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ERCENTENARY

OF THE LANDING OF
/>4^ POPHAM COLONY
AT THE MOUTH of the
KENNEBEC, AUGUST 29, 1907




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TERCENTENARY



OF THE



LANDING OF THE POPHAM COLONY

AT THE MOUTH OF THE

KENNEBEC KIVER



AUGUST 29, 1907



^



PORTLAND
MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

' 1907



Press of

Lefavoe-Tower Company

Portland, Maine



In £scli£mgrd.

2itF '08



TABLE OF CONTENTS



Address, Hon. James P. Baxter., .... Page 4

Address, Prof. Henry L. Chapman., D.D.., . . "12

Poem, Harry Lyman Koopman., . . . . " 29

Address, Rev. Henry 8. Burrage., D.D.., . . "31

Address, Mr. Fritz H. Jordan., "34

ExpLORATioiT Schemes with Reference to the
Coast of Maine in 1606, ....

i?ey. Henry S. Burrage., D.D.., " 37



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



' The Popham Memorial, Frontispiece

OPPOSITE PAGE

V Prof. Henry L. Chapman, D.D., 12

Fort Popham and the Site of the Popham Memorial, . . 31
. Plan of Fort St. George, 33



THE POrHAM TERCENTENARY

The two hundred and fifty-fifth anniversary of the
landing of the Popham Colony at the mouth of
the Kennebec River was celebrated by the Maine
Historical Society August 29, 1862, and a memorial
volume, containing the addresses delivered on the
occasion, and other contributions of interest, was
published by the Society in the following year. At
the time of the celebration in 1862, and on the sup-
posed site of the fort erected by the Popham colonists,
the United States government had commenced the
construction of a fort, which, in accordance with a
request of the Historical Society, had received the
designation Fort Popham. Also permission had been
asked and received by the Historical Society to place
in the wall of the fort a memorial stone, with a suita-
ble inscription, commemorating the founding of the
colony. Such a stone was prepared, and in the
account of the celebration held in 1862, mention is
made of the services connected with the placing of
this memorial. Evidently, however, this placing was
in form only. Probably the work of constructing the
walls of the fort had not been sufficiently advanced
for the setting of the stone in its assigned position.
In the course of the Civil War much was learned
wiih reference to the construction of coast fortifi-
cations, and the inadequacy of Fort Popham as
a defence to the entrance to the Kennebec was



discovered before the structure was completed. The
fort accordingly was left unfinished, and the block of
granite, prepared by the Maine Historical Society for
a prominent place in the walls of Fort Popham, was
given a place in the yard of the fort, where it
remained unboxed until August, 1 907.

In the intervening years it was ascertained that the
fort of the Popham colonists did not occupy the site
of Fort Popham ; and in June, 1906, on the approach
of the tercentenary of the landing of the Popham Col-
ony, a letter was addressed to the Secretary of War, on
behalf of the Historical Society, requesting permission
for the transfer of this memorial stone to the now
known site of Fort St. George, as Popham's fort was
called. This permission was granted, and subse-
quently the War Department donated to the Histori-
cal Society a sufficient amount of the unused stone in
the yard of Fort Popham for the construction of a
base, upon which to place in a new form the memorial
prepared by the Society in 1862.

The inscription on the stone prepared for Fort
Popham was as follows :

THE FIRST COLONY

UN THE SHORES OF NEW ENGLAND

WAS FOUNDED HERE

AUGUST 19, O. S. 1607

UNDER

GEORGE POPHAM

The first colony on the shores of New England was
that established by de Monts in 1604. In preparing
the original memorial stone for its new location, the
above inscription was removed, and the same inscrip-



tion, with the addition of a single word and a change
from Old Style to New, was cut as follows :

THE FIRST ENGLISH COLONY

ON THE SHORES OF NEW ENGLAND

WAS FOUNDED HERE

AUGUST 29, N. S. 1607

UNDER

GEORGE POPHAM

The design for the new memorial was furnished by
the Hallo well Granite Company, of Hallo well, Me.,
and the contract for the construction of the memorial
was given to the same company. The cost of the
memorial was defrayed by the State of Maine, the
Maine Historical Society, the Colonial Dames of Maine
and the Maine Society of Colonial Wars.

A part of the site selected by the Popham colonists
in locating their fort is now owned by the United
States government, and permission was obtained from
the Secretary of War to place the memorial on gov-
ernment land. But a more sightly location was
deemed desirable, and such a location, also within
the limits of Fort St. George, was found on the rocky
spur of Sabino Head, adjoining the government res-
ervation. From the owners of this more sightly loca-
tion, Messrs. Lyman and George A. Oliver, permission
was obtained to place the memorial there. A more
fitting spot for such a memorial could not be desired.
From it the mouth of the Kennebec is in full view,
and for some distance up into the main the eye can
follow the course of the river descending to the sea.

The 29th of August, 1907, was one of the fairest,
brightest days of summer. By the early morning

3



trains, from various parts of the State, members of
the Maine Historical Society, of the Colonial Dames
in the State of Maine and of the Maine Society of
Colonial Wars, made their way to Bath. Others
joined the company there, and a little after nine
o'clock the sail down the river to Popham Beach
began. As the steamer made its way thither many a
scene of historic interest was passed on either hand,
recalling events connected with the experiences of
the early settlers. The wharf at Popham Beach was
reached at half-past ten o'clock.

At once the company, with others who had already
reached the place, proceeded to the meeting-house
not far away, on the road from Fort Popham to the
site of Fort St. George. Here the literary exercises
of the day were held. The audience filled the house.
The Hon. James P. Baxter, President of the Maine
Historical Society, presided and delivered the opening
address.

We have assembled on these pleasant shores to celebrate an
event of interest to us, not because of its importance to mankind,
nor of its material or moral influence upon the welfare of those
within the narrower bounds of our own State, nor of the virtue
or heroism of the actors in it, for even the leading spirit in the
enterprise, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, places them in a light none
too favorable, but because it was the pioneer effort made in good
faith by its projectors to colonize our New England shores, an
effort which might have been successful had men of different
character been employed to sustain it. So much of a derogatory
nature has been said of these men that it seems proper that, keep-
ing in view the fact that only success earns the diploma of merit,
we should try to get as correct a view of them as possible.

I have said that Sir Ferdinando Gorges was the leading spirit
in the Sagadahoc colonial enterprise. He it was whose enthusi-



asm never flagged, and which inspired men absorbed in other
pursuits to adventure their substance and their influence to sup-
port and advance his projects. His zeal, energy and self sacrifice
in behalf of colonial undertakings have never been questioned, and
it can be safely aflirmed that he was a man of lofty aims and
broad foresight ; a man, who, while having an eye to his own
interests, could subordinate them to the public welfare.

Of Chief Justice Popham, who lent his great influence and
advanced liberally of his means to aid this colonial venture,
thereby aoxjuiring the title of its chief sustainer, much of a defam-
atory character has been written. He has been charged with
disreputable living previous to his elevation to the chief justice-
ship, and then, with most corrupt practices. Even the possession
of his family seat, Littlecote Manor, has been charged to judicial
dishonor.^

It is well, however, in this instance to apply the rule which an
astute publicist has prescribed for observance in the treatment of
such cases, namely, that " When a thing is asserted as a fact,
always ask who first reported it, and what means he had of
knowing the truth."'

The application of this nile shows that the writers of the wild
stories of his acquisition of Littlecote by corrupt dealings with
Darrell, its former owner, relied for their materials chiefly upon
traditions. Papers in the Public Records Oftice have recently
come to light which do not sustain these stories.^

That Popham was aggressive and unscrupulous there can be
little doubt, as little doubt indeed as that Darrell, with whom
Popham is accused of having made a corrupt bargain to clear him
of a criminal charge, was not nearly as bad as he was painted by
self-interested contemporaries. A much more reasonable explan-
ation of his relations with Darrell is that he took advantage of
the death of an unfortunate man, upon whose property he was
enabled by his great power to seize and hold on the ground
of having rendered for it an equivalent in services. Popham,
there can be no doubt, was far from being a model of virtue, but
no more corrupt than many of the men high in ottice in the reigns

>Vide, "Lives of Eminent Men "— Aubrey — Vol. 11, p. i;93, "Romance of the
Aristocracy "— Burke — Vol. I, p. 174.

2 Vide, "Society in the Elizabethan Age "— Hall — pp. 133-146.



of Elizabeth and James whose acts have escaped the searching
light to which his have been subjected.

Of George Popham, the nephew of the Chief Justice, and head
of the Colony, we know only good. Even the French Jesuit,
Biard, who visited the site of the colony after its abandonment,
and who certainly was not friendly to the English, says that he
was "A very honorable man, and conducted himself very kindly
towards the natives,"^ and though Gorges paints him as "Ould
and of an unwildy body, and timorously fearfull to offende or
contest with others, that will or do oppose him," he also describes
him as " honest " as well as " A discreete and careful man," ^ and
it is not unreasonable to suppose, that, if he had survived the
hardships of the terrible winter of 1607-8, that he might have
held the colony together until it could be reinforced by new
blood.

Of Ralegh Gilbert, who succeeded Popham, success could not
be expected. He was doubtless selected because of the fame of
his father, Sir Humphrey, to whom Elizabeth had granted a pat-
ent for territory of shadowy bounds twenty-nine years before.3
Though he seems to have inherited the courage he does not seem
to have inherited the virtues of his famous father.

Biard, who has already been quoted, says, that after the death
of Popham, who had treated the savages kindly, "The English
changed their conduct ; they repelled the savages disgracefully ;
they beat them, they abused them, they set their dogs on them,
with httle restraint. Consequently, these poor maltreated peo-
ple, exasperated in the present and presuming upon still worse
treatment in the future, determined, as the saying is, ' To kill the
cub before his teeth and claws should be stronger.' An oppor-
tunity for this presented itself to them one day, when three
shallops were gone away on a fishing trip. These conspirators
followed them keenly and coming near with the best show of
friendship ( for where there is most treachery there are the most
caresses ) each one chose his man and killed him with his knife.
Thus were dispatched eleven of the English." *



^ Vide, " Premiere Misaion des Jesuites a Canada "— Carayon — p. 70 et seq.

* Vide, " Sir Ferdinando Gorges and His Province of Maine," Vol. Ill, p. IBS.
3 Vide, Hazard's " Historical Collections," Vol. I, pp. ^4-28.

* Vide, " Premiere Mission des Jesuites a Canada " — Carayon — p. 70 et seq.



Gorges also describes Gilbert as " Desirous of supremacy and
rule, a loose life, prompt to sensuality, little zeal and experiense,
other wayes valiant enough, but he houldes that the Kinge could
not give away that by Pattent to others wch his Father had an
Act of Parliament for, and that hee will not be put out of it in
haste, with many such like idle speeches." From this it will be
seen that Gilbert supposed the colony to have been settled
within the bounds of his father's former patent. With such a
man in chai'ge of the depleted colony, and jealous of its promot-
ers at home, one cannot be surprised that upon the opportunity
afforded by the death of his brother, whose heir he was, he
should take advantage of the situation, and, when a ship with
supplies arrived, should gather his di8heai*tened men and hurry
home Avith them.

From the remarks of Gorges already quoted, and the statement
that Gilbert had written friends in England soliciting them to
support his claims, it seems probable that he was not averse to
the failure of the colony, the creature of men who had, he
believed, usurped his rights, and it seems probable that he was
indulging in a dream of a renewed patent and a return to Saga-
dahoc or vicinity with a new colony over which he would be
supreme.

There were besides the men already discussed, several others,
able and of good repute, as Seymour, the minister, a man no
doubt of lofty character ; Turner, the physician, of whom Gorges
speaks in high terms ; James and Robert Davis, and others. At
the same time we may well believe that there was a considerable
contingent, as in other colonial undertakings, of unfit men, even
representatives of the criminal classes. Chief Jiistice Popham
himself gave the Spanish minister to understand that such was
the case, though this is not proof, as he may have been only
talking diplomatically.^ Many early writers cast odiiim upon
him for sending men, whom Gorges himself declares were " Not
such as they oiight." But if such men formed a portion of the
colony it was only in accord with the spirit of the age ; even the
Dean of St. Pauls, several years later, in a sei-mon to the Virginia
Company, said, " The Plantation shall redeeme many a wretch

> Vide, " The Geneeis of the United States "— Brown — Vol. I, p. 46.

7



from the lawes of death, from the hands of the executioner."
Gorges, who knew perhaps more than anybody else the character
of the rank and file of the colony may be quoted. He says that
to be successful " There must go other manner of spirits," and
charges failure to " Theyr idle proceedings."

When we consider the condition of maritime art in the six-
teenth century, after the discovery of the continent by Cabot,
which was hailed as a great event " More divine than human,"
the ease with which the ocean passage can be made ; and the
character of the English people so enterprising and aggressive as
they have shown themselves to be, it seems strange indeed that
this great country, so rich in natural resources, should have
remained for more than a century without a single successful
step being made by the English toward its colonization.

Colonies were nothing new. They had been successfully
founded by Greeks and Romans many centuries before, and had
proved of great benefit to the parent state, all of which was well
known to English scholars, and the advantages of colonizing the
new world were amply discussed long before successful efforts
were made to secvire them. We know that the Spanish Gara-
gantua fumed and threatened all who ventured upon voyages to
the New World, and cruelly treated, even butchered some who
were caught there ; but this does not appear to have been suffi-
cient to have deterred Englishmen from pursuits to which they
were inclined. In spite of Spain's great sea power they never
shrunk from encountering it, and usually came off victorious, and
the thought grows upon us that the principal hindrance to colo-
nial success is to be found in the character of the material which
was then thought sufficient for colonial building. Society in
England during the sixteenth century and much later was in a
graceless way. Men in power, courtiers and parasites who
depended upon them, monopolized the sources of production and
paralyzed industry, thereby creating poverty such as we know
little about, a poverty which measured by the oppressive and
cruel laws then prevailing, made criminals of men, who, with
reasonably fair opportunities, would have made decent citizens.
The frequent wars, too, which threw upon society thousands of
incapacitated and worthless men with no means of living added
to the criminal class. How to deal with such persons was a

8



problem from which the wisest shrunk. Any way which could
be suggested to get rid of this class of persons was satisfactory
to those in power, and the colonial prospect was hailed as an
effective way of disposing of them forever.

There were men who objected to this, Bacon and Fuller among
the number, who vehemently condemned the theory that crimi-
nals were fit timber for colonies, but these protests had little
effect, and the king continued to order " dissolute persons " to be
sent to Virginia.

The result was what might have been expected. The south-
ern colony, which had planted itself at Jamestown, had the same
experience as its sister colony on the Sagadahoc. After severe
hardships, though it escaped the extreme rigors of a northern
winter, it was reduced to a handful of disheartened men by sick-
ness and the vengeful hand of the savages, and would probably
have been exterminated but for the stout and devil-may-care
spirit of Captain John Smith until the arrival of reinforcements
fi-om England ; but even then, only a year and eight months after
the northern colony deserted the Sagadahoc, the southern colony
abandoned its settlement at Jamestown, and burying the cannon
which were too burdensome for them to remove, it sailed for
home, and we should have heard no more of it, had it not met, as
it was leaving the coast. Sir Thomas West, with a new charter
and new settlers. Sir Thomas, being a man of action, ordered
them back, the cannon were dug up and replaced in the fort, and
the new master put his hand to the helm of affairs with a firm
grasp; but again the colony would have failed had not John
Rolfe planted some tobacco seed, which, producing a profitable
crop and serving as an object lesson to the discouraged colonists,
saved the day ; in fact, to that perniciously profitable weed,
tobacco, is the salvation of the southern colony to be ascribed ;
thus we see what immense advantages the southern colony had
over the northern, in that it was not subject to wintry weather,
the severity of which Gorges says " Froze all our hopes," and
possessed also a product ready at hand, upon which to rely for
support ; advantages amply sufficient, if both colonies were com-
posed of like material, to ensure success to the one possessing
them.

Forty-fiive years ago to-day the Maine Historical Society was



here celebrating the event, the three hundredth anniversary of
which we are now observing ; yet of the members of our Society
whose eloquence aroused the enthusiasm of those who listened
to them on that bright August day, not one is now living to join
his voice to ours on this memorable occasion.

While acknowledging the distinguished services which these
honored men rendered to Maine history, it is but proper that I
should notice some of the errors into which they fell, and which
caused so much unpleasant controversy. They did not have
access to records which we now possess and, therefore, built upon
less secure foundations. With the materials which the veiled
and frugal Goddess of History vouchsafed to them, they wrought
an attractive fabric, which our State pride might well prompt
us to wish was more stable than it proved to be. We now
know beyond peradventure, that no part of the Sagadahoc Col-
ony remained behind to lay the foundations of empire at Pema-
quid ; that in 1623, " Pemaquid had " not " become the great
center of trade to the native hordes of Maine from the Penob-
scot to Accacisco " ; i that the statements that " The evidence is
quite conclusive that in that dissolution," namely, of the Sagada-
hoc Colony, " English life, English homes, and English civiliza-
tion did not cease to be found within the Ancient Dominions of
Maine," 2 that " Pemaquid took her root from the colonial planta-
tion at Sagadahoc, and sent up fresh, vigorous, and fi'uitful
shoots in the families of the Sheepscot farms, between the
head -waters of the aboriginal Sipsa and Naamas Couta " ; that
" Maine is the Mother of New England," 3 and many other like
statements are but pleasant fancies. Nor was there any great
Bashaba ruling an Indian Empire in Mawooshen ; * nor even a
Norembega of more importance than a few squalid wigwams,
however much we may regret to own it. The " Fair English
town " too " of fifty houses, with its church and fort mounted
and entrenched " has dwindled to fifteen buildings of all kinds,
the number shown on the Simancas plan .5

» Vide, Memorial Volume ol the Popham Celebration, 1862, Sewall'fl Address, pp.
133-155.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

* Vide, " Ancient Dominions of Maine "— Sewall — pp. 34, 38.
"Vide, Ibid, p. 32, Memorial Volume Popham Celebration, 1862, Sewall's Address,
p. 139.

10



The track of the colonists is now perfectly clear and undis-
puted. Pemaquid, from its important situation, was an objective
point to ships approaching the middle Maine coast, and here a
landing was made and a conference held with the chief of the
Pemaquid tribe before establishing themselves at the mouth of
the Kennebec, and later they also visited Pemaquid which was
to became so noted as a place of historic interest to the people of
the State.

The truth, however, remains as we were formerly taught, that
the Puritans and the Pilgrims founded the first permanent colo-
nies in New England under the wise leadership of men hke
Bradford and Winthrop and Roger Williams, whom the people
of this country will ever honor ; colonies, which guided by the
principals of the Mayflower compact, imparted to subsequent col-
onies that fervent spirit of liberty and equality which kindled
the Revolution, and fused them into a nation. But while we
admit this, we do not detract from the interest that this historic
place will always possess for the people of Maine, who, in time to
come, will gather here in remembrance of this interesting histor-
ical event. Here was the first English colony in New England
founded through the efforts of Gorges, who has not inaptly been
denominated the Father of American Colonization. Here the
first New England ship was built, the first fort erected to main-
tain the rights of Englishmen to the continent discovered by
Cabot under an English commission, and here George Popham,
the noble governor of that colony, laid down his life for the
cause which he had espoused, a man of whom Gorges wrote these
words : " However heartened by hopes, icillitig he was to die in
acting something that might be serviceable to God and honorable
to his country.'''' i

An address, by Prof. Henry L. Chapman, of Bow-
doin College, followed.

The opening years of the twentieth century are full of invita-
tions to us to scan anew the records of the past ; records that tell
in quaint phrase, but with directness and simplicity of manner,

> Vide, " A Description of New England " in " Sir Ferdinando Gorges and His
Province of Maine," Vol. II, p. 16.

11



the story of individual and concerted effort, of perilous adven-
ture, of heroic enterprise, in the attempt, often renewed, to plant
English colonies upon the New England coast. The Maine His-
torical Society, as might be expected, has felt the significance of
these invitations that come across the wide interval of three cen-
turies, and has responded to them by various commemorative
exercises, intended, at once, to mark the successive and costly
steps in the peopling of the Western Continent, and to honor
the memory of the brave men who gave their fortunes and some-
times their lives to the great and hazardous enterprise. Thus, in
1903, the Society held a commemorative meeting in celebration
of the three hundredth anniversary of the voyage of Captain
Martin Pring to the coast of Maine and Massachusetts, a voyage
that was set forth by " sundry of the chiefest Merchants of Bris-
tol," through the persuasion of Richard Hakluyt, " for the farther
Discoverie of the North part of Virginia." It is true that Captain
Pring did not, himself, contemplate the establishment of a colony,
but his expedition was, nevertheless, wholly in the interest of the


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