D. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) Hurd.

History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) online

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counsel), have made, constituted, deputed, authorised, and ap-
pointed Captaine Miles Standish, or, in his absence, Edward
Winslow, John Howland, and John Allen, or any of them, to
be our true and lawfull attorney and attornies, jointly and sev-
erally, in our name and stead, to enter into the said tracte and
trades of land and other the premisses with their appurtenances,
or into some part thereof in the name of the whole for us, and
in our names to take possession and seisin thereof, and after
such possession and seisen thereof, or of some parte thereof,
in the name of the whole had and taken ; then for us, and in
our names, to deliver the full and peaceable possession of soisen
of all and singular the said mentioned, to be graunted, prem-
isses unto the said William Bradford, his heires, associatts, and
assignes, or to his or their certaine atturney or atturnies in that
behalf, ratifyinge, allowinge and confinningo all whatsoever
our said atturney doe in or about the premises. In witness
whereof the said counsel), established att Plimouth, in the
county of Devon, for the phmtingc, ruleinge, onleringe, and
governinge of New England, in America, have hereunto putt
their seals the thirteenth day of January, in fifth ycaro of
the raigne of our soveroigne, Lord Charles, by the grace of
God, kinge of England, Scotland, Frauncc, and Ireland,
defender of the ffaithe, Ac., Anno Dom 1 , 1629.

[Seal] "R. Warwicke."

The patent bears the following indorsement;

"The within named John Alden, authorised as attorney for
the within mensioned counsill haveing in their name and stead
entered into some part of the within mensioned tracts of land
and other tho premises in the name of the whole, and for them
and in theire names taken possession and seizure thereof, did,
in the name of the said counsill, deliver the full and peaceable
possession and seizure of all and singular the within mensioned
to be graunted prepisses unto William Bradford, for him, his
heires, associates, aud assignes. Secundcm formam cartao.
" In presence of

" James Cudworth,
*' William Clarke,

"NATHANIKL MoilTON, Secretary."

The territory included in the earlier part of the
patent was that which made up the Plymouth Colony
until the union with Massachusetts in 1 G02, and
which has been long known as the Old Colony. Its
northern boundary line started at a point on Massa-
chusetts Bay between Scituate aud Cohasset, aud ran



to Providence River. It included all of Plymouth
County, except the towns of Hingham and Hull, and a i
small part of Brockton, all of Bristol and Barnstable i
Counties, and the towns of Bristol, Warren, Barring-
ton, Little Compton, and Tiverton, in Rhode Island. !
The latter part of the patent includes a grant of fifteen <
miles on each side of the Kennebec River for trading
purposes, on which at a place called Cushenoc or Kous- ]
sinoc, now Augusta, a trading-house was erected and j
furnished with eomiuoditiesforatrade with the Indians. '
It was at this trading-post where the Pilgrims first in- ■
troduced the use of wampum or wauipampeake, the
value of which they had learned from De llasieres
during his visit to Plymouth in 1G27. Bradford says,
in speaking of the business at Kennebec, " But that
which turned most to their profitintime wasan eutrance
into the trade of wampauipeake, for they now bought
about fifty pounds worth of it of them (the Dutch) ;
and they told them how vendable it was at their fort,
Orania (Albany), and did persuade them they would
find it so at Kennebec; and so it came to pass in
time, though at first it stuck, aud it was two years
before they could put off this small quantity, till the
iuland people knew of it, and afterwards they could
scarce even gett enough for them, for many years to-
gether. And strange it was to see the great altera-
tion it made in a few years among the Indians them-
selves, for all the Indians of these parts and the
Massachusetts had none or very little of it, but the
sachems and some special persons that wore a little
of it for ornament ; only it was made and kept among
the Narrigausets and Pequots, which grew rich and
potent by it, and these people were poor and beggarly
aud had no use of it. Neither did the English of
this plantation, or any in the land till now that they
had knowledge of it from the Dutch, so much as
know what it was, much less that it was a commodity
of that worth and value. Aud it hath now coutinucd
a current commodity about this twenty years (1650),
and it may prove a drug in time. In the mean time
it makes the Indians of these parts rich and power-
ful and also proud thereby, and fills them with pieces
(muskets), powder, aud shot, which no laws cau re-
strain by reason of the baseness of sundry unworthy
persons, both English, Dutch, aud French, which
may turn to the ruin of mauy."

To this patent the king had given the ageuts of
the Pilgrims reason to believe that he would give his
royal sauction and affix his signature, but he at last
refused, and as long as the colony existed it never
had a royal charter. On the 2d of March, 1640/1,
Governor Bradford assigned this charter to the free-
men of the colony, with certain reservations for the

benefit of the " old comers," and from that time it
was their possession. It always remained in the hands
of the family of Governor Bradford, however, prob-
ably as one of the colonial archives in his keeping at
the time of his death, until 1741, when, duriug a con-
troversy concerning the line between Massachusetts
aud Rhode Island, it was, as Josiah Cotton states in
his diary, " after a deal of labor and cost,'' found at
Plympton and used as evidence. In 1820 it was
found where it now is — in the office of the register of
deeds, in Plymouth — by the commissioners appuiuted
by the Legislature of Massachusetts to superintend
the work of copying a portion of the Old Colony
Records for the State. It was then, as they say in
their report, in a defaced condition, with its seal of
the president and Council for New England much
broken. They further say " that the parts of the seal
were carefully cemented and secured together by
them and inclosed in a case, so that the original im-
pression may be seen." The legend on the seal,
which is a little more than four iuches in diameter
aud made of brown wax, it is impossible to decipher,
but there seem to be on its face a representation of
the hull of a vessel and two figures, one of an Indian
carrying in one hand a bow and arrow, and in the
other a club ; and the other of a white man bearing
in his left hand an olive-branch, and in the other an
article which cannot be distinguished.

The following is the assignment of this patent,
made on the 2d of March, 1640/1 :

11 Whereas divers and sondry treaties have becne in the pub-
like Sl Generall Court of New Plymouth, bis majestie our dread
Soveraigne, Charles, by the grace of God, King of England,
Scotland, France and Ireland, Ac, concerning the proper right
and title of tbo lands within the bounds and liiutuitts of hit
said majesties' letters patents, graunted by the right huu^'^ his
majesties counsell for New England, ratifyud by their coinon
settle, and signed by the hand of the Right Hoa bto Earle of
Warwick, then prosident.of the said counsel), to William Brad-
ford, his beires, assooiats, and assigns, beareing date, &.C ; and
whereas the said Willin Bradford and divers others, the first
instruments of God in the begininge of this great work of plan-
tation, togethor with such as the alorderingo hand of God, in
bis providence, soone added unto them, have beene at very
greate charges to procure the said lands priviledges A free-
domes, from all entauglemeuts, as may appcure by divers aud
sundry deeds, enlargements of grauots, purchases, payments of
debts, «fcc, by reason whereof the title to the duv of this present,
remayneth in the said Willm, his heires, associats, and assigncs,
— now, for the better setting of the statu of the said lands afore-
said, the said Willm Bradford and those first instruments termed,
and called in sondry orders upon publike record, the purchasers
or old comers, witnes two in especiall, those beareing date tin-
third of March 1639, thother in December ye first 1640, where-
unto these presents have speciall relacon A agreement, and
whereby they are distinguished from others the frcomen and
inhabitants of the said corporation, — bo it knowne unto all men,
therefore by these presents, that the said Willm Bradford, for



himself, his heires, together with the said purchasers, do only
reserve unto themselves, their heires and assignes, those three
tracts of lands luenconed in the said resolucou, order & agree-
ment, bcarcing date the tirst day of December, 1G4U, viz, first
from the bounds of Yarmouth, three miles to the eastward of
Naem.-heckett, and from sea to sea, crosse the said neck of
land ; the second, of u place called Acconquesse al a Acockeus,
w cb iy e th in the bottome of the bay, adjoyneing to the west side
of Poynt Perrill, and two miles to the westerne side of the said
river, to another place, called Acqussent River w ch entreth at
the westerne end of Niekatay, and two miles to the eastward
thereof, and to extend eight miles up into the countrey : the
third placo from Sowaiusett River to Patucquett River, w tb
Cuusuuipsit Neck, w cU is the cheif habitacon of the Indians and
reserved for them to dwell upon extending into the land eight
miles through the whole breadth thereof, together w lh such other
smalc parcells of lauds as they or any of them are psonally pos-
sessed of or interested in by verturo of any termor titles or
grauuts whatsoever. And the said Willm Bradford doth, by the
free ;ind full consent, approbacoo, and agreement of the said old
planters or purchasers, together w lh the likeing, approbacon &
acccptacou of the other part of the said corporacon, surrender
into tho hands of the whole Court, consistinge of tho freemen
of this corporacon of New Plymouth, all that their right & title,
power, nuthorytie, priviledges, immunities A freedomes granted
in the said letters patents, by the said right hon b,t ' counsoll for
New England, reserving his i, their psonall right of freemen,
together w th tho said old planters aforesaid, except the said
lands before excepted, declaring the freemen of this present
corporacion, together w"> all such as shalbe legally admitted
into the same his associats. And the said Willm Brudford for
him his heires und assignee doe further hereby promise and
graunt to doe X perforuic whatsoever further thingo or ttiingos,
act or acta, w ch in him lyeth, which shalbe needful and expe-
dient for the better contirmeing &, establisbinge the said pmisses
as by counsell learned in the lawes shalbe reasonably advised
and devised when he shalbo thereunto required. In witues
whereof the said Willm Bradford hath in publiko Court sur-
rendered the said letters patents actually into the hands and
power of the said Court, bynding himself, his heires, exeout™,
administrate and assignes to deliver up whatsoever specialties
are in his hands that do or may concerne the samo.

" Memorand : that the said surrender was made by the said
Willm Bradford, in publiek Court, to Nathaniell Sowther, es-
pecially authorised by the whole Court to receive tho same, to-
gether \v tb the said letters patents in the name and for the use
of the whole body of freemen.

" It is ordered by the Court, that Willm Bradford shall have
the keeping of tho said letters patonts, w oh woro afterwards de-
livered unto him by tho said Nathaniell Sowther, in the pub-
like Court."

After the issue of the Dew patent the colony be-
came established on a tinner foundation, and its gov-
ernment begau to take on more of the forms and
methods of a regularly organized body politic. Iu
1633 the records of the court had beguu ; a Governor
and seven assistants were annually chosen by the
whole body of freemen ; the General Court had been
established, and trial by jury had been ordered. Few
laws had been passed, and prior to 1636 such as were
enacted related chiefly to police and military regula-
tions, the division of lands, and the settlement of
estates. On the 15th of October iu that year, " the

ordinances of the colony and corporacon being read,
divers were found worthy the reforming, others the
neglecting, and others fitt to be instituted and made."
This was the first revision of the laws, and as entered
in the records contains many bearing the date of lb'36
which had doubtless been inforce for a number of years.
In the earliest years the colony was little more than a
voluntary association controlled by a majority, and
only such laws were passed as related to necessities
and conditions not met by the English code. Such
as they were, however, until 1639 were passed by
the whole body of freemen, constituting the General
Court. One of the early enactments of this court
declared " that now being assembled according to
order and having read the Combiuacou made at Cape
Cod (compact) the 11th of November, 162U, in the
year of the reign of our late sovereign Lord King
James of England, France, and Ireland the eighteenth,
and of Scotlaud the fifty-fourth, as also our letters
Patents confirmed by the honorable council, his said
Majestie established and granted the 3rd of January,
1621), in the fifth year of the reign of our sovereign
Lord King Charles. And finding that as free-born
subjects of the state of Eugland we hither came en-
dowed with all and singular the privileges belouging
to such in the first place, we think good that it be
established for an act, That according to the due priv-
ilege of the subject aforesaid, no imposicou, law, or
ordinance be made or imposed upon us by ourselves
or others at present, or to come, but such as shall be
made or imposed by consent according to the free
liberties of the State and Kingdom of England aud
no otherwise." At the same time it was provided
" that the laws and ordiuauces of the colony, and for
the government of the same, be made only by the
freemen of the corporation and no others." It is not
difficult to discover in these enactments the germ of
that free and democratic spirit which, under the fav-
orable conditions to which they were destined to be
subjected, has developed those popular institutions
under which we live.

The Governor and seven assistants made up the
Court of Assistants. There was at first no Deputy
Governor, but in 1636 the Governor was authorized,
with the consent of the assistants, to appoint one of
their number to govern during his absence, and iu
1651 authority was given to the Governor " to depute
any one of the assistants whom he shall thiuk meet
to be in his room, when he is occasioned to be absent,
as a Deputy Governor." In- 1679 it was enacted
" that the Deputy Governor be under oath as such,
and therefore annually chosen," and from that time
that officer was a recognized part of the government.



The offices, both of Governor and assistants, were
obligatory on the first election, and by one of the
earliest laws a fine of twenty pounds was provided
for a refusal of any one " to hold and execute the
office of Governor for his year," and one of ten
pounds for a refusal to act as assistant. Until 1636
all trials were had in the General Court, but in that
year it was enacted that the Governor and two assist-
ants might try civil cases involving an amount not
exceeding forty shillings, and criminal cases involving
a small fine. In the same year it was provided " that
a great quest be panelled by the Governor and assist-
ants, or the major part of them, and warned to serve
the kiug by inquiring into the abuses and breaches of
such wholesome laws and ordinances as teud to the
preservation of the peace and good of the subject,
and that they present such to the court as they either
find guilty or probably suspect, that so they may be
prosecuted by the Governor by all due means." In
1666, after provision had been made for the choice of
selectmen, it was enacted that civil cases involving
less thau forty shillings should be tried by that board.
The General Court was composed of all the free-
men of the colony. They chose the officers of the
government aud made the laws. The first list of
freemen in the records is found under date of 1633,
as follows :

_ c

W ■<

Edward Winslow, Governor.

Cupt. Miles Standish,

William Bradford,

John Howland,

John Alden,

John Done,

Stephen Hopkins,

William Gilson,

Isaac Allcrton.

Thomus Prcnoe.

Ralph Smith.

William Brewster.

Samuel Fuller, Sr.

John Jenny.

Robert ttickes.

Manassah Keinpton.

William Wright.

Fraucis Cooke.

Francis Eaton.

Jonathan Brewster.

John Winslow.

John Coombs.

John Shaw.

Anthony Annable.

John A'luiu.-.

Stephen Deane.

Stephen Tracy.

William Basset.

Ralph Wallen.

William Palmer.

Cutbbert Cuthbertson.

William Holmes.

John Dunham.
William Pontus.
Francis Weston.
Joshua Pratt.
Phineus Pratt.
Peter Brown.
George Soule.
Edmund Chandler.
Christopher Wadsworth.
Thomas Clarko.
Henry Howland.
Kenolm Winslow.
Josiah Winslow.
Richard Sparrow.
Humphrey Turner.
Anthony Savory.
Roger Chandler.
Robert Bartlett.
Experience Mitchell.
Edward Bangs.
Nicholas Snow.
John Faunce.
Ricbard Church.
Joseph Rogers.
Henry Cobb.
Samuel Nash.
Samuel Eddy.
Philip Deluno.
Abraham Peirce.
Ralph Fogg.
William Collier.
John Cooke.

Edward Doty.
James Hurst.

John Barnes.
George Watson.
Isaac Robinson.
James Cole.
Samuel Fuller.
James Cudworth.
Samuel Howse.
William Palmer, Jr.
John Holmes.
William Hoskins.
John Cooper.
Henry Rowley.

Thomas Willet.
Thomas Cu>hiuan.

Admitted Aftenvarda.
Richard Hi


Moses Siuionson.
Richard Cluffe.
Thomas Atkinson.
Jan. 5, 1635.
Timothy Hatherlcy.
John Browue.
Henry Samson.
William Hatch.
Georgo Kcurick.
March 1. Love Brewster.
Oct. 4. Nathaniel Suwthcr.

These men and their successors constituted the
General Court, which was the original type aud
model of the General Court of Massachusetts to-day,
aa the Governor and assistants were the germ of the
Governor and Council as they uow exist. The free-
men were at first the signers of the compact, and
such persons as might be added by a majority vote.
In 1656 it was ordered that " such as are admitted to
be freemen of the corporation, the deputies of such
towns where such persons live shall propound them
to the court, being such as have been also approved
by the freemen in that town where such persons
live," and in 1658 these words were added, " And upon
satisfying testimony given from the freemen of these
towns by their deputies such to be forthwith received
without any further delay at the same court when
such testimony is given." It must be explained that
the deputies were the representatives to the General
Court, who, in 163D, after the population of the
colony became scattered, and found it impracticable
to attend in a body, it was provided by law should be
chosen in each towu. From that year the General
Court became a representative body, as it Ls today.
In 1658 it was further " enacted by the court and
the authorities thereof that all such as shall be ad-
mitted freemen of this corporation shall stand one
whole year propounded to the court, viz., to be pro-
pounded at one June Court, and to stand so pro-
pounded until the June court following, aud then to
be admitted if the court shall not see cause to the
contrary." In 1674 it was enacted " by the court
and the authority thereof as to the orderly admit-
tance of freemen ; first that the names of the freemen
in each town be kept upon town record, and that no
man's name shall be brought into the court to be
propounded to take up his freedom, unless he have
had the approbation of the major part of the free-
men at home, and the same to be signified to the
court under the town clerk's hand by the Deputies."
In 1658 it was still further enacted " that all such as



refuse to take the oath of fidelity as Quakers, or such
as are manifest encouragers of such, ahull have no
voice in choice of public officers in the place where
they dwell, or shall be employed in any place of trust
while they continue such ; that no Quaker, Rantor,
or any such corrupt person shall be admitted to be a
freeman of this corporation ; that all such as are op-
posers of the good and wholesome laws of this colony,
or manifest opposers of the true worship of God, or
such as refuse to do the country service being called
thereunto shall not be admitted freemen of this cor-
poration, being duly convicted of all or any of these ;
and that if any person or persons that or shall be
freemen of this corporation that are Quakers, or such
as are manifest encouragers of them, and so judged
by the court aud of the laws thereof, and such as
judged by the court gravely scandalous; as Hers,
drunkards, swearers, etc., shall lose their freedom of
this corporation." Finally, in 1671, it was provided
that freemen must be twenty-one years of age, of
sober and peaceable conversation, orthodox in the
fundamentals of religion, and possessed of twenty
pounds of ratable estate in the colony.

Precisely what the powers and duties of the Gov-
ernor and assistants were in the earliest days, it is
difficult to say. In 1636, those of the Governor were
defined by law as follows :

"Tho office of the Governor for the time being consists in
the execucon of such laws and ordinances as are or snail be made
and established for the good of the corporacon, according to the
sevcrall bounds and limits thereof, vizt. : In calling together
or advising with the Assistants or Couucell of the said corpo-
racon upon such materiall occasion (on so seeming to him) us
lime shall bring foorth. In which assembly and all others, the
Governor to propound the occasion of the Assembly, and have
a double voice therein. If the Assistants judge the case too
great to be decided by them, and refer it to the General! Court,
then the Governor to sumon a Court by warning all the tfreemen
aforesaid that are then extant and these also to propound causes
and goo before the Assistants in the examinacion of pticulars,
and to propound such sentence as shall be determined : llur-
ther, it shall be lawful! for him to arrest and comit to ward any
offenders, provided that with all convent spede lie shall bring
the cause to heareing, either of the Assistance or General
Court, according to tho nature of the offence. Allso, it shall
be lawful! for hiui to examine any suspicious persons for
evill against the Colony, as to intercept or oppose such as he
concciveth may tend to the overthrow of the same. And this
officer continue one whole yeare and no more without renewing
by olecon."

In the same year it was also provided, " That uo
person or persons hereafter shall be admitted to live
and inhabit within the government of New Plymouth,
without the leave and liking of the Governor, or two
of his assistants at least." The Governor was re-
quired to take the following oath :

"You shall sweare to be truly loyall to our Sovcreigne Lord

King Charles, the State and Government of England ;ls it oow
stands, his heires and successors. Also, according to that
measure of wisdom, understanding, and discerning, given unto
you, faithfully, equally, uud indifferently, without respect of
psons, to administer justice in all cases coming before you as the
Governor of New Plymouth. You shall in like manner faith-
fully stay and truly exocute the lawes and ordnances of the
same. And shall labor to advunce and further the good of the
Colonies and Plantacions within the limits thereof, to the ut-
most of your power, and oppose anytbiug that shall seeme to
hinder the same. So help you God, who is the God of truth
and punisber of falsehood."

The assistants and freemen were also required to
take an oath, and the law of 1636 provided that " the
office of an Assistant for the time being, consisteth
in appearing at the Governor's summons and in giving
his best advice, both in public Court and in private
Council with the Governor, for the good of the colo-
nies within the limits of this Government. Not to
disclose, but to keep secret such things as concern the
public good, and shall be thought meet to be con-
cealed by the Governor and Council of Assistants.
In having u special hand in the examination of

Online LibraryD. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) HurdHistory of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) → online text (page 24 of 118)