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A QUESTION OF OWNERSHIP 291

December 4, 1771: "I have long lamented the disorders
which have prevailed on the lands heretofore considered
as a part of New Hampshire but which were annexed to
New York by His Majesty's order in Council of the
20th of July, 1764." Lord Hillsborough wrote Gov-
ernor Tryon on April 18, 1772, concerning "that country
which has been annexed to New York by the determina-
tion of the boundary line" between that province and
New Hampshire.

Lord Dartmouth, who succeeded Lord Hillsborough
as Secretary of the Colonies, wrote Governor Tryon on
November 4, 1772, regarding "the district annexed to
New York by the determination of the boundary line
with New Hampshire." In a communication of the
British Board of Trade to the King, bearing date of
December 3, 1772, allusion is made to "the propriety of
or impropriety of re-annexing to New Hampshire the
lands west of Connecticut River." Sir William John-
son, a member of the New York Council, and well
known as Superintendent of Indian Affairs, wrote Com-
missary General Leake on August 16, 1765, regarding
"that part of New Hampshire lately made part of this
province."

There seems to be no reason to doubt that the present
State of Vermont was considered by the British govern-
ment to be a part of the province of New Hampshire
until, by order of the King in Council, July 20, 1764, it
was annexed to New York. This annexation was
ordered, apparently, because the ministry in power con-
sidered it good policy to encourage the New York rather
than the New England idea of government.



292 HISTORY OF VERMONT

The maps of the American Colonies used prior to the
Revolutionary War, which included the region known
as the New Hampshire Grants, show New Hampshire
as extending westward to Lake Champlain and to a line
extending south from the lake to the western boundary
of Massachusetts. Hiland Hall has said: "Not a
single map has been found which extends the province
(New York) eastward to Connecticut River, and all
concur in separating it from New England by a line
running from Long Island Sound parallel to the Hud-
son." It should be stated that the historian refers to
maps of a period before, or soon after the beginning of
the American Revolution. Maps published in 1776 and
1777 show' the Connecticut River as the eastern bound-
ary of New York. At that period the British authorities
held New England in less esteem than they did when
the order of the King in Council was issued in 1764, to
which reference has been made.

The authority of such eminent men as Sir Dudley
Ryder, Attorney General, Solicitor General Murray,
later known as Lord Mansfield, and two Secretaries of
the Colonies, Lord Hillsborough and Lord Dartmouth,
the former a member of the Council which reported the
boundary decision, indicate that the region between the
Connecticut River and Lake Champlain was not consid-
ered by the British Government a part of New York
previous to July 20, 1764. The Colonial maps lead to
the same conclusion. Well known business men of New
York City did not spend their money to secure Went-
worth grants if they had reason to suppose that New
York held the only valid title to such lands.



A QUESTION OF OWNERSHIP 293

Naturally the settlers under the grants of Governor
Wentworth, constituting practically all the dwellers
within the limits of the present State of Vermont, were
both indignant and alarmed at the course pursued by
Governor Golden in granting to others the lands they
had purchased and cleared, and they proceeded to take
steps to defend their property. The early town records
of Golchester, kept by Ira Allen as proprietors' clerk,
contain a document which shows that Governor Golden,
on June 6, 1766, issued an order to the effect that all
persons holding grants under New Hampshire titles,
west of the Connecticut River, should "as soon as may
be," appear by themselves or their attorneys, and pro-
duce their grant, deeds and other papers relative to their
land holdings, before the Governor in Council. The
Colchester records further show that in response to this
order some well known Massachusetts men, Henry
Lloyd, Harrison Gray, John Searl, Sir John Temple,
Jacob Wendall, Nathaniel Appleton, William Brattle
and others, met on July 29, 1766, and appointed Giles
Alexander of Boston as their attorney to appear before
the Governor and Council of New York and endeavor
to obtain a confirmation of the grants made to them
under the seal of New Hampshire.

It appears from the town records of Maidstone that
a proprietors' meeting was held at Stratford, Conn., in
the autumn of 1766, at which time an agent was
appointed to attend a meeting of agents and proprietors
to be held at New York, December 10 of that year, for
the purpose of devising means for the protection of New
Hampshire titles.



294 HISTORY OF VERMONT

Meanwhile a petition was drawn up to be presented
to the King, which was signed by one thousand or more
of the New Hampshire grantees, or their representatives
or successors, which was dated "New England, 1766,"
and at the same time a power of attorney was given in
the following language: "We, the subscribers, pro-
prietors and claimants in and of sundry townships,
lately granted by Governor Wentworth, in the western
part of the then supposed province of New Hampshire,
do hereby fully impower our trusty friends and fellow
partners in those interests, Samuel Robinson, Esq.,
Ebenezer Cole, Jeremiah French, Benjamin Ferris,
Samuel Hunger ford, Ebenezer Fisk, John Brooks, John
Sherrer, Samuel Keep, Partridge Thatcher, Abraham
Thompson, Edward Burling, Benjamin Townsend,
Tunis Wortman, Peter Clapper, John Burling, Joseph
Hallet, Thomas Hicks, Esq.; and David Matthews,
Esq. ; for us and in our behalf and stead to take and pur-
sue all and every needful and proper measure and step
by application to His Majesty or otherwise, to obtain a
full confirmation to us of said lands, on such reason-
able terms as may be; hereby granting to them and to
any and every three or more of them, full powers of
substitution."

The first three members of this committee, Samuel
Robinson of Bennington, Ebenezer Cole of Shaftsbury
and Jeremiah French of Dover, were residents of the
New Hampshire Grants. Six members, Messrs. Hun-
ger ford, Fisk, Brooks, Keep, Thatcher and Thompson,
were Connecticut men. Ten members, Messrs. Ferris,
Sherrer, Edward Burling, John Burling, Townsend,



A QUESTION OF OWNERSHIP 295

Wortman, Clapper, Hallet, Hicks and Matthews, were
residents of the province of New York. It is, indeed,
a most noteworthy circumstance that out of nineteen
men chosen as a committee to represent the thousand or
more New Hampshire grantees, their representatives
or successors, in petitioning the King for protection
from the encroachments of the Governor of New York,
ten members of that committee, or a clear majority,
should have been residents of this same province of New
York.

This petition to the King, dated November, 1766,
began as follows:

"To the King's Most Excellent Majesty,

"The Humble Petition of the Several Subscribers
Hereto, Your Majesty's Most Loyal Subjects, Sheweth
to Your Majesty;

"That we obtained at considerable expense of Your
Majesty's Governor of the Province of New Hamp-
shire, Grants and Patents for more than One Hundred
townships in the Western part of the said supposed
Province; and being about to settle the same, many of
Us, and others of Us, having actually planted Ourselves
on the same, were disagreeably surprised and prevented
from going on with the further intended Settlements
by the News of its having been determined by Your
Majesty in Council, That those Lands were within the
Province of New York; and by a Proclamation issued
by Lieutenant Governor Colden, in Consequence there-
of forbidding any further settlement until Patents of
Confirmation should be obtained from the Governor of
New York. Whereof We applied to the Governor of



296 HISTORY OF VERMONT

said Province of New York, to have the same lands con-
firmed to Us in the same Manner as they had been at
first granted to Us by the Governor of the said Province
of Nev^ Hampshire; when, to Our utter Astonishment,
We found the same could not be done, without our pay-
ing as Fees of Office for the same, at the Rate of Twenty
Five Pounds, New York Money, equal to about Four-
teen Pounds Sterling; for every Thousand Acres of said
Lands, amounting to about Three Hundred and Thirty
Pounds Sterling at a Medium, for each of said Town-
ships, and which will amount in the Whole to about
£33,000 Sterling, besides a Quit rent of Two Shillings
and Six Pence Sterling, for every Hundred Acres of
said Lands; and which being utterly unable to do and
perform. We find ourselves reduced to the sad Neces-
sity of losing all our past Expense and Advancements,
and many of us being reduced to absolute Poverty and
Want, having expended Our All in making said Settle-
ments."

The petition set forth that when these lands were
granted, "the same were and had been at all Times fully
understood and reputed to lie and be within the said
Province of New Hampshire." These grants were
made upon the payment as quit rent of one shilling proc-
lamation money, equal to nine pence sterling per hun-
dred acres; and these moderate terms, the petitioners
say, "induce Us to undertake to settle said Townships
throughout, and thereby to form a full and compacted
Country of People, whereas the imposing the said Two
Shillings and Six Pence Sterling per Hundred Acres,
will occasion all the more rough and unprofitable parts



A QUESTION OF OWNERSHIP 297

of said Lands not to be taken up; but pitches, and the
more valuable parcels only to be laid out, to the utter
preventing the full and proper Settlement of said Coun-
try, and on the Whole to the lessening your Majesty's
Revenue."

The petitioners further declare that the claim that
these exorbitant fees were necessary "is without all
reasonable and equitable Foundation, and must and will
necessarily terminate in the totally preventing your Peti-
tioners obtaining the said Lands, and so the same will
fall into the Hands of the Rich, to be taken up, the more
valuable parts only as aforesaid, and these perhaps not
entered upon and settled for many years to come; while
your petitioners with their numerous and helpless
Families, will be obliged to wander far and wide to find
where to plant themselves down, so as to be able to live."

In closing, the petitioners request that their lands may
be confirmed and quitted to them on reasonable terms,
and add this observation: ''We shall esteem it a very
great Favor and happiness, to have said Townships put
and continued under the Jurisdiction of the government
of the said province of New Hampshire, as at the first,
as every Emolument and Convenience both publick and
private, are in Your Petitioners' humble Opinion, clearly
and strongly on the side of such Connection with said
New Hampshire Province."

At a meeting of agents and proprietors of New Hamp-
shire Grants, held in New York December 10, 1766,
nothing of importance seems to have been accomplished,
and another meeting of a similar nature was held at
the home of Benjamin Ferris, a Quaker, in that part



298 HISTORY OF VERMONT

of the province of New York, adjacent to Connecticut,
known as "The Oblong." At this meeting it was voted
to send an agent to England to appeal to the King for
relief. A similar course of action was determined upon
by the settlers of Bennington and vicinity, and it was
agreed that Capt. Samuel Robinson of Bennington
should act as the agent of the settlers and the grantees,
and that William Samuel Johnson, agent of the province
of Connecticut, should be asked to assist him.

The agents sailed on the same ship from New York
on Christmas day, 1766, and landed at Falmouth, Eng-
land, January 30, 1767, from which place they proceeded
to London. There had been a change in the British
ministry shortly before their arrival, and William Pitt,
Earl of Chatham, again was Prime Minister. This
ministry was well disposed toward the American
colonies. The petition of the settlers on the New
Hampshire Grants, to which allusion has been made,
elaborated somewhat by Mr. Johnson, was presented to
Lord Shelburne, Secretary of State for the Colonies, on
March 20, 1767. At the same time a petition was pre-
sented in behalf of the Society for the Propagation of
the Gospel in Foreign Parts, which obtained a share of
land in every New Hampshire charter, but none in
charters granted to New York. The Church of Eng-
land also received a share of land in each New Hamp-
shire Grant, but none from the New York authorities.
These grants probably had something to do with the
favor shown the cause of the petitioners by the Arch-
bishop of Canterbury.



A QUESTION OF OWNERSHIP 299

Finding life in London expensive, and a decision in
the land controversy being delayed, Captain Robinson
determined to leave matters in the hands of Mr. John-
son, and to return home. Unfortunately, however, he
was stricken with smallpox, and died in London, October
27, 1767, and was interred in the burial ground attached
to Mr. Whitefield's church.

That the mission of Robinson and Johnson made a
strong impression upon the British ministry is shown in
the following extract from a letter of Lord Shelburne
to Governor Moore of New York, dated April 11, 1767:
"Lest there should be any further proceedings in the
matter, till such time as the Council shall have examined
into the grounds of it, I am to signify to you His
Majesty's commands that you make no new grants of
these lands and that you do not molest any person in the
quiet possession of his grant, who can produce good and
valid deeds for such grant under the seal of the province
of New Hampshire until you receive further orders re-
specting them.

"In my letter of the 11th Deer. I was very explicit
upon the point of former grants. You are therein
directed to 'take care that the inhabitants lying west-
ward of the line reported by the Lords of Trade as the
boundary of the two provinces be not molested on
account of territorial differences, or disputed jurisdic-
tion for whatever province the settlers may be found to
belong to, it should make no difference in their property,
provided that their titles to their lands should be found
good in other respects or that they have been long in
uninterrupted possession of them'.



300 HISTORY OF VERMONT

"His Majesty's intentions are so clearly expressed to
you in the above paragraph that I cannot doubt your
having immediately upon receipt of it removed every
cause of those complaints which the petitioners set forth.
If not it is the King's express command that it may be
done without the smallest delay. The power of grant-
ing lands was vested in the Governor of the colony orig-
inally for the purpose of accommodating, not distressing,
settlers, especially the poor and industrious. Any per-
version of that power, therefore, must be highly derog-
atory, both from the dignity of their stations and from
that disinterested character which a Governor ought to
support, and which His Majesty expects from every per-
son honored by him with his commission. The un-
reasonableness of obliging a very large tract of country
to pay a second time the immense sum of thirty-three
thousand pounds in fees according to the allegations of
this petition for no other reason that its being found
necessary to settle the line of boundary between the
colonies in question is so unjustifiable that His Majesty
is not only determined to have the strictest enquiry made
into the circumstances of the charge, but expects the
clearest and fullest answer to every part of it."

The vigorous tone of this letter left no shadow of
doubt as to the position of the British Government.
The petitioners were sustained in language so positive
that there could be no mistaking its meaning. To this
indignant rebuke Governor Moore made answer on
June 9, 1767, in a lengthy and somewhat evasive letter.
In it he alluded to the delay caused by the troubles grow-
ing out of the Stamp Act, and to his determination to




:Monnment Erected in Honor of the Green Mountain Boys at Rutland



A QUESTION OF OWNERSHIP 301

issue no patents unless they were properly stamped. He
mentioned the order made requiring all persons holding
lands under New Hampshire Grants to appear in per-
son or by attorney and produce their documentary
evidence.

Governor Moore's letter showed that claims were
made under New Hampshire charters to ninety-six
townships, in response to an order issued by the New
York Council, following the boundary decision made by
the King in Council. Of this number it was decided
that twenty-one townships were within New York
jurisdiction before the boundary decision was made in
the controversy with New Hampshire, being within
twenty miles of the Hudson River, the waters of South
Bay and Lake Champlain. It was further claimed that
in none of these twenty-one townships, with the excep-
tion of Bennington, Pownal and Shaftsbury, had any
settlements been made, or improvements attempted, and
that the time limit for settlement having expired the
lands again became vested in the Crown.

The New York Governor declared that in order to en-
courage settlements in the upper Connecticut valley he
determined personally to take up a tract of land there
"which should be distributed out to poor families in small
farms on the condition that they should begin upon the
manufacture of pot ash and the culture of hemp." This
township, to which reference is made, was granted as
Mooretown, but is now known as Bradford.

The Governor asserted in his letter that fourteen
families had settled in his township and he expected a
considerable number of others soon. He also claimed



302 HISTORY OF VERMONT

to have ordered the erection of a sawmill and a grist-
mill, and to have directed that a church should be built
at his sole expense, a large farm set apart as a glebe,
a township laid out for the use of clergymen of the
Church of England, and another "for the use of the
college here." He denied having demanded fees from
Robinson or any other person, saying he had signed only
six patents since coming into the province for which
he had received fees. He asserted that the claim that
upwards a thousand families were settled on lands
west of the Connecticut River granted by New Hamp-
shire, was an untruth, and he expressed the belief that
not half or quarter of that number were to be found
there. In his opinion "the real land holders of the
greatest part of that country actually reside in Boston
and Connecticut governments."

Governor Moore made slighting references to Samuel
Robinson, agent in England for the settlers on the New
Hampshire Grants, saying of his military record that
"Robinson can plead but little merit from his service,
which I am told here was nothing more than that of
driving an ox-cart for the suttlers" ; and again he asked
how "should a man of one of the lowest and meanest
occupations at once set up for a statesman and form a
notion that the wheels of government are as easily
managed and conducted as those of a w^agon, take upon
him to direct the King's ministers in their depart-
ments?" On the following day, June 10, 1767, Gov-
ernor Moore wrote another letter to the Earl of Shel-
burne, in which he denied the charges made by the



A QUESTION OF OWNERSHIP 303

Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign
Parts.

According to such excellent authorities as Hiland Hall
and R. C. Benton, Governor Moore's statement regard-
ing his benevolent operations in his new town of Moore-
town was untrue. There were not fourteen families
there in 1767. In 1771 there were only ten families in
the town, and it is asserted that the Governor did not
expend any money for them. He did not build mills, or
a church, or set apart a farm as a glebe lot. Even if all
these claims had been true, instead of untrue, they
would have furnished no answer to the petition to the
King conveyed by Samuel Robinson. Neither was it
true that a large part of the settlers, or any part of the
settlers on the New Hampshire Grants, were located
within less than twenty miles of Hudson River; and
so far as a twenty-mile line from Lake Champlain was
concerned, such a line had nothing whatever to do with
the controversy in question — no more than a twenty-
mile line from the Green Mountains.

If he did not demand fees from any person his agents
did make such demands, nor is there any proof that he
remitted any fees for the confirmation of New Hamp-
shire charters. Indeed, Governor Golden has said that
Governor Moore "refused to pass any (grants) with-
out his full fees were paid," a fact, says Golden, that
"gave great disgust to the people, and occasioned those
applications which have since been made to the King on
the subject."

The slur upon Captain Robinson's good name was
unworthy of any man, and particularly unworthy of the



304 HISTORY OF VERMONT

Governor of a royal province. The records show that
Samuel Robinson was Captain of a company of Massa-
chusetts militia in two campaigns, and saw service in
real warfare. It should be said to Governor Moore's
credit that he did not disregard the royal orders as did
some of his successors. Aside from six regrants con-
firming New Hampshire charters, he granted only one
tract of five thousand acres, and eighteen military
patents amounting to thirteen thousand, three hundred
and fifty acres.

Acting on a report of the Lords of the Committee of
Council for Plantation Affairs, an order of the King
in Council was promulgated on July 24, 1767, in which
the Governor of New York was strictly charged and
commanded upon pain of His Majesty's highest dis-
pleasure not to presume to make any grant of any part
of the lands previously granted by New Hampshire until
His Majesty's further pleasure should be known.

It is said that a majority of the Privy Council was
ready to confirm the New Hampshire land titles, but
Lord Northington, the president of the Council, objected
to immediate action, and the matter was delayed. Wil-
liam S. Johnson, the agent of Connecticut, who was
associated with Mr. Robinson in presenting the claims
of the New Hampshire grantees, in a letter to John
Wendell, written soon after Robinson's death, said,
"The real poverty of those who joined Capt. Robinson,
rendered them unable to give the cause that effectual
support, which was necessary to give it proper weight,
and render the application to the Crown as regular and
respectable as its importance and the usual course of



A QUESTION OF OWNERSHIP 305

proceedings in cases of tliis kind justly required.
Money has, in fact, been wanting to do justice to the
cause. It came here rather in forma pauperis, which is
an appearance seldom made or much regarded in this
country; and is by no means an eligible light in which
to place an affair of this kind." Soon after the order
of July 24, 1767, was issued, the Chatham ministry went
out of power, but the ministry which succeeded it did
not approve the policy of the New York Governors in
granting lands previously granted by Governor Went-
worth.

In January, 1771, a petition to the King, asking to
be re-annexed to New Hampshire, was signed by fifty-
six residents of Westminster and twelve residents of
Rockingham. This petition declared that "their lying
in the province of New York was and is and forever
will and must be highly detrimental and disagreeable to
them, both in their property and good government, all
of which they judged Your Majesty and ministers of
State had been egregiously misinformed — and also that
those circumstances had been erroneously represented to
Your Majesty, that since Your Majesty's said orders to
annex the said district to New York their possessions
have been unexceptionally granted to other people under
the great seal of New York — that writs of ejectment
have been brought, their property wrested from them,
their persons imprisoned and their whole substance
wasted in fruitless lawsuits merely to the enrichment
of a few men in the province of New York, whose great
influence is the destruction of our hard honestly earned
property, that we were greatly and industriously cultivat-



306 HISTORY OF VERMONT

ing the wilderness, orderly obeying every law, rejoicing
in our safety and Your Majesty's auspicious govern-
ment until by this invasion of our property by many
who pretended Your Majesty's authority therein, we are



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