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My Revolutionary ancestors: major Job Cushing, Lieutenant Jerome Lincoln, Walter Foster Cushing

Compiled by Elizabeth Cushing Lincoln
THE History of Hanover, 1853, says ‘Few families in the country have been more celebrated than the Cushings, and probably no other has furnished more judges for our Probate, Municipal and Supreme Courts. In all the branches it has been highly respected, and it still maintains its ancient reputation.’ I quote now from another book, ‘The Genealogy of the Cushing Family forms of itself almost a synopsis of the colonizing and early settlement of the New England States and the best and purest of its stock, the Puritans. We read as in a history, the mode of settlement, the organization of local and general officers for the regular administration, civil and military, of the affairs of the colonies and the origin of the causes which led to the struggle for independence. In the halls of the legislature, in the administration of the laws, and in all the religious controversies of the time in which they lived, the members of the family appear pre-eminent.’

It was a matter of no difficulty to trace the descendants of the early settlers down to the present day, and I am indebted to the Cushing Genealogy by Lemuel Cushing for the following facts.

The derivation of the name is somewhat uncertain. The present form is used by all the descendants of Matthew Cushing, who came to America in 1638. Before the sixteenth century, however, it was variously [p. 46] written. In deeds, wills and charters still extant in Norfolk county, England, referring to the direct lineal ancestors of Matthew, we find Cushyng, Cosyn, Cussyen. Before the fourteenth century it was spelled Cusyn— the final ‘g’ does not appear until 500.

The Cushings of Norfolk, England, were entitled to bear arms for many successive generations through the holdings of the manor of Chosly, Hardingham. The arms are found on the tombstone of Lt.Gov. Thomas Cushing, in the Granary burying ground, Boston, dated 1788. The motto, ‘Virtute et Numine’ (by valor and divine aid), is in general use.

William Cushing was born during the fourteenth century. He was either the son or grandson of Galfridus Cushyn of Hardingham, Norfolk county, England, who is mentioned in the subsidy roll for Norfolk in 1327. He added to the original estates of Hardingham the estates of Hingham, and these were inherited by his son Thomas. Son Thomas was born in the latter part of the reign of Richard II, 1377-1399. A deed contains his name, dated 1466.

His son William, eldest son and heir, lived in Hingham, England. His long and explicit will was dated 1492 and was proved in the Bishop's Court in 1493. In ancient deeds he is styled ‘Gentleman.’

William's oldest son, John, also owned properties in Lombard street, London. He is called ‘Gentleman’ in a survey of the manor of Flockshrop in Hardingham. He is mentioned in the subsidy rolls of Henry VIII.

Thomas, second son of John, inherited the homestead.

Peter, son of Thomas, moved to Hingham in 1600 and married Susan Hawes. The parish register begins with his name, and the notation, ‘He was one of the first Cushings to become Protestant.’

Matthew, son of Peter and Susan Hawes, married Nazareth of the famous family of Admiral Pitcher of England. For the first fifty years of his life he lived in Hardingham and Hingham. In 1638, however, he, with [p. 47] his wife and five children, sailed on the ship Diligent for America. There were one hundred and thirty-three passengers, among whom was Robert Peck, M. A., rector of the parish of Hingham, England. The occasion of their departure seemed to have been trouble in church matters. The rector, with the sympathy and aid of most of the emigrating party, had pulled down the rails of chancel and altar and leveled the latter a foot below the church, as it remains to this day. Being persecuted by Bishop Wain, they sold their estates for half their real value and determined to find a new home.

The party landed in Boston August 10, 1638, and immediately proceeded to their destination, Bear Cove, now Hingham, named for the home of the Cushing family in England. Here they found Samuel Lincoln, also from Norfolk county, England, who had come to this country with his wife and eight children the year preceding. From his eldest son, Samuel, descended Levi Lincoln, Attorney General of the United States and Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts.

From Daniel Lincoln, the second son of Samuel Lincoln, who came to this country from England, are descended the Cohasset Lincolns, my ancestors, who married into the Cushing family.

From Samuel's third son, Mordicai, came Abraham Lincoln.

To go back to the colonists at Hingham: At a town meeting in 1638, a house lot of five acres on Pear Tree hill, Bachelor street, now Main street, was given to Matthew Cushing and it continued in possession of the family until 1887. Matthew was early engaged in the affairs of the town and was deacon in Reverend Hobart's church.

His eldest son, Daniel, inherited, as the custom was, most of the property. He married Elizabeth Jacob. He was an active magistrate for many years and town clerk of Hingham in the years from 1680 to 1695. He was delegate to the General Court. [p. 48]

His son, Matthew, married in 1684 Jael Jacob. He was known as Lieutenant, afterward Captain. He was also a selectman. In his will he left his estate in Hingham to the eldest son, but to son Samuel (my great-grandfather) land in Cohasset; to son Job, money for Harvard; and for daughter Jael, three hundred pounds—she was to be well educated.

Lieutenant-Governor Thomas Cushing was of this family. He was born in 1725, was a friend and coworker with Adams, Otis and Warren, and was made Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts in 1779. Until his death he was a member of the Provincial Congress. He declined a seat in the Continental Congress in 1799.

William Cushing, born in 1732, was Chief Justice in 1777. He was the first to hold office under the free government of the Commonwealth. At the beginning of the Revolution he alone, among the high in office, supported the rights of the Revolutionists. He administered the oath of office to Washington at the beginning of his second term, he being senior justice. He was accompanied on his circuit by Mrs. Cushing, followed by his slave, Prince. He was the last Chief Justice to wear the large wig of England.

Honorable Caleb Cushing, Judge of the Supreme Court, 1852-1857, Attorney General of the United States, was one of the Counsel at the Geneva Congress. He was also Minister to China.

Luther Sterns Cushing was Judge of Common Pleas and author of the Cushing Manual.

The hardy and sturdy Englishmen, to the number of about twenty thousand, who became so disgusted at the unjust treatment from the ruler of the mother country that they left England, established their new homes in a wilderness. Most of them were seized with the colonizing fever between the years 1630 and 1640. According to an order passed by the Massachusetts Bay Company in England in the year 1629, anyone was allowed fifty acres of land wherever he chose it, if he would cross the [p. 49] Atlantic at his own expense. Bear Cove in Hingham was the place selected by my ancestors. The Massachusetts Bay Company owned all the land as far south as Plymouth Company. Accordingly the Colonial Government granted twenty thousand acres, as far back as Weymouth, to these settlers. The land was divided between them. All cedar and pine swamp land was reserved on account of the timber and no man could sell his land without offering it first to the town.

They soon learned how to raise Indian corn and planted grain and vegetables from foreign seed. Apple trees were set out and currant bushes planted. Their clothing was badly worn and their supply of money about exhausted, according to an old diary of the family.

A grist mill at Weymouth was the nearest place to grind corn; it was a long, weary trail. Horses, cattle, sheep and goats had been brought from England. In 1638 the first selectman was appointed and at first it was hard to get the people to the town meetings until a fine of one peck of Indian corn was imposed on everyone who did not attend. There was a fish weir placed at the stream and it is still called Weir river. Plenty of fish was to be had, but the men who planted the weir were allowed to sell the fish for no more than ten shillings six pence a thousand. The first houses were very primitive. For half a century boards and timbers were made out of their forest trees. The tools came from England but the nails were hammered out by native smiths. Bricks were made from native mud and sand. It was an age of colossal chimneys.

Young couples, sons and daughters of the Hingham planters, were given land at Cohasset. Among them, Daniel Lincoln was the first to be found on the Hingham records. Samuel Cushing soon followed and built his house on the hill. He was taxed for twenty-six acres of land. Daniel Lincoln, my ancestor, and his wife Elizabeth, two little boys, Hezikiah and Obidiah, and daughter Elizabeth, had the first home there. He lived here forty years. [p. 50]

About this time the younger brother, Mordicai, ancestor of Abraham Lincoln, settled two miles away. He was too enterprising to remain a farmer and soon established mills upon Bound brook, where it flows between Scituate and Cohasset. Before he died he became the proprietor of a grist mill, sawmill and iron smelter with its forges. There is a tradition in the family telling of his exploits in utilizing this stream. He built three dams. He would shut up one until a good-sized pond was formed. Then on Monday and Tuesday the mill would work under full power. The water then passed on down stream and was caught at the second dam for Wednesday and Thursday, turning the wheels of the second mill. Again at Bound brook dam, the water would work for Friday and Saturday, when it found its way to the ocean.

One of the first homes was that of Israel Nichols, who married Elizabeth, the daughter of Daniel Lincoln, and what is now Jerusalem road was the shore trail between the two homes.

The hardships of the early settlers can be imagined. Coarse garments, poorly cooked food, no carpets, no pictures, small candles, no wagons, no streets—only rutty cart tracks. Wild animals abounded in 1648. The town offered a bounty of twenty shillings to anyone killing a wolf. There were many wolf pits dug. Food in most families was coarse, and the housekeeper worked miracles of cookery. Indian pudding from brick ovens, with rye and Indian meal stirred into a pot of boiling water, appeared in the morning; milk, or later molasses, was eaten with it. Before the days of the Revolution, potatoes were seldom seen, but fish was plentiful, and fruit for the gathering. A story that has come down through the generations tells an amusing incident: A faithful slave of Samuel Cushing had tried in vain to catch those who robbed a favorite pear tree. When about to die he asked to be buried under the tree so he could see who stole Massa's pears. [p. 51]

The flocks of sheep on the hills provided the family with the homespun clothing. Carding at first was done at home with card combs made by fastening wire strands to a slab of wood. Soft cotton sheets were unknown. One of the well-to-do families had in the inventory of household goods one sheet, as late as 1730. Some settlers wore silk but before the Revolution the garments were made of wool and flax. Towels made of this flax are still in existence. Farmers' boots were part of their cattle. They were kept soft and pliable by the use of tallow.

The early settlers of Cohasset were forced to pay taxes on the Hingham church and help support their minister. Church-going was a universal custom. There isolated farmers met together to talk over the affairs of the town. The ride to Hingham was long and weary, so the fortunate owner of a horse would share with his neighbor. He, with his wife on a pillion, would help his neighbors by the old-fashioned way of riding and tying. The first couple would ride half the distance, then dismount and tie the horse to a tree and walk. Meanwhile the second couple soon reached the horse and rested on his back to the meeting-house. It was long before the church of Hingham would allow the precinct of Cohasset to have its own church. But money was collected and a meeting-house was built in 1760.

The pulpit was supplied by young men being educated at Harvard College. Many Saturday mornings a young student might be seen starting on horseback for Cohasset. The fees were thirty shillings per day if ‘he couldn't be had under.’ Nehemiah Hobart was the first minister settled in Cohasset. A few of the congregation could sing a little but Mr. Hobart could preach a great deal, so a long service was carried through. After a noon hour of social intercourse with refreshments, the afternoon service was held.

Now there were living in Cohasset at this time two young men friends. One was Job Cushing; the other [p. 52] was Jerome Lincoln. They went to college together and they were both in the state militia. Job was the youngest son of Samuel, one of eleven children. Jerome was the grandson of the little boy Obidiah Lincoln who has been mentioned before.

When the news of the battle of Concord reached Cohasset nearly every man in town, able to bear arms, was ready to spring into battle. The town voted to buy a hundred weight of gun powder and five hundred flints for the old flintlock guns, which had been used by the militia of the town, and also voted to provide a hiding place in the meeting house to store the same. My Revolutionary ancestor, Captain Job Cushing, was getting the militia into shape for marching as fast as it could be done. Among his company was Jerome Lincoln, my other ancestor. The first company of soldiers were quartered in Roxbury, at the fort on the hill, making the extreme right of the American lines. They were part of the motley crowd of sixteen thousand patriots bent on pushing the British army of ten thousand drilled troops out of Boston. Job Cushing was an active captain throughout the war, in the state forces. In 1781 he was commissioned major and had command of the Second Suffolk regiment.

One of his lieutenants was Jerome Lincoln, whose name appears on the muster roll of Captain Cushing's company for two months service. He was next with Colonel Gratan's regiment and was stationed at Hull. Again we hear of him in the Jersey campaign, camping that dreadful winter, and he was in the battle of Morristown. Needed clothing was sent him by his family.

Neither young man married until after the war. Jerome Lincoln married Elizabeth Lincoln and there were fourteen children. Jerome applied for a pension at the age of seventy-nine. Major Job Cushing married Abigail Pierce of Scituate. There were four children, Job Cushing, Jr., being the eldest. This son, Job, married Elizabeth, daughter of Jerome Lincoln. She was [p. 53] the twelfth of the fourteen children. They were my grandparents. My father, Samuel I. Cushing, was the son of this marriage.

My Grandmother Cushing has told of her young brother, Isaiah. He was on the fishing schooner Nancy that started out on a risky voyage in September, 1814, but she was captured by the British. The captain and Isaiah Lincoln were taken to Halifax as prisoners of war. Because he would not fight against his country he was kept in prison, the British claiming that all who spoke English were British subjects. He died in prison, although he had a certificate of American citizenship signed by General Benjamin Lincoln. A copy of this certificate is in possession of the family.

After the close of the Revolution many of the officers and soldiers who returned to their homes kept some of the habits of military drill in companies of militia, organized under state law. The citizen soldiers had been the only standing army of our colonies previous to our independence. As early as 1641 the Massachusetts colony had required the ‘train band’ of every town to be exercised eight days in every year, each man with a musket. Trees had been left standing on the common for the militia to dodge behind in mock warfare with the Indians. Their service in fighting the battles of the Revolution was in some cases most illustrious. During the Revolution our state militia was at first the only regular soldiers, but as soon as Washington was appointed General by the Congress in Philadelphia in 1775, he organized the Continental Army. The militia forces operated frequently with the Continentals but they were subject to the authority of the state, not to Congress.

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