Nathaniel Ingersoll] [Bowditch.

Gleaner articles online

. (page 1 of 22)
Online LibraryNathaniel Ingersoll] [BowditchGleaner articles → online text (page 1 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


FIFTH REPORT




4?



Record Commissioners.



1880.



REVISED EDITIOK".




BOSTON;
ROCKWELL AND CHURCHILL, CITY PRINTERS,

No. 39 Arch Street.

188 7.

t






y<^-\



'<k^



PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION.



In republishing their Fifth Report, the Record Commis-
sioners desire to reneAV the caution that this volume is to be
regarded as a collection of valuable and interesting essays,
for the correctness of which the reputation of the writer must
be the guaranty. The opinions of the author were stated
with the utmost frankness, the articles were printed in one of
the best known journals of the day, and the authorship was
acknowledged from the commencement. In reprinting them,
however, neither the city nor its agents are to be considered
as endorsing the opinions of the author, or as dissenting from
them. In one particular case, the seventy-eighth article, the
Record Commissioners have cancelled one essay, which ap-
peared in the former edition, from a scrupulous care to
respect the sensibilities of those who felt aggrieved by Mr.
Bow ditch's remarks.

One article, marked 2*, of the series, which Avas over-
looked in the first edition, has been recovered for this issue.
Some errors of the press have been corrected, and the ap-
pearance of the volume has been improved by additional
spacing. A few more notes are given, and the number of
pages is increased from a hundred and eighty in the first
edition, to two hundred and twenty-two pages in this, though
the contents remain the same, with the exceptions above
noted.

The Record Commissioners avail of this occasion to renew
their expressed conviction of the great value of these contri-
butions to our local history, and to record the flattering
appreciation with which this volume has been received by our
citizens.

William H. Whitmoee,
William S. Appleton,

Record Commissioners.

City Hall, Boston, July, 1884.



TABLE OF CONTENTS.



Abticlb Paqh

1. Blackstone's House 1

2. " 5

2*. " ■ .... 8

3. Boston Common 12

4. King's Chapel Burying-Ground . 14

5. The Barricado of 1G72 20

fi. St. Paul's Church 23

7. The rirst Church 26

8. Novelties in Estates 29

9. Names of Streets 31

10. Chambers' Four-acre Pasture ....... 34

11. Allen's Twenty-acre Farm ........ 36

12. Zachariah Phillips' Nine-acre Pasture ..... 38

13. Old Grants of Neck Lands 41

14. Copp's Hill 44

15. Old Bakers 46

16. Old Ropewalks 48

17. " 60

18. James Allen's Sixteen-acre Pasture .54

19. Jeremiah Allen's Pasture ........ 57

20. Buttolph's Eight-acre Pasture GO

21. Middlecott's Four-acre Pasture 63

22. Joshua Scottow's Four-acre Pasture ...... 65

23. Bulfinch's Four-acre Pasture 68

24. Molly Saunders' Gingerbread 70

25. Southacks' Pasture and Tanyard ...... 73

26. Reminiscences of Somerset Street ...... 77

27. Ancient and Modern Law 79

28. The Spring House 81

29. "Valley Acre" 83

30. Cotton Hill 84

31. " 87

32. Peter Faneuil's House 92

33. Houses of Oxenbridge and Penn ...... 95

34. James Davie's Pasture ........ 99

35. Madam Haley's Daughter 102

36. Robert Turner's Great Pasture 104

37. Great men a century ago 107

38. Niceties of the Law 109

39. The Bowdoin Estate 113

40. " Contempt of Court" 11£

V



VI



City Document No. 105.



Ajiticle












Paqh


41.


" Contempt of Court "








119


42.


Rogers's Estate












120


43.


Allegorical












123


44.


" A Challenge to Z " ....












126


45.


Beacon and the Thurston House .












128


46.


Hanging












130


47.


Beacon Hill ......












132


48.


Thomas Hancock .....












135


49.


The Monument .....












139


50.


Cook's Pasture












142


51.


The Commonwealth's Rope-walk .












145


52.


The State-House Lot ....












148


53.


Gov. Hancock's House ....












151


54.


Thomas Bulfinch .....












156


.55.


John Hancock ....












157


56.


The Hancock Estate ....












161


57.


Sewall's Elm Pasture .












163


58.


Streets on Paper ....












165


59.


Conditions — Eaves












167


60.


Frederick Tudor — R. G. Shaw .












. 170


61.


Robert G. Shaw ....












. 173


62.


Uriah Cotting — Samuel Appleton












. 176


63.


Benjamin P. Homer












. 179


64.


John Callender ....












. 182


65.


The Copley Estate












. 185


66.


East's Pasture ....












. 187


67.


Richard Pepys' Estate .












. 189


68.


The Banister Lot ....












. 191


69.


The Copley Estate












. 193


70.


" ...












. 195


71.


(1












. 198


72.


i(












. 201


73.


Mt. Vernon Street












. 204


74.


Thomas L. Winthrop and John Phillip












. 207


75.


Beacon Street ....












. 210


76.


The Lowell Family












. 214


77.


The Swan Family












. 218


78.


The Beacon-Street Fire












. 220



Illustrative Documents and Notes.

1. Alonzo Lewis's Notes on the Blackstone Lot .... 3

2. Odlin's Deposition 5-10

3. Anne Pollard's Deposition 11

4. Title to King's Chapel ]q

5. Town Deed to King's Chapel 17



"Gleaner." vii

Pagb

6. Deed to Angola, a Negro, for Saving Gov. Bellingham's Life . 23

7. Pudding Lane 31

8. James Barton . . .60

9. Rope-walks on the Public Garden 52

10. Eliot Street Laid Out 62

11. Reminiscences of an Old Bostonian 70

12. Valley Acre 83

13. Madam Haley 89

14. Note by Lucius M. Sargent 102

15. Brattle Square Church Case Ill

16. " ," 115

17. <« " 124

18. Note on the Turner Family, by L. M. Sargent .... 137

19. Inscriptions on the Old Beacon . 153

20. Sewall's Gift to the South School 164

21. The Lowell Family 217

22. Col. Swan's Book 218



PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.



Boston, Dec. 10, 1880.

In their fourth report, dated Sept. 1, 1880, the Record
Commissioners announced that the City Council had appro-
priated the sum of five thousand dollars for the publication
of historical documents relating to Boston. This was in con-
formity with a suggestion of the Committee on Printing for
1879, and it is presumed that the grant will be continued
annually. As already announced, the first of the volumes
thus ordered is the present fifth report, and it contains a
series of articles relating to the history of estates lying on or
around Beacon Hill. These articles were contributed in
1855 to the "Boston Daily Transcript," by the late Nathaniel
Insfersoll Bowditch, under the signature of " Gleaner."

Mr. Bowditch was confessedly the most learned conveyan-
cer of the day. He was born at Salem, June 17, 1805, and
was the oldest child of Dr. Nathaniel Bowditch, the distin-
guished mathematician. In 1823, the year following the
graduation of the subject of this sketch, his father removed
to Boston, and Nathaniel studied law under the late Hon.
William Prescott. From this time until his death, April 16,
1861, Mr. Bowditch was an honored and useful citizen of
Boston, pursuing his chosen department of practice with un-
rivalled skill, and accumulating treasures of information, of
which but a small portion is here shown. In 1851 he printed
a "History of the Massachusetts General Hospital," and in
1857 a collection of curious facts entitled "Suffolk Surnames."
The latter volume has been twice reprinted.

In 1855 Mr. Bowditch bejjan the interestino: series of
"Gleaner" articles, which aroused a lively interest among all
conversant with the subject. Often a single article would
call forth the reminiscences or comments of other writers,
and the whole collection has been for years regarded as indis-



X City Document No. 105.

pensable to any one who would write on that portion of our
local history.

Although the series terminated abruptly in the manner ex-
plained on page 180 of this volume, enough had been written
by Mr. Bowditch to make its republication a matter of pub-
lic interest. When, therefore, the Record Commissioners re-
ceived the munificent grant of the city, they at once selected
these " Gleanings " as among the first documents to be
issued.

It will be seen that the portion of our territory covered
by these notes is small ; but the articles are consecutive, and
the treatment is exhaustive. Beacon Hill and its surround-
ings are considered, every estate is scrutinized, and the
proverbial dryness of antiquarian and legal discussions is
relieved by anecdotes of the distinguished citizens who have
lived upon this noted territory during the past two hundred
years.

It has seemed unnecessary to attempt annotations to the
original work. Of course the twenty-five years which have
elapsed have produced many changes ; but these matters are
within the recollection of the present generation, which is
now to reperuse these sketches.

The consent of the representatives of the family to this
reproduction was given a number of years ago, and has
been renewed at the present time.

The commissioners have to announce that their sixth
report is nearly completed, and that it will contain the
Roxbiiry Land Records, together with the records of the
First Church in Roxbury. It is intended that it shall
appear among the city documents for 1880.

Respectfully submitted,

William H. Whitmore,

W^ILLIAM S. ApPLETON,

Jtecord Commissioners.



"GLEANER" ARTICLES.



I.

HISTORICAL.

July 2, 1855.

It is well known that when our forefathers first came to thig
peninsula they found here a solitary settler, — Mr. William Black-
stone. Thus the Charlestown records say : —

Mr. Blackstone, dwelling on the other side of Charles River, alone, to a
place by the Indeans called Shawmutt, where he only had a cottage at or not
far off the place called Btackstone's roint, he came and acquainted the
Governor of an excellent Spring there, withal inviting him and soliciting him
thither. Whereupon, after the death of Mr. Johnson and divers others, the
Governor, with Mr. Wilson, and the greatest part of the Church, removed
thither. Whither also the frame of the Governor's house was carried, when
people began to build their houses against winter, and this place was called
Boston.

Mr. Drake, in his excellent " History of Boston," quotes this ex-
tract, and remarks that " this place was not thought of for a town
until Blackstone urged it." He thinks that Blackstone's Point was
that afterwards called Barton's Point, at the northerly end of
Leverett street, towards Charlestown, and adds: "His Point is
more easily located than his house or his (spring " and proceeds to
suggest as not unlikely that these may have been near Poplar
street.

Now^ the exact location of Mr. Blackstone'' s Jiomestead lot is as
definitely fixed as that of the Mill-dam or Western avenue. He made
a deed to the inhabitants of the whole peninsula, retaining this
Jiomestead lot of six acres. By the town records of 1735, " the re-
lease of Mr. Blackstone, the first proprietor of the town of Boston,"'
is mentioned as " now on file in the town clerk's office." TJie orio-i-
nal, however, has never been seen by either of the historians of
Boston, — Shaw, Snow, or Drake, — and is doubtless lost. Black-
stone, wishing to live a more retired life and amid fewer neighbors,



2 City Docusient No. 105.

subsequently sold this reserved lot ; but no deed from him is found
on record. In the course of time, therefore, its precise location
became doubtful. It was, however, accidentally discovered by an
investigation of my own. In May, 1829, I was examining the
titles of the Mt. Vernon proprietors, claimed under John Single-
ton Copley, the celebrated artist. I succeeded in tracing back his
lot in part to a deed from one Richard Perjps and Mary his wife,
of Asliou, Essex County, to Nathaniel Williams, by a deed not
found on record, but expressly referred to as dated January 30,
1C55; and a deposition of Anne Pollard, in 1711 (Suffolk, Lib.
2o, p. 84), proves that Blackstone sold to Richard Pepys. In
1G76 is recorded a deed of Peter Bracket and Mary his wife, late
widow of said Williams (Suffolk, Lib. 9, fol. 325), conveying to
her children, Nathaniel Williams three-quarters and Mary Viall
one-quarter — all that messuage, with the barns, stables, orchards,
gardens, and also that six acres of land, be it more or less, adjoin-
ing and belonging to said messuage, called the Blackstone lot, being
the same ivhich were conveyed to said Nathaniel by Richard Pepis,
of Ashon, Essex County, and Mary his wife, as by their act, bear-
ing date January 30, 1G55, ivill more fully appear.

Mary Viall's one-quarter gets into said Nathaniel, who conveys
the whole lot in 1709 (Suffolk, Lib. 24, f. 103) to Thomas Banis-
ter as "an orchard and pasture, containing six acres more or less
on the N.W. side of the common with the flats; the upland and
flats being bounded N. W. on Charles river or a cove," etc., etc.,
" Southerly on the Common."

Blackstone's six-acre lot, therefore, was at the lower part of the
south-westerly slope of Beacon Hill, or, according to the present
monuments, it was at the bottom of Beacon s'reet, bounded southerly
toivard the Common, and westerly 07i the river. In other words, his
fine taste led him, at the outset, to select for his abode the precise
spot which is now the " Coui't-end " of the city. It must have been
a sheltered and sunny enclosure of almost unrivalled beauty.
Charles street was, in 1804, laid out along the water's edge, and,
in the cellar of one of the houses easterly of that street (set off to
the late B. Joy, one of the Mt. Vernon proprietors), is a copious
spring, which was doubtless Mr. Blackstone's. Shaw, in his descrip-
tion of Boston, p. 103, says: "Blackstone's spring is yet to be
seen [ISOOJ on the westerly part of the town, near the bay ivhich
divides Boston from Cambridge."

I felt as proud of my delivery as a hen does that has laid an
egg; and it was the subject of much cue/ding on ray part. An



"Gleaner" Articles. S

account of it will be found in tlie " Boston Courier " of that time.
" The Sexton of the Old School" has also made it the subject of
one of his later lucubrations in the "Transcript." I had every
reason, indeed, to believe that the public mind was forever enlight-
ened on this momentous topic. Judge, then, of ray mortification,
Mr. Editor, when I found the old erroneous surmises reproduced
in a standard work by so careful and well-informed an antiquarian
as Mr. Drake ! — my " pet " discover}' wholly ignored by the very
man of all others who should have known everything about it ! —
my " credit" as clean gone as if I had been an original stock-
holder in the

" Vermont Central."

July 3.

Rev. William Blackstone. Mr. Editor : — I was highly pleased by the
attempt of your ingenious correspondent in last evening's "Transcript," to fix
the location of Rev. Wm. Blackstone's house and spring. This is a subject
which, as is well known to some of your many intelligent readers, has for
many years been one of more than mere curiosity with me. The conclusion,
however, to which he has arrived, to his own satisfaction, is not altogether so
to ours. Let us examine.

Mr. Blackstone sells land to Richard Pepys. In 1655, Pepys sells land to
Nathaniel Williams. In 1676, Mary, widow of Williams, conveys to her
children, Nathaniel and Mary, " a certain messuage," and " also that six
acres of land adjoining and belonging to said messuage, cnlled the " Black-
stone lot." In 1709, Nathaniel Williams, jr., sells to Thomas Barrister " an
orchard and pasture, containing six acres, more or less. All this is clear and
admissible.

But it does not so clearly appear to us to be demonstrated that either Mr.
Blackstone's house or his spring were on this land. Your correspondent
says : "Blackstone's six-acre lot was on the south-western slope of Beacon
street." Admit it; but that " six-acre lot " is described in the deed of 1709
as " an orchard and pasture." When Mr. Blackstone, in 1633, gave up his
general claim to the township of Boston, fifty acres were reserved to him in
severalty. (Snow's Boston, p. 50; Drake's Boston, p. 95.) The "six-acre
lot " was no doubt ^^ar^ of that fifty acres ; but what evidence have we been
presented with to prove to us that either Mr. Blackstone's " small cottage "
or the "excellent spring" was there? Might they not have been, as Mr.
Drake and others think, at the other extremity of the fifty acres, a tract con-
siderably larger than the whole of Boston Common? There we find " Black-
stone's," now " Barton's Point"; there we find a spring beneath a house in
Poplar street, in which Mr. Drake formerly lived ; there we find "Spring
street" and Spring-street court," which have been regarded as having been
named in reference to "the excellent spring of freshwater." But there is
no " point " on the " slope of Beacon street."

I have no favorite theory to support in this matter, and only seek the truth ;
but my long habits of historical research have induced me to be cautious in



4 City Docuivient No. 105.

drawing hasty conclusions from partial premises. Perhaps your intelligent
correspondent can furnish us with something more definite and conclusive.
Where are the deeds of the other forty- four acres? What if one of them
refers to the precise locality?

Alonzo Lewis.

Historical. Mr. Editor: — When I observe anything in your paper
marked or "headed" Historical, I always read, or intend to read it; and
read with avidity the article so marked in to-day's (July 2d) " Transcript,"
signed Vermont Central. This note is to call the attention of that writer to
a single fact; premising by the way, that when I was a youngster I was often
deceived by cackling ; and that I am pleased with the tone of his article, and
glad he has taken the pains to investigate so closely respecting the home-
stead of Mr. William Blackstone ; but in his eagerness to show where Mr.
Blackstone's homestead was in 1655, it does not appear to have occurred to
him that it could have been elsewhere in 1630. Now that this was the fact I
am fully persuaded ; for all the early indications at, and immediately after,
the first settlement of Winthrop's company on the Peninsula point to the
locality of Mr Blackstone where Mr. Drake has fixed it, so far as he has
pretended to fix it. What Mr. Shaw says about Mr. Blackstone's spring
can, by no arguments that occur to me, be transferred from West Boston to
the foot of Beacon street; for West Boston did not, in early times, include
this locality, or certainly not generally. What was meant originally by West
Boston was chiefly included between what is now Cambridge street and the
Millpond and Barton's Point. This name was naturally enough given to that
section by the North End people. In process of time it extended to the hill
on the southerly side of Cambridge street. Therefore, that Mr. William
Blackstone lived, in 1630, in the vicinity of his spring on Poplar street, is the
deliberate opinion of

Urbs Condita.



"Gleaner" Articles.



II.

HISTORICAL.

July 6, 1855.

Mr. Editor : — Being at present confined to my house I am
unable to refer to certain abstracts of m}' own, which I well re-
member, especially a deposition of Odlin, etc. Mr. Drake's his-
tory, however (p. 530), supplies me with all I want, and proves,
as I think, conclusively that Blackslone' s Point was the six-acre lot
which he reserved., and that his house stood on part of it. Mr. Drake
speaks of the four depositions, in 1684, of John Odlin, Rol)ert
Walker, Francis Hudson, and AVilliam Lytherland, and he repre-
sents them as saying that they had —

Dwelt in Boston from the first planting thereof, and continuing so at this
day (June 10, 1G84) ; that in or about 1G34 the said inhabitants of Boston
(of whom the Hon. John Winthrop, Esq., Governor of the Colony, was chief)
did agree with Mr. William Blackstone for the purchase of his estate and
right in any lands lying within the said neck called Boston ; and for said pur-
chase agree that every householder should pay 6s., none paying less, some
considerably more, which was collected and paid to Mr. Blackstone to his
full satisfaction for his whole right, reserving onhj about six acres on the
point commonly called Blackstone' s Point on pari whereof his then dwelling
house stood; after which purchase the town laid out a place for a training
field, which ever since and now is used for that purpose and for the feeding
of cattle.

Now, to my apprehension, nothing can make the matter clearer
than the above extract from Mr. Drake's own history. If it had
been printed in the part of the volume where his surmises are
made in favor of Barton's Point, he could not, as it seems to me,
have failed to be himself convinced of his mistake. The Common
(which contains about 50 acres) was very probably the residue of
the 50 acres which had previously been granted to Mr. Blackstone,
and which thus became revested in the town.

One word of reply to Mr. Alouzo Lewis. Mr. Blackstone's
cottage was doubtless a slight structure, and in 1709 had disap-
peared ; but the trees which he had planted had grown, and were



6 City Document No. 105.

an orchard, which of itself becomes a conspicuous monument, —
since it i.s the only orchard sliown on the most ancient plans of Bos-
ton. That there were numerous other springs I admit. That there
was an excellent spring on this spot so near the original shore
that the fresh water bubbled forth and ran down the sand to sea,
I was assured by an aged witness, now deceased, who was con-
sulted as to the titles in that locality in the suits of the Overseers
of the Poor against the Mount Vernon Proprietors.

SUMMARY.

Edward JohnsoU, in 1630, in his " Wonder- Working Provi-
dence," writes: "One [on] the South side of the River, one a
Point of Land called Blaxton's Point, planted Mr. William Blax-
ton."

The Records show that " 1 April, 1G33, it is agreed that Mr.
William Blackstone shall have fifty acres set out for him near his
house in Boston to enjoy forever."

Blackstone sold the town, the following year, all said allotment
except six acres, on part of which his then house stood — the sale
not being restricted to the 44 aci'es, but including all his right in
the peninsula. He received £30, raised by a town vote assessed
Nov. 10, 1G34.

The deposition of Odlin, etc., is a well-known historical docu-
ment, which has often been printed in extenso.

Blackstone probably removed from Boston in 1635. It is, at any
rate, certain from a publication in 1641 that he had removed before
that year. See Savage's Wiuthrop. Annie Pollard proves that he
sold his reserved six acres to Richard Pepys. This six-acre lot,
" commonly called the Blackstone lot," is traced from Pepys to
1655, through Williams, to Banister, 1709, and through Copley to
the Mount Vernon Proprietors — and it bounds S. on the Common,
W. on the River.

Now, as to the orchard planted by Blackstone. In a publica-
tion of 1765 it is stated that many of the trees still bore fruit.
Bonner's plan of 1722, though it has no division lines marking the
bounds of the Common, has an arrangement of trees in rows, i.e.,
an orchard, obviously in this locality. This orchard reappears in
Price's plan of 1733. Who can doubt that it was Blackstone's,
Pepys', Williams', Copley's orchard?

As to there being no Point at the foot of Beacon hill — all Bos-
ton has been called in print " Blackstone's Neck," and the name of



"Gleaner" Articles. 7

Blackstone's Point may have been given to that projecting part of
Boston which was nearest to his house. It is, however, a mere
question of nomenclature, and does not at all affect the question of
where Blackstone actually lived. Besides, no one can know that
there was not some such projection of the original shore at the foot
of Beacon hill as might with propriety be called a pomf. The
whole space at the bottom of the Common, now used as a parade
ground, and of which the level has been greatly raised witiiin a few
years, was doubtless at that time a mere marsh or beach, occa-
sionally, if not always, covered by the full tides. If so the shore
must have made a decided bend or sweep towards the east, imme-
diately in front of Mr. Blackstone's homestead lot. In other
words, there must have been a point thus formed. On the whole, I
think the •' point " is " settled" where Blackstone settled, and feel
safe in changing my signature to

Q. E. D.

Historical. Mr. Editor: — Your correspondent, "Vermont Central,"


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryNathaniel Ingersoll] [BowditchGleaner articles → online text (page 1 of 22)