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

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part of the freemen then assembled ; and further, it is likewise
agreed upon that when assembled and be come together to agitate
and determine of any business concerning the common good of
Church or Commonwealth, not one shall depart until the assembly
be broken up or without leave, upon the payment of every such de-
fect, one peck of Indian corn, as well for the not staying with the
assembly being there assembled as for the not coming, having law-
ful warning or otherwise [having] knowledge of it. And bkewise
it is atrrecd upon, that every such fine or fines shall be levied by the


From the year 1638 until 1641, the imperfect records
of the town contain nothing of particular interest. On
the 9th of April of the latter year, the town passed an
order fixing the wages of labourers and the prices of
commodities.* In 1643, June 12, Anthony Eames, Sam-
uel Ward and Bozoan Allen had leave from the town to
set up a corn mill near the cove, on the condition that
they paid any damage caused by flowage, Stc-t This
mill was undoubtedly erected before the year 1645, as
we find recorded in November of that year, that Gowan
Wilson was removed by the town from the office of miller.

constable, and shall be carefully kept to the use of the town as
hereafter shall be thought fit to employ it, and fi-om the day of the
date hereof it shall stand in force, unless it be found to be prejudi-
cial and repealed.

* The following is a copy of the order referred to : " It is order-
ed and agreed upon by a joint consent, that the prices of labourer's
wages and commodities within this town should be affixed as fol-
lows : Upon every commodity as well as upon labourer's wages
should be abated three pence upon the shilling of what has been
formerly taken.

Common labourers a day
For mowing a day
Carpenters a day

A team with 3 yoke of oxen and one man, a day
with 2 yoke, a mare and a man
2 yoke and one man
1 yoke, a mare and a man
and they are to work eight hours a day.

Taylors and shoemakers are to abate three pence on the shilling

of what they took before for a day's work. Butter the lb. 5d.

Wheelwrights are to abate three pence on the shilling and to
charge 2 shillings a day."

In 1641 the following persons were chosen to make a rate, viz :
Thomas Cop, Edward Gilman, John Oatis, John Porter, Bozoan
Allen, and Joseph Andrews.

t In a note to Wmthrop's Journal, vol. ii. p. 294, it is stated that
Thomas Joy, a carpenter, (who was employed to obtain subscribers
to Dr. Child's celebrated petition to government) removed from
Boston to Hingham, where "he built and owned the town mill."
His removal to Hingham was probably in 1646. It would seem that
the mill was built before his removal to Hingham ; yet beinga car-

















It appears, that at an early date, there was a controversy
respecting a portion of the lands embraced within the
limits of Nantasket, or Nantascot. The inhabitants of
Hinfiham claimed, and endeavoured to maintain a title
to them., as in July, 1643, we find the following record,
viz. : '^ There is chosen by the town, Joseph Peck, Bo-
zoan Allen, Anthony Eames, and Joshua Hubbard, to
o-o to the next court to make the best improvement of the
evidence the town have for the property of Nantascot,
and to answer the suit that now depends, &c."

In the records of the General Court, (vol. ii. p. 35,)
there is recorded the following peremptory decision on
this subject, in September, 1643. "The former grant
to Nantascot was again voted and confirmed, and Hing-
ham were willed to forbear troubling the Court any more
about Nantaiscot."

penter he might have been employed to build it. On a loose paper
among the manuscripts of Daniel Gushing, I find a sketch of a con-
veyance of a mill with a recital as follows : " Whereas Thomas Joy,
heretofore of the town of Boston, and late inhabitant of the town
of Hingham, &c. carpenter, deceased, did in his life time some years
before his death make a feoffment of a grist mill standing in the
town cove at Hingham aforesaid, with some houses, lands and mead-
ows lying, &c. (which he the said Joy purchased of Bozone Allen,)
to his father-in-law John Gallop of Boston, seaman, &c. &c." This
evidence led me to suppose the impression of the author of the note
in Winthrop to be erroneous, viz : " that Joy huilt and owned the
town mill." My supposition was that the first mill was built by
those who had liberty from the town, and that it was originally
owned by them and sold to Joy. In answer to some inquiries made
to the author of the note referred to, relating to the evidence of the
fact that Joy built the first mill, I have been furnished with the
following statement and extracts from the Registry of Deeds for
Suffolk County. Although relating merely to a corn mill, tliey may
be amusing to some readers. He writes as follows : — " In Vol. ii.
of our Registry of deeds p. 77 Thos. Joy, of Boston, carpenter, con-
veys to Richard Church of Charlestown, carpenter, "the one half
or moiety of all that corn mill standing and being at Hingham in
New England, and half the foundation of a saw mill adjoining to



Previously to the difficulties of 1644, we have reason
to suppose that the town was flourishing and prosperous.
The situation was eligible — the facilities for fishing, and
for intercourse with other towns by water, contributed to
enrich it. In 1654, it is described by Johnson, in his
"Wonder Working Providence, in the following manner,
viz. : " A place nothing inferiour to their Neighbours
for scituation, and the people have much profited them-
selves by transporting Timber, Planke and Mast for ship-
ping to the town of Boston, as also coder and Pine-board
to supply the wants of other townes, and also to remote
parts, even as far as Barbadoes. They want not for fish
for themselves and others also. This towne consisted
of about sixty families, the forme is somewhat intricate to
describe, by reason of the Seas wasting crookes where it
beats upon a mouldering shore, yet have they compleat

it, with half the dam, wharf-head and stream whereon the said mills
do stand, called the town's cove, with one half or moiety of the
lot of land l3ing thereunto, containing four or six acres of land, be
it more or less, which formerly were the lands of Abraham Martyn,*'
&c. &c. this was 4 February 1653. It appears in a later page of the
same volume, p. 83 that previously, scil. 24 January 1653 Joy had
leased bv indenture to Church for 21 years the same moietv. After
the record of the indenture is this curious memorandum. " It is
agreed betwixt the said parties, that they shall as soon as the corn mill
is finished to grind, they shall within six days next after set upon the
framing and finishing the saw mill." Next follows, " A testimony, in
reference to the present covenant, Nathaniel Souther, aged about
62 years, deposeth and saith, that about the 24 January 1653 this
deponent engiossed a pair of indentures made betwixt Thomas Joy
and Richard Ciiurch for the moiety of the n)ill at Hmgham with
other things for the term of one and twenty years, but the said term
was not to begin until the mill and dam was finished that she might
be able to graid corn, and therefore there was a blank left to put
in the dale and to commence from the day that the said mill was
Bet on .\ork and grind corn, notwithstanding the said indentures
were sealed and acknowledged before the Governor with mutual
consent to put in the date after tlie mill was set on work. Taken
upon oath this 19 ofOctor. 1654." The indenture is recorded with
the blank.''


fetreetes in some places. The people joyned in Church
covenant in this place, were much about an hundred
soules, but have been lessened by a sad unbrotherly conten-
tion, which fell out among them wasting them every way,
continued already for seven yeares space, to the great grief
of all other Churches," &c. It is this " sad, unbrotherly
contention" which first attracts our attention in the early
history of Hingham. It is to be regretted, that most of
the contemporary writers of the time when these difficul-
ties arose, should have been of that class which disappro-
ved of the proceedings of a majority of the citizens of the
town, and that no statement by those opposed to them in
opinion, has been preserved ; because by comparing op-
posite statements we should perhaps view the conduct of
our ancestors, (then considered unjustifiable and disorder-
ly,), as the result of principles more consonant to the
spirit of the present age, than to the feelings of men at
the time when they lived.

I am aware, however, that there is justice in the re-
mark of the learned editor of Winthrop, when speaking
of Governor Winthrop's account of these affairs, he says,
" an unusual fairness for a party whose feelings had been
so much engaged in the controversy is here shown by our
author." These difficulties originated among the mem-
bers of the military company, gradually enlisted the feel-
ino-s of the whole town, arrested the attention of the
church, were taken cognizance of by the neighbouring
churches, and at last required the interposition of the
government. A sketch of the rise, progress and termin-
ation of these difficulties may not be uninteresting ; illus-
trating, as it will, the principles of our fathers, and giving
some indication of the spirit and asperity of controversies,
when the prejudices of religion and of politics were un-


fortunately blended together. Winthrop, in his journal,
vol. ii. p. 221, introduces the subject as follows :

*' 1645. This court fell out a troublesome business which
took up much time. The town of Hingham, having one
Ernes their lieutenant seven or eight years, had lately
chosen him to be their captain, and had presented him to
the standing council for allowance ; but before it was ac-
complished the greater part of the town took some light
occasion of offence against him, and chose one Allen to
be their captain, and presented him to the magistrates
(in the time of the last general court) to be allowed.
But the magistrates, considering the injury that would
hereby accrue to Ernes, (who had been their chief com-
mander so many years, and had deserved well in his
place, and that Allen had no other skill, but what he
learned from Emes,) refused to allow of Allen, but willed
both sides to return home, and every officer to keep his
place, until the court should take further order. Upon
their return home, the messsengers, who came for Al-
len, called a private meeting of those of their own party,
and told them truly what answer they received from
the magistrates, and soon after they appointed a training
day, (without their lieutenant's knowledge,) and being
^assembled, the lieutenant hearing of it came to them, and
would have exercised them as he was wont to do, but
those of the other party refused to follow him, except he
would show them some order for it. He told them of the
magistrates' order about it : the others replied that au-
thority had advised him to go home and lay down his
place honourably. Another asked, what the magistrates
had to do with them ? Another, that it was but three or
four of the magistrates, and if they had been all there,
it had been nothing, for Mr. Allen had brought more for


them from the deputies, than the lieutenant had from the
mao-istrates. Another of them professeth he will die at
the sword's point, if he might not have the choice of his
own .fiicers. Another (viz. the clerk of the band) stands
up above the people, and requires them to vote, whether
they would bear them out in what was past and what was
to come. This being assented unto, and the tumult con-
tinuing, one of the officers (he who had told them that
authority had advised the lieutenant to go home and lay
down his place) required Allen to take the captain's
place ; but he not then accepting it, they put it to vote,
whether he should be their captain. The vote passing
for it, he then told the company, it was now past question,
and thereupon Allen accepted it, and exercised the com-
pany two or three days, only about a third part of them
followed the lieutenant. He, having denied in the open
field, that authority had advised him to lay down his place,
and putting (in some sort) the lie upon those who had so
reported, was the next Lord's day called to answer it be-
fore the church, and he standinfj to maintain what he had
said, five witnesses were produced to convince him.
Some of them affirmed the words, the others explained
their meaning to be, that one magistrate had so advised
him. He denied both. Whereupon the pastor, one Mr.
Hubbert, (brother to three of the principal in this sedi-
tion,) was very forward to have excommunicated the lieu-
tenant presently, but, upon some opposition, it was put
off* to the next day. Thereupon the lieutenant and some
three or four more of the chief men of the town informed
four of the next magistrates of these proceedings, who
forthwith met at Boston about it, (viz. the deputy govern-
our, the serjeant major general, the secretary, and Mr.
Hibbins.) These, considering the case, sent warrant to
the constable to attach some of the principal offenders


(viz. three of the Hubbards and two more) to appear be-
fore them at Boston, to find sureties for their appearance
at the next court Stc. Upon the day they came to Boston,
but their said brother the minister came before them, and
fell to expostulate with the said magistrates about the
said cause, complaining against the complainants, as tale-
bearers &c. taking it very disdainfully that his brethren
should be sent for by a constable, with other high speeches,
which were so provoking, as some of the magistrates told
him, that, were it not for respect to his ministry, they would
commit him. When his brethren and the rest were come
in, the m.atters of the information were laid to their charge,
which they denied for the most part. So they were bound
over (each for other) to the next court of assistants. Af-
ter this five others were sent for by summons (these were
only for speaking untruths of the magistrates in the
church.) They came before the deputy governour, when
he was alone, and demanded the cause of their sending
for, and to know their accusers. The deputy told them
so much of the cause as he could remember, and referred
them to the secretary for a copy, and for their accusers
he told them they knew both the men and the matter,
neither was a judge bound to let a criminal offender
know his accusers before the day of trial, but only in his
own discretion, least the accuser might be taken off or
perverted &c. Being required to give bond for their
appearance Stc. they refused. The deputy laboured to
let them see their errour, and gave them time to consider
of it. About fourteen days after, seeing two of them in
the court, (which was kept by those four magistrates for
smaller causes,) the deputy required them again to enter
bond for their appearance Stc. and upon their second re-
fusal committed them in that open court.


^' The general court falling out before the court of assist-
ants, the Hubberts and the two which were committed,
and others of Hingham, about ninety, (whereof Mr. Hub-
bert their minister was the first,) presented a petition to
the general court, to this effect, that whereas some of
them had been bound over, and others committed by some
of the magistrates for words spoken concerning the power
of the general court, and their liberties, and the liberties
of the church 8tc. they craved that the court would hear
the cause &c. This was first presented to the deputies,
who sent it to the magistrates desiring their concurrence
with them, that the cause might be heard &c. The mag-
istrates, marvelling that they would grant such a petition,
without desiring conference first with themselves, whom
it so much concerned, returned answer, that they were
willing the cause should be heard, so as the petitioners
would name the magistrates whom they intended, and the
matters they would lay to their charge &c. Upon this
the deputies demanded of the petitioners' agents (who
were then deputies of the court) to have satisfaction in
those points, whereupon they singled out the deputy gov-
ernor, and two of the petitioners undertook the prosecu-
tion. Then the petition was returned again to the magis-
trates for their consent &.c. who being desirous that the
deputies might take notice, how prejudicial to authority
and the honour of the court it would be to call a magistrate
to answer criminally in a cause, wherein nothing of that
nature could be laid to his charge, and that without any
private examination preceding, did intimate so much to
the deputies, (though not directly, yet plainly enough,)
showing them that nothing criminal Stc. was laid to his
charge, and that the things objected were the act of the
court &.C. yet if they would needs have a hearing, they
would join in it. And indeed it was the desire of the


deputy, (knowing well how much himself and the other
matristrates did suiTer in the cause, through the slander-
ous reports wherewith the deputies and the country about
had been possessed,) that the cause might receive a pub-
lic hearing.

^' The day appointed being come, the court assembled in
the meetinor house at Boston. Diverse of the elders were
present, and a great assembly of people. The deputy
governour, coming in with the rest of the magistrates,
placed himself beneath within the bar, and so sate un-
covered. Some question was in court about his being in
that place (for many both of the court and the assembly
were grieved at it.) But the deputy telling them, that,
being criminally accused, he might not sit as a judge in
that cause, and if he were upon the bench, it would be a
great disadvantage to him, for he could not take that lib-
erty to plead the cause, which he ought to be allowed at
the bar, upon this the court was satisfied.

" The petitioners having declared their grievances &c.
the deputy craved leave to make answer, which was to
this effect, viz. that he accounted it no disgrace, but rather
an honour put upon him, to be singled out from his breth-
ren in the defence of one so just (as he hoped to make
that appear) and of so public concernment. And although
he might have pleaded to the petition, and so have de-
murred in law, upon three points, l,in that there is noth-
ing laid to his charge, that is either criminal or unjust ;
2, if he had been mistaken either in the law or in the
state of the case, yet whether it were such as a judge is
to be called in question for as a delinquent, where it doth
not appear to be wickedness or wilfulness ; for in Eng-
land many erroneous judgments are reversed, and errours
in proceedings rectified, and yet the judges not called in
question about them ; 3, in that being thus singled out


from three other magistrates, and to answer by himself
for some things, which were the act of a court, he is
deprived of the just means of his defence, for many things
may be justified as done by four, which are not warrant-
able if done by one alone, and the records of a court are
a full justification of any act, while such record stands in
force. But he was willing to waive this plea, and to
make answer to the particular charges, to the end that
the truth of the case, and of all proceedings thereupon
might appear to all men.

" Hereupon the court proceeded to examine the whole
cause. The deputy justified all the particulars laid to
his charge, as that upon credible information of such a
mutinous practice, and open disturbance of the peace,
and slighting of authority, the offenders were sent for, the
principal by warrant to the constable to bring them, and
others by summons, and that some were bound over to
the next court of assistants, and others that refused to be
bound were committed ; and all this according to the
equity of laws here established, and the custom and laws
of England, and our constant practice here these fifteen
years. And for some speeches he was charged with as
spoken to the delinquents, when they came before him at
his house, when none were present with him but them-
selves, first, he appealed to the judgment of the court,
whether delinquents may be received as competent wit-
nesses against a magistrate in such a case ; then, for the
words themselves, some he justified, some he explained
so as no advantage could be taken of them, as that he
should say, that the magistrates could try some criminal
causes without a jury, that he knew no law of God or
man which required a judge to make known to the party
his accusers (or rather witnesses) before the cause came


to hearing. But two of them charged him to have said,
that it was against the law of God and man so to do, which
had been absurd, for the deputy professed he knew no
law against it, only a judge may sometimes, in discretion,
conceal their names &c. least they should be tampered
with, or conveyed out of the way &c.

" Two of the magistrates and many of the deputies were
of opinion that the magistrates exercised too m.uch pow-
er, and that the people's liberty was thereby in danger ;
and other of the deputies (being about half) and all the
rest of the magistrates were of a different judgment, and
that authority was overmuch slighted, which, if not timely
remedied would endanger the commonwealth, and bring
us to a mere democracy. By occasion of this difference,
there was not so orderly carriage at the hearing, as was
meet, each side striving unseasonably to enforce the evi-
dence, and declaring their judgments thereupon, which
should have been reserved to a more private debate, (as
after it was,) so as the best part of two days was spent
in this public agitation and examination of witnesses &c.
This being ended, a committee was chosen of magistrates
and deputies, who stated the case, as it appeared upon the
whole pleading and evidence, though it cost much time
and with great difficulty did the committee come to ac-
cord upon it.

*' The case being stated and agreed, the magistrates and
deputies considered it apart, first the deputies having
spent a whole day, and not attaining to any issue, sent up
to the magistrates to have their thoughts about it, who
taking it into consideration, (the deputy always withdraw-
ing when that matter came into debate,) agreed upon
these four points chiefly; l.that the petition was false
and scandalous, 2. that those who were bound over &c.


and others that were parties to the disturbance at Hing-
ham, were all offenders, though in different degrees, 3.
that they and the petitioners were to be censured, 4. that
the deputy governour ought to be acquit and righted &c.
This being sent down to the deputies, they spent divers
days about it, and made two or three returns to the mag-
istrates, and though they found the petition false and
scandalous, and so voted it, yet they would not agree to
any censure. The magistrates, on the other side, were
resolved for censure, and for the deputy's full acquittal.
The deputies being thus hard held to it, and growing
weary of the court, for it began [3] 14, and brake not
up (save one week) till [5] 5, were content they should
pay the charges of the court. After, they were drawn
to consent to some small fines, but in this they would
have drawn in lieutenant Ernes to have been fined deeply,
he being neither plaintiff nor defendant, but an informer
only, and had made good all the points of his information,
and no offence found in him, other than that which was
after adjudged worthy of admonition only ; and they
would have imposed the charges of the court upon the
whole trained band at Hingham, when it was apparent,
that divers were innocent, and had no hand in any of
these proceedings. The magistrates not consenting to
so manifest injustice, they sent to the deputies to desire
them to join with them in calling in the help of the elders,
(for they were now assembled at Cambridge from all parts
of the United Colonies, and diverse of them were pre-
sent when the cause was publickly heard, and declared
themselves much grieved to see that the deputy govern-

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Online LibrarySolomon LincolnHistory of the town of Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts → online text (page 5 of 14)