William Bentley.

The diary of William Bentley, D.D., pastor of the East church, Salem, Massachusetts .. (Volume 3) online

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Online LibraryWilliam BentleyThe diary of William Bentley, D.D., pastor of the East church, Salem, Massachusetts .. (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 71)
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l^olume 3

January, 1803 — December, 1810


Clje (es0CK Imtitixtz


Press of


Salem, Mass.


NUV iti^


Crowninshield's Wharf during the Embargo, Frontispiece

House of the Seven Gables, to face page 5

Floating Bridge, Lynn, 27

Lord Timothy Dexter of Newburyport, 43

Colonel Timothy Pickering, 53

Edward Augustus Holyoke, M. D., 77

Governor Simon Bradstreet, 89

South Church, Salem, 105

Kev. Samuel Worcester, 135

School Penmanship in 1806, 159

Ship America, 169

Governor John Leverett, 177

Nathaniel Bowditch, 189

Bradstreet House, Salem, 201

Salem Common and the West Gate, 201

Benjamin Pickman, 235

Bowditch's Chart of Salem Harbor, 249

Lord Timothy Dexter House, Newburyport, 257

Justice Joseph Story, 273

William Biglow, 287

Salem Marine Society Certificate, 301

Ship Francis, 327

Major Joseph Sprague, 345

Jacob Crowninshield, 355

William Gray, 377

Phillips Academy, Andover, 387

Andover Theological Seminary, 387

Wolfe Tavern, Newburyport, 397

Rev. John Chipman, 421

Turnpike Hotel, Topsfield, 449

Toll House on the Turnpike at Topsfield, 449

Bridge across the Merrimac at Haverhill, 457

Ipswich Green and First Church, 457

Mrs. Sarah Curwin, 487

Salem Harbor, 495

General John Stark, 519

Ship Margaret, 533




January 1, 1803. The year entered agreably. We had been
preserved from fires. Business had kept up as great activity as in
any part of the Union. We had had no alarms from the di-
structive fever which has prevailed in our great Cities. No Insol-
vencies to involve the affairs of Individuals. Upon the whole, good
causes for public & private congratulations, I dined with a few
friends, in honour of the day. The Gazette & Register gave their
annual compliments in the ditties as usual, but each avoiding per-
sonalities, had little to say.

2. Sunday. Notes. Mary Knapp, d. of her son Samuel
living at Baltimore, but who died at Savannah, he has been from
Salem 20 years. He has left a wife & 4 children at Baltimore.
She has a Son at Sea. This year arrested my attention as it is the
twentieth of my ministry & that number of years is the mean of
the length of life enjoyed in the ministry in this Town. Con-
sequently the discourses were occasional. Mr. Worcester has
had a call at the Tabernacle church, but his answer or intentions
are not yet known. It is suggested that he will be invited again to
Fitchburg from which town he was dismissed, & that he would be
acceptable in the new society of Beverly & also at Rowley Old
Parish. The Death of Dr. Thacher of Boston has engaged atten-
tion. He had excellent pulpit talents, & settled very early in the
ministry at Maiden in 1770. After the death of Dr. Cooper he
was invited to the Brattle street Church in Boston in 1785. He
had the most wealthy society in Massachusetts. He was tall,
slender, but not lean, with easy manners, gravity & solemnity in
his manner. He was very popular. Whitefield was at his ordina-
tion just before he died & said some things which were flattering
to Thacher among his own party. Thacher married a woman much
older than himself & without any special claims on his affections.
A Widow, without wealth, or accomplishments, & incumbered with
Children. He was extremely miserable in his domestic affairs. As
a Gentleman he was welcome every where, & as an Orator often
called for in the first occasions. He preached the Convention
Sermon in the year in which he died. But not a Scholar nor


2 DIARY OF [Jan.

capable of pure composition as his occasional publications prove.
We love to hear him & to see him & enjov him. Led into much
company he had some appearance of dissipation, & was reproved
for it by his best friends, who did not spare him. His health
evidently began to fail him. His friends consented that he should
journey, & on this journey he died. The dates of his Life are :
He died 6 Dec. at Savannah, 1802, was born in Boston, 1752.

7. A curious controversy has arisen about the Assembly in this
Town. It was the determination to exclude the friends of Mr.
Crowninshield from the usual pleasures of the winter season. To
the men this was no evil, but it was not acceptable to the ladies.
The excluded gentlemen wrote & wrote again to require the reasons,
& at length obtained only a vote that there should be no notice
taken of their letters. The newspapers are drumming upon this
matter. When party men have no talents, they easily discover
they have strong passions.

8. It is talked of to open an administration Newspaper at New-
bury Port. IMuch is expected from the success of it, but the num-
bers of subscribers at first must be small. An attempt to play upon
this subject has produced so much agitation, as to make some
persons hot for it. The Eegister of Salem has about twenty sub-
scribers in Newbury Port.

9. Sunday. Notes. Abraham Daniels & his Sisters, d. of their
Mother, pr. for Br. at Sea. Edward Lee & wife, d. of her Sister

11. News of the death of Diana Adams, daughter of my G.
Father Paine, aet. 58. She married Thomas Adams of i Boston
who has been dead for many years. A dissention began in our
family upon the death of my G. Father upon the interference of
Capt. T. Adams respecting the Will. My mother is the only child
of my G. Father who is now living out of seven, three sons & four
daughters, which have died within my memory.

12, The affairs of Portsmouth arrest the public attention. We
are not without hopes of a generous subscription in this Town.*
My friend Gibaut & Capt. G. G. Smith have amiably settled their
affairs. They came together to my house & Smith offered his ser-
vices during his Voyage. A school has actually opened in this
town for 25 scholars, the master is to receive 1100 D. It is kept
in Joshua Ward's brick store where the Lodge met.

14. A Singular affair has taken place in our neighbourhood.
A Mr. Retire Becket, descended from the family which has from
the beginning been employed in ship building, has declared him-
self a bankrupt. The man is much involved, & it is feared that his
prefsent situation will lead him to forfeit the character of an honest
dealer, which he has so long possessed. Early in life he discovered

* In aid of the sufferers by the great fire.


a singularity of character, & was betrayed into some unchaste con-
nections. This gave him an odd turn, & he forsook society & public
worship. These habits he has retained, but he has been dis-
tinguished by great industry, great practical skill in ship build-
ing & great fidelity. But without a careful statement of his
accounts he has suffered himself to become involved & ruined. His
debts are numerous, & they tend to hurt many honest men. To
his forest men, to his Carpenters, to his Employers, to his me-
chanics he is every where indebted. This is the first instance of
breaking as it is called, in our part of the Town, since I have been
in Salem. Mr. B. has been married for several years, & has a child

15. Our Printer is threatened with another prosecutjon by a
Merchant of Salem, for inserting a paragraph respecting his con-
duct with a master of a Vessel, implying an ungenerous treatment
which he has received. Thus party has its vengeance.

16. Sunday. Notes. Samuel Archer & wife, d. of their
youngest child, pr. for friends at Sea. Thomas Magoun & wife, d.
of their only child. Nicholas Lane & wife, d. of their grand child
Magoun. Mary Smith for herself dangerously sick. George Un-
derwood & wife, her delivery. Joshua Webb & wife, her delivery,
pr. for brethren at Sea. Affairs in lower Danvers* have come to
a crisis. We hear that a Convention of Clergy have been on the
spot & that the seperation of Mr. Mead will certainly be the final

17. A Stone Mortart holding a quart found in Great Pasture
digging for Turnpike. It has much of the European form. A
Pestle was found in Federal Street.

18. We had a slight shock of an Earthquake about 9 minutes
before ten in the morning. It was generally perceived, tho' busy
with some friends I took no notice of it whatever. The family
felt it. The people in general ran to their windows to see what
heavy carriage was passing, & thence to their chimnies to see
whether they were on fire. I had walked abroad that morning the
Therm, being within doors at 15 plus & probably not much above
zero abroad. The air was serene. A few white clouds lay in the
northern horizon & the vanes stood at N.W, The air began to
change about nine, the clouds were dark, & passed but without
any high wind, as tho' they were spreading. Might not what we
felt have been occasioned by the sudden cold ? Many fires in Bos-
ton. The Museum of Mr. Bowen was burnt. This was a col-
lection without judgment in which some valuable things were hud-
dled in with trifles. There were many Toy Clocks, a small organ,
many wax figures & much Petit Maitre business. This fire hap-

* Now the town of Peabody.

t Now in the Peahody Museum, Salem.

4 DIARY OF [Jan.

pened on last Saturday night. There have been two fires since &
alarms have lately been very frequent. Mr. Le Fevre & Capt.
Martin were with me from Marblehead to induce enquiries into
Peters' estate now Devereux's at the entrance of Marblehead neck.
They left me the date of the deed which the daughter of Hugh
Peters gave to the first proprietor of the name of Devereux. The
conveyance of Elizabeth Barker, daughter of Hugh Peters was
made in 1704-5, to Devereux. 1 am to enquire into the extent of
the grant of that Land. A Mr, John Lee addressed me in peculiar
circumstances. He came from London to Jamaica in 1800. From
thence last spring he came on account of his health to his friends
near Boston. His reception has been such as obliges hitn to retire
much wounded in his feeling. He was a Clerk to Atkinson Lee of
Jamaica & Brother to late Th. Lee of Cambridge & to the Avife of
Coffin Jones. He had letters from Boot & Prat & from Dr. Mar-
shall Spring of Watertown.

19. John Lee Esqr. dined with me. I made no close enquiries
but made all the intercession with Mr. Gray for a passage, that
was in my power. It is published that a Marblehead Engine did
set out for Boston to assist at the fire of last Saturday night &
reached Lynn. We all remember how they served us in the great
fire of 1774. Lee has not succeeded as he wished & has left me

21. The high party which met under Higginson at Boston at
the feast of shells gave the following toast & music : Our Sister
Virginia — when she changes three fifths of her Ethiopian skin we
will respect her as the head of our White family. Tune, Go to the
Devil & shake yourself. There are some just remarks on the licen-
tiousness of this conduct in the Aegis. This high Essex Junto
party, Anti Adams seceders, are not of the same party with the
common federalists, or moderates as they are called. They may
be called Pickering's* friends as they urged him to his insolence
for which he was dismissed from office. Not a friend to Mr.
P is a stranger to the obstinacy of his temper, his assuming man-
ners, & his affected contempt of his Opposers. The proofs of his
talents we leave posterity to draw from his actions. By pressing
close, he squeezed up into office, & when the crowd left him to him-
self he fell into contempt.

23. Sunday. The Baptists are a growing sect, because their
rite is so definite as to make a more easy distinction in the public
mind, than any doctrines can, and this distinction gains a ready
exemption from parish taxes. The Baptists grow not rapidly in
great To%\tis, where such exceptions are unnecessary. In Boston
they are few, if we regard only those immersed in Baptism. In
Charlestown they are the same sect which was first founded there.

•Col. Timothy Pickering:.


But in Salem there are none, very few in Newbury Port, no socie-
ties of them in Salem, Newbury Port, Cape Ann, Ipswich, Lynn,
Marblehead, Pl3Tnouth, or New Bedford, or in York. Nor in
our most flourishing inland Towns generally as Worcester, E.
Springfield, Northhampton, Hatfield, Deerfield, Hadley, Billerica,
Cambridge, Concord, Malborough, Medford, Watertown, Lancas-
ter, &c. These facts compared with the local prejudices which ob-
tain will erplain the rise & progress of this sect to have been prin-
cipally when the question of Taxes has been considered with pre-
judices, or with opposition. The Baptists have lately applied at
Portsmouth, that soul of sects, for admission into the Court House,
& the hon. Judges have given permission. Sects grow there, but
the season is not long enough for these Athenians.

24. An attempt to put fire to the house of Capt. Nichols,
Washington S. was made on Saturday evening, but it was soon

25. The spirit of the Times. An appointment had taken place
in the Eegiment of this Town under Col. E. H. Derby, by which
a subaltern had been superceded by a person not in the Corps & the
apparent reason was political opinion. The young gentleman was
of the antient family of the Harthome's & well educated. This
roused the latent fire of the Militia & this evening there was to be
another appointment for which the Col. had designated a son of
William Gray, an eminent merchant. A meeting was immediately
called, upon this report, by private tickets, which improperly had
secrecy written upon them. In this meeting of the military com-
pany, it was agreed to support a worthy citizen, George Archer as
Ensign. Col. Derby discovered the design, & expressed himself
publickly in a very angry manner & even applied to the owner of
the hall in which they met to reprimand him for allowing of such
licentious proceedings within his territories. At the proper time
of meeting he wrote an angry letter, addressed to Capt. E. Lang
to be conmiunicated. The Company proceeded & G. Archer was
chosen by 37 votes against 9. So much for this matter.

26. The Selectmen have been down & surveyed that part of
Turner's Street which lays between Derby street & the Harbour &
have proposed to widen it in all places where it is practicable,
forty feet. There is much conversation on the subject of rebuild-
ing a Wharf here & of continuing it as far as the Channel. The
success of the family of Crowninshield has led to this enterprise.
Here were the old ferry ways of Marblehead ferry & they now lay
visible on the flats. Here was formerly the Wharf of the Turners,
built at a very early period of our history, & suffered to decay upon
the death of Col. Turner about 60 years ago. The water lots are
now in possession, upon Turner street, of John Collins on the east
side & Samuel IngersoU upon the west side. Samuel IngersoU

6 DIARY OF [Jan.

lives in the Mansion house.* The present holder on Hardy street
towards the water is Joshua Phippen, & below Turner street there
are several proprietors. On the Turner estate sixty years ago
there was only his mansion & now there are twenty dwelling
houses besides work shops & out buildings.

28. The Gazette of the Town has given the Eegister no
quarter, & from the spirit of it, is determined upon hostilities. It
will dare some personalities as it threatens, then clear the Decks
for a hot action. We might think it enough to put fire to our
house in the night but vice is more daring. It has arrested Charity
to rob her. The good people of Newbury Port collected 1500 Dol-
lars which they entrusted to the Portsmouth stage driver. He
agreed to divide the money with his companion & just as they were
going off they were discovered. Alas for human nature.

29. A Petition has gone in for a Turnpike from Newbury to
Salem through Beverly & over Essex Bridge, which will save
several miles. It is expected that the great road of Danvers will
be brought through Northfields into Salem from the top of the hill
above the meeting house on the north side of the Eiver. A road
is also contemplated which is to join Point of rocks Lots to the
eastern part of the Town. A new house fire proof is contemplated
for Essex Bank, & some conversation upon a new Bank in Salem,
The Salem Insurance Company are to be incorporated, probably
with Banking privileges.

30. Sunday. Notes. Sarah Millet & children, d. of her son
Hardy at Sea, and prayers for two sons & two sons in Law at Sea.
Hardy Millet was lost at sea last spring. Mansfield Burrill & wife,
pr. for youngest daughter very sick, pr. for a son at sea. George
Ellison & wife for him sick. Mr. Worcester's Dismission sermon
at Fitchburg printed in this Town. He is invited to settle at Salem.
He has printed also an account of the divisions at Fitchburg. He
has several invitations to settle. Maiden new Brick Meeting was
dedicated on 19 January, Mr. Green's Sermon on the occasion
is to be printed. A bell was given by the noted Timothy Dexter
of Newbury Port, & a Clock by Mr. Harris, of Charlestown.

February 1, 1803. February enters before we have seen any-
thing of the severity of Winter. Our wharves are uni[n] cumbered
with ice, & the little snow has afforded only the short amusement
of a few hours. This evening before the Lodge was the subject of
the answer of the G. Lodge to the remonstrance of our Essex
Lodge. A Plea more weak could not have been instituted. Our
antiquities all vouch that a G. Lodge is an accommodation, not an
essential part of the Institution. Else why were we without a
Superiour of the whole order till this day? I had to debate the
point upon three articles the example of the Provincial G. Masters

*Ttae House of the Beren Gables, so caUed.


of England as a precedent for our intended District Masters. I
shewed they were instituted in 1726 for very different ends under
a G. M. of England, but we have no such G. M. of U. S. of Amer-
ica. The next article was upon the privilege of our Charter &
By-Laws which no acts of the G. Lodge ought to violate. We are
bound only in things which were not included in these privileges.
The last article was upon the declaration that the G. L. Communi-
cation was not intended for severe scrutiny when it involved a con-
sent to renounce every privilege of our order. The Brethren were
not divided in opinion on the occasion.

2. A day with all the showers of Spring, & the glass from 40 to
50 degrees. The Gazette has a most virulent attack but the little
Doctor has not managed his plant, so as to answer for publishing
it so hastily. Mr. Delano & Mr. Magoun propose Ship building
in the eastern part of the Town. Mr. Webb is clearing the Palfrey
Lot on Derby street, between Hardy & Daniels' Street of all those
rookeries which have for a long time disgraced it. This is a benefit
to that part of the Town. Capt. Allen has paid rent & has taken
a lease of the Diman lot on the west side of Hardy street only
to avoid the evil of such buildings near his mansion house.

4. I went to Lynn to attend the funeral of Eevd. Joseph Eoby,
set. 79. He was born in Boston in 1724, Blackhorse lane. His
father was Deacon in the Bennet Street Meeting House which was
erected for Dr. S. Mather, 1742. He graduated at Cambridge
1742 & was ordained at Lynn 1752. He was of small stature,
feeble voice, but of a mild & peaceable disposition. He was atten-
tive to literature, & fond of its encouragement. He never joined any
association, but frequently attended the Lectures among the neigh-
bouring churches. Without enemies, he was useful till the close of
life & he died esteemed a venerable & good man. Dr. Osgood
preached at his interment, & the pall was supported by Dr. Os-
good, Mr. Motey, Mr. Thatcher, Mr. Sanborne, Mr. Stevens, &
Mr. Greene. Several other ministers were present, but it was
extremely cold.

6. Sunday. At the funeral of Mr. Roby, Dr. Osgood in his
sermon mentioned that when he settled at Medford he was often
at the monthly lectures of the neighbouring churches & that a great
intimacy & affection existed between himself & the following per-
sons. Dr. Payson of Chelsea, Willis & Thacher of Maiden, Eoby of
Lynn & Prentice of Reading. That thirty years had blessed that
friendship, but that within these two years, four of these ministers
had died, & Prentice was upon his dying pillow & he, Osgood, left
behind. The son of Mr. Eoby settled at Chatham, Barnstable County,
after he graduated at Cambridge in 1779. He then removed into
Maine & is now settled at Otisfield, but Thomas has been no com-
fort to his friends. The other sons are settled at Boston as Trades-
men. Mr. Manning assures, who came from Otisfield last week,

8 DIARY OF [Feb.

that Roby might have rendered himself very happy. At Eaymond-
town in the neighbourhood, they are perparing to build a meeting
house but the Lumbering Trade has greatly debased the manners
of Maine.

7. Before sunrise the glass was above 50, and remaining above
50 all day & night. At noon the glass in the house was above
sixty degrees, & families were at work with doors & windows open.

8. This morning the glass above 50 but the fog thick & wet.
Objects obscured at the smallest distance. The curious encounter
last Friday had a favourable issue this day. Major Watkins &
Deacon Saunderson undertook to superintend the building of the
tombs upon the South Hill. They did not forget to charge for
their serWces. The proprietors deputed Col. Page to make en-
quiry into the charges Major W, drew upon him & beat him with
his hanger. The .Col. took such satisfaction as he chose for his
bruises & on Monday got a warrant to apprehend the Major. The
major has come out & done penance to the public satisfaction by
asking pardon & imploring forgiveness. The reduction of the
account will probably be more terrible to him. A Town Meeting
has been called upon the subject the Turnpike from Newbury Port
over the country in a strait line to Boston. The weather was
open & pleasant all day. It began to grow cooler towards night.
Business is done as freely abroad as in any season of the year.

9. After 4 attempts to support T. Pickering as a Senator of the
TJ. S. the Junto gave out & J. Q. Adams had the Votes. The
Senate has concurred. It is said Foster has resigned & another
trial may be made.

10. Dunham's List of the Lodges in New England has appeared.
The Eegister would be more valuable without the Songs which by
an attempt to correct them, have lost their fire. From the Register
still incomplete the interests of the Lodges are much more extensive
than has ever been imagined.

11. This day was the time of the funeral of Revd. Caleb Pren-
tice. The road is much better & the distance less by taking a new
road just opened that goes by the Baptist meeting house, so that
it is not 10 miles from Salem. The Parish made every decent
preparation, & a considerable collection of people was at the solem-
nities. Two bass viols & 3 Haut boys were used in the Music which
wanted expression more than harmony. This Parish is much more
respectable than it was at my first knowing it. The Clergy who
walked in the procession were put after the mourners rather than
before the Corpse, & this was persisted in as an antient custoiu.
How much short were the public services of those at the funeral
of father Roby, & where there were ten times as many persons to
be instructed ! The Corpse was in the Coffin exposed to the view
of the people in the front yard of the Dwelling House in the antiort
fashion, which still prevails in many of our inland towns, & where


there is an innocent curiosity on special occasions, it is best for
the family to avoid confusion in the house. I returned the same
evening from Eeading.

12. I find by the 8th volume of the [Mass.] Hist. Society's
papers they have published my answer to Parish's remarks on my

Online LibraryWilliam BentleyThe diary of William Bentley, D.D., pastor of the East church, Salem, Massachusetts .. (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 71)