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were arrested, but only the old lady was brought to trial, it being
believed that she caused the illness of the children through her
agency with the devil.

At the trial there was nothing established to connect Mrs.
Glover with the Evil One except the fact that she was once seen
"coming down a chimney," while the whole proceedings tended
to show that the old lady had simply lapsed into her second child-
hood and had a habit of playing with rag dolls. Nevertheless she
was hanged on November 16, 1688, after being "drawn on a cart,
a hated and dreadful figure, chief in importance, stared at and
mocked at, through the principal streets from her prison to the

She spoke only in Irish during the trial, though it was said
she was able to converse in English if she wished. Cotton Mather
visited her twice while she lay in prison, and to him also she spoke
only in Irish. Her interpreters told him that the Irish word for
spirits was the same as that for saints. She refused to pray wit'/i
him or be prayed for because her spirits or saints would not per-
mit her, which was only another way for saying that she did not
want the services of a Protestant clergyman. She could not re-
peat the Lord's Prayer in English, but was able to say it in Latin,
which was undoubtedly the result of her early training in the
Penal Days in Ireland. She gave Mr. Mather the names of four
persons who were associated with her, evidently co-religionists,
but he kept them to himself from a wholesome fear of "wronging
the reputation of the innocent by stories not enough inquired

Mr. Taylor praises Cotton Mather for the humane counsels
which he often interposed in behalf of those accused of witch-
craft and truly states that to his moderation and good sense it
is undoubtedly due that the names mentioned by the crazed old
woman did not lead to further excitement and other judicial


Cotton Mather was one of the most learned men of his time
and possessed the largest private library in the country. No one
had read so much or retained more of what he read, and he could
write and speak in seven languages. Although his vision was
very dim and narrow with regard to the future of Irish Catholics
in America, and he sometimes acted as if he feared the devil more
than he loved God, he was just and liberal in his acts and wrote
many good books. Of his "Essays to Do Good" Benjamin
Franklin thus writes in a letter to Samuel Mather, dated Passy,
France, November 10, 1779: "When I was a boy I met a book
entitled 'Essa>'s to Do Good,' which I think was written by your
father. It gave me such a turn of thinking as to have an influ-
ence on my conduct through life ; for I have always set a greater
value on the character of a doer of good than any other kind of
reputation, and if I have been, as you seem to think, a useful citi-
zen, the public owes the advantage of it to that book."

As further proof of his liberality we may state that Cotton
Mather was a great admirer of Father Jacques Bruyas, the French
Catholic missionary, who came from Lyons to Quebec in 1666,
who afterward became chief of the Iroquois missions and Superior
of his Order, and who wrote many works in the Mohawk lan-
guage, including a dictionary and a catechism.

Cotton Mather's uncle. Rev. Samuel Mather, spent many
years in Dublin, Ireland. Although he went there with Henry
Cromwell his views were liberal and he refused to take the places
of many Episcopalians whom that worthy banished. In return
for his non-conformist work he was made pastor of the Church of
St. Nicholas and senior fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. He
was driven from Ireland on the Restoration, but returned to Dub-
lin again and founded a Congregational Church, to which he
ministered until his death. He was buried in the vaults of the
Church of St. Nicholas. His brother Increase, Cotton Mather's
father, was a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, While in
Ireland the Mathers evidently imbibed some of the liberal ideas
which were soon afterward espoused by George Berkeley, the
Protestant Bishop of Cloyne ; Dean Swift, Molyneux, and others.

CuUen devotes a lengthy chapter to the history of the
Catholic Church in Boston, from which we extract the following
passages is reference to its struggles for existence in the days im-
mediately following the Revolution :

"A book devoted to the history of the Irish race in .Boston
would be wofully incomplete without a sketch of that Church to
which at least four-fifths of the race, at home or abroad, belong.
The loyalty of the Catholic Irish to their faith is a proverb, and
in New England especially 'Irish' and 'Catholic' are, for all prac-


tical purposes, convertible terms. Indeed, humanly speaking, the
strength and importance of the Catholic Church in these parts
to-day are due to the influx of the Irish element, and to the large
and attractive personalities of the Irishmen who became prominent
in her episcopate and priesthood. It remains, therefore, but to
outline Catholic progress, as a whole, in Boston.

"The first Catholic ever to set foot in Boston was, doubtless,
the Jesuit missionary, the Rev. Gabriel Druilettes. He had been a
successful missionary among the Abnaki Indians in Maine. In
1650, Canada being anxious to open a free intercolonial trade and
association, for mutual defense against the Iroquois with New
England, Father Druilettes was sent in quality of ambassador, so
to speak, by the Canadian authorities to the governing powers
in New England. The Jesuit was courteously received by Major-
General Gibbons, who gave him a room in his house where he
could be free to say his prayers and perform the exercises of his
religion. Whence Dr. John Gilmary Shea thinks we may infer
that Father Druilettes celebrated Mass in Boston, December,
1650. At Roxbury he visited Eliot (the Pilgrim missionary to
the Indians), who pressed him to remain under his roof until
spring. The Jesuit did not prolong his stay. Be it remembered
that only three years before, 1647, a law had been enacted in New
England expelling every Jesuit from the colonies, and dooming
him to the gallows if he returned.

"A French Protestant refugee, who was in Boston in 1687,
found eight or ten Catholics, three of whom were French, the
others Irish. None were permanently settled, however, except
the surgeon, who was. Dr. Shea thinks, Dr. Le Baron.

"From 1711-13, Father Justinian Durant, one of the priests
who had tried to labor among the oppressed Acadians in Nova
Scotia, was a prisoner in Boston.

"In 1775, when Washington took command of the American
forces at Cambridge, and forbade the observance of 'Pope Day,'
there were evidently a few Catholics permanently located in
Boston, Charlestown, and the towns in the vicinity. The Abbe
Robin, a French priest, was in Boston in 1781 ; Father Lacy, an
Irish priest, made a short visit to Boston about the same year.
The Tories in Boston tried to excite anti-Catholic prejudice in
New England against the American cause, on account of the al-
liance of Congress with France, and in their journals — how his-
tory repeats itself ! — published imaginary items, dated ten years
ahead, detailing the terrible things which would happen now that
Popery was suffered to exist.

"In 1788 the Boston Catholics, under the direction of Father
Ae la Poterie, a priest from the diocese of Aryen, France, acquired


a site of a French Hugenot church on School street, and erected
a small brick church under the title of the Holy Cross. The
Archbishop of Paris, on an appeal from the French CathoHcs in
Boston, sent to the little church a needed outfit. There was,
however, scant spiritual comfort for the Catholics in Boston till
1799, when Bishop Carroll sent them Father John Thayer, a
native of Boston, who had been converted while traveUng in
Europe, received into the church in Rome in 1783, and ordained
about three years later. When he took charge of his flock he
found it numbered about one hundred — French, Irish, and

"Bishop Carroll visited Boston for the first time in the
spring of 1791, to heal the Division made in the little congrega-
tion by the disedifying French priest Rousselet. The Bishop was
courteously received by Bostonians generally, and having been
invited to the annual dinner of the Ancient and Honorable Artil-
lery Company, pronounced the thanksgiving at the close of the

"Catholic growth in Boston was greatly quickened by the
advent thither, in 1792, of the Rev. Francis A. Matignon, for-
merly professor in the College of Navarre, France, and experi-
enced among English Catholics. He was joined, four years later,
by his friend and countryman, the Rev. John Cheverus, like him-
self a refugee from the French revolution. These two priests by
their exemplary lives, unwearied devotion to the duties of their
office, profound, learning, kindness, and tact, disarmed, by de-
grees, the prejudice and suspicion with which all things Catholic
were regarded in Boston. The sermons of Father Cheverus
attracted crowds of Protestants. His devotion to his fellow-
citizens — whose nurse and spiritual consoler he became, without
distinction of race or creed, when the yellow fever scourge visited
Boston, completed his victory.

"The Legislature of Massachusetts was preparing the
formula of an oath to be taken by all the citizens of the State
before voting at elections ; but, fearing it might contain something
objectionable to the Catholic conscience, they submitted it to
Father Cheverus, accepted his revision, and enacted it into a law.

"In 1799 the Catholics felt the need of a new church. A
subscription list was opened, which John Adams, President of the
United States, headed with a generous offering. James Bullfinch,
Esq., drew the plans and declined remuneration therefor. On St.
Patrick's Day, 1800, ground was broken on the site acquired on
Franklin street.

"The same year, however, witnessed a revival of the old anti-
Catholic spirit, and Father Cheverus was prosecuted by Attorney-


General Sullivan on the charge that he had violated the law,
which was held to permit his ministrations only in Boston, by
marrying two Catholics in Maine. Judges Bradbury and Strong
were especially hostile to Father Cheverus; but Judge Sewall,
grandfather, we believe, of Samuel Sewall, the eminent aboli-
tionist, lately deceased, was unprejudiced. The pillory and a fine
were threatened ; Bradbury would have the law carried out to the
letter ; but he was thrown from his horse and prevented from at-
tending court, and the Attorney-General was absent when the
case was reached. The prosecution lapsed.

"In 1803 Bishop Carroll came on and dedicated the church
of the Holy Cross, assisted by Doctors Matignon and Cheverus.
The late Honorable E. Hasket Derby presented this church with
a bell from Spain. His son, the famous occulist. Dr. Hasket
Derby, became a Catholic and is a devoted attendant at the Ca-
thedral. The bell is in the mortuary chapel at Holyhood.

"The humble and unpromising beginnings of the church in
Boston have been dwelt on thus minutely only for the sake of
contrast with its magnificent development of to-day — a develop-
ment which sets it in the front rank of American Catholic Sees —
second only in numerical strength, riches, enterprise, and last but
far from least, steadfast faith and loyalty of religious spirit, to
the great See of New York itself.

"In 1808 Pope Pius VII erected four new Episcopal Sees in
the United States, one of which was Boston, with Dr. Cheverus
as first Bishop. He was consecrated in Baltimore, by Archbishop
Carroll, November i, 1810. Bishop Cheverus established a little
theological seminary under his own roof for candidates for the
priesthood, and founded an Ursuline Convent in Boston for the
education of young girls. Boston's second Catholic parish — St.
Augustine's, South Boston — was created by Bishop Cheverus.
In 1823 his failing health obliged him to return to his native
France, where he became successively Bishop of Montaubun and
Cardinal Archbishop of Bordeaux, dying in 1836. His departure
from Boston was mourned as much by Protestants as by Cath-
olics. A Protestant lady, Mrs. John Gore, had his portrait painted
by Gilbert Stuart. This portrait, now the property of Mrs.
Horatio Greengough, adorns the Boston Art Museum. During
his administration many converts were received into the church,
members of the most distinguished New England families.

"Bishop Cheverus was succeeded in Boston by the Right
Rev. Benedict Joseph Fenwick, a lineal descendant of Cuthbert
Fenwick, one of the Catholics who came to Maryland with Lord
Baltimore. At the time he assumed control there was only one
diocese and four Catholic Churches in all New England, but dur-


ing his episcopate Irish CathoHcs commenced to arrive in great
numbers and new churches and schools were rapidly established.
At his death, in 1846, there were fifty churches, an orphan asylum
and numerous schools, colleges, and academies in his diocese.

"When Bishop Fenwick was a young priest he was sent for
by Thomas Paine, the celebrated author, who was then suffering
from the illness of which he died, and afterward described the
visit in an interesting letter to his brother, the Rev. Enoch Fen-
wick. The Right Rev. Edward D. Fenwick, another brother of
the Bishop of Boston, was the first Bishop of Cincinnati.

"When Bishop Fenwick first went to Boston he had but one
priest in the city to share his labors — the Rev. P. Byrne, a native
of Kilkenny, Ireland. With the Rev. Dennis Ryan, also a Kil-
kenny man, he rendered inestimable services during the infancy of
the church in New England. Father Ryan was then the only
priest in the present State of Maine and his name will be always
held in tender memory by the Catholics of that section.

"We cannot here repeat the vast number of Irish and Irish-
American priests who, under Bishop Fitzpatrick and the present
illustrious head of the archdiocese, labored zealously to bring the
Catholic Church to its present magnificent standing. The fact
that the archdiocese of Boston now contains over 700,000 Cath-
olics, and that there are six flourishing dioceses in New Eng-
land, is due mainly to their faithful and devoted services. And
they were not alone true to the interests of their Mother Church,
but they proved themselves worthy and useful citizens of the State
and nation. Instead of being a menace to American institutions,
as many men of bigoted minds freely avowed in the past and even
in the present, they have ever been, and ever will continue to be,
the chief supporters of the laws and liberties of the United

While John Bernard Cullen has minutely described the
services of his Catholic fellow-countrymen to Boston and Massa-
chusetts, he has not allowed religious prejudice to mar the records
of non-Catholic Irishmen, or even of those who in the stress of
persecution lapsed from their faith or changed their Irish names.
All have received justice at his hands, and he has brought to
light names and services that but for his devoted labor would
have been lost to the credit of Ireland. Through him we have
learned that it was an Irish-American who did most to establish
the Massachusetts General Hospital, and an Irish-American who
was its first physician ; that Irish- Americans made the first choco-
late and the first musical instruments; that they manufactured
the first cotton, and built the first railroad between Lowell and
Boston, and that three native born Irishmen were instrumental


in making Massachusetts the leading State in the manufacture
of paper.

These achievements and the many others of a Hke nature
which we have already recorded, show that the Irish people were
well represented in Boston at the opening of the Revolution.
Though there were a few Tories among them, like the Auch-
mutys, the vast majority of them threw themselves with enthu-
siasm into the American cause and distinguished themselves with
the greatest bravery during the long continued struggle. Even
during the darkest hours of the conflict, when hope was seemingly
banished from the stoutest hearts, they never lost courage and
their fortunes and their lives were freely sacrificed on the altar
of American liberty and independence.

The Scot's Charitable Society absconded in a body with the
British Army to Halifax, carrying with them the records of the
society. After the war was all over they returned in 1786 and.
reorganized and incorporated their society with eleven members.
This shows the wide difference between real Scotchmen and those
native born sons of Ireland whom prejudiced historians falsely
distinguish with the prefix Scotch.

But the Boston Irish Society remained, and having cut off the
few rotten Tory branches that disfigured them, they stepped
forward like true liberty-loving men in answer to the gun that was
heard around the world."



On the night of April i8, 1775, the people of Boston retired
to their wonted rest entirely unaware that a foray into the country
toward Lexington and Concord was being prepared by the British
soldiers which was destined to mark the opening of the Revolu-
tion so long pending.

The object of the expedition was to destroy the stores col-
lected by the patriots at Concord and to strike terror into the
people along the route by the usual methods of English warfare —
murder and the torch.

The British soldiers, 800 in number, left Boston at midnight,
embarking at the Common and landing at Phipp's Farm. They
marched with the greatest secrecy, arresting every person they
met to prevent the spread of information as to their movements.
They were under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Smith and
Major Pitcairn.

. Many of the leaders of the Revolution, fearing arrest and
transportation to England, had already left Boston and betaken
themselves to places of safety beyond the reach of the British
troops. John Hancock and Samuel Adams were staying at Lex-
ington, thirteen miles from Boston, at the residence of the Rev.
Jonas Clarke. This house was built by Thomas Hancock, in 1718
for his father, the Rev. John Hancock, who was minister at Lex-
ington for fifty-two years, and who was succeeded by Mr. Clarke.

It was the intention of General Gage to capture the two
patriots at Lexington, but Dr. Joseph Warren, who had remained
in Boston to watch the movements of the English, learned his
design and dispatched Paul Revere to warn Hancock and Adams.

Crossing to Charlestown by boat, long before the British,
Revere procured a horse and rode through Medford, rousing the
Minutemen by the way, and after barely escaping capture by some
British officers reached Lexington at midnight and delivered his
message. Hancock and Adams having been persuaded to retire
to Woburn, Revere, accompanied by Dr. Samuel Prescott and
William Dawes, continued his ride toward Concord. Revere and
Dawes were captured at Lincoln, and brought back to Lexington,
but Prescott escaped by leaping over a wall and rode on to Con-
cord, where he alarmed the inhabitants.


the; IRISH IN the; American revolution, 311

Longfellow made the ride of Paul Revere the subject of a
spirited poem, but it is now left out of the popular editions of that
poet. This is only one of the signs of the tendency of modern
American literature — the productions of what is called the
philosophical or English-paid school — to belittle or ignore the
characters of Revolutionary heroes. In the same spirit Dwight
Tilton, in his historical novel "My Lady Laughter," endeavors to
blast the reputation of John Hancock, a man who on countless
occasions staked his fortune and his life on the American cause.

As a contrast to this decadence in our modern literature we
take up the Sixth Reader of Lewis B. Monroe, Dean of the Boston
University School of Oratory, published in 1872 for the public
schools, and find in it not only Longfellow's immortal poem on
Paul Revere's Ride and many other American patriotic produc-
tions, but also many beautiful selections from Irish authors — four
from Moore and one each from Goldsmith, Griffin, Allingham,
Ferguson, and Edmund Burke, together with a touching article
on the Irish famine. As all our young people should know Paul
Revere's Ride by heart, we print it here in full for their benefit :


Listen, my children, and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,

On the eighteenth of April in Seventy-five:

Hardly a man is now alive

Who remembers that 'famous day and year.

He said to his friend — "If the British march
By land or see from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower, as a signal light-
One if by land, and two, if by sea ;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm.
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good night!" and with muffled oar

Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore.

Just as the moon rose over the bay.

Where, swinging wide at her moonng, lay

The Somerset, British man-of-war;

A phantom ship, with each mast and spar

Across the moon like a prison bar.
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection on the tide.
Meanwhile his friend, through alley and street
Wanders and watches with eager ears,


Till, in the silence around he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed to the tower of the church.
Up the wyx)den stairs, with stealthy tread.
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch.

On the somber rafters that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade —
Up the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wail,
Where he paused to listen, and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town.
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the church-yard lay the dead
In their night encampment on the hill,
A\'rapped in silence, so deep and still
That he could hear, like the sentinel's tread.
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent.
And seeming to whisper, "All is well !"

A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead ;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay —
A line of black, that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride.
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now gazed at the landscape far and near.
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddic-girth ;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill.
Lonely and spectral and somber and still.

And lo ! as he looks, on the belfry's height

A glimmer, and then a gleam of light I

He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns.

But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight

A second light in the belfry bums !

A hurry of hoofs in the village street


A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,

And beneath, from the pebbles, in passmg, a spark

Struck out by a steed flying, fearless, and fleet;

That was all I and >tt, through the gloom and the light

The fate of a nation was riding that night •

And the sparks struck out by that steed in nis flight

Kindled the land into flame with its heat.

It was twelve by the village clock

When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.

He heard the crowing of the cock

And the barking of the farmer's dog.

And "felt the damp of the river fog

That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock

When he galloped into Lexington,

He saw the gilded weathercock

Swim in the moonlight as he passed

And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare

Gaze at him with a spectral glare,

As if they already stood aghast

At the bloody work they would look upon.

Online LibraryJames HaltiganThe Irish in the American revolution, and their early influence in the colonies → online text (page 33 of 67)