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who devised ways and means to change the jurisdiction, and at
tempted to dispossess the inhabitants and proprietors of their
property. Their plan was curious as it was culpable. In 1763,
^g strangers were observed to pass through the district of the
New Hampshire Grants, un^er the pretence of speculating in
lands, but it was known that under this pretext they carefully
took down the names of the inhabitants. Soon after, a petition
to his Majesty and the Privy Council was made out, as was sup
posed, signed with the names of the settlers, and sent to London,
praying that the district, lying west of Connecticut River, might
be annexed to the Colony of New York, in consequence of its
local situation, as best calculated to promote trade ; and that the
western bank of Connecticut River might be appointed the eastern
boundary thereof. The petition had its effect ; for on July the
20th, 1764, an order passed in council, declaring the western
bank of Connecticut River, opposite the Province of New Hamp
shire, to be of right the eastern boundary of New York. The juris
diction being changed by his Majesty s order, and the reasons not
known, the people on the grants under New Hampshire acquiesced,
never entertaining an idea that the title of their lands would be
called in question, when both were royal governments. The Gov
ernor of New Hampshire remonstrated against this loss of territory,
and represented it to be injurious to the settlement and peace of the
country ; but his council being contracted in their politics, and more
fond of gratifying the over-bearing influence of the favourite colony

* 1764, March 13th.


Ira Allen s History of Vermont. 341

of New York, than of the just remonstrance of their Governor,
., q induced his Excellency, of course, to relinquish all civil and
military government over his grants west of the Connecticut
River ; and in his proclamation, he recommended to the proprie
tors and settlers submission and due obedience to the authority
and laivs of the colony of New York, whereupon the Governor of
New York issued his proclamation, claiming the jurisdiction, and
requiring the inhabitants to deliver up their New Hampshire
titles, and take out new grants of their lands, which was to be
granted the settlers upon paying half the usual fees. Civil and
military officers were accordingly appointed among the people of
the New Hampshire Grants, and every thing seemed to presage
happiness and prosperity. But their prospects were soon cloud
ed ; for the Governor of the colony of New York, who, with the
advice of his council, on seeing the people not disposed to
purchase their own lands over again, proceeded to re-grant
the lands which they already held under the grant of one
Royal Governor, whose authority was equal to that of any
other Royal Governor. Fees of office, rather than justice or
sound policy, actuated the Governor of New York, as will appear
in the sequel ; for certain of his favorites, who had distinguished
themselves in procuring the change of jurisdiction, obtained ex
tensive grants of other people s property. This conduct alarmed
the settlers, not knowing what measures were best to secure their
common interest ; all being willing to own the jurisdiction of New
York, but none being disposed to yield their lands ; they
^ therefore remonstrated against the injustice and illegality of
one Governor superseding the grants of another ; that the change
of jurisdiction could not alter the state of private property : that
the object of the Crown was originally to give the lands to the set
tlers ; and finally, that it made no difference to the King which prov
ince held the jurisdiction if the quit-rents were not to be changed
from their New Hampshire establishment of nine-pence sterling the
hundred acres, though the Grants under the colony of New York
established them at two shillings and six pence. Those just and
equitable assertions weighed not with the Governor and Council
of New York so much as the fees, and they determined to perse
vere in re-granting the lands, and to enforce obedience to their
measures both by civil and military law. The Governor used
however some policy to complete his injustice, he made a differ
ence between the settlers on the east and west sides of the Green
Mountains. Some leading characters on the east side, by yielding
up their New Hampshire grants, had new or confirmation grants


342 Ira Allen s History of Vermont.

from New York on paying half fees.* This plan was intended to
divide the people, while the settlers on the west side had their
lands re-granted, and were called on to acknowledge themselves
tenants to the Grantees under New York ; this demand was not

9 | complied with by the settlers, who replied that the fee simple
of the lands rested in the possessors. The settlers called a
Convention of Representatives from the several towns on the west
side of the Green Mountains, who, on mature deliberation, agreed
to send an Agent to the Court of Great Britain, to state to the
King and Council the illegal and unjust proceedings of the Gov
ernor of New York, and to obtain redress of their grievance ;
they appointed Samuel Robinson, Esq ; of Bcnnington, as their
Agent ; he accordingly repaired to London, and stated the griev
ance that the people laboured under, through the illegal conduct
of the Governor and Council of New York, but unfortunately was
taken sick and died, and was buried in Westminster-Abbey. Af
ter his death, his Majesty and Privy Council took the Petition
into consideration ; and in July, 1767, passed an order, " His
" Majesty doth hereby strictly charge, require, and command, that
" the Governor or Commander in Chief of his Majesty s province
" of New York, for the time being, do not, upon pain of his Ma-
" jcsty s highest displeasure, presume to make any grants whatso-
" ever, of any part of the lands described in the said report, until
" his Majesty s further pleasure shall be known concerning the
" same." 1 This Royal prohibition was sent to the Governor, but
was kept private by him and his Council, for near two years. -In
the mean time the persecutions of the settlers were carried on by
the Governor and his land-monopolists. About this time Smith s

99 History of New York was industriously circulated, in which
J he attempts to prove that the colony had an ancient and in
disputable title to the lands west of Connecticut river, in virtue of
a grant of King Charles II. to his brother James Duke of York,
containing " all the lands from the west side of Connecticut river,
" to the east side of Delaware-bay."

* The fees to the Governor of New Hampshire, for granting a town
ship, were about three hundred Dollars ; under the Governor of New
York they generally exceeded two thousand Dollars.

1 [ Mr. Allen is in error in regard to Mr. Robinson. His death did
not take place till October, 27, 1767, more than three months after the
prohibitory order was made. He was interred in the burial ground be
longing to the Rev. Mr. "Whitefield s Church. For an account of his
mission and death, see II. Hall s Vt., chap, ix, p. 85-97.]


Ira Allen s History of Vermont. 848

la order to promote a further division between the people on
the east and west side of the Green Mountains, the Governor of
New York gave civil and military commissions to the leading
characters on the east side. Mr. Nathan Stone, of Windsor, rais
ed a large party to oppose the overbearing power of the Governor
and Council of New York, but finally was overpowered and sub
mitted ; and soon after was appointed Colonel of the militia in the
county of Cumberland, which then included all the New Hamp
shire grants east of the Green Mountains and west of Connecticut
river. This county being so extensive, and other men wishing for
preferment, the Governor and Council divided it, and established
the county of Gloucester to the north. The new county was di
vided into half shires, Newbury and Kingsland,* and (strange to
relate) a log Court House and Goal were erected at the latter
place, though in the wilderness, and eight miles distant from any
9 o settlement ; there the Courts were opened and adjourned
to Newbury. The Governor, by this stratagem, partially
brought the eastern counties to coincide with the interest of New
York, and placed the western district in the interior of the Gov
ernment, thereby thinking to compel them to submit as tenants to
the Grantees, under New York ; forgetting that men, who had
braved every danger and hardship attending the settlement of an
uncultivated country, would not tamely submit to a mercenary
Governor and a set of land-jobbers, having no legal or equitable
right to the land and labours of others ; the contest grew warm
and serious ; writs of ejectment were issued, and served on
sundry persons, and returned to the supreme Court at Albany ;
some officers were opposed by the people and prevented serving
their writs.

Ethan Allen, Esq ; a proprietor under the New Hampshire
Grants, was appointed by the people their Agent ; his first step
was to wait on the Governor of New Hampshire, and obtain
copies of the Royal orders and instructions, on which his Excel
lency had granted and given patents of lands in the western part
of the province of New Hampshire ; with these copies and the
original charters or grants, he waited on Mr. Ingersoll, an emi
nent barrister of Connecticut, who accompanied him to Albany, to
defend the settlers under New Hampshire Grants, before the su
preme Court, against the writs of ejectment. When the first cause
o | was brought before the Court, Mr. Ingersoll answered for
the Defendant, and pleaded in bar to the action, and sup
ported his plea by the Royal orders and instructions to Governor

* Now Washington.


344 Ira Allen s History of Vermont.

Wentworth to make grants of lands in the province of New Hamp
shire, to such people as would settle upon and cultivate them ; and
also produced the grant and charter to the settlers, but the Judge
would not admit of their being received in Court as evidence, on
which Mr. Ingersoll saw the cause was already prejudged, and
did not attempt to defend it ; and judgment was rendered against
the Defendant. Thus a precedent was established to annihilate
all the titles of land held under New Hampshire Grants,
west of Connecticut river. Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Allen re
tired from the Court, and in the evening Messrs. Kemp, Ban-
yar, and Duane, lawyers and land speculators of New York,
called on Mr. Allen, and among other conversation, Mr. Kemp,
the King s attorney, observed to Mr. Allen, that the people
settled on the Neiv Hampshire Crrants should be advised to
make the best terms possible tvith their landlords, for might
often prevailed against right : Mr. Allen answered, The Grods of
the valleys are not Crods of the hills ; Mr. Kemp asked for an ex
planation, Mr. Allen replied, that if he would accompany him to
Bennington, the phrase should be explained. Mr. Kemp proposed
to give Mr. Allen and other men of influence on the New Hamp
shire Grants, some large tracts of land, to secure peace and har
mony, and the friendship of the leading men ; but the proposal
was rejected, and their conversation ended. 1

9 ~ On the return of Mr. Allen to Bennington, a convention of
the people met, and passed a resolution to support their
rights and property under the New Hampshire Grants, against
the usurpation and unjust claims of the Governor and Council of
New York, by force, as law and justice were denied them, and not
being able to stand in their Courts, before the intrigues and power
of a junto of New York land-jobbers, who controlled the civil
powers of the colony.

This was a bold stroke of a hundred men, who united to oppose
the most favoured colony under the Crown, and whose wealth and
numbers were great ; but the people on the grants rightly consid
ered their controversy was not with the great body of the people ;
only with the Governor and Council of New York, and their land
associates, who were but a small and Jesuitical part of the com

This distinction was kept up during the whole dispute in all the
publications against the tyranny and injustice of the rulers of New

1 [ These trials took place in June, 1770. ]


Ira Allen s History of Vermont. 845

York, which made friends abroad, and united the people at home,
and greatly promoted migrations from New England.

Some Patents which began in New York on perambulating and
re-measuring their lines, were extended into the towns of Pownal,
Eennington, Shaftsbmy, &c. about three miles on their western

9 ,, These claims were violently insisted upon (especially at
Walloomscoick), and were as forcibly defended by the peo
ple, who determined to dispute every inch of ground which had
been granted to them by the Governor of New Hampshire.

Civil officers from New York were therefore opposed by the
people of New Hampshire Grants, who, in return, were indicted
for riots, by the people of New York, from whence writs were
issued, and their Sheriffs officers sent to apprehend the de
linquents. These officers were seized by the people, and severely
chastised with twigs of the Wilderness ; every day produced new
events, which induced the settlers on the Grants to form them
selves into a military association. Mr. Ethan Allen was appoint
ed Colonel Commandant, and Messrs. Seth Warner, Remember
Baker, Robert Cockran, Gideon Warren, and some others, were
appointed Captains ; Committees of Safety were likewise appoint
ed in the several towns west of the Green Mountains ; though by
order of the Governor of New York the south part of the Grants
were annexed to the County of Albany, and the North formed into
a County by the name of Charlotte, which extended some distance
west of the district of the New Hampshire Grants. Here Justices
of the Peace and Civil Courts were also appointed, and allowed
(by the people) to act, when the title of Lands was not concerned,
nor riots, nor sending people off the Grants without the concur-
9 ~ rcncc of the Committee of Safety. The Governor of New
York had threatened to drive the military (his opposers)
into the Green Mountains, from which circumstance they took
the name of Cf-reen Mountain Boys. In consequence hereof
the Convention passed a resolution that no officer from New
York be allowed to carry out of the district of New Hamp
shire Grants, any person, without permission of the Commit
tees of Safety ; or of the military Commanders. Surveyors of
land under New York were forbid to run any lines within the
Grants ; transgressors in this point were to be punished according
to the judgment of a Court formed from among the elders of the
people, or military commanders. Their punishment sometimes
consisted in whipping severely with beech twigs, and banishment,
44 not

346 Ira Allen s History of Vermont.

not to return on pain of suffering the resentment of the Green
Mountain Boys. Mr. Hugh Monroe, an old offender, was taken,
tried and ordered to be whipped on his naked back ; he was tied
to a tree and flogged till he fainted ; on recovering he was
whipped again until he fainted ; he recovered and underwent a
third lashing until he fainted; his wounds were then dressed,
and he was banished the district of the New Hampshire
Grants. These severities were used to deter people from en
dangering their lives, and to prevent aid being given to the land
claimants of New York ; they proved to answer the purpose, and
the Grreen Mountain Boys soon became the terror of their adver
saries. When the Sheriffs officers came to collect debts they
were used with civility, and the cause of the people was explained ;
9 g in this way the strength of the enemy was weakened, and the

cause of the settlers gained strength and credit.
Colonel Reed, a British officer, had obtained from the Governor
of New York a grant of lands that covered most part of the town
ships of New Haven, Ferrisburgh, and Panton ; he went and took
possession of a saw mill by force, at the lower falls on Otter
Creek, with a quantity of logs and boards, and refused to permit
(the Pangborns) the owners and builders to make use of any part
of their property. The Colonel kept possession and built a corn-
mill, sundry houses, and settled some Scotch families on the premi
ses. Several riots happened in consequence of opposing survey
ors and civil officers under the authority of New York.

The Convention met again, and passed a decree forbidding all
persons taking grants or confirmation of grants under the Gover
nor of New York. This decree tended to unite very much the
settlers in the common cause. About the same time the Legisla
ture of New York passed an act authorizing the Sheriffs of Alba
ny and Charlotte counties to call out the posse comitatiis in case
they should be opposed in the execution of their office, and if any
person refused to obey the order of the Sheriff, he was subject to
a fine of 75 dollars and six months imprisonment. The Governor
of New York issued his proclamation, offering a reward of 150
09 pounds for Colonel Ethan Allen, and 50 pounds each for
Warner and five others therein named, to any person that
should take and confine them in any gaol in the colony of New
York. Allen and the other proscribed persons issued another
proclamation, offering five pounds to any person who should take
and deliver John Taber Kemp, Esq ; Attorney General of the col
ony of New York, to any officer in the militia of the Green Moun

Ira Allen s History of Vermont. 347

tain Boys, and published the same in the public newspapers in
New England. 1 .

The supreme Court at Albany having awarded a judgment on
a writ of ejectment against James Brackenridgc, of Bennington,
Ksq. the Sheriff of the County of Albany summoned the posse com-
itatus to go with him and assist him in putting the Plaintiff in
possession of the Defendant s house and lands. Accordingly 750
men well armed followed the Sheriff. The news of the Sheriff s
approach with an armed force so formidable, was a trial of the
courage and independent spirit of the Green Mountain Boys,
who, under every discouragement, except that of being in
the wrong, had determined on justice or death. The settlers
in general were poor and widely spread, which made it diffi
cult to convene them in a body sufficient to encounter 750 men ;
in this case they had to oppose the most favorite colony un
der the Crown, whose population was large, the land monopolists
rich ; the Governor and Council intriguing, and who had, by con-
tending with Connecticut and New Jersey, in the settlement
of boundary lines, gained considerably, and also laid claim
to the western part of Massachusetts bay. Notwithstanding these
discouraging circumstances, the officers of the Green Mountain
Boys collected as many men as they could, (being only about
three hundred) who arrived at the house of Mr. Brackcnridge
some hours before the Sheriff ; they were formed into three divis
ions ; the house was prepared, and an officer with 18 men put in
it for defence ; about 120 were placed in a wood, behind trees,
near the road, through which the Sheriff must march, and would
naturally halt his men while he went to demand possession of the
premises ; the other division was stationed behind a ridge of land
in a meadow, within gun-shot of the house, and out of sight of the
Sheriff s men. Thus the ambuscade was formed to have a cross
fire on the Sheriff s without endangering themselves, and to be
ready against the Sheriff forced the door, which was to be known
by hoisting a red flag above the top of the chimney. When the
Sheriff approached all were silent; he and his men were com-
pleatly within the ambuscade, before they discovered their situa
tion ; Mr. Ten Eyck, the Sheriff, went to the house and demanded
entrance as Sheriff of the County of Albany, and threatened on
refusal, to force the door ; the answer was, " attempt it, and you
are a dead man." He repeated his demand and threat, without

1 [ Governor Tryon s proclamation was dated December 9, 1771, and
that of Allen, Baker and Cochran, the 5th of February following ; cee
If. If airs T% p. 134.]


348 Ira Allen s History of Vermont.

using any force ; and received for a second answer, hideous groans
o-j from those within! At this time the two divisions exhibited
their hats on the points of their guns, which appeared to be
more numerous than they really were. The Sheriff and his posse
seeing their dangerous situation, and not being interested in the
dispute, made a hasty retreat, so that a musket was not fired on
either side ; which gave satisfaction to and cemented the union of
the inhabitants, and raised their consequence in the neighboring
colonies. 1 Riots and disputes continued to increase, and many
transgressors from New York underwent the discipline of the
whip: Mr. J. Monroe, who had acted as a justice of the peace
under New York, had rendered himself obnoxious by his partiali
ty for New York, and persecution of the settlers of the grants.
Colonel Allen, with a party, went to his house very early one
morning, and fired several shot into the upper part of it, which
alarmed him to such a degree that he fled to New York.

About this time a banditti came to Arlington, wounded and
took prisoner Captain Remember Baker, (one of the seven pro
scribed persons) and his wife was also severely wounded with a
sword. They put Baker into a sleigh, and drove off with great
speed for Albany. An express was sent to Bennington with the
tidings ; instantly on the news, ten men mounted their horses and
pursued them near thirty miles, and intercepted the party at a
cross road, (about 50 men) on full speed. This banditti thought
o 9 the ten horsemen were an advanced guard of a larger party,
and therefore left their prisoner and fled. Captain Baker be
ing nearly exhausted by loss of blood, was taken care of, his
wounds dressed, and then carried home to his wife and children,
to their no small joy, and that of the Green Mountain Boys. 3

Information reached Bennington, that Governor Try on was on
his way by water to Albany, with British troops, in order to sub
ject or destroy the Green Mountain Boys : This news was read
ily credited, as the royal troops had been lately used on Bate man s
Patent, in the colony of New York, to quell some disputes about
the titles or rents of lands ; and it was known that the subsequent
Grantees of the New Hampshire Grants had applied to the Gover
nor of New York for a similar favour. New and more serious
troubles daily appeared. The Committees of Safety met the mili
tary officers to consult on measures proper to be taken. They
found matters had come to a crisis that compelled them either to

1 [ The posse were at Mr. Breakenridge s, July 19, 1771. ]

2 [ The capture and rescue of Baker took place March 21, 1772.]


Ira Allen s History of Vermont. 349

submit and become tenants to the land jobbers of New York, or to
take the field against a royal Governor and British troops ; either
step seemed like the forlorn hope. Having reflected on the jus
tice of their cause, the hardships, expence of money, and labour
they had been at in building and cultivation, they, therefore,
unanimously resolved, that it was their duty to oppose Governor

or, Tryon and his troops to the utmost of their power; (and
J thereby convince him and his council, that they were punish
able by the Green Mountain Boys) for disobeying his Majesty s
prohibitory orders^ of July, 1767. The plan of defensive opera
tion was the next question in case of an attack. The elders of
the people urged the propriety of sending a flag to the Governor,
to enquire whether an accommodation was impracticable ? the
military objected and said, that step would shew pusilanimity as
well as confidence in the Governor, who had proved himself at
North Carolina to be not worthy of confidence ; and besides, no
officer could be found to be bearer of a flag to him.* The elders
of the people assured the military officers that they would afford
them every degree of assistance in their power, advising them to
concert among themselves the plans of defence, and then retired. f

o. The military sent a person to Albany, who had not been in
dicted as a rioter, to sec the Governor and some of his prin
cipal officers, so as to know them again ; to discover their strength,
and order of marching ; and when they would leave Albany.
Having performed this business he had orders to return and join
six other good marksmen, and station themselves at a certain place

Online LibraryVermont Historical SocietyCollections of the Vermont Historical Society (Volume 01) → online text (page 30 of 47)