Otis Olney Wright.

History of Swansea, Massachusetts, 1667-1917; online

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come into the cornfields of my people, for they did not make fences like the
English. I must then be seized and confined till I sold another tract of my
country for satisfaction of all damages and costs. Thus tract after tract is
gone. But a small part of the dominion of my ancestors now remains. I
am determined not to live till I have no country."

Note. — Among other incidents in the history of the commencement of
hostihties at Swansea, it is related that the Indians captured two sons of
Sergeant Hugh Cole, and carried them to the Indian camp, whereupon King
Philip ordered no harm should be done to them, and sent an Indian guard
to shield the boys from danger till they should arrive home; for, as said the
noble and generous hearted chief, "their father sometime showed me
kindness." King Phihp also sent word to Serg. Hugh Cole, advising him
to remove his family from Swansea, lest it should be out of his power to
prevent the Indians from doing them injury. Cole took King Phihp's
advice, and carried his family over to the island of Rhode Island, and be-
fore they were out of sight of their home the Indians had set the house on

King Phihp would suflFer his warriors to do Mr. James Brown, of
Swansea, no harm, because as he said, his father (Massasoit,) in his life
time, had charged him to show kindness to Mr. Brown.

34 History of Swansea

Adventures and Fate of Weetamoe

The death of Totoson was followed by that of Weetamoe,
the queen or female sachem of Pocasset. Few events have
elicited more sympathy from modern historians of the war,
than the fate of this unfortunate woman.

Weetamoe, as has been elsewhere narrated was the wife
of Alexander, Philip's brother; and the death of that prince
made her, as it made Philip suspicious of the English, who she
beheved had poisoned her husband. She was considered "as
potent a prince as any around her, and had as much corn land
and men at her command." After Alexander's death she
married one Peter Nannuit an Indian over whom she appears
to have exercised much control. His name appears only
occasionally in the records of the colony, so that of his charac-
ter or actions little is known ; but one fact seems well estab-
lished, which is, that at the commencement of Philip's war he
deserted his wife, and joined the English. When hostilities
ceased, he was rewarded with some slight command over the

A few days before the war broke out. Church obtained an
interview with Weetamoe, by means of her husband. The
details of this meeting have been given in a previous chapter.
Church repaired to Plymouth, fully satisfied that he had
secured both the queen of Pocasset and the queen of Saconet
to the colonists. Weetamoe was at this time nearly alone,
her warriors having left her to join Philip. She is described as
appearing melancholy and taciturn; nor can there be any
doubt but that she was at this time in great perplexity as to
her future course. Church, however, deceived himself when
he supposed that he could induce her to take up arms against
her friends, as did the fickle Awashonks.

Ascertaining the condition of his kinswoman, Philip sent
an embassy to her, which had the desired effect. The Plymouth
authorities, as she supposed, not content with kiUing her
first husband, had seduced her second one, so that no
friend was left her but PhiHp. No longer able to remain
neutral, she joined her relative, and accompanied him in his
wanderings abut Pocasset, until his escape from that place
July 30, 1675. From this time her movements are so iden-
tified with those of Philip, as to render the tracing of them
extremely difficult. During that summer she became sep-
arated from the main body of the Indians, and was received
by Ninigret as his guest. For the crime of harbouring her,
this chief was called to account by the Plymouth court, but
he eluded their demands, and Weetamoe soon after escaped to

The Indians 35

the Narragansetts. Intelligence of this reached the colonists,
and was one cause of their determination to invade the
Narragansett country. It is not known whether Weetamoe
was at the fort at the time of the massacre, but the probability
is that she was.

About this time Weetamoe joined herself with Quinnapin,
a famous chief of the Narragansetts, with whom she appears
to have lived in great amity. Mrs. Rowlandson, during her
captivity, frequently met with her, and the description she
gives of the Indian queen, spiced with hatred, and perhaps a
little of female jealousy, is somewhat entertaining. " My master
had three squaws living sometimes with one, and sometimes
with another — one was Weetamoe, with whom I had lived and
served all this while. A severe and proud dame she was,
bestowing every day, in dressing herself, near as much time as
any of the gentry of the land — powdering her head and paint-
ing her face, going with her necklaces, with jewels in her ears,
and bracelets upon her hands. When she had dressed herself,
her work was to make girdles of wampum and beads."

Such is the substance of Weetamoe's history as handed to
us by her enemy. She appears to have been a woman of much
energy, faithful in the cause which she considered right, and
sincerely desirous of the welfare of her subjects. Her dis-
position was amiable until soured by misfortune and injury;
and the affection with which she was regarded by her people
will appear in the subsequent narrative. The only crime that
could be alleged against her was attachment to the cause of
Philip; but for this she was hunted from place to place with
unrelenting hatred, a price was set upon her head, and whole
tribes were destroyed who were guilty or were suspected of
having harboured her.

Weetamoe had shared the triumphs of PhiHp; she also
shared his misfortunes. When, by intestine divisions, his
power was destroyed among the Nipmucks, the queen like her
ally, seems to have been deserted by most of her followers, and
like him also, she sought refuge in her own country. On the
6th of August, 1676, she arrived upon the western bank of
Teticut River, in Mattapoiset, with twenty-six men, the
remainder, numbering two hundred and seventy, having
deserted her or been slain in battle. Intelligence of her sit-
uation was conveyed to the colonists, as usual, by a deserter,
who offered to conduct a party to capture her.

Twenty men immediately volunteered, glad of the oppor-
tunity of capturing the one who was "next to Philip in respect
of the mischief that had been done." The party proceeded
with caution until, guided by the deserter, they reached

36 History of Swansea

Weetamoe's position. The surprise was complete. The
Indians made no resistance, and had no time to attempt an
escape. All were captured except Weetamoe.

Over the fate of this woman there hangs a singular mystery,
which the investigations of earnest inquirers have not been
able to explain. Hubbard's account is as follows: " Intending
to make an escape from the danger, she attempted to get over
a river, or arm of the sea near by upon a raft, or some pieces
of broken wood; but, whether tired and spent with swimming,
or starved with cold and hunger, she was found, stark naked,
in Mattapoiset, South Swansea, not far from the water side,
which made some think she was first half drowned and so
ended her wretched life."

Whether she was first "half drowned," whether she was
murdered by her people, or whether she met her death in any
other way, equally violent, cannot now be ascertained.

If the tragic story of this princess ended here, it would be
well. But the colonists found her naked body by the water's
edge. Their enemy was taken at last; yet she was dead, and
more than that, her corpse was the corpse of a woman. Surely
they would bury it, if not with magnanimity, yet with decency,
since the manly heart wars not on the dead. On the contrary,
they indulged in taunts over the body, cut off the head, and
after carrying it to Taunton, set it upon a pole. Here it was
recognized by some of the prisoners, who, assembling around
it, gave expression to their grief in cries and lamentations.
Mournful proof of the love which these poor creatures bore to
their unfortunate princess. Yet so bitter was the feeling against
the Indians, that Mather, several months after this occurrence,
denominated this act of the Indian captives "a most horrid
and diabolical lamentation."

Washington Irving thus comments on the Indian queen's

"Through treachery a number of his faithful adherents,
the subjects of Weetamoe, an Ii dian princess of Pocasset, a
near kinswoman and confederate of Philip, were betrayed into
the hands of the enemy. Weetamoe was among them at the
time, and attempted to make her escape by crossing a neigh-
boring river; either exhausted by swimming, or starved with
cold and hunger, she was found dead and naked near the water
side. But persecution ceased not at the grave. Even death,
the refuge of the wretched, where the wicked commonly cease
from troubling, was no protection to this outcast female, whose
great crime was affectionate fidelity to her kinsman and her
friend. Her corpse was the object of unmanly and dastardly
vengeance; the head was severed from the body and set upon

The Indians 37

a pole, and was thus exposed at Taunton, to the view of her cap-
tive subjects. They immediately recognized the features of
their unfortunate queen, and were so affected at this barbarous
spectacle, that we are told they broke forth into the 'most
horrid and diaboUcal lamentations I"

Weetamoe was among the last of Philip's friends, and
although we have no account of the manner in which he re-
ceived the news of her death, yet there can be little doubt that
it affected him deeply. Perhaps his subsequent visit to
Pocasset was occasioned by the grief he felt for one who had
ever been faithful to his interests. Her death, and the subse-
quent treatment of the corpse, awaken many reflections in the
mind; but no one at the present time will attempt to justify
the conduct of the colonists. Yet this conduct, that we now
condemn, displays the fearful extent to which the passions of
man will sometimes bhnd his judgment, leaving him no longer
willing to listen to the dictates of justice or humanity. More
than once, during the latter part of Philip's war, must
the most skeptical reader have been convinced of this
truth; and the reader of general history need not confine his
researches to Philip's War, in order fully to establish it.



The Grand Deed of Saile of Lands From Osamequin
AND Wamsetto His Son, Dated 29th March, 1653.

To All People to whome these presents shall come, Osame-
qiun and Wamsetto his Eldest Sone Sendeth greeting.
Know Yee, that wee the said Osamequin & Wamsetto, for
& in consideration of thirty-five pounds sterling to us the said
Osamequin and Wamsetto in hand payd By Thomas Prince
Gent: Thomas Willet Gent: Miles Standish, Gent: Josiah
Winslow, Gent : for And in the behalfe of themselues and divers
others of the Inhabitants of Plimouth Jurisdiction, whose names
are hereafter specified, with which said summe we the said
Osamequin and Wamsetto doe Ackonwledge ourselues fully
satisfy ed contented and payd, Haue freely and absolutely bar-
gained and Sold Enfeofi'ed and Confirmed and by thesepresents
Doe Bargaine Sell Enfeoffe and Confirme from us the said
Osamequin and Wamsetto, and our and Every of our haiers
unto Thomas Prince, Thomas Willet, Miles Standish, Josia
Winslow, Agents for themselves and William Bradford, Senr,
Gent: Thomas Clark, John Winslow, Thomas Cushman,
Wilham White, John Adams and Experience Mitchell, to them
and Every of them, their and every of their haiers and assigns
forever: —

AH those Several! parcells and Necks of Vpland, Swamps and Meadows
Lyeing and being on the South Syde of Sinkunch Els Rehoboth, Bounds
and is bounded from a Little Brooke of water, called by the Indjans Moss-
kituash Westerly, and so Ranging by a dead Swamp, Estward, and so by
markt trees as Osamequin and Wamsetto directed unto the great River
with all the Meadow in and about ye Sydes of Bothe the Branches of the
great River with all the Creeks and Brookes that are in or upon any of the
said meadows, as also all the marsh meadow Lying and Being with out the
Bounds before mentioned in or about the neck Called by the Indians
Chachacust, Also all the meadow of any kind Lying and being in or about
Popascjuash neck as also all the Meadow Lyeing from Kickomuet on both
sides or any way Joyning to it on the bay on Each Side.

To Haue And To Hold all the aforesaid vpland Swamp Marshes
Creeks and Rivers withe all their appurtinances unto the aforesaid Thomas
Prince, Thomas Willett, Miles Standish, Josia Winslow and the rest of the

Eartners aforesaid to theme, And Every of them their and Every of their
aiers Executors And assignes for Ever And the said Osamequin and Wam-
setto his Sone Covenant promise and grant, that whensoeuer the Indians
Shall Remoue from the Neck that then and from thence forth the aforesaid

42 History of Swansea

Thomas Prince, Thomas Willett, MUes Standish, Josiah Winslow shall enter
vpon the Same by the Same Agreement as their Proper Rights And Inter-
ests to them and their heirs for Ever. To and for the true performance of
all and Every one of the aforesaid severall Perticulars wee the said Osame-
quin, and Wamsetto Bind us and every of us our and every of our heirs
Executors Administrators and Assignes ffirmly by these presents.

In Witness whereof wee haue hereunto sett our hands and Seales this
twentieth day of March, anno Domini, 1653.

The marke of

Osamequin, & a (Scale).
Wamsetto, W. & (Scale).
Signed Sealed and Delivered
In ye Presence of us

John Browne
James Browne
Richard Garrett.

This purchase is said to have included the territory of Barrington and
parts of the present towns of East Providence, Seekonk, Swansea, Warren,
and Bristol, known to the proprietors and described in their records as
"Sowams and Parts adjacent."

Taken from the family Bible of Capt. Henry Gardner.

"Records of the first settlers on Gardners Neck. — In March 1623 Gov.
Winslow with the famous John Hampden visited Corbitant a Sachem whose
residence was on Matapoisett now Gardners Neck, South Swansea, and was
hospittably entertained. Corbitant was also Sachem of Slades Ferry.

In June 1664 King Philip conveyed Matapoissett to Wm. Brenton of
Newport who devised the whole in his will to his son Ebenezer, who con-
veyed it in 1693 for 1700 pounds to Samuel Gardner and Ralph Chapman.
Mr. Brenton did not reside there until after the war of 1675 & 6. In June
1675 there were several houses on the Neck containing about seventy
persons who collected at a garrion house occupied bu one Bourne and were
from there conveyed to Rhode Island after the commencement of King
Philips war. All the houses were subsequently burned by the Indians. The
first English blood was shed on the Neck in this war it is beheved there were
no white settlers on the Neck until about 1664. The Indians occupied it
almost wholly until that period and were again possessors of it during the
years 1675 & 6.

Taken from the Plymouth Records by Bennett Wheeler.

July 1, 1845.

Henry Gardner."

"The Two Mile Purchase"

Page 312
250th Ajvniversary of Taunton

There was therfore much foundation for the statement of
John Richmond, son of the first purchaser, of that name, made

Purchases, Deeds, Etc, 43

in 1698, in a letter from him to Lieut.-Col. Elisha Hutchinson
and others, dated Taunton, April 30, 1698, to be found in the
State Archives, Vol. 113, p. 167, in which he says: —

"We bought it first of Woosamequin in the year '39 or '40 (this was in
my minority) the sum paid I know not; then we bought all again of Philip,
and paid him 16 pounds for it; then we bought that very spot of Josiah, he
claiming some land there as appears by his deed, then we bought that spot
again, with other land of Maj. Bradford, he had 20 pounds more," etc.

By the foregoing deeds it appears that the South Purchase, was origin-
ally about four miles square; but a controversy soon arose between Taunton
and Swansey as to the new territory, which in 1672 was referred to the
General Court at Plymouth, which made this order thereon:

"In reference to a controversye depending betwixt the townes of
Taunton and Swansey respecting the lands mortgaged to the Treasurer by
Philip, the sachem, being by the said townes repectiue agents referred to this
Court for the finall determination and issue thereof, whose pleas being
heard and duly weyed, this Court orders, that the three miles first purchased,
for which a deed hath been obtained of the said sachem, shalbe and belonge
vnto the towne of Taunton, and accoumpted within theire township,
provided that Swansey men doe pay or cause to be payed theire full part of
the payment made or to be made for the redeeming of the said lands mort-
gaged, or for the farther payment of the purchase vnto Phihp, according
both for specie and time equally proportionable to the other lands pur-
chased as abouesaid; alsoe that Swansey men shall from time to time
allow convenient ways to Taunton men vnto their meddows lying within
the line of Swansey and timber to fence them, with such smalle stripps or
points of vpland to run theire fence on as may be necessary for fencing the
said meddowes, and that the said meddowes, bee exempted from rates att
Swansey." (Ply. Col. Rec. Vol. V. page 107.)

But this adjustment did not apparently prove satisfactory, for on the
next July the agents of each town made a division by which "the property
of the two miles abutting on the salt water shaU belong to Taunton, and that
the property of the other two miles, running into the woods shall appertain
and belong to Swansey, the town of Swansey paying to Taunton thirteen
pounds ten shillings, (Ply. Col. Deeds, Vol IV, p. 105) This accounts for the
projection of a corner of Swansey into the southwest corner of Dighton,
and which has since been called "The Two Mile Purchase."

Incorporation of Somerset

As early as Nov. 2, 1720, some of the inhabitants of that
part of Swansea called "Shawomet," petitioned the General
Court to set off a new Town — It was voted down in Town

Again in 1724, the proposition was rejected. And as late
as 1789, the Town voted against separation. But after sev-
eral petitions and counter petitions, and various contentions
and town-meetings, "An act for incorporation that part of the
town of Swansey known by the name of Showomett in the
County of Bristol into a separate town by the name of
Somerset," was enacted.

44 History of Swansea

Showomet was taken by Plymouth Colony Court, in
1677, as "conquered lands," and sold to a company of pro-
prietors to help pay the debts, due to King PhiUp's War.

In Somerset will be found the original book of records of
the Proprietors of the Shawomet Purchase upon whose title
page we read as follows: —

"The book of Records of Shawomat Lands Belonging to ye

Purchasers of ye said Shawomat Neck and ye

Other lands partaining to ye saud

Neck Caled The Out Let.

This Book was Begun in ye yeare 1680. By

Increase Robinson

Clark fFor the Said Purchasers.

The grand deed of the sale of Showamett lands

is committed to

Capt. John Willyames to be kept by him

for the

use of the proprietors of sd lands

so long as they see cause,


Saml. Sprague Clerk."



A true copy of the grant of this township of New Swansea,
lying on record at the court of New Plymouth, 1667:

"Whereas, Liberty hath been formerly granted by the Court of
Jurisdiction of New Plymouth, unto Captain Thomas Willett and his
neighbors of Wannamoisett, to become a township there if they should see
good, and that lately the said Capt. Willett and Mr. Myles, and others,
their neighbors, have requested of the Court that they may be a township
there or near thereabout, and likewise to have granted unto them such par-
cels of land as might be accommodate thereunto not disposed of to other
Townships; this Court have granted unto them all such lands that lyeth
between the salt water Bay and coming up Taunton River (viz.), all the
Land between the salt water and river and the bounds of Taunton and
Rehoboth not prejudicing any man's particular Interest, and for-asmuch as
Rehoboth hath meadow lands v/itliin the line of Wannamoisett, and
Wannamoisett hath lands within the line of Rehoboth, lying near the south
line of Rehoboth — if the two townships cannot agree about them among
themselves, the Court reserves it within their power to determine any
such controversy. Oct. 30, 1667.

" 1667, M arch. The Court hath appointed Captain Willett, Mr Paine,
Sen'r,, Mr. Brown, John Allen, and John Butterworth, to have the trust of
admittance of Town Inhabitants into the said town, and to have the dis-
posall of the Land therein, and ordering of other affairs of said Town. The
Court doe Allow and Approve that the Township Granted unto Capt.
Willett and others, his neighbors, at Wannamoisett and parts adjacent,
shall henceforth be called and known by the name of Swansea.

"The Enterys above are a Copy taken out of the Court Records at
Plymouth, Nath'l Clark. And above Entrys hereof by Wilham Ingraham,
Town Clerk.

"Whereas, Capt. Thomas Willett, shortly after the grant of this town-
ship, made three following proposals unto those who were with him, by the
Court of Plymouth, empowered for the admission of inhabitants, and of
granting lots, viz:

"1. That no erroneous person be admitted into the township as an
inhabitant or sojourner.

"2. That no man of any evill behaviour or contentious person to be

"3. That none may be admitted that may become a charge to the place.

"The church here gathered and assembling did thereupon make the
following address unto the said Capt.Willett and his associates, the Trustees

"We being engaged with you (according to our capacity) in the carry-
ing on of a township according to the grant given us by the honored Court,
and desiring to lay such a foundation thereof as may effectually tend to
God's glory, our future peace and comfort, and the real benefit of such as
shall hereafter join with us herein, as also to prevent all future jealousies
and causes of dissatisfaction or disturbance in so good a work, doe in re-
lation to the three proposals made by our much honored Capt. Willett,
humbly present to your serious consideration, before we proceed further
therein, that the said proposalls may be consented to and subscribed by all
and every townman under the following explications:

" 1. That the first proposal relating to the non admission of erroneous

48 History of Swansea

persons may be only understood the explications following (viz.), of such as
hold damnable heresies inconsistent with the faith of the Gospel, as to deny
the Trinity or any person therein, (1) the Deity or sinless Humanity of Christ,
or the union of both natures in him, or his full satisfaction to the Divine
Justice by his active and passive obedience for all his elect, or his resurrec-
tion, or ascension to heaven, intersession, or his second personable coming
to Judgment, or the resurrection of the dead, or to maintain any merit of
work, consubstantiation, transsubstantiation, giving Divine adoration to any
creature or any other anti-Christian doctrine, thereby directly opposing the
priestly, prophetical or kingly office of Christ, or £my part thereof; or
secondly such as hold such opinions as are inconsistent with the well-being
of the place, as to deny the magistrates' power to punish evil-doers as well
as to punish those that do well; or to deny the first day of the week to be
observed by Divine institution as the Lord's day or Christian sabbath, or
to deny the giving of honor to whom honor is due, or to offer those civil
respects that are usually performed according to the laudable custom of our
nation, each to other, as bowing the knee or body, etc., or else to deny the
office, use, or authority of the ministry or comfortable maintenance to be
due to them from such as partake of their teaching, or to speak reproachfully
of any of the churches of Christ in this country, or of any such other
churches as are of the same common faith with us and them.

"2. That the second proposall. That no man of any evill behaviour,
or contentious persons be admitted.

"We desire that it be also understood and Declared that this is not
understood of any holding any opinion different from others in any disput-

Online LibraryOtis Olney WrightHistory of Swansea, Massachusetts, 1667-1917; → online text (page 4 of 27)