previous next


Governor Winthrop, writing to his son, runs a parallel between the soil of Mistick and its neighborhood, and the soil of England, and says: “Here is as good land as I have seen there, though none so bad as there. Here can be no want of any thing to those who bring means to raise out of the earth and sea.” Nov. 29, 1630, he writes to his wife, and says: “My dear wife, we are here in a paradise.” Such testimony from a Mystic man, and he the Governor, reads agreeably to our ears. The grants of land made by the General Court to Governor Winthrop, Mr. Cradock, Rev. Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Nowell, show conclusively what the best judges thought of the soil and capabilities of Medford.

Deputy-Governor Dudley, in 1631, writes: “That honest men, out of a desire to draw others over to them, wrote somewhat hyperbolically of many things here.”

Our first farmers here were taught by the Indians how to raise corn; and, in return for that kind service, they gave the redmen European seeds, and called the American grain “Indian corn.” Their crop in 1631 was most abundant; and they began the strange experiment of eating Indian corn, yet with singular misgivings. The crop of the next year was small, owing to the shortness and humidity of the summer. Their fields were not generally fenced, and boundary lines were often unsettled. After a few years, fences became more necessary; and Sagamore John was made to fence his field, and promised to indemnify the whites for any damages his men or cattle should do to their cornfields. There were many lands held in common by companies of farmers, as lands are now held in Nantucket. These large tracts were enclosed by fences, planted by the whole company; and, at the harvest, each received according to his proportion in the investment. This complicated plan brought its perplexities; and the General Court, to settle them, passed the following law, May 26, 1647: Ordered, “That they who own the largest part of any lands common shall have power to order and appoint the improvement of the whole field.”

The farmers here experienced great inconvenience and alarm from the burning of woods. Such was the Indian system of clearing a forest; but it would not do where European settlements obtained. Our fathers therefore applied legislation to the matter in the following form: “Nov. 5, 1639.--Ordered, That whosoever shall kindle a fire in other men's grounds, or in any common grounds, shall be fined ”

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 Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Europe (2)
Nantucket (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
Medford (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
England (United Kingdom) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
John Winthrop (2)
John Wilson (1)
Increase Nowell (1)
Sagamore John (1)
Thomas Dudley (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.
1631 AD (2)
May 26th, 1647 AD (1)
November 5th, 1639 AD (1)
November 29th, 1630 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: