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[329] <*>1to the territory between the Merrimac and
Chap IX.}
Piscataqua, in terms which, in some degree, interfered with the pretensions of his neighbors on the south. This was the patent for New Hampshire, and was pregnant with nothing so signally as suits at law. The country had been devastated by the mutual wars of the tribes, and the same wasting pestilence which left New Plymouth a desert; no notice seems to have been taken of the rights of the natives; nor did they now issue any deed of their lands;2 but the soil in the
immediate vicinity of Dover, and afterwards of Portsmouth, was conveyed to the planters themselves, or to
those at whose expense the settlement had been made.3 A favorable impulse was thus given to the little colonies; and houses now began to be built on the Strawberry Bank of the Piscataqua. But the progress of the town was slow; Josselyn4 described the whole coast as a mere wilderness, with here and there a few huts scattered by the sea-side; and
thirty years after its settlement, Portsmouth made
only the moderate boast of containing ‘between fifty and sixty families.’5

When the grand charter, which had established the

council of Plymouth, was about to be revoked, Mason extended his pretensions to the Salem River, the southern boundary of his first territory, and obtained of the expiring corporation a corresponding patent.
April 22.
There is room to believe, that the king would, without scruple, have confirmed the grant,6 and conferred upon him the powers of government, as absolute lord and proprietary; but the death of Mason cut off all the
Nov 26

1 Hazard, i. 290—293.

2 Savage on Winthrop, i. 405, and ff.

3 Adams's Portsmouth, 17—19.

4 Josselyn's Voyages, 20.

5 Farmer's Belknap, 434.

6 Ibid. 431. and c, II.

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