Thomas Edward Bartlett.

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side of Charles river," and was on the east side of Caleb's

The birth of two of the children of John Bartlett and his
wife Sarah are recorded in Mendon, viz : Mary, born January
I. 1679, ^"^ Noah, born January 29, 1680. The others, with
the exception of Daniel, who was born January 24, 1684, and re-
corded in Rehoboth, were probably all born between the time of
the birth of the eldest son, John, Jr., at Weymouth in 1666, and
Mary, born in Mendon, 1679, but no record of their birth has
been discovered. Neither is it known where they resided
during the Indian troubles, or the time of King Phillip's war,
from 1675 to 1680, which caused the desolation of the town
of Mendon. It is presumed, however, that they went with
the others who are said to have returned to Weymouth and
Braintree ; although it is possible they may have gone to the
island of Rhode Island, where many of the settlers sought
refuge during that eventful period.

The last entry in the Mendon records, before the burning
of the town by the Indians, was a record of transactions at a
town meeting holden May 6, 1675. The next town meeting,
after the close of the war and the return of the inhabitants,
was held January 3. 1680. During this interval of about five
years, there was no entry made on the town books.

This war, commonly called "King Phillip's War," which desolated the
country for several years and came near driving the white settlers from New
England, is spoken of in Hubbard's Narrative as follows :

**On the 24th of June, 1675, was the alarm of war first sounded in Ply-
mouth Colony, where eight or nine were slain in and about Swansea." By
the same authority we are told that the first blood spilled in the Massachu-
setts Colony, was at Mendon.

In 1671, a son of Matoonus, one of the Nipmuck, or Nipnett Indians, had
been executed at Worcester settlement, for the murder of an Englishman,

•2nd bridges was the name for one of the branches of Charles River.
tThis was in what is now Milford.

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and his head was placed on a pole, where it remained a long time, a
ghastly warning to evil-doers. The father, a grave and sober Indian, who
had been constable of Pakachoag byGookin, although professing Christian-
ity, had no doubt been brooding over the death of his offspring, and with
the vindictive principles, so deeply cherished by his people, had only
waited for an opportunity to revenge himself. This he did by making a raid
on the defenseless settlers at Mendon, July lo, 1675, which resulted in the
killing of five of the inhabitants. It is related in John W. Barber's Histo-
rical Collections that Richard Post, according to tradition, was the first
victim, and was killed near where the office of William Hastings stood.
Post lived on the road leading from Mendon to Sherburn, now discontinued
as a highway, but still called '* Post's Lane."

John Bartlett, then of Mendon, June 6. 1682, bought of
William Sabin, fifty acres of land on the Pawtucket River, now
called the Blackstone River, in Rehoboth, at a place called by
the Indians, *' Shunasetaconet," and described in the deed as
lying *' between the ancient bounds of Rehoboth and the line
between the governments." This deed was recorded in the
Cumberland records in 1748, nearly sixty -seven years after-

The ancient boundary of Rehoboth was the Pawtucket River, which
divided it from Providence on the west, and Massachusetts Colony on the
north. Rehoboth was first called Seacunck, or Seakonk, and was granted
to people of Hingham and purchased of the Indian chief, Massasoit, in 1641,
but the real settlement did not probably commence until 1643, when Rev.
Samuel Newman moved there with the majority of his church, from Wey-
mouth. The first meeting of the original planters on record is dated at
*' Weimouth, the 24ih of the 8th month, 1643." The first tract was called
eight miles square, but at the present day it would easily measure ten. The
old-fashioned method of defining boundaries by an occasional perambula-
tion by town officers was advantageous to the settlers. It is not to be sup-
posed that these pious functionaries intended to cheat the Indians, but the
acres were of liberal size as measured by them.

The first addition to the territory of the town was made in 1645, when that
tract of land called Wannamoiset, which joined the original grant on the
south and which included what is now a part of Swansey, Harrington, and
Warren, R. I., was purchased and annexed. The next purchase and grant,
and also the last one, was called the North Purchase, and was made in.
1661, of Wamsiita, then Sachem of Pokanoket,* and comprised that terri-
tory which was afterward Attleboro and Cumberland, R. I. Atlleboro
was set off from Rehoboth and incorporated October 19th, 1694, and
comprised the present town and Cumberland. f That part of Attleboro,
since of Cumberland, was called the "Gore," and later, ''Cumberland
Gore," and was frequently denominated " that gore of land in controversy
between the governments."^:

*Wamisitta's original name was Mooanum, but was commonly called Alexander He was
a son of Massasoit and elder brother of King Phillip. [Bliss' History ot Rehoboth.'*]

tWoonsocket was taken partly from Cumberland, January 31, 1867.

tPrior to 1746, the boundary line between Rhode Island and Massachusetts had not been
settled and there had been for many years much feeling manifested in regard to the dispute,
frequent petitions being sent to the mother country, each party claiming more than the other
was willing to concede.

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The place where many of the descendants of John Hartlett
had settled was within the disputed territory and near the line
of the present boundary between Rhode Island and Massa-
chusetts. There was great inconvenience in not knowing to
what town or state their holdings should be rated. This vexa-
tious question was at last settled, however, and January 27,
1746-7, the gore of land belonging to Attleboro was annexed
to Rhode Island and incorporated as the town of Cumberland,
its name being taken from Cumberland, England, which it is
said to resemble, it being like the latter town, rich in mineral
wealth. Old deeds which had remained unrecorded for years,
owing to the interested parties not knowing in which town
their possessions lay, were then brought forward and duly re-

In Arnold's History of Rhode Island, Vol. II., there is a
copy of a map which was sent to England during the bound-
ary controversy, which represents the whole territory — the
** Gore," — between Abbot's Run and the Pawtucket River as
being " Senechataconett."* It is possible that the whole of
that section had become at that late period, known by that
name, but from the wording of numerous conveyances, there
can be little doubt that at the early time when John Bartlett
bought his land and took up his residence there, the name had
a local significance and applied directly to this place, now
known as Manville, R. I. This appears more probable be-
cause there is an island here which was called Senechetaco-

*Shunasetaconet, where John Bartlett located in Rehoboth, is, like most Indian names,
spelled many different ways, but the spelling here adopted appears to have been the most com-
mon. The very diversified orthography, foimd in the early town records, has been perplexing.
U was thought best, when practicable, to reproduce the original ; especially when spelling the
names of persons.

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nett Island. It being also one of the principal fording places
and the only one in that vicinity, at that time, it would give
the locality that importance which would require a name.
Had not this place been called and known by the name of
Senechetaconet, the land which John Bartlett here bought of
William Sabin would have been described in the deed as "the
fording place."

On the west side of the Blackstone River, in what was known as Provi-
dence Plantations, several changes took place, which it will be well to men-
tion, as the Bartletts occupied considerable territory of what was afterward
Scituate, Smithfield and Gloucester, R. I. The town founded by Roger
Williams in 1636 and named Providence, "in gratitude to his Supreme
Deliverer," originally included the whole of the north part of the State of
Rhode Island west of the B'ackstone River, and no division was made
until February 20, 1730-1. At this date, an act was passed " for erecting
and incorporating the outlands of the town of Providence into three towns."
These towns were Scituate, Smithfield and Gloucester. Since that time
there have been many sub-divisions. Burrillville, named after Hon. James
Burrill, was setoff from Gloucester, October 29, 1806, and the town of Lin-
coln, named in honor of the late Abraham Lincoln, President of the United
States, was taken from Smithfield, March 8, 1871. There was also a part of
Smithfield appropriated, in connection with that taken from Cumberland in
the foundation of the new town of Woonsocket, incorporated January 31,
1867. Other towns were formed and incorporated from the very large tract
of land which first comprised the so-called Providence Plantations.

As John Bartlett had removed to Rehoboth, and within the
jurisdiction of Plymouth, according to the custom of those
times, he was obliged to take the oath of allegiance, or " fidel-
ity," to that government. This he did, as we find the follow-
ing in the Plymouth Colony Court Records, June 6, 1683 :

"This Court, Captain Richmond, of Little Compton, and John Bartlett.
of Rehoboth, took the oath of fidelitie to this government."*

John Bartlett and his wife did not long enjoy their new
possessions. The Rehoboth records have this : f* John Bart-
lett buried 17th August, 1684. Sarah, wife of John Bartlett,
buried 17th January, 1684-5." After her husband's death,

♦Precisely one year from the date of the deed of land which he bought from William Sabin.

tit was the custom at that time, in Rehoboth, to record the date of burial instead of the
time of death. This was also the method in a few other towns in early times. The dates are
under the O. S. computation or reckoning. By the Julian method of computing time, the legal
year commenced on Conception Day, the 25tn of March, By the same calendar, the months
were numbered as well as named. By the change from the Old Style to the New Style of
reckoning, the date, April 15, 1638, (3. S., would correspond in the new calendar, witli April
25th, 1888, as to the day m the year. The O. S, was used in England until 1752, when the
Gregorian year, or New Style, was adopted. See Webster's Dictionary — word " style."

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Sarah had petitioned the General Court at Plymouth for let-
ters of administration, but before they reached her, she, too,
had died. The case was again taken under advisement, at a
cnurt held in Plymouth, March 5, 1684-5, and the following
order was passed : " Whereas, administration was granted to
Sarah Bartlett. relict of John Bartlett, late of Rehoboth, and
an order to the Wors^ Mr. Daniel Smith to take her oth to
the inventory, but before there was oppertunity for soe doeing,
said Sarah died, the Court therefore requests the Wors^ Mr.
Daniel Smith, together with the celect men of Rehoboth, to
make enquiry for a fitte person to take out letters of adminis-
tration on the estate, and that the younger children, by the
said Mr. Smith, and the celect men of the towne, be disposed
as may be most for theire good & least charge to the estate,
and the estate be according to theire best judgment secured
and improued for the benefitt of the orphanes, and that they
giue accounpt of theire actings and all matters relating to said
children and estate to the next Court, and for theire confeirma-
tion. and further settleing the children that ma chuse theire
guardians, be sent to the General Court for approbation. And
if a meete psn psent himself that will giue bond to adminnes-
tration to the said pson, and giue oth to the inventory, and that
hee make a return of his doeings to the next Court."

The estate was " inventoried and apprised by the Proprie-
tors," February 26, 1684, and a copy sent to Plymouth, which
is on record there. The following articles were mentioned in
the inventory :


"Wearing apparel, Bedding, Wife's apparel and Linnen, Warming pan &
pewter. Iron Potts & Possnett, Spinning Wheel Cards and Leather, Chests,
Box & Linnen, Rumletts, Pails, and other Cooper's Wares, Trays, Dishes &
Bronchors, Glass Bottles & Spoons, Pinchers, Knives, Awls, Hammers &
Gimbletts, Trowells, Tounges, Bellows & Chairs, Two Guns, Sword,
Sickle, a Smoothing Iron, Yarn & Cloath, Earthen Pots, Bedding in the
chamber, Saddle & Pillian, A Box Salt & a Chest with Carpenters' Tools,
Weidges, Rings, Bridles, Halters, Axes & Hoes, Sulkies with their tackling
and forks, Cart, Plow & Chains att, A Trapp on son by Information, A
Raw Hidde, Swine, Two Oxen, Three Cows & two Heflers, a Mare & Colt,
Qu Indian Corn, The House & fifty acres of land enclosed. The rest of
the North Share undivided, Half a grist mill & five acres land adjoining
on Providence side by Information," The whole of which was apprized at

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;i^i3oi, 17s. 3p. " This is a just apprisement of the above said estate ac-
cording to our understanding."

Peter Hunte.

"John Bartlett & Mary Aldrich made oath to this Inventory the 19th
March, T6S4-5, before Daniel Smith, Assistant."

John Peck.
Nicholas Peck.

This was a large estate to have in those days, and this, too,
just after the close of that devastating war with King Phillip,
when all suffered such extreme losses. At this time, nearly
every article of manufacture was imported from England, and
it had not been many years since their cows and horses were
received from the mother country. And those " Sulkies and
their tackling ;" what a luxury ! For at that time almost the
only means of locomotion was by horseback. The cows, so
useful for the dairy, were also brought into requisition at the
plow and cart, — very few settlers keeping oxen. We can imag-
ine how some of the descendants would prize the sword men-
tioned in the inventory, were it in their possession to-day.
Bruised and bent and battered as it would be, it would be
very precious. It may have done service for King Charles or

John Bartlett's worldly possessions were much greater than
those of any others of the same name, and greater than most
of those of other names, who had then reached this country.
There is ample evidence that his children received educa-
tional treatment which few were able to enjoy, and it is regret-
able that they were orphaned among strangers, in a strange
land, at such a tender age. It is not easy to comprehend the
hardships suffered, and difficulties overcome, by these coura-
geous pioneers in this almost barren wilderness, where they
built their homes. They were the sort of men who laid the
foundations of constitutional liberty, in great and free and
happy America. All honor to them !

The estate of John Bartlett and wife was very likely held
in trust by the "Proprietors" until 1698. At that time, the
children, except Noah and Daniel, not then of age, signed an
agreement for the distribution of the property, which had be-
come impaired by providing for many young children during
the fourteen years which elapsed after the death of their par-

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The barTLetTs. 23

ents. The following is a copy of the agreement recorded in
the Bristol county probate office at Taunton, Mass. :


"Whereas, John Bartlett & Sarah Bartlett, sometime of Rehoboth, de-
ceased in the year 1684, and leaving eight children behinde them & an
esiate undisposed on in lands & chattels, the children being under age
& this estate not yett settled, We, the said children being severall of us,
come to full age ; & being desirous to be invested of our generall rights
in that estate of our said fathers. Have for and in Consideration of fifty
acors of Land and afiftieth part of aright in Comonage, and fourteen pounds
on shilling in Lawfull mouy in hand already well and truly paid; to us by
our elder brother John Bartlett, the reseipt whereof we doe own and ac-
knowledgd, & therewith doe rest our selves ffully sattisfied. Contented
& paid, and doe by these presents for our selves, our heiors, executours
& assignes flfully & freely & absolutely exhonorate, aquitt & discharge our
said Brother, John Bartlett, his heiors, executours & administratours &
asignes & every of them off and frome every part & parcle of lands and
monys ; before expressed these Children that have thus jointly & severally
Agreed with ther Brother John Bartlett; are Samuell Bartlett, Moses Bart-
lett, Jacob Bartlett, Vallinetine Whiteman and Sarah Whiteman, his wife
and Mary Bartlett ; Samuel Bartlett hath Agreed for the fifty acors of land
and afiftieth part of aright in Comonage—: and Moses Bartlett, for four
pounds, one shilling in mony, and Jacob Bartlett, for four pounds in mony
and Vallintine Whiteman and Sarah, his wife, for three pounds in mo.iy,
and Mary Bartlett, for three pounds; fforand in Consideration of said lands
& mony, we, the sd children before named, Haue Given, Granted, Bar-
gained and sold. And doo by thes presents, Give, Grant, Bargaine, sell,
alien enfeoffe, rattifie & Confirme unto our said Brother, John Bartlett,
his heiors & executors, administratours and asignes for ever : all an
singuler our rights, titles, interests, claimes or demands whatsoever that
ever we had or have in or to the estate of our said father, John Bartlett,
deceased : In wittness of the premises we haue jointly and seuerally sett to
our hands and seales, this segond day of January, 1698, or '99.

" And ffurther the humble request of us who doe hereunto subscribe; is
that the honored Mr. John Saffin, Esquire and Judg of probates of wils,
would be pleased to accept of this our agreement and grant that a record
may be made of the same.

John Bartlet. [Seal.]

Signed, Seald & delivered Samuel Bartlet. [Seal.]

, Jacob Bartlet. [Seal.]

in presents of us : ::, _ r« , ,

Moses Bartlett. [Seal.]

Jonathan Sprague, Valintine Whitman

in behalf of L^^^^.J

Anthony Sprague. Sarah Whitman, his wife

Mary Bartlet. [Seal.]"

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Senechataconnet (Manville), where John Bartlett located
when he removed from Mendon to Rehoboth, was only about
four miles from William Blackstone's residence at Study Hill,
so that John was near the home of the first known settler of
Rhode Island. The river, on the bank of which William
Blackstone established himself, bears his name.*

Anything concerning the town of Cumberland, or Rehoboth,
would be incomplete without mention of this singular man.
who had also been the first settler of Shawmut (Boston), and
who shunned the intolerance and bigotry of the puritanical
polity, as something more to be dreaded than Indian treachery,
or the hardships of the wilderness. His biography is in no
way connected, so far as known, with that of the personages
of the Bartlett genealogy. But there is a propriety in intro-
ducing a few points of interest regarding the man whose
character must have markedly impressed itself upon his
neighbors. Some account of his residence will be of interest.!

During the summer of 1877, the writer chanced to be in the
vicinity of this historic place and spent some time in looking
over the ground. The hill where William Blackstone had
fitted up a place for study, and by him denominated *' Study
Hill," is very near the depot of the Providence and Worcester
railroad, at Lonsdale, a few steps south. Very little of the
original hill remains, the railroad being located nearly through
its center. It must have been a beautiful site. The river
here makes a graceful bend, flowing near the base of the hill,
with picturesque effect. A few rods east of the hill is the
place where his house is supposed to have stood, although the
spot is not ascertained with precision. A little brook of clear,
sparkling water, is very near, and a fine, level piece of land in
proximity could have served him as a lawn, over which he
passed in going to, and coming from, his study on the hill.
Several apple-trees now stand near the site of the house and
they are, no doubt, the oflfspring of those he planted.

*There were, at different times, other names given to it, but finally it was permanently named
the Blackstone. Some of the earlier names were "Pawtucket," "Great River," " Kuttatuck,"
*'Nipmuck," "Seaconck," "Senechataconnet," and there were others.

tThis place where Mr. Blackstone lived was called by the Indians, " Wawepoonseag."

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His grave is pointed out in a spot very near, and between
the house and the hill, but it is not certain that his body was
buried there. The supposed grave is marked by two stones,
their oval tops showing above the ground, and at the usual
distance between head-stones and foot-stones. It is apparent
rhat these stones were placed there for a purpose, because
there are no other stones of any kind near the place. The
fpUowing is copied from the Rehoboth records :

" Sarah Blaxton, wife of William, buried about the middle of June, 1673.
William Blaxton, buried 28th May, 1675."

A few days after his death the Indian war commenced and
his dwelling house was burned. The records at Plymouth
contain an inventory of his estate, including 184 books, which
constituted his library. Among them may have been manu-
scripts, which, if preserved, would give information concerning
his life and observations, of which little is known. After his
removal to Cumberland — then Rehoboth — it appears, by the
Boston town records, that : "Mr. William Blackstone was mar-
ried to Sarah Stevenson, widow, the 4th of July, 1659, by John
Endicott, Governor." She was the widow of John Stevenson,
by whom she had several children. One son, John Stevenson,
Jr., lived with his mother in Cumberland after her marriage
with Blackstone, and the Court at Plymouth, in consideration
of ** his services to his parents," granted him a part of Mr.
Blackstone's land *' during the remainder of his life.*'

It is not known whether this marriage with Mrs. Stevenson
was his first, or not. By her, he had one son — John — who
resided on his estate until 1692, when he sold his land to
Daniel Whipple and removed to Providence, where, it is said,
he followed the occupation of a shoemaker. The town records
of Providence show that he had born, while living there, a son
named John Blackstone, Jr., who was adopted by Richard
Wicks. There is a tradition that a son of John, and grand-
son of William Blackstone, while serving in the French
war, as Lieutenant, was killed, at the taking of Louisburg
If correct, the Lieutenant may have been this adopted child.
It has been stated, by some writers, that the Connecticut
Blackstones are descended from William, but the records do

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not show such relationship. After the settlement of Provi-
dence by Roger Williams, William Blackstone often went
there to preach, and it is related that, in old age, he made the
journey on the back of a tame, white bull. " This novel
^;//^/;/r " is said to have created much amusement for the
younger part of the population, to whom on such occasions he
often distributed apples (quite rare in those days) which he
brought from his farm — the produce of the trees he had planted.
His removal from Boston was the occasion of the remarks,
often quoted, which reveal his desire for independence. " I
came from England," he said, ''because I did not like the
Lords' Bishops, but I cannot join with you because I would
not be under the Lord's brethren."

The difficulty which he found in living with the Lords'
Bishops of England, and which he gave as the reason for
coming to this country, and again, the difficulty he mentioned
of living at peace with the Lord's brethren at Boston, appears
to have dominated at Study Hill, and the court records tell
of many misunderstandings with neighbors, who, he persist-
ently imagined, were trying to encroach upon him and deprive

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Online LibraryThomas Edward BartlettThe Bartletts → online text (page 2 of 10)