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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public offenders, and in contriving the affairs of the
colony. To have a voice in the censuring of such
offenders as shall not be brought to public Court.
That if the Governor have occasiou to be absent from
the colony for a short time, by the Governor, with
the rest of the Assistants, he may be deputed to
govern in the absence of the Governor. Also, it
shall bo lawfull for him to examine and commit to
ward where any occasion ariseth when the Governor
is absent, provided the person be brought to further
hearing with all convenient speed, before the Gov-
ernor or the rest of the Assistants. Also, it shall be
lawful for him, in his Majesties name, to direct his
warrants to any constable within the Governmeut,
who ought faithfully to execute the same according
to the nature and tenure thereof. And may bind
over persons for matters of crime to answer at the
next ensuing Court of his Majestie, after the fact
committed on the persons apprehended." In the
early years of the colony, all its officers were chosen
on the 23d of March, the day before the last in the
old style of year, afterwards for a time on the 1st of
January, then by the law of 1636, ou the first Tues-
day in March, and finally, after 1641, on the first
Tuesday in June. Notwithstanding the establish-
ment of the new General Court in 1639, composed of
deputies from the various towus, the whole body of
freemen constituted the electors aud chose the officers.
The new General Court had only the power to enact
laws, and even then the freemen might repeal or veto
on the next annual election day. The law passed iu
1638 establishing the new court, is worthy of a place



HISTORY OF PLYxMOUTH.



103



in this narrative as lying at the foundation of our
present legislative representative system.

" Whereas, complaint wna made that the ffreemen were put
to many incouvonieuces and great expense by their continuall
attendance at the Courts, It is therefore enacted by the Court
for the ease of the severall colonies and Townes within tbe
Government, That every Towne shall make choyce of two of
their tfrcemen, and the Towne of Plymouth of foure to be Com-
mittee or Deputies, to joyne with the Bench to enact and make
all such lawes and ordnances as shall be judged to be good and
wholesome for the whole. Provided that the lawes they doe
enact slial be tfounded on Court, to be considered upon untill
the next Court, and then to be confirmed if they sbal be ap-
proved of (except tbe case require present confiruiacon). And
if any act shal be confirmed by the Bench and Committees,
which, upon further deliberocon, shall prove prejudicial to
the whole, That the ffreemen at the next elecon Court after
meeting together, may repeale the same and enact any other
usefull for the whole; and that every Township shall beare
their Committees charges ; and that such as are not ffreemen,
but have taken the Oath of ridelitie, and are masters of faiuylics
and Inhabitants of the said Townes, as they are to beare their
part iu the charges of their Committees, so to have a vote in
the chnyce of tbeiu, provided they choose them only of the
ffreemen of the said Towne whereof they are; but if any such
Committees shall be insufficient or troublesome, that then the
Bench and tbe other Committees may dismisse them, and the
Towne to choose other ffreemen in their place."

It must be remembered that at the time of the
passage of this law, in 1638, Scituate (Satuit), which
included South Scituate and Hanover, and Duxbury
(Namassakeset), which included Pembroke and Han-
son, had been incorporated, the one in 1636 and the
other in 1637, and that settlements had been made
in Taunton (Cohannct), which comprised Norton,
Dighton, Raynham, Easton, Mansfield, and Berkley ;
in Sandwich (Shawme), in Yarmouth (Mattakeest),
which included Dennis, and in Barnstable (Cumma-
quid). All these towns and districts or wards were
represented in the first new General Court, which
met on the 4th day of June, 1639. In that year the
deputies or representatives were:

William Paddy, ]

Manassah Kempton, i Fof piymoutn

John Cook, Jr.,

John Dunham, J

Jonathan Brewster, ) _ _

J tor Duxbury.
Edmund Chandler, J

Anthony Annable, |

' \ For Scituate.

Edward Foster, )

Richard Burne, ) For Sandwich (settlement).

John Vincent, >

John Gilbert, 1 For fjohannet (settlement).

Henry Audrews, '

Thomas Payne, j For Yarmouth (settlement).

Philip Tabor, >

Joseph Hull, I For Barnstable (settlement).

Thomas Dimmack, '

The court was enlarged from time to time, as new
towns were incorporated. Marshfield (MLssauca-



tucket) was incorporated in 1640 ; Bridgcwuter
(Nuckatateest), comprising Brockton, West and East
Bridgewater, Rockland, and South Abiogton. and part
of Halifax, in 1656; Middleboro' (Neuiusket), which
included Lakeville, in 1660; Rehoboth (Seekonk and
Wannamoiset), comprising Scekonk and Pawtucket,
in 1645; Dartmouth (Accushena), comprising New
Bedford, Westport, and Fairhaven, in 1664 ; Swansea
(Pokanoket aud Sawams), comprising Somerset, War-
ren, and Barrington, in 1667 ; Bristol (Kekimuet), in
1681 ; Little Compton (Saconet), in 1682 ; Feetown
(Assonet), in 1683; Eastham (Nauset), which in-
cluded Wclfleet and Orleans, in 1646; Falmouth
(Suckiuassett), iu 1686; Yarmouth, already repre-
sented, in 1631); Rochester (Seipican), which in-
cluded Marion, Mattapoisett, and a part of Wareham,
in 1686. These were all the towns in the Old Colouy
incorporated before the union with Massachusetts, iu
1692, and before that date they were all represented
by their deputies in the Geueral Court. The follow-
ing list will show to whom the town of Plymouth
delegated the power to act in their behalf in the en-
actment of laws during the existence of New Plymouth
as a separate colony :



1639. William Paddy.
Manassah Kemptou.
John Cooke, Jr.
John Dunham.

1640. The same.

1641. John Atwood.
William Paddy.
John Jenney.
John Ilowland.

1642. John Doane.
John Cooke.

1643. The same.

1644. The same.

1645. William Paddy.
John Cooke.
Manassah Kempton.
John Dunham.

1646. John Howland.
John Cooke.
Manasseh Kempton.
John Dunham.

1647. John Howland.
John Dunham.
William Paddy.
John Hurst.

1648. John Howland.
John Dnnhum.
William Paddy.
Manassah Kempton.

1649. John Howland.
John Dunham.
William Paddy.
Manassah Kempton.

1650. John Ilowland.
John Dunham.
Manassah Kempton.



1651. John Howland.
Manassah Kempton.
Thomas South worth.
Thomas Clark.

1652. John Ilowland.
John Wilson.
John Duuhaiu.
Thomas Soutbworth.

1653. John Ilowland.
Thomas Soutbworth.
John Dunham.
Johu Cooke.

1654. John Ilowland.
Thomas Southworth.
John Cooke.

John Winslow.

1655. John Howland.
John Dunham.
John Cooke.
Thomas Clark.

1656. William Bradford.
Hubert Finney.
Ephraim Morton.

1658. Robert Finney.
John Ilowland.
Nathl. Warren.

1659. Robert Finney.
Nathl. Warren.
John Dunham.
Ephraim Morton.

1660. John Dunham.
Robert Finney.
Ephraim Moi ton.
Manassah Kempton.

1661. John Dunham.
Ephraim Morton.



li)4



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



1661. John [lowland.
Nathl. Warren.

1662. John Dunham.
Ephraiui Morton.
Robert Finney.
John Morton.

1863. Robert Finney.

Ephraiui Morton.
John llowland.
Nathl. Warren.

1004. Robert Finney.
Ephraiui Morton.
John Dunham.
Nathl. Warren.

1665. Ephraiui Morton.

Nathl. Warren.
1GGG. Ephraiui Morton.

John llowland.
1667. The same.

1005. Ephraiui Morton.
Samuel Dunham.

1669. Ephraiui Morton.

Robert Finney.
1676. Ephraiui Morton.

John llowland.



1671. Ephraiui Morton.
Robert Finney.

1672. The same.

1673. Ephraiui Morton.
Samuel Crow.

1674. Ephraiui Morton.
William Clark.

1675. Ephraiui Morton.
William Harlow.

1676. Ephraiui Morton.
Edward Gray.

1677. Edward Gray.
Joseph llowland.

167S. Ephraiui Morton.

Joseph llowland.
1679. Ephraiui Morton.

Edward Gray.
I 6.ii). Ephraiui Morton.

William Clark.
1631. Ephraiui Morton.

Joseph Warren.
1682. The same.
1633. The same.

1654. The saiue. ■

1655. The saino.
1666. The same.



la 1649 a law was passed by the General Court
limiting the number of Plymouth delegates to two,
but on the next annual election-day it was repealed
by the freemen. This law was afterwards re-enacted;
and after 1664, as is shown in the printed list,
Plymouth had but two representatives. The pro-
vision in the law of 1638, establishing the new court,
that a law should be propounded at one court aud
considered at the next, is one which, if readopted in
our own time, would relieve the people of Massachu-
setts from the burden of ill-considered legislation, and
place our statutes on a more firm and stable founda-
tion. An accidental majority in one year or another,
for or against social reforms, or enactments of expedi-
ency, incumber our statute book with laws and re-
peals, which, upon mature deliberation, would be
either summarily rejected, or, if enacted, would take
their place in the code with some prospect of having
a permanent resting-place.

The precise time when Plymouth became a town it
is impossible to determine. Other towns in the Old
Colony had their acts of incorporation, and can fix
the day when they came into life as a separate munic-
ipality. The dividing line between the colony of New
Plymouth and the town, in which the government
of the colony was seated, is nowhere drawn. Other
towns, like Duxbury and Scituate, possessed after
their incorporation no more of the essential elements
of a distinct community than Plymouth, and were
really only separated from the central power by dis-
tance and space. But their incorporation gave them
a starting-point and a birthday, from which they cau



count their age. For twelve years after the lauding
Plymouth constituted the colony, and the government
of the colony was the government of the town ; and
even after that the earlier officers chosen by towns
were but parts of the general government, with local
constituents and local duties. While, therefore, it
may be proper to date the birth of the town at the
first settlement, it will be necessary to go forward a
number of years to discover any trace of a life and
power distinct from that of the colony itself. In the
records of 1626 Plymouth is called a plantation ; in a
deed dated 1631, from John to Edward Winslow, the
town of Plymouth is referred to; in a law of 1632
the society of New Plymouth is spoken of, and in
the same year the town of Plymouth. From that
time forth the town of Plymouth is constantly re-
ferred to, but not necessarily as showing it to be a
separate municipality. Perhaps as definite a time as
any for the recognition of the town by the government
would be the year 1633, in which the office of constable
was established. It was then provided that constables
should be chosen, and Joshua Pratt was chosen for
Plymouth, Christopher Wadsworth for the ward of
Duxbury, and Anthony Annable for the ward of
Scituate. But even these were chosen by the whole
body of freemen, and the name Plymouth may have
been intended, like that of Scituate and Duxbury,
uot then incorporated, to apply only to a district,
which must have some designation. The constable
was required to take the oath, and until 16.">S the
constable of Plymouth acted as the messenger of the
court. That officer was required also to act as keeper
of the jail, to execute punishment, to give warning
of such marriages as were approved by authority, to
seal weights and measures, and measure out land
when ordered by the Governor. In 1634 persons
were chosen to lay out highways, in 1643 raters of
taxes were chosen, and in 1 658 overseers of the poor.

Nor do the records of the town throw much light
on the question of the date of its birth. The first
entries bear no legible date, aud only define the ear-
marks of the cattle belonging to the inhabitants. The
first dated entry is that of the last day of March,
1637, the seventh day in that year uuder the old style,
at which time it was " concluded that Nicholas Snow
should repair the herring wier aud divide the herrings."
The next entry is as follows :

" At a meeting of the townsmen of New Plymouth,
held at the Governor's house July 16, 163S, all the
inhabitants from Jones River to the Eel River being
thereto (warned) to consider of the disposition of the
stock given by Mr. James Sherley, of Loudon, mer-
chant, to the people of Plymouth, who had plainly










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'j



AUTOGRAPHS OF GOVERNORS, DEPUTY GOVERNORS, AND SECRETARYS

OF MASSACHUSETTS.



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH.



W5



declared by several letters in his owu handwriting
that his intent therein was wholly to the poor of the
town of Plymouth," it was decided that for the
purposes under consideration the town should be
considered as extending " from the land of William
Pontus and John Dunham ou the south to the out-
side of New Street on the north." The lands of
Pontus and Dunham were ill the neighborhood of the
farm of Thomas 0. Jackson, and New Street was
that which is now North. This decision was not
intruded to define any permanent boundaries, or
even to show the extent of the town at the time the
declaration was made. It was simply putting a strict
construction on the gift, and limiting its beneficiaries
to those who lived within the boundaries, which in-
cluded the population of the settlement at the time
the gift was made. It is certain that the munici-
pality was in being at the time of the first entry in
its records in 1G37, and it is fair to conclude that
about 1636, at the time of or before the incorporation
of Scituate, the government of the colony recognized
it as possessing all the powers and functions of a towu.

Its boundaries remained, however, to be adjusted
by law, and on the second day of November, 1640,
at a Court of Assistants held on that day, it was
ordered, " Whereas, by the act of the General Court,
held the third of March, in the sixteenth year of his
said Majestie's now reigu (1640), the Governor &
Assistants were authorized to set the bounds of the
several townships, it is enacted and concluded by the
Court that the bouuds of Plymouth township shall
extend southwards to the bounds of Saudwich town-
ship and northward to the little brooic falling into
Black Water from the commons left to Duxbury and
the neighborhood thereabouts, and westward eight
miles up into the lauds from any part of the bay or
sea ; always provided that the bounds shall extend so
far up into the wood-lauds as to include the South
Meadows toward Agawam, lately discovered, and the
convenient uplands thereabouts." These limits,
which included Kingston, Plympton, Carver, and a
part of Halifax, aud Agawam a part of Wareham,
remained untouched until the incorporation of the
town of Kingston, in 1726. Halifax was incor-
porated in 1734, aud in 1830 a part of Plympton
was annexed to it. Plympton was incorporated in
1707, aud iu 1700 Carver was set off from Plympton
and incorporated.

From this time to 1643 the affairs of both Plym-
outh aud the colony went on smoothly, encountering
little to disturb their monotony or obstruct their
progress. At that date Massachusetts, Connecticut,
and New Haven had become colonies ; the war



between Connecticut and the Pequot tribe, in which
Plymouth furnished fifty-six meu, had brokeu out in
1637 and been successfully waged; the code of laws
necessary for the peaceful admiuislratiou of the gov-
ernment had been gradually perfected ; additional
town officers were provided for by law, surveyors of
highways, overseers of the poor, and other iniuor
officers ; and through hardship and toil, through suf-
fering and want, through sickness and death, the set-
tlers of New England had successfully laid the foun-
dations of a new empire. Deaths, it is true, had
occurred, but though the occasion of repeated sorrow,
they brought no shadow of discouragement. Since
the first season Mary, the wife of Isaac Allertou, had
died iu 1621/2; Mary, the wife of Elder Brewster,
in 1627 ; Richard Warreu aud John Crackston, Jr.,
in 1628; John Billington in 1630; Samuel Fuller,
Frauds Eaton, and Peter Brown in 1632 ; aud Eliz-
abeth, the wife of Stephen Hopkins, iu 1640. On
the 16th of April, 1643, occurred the death of Elder
Brewster, inflicting a loss to the colony next to that
occasioned by the death of John Carver, in 1620/1.
Mr. Brewster has been already referred to in the early
part of this narrative as the leader aud chief of the
Pilgrims. He had performed his work, and at the
end of his mission, laboriously aud faithfully accom-
plished, after he had sceu others enter into his labors
with a zeal which assured him they had not been
bestowed iu vain, in a ripe old age he went to his
grave. He was at times a resident iu Duxbury, and
it has been generally claimed that he died iu that
town and was there buried. The evidence, however,
is strong that he died in Plymouth, aud that he was
buried either ou Burial Hill or in some unknowu
spot in Plymouth used temporarily for burials after
the abandonment of Cole's Hill. Ou page 115 of
the printed volume of deeds of the Old Colony Records
the following entry may be found : •' Whereas, William
Brewster, late of Plymouth, gentleman, deceased, left
only two sons surviving, — Jonathan, the oldest, and
Love, the younger ; whereas the said William died
intestate, for aught can to this day appear, the said
Jonathan and Love, his sous, when they returned
from the burial of their father to the house of Mr.
William Bradford, of Plymouth, iu the presence of
Mr. Ralph Partridge, pastor of Duxbury, Mr. John
Raynor, teacher of the church at Plymouth, and
Edward Buckley, pastor of the church at Marshfield,"
made a certain agreement which follows iu the
records. This extract, it will be observed, alludes to
Mr. Brewster as late of Plymouth, aud of Mr. Wil-
liam Bradford, of Plymouth. Though not conclusive,
as Mr. Bradford had a house in Kiugston as well as



106



HISTORY OP PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



Plymouth, and as Kingston was at that time a part
of Plymouth, the author, who has at some time en-
tertained a different opinion, now believes it points
strongly to his death and burial in Plymouth. Nor
does this evidence stand alone. There are three in-
ventories of the estate of Mr. Brewster, — one of his
personal property at his house in Plymouth, one of
his books, and one of his personal property at his
house in Duxbury, — which throw some light on the
question. That part of his Plymouth inventory
which includes his wardrobe is as follows :

4 paire of stockings. 1 paire of shoe*.

3 wascoats and a paire of 2 paire of shoes,
drawers. 2 Sherts.

1 old gowne. 26 handkerchiefs.

2 gerdles. 1 fine handkerchief.
2 paire of thin stockings. 3 handkerchers.

1 knit capp. 1 wrought capp.

1 blew cloth suite. 1 laced capp.

1 old suite turned. 1 quilted capp.

1 black coate. 2 old capps.

Old cloaths. 1 rutfu band.

1 black cloth suite. 1 ruffe rift out.

1 paire of greene drawers. G bands.

1 paire of leather drawers. 1 red cap.

1 list wasooate. 1 paire of garters.

1 trusse. 1 knife.

1 black coate. 1 pistoll.

1 black stutf suite. 1 combe.

1 black suite i. cloake. 2 brushes.

1 dublett. 1 paire of black silk stockings.

1 paire of stockings. A dagger and knife.

1 black gowne. Tobaccoe case.

1 black hat. 1 rapier.

1 old hat. Tobaccoe & some pipes.

2 paire of gloves. A tobacco box Si. tongs.

That part of his Duxbury inventory which in-
cludes his wardrobe is as follows :

1 sword. A trusse.

1 sword. 1 violet color cloth coate.

White capp. 1 costlett.

These extracts from the inventories seem to be con-
clusive that he must have been living in Plymouth
at the time of his death. The two inventories from
which they are taken include furniture and other per-
sonal property valued at £107 8d. The third inven-
tory contains a list of two hundred and sixty Latin
aud one hundred and fifteen English books, valued at
£-42 19s. lid. These inventories are interesting not
only as evidence touching the place of his death and
burial, but also for the testimony they bear to the
social and intellectual status of the Pilgrims. It is
true that the office Brewster held of teaching elder
might have demanded for the faithful performance of
his duties a library exceptional in its character, but it
cannot be supposed that such an official would have
indulged in the luxury of a wardrobe beyond the
means of the majority of his companions, or have



set an example of worldliness which they were too
poor to follow. Indeed, there is nothing more strik-
ing in the inventories of the Pilgrims than the con-
tradiction they set up of the unauthorized statement,
having its origin in an evident desire to magnify the
intensity of their religious character by belittling them
as men, that they were a band of poor, uneducated,
uncultured yeomen, unfamiliar with the graces and
pleasures of enlightened society, living only in the
realm of religious enthusiasm, and eager to keep
themselves unspotted from the world. The Massa-
chusetts Colony, on the other hand, to make the con-
trast strong, has been represented as wealthy and en-
terprising and educated, giving, as has been said, the
first impulse to civilization in the western world.
Without the reinforcement of that colony, it is said,
the efforts at colonization made by the Pilgrims would
have failed, and the cloud of darkness, which by their
coming had been for a time withdrawn, would have
again settled down on the land.

Nothiug can be further from the truth. In 1033
a law was passed by the Old Colony court providing
" that the wills and testaments of them that die be
proved orderly before the Governor and Council
within one month after the decease of the testator,
and that a full inventory duly valued be presented
with the same before letters of administration be
grauted to any of all the goods and chatties of the
said persons. Also, if in case any man die- without
will, his goods be by his wife or other nearest to him
inventoried and duly valued and presented to the
Governor and Council within one month after the
decease of the same person so dying. Aud if it be
a single person without kindred here resident, that
then the Governor appoint some to lake a just inven-
tory of the same, and to present the same upon oath
to be true and just as in other the cases before men-
tioned." In 1639, six years afterwards, certainly not
leading the way in this feature of registration, the
Massachusetts court ordered " that there bo records
kept of all wills, administrations, and inventories."
From 1639 to 1650 the recorded inventories in the
Plymouth Colony, with a population of from three to
five hundred, numbered thirty-four, while those in the
Massachusetts Colony numbered only forty-five, with
a population five or six times as large. Of the
smaller proportionate number in Massachusetts there
were a few including larger values than any in the
Plymouth Colony ; while the latter, more numerous in
proportion to the population, were more equal in their
size, indicating a community of more social equality,
and a more homogeneous character. And the same
comparison might be drawn between the intellectual



HISTORY OP PLYMOUTH.



107



conditiou of the two colonies. While the fact that
in Massachusetts public schools were introduced at an
early period has been claimed by some as conclusive
evidence of a regard for education higher than that
of the Old Colony, which seemed tardy in the move-
ment, the fair inference to be drawn from it, in view
of all the circumstances, is, that Massachusetts, with
a large portion of her population made up of adven-
turers and laborers, unable to educate their own chil-
dren, who were then growing up in ignorance and
idleness, established her schools in self-defense ; while
in the colony of Plymouth most of the heads of fami-
lies were uot only fully competent to teach their own
sons and daughters, but found it no severe hardship
to give their time to the training of the few whose
pareuts had either died or were needy. Under such
auspices Thomas Cushman was educated, who suc-
ceeded William Brewster as elder of the church ;
William Bradford, the son of the Governor, who be-
came Deputy Governor ; Nathaniel Morton, who be-
came the secretary and historian of the colony ; and
Josiab Winslow, who became not only the colonial
Governor, but afterwards the commander of the forces
of the United Colonies of Plymouth, Massachusetts,
Connecticut, and New Haven in King Philip's war.



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 25 of 118)