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

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The dispassionate reader, while he will give to Win-
throp all the credit to which his impartiality entitles him,
cannot fail to discover some circumstances which tend to
extenuate the criminality of the conduct of a large and
respectable portion of the inhabitants of this town. The
convictions which the deputy governor entertained, of the
disorderly and seditious course of Mr. Hobart and his
friends, were deep and strong ; and in some instances
his conduct indicated any thing but a charitable spirit
towards those whose principal errour (if any) consisted in

8



78 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

their attachment to more liberal views of government,
than those generally entertained at that time.

Winthrop acknowledges, that '^ the great questions that
troubled the country, were about the authority of the
magistrates and the liberty of the people." ^' Two of
the magistrates and many of the deputies" esteemed for
piety, prudence and justice, " were of opinion that the
magistrates exercised too much power, and that the peo-
ple's liberty was thereby in danger," and the tendency
of their principles and conduct was, (in the opinion of
the deputy governour,) to have brought the commonwealth
*^ to a mere democracy."

Thus we learn that one of the military company here,
professed ^^ he would die at the sword's point, if he might
not have the choice of his own officers." Some of the
principles and privileges for which our fathers contended,
were undoubtedly too liberal and republican for the spirit
of the age in which they lived. They were, perhaps,
injudicious and indiscreet in their endeavours to promote
their views ; and probably in some instances might not
have expressed that respect for the constituted authorities,
to which their character entitled them. The most super-
ficial reader, however, may discover in the conduct of the
deputy governour something of the spirit of bigotry which
was, unfortunately, too often allowed to affect the judg-
ments of the wisest and best of men at that time, and
which operated very much to the injury of those who en-
tertained more liberal opinions in politics and religion.
The deputies, although conscious of the disorder which
the prevalence of such principles might cause in the
community, did not feel so strong a disregard of the mo-
tives of the people of Hingham, which impelled them to



HISTORY OP HINGHAM. 79

the course which they pursued, as to induce them to con-
sent to impose on them heavy fines, without great reluc-
tance.

The deputy governour appears to have been very sensi-
tive on the subject of innovations upon the authority of
government, and strongly bent, not only upon punishing,
but desirous of publicly disgracing the " profane" people
of Hingham. He seems to have ^' engulphed Bible, Tes-
tament and all, into the common law," as authority for the
severe measures which were taken to mortify their feelings
and to check the spread of principles so democratic in
their tendency, and so dangerous to the interests of the
commonwealth. Accordingly, we find that the magistrates
sent to Mr. Hobart to forbear delivering a discourse on
the occasion of the marriage of one of his church,
at Boston, among other reasons, " because he was a bold
man, and would speak his mind."

The effect of this controversy does not appear to have
been ultimately injurious to the most conspicuous individ-
uals engaged in it. Mr. Hobart, the pastor of Hingham,
enjoyed the esteem of his people, and as has been before
remarked, was relieved from the severe penalties which
he incurred, by the liberality of the people of the town.
His brother Joshua was aflerwards frequently a deputy,
and in 1674, he was honoured by an election to the
office of Speaker to the House of Deputies.

It is to be admitted that the excitement necessarily
caused by the agitation of this business, served to retard
the growth and prosperity of the town ; and while the
effects of the displeasure of the government were ope-
rating to its injury, many of the inhabitants removed to
other places.

In 1645, the relative wealth of several towns may be



80 HISTORY OF HIXGHAM.

learned from the apportionment of the public rate for that
year.*

This town does not appear to have suffered much from
the Indians. We find, hoAvever, that precautions were ta-
ken against their incursions, and that in 1645, June 29,
a vote was taken " to erect a palisadoe around the meet-
ing house, '^ to prevent an assault from them. Consider-
able attention was paid to the maintenance of a military
force ; and, among others, there are the following votes
respecting the troops :

^' January Ist, 1653. It is ordered and agreed upon by
a joint consent of the town, that upon all general train-
ings either at Boston, or if the company meet with any other
town to exercise, that then, every musketeer shall have
one pound of powder allowe^fl him by the town to shoot."

'^ 1655, March 20. By a joint consent and general vote
of the town, Capt. Joshua Hubbard is freed from paying
any rates for the public charge of the town during the
time that he is chief officer of the town for the exercise
of the military company ;"t and in 1659 it was '^ ordered
and agreed upon by the town that Stephen Lincoln should
have tv/enty shillings the year to maintain his drum."

* It was as follows, viz. : Boston, £100 ; Ipswich, £61 10 ;
Charlestown, £55 ; Salem, £45 ; Cambridge, £45 ; Dorchester,
£43 17 6; Watertown, £41 05 ; Roxburv, £37 10 ; Lynn, £25 ;
Newbury, £23 ; Dedhani, £20 ; Concord, £15 ; Rowley, £15 ;
Hinghani, £15 ; Sudbury, £11 05 ; Weymouth, £10 10 ; Brain-
tree, £10 10 ; Salisbury, £10 ; Hampton, £10; Medford, £7;
Woburn, £7 ; GloucesteV, £4 17 6 ; Wenharn, £3 10,— Wmthr op >
vol. 2, p. 246.

t January 1, 1660. Those whose names are hereafter mentioned
do dissent from having Capt. Hubbard freed from paying his rates
to the public charge of the town for the maintenance of the minis-
try. Nathaniel Baker, John Otis, Michael Peirce, John Jacob,
William Sprague, John Tucker, sen. John Tucker, jr. William Johns :
Thomas Leavitt, Onesiphorus Marsh, Joseph Jones, Henrv Cham-
bcrlin, William Hersey. — Toivn Records.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 81

In 1662 I find the following order adopted by the se-
lectmen.* " No Indian shall set up a wigwam, either
upon property of the town's common, or dwell in one
already set up, from midsummer, next, until the last day
of September, following, upon penalty of twenty shillings
for every such offence, and if any Englishman shall
give leave and permit any such wigwam to be built upon
his land, he shall be liable unto the same forfeiture, and
any man in the town, aggrieved, is hereby empowered to
prosecute this order, and to have consideration allowed
him by the selectmen."

In 1665 the inhabitants thought it expedient to procure
a deed of the township from the Indians, of which a copy
may be found in the appendix.

In 1666, September 10, instructions were given to the
deputies of the town in the general court.! They cer-
tainly indicate that a spirit of loyalty was prevalent among
the inhabitants. They were as follows :

" By of the signification of his majesty's pleas-

ure lately sent over to the council, we perceive how evilly
represented by (to) his majesty the late proceedings of
this colony with those Honourable Commissioners sent
hither have been ; and that his majesty apprehends by
such proceedings that those that govern this Colony doe
upon the matter believe, that his majesty hath no juris-
diction over us, yea also, of serving his majesty's com-
mand, sertayne persons upon their allegiance, to appear
in England, and two or three other persons to be sent,
by the council, to attend his majesty, to the end his majesty
in person, may heare and finally determine all matters.

* The selectmen were Joshua Hobart, John Thaxter, John Ja-
cob, Thomas Lincoln, husbandman, Josiah Hobart.
t The delegates were Joshua Hobart and John Thaxter.
8*



82 HISTORY OF HINGIIAM.

'^ Now whereas a general court is summoned upon this
signification of his majesty by order of the deputy gov-
ernor, as appeares by warrant signed by his secretary :
TVe the inhabitants of Hingham judge it meet to order
and instruct you our deputies, being the present repre-
sentatives in the general court, to act for us, and on our
behalf, amply and fully, according to his majesty's signi-
fication ; and not seemingly under any couller or pretence
whatsoever, to doe or act any thing agaynst the command
of his majesty and sovereigne, soe that it may appeare
unto all persons, that we are not such as disowne his ma-
jesty's jurisdiction over us, but accordingly to our duty
we truly acknowledge ourselves his majesty's loyal sub-
jects and liege people.

MATTHEW IIAWKE, Town Clerk,

in the name and behalf of the

freemen of Hingham.

In 1669, Nathaniel Beal was chosen by the selectmen
" to keep an ordinary and to sell sack and strong water in
the town of Hingham, by retail.*

In 1670, the town voted to make three divisions of the
undivided common land at Conohasset, among the pro-
prietors. The first and second divisions were made by
drawing for lots, December 6th, 1670, and tlie third was
completed March 10, 1670-1. y About the time of these

* Twenty years previous to this date — in 1649, Daniel Gush-
ing was chosen by the town to keep an ordinary and to sell loine
and beer.

t The following list of surnames of the proprietors of these
lots, contains some not before mentioned. They were Joy, Andrews,
Ripley, Marsh, Nichols, Tha.xter, Hobart, Lane, Canterbury, (or
Cantl'eberry) Lincoln, Sprague, Johnson, Fearing, Gushing, Burton,
Chubbuck,''Beal, Langlee, Mackfarlin, Jones, Bates, Peck, Prince,
Baker, James, Barnes, Pitts, Leavitt, Lazell, Wilder, Chamberlin,
Hewit, Pearsc, Church, Stowell, Ward, Gibbs, Woodcock, Gill,



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 83

divisions, it is supposed that a few families settled within
the limits of Conohasset.*

There is nothing in our records, worthy of particular
notice in this department of our history, until the year
1675 when Philip, of Pokanoket, commenced the war
which desolated New England. In that year, it appears
that '' souldiers were impressed into the country service,"
and disbursements were made by the selectmen, to defray
their expenses. The town suffered in some degree from
the incursions of the Indians.

Thus we find in Hobart's Diary that on the 19th of
April, 1676, ^^ John Jacobj (was) slain by the Indians
near his father's house," and the next day, '^ Joseph
Joanes'sJ and Anthony Sprague's houses burnt, also,

Burr, Havvke, Jacob, Tucker, Farrow, Loring, Stodder, Hughs,
Huit, Wliiton, Tower, Mansfield, Smith, Bacon's heirs, Dunbar, and
Otis.

* Mr Flint's Discourses.

t John Jacob went out with his musket to shoot the deer that
trespassed upon a field of wlieat, near the place where the meet-
ing house at Glad Tidings Plain is now situated. The Indians, who
bad secreted themselves in that neighborhood the night previous,
discovered and shot Jacob, near the field of wheat. He was found
dead, and his musket was battered to pieces. This traditionary ac-
count, has been related to me by Mr. Joseph Wilder, now living.
Another traditionary account states, that Jacob was a famous hun-
ter, and made a declaration that he never would be taken alive by
the Indians, and that when found, his friends were rejoiced that he
was not taken alive, as well as that he was not carried into cap-
tivity, to be put to death by Indian tortures ; and that the rock
where he was found, was, in allusion to this event, called Glad Ti-
dings Rock," the same from which the name " Glad Tidings Plain,"
originated. Mr. Wilder, whose narration is clear, and I am inclined
to think the most correct, states that he was not found at the rock,
now called ''Glad Tidings Rock," but that this name originated
from the fact, that a woman who had strayed away from home
and was supposed to be lost, was first discovered from this rock.
The correctness of this tradition is scarcely questionable.

t The houses of Joseph Joanes and Anthony Sprague were situ-
ated at the place called " Over the River," that of the latter, near
where Mr. Gilbert now lives.



84 HISTORY OF IIINGHAM.

Israel Hobait's, Nathaniel Chubbuck's, James Whiton's
houses burnt down by the Indians."

In consequence of apprehensions of the depredations of
Indians, the following order was adopted by the selectmen
in 1676. *^ The selectmen of Hingham, taking into consid-
eration the great danger we are in, and damage might en-
sue on us, by the Indians being our open enemies, and also
complaint made to us on that account, do therefore order
and agree that no person or persons in this town shall
take in any Indian or Indians into the said town, or en-
tertain or keep any Indian or Indians, in the said town
or in their service or houses, without order from authori-
ty, under the penalty of twenty shillings for every such
offence," &c.*

Garrison houses were established for the security of the
inhabitants, but I am unable to ascertain their number
and situation. There were, also, in the town three forts,
but the date of their erection cannot be ascertained.
One of them was situated on the hill, which at that time
commanded the harbour, the same of which the mounds
are still visible in the Burying Yard ;t another at the place
called Fort Hill, and another " on the Plain about a mile
from the Harbour." There is frequent mention of dis-
bursements for the soldiers, in the selectmen's book of
records, about this time.

It is proper in this place, to give some account of the
proceedings of the town relating to the erection of anew
meeting house. The first meeting house was situated, as

* Similar orders were adopted at subsequent periods.

t I am informed by Samuel Norton, Esq. that there is a tradition
that '* this fort was built from the fear of invasion by sea, by the
Dutch, &c." This statement was made to hini by Dr. Gay, the'third
minister of the town.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 85

has been stated, near the spot on which the post office
now stands, opposite the Academy.

By the increase of the population it became necessary
to build a house of worship of larger dimensions, and
accordingly we find that on the 19th of January, 1679-80,
the inhabitants of the town " agreed to build a new meet-
ing house with all convenient speed," and Capt. Joshua
Hobart, Capt. John Jacob, and Ensign John Thaxter
were chosen a committee to view the meeting houses of
other towns, for the purposes of forming an opinion of
the dimensions of a building necessary to accommodate
the inhabitants, to ascertain the probable expense, and
to report at the next town meeting, to be held in May
following.

On the 3d of May, 1680, the selectmen were directed
to " carry on the business to effect, about building a new
meeting house ;" and at the same meeting it was voted
" to have the new meeting house set up, in the place
where the old one doth now stand."*

This vote was not carried into effect ; but the house
was eventually erected (not without opposition,) on the

* Those who voted in favour of erecting the new meeting house
on the place where the old one stood, were the following, viz. :
Capt. Joshua Hobart, John Eeal, sen. Dea. John Leavitt, Andrew
Lane, Thomas Gill, sen. John Beal, Edward Wilder, Doctor Cutler,
Ens. John Thaxter, Thomas Lincoln, husbandman, Nathaniel Beal,
sen. Edmund Pitts, Joshua Lincoln, Thomas Marsh, Francis James,
Stephen Lincoln, Moses Collier, John Prince, John Langlee, Joshua
Beal, Thomas Lincoln, carpenter, Caleb Beal, James Hersey, Thom-
as Andrews, Joseph Joy, William Hersey, Matthias Briggs, John
Chubbuck, Josiah Lane, Robert Waterman, Matthew Whiton, Serg,
Daniel Lincoln, Samuel Stowell — 33. Those who voted in the neg-
ative on this question were the following, viz. : Daniel Gushing, sen,
Nathaniel Baker, Joseph Jacob, Humphrey Johnson, Capt. John
Jacob, Serg. Matthew Cushing, Simon Burr, sen. James Whiton,
Ibrook Tower, Lt. John Smith, Jeremiah Beal, sen. — IL



86 HISTORY OF HIXGHAM.

hill where it now stands. Mr. Flint, in his century ser-
mons, speaks of the " violent contest in regard to the
placing of a meeting house, in which the interference of
the general court was required."*

On the 11th of August 1680, the dimensions of the
house were fixed by a vote of the town as follows, —
length fifty five feet, breadth forty five feet, and the height
of the posts " twenty or one and twenty feet ;" with gal-
leries on one side and at both ends. In 1681, May 2,
the town approved of what the selectmen had done in
relation to the building of the new meeting house, and
the place where it was to be set.!

May 24, 1681, the town voted to set the meeting house
on the most convenient place, on the land of Capt. Joshua
Hobart. In this situation it now stands. The house was
raised on the 26th, 27th and 28th days of July, 1681, and
it cost the town £430 and the old house. J In 1681-2,
January 8, the inhabitants first met for public worship in
the new house. ^

* There is a tradition, and I confess not a very plausible one, that
the site for the meeting house was fixed on the Lower Plain, — that
the day was appointed for the raising of the frame, but that on the
preceding night, it was carrried to the spot where the meeting house
now stands. And it has been further stated, that the party on the
Plain condescended that it should be placed where it now is. I
can scarcely credit this tradition. There is no record of a vote
fixing the site on the Plain, in the town records ; besides it is scarcely
to be presumed that one party would have resisted the authority of
a vote of the town, if such an one had been passed ; or that the
other party with the advantage of such a vote, would have quietly
yielded to an infraction of their rights.

t 37 persons dissented from this vote.

t Hobart's Diary.

§ Two additions have been made to the building, the first about
the year 1730, and the second in 1755. These additions were made,
however, without materially altering the external appearance and
form of the house. It is yet in a good state of preservation, and
its frame of oak, bears no marks of dilapidation or decay.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 87

Although the controversy respecting the location of the
meeting-house, was the cause of considerable excitement
among the inhabitants ; it does not appear to have con-
tinued for any great length of time. It vi^as nearly forty
years from this period, when the east precinct was estab-
lished ; and from this fact, we infer that the excitement
happily subsided, or measures would have been taken at
a much earlier date, to have erected another house of
worship.

In 1682, at a meeting of the military company for the
nomination of officers to be presented to the General Court
for approbation, James Hawke received a majority of the
votes given for an Ensign ; but it appears from the fol-
lowing copy of a remonstrance against his appointment
to the office, that there was some irregularity in the pro-
ceedings of the company, which required the interposition
of the General Court.

The petition is as follows :
"^ To the honoicred General Court sitting in Boston the 11 :

of October 1682.

'^ We whose names are hereunto subscribed, doe hereby
acquaint your honours that in our Town, there lately
passed a vote amongst our foote company of souldjers, for
nomination of military officers to present to this honoured
Court ; Lieutenant John Smith was nominated for Cap-
tain, Ensign Jeremiah Beale for Lieutenant ; and for
Ensign, Sergant Thomas Andre wes had forty seven votes
and James Hawk had fifty five, the yonger sort of per-
sons were for James Hawk, the said James Hawk is a
yong man and never was in any office, but a private sould-
jer. Sergant Thomas Andrewes is a good souldjer and
we doubt not but is well known to many of the members
of this Honoured Court, and we humbly desire if your



88 HISTORY OF HI.VGHA3I.

honours please he might be allowed of; our reasons for
our request are, first, otherwise we shall net have any
Commission officer but will be remote from the center of
the Town, and another reason is, we plainly perceive and
undoubtedly know, that there will be much discontent
amongst the souldjers if James Hawk be allowed of, we
are yours to serve and shall always pray for your Hon-
ours' happiness as in duty we are bound.

" We whose names are hereunder written were not at
the abovesaid nomination, nor had any notice of it but
desire Sergant Thomas Andrewes may be allowed of
for Ensign if your Honours please."

Signed by Enoch Hobart and twenty-three others.*

At the October Court, 1682, the following order was
passed, viz :

'^ In a^-swer to the petition of several inhabitants of
Hingham, th«^ Court, taking notice of the irregular and
illegal proceedings of the military foot company of the
said town, as to the election of their commission officers,
do declare their dissatisfaction therewith, and do expect
the acknowledgement of their error and offence therein,
for the present do direct and order the commission offi-
cers of said company to manage the affairs thereof to all
intents till this Court take further order."

At the special court, in February and March after,
Lieutenant John Smith was appointed Captain, Jeremiah

"^^ The other signatures were, Benjamin Garnet, John Lane, Paul
Gilford, John Record, Ebenezer Plumb, John Low, Matthew Why-
ton, John Bull, Josidh Lowrmg, Simon Gross, John Beale, senior,
Thomas Hobart, Edmond Pitts, William Hersey, senior, Caleb
Beale, Joshua Lincoln, Jacob Beale, Steven Lincoln, John Beale,
junior, John Fering, Joseph Bate, Samuel Bate, Thomas Gill.

[The orthography of Daniel Gushing is preserved in the petition
and signatures.]



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 89

Beal, Lieutenant, and Thomas Lincoln, Ensign, of the
foot cocipany in Hingham. As an individual was appointed
who was the candidate of neither party, I conclude that
there was a compromise of the difficulty ; and as our
records contain nothing more relating to the matter, it is
presumed that this appointment ended the dispute.

In 1690, Hingham furnished a portion of her citizens to
join the expedition to Canada, under the command of Sir
IVilliam Phips. " Captain Thomas Andrews and soldiers
went on board ship to go to Canada," on the 6th of August
of that year. The fleet sailed for Quebec on the 9th of
August.* Capt. Andrews, and most of the soldiers belong-
ing to this town, died in the expedition. "f J

In 1702, Hingham was divided into two foot compa-
nies. §

I have examined a list of the rateable estate in this
town, in 1749, made by Benjamin Lincoln, Abel Cushing,
Samuel Cushing, Ebenezer Beal and John Thaxter, As-

^Cushing's MSS.

t " Capt. Thomas Andrews, John Chubbuck, Jonathan Burr, Jon-
athan May, Daniel Tower, Judkins, Samuel Gilford and two

more, died of the Small Pox in the Canada expedition, and one
slain." — HoharVs Diary.

X In 1690 by the selectmen's book of records, it appears, that on
the 25th of December of that year, a rate was made by the selects-
men, amounting to £57,7,8. And among the disbursements are
the following items, viz. :

" To Enoch Whiting, for killing two wolves, £1,00,0

To John Lincoln, for drumming, 2,10,0."

In 1691-2, the rate was £64,9,4. In the disbursements, there
are eeveral items for drumming and for killing wolves, and some
for money paid to soldiers. The minister's salary was not paid out
of these rates. It was eighty five pounds. In 1698, the rate made
for the mamtenance of the ministry, school, poor, &c. was £130,
and the price of grain was fixed as follows ; Indian corn, 35. per
bushel ; barley, 3s. ; rye, 3s. 6(i.j and oats Is. Qd.

§ Hobart's Diary.
9



90 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

sessovs, from which it appears, that there were in this town
at that time, seven grist, fulling, and sawmills, two chaises
and three chairs, six hundred and sixty three acres of til-
lage land, one hundred and fifty one acres of orchard,
two thousand and forty three acres of mowing land, two
hundred and forty tons of vessels engaged in foreign
trade, one hundred and seven tons of open vessels, and
one hundred and sixteen tons of decked vessels.

During fifty years, subsequent to 1700, the town rec-
ords contain nothing worthy of particular notice, except-
ing what has already been mentioned. The affairs
of the town, during that period, appear to have been
conducted with order and discretion. In the wars between


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