A. J. (Austin Jacobs) Coolidge.

History and description of New England. New Hampshire online

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Online LibraryA. J. (Austin Jacobs) CoolidgeHistory and description of New England. New Hampshire → online text (page 1 of 40)
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Entered accorillng to Act of Conp:ress, in the year 1860, by


III tlie Clerk's Offiee of the District Court for tlie District of Massaclmsetts.

Trkss of 1!eo. C. Ranp & Avert.





The portion of the History ami Description of New England relating to New Hamp-
shire is placed in this form, to meet the wishes of those who prefer the work in separate
States. As the Granite State is second on the roll of New England commonwealths, and
second to none in the enterprise of her sons, and in their acchievements at home and
abroad, in the arts of peace and war, her story will bear to be told alone, as well as in
the company of States whose glory and strength had a common origin.














TIME 701;






( iii )



New Hampshike is situated between the parallels of 42° 41' and
45° 11' north latitude, and between the meridians of 70° 40' and 72° 28'
of longitude, west from Greenwich ; or between 4° 34' and 6° 22' east
from Washington. It is bounded on the jiorth by Canada East ; on
the east by the State of Maine and the Atlantic Ocean ; on the south
by the State of Massachusetts ; and on the west by the State of Ver-
mont, being separated from it by the Connecticut river, the western
bank of which forms the dividing line. It contains an area of 9,280
square miles, or 5,939,200 acres, 100,000 of which are covered with
water. For the sake of compactness, four distinct divisions will be
made of this chapter: 1. The discovery of New Hampshire, and the
efforts of Mason and Gorges at settlement ; the long controversy re-
garding the Mason claim ; the first survey ; the settlement of the boun-
dary line ; and the controversy with New York regarding Vermont.
2. The arrival of Wheelwright ; a glance at the period from the union
with Massachusetts in 1641 to the final separation in 1741 ; the set-
tlement of the Scottish emigrants. 3. The wars with the Indians and
with the French from 1675 to the conquest of Canada in 1760. 4. The
American Revolution ; subsequent history, and statistics.

1. The Discovery — F.FFonTS at Settlement — JIason Controversy — First
Survey — Settlement of Boundahy — Conflict with New York.

Though, for some years previous to 1603, European vessels had
coasted along the shore of New Hampshire, nothing definite was
known regarding its rivers, its harbors, or its coast, until the arri-
val of Captain Martin Pring, sent out for exploration, under the pat-
ronage of some merchants of Bristol, England, on the 10th of April
in that year, with two ships, the Speechve/l and Discoverer, with which
he entered the harbor of Portsmouth and explored the Piscataqua for
three or four leagues. Prominent members of the Plymouth Council were


Sir Fordinando Gorges, who became its president, and Captain John
Mason,' who was appointed its secretary. To these indefatigable and
persevering men New Hampsliire is indebted, however little, for the
first efforts made to reclaim it from its primeval condition, and to people
its uninhabited regions. In 1621, Mason succeeded in obtaining from
the council a grant of a tract extending from Naumkeag, now Salem,
to the mouth of the Merrimack, which was named the district of Mariana.
Another grant was made the next year to Gorges and Mason con-
jointly, — so that it would appear that these adventurous men had re-
solved to unite their fortunes, — -which comprised all the lands between
the rivers Merrimack and Keimebec, extending back to the great lakes
and the St. Lawrence river. This was called Laconia. In the spring
of 1623, under the name of the " Company of Laconia," Gorges and
Mason, with several merchants, whom they had induced to adventure
with them, equipped and sent over an expedition, consisting of David
Thompson, and William and Edward Hilton, fishmongers of London,
"with a number of other people, in two divisions," one division of
which, under Thompson, settled at Little Harbor (on the Eye side),
at the mouth of the Piscataqua; while the other, under the Hiltons,
settled on Dover neck, the extreme south point of the town, wiiich they
called Northam. Prosperity, however, refused to smile on the efforts
of the company of Laconia ; and, for many years, these towns, the ear-
liest settled in New Hampshire, hardly advanced from their embryo
state, and were little more than .stations for fishing.

In 1629, the province of Laconia was divided by Mason and (iorges,
the former obtaining a grant in his own name of the territory lying be-
tween the Memmack and the Piscataqua, extending sixty miles into the
interior, which he called New Hampshire, in remembrance of Hamp-
shire in England, where he had his residence. This tract was divided,
in 1631, into two grants, called the Upper and Lower Plantations,
patents having been taken out from the Plymouth Company for the
former, — which included Dover, — by the west of England merchants,
who appointed Thomas Wiggin as their agent; and for the latter,
— which included Portsmouth, — by the London merchants, with whom
(iorges and Mason were partners, and over which, subsequently, Wal-
ter Ncal was appointed governor. Agriculture, however, was neglected
in the pursuit of objects immediately remunerative ; consequently, these

' Captain Mason was a London merchant, Init liccame a sea-captain. He was after-
wards made governor of Newfoundland, where he acquired considerable knowled"e of
America, which led him, on his return to England, into a close attachment to those
who were engaged in its discovery. He was also governor of Portsmouth, in Hamt)-
shire. — Belknap, p. 4.



adventurers made but slow progress in improvement, eventually became
disheartened, and many of them abandoned the place entirely, leaving
Gorges and Mason as the sole proprietors of Portsmouth, and Lords
Say and Brooke, two Puritan noblemen, as large proprietors in the Dover

In 1634, Mason and Gorges, whose brilliant visions of wealth and
fame still sustained them, attempted to revive their jilantation, and sent
over "a fresh supply of servants, and materials for building," appointing
Francis Williams as their governor. A short time after this, (1635,)
the Plymouth Company surrendered their charter to the crown, it having
been complained of as a monopoly ; and though Gorges used every
species of argument to defend it from the allegation, all was of no avail.
Prior to this event, TNIason and Gorges secured to themselves a portion
of the territory thus escheated to the crown, — ]Mason's grant compris-
ing both his former patents, which were further increased by a purchase
from Gorges of a tract on the northeast side of the Piscataqua, three
miles in breadth from its mouth to its fartlicst head, including a saw-
mill at the falls of Newichawannock.i Our brightest visions often fail
of realization, and it was thus with Mason. Just at a period when the
darling schemes which he had nurtured were assuming something of a
tangible shape, he was removed by death, and his American estate,
which was valued in the inventory at £10,000 sterling, was left by will
to his relatives. After his death, his widow and executrix sent over
Francis Norton as her " general attorney," to whom she committed the
whole management of her late hu.sband's estate. The expenses so far
exceeded the income that she was unable to meet the demands, and
was obliged to relinquish the care of the settlement. Many of the set-
tlers removed from the plantation, while those who remained kept pos-
session of the buildings and improvements, claiming them as their own.
Thus, that which had but a few years before promised so much, and
had cost Mason his fortune, was lost to the heirs. These events hap-
pened between 1638 and 1644. The heirs, however, had no idea of
giving up so valuable an estate without an effort, and a series of suits
were instituted, which reached through a number of years.

In 1652, Joseph Mason arrived in this country from England, with
full powers from the executrix to adjust and superintend the interests
of her deceased husband. He found the lands occupied by those who
were nowise disposed to surrender them ; and, the temper of the gov-
ernment then in existence being adverse to his claim, he gave up the
estate as lost, unless the home government should interpose.

' Belknap, vul. i. pp. 14, 15.


In 1660, Robert Tufton, a grandson of Captain John Mason, had
his surname changed to Mason, and laid before King Charles a petition
for the recovery of the vast possessions of his ancestor, in which
he preferred charges of usurpation against Massachusetts.^ The king
took favorable notice of it, and referred it to his attorney-general. Sir
Geoffrey Palmer, who rejDorted that " Robert Mason, grandson and heir
to Captain John Mason, had a good and legal title to the province of
New Hampshire." 2 Nothing further was done about the matter, and in
1675, when the colony was laboring under severe distresses from the
war with Philip, Mason again petitioned the king to have his property
restored, who referred the petition to Sir William Jones, the attorney-
general ; and he, like his predecessor, gave a favorable opinion of the
claim. In June, 1676, Edward Randolph, a kinsman of Mason, arrived
at Boston, with a letter from the Privy Council, requiring Massachusetts
to send over agents, within six months, to answer to the complaints of
usurpation made against them by the heirs of Mason and Gorges ; and
William Stoughton and Peter Bulkley were appointed, in September, to
act in that capacity. Accordingly, a hearing was had, in 1677, before the
Lords Chief Justices of the King's Bench and Common Pleas, who de-
cided that Massachusetts had no right of jurisdiction over New Hamp-
shire ; and though they did not give an opinion as to Mason's claim to the
soil, they denied his right of government over the territory. It was de-
cided also that Portsmouth, Dover, Exeter, and Hampton ^ were without
the bounds of Massachusetts. The attorney-general also reversed his
previous opinion, — stating that no court in England had cognizance of
the case, and that it could only be tried in the section of country in
which the lands were situated.

In 1679, the union with Massachusetts was dissolved, and a new
order of government instituted in New Hampshire. In 1680, Mason
came over from England, with a mandamus authorizing him to take a
seat in the council of the new government. He endeavored to persuade
or coerce the inhabitants into an acknowledgment of his claims, assert-
ing his right to the province, and assuming the title of " lord proprietor."
His transactions, and those of his agents, gave such offence to the
inhabitants that they appealed for protection to the council, who were
not backward in granting it. Mason failing to attend to their orders, a
warrant was issued for his arrest ; but he managed to escape to Eng-
land. During the administration of Edward Cranfield,* who was largi'ly

' To make this part of the chapter intclliiiible, it may bo as well to state, that on the
14th of April, 1C41, a union was formed by Kew Hampsliire with Jlassachusetts.
° MS. in Jlassachusetts Superior Court files. ' See post, p. 381.

* See post, p. 383.


int('iv?;t(xl in the claim, tin- most stringent measures were iised to force
the people into mailing purchases of Mason; but they were found obsti-
nate and unyielding. To dismiss the subject in a very few words, the
contest between the inhabitants and the Masonian claimants continued
to increase in intensity, — the former being atone time in the ascendant,
and at another time the latter. In 1688, Mason died, and the property
descended to his two sons, who sold their claim, in 1691, to Samuel
Allen of London. The case lingered on till 1707, when the British
ministry, taking into consideration the loyalty of the people, which they
were ralher desirous of encouraging, as well as the distresses imder which
they labored in coiise(iuence of Queen Anne's war, suspended a final
decision on Allen's claim : and before the appeal could be heard, he
died, putting an end to the suit, which his heirs, being minors, did not
renew.^ In 1746, however, the surviving heir of Mason, availing him-
self of some legal defect in the sale to Allen, revived the claim, and
disposed of his title to the soil of New Hampshire to a company of
twelve gentlemen in Portsmouth, who, in order to silence the apprehen-
sions of the people, filed a quitclaim in the recorder's ofiice to all the
towns previously granted and settled, and also made new grants on
reasonable terms. Thus the prejudice which was at first excited against
them gradually died out. By this purchase were settled the long-vexed
claims which had been pursued with such unwavering pertinacity
by the Masonian heirs, and resisted with e([ual zeal by the people of
New Hamjjshire.

In 1719, the first ])lan of the province was drawn, in compliance with
an order froni the crown, which, however, did not define its boundaries,
only suggesting that it might extend as far westerly as Massachusetts,^
and on the east to the middle of Piscataqua river, as far up as the tide
flow* in the Newic liawannock branch, and then northwesterly; but
whether it shoitld i)c two or mure points westward of north was left
for further consideration. In 1740, the long conti-oversy respecting the
boundary line between this province and Massachusetts was terminated
by the decision of the crown ; and in 1741, in conformity to thi^ royal
determination of the boundaries, surveyors were appointed and com-
missioned by Governor Belcher to " run out and mark the lines.'' The
work was accomplished during the months of Febiaiary and March, the
boundaries decided by the king giving to New Hampshire a territory
of fifty miles in length by fourteen in breadth more than she had
claimed ; and. if the eastern boundary of the province of New York
was twenty miles east of Hudson river, it gave to her the whole terri-

' liclkiiap, vol. I., p. iGiJ. ■ Pi'iiliuUow's INISS.


tory of the present state of Vermont, sufficieut to make her a large and
powerful province.* From this decision sprung a controversy witii New
York, which was a cause of ceaseless litigation, and frequently of hostile
encounters, for a period of ten years, the details of which, more jiropcrly
belonging to Vermont, will be found at length in the leading chapter to
that state.

II. The Arrival of WnEELWRiGnx — Glance at the Period from the Uxion
WITH Massachusetts, in iri41, to the Final Separation in 1741 — Set-
tlement OF the Scottish Emigrants.

At the date of the elder Mason's death in 1635, two settlements had
lieeu established on the Piscataqua, — that at Portsmouth and the ona
at Dover. The former, in consequence of his decease, was left without
any leader, at a time, too, when one was much needed. The Dover
plantation also suffered under many disadvantages, and, in 1633,
measures were taken for its resuscitation, several families from the
west of England, some of them men of property, being brought hither
to increase the colony. Here, it may almost be said, the first settlement
of any extent was made. In 1638, Rev. John Wheelwright, an exile
from iVIassachusetts, with several of his church, took up his residence
in New Hampshire, where he had purchased a tract of territory thirty
miles square, on the northern side of Merrimack river, which he called
Exeter. Having formed themselves into a church, they also combined
into a body politic, and chose rulers and assistants, both which were
elected annually and sworn into ollice, the people being also sworn to
obey them. The laws were made in a popular assembly, and formally
assented to by the people. This was the first government in New
Hampshire founded on purely democratic principles, and was the germ
of that government which has continued, with but trifling alteration, for
more than two hundred years. The plantation of Hampton, called by
the IncUans Winnicumet, was formed about the same time, and was
peopled by immigrants from Norfolk, England,^ to the number of fifty-
six. Portsmouth and Dover, the two oldest settlements, following the
example of Exeter, formed themselves, in 1649, into separate communi-
ties. The population of these four infant " republics " did not exceed
one thousand.

On the 14tii of April, 1641, a union was formed by New Hampshire

' New Hampshire claimed that licr southern boundary should be a line commeneing
three miles north of the mouth of the jSIerrimack, and runninjr due west.
' Hampton, at this time, was eonsidered as belonging to Massachusetts.


with INlassachusetts, and contiimcd for nearly forty years, during whicli,
their history is one. To consummate this union required very impor-
tant concessions, — a concession of principle on the one side, and a
hunyliation of sectarian pride on the other. The original settlers of the
New Hampshire colony were high -church Episcopalians, who at home
had despised and persecuted the Puritans, and had hardly acquired an
aftection for them here, especially as they saw the Massachusetts gov-
ernment, with its expansive tendencies, breaking over its original con-
fines, and threatening to cover them with the broad canopy of its civil
and ecclesiastical authority. They persistently refused to submit to
this jurisdiction, except on condition " that church membership should
not be required as a qualification to be a freeman, or to sit as represent-
ative in the general court." The Puritans had too much foresight to
permit this law to prevent an extension of their colonial power, and
they dispensed with it in its application to New Hampshire. This
was regarded as a most extraordinary concession for the times, and
looked upon with a holy horror by the rigid Calvinists, who foreboded
only schism, and other grievous evils, from such toleration.

Wheelwright, finding himself again under the jurisdiction of Massa-
chusetts, removed, in 1G43, over the lines into the possessions of Sir Fer-
dinando Gorges, and, with some of his adherents, founded the town of
Wells, Me. Soon after, however, following the example of Underbill,
he addressed a repentant letter to the Massachusetts government, which
being favorably received, the sentence against him was revoked, and he
returned and dwelt first in Hampton, and afterwards in Safisbury, Mass.
until his death.

From 1640 to IGCO, the upheaving in the old world, — that sent Charles
I. from a throne to the scatfold, abolished the Star-Chamber, inaugu-
rated " the Commonwealth," and restored monarchy, — in a great meas-
ure withdrew attention from the colonies. Apprehensions being enter-
tained of the covetous designs of the Dutch, the encroachments of the
French, and, possibly, of an Indian attack, a union was formed, for
mutual protection, by the four New England colonies, — Connecticut,
New Haven, New Plymouth, and Massachusetts (including New Hamp-
shire), — which lasted for nearly half a century. During this period,
explorations were encouraged by the landed proprietors. Surveying
parties were sent into the wilderness, not only to prepare the way for
its settlement, but to secure in advance the most valuable ti-acts of

Li I608 an era commenced, in Avhich delusion blinded the eyes, and
persecution rankled in the hearts, of the good people of New England.
New Hampshire did not escape receiving two spots upon the pages of her


history, — the witchcraft mania, and the persecution of the Quakers.
In the former, superstition so worked upon the imagination as to over-
power common sense ; and in the latter, religious fanaticism usur])ed the
better part of man's nature, making him callous to the teachings of
conscience or the best feelings of the heart. The trial of Goodwife
Watford, in March, 1658, at Portsmouth, furnishes an instance of the
curious evidence adduced in cases of witchcraft ; ^ but though several
cases were tried in this state, none of the accused suffered death. The
penalties whicli the laws enforced upon the Quakers were of the most
sanguinary chai-acter, comprising whipping, imprisonment, cutting off the
ears, boring the tongue with a hot iron, and banishment, with the penalty
of deatli if they returned. In 1662, three Quaker women were ordered
to be stripped, tied to a cart, and publicly whipped, through eleven
towns in New Hampshire, each receiving ten stripes in every town,
and this in the depth of winter. This cruel order, however, was not
enforced except in three of the towns, the women having been released
in Salisbury, through the instrumentality of Walter Barefoot. No pal-
liation for these extreme measures can be advanced ; and they are the
more reprehensible from the fact, that they were instituted by a people
who had left England for the sake of their religious opinions.

In 1679, the union with Massachusetts was dissolved by tlie king,
conti-ary to the wishes of the inhabitants, and a royal government insti-
tuted. This was brought about mainly through the instrumentality of
Robert Mason, for the testing of whose claim to the territory of New
Hampshire a new jurisdiction, and new modes of trial and appeal, were
found necessary. With a view to conciliate the people, a president and
councillors were chosen from among them, the president being John
Cutts of Portsmouth. The king also permitted an assembly, " so long
as he might find it convenient." This assembly met for the first time
March 16, 1680, and enacted laws compiled from the Massachusetts
code, which were rejected in England as " fanatical and absurd." As
has been shown in another place, this government was strongly averse
to the interests of Mason, who obtained, in 1682, the appointment of
Edward Cranfield, a London official, as governor. To him Mason
guaranteed, by a mortgage on the territory of the province, ,£1.50 per
annum, and other valuable perquisites. As a consequence, he was deeply
interested in tlie success of Mason's claim, and instituted a series of the
most disgraceful proceedings. The assembly not acting in concert with
his ideas, he dissolved it, and forthwith popular resentment rose high,
and resulted in a rebellion, at the head of which was Edward Gove,

' See Adams's Annals of Portsmouth.


who was found guilty of high treason, and sent to England, but there
pardoned. Crantleld directed the people to take out leases from Mason,
which they refused to do ; altered the value of money, changed the
bounds of townships, established the fees of office, and prohibited ves-
sels from Massachusetts entering the harbor of Portsmoutii. He made
himself further obnoxious by requiring Mr. Moodey, the minister of Ports-
mouth, to administer the "Lord's Supper" according to the Liturgy,
which he refused to do, and henceforth incurred the governor's dis-
pleasure, and imprisonment. Numerous other acts of tyranny he en-
deavored to enforce ; but he found the people less tractable than he had
anticipated, and discovered that the women could use other implements
than their tongues in resisting the oppression of his minions. At length,
having become extremely odious to the province, complaints regarding
his unlawful acts were made to the home government, which eventually
decided that he had exceeded his instructions in three points. In 1685,
he went to Jamaica and from thence to England, and was afterwards
appointed collector of customs at Barbadoes. Walter Barefoot, the

Online LibraryA. J. (Austin Jacobs) CoolidgeHistory and description of New England. New Hampshire → online text (page 1 of 40)