Thomas Lechford.

Note-book kept by Thomas Lechford, Esq., lawyer, in Boston, Massachusetts Bay, from June 27, 1638, to July 29, 1641 (Volume 7) online

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Online LibraryThomas LechfordNote-book kept by Thomas Lechford, Esq., lawyer, in Boston, Massachusetts Bay, from June 27, 1638, to July 29, 1641 (Volume 7) → online text (page 1 of 47)
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Committee of publication.

CHARLES DEANE, LL.D., of Cambridge.
NATHANIEL PAINE, ESQ., of Worcester.

E 1-7

v. 1


In carpi Lance vith current
law. U.C. Library Bindery produced
this replacement volume GO paper
that meets the ANSI Standard Z39 4S.
1984 to replace the irreparably
deteriorated original






In Boston, IHassadjusette

FROM JUNE 27, 1638, TO JULY 29, 1641.

2Hmbersi tg


Cupyriyht, lS85 t


fTTlIE Council of the American Antiquarian Society
determined many years since to include LKCII-
FOUD S NOTE-BOOK in its publications. Mr. SAMUEL
JENNISON, so long an active officer of the Society,
had obtained the original manuscript from a friend,
and had devoted much time to its study. He had
made a beginning- in preparing it for the press at
the time of his death.

It will readily be seen that it is one of the most
valuable documents which have been preserved, of
the history of the first generation of Massachusetts. It
is the daily record of the work done in the office of the
only professional lawyer in the colony. His duties
brought him into close relations with people of every
class ; and in more than one instance his memo
randa throw light on social customs, on questions of
local geography, on points of family history, and on
the development of the political life of the country.
Poor Lechford s own character, and the circumstances,
almost pathetic, of his controversies with the leader of
the colony, and of his return to England, are all eluci
dated in the volume.



The Council thanks all the gentlemen who have
been connected with the publication of the volume for
the interest which they have taken in it; and espe
cially our associate, Mr. Samuel Jennison, of Boston,
the present owner of the original manuscript, for
permission to print it. It would not even now be
published but for the personal care and attention of
our lamented friend Judge FOSTER, who studied, with
a lawyer s sympathy, these memorials of the life of
the first New England lawyer. But for his death the
volume would have been earlier completed.

The expense of printing has been partially met by a
special subscription among the members of the Society,
the Publishing Fund being unfortunately so small that
the expense of printing the regular " Proceedings" of the
Society exhausts all its income.

For the Committee of Publication,


BOSTON, September 17, 1885.


O OME years ago the late Mr. Samuel Jennison be
gan tlie work of transcription and preparation for
publication of Lechford s Note-look, but was unable
to carry it to a conclusion. Mr. J. Hammond Trum-
bull afterwards prepared a portion of the Note-book
for publication, but did not finish it, owing to his
work in his edition of Lechford s Plain Dealing.

Two years or more ago the late Judge Foster
desired to publish the Note-book for the American
Antiquarian Society, and with his son, Mr. Alfred D.
Foster, did much in the way of preparation. Finding,
however, that he was unable to continue the work
through the pressure of his professional duties, Judge
Foster requested me to take the work in the state in
which it then stood and see it through the press.

This I have now done ; and after many vexatious
delays the Note-look has reached publication. My own
work has been in the line of an arranger and com
piler of the work of others, as well as in that of ori
ginal research. All the indexes, abstracts, notes, and
other papers drawn up by Mr. Jennison, Mr. Trum-
bull, Judge Foster, and Mr. A. D. Foster were put
into my hands, and I have found them of the greatest
use. The translation of the short-hand was done in
great part by Mr. Trumbull, and partly by Mr. William


P. Upliani. The notes to the first one hundred pages,
prepared by Mr. Trumbull for his projected edition,
have been bodily transferred by me, with such correc
tions as that gentleman desired to make. Such notes
are marked with a [T].

I have had at every step in my work the careful
guidance and assistance of my father, the Rev. Dr.
Edward E. Hale, who has given much of his time
to a careful revision of the proofs, as well as most
unfailing sympathy and interest to every portion of
the work. I must also gladly acknowledge the kind
and useful assistance rendered by Mr. John AVard
Dean, Mr. J. Hammond Trumbull, Dr. Samuel A.
Green, Mr. Charles Deane, Mr. William S; Appleton,
Mr. Edmund M. Barton, librarian, r.nd Mr. Reuben
Col ton, assistant librarian, of the Society, in supervis
ing and correcting the proof-sheets of a great part
of the volume. I should like also to thank very cor
dially Mr. George Lamb, Mr. William 13. Weeden,
Mr. Henry II. Edes, and Mr. Nathan Matthews, Jr.,
for assistance given in matters with which they were
especially conversant.

The Introductory Life is that prepared by Mr. J.
Hammond Trumbull for his edition of the Plain Deal
ing. With his consent, at the suggestion and desire
of Judge Foster, and through the courtesy of Mr.
William P. Lunt, it is now prefixed to this edition of
the Note-look.


MATUNUCK, R.I., August 1, 1885.





/~\F the birth and parentage of Thomas Lechford, or of his
^-^ early life, I have no certain knowledge. His surname is
that of a family which, at about the middle of the sixteenth
century, became seated at Leigh, near Reigate, in the county
of Surrey, where Henry Lechford, great-grandson of a Thomas
Lechford who lived in the reign of Edward IV. (1401-1482),
bought the manors of Shellwood and Charlwood, with other
estates. This Henry dying Sept. 27, 1507, left a son, Richard,
born in 1547, who was knighted. Sir Richard Lechford was
twice married : first, to Ann, daughter of George Lusher, by
whom he had two sons, John and Thomas ; and, secondly, to
Eleanor, daughter of William Morgan, of Chilworth, Esq.
Henry, a son of the second marriage, died in 1000, before his
father, but left a son, Richard (born about December, 1594),
who inherited the estates of his grandfather on the death of
the latter, July 10, 1611. John and Thomas, above named,
sons of Sir Richard by his first wife, were living in 1000,
when they are named in a deed of settlement by their father
on his second wife and her children. 1 Their nephew, Richard
Lechford, was knighted by James I. Early in the reign of
Charles I. he was enrolled in the band of " Gentlemen Pen
sioners," who constituted the king s body-guard. Like many
other courtiers of his day he became a Roman Catholic, and

1 Mann ing and Bray s History of Surrey, ii. 181, 184-185, 188.


found his new religion no bar to royal favor, notwithstanding
the unabated severity of the laws against " popish recusants."
His eldest daughter, Letitia ( u alias Bridget," as she is named
in the record), remained a Protestant, and about 1638 was
confirmed in the Church of England, to the great displeasure
of her father. 1 Not long afterwards, while Sir Richard was
in attendance upon the king in his journey to Scotland, this
daughter Letitia and a younger sister Mary, who had been
placed under the care of an aunt living near London, were
detained by warrant from the High Commission when about
to sail from England for some foreign port. Their father
alleged that they had embarked without his knowledge, and
were attempting to escape from his authority ; but another
and more probable version of the story is given by a well-
informed writer (the Rev. George Gcrrard, the gossiping
London correspondent of the Earl of Straff ord), in a letter
dated May 1,1634 : 2

" Sir Richard Lashford, 8 a pensioner in ordinary was sending
two of his daughters to the nunneries beyond the seas ; being to
take shipping in some of the Kentish ports, they were stopp d and
sent back to London. My Lord s Grace of Canterbury [Laud]
being made acquainted with it sent for the father, who offered to
give caution that they should not go out of England; but my
Lord asked him, whether he would engage himself that they
should conform themselves to the religion of the Church of Eng
land, which he refused. He asked then of him, of what religion
he was? lie said, A Romish Catliolick, and but lately converted.
He offered him both the Oaths, which peremptorily he refused.
The Archbishop then told him, he was not a fit servant to be of
the King s principal guard, that would not take the oath of alle
giance unto his Majesty. Since he hath been brought before
the Lords, absolutely put out of his place, and another sworn
into it."

1 Calendar of Brit. State Papers siomilly written. Evelyn (Diary, ii.
(Dorncst. Ser., Charles I.), 1633-1634, 56, Bonn s edit.) mentions, under date
pp. 23, 348, 536, 581. of Sept. 13, 1670, going "to visit Sir

2 Strafford a Letters and Dispat., i. Richard Lashford, [his] kinsman." Else-
242. where, we find the same name written

* So the name appears to have been Lccchcforde. See note 2 on the next
generally pronounced, and was occa- page.


A few weeks afterwards the same correspondent wrote : l

" The Pensioner, Sir Richard Lashford, was again called before
the Lords, when the oath of allegiance was again offered to him,
but lie utterly refused it. So order was given to the Attorney
to indite him in the King s Bench of a Premunire ; hut being
brought thither, he took it before the Judges, which if he had
done before, tis likely he had not been put from his Pensioner s

In other words, the influence of the court upon the judges,
or a " letter of grace and protection," such as the king about
this time was accustomed to grant to Ids courtiers who were
papists, would have stayed proceedings against him for

In November, 1634, Sir Richard sold the manor of Shell-
wood and other estates in Surrey, and subsequently resided
at or near Dorking (in the same county), where he died
Sept. 14, 1671. 2

The recurrence of the name of Thomas in several genera
tions of the Lechfords of Shellwood ; the fact that the sur
name was by no means common, and does not appear to have
been represented in England by any other family than this,
of the rank v of gentry; with other considerations which it is
unnecessary to mention here, render it highly probable, in
fact nearly certain, that the author of Plain Dealing and the
possessor of this now printed Note-book was of this stock,
and nearly related to the last-mentioned Sir Richard Lech-
ford, Knt", 1634.

In the address " To the Reader," in Plain Dealing, Thomas
Lechford describes himself as " a student or practise! 1 at law."
An entry in the Note-look 3 shows that he had been a member
of Clement s Inn before he came to New England ; and he

1 Straftord s Letters and Dispat., i. heads, aryci*k Crest, on a wreath of
261. the same, colors, a unicorn s head erased,

2 Manning and Bray, i. 586. The; arcjmt, mailed, bearded, and horned or,
arms confirmed to "Sir Richard Leech- hearing on the same a serpent proper,
forde of Shelwood," Nov. 22, 1605, by Howard s Mined. Gcncal. ct Herald.
W. Segar, Garter, are thus blazoned : (Oct. 1866), p. 54.

Sabfc, a chevron bet\v. three leopards 3 Sec 2>ost, p. 117.


resumed his residence there after his return to London, in
1041, as the titlepagc of Plain Lcal uuj informs us. In an
order of the General Court of Massachusetts, made in 1G47,
he is described as " an ordinary solicitor in England." ] It
does not appear that lie was ever called to the bar. The
Inns of Chancery, of which Clement s was one, were so called
" probably because they were appropriated to such clerks as
chiefly studied the forming of writs, which was the province
of the cursitors, who are officers of chancery, and such as
belong to the courts of common pleas and king s bench." 2 In
Stowc s time they were " chiefly filled with attorneys, solici
tors, and clerks." By an order of the judges, April 15, 1G30,
" attorneys and solicitors, which are but ministerial persons
of an inferior nature," though permitted to occupy chambers
in the inns of chancery, were excluded from the inns of
court, and consequently from a call to the bar. 3 -. In his de
fence before the court of magistrates at Boston, in Decem
ber, 1G40, 4 Lechford said of himself: "I am no pleader by
nature ; oratory I have little, . . . and if I had never so
expert a faculty that way, I should not now use it, ... and
as for the other part of pleading which consisteth in chirog-
raphyf wherein I had some little skill, I do not desire to use
any of that," etc.

When Hugh Peters was lecturer in St. Sepulchre, in Lon
don, before the persecution of Laud drove him to Rotterdam,
in 1G29 or 1630, Lechford was one of his hearers, and " hung
upon his ministry," as he expresses it in a letter to Peters,
written in IGoO. 6 Some years later, he was in Ireland, With
Sir Thomas Wentworth (afterwards Earl of Straff ord), then

1 Mass. Col. Records, ii. 206. "him in the Common Picas oHu:c (in

2 Herbert. a Inns of Court and Chan- Commitni Banco) that ingrosseth Fines
eery, p. 1C9. in that Court acknowledged . . . and

8 Dugdalc s Origin Judicvlcs, p. that writeth and dolivoreth tlu- Indcn-

320. turcs of them unto the parties" (Min-

4 See post, pp. xxv, 176. shon, 1027) ; and a chirograph was a

6 This word appears to he used here bill, bond, or deed indented, written in

in its more modern sense, for the bnsi- the maker s own hand.

ness of a draughtsman and scrivener. 6 See post, p. 29.

In the old law, a chirogmphrr signified


lord deputy. In what capacity lie went, or how long he
remained there, docs not appear. 1 In 1640, when he contem
plated departure from New England, he wrote to one of his
correspondents that he was desirous to return to Ireland,
" there to follow his old profession, where he had some hope
of friendship." 2

In the address " To the Reader " of Plain Dealing, he
alludes to the fact, " well knowne unto many, that heretofore
he suffered imprisonment, and a kind of banishment . . . for
some acts construed to oppose, and as tending to subvert
Episcopacie, and the settled Ecclesiastical government of
England." His offence, as we learn from a couple of lines
in Mr. Cotton s Way of Congregational Churches cleared, was
his witnessing against the Bishops, in soliciting the cause of
Mr. Prynne. In the judgment of Laud and of the High
Commission, his crime could hardly have been greater, or
have merited more severe punishment. Prynne, a barrister
of Lincoln s Inn, had drawn upon himself the vengeance of
the archbishop, by the publication, in 1683. of Histriomastix.
He was indicted in the Star Chamber, found guilty of a libel,
and condemned to a barbarous punishment, to be followed by
imprisonment for life, for the crime of railing " not only
against Stage Plays . . . but farther in particular against
Hunting, Publique Festivals, Christmas-keeping, Bonfires and
Maypoles," etc. 3 His real offence (as Hume suggests) was
probably that he had, " in plain terms, blamed the hierarchy,
the innovations in religious worship, and the new supersti
tions introduced by Laud." Four years afterwards, a renewal
of this offence called for a. yet more vindictive prosecution
in the same court. On tin; 14th of June, 16->7, he, with
Henry Burton, bachelor of divinity, and John Bastwick, a
physician, was tried and convicted of " writing and pnblish-

1 Wentworth was appointed lord timber, 1639. In December, 1(539, lie-
deputy in January, 1632, but did not was created Earl of Stratford and Lord
go to Ireland until July, 1G33. In Lieutenant of Ireland (Stratford s Lct-
Juno, 1636, he came to London, re- tcrs and Disjiafchcs, i. 63, 84 ; ii. 430,
mainod about six months in England, 431 ; Nalson s Collection, i. 280).
and returned to Dublin in November. 2 See post, p. 159.
He was not again in London until Sep- 8 Eushworth, ii. 220.


ing seditious, schismatical, and libellous books against the
hierarchy of the Church." They were sentenced to lose their
ears in the pillory, to be fined 5,000 each to the king, to
perpetual imprisonment in three remote places of the king
dom ; and Prynne to be branded on both cheeks with the
letters S. L., for a " Seditious Libeller." This barbarous
sentence was executed in the palace yard at Westminster,
June 30 ; "a spectacle no less strange than sad, to see three
of several professions, the noblest in the kingdom, Divinity,
Law, and Physick, exposed at one time to such an ignominious
punishment, and condemned to it by Protestant magistrates,
for such tenets in religion as the greatest part of Protestants
in England held, and all the reformed churches in Europe
maintained." l Immediately after summons was issued for
Prynne s appearance before the court, he was shut up close
prisoner, refused the use of pen, ink, or paper, dnd not per
mitted to consult counsel until very shortly before his trial.
In his speech to the court he said : " I was deserted of all
means by which I should have drawn my answer. ... I had
neither pen, ink, nor servant to do any thing for me ; for my
servant was then also close prisoner, under a pursuivant s
hands." All who rendered the slightest service to Prynne or
his fellow-offenders fell under condemnation. " One Gard
ener," a scrivener or clerk, who wrote from Prynne s dictation
a petition to his judges, was apprehended, subjected to fourteen
days imprisonment, and compelled to give a bond for appear
ance when called. His counsel, Holt and Tomlyns, did not
dare to subscribe his answer, after it was drawn and engrossed.
After the execution of his sentence, some of his friends vis
ited him in Chester, on his way to his prison at Caernarvon.
Those who had so offended were summoned before the Privy
Council, cited into the High Commission at York, imprisoned
and fined, and enjoined to make a public recantation. 2 It is
not surprising that Lechford, for " soliciting " in Prynne s
cause or otherwise assisting his defence, should have been
severely dealt with. Of his punishment we know no more

l May s Hist, of the ParL, b. i. eh. 7. 2 Hargrave a State Trials, i. 482, 501.


than lie himself has told us, that he " suffered imprisonment
and a kind of banishment."

Leehford landed in Boston one year and thirteen days after
Prynne s trial in the Star Chamber. Four years and five
months after the trial (Nov. 10, 1G41), he dated his " Quaeres
about Church government " from his chambers in Clement s
Inn, and, on the first page of Plain Dealing, speaks of " having
been forth of his native country almost for the space of four
years last past." The inference, from comparison of these
dates, seems to be, that he left England in the autumn or
winter of 1637, but did not then sail directly for .Boston. His
imprisonment could not have been of many months duration.

In the letter to Hugh Peters, before cited, he writes :

"Being thrown out of my station in England ... I forsook
preferment in a Prince s court that was offered to me, who of
Christian princes is the chiefe for godliness (as I was assured),
Georgius Ilngotzki, Prince of Transylvania nnd Lord of Lower
Hungary, successor to Bethlem Gabor. Likewise the Lords of
Providence offered me place of preferment with them which I
will not name. Hither I have corne, and the Lord knows my
heart! fain would I join with your Churches."

1 have not been able to discover the time or place of
Lcchford s embarkation for New England, nor in which of
the twenty ships which brought three thousand passengers
to Massachusetts in the summer of 1G38 l he came. The
Note-look begins witli the date of his arrival :

"Boston in New-England, 27 4 the day of my landino-


From some allusions in his letters, especially a reference to
conversation " on ship-board," I infer that he came fellow-
passenger with Mr Edmund Browne, afterwards minister of
Sudbury, and, perhaps, with Emaniicl Downing, 2 the brother-
in-law of Governor Winthrop.

1 Jfiiithrop, i. 268. 1633 (J/s. Records, i. 236). Mr. Snv-

2 Yet I find elsewhere no earlier ago had apparently overlooked that
mention of Downing s arrival than that reference when he wrote the note to
in the records of the Court of Sept. 6, JVinthrop, i. 274.


From succeeding pages of his Note-look we gather some
hut scanty and unsatisfactory knowledge of his domestic
relations. His wife is mentioned in 1639 and afterwards ;
and, as no evidence has been discovered of his marriage on
this side of the water, we infer that she accompanied him
from England ; but lie nowhere gives any information of her
family, nor even introduces her Christian name. In July,
1G40, 1 he writes: "I have not yet here an house of my owne
to put my head in, or any stock going." He lived in a
house, or part of a house, hired of Nathaniel Micklethwaite,
of Boston, who was, I think, the agent or factor in New Eng
land of Richard Hutchinson, of London, and perhaps of
Edward and William Hutchinson after their removal to
Rhode Island.

It appears that he paid his rent until August, 1039, to
Samuel Hutchinson, and subsequently to Mr. Micklethwaite,
whose signature appears, on a page of the Note-look, to the
lease of "the chamber etc.," at 5 per year, from Sept. 1,
1639. From the fact that the name of Thomas Savage often
occurs as a witness to instruments drawn by Lechford. 1 con
jecture that he was a near neighbor, or perhaps a fellow-tenant
under the same roof. Occasional entries like the following
give glimpses of the interior of " the chamber etc.," and of
Lechford s manner of living :

1G39. June. " Borrowed of Mr Stoiy about a month
since 2" & halfe of the best suger at

2* h the pound 5 5 d

April. " Rec d of Mr. Keayne for a silver laced coate

and a gold wrought cap 2 l 10*

May. "Received of Mr. George Story 4 yards
and halfe a quarter of tuft Holland to
make my wife a wastcoate at 2" 8 d per

yarde 11*

1640. Jan. 31. " I payd Nathaniel Ileaton for full of writ
ings & cutting wood 5

Feb. 1. " I payd John Ilurd, delivered to his wife
by Sara our mayd, for making my
wife s gowne 8 9

1 Plain Dealing, p. 69.


1640. Feb. 1. "I payil Thomas Marshall before hand for
wood, delivered by my wife to his wife
in the 10 moneth last past [Dec. 16:50] 1
Since which time I had of him 6 loads
of wood at 5 s so I owe him .... 10 5

Jan. 12. " Received of Mr. Keayne 6 1 of Spanish to
bacco upon account. And 1 owe him
1 load of wood, a good load.
"I payd Mr. Burton for malt, cheese and
irons, 1. and owe him 8 s O. 1 in 10 th
[month] last.

1611. "Mary Sherman came to my wife the

twelveth day of Aprill, 1641."

Almost from the hour of his landing at Boston, he was
regarded with distrust by those whose influence prevailed in
state and church. First, because of his profession; for to
" some of the magistrates," and doubtless to Governor AVin-
tlirop himself, the employment of " lawyers to direct men in
their causes " seemed more objectionable than the custom of
obtaining advice from the judges on an ex parte statement
before the public hearing of the cause. 1 Winthrop himself,
Bcllingham, Humphrey, Dudley, Downing, and pcrjiaps Pel-
ham and Bradstrcet, had been students of law in England ;
but on this side of the Atlantic their legal knowledge was
not called into" requisition except as it contributed to qualify
them for seats in the Court of Magistrates or as legislators
for the new colony ; " no advocate being allowed," 2 and the ex
ercise of the profession of an attorney being discountenanced
so far as possible without absolute interdiction.

But Lechford was not only professionally hut doctrinally
objectionable. Though he came to New England, as he says,
with a disposition to "lay aside all by-respects, to join with
the Church here," " he could not be satisfied in diverse partic
ulars," and " desired to open his mind in some material things
of weight concerning the Christian faith " wherein he differed

Online LibraryThomas LechfordNote-book kept by Thomas Lechford, Esq., lawyer, in Boston, Massachusetts Bay, from June 27, 1638, to July 29, 1641 (Volume 7) → online text (page 1 of 47)