William Bentley.

The diary of William Bentley, D. D.,Pastor of the East Church, Salem, Massachusetts (Volume 2) online

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NOV 20 1931






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l^olume 2

January, 1793 — December, 1802


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Launch of the Ship Fame,

North Meeting House, Salem,

Chain Bridge, Newburyport,

Gen. John Glover,

Ship Recovery,

Rev. Manasseh Cutler,

Charter Street Cemetery, Salem,

Gov. John Endecott,

Fire Engine of 1748,

Frigate Constitution,

Bust of Gov. John Winthrop,

Ship Friendship,

The Derby Mansion, Salem,

Frigate Essex,

Ship America,

Rev. Thomas Barnard,

St. Peter's Church, Salem,

St. Paul's Church, Newburyport,

Judge Samuel Curwen,

Ship Belisarius,

Capt. George Curwen,

to face page 5




January 1, 1793. Our Lodge Officers were installed this evening
& I totally disengaged myself from any Office in a Lodge. An alarm
of iire this evening, great danger, but speedy relief.

2. The Town of Salem in the alarm of last night had instant &
plentiful relief from the Centre Cistern, lately prepared for them.

3. It is pleasant to observe the distinct objects of the several
social institutions, the fire clubs to protect property, the marine so-
cieties to lesson the dangers of trade, the free masons to assist the
stranger, & the public worship occasionally to recommend & exalt
them in their turn. There have been two prosecutions of Masters,
Sinclair & Welman, for abuse. The first on a Guinea Voyage a
year since, the last for abuse of a negro in a late West India voy-
age. The examples were cruel & roused the public resentment.

4. Upon the Completion of the third century everything has
been said of Columbus, & among other things the following of Cat
Island on which he first landed. Cat Island, called Guanihani, lat.
bet. 24 & 25 north, long, about 76 west from London, 90 miles from
Providence, long & narrow. Most easterly of the northern Bahama,
& clear of Bahama Bank, long, about 43 miles, broad, seven miles
on an average, extending north & south. Shores faced with reefs
of sharp rocks lying about half a mile & frequently less from the
Island, & furthest upon the western side within is anchorage upon
a sandy bottom, & the landing is not difficult particularly on the
western shore, excepting there have been strong northwesterly
gales, which are not so common here as in higher northern latitudes.
The Soil is generally barren being a loose sand and covered with
small woods, in some places almost impenetrable, infested with
lizards, guanas, land crabs, & a few goats, & wild hogs, infested
formerly by pirates, & now inhabited by a few families from Prov-
idence. In some places there is tolerably good timber, & a few
hills with wood towards the center, which make a pleasing appear-
ance but are difficult to approach on account of the salt ponds &
underbrush. There is excellent fishing & turtling on the coasts.
There are ruins here of buildings constructed of the native rock
when broken & a soft white stone found on the island. Some have

2 DIARY OF [Jan.

been imputed to Columbus. They may be remains of Indian antiq-
uities, or some European settlers.

5. A few reflections on the use of an Organ, a novelty in our
Churches. The voluntaries, &c. not practiced in the protestant &
reformed Churches on the continent it seems have intruded upon a
congregation, who consented to the use of the Organ, upon condi-
tion of their prohibition.

6. Sunday. Notes. Rebecca Fairfield, d, of her mother & for
son at Sea. Nicholas Lane & Wife, her delivery. No singing in
the morning.

7. An infamous report brought from the W. Indies, that Egout
who had received every indulgence from our family had spread in-
sinuations against the chastity of our women. The resentment
falls severely upon the french, & occasions no small uneasiness. I
have suspicions this is a contrivance of some vile man.

8. By the most careful accounts 710 persons have been inocu-
lated in Town since the 18 of October, & 275 at Brooklyne, Boston
& Charlestown, since the fifth of September last.

9. The Courier takes a decided part against the Jacobins, &
openly ridicules the characters of their Generals. Electioneering
in the Gazettes even in Salem is carried on by unmanly invectives,
which are not without replies. It is not a local distemper.

13. Sunday. Notes. D. Cloutman, d. of his sister M^'Grew.*
A. Lander, aged & dangerously sick.

14. 150 fire buckets ordered to be provided at the expence of the
Town and a night watch to continue till April.

15. Messieurs Clarke & Eliot in Town from Boston this day.
The Players have left the Town, &c. The Town have granted the
intended proprietors of the Market a quit claim to the land to be
appropriated for the same to them & their heirs forever.

16. M" Tileston with me from Boston. Visited the Manufacto-
ries of Salem & Beverley, & found the Cotton in Beverley in full
employment. A new Jenny contrived to feed itself added to the

17. Have been a fortnight troubled with a cold, which I impute
to the interference of my employments with my daily walks. News
of the death of Cap' Holman, a young [man] who married a Pierce,
a most agreable girl.

18. Proposal to drop Honour, reverend, &c. titles, for that of
citizen in Massachusetts.!

20. Sunday. Last Thursday died a Glover, a female, at the
Hospital of the Natural Small Pox. There is no person now in-
fected in any way, who is known.

21. Reports of great preparations making in Boston & the

•Widow of John McGrew.

tAn effect of the French Bevolution.


towns adjacent for the celebration of next Thursday. No move-
ments with us even in the barber's shops yet.

22. Bill of Mortality for first parish in Gloucester, 50 persons,
24 males, 26 females, 10 of consunnptions. Bill for Marblehead,
75 deaths, greatest number in March. The Selectmen of Salem
have informed the public that all the hospitals are cleansed & that
no further inoculation will be permitted. Some are indus-
trious to introduce the french language of Citizen into

.Boston, & the newspaper of Edes, has absolutely published
in this manner, the names of Clergy & laity.

23. Tined copper for Ships, houses, worms, &c. as a new article
of sale is offered by patent for sale in the Gazette. The Patentee is
C. Wyatt, of Birmingham, England.

24. Walked on the neck at noon with great pleasure, observed
the shores & the ground free from snow & ice. No notice was ta-
ken of this day in Salem, excepting by a few boys with a paper
balloon, who first burst it, & afterwards set fire to it. Some faint
struggles by individuals were used, but soon ceased without attain-
ing to the firing of a gun, the hoisting of a flag, the kindling a
bonfire, or even the noise of a winter evening. This is not owing
to an indifference to the revolution in France, but to the manners
of the people, who are easily checked in any expences. When Gen.
Washington visited, he desired no parade, as the language of his
modesty & his heart. The occasion called for expence & joy. He
was taken at his word. When before, the Marquis de la Fayette
visited,* he left the Town to themselves, a very elegant dinner
was provided in which the poor had no part, & were not but at will
diverted a moment from their employments. They did not consid-
er this as neglect, but prudence. It was intended as such, & oper-
ated as such. Vive la nation is not yet translated among us.

25. A particular account of the celebration at Boston last Thursday.
The roasted Ox , exhibited with great pomp, fell a prey to the fury
of the rabble. Every other ceremony was performed agreably.
The children of the schools formed a delightful appearance with
national cockades. The several companies dined in the public
rooms, & the whole concluded with a bonfire.

27. Sunday. Notes. John Collins, sen' & wife & children,
death of her Mother & p. for son at Sea. Noah Hobart & Wife,
d. of his brother at Sea. The first died at Amsbury, & the last
sailed out of Newbury.

28. Received a letter from G. Lodge, containing their Vote that
I should confer with the Essex lodges, & accompanied with Letters,
& six copies of the Constitutions lately published. The vote re-
specting my service is " that I confer with the several Lodges in
the County of Essex."

» Oct. 29, 1784,

4 DIARY OF [Feb.

29. The Americans in their rejoicings interest themselves in
the fate of the Marquis de la Fayette. Talk of celebrating the
birthday of Gen. Washington in Salem, on February next. A rem-
edy by an open passage three inches square to the evil from burst-
ing chimnies with stoves, & to the gumming, &c.

30. The Vessel has returned which carried Egout to Martinico
& the Master confirms the disingenuous behaviour of this ungrate-
ful boy.

31. The papers yet abound in accounts of Celebrations, par-
ticularly at Plymouth & Watertown. Twenty four Frenchmen in
Boston have entered their protest against the French revolution at
a notary public's office in Boston. This has proved a very unpop-
ular measure, among the inhabitants. After a very pleasant season
so far, the earth is most compleatly covered with snow, & the air
is severe. The harbour yet has never been skimtned over with ice,
or business in the least retarded. Health has been general, &
full employment to lay the foundation of general satisfaction.

February 1. [1793] To quiet some devout minds the Papers
have republished some reflections cast by the French upon the
character of David. Such papers are most openly contrary to all
ideas of a revelation because they extend to the devotion. But may
not we allow David's Kingship not divine & his Psalms, & not
question the just evidence of Christianity?

3. Sunday. Very slippery. Two aged men fell & hurt them-
selves, one of them spraint his wrist. Service very short, com-
municants very few.

4. Began my translation of french from the english under M.

6. Weather so comfortable as to be under no necessity of fire.

10. Sunday . Notes. Hannah Hosmer for her delivery, husb.
& Brother at Sea. Isaac White & Wife, her delivery.

11. Severall failures in Boston occasioned by the Banks, which
render them the subject of conversation. All reprobate them &
yet they are employed as an evil indulgent to the want of public

12. The Beverley Manufacturers a little touched by his Excel-
lency's Speech. Shays, the celebrated head of an insurrection un-
der Bowdoin's administration in this State, has petitioned it is
said, to be restored to his citizenship. Petitions for four Bridges
over the Merrimack at Methuen, Haverhill, Amesbury & Dracut,
before the G. Court.

15. News of the death of Edward Crowninshield, sixth son of
Cap' George, a promising youth. It is presumed that a disappoint-
ment in his voyage occasioned this unhappy event. A Family
that has been remarkably spared.

16. Application by a Committee to deliver an oration on Friday
next, the birthday of General Washington. The first arrival of



News from England, of the progress of revolution principles being
discovered in England. A Ship upon the rocks in Boston bay lost
in the late Storm.

17. Sunday. Had the company of Capt Pratt from Orford.

18. Repeated application for the Oration & I consented. The
place appointed is the North Meeting House.* The other arrange-
ments not yet made.

20. Death of Capt. Manley, notified, funeral at Boston with
Great Masonic attentions.

21. Some jealousies respecting the appointment of an Orator
for the morrow, on the part of the Clergy.

22. The day was introduced by firing cannon at the forts at
sunrise. The bells all ringing. At eleven the subscribers for the
feast met in Stearns & Waldo's Hall,t & from thence proceeded to
the North Meeting House escorted by the Artillery company. The
procession began with the military officers, then followed the Se-
lectmen & Orator, Town officers, & private Gentlemen. After they
were seated, in this crowded assembly, in the pews reserved for
them, the band of music performed several chosen pieces of music.
Then the Officer of the day notified the occasion of the meeting, &
there was a piece of church vocal music performed in the Gallery.
Then a short prayer was made by the Orator, & then the band per-
formed several pieces of music. Then followed the Oration, then
the band performed again, & there was a contribution at the doors
for the poor. There was provision made in the Charity house for a
good dinner of excellent chosen beef & plumb puddings. The pro-
cession from the Meeting was through the back street, down by D""
Stearns, & through the main street down to the East Meeting
house, & then through the Lane into Water Street to Washington
street. The proper salutes were given at Gen. Fiske's & at the
house of Cap' Joshua Ward, where Gen. Washington rested while
in Town. In the Hall were seated with great convenience above
200 persons in the greatest good humour & enjoyment. The Ta-
bles were spread with great good order, & a plentiful dinner pro-
vided which we enjoyed, while the music was playing & the Can-
non firing without. Toasts provided for the occasion were given
& great good order, & the firing of the Cannon upon the Common,
& Ringing of the Bells concluded the joyful day.

23. A very respectable Committee waited upon me, & requested
a copy of my Oration for the press but for special reasons, I de-
clined a compliance with all the delicacy of which I was master.

24. Sunday. Very rainy weather, & few people out, especially
women. Entrusted the Copy with General Fiske for his own pe-
rusal & for the examination of his family.

*Then located at the corner of North and Lynde streets.

tin the building at the corner of Essex and Washington streets and for many years
known as "Washington Hall."

6 DIARY OF [March

25. The number who dined exceeded two hundred. The con-
tribution was 40 £, much less than I expected. The feast includ-
ing all expences will amount to about 10^6 to each individual. The
wind of yesterday compleatly demolished the old rope walk at the
eastern part of the Town.* It was a high wind at southwest, &
was this day, in the opposite point of compass.

26. The Gazette of the day furnishes an account of the celebra-
tion of the Day, in Danvers by Stimson's artillery , in Beverly by
an entertainment, & in Cape Ann by a Ball,

27. Talk of using wind mills for grinding bark in the Tan
yards. A competition arising in this Trade. About one hundred
dined at Webb's on the feast of last week.

March 1, [1793] Great expectations of a war in Europe, The
competition for the Scheld will render the war serious. The fail-
ures have made the Banks very cautious.

2. Subject to great enquiries respecting the oration, & obliged
often to confess that the conduct of the Clergy has obliged me to
a refusal of a Copy,

3. Sunday. G. Crowninshild & wife & family, d. of youngest
son & children at Sea. James Brown & wife, her delivery, Broth-
er at Sea. Samuel Derby & wife. Twins,

4. The report last year of a Standard for weights & measures
was a cylindrical uniform rod of iron, of such length as in lat. 5 in
the level of the Ocean, & in a cellar of uniform natural temperature
shall perform its vibrations in small & equal arcs in one second of
mean time. That it be divided into 5 equal parts, one of which to
be called a foot, shall be the unit of measure of length, foot divided
into 10 parts called inches, inch into 10 lines, line into 10 points,
10 feet make a decad, 10 decads a rod, 10 roods a furlong, & 10
furlongs a mile. The measures of Surface by squares, the unit a
square, where of every side shall be an hundred feet, to be called
a rood, each rood divided into 10*^^ & 100'''^ 10 roods make a
double acre, 10 double acres a square furlong. The unit of meas-
ures of capacity be a cubic foot to be called a Bushel, a bushel 10
pottles, a pottle 10 demipints, demipint 10 metres ; 10 Bushel a
quarter, 10 quarters a last or double Ton. The unit of weights, a
cubic inch of rain water, called an ounce, measured & weighed in a
cellar of equal temperature. Ounce, 10 double scruples, double-
scruples into 10 carats. Carat 10 mimins, or demi grains, mimin
into 10 mites. 10 ounces a pound, 10 pounds a stone, 10 stones a
kental, 10 kentals a hogshead.!

5. This day being the day on which the Tyrian Lodge at Cape
Ann meets, I determined to persevere tho' the weather was foul, to
accomplish the business of the Grand Lodge in Essex. The roads
were bad, & after the civilities of Manchester, the French Gentle-

♦Probably the old Hillard rope walk at the head of the Neck.
tAnother result of the French revolution.


man, who accompanied me, dined with me at Major Craft's, the
public house. After dinner, through this horrible road we continued
on to Cape Ann, where we arrived in the afternoon. I could not
refrain from observing that the appearance was very different from
that the Town assumes from the confluence of Strangers on public
festivals & days of rejoicing. There was too much complaining for
a belief of a general content. In the evening I was conducted to
the Lodge convened in an upper chamber, by a Committee, & re-
ceived with every civility. With the utmost coolness I waved
every dispute, & proposed the object of my conference, a permanent
union of interests in the present Grand Lodge. After my introduc-
tion the conversation led to the following discussions. The first
related to the Convention at Charlestown in 1785. They repre-
sented themselves aggrieved by the measures of that convention,
in which they were not represented, as it must have been a volun-
tary convention, & could not destroy the charters of any Lodges
previously given. That however they were threatened that they
should be erased, & besides unmasonically be posted. They offered
to shew the papers. This I waved, & declared that tho' I was a
member of that Convention that I had not patience to tarry till the
result, & that the late proceedings in the newly constituted Grand
Lodge, were independant of any measures of that Convention, &
consequent upon a coalition of the S' Andrew, & S' John G. Lodges,
an event not taking place till after the Convention, & constituting
an entirely new interest. The next related to the Terms. Were
they to relinquish any privileges, pay any arrear, or renounce any
right to regulate their own lodge ? In answer I replied , that as
the G. Lodge had published the Constitution they had adopted,
that must be the Text Book by which they might judge how far the
sentiments of the G. L. were different from their own. There was
room still to observe, that as the G. L. allowed all Lodges to
continue their Charters, even if consenting to be represented in
their G. L. no loss of privileges was to be feared, I however took
notice before them, that as they had erased name or names from
their Charter, they had taken very great freedom with it. As to
arrears from the state of Masonry in 1775 to 1793, 1 observed there
could be no[ne] claimed. For as they acknowledge neither of the
G. Lodges existing in any part of that time, neither could possibly
have claims, or if one, then both. That this Constitution was
never existing till 1792, & as the G. L. had addressed them on the
subject of a union, there was not the least reason to fear that they
would require anything before the union had commenced, & the con-
sequent assessment by the words of the Constitution. That as to
the regulations of their own Lodge, the bye laws must be framed
by the concurrence of their representatives with the G. Lodge, but
as to the manner of working, the Constitution had left it entirely at
the discretion of the old Lodges, & only recommended to the New-

8 DIARY OF [March

ly Constituted. The whole was represented as an alliance formed
to increase the benelits of the Craft, & prevent irregular Lodges, as
was represented in the Book of Constitutions. They then chose a
Committee of five persons, & ordered the Secretary to report their
proceedings to the Grand Lodge. This Committee is to deliberate
on the subject, & report to the Lodge their opinion. We then had
an elegant Collation, & after supper some choice songs, & retired.

6. This day was spent in visits to Kev*^ Forbes, the Rogers,
Pierces, &c. M"" Beach introduced me to his Brother, arrived with
his family from Bristol, a Tobacconist, an intelligent man, & fur-
nished with a very good Library, from which he spared for my
perusal Martin's diet, of Natural History, ornamented with figures
highly coloured. We were received in the best manner at Captain
Beach's ; & he deserves our gratitude. We saw here specimens of
the Cornwall ores. After dinner we went with M"^ Rogers to see
his farm of 300 acres at eastern Point. M"^ Rowe, the Attorney, &
Son in Law of M"^ Rogers accompanied us. The road was horrible,
& my young companion after travelling across the neck to view the
Thatcher's Island lights accompanied me into the Town on foot,
both of us dreading to ride back through such dangerous passes.
In the evening there was an assembly, at which my young compan-
ion attended. He gave me a very humorous account. They had
six candles, 12 ladies, 7 gentlemen, a black fiddler for 2% & a fifer
for 1* 6. Both sexes partook of the grog provided on the occasion.

7. In the morning we breakfasted at M"^ Beach's & we had the
company of the two english young Ladies, Daughters of M"" Beach
of Bristol. The greatest propriety distinguished this social hour.
At 10, we left Cape Ann & reached Manchester, & dined, & at 2
o'clock arrived again at Salem. We were told at Cape Ann, that
they could with difficulty provide hands for their bankers,* from the
general persuasion that the Bay boats were more lucrative, & from
observing the success of Sandy Bay, Squam, & Chebacco. Beach's
rope walk was in great good order. Sergeant's now shut up, it is
said, is sold to D. Plummer. Pearce has had several good Whale
voyages, & a Ship lay ready to sail for the Cape of Good Hope. He
expects to set his Sperma Ceti works agoing again. His distillery
has stopped, during the winter. The Meeting House is repaired.

8. Contending interest for the School, & neither of the Candi-
dates such as might be thought of. Is not habitual indolence
prompted by suffering more to be hoped for, than youthful depravi-
ty verging to intemperance, irritation, domestic feuds, & vanity?

10. Sunday. Notes. Thomas Diman & Wife, her sick.

11. This day for the annual Town meeting. The Selectmen
were chosen for the first time within my knowledge by Ballot,t &

•Grand Banks fishing fleet.

tThe earlier practice was to rise and stand uncovered until counted.


not one of the former number was recliosen, 38 votes made a choice.
The school Committee enlarged. Some of our Clergym. were chosen
but declined.

12. Last night the Chimney in the back part of Madam Lam-
bert's house* on the Common fell upon the kitchen, & crushed the
whole. It was damaged by Thunder 20 years ago, & moved by the
late winds. Three women in the other part of tlie house were safe.
It was stark calm when it fell, frost coming out of the ground.

14. A dismasted Brig off bouud to Newbury. News from Pat-
terson his vessel has leaked, & he put in at Cape Francois. Last
evening occurred in the family of Esq"^ Manning a curious example
of the effect of religious folly, or fanaticism upon young women.
A girl belonging to New Mills had lived in the family as a servant.
Before her engagements she had been dipped, as the true baj)tism,

Online LibraryWilliam BentleyThe diary of William Bentley, D. D.,Pastor of the East Church, Salem, Massachusetts (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 60)