Matthew Cradock.

by Walter K. Watkins of Malden.
[Read before the Medford Historical Society, February 7, 1903.]

IN 1634, a Herald's Visitation of London was made by St. George, the Herald. Like our modern canvasser for the census and city directory, the Herald got his imformation from the head of the house, if at home, and in those days, as now, the English shopkeeper and merchant dwelt over his own shop.

We may safely assume that the following pedigree was furnished by the governor himself.


We find therefore that his grandfather was Matthew of Stafford, as given by Hon. Francis Brinley in 1854, and copied from a Staffordshire Visitation, in the Herald's office, College of Arms, London. In a pedigree presented in 1855 by Mr. Whitmore, as furnished by Mr. Somerby, the grandfather of Matthew, the governor, [p. 2] is given as William, gent. merchant of the Staple of Carmarthen, 1597, which is manifestly wrong.

In the will of Governor Cradock he gives to the poor of the parish of St. Peter-le-Poor in Broad Street, ‘where I served my apprenticeship,’ £ 40 sterling.

The church of St. Peter-le-Poor is situated on the western side of Old Broad street, nearly opposite the south corner of where the Excise Office stood in the last century.

The church dates back to 1181, and is said to have received its name from the poor and mean inhabitants that anciently lived there, but in Cradock's time many people of wealth resided there.

It was in this locality that Governor Cradock passed several years of his youth, amongst the apprentices of the Skinners Company.

While the curriers had to do with the tanning of hides and skins for shoes, etc., the skinners had to do with skins valuable for their fur. Their first charter is dated March 1, 1327-8, and others were received later, but the one under which the company now acts is that of December 2, 1606.

In 1327, the freemen of the craft were limited in their abode to Walbrook, Cornhill, and Bridge Row, which might be designated as the locality of Cannon street near the Mansion House. In Downegate, or Dowgate Ward, on the street of the same name, stood Skinners' Hall, called Copped Hall, which was destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666.

It was in this locality, in the south wall of St. Swithin's Church, that the London Stone was preserved for centuries.

A letter which Cradock wrote Endicott, in 1628, states it was written from his house in St. Swithin's Lane, near London Stone. Stowe states, in 1598, ‘This lane is replenished on both the sides with fair built houses.’

In 1624, Matthew Cradock appears as one of the [p. 3] signers of a supplication of a generalty of the adventurers trading to the East Indies. (E. I. papers, E. I. papers, p. 491,)

In 1628, he is named as one of the eight chief new adventurers to Persia and East Indies, and holding £ 2,000 of stock; and he served on committees of the company for several years.

In 1628, he, with Winthrop, Johnson, Dudley, Goffe, and Saltonstall, had joined with several from Dorset and Devon in the planting of that part of New England between the Merrimac and Charles rivers. As such an associate his name appears in the first charter of the colony, which passed the seals, March 4, 1628-9, and is therein named to be the first and present governor of the ‘Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England.’ His duties were to give orders for the assembling of the company to advise and consult on its affairs. He with seven or more of the assistants constituted a General Court, which was to meet four times a year upon every last Wednesday in Hillary, Easter, Trinity, and Michaelmas terms, when men were made free of the company and laws made for its government.

His oath as governor was administered by a Master of Chancery, Sir Charles Caesar, March 18, 1628-9, and Cradock as governor administered the oaths to the deputy-governor and assistants.

The governor presided at meetings of the company previously held on March 2, 1628-9, and on the 3d, 5th, 6th, 9th, 10th, on which date the governor, with a committee to assist him, was chosen to divide the lands in New England. Meetings were held March 23 and April 30, 1629, May 11,13, on which date Mr. Cradock was chosen governor for the year following.

On May 18 a court of the assistants was held, and on the 19th a committee of the governor and Messrs. White, Whetcomb, and Adams met at the house of the governor and decided on the allotment of lands. This was confirmed May 21 and on May 22 the governor, deputy, [p. 4] and Messrs. Adams and Humphrey met at the governor's house and the orders regarding allotments of land and a general letter of instructions to Endicott were acted upon.

Meetings were held June 11, June 17, and July 28. At this last the governor proposed a ship of four hundred tons be bought, in which he ventured one-eighth. He also advised that for the advancement of the plantation and to induce people of worth and quality to go there with their families, that the government be transferred to New England. The matter was referred to the next meeting, which was held on August 28 and 29, 1629, at the house of the deputy-governor, Mr. Goffe, the governor not being present. By a general consent it was voted to transfer the government. Meetings were held September 19 and 29; at the latter was discussed the legality of the transfer of the government, etc. The governor was commissioned to purchase the ship Eagle, of which he took one-eighth. Meetings were held October 15, 16, 19, 20, at which Cradock presided as governor.

On October 20, 1629, the special business of the General Court meeting was the election of a new governor, deputy, and assistants consequent on the transfer of the government to New England. Mr. John Winthrop was elected governor and Mr. John Humphrey deputy-governor.

Committees of five each on the part of the planters and the adventurers at home were appointed to arrange matters and settle differences. The adventurers' committee were Matthew Cradock, Samuel Aldersley, Nathaniel Wright, Thomas Hutchins, and Capt. John Venn. Cradock was elected an assistant, and as such attended other meetings of the company held in England.

November 20, 1629, a meeting was called to plan for the payment of £ 1,200, disbursed by Cradock. November 25 and 30 and December 1, 1629, General Court meetings were held, and the last date Cradock became [p. 5] one of ten to undertake the joint stock of the company for seven years, it being in arrears some £ 3,000 or more, the undertakers to provide a sufficient number of ships to sail by March 1, 1629-30.

December 15, 1629, a meeting was held, and on February 10, 1629-30, a common stock was raised and allotment made of two hundred acres for every £ 50 subscribed.

After a meeting at Southampton and one on the Arbella the meetings were held in New England, and therefore not attended by Cradock. His interest in the enterprise was active, inasmuch as he went to Southampton, and on March 29, 1629-30, visited the Arbella, riding at Cowes, Isle of Wight, and on his taking leave a farewell salute of four or five shot was given him. From thence the vessel sailed to Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, when Cradock again visited her, and on leaving was saluted with three shots.

On the voyage to New England two of the servants of Mr. Cradock died and were buried at sea. Winthrop arrived in New England in June, 1630. In September we find record of the death of one Austen Bratcher at Mr. Cradock's plantation.

March 8, 1630-1, a servant of his, Thomas Fox, was ordered whipped for scandalous speeches against the General Court.

Endicott had sailed as agent of the company, and arrived at Salem, September 6, 1628. On February 13, 1628-9, a letter was received from him which was answered by Cradock, in behalf of the company, on February 16, 1628-9. In this he rejoiced to hear ‘that my cozen, your wiffe were perfectly recovered of her healthe’ etc., ending, ‘Yor assured loving friende and Cusen, Mathewe Cradock.’

Among the articles mentioned in his letter for a return cargo were beaver or other commodities or fish, ‘alsoe good store of shoomacke, if there to be had, as we are informed there is, the like doe I wishe for a Tun [p. 6] weighte at least of silk grasse, & of ought elce yt maye be usefull for dyinge.’

The company's first general letter of instructions to Endicott was dated at Gravesend, April 17, 1629. Among other matters it mentions ‘wee may not omitt to pray you likewise to give all good accomodacon to or present Governor, Mr. Matthew Cradock, who, with some prticuler bretheren of our Company, have deepeley engaged themselves in their private adventures in these Shipps & those to come, and as we hold these Men that thus deepely adventure in their private, to bee (under God) spetiall Instrumts for the advancing & strenthning of or Plantacon, wch is done by them without any Charge to the Companyes genrall Stock, wherin notwthstanding they are as deepe or deeper engaged than any other, soe being contented to be debarred from all private Trading in furrs for 3 years, wee doe hold it very requisite in all other their desires to give them all accomodacon & furtherance that reasonably may be prpounded by them, or any for them, their good beginings in the infancie of or Plantacon worthylie deserving of us all favour and furtherance.’

Six shipwrights were sent; two-thirds of their time was to be employed for the general company and one-third for Mr. Cradock and his associates in a private stock. Horses, mares, cows, bulls, and goats shipped by Mr. Cradock were divided equally between him and the company. William Ryall and Thomas Brude, coopers and cleavers of timber, were to divide their time equally for the governor and the company. Richard Ewstead, wheelwright, two-thirds of his labor for the company, one-third for the governor.

In a second letter of May 28, 1629, of two ‘gardners’ he was content the company have use of one. Of three ships sent, the governor and his partners risked one-half, the company one-half; all provision for fishing and shipping of the cattle sent also was equally divided. The [p. 7] cattle then and previously sent were provided by the governor, except three mares.

The three ships sent at this time were the historic Mayflower, the Pilgrim, and the Four Sisters. In other matters two-thirds was the company's proportion, one-third the governor's.

His agent seemed to be Mr. Samuel Sharpe, who had charge of the ordnance and artillery business of the colony. The silver seal and charter of the company were sent in his care. In case of the death of Endicott, Mr. Skelton or Sharpe was to assume command. In case of Sharpe's sickness, Henry Haughton was to act as Cradock's agent, but Haughton died the first year.

Capt. Israel Stoughton, in a letter to his brother, Dr. John Stoughton of London, dated from Dorchester, N. E., May, 1634, writes, ‘Mr. Patrickson, Mr. Cradock's agent, happily came in the spring.’ This may refer to Capt. Daniel Patrick, who was at Watertown, and killed at Stamford, Conn., in 1643.

June 14, 1631, Philip Ratcliffe, a servant of Mr. Cradock, was convicted of malicious and scandalous speeches against the government and the church at Salem; he was censured, whipped, lost his ears, and was banished the plantation.

Of this affair Thomas Morton, in his New England Canaan, represents Ratcliffe as Mr. Innocence Faircloth, sent over by Mr. Matthias Charterparty, ‘an injured man whose chief offence was asking payment of his debts in his sickness.’

Ratcliffe, Morton, and Sir Christopher Gardiner circulated stories, in refutation of which Capt. Thomas Wiggin, in 1632, writes Secretary Coke of his having just returned from New England, and speaks of them as scandalous characters, and their information false.

Morton published his New Canaan in 1637. Cradock writes to Governor Winthrop of a Mooreton he met on the Exchange in London, whom he would not talk with until he called Captain Pierce of the Mayflower as a witness to the conversation. [p. 8]

November 7, 1632, Cradock was fined £ 4 for his men being absent from training diverse times.

March 4, 1633-4, ‘the Ware att Misticke is granted to John Winthrop Esq psent Gouvr & to Mr Matthewe Cradocke of London mercht. to enjoy to them & their heires forever.’

Of this locality William Wood, in his New England's Prospect, published in London in 1634, says of Misticke: ‘there be not many houses as yet. At the head of this river are great and spacious ponds, whither the alewives press to spawn. On the east side is Master Cradock's plantation, where he hath impaled a park, where he keeps his cattle, till he can store it with deer. Here likewise he is at charges of building ships. The last year one was upon the stocks of a hundred tons.’

Ship-building here may have commenced as early as 1629, when a bark was built. It is more probable, however, that bark was built at Salem, under Endicott's directions or his predecessors, at Cape Ann.

It was not till 1629 that Cradock sent six shipwrights, as mentioned in the letter of April 17, 1629, to Endicott.

That the prominent men of the Bay Company appreciated Cradock's support of the enterprise cannot be shown more strongly than by this extract from John Humfrey's letter to Isaac Johnson: ‘Mr. Craddocke indeede would have stucke by mee, & (I thinke) sent and lent 20 tun to the plantation, beside him not a man (no, not to save your lives & the life of the worke in you) would do anie thing to purpose. . . . And trulie of all those that here are interested in the plantation there is none that retains so lively affections unto you as himself, nor that is more likely or more able to do us real courtesies (especiallie with the state) than himself.’ (December 23, 1630.)

July 7, 1635, Sir Harry Vane the younger, writing to his father, says he is newly come back from speaking with Mr. Cradock concerning the writer's intended journey, and that he offered him accommodation when [p. 9] he came to New England, and what he could not provide himself with, Cradock promised to send after him.

Cradock, in a letter to Winthrop, September 13, 1636, says, ‘I am harteley glad to heare of the good approbacion of our newe Gouvernour there Mr Vane.’

In Wood's works there is no mention of a house on Cradock's plantation; there surely was none of brick, like the present pretentious structure.

‘All the ground, as well upland as meadowe, lyeing & being betwixte the lands of Mr Nowell & Mr Wilson, on the east & the ptcion betwixte Misticke bounds, on the west, bounded with Misticke Ryver on the southe & the rocks on the north, is granted to Mr Mathewe Cradocke, mercht, to enjoy to him & his heires for ever.’

This confirmatory grant is dated March 4, 1634-5. March 3, 1635-6, in running Charlestown bounds, a reservation was made of the proprietary of the farms of Winthrop, Nowell, Cradock, and Wilson, with free egress and ingress to them, with a common for their cattle on the backside of Mr. Cradock's farm.

Under date of September 13, 1636, Cradock writes to Governor Winthrop, mainly in regard to his agent (since 1634), Thomas Mayhew, with whose doings he was not quite satisfied. In the postscript, Cradock writes of his purpose to apply himself to ‘tylledge & increasing my stock of cattell, and having had recourse to a plase caled Shaw Shynn where I heare none comes but myselffe,’ and he asks for two thousand acres there. He adds, ‘when I shall putt up a tenement & a dame as I have herewith given order there about.’

This reference to an erection of a building at Shawsheen (Billerica) would show that Cradock was in the habit of providing a housing for his people, of whom there were many working for his interests, as we have shown. This is strengthened by the following affidavit in the Middlesex Court Files.

The testimony of Richard Beers, Ben amin Crispe, and Garret Church in 1662 was that Mr. Thomas Mayhew [p. 10] lived at Mystic, alias Meadford, in the year 1636. Nicholas Davison succeeded Mayhew as Cradock's agent.

Joseph Hills of Malden, in his affidavit on the same date, stated that about 1638 (not 1633, as Mr. Cushing states) ‘Mr. Davison lived at Meadford house, who shewed me the accommodations of the farme being about to to take ye said farme and stock of him and Captaine Will Ting; and I testify that Mr Mayhew did not then dwell at Meadford house to ye best of my knowledge.’

In fact, we find that Thomas Maihew was one of the eleven freemen at Watertown to dispose of all civil affairs, October 10, 1636; again, December 30, 1637; again, December 10, 1638.

In a letter dated London, March 15, 1636-7, the following appears in a postscript:—

‘I thinke I shal be forsed to bee a suytor for some land at Shaweshynne the best of myne as I ame informed neere my house beeing allotted to Mr. Wilson & Mr. Nowell therefore pray your furderance wherein shall bee needfull.’

It would seem by this that the house stood in the east part of Cradock's lands, adjoining Wilson and Nowell lands, in what is now Malden.

March 12, 1637-8, a grant of one thousand acres was made to Cradock and five hundred acres for his servants, twenty miles from any plantation.

At a court held at Boston, September 3, 1639, Lydia Dastin, wife of Josiah Dastin of Charlestown, a young woman of twenty-six, testified while in the house of Mr. Cradocke at misticke at meat with one Robert Panare he assaulted her, and caused her to cut her hand and her apron, that it was a little before night and her husband coming home late that night she did not make it known till the next evening.

This affidavit specially mentions the house of Mr. Cradock, and it would seem there was none other. [p. 11]

April 26, 1641, Cradock grants Josiah Dawstin of Mistick at Medford in New England ‘all that my messuage or tenement late in the tenure of the saide Dawstin commonly called Dixes house, together with six acres of planting ground adjoining, also seven acres of meadow commonly called by the name of Rock meadow, together with firewood from the woods near there, also wood sufficient for building and sustaining his dwelling house on the land aforesaid.’

It would seem by these facts that the house was of wood. Its name, Dixe's house, might refer to a house built by Anthony Dixe, or Dicks, carpenter, who is mentioned as an inhabitant of Charlestown in 1641. Josiah Dawston, or Duston, was in Reading in 1647, where he died January 16, 1671-2. His widow, a woman of eighty in 1692, was arrested that year for witchcraft, as was her daughter, Mary Colson. The former was accused of witchcraft practised in Malden, but the jury found her not guilty.

Robert Gorges had leased or granted to John Oldham and John Dorrell ‘all the lands within Mattachusetts Bay betweene Charles River and Abousett (Saugus) River, Contained in lengt by a streight lyne 5 Myles up the said Charles,’ etc. This grant covered all the lands of Mystic Side and was held valid by Oldham in 1629. Cradock suggested his claim might be prevented by ‘causing some to take possession of the chiefe pt thereof.’

His advice seems to have been followed by Cradock's possession of part the land in dispute.

June 2, 1641, Mr. Thomas Mayhewe and Mr. Joseph Cooke are appointed to set out the five hundred acres of Mr. Oldham for Mr. Cradock near Mount Feake (in Waltham).

March 18, 1647, Nicholas Davison, as attorney for Mrs. Glover, granted this to Thomas Mayhew, for which he was to deliver one thousand acres of land at Martin's Vinyard. [p. 12]

July 2, 1639, Nicholas Davison, as agent for Cradock, conveyed to Thomas Mayhew all Cradock's moietey of the watermill at Watertown and his six shares of the wear which was mortgaged by Mayhew to Cradock. The mill at Watertown was probably built in 1634, at the joint expense of Cradock and Edward How, they each owning one-half. Mayhew bought How's half, and later the half owned by Cradock.

The mill race or canal was probably the oldest artificial canal in this part the country.

February 1, 1633, ‘Mr. Cradock's house at Marblehead was burnt down about midnight before, there being then in it Mr. Allerton, and many fishermen, whom he employed that season.’

To this little fishing colony I feel specially indebted, as by the presence of Allerton, of Mayflower fame, his daughter became acquainted with a Dorset man of the colony, one Moses Maverick, and by their marriage a daughter was born, who married; and then, generation by generation, a descent is produced which has furnished a Mayflower ancestry to my family.

While Roger Williams was at Salem he seems to have had dealings with Cradock, through his agents, Mayhew and Jolliffe; and for a debt of £ 50 or £ 60 they took payment of his house there, which is still standing at the corner of North and Essex streets, Salem, and known as the Witch House.

In 1639, John Stratton of Salem, gent, conveyed all his interest in lands at Cape Porpoise (the present northeast boundry of Kennebunk Harbor) ‘to Richard Saltonstall and Rev. Hugh Peters, that was not already sold to Matthew Cradock, merchant.’

Under date of February 27, 1639, Cradock wrote Winthrop. Among other matters he mentions that he ‘understands there is voluntary contribucions towrds a Colledge in Cambridge, which I must confess is a worthy worke. I pray your worship bee pleased to moove the Court to cleere that debt dewe to me by [p. 13] the Country, out of which money I ame content and doe freeley geeve fyftey pounds to the sayd Colledge & for the advansement thereof.’ The nonpayment of the debt, which his widow claimed after his death, prevents Cradock being recorded among the early benefactors of Harvard College.

Cradock's adventures were not all in foreign parts. In the seventeenth century, or more particularly in 1641, there was a scheme to furnish an army, to suppress rebellion in Ireland, by private adventurers, to be ultimately paid by the lands of the rebels.

Matthew Cradock seems to have embarked in this enterprise, which was mainly composed of London merchants, and the lands awarded him are described on Roll XXXIX, membrane 82, in the Record Office in Four Courts, Dublin.

Mr. Cushing credits Matthew Cradock with a military career, stating he was enrolled among the cuirassiers of Pycehill Hundred, Staffordshire. In this I think he is in error, the Matthew referred to being one of the Staffordshire family, which continued in that section.

Under the date of February 27, 1639, Cradock writes to Winthrop: ‘The Writts for a parlaiment are nowe abroad. I heare there hath beene great adoe at Westminster theise 2 dayes about there burgesses, & not yeet agreed on. Come Tuesday next the burgesses of London are to bee chosen, beeing the 4 March. God in mercy dyrect them & the whole kingdome in theire choise, that this parlament may produce good to the Realme; approaching evils being much to be feared. . . . If you shall thinke of ought fitt to bee mooved in parlament consider seriously of it with the Court there, to whome I pray you tender my best service with all deue respects and upon notice of your desires I doubt not but to fynd meanes to furder the same, wherein my best indeuours shall at least wise not bee wanting. . . . I joye more in the expectation of that good shall come to others there when I shal bee dead & gone, then I [p. 14] greyve for my owne losses thowgh they have beene verry heavey & greate.’

Cradock was a member of the Parliament which sat April 13, 1640, for the city of London, and of the following session, beginning November 3, 1640, known as the Long Parliament.

Of this body, Sir John Bramston, a devoted Royalist, the son of one of the ship money judges, writes thus of its composition:—

‘Those gentlemen who had been imprisoned about the loans, benevolences, or any other the like matters; such citizens as had been sued, imprisoned or molested about tonnage or poundage, or the customs; all that had any ways appeared obstinate and refractory to the government and the king's commands about ship money, coat and conduct money or the Commission, were chosen either for counties or boroughs.’

Commissioners were sent into all counties for the defacing, demolishing, and quite taking away of all images, altars, or tables turned altarwise, crucifixes, superstitious pictures, monuments, and ‘reliques’ of idolatry out of all chapels and churches.

At the present day we mourn the loss of tablets and memorials in the churches and even parish registers destroyed because of the gilt cross on the outside cover.

In the trial of Strafford and other important events, Cradock participated as a member of the House of Commons. May 21, 1641, he was on a committee for recusants with Sir Henry Mildmay, Sir Symon d'ewes, and others. This was his last appearance, as he died May 27, 1641.

May 28, 1641, ‘This evening there was an order given for a writ to issue for the new election of a. Burgess for London in Master Cradock's place who is lately dead.’ (Diurnal Occurrences.)

The will of Matthew Cradock dated November 9, 1640 is recorded in Middlesex, Mass. Probate records, under date of February 12, 1662. In it he mentions his [p. 15] wife Rebecca, and daughter Damaris, who each receive one half his estate, the widow a life interest only, to go on her death to his brother Rev. Samuel Cradock, or his heirs. On the widow's and daughter's marriage their husbands were to give sureties not to sell or alienate the estate. He names his nephew Samuel who was then a student at Emanuel College. He names his sister Sawyer and her daughter Dorothy. He gives his partners Thomas Hodlow and Edward Lewis in the Eastland trade, £ 600 each.

The Eastland Company was another of the trading companies in which Cradock was interested. The company traded to what are now the Baltic provinces. Cradock also traded in the Mediterranean and in the Levant. (State Papers, 1636-7 p. 377.)

Mrs. Rebecca, a daughter of a London merchant, Thomas Jordan, the widow of Matthew Cradock, after a few years of conventional mourning, espoused, before February 12, 1644-5, perhaps for a social position, Richard Glover, gent. Their wedded life was not a lengthy one; he died before the spring of 1647. After a suitable period of five years, in 1652, she was wedded to a third husband, Rev. Benjamin Whichcote, D. D., not only a learned and pious man but of a good old Lincolnshire family. It is said of him ‘It pleased God to bless him, as with a plentiful estate, so with a charitable mind. He was not only Charitable in his life but in a very bountiful manner at his death, bequeathing in pious and charitable legacies, to value of £ 1000.’ We can therefore be satisfied that the wealth of Matthew Cradock was put to good uses.

note.—Gov. Matthew Cradock's ancestors were of Welch origin. In the first half of the fifteenth century, John (1) Cradock in. Jane, d. of Richard Needham, Esq. Their s. John (2) m.——d. of Richard Middleton or Middleboro, Esq. Their s. Richard (3) m. Alice, d. of John Dorrington. Their s. Thomas (4) m.——, and d., 1530. His s. Thomas (5) m. Emma, d. of Nicholas Meveral, Esq. Their s. Matthew (6) m. Mary Peake, and was grandfather of the governor. (See p. 1.)

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