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convenience of Mass. Bay, its ownership had in various ways passed
mostly into the hands of other proprietors, some of whom were by no
means friendly to that colony. The property had been originally
divided into twenty-five shares of one hundred pounds each, which
shares passed from hand to hand by bills of sale, many of which are
still to be found on record. At the period to which we have now
arrived, from 1650 to 1656, the Hilton Patent had thus come to be

*1N. H. Prov. Pap., p. 172. tld.158. Jl N.H. Prov. Pap. 175. Id. 207. ||Id.213.


lai'gely owned in various proportions by a considerable number of
New England persons, among whom were the Quaker, Nicholas Shap-
leigh, Edward Colcord, a man subsequently convicted by the Massa-
chusetts " of man}^ notable misdemeanors and crimes,"* and others
perhaps of similar stripe.

On the other hand, the lower plantation on the Piscataqua had,
since 1641, undergone a complete transformation, civil and religious.
A party of strict Puritans had, by the aid of tlie Massachusetts, gotten
possession of that plantation, and under the system of the Bay Colony
were enabled to perpetuate their power at their own pleasure, and to
allot among themselves — some eight or ten in number — nearly all the
valuable common lands within their limits. If we may trust the
language of a petition to the King made in 1665, by some of the non-
freemen of Portsmouth, ''five or six of the ritchest men of this parish
ruled, swaied and ordered all offices both civil & military at their
pleasure." These men, continues the petition, " have kept us under
hard servitude, and denyed us in our publique meeting the Common
prayer Sacramts and decent burial of the dead," " and not only so,
but have also denied us the benefit of freemen * * * and like-
wise at the election of officers, the aforesaid party * * * have
always kept themselves in offices for the manageing of the gifts of
lands & setling them * * * ^nd have engrossed the greatest part
of the lands within the precincts and liiiiits of this plantation into
their own hands, and other honest men, that have been here a con-
siderable time have no lands at all given to them."f

In this posture of affairs, it was not to be expected that the share-
holders of the Hilton Patent should receive and further special favor
from Massachusets, as against the Piscataqua settlements. For a con-
sidei-able time, indeed, the General Court declined, though ui'gently
petitioned, even to order a partition of the Patent, but at last, in
1655, the Court partially yielded and appointed a Committee " to
make a just division of tlie (patent) of Squamscott only & that which
hath refei-ence to Dover be respited untill another time. "J

The Report of this Conimittee,§ made the following year, in view,
no doubt, of the impolicy if not impossibility of making a partition of
all the territory declared to be within the Patent by the Act of 1641,
proceeds upon the idea of effecting a compromise among the now
numerous and discordant interests.

In the preamble, the Committee first lay down the extent of ter-
ritory to be divided. They do not pretend to quote the exact lan-
guage of the Patent, but content themselves with putting their own
construction upon it. " When we came to peruse the Pattent," they

*1 N. H. Prov. Pap. 238. t Jenness' Grig. Docs. rel. to N. Hamp. p. 48.

tl N. H. Prov. Pap. 217. §1(1.221.


say, " we found it to extend for the length of it from the lower part
of the river Pascataquack on the south side of said river unto the falls
of said river at Exeter and for breadth along the said river 3 miles
from the falls of the head-line for the breadth of it."

The last clause of this description is, as it stands, utterly unintel-
ligible. The obscurity seems to have been caused by the negligence
of the transcriber of the Report. It so happened that in our researches
among the oiiginal Mass. Records, we came upon another report of
the Partition Committee made about a week before the Report finally
adopted. As this first Report, not having been acted upon, was not
printed among the Mass. Records, it has escaped the notice of our
antiquaries. The preamble to the first Report,* which was obviously
intended to be copied into the second, supplies the words (here
printed in italics) which are necessary to give that second Report a
meaning. Its language is this : " when we come to peruse the patent,
we found itt to extend for the length of itt from the lower part of the
river Pascataquack on the south side of the said river unto the falls
of said river at Exeter ; and for breadth along the said river three
miles into the land upo7i which wee measured three miles from the
falls for the Head Lyne for the breadth of itt."f

On comparing the preamble to this final Report (as corrected) with
that of the Act of Submission of 1641, we find a material variance
between them. By the former, the Hilton patent only reached
down to the lower part of the river, while by the Act of Submission
it is declared to begin "ai the sea-side or thereabouts.''^ In their Re-
port, the Committee fix upon Boiling Rock as the lower boundary of
the patent on the river, and in this easy and arbitrary manner, the
entire settlements below Boiling Rock were excluded from the patent.

The committee, in their final Report, also except out of the patent
all the extensive lands granted to and incorporated with Dover by the
Mass. Gen. Court, together with a hundred and fifty acres added ;
and they also restrain the limits of the patent along the easterly part
of Great Bay to a depth of one and a half miles into the land,
instead of the three miles allowed by the Act of 1641; on the
ground, they say, that " the land was so narrow to the seaward, that
we can allow no more according to the intent of the Patent as we
understand it." It seems plain that the Committee, in making their
partition, acted and assumed to act, not as judicial officers, but rather

*The most striking difference between these two Reports consists in this, that by the first
nothing whatever is allowed out of the Patent to the Dover people or to the planters upon
Bloody Point, though considerable tracts had been granted them in 1643 and 1644 by Act of
Gen. Court. We suppose it was this strange or crafty omission which roused the people of
Dover and Bloody Point (then a part of Dover) to active resistance to the adoption of the
Committee's first Report; and led to the amended Report, which was finally approved.

t 3 Mass. Archives, 452.



in a spirit of compromise, in tlie hope of composing the long standing
dissensions among the Piscataqua planters.

Their scheme was to satisfy as far as possible, or at least to appease
all the conflicting interests in the Squamscott territory. To the
lower plantation they granted all the land below Boiling Rock ; to
Dover they confirmed the territory on Bloody Point and around Great
Bay, which had been granted to the town in previous years ; to the
proprietors of the Hilton or Squamscott Patent they reserved only the
remainder, which they then proceeded to divide up among the three
classes or ranks of these proprietors in the general manner, as we
understand the Report, designated upon the accompanying Sketch
Map. The portion colored upon the map in yelloiv was assigned to
the "Shrewsbury men; " that in blue was laid off to Capt. Thomas
Wiggin and his partners ;* that in red, which had long since been
granted by Massachusetts to Dover, was confirmed to that township,
and that colored green was allotted to Gardiner, Lake, and their

*It is curious to notice, on comparing the northern boundary of Capt. Wiggin's portion
with the southerly bound of the " Pescataway Grant," how nearly, if not precisely, they cor-
respond. The Great Bay would, of course, constitute the natural northern bound of the
second division granted to Wiggin and his partners, and it is difficult to understand why
the committee adopted the limit laid down in their Report, unless they were acquainted
with the bounds of the Pescataway Grant, and desired to keep the Captain's own lands out
of harm's waj- against any contingencies.

t The various localities marked upon our sketch map, indispensible to any clear under-
standing of our subject, have been ascertained from documents, records, statutes, &c., with
as much of care and pains as the difficulty of the research required.

_ Canney's Creek or Cove (erroneously called Kinges Creek in the printed Report of par-
tition) lay on the Long Reach of the Piscataqua, about a half a mile above Boiling rock, and
next below the lower bound of the ancient Rawlins farm, still in possession of that family.
Its exact location appears from the terms of the grant made by Portsmouth in 1661, to Capt.
Brian Pendleton of a tract of 240 acres of land "next to James Rawlins," " which takes its
beginning," saj's the record, "at Kenney's cove and runs down by the riverside 80 rods to
Pyne cove and thence into the woods 480 rods to the edge of the Pitch pine Plain upon a W.
S. W. Lyne." (1 Ports. Rec. p. 77.) The several grants made about the same time to
other persons, of all the remaining lands down the river to Boiling Rock, estabish the dis-
tance of Canney's cove above that prominent landmark. The reason why this little
cove was selected as the lower boundary of Bloody Point was, we conjecture, that it just
embraced the land of James Rawlings, "an early and influential Dover man, whose farm
had the cove for its lower boundry.

" Hogstye Cove" is ascertained from the terms of a survey made by Portsmouth in 1695.
Mr. George Snell and William Vaughan, the surveyors, " run the line," they report, " from
Canney's Cove in the longe rech to Hoggstye cove at the mouth of ye great Bay, and from
the middle of the mouth of ye one cove to the middle of ye mouth of ye other is West and by
South and East & by North and strikes Mr. William Furber's Barne." (1 Ports. Rec. p. 330.)

Welshma7i''s Cove on the Little Bay is still known as Welsh Cove among the ancient fam-
ilies in the vicinity.

The entire neck of land lying above the line drawn from Canney's Creek to Hogstye Cove
was originally called, from the circumstances of the quarrel between Captain Wiggin and
Neal, before referred to. Bloody Point, a name still retained by a projection into the river
nearly opposite Dover Point.

" CotteriU's DgligfW' was a location at the extreme south-east corner of Great Bay near
the mouth of Winnicot river, or perhaps Packer's creek. (1 N. H. Prov. Pap. 208, 222. 1 Ports.
Rec. Anno 1666.) We have been unable to discover the origin or meaning of this name.
The site of Captain Champernoivn'x house upon the magnificent farm of the late Col.
Joshua W. Peirce at Greenland, is still pointed out to the delighted antiquary. Here dwelt
for many years, in something of antique breadth and state, that relative arid almost com-
panion of Rawleigh and Gilbert; that noble born and bred of all New Hampshire's first

Grand old English oaks, planted, as tradition has it, by the Captain's own hands, still lift
their brave vigorous heads over the fertile meadows, true Heme's oaks, we exclaimed at the


The partition thus made of the Hilton or Squamscott Patent, in
1656, as we have described it, was accepted as final so far as it related
to the two portions set off to the *•' Shrewsbury men " and to Captain
Wiggin — those colored on the map in blue and in yellow. As to these
portions there had never existed any conflicting title, except that of
John Mason and his heirs under his patent of New Hampshire — a
title, which, in the then political condition of England under Crom-
well, hardly amounted to a cloud.

The remainder of the Hilton or Squamscott patent, as laid down by
the Committee, lay wholly within the Pescataway Grant.* But
though the owners of the Pescataway or Great House Patent had, as
we have argued, a superior title to the whole peninsula, embraced
within their limits, yet in the piesent posture of affairs, now that all
the land below Boiling Rock was reserved to them by the Committee
for Partition, it was deemed better by John and Richard Cutt, Capt.
Brian Pendleton, Richard Martyn, Joshua Moodey and the few others
who then ruled the lower plantation under the Massachusetts, to nego-
tiate peaceably for the purchase of the small remainder of land, left
to the Squamscott proprietors, than to undertake a probably fruitless
appeal to the Courts of Law. Having resolved on this course, the
above named gentlemen so managed the affair, that in a few years
they themselves became owners of nearly the entire tract.

In 1658, or before that year, the selectmen of Portsmouth bought
of Thomas Lake the entire tract of land betw^een Kenney's Creek
and Boiling Rock, on the river, and running back nearly a mile and
a half into the land " to the edge of the pitch pine plain upon a W.

first glance— unique in New Hampshire— a scene as beautiful as that from Windsor castle
over Datchet Mead.

The ancient name, Sandy Point, is retained to the present day. Not far from this point is
still discernible the cellar of the famous Squamscott house. Capt. Thomas Wiggin, so often
referred to in these pages as the constant friend of Mass. Bay, erected this house
about 1650, and here he died in 1667. For fourteen years he had held the high olBce of assistant
to the Governor of Mass. Bay, the only Piscataqua man, we believe, ever chosen to
that position. Having, in 1651, purchased of Thomas Lake a large interest in the Squamscott
Patent, there was allotted to him and his partners (who subsequently released their inter-
ests to him), a territory three miles square, along Exeter river, now embraced in the town of
Stratham. In close proximity to the " Squamscott House," in a field which slopes north
towards the Bay, and almost upon the northern boundary of his land, are buried the bodies
of that grim, sturdy Puritan and several generations of his family. The present owner of
this burial ground, a lineal descendant of Captain Thomas, conducted us to the cemetery.
Headstones, footstones, inscriptions, were all gone. Great maples and oaks were growing
over the ancient God's acre; dead leaves rustled along the weird and shadowy ground.
As the Puritan had in his life resembled Joshua, the son of Nun, who lead the children of
Israel into a land fiowing with milk and honey, so, like Joshua, was he fitly buried " in the
border of his inheritance, in Timmath-serah, on the north side of the hill of Gaash."

* This latter grant was still held as the cherished property of the town of Portsmouth.
Even so late, for instance, as 1660, Portsmouth appointed Commissioners to run out the line
between that town and Hampton, " always provided " says the record, " that not any of the
lands belonging to the Great House Patent be granted to be in the township of Hampton by
those empowered by us." (1 Ports. Rec. p. 66.) The Great House Patentseems to have been
the familiar title of the old " grant and confirmation of Pescataway," so far as it applied to
the southerly side of the river. This southerly section of the Pescataway Grant appears
also to have been sometimes entitled the " Twenty Thousand acre Patent." (1 N. H. Prov.
Pap. 83-96.)


S. W. Lyne." The consideration paid hy the town was X50. In
1661 this large tract was divided and laid out among Capt. Brian
Pendleton and his associates ;* 240 acres each to Capt. Pendleton
and John Cutt, 80 acres to Joshua Moodey, and 52 acres to Richard
Marty n.

This large and valuable tract stretching from Winnicut River along
Great Bay to Sandy Point seems to have lain unappropriated until
1669, at which time the town, having determined to assert their own
superior title over it against the Squamscott patentees, granted two-
thirds of the entire tract to John Cutt, Nathaniel Freyer, Capt. James
Pendleton and others, "provided," continues the Record, "the parties
abovesaid maintain and defend the same in the towne's behalf at their,
the aforesaid parties owne proper cost and charge against any that
shall oppose — further that the town grants and confirms unto Mr.
Andrew Wiggin the right and title to his land, as was granted to
him by Capt. Lake and Capt. Waldron with the priviledges of
our town, provided wee recover the land aforesd by law."f A few
grants to private individuals seem also to have been made by Lake
and Waldron out of their portion of the Squamscott Patent, but on
quite nominal considerations.

In these several ways, the pretended claim of the Hilton Point
proprietors to any of the land covered by the " Grant of Pes-
cataway," or " Great House Patent," was at last extinguished, or
repudiated, and nearly the whole of that territory (except what
remained to Dover) fell into the hands of a knot of men at Ports-
mouth, as rapacious as they were harsh and bigoted.

As to the '■'■Dover Patent,'^ or northerly portion of the Hilton
Patent, as it was construed by Massachusetts, we do not find that
any steps were ever taken to lay out and bound the land covered by
it, but the township of Dover having been partly bounded out in
1642, shortly after the union of the Piscataqua to Massachusetts,
received in 1656, concurrently with the partition of Squamscott, a
quit claim from the planters of all their interest in Dover, with a
slight reservation of about 16 acres. J

The only substantial advantage derived from the Mass. con-
struction of the Hilton Patent was taken by the Massachusetts them-
selves. Jurisdiction over the Piscataqua had been obtained by the
skilful use of that instrument, and when once got, it was firmly kept,
after that instrument had disappeared. But this usurpation, of which
it has been said " a more unjust and tyranical act never was perpe-
trated on this continent,"§ was not destined to endure for many
years. The people of the lower Piscataqua were in spirit deadly

* 1 Porta. Rec. p. 51-68-77. 1 1 Ports. Rec. p. 135. t 1 N. H. Prov. Pap. 223.

§ Potter's Hist, of Manchester, p. 116.


hostile to the Mass. Bay. Shortly after the annexation, a few of the
Puritan sort and faith had crept into the country, and by the aid of
the Bay had seized on the offices and places of power and appropriat-
ed to themselves nearly all the common lands; but the original
planters grew daily more and more incensed. In 1651, the inhabi-
tants of Strawberry Bank oj^enly rebelled and attempted to withdraw
their subjection to the Boston government.* But this outbreak was
suppressed. Another effort was made to the same purpose on the
arrival of the Royal Commissioners in 1664, though without per-
manent success. But in 1679, the Massachusetts usurpation over
the Piscataqua was terminated by the erection of New Hampshire
into a Royal Province. -

Thus did the last fruits of the Hilton Patent decay and perish ;
thus were the angry broils of forty years composed. The proprietors
of the Patent had after all profited little or nothing by the attempted
appropriation of Piscataqua lands ; the Massachusetts were in the
end compelled to disgorge the purloined jurisdiction they had so
uneasily obtained and kept, and thus retributive justice was at last
meted out to all the actors in the transaction.

In conclusion and recapitulation of the views presented in this
monograph, we have endeavored to show that it was the desire of
Mass. Bay to include the Piscataqua region within her limits and to
secure there a good neighborhood of " honest men," which led her
magistrates to effect, through their friend Capt. Thomas Wiggin, in
1633, a purchase and transfer of the Hilton Point Patent to the
Puritan Lords and gentlemen of Shrewsbury ; whose successors in
1641, in accordance, we suppose, with the original understanding,
made a full submission of the Patent to Mass. jurisdiction. At the
same time, in furtherance of the same general design, a statutory con-
struction was put upon the Patent, by which it was split into two
distinct portions, and the lower or Squamscott portion was violently
stretched so as to cover the whole southern bank of the river from
Squamscott falls to its mouth.

The Hilton Patent having thus served its political and religious
purpose, was never fully enforced. Large portions of its territory
were granted to Dover and a still larger part was retained by
Strawberry Bank, and in the conclusion of the whole matter, the
Squamscott patentees took but trifling advantage from the distorted
misconstruction of their grant.

The long controversy was no doubt of trifling importance, but
whoever will study it attentively will see displayed such a stubborn
conflict between patentee and planter ; such a hot contention between

* 1 N. H. Prov. Pap., 195.


Royalist and Roundhead; such fierce hatred between Puritan and
Churchman ; and at all times such political sagacity and vigor of
thought, as make the story of the Hilton Point Patent (only a brief
outline of which we have sketched) the most instructive if not enter-
taining in the early annals of New Hampshire.

The real history of New Hampshire during the first half century
of its existence has not been written. Until a very recent date, the
only original materials for such a history, available to our students,
were the scanty relics of our town and county records, and a few
documents preserved among the Archives of Massachusetts or in
private hands together with some casual liints and prejudiced notices
of the Piscataqua to be found among the historians of Plymouth and
the Bay. Dr. Belknap's narrative of this early period, founded upon
materials such as these — the only ones, however, at his command —
could at best have drawn a mere outline of its history ; and now it
turns out that even the outline of our early history made by that
elegant historian is utterly mistaken and distorted. The annals of
New Hampshire, from the time of its firet planting down to its erec-
tion into a royal province, in 1679, require to be entirely rewritten.
A great mass of new materials for that purpose has lately been
gathered together by our antiquarians, and now await only the
kindling pen of an impartial historian to shed a clear and satisfactory
light over the tortuous ways and the dark mysteries of our early


To all X'rian People to whome these presents shall come. Greeting,
(after the usual recital of the great grant by King James in 1620).

Now know yee that the said President and Councell by Virtue &
Authority of his Majties said Letters Pattents, and for and in consid-
eracon that Edward Hilton & his Associates hath already at his and
their owne proper costs and charges transported sundry servants to
plant in New England aforesaid at a place there called by the natives
Wecanacohunt otherwise Hilton's point lying some two leagues from
the mouth of the River Paskataquack in New England aforesaid
where they have already Built some houses, and iilanted Corne, And
for that he doth further intend by Gods Divine Assistance, to trans-
port thither more people and cattle, to the good increase and
advancemt & for the better settling and strengthing of their plan-
tacon as also that they may be the better encouraged to proceed in
soe pious a work which may Especially tend to the propagacon of


Religion and to the Great increase of Trade to his Majties Realmes
and Dominions, and the advancement of publique plantacon, Have
given granted Enfeoffed and Confirmed, and by this their p'sent writing
doe fully clearly and absolutely give grant enfeofte and Confirme
unto the said Edward Hilton his heires and assignes for ever, all that
part of the River Pascataquack called or known by the name of
Wecanacohunt or Hilton's Point with the south side of the said
River, up to the ffall of the River, and three miles into the Maine
Land by all the breadth aforesaid. Together with all the Shoares
Creeks Bays Harbors and Coasts, alongst the sea within the limitts
and Bounds aforesaid with the woods and Islands next adjoyneing
to the said Lands, not being already granted by the said Councell
unto any other person or persons together alsoe with all the Lands
Rivers Mines mineralls of what kinde or nature soever, woods Quar-
ries, Marshes, Waters, Lakes ffishings. Huntings, Hawkings, ffowl-
ings, Comodities Emolumts and hereditaments whatsoever withall
and singular their and every of their Appts in or within the limitts
or bounds aforesaid, or to the said Lands lying within the same
limitts or Bounds belonging or in any wise appertaining. To have

Online LibraryNew Hampshire[Provincial and state papers] (Volume 25) → online text (page 58 of 72)