Charles M. (Charles Mayo) Ellis.

The history of Roxbury town (Volume 1) online

. (page 6 of 11)
Online LibraryCharles M. (Charles Mayo) EllisThe history of Roxbury town (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

and six pence for work about the meeting house and
"cage." The cage was then common for punish-
ment, but has given way to houses of correction, &:c.

Part I.] history of roxhury. 79

or jails. The word jail is said to be derived from
tlie old name of the cage.

• 1631. Wheat meal cost fourteen shillings a bushel,
peas eleven and sixpence, &c.

1633. There was a scarcity of corn, but people
lived well with fish and the fruits of their gardens.

1634. Corn was four shillings the bushel, some
at three, and some cheaper.

1634. Cattle were high. A good cow 25/. or
30/. A pair of bulls or oxen 40/. Corn was five
shillings a bushel. Carpenters had three shillings
the day. Board was nine or ten shillings.

1643. There was a long cold and wet time, and
it caused a great scarcity of corn, and in every town
many families had to live on fish, muscles, &c.

In 1640-1, there was a change in public affairs in
England, which so affected things here that a cow
which the year before was worth 20/. coidd not then
be sold for more than 4/. or 5/., and nobody could
pay his debts. This caused the colony to send out
agents, of whom Mr. Weld w^as one.

In 1645, in a deed from John Stonehead to Thomas
Dudley, two oxen are valued at 15/. ready money.

In 1646, a cow brought 4/., a cow and calf 6/., a
yoke of oxen 14/. ; English wheat was worth four
shillings a bushel, peas three shillings eight pence,
rye three shillings six pence.

In 1651, a cow was worth 5/., a yoke of oxen 16/.
a horse 16/.

In 1658, a cow was worth 31. to 4/., a yoke of oxen
10/., a horse 13/., Indian corn was at two shillings


per busllel, malt at four shillings, butter was five
pence a j)ound, cotton cloth sold for three shillings.

In 1683, a cow brought 2/. to 3/., sheep 5 shillings
a head, butter three pence.

In 1658, twelve acres of land on Stony River was
worth 48/., land at Gravelly point was held at 50/.
per acre.

In 1661, land at Roxbury Gate (next Boston) was
valued at 61. an acre.

In 1668, nine acres, *' as you go to Boston," was
valued at 100/., and four acres at Pine Island at 40/.

In 1683, six acres of pasture on the south side of
the Great Hill was worth 24/., four acres of marsh in
the Island at 38/., two of fresh meadow at Bare
marsh, 8/.

In 1697, thirteen acres of plow land in the calve's
pasture was worth 120/.

Wampumkeage, or Wampum, is frequently named
in the old lists of estates.

People were well supplied with arms. For in-
stance, in the parlor of Isaac Morrill, were hung up a
musket, a fowling piece, three swords, two belts of
bandoleers, a pike, a half pike and a corslett.


Ancient Localities.

Various localities are constantly named and referred
to in ancient documents. Some of these will be
found useful in tracing out titles and estates.

Boston Gates were at the line. Boston Neck ex-
tended from this line one mile and thirty nine yards
to the fortification, built of brick, with a ditch, where
there were two gates, one for foot passengers and one
for carriages. They were originally for defence.
Those at Roxbury line were probably of similar char-
acter, though less strong.

Clay Pits. These were near the street, where the
town's people used to dig clay for various purposes.
They were East of Roxbury-street and North of Dud-
ley-street. In 1675 the town granted them to Ralph
Hemingway. An indictment was once found for dig-
ging up clay at Boston gate.

The Landing Place. Some care must be taken
not to be misled by this name. There were two land-
ing places. When what is now the empty basin and
the back bay was full, the town had one on the north
of the meeting house hill. The other was at the
point that extends down to the wharf, » ! the - moutl < i « e ' £ »
Stot> ^ T » Rivor »»



Gravelly Point, was the point that runs out into
the bay at the moutli of Stony River, towards Cam-

Bass Point, is a name met with for the ^g\n first

Mills. A water mill was built at Roxbury, in
1633, by one Dummer. I have seen two depositions
taken in perpetuam, in 1702, of William Gary, then
aged 75, and John Ruggles sr. aged 70, in which they
say that they remember that fifty years before then
the tide mill was " Baker's Mill," and so called, and
that father Baker bought a piece of land for gravel on
the other side of the creek, and that ever since their
remembrance Thomas Lamb and his successors had
enjoyed the lane towards the mill, maintaining a
good and sufficient gate somewhere in the lane. This
was in the east of the town. Traces of a mill still
remain near Parker street. In 1684, the interest of
Thomas Baker (the son of John) " in the irons,
stones, land and privilege of the old tide mill in part-
nership," was valued at £15.

In 1655, leave was granted to John Johnson and
others to set down a mill, &c. in or near the place
where the old mill stood, provided they maintain a
cart bridge sufficient for the town.

In 1656, liberty was granted to John Pierpont for
setting a Fulling mill on Stony River.

In 1663, an "old mill" is named which stood on
Stony River, near the place where the Providence
railroad crosses Tremont road, and is now known as
,,,\Y.ait's mill. ...

There was a very ancient mill built to grind for

Part I.] history of roxbury. 83

Roxbury and Boston, (i. e. Brookline or Muddy River,
then part of Boston,) which stood at the northeast
corner of Jamaica pond, at tlie outlet; many okl i)a-
pers are met with relative to it, and the drawing ofif
the pond. Farther up in town was a saw mill, on
Saw Mill Brook.

Muddij River, was tiie water which still stands in
Brookline, near the Punch Bowl.

Stony River, is the stream that runs by Wait's mill,
and the corner of Centre street, under Hog's bridge.
There was a weir here in 1631.

Smelt Brook, runs under the roads at the foot of
Dudley and Washington streets, between Guild Hall
and the Universalist church. Mr. Young, the com-
piler of the Massachusetts chronicles, probably came
out some hot dusty afternoon to find it, and not seeing
any thing like it there, concluded it must be the
brook " between the town and Dorchester ;" but,
though it is hid by the great thoroughfares that pass
over it, it was once a considerable stream, and there
was once a large watering place there. This was al-
so once known as " The Brook," and the " Town
Brooke," &c. The stream that divides the town from
Dorchester was called " Dorchester Brooke."

Saw Mill Brook, is the stream you first cross as
you come from Spring street church towards the Plain,
by the upper road.

The Great Hill, is now known as Parker's Hill, as
w^ell as by its ancient name.

The Great Pond, is Jamaica Pond.

Clapboard Hill, is the name of the large hill in tiie
^uth part of the town, l.»etween Muddy pond aud


Flaggy meadow. It was also known as "Flax Hill."
One might think there would be little danger of such
places being forgotten, and that there could hardly
be any question about their identity ; but as long ago
as 1728, the depositions of some Connecticut people
were taken to fix the location of this hill. The pres-
ent name is said to have been given from some clap-
boards having been burned there.

fValk Hill, still bears the ancient name. On an
old plan I find the name of Pig's Walk. There was
a hill which for the first fifty years was called Pig's
Hill. It may be the same.

The Training Place. The Old Training Place is
named in the Ancient Transcript. In 1631 the court
ordered that on the first Thursday of every month
there should be a general training of captain Under-
bill's company at Roxbury and Boston. This must
have been a famous place in those days. Training
meant something then. The Training field was east
of the street, or Roxbury Street, and contained seven
acres or more, extending along where Warren and
Washington streets unite. The Town had only a
right in it for training;. In 1762 thev sold that to
Joseph Weld.

The Common lay south of the road leading to Dor-
chester. " Common Lands" are, however, not to be
confounded with this. They are often named in an-
cient deeds, and refer to lands in the several divisions
which had not then been allotted. Twenty eight
acres of the Town Common was sold to Joseph Wil-
liams in 1763, for £1431 16 shillings. The wood

Part I.] history of roxburv. 85

then sold for £1787 osh. 2d. Fiftj four acres were
sold in 1812.

Remington'' s Paradise^ was on the road to Brook-
line, near what is now called Parker Street. This
name occurs in 1653, and was given for the owner.
There is a place there still known by the name of

Sprinor Street was named in 1690. '

Jamaica Plain. The following account of this
name is given by the late pastor of the church at the
Plain. "Jamaica Plain, from its proximity to the
pond, was originally called ' Pond Plain.' How it
changed its name has never been really ascertained.
There are many legends upon this inquiry, but none
of them entirely satisfactory. One is, that it was so
baptized in consequence of gentlemen from Jamaica
spending their summers there ; which circumstance,
if true, might at once account for it. But it cannot
be ascertained, that any other than Timothy Penny,
Esq. who came to this country not earlier than 1767,
ever had a residence here ; whereas Hugh Thomas,
April 7th, 1677, ninety years previous, conveyed his
property for the benefit of a school ' to the people at
the Jamaica end of the town of Roxbury.'

" Another more probable, but not altogether satis-
factory account is, that a gentleman by the name of

, from some unknown cause, disliking his wife,

quitted London, informing her that he was going to
Jamaica on business. Hearing nothing from him for
a very long period, she at length embarked for Ja-
maica, in expectation of finding him there. But, to
her great surprise, she could not learn that he had ev-


er been at the Island. And a vessel from that place
going direct to Boston, she took passage, arrived safe,
and having frequently related the circumstance, at
length obtained accidental intelligence that an En-
glishman had for some time past been residing with a
poor family in Roxbury, ' at the Pond Plain ;' where,
most unwelcomely to himself, she actually found him.
The story of his saying he was going to Jamaica, was
so often and ludicrously told, that the inhabitants de-
risively, at first, called it Jamaica Plain, which name
it has since retained.

"' The last, and to me most probable accoimt 1 have
heard was, that the Indians, who at that time were
numerous here, used frequently to go to the street in
Roxbury for rum, and having accidentally met with
some Jamaica spirit, that greatly pleased them, they
would afterwards inquire for it, saying " Indian love
Jamaica ;" in consequence of which, the retailers cal-
led them 'Jamaica' folks or Indians; from which cir-
cumstance, the name became gradually familiar, and
all the inhabitants of this part of the town at length
acquired the name of ' Jamaica' Plain people, instead
of Pond Plain, as they had been usually called be-

But it seems hard to say which of them is most im-
probable, or to see what basis of fact the two last ac-
counts, or the last especially, have more than the first.
If it is certain that gentlemen from Jamaica did not
make this loveliest of spots their summer residence in
1677, it is just as certain that there was no poor fam-
ily for a nameless London gentleman to live with ;
"all the peo})lc oi' Ro.\bury were very rich,'' and this

Part !.] history of koxijuky. 87

lady who was never heard of before or since, uould
hardly have named it Jamaica, from all the concern
that place had in her affairs. Furthermore, it does
not appear that the Indians here were numerous, at
any time, or that they used to go often to the street
for rum. It is altogether likely from Eliot's princi-
ples and influence and care for the natives, and the
persons who traded in town, that Roxbury Street was
the last place an Indian would go to for any thing of
the sort.

The name was well known in 1677. It was writ-
ten Jamaco, Jemaco, and Jameco. The name Jama-
co End was used. " Pond Plain" does not appear to
have been the earliest.

Weedy Plain was at the west part of the town.

Squirrels Delight^ was near Quenecticote lane, by
Jamaica pond, towards Brookline.

Pine Island, was towards Dorchester, in the bay ;
" on the river that leads to Dorchester tide mill,"
where the magazine is.

The Wolf Traps were towards Dorchester.

The Foxholes were west of Back or Walnut street.

Totman^s Rocks, or Tatman's, were near the cor-
ner where the pump stands at the corner of Centre
and Cross streets. The name was from John Tot-
man, who lived there.

The Calves^ Pastures were on the road to Dor-
chester. They embraced some marsh land.

The Thousand Acres were next to Dedham, and
are explained in connection with the town's bounda-

Gamblin''s End, was near School street, near Stony


River. The naino was pmhahlv given from Robert
Gamblin, who lived n^^xt to Thomas Bell, on what is
now School street.

The " Salt Panns'''' were at the east end of the
town, towards the bay next Dorchester.

The Nooks, are v^rj often referred to in old docu-
ments, and often create perplexity. I find the name
was used for certain points of land, or knolls, that
made out into the meadows near the streams, and the
nooks next Dorchester and those on Stony River are
named. The name now conveys quite a different

Rocky Swamp it is hard to identify. Several roads
in diiTerent parts of the town lead to "Rocky Swamp."
The chief one extended from what is now known as
Tommy's Rock, up to Stony River, through the val-
ley. The road from Philip Eliot's, through Gamblin's
End, led to Rocky Bottom.

Pritchard^s Island was a marsh, at the mouth of
Stony River. From an old deed executed by five of
the chief men ot the town, as " atturneyes" of Hugh
Pritchard, granting to a large number of individuals
various portions of this marsh, it appears that this is
" an island now, by reason of the creeke that hath
been digged between the same and the land of John
Johnsons," and with the land, part of this creek was

" Black NecW is a name which occurs, the place
is not known.

Haeburn^s Neck. In 1694, the town voted "that
the lane which goeth out of the highway to the tide
mill and leadeth downe toward Gravelly Point, be-

Part I.] history of roxbury. ' 89

tween the land of the heirs of Mr. Samuel Danforth
and those of Mr. Haeburn, commonly called Mr. Hae-
burn's Neck, should be lajed open from the said high-
way to the tide mill," &c.

Dudleys Necky was north of the road leading to

Bear 31ars/i, or Bare Marsh. The highway which
led " from the Dedham road at Policy's," (the corner
at Mr. Stephen M. Welds',) " by Mr. John Welds,"
(the street now South street,) led to a bear marsh,
which was off at the south of the Plain, towards Dor-
chester and Milton. It embraced the meadows upon
the head waters of Stony River.

Meeting house Hill is where the first church stands.
Meeting house Lane is that part of Washington street
which leads up to it.



Accounts of the first settlers., their families, residences, <fc.

This contains every name in the town to the year
1650, so far as they are recorded in the various rec-
ords of births, deaths and marriages of the town, and
the first parish.

George Abbot married Mary Chandler, Dec. 12, 1646. This
is probably the one named by Farmer as having come from York-
shire and settled in Andover in 1647, and married Hanna

Mr. George Alcock came with the first company to Roxbury in
1630. He was deacon of the church and representative to the
first General Court in 1634. His son John, who was born in
England, came out with his father, and graduated at Harvard
College in 1646. He was a physician. Deacon George had
son Samuel, born 1637, April 16. His homestead of five acres
was south of Governor Dudley's, fronting east on the highway,
and west on the meeting house common. He died December 30,
1640. He had a brother Thomas, who was one of the first men
in Dedham. His sister married Edward Porter. "When the
people of Rocksbrough joyned to the church at Dorchester until
such time as God should give them opportunity to be a church
among themselves, he was by the church chosen express to be a
deacon to regard the brethren at Rocksbrough." "He made two
visits to England upon just calling thereunto." "He lived in a
good and godly sort and left a good savor behind him, the poor
of the church much bewailing him."

Part I.] history of roxbury. 91

John Alcock had twins, Ann and Sarah, born May 26, 1650.
Joanna died 1649, August 5. In 1668, Doctor Alcock bought a
house and eighteen acres, close to the church, of John Pierpont.

Henry Archer married Elizabeth Stow, in 1639. She was
daughter of John. Henry Archer may have been the one at
Ipswich, in 1641.

James Asttoood came in 1637. His wife was named Sarah. —
He had James, born Nov. 29, 1638 : John, born Sept. 20, 1640,
died March 15, 1644: John, born March 7, 1641 : Joseph, born
Nov. 19, 1643: Joseph, Nov. 10, 1644: Sarah, born Jan. 10,
1646 : Mary, born Dec. 21, 1647. He was dismissed to Boston.
His homestead, was next to Philip Eliot's, west of Stony River,
and contained four acres. After his death in 1654, his estate
was declared insolvent.

Thojnas Baker, whose wife was Elizabeth, had children, John :
Sarah, wife of Jabez Jackson : Marya, wife of Roger Adams :
Elizabeth, born Oct. 2, 1641 : Joseph, born Feb. 24, 1647: his
house lott of one half an acre was next the land belonging to the
mill which he owned — he died in 1683. His will says he was
*'old and blinde." His father was John Baker, who was freeman
in 1634.

Gregory Baxter, freeman in 1631 ; had Baihesbie, born June,
1632: Abigail, born Sept. 1634: John, born Dec. 1, 1639.

Thomas Bell came in 1635, was made freeman in 1636 ; he
had Sarah, born 1640 : John, born 1643, died 1643, 4ih month.
His homestead was on School street, then the road to Gamblin's
end. His old house was torn down in 1765, and the present one
built in 1768, at the corner of Boylston street. His will is dated
January 29th, 1671, and was proved May 30, 1672. He left
Roxbury, had letters of dismission in 1654, and died in England,
but will be remembered as long as the free school endures, for he
gave to it all his property here, a bequest which, at the time was
a very great one, and which, with its accumulations, now renders
this institution one of the most richly endowed in the country.
A few more such would have made this school a college.

92 HisruRY Oh RoxBURY. [Part L

George Brand married Malhew Heath in 1643, his house lot
of one-half an acre was bounded "one side on Stony River, and
every way else on the common;"

Daniel Bruer, or Brewer, was freeman in 1634 ; he had a son
Nathaniel, born May 1, 1635: Sarah, born March 8, 163S.—
Another son of his died in 1646. His son Daniel graduated a.t
Harvard College in 1687, and was a minister at West Springfield.
He died in 1689, at the age of 84. George Brewer died, 1646.

Edward Brigge, or Bridge, or Bridges, was freeman in 1639 ;
he had Thomas, born May 31, 1638. He died in 1683, aged 82.
He lived on the Dorchester road, west of George Holmes', where
he had eight acres.

John Bowles, or Bowelis, was freeman in 1640. He was for a
long time one of the most important men in town affairs, being
one of the feoffees of school, and often one of the five-men. He
was ruling Elder of the church. In 1689-90, he was Speaker
of the Court. He lost his wife, Dorothy, in 1649. In 1649, he
married Elizabeth Heath. He died in 1691. He had a daugh-
ter Elizabeth, 1650.

John Burrell, whose wife was Sarah, had a daughter Sarah in

Thomas Bumstead, whose wife was Susan, brought two small
children, Thomas and Jeremiah, Anna was born Jan. 20, 1639,
Hannah in 1641, Mary in 1642, Gerard in 1643. He was dis-
missed to Boston, and died 1677.

Edivard Bugby, or Boogby — Joseph, born June 6, 1640. An
infant born and died, 1642. His property in 1668 was invento-
ried and appraised at £336: 06: 06. The home lot of three acres
with his house, which was on the right of the way to the great
lotts was valued at £100.

Robert Burnet lost a child in 1642.

Edward Blacksley, a widower, died in 1637. His daughter
Sarah died in 1638.

Jerauld Bourne had Jerauld, born August 6ih, 1643.

Part l.] histoky of roxijuhy. 93

Ann Brabrook, an old woman, died !\Iay liO, 1(348.

ArtJair Cary, which may have been also written Gary, had

son Samuel born Sept. 22, 163S. He died in 1666. He had

other children, William and Nathaniel. His wife's name was

William Chandler came in 1637. He brought with him from
England his wife Hannah, and four small children, Thomas,
Hannah, John and William. He was made a freeman in 1640,
and died, the next year, of consumption, " a godly christian."

Edimind Chamberlain married Mary Turner in 1646. The
same name occurs in Chelmsford.

Richard Chamberlain owned a house and half an acre next
Rev. Jno. Eliots. The same name is found at Braintree.

Samuel Chapin. His wife was Sisly. His name is met with
at Springfield.

William Chase came in 1630, and brought with him his son
William. He removed to Sciiuate, and afterwards to Yarmouth.

Benjamin Child. His name occurs in 1648. He had land in
town and his name is in the Transcript, but he belonged to
Muddy River. In 1672, he was one of those there who contri-
buted for building the church. His wife Mary was admitted to
the church in 1658.

William Cheany, Cheney, or Chcny, came in 1635, with his
wife Martha, and his children, Mary, Martha, John, and Daniel ;
had a son, John, born Sept. 29, 1639 : Mehitable, born June 1,
1643 : Joseph was born June 6, 1647. He died in 1666, aged
63. His property amounted to £886: 01: 04.

John Carman came in 1631, with Florence, his wife. His son
John was born in 16.33, Caleb in 1639.

James Clarke. His children, Elizabeth and IMary, were bap-
tized June 8, 1645 ; Martha, born April 25, 164S : Hatnia, burn
Dec. 23, 1619.


Robert Cole came in 1640, wiih the first company. He was
one of the two that were chosen in 1632, from each town, to con-
fer with the assistants, &c. He was made freeman in 1631. He
removed, probably to Ipswich.

Philip Corey married Mary Scarboro, Oct. 1, 1647.

StocMah Coddington. His wife, "an anlient woman, not of
this church," died in 1644.

William Coy married Grace Newell, Sept. 14, 1644.

Griffin Crafts was son in law of John Kuggles. His son
John's birth, July 10, 1630, is the first recorded in the town. —
Mary, was born Oct. 10, 1632: Abigail, xMarch 18, 1634 : Samuel,
Dec. 12, 1637 ; Moses, April 28, 1641. He was lieutenant, rep-
resentative from 1663 to 1667, five years, and often selectman
and concerned in Town affairs. His descendants are numerous.

William Curtis^ with his wife Sarah, was here March, 1632-3,
when he was a freeman. They brought, from England, with
them, Thomas, died 1652; Mary, John, and Philip. They had
born here, Hannah; Elizabeth; and Isaac, born 1642. Their old-
est son William came out the year before them. " He was a
hopefuUe schollar, but God took him in 1634." His homestead
of ten acres was bounded south on Stony River, north on R. Pep-
per, west on J. Ruggles and John Totman, east on George Brand.
This has never been alienated from the family. It is now occu-
pied by Mr. Isaac Curtis, the sixth in lineal descent (the oldest
of each generation having borne the same name) from William's
youngest child. It is the old place just beyond the railroad cros-
sing on the right of Boylston street as you go towards the Plain.
One of his descendants in 1721 bought a horse and negro and set
up farming, and was the first man who carried vegetables to town
in a cart, instead of panniers.

John Dane married Ann Cluuidlcr in 1613, and died 1658,
leaving his wife and children, Francis, Elizabeth (How) and


WiUiam Davis was here in 1642, had son John, born Oct. 1,
1643: Samuel, born Feb. 21, 1641. His wife died, 165S. He
died in ltJS3, aged 66. John and William died in 1706.

Tobias Davis married Bridget Kinman in 1649, and died in
1690. He had a daughter Sarah, born Feb. 10, 1646. His first

1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11

Online LibraryCharles M. (Charles Mayo) EllisThe history of Roxbury town (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 11)