all charter members: Robert Keayne (1637), captain; Daniel Howe (1637),
lieutenant, and Joseph Weld (1637), ensign. There were two sergeants, — John
Oliver (1637) and Joshua Hewes (1637). The clerk was John Johnson (1638), and
the drummer, Arthur Perry (1638).

The captain in those days, as his "duties" were laid down in the Book of Disci-
pline, was expected " to be a good posture man himself, that when he sees any of his
souldiers handling their arms in an indecent and slovenly manner, he may the better
reprove them for the same. And although many Captains regardeth them not, but
leaveth them to be instructed by the inferiour officers ; yet it is a great deal of honour
to him, when his souldiers shall be taught by himself, they more cheerfully and confi-
dently marching along with him, when as they perceive that he is thoroughly knowing in
all things belonging to his charge. His place of marching with his company, is some six
foot before the first division of muskettiers ; but if his company be drawn up, he is either
upon a stand, or upon the march, to be on the head of the Pikes, six foot before the

" He that is a Lieutenant to a Company," said the Book of Discipline, "ought to
be a good and able souldier and well to understand the duty of a captain, assuming no

'"(4). i] [;. c, June 1,1638]. Between " 163S. The ist of Ihe 4'h month, .ibout noon,

three and four in the afternoon, being dear, warm was a very great and general earlhc|uake. The

weather, the wmd westerly, there was a great earth- vessels upon the river, and the goods that were in

quake. It came with a noise like a continued the said ships, moved much. Many upon the land

thunder or the rattling of coaches in London, but could scarcely stand upright." — John HhIPs Dinrv

»as presently gone. . . . It shook the ships, which of I'li/i/ic Ociiiritiiics.
rode in the harbor, and all the islands. The noise
and the shakings continued about four minutes." —
Winthrofs Journal, Vol. I., p. 265.



authority unto himself, but in the absence of his captain he is to see all such orders
executed. He is to instruct the souldiers in the use of their arms and sometime for
their ease, he may command every File-leader to draw forth his File, and to show them
their postures. By which means he shall do such good service to his captain, that when
he shall exercise them himself, he may find them more apter and readier to fulfil his
commands ; at which time the Lieutenants ought to be in the Reer, and to see all things
there truly executed according to the captains orders."

"An Ensign," said the Book of Discipline, "in the absence of his Captain and
Lieutenant, is Commander-in-Chief of the company and ought to march upon the head
of the same, leading them with a Half-pike. His Captain and Lieutenant being present,
and upon a stand, his colours ought to rest upon his side, being held by his right or left
hand, and urifurled ; upon the march his colours ought to be shouldered, taking up the
corner end of them in his right hand, and to let them be half-flying; the Pikes and
muskets all conforming unto the same posture. Marching through a city, for the more
grace, his colours may be wholly flying, being advanced and held up by his right hand,
or resting upon his right side. He ought to be a proper man, grave, valiant and discreet
and to be well skilled in the Postures of the Pikes ; in this respect he leads them, and
they expect from him to be taught the Postures thereof. He ought to be well skilled in
all the lofty Figures of displaying of the colours above the head, and to make use of
them according to discretion and command ; which is not only a healthful exercise to
his body, but also most becoming to him, or any other Gentleman or commander what-
soever, that shall sometimes make use of the same ; although condemned through sloth
and ignorance by others, who will not take the pains to learn it."

"A Clerk of a company," said the Book of Discipline, "ought to be very just and
honest; his chiefest duty is to keep the Muster- Roll, and to have it ready upon all
occasions for the entering of his men upon the Muster-Roil and Pay-bill. He is many
times intrusted to receive the service money of the company and pay such monies unto
the souldiers as shall be ordered him from his Captain to pay."

The Book of Discipline also laid down the duties of a barber-surgeon, although
it does not appear that the Artillery Company ever had one. It says, " In every com-
pany there ought to be a Barber for the trimming of the souldiers' hair and beards, who
ought likewise to have some skill in chirugery, that when the souldiers are upon the
guards, when imminent danger may be, they may then be at hand, to be ready in the
absence of the chyrugion of the regiment to bind up and dress the hurt and wounded

The drummer, Arthur Perry (1638), was an important personage in the town as well
as in the Company. There were no newspapers then ; indeed, the first printing-press in
Massachusetts was not brought from England and set up at Cambridge until the following
year ; and the drum-beat summoned the faithful to church and to the weekly lectures, besides
summoning the military to their colors for drill and parade. The " ear-piercing fife," noted
by Shakespeare, was banished from the English army after his time, and was not restored
until 1747, having been neglected for more than a century in England and in the Ameri-
can colonies. When the Artillery Company paraded, the color was displayed early in
the morning from the vicinity of the market, after which the drummer, accompanied by
a sergeant, beat " to the colors " along the water side to Winnisimmet Ferry, and then
back along what is now Hanover Street to what is now Tremont Street, then a cart-path
leading along the edge of the commons where cows were pastured.



As the members of the Company assembled, there was, doubtless, a lack of uni-
formity in their costume, but a similarity in arms and equipments. The orders sent to
England, and the inventories of the deceased, show that the head-covering of men-at-
arms, at that period of New F^ngland's history, was a steel morion or helmet, without a
visor, but with check pieces and a long scarlet plume ; and a cuirass and back-plate worn
over a buff coat, — not a garment of buff-colored cloth, as later writers have conjectured,
but a coat with long skirts, made of thick, well- tanned leather, — as impervious to an
Indian arrow as were the morion and cuirass. Long cavalry boots were much worn
by foot-soldiers, who often had to march through prickly vines and briers.

The muskets, which were large and heavy, were fired by match rope, which had been
soaked in a solution of saltpetre, so that it burned slowly. The equipments were ponder-
ous, consisting of " fourquettes," or forked rests, upon which the muskets were rested
when discharged ; ' " bandoleers," or cases, each holding one charge of powder, hanging
from a broad shoulder-belt ; priming horns ; match cases ; ball pouches, and short swords.
The captain carried a " leading-staff," which is now the badge of the commander of the
British company, the lieutenant carried a half-pike, and the ensign bore the stand-
ard. There was no adjutant, and the sergeants carried halberds, which were then the
distinctive weapon of that grade. The arms now called espontons, or spontoons, were
then unknown.

Calling the roll, by the senior sergeant, is a ceremony which has not been much
changed during the past two hundred and fifty years. We read in "Henry VI." how
Justice Shallow called the roll of Falstaff's command : " Thomas Wart ? " "Here, sir."
" Francis Feeble?" " Here, sir." In one of Beaumont and Fletcher's plays, a sergeant
called the roll : "Willis Hamerton, pewterer? " "Here." " George Greengoode, poul-
terer?" "Here."

The roll having been called, prayer was offered, and the Company then marched to
the meeting-house of the First Church, which in 1638-40 stood on State Street, near
(now) Congress Street — "its roof was thatched, its walls were mud." Subsequently,
until 1808, the First Church worshipped in a meeting-house on the site of the late Joy
Building. This was a barn-like edifice of wood, its massive timbers visible within. The
pulpit was a towering structure, surmounted by a sounding-board, and immediately in
front of the pulpit, facing the congregation, was a pew for the deacons.

The clergyman, Rev. John Wilson, the first pastor of the colon)', was a brother-in-
law of Capt. Robert Keayne (1637). There is a tradition that Rev. Mr. Wilson preached
the Artillery sermon of 1638. If the tradition be true, he wore a black gown with white
cambric bands, and a bag wig. He opened the services with an invocation, followed by
a selection from the Scriptures, and then announced the number of a versified psalm.
This was read, one line at a time, by a deacon, and each line was successively sung by
the congregation, in lugubrious and discordant tones. Mr. Wilson then offered prayer, —
probably a long one, — all the people standing. Ne.xt, he turned the hour-glass, which
was on a stand at the side of the pulpit cushion, and, having announced his text, pro-
ceeded to read his discourse.

After the religious services, it is probable that the Artillery Company, following the
example of the mother organization, marched to the Three Mariners, kept by mine

' Gustavus Adolphus was the inventor of car- so reduced that the " fourquettes," or rests, could
tridge boxes, and he also had the weight of muskets be dispensed with.



host Samuel Cole (1637), or to the Blue Anchor Tavern, which was near the site of the
present Globe office, and enjoyed a good dinner. Unfortunately, no account of one
of these early Company dinners has been preserved ; but it is known that the market of
Boston was at that time well supplied with bear-meat, venison, birds, fish, etc.

Boston was, in the early days of the Company, the principal seaport town in North
America, untrammelled as yet by a custom-house, and the flags of the maritime nations
waved at her wharves. She exported lumber, dried codfish, salted mackerel, beef, pork,
tallow, tar, and turpentine to the West Indies, receiving in return rum, sugar, and
molasses. She sent dried codfish, pipe-staves, and beeswax to Portugal and Madeira,
receiving therefrom choice wines ; fish and oil were shipped to the Carolinas, and tar,
pitch, and turpentine returned ; she exported to the mother country dried codfish, tar,
turpentine, lumber, spars, whale oil and bone, deerskins, furs, etc., receiving in return
Holland gin, strong beer, and merchandise of every description.

When the dinner was over, Capt. Keayne (1637), and his immediate successors,
probably followed the example of the captains of the train-bands, when on parade, and
marched at the head of his command down the main street, now called State Street, but
which then was not known as King Street. It was the principal thoroughfare of the
town, and was paved with cobble-stones, which sloped down from the houses on either
side to a gutter in the middle of the highway, but without sidewalks.

Some of the houses were of brick, with tile or slate-covered roofs, but the larger por-
tion of the houses in the town were of unpainted wood, with huge chimneys in the
middle, small windows, and shingled roofs. At the head of the street was the market-
place, and facing it, on the opposite side of the highway leading from Charlestown Ferry
to Roxbury, was the meeting-house of the First Church, occupying the site of the
present Brazier Building, with the whipping-post and stocks. Also opposite to the
church were the tailor's shop and dwelling of Capt. Robert Keayne (1637). The way
thence to the training-field, or Common, was through Prison Lane, now Court Street,
and then along a cart-path, now Tremont Street.

The training-field, or Common, was originally granted to William Blackstone by the
General Court, on the ist of April, 1633, "to enjoy forever." The next year Blackstone
sold the land to the town of Boston, retaining the orchard of six acres, on a part of which
his house was built. "After which purchase," says a deposition, taken years afterwards
before Gov. Bradstreet, " the town laid out a place for a training-field, which ever since
and now is used for that purpose and for the feeding of cattle." In 1638, an effort was
made to get possession of this land through the General Court, and a committee was
appointed to supply men " that want land, and have deserved it." This was in March,
and in September following a committee was appointed to take the names of all who
demanded land of them ; this to apply only to the first planters. The order of the
Court of Assistants in regard to land was made on the 19th of May, 1629, and under the
following clause the Common would have been lost to us but for Gov. Winthrop : —

" And if within ten days after their arrival, and demand made by any particular
adventurer, in the common stock, or his servant for him, the same be not so allotted,
then each man, being an adventurer, is hereby permitted free liberty to build in any
place where himself shall think most convenient, provided that if the platt of ground
whereon the town is intended to be built, be set out, that it be publicly known to be
intended for that purpose, that then no man shall presume to build his house anywhere
else, with the right to fence in half an acre for every ^50. adventured in the common


stock, unless a greater or less proportion had been previously determined on by the
Governor and Council." Under the above clause, some of " the then inhabitants, of the
inferior sort," thought to get possession of the Common.

When the first seven men were chosen, Dec. 11, 1634, Gov. Winthrop tells us in his

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 8 of 73)