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THE



HISTORY



O F



EOXBURY TOWN.



BY CHARLES M. ELLIS.



CHICAGO,

Froeiil*J[)(iPS[S«^y H. Su

BOSTON:

PUBLISHED BY SAMUEL G. DRAKE.

1847.



W^



3.






Wi



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847,

By Charles M. Ellis,

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.



'3 iiAi-tl



H. Mann, Printer, Dedham, Mass.



■J^M'



PART I.



THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE TOWN



NOTICE.

Another volume will complete the history of the Town, down
to the date of the City Charter. The object has been, in this, to
give the Early History. But no distinct line of division can be
drawn. Much matter has necessarily been reserved for the ap-
pendix which will be added to the second part. The plan of the
work has been, in order to secure for it the only merits such an
one can ever have, accuracy and completeness. The materials
that exist for gaining these ends are so much scattered, they are
so often found where no one could have supposed they existed,
that no diligence could ferret them out ; but they are glad-
ly furnished when it is known that use can be made of them.
Since the last pages of the manuscript were sent to press, I
have to acknowledge the receipt of several valuable communica-
tions. Any such is a great favor. It is my hope that all who
can procure me access to materials that will aid in completing or
correcting the account of the Town, will do so, so that the ends
of this work will be secured.

C. M. ELLIS.
January 8, 1S4S.



HISTORY OF ROXBURY,



CHAPTER I.

Introduction.— Sources of the History of the Town.

The object of a town history is to gather up and
record family, local, village details. Part are those of
every day life. Part belong to general history, but
are so minute or multitudinous as to escape its grasp.
Yet all history is made up of these, and each, and the
group of each town, may illustrate it, as the life of
each man will give some insight into the spirit of his
time. There is an interest attached to these accounts
of small places, of the same sort as that which is ex-
cited by the biography of an individual. We like to
know the motives, reasons and method of a man's ac-
tion, as every child wishes to see a watch opened.
In general men care less for the result, however great,
than for the petty moving causes in operation. And
the idea that each man is a wheel in the great ma-
chine, weighs more with men than they think. But,
after all, the chief interest attached to these matters
is of a very different sort, and, if this were the place.



6 HI SI OR Y OF KOXBl IIY. [PaRT I.

it might be shown to be somewhat rational and not
altogctlier useless, apart from all historical s])ecula-
tion. We love to know the origin of those we spring
from, what they did, how they dressed, labored and
worshipped. Most men have local attachment so
strong that it invests some spot, endeared by associa-
tion, with controlling interest. The old church, the
old homestead, the old school, or something of the
sort, bring back dear recollections to every man, and
he will find pleasure in all that relates thereto.

I have endeavored to collect here such facts as may
gratify these natural feelings, and such as may illus-
trate history, without pretending to assume its digni-
ty, or be more than the incidents in the life of a little
town.

There is in the town, in the records and papers of
the town, church and school, much new matter, though
they are very meagre in many respects. The Town
Records for the first few years are imperfect. They
begin with a half obliterated and worn out memoran-
dum of four lines, about the garrison, of a date seven-
teen years after the settlement, (1647.) Then fol-
lows a memorandum of the choice of the Captain,
Lieut, and three brethren to " order town affiiirs,"
and an order for an allotment of lands and salaries
without any date — then a vote appointing a commit-
tee to repair the church and also assessors, then a
vote conferring powers somewhat plenary, viz : that
" these men shall have for ye present year, full power
to make and execute such orders as they in their ap-
prehension shall think to be conducive to the good of
the town" — then a much mutilated page about dig-



Part I.] hfstory ov roxiu'rv. 7

giiig "rocks" and stones out of" the highway — ilien a
meeting at brother Johnsons, about the Synod's act —
then some old scraps from the fire act laying a fine of
8 and 12 pence on such as have not ladders to give
ready passage to the tops of the houses in case of fire.
These are all, down to the year 1652.

From that time the records have been regularly
kept. The earlier ones however are meagre and im-
perfect. The earliest have no attestation. Then
down to 1666, they are attested by the five men. In
1666 a Town clerk was first chosen, but he merely
wrote the records without attesting them. The first
signature by the clerk is that of Edward Dorr in
1717.

There is a tradition that the old records of the
town were a long while ago burned up, or else de-
stroyed in the revolution. The dates have got a lit-
tle confused. But so it is that in the lapse of few
generations, it has become uncertain whether this
event was seventy years or two centuries ago. One
tradition is that the first records of the town were
burnt when the second meeting house was burnt
down. Men expressed a doubt, in speaking of it,
whether they were ever destroyed. But I think it
quite certain that the earliest records were destroyed
by fire, in 1645.

Under the date of 1652 there is entry which can
be partially decyphered although the edges are gone.

"The tovvne booke wherein most mens lands being wrote

Gods providence being burned thereby much dammedg may

10 all men, to prevent dammedg as aforesayd

dered by the town of Roxbury that there shall be five



8 HISTORY OF ROXBURY. [PaRT I.

be chosen to do iheiv best in order to set down



land given them by the town or that may belong

thence other ways to make returne unto ye towne

three month, as far as this may be accomplished for the

of dammedg as aforesayd & alsoe to record hie ways and

other town privileges. 17 of 11 no 1652."

The Transcript, as it is called, was finished and
certified in 1654.

In Eliot's petition to the General Court June 20,
1669, for a renewal and confirmation of the school
charter, it is recited that "our first book and charter
were burned in ye burning of John Johnsons house
and by reason of the death of sundry of the donors
and the alienation of the tenements we are under
this defect that some of the names of the donors are
not unto this 2d book personally which were to the

first."

The second book and agreement are still preserved
and bear date "the last of August 1645."

In John Eliot's diary [which will be referred to] is
this record, viz :

"1645. Toward ye end of ye 1st month (called
March) there happened, by God's providence a very
dreadful fire in Roxbury streete. None knoweth how
it was kindled, but being a fierce wind it suddenly-
prevailed. And in this man's house was a good part
of ye county magazine of powder of 17 or 18 bar-
rels which made ye people that none durst come to
save ye house or goods till it was blown up & by that
time ye fire had taken ye barns & outhouses (which
were many & great) so that none were saved. In
this fire were strong observations of God's provi-
dence, to ye neighbours and towne, for ye wind at



Part 1.] history of roxbury. 9

first stood to carry ye fire to other howses but sud-
denly turned it from all other howses only carrying it
to ye out houses & barns thereby.

And it was a fierce wind &. thereby drave ye ele-
ment back from ye neighbors howses which in a
calm time would, by ye great heate have been set on
fire.

But above all ye preservation of all people from
hurt & other howses from fire at ye blowing up of ye
powder, many living' in great danger yet none hurt &
sundry howses set on fire by ye blow, but all
quenched, thro God's mercy in christ."

Considering therefore that the early records were
all kept for one body, that those of the school, and
those having the records of lands were both burned
and that the Town Records prior to the time of this
fire are not in existence, there can be little doubt
that they were also burnt up. Probably the "old
Towne Booke" named in the note respecting the
Transcript, contained the whole respecting titles, the
schoole and the towne, and the petition some twenty
years after the fire was caused by some question
arising respecting the charter or the agreement of
the school.

The ''^Ancient Transcript^'' is an ancient book
which contains a list of the lands owned by the re-
spective inhabitants. This record is of great value in
tracing the titles of individuals. The present book
is probably not the first but a copy made about 1666
to 1670 by Goodman Denison.

At the end of this volume is w^hat appears to have
been part of another older book bound up with it, in



10 HISTORY OF ROXBURY. [PaRT 1.

which is a memorandum that it was "bought in 1639
& paid for by Vote of Town, fower shillings for entry
therein of weighty business."

I discovered one loose leaf in this volume, of great
interest. A particular account of this leaf will be
given in another connection. The Town Register
of birtlis, marriages and deaths, seems to have been
copied up to 1654 in one hand. Very likely by Mr.
Dudley. From 1690 to 1706, entries have also been
copied into this volume from small paper books kept
by the clerk.

There is a volume kept by the clergyman of the
first church which, in its strange medley, has records
of interest. It has often been referred to. It is val-
uable for its records of matters belonging to town
and family histories. It contains a receipt for making
ink— an anagram on Mrs. Tomson— Harvard memo-
rial—laws as to fashions, particularly the long hair
which was an abomination to round heads— certain
propositions concerning church membership, baptism,
&c.— a list of church members from the formation of
the church to 1775— a record of the baptisms and
deaths from 16U to 1750— a diary from 1642 to

1677 a record of the pastors of the church, and

some parish votes and donations.

The list of church members seems to have been
made sometime after the formation of tiie church. I
should judge not far from 1650. Besides the dates,
this record contains f^icts concerning the families of
the first settlers and in many instances accounts of
their characters.

It is said that all the ancient records were burned,



Part I.] history of roxbury. 1 1

and that the inhabitants afterwards came together
and gave in an account of their families, the births,
marriages and deatlis, as fully as they could, and
handed in the description of their lands for the Tran-
script. The absence of any books prior to the date
of the fire, and the mode in which the oldest records
are made up confirm the tradition. A gentleman of
Roxbury, distinguished for his antiquarian tastes, re-
members to have read this account in an anniversary
sermon preached by the first Mr. Walter, who must
•have known many of the first settlers. I have not
been able to find any copy of this sermon.

The diary notes the chief events of the day, very
much after the style of the remarkable events in
some of our almanacs. Some of it is trifling, but it
is valuable for verifying dates, and chiefly so as illus-
trating the character of John Eliot.

The records of the several later parishes and of
the schools contain much that is interesting.

Besides the various records there are many old pa-
pers still preserved by members of the older families
of the town, deeds, wills, letters and documents of
one sort and another. Most of these have been
found in old chests in the midst of garret dust and
lumber. No doubt many such have been destroyed
as cumbersome rubbish. Few care for these me-
mentos of early days. But some preserve them, and
I am indebted to many for rendering me valuable fa-
cilities from such materials for this w^ork. I am
especially indebted to a few, who take an interest in
such matters, and who have raked, out of these old
lieaps, things worth preserving.



CHAPTER II.

The first Settlement.

The first settlement of Roxbury was in 1630. It
is possible that some straggling pioneers of the whites
may have been here before. There is no record of
any known. The fact that the emigrants of 1630,
on their arrival^ found settlers scattered about the
bay, "some at Dorchester and some on the other side
of the River Charles," that some spots in Roxbury
would be likely to be chosen quite as soon as the
spots that are known to have been inhabited hy
whites, and that the colonists would not have been
likely to try to prepare for their first winter in a spot
where there was no sign of a hut or clearing, this
alone leads me to say it is possible that there may
have been some squatters here before them. The
town dates, however, from 1630. Most of its settlers
arrived within a few years from that time. The first
came from England with Winthrop with those who
came over when the Massachusetts charter was
brought over, and a home trading company formed
into a foreign provincial government. Some of them
were signers of the Cambridge agreement of August
26, 1629. That simple writing imported more than



Part I.] iiistokv of roxburv. 13

they dreamed, and may now illustrate their charac-



ter.



"Upon due consideration of the state of the Plantation now in
hand for New England, wherein we, whose names are hereunto
subscribed, have engaged ourselves, and having weighed the
greatness of the work in regard of the consequence, God's glory
and the Church's good, as also in regard of the difficulties and
discouragements which in all probabilities must be forecast upon
the prosecution of this business ; considering withal, that this
whole adventure grows upon the joint confidence we have in
each other's fidelity and resolution herein , so as no man of us
would have adventured without assurance of the rest; now for
the better encouragement of ourselves and others that shall join
with us in this action, and to the end that every man may with-
out scruple dispose of his estate and affairs as may best fit his
preparation for this voyage; it is fully and faithfully agreed
amongst us, and every of us doth hereby freely and sincerely
promise and bind himself, on the word of a christian, and in the
presence of God, who is the searcher of all hearts, that we will
so really endeavour the prosecution of this work, as by God's
assistance, we wilj be ready in our persons, and with such of our
several families as are to go with us, and such provision as we
are able conveniently to furnish ourselves withal, to embark for
the said plantation by the first of March next, at such port or
ports of this land as shall be agreed upon by the Company, to
the end to pass the seas (under God's protection) to inhabit and
continue in New England : Provided always, that before the
last of September next, the whole government, together with the
patent for the said plantation, be first, by an order of Court, le-
gally transferred and established to remain with us and others
which shall inhabit upon the said Plantation, and provided also,
that if any shall be hindered by any such just and inevitable let
or other cause, to be allowed by three parts of four of these
whose names are hereunto subscribed, then such persons, for
such times, and during such lets to be discharged from this bond.
And we do further promise, every one for himself, that shall fail
to be ready through his own default by the day appointed, to pay



14 HISTORY OF ROXBURY. [PaRT I.

for every day's default the suin of £3, to the use of the rest of
the company who shall be ready by the same day and lime.
This was done by order of Court, the 29lh of August, 1629.
Richard Sallonstall, Thomas Sharpe,

Thomas Dudley, Increase Nowell,

William Vassal), John Winlhrop,

Nicholas West, William Pinchon,

Isaac Johnson, Kelhim Browne,

John Humfrey, William Colbron.

The exact date of the arrival of the first settlers of
Roxbury is not known. A large number of vessels
came out in 1630. The first arrived in May, and the
arrivals continued till the fall of the year. The trials
of that season fell heavy. " We found the colony in
a sad and unexpected condition," says Thomas Dud-
ley, " above eighty of them being dead the winter
before ; and many of those alive weak and sick ; all
the corn and bread amongSt them all hardly sufficient
to feed them a fortnight." Contagious diseases seized
on the emigrants on their voyage that year. When
they arrived they were feeble, sick and dying daily of
fevers and the scurvy. The exposure and hardships
they were forced to endure after landing only multi-
plied their affliction. They were so weak that they
could not carry their baggage to the place where they
meant to build a fort and settle together. Having no
time to deliberate, being forced to provide some shel-
ter before the winter should surprise them, they dis-
persed themselves in small bands about the bay, to
shift as best they might. One of these bands, whose
head is said to have been W illiam Pynchon chose a
place midway between Dorchester and Boston, for
their habitation, a spot two miles from Boston, which



Part I.] history of roxbirv. 15

tliev named Rocksbur}; and Rocksburie, or Rocks-
brough, Roxbury. This was the origin of the town.
Jt was probably in June 1630. The first birtli re-
corded is July 10, 1630, John Crafts, son of Griffin
Crafts.

William Pynchon is often spoken of as the founder
of the town. He was one of the most influential
men, and happened to be named first in the records
of the members of the first church. But I see no
reason why he should be called the founder of the
place. In the records he is styled "one of the first
foundation." There were many of as much weight
as he, whether we regard wealth, character, author-
ity, or energy in the prosecution of the enterprise.

Besides Pynchon we know from the church records
that Thomas Lambe, Robert Cole, William Chase,
George Alcock, Mr. Francis Pynchon, and Thomas
Rawlings were amongst those who came here in
1630, that, in 1631, there arrived Thomas Wakeman,
John Carman, John Eliot, Valentine Prentice, Rich-
ard Lyman ; —

In 1632, John Leavins, Margery Hammond, Mar-
garet Denison, Wm. Heath, Robert Gamlin, Thomas
Woodforde, William Curtis, Ann Shelly, Rebecca
Short, Mary Blatt, Wm. Hills, Robert Gamlin jr. —

In 1633, John Moody, Nicholas Parker, Philip
Sherman, Thomas Willson, Joshua Hues, Thomas
Hills, John Graves, Elizabeth Hinds, Elizabeth Bal-
lard, Margaret Huntingdon ; —

In 1634, John Stow, Abraham Newell; —

In 1635, John Ruggles, John Cheney; —



16 HISTORY OF ROXBURY. [PaRT I.

Ill 1636, Edward Porter, William Vassaile, John
Roberts ; —

In 1637, Thomas Ruggles, William Chandler, Jo-
seph Astwood.

There is " A Recorde of such as adjoyned them-
selves unto the fellowship of this Church of Christ at
Roxborough ; as also of such children as they had
when they joyned and of such as were borne unto
them under the holy covenant of this church, who are
most properly the seede of this Church."

This record, from the beginning till 1650 has the
names of 301 members, the number of their children
not being included. Most of the names have no date
and the time of their arrival cannot be fixed.

From the interesting gleanings of Mr. Savage, we
learn that the records in England give the names of
some who " imbarqued " in the Hopewell, Master
Wm. Burdick, in April 1635, viz. John Astwood,
husbandman, aged 26 — Jo. Ruggles, 10 — Jo. Rug-
gles, shoemaker, 44 — Barbaric Ruggles, uxor, 30 —
Jo. Ruggles, 2 — Elizabeth Elliott, 8 — Giles Payson,
26 — Isaac Morris, 9— Jo. Bell, 13— Lawrence Whit-
temore, 63 — Elizabeth Whittemore, 57 — Isaac Dis-
brough, 18— Elizabeth Elliott, 30— Phillip Elliott, 2.
April 29th, in the Elizabeth & Ann, was Richard
Goare, 17.

June 17, in the Abigail, came Richard Graves, 23.

In the Blessing, William Vassall, 42, Margaret
Vassall.

In the James, in July, John Johnson, 26.

In the Hopewell, Sep. 11, Isack Heath, harness-



Part I.] ihstorv of roxhiirv. 17

maker, 50 — Elizabeth Heath, 40 — Wm. Lyon, 14 —
Thos. Bull, 25— [r if not Bell.]

The dates of the arrivals for the first few years as
given in the church book are very imperfect. There
are many births recorded which show that various
families arrived here which are not noticed. But 1
cannot follow them out here.

In the Ancient Transcript, there is a loose leaf,
somewhat worn and obscure, but in tolerable preser-
vation, written about the year 1639, at any rate, be-
tween 1638 and 1640, as appear from the names and
hand writing. Being, by nearly ten years the oldest
record in the Town Books, and containing an accu-
rate and, no doubt, comj)lete list of the inhabitants,
it is here copied. It was after 1638 because James
Astwood came then ; and before 1640 because George
Alcock died then.



"A note of ye


estates and persons of y


2 in


habitants of Roj


bury


Acres.


Persons.






Estate.


3





Edward Pason


1






6


2


John Tatman


2


6





7


Obscure.


John Stonnard


2


Obscure.


6


>t


Martin Stebbins


2




11


7


((


Giles Pason


2


10


93 04


6


2


Lawrence Whittemore


2


2


06 OS


10


Obscure.


Richard Peacock


3


S


00 00


4





Edward Bugby


3


17


00


11


Obsciire.


John Levins


3


17


00


Obs.


2


Edwn. Anderson


3


01


00 00


10


00 00


Christopher Peake


3


OG


OS 00


5


02 00


John Kuggles


2


4


13 00


12


02 00


Richard Pepper


4


3


00 00


12


Obsrvre.


Eilwavd Rigq-es


4


Obsrvre.



18



HISTORY OF ROXBURY.



[Part L



13


Obsaire.


William Webb


4


o


Obscure.


13






Edward Bridge


4


2


K


22






Thomas Ruggles


4


1


15 00


14






Eobert Seaver


4


17


06 00


12






Thomas Griggs


4


00


00 00


12






John Hall


4


Obscure.


12






John Trumble






(1


17


2


John Barvvell


5


17


10 04


15




(.1


Abraham How


5


01


00 "


15




(C


John Mathevv


5


01


00 00


15


2





John Bowles


5


07


10 00


15


2





Isaac Johnson


5


02


00 00


16


2





Ralph Hemingway


5


9


14 08


15


Obscure.


John Curteis


5


00


00 00


15






Arthur Gary


5


02


Obscure.


18






Thomas Waterman


6


01


16 08


20






Thomas Pigge


6


17


00 00


20






Samuel Finch


5


14




22






Widow Hugbone


7


06




12






Abraham Newell


7


07




22






Wm, Chandler


7


06




21


2




Robert Gamblin


7


03




21






John Perry


7


Obscure.


21






Abraham Smith


7




t(


24


2




John Petlil


8




((


24


2




William Cheney


8




t(


24






Samuel Chapin


8




:(


25


2




William Perkins


8




t(


25






Robert Williams


8




t(


26





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