Joshua Coffin.

A sketch of the history of Newbury, Newburyport and West Newbury, from 1635 ... online

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Online LibraryJoshua CoffinA sketch of the history of Newbury, Newburyport and West Newbury, from 1635 ... → online text (page 21 of 54)
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part at the school house, and the other third part about middle way
between the meeting house and oldtown ferry.' *

June 21st The officers of the two militia companies issued an
order to Henry Short, requiring him ' in his majesties name to take
care of his watch every night' They were fifty-one in all. * They
are alike required to come to your house to talte their charge. You
are to order them to go to George Little's garrison, and there one of
them is to keep his post all the night. The rest are to walk three
in a night to the mill bridge, and from thence to Anthony Morse's
house and elsewhere according to your direction. The number of
men belonging to your care and charge are under express,' and so
forth, and so forth.

July lith. * The towne understanding that several of the inhab-
itants of new towne are about calling of Mr. [Edward] Tompson
to be their minister, the towne did by vote manifest their dislike
against it, or against any other minister, whom they should call,
until ye church and towne are agreed upon it, looking upon such a
thing to be an intrusion upon ye church and towne.'

August 21st. The commissioner with the selectmen states the
number of ratable polls to be two hundred and fifty.

October. Several of the inhabitants of the west end of the town
petitioned the general court ' to be established a people by them-
selves for the maintenance of the ministry among them.'

December. The town did by vote manifest themselves * against
the new town having their petition granted,' and chose a committee
to present a counter petition to the general court

* Town recoidii

Digitized by,



This year Newbury was allowed by the general court to have
another house of entertainment


In February of this year, commenced the witchcraft delusion,
which, for a long time, occasioned so much terror, distress, and
suifering, in several towns in Massachusetts. It originated in Salem
village, now Danvers, in the family of the reverend Samuel Panris,
whose * daughter and niece, girls of ten or eleven years of age, and
two other girls in the neighborhood, began to act very strangely,
appeared to fall into fits, would creep into holes, under benches and
chairs,' put themselves into odd postures, and, as the physicians who
examined them could give no satisfactory name to their apparent
disorder, and probably feeling that he must say something, one of
them very gravely pronounced them beroitched. From this begin-
ning, originating in fraud and imposture, and continued by the
grossest superstition and ignorance, combined with great fear, for
no one was safe, arose those accusations and ' prosecutions of the
people, under the notion of witches, whereby twenty suifered as
evil doers, (besides those that died in prison,) about ten more
condemned, a hundred imprisoned, and about two hundred more
accused, and the country generally in fears, when it would come
their turn to be accused.' * In the language of the revereud Charles
W. Upbam, ' all the securities of society were dissolved. Every
man's life was at the mercy of every other man. Fear sat on every
countenance ; terror and distress were in all hearts; silence pervaded
the streets ; many of the people left the country ; all business was
at a stand, and the feeling, dismal and horrible indeed, became
general, that the providence of God was removed from them, and
that they were given over to the dominion of Satan.' f From this
awful scourge, Newbury was wholly exempt, though we have
abundant evidence, that the inhabitants participated in the almost
universal belief, that witchcraft was a reality. It was a fault of
the age, from which the most pious, and, in other respects, learned
men, were not free. Sir Matthew Hale was a firm believer in
witchcraft, and the celebrated Richard Baxter, in a preface to one
of Cotton Mather's sermons, on a case of supposed witchcraft,
declares, ^ that this instance comes with such convincing evidence,
ihdX he must be an obstinate Sadducee, who will not believe it' It
is well observed by governor Hutchinson, that * in all ages of the
world, superstitious credulity has produced greater cruelty than is
practised among the Hottentots, or other nations whose belief of a
deity is called in question.'

March. Several of the west end people, again made a petition
and proposition about calling a minister.

* Kobeit Cale£ t Lectoies on witchcraft.

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May 14tt. Sir William Phipps arrived at Boston, with the new
charter for the Massachusetts province.

July 14/A. Thanksgiving appointed on account of peace, the
charter, and so forth.

November IsU By special order of Sir William Phipps, twelve
soldiers were sent from Newbury to Haverhill.

December 13/A. Town ordered that ' whosoever shall build any
vessels on the towne common shall pay to the town threepence per
ton for the use of the building yard, that they shall improve.' *

December 20tL The town voted ' that they would call another
minister at the west end of the towne.' Against this vote, twenty-
two of the 'west end' men entered their dissent * ,

December 27 th. A committee was chosen Mo enquire after a
suitable person to preach to the west end and to keep schoole.' *

This year, a petition to divide Essex county was presented to the
general court ; Newbury was allowed to have another house of en-
tertainment ; and the grand jury of Essex county ' presented Joseph
Bailey for saying the men appointed by the town to answer the
petition of those, who wanted another minister were devils incarnate.'


April 20th. The town * chose Tristram Coffin treasurer for the
poor.' *

May 12th, < Towne voted that Mr. John Clarke be called to
assist Mr. Richardson in the work of the ministry at the west end
of the towne to preach to them one year in order to farther setde-
nient and also to keep a grammar schoole.' *

May 3lsL The selectmen of Newbury, in their petition to the
general court, state that ' a long difference has existed between the
people of Newbury, and those in the west end of the town about
calling a minister, that the west end people had called Mr. Edward
Tomson to preach to them wdthout acquainting the minister, church
or towne with their proceedings in that affair, the which when our
town did understand that they were about to bringhim into town,
the town being met to consider of it by their vote did declare that
they were against his coming, or any other until the church and
town were agreed, yet they persisted in their design and brought
him in, and when he was come in our minister warned him to
forbear preaching till the church and town were agreed, yet he
presumed to set up a lecture, and preach without any allowance of
ministers, church or town, which when the church did understand,
they did call him to account, and declared their dislike of his irreg-
ular proceeding, yet he hath persisted in these irregularities to the
great disturbance of our peace, and since upon the request of sev-
erall of the inhabitants of the west end of our towne, called another
minister, Mr. John Clark, who hath accepted of the caU, and yet

♦ Town records.

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there are severall, who refuse ta accept of him, pretending they are
bound to said Tomson, which agreement they made when the rest
of their neighbors were about to malce application to the town,
which was since the late law was made to (firect the town to call
the minister.'

June Iblh. A committee of the west end people, in their petition,
thus reply. They request the governor and council ' to pity and
help them,' 'to ease them of a heavy burden of travel on God's day.'
* We have been,' say they, ' endeavoring above these five years to
have the publick worship of God established among us on the
Lord's day for reasons such as these. The bulk of us live four
miles from the ould meeting house, some six or seven. Our num-
ber is above three hundred. Few of us have horses, and if we
could get down to the ould meeting house, it is impossible it should
receive us with them so that many [would] lay out of doors, the house
is so little. Some of us have groaned under this burden this thirty
years, some grown old, some sickly, and although we were favored
with the liberty granted by king James the second and had erected
an house to the worship of God on our own cost and charge, and
acquainted the two next justices with our intent before we built the
said house. A committee of five were appointed to come on the
place, but before they had finished their work, the governor arrived,
which caused them to desist. We complained to the governor,
who granted us a protection from paying to the ould meeting house,
then countermanded it The town had a meeting — they intend to
delude us by granting the help of a schoolmaster at sometimes for
one yeare. We believe our neighbours would be glad to see us
quite tired out We beg the honorable court to establish peace
anoLong us a rational dividing line.'

' June loth, 1693.'

July 5th. * The towne in theyr votes for the choyce of a minister
for the west end of the towne in order to a full settlement in the
work of the ministry and Blr. John Clarke was then chosen and not
one vote against him.' *

Juli/ 5th. Twenty-five persons of the west end entered their
dissent against * calling Mr. Clark. The reason is because the new
towne people have a minister already.' *

This year, a jury of twelve women held an inquest on the body
of Elizabeth Hunt, of Newbury. The following is an accurate
copy of their verdict, which was doubtless perfectly conclusive and

* We judge according to our best light and contients, that the
death of said Elizabeth was not by any violens or wrong dun to
her by any parson or thing, but by som soden stoping of her breath.'

Septewher 26th. On this day, the court of common pleas held
its firet sessions in Newbury. The court was held in the first parish

* Town records.

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February 2\st Liberty was granted to the petitioners * to erect
between captain Noyes' lane and Mr. Woodbridge's [upper green]
a little house for the accommodation of a good and sufficient schoole
dame.' A similar petition was granted to deacon William Noyes,

* to sett up a schoole house upon the towne's land.'

A salary of * twenty pounds in money and fifty pounds in graine
was voted to ye reverend Mr. John Clarke so long as he carry on
the worke of the ministry.' Mr. Clark having declined the call,
Mr. Christopher Toppan was invited * to preach at the new towne.'
Mr. Toppan having declined settling, but expressing his willingness

* to help in the work of the ministry for a year,' the town voted * to
give Mr. Toppan forty pounds in money and four contributions a

March 26<A. The town granted permission to John Kelly, senior,
to keep a ferry over the Rlerrimac, at Holt's rocks, * in the place
where he now dwells.' Ferriage, * sixpence for horse and man,
and twopence for a single man.'

September Ath. * Mr. Joseph Pike and Richard Long,' both of
Newbury, ' were shot by the Indians as they were traveling near
the end of Pond plain,' * in Haverhill.

September 5th. A committee, consisting of Joshua Brown, John
Ordway, and Samuel Bartlet, petitioned to the genera] court, 4n
behalf of the company, that as they had erected a meeting house,
and supplied themselves with a minister yet nevertheless our
distresses do continually grow upon us toward an insupportable
extremity, since the imprisoning of some of our number tor their
signifying our desire to enjoy the minister, whom we had formerly
invited to preach in the meeting house, which we built at our own
cost and charge, and some of us have been fined for not delivering
up the key of the said meeting house.'

They conclude by requesting the general court, that they would

* so far interpose in our concerns as to take some effectual care for
the relief of your petitioners and for the quiet of the whole town,
the peace whereof is now so dangerously interrupted.' f

October 22d. * The town brought in theyr votes by papers,' for
a minister for * the west end of the towne of Newbury and Mr.
Christopher Toppan had sixty- five votes and Mr. Tompson
seventeen.' J

December 2lst. A committee of five were chosen *to draw up
articles and proposals in order to setting off part of the west end of
the towne ' J as a separate parish.

This year, a petition was sent to the governor and council, from
Newbury and four other towns, for a division of the county of Essex.

< John and Samuel Bartlet, Abraham Morrill John Emmery and

* Reverend John Pike's journal. f GenerU court files. % Town lecordt .

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Joseph Bailey were bound over and admonished for opposing their
ordained minister, Mr. John Richardson.'


January \$L The town met and * voted that Pipe-stave hill near
Daniel Jaques' house shall he the place for the meeting house, and
those that live nearest to that place shall pay to the ministry there,
and those that live nearest to the old meeting house shall pay there,
the inhabitants at the west end to choose a minister for themselves,
only Mr. Tompson excepted.' * And the meeting house to stand
where it do^ until the major part of them see cause to remove it'
* The dividing line shall be from the middle way from the prefixed
place in Pipe-stave hill and the old meeting house, to run on a
straight line to Francis Brown's house near Birchen meadows and
so straight over to the little pond.' *

January 3d. Tristram Coffin, Henry Short, and Abraham Mer-
rill, divided the town into two parishes.

Hugh March, in behalf of himself and brother, captain John
March, petitioned the town ' to grant them a piece of ground and
fiatts to build a wharf and dock near captain March's barn.'*
This petition was granted on certain conditions, January sixteenth,
provided they are built ' within three years.' *

March llih. * Mr. John Woodbridge dies, a good man and a
constant attendant upon God in his publick worship on the Lord's
day.' t

June 5th, ' Town voted to give Mr. Christopher Toppan twenty
pounds yearly in money and three hundred pounds a year in good
country pay so long as he carries on one half of the ministry among
them, and thirty pounds a year so long as he shall keep a grammar
and a writing schoole, the scholars to pay as they did to Mr. John
Clarke,' which proposals Mr. Toppan accepted, July seventeenth.

September 9th, ' Twenty-four men at Pemaquid, going to get
wood, are shot, four of whom are dead. Serjeant Hugh March,
[of Newbury,] Greorge's son, was killed at the first shot' f

October 1th, On the afternoon of this day, five Indians attacked
and plundered the house of John Brown, who lived on the westerly
side of Turkey hUl, and captivated nine persons ; one only of the
family escaped to tell the tale. On the same day, colonel Daniel
Pierce sent the following letter to colonel Appleton and colonel
Wade, of Ipswich.

' Sir, this afternoon there came the enemy to a house in our town and went in
and took and carried away nine persons and plundered the house, and as near
as we can gather, they went southwestwardly between Boxford and Bradford.
We can not gather that there were above five of the enemy, but night came on
80 that we could not pursue them, but we have lined Merrimac river with about
fourscore men to watch lest they should carry the captives over the liver, and

♦ Town records. t Judge Sewall's diary.


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do design in the morning to pursue them and range the woods with all the force
we can make, and think it advisable that you range the woods towards Andover,
and that Rowley towards Bradford, for if they escape us it will be an encourage-
ment to them. Sir, [ do think the case requires our utmost industry who am
your friend and servant,


October 7th, 1695.'

To this letter was appended the following.

' Colonel Gedney,

Honored sir, it is thought advisable on the consideration abovesaid yt it
may be beneficial for the several companies in the several townes to range ye
woods with all possible speed towards Bradford and Andover and so towards
Merrimack river, so that if it might be ye enemy may be found and destroyed,
which spoyle our people.

Ipswich, October eighth, at five in the morning.

Your servant,

Samuel Appleton.'

Three hours after this, colonel Thomas Wade thus writes from

'Honored sir,
Just now captain Wicom brings information that the fls^st night captain
Greenleaf with a party of men met with the enemy by the river side, have re-
deemed all the captives but one, which they doubt is killed. Three of the In-
dians got into a canoe and made escape, and the other two ran into the woods.
Captain Greenleaf is wounded in the side and arm, how much we know not,
which is all at present from your servant,

Thomas Wade.'

Judge Sewall, in his journal, says, * all the captives were brought
back, save one boy, that was killed. The Indians knocked the rest
on the head, save one infant.'

Reverend John Pike, in his journal, states, that ' the captives were
all retaltcn but some died of their wounds.'

On the fifth of March, 1696, captain Greenleaf addressed the fol-
lowing petition to the general court

' The petition of captain Stephen Greenleaf of Newbury,
^ Humbly shewelh,

' That upon the seventh of October last about three o'clock in the
afternoon a party of Indians surprised a family at Turkey hill in said town cap-
tivated nine persons, women and children, rifled the house, carrying away bed-
ding and other goods. Only one person escaped and gave notice to the next
family and they, the town. Upon the alarm your petitioner with a party of men
pursued after the enemy, endeavouring to line the river Merrimack to prevent
their passage, by which means the captives were recovered and brought back.

' The enemy lay in a gully hard by the highway and about nine at night made
a shot at your petitioner and shot him through the wrist between the bones, and
also made a large wound in his side, which wounds have been very painful and
costly to your petitioner in the cure of them and have in a great measure utterly
taken away the use of his left hand and wholly taken him oflf from his employ-
ment this winter.

^ Your petitioner therefore humbly pram's this honored court that they would
mak6 him such compensation as snail seem lit, which he shall tliankfally

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acknowledge and doubts not but will be an encouragement to others speedily to
relieve their neighbours when assaulted by so barbarous an enemy,
And your petitioner shall ever pray,

Stephen Greenleaf.
'March 6th. Read and voted that there be paid out of the province treasury
to the petitioner the sum of forty pounds.'

From one of John Brown's descendants, William G. White, I
learn the following particulars as a family tradition. The Indians
had secreted themselves for some time near the house, waiting for
the absence of the male members of the family, who, about three
o'clock, departed with a load of turnips. The Indians then rushed
from their concealment, tomahawked a girl, who was standing at the
front door. Another girl, who had concealed herself as long as the
Indians remained, immediately after their departure gave the alarm,
which resulted as before related. The coat, which captain Green-
leaf wore in his pursuit of the Indians, is still preserved by his de-
scendants, together with the bullet, which was extracted from his
wound. This, I oelieve, is the only instance, in which the Indians
either attacked, captivated, or killed, any of the inhabitants of

From the original document now in my possession, I copy the

'October Uth, 1695. To Abraham Merrill of Newbury.

' These Are In his Majesty's name to will and Requier you to take the Gear to
seat the watch of five men A night Be<7ining att Samuel Poores and Job Pils-
buryes and all S&.yer's Lean Nane] to Edward Poores and soe Runing by ye
Road to Hartichoak river and soe Notherly Except the Boundars. You Are
Likewise Required to Ordar two of said watchmen upon Dewty to walke Dowen
to Daniel Merrill's and two more to John Ordways att thaier returen Always
keeping out a Sentinel! upon dewty. You are also to Make return of all defacts
unto the Capten to whom they belong forthwith. It is also desiered that yon
demand and require ye fien for each man's defeact and upon their refusal! to
make retum as aforesaid.'

December 18th. The town, * on the request of the inhabitants of
the west end of the towne of Newbury, granted them five acres of
land on the east side of Artichoke river for a pasture for the minis-
try and one acre of land near the west meeting house, and when the
major part shall see cause to remove the said meeting house, the
land shall be at the disposal of the towne to procure land for the
ministry, near the west meeting house, when removed!^


February 28^A. A rate was made for payment of building and
finishing the west end meeting-house and ministry house. The ex-
pense was twenty-two pounds and three shillings in money, and
two hundred and eighteen pounds, eighteen shillings, and twopence

• Town records.

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in pay. This was due from sixty-four persons. Of this number,
twenty-four, namely, Benjamin and Joseph Morse, Thomas, Daniel
and Moses Chase, John, senior, John, junior, and Abiel Kelly, Mr.
Abraham Annis and Isaac, Joseph Richardson, Abel Huse, Caleb
Moody, Benjamin Low, Tristram Greenleaf, Daniel Morrison, Ed-
ward Woodman, John Hoag, Hanariah Ordway, Thomas Follans-
bee, lieutenant John Emerson, Thomas Williams, Francis Willet,
and Samuel Sayer, junior, objected to the continuance of the meet-
ing house on the plains, and wished to have it removed to Pipe
stave hill. The contest, thus commenced, continued for many years
with an obstinacy and bitterness, to which the annals of Newbury
furnish no parallel. Its results we shall hereafter see.

March Ist. The town granted to Stephen Greenleaf * four or
five rods on the flatts from Watts' cellar spring to ensign GrreenleaTs
and Mr. Davison's grant from high water mark to low water mark
to build a wharfe and a place to build vessels uppon,' on certain
conditions, one was * that it come not within ten or twelve feet of
the spring.'*

Jtdy 29/A. The town offers Mr. Nicholas Webster thirty pounds
a year in country pay to keep a * grammer schoole provided he de-
mand but four{)ence per week for Latin scholars and teach the town's
children to read, write and cypher without pay.'*

September 9th, Reverend Christopher Toppan ordained.

* The winter of this year was the coldest since the first settlement
of New England,' Leivis^s history of Lynn.


March, Laid out to Stephen Greenleaf a * parcel of flatts and
rocks lying on Merrimack river near Watts' cellar, bounded north-
erly by the river, easterly by major Davison's grant, southerly by
the common land of Newbury and the westerly bound comes
within about fifteen foot of the spring.'

^ March 11th, The town laid out to Anthony Somerby a piece of
land three rods square, lying at the place knowne by the name of
Glading's spring f bounded by the co7nmo7i or undivided land of
Netvbury on every side, bounded with a small rock at every comer,
for the convenience of dressing of leather.' *

^ April 25th, Thursday. This day is signalized by ye achieve-
ment of Hannah Dunstan, Mary NefF and Samuel Lennardson,
who killed two men, two women, and six others and brought home
their scalps.' J

This year ensign James Noyes made a great discovery. It is
thus mentioned by Judge Sewall in his diary.

* 1697. Colonel Pierce gave an account of ye body of limestone
discovered at Newbury and the order of the selectmen published by

♦ Town records.

t * Glading's spring' is a few rods southwesterly from Mr. Silas Noyes's house.

X Judge SewaU.

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James Brown deputy sheriff, to prohibit any persons from carrying
any more away under ye penally of twenty shillings. It seems they
began to come with teams thirty in a day. The town will have a
meeting and bring it to some regulation. Our Mumford says 't is
good marble. Ensign James Noyes found it out'

We at the present lime can hardly conceive of the excitement

Online LibraryJoshua CoffinA sketch of the history of Newbury, Newburyport and West Newbury, from 1635 ... → online text (page 21 of 54)