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Solomon Lincoln.

History of the town of Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts online

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HISTORY



OF THE



TOWN OF HINGHAM,



PLYMOUTH COUNTY,



MASSACHUSETTS.



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BY SOLOMON LINCOLN, JR.



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HIXTGHAM :



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CALEB GILL, JR. AND FARMER AND BROWN

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Hingham Farmer & Brown Printers.




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PREFACE.



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My design in the compilation of the following pages, has been
to collect such facts relating to the settlement, subsequent history,
and present state of the town of Hingham, as appeared to be
worthy of preservation. The consideration that many of these
facts were preserved only by tradition, or recorded in the decaying
leaves of public and private records, rendered it desirable that an
opportunity should be embraced to preserve them in a more durable
form. Nearly two centuries have elapsed since this town was
settled, and no full sketch of its history has ever been published.
I have been desirous of noticing such individuals as have been
distinguished in public or private life, and especially those of whom
only traditionary information is preserved — and that fast fading from
the memory of our aged fathers. It has been my endeavour to be
scrupulously correct ; but it will not be remarkable, if some errours
in deciphering ancient manuscripts and in copying our town records
(some portions of which have become almost illegible,) should
have escaped me.

There may be much of this history, which, to some readers, will
appear uninteresting, and perhaps some portions of it may be
thought too trifling and unimportant to be given to the public.
The consideration that we search with avidity for almost any facts
■which are rendered interesting solely on account of their antiquity,
and that " the trifles of the present age become matters of weight
with future generations," is a sufiicient reason for the mtroduction
of facts of this description.



IV PREFACE.

Wliile engaged in collecting the materials, I have been indebted"
to many gentlemen in this and other towns, for the readiness with
which they have attended to my inquiries for information, and for
the kindness with which they have loaned to me valuable manu-
scripts which have been of essential service to me in endeavouring
to illustrate the early history of the town. I feel under particular
obligations to Hon. James Savage, for the politeness with which
he has furnished information from the public records in Boston, and
for the loan of the manuscripts of the late James Otis Lincoln- ;
and to JoTHAM Lincoln, Esq, Town Clerk of Hingham, for his
imwearied patience in furnishing whatever I have desired from the
town records. Other gentlemen, to whom I am indebted for much
genealogical and traditionary information, will, I hope, find a suffi-
cient acknowledgement of their kindness in the notes.

Influenced by no other motive but that of wishing to preserve for
the gratification of the inhabitants of Hingham, whatever is worthy
of preservation in the history of the town, or in the character of
individuals, I trust that any imperfections w ill be regarded with can-
dour ; and shall think myself richly compensated for the time which
I have devoted to the subject, if my readers can find any thing in
the result of my labours, productive of instruction or amusement;

S. LINCOLN, JR
HINGHAM, Decemhtr 1st, 1827.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM.



HiNGHAM, a Post Town, in the County of Plymouth.,
Massachusetts, has the Bay, North, — Cohasset, East, —
Scituate and Abington, South, and Weymouth, West.
The greatest extent of the town from North to South, is
seven miles and three quarters, and from East to West,
about five miles — containing 13,775 square acres. The
original limits of Hingham embraced the present tow^n of
Cohasset, which was set off and incorporated April 26,
1770. Until March 26, 1793, Hingham formed a part of
Suffolk County ; at that time, it was annexed to the new
County of Norfolk. By an act of the Legislature, pass-
ed June 20, 1793, repealing the former act, so far as it
related to Hingham and Hull, Hingham again became a
part of the County of Suffolk ; and by an act passed
June 18th, 1803, Hingham was annexed to the County
of Plymouth, of which it now forms a part. The dis-
tance from Hingham to Plymouth is 26 miles, and from
Hingham to Boston, about 14 miles by land, and between
12 and 13 by water.

Surface, Soil, Productions, &c. A considerable
portion of this town is of an uneven surface. The north-

2



6 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

em section of the settlement, is principally in a valley,
between continued elevations of land, generally of easy
ascent, but sometimes abrupt and rocky. Leaving the
northerly section, and following the main road to Plym-
outh, we ascend to a higher and level tract of land, call-
ed the " Lower Plain." Leaving the " Lower Plain,"
we soon ascend again to high and level land, called " Glad
Tidings Plain ;" still higher and farther south, is " Lib-
erty Plain." In the north part of the town, near the sea
shore, there are several beautiful eminences, which afford
excellent views of the metropolis of the State and its en-
virons, of Boston Harbour, and of the adjacent country.
The highest elevation of land is at Prospect Hill, in the
southerly part of the town ; and the next highest is at
Turkey Hill, in the easterly part. Baker's,* Otis's,!
Squirrel and Pleasant Hills, in the north part of the
town, command extensive and delightful prospects. The
land at Hockley Fields, and in the western part of the
town, has a beautifully undulating surface.

The soil, is in many parts of the town, rich and pro-
ductive. North of the main road from Hingham Bridge at
the Back River, to Cohasset, (except at the eastern part,)
the soil is uncommonly fertile, and produces abundant
crops of grass, grain and vegetables, with the application
of comparatively little labour. There is also, excellent
land in the north-easterly part of the town, and upon the
Plains ; in the south-westerly and westerly parts the soil
is lighter, and best calculated for grazing. In the south-
erly and easterly sections, there are extensive tracts of
valuable woodland abounding with the pine, the oak, the

* Baker's Hill derives its name from Nicholas and Nathaniel
Baker who settled at its foot.

t Otis's Hill takes its name from John Otis, one of the first set-
tlers of the town. Its original name was Weary-all Hill, on ac-
count of the abruptness of its ascent on the south side.



HISTORY OF HINGIIAM. «

maple and the walnut. There are many enterprizing and
good farmers, whose skill and industry are richly reward-
ed. Considerable attention is paid to the cultivation of
fruit trees, but the productions of the soil are not suffi-
cient to supply the wants of the inhabitants.

Mechanical and mercantile pursuits have of late, at-
tracted more attention than agriculture. In 1820, the
number of persons engaged in agriculture, was 279, and
in commerce and manufactures 540.

Streams and Pond. The only considerable collec-
tion of fresh water is Accord Pond, in the south part of
the town. It is situated partly in Hingham, Abington,
and Scituate. The principal stream of water which flows
through the town, originates from this pond — it is called
Wear River * A small brook which flows from the west
part of the town, and empties into the Mill Pond at the
Harbour, it is said, attracted the attention of the first in-
habitants and induced them to settle in the valley through
which it flows. Weymouth Back River, a navigable
stream, separates Hingham from Weymouth. A bridge
was thrown across this stream, in 1812, by the Hingham
and Quincy Bridge and Turnpike Corporation.

Islands. Within the limits of Hingham, there are
five small islands, viz, : Bumkin, Chandler's (sometimes
called Langiey's,) Ragged, Sailor's (sometimes called
Sarah's,) and Button island. Bumkin island, the largest
and most valuable, is situated without the harbour, the
others are within the harbour.

Manufactures, Trade and Commerce. There are
in Hingham, two manufactories of woollens — three grist
mills — one furnace for the casting of hollow and other

* Wear River takes its name from the fact that a wear was
erected in this river to take alewives. The town authorized Thomas
Loring, Clement Bates, Nicholas Jacob, and Joseph Andrews to
erect a wear for that purpose, in 1637.



8 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

iron ware, — one brass foundry — several tanneries — one
rope-walk — salt works — one saw-mill — a printing office —
book store — and an extensive manufactory of umbrellas,
See* In addition to these, there is the usual variety of
mechanics to be found in most towns of a similar size,
viz. : iron smiths, silver smiths, wheelwrights, plough-
makers, pump and block makers, sail makers, coopers,
book-binders, cabinet and chair makers, saddle, harness
and trunk makers, hat manufacturers, a clock maker,
bakers, &c.

There is also, a large number of traders in English,
American and West India o;oods.

There is but one Hotel, which is near the centre of
the North Tillage. At the Harbour is a Ship Yard, in
which one or more vessels are annually built. t

The shipping of the place is mostly employed in the
cod and mackerel fishery ,J and in the lumber trade and
other coastwise navigation. There are four convenient
Packets, which ply regularly between Hingham and Bos-
ton, for the transportation of passengers and goods.

* In the " Hingham Umbrella Manufactory," there are made an-
nually, about 25,000 umbrellas and parasols. The number of per-
sons employed is from 35 to 40. Mr. Benjamin S. Williams, super-
intendant.

t William Pitts had liberty from the selectmen to build ships
and other vessels at Konohasset (Cohasset) in 1675 ; and J. Blane
in 1693 had permission " to build a vessel or two near the mill." —
Toivn Records.

t Since the year 1815, there has been the number of one hun-
dred and fifty-nine thousand, seven hundred and thirty-five bar-
rels of mackerel packed in this town. The year 1817 is not included
in the estimate ; the number of barrels packed in that year not be-
ing known. These mackerel were all assorted into Nos. 1, 2, and
3 — and the same Nos. are usually carried to the same markets each
year. Nos. 1 are principally taken to PJiiladelphia — 2 to the South-
ern States, and 3 to the West India Islands.

There are about forty sail of vessels owned in this place, chiefly
employed in this business ; and their trips are from one to six weeks,
c«f the' weather and their fortunes may be. The vessels average



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 9

PoPULATiOxV. In 1765, Hingham (including Cohasset)
contained a population of 2467 souls. In 1800, the pop-
ulation of Hingham alone was 2112, viz. : Males 951 ;
Females 1121 ; Coloured people 40. In 1810 the whole
population was 2382. The following is a view of the
census of 1820 :

Males under 10 yrs. 378 Females 367

10 to 16 " 218 195

16 '' 26 '' 256 258

26 '' 45 " 293 339

45 and upwards 225 . 333

1370 1492

1370 2862

Foreigners not naturalized, 10

Engaged in agriculture, 279

" " commerce, 153

" '' manufactures, 387

Coloured people of both sexes, 45

First Parish, 1511 R.Polls 403

Second " 552 " '^ 154

Third Society, 602 '' " 129

Others, 197 '' '' 64

Total, 2862 750

Census in 1810, 2382



Gain in 10 years, 480.

from six to ten hands each. The following table will show the num-
ber of sail, and the amount of barrels packed each year.

No. sail, No. bbls. No. sail. No. bbls.

181.5, 14 3615^1822, 36 18631

1816, 20 6139^1823, 38 14802

1818, 25 6642^1824, 41 24457

1819, 30 11480^1825, 43 31109

1820, 30 13431 \ 1826, 46 18554

1821, 27 10875 {

The quantity of salt used in striking and packing the above men-
tioned number of barrels of mackerel, was 199;G67 bushels.—
Hingham Gazette, Feb. 9, 1827.

1*



10 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

The present number of qualified voters is about 550 ,
and of families, 600. The town is undoubtedly as flour-
ishing as it has been at any former period, and if the in-
crease of population since 1820, has been in the same
ratio, as for the 10 years previous, the present population
of the town would amount to 3200 souls.

The actual number of polls assessed, was, in 1815,
514 ; in 1820, 547, and in 1826, 628.

Militia. There are in Hingham, three standing com-
panies of militia, commanded by Capt. Charles Shute,
Capt. Joshua Humphrey, and Capt. Alfred C. Hersey.
There is also an excellent corps of Riflemen, called the
Hingham Rifle Company. This company received its
charter in 1812. The commanders of the company have
been the following gentlemen, viz. :

Capt. Duncan M. B. Thaxter,* (resigned.)
Capt. Jairus Sprague, (resigned.)
Capt. Laban Hersey, Jr. (promoted.)
Capt. Charles Lane, (promoted.)
The present officers are I^ieutenant, James Stephenson,
Jr. Ensign, Benjamin Thomas, Jr. ; the oflice of Captain
being vacant on account of the promotion of Capt. Lane
to the office of Major.

Fire Engines, &c. There are in this town four En-
gines for its security against fires. Fifteen men are at-
tached to each engine. The companies are supplied with
fire hooks, ladders, &c. &c.

A considerable number of the citizens have formed a
.Society for mutual relief in case of fires.

Insurance Co3ipany. The Hingham Mutual Fire
Insurance Company was incorporated March 4, 1826,

* Capt. Thaxter, was a liberal, inteiligenf, enterprising, and val-
uable citizen. He died Feb. 4, 1822, and was interred with ma-
-sonic and military honours.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. H

for the purpose of Mutual Insurance against losses by fire.
It is now in successful operation.

The present officers of the company are the following,
viz. :

Jotham Lincoln, President,
David Whiton, Treasurer,
David Harding, Secretary,
Directors, Elijah D. >Yild, Thomas Loud, John Beal,
Benjamin Thomas, Moses Sprague, Jr. and Ezekiel
Fearing.

Society of Mutual Aid, &c. The Society of Mutual
Jlid was formed by a large number of gentlemen, for the
purpose of assisting each other in the recovery of any
property that may be stolen from a member of the society
= — and for the detection of thieves. The society has a
fund, for the promotion of the objects of its institution.
The officers are a clerk, and a standing committee. The
present clerk is Mr, David Andrews.

Agricultural Society. The Hingham Agricultural
Society was formed in March, 1814. The society has a
small library of books relating to agricultural subjects.
The present officers are as follows, viz. :
Solomon Jones, President,
James Stephenson, Vice President,
John Beal, Secretary,
Benjamin Andrews, Treasurer.
Lodge. Old Colony Lodge of Free Masons, was
chartered A. L. 5792, Dec. 9. Its original location was
at Hanover. It was removed to Hingham A. L. 5807.
This Lodge is in a flourishing state. The members have
a small library of valuable books. The officers chosen
in December last, were as follows, viz. :
Fearing Loring, Master,
Charles Fearing, Senior Warden,



12 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

Charles Gill, Junior Warden,
Elijah Lincoln, Treasurer,
David Harding, Secretary,
Asa Fuller, Marshal,
Benjamin Studley, Senior Deacon,
John Lane, Junior Deacon,
Hezekiah Lincoln, Senior Steward,
Henry Hapgood, Junior Steward.
Newspaper. The only newspaper ever published in
Hingham, is the Hingham Gazette. It was established
in January of the present year. The publishers are
Jedidiah Farmer and Simon Brown.

Debating Society. This institution was formed in 1823,
by those young men of Hingham, who were attached to
the political principles of the distinguished patriot and
statesman, Thomas Jefferson, for the purpose of acquir-
ing " general and political information." The society
holds monthly meetings for the discussion of questions
proposed by the government of the society. The mem-
bers celebrate the anniversary of its institution on the
Fourth of March, by a public address. Addresses to the
members of the society are delivered every quarter. The
government of the society consists of a President, Tice
President, Treasurer, Secretary, and a Standing Com-
mittee. The Presidents of the Society have been, Messrs.
David Harding, Jacob H. Loud, and Albert Fearing,
The present officers are, as follows, viz. :

President, John Kingman,

Yice President, Caleb GUI, Jr.

Treasurer, John Leavitt, Jr.

Secretary, Solomon Lincoln, Jr.
Standing Committee, Elijah Lincoln, Ebed Ripley, and
Enoch Whiting. The number of members is about 80.
Libraries. There are in Hingham four Social Libra-



HISTORY OF HIxVGHAM. 13

ries owned by proprietors, one masonic, a circulating
library, and a small one belonging to the agricultural
society. They contain an aggregate of about 1800
volumes.

The First Social Library was formed in 1771, and
contains between three and four hundred volumes of val-
uable books, chiefly Histories, Biographies, Travels, &c.

The Second Social Library was formed in 1773, as
the preamble to the constitution of the proprietors, ex-
presses, ^' for the promotion of Knowledge, Religion and
Virtue, the three grand ornaments of human nature."

The Social Library of the Third Parish, recently form-
ed, contains about 350 volumes of valuable books of His-
tory, Biography, Morality, and Fiction.

The Circulating Library owned by Mr. Caleb Gill, Jr.
contains upwards of 500 volumes, principally new and
interesting publications. These in addition to several val-
uable private libraries, afford great facilities for the acqui-
sition of learning, to those who have any inclination for
literary improvement. The favourable influence which
such institutions exert over the best interests of the com-
munity can scarcely be estimated. A love of letters is
frequently excited by these means of improvement, of
which every individual can avail himself. The tone of
manners is improved — talents cherished — and information
extended in every class of the community.

Poor. Ample provision is made by the town for the
relief of the poor, A spacious Alms House was erected in
1817, at an expense of upwards of four thousand dollars.
The greatest part of the expense of building this house
was defrayed from the proceeds of the sale of lands be-
longing to the town. The number of poor persons sup-
ported in the Alms House, is about 40. In addition to
ihese, others out of the house, are relieved, who are not



14 HISTORY OF HIXGHAM.

entirely dependant on the town for support. Beside the
income arising from the labour of those in the Alms House,
the average sum of money expended for the support of
the poor is about §1200.

Town Expenses. The amount of money raised by tax,
to defray the annual expenses, has been for several years
previous to the present year, $4,000. For 1827, the
amount raised was increased to §4,500. The town has
also an income of considerable amount from other sources,
such as the labour of the poor and from real estate. The
Poor and School Fund, also, affords a considerable
income, which is appropriated to the maintenance of
Schools, and the support of the Poor. This fund was
derived from the sale of lands which were granted to the
town in 1780. The amount of money in this fund, was,
on the first of January last, §3926,19 ; and the amount
of notes bearing interest at four per cent, and payable in
a limited time, was §3005,53, making an available fund
of nearly seven thousand dollars.

The amount of money paid to teachers of schools an-
nually, is nearly §1800 — for the support of the poor,
§1200.

In addition to the money raised, another tax is annu-
ally assessed, by a vote of the town, for the repair of
Highways, Bridges, Sec. to be paid in labour. This tax
in 1825, exceeded §1700 ; in 1826, it was §1232,84, and
for the present year it is §1301,78.

Education. The inhabitants of Hingham, were, at
a very early date, attentive to the interests of education.
The value of Free Schools, '■'■ those invaluable political
and moral institutions, — our own blessing, and the glory
of our fathers," appears to have been fully understood and
properly appreciated by them. That they have been lib-
erally supported in Hingham for a groat length of time,



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 15

is highly honourable to the character of the town ; and
without the fear of subjecting himself to the charge of
undue partiality to the place of his nativity, the author
is free to express the opinion that the effects of good ed-
ucation may be discovered in the general intelligence of
the citizens, and that they have been particularly con-
spicuous in the character of those, who, aided by the ad-
vantages of an education obtained in ourcommon schools,
have risen to elevated stations in society, and conferred
honour upon the place of their nativity. The number
of persons, natives of the town, who have received the
advantages of a collegiate education, is large ; and un-
questionably, in many instances, the first impulse towards
the attainment of it, was received in our free schools.
Schools for private instruction have, also, for many years,
been numerous and liberally patronized. For the prose-
cution of the studies preparatory to a collegiate education,
the munificent endowment of an academy, by Mrs. Derby,
affords every facility, at a trifling expense.

Some account of the establishment of Derby Academy,
may not be uninteresting to the citizens. Mrs. Sarah
Derby,* by a Deed of Lease and Release, executed
Oct. 21, 1784, conveyed to the persons therein named,
as Trustees, the piece of land on which the Academy
now stands, — with the buildings then standing there-
on, — the rents and profits of which were to be appropri-
ated, by the trustees, for the maintenance of a school in
the North Parish, in Hingham, for the instruction of the
youth, in such arts, languages and sciences as are therein
particularly mentioned, &.C.

The Trustees obtained an act of incorporation, Nov.

* Mrs. Derby's maiden name was Langley. She married Dr. Eze-
kicl Hcrsey, and after his decease, Mr. Derby of Salem. She sur-
vived her husband, and died June 17, 1790, aged 76.



16 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

11, 1784, establishing a school, called in honour of its
founder, Derby School. The first board of Trustees
was composed of the following gentlemen, viz. :
Rev. Ebenezer Gay, D. D. of Hingham,

" Daniel Shute, D. D. of Hingham,
Col. John Thaxter, of Hingham,
Hon. Benjamin Lincoln, of Hingham,

^' Cotton Tufts, of Weymouth,

" Richard Cranch, of Braintree,

*' William Cushing, of Scituate,

" Nathan Cushing, of Scituate,

John Thaxter, Esq. of Haverhill, and
Benjamin Lincoln, Esq. of Boston.

By an act of the Legislature, passed June 19, 1797,
the Derby School was erected into an Academy by the
name of Derby Academy.

By the Deed of Lease and Release, the school was
required to be maintained and supported, for the instruc-
tion of all such males as should be admitted therein, " in
the Latin, Greek, English, and French languages, and in
the sciences of Mathematics and Geography^ And all
such females as should be admitted therein, " in ivriting,
and in the English and French languages, arithmetic, and
the art of needlework in general.'^'' Immediately after Mrs.
Derby's decease, the Trustees were required " to elect
and appoint a Preceptor for the said school, skilled in
the art of writing, in the sciences aforesaid, and in the
Latin, Greek, and English languages, and the sciences
of mathematics, and geography ;" and also " a sensible
and discreet woman skilled in the art of needle-work,
whose business it shall be to instruct therein, the females
that shall be admitted."

The pupils to be admitted were, " such males of the
North Parish, from twelve years old and upwards, whose



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 17

parents, guardians, or patrons may desire the same.
And at any age under twelve years, when any male is
intended for an admission to Harvard College, at the
discretion of the Trustees."


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