were married previous to March 23, 1624, for on that day a post-
nuptial settlement was dated.
By this marriage she had three children : Edmond Taylor, the
eldest, who became a gentleman given to intellectual pursuits, was
*At that date the year began in the month of March.
a prominent non-conformist, received in the year 1655 from
Oliver Cromwell the ap])ointment of Rector of Littleton, and
was for a time imprisoned for the part he took in the Monmouth
Rebellion ; he resided in Witham, Essex. A daughter, Margaret
Taylor, married 28 January 1640-41, William Webl), a grocer in
London. The other child, Hannah, married Robert Clarkson, or
Claxton, citizen and merchant draper of London ; marriage
articles dated r)ec. 22, 1646.
The mother died previous to January i, 1628, and Mr. William
Taylor, her last husband, died 29 June, 165 i, at Hackney, where
he was buried on the 8th day of July following. He left a very
large estate, valued then at 4000/ (equal to $40,000 now), and
gave among other gifts 800/ to each of his daughters, Mrs. Webb
and Mrs. Clarkson. There are no persons by the name of
Rawson mentioned in his will.
Margaret, the mother of Secretary Rawson, was daughter of
Rev. William Wilson, D. 1)., of Merton College, Oxford, Preben-
dary of St. Paul's and Rochester Cathedrals. He held the
rectory of Cliffe in the County of Kent, and in the year 1584
became Canon of St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle ; sister
to Edmond Wilson, M. D., of London, who, about the year 1633,
gave one thousand pounds sterling to the Colony of Massachu-
setts Eay ; and the Rev. John Wilson, minister of the first church
in Boston ; also grand-niece of Edmond Grindall, D. D., Arch-
bishop of Canterbury.* It would be exceedingly interesting to
the descendants of the Secretary, could they have a complete
history of his early life while in London with his mother, or at
Windsor with his grandparents. The early death of his father,
Edward being less than two years of age at the time, may have
m.aterially changed the course marked out for the young child.
Rut surrounded as he was by relatives and friends, enjoying the
benefits of education, and occupying high positions in life, it is
fair to presume that abundant opijortunity was given the youth
to acquire a reasonable education and lay the foundation for a
comparatively useful life.
* Rev. William Wilson, D. D., married Isabel Woodhall, daughter of
Elizabeth, a sister of Edmund Grindall, Archbishop of Canterbury.
It does not appear whether or not he had the advantages of a
collegiate course, but it is plainly apparent that he was well quali-
fied to occupy with credit, the many prominent positions of trust
that in after years fell to his lot. At the time of the publication
of the Memorial of the Rawson Family, it was supposed that
Gillingham, Dorsetshire, England, was the birthplace of our
Secretary, but June 15, 16 16, David Rawson, his father, records
himself as a citizen and merchant tailor of London.
He evidently had been located there a sufficient length of time
to establish his citizenship, and as Edward at that date was but
fourteen months old, we may reasonably infer that he was born in
The mother was left with ample means for the maintenance of
herself and family, and being a woman of culture and refined
tastes, she, no doubt, devoted all her energy to the careful training
of her little ones.
At the death of the mother the subject of our sketch was about
thirteen years of age. Whether the youth remained in the family
of Mr. Taylor, or was cared for by the Wilsons, does not appear.
Two years later, however, the uncle, Rev. John Wilson, decided
to accept the invitation to remove to New England, arriving at
Salem, Massachusetts, in the year 1630. Within four years
from his departure for New England, the other uncle, Edmond
Wilson, M. D., died. One uncle, Henry Rawson, a brother of
his father, still remained, residing at the old homestead in
Colnbrook, and here young Edward may have passed a few
years while attending school.
When John Endicott, the founder of the Colony of Massachu-
setts, made his adventurous trip with his little company of
associates to the shores of New England, Edward Rawson was
but a lad of tender years. No doubt he had listened with thorough
boyish curiosity to the thrilling stories as they fell from the lips of
relatives and friends much older than himself, who felt a special
interest in the venture, while they repeated in his presence the
numerous reports that came to the people of London and Wind-
sor, of the trials and privations of the little colony in their
new home, or expressions of inestimable joy and satisfaction at
feeling themselves fairly Ix-yond the restraint of a tyrannical and
It was natural that such stories should make lasting impres-
sions on the youth's mind, and two years later, when his uncle,
Rev. John ^Vilson, toolv his departure for the new country, the
child must have felt a singularly deep sense of interest in that
then, to him, far-away spot, and he may have then wished in his
boyish fancy that at some future day his eyes might rest upon that
promised land, and his feet press its virgin soil. The deep
affection he felt for this uncle, who seemed to him quite like a
father, must have also served as a loadstone to attract his attention
westward across the Atlantic.
He next appears to us in the town of GilHngham, Dorsetshire,
at the home of Mr. Richard Perne, whose daughter Rachel he
married. For a brief time the young couple made their home in
Gillingham. Their first child was born here. Whether Mr. Perne
lived to witness the marriage of his daughter, or not, we cannot say.
He died April ii or 12, 1636, leaving a will executed April 10, in
which he named Edward Rawson as one of the overseers, and
his wife, Rachel, to be executrix.
Within two years after the death of Mr. Perne, Edward Raw-
son, with his young wife, left Old England for America, arriving
at Newbury, we believe, in the year 1637. April 19, 1638, when
but twenty-three years of age, he was chosen Public Notary and
Register for that Town, and was annually reelected until 1647.
Many other public trusts and responsible duties were laid upon
him by the people of Newbury. As early as the year 1638, he
was one of the Deputies to represent the Town at the General
Court, and was reelected for nearly all the successive years to 22
May, 1650, at which time he was chosen Secretary of the Massa-
chusetts Bay Colony, which office he continued to hold for
Mr. Rawson took his seat as representative from Newbury at the
May session, 1638, being the youngest member of that honorable
body. In those days the conveniences for traveling to and from
Newbury and Boston were quite different from what they are at
the present day. Then the journey was made generally either
on foot or horseback, and the traveler was subject to more or
less delays by the way^ as we may see. On the 8th of June
following, he, with several other Deputies were fined five shillings
each, for being absent when Court was called. Edward Converse,
the ferryman, appeared at the bar and answered for Mr. Rawson's
tardiness, and was ordered to pay his fine, and be more careful
in the future to have boats manned and in readiness to carry people
over the ferry more promptly. Sept. 6, he was appointed by the
General Court, Commissioner for the Town of Newbury, and also
one of a committee, with Bradstreet and Winthrop, to settle the
plantation of Winnicumet, afterwards called Hampton, N. H. ;
also appointed one of a committee to levy rates or taxes for the
During subsequent years Mr. Rawson served frequently upon
the committee to levy rates, at one time receiving 25 per cent, for
collecting customs due the country on wines. June 18, 1645,
chosen Clerk of the House of Deputies. Oct. 15, he was one of
of a committee to investigate and collect a debt due the country
from Mr. Downing and Nehemiah Bourne. 6th of May, 1646, to
look after matters at Hampton and at Salisbury, a petition having
been presented from some of the inhabitants of the latter place to
be a distinct church ; and with Samuel Dudley and Edward Carle-
ton, to lay out the bounds of Exeter ; to end small causes at Newbury.
Nov. 4th of the same year, to examine with the Secretary and see
whether or no the Acts of the Court were fairly transcribed to the
mind of the Court, and commissioned to see people joined in
marriage in Newbury, and given twenty marks expenses for Clerk
of the House of Deputies. March, 1647-8, in company with Mr.
Hill, to make a review of the Books of Laws, compare amend-
ments, etc. Oct. 27, 1647, i^^ w^s appointed with Captain
Wiggin,* to settle the estate of William Walderne, a bankrupt
*Capt. Thomas Wiggin came to New England invested with authority
from Lords Say and Brook, to act as Agent for the settlement at Pascataqua.
He made tlie voyage in the ship James, arriving at Salem Oct. 10, 1633.
debtor, apparently of Dover. May 15, 1649, appointed with Mr.
Bellingham, Nowell and Hill, to examine the writings left by Gov.
John Winthro}), and jnit them in proper order ; very likely the
Journal of Gov. Winthrop that was afterwards published, may
have been among the papers referred to. Oct. 14, 165 1,
appointed Recorder, in place of Mr. Aspenwall, who had been
suspended. On petition of Elizabeth, Relict of the late Adam
Winthro}), deceased, Mr. Rawson, Thomas Clark and Richard
Davenport, were appointed, Oct. 19, 1652, guardians over Adam
Winthrop, Jr., to care for his education and estate. Nine days
later chosen overseer of the estate of Captain Bozoone Allen,
deceased. June 7, 1653, appointed with Richard Bellingham,
Thomas Wiggin and Daniel Dennison, to investigate matters to
the eastward. The inhabitants at Wells were a little loth to conduct
themselves wholly under the rules and regulations laid down by
the Colony, and the object of sending this commission of which
Mr. Rawson was chosen Secretary, was to soothe the discordant
spirits and generate harmony of feeling, and action between the
people of Wells and the authorities of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
The mission was fruitful of good results. May 6, 1657, Mr. Rawson
was appointed attorney to prosecute in behalf of the Colony, a
suit against Richard Woodey. Oct. 19, 1658, chosen one of the
Commissioners of Boston. Oct. 21, 1663, an officer to enforce
the English Navigation Laws, to look after receiving and deliver-
ing proper papers to the ship masters.
The stated salary for Mr. Rawson, as Secretary of the Colony
during the first nine years of his service was twenty pounds per
annum, a sum that seems rather insigniiicant from our present
standpoint, yet there seems little doubt but that his labors were
thoroughly appreciated, and considered at the time reasonably
rewarded. I'he inhabitants of the country were, as a class, poor
and unable to pay heavy taxes to support the official representa-
tives of the Colony. In f:ict, the greater proportion of persons
in the colony who held public trusts were those who could, by
means of their own estates, give their time and services to the
welfare of the Colony, without depending on full remuneration
for that service. Many of them not only devoted much time, but
also gave considerable sums of money to help forward the well-
being of the Colony.
The following, copied from the records of the Massachusetts
Bay Colony, will furnish a hint as to what Mr. Rawson did, and
how his efforts were appreciated: "Oct. i8, 1659. The court,
considering that the Secretary hath served the Country for many
years in that place, whose time hath altogether been taken up
with the weighty occasions of the country, which have been and
are incumbent on him (the neglect whereof would be an inevi-
table and great prejudice to the public), and himself oft times
forced to hire a clerk to help him. which hath cost him some
years 20/ per annum, and every year spending of his own estate
a considerable sum beyond what his estate will bear, nor is it for
the honor of the country that such an officer, so necessary, who
hath also been found faithful and able in the discharge of the
trust committed to him, shall want due encouragement, do,
therefore, order that the present Secretary shall have from the
eleventh day of May last, the sum of 60/ per annum for his
salary, to continue yearly until this Court shall order and provide
some other mete recompense."
Nor was this the only measure of requital the Court bestowed
upon the honorable Secretary. Many grants of land, amounting
in the aggregate to nearly four thousand acres, were from time to
time assigned to him for certain special services rendered the
Country. Notwithstanding the fact that the duties of the office
of Secretary demanded almost his entire time, yet he occasionally
was required to give attention to matters that were laid upon him
by his associates or towns-people who evidently believed in his
ability and trustworthiness to attend to their private business,
settling estates, etc. He was one of the oveseers of the will of
Mr. Henry Webb, a rich Boston merchant, also of the will of
Captain Robert Keayne, a wealthy merchant, one of the founders
of Massachusetts, and the first commander of that veteran
organization in Boston known as the Ancient and Honorable
Artillery Company. Captain Keayne's wife was daughter of Sir
John Mansfield, and sister to Elizabeth, the wife of Rev. John
Wilson, uncle to the Secretary and first minister of Boston, and as
the Captain came from London, he evidently had known Edward
Rawson from childhood, and it is evidence of his opinion as to
the character of his lifelong friend that he was willing to place in
his hands the distribution of his valuable estate.
To every person who has had occasion to examine the early
records of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the name of Edward
Rawson must be thoroughly familiar. His constancy and faith-
fulness as clerk is distincdy apparent, while His plain, legible
style of penmanship brings at once a sense of relief and satisfac-
tion to all its readers. So thoroughly were his efforts and
chirography appreciated that he was early styled an "eloquent
Mr. Rawson may have possessed peculiarities and individualities,
but even by the light of the present day, after making due
allowance for his time, the record he has left behind of services
rendered will bear comparison with many other of the workers
during those early and trying experiences in the life of the Colony.
Dr. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, of Boston, the antiquary who com-
piled for publication the early records of the Massachusetts Bay
Colony, says in his introduction or preface to that work, " Of all
the secretaries of this Colony, none surpassed Mr. Rawson in
peculiarities of chirography, and in the use of similar forms for
different letters. He had various ways of writing the letters e
and ;-, very often writing them in such a careless manner that
nothing but the context could possibly lead to the discovery of
his intentions. In the use of the letters n, u, c, and / and c, and
/, he was equally faulty. In a few instances the peculiar style of
writing used by Secretary Rawson, such as the condensation of
two letters into one, and by an extra stroke of the pen the making
of one letter assume the appearance of two has not been followed.
Several of the most common instances are the use of an m for
n?t, as Pemiman for Penniman, and an ?n, for an ;/, as Haimes for
Hines. He seems to have adopted a style of contractions or
contracted expressions, or half spelled words."
The Doctor, perhaps, did not intend this so much in the sense
of a criticism upon the handwriting of Mr. Rawson, as he did to
express or describe his individuality, and the distinctive features
of his chirography. For there is scarcely to be found a manu-
script two hundred years or more of age that will not exhibit some
special characteristic or peculiar trait of the person who wrote it,
especially if he were a person capable of originality, or possessed
any force of character. Many of these peculiarities or variations
in chirography may be accounted for by the fact that the various
writers were schooled or educated amid different surroundings
and in various parts of Great Britain. Each county in England
possesses its own peculiar style of expressions by words, and as
the sound of words differ in the several localities, so the arrange-
ment of letters are varied to express those sounds.
Persons who have been engaged in looking up antique
genealogical data will, if they have had much experience, recall
the various spellings of the same patronymic. It is, perhaps, no
wonder that with the vast amount of inditing that Secretary
Rawson found to do, he should adopt certain abreviations or
contractions for the purpose of saving time and labor. But his
plain, bold style of penmanship has called forth repeated
expressions highly complimentary to him.
Having been continued in offlce by annual elections so many
successive terms shows that aside from his fitness for the position
he must have been a person of pleasing address, void of guile,
reliable both in character and deportment.
Col. Joseph L. Chester, in his Genealogy of the Taylor family,
referring to Secretary Rawson, says, " He became one of the most
important men in New England. The only blot on his memory
was his being among the most forward and relentless of the
persecutors of the Quakers, a fact owing perhaps partly to his
official position, but which also shows that in spite of his great
abilities and his otherwise irreproachable career, he could not es-
cape the popular fanaticism of the time."
By the fact that Mr. Rawson, so soon after arriving at Newbury
and taking the Freeman's oath, \tas among other public trusts.
Commissioner for the Trial of Causes, Reviser of the Laws, etc.,
we may reasonably conclude that he possessed considerable
knowledge of the law. This he may have acquired in the office of
Thomas Woodward, Esq., of Lincoln's Inn, second husband of
On the news reaching Boston of the death of Charles II., and
orders having been received to proclaim James II. King, prepara-
tions were made to perform the ceremony with the usual pomp
and display customary on such occasions, and on Monday, April
20, 16S5, surrounded by the Governor and assistants, all on horse-
back, with thousands of people and eight foot companies, amid
the beating of drums, sounding of trumpets, and the discharge of
musketry and cannon, the Proclamation was announced by Mr.
The Secretary was certainly a prominent character in the early
history of New England, and the value of his services can
hardly be over-estimated. Almost from the moment he set foot
on American soil, he devoted his time and energy to the further-
ance of the best interests of the Town and Colony in which he
sought to found a home, and that service was only concluded
through the radical change in the government caused l:)y the
usurpation of Sir Edmund Andros.
Few if any of the early colonists came of better parent
stock dian the subject of this sketch. Few of them were better
fitted by mental, moral and social training than he to take hold of
and carry forward the difficult task of shaping and conducting
the course of an infant colony. Of a goodly family, affable,
genial, courteous in manner and speech, upright and honorable in
all his private dealings, watchful of and faithful in the discharge
of every public trust, never swerving from what he considered his
direct line of duty, ofttimes through his generosity contributing
from his personal estate for the advancement of public service,
and reared amid the advantages of wealth, culture and refinement,
Edward Rawson was well qualified by nature and education to
become a valuable colleague if not a leader in the young colony.
That he possessed considerable knowledge of the law in addition
to a strongly defined character, is assured to us by the fact that so
many matters of great significance were entrusted to him, the
successful discharge of which duty required just such quahfica-
tions. He bore the honorable title of "gentleman," and no spot
on the record seems to indicate that the honor was misplaced.
He is believed to have been connected with the authorship of
two books, one a folio, published in the year 1660, entitled "The
General Laws and Liberties Concerning the Inhabitants of the
Massachusetts," etc., the other, "The Revolution in New England
Justified," published in 1691. A portion of the old farm in
Newbury where the Secretary first resided has for more
than two hundred years borne the apellation of " Rawson's
Meadow." The old house, with but few changes, including the
ravages of time, was a few years since still standing a silent
witness to the joys and sorrows, struggles, discomforts and priva-
tions attending the first dozen years of the family in America.
Mr. Rawson sold this house with forty acres of upland and ten
acres of meadow, to William Pilsbury, of Dorchester, Dec. 13,
165 1, for 100/. Soon after removing to Boston, Mr. Rawson
purchased of Mr. Theodore Atkinson, January 30, 1653, two and
one-half acres of land, on which stood a cottage or tenement,
with numerous out-buildings and a garden, including a generous
supply of fruit trees. The place had formerly been the property
of Mr. William Aspenwall, and evidently bore the air of a
pretentious family residence.
This lot was situated between the "street going to Roxbury"
on the east, and the Common on the west. A few years after
making this purchase, Mr. Rawson opened a street through this
land which was regularly named and known as "Rawson's Lane"
from 1670 until about 1 748, when the name was changed to
Bromfield's Lane, afterwards Bromfield Street.
Fifty-five years had intervened since the death of the Secretary
and with the change of population and lapse of time, the old
associations had somewhat lost their charm. The old was to be
put aside for the new, this time the object being to record an
expression of esteem for Justice Edward Bromfield, whose resi-
dence was situated on " Rawson's Lane." The " street going to
Roxbury " was afterwards named " Malborough street," and still
later changed to Washington street, and Tremont street now
divides the tract of land, once the home of Secretary Ravvson,
from the Common. There were several out-buildings upon this
estate, but the mansion, or dwelling house was situated on the
north side of "Rawson's Lane," standing back some distance
from, and fronting on the " Broad street going to Roxbury."
Surrounding the family mansion was a choice garden, well
supplied with fruit-bearing trees, the whole enclosed by a fence.
This mansion, with certain out-buildings, including about one acre
of land, Mr. Rawson sold, Oct. 25, 1670, to Capt. John Pinchon,
of Springfield,* for 1050/., New England money. A number of
small lots were also disposed of to various purchasers, aggregating
in value 1158/, New England money.
May 6, 1674, Edward and Rachel Rawson deeded a lot 56x60,
feet, square to their "now eldest son, William." May 23, 1676,
they presented him with another lot, 32x83 feet, square. It was
very likely upon one of these lots that the dry goods store of
W^illiam Rawson was located, and where for several years he
conducted that business.
The Secretary must have built another residence upon some of
the land remaining in his possession ; for, from a note found in
Mr. Samuel Sewell's diary, it appears that Mr. Rawson had care-
fully preserved the " Massachusetts books and papers at his
house," and on Saturday, March 5, 1686-7, his house was visited
by Justices Lynde and Bullivant, and the books and papers above
referred to taken by them to the Town House.
Mr. Rawson was fully in sympathy with the inhabitants of
Massachusetts, in their decided opposition to the management of
that unwelcome and contemptible trio, Andros, Dudley and
Randolph. His thorough knowledge of public affairs gave him
an opportunity to anticipate the serious harm that might come to
the people of New England were they to be curtailed in or
deprived of their Charter privileges. He took a firm stand in the
interest of the people, and for their convenience, held in his
*Only son of William Pinchon (or Fynchon), Esq., of Springfield. Was
Representative, afterwards Major, Assistant and Councillor.
personal custody the books and papers, it may be with the avowed