Otis Olney Wright.

History of Swansea, Massachusetts, 1667-1917; online

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able pt. Yet in controversy among the Godly Learned, the beleefe thereof
not essentially necessary to salvation, such pado-baptism, anti-pado-bap-
tism, church discipline or the like. But that the minister or ministers of the
Town may take their liberty to baptise Infants or grown persons as the Lord
shall persuade their consciences, and so also the Inhabitants of the town to
take their hberty to bring their children to baptism or forbear. That the
second proposall relating to nonereception of any of evill behaviour, such as
contentious persons, etc., may be only understood of those truly so called,
and not of those who are different in judgment in the particulars last-
mentioned and may be therefore counted contentious by some, though they
are in all fundamen tails of faith orthodox in * * * * and excepting common
Infirmities in conversation.

"That the proposall Relating to the non-admission of such as may be a
charge to the Town be only understood so as that it may not hinder a godly
man from coming among us, whilst there is accommodation that satisfy him,
if some Responsible Townsman will be bound to see the town harmless.

"These humble tenders of our desires we hope you will without offence
receive, excusing us therein, considering that God's glory, the future peace
and well-being, not only of us and our posterity who shall settle here, but also
of those several good and peaceable-minded men, whom you already know
are hked, though with very inconsiderable outward accommodation to
come among us are very much concerned therein. Our humble prayers both
for ourselves and you is that God would be pleased to cause us to aim more
and more at his glory and less to our earthly concernment that so we may
inprove the favors that hath been handed down to us by our honoured
missing fathers to the advancement of the glory of God, the interest of
our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the common benefitt both of the Town and
Colony, therein he hath providentially disposed of us to serve our gener-
ation, your brethren to serve you in Christ.

" Signed in behalf and in the name of the church meeting in Swansea by

"John Myles, Pastor.
"John Butterworth.

Documentary History 49

"The foregoing proposalls being according to the desire of the church
aforesaid, fully and absolutely condescended to, concluded and agreed upon
by and between said Captain Willett, al his associates aforesaid, and the
church under the reservation and explications above written, and every of
them, it was sometime after propounded at a meeting of sd town, lawfully
warned on the two and twentieth day of the twelfth month, 1669, that the
said agreement might be by the whole town ratified and confirmed and
settled as the foundation order, to which all that then were or afterward
should be admitted inhabitants to receive lands from the town, should
manifest their assent by subscription thereunto, whereupon the following
order (the said Capt. Willett, al his associates aforesaid being present) was
freely passed by the whole town nemine contradicenie.

"At a town meeting lawfully warned, on the two and twentieth day of
the twelfth month, commonly called February, in the year of our Lord 1669,
it is ordered that all persons that are or shall be admitted inhabitants within
this town, shall subscribe to the three proposalls above written, to the
several conditions and explanations therein expressed, before any lot of
land be confirmed to them or any of them.

"We, whose names are hereunder written, do fuUy, upon our admission
to be inhabitants of this town of Swansea, assent to the above written
agreement, made between the church now meeting here at Swemsea and
Capt. Thomas Willett and his associates, as the sd. agreement is specified
and declared in the three proposalls afore written, with the severall con-
ditions and explanations thereof concerning the present and future settle-
ment of this town. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed. "
(Signed by fifty-five persons.)

First Signers Admitted to the Town:

Thomas Willett, Caleb Eddy,

John Myles, John Myles, Jr.

John Allen, Thomas Lewis,

James Brown, Joseph Carpenter,

Nicholas Tanner, Robert Jones,

Hugh Cole, Eldad Kingsley,

Benjamin Alby, John Martin,

John Browne, John Cole,

Samuel Wheaton, Joseph Wheaton,

Thomas Barnes, Nathan'l Paine,

Thos. Estabrooke, Stephen Brace,

Richard Sharpe, Gideon Allen,

Wm. Ingraham, John Dickse,

Thos. Manning, Wm. Bartram,

Wm. Cahoone, Joseph Kent,

George Aldrich, Sam'l Woodbury,

Nathan'l Lewis, Nehemiah Allen,

John Thurber, Sampson Mason,

Jona Bosworth, Job Winslow,

Joseph Lewis, Obadiah Bowen, Jr.

Wm. Hayward, Richard Burgess,

Jno. Thurber, 2d Jno. Butterworth,

Gerard Ingraham, John West,

Zach. Eddy, Thos. Elliott,

Hezekiah Luther, Timothy Brooks,

John Paddock, Nathan'l Toogood,

Samuel Luther, Jere. Child,
Obadiah Brown, Senr. "

50 History of Swansea

"At a Town-meeting Lawfully warned ye 19th of May, 1670, John
Myles Jur., is chosen Clerk for this present year. John Allen, Senr., is
chosen Deputy, Nathl Chafy constable, Samuel Luther grand juryman,
Benj. Alby waywarden, for the ensuing year.

"Mr. James Brown, Nicholas Tanner, and John Allen, Senr were
chosen selectmen for ye ensuing year. "

1670. "It was ordered yt whatsoever inhabitant shall absent himself
from any Town-meeting to which he shall at any time hereafter be Legedly
warned, he shall forfeit for every such absent four shillings. "

"It is ordered that all lotts and divisions of land that are or shall be
granted to any particular person shall be proportioned to the threefold rank
underwritten, so that where those of the first rank have three acres, those
of the second rank shall have two, and those of the third rank shall have
one. "

(Those admitted to the first rank are recorded as Mr. ; the others with
no title. These were landholders without rank.)

At a Town-meeting Lawfully warned on ye 11th of May, 1671, Mr.
James Brown was chosen Deputy, and Hugh Cole grand juryman, and
John Martin Constable. Nathaniel Peck, Joseph Carpenter, and Zechariah
Eddy were chosen waywardens, Mr. James Brown, Hugh Cole, and Samuel
Luther were chosen selectmen."

"At a Town-meeting lawfully warned November ye 8th, 1671, John
Allen, Snr. Hugh Cole, Nicholas Tanner, and Nathan! Peck are chosen
Raters for a Town Rate. "

1671. "Those of ye first rank shall pay three pounds twelve shil-
lings apiece, and those of the second rank shall pay two pounds eight shil-
lings apiece, and those of the third rank one pound four shillings apiece. "

"At a Town meeting Lawfully warned on ye 21 May, 1672, Mr. Brown
was chosen Deputy and Thomas Barnes Constable. Thos. Lewis grandjury-
man, Nathl. Chafy & Jonathan Bozworth, & Hezekiah Luther, Surveyors
of highways; Mr. Brown, Thos Luis were chosen selectmen. "

1674. — John Harding Smith, refusing to sign the "FundamentaJ agree-
ment, " was deprived of his land, and warned " to go out of the Town. "

Aug. 28, 1693. " The warrant from ye quarter session was read, requir-
ing the Town to chuse a minister according to law; after some Debate the
meeting was adjourned for half an hour. The church by Lieutnt. Cole re-
turned and replied thus; that they had a minister they apprehended was
according to Law, viz.. Elder Samuel Luther, and desired the vote of ye
Town to see their assent and approbation, and after som debate ye meeting
was adjourned for half an hour, and then againe after a considerable debate
the Town-meeting was adjourned to ye 3d Tuesday in October, at 9 o'clock
in the morning at the usual place of meeting. "

Oct. 17. "Chose Elder Samuel Luther minister for ye Town."

John Pain and John Cole, son of Hugh Cole, to look after & to prose-
cute any breache of ye acte made about Horses, the late act published both
civil and military. "

1711. Referring to a petition for division of the town (that a Puritan
minister could be supported by taxation) by inhabitants of the western
part, "it passed in ye negative unanimously. " " If any person would sup-
ply ye selectmen with money for ye present management of sd affairs they
should be reimbursed. " (£29 2s. were borrowed.)

1712. " Granted a fund or bank of £500, or as much more as there may
be occasion of, to maintain and defend ye Town grant and foundation

1715. Voted that John Devotion should "teach our youth to Read
Inglish and Lattin, and write and sifer, as there may be ocation."

1717. On a petition for a tax of "sixscore pounds" to support a Pur-

Documentary History 51

itan minister, "after considerable fayer and loveing converence with sd
petitioners, it was agreed and voted and concluded that the inhabitants
should enjoy conscience liberty according to the foundation settlement. "

The representative was paid £12 12s; school-master, 17 10s; assessors,

1718. "Every householders shall kill 6 blackbirds or six squirrells, or
one crow shall count for two squirrells or blackbirds;" or he shall forfeit
2 pence for as many as he comes short of six. "

In 1729, "voted 2d to every one that kills a crow, blackbird, jaybird,
or squirrell. "

1732. (Capt. Joseph Mason, the Swansea representative, was the only
member of the General Court who in 1732 voted in favor of fixing a salary
for Governor Belcher, as required by the British government.)

In 1740 the premium was increased to fourpence.

In 1741 the vote of 1708 was reaffirmed ,with a proviso that every one
above the required number a premuim of fourpence should be paid; for
killing a grown fox, five shillings; a young fox, two shillings, in 1736.

1742. Voted that until the King decides whether to annex Swansea to
Rhode Island the town ought to pay no tax to Massachusetts.

1749, Oct. 23. " It being a very rainy day, and but few men met, and
considerable business to be done, it was tho't proper to adjourn sd

"It was voted that town take all the tickets in the lottery granted by the
Great and General Court for building the great bridge not sold by Feb. 26. '

1759. "Voted to hire a house to put the French people in that were
sent to our town. "

1764. Appointed Jeruthamul Bowers Esq., to solicit relief from the
General Court for the "great sufiferance in the smallpox." Appropriated
ninety pounds for care of patients.

Three hundred pounds lent to the town by the Province; the money
was loaned to individuals, and subsequently many of the borrowers re-
ceived by vote of town the gift of their notes.

This year and several years in succession committees were chosen to
prevent the killing of deer out of season.

1766. Voted the town treasurer five shillings for his services.

(First Records)

The Grant for the Incorporation of the Town was made in March 1667,
and, "The Court have appointed Capt. Thomas Willett, Mr. Paine, Senir,
Mr. Browne, John Allen, & John Butterworth, to have the trust of Admit-
tance of Town Inhabitants into the said town and to have the disposall of
the Land therein And ordering of other the Affairs of said Town. The
Court doe Allow and Approve that the Township Granted unto Capt.
Willett and others, his neighbors, at Wannamoiset and parts adjacent,
shall henceforth ne called & known by the Name of Swanzey. "

"The Enterys Above are a Coppy taken out of the Court Records at
Plymouth. Pr. Nath'll Clark Seer. And above Entrys hereof by Wm.
Ingraham, Town Clerk."

"On the two and twentieth Day of the twelfth month 1669 the
proposalls and agreement were "Ratified and Confirmed" "by the whole

And then, "At a Town meeting Lawfully warned ye 19th of May 1670,
John Myles Junr. is Chosen Clerk for the present year. John Allen Senr.
Chosen Deputy Nathanail Chafy Constable Samuel Luther grand Jury man
Benjamin Alby way warden for the ensuing year. Mr. James Brown,

52 History of Swansea

Nicholas Tanner & John Allen Senr. were chosen select men for the ensuing

(The above minutes are found in the first book of Town Records, page
6; and also in the Proprietors Records; and in the latter the following is
also included) :

"It is further agreed upon yt Captin Thomas Willett, Mr. Stephen
Pain Senr., John Allen Senr. Mr. James Brown & John Butterworth who
were formerly appointed by ye Court to act in ye Prudential affairs of ye
Town be continued for ye next ensuing year & yt Benjamin Alby be added
unto them."

Such was the beginning of the organized and formal government of the
Town, — in Town Meeting assembled, and in the Council of the Proprietors;
recorded in separate books.

"Note. — At a Town meeting Lawfully warned ye 18th day of Nov-
ember 1670.

Impr. It is agreed upon That a pound be made three Rod square near
the meeting house & Benjamin Alby is to do it for forty shillings which
pound is to be up at or before ye first day of may next, which will be in ye
year of our Lord 1671. " This was a necessary provision for the retention
and care of straying animals.

"Note. — At a Town meeting lawfully warned December ye 22d 1670 — "

"It is agreed upon by ye Town yt a plot of ground lying and being by
ye hundred acres bounded on ye southwest on ye meadow on ye north by ye
Run of water yt is by ye house of George Aldridge on ye South East by a
pine swamp with a little neck of land to ye East shall be a burying place."

" Itt — It is ordered by ye Town that Hugh Cole & Samuel Luther keep
possession of ye Town Lands at Mattapoiset against any that shall Intrench
upon the same & yt they shall be defended & warranted by ye Town in what
they shall do therein."

Some of the records, as they stand, are not in chronological order,
perhaps because they may have been made on loose leaves, and afterward
entered in the books.

" Note — At a Town meeting Lawfully warned Feb. ye 7th 1670, "

"Itt — It is ordered by general Consent yt from time to time & at all
times hereafter a Certain number of ye Inhabitants of this towne be yearly
Chosen by Paper vote on ye same daytthat deputies & other officers are by
order of Court yearly chosen to be a select Committey for ye management
& ordering of all ye Prudential affairs for ye Respective ensuing year except-
ing such things as ye Town at their general meeting shall see just Cause to
prehibit & that Capt'n Willett, John Allen Senr., Mr James Brown, John
Butterworth & Benjamin Alby be continued Select men to ye end of this
Present year. "

At the same meeting, "Ordered that Hugh Cole & Benjamin Alby be
Surveyors for the Town & yt whatsoever Lands are granted shall be
recorded in the Town by ye Clerk for ye time being, whensoever ye sd
surveyors or one of them, and one or more of ye Select men for ye time being
shall bring a Certificate of ye quantity & bounds appertaining to their

The records of lands laid out to Proprietors may be interesting in some
cases though of little practical value in these times. For instance, we copy
the bounds of "The Lands of Thomas Eastabrooke. "

Thomas Eastabrooke house lot bounded by Mr. Brintons beginning at
Mattapoyset river, and there, bounded with a fork in the river round to the
Eastward to a high way that is to go in to Mr. Brintons farme and there
bounded with a stone set in the ground and from there to the northward
along the high way and soe by that till it comes to a stone set in the ground
and from thence west ward to another stone set in the ground and from

Documentary History 53

thence South south west until it comes to Mattapoyset river and on ye bank
by ye river there is bounded with another stone this lot is 20 a. This lot was
layd out according to order by Hugh Cole Survr. and James Luther
Townsman" —

Thomas Eastabrooke had other lots in different parts of the Town.
Feb. 12, 1670,

"To prevent the bringing in of such persons to be inhabitants as may
be to the prejudice of the town ; it is ordered that whosoever hath taken or
shall take up any lot therein, and shall let out, give, or sell the same, or any
part thereof, to any person or persons whatsoever, without the consent ot the
town, or at least the committee that are or shall be chosen for the manage-
ment of the prudential affairs of the town at any time hereafter; then the
person or persons that shall so let out or sell as aforesaid, shall forfeit their
whole right in such lot and buildings thereon, from them, their heirs and
assigns, to the use of the town forever."

Itt: Agreed upon & ordered yt Mr. John Dikse shall have out of ye
Town Lands as much and as good accommodations as is or shall be granted
to any man within ye Township.

Itt: Ordered that Mr. John Miles Paster of ye Church of Christ
Swanzey shall have as good a share of lands given him of ye Town Lands as
any yt are or shall be granted to any man.

Swansea Records:

1759 — "Voted to hire a house to put the French people in that were
sent to our town. "

(Newtown, Conn. Hist.) — "When France ceded Acadia, now Nova
Scotia, to the English the Acadians chose to remain, though they had free
choice to leave any time within two years. They refused to take the oath
of allegiance to the British King, though they did take the oath of fidelity.
They were exempted from bearing arms against their country-men in
Canada, and allowed to enjoy their own rehgion, which was Roman Catholic.

"The British government finally decided to remove the Acadians,
confiscate their property and scatter them among their colonies on the Con-
tinent, and 300 were assigned to the Connecticut Colony and were landed
at New London in 1756. The General Court at its January session in 1756
in New Haven passed an act for distributing and well ordering the French
people sent into the colony from Nova Scotia. Four were assigned to New-
town. They were known as the Neutral French and were cared for at the
town's expense. Every year for six years their records show resolutions
that were passed for the care of the French family called neutrals. It could
not turn them off, nor could they go out of town without its consent. The
boy of the family was finally bound out for a term of years to Zadock
Sherman, and the man Paul and his wife were allowed by vote (of the town)
to go visiting their friends, relations or acquaintances. As the town could
not turn them adrift, they voted to allow them to go visiting, as shrewd
diplomacy as any of the present day." — E. L. J.

Were "the French people sent to our town," Acadians?

The Prison Ship Martyrs

Years ago, Charles E. West, L.L.D., a man of letters, in
addressing the pupils of the Brooklyn Heights Seminary on the
horrors of the British prison ships uttered the following intro-

54 History of Swansea

ductory words : "The horrors of the British prison ships of the
Wallabout have never been revealed to the pubUc eye. The
muse of history sits silent by the tomb of American martyrs,
draped in mourning, she cannot sing. The subject for song is
too sad and repulsive. Better perhaps, that the pall of obliv-
ion be not lifted. Burning words of indignation would stir
Gladstone's voice. What are the facts? I copy, he says, from
historical records."

So must every one copy from historical records.

But the searching of them is painful; they reveal the
darkest side of war and the lowest depths of human depravity.

Why, however, may not the pall of oblivion be lifted ; why
may not the canvas and the pen speak and the muse sing
though in the saddest strains, that the country may know all
that can be known of the history of the prison ship martyrs
who suffered so much and wrought so gloriously in the achieve-
ment of American Independence.

The Wallabout — literally a bend in the inner harbor — is
a sheltered bay on the west end of Long Island ; it is now the
location of the Navy Yard. During five or six years of the
Bevolutionary War there were anchored in this bay fifteen old
hulks, used in part for prison ships and in part for hospital
ships. Twelve of them bore the names of Good Hope, Scor-
pion, Kitty, Whitby, Falmouth, Good Intent, Prince of Wales^
Stromboli, Hunter, Providence, Bristol and the Jersey.

The barbarities practiced in these vessels by the British
and their hirelings seem incredible. The cruelties inflicted
upon the prisoners confined in the Jersey are hardly equalled
in history. She was called " hell afloat. '*

Nor were the prisons located in New York but little less
atrocious. From the time of the disastrous battle of Long
Island Aug. 27, 1776, to the evacuation of New York by the
British Nov. 25, 1783, it was emphatically a city of prisons, it
was the British prison house. Every available building was
transformed into a dungeon for the soldiers of the American
army who happened to be taken prisoners. Those thus taken
were under the supervision of the infamous provost-marshal
Cunningham, with his deputy O'Keefe and the commissioners
Loring, Sproat and others. The buildings used for prisons
were the North Dutch Church, Brick Church in Beekman
Street, Friends Meeting House in Pearl Street; Presbyterian
Church in Wafl Street, Middle Dutch Church, Old Sugar
House, Liberty Street, Rhinelanders, and the other sugar houses
in the city were also filled with prisoners; Bride weU in the
Common, and the Provost jail perhaps the most notorious
dungeon of all.

Documentary History 55

The treatment of the American prisoners by the British
authorities in New York during the Revolutionary War forms
the saddest chapter of its history. Th^ prison house, the prison
ship, and the hospital ship revealed a loftier and purer patriot-
ism than did any battle field.

The authors of school histories and other histories have
rung the changes — and rightly — on the heroism and bravery
of the men who fought at Bunker Hill, Saratoga, Princeton,
Yorktown and at other places in the war of the Revolution;
they have depicted in vivid colors the terrible sufferings of the
soldiers at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-8; but strange
to say in not many instances has any extended reference been
made to the prison ship martyrs. Truly the omissions and
mistakes of history are remarkable. A certain writer said,
"history is an approximation to the truth." This definition
has many illustrations. A veteran statesman is reported to
have said that most histories are false, save in name and dates,
while a good novel is generally a truthful picture of real life,
false only in name and dates. There is often in this statement
more than a shadow of truth.

As the Jersey, which embodies many of the worst features
of the prison and hospital ships, was the scene of such tragedies,
a brief description of her may be given.

John Quincy Adams says : " Posterity delights in details. '*

The Jersey was a sixty-four gun English frigate was dis-
mantled because unfit for use ; was anchored in the Wallabout
in 1780, possibly at an earlier date. The port holes were closed
and secured.

Two tiers of holes were cut through about two feet square
and about ten feet apart, strongly guarded by a grating of iron
bars. Her only spar was a bowsprit; she had a derrick for
hoisting supplies on board — ^it looked like a gallows — nothing
more save a flagstaff at the stern and a barricade.

The barricade was about ten feet high, pierced with loop
holes for musketry, in order that the prisoners might be fired
on from behind it if occasion should require. The appearance
of the Jersey was forbidding, gloomy and dismal. The prison-
ers when approaching her were horror stricken, knowing the
treatment they were to receive. No wonder the name "hell
afloat" was appfied to her. There were two main decks, the
lower was occupied by prisoners of foreign birth ; the upper by
natives who numbered a very large majority of all the pris-
oners ; they were mainly from the North and probably not less
than a third of them from Massachusetts. The cooking
apparatus for the prisoners consisted of a large copper kettle
which would contain between two and three hogsheads of water;

56 History of Swansea

it was set in brick work. The form of it was square, and it was
divided into two compartments by a partition ; in one of these
the peas, oatmeal and such Hke provisions were to be cooked;
this was done in fresh water; in the other compartment the
meat was boiled in salt water taken from along side of the ship.
The Jersey was not the first hulk anchored in the Wallabout.
The Whitby was the first moored there. She was said to be the
most sickly of all the prison ships ; no medical men attended
the sick. Disease reigned unrelieved. Many of those confined
in her were landsmen, who were transferred to the Jersey in 1780.
The six men taken prisoners in Swansea April 19, 1779, may

Online LibraryOtis Olney WrightHistory of Swansea, Massachusetts, 1667-1917; → online text (page 5 of 27)