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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above specitied for the said lands, and that he had not given
them anothor; which doed was burnt in presence of the Court.
"Nathaniel Morton, Secretary."

Settlement and Growth. — Scituate, though lying
within the territorial limits of the Pilgrim Colony of
Plymouth, can scarcely be said to have been settled by
the Pilgrim people of that colony, and neither was it
wholly settled by the Puritan element of the Massa-
chusetts Colony. In Scituate the confluent streams
of settlement by way of Plymouth and of Boston
seemed to have met and mingled. The first inhab-
itants came in by way of Plymouth. It is probable
that the settlers at Plymouth explored the coast at
Scituate, and made grants of lands there to per-
sons before any settlements were made at the place
The cliffs were cleared " planting lauds," aud were



{"Josias Wami'Atcc
his rA mark.



406



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



sought for and title to them obtained from the colony
government by non-residents. This will explain
those transactions which have led to the supposition
that Scituate had one or two English settlers before
1628, and claimed as early as 1626. It is not prob-
able that Scituate was the residence of any white
man until 1630. Henry Merritt is conjectured to
have lived there before 162S, and he may have done
so, but the mere fact that he conveyed " plauting
lands" in 1628, which he bought of Goodman Bird,
to Nathaniel Tilden, is not conclusive evidence that
he lived there. The fact that Bird does not appear
among the list of freemen, and that Henry Merritt
was uot admitted as a freeman, until 1638 is against
the theory that they established homes there before
1630.

They may have been there on business, cultivating
their " planting lauds" in the Third Cliff, but their
homes were most likely elsewhere. And agaiust the
theory that they resided there before 1630 is this
almost controlling fact that Rev. Mr. Lothrop, first
minister at Scituate, appears to have left a manu-
script in which he undertakes to give the names of
all the " Planters of Scituate" who had houses at
Scituate after his arrival there, — " about the end of
Sept. 1034." Of the nine houses he mentions, there
is uone either of Henry Merritt or Thomas Bird. It
is not conceivable that he could overlook or omit
any.

Anthouy Annable came to Plymouth in 1623, and
had lands assigned him there. He became interested
in land in Scituate apparently, and selling his house
aud laud in Plymouth, in 1630, must soon have re-
moved to Scituate, but whether much before 1633 is
uncertaiu. Iu April, 1633, the land at the Second
Cliff was divided between Anthony Annable, William
Gilson, Edward Foster, aud Henry Rowley. Whether
houses were built there is uncertain ; there may have
been. According to Mr. Lothrop, who came in Jan-
uary, 1634, after his arrival iu September, 1634, Mr.
Hatherly, Mr. Cudworth, Mr. Gilson, Mr. Aunable,
Mr. Rowley, Mr. Turner, Mr. Cobb, Mr. Hewes, and
Mr. Foster had houses. As the same authority says
that Henry Rowley did not build ou his lot on Kent
Street uutil after that, aud that James Cudworth,
Henry Cobb, aud Johu Hewes did not build on their
lots till 1636, it is not unlikely that Mr. Rowley, and
perhaps others, had houses ou their lands at the cliff,
aud it is very probable that Mr. Gilson may have
been there also, although there are some reasons for
believing that his house and Edward Foster's were on
what was afterwards called Kent Street, and that
their lots were assigned them with reference thereto.



There can be no doubt that Mr. Cudworth's house
was across the brook northerly from Mr. Foster's and
in the Conihassett grant, while Mr. Hatherly's house
was probably either farther north or on one of the
cliffs. These houses were of a slight aud temporary
character, not log houses, but, as Mr. Lothrop de-
scribes them, " small plaine pallisade houses." As
these houses were somewhat scattered, it indicates
that they felt a sense of security, which, however,
they did not allow to make them neglect proper pre-
caution iu subsequently arranging the plan of their
town. The nine gentlemeu mentioned by Mr. Loth-
rop as having houses there in 1634 may be properly
regarded as the first settlers of the town. The order
in which they arrived there can never be known.
They preserved the memory of their English home in
the name given to the street first laid out and per-
manently built upon. " Meu of Kent" they were
called, because of their emigration from that county
iu England. Aug. 2, 1633, may be regarded as the
day when they took permaueut possession for pur-
poses of settlement, as that day they proceeded to lay
out a street (allowing to each house-lot not more than
four acres) with a view to building their village iu
such a way as would be favorable for defense against
their enemies. Thus Keut Street, named fur their
native couuty in Old England, was there located, aud
lots bounding only eight rods on said street, but run-
ning back eighty rods into the woods, were laid out.

That street still exists just where the lathers located
it, and made their homes iu this then wilderness of
America. The descendants of a few of them still
live on these first Scituate homesteads, and look across
the same greeu meadows to the same fertile cliffs aud
shingle beach and boundless blue ocean beyond that
their fathers looked upon in their lonely exile, as with
grim resolve they sat down there to help begin the
building of a great and new nation with its " new
departure" for civil and religious freedom. Kent
Street follows the winding shore of the salt marsh ;
and may the curving- beauty of the lines of this
ancient highway never be destroyed by the evil spirit
of straight liues which has taken such full possession
of selectmen and couuty commissioners, and has led
them to destroy the beauty, without materially en-
larging the utility, of so mauy of our old roads. It
was originally well located for the purposes proposed.
It started a little southeasterly of Satuit Brook, at the
corner of a way then or shortly after used for travel
westerly into the woods and ou the border of the salt
marsh the lines of which it followed, running a south-
easterly course. In front stretched away a large ex-
panse of salt marsh, an open plain, to the second cliff



HISTORY OF SCITUATE AND SOUTH SCITUATE.



407



and the beach that separated it from the ocean. No
foe could approach from that direction without being
greatly exposed aud surely observed, and the same
way they might seek the beach and ocean. Thus by
clearing the laud in the rear of their houses only they
could place themselves in as good position for defense
as could well be provided in a new country. The first
lot nearest the brook was assigned to Edward Foster,
and the second to William Gilsou. and it seems not
improbable that their houses previously erected may
have been on these lots. The third lot was assigned
to Henry Rowley, the fourth to Humphrey Turner,
the fifth to Henry Cobb, the sixth to Anthony Auna-
ble. These men, aud John Hewes, evidently of Pil-
grim immigration by way of Plymouth, built houses
on these lots. Mr. Humphrey Turner had previously
built a house on the southeast side of Colman's Hills,
adjacent to the broader marshes of North River, on
the fine farmiug land there. He and Henry Cobb
built houses ou their lots on Keut Street in 1636, and
Henry Rowley aud Anthony Anuable earlier than that.

It is singular that of these six only two left any
descendants resident in Scituate. William G ilson was
a very enterprising man, erecting a wiud-mill for
grinding com (the first in the county, no doubt) upon
his laud ou the Secoud Cliff- He seems to have been
au able and educated man, and was an assistant in
the government for several years.' He died about
1619, leaving no children, his nephew, John Damon,
being his heir.

Edward Foster was an educated lawyer, but there
was not much scope for the practice of his profession
in those early days. He left one son, Timothy,
from whom descended a numerous posterity, and
one largely influential in the affairs of this town.
The Foster family has always been prominent, enter-
prising, and influential.

Humphrey Turner, one of the most enterprising of
these first settlers, has had a large posterity, aud oue
which has been much more largely represented in the
population of the town than the Fosters. It has ever
been an active and public-spirited family. Hon.
Charles Turner, one of his descendauts, was represen-
tative to Congress in 1812. Of the others, Henry
Rowley disappeared early, Elder Henry Cobb re-
moved to Barnstable, aud his descendants are numer-
ous in Plymouth aud other southern towns iu Plym-
outh County, but have never appeared in Scituate,
aud Anthony Aunable also removed to Barnstable.

Of these first six ouly Edward Foster and Hum-
phrey Turner left descendants in Scituate.

A few months later, Rev. Mr. Lothrop, with thirty
of his people, came to Boston, and thence to Scituate.



This was the first contingent furnished by the Massa-
chusetts Colony to the settlement of Scituate. Among
those who came with him were evidently Richard
Foxwell, Samuel House, and Henry Bourne. Richard
Foxwell built a house on his lot on Kent Street, be-
tween 1634 and 1636. It is quite probable that
Henry Bourne succeeded him in the ownership
thereof when he removed to Barnstable, and that
Bourne may not have removed to that place, or that
if he did, he returned to Scituate.

In February, 1674, there was a further allotment
of laud made necessary by Rev. Mr. Lothrop's ar-
rival, with those of his church. These came mostly
from London, but the same winter others of their
Kentish friends also came among them. Their house-
lots, assigned in February and April, were laid out on
Keut Street to the southward of a way that came to be
known as Meeting-house Laue, because it led to that
" overlooking hill" back of and above their village,
where the first meeting-house was built. Beginning at
Meeting-house Lane, lots on Kent Street, of the same
size as the preceding, were assigned to George Lewis,
John Hewes, Walter Woodworth, Richard Foxwell,
aud Isaac Chittenden. These lots extended as far as
" Greenfield," a tract of cleared laud apparently
planted by Indians, in which lots on the same street
were laid out to Samuel Fuller, Barnard Lombard,
and Goodman Hoyt. From the number of lots as-
signed iu this field, some idea can be obtained of the
dimensions of this Indian planting-ground. Cross-
ing " Greenfield Lane," lots of five acres each on Keut
Street were assigned to William Hatch, Samuel
Hinckley, and Nathaniel Tilden. Then crossing a
way called the " Driftway," lots were set off to Isaac
Stedman, George Kendrick, Daniel Standlake, Johu
Lewis, and George Lewis. These lots are all on
Kent Street, and extended from near Satuit Brook
southerly to the southwesterly side of that remarka-
ble upheaval of sand aud gravel called then the
;1 High Hills," uow " Colman's Hills." A majority
of these earliest settlers made but a temporary im-
pression upon tho settlement and character of this
plantation. The assignment of lots to George Lewis
near the High Hills, next to his brother, John, evi-
dently shows that these brothers wished to live side
by side. But not long. George Lewis removed to
Barustable in 1640, and John disappears early from
Scituate. So far as learned, none of their name and
posterity remain in Scituate, though the descendants
of George are numerous iu other parts of Plymouth
County, and perhaps iu Barnstable. George Lewis,
John Lewis, Barnard Lombard, Richard Foxwell, and
Samuel Fuller were " men of Keut." Lombard, Fox-



40S



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



well, and Fuller also removed to Barnstable iu 1640,
or about that time, and leave uo posterity iu Seituate.
John Hewes, " the Welshman," left no descendants
there. Thomas Hinckley came with Mr. Lothrop,
and went with him on his removal to Barnstable, in
163'J or 1040. Isaac Stedman removed to Boston
about 1650. No evideuce that Hoyt remained in
Seituate after 1 1540 can be found. George Kendriek,
who came from Plymouth in 1633, remained in Seit-
uate but a few years, and appears to have been living
in Boston iu 1645. Iu regard to Daniel Standlake, it
is probable that none of his posterity survive, unless
it be in the Pincin and Sylvester families.

Thus it appears that of the first settlers on Kent
Street only Nathaniel Tilden, Edward Foster, Hum-
phrey Turner, Walter Woodworth, Isaac Chitteuden,
and William Hatch were influential in the permauent
settlement of the town. Of these, Isaac Chittenden
remained, and two of his sons, Isaac and Beujamin,
were killed in the Indian wars. The name disap-
peared from the town generations ago, but as his
daughter Sarah married Capt. Anthony Collamore, a
large posterity has followed him in this line. Towards
the close of the eighteenth century the last of the
male Chittendens removed. It would be an interest-
ing inquiry whether the settlement of Chittenden
Couuty iu Vermont can in any way be counected
with this family.

Walter Woodworth had many descendants in Seit-
uate, but those iu the male line one after another re-
moved until few if any of the name remained in the
nineteenth century. Samuel Woodworth, of New
York, the poet, and author of the " Old Oaken
Bucket," was of his descendants, a native of Seituate,
and the " wide-spreading pond and the mill that
stood by it" are still there, — the " Stoekbridge Mill,"
— and the well where the bucket hung is still in use
on the Northey place. Walter Woodworth had two
daughters, — Mary and Martha. Mary married Aaron
Simons, and- Martha married Lieut. Zachary Damon,
and in these two lines a numerous posterity still re-
mains in the town. Later on females of the Wood-
worth family intermarried with the Merritt and Syl-
vester families, so that in those large families also the
blood survives. Nathaniel Tilden, the ruling elder
of the first church, is said to have come from Tenter-
den, in Kent County.

He has been followed in the old town, upon whose
settlement and history he early exerted so large an in-
fluence, by a race worthy of their ancestor. The Til-
den family has been distinguished and influential in
Seituate in all its generations. Of this family is the
distinguished Samuel J. Tilden, a former Governor



of the great State of New York, and the perhaps
elected President of the United States in 1S76. Of
these first settlers, perhaps William Hatch has iu all
the succeeding generations been most largely repre-
sented among the inhabitants of Seituate. As a
family it has clung closely to the old town, and in all
its numerous branches has been a thrifty and respect-
able race. Before this allotment of lands on Keut
Street, on the southerly side of Colnian Hills, Hum-
phrey Turner owned a farm and had built his house.
Next westerly of him, the minister, Mr. John Loth-
rop, lived, it is supposed, in a hou.>e built after
1634, on his farm during the few years of his service
in that place, and westerly of him, his land extend-
ing nearly to the Herring Brook, came Isaac Kobiuson,
Still farther to the southward Isaac Stedman probably
had a house, while pushing out still farther to the
south and up the river, William Vassal, Thomas King,
and Resolve White had erected houses on the Neck,
and John Stoekbridge at the harbor. It is not cer-
tainly known that the settled parts of the plantation
reached much farther previous to its incorporation.

Previous to 1636 the plantation was governed by
Plymouth. It was an outlying ward of that town. It
probably had only one duly-elected and qualified officer
at that time, and that was a constable. He was theu
evidently a very important officer. In the Old Coluny
Records it thus appears : " At a General Court, held
Jan. 1, 1633, in the ninth year of Charles, the King,
Thomas Preuce was elected Governor, . . . Anthony
Annable chosen constable for the Ward of Seituate,
and to serve the King iu that office for the space of
one whole year, and to enter upon the same with the
Governor elect."

In 1636 the town was incorporated, settlers had
been coming rapidly in, and this plautation was push-
ing ahead. The broad marshes on the coast, and run-
ning up the North River for many miles had, by the
abundance of forage they afforded, been one uf the
attractions to settlers.

It naturally happened, therefore, that farms were
laid out with reference to these marshes, and the town
was first settled along the banks of this charming
river. Earlier even than these first homes on Kent
Street was the coming of Henry Merritt, for some
purpose, into the place. How he had acquired his title
is a mystery. He says from Thomas Bird. But his
title and Bird's was doubtless only a squatter title, and
in 1628 he is found conveying planting lauds ou the
Third Cliff to Nathaniel Tilden. It was easy to con-
clude he had been iu the place for a year or more
before that, and erroneously supposed he was the first
settler. It could not be. His house was at the cor-



HISTORY OF SCITUATE AND SOUTH SCITUATE.



409



Der of Greenfield Lane and the Driftway, and built
after 1636. He evidently knew how to take care of
himself in a uew country, and secured large grants of
marsh lands, and was one of the Conihasset partners.
A large proportion of the inhabitants of Scituate can
trace their lineage from this worthy founder of the
town. He is evidently one of the first who made a
permaneut settlement in this town, and died there.

We have seen that William Vassall, a talented and
educated gentleman who came to Scituate, where he
seemed to find congenial fellowship and built his
house near North River, from which the whole neck
of land where it was erected (leading down to Little's
bridge) was called " Belle House Neck."

Elder Henry Cobb, though he had a house on
Kent Street, apparently had a farm of eighty acres at
that point on North River where it makes a sharp
curve from its northerly course and turns easterly
towards the sea, and where a block-house wxs erected
for defense in the Indian wars. Whether he ever
lived on this farm is uncertain, as he removed to
Barustable in 1640. Samuel House seems to have
settled southerly of Colman's Hills, where he built a
house before 1636.

Cornet Robert Stetson pushed his adventurous way
in 1634 far up the river into the wilderness, miles
above any other settler, building his house on a plain
near the river, and by a valuable spring, which sup-
plied him with water. " Cornet's Rocks," on the
river, mark the site of his farm. Deane speaks of
him as " an euterprisiug and valuable man of consid-
erable wealth, a Deputy to Court, a Cornet of the first
light-horse troop raised in the Colouy, a member of
the Couucil of war, a Colony Commissioner for set-
tling the patent lines, — in short, he lived long, and
left a good name at last." His posterity in the old
town is a large one, and it has spread all over the
land. His expedition into the Indian country, in an
effort to communicate with King Philip, aud avoid a
war if pos=ible, shows his remarkable courage and
willingness to undertake the most dangerous and
responsible duties for the good of the colony.

William Barstow and Joseph Sylvester settled early
in the south part of the towu, aud have transmitted
their energy and ability through a long line of worthy
descendants. John Palmer settled still farther south
about 1650, between Church Hill aud the Third
Herring Brook, over which he built a bridge called
Palmer bridge. In the female line his descendants
are numerous in the old town, but those bearing the
name have gone to other places, where it is a famous
and honored name. In 1640 William Randall settled
near the river and Till Creek. He was said to be a



very enterprising man, but it is not improbable that
his tendency to dispute with his neighbors aud get
into legal controversy was the reason why the Gen-
eral Court was called upon to lay out a footpath for
Cornet Stetson to go over to meeting. This is the more
likely from the fact that he (Randall) contended also
that it was wrong to pay religious teachers. Turning
back to the harbor, we find John Williams located
very early, perhaps as early as 1634, on his farm
northerly of the harbor, and adjoining it. lie left
no children, aud by his will this farm, one of the best
in the country, passed to the Barker family, in which
it has ever since remained.

That part of Scituate called the " Coiiihassett
Grant" was settled very early. It extended from
Satuit Hook northerly to the Massachusetts line, and
extending westerly " three miles up into the woods,
from the high-water mark in the brook." This was
granted to Timothy Hatherly and others. Mr.
Hatherly purchased the whole tract from his asso-
ciates. Upon this territory many persons had loeated
themselves, John Williams among the number, and
much controversy arose between the grantees and the
squatters. Mr. Hatherly, with that largeness aud
liberality of mind for which he was noted, having
decided to make Scituate his home, divided this whole
grant into thirty shares, reserving one fourth to him-
self, and sold it to a company called the " Conihassett
partners." This company included the squatters,
aud brought about a peaceable settlement of all their
claims. The partners were Charles Chauncey, Thomas
Chambers, John Williams, James Cudwoith, Joseph
Tilden, Henry Merritt, Thomas Rawlins, Thomas
Tarte, Johu Hoar, Richard Sealis, Thomas Ensign,
Thomas Chittenden, John Stockbridge, John Allen,
Thomas Riland, John Whitcomb, John Woodfield,
Edward Jenkins, Johu Hallett, Ann Vinal, William
Holmes, John Whiston, Gowin White, John Damou,
Rodolphus Ellmes, and Richard Manu.

Many of these were early settlers on the Conihas-
sett lands, but the date of their settlement cau only
be approximately ascertained by reference to the time
wheu they were admitted as freemen or took the oath
of fidelity.

John Williams, James Cud worth, John Hoar,
Richard Sealis, Edward Jenkins, Ann Viual, Rodol-
phus Ellms, and Richard Mann were there very
early, and located on this grant. Of these Gen.
James Cudworth became a very distinguished citizen
of the colouy. His home was near Little Musquash-
cut Pond, after selling his house at Satuit Brook to
Thomas Ensign. He was deputy from Scituate to
the Colony Court for many years, also an assistant in



410



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



the government, and a commissioner of the colonies
in 1657. While serving in this capacity he strenu-
ously resisted the persecution of the Quakers. Iu
this he showed himself a mau superior to the preju-
dices of his times. He refused to sanction the severe
laws against that turbulent sect, — for the Quakers of
that day were wholly unlike those of later years, —
and as a consequence he was for many years excluded
from auy share in the government and in public
affairs. In 1059, Scituate elected him as a deputy,
but the court at Plymouth, under the influence,
probably, of the bigoted Governor Prence, excluded
him, and in 1060 disfranchised him. It is not un-
usual for men who too faithfully serve the public to
be thus treated. In this local history repeats itself
from time to time. But times of peril came ; the
Indian wars arose, and Gen. Cudworth was asked to
take command of the Plymouth Colony forces. With
his native nobility of character and lofty patriotism,
he put aside all memory of his wrongs, aud accepted
the perilous aud responsible service. His career was
one of eminent usefulness to the colouy and town.
His descendants still live in Scituate. Richard Sealis
has no descendants in town. The name died with
him.

John Hoar is said to have been a lawyer. His
farm adjoined Gen. Cudworth's. He removed to
Concord about 1660, aud Hon. E. R. Hoar, late
judge of the Supreme Court and ex-Attorney-Gen-
eral of the United States, and Hon. George F. Hoar,
United States senator, are among his descendants.
Thomas Ensign settled north of the brook. He had
but one child, John, who fell with Capt. Peirce in
1GTG, one of the heroes of the Rehoboth battle.
One daughter survived him, who married Stephen
Otis. From her descended the generations of phy-
sicians who successively doctored the people of this
town. Capt. John Allen was a man of some military
note in the Indian wars. He left oue son, who left
no descendants. John Whitcomb was iu Scituate
but a few years and removed to Lancaster. John
Woodtield, whose house was north of Thomas Eu-



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 91 of 118)