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[131] were not for him, viz. by the majority of 75 to 34; a proportion much greater on the side of the person chosen our Representative this year than he1 had who was our Representative the last. By this it seems a certain person elect has a growing interest.

Alas for the fickleness of popular favor. Mr. Vassall was not afterwards elected either Selectman or Representative until a few months before his death in 1747. His “interest” attained its full growth suddenly, like Jonah's gourd, and as suddenly collapsed. He was disturbed by a disparaging remark of a townsman, and sought legal redress with disastrous result. The history of the suit is entered on the Records of the Inferior Court for the County of Middlesex, December term, 1740, page 172. By this it appears that Samuel Whittemore of Cambridge, Deputy Sheriff, on the 13th of March, 1739, declared publicly that though Mr. Vassall had been elected Selectman, he “was no more fit to discharge said trust than the horse that he, the said Samuel, then rode on.” On the next day Vassall commenced suit, claiming £ 1,000 damage for defamation of character; he caused Whittemore to be arrested and imprisoned. On the trial, two months afterwards, the Court adjudged that “the words . . . . spoken by the said Samuel were not actionable.” Vassall appealed to the Superior Court, which affirmed the judgment of the Inferior Court. Whittemore then sued Vassall, for false and malicious imprisonment, and recovered £ 200 damage and costs of court. So much appears on record. Tradition says that the writ was served on Vassall at his own table, when surrounded by a large and fashionable dinner-party.

Mr. Vassall was equally unsuccessful in his appeal to the General Court for protection against what he regarded as a personal insult and an encroachment on his official privileges. John Hovey had recovered judgment against him on two bonds, notwithstanding his “plea of privilege (as on file) which was overruled by the Court,” and had levied on his estate. The Records of the General Court show that notice was issued, Dec. 5, 1740, to John Hovey and Samuel Gookin, to make answer to Mr. John Vassall, Representative of Cambridge, who complained of sundry insults received from them. Dec. 10, Mr. Samuel Gookin appeared, and the case was fully examined. “Then the question was put, whether it appears to this House that an attachment being served on Mr. John Vassall's estate on the 18th of November ”

1 He was his own predecessor. The increased majority indicated the “growing interest.”

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