previous next

[383] the early days of our plantation, we presume that the “seine, being a net sent to fish with,” was the first seine ever drawn in its waters, and the first drawn on this continent. This was probably in 1631; and the first draught was doubtless an event of liveliest interest, of raw wonder, and exceeding joy. If any web or filament of that pioneer “seine” had come down to us, it would be fitting for the town, in the year 1881, to parade it as the banner, and under it to unite in celebrating the fifth fishermen's jubilee on the river. June 6, 1639: “It is ordered that all wears shall be set open from the last day of the week, at noon, till the second day in the morning.”

Johnson, in his “Wonder-working Providence,” says, “The Lord is pleased to provide for them great store of fish in the spring-time, and especially alewives, about the bigness of a herring. Many thousands of these they use to put under their Indian corn.”

Had Mr. Cradock's letters to his agents in Medford been preserved, we should certainly have in them a complete history of the fishing establishment he maintained here, and probably a comparative estimate of sea and river fishing. The introduction of the drag-net, in 1631, when Mystic River was full of fish, was an example that would be followed more and more, as proper seines could be knit and easy markets secured. The narrowness of the river, the steepness of its banks, its freedom from rocks, and its many convenient landing-places, rendered net-fishing easy and cheap. It settled down into a regular business, and any one had a right to pursue it. We have no account of the intermittent run of certain fish, as witnesssd in our time; but presume it may not have been so remarkable then, when dams and water-wheels had not impeded or frightened the finny adventurers, or when filth and poisons had not made their highways dangerous. We think it will be found that several species of fish will have periodic returns to places which they have left for many years.

Acts of legislation have not been wanting by our town or State; but the fish care nothing about votes. The first mention of specific action by the town, as such, is dated Jan. 18, 1768, when it was voted “to petition the General Court concerning the fishery in this town.”

March 3, 1768: Mr. Benjamin Hall and others petition the General Court “for liberty to draw with seines, at two ”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Benjamin Hall (1)
Mathew Cradock (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
February 16th, 1789 AD (1)
March 3rd, 1768 AD (1)
January 18th, 1768 AD (1)
1631 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: