Charles M. (Charles Mayo) Ellis.

The history of Roxbury town (Volume 1) online

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John Evans





Daniel Brewer




James Astwood




Edward Porter





John Miller




John Roberts




Griffin Crafts




John Watson




Thomas Lamb



»ART 1.]




John Eliot




William Curtiss



Obscure 00 acres.


Thomas Bell






George Holmes






Samuel Hugborne






William Park





John Johnson






John Gore






Isaac Morell






George Alcock






Elder Heath






John Stow






William Dennison






Joseph Weld






Joshua Hewes






Philip Eliot







, Thomas Weld







. Thomas Dudley





Upon the other side of the foregoing list is the following :

"Wm. Eliot 8 goats Skidds Elder 12goats 7kidd3

John Johnson 6 goats 4 kidds Wm. Dennison 2 " 3 "

Isaac Morell 4 goats 3 kidds John Stow 20 " 8 "

Mr, Sheafe 14 do. 10 kidds John Levins 8 " 8 "

Edward Bugbee 6 goats 7 kidds Thomas Waterman 7 goats obscure

John Bugby 2 goats 2 kidds Thomas Freeman 3

Edward Sheffield 2 goats 1 kidd Richard Peacock 1 "

William Chandler 1 " 1 " Dorithy 1 1 kidd

We, whose names are under written, have appointed John
Burnell, to give \2d. appeace for goats & kidds out of which we
did appoint him to pay Goodwife Burt for her boy ye full tyme
that bee ded keepe the goals,

Isaac Heath
John Slow."


There are tew of the families of the town, except
the recent comers, who do not trace their descent
from some of those whose names are here recorded.
It has been remarked that no people can boast of
more honorable descent than those of Massachusetts,
and it is also recorded that " the Roxbury people
were of the best that came."

The first year was one of severe toil, and hardship,
and affliction almost unmitigated. Those who were
alive at the end of the first summer were worn out
when winter set in, either with disease or with the
fatigue of making the first clearing and a hut for shel-
ter. Food was scarce. The cold was intense. Dud-
ley, one of the first and richest men in the Bay, had
no table, and but a single room, and there he wrote
to the countess of Lincoln the letter that is preserved,
*'on his knee in that sharp winter," with his family
pressing to the fireside about him. Mrs. Alcock and
Mrs. Pynchon died. They could, indeed, " almost
say there was not a house where there was not one
dead, and in some houses many." They held many
fasts. It was a time of gloom. They did " enjoy
little to be envied, but endured much to be pitied."
But they came not to plant " for worldly ends" but
"for spiritual." They did not repine. It was fortu-
nate indeed for the Roxbury settlement that they
were " not of the poorer sort." But nothing could
save them from the hardships of the first season.

And to add to these, they were in constant danger
from the natives. The position ot the first settlement
seems to have been chosen with a view to defence.
Charges are frequently met with in the town records,

Part I.] history of roxbury. 21

for the first i\nv years, of sums paid for driving away

Roxbury was thought of the first year as a fit place
to build a town. December 6th, 1630, the governor
and assistants met there and agreed to build a town
fortified on the neck between there and Boston, and
they appointed a committee to make the necessary
arrangements. But when the committee met there
eight days later, they concluded not to build and ono
reason was that " there was no running waters and
if there were any springs they would not suffice
the town." They considered also that most had al-
ready built and if they settled here they would be
forced to keep two families.


The First Church in Roxbury.

The religious concerns of the people, were, of
course, the first in importance. They had left the
comforts of home, and chosen to risk life for their re-
ligious liberty. The first act of the emigrants on ar-
riving in this country was the organization of a church.
The chief bond of the people was, for a long time,
their religious association. The first thought of each
town was for the support of religious worship. In
most towns the formation of a church and a town
government were simultaneous, if not identical. It
was probably because of the hardships of the Roxbury
people that such was not the case here. But, for the
first two years they had no church of their own.
They were assessed for the support of the church
at Charlestown. They joined themselves to the
church at Dorchester, " until such time as God shall
give them an opportunity to be a church amongst
themselves," in the same way as the Muddy River
(Brookline) people were, for many years, joined to
their own.

The first church was gathered in 1632, in July.
Thomas Welde was then "chosen and invested with
the pastoral care."

Part I.] history of roxhury. 23

Jolin Eliot, now kno^vn as the apostle became their
teacher in November of the same jear.

The first church, and all that was connected with
it, was to the people, the object of love and affection.
They were so identified with it, that it would be un-
pardonable to omit some details which might, other-
wise, seem trifling. Its complete history for a hun-
dred years, would be the history of the town.

A meeting house was built very early. The exact
date is not known. But at a town meeting in 1647*
it was voted " that the meeting house be suddenly
put in safe repaire, and the charges put in the consta-
bles rates." This is almost the earliest record of any
town doings. The first house stood in nearly the
same spot where Dr. Putnam's now stands. It was
a building poorer than any decent barn now in the
place. It was not shingled without, nor plastered
within. It had no galleries, pews, or spire. The
people sat on plain benches without any appointed
places. The men and the women's seats were on
opposite sides of the house. It was such as we some-
times see in frontier towns, or in the woods in the
southern states, provided for the slaves of the neigh-
boring plantations.

In 1654, the town voted to build two galleries in
the meeting house and that the selectmen "see to it."

In 1656, the ends of the building were clapboard-

In 1658, the town passed a vote "that ye meeting
house be repaired, and for warmth and comfort, that
ye house be shingled" — to build " two galleries with
three seates," and that ye house " be plastered witli-


in side witii lime and haire, also, for setting out of ye
house, that some pinacle, or other orniments be set
upon each end of ye house and that ye bell be
removed in some covenient place for ye benefit of ye
towne," "always provided before this be done ye tim-
bers of ye house be well searched that, if there be
such defects as some think, our labor may not be in

In 1659, John Chamberlain (the first sexton no-
ticed) was to have 50 shillings a year for ringing the
bell and sweeping and £3 if he would "keep ye
doore bowlted."

In 1665, there was complaint that several wanted
convenient room to sit in the meeting house "to their
edification by reason of the disturbance the boys
made in the galleries," and the town desired the se-
lectmen to advise with the elders about removing the
boys and building some other gallery, or making
another "paire stayers" or doing any thing to remedy
the evil.

In 1672 there was a "full towne meeting in con-
sultation about repairing of meeting house" and after
much debate " with love and condescendencv one to
another," they voted to build a new house not more
than ten rods from the old one. The Muddy River
people contributed, towards building the new church,
104/. 55^.

In 1698, it appears from the records of Brookline,
the Roxbury people agreed to permit the people of
Muddy River to worship at their house, and to bear
one-fifth of the expense, which was £6 4s/i. and a

Part I.] history of roxburv. 25

meeting, at the Flower-de-luce, kept bj Mr. Rug-
glcs, was called to settle that business.

"A list of the names and sums of our Brethren & Neighbors
of Muddy river that they contribute towards the erecting of a
new meeting house in Roxbury.

Sums. £ sh. d.

Thomas Gardner 10 00 00

John White, Jr. 10 00

Peter Aspinwall 7

John Sharpe, Jr. 5

Thomas Boistan 5

Richard Wolford 1 10

Andrew Gardner 5

Joseph White 3

Moises Crafts 2

Clement Corban 1 10

John Evens 00 15

John Accers 1 10

John Winchester 3 00

Robert Harrise 4 00

John Harise 2 00

Benjamin Child 2 00

Denman Meriam 1 00

John Clarke 3 00

Edward Mills 00 10

James Clarke 1 10

Edward Devotion 5 00

Henry Stevens 5 00

John Parker 1 10

Edward Keebe 1 10

Goodwife Keebe 00 10

Mrs. Mather & ) 07 00

James Rementon )

Thomas Woodward 00 10

Goodman Winchester 7 00

Samuel Dunkin 1 10

£104 05 00

They had a raising, and the bill of expenses and
provisions was £20, \5sht lOd. £9, 5s. to hands for
etceteras !

In 1673, by request of inhabitants living remote,



leave was given to build nooning houses, for sabbath
and other public dajs.

In 1693 is a grant for "pueing the meeting house"
giving "liberty to build pues around the meeting
house except where the boys do sit, upon the charge
of those who desire the same, to have consent of the
committee, & this only to be granted to meet persons
for them to enjoy, & they & their familyes to fill the
pews or else the committee to do it for them, the use
of this grant being to save room & not to lose it, but
if any dye, the pews to return to the town & no one
to sell." The locality of the pews is recorded. Be-
hind Mrs. Denison's seat, and ranging with Mr. Wal-
ters pew was Palsgrave Alcocks. The remainder of
that corner was cut up into two pews, one for Jas.
Bailey and one for Capt. Saunders, the one having
the innermost to pass through the other. Capt.
Timo. Stevens built his next the door at the South
end on the right hand, and John Howard between
that and the stairs to the women's gallery. Eben
Pierpont's was on the right, coming in at the front
door, and Jos. Gardner's between that and the men's
gallery stairs. Opposite those was Saml. Ruggles.
On the left of the North door was Edward Dor's, and
between that and the stairs to the men's gallery, was
Edward Weld's. John Gores' was by the pulpit

But I cannot dwell longer on these matters. If
any one would see the watchful care, and the attach-
ment of the people for the church, let him read the
letters and instructions concerning selhng the old bell
and buviuir a ni'w one.

Part I.] history of roxbury. 27

It is not known whether the people of Roxbury
were called together for church service by beat of
drum, as in other towns, before they had a bell.

The order of exercises at Church were first a
prayer by the Pastor ; then the reading and expound-
ing of scripture by the Teacher ; then the singing of
a Psalm, which was dictated or lined by the Ruling
Elder ; after that the Pastor preached a sermon or
made an extemporaneous exhortation. The services
concluded with prayer and a blessing from the
Teacher. The distinction made between the office
of Pastor and Teacher in Roxbury, and generally
observed, was not universally adopted.

In the first organization of a Church the procedure
was thus : "one of the Church messengers of for-
raine Churches examined and tried the men to be
moulded into a Church, discerned their faith and re-
pentance, and their covenant being before ready
made, written, subscribed, and read and acknowl-
edged, hee discerned and pronounced them to be a
true Church of Christ," &c. "So did Master Weld
at the founding of Weymouth Church."

Church members and officers were elected. The
custom was to have strict personal examination. At
the formation of the Indian Church a long examina-
tion was had in public in the Church at Roxbury
which is still preserved. It was always rigid.

Ordination was by imposition of hands, by minis-
ters, if there. If there were none, "then two or
three of good report, tho' not of the Ministry, did,
by appointment of the Church, lay hands on them."
The right hand of fellowship was either given by one


ill the name of all, or else the several delegates of
the Churches each took the hand of him, to whom,
by this rite they pledged the faith of christian broth-

The salary provided by the town in 1649-50, for
Mr. Eliot was £60. By the same vote £50 was as-
sessed for Mr. Davenport. This indicates that such
a person was engaged in the Church after Mr. Weld
left, before Mr. Danforth was ordained. But it may
have been for the school or the fort. In 1652, £120
was assessed, to be equally divided between Mr. El-
iot and Mr. Danforth. In 1718, they gave to Mr.
Nehemiah Walter £100, and to his son Thomas £80,
and also voted £100 towards his settlement.

In 1674, 6th, 10th month, is the first record of a
sabbath school. "This day we restored a primitive
practice for ye training up of our youth," and then
reciting ''1st that the male youth, (in fitting season)
stey, every sabbath, after morning exercise, and the
elders examine their remembrance in every part of
the catechism. 2d, that the female youth should
also meet in one place and their elders examine their
remembrance in the catechism, and whatever else
may convene."

The following will show what were the most im-
portant matters, in those early days, in the colony
and in the town.

"Certain Propositions agreed upon and voted in ye Church ye
21ih of 8 m. 1658.

Infants, either of whose immediate parents are in Church cov-
enant, do confederate in their parents & therefore arc members of
ye Church and ye Church ought to take care that they be duly in-


slructed ,in the grounds of religion, & be trained up under yc
tuition of ordinances. Gen. 17, 7— Deul. 29, 12, 13—1 Cor. 7
14— Gen. IS, 19— Ps. 78, 5, 6— Eph. 64."

There were four others, which are too long to be
inserted here. The vote passed in these words :

"Upon many agitations amongst ourselves, upon much advice
and counsel and especially that of the first synod at Cambridge,
(1647) and the late Council at Boston, (1657) after more than
ten yeans time of consideration about those points in hand. Wee
the Church of Roxbury are at last come up to the resolution, that
wee judge in our consciences, yt those 5 propositions are agreea-
ble to ye truth of God and rules which we are to walk by."

The other propositions were — that it was the duty
of all the seede of the Church as soon as they should
come to years of discretion to own the covenant
made in their parents. That the children of mem-
bers should be entitled to baptism. That those who
had owned the covenant, must, before being admit-
ted to full communions the Lord's supper and voting,
make public confession, and in case of unreasonable
refusal, they should be cut off from the Church.

Nearly a hundred years later some of these ques-
tions taxed a mind like that of Jonathan Edwards.

The following list contains the names of all who
were admitted to the first Church before 1650, and
whose names do not occur in the ancient list of in-
habitants. Some of these remained, and were well
known citizens of the town, where their descendants
still live. Of others no trace can be found, but the
simple name on the Church records. Such particu-
lars as can be gleaned concerning the residence of
those who removed, are added to a few of the names,


as these arc important chiefly in genealogical re-

Jehu Burr, was a carpenter, and
one of the first settlers of Spring-
field, with Pynchon.
Richard Bugby & his wife, Judith.
Gregorie Baxter ; he went to

Francis Smith.
Mr. Richard Dummer and his wife

William Talmadge and wife, went

to "Linn."
Samuel Wakeman, went to Hart-
John Coggshall and wife went to

Rhode Island.
Thomas Offit and wife.
Thomas Goldthwait wentto Salem.
Rebecca Short, came in 1632.
Abraham Pratt and Joanna, his

Ann Shelly came in 1632, a maid
servant. She married one Fox-
all of Scituate.
John Walker and wife went to

Rhode Island.
Elizabeth Hinds married Alexan-
der of Boston, 1633.

John Porter &, Margaret, his wife.
Elizabeth Ballard, a maid servant,
came in 1633, married Robert
William Cornwell and his wife,

Samuell Basse, with Ann his wife,

went to Braintree.
Philip Sherman, came in 1633. He
married Sarah Odding, a daugh-
ter of John Porter's wife, be-
came a familist, and removed to
the Island.
Marsaret Huntiuifdon came in

1638, and brought several child-
ren. Her husband died on the
passage of small pox.
Jasper Rawlings and Joann, his

Thomas Hale married Jane Lord
in 1640 and went to Hartford,

Hues, a maid servant.

John Cumpton.


Robert Potter and Isabel, his wife.
Walter Disborough and his wife.
Elizabeth Howard, a maid servant.
Elizabeth Bowis.
Edward Paison. ,
Nicholas Baker.
William Webb and his wife.
Elizabeth Wise, widow.
Adam Mott and Sarah, his wife,
Hingham. A tailor of this name
came in 1635, in the Defence.
Richard Carder.
John Astwood and his wife went to

Milford, Conn.
Jasper Gun.
Thomas Bircharde and his wife,

came in the Truelove, 1635,
Mary Norrice, a maide, daughter

of Edward Norrice of Salem.
Henry Bull. He came out in the
James in 1635, became a familist
and went to the Island.
James How and his wife.
Mary Swaine. She lived after-
wards at New Haven, Conn.
Jane Ford. See Thos. Hale.
Pliillis Pepper, maid servant.
Christian Spisor.

Rachel Write. She was a "maid
"Servant"' tS: -married John Levins

Part I.]



Joanna Boysp, "a maidc. "
Thomas Mihill, Rowloj-.

Greene, a widow.

Thomas Robinson and Silene, his


Mrs. Sheafe, a widow.

Mr. Blackburne and his wife.

George Kilborne, a man servant.

He went to Rowley.
Dorothy Harbittle, a maid servant.
Ann Wallis, a maid servant.


Thomas Bumsted, and his wife. —

They were dismissed to Boston.


John Mayes and his wife.

Lewis Jones.

RicJiard Woddy and his wife.

Thomas Baker.

William Lewis.

Mr. Hugh Pritchard and his wife.

Edward White.

James Morgan.

Thomas Roberts, Exeter.

Edmund Sheffield, Braintree.

John Woody.

Thomas Reines, a man .servant.

Mary Turner, a maid servant.

Richard Goard.

Philip Torie.

Richard Woody, Jr.

Joan Atkins, a maid servant, mar-
ried a Smith «fcwent to Maiden.

Hannah Roe, a maid servant of
Mr. Gore.

William Franklin, executed.

Henry Farnham.

Ann Direton, a maid servant.

Thomas Gardner, Muddy River.

Widow Gardner.

John Stcbbin and wife.

John Stonehard and his wife, Ann.

Goodwife Farrar.

Goodwife Read.

Mary Heath.

Robert Harris.

John Turner.

Edward Denison.

Martha Metcalfe.

George Beard.

Samuell Williams, aged 15 or IS

John Weld.

Mrs. Barker. "She came from
Barbadoes for the Gospels sake."

Goodwife Fatchin, "a poore old

Besides these named, some Indians joined the
church. Nan, Egborn, and some others, are named
in the records.

Nearly all those whose names occur in the list giv-
ing the property estates of the inhabitants were, as
well as the foregoing, members of the first church.
For nearly a hundred years, that was the only church
and, in fact, the town. Few persons lived above the
Plain. Most of the families are very old, and nearly
all became coimected l)y blood or marriage.


Quito a number of estates in the town have never
passed out of the families of the first settlers.

The following is a List of the Ministers of the First Church.

First Church gathered in July, ..... 1632.

Rev. Thomas Weld, "chosen & invested pastor" July, 1632.

Rev. John Eliot "ordained Teacher" Nov. 5, . . 1632.

Rev. Thomas Weld, left 1640.

Rev. Samuel Danforth, ordained Sept. 24, . . 1650,

Rev. Nehemiah Walter, ord. Oct. 17, . . . 16S8.

Rev. Thomas Walter, ord. Oct. 19, ... . 171S.

Rev. Oliver Peabody, ord. Nov. 7, . . . . 1750.

Rev. Amos Adams, ord. Sept. 12, ... . 1753.

Rev. Eliphalet Porter, ord. Oct. 2, . . . . 17S2.

Rev. George Putnam, ord. July 7, . *" . . . 1830.

In 1706, Joseph Weld and forty-four others "at
the West end of Roxbury towards Dedham, com-
monly called Jamaica End & Spring Street," pre-
sented to the General Court a petition reciting that
they were "settled in an out-part of the town, at
great distance from the meeting house and the great
Travail and time in going & returning" &c., and
praying to be made a separate precinct, embracing
that part of the town lying between the line running
across the town at the upper part of the plain and
Dedham, including about fifty families, and to be
freed from taxes for the old parish and for aid in
building a house. The original, with the signatures
of the inhabitants at the West end and the original
orders of Court endorsed thereon, is still preserved
in the hands of one of the families in town.

It was first proposed to set the house at Weedy

Part I.] history of roxbury. 33

The first Church stood on the old Dedhani road,
on tlie part now called Walter street, near the old
burying ground.

The third or Jamaica Plain parish, was not formed
till more than fifty years afterwards.

The time when the first burial ground, at the cor-
ner of Washington and Eustis streets, was laid out is
not known.

On the second page of the oldest Town Book is an
agreement by "John Woody, constable," "to fence in
ye buriall place, with a stone wall, and a douball gate
of six or eight fett wide and to rigge it and to finde
all stuf and stones."

In 1651, Thomas Alcock had liberty to feed "the
buriall place, he fencing, and putting a gate and lock
and two keys," &c.

In 1683, voted "that our Brethren at Jamaco have
liberty to provide a convenant place for a herring
place and ye towne in generall wdll bare the charge
provided the selectmen doe judge the place conve-
nant, and the aforesaid herring place if so provided
shall be for any of the towne to bury their dead in if
they please." The place was probably on the hill,
near where the second Church stood.

In 1724, Captain Heath gave land for a burial
place at the Plain.

In 1725, the first burial place was enlarged.

In 1673, the town chose a coffm-maker and digger
of graves.



The Free Schoole in Roxlurie,

The free school, also, which has always been so
dear to the people of the Town, and has now become
so well endowed, was established by the first settlers
at an early day. The precise date of its foundation
cannot be determined and is only fixed in the various
accounts met with as prior to 1645. Dedham estab-
lished a school in 1644 and appropriated 20/. a year
to it, and Winthrop says that divers free schools were
established about this time. In the will of Samuel
Hugburne, under date of 1642, is this provision:
" When Roxbury shall set up a free schoole in ye
towne there shall ten shilling per annum out of ye
necke of land and ten shilling per annum out of the
house and house lot be paid unto it forever."

The school was, therefore, founded after 1642.

Sometime between that time and August 1645, the
inhabitants entered into an agreement for the support
of a free school, which agreement was destroyed by
fire, as will be seen by a petition afterwards present-
ed to the general court.

In 1645, there was an agreement made, to supply
the place of the old one, which is still preserved, in a
little, old, parchment covered book which is tied up

Part I.] history of roxbury. 35

like a scroll. It may now be regarded as the begin-
ning of the free school. As it is of some importance,

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