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

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the English and the French and Indians, many of the
citizens of Hingham enlisted. In 1757, at the capitula-
tion of Fort William Henry, there were present from this
town. Major Samuel Thaxter, Thomas Gill, Thomas Burr,
Elijah Lewis, Knight Sprague, and Seth Stowers. All
of them fortunately escaped the barbarous massacre
which ensued. Major Thaxter was then an officer, (I
think a Captain,) and with the others, was stripped of his
clothing and very narrowly escaped with life. Jeremiah
Lincoln and a person by the name of Lathrop, from this
town, were out in the same expedition, and were taken
prisoners in a scouting party previously to the capitulation.
Lathrop was killed, and Jeremiah Lincoln* was carried
into captivity to Canada, where he remained for a consid-

I erable time, and afterwards made his escape, and returned

"^. in safety to his native town.

^ * Jeremiah Lincoln was an Iron Smith. He died in Lunenburg,
^ Massachusetts. Two of his apprentices were the late Lt. Gov.-\
\ r Lincoln, of Worcester, and Dr. Peter Hobart, of Hanover, both of
^ whom left his service, for the purpose of obtaining an education at
^ Harvard University. •



HISTORY OF HIXGHAM. 91

Knight Sprague* was, in 1826, the only survivor of
those who engaged in this expedition from Hingham.

Capt. Joshua Barker, of this town, served as a Lieu-
tenant under Capt. Winslow, in the expedition to the West
Indies in 1740, and in the different wars of the country
from 1742 to 1758.1

I come now to an interesting period in the history of
this town ; a period upon which our venerable fathers
who participated in the toils, sufferings and dangers
of the American Revolution, can look back with plea-

* Knight Sprague is mentioned in the history of Leicester, writ-
ten by Emory Washburn, Esq. and published in June, 1826. The
following extract is from that history :

" One man yet survives, at the advanced age of 86 who was a
soldier from 1756 to 1761, and was in the memorable affair of Fort
WilHam Henry, in 1757, when so many Enghsh and Americans were
massacred by the savages of Montcalm's army. His name is Knight
Sprague, a native of Hingham, from which place he marched, in
1756. The next year, he was with Col. Bradstreet at the taking of
Fort Frontinac, on Lake Ontario. His memory is yet accurate and
tenacious. Fort William Henry was surrendered, according to his
account, about 10 o'clock on Wednesday morning, and the English
were detained till the next morning and guarded by the French. As
soon however as the army had left the fort, to take up their march,
according to the terms of capitulation, the Indians rushed upon
them, and began to strip and kill the prisoners. Sprague escaped,
after being partially stripped. His captain was stripped naked, as
were many women he passed, in his flight towards Fort Edward.
Of the half company to which he belonged, fifteen out of the fifty,
were killed, that day. Munro, the British commander, as repre-
sented by Spiague, was a dignified man of about fifty years of age.
Montcalm was a fine looking man, extremely well formed, and
very active and graceful, but small in stature-."

t N. H. Historical Collections, vol. ii, p. 221, where the name
is erroneously printed Wai-ner.

Capt. Barker died January 1, 1785, in the 74th year of his age.
In an obituary notice of him, he is described as an excellent and
brave officer, and a man of real worth, "respectful to his superiors,
easy and familiar to his inferiors, and good to all ; in his address
courteous and graceful, in his temper calm and serene," beloved in
life and lamented in death.



92 HISTORY OF IIIXGHAM.

sure and pride ; and in which those acts of patriotism and
daring and successful achievement were performed, which
entitle them to the gratitude and veneration of all poster-
ity. A distinguished orator has said, that '- Any one who
has had occasion to be acquainted with the records of the
New England towns, knows well how to estimate those
merits and those sufferings. Nobler records of patriotism
exist no where. No where can there be found higher
proofs of a spirit that was ready to hazard all, to pledge
all, to sacrifice all, in the cause of the country. The
voice of Otis and of Adams in Faneuil Hall, found its
full and true echo in the little councils of the interior
towns ; and if, within the Continental Congress, patriotism
shone more conspicuously, it did not there exist more
truly, nor burn more fervently ; it did not render the day
more anxious or the night more sleepless ; it sent up no
more ardent prayer to God for succour ; and it put forth,
in no greater degree, the fulness of its effort, and the
energy of its whole soul and spirit, in the common cause^
than it did in the small assemblies of the towns.''

The remarks are as just as they are elegant ; and with-
out claiming for the citizens of this town any more merit
for their zeal in promoting the great cause of their coun-
try, when contending for " liberty and the pursuit of happi-
ness," than others are entitled to, their records certainly
indicate that no where did patriotism put forth in " a
greater degree, the fulness of its efforts and the energy
of its whole soul and spirit."

In the events which preceded the American Revolution,
the inhabitants felt and expressed a deep interest. I shall
certainly be excused for presenting copious extracts from
the Town Records, that a correct opinion may be formed
of the motives which actuated the conduct of our fathers.



HISTORY OF IIINGIIA3I. 93

and of the bold and determined spirit which dictated their
patriotic resolutions. And this I do, as the best method
of exhibitino- the character of those individuals who gave
a tone to public sentiment ; and whose merits for their
devotion to the cause of their country, cannot be too con-
spicuously displayed.

At the annual March meeting in 1768, the tovvn chose
a committee to devise measures for the encouragement of
industry and economy, and to report at the next May
meeting. The committee was composed of the following
gentlemen, viz : Hon. Benjamin Lincoln,* John Thax-
ter, Esq. Capt. Theophilus Gushing, Dea. Joshua Her-
sey. Dr. Ezekiel Hersey, Caleb Bates, Capt. Daniel
Lincoln, Capt. Joseph Thaxter, Lazarus Beal, and Dea.
Isaac Lincoln.

The committee reported in May as follows :
"The committee appointed by the town of Plingham,
at their meeting in March last, to take under considera-
tion the encouraging and promoting economy and indus-
try in the said town, report the following Resolves. First,
that we will by all ways and means in our power encour-
age and promote the practice of virtue, and suppressing
of vice and immorality, the latter of which seem daily
increasing among us, and the decay of the former much to
be lamented. ( This part of the first paragraph being read,
the question was put whether it he accepted ; passed in the af-
firmative.) And for promoting the one and discourag-

*Hon. Benjamin Lincoln, the fatJier of Gen. Benjamin Lincoln,
of the army of the revolution. " He was a member of his Majes-
ty's Council from the year 1753 to 1770, when he resigned his seat
at the board. In various offices of public trust, as v.ell as in those
of private life, he ?erved his generation with unconmion ddigenco
and exemplary fidelity. He died March 1, 1771, in the 72d year
of his age." — Fleets' Boston Evening Post.
9*



^4 HISTORY OF lil.NGnAM.

ing the othei-j we apprehend the lessening the number
of licensed houses, would greatly contribute to the pur-
pose and that not more than three retailers in the North
Parish, two in the East and one in the South, would be
as many as would be consistent with the interests of the
community. ( This remaining part of (he first paragraph be-
ing read, the question ivas put u-hcther it be accepted ; passed
in the negative.) Secondly, we resolve for the future, to
improve our lands more generally for raising of flax, and
increasing our stocks of sheep, which materials properly
improved among ourselves may prevent the necessity of
using so great a quantity of imported commodities and
increasing our own manufactures, and thereby the poorer
sort more profitably employed, the medium likewise, in
a great measure preserved and increased, for the want
of which the industrious are at this time under great dis-
advantages. ( This second resolve being read, the question
was put whether the same be accepted ; passed in the affir-
matively^

The adoption of the above resolutions was in accord-
ance with the spirit of others approved and adopted at
Boston, and in other places.

The following is a copy of the proceedings of the town
on the 21st of September, 1768, on the reception of a
circular from the inhabitants of Boston :

'' At the said meetino; the town chose Dea. Joshua
llearsey a committee, to join the committees from the
several towns within the province, to assemble at Boston
on the 22d day of September, current, then and there to
consult such measures as shall be necessary for the pres-
ervation of good order and regularity in the province at
this critical conjuncture of affairs, and voted the following
instructions to him, viz. •



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 95

" As you are chosen and appointed by the town of
Hingham, to join with committees from the several towns
within this Province, desired to meet at Boston on the
22d day of September, current, then and there to con-
sult such measures as shall be necessary for the preser-
vation of good order and regularity in the Province, at
this critical conjuncture of affairs. We advise and di-
rect you that you vise your endeavors to preserve peace
and good order, in the Province and loyalty to the king ;
that you take every legal and constitutional method for
the preservation of our rights and liberties, and for hav-
ing redressed those grievances, we so generally com-
plain of and so sensibly feel ; that all possible care be
taken that the troops, (that) should arrive, have provis-
ion made for them, so that they be not billeted in private
families and at so convenient a distance as not to inter-
rupt the people ; that you encourage the inhabitants to
keep up military duty whereby they may be in a capacity
to defend themselves against foreiorr> enemies ; and in
case you are exposed to any charges in prosecuting any
of the foregoing preparations, we will repay it, and as
these instructions are for your private use, improve them
for that purpose and for no other whatever.

^' The foregoing instructions were drawn up by Dr.
Ezekiel Hearsey, Benjamin Lincoln, jr. and Capt. Daniel
Lincoln."

The committees from the several towns met agreeably
to appointment on the 22d of September. Sixty six
towns, besides districts, were represented, by upwards of
seventy gentlemen. The number afterwards increased
to above one hundred, from ninety eight towns and
districts. Their debates and proceedings were open.
The convention continued their session every day till



96 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

the 29th, (although admonished by Gov. Bernard to
break up and separate themselves,) and during that time
they adopted a letter to be transmitted to the agent of the
province at London, and published a '^ result of their
conference and consultation," in which they declared
their allegiance to the king, their abhorrence of riots,
and their determination to yield all assistance to the civil
magistrates towards suppressing them, and also declared
their rights by charter and by nature and their humble
dependance on their gracious sovereign, that their wrongs
would be speedily redressed."*

In 1770, March 19, the inhabitants of Hingham pass-
ed resolutions relating to the non-consumption of import-
ed goods, and to the Boston massacre. These resolu-
tions do not appear in the town records, but are contained
in the following letter from Gen. Lincoln to the committee
of merchants in Boston.

To the Gentlemen the Committee of Merchants in Boston.

Hingham, March 24th, 1770.

" Gentlemen — At the annual meeting of the town of
Hingham, on the 19th day of March, A. D. 1770 : Upon
a motion being made and seconded (though omitted in the
warrant) the inhabitants taking into consideration the dis-
tressed circumstances of the people in this and the neigh-
bouring Provinces, occasioned by the late parliamentary
acts for raising a revenue in North America, the manner
of collecting the same, and the measures gone into to
enforce obedience to them, and judging that every society
and every individual person are loudly called to exert the
utmost of their abillity in a constitutional way to procure
a redress of those grievances, and to secure the privileges

* Snow's History of Boston.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 97

by charter conveyed to them, and that freedom which
they have a right to as men and English subjects, came
to the following votes :

" Voted, That we highly approve of the patriotic resolu-
tions of the merchants of this Province not to import
goods from Great Britain till the repeal of the aforesaid
acts, and viewing it as having a tendency to retrieve us
from those burthens so much complained of, and so sen-
sibly felt by us ; we will do all in our power, in a legal
way, to support them in carrying into execution so worthy
an undertakinor.

^' Voted, That those few who have imported goods con-
trary to general agreement and counteracted the prudent
and laudable efforts of the merchants and traders afore-
said, have thereby forfeited the confidence of their breth-
ren ; and therefore, we declare that we will not directly
or indirectly have any commerce or dealings with them.

"Voted, That we will discourage the use of foreign su-
perfluities among us and encourage our own manufac-
tures.

"Voted, That we heartily sympathize with our breth-
ren of the town of Boston, in the late unhappy destruc-
tion of so many of their inhabitants, and we rejoice with
them that there yet remains the free exercise of the civil
authority.

" Voted, That the town clerk be ordered to transmit a
copy hereof to the Committee of Merchants in Boston.

" I cheerfully comply with the above order and here-
with send you a copy of the Votes.

" I am, gentlemen, with great esteem, your most obe-
dient and most humble servant.

BENJAMIN LINCOLN, Jun'r."



98 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

The frequency of town meetings, at this period, and
the inconvenience to which the inhabitants of Conohasset
were subject in transacting their civil concerns in Hing-
ham induced them to apply to the goverment, for an act
of incorporation as a town. The petition was granted
and the east or second precinct was incorporated a town,
April 26, 1770, by the name of Cohasset.*

The views and feelings of the inhabitants of this town,
respecting the subjects of controversy between this and the
mother country, may be learned from the following instruc-
tions given to their representative to the General Court :

^' The committee chosen to draft some instructions pro-
per to be given our representative reported as followeth ;
We the subscribers being appointed by the inhabitants of
the town of Hingham, at a legal meeting on the 11th inst.
and to draft some instructions proper to be given our repre-
sentative under the present alarming situation of affairs
in this government, beg leave to report as followeth, viz :
To John Thaxter^ Esq.

^' Whereas your constituents are feelingly sensible of a
number of infringements on their rights and privileges
until lately unheard of, the whole of which we pretend not
to enumerate to you as from your knowledge of our pre-
sent state, they must bear strongly on your own mind ;
but would notwithstanding mention the following : First,
the act of Parliament passed in the last session thereof,
entitled an act for the better preserving his Majesty's
dock-yards, magazines, ships, ammunition and stores, we
look upon to be one of the greatest grievances, that per-
sons accused of capital offences should be carried 3000
miles distant from the place where the crime was com-

* Flint's Century Discourses.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 99

mitted, to be tried, the inconvenience and injustice of
which so fully appear that there needs no animadversion.
Second, The act of Parliament obliging all ships or ves-
sels from Portugal to this province, to enter their fruit in
some port of Great Britain, by which great expense must
arise, and the fruit often much damaged, by which means
the trade is burthened, clogged and discouraged, — we on
the whole instruct you, that you use your utmost endea-
vours, by dispassionate remonstrance, and humble peti-
tion in a legislative way, to the Parliament of Great Brit-
ain, to have these and all grievances, we now labour
under, redressed, and those we fear from circumstances
are taking place.

"And we instruct you, that you use your best endeavours,
that a salary be granted by this province to the Judges
of the Superior Court, as shall be adequate to their impor-
tant office ; and that you endeavour that a harmony may
subsist on a proper foundation between the several branches
of the legislative body of this province, which cement is
essentially necessary to the interest and happiness thereof.

Bela Lincoln,
Benjamin Lincoln,
Joseph Thaxter,
Jacob Gushing, j
Joshua Hearsey, J
Hingham, January 13, 1773."

1774, January 31. The town appointed a committee

to take into consideration a letter and papers sent from

the Boston Committee of Correspondence to this town.

The committee was composed of the following gentlemen:

Benjamin Lincoln, Esq. Joseph Andrews, Dea, Joshua

Hersey, Dea. Theophilus Gushing, Caleb Bates, James

Fearing, Jacob Gushing, Esq. Thomas Loring, and Heze-

kiah Gushing. They presented a report at the annual



^ Committee.



100 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

town meeting in March following, from which the nature
of the subjects submitted to their consideration, fully
appears. It was as follows :

'■^ When we call to mind a late Act of the British Par-
liament, expressly declaring that the King, Lords and
Commons, in Parliament assembled, have ever had, and
of right ought to have, full power and authority to make
laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind
the colonies and people of America, subject to the Crown
of Great Britain, in all cases whatever, and in conse-
quence thereof an Act of Parliament made for the express
purpose of raising a revenue in America, for defraying
the charge of the administration of justice &c. in the col-
onies ; and when also we consider that the more effectually
to carry into execution the same Act, the councils of the
nation, in a late session of the British Parliament, have
empowered the East India Company to export their teas
to America, free of all duties in England, but still liable
to a duty on its being landed in the colonies ; and com-
paring those Acts and others similar to them, with several
clauses in the charter granted to this province by their
late Majesties, King William and Queen Mary, of blessed
memory, in which it is among other things ordained and
established that all and every of the subjects of us, our
heirs and successors, which shall go to inhabit in our said
province and territory, and every of their children which
shall happen to be born there, or on the seas going thither
or returning from thence, shall have and enjoy all the lib-
erties and immunities of ;ree and natural subjects, within
any of the dominions of us, our heirs and successors, to
all intents, constructions and purposes whatever, as if
they and every of them were born within this our realm
of England, and whereas it is by the said royal charter



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 10 1

especially ordained, that the great and general court or
assembly, therein constituted, shall have full power and
authority to impose and \e\y proportionate and reasonable
assessments and taxes upon the estates and persons of
all and every of the proprietors and inhabitants of the said
province and territory for the service of the King, in the
necessary defence and support of his government of the
province, and the protection and preservation of his sub-
jects therein ; the design and tendency of which appear
in too conspicuous a light to need any comment, and are
too alarming to admit of silence, as silence may be con-
strued into acquiescence. We therefore resolve,

'^ First, That the disposal of their property is the inhe-
rent right of freemen ; that there is no property in that
which another can of right take from us without our
consent ; that the claim of Parliament to tax America,
is, in other words, a claim of right to lay contributions
on us at pleasure.

" Secondly, That the duty imposed by Parliment upon
tea landed in America, is a tax on the Americans or levy-
ing contributions on them without their consent.

^' Thirdly, That the express purpose for which the tax is
levied on the Americans, viz. : for the support of govern-
ment and administration of justice, and the defence of his
majesty's dominions in America, has a direct tendency to
render assemblies useless, and to introduce arbitrary
government and slavery.

'' Fourthly, That a virtuous and steady opposition to
the ministerial plan of governing America, is necessary to
preserve even a shadow of liberty ; and is a duty which
every freeman in America, owes to his country, to him-
self and to his posterity.

^' Fifthly, That the resolution lately come into by the

East India Company, to send out their teas to America

10



102 HISTORY OF HIXGHAM.

subject to the payment of duties on its being landed here,
is an open attempt to enforce the ministerial plan, and a
violent attack on the liberties of America.

" Sixthly, That it is the duty of every American to op-
pose this attempt.

'^ Seventhly, That it affords the greatest satisfaction to
the inhabitants of this town, to find that his majesty's sub-
jects in the American colonies, and of this Province in
particular, are so thoroughly awakened to a sense of their
danger, arising from encroachments made on their con-
stitutional rights and liberties, and that so firm a union
is established among them ; and that they will ever be
ready to join their fellow subjects in all laudable mea-
sures for the redress of the many grievances we labour
under.

^' After the said report having been several times read,
upon a motion made, the question was put, whether the
same be accepted and be recorded in the town's book of
records and a copy thereof sent by the town clerk, to
the Committee of Correspondence of the town of Boston ;
audit passed in the affirmative."

In 1774, August 17, the town adopted the following
agreement* as reported by a committee, but stayed all
farther proceedings until the report of the Continental
Conf^ress :

'' We the subscribers taking into our serious considera-
tion the present distressed state of America, and in par-
ticular of this devoted Province, occasioned by several

* This agreement or covenant was reported by a committee con-
sisting of the following gentlemen, viz. : Dea. Joshua Hersey, Col.
Benjamin Lincoln, Dea. Theophilus Gushing, Dea. Benjamin Gush-
ing, Mr. Samuel Norton, Mr. Joseph Andrews, Mr. Israel Beal, Ja-
cob Gushing, Esq. Mr. Enoch Lincoln, Mr. Heman Lincoln, Mr.

Thomas Loring, Gapt. Jones, Mr. James Fearing, Mr. Jabez

Wilder, jr., Mr. Hezekiah Gushing.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 103

late unconstitutional acts of the British Parliament for
taxing Americans without their consent — blocking up the
port ofBoston — vacating our charter, that solemn compact
between the king and the people, respecting certain laws
of this Province, heretofore enacted by our general court
and confirmed by his majesty and his predecessors. We
feel ourselves bound as we regard our inestimable con-
stitution, and the duty we owe to succeeding generations,
to exert ourselves in this peaceably way, to recover our
lost and preserve our remaining privileges, yet not with-
out grief for the distresses that may hereby be brought
upon our brethren in Great Britain, we solemnly cove-
nant and engage to and with each other, viz. :

" 1st. That we will not import, purchase, or consume,
nor suffer any person or persons to, by, for or under us
to import, purchase, or consume in any manner whatever,
any goods, wares or merchandize which shall arrive in
America, from Great Britain, from and after the first
day of October, one thousand seven hundred and seventy
four, until our charter and constitutional rights shall be
restored ; or until it shall be determined by the major part
of our brethren in this and the neighbouring colonies,


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Online LibrarySolomon LincolnHistory of the town of Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts → online text (page 8 of 14)