Benjamin Chase.

History of old Chester [N. H.] from 1719 to 1869 online

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paid any province tax, but a new proportion was now made,
and Chester was required to pay. This inventory is given
under the head of " Rates or Taxes."

At the annual meeting of the Congregational parish,
March 25, 1741, it was

" Voted, that the " Rev"'' Mr. Flag's Salary shall be raised
one third part on the poll if there be no law to the con-

Cattle above one year old, and horses above two years
old, were to be rated, "if there be no law to the contrary."


A committee was chosen to " underpin the meeting-
house, mend y'^ glass, Doors, and Seats, <fcc., as need Shall

The Presbyterian parish meeting, March 10, 1741, is said
to have been the first according to law, though called by the
■Wardens, and not by the persons named iij the law. One
hundred pounds is voted to Mr. "Wilson, and that one-half
be raised on the poll, and the other lialf on the estate.

" Voted y* John Tolford's money which he laid out at y^
Law be laid on this parish liy Rat, which is =£18 4s. 8d.

" Voted y* 5 pounds shall be laid on this parish by way
of rate, to defray y" Charge of a debate y* hapned between
John mill, Sener, & this parish."

1742. At the annual meeting, ^[arch 25, the selectmen
were empowered to exchange a piece of land with Jona-
than Blunt, so as to accommodate a decent burying- place,
and let him have a part of the ten-rod way by his house.
They did not make the exchange. They began to bury on
the ten-rod way behind the meeting-house. It is the uni-
form tradition that Sampson Underbill was the first per-
son buried there, his estate being apprised in May, 1732.
Many years since I was shown a grave, as his, just inside
the wall, opposite the meeting-house. The town sold Jabez
French five rods of the ten-rod way, and there were graves
further north-west, which fell in the road as now fenced.

March 10, 1742, the Presbyterians "Voted 1000 of
Joyces & 1000 of boards for the gallery," and two years
later appropriated =£20 for the gallery, " and that John Tol-
ford shall do the work."

1743. March 31, The town voted " to Purchis a Book to
Record births, marriages and deaths in."

" Voted, That Whosoever shall Kill a grown Wolfe in
this town this year shall have twenty shillings Paid him by
the town, old tennour, and ten shillings for a Woulfe's

The Congregational parish, in consideration of the dep-


reciation of money, Yoted to give Mr. Flagg thirty pounds
old tenor in addition to his salary.

" Yoted, That Samuel Emerson, Deacon Dearborn, John
Calfe, Jacob Sargent and John Robie shall be a Comniitte
to sell to the highest bidder belonging to this Parish all
the places for Pews in this meeting house," &c.

" Yoted, that three windows In the Galleries Over Each
Door and the two long windows on the back side shall be
wholly taken out and Don up with Bords and Chilioards.

" Yoted, That messrs. Jacob Sargent, Benja. Hills and
Enoch Colby Shall be a Comniitte to take Care of, and
Dispose of all the old Ledd and Glass that is In the meet-
ing house, as well as they Can for the advantage of the
Parrish, and take care and Glase the meeting house with
new Sashes and Glass ; and Do any thing Elce to said
meeting house that they shall Judge to be for the benefit
and advantage of the Parish, and make, Do and Complete
Said work by the Last day of September next, and make
return to the Parish for their recompence."

The glass was the diamond glass, similar in form to that
of the Episcopal and Catholic churches in Manchester. There
was a wooden sash outside and lead between the panes in-
side. It was now glazed with square glass. Whether the
space in the meeting-house which was now to be sold for
pews was ever seated, does not appear, and we have no
certain knowledge of how it was seated. But in the new
meeting-house the depth of two pews on each side of the
broad aisle, from in front of the deacons' seat (which was
in front of the pulpit) back half way to the front door, was
seated with long seats made of plank and high backs.
These were " common seats." In 1784 two of these seats
on each side of the aisle were taken out and the space
made into pews, which were sold for the purchase of a
bell. The last of those seats were removed in 1820.
Probably the old house was seated in this manner, and the
gallery too ; the west end for men and the east end for
women. April 21, 1743, the committee proceeded to sell
the ground for seventeen pews, which are so recorded and
dimensions given that, with the aid of the diagram in Dr.
Bell's history, I give a ground plan of the old house.



March 28, 1753,

" Voted, Tliat the hind seats upon Each side of the
Grate alley that goes from the south Dore to the Pulpit
be taken away, and that there shall be previledges for
Building four pews, two on each side of the alley," &c.

It was sold March 28, 1754. November 7, 1753,

" Voted, that if any Number of young persons in this
parish, Sufishant to fill any seat on the Back Side of the
seats in the Galleries, Shall agree to Build them into pews,
they shall have Liberty to do it."




M F N s





















A. Minister's pew.

B. Deacons' seat.

1. James Varnum.

2. Francis Towle.

3. Jacob Sargent.

4. Winthrop Sargent.

5. Henry Hall.

6. Abraham Bachelder.

7. John Calfe.

8. Ben. Hills.

9. Sylvanus Smith.

10. John Robie.

11. Sam. Robie.

12. Peter Dearborn.

13. Anthony Towle.

14. Jonathan Blunt.

15. Lt. liben Dearborn.

16. Samuel Emerson.

17. Dea. Eben Dearborn.


1 . Nathan Webster.

2. Sylvanus Smith.

3. Jona. Moulton.

4. Sylvanus Smith.


1744. In 1741 an inventory of the heads and ratable
estates had been taken and sent to the Secretary's office,.
and a new proportion of taxes made, in which Chester is
called upon to pay rates to the province, and with our
ideas of taxation and representation we might infer that
Chester should be represented as a matter of right, but
such were not the ideas then. There was a continual con-
test between the prerogative of the crown and the rights of
the people. The crown called assemblies as a mere favor
or grace. The Governor, as the representative of the
crown, claimed the right to send writs of election for rep-
resentatives to such towns as he chose, which, almost as a
matter of course, would be to such as he supposed would
favor the prerogatives of the crown. A writ was sent to
Chester and a meeting called to be held January 21, 1744,
" To make Choyce of a man to Represent the said
town in General assembly." Mr. Benjamin Hills was
chosen. Mr. Hills appeared at Portsmouth the 24th, and
I copy from the printed journal the proceedings in the case
at full length :


Of the House of Representatives, at a General Assembly of
His Majesty's Province of New-Hampshire in New Eng-
land ; Begun and held at Portsmouth, in said Province,
on Thursday the 24^"^ Day of January, Anno Domini

At Twelve of the Clock in the Forenoon were present
in the Court House the Representatives of Portsmouth,
Hampton, New Castle, Rye, Exeter, New Market, Green-
land, Stretham and Newington, in all 14 Members ; Be-
sides Five Gentlemen who said they came to represent
some Places that never sent any Representatives to this
Court before. After One o'cl'^'', all the above members
withdrew, hearing nothing from His Excellency the Gov-
ernour or Council. At three of the Clock met again, and
were present at the same Place all the above Representa-
tives, and also the Representatives of the Towns of Dover,
Durham and Kingston, 19 in number.

All these Members waited till Five, and then the Secre-
tary came and told them that his Excellency the Govern-


our sent him to tell them that he had adjonrned the Gen-
eral Court till To-morrow, Eleven o'clock ; Tliat the Sheriff
had but just returned the Precept, and the Council were
adjourned. Upon wliich it was tho* proper to send Na-
thaniel Rogers, Esq., and Major Ebenezer Stevens, to inform
liis Excellency how many Members had been waiting, and
how long; Who returned, and informed that his Excellency
told them that tlie Sheriff had but just returned the Pre-
cept, and that he did send the Secretary to adjourn the
General Court till To-morrow, Eleven o' Clock.

Friday, January 25*''.

Met at Eleven o'clock, all but the Representative of
Durham. Mr. Secretary Atkinson came to the House and
said, That his Excellency sent him to see if the House
were together ; And immediately after the Hon. Theodore
Atkinson, Richard Wibird and Samuel Smith, Esqs., came
down from the Council J3oard, and acquainted the House
that they were appointed by his Excellency the Governour
to administer to the Members present the Oaths appointed
instead of the Oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance, and see
them subscribe the Declaration : Which being done, they
witiidrevv. And besides the al30ve-mentioned Members, the
Oaths were administered to Col. Benjamin Rolfe, of Rum-
ford ; Mr. Henry Saunders, of Methuen and Dracut Dis-
trict ; Mr. Joseph Jewell, of South-Hampton ; Mr. Benja-
min Hills, of Chester ; Capt. Nicholas Wliite, of Haverhill
District ; — Places that never were entitled by the House or
General Court to send a Representative to sit in the Gen-
eral Assembly of this Province. Soon after the adminis-
tration of the Oaths, &c., the Secretary came down and
told the House that his Excellency required the House to
choose a Speaker, and present him. Upon which one of
the Members observed that there were several Persons
present more than used to be in former Assemblies, viz.:
Col. Benjamin Rolfe, Mr. Henry Saunders, Mr. Joseph
Jewell, Mr. Benjamin Hills, and Capt. Nicholas White,
from the above-mentioned Places ; Who being asked how
they came there, answered, That the Places from whence
they came were required by the high Sheriff's Writ to
choose and send Representatives to attend and serve in
this Court; and that agreeable thereto, they were chosen
and sent. Whereupon a Motion was made, and unani-
mously agreed, to send Col. Peter Oilman and Nathaniel
Rogers, Esq., to his Excellency the Governour, with the
fcllowipfi: written Message, Viz, :


3Iay it please your Excellency: —

Tlie House having received a verbal Mdssage from your Ex-
celleucy, by Mr. Secretary Atkinson, requiring them to choose a
Speaker; And observing- tliat five Gentlemen, viz.. Col. Benja-
min Rolfe, Capt. Xicholas AVhite, Mr. Joseph Jewell, Mr. Benja-
min Hills and Mr. Henry Saunders, appear among them as
Members of the House, "svho, upon Enquiry, are found to come
from Ivumford, Haverhil District, South Hampton, Chester, and
Methuen and Dracut District, — Places which have no Power, by
any Law or Usage of this Province, that we know of, to send any
Person to represent them at this Court, — therefore pray, that (be-
fore they proceed to the Choice of a Speaker) your Excellency
would be pleased to inform them by what Means those Places are
authorized to send Members to this Court.

Mr. Secretary Atkinson came down and said that he
was directed by his Excellency to acquaint the Members
(in answer to their Message) That the Members Enquired
after were called here by the King's "Writ, which was issued
by the Advice of the Council. And soon after Mr. Secre-
tary Atkinson came and told the House that his Excellency
had adjourned the General Court till four of the Clock in
the Afternoon.

The House met according to Adjournment, and present
as before. While they were preparing another written
Message to send to his Excellency, Mr. Secretary and Mr.
Solley came and told the House that his Excellency re-
quired them immediately to choose a Speaker. But be-
fore they had Time to choose a Speaker, or send the
Message which was preparing, Mr. Secretary came and
adjourn*^ the House till To-morrow, ten of the Clock.

Saturday, ten o'Clock, Jan. 26*^, 1744.
Met according to Adjournment, and after some Debate
the Question was put. Whether the five Gentlemen, viz.,
Col. Rolfe, ttc, from Rumford, &c., should have a Voice in
the choice of a Speaker. It pass*^ in the Negative by a
great Majority, only two Members (viz., Greenland and
Newington) voting in the Affirmative, and two others not
being clear did not vote at all. Then the House proceeded
to take a list of the Members' Names, which are as fol-
lows :

Portsmouth — Nathaniel Rogers, Esq., Eleazer Russell,
Esq., Mr. Henry Sherburne, Jun.

Dover — Thomas Millet, Esq., Capt. John Winget,
Thomas Wallingsford, Esq.

Hampton Falls — Samuel Palmer, Esq., Mr. Joseph
Phillbrook, Mr. Meshech Weare.


Exeter — Col. Peter Oilman, Mr. Zebulon Gideons.

New Castle — William Frost, Esq.

Kinj^ston — Maj. Ebenezer Stevens.

Strathara — Moses Leavitt, Esq.

Newington — George Walton, Esq.

Rye — Mr. Jonathan Lock.

Greenland — Clement March, Esq.

Durham — Capt. Jonathan Thompson.

Newmarket — Capt, Israel Gillman.

The Honse proceeded to bring in their Yotcs for a
Speaker, which being examin'' it appear'' that the Hon.
Nathaniel Rogers, Esq., was chosen Speaker of the House
by a Majority of Votes, and was accordingly conducted to
the Chair.

Then the House proceeded to make choice of a Clerk, and
Mr. Henry Sherburne was chosen, Nemine Contradicente,
to be Clerk of this House, till another should be chosen
and sworn in his Room. And the Oath proper to said
Office was administered to him by Ebenezer Stevens, Esq.

Voted, That Major Ebenezer Stevens, Col. Peter Gill-
man, Capt. John Wingett, and Mr. Henry Sherburne, jun.,
be a Committee to wait on his Excellency, and inform him
that the House had made choice of Nathanael Rogers, Esq.,
to be their Speaker, which Message they delivered ; And
Mr. Secretary Atkinson and Richard Wibird, Esq., came
down and told the House that his Excellency sent them to
enquire Whether all the ]\Iembers that were qualified voted
in the Choice of a Speaker. Upon which

Voted, That William Frost, Esq., and Mr. Henry Sher-
burne, jun., go up with the following Message to his Excel-
lency, viz. :


May it please your Excellency: —

In answer to your Excellency's Message by Mr. Secretary and
Mr. Wibird, all the Members which represent the Towns and
Parishes which heretofore used to send Representatives to sit in
the General Assembly of this Province voted in the choice of a
Speaker, and none other.

Mr. Secretary and Mr. Wibird soon came down with
the following Message :

Before his Excellency can approve or disapprove of the choice
of a Speaker, he desires to know why those members were ex-
cluded from a Vote in the Choice of a Speaker.


The House immediately sent up Mr. Sherburne and
Mr. Gideons, with the following verbal Answer :

If your Excellency means, in your Message by Mr. Secretary
and Mr. Wibird, the Persons which told llie House they came from
Eumford, Haverhill District, Methuen and Dracut District, South
Hampton and Chester, the Keason why they were excluded in the
choice of a Speaker was because the House do not know any Law
or Usage of this Province by which those Places are entitled to
the Privilege of sending Members to represent them in this Court.

Mr. Secretary Atkinson came down with the following
Message from his Excellency :

His Excellency sent me to acquaint the House that the Members
were called in by the King's Writ, agreeable to former Practice;
That his Excellency knows of no other Avay ; That if the House
knew of any other Precedent of their being called in any other
way, his Excellency desired they would acquaint him, that the
public business may not be hindered.

Upon which the following Message was immediately
voted, and sent up by Mr. Sherburne and Mr. Wingett.

3Iay it please your Excellency : —

The House in the short Time they had to search, find upon
their llecords, in the Year 171-1, a Vote, entitleing the Town of
Kingston to send a Member to sit in this Court. In the Year
172G, a Vote, that a Precept should go to the Town of New-Castle
requiring them to choose a Representative for Rye. In the Year
1732, '3, a Petition from the Parish of Greenland, praying the
Privilege of having a Representative, which was granted. By all
which it appears to the House, that no Town or Parish (not be-
fore priviledgcd) ought to have a Writ sent them to choose a Rep-
resentative, without a Vote of tliis House, or Act of the General

Yoted, That Capt. Israel Gillman, Mr. Meshech Weare
and Mr. Jonathan Lock be a Committee to go to Mr. James
Jaffery, the late Clerk of the House of Representatives,
and demand of him all the Books, Records and Files that
belong to this House, and bring them directly to this

Mr. Secretary Atkinson came down and told the House
that his Excellency had adjourned the General Court to
Monday next twelve of the Clock ; That his Excellency
will furnish himself with Precedents, and desires the
House will do the same.

Monday, Jan. 28"^ 1744.

Some of the Members being present, Richard Wibird,
Esq., came to the House, and by Order of the Governor,
adjourn'd the General Court to four of the Clock in the


Four o'clock. Met according to adjournment ; And
Richard Wibird, Esq., came into the House, and said
'Twas his Excellency's Order that the General Court should
be adjourned 'till To-Morrow half an Hour past Ten.

Tuesday, Jan. 29*^ 1744.

Met according to Adjournment. Present, all but Mr.
Stevens. And sent up Mr. Weare and Mr. Gideons to
inform his Excellency that there was a House.

Mr. Wibird came down and told the House That his
Excellency desired to know if there was any Law of the
Province supporting the setting aside any ^Members, called
in by the King's Write, from voting in the Choice of a

The House immediately sent up the following Message
by Clement March, Esq., and William Frost, Esq. :

May it please your Excellency : —

On your Excelloiicy's desirint? us to produce some Precedents
of the Kiyht's being in tiie House or General Court, to grant the
Privilege to any Towns or Parishes of sending Ilepresentatives to
sit ill the General Assembly, we Informed your P^xcellency that
we found in tlie llccords of the House, that in the year 1714: a Vote
was passed in tiio House, entitleing the Town of Kingston to the
Privilege of sending a Member to sit in this Court; In the Year
1726, a Vote that a l^recept siiould go to the Town of New-Castle,
to choose a lleprcsentative for Kye ; In tlie Year 1732, a Petition
froni the Parish of Greenland, praying the Privilege of having a
Representative, which was granted. Since wliich, on further Ex-
amination, we tind. that in the Year 1725 a Vote was passed and
concurred above, desiring his Honour the Governour to send a
Precept to Londonderry, requiring tliem to seud a Pei'son duly
qualilied to represent them in this Court.

And for further Instances of the Power's being in the General
Assembly, we would refer your Excellency to several Acts in the
Secretary's Office, by wliicli Xew-Market and Durham were en-
titled to the Privilege of sending Members to sit in the General
Assembly; and also to the Acts by which Brentwood, Epping,
&c.. were incorporated into Parishes, which plainly infer the
Right to be in the General Court.

And therefore, that such as are called in from Places that are
not privileged by the General Court, ought not to vote in this
House in the Choice of a Speaker. But the House ought to ex-
clude them as much as if they came from another Province.

Soon after this IVIr. Wibird and Col. Downing came to
the House and read the following Message from his Excel-
lency, and carried the Paper they read it out of away
again, viz.:

In the present Situation of AfRiirs in Respect to the ^Yar, his
Excellency thinks it for His Majesty's immediate Service not to


enter further into the Dispute with the Members called by the
King's Writ, and qualified as the King commands, touching tlie
rejecting the Votes of several Members in the choice of a Speaker,
which he esteems invading the Prerogative of the Crown, and
tlierefore submits it till his Majesty's Pleasure shall be known

His Excellency therefore, that no further Delay in the Publick
Affairs may happen, approves of the choice of Nathanael Rogers,
Esq., for their Speaker, and Commands the Attendance of the
House of Representatives in the Council Chamber.

The territory which was claimed by Haverhill and Ames-
bury, which was north of the province line, as run and
settled in 1741, was called the " Haverhill district," and
included Hampstead, Atkinson, Plaistow and Newton.
That taken from Methuen and Dracut was called the " Me-
thuen and Dracut district," and included Salem and Pel-
ham. Rumford was old Pennacook, modern Concord and

The Governor laid the case before the King and received
the following instructions :


Gower, P. S. Additional instruction to Benning Went-

Bedford, worth, Esq., his majesty's governor and

^Montagu, commander in chief, in and over the prov-

Pembroke. ince of New-Hampshire, in New England

in America, or to the commander in chief
of the said province for the time being.
[Seal] Given at Whitehall, the 30th day of

June, 1748, in the 22d year of his maj-
esty's reign.

"Whereas it hath been represented to his majesty. That
you, having in his majesty's name, and by virtue of your
commission, issued a writ to the sheriff of the province
under your government, commanding him to make out
precepts, directed to the selectmen of certain towns, par-
ishes and districts therein mentioned, for the election of lit
persons qualified in law to represent them in the general
assembly, appointed to be held at Portsmouth, within the
said province, on the 24th day of January, 1744-5 ; by
which writ the towns of South Hampton and Chester, and
the districts of Haverhill, and of Methuen and Dracut, and
the district of Rumford, were impowered to choose repre-


sentatives as aforesaid ; the said general assembly did
refuse to admit the persons duly elected to represent the
said towns and districts to sit and vote in the choice of
speaker : And whereas the right of sending representa-
tives to the said assembly was founded originally on the
commissions and instructions given by the crown to the
respective governors of the province of Xew-Hampshire,
and his majesty may therefore lawfully extend the priv-
ilege of sending representatives to such new towns as his
majesty shall judge worthy thereof :

It is therefore his majesty's will and pleasure, and you
are hereby directed and required to dissolve the assembly
of the province under your government as soon as conven-
iently may be, and when another is called, to issue his
majesty's writ to the sheriff of the said province, command-
ing him to make out precepts directed to the selectmen of
the towns of South-Hampton and Chester, the districts of
Haverhill and of Methuen and Dracut, and the district of
Rumford, re(piiring them to cause the freeholders of the
said towns and districts to assemble to elect fit persons to
represent the said towns and districts in general assembly,
in manner following, viz. : One for the town of South-
Hampton, one for the town of Chester, one for the district
of Haverhill, one for the district of Methuen and Dracut,
and one for the district of Ilumford : AND it is his maj-
esty's further will and pleasure, that you do sujtport the
rights of such representative, when chose ; and that you do
likewise signify his majesty's pleasure herein to the mem-
bers of the said general assembly. [Douglass' Summary,
Vol. 2, p. 35.]

1745. The town was this year divided into school dis-
tricts. (See History of Schools and School-houses.)

" Voted, that the town's stock of ammunition shall be
Kept and taken Care of by Messrs. Jonathan Blunt, John
Eobie and William Tolford as a Committe."

1746. At the annual town meeting March 27,

Online LibraryBenjamin ChaseHistory of old Chester [N. H.] from 1719 to 1869 → online text (page 9 of 60)