Chapter 6: civil History.
Notwithstanding Mr. Shepard and his associates here “found sufficient for themselves and their company,” and appear by the Records to have enjoyed temporal prosperity, as indicated in the foregoing chapter, they were not fully satisfied, but seriously contemplated a removal to Connecticut. To such removal they were advised and encouraged by Mr. Hooker, whose eldest daughter had become the second wife of Mr. Shepard in 1637. How far Mr. Hooker may have been influenced by family considerations, or how far by that spirit of emulation, or perhaps of jealousy, which naturally enough existed between the rival colonies, —or whether his advice was altogether disinterested,—does not distinctly appear; but that he gave such advice, even with urgency, his own letters to Mr. Shepard afford conclusive evidence. Very probably Gov. Winthrop intended that Mr. Hooker should make a personal application of his general remarks contained in a letter addressed to him as early as 1638: “If you could show us the men that reproached you, we should teach them better manners than to speak evil of this good land God hath brought us to, and to discourage the hearts of their brethren; only you may bear a little with the more moderate of them, in regard that one of yours opened the door to all that have followed, and for that they may conceive it as lawful for them to discourage some with us from forsaking us to go to you, as for yours to plott by encouragements &c., to draw Mr. Shephard and his whole church from us. Sic fama est.” 1 Two years later, Mr. Hooker wrote an earnest letter to Mr. Shepard, which was long preserved in the library of the Massachusetts Historical Society, but which is now in the Massachusetts Archives:—
I writ another letter, because happily4 some of the brethren would be ready to desire the sight of what is writ; that you may shew; this you ∧ shew or conceal, as you see meet.The Town Records give no intimation of this financial distress. But from other sources we learn that in the year 1640, not only Cambridge but the whole Colony was in imminent danger of bankruptcy. Hutchinson says that, in this year, “the importation of settlers now ceased. The motive to transportation to America was over, by the change in the affairs of England.— This sudden stop had a surprising effect upon the price of cattle. They had lost the greatest part of what was intended for the first supply, in the passage from Europe. As the inhabitants multiplied, the demand for the cattle increased, and the price of a milch cow had kept from 25 to 30l, but fell at once this year to 5 or 6l. A farmer, who could spare but one cow in a year out of his stock, used to clothe his family with the price of it, at the expense of the new comers; when this failed they were put to difficulties. Although they judged they had 12,000 neat cattle, yet they had but about 3,000 sheep in the Colony.” 6 Winthrop says, “This year there came over great store of provisions, both out of England and Ireland, and but few passengers (and those brought very little money), which was occasioned by the store of money and quick markets which the merchants found here the two or three years before, so as now all our money was drained  from us, and cattle and all commodities grew very cheap, which enforced us at the next General Court, in the eighth month, to make an order, that corn should pass in payments of new debts; Indian, at 4s. the bushel; rye, at 5s., and wheat, at 6s.; and that upon all executions for former debts, the creditor might take what goods he pleased (or, if he had no goods, then his lands), to be appraised by three men, one chosen by the creditor, one by the debtor, and the third by the Marshall.” 7 To this state of things Mr. Hooker probably referred when he renewed his efforts, in the letter already quoted, to persuade Mr. Shepard and his congregation to remove. But why they should remove to Connecticut rather than to some other part of Massachusetts does not very plainly appear. There were large tracts of unappropriated lands here. There is no evidence that Mr. Shepard or his people had any jealousy, such as some have supposed to operate on their predecessors. On the contrary, Mr. Shepard was a prominent member of the religious party which had recently triumphed in the Antinomian controversy, and his own congregation had been preserved from all taint of the great heresy. Concerning the “Antinomian and Famalistic opinions” which then distracted the churches, Cotton Mather says, “a synod8 assembled at Cambridge, whereof Mr. Shepard was no small part, most happily crushed them all. The vigilancy of Mr. Shepard was blessed, not only for the preservation of his own congregation from the rot of these opinions, but also for the deliverance of all the flocks which our Lord had in the wilderness. And it was with a respect unto this vigilancy, and the enlightening and powerful ministry of Mr. Shepard, that, when the foundation of a college was to be laid, Cambridge rather than any other place was pitched upon to be the seat of that happy seminary: out of which there proceeded many notable preachers, who were made such by their sitting under Mr. Shepard's ministry.” Magnalia, B. III., ch. v., § 12. Possibly, however, this “vigilancy” of Mr. Shepard, and this faithfulness of his congregation, throughout one of the most violent conflicts of religious opinion ever known in this country, may have stimulated the subsequent desire to remove beyond the limits of Massachusetts. This seems to be indicated in the fifth  “Reason for removing,” entered by Mr. Shepard on the fly-leaf of one of his manuscript books,9 namely:—All here salute you and yours.5
Reas. for removing. 1. You say some brethren cannot live comfortably with so little. 2. We put all the rest upon a temptation. Lots being but little, and estates will increase or live in beggary. For to lay land out far off is intolerable to men; near by, you kill your cattle. 3. Because if another minister come, he will not have room for his company.—Religion.— 4. Because now if ever is the most fit season; for if gate be opened, many will come in among us, and fill all places, and no room in time to come; at least, not such good room as now. And now you may best sell. 5. Because Mr. Vane will be upon our skirts.Mr. Vane was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 1636, and was an active associate of Mrs. Hutchinson in the Antinomian party. Chiefly, it would seem, on account of his religious opinions, he was superseded in 1637, and soon returned to England. It was probably feared that he would use his great interest at court in opposition to the Colony which had thus denounced him as a heretic and disappointed his political hopes. Mr. Shepard and his congregation may have considered themselves in peculiar danger on account of their very energetic opposition to him, and have thought that Connecticut would afford a more secure shelter from his wrath. Subsequent events, however, showed that all such fears were groundless. Mr. Vane manifested his friendship to the colonists, through life, by many kind offices in their behalf. This temptation to remove was not kept secret, though no direct reference to it appears on record.10 It was discussed in a  Church meeting at Cambridge, Feb. 14, 1640-1, as appears by Mr. Shepard's Diary, at which time the project passes out of sight, probably in consequence of a grant then recently made by the General Court, to wit: Oct. 7, 1640. “The town of Cambridge is granted a month to consider of Shawshin for a village for them, and if they like it not, the town of Roxberry hath liberty to consider of it for a village for them till the next General Court.” The examination was satisfactory; for the grant was conditionally made June 2, 1641: “Shawshin is granted to Cambridge, provided they make it a village, to have ten families there settled within three years; otherwise the Court to dispose of it.” About a year later this grant was renewed, with slight change of condition; and a final disposition was made of the affair, March 7, 1643-4: “Shawshin is granted to Cambridge, without any condition of making a village there; and the land between them and Concord is granted them, all save what is formerly granted to the military company or others, provided the church and present elders continue at Cambridge.” 11 The church and elders did remain; lands at Shawshine were soon afterwards assigned to individuals, thus relieving the supposed deficiency of accommodations; a competent number became resident proprietors and cultivators; and in 1655, Shawshine was incorporated as a separate town, called Billerica, which has since been shorn of its original dimensions by the incorporation of other towns.  The grant of the Shawshine lands removed all reasonable doubt of sufficient “accommodation,” and the Mattabeseck project seems to have been utterly abandoned. These lands were not immediately divided, but were held in reservation for future use. Meanwhile, measures were adopted for the improvement of the present abode, as the records indicate. Dec. 13, 1641. “Agreed that Robert Holmes and John Stedman shall take care for the making of the town-spring, against Mr. Dunster's barn, a sufficient well, with timber and stone, fit for the use of man and watering of cattle. Also Richard Jackson is to be an assistant to them by way of advice, if they shall require it.” 12 Nov. 5, 1646. “Ordered by the Townsmen, that there shall be fifty shillings paid unto Tho. Longhorne, for his service to the town in beating the drum this two years last past.” Jan. 11, 1646-7.
Ordered, That whatever person or persons shall cut down, or cause to be cut down, any tree or trees whatsoever, whether living or dead, in swamp or upland, on this side Menottime River (the great swamp only exempted), shall forfeit for every tree so felled ten shillings. This order to continue until further order be taken by the Townsmen. It is also further ordered, That whatsoever person or persons who hath any land at Menottime laid out unto himself or his house wherein he dwelleth shall, after the 12th day of this present month, cut out or take away directly or indirectly any wood or timber on this side the path which goeth from the mill13 to Watertowne, every such person shall forfeit for every such load, if it be timber, five shillings per load, and if wood, two shillings per load. Provided, that there is liberty granted, until the 20th day of this present month, for the fetching home of what is already cut out; and after that whatever is found to be forfeit.Field-drivers were first elected in 1647: Gilbert Crackbone for the West field, Thomas Hall for the Pine-swamp field, Thomas Beale for the Town within the pales, and——Russell for the Neck of land. Commissioners “to end small causes,” Sealer of Leather, and Clerk of the Market, first elected in 1648. June 12, 1648. “Upon the complaint of Edward Goffe against Richard Cutter for wrongful detaining of calves impounded by  him of the said Edward Goffe's, wherein Samuell Eldred witnesseth:—Edward Goffe desired his calves of Richard Cutter, promising to pay all damages and cost as two men should apprehend to be right; but the said Richard Cutter denied to let him have them except he would take a course with his boy and promise they should never come there again; and a second time, being desired to let Edward Goffe have the calves, he answered, No. The Townsmen, having considered the business, they thus order,—that Edward Goffe shall pay fourteen pence damage to Richard Cutter, and Richard Cutter shall pay for the costs of the same witnesses, four shillings and seven pence.” Nov. 20, 1648. “Ordered, That there shall be an eight-penny ordinary provided for the Townsmen every second Monday of the month, upon their meeting day; and that whoever of the Townsmen fail to be present within half an hour of the ringing of the Bell (which shall be half an hour after eleven of the clock), he shall both lose his dinner and pay a pint of sack, or the value, to the present Townsmen; and the like penalty shall be paid by any that shall depart from the rest, without leave. The charges of the dinner shall be paid by the Constable out of the town stock.” The practice, thus inaugurated, of dining or partaking of other refreshments at the public expense, seems to have been generally observed by the selectmen for nearly two hundred years, until the municipal form of goverment was changed; not indeed at every meeting, nor was the expense always limited to eight pence each. Feb. 16, 1648-9. Voted, by the Town, “That the Townsmen should prosecute suit in law against such of the inhabitants of Watertowne as have trespassed in our Great Swamp.” 14  Fence-viewers were first elected March 12, 1648-9, for the Neck, Pine-swamp fields, Menotomy fields, and West field; a Sealer of Weights and Measures, Jan. 14, 1649-50; and a Gauger, “to size cask,” Nov. 10, 1651. Feb. 11, 1649-50. “The request of Richard ffrances for remitting the present town rate, in regard of God's visitation by sickness on himself and family, is granted.” Dec. 9, 1650. “Whereas dreadful experience shows the inevitable danger and great loss, not only to particular persons, but also to the whole town, by the careless neglect of keeping chimneys clean from soot, and want of ladders in time of need, the select Townsmen, taking the same into their serious consideration, do therefore order that every person inhabiting within the bounds of this town, before the 10th of the next month provide one or more sufficient ladders at all times in a readiness to reach up to the top of his or their house; and forthwith and at all times hereafter see that their chimneys be kept clean swept at least once every month, upon the penalty of 2s. 6d. for every month's neglect herein.” March 10, 1650-1. “Mr. Joseph Cooke hath liberty granted to fell timber on the common for to fence in his orchard.” Jan. 7, 1651-2. “William Manning is granted liberty by the inhabitants of the town, at a general meeting, to make a wharf out of the head of the creek,15 towards Mr. Pelham's barn, and build a house on it, to come as high as the great pine stump, and range with Mr. Pelham's fence next the high street into town.” Besides the foregoing transactions of a general character, the Records show that, during this period, a new meeting-house was erected, and provisions made for the support of the Grammar school; both which subjects will be mentioned in another place. Measures were also adopted to convert the Shawshine territory to profitable use. No general division of the land was made before 1652; yet the Records indicate some grants to individuals,  and the appropriation of one thousand acres “for the good of the church.” I quote again from the Town Records:—-- April 9, 1648. “It was agreed at a general meeting, when the whole town had special warning to meet for the disposing of Shawshine, that there should be a farm laid out, of a thousand acres, to be for a public stock, and improved for the good of the church and that part of the church that here shall continue; and every person or persons that shall from time to time remove from the church do hereby resign up their interest therein to the remaining part of the church of Cambridge. This thousand acres of land, given to the use aforesaid, shall be laid out either all together, or else severally part in one place and part elsewhere, according to the discretion of the men that are appointed to lay out the land.” “Also there was granted to several brethren that had no house-right in the town, if they did desire it,” farms at Shawshine:—
Imprimis, Capt. Googine a farm, if he buy a house in the town; also to Bro. Edward Oakes, Tho. Oakes, and Richard Hildreth, each of them a farm for their encouragement, if they see it may make for their support and desire it. Further, it is granted to Mr. Henry Dunster and Mr. Edward Collins liberty to have their small farms at Shawshine, and to be considered in their quantity more than others in regard of their work and place.April 1649. Agreed,
that Mr. Henry Dunster, President of Harvard College, should have 500 acres, whereof 400 is granted by the town to his own person and heirs, to enjoy freely forever, and the other 100 acres for the use of Harvard College. Item, unto Mr. Daniell Googine 500 acres. Item, unto Mr. Edward Collins, in lieu of his small farm within the town bounds, with some addition in respect of his place in the Deacon's office, it was agreed that he should have 500 acres.June 9, 1652.
It was agreed by the Church that Shawshine should be divided as followeth:— To Mr. Michell, five hundred acres. To Edw. Okes, three hundred acres. To Thomas Okes, one hundred and fifty acres. It was agreed that these three above named should have their lots laid out by a committee with as little prejudice to any lot as may be, and so not to draw any lot.  Also, the Church doth agree that although the land be, by grant of the General Court, peculiar to the Church only, yet the whole town, viz., such as are owners of house and land in the town, shall come into the division thereof. Also, it is agreed, that every man shall have a proportion of land, more or less, according to the proportion now allotted him. Also, that every man shall have a part of the meadow in proportion with his upland, to be laid out after the same rule that the upland is, both by lot and quantity. Also, it is agreed, that, after the farms formerly granted are laid out, the remainder of the land shall be divided into three breadths, viz., two of the said breadths to lie between the rivers, and the third on this side Shawshine River. The first lot to begin upon a line continued over Shawshine River, the same that is between Woburn and us, running towards Concord until it meet with Mr. Wintrop's farm: and so the said first lot to butt south upon that line, and on Shawshine River, and Mr. Wintrop's farm; and so each lot to proceed one after another, by due parallels, until they come clear of the farms already laid out, and then to extend in two divisions between the Rivers, and a third division on the east side Shawshine River, and so every man's lot to follow one another, taking all the three breadths at once, the nearest land to the first centre being still always the next lot in order. The number of every man's lot and quantity of acres is as followeth on the other side. Although, by the generosity of the Church, all the inhabitants received allotments of the Shawshine lands, comparatively few of them established a residence upon that territory. As early, however, as 1655, there were so many householders in Shawshine, gathered from Cambridge and elsewhere, that they were incorporated as a distinct town, named Billerica, and an amicable arrangement was made by them with the inhabitants of Cambridge, in regard to their respective territorial rights and liabilities. The Town Records, Jan. 29, 1654-5, show that “In answer to a letter sent to the town from our neighbors of Shawshine, alias Bilracie, wherein they desire that whole tract of land may be disengaged from this place and be one entire body of itself,—the town consented to choose five persons a Committee to treat and conclude with them concerning their request therein; at which time there was chosen Mr. Henry Dunster, Elder Champney, John Bridge, Edward Goffe, and Edward Winship.” The result appears in the Record of the General Court, under date of May 23, 1655:— In answer to the desire of our brethren and neighbors, the inhabitants of Shawshin, requesting immunities and freedom from all public rates and charges at Cambridge, and that all the land of that place, as well those appertaining to the present inhabitants of Cambridge as those granted them by the Court, might belong entirely to that place, for the better encouragement and carrying on of public charges that will necessarily there fall out,—
Lot. Acres. 1. Daniell Cheaver 20 2. William Clemmance, senr. 30 3. Daniell Kempster 80 4. William Bull 15 5. Roger Bucke 10 6. Thomas ffox 80 7. Humphery Bradshew 15 8. Mr. Boman 20 9. William Clemmance 30 10. Richard Cutter 80 11. Thomas Longhorne 60 12. Daniell Blogget 40 13. Robert Holmes 150 14. Th. Hall 20 15. Widow Banbricke 40 16. John Jacson 50 17. Wm. Homan 50 18. Nath. Greene and Mother 80 19. Richard ffrench 20 20. John Watson 80 21. Richard Woodes 10 22. John Taylor 60 23. Wid: Wilkerson 60 24. Lieft. William ffrench 150 25. Joseph Miller 15 26. Jonath. Hide 20 27. David ffiske 60 28. Wid: Hancocke 10 29. And. Stevenson 60 30. Mr. Elijath Corlet 100 31. David Stone 50 32. Tho. Danforth 220
Lot. Acres. 33. Rich. ffrances 60 34. John Parker 10 35. Jonath. Padlefoote 15 36. Edw. Hall 70 37. Ri. Oldam 60 38. Gilbert Cracbone 90 39. Robert Stedman 90 40. Tho. Swoetman 70 41. Wm. Bordman 60 42. John Betts 90 43. John Shepard 60 44. Daniell Stone 50 45. John ffrenches children 30 46. John ffownell 100 47. Samll. Hides 80 48. Tho. Marret 200 49. Edw. Winship 200 50. Goodm. Hammond 15 51. Steven Day 50 52. John Gibson 80 53. Edw. Goffe 450 54. William Man 70 55. Ri. Jacson 200 56. Willm. Dixon 80 57. George Willowes 60 58. Tho. Chesholme 100 59. Mr. Edmund ffrost 200 60. John Hall 20 61. Edw. Michelson 150 62. And. Belcher 50 63. John Swan 20 64. Phil. Cooke 80 65. ffr. Moore, junior 50 66. Widd: Sill 40 67. Robert Parker 60 68. Willm. Manning 60 69. Richard Hassull 60 70. Nicho. Withe 90 71. Willm. Hamlet 60 72. Willm. Towne 70 73. Samll. Greene 80 74. Robert Browne 40 75. John Boutell 20 76. John Bridge 250 77. Tho. Beal 100 78. Richard Parke 100 79. franc. Whitmore 50 80. Jonas Clearke 60 81. John Hasteings 80 82. Henry Prentise 80 83. Elder Champnis 350 84. Nath. Sparhauke 140 85. John Stedman 300 86. Willm. Russell 60 87. William Patten 90 88. Ben. Bower 20 89. Tho. Briggam 180 90. John Russell 80 91. Will. Bucke 20 92. Richard Ecles 70 93. Mrs. Sarah Simes 50 94. Mr. Jacson 400 95. Mr. Andrews 150 96. Abra. Errington 70 97. Widd: Cutter 40 98. ffr. Moore, senr. 50 99. Mr. Josseph Cooke 300 100. Wm. Wilcocke 90 101. Christopher Cane 80 102. Rich. Dana 20 103. Mr. Angier 300 104. Vincet Druse 15 105. Rogr. Bancroft 100 106. John Cooper 140 107. Edw. Shepard 80 108. Tho. Bridge 50 109. Ranold Bush 10 110. Tho. Prentise 150 111. Math. Bridge 80 112. Golden Moore 100 113. Robert Brodish 30 Memo. There is these two persons overslipped, viz. 28. Richard Robbins 80 91. Daniell Wines 10 These two lots must come in their due order. The town do give to Gregory Stone, adjoining to his farm, one hundred acres. 100
On the same day, May 23, 1655, “in answer to the petition of several proprietors and inhabitants of Shawshin, humbly desiring a tract of land lying near the line of the farms of John and Robert Blood, and so along by the side of Concord River, &c., the Court grants their request in that respect, so as it hinder no former grants, and grant the name of the plantation to be called Billirikey.” 16 Thus was this first dismemberment of the extensive township of Cambridge amicably accomplished. No reasonable objection could be urged against granting an independent ecclesiastical and civil organization to those persons who resided at such a great distance from the centre of the town, as soon as they were able to defray their necessary expenses.