previous next

Chapter 6: civil History.

  • Contemplated removal to Weathersfield, Conn.
  • -- Letter from Winthrop to Hooker. -- Letter from Hooker to Shepard. -- depreciation in the value of property. -- danger of general bankruptcy. -- reasons for removing. -- Sir Henry Vane. -- grant of Shawshine to Cambridge. -- removal of John Haynes. -- death of Roger Harlakenden. -- arrival of Herbert Pelham. -- Town Spring. -- Restrictions on the cutting of trees. -- Field-drivers, Commissioners to end small causes, Clerk of the Market, and Sealer of Leather, first elected. -- Calves impounded. -- eight-penny ordinary for Townsmen. -- penalty for absence from monthly meetings. -- prosecution for trespass in the great Swamp. -- fence-viewers first elected. -- Remission of tax on account of sickness. -- chimneys to be swept every month and ladders to be kept ready for reaching the roofs of houses. -- Orchard. -- Wharf. -- division of Shawshine lands. -- incorporation of Billerica
    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:—

    Dear son, Since the first intimation I had from my cousin Sam: when you was here with us, touching the number and [47] nature of your debts, I conceived and concluded the consequents to be marvellous desperate in the view of reason, in truth unavoidable and yet unsupportable, and as were likely to ruinate the whole: for why should any send commodities, much less come themselves to the place, when there is no justice amongst men to pay what they take, or the place is so forlorn and helpless that men cannot support themselves in a way of justice; and ergo there is neither sending nor coming, unless they will make themselves and substance a prey.

    And hence to weary a man's self to wrestle out an inconvenience, when it is beyond all possibilities which are laid before a man in a rational course, is altogether bootless and fruitless, and is to increase a man's misery, not to ease it. Such be the mazes of mischievous hazards, that our sinful departures from the right and righteous ways of God bring upon us, that as birds taken in an evil net, the more they stir, the faster they are tied. If there was any sufficiency to make satisfaction in time, then respite might send and procure relief; but when that is a wanting, delay is to make many deaths of one, and to make them all more deadly. The first and safest way for peace and comfort is to quit a man's hand of the sin, and so of the sting of the plague. Happy is he that hath none of the guilt in the commission of evils sticking to him. But he that is faulty, it will be his happiness to recover himself by repentance, both sudden and season ably serious; and when that is done, in such hopeless occasions, it is good to sit down under the wisdom of some word: That which is crooked nobody can make strait, and that which is a wanting none can supply: 1 Eccl. 15; and then seek a way in heaven for escape, when there is no way on earth that appears.

    You say that which I long since supposed; the magistrates are at their wits end, and I do not marvel at it. But is there, then, nothing to be done, but to sink in our sorrows? I confess here to apply, and that upon the sudden, is wholly beyond all my skill. Yet I must needs say something, if it be but to breathe out our thoughts, and so our sorrows. I say ours, because the evil will reach us really more than by bare sympathising. Taking my former ground for granted, that the weakness of the body is such that it is not able to bear the disease longer, but is like to grow worse and more unfit for cure, which I suppose is the case in hand, then I cannot see but of necessity this course must be taken:—

    [1.] The debtors must freely and fully tender themselves [48] and all they have into the hands, and be at the mercy and devotion of the creditors. And this must be done nakedly and really. It is too much that men have rashly and unjustly taken more than they were able to repay and satisfy: ergo they must not add falseness and dissimulation when they come to pay, and so not only break their estate but their consciences finally. I am afraid there be old arrearages of this nature that lie yet in the deck.

    2. The Churches and the Commonwealth, by joint consent and serious consideration, must make a privy search what have been the courses and sinful carriages which have brought in and increased this epidemical evil; pride and idleness, excess in apparel, building, diet, unsuitable to our beginnings or abilities; what toleration and connivance at extortion, and injustice, and oppression; the tradesman willing the workman may take what he will for his work, that he may ask what he will for his commodity.

    3. When they have humbled themselves unfeignedly before the Lord, then set up a real reformation, not out of politick respects, attending our own devices, but out of plainness, looking at the rule and following that, leave the rest to the Lord, who will ever go with those who go his own way.

    Has premisses: I cannot see in reason but if you can sell, and the Lord afford any comfortable chapman, but you should remove. For why should a man stay until the house fall on his head? and why continue his being there where in reason he shall destroy his substance? For were men merchants, how can they hold it, when men either want money to buy withal, or else want honesty, and will not pay? The more honest and able any persons or plantations be, their rates will increase, stocks grow low, and their increase little or nothing. And if remove, why not to Mattabeseck?2 For may be either the gentlemen3 will not come, and that's most likely; or if they do, they will not come [49] all; or if all, is it not probable but they may be entreated to abate one of the lots? or, if not abate, if they take double lots, they must bear double rates; and I see not but all plantations find this a main wound; they want men of abilities and parts to manage their affairs, and men of estate, to bear charges. I will tell thee mine whole heart; considering, as I conceive, your company must break, and considering things ut supra, if you can sell you should remove. If I were in your places, I should let those that must and will transport themselves as they see fit, in a way of providence and prudence. I would reserve a special company, but not many, and I would remove hither. For I do verily think, either the gentlemen will not come, or if they do, they may be over-intreated not to prejudice the plantation by taking too much. And yet if I had but a convenient spare number, I do believe that would not prove prejudicial to any comfortable subsistence: for able men are most fit to carry on occasions by their persons and estates with most success. These are all my thoughts; but they are inter nos; use them as you see meet.

    I know, to begin plantations is a hard work; and I think I have seen as much difficulty, and came to such a business with as much disadvantage as almost men could do, and therefore, I would not press men against their spirits: when persons do not choose a work, they will be ready to quarrel with the hardness of it. This only is to me beyond exception. If you do remove, considering the correspondence you have here of hearts, and hands, and helps, you shall never remove to any place with the like advantage. The pillar of fire and cloud go before you, and the Father of mercies be the God of all the changes that pass over your heads.

    News with us here is not much, since the death of my brother Stone's wife and James Homstead; the former smoaked out her days in the darkness of melancholy; the other died of a bloody flux, and slept sweetly in the Lord, having carried himself graciously in his sickness.

    I have of late had intelligence from Plymouth. Mr. Chancy and the Church are to part; he to provide for himself, and they for themselves.

    At a day of fast, when a full conclusion of the business should have been made, he openly professed he did as verily believe the truth of his opinions as that there was a God in heaven, and that he was settled in it as the earth was upon the centre. If ever such confidence find good success, I miss of my mark.

    Since then he hath sent to Mr. Prydden to come to them, [50] being invited by some of the Brethren by private letters: I gave warning to Mr. Prydden to bethink himself what he did; and I know he is sensible and watchful. I profess, how it is possible to keep peace with a man so adventurous and so pertinacious, who will vent what he list and maintain what he vents, its beyond all the skill I have to conceive. Mr. Umphrey, I hear, invites him to Providence, and that coast is most meet for his opinion and practice. The Lord says he will teach the humble his way; but where are those men? The Lord make us such, that he may shew us such mercy.

    Totus tuus,

    T. Hooker. Nov. 2th. 1640.

    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.

    Sunt mutua preces in perpetuum.

    All here salute you and yours.5

    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 [51] 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 [52] “Reason for removing,” entered by Mr. Shepard on the fly-leaf of one of his manuscript books,9 namely:—

    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 [53] 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. [54]

    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 [55] 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 [56]

    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, [57] 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. [58]

    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.

    1. Daniell Cheaver20
    2. William Clemmance, senr.30
    3. Daniell Kempster80
    4. William Bull15
    5. Roger Bucke10
    6. Thomas ffox80
    7. Humphery Bradshew15
    8. Mr. Boman20
    9. William Clemmance30
    10. Richard Cutter80
    11. Thomas Longhorne60
    12. Daniell Blogget40
    13. Robert Holmes150
    14. Th. Hall20
    15. Widow Banbricke40
    16. John Jacson50
    17. Wm. Homan50
    18. Nath. Greene and Mother80
    19. Richard ffrench20
    20. John Watson80
    21. Richard Woodes10
    22. John Taylor60
    23. Wid: Wilkerson60
    24. Lieft. William ffrench150
    25. Joseph Miller15
    26. Jonath. Hide20
    27. David ffiske60
    28. Wid: Hancocke10
    29. And. Stevenson60
    30. Mr. Elijath Corlet100
    31. David Stone50
    32. Tho. Danforth220


    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 Parke100
    79. franc. Whitmore50
    80. Jonas Clearke60
    81. John Hasteings80
    82. Henry Prentise 80
    83. Elder Champnis 350
    84. Nath. Sparhauke140
    85. John Stedman300
    86. Willm. Russell60
    87. William Patten 90
    88. Ben. Bower20
    89. Tho. Briggam 180
    90. John Russell80
    91. Will. Bucke20
    92. Richard Ecles70
    93. Mrs. Sarah Simes50
    94. Mr. Jacson400
    95. Mr. Andrews150
    96. Abra. Errington70
    97. Widd: Cutter40
    98. ffr. Moore, senr.50
    99. Mr. Josseph Cooke300
    100. Wm. Wilcocke90
    101. Christopher Cane80
    102. Rich. Dana20
    103. Mr. Angier300
    104. Vincet Druse15
    105. Rogr. Bancroft100
    106. John Cooper 140
    107. Edw. Shepard80
    108. Tho. Bridge50
    109. Ranold Bush10
    110. Tho. Prentise150
    111. Math. Bridge 80
    112. Golden Moore100
    113. Robert Brodish30
    Memo. There is these two persons overslipped, viz.
    28. Richard Robbins80
    91. Daniell Wines10
    These two lots must come in their due order.
    The town do give to Gregory Stone, adjoining to his farm, one hundred acres.100


    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,—

    We, whose names are underwritten, being empowered by the inhabitants of Cambridge, at a public meeting of the town, the 29th of January, 1654, to make such propositions and conclusions therein as to us might seem most meet and equal, do make these following propositions with reference to the compliance of the above named our beloved brethren and neighbors, the inhabitants of Shawshin, and the approbration of the General Court for the full conclusion thereof.

    1. That all the lands belonging to that place called by the name of Shawshin, with its appurtenances or latter grants made by the General Court, as well those the propriety and peculiar right whereof belongeth to any particular person, as those granted by the town or church of Cambridge to that place for a township, as also those given by the inhabitants of Cambridge for the furtherance [61] and encouragement of a plantation there, shall be one entire township or plantation, always freed and acquitted from all manner of common charges or rates, of what nature or kind soever, due or belonging of right to be paid unto Cambridge by virtue of any grant of that place unto them by the General Court.

    2. That whensoever any of the inhabitants of Cambridge, their heirs or assigns, whether in that place or elsewhere, shall make any improvement of their lands above premised, more or less, by fencing, building or breaking up, or mowing of the meadows, every such person shall pay to the common charges of that place, i. e., Shawshin, suitable to his or their improvement of the aforesaid kind, in due proportion with the rest of the inhabitants in that place, the whole estate and improvements of the place being laid at an equal and proportionable rate.

    3. That the inhabitants of Shawshin shall, at all time and times hereafter forever, acquit and discharge the inhabitants of Cambridge from all common charges, rates, dues, duties, and incumbrances by any manner of ways or means due by them to be paid, executed, or performed, by virtue of their interest in that place, given unto them by the grant of the General Court.

    4. That whensoever any of the inhabitants of Cambridge shall alienate their present interest in any of the above named lands from themselves and heirs, then the said lands shall, in all respects, be liable to common charges of that place, as though those particular persons had their grants thereof made them from the said town or plantation of Shawshin.

    5. That no person or persons which either have had or hereafter shall have any lot or allotment granted them in the above named township of Shawshin, in case they make not improvement thereof by building and fencing, especially the houselot, shall have any power to make any sale or gift thereof to any other person, but such land and allotments shall return again to the town, i. e., Shawshin; and in case, after such like improvement, any person shall then remove, to the deserting and leaving their brethren and neighbors that have adventured by their encouragement to settle there with them, no such person or persons, for seven years next ensuing the confirmation hereof, shall have power to make either sale, or gift, or alienation thereof to any person or persons whatsoever, save only unto such as the greater part of the inhabitants then resident at Shawshin shall consent unto and approve of.

    6. That in case any grievance shall hereafter happen to arise, [62] which for the present neither side foresee, nor is hereby clearly determined, that then all such matter of grievance or difference shall be from time to time heard and determined by meet persons, three or five, indifferently chosen by the prudential men of Cambridge and Shawshin.

    And these aforementioned propositions to be subscribed by all the present inhabitants of Shawshin, and by all such as hereafter shall have any allotments granted them there, and return hereof made to the inhabitants of Cambridge within ten days after the end of the first session of the next General Court. Given under our hands this 17th 12m. 1654, by us,

    These propositions are accepted of and consented unto by us the present inhabitants of Shawshin; and we do humbly crave this honored Court to confirm and record the same.

    Your humble servants,

    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.

    1 Life and Letters of John Winthrop, Esq., vol. II., p. 421.

    2 Now Middletown, Connecticut.

    3 The reference here is not to the “gentlemen” in Cambridge with Mr. Shepard, but to certain others in England, for whom Mr. Fenwick, the proprietor of Mattabesick, desired to provide, as appears by another letter from Hooker to Shepard, without date: “Touching your business at Matabesick, this is the compass of it: Mr. Fenwick is willing that you and your company should come thither upon these terms; Provided that you will reserve three double lots for three of the gentlemen, if they come; that is, those three lots must carry a double proportion to that which yours take. If they take twenty acres of meadow, you must reserve forty for them; if thirty, three score for them. This is all we could obtain, because he stays one year longer in expectation of his company, at the least some of them; and the like hath been done in Quinipiack, and hath been usual in such beginnings. Therefore, we were silent in such a grant, for the while.”

    4 Haply.

    5 A part of Mr. Hooker's letter was published in Albro's Life of Thomas Shepard, 1847; but his copy contained several mistakes which are here corrected, and the missing portions are inserted.

    6 Hist. Mass., i. 93.

    7 Savage's Winthrop, II. 7.

    8 This Synod met at Cambridge, Aug. 30, 1637, and “began with prayer made by Mr. Shepard.” Mr. Bulkeley of Concord, and Mr. Hooker, of Hartford, were the Moderators. Having condemned “about eighty opinions, some blasphemous, others erroneous, and all unsafe,—the assembly brake up,” Sept. 22, 1637.—Savage's Winthrop, i. 237-240.

    9 This book contains “The confessions of diverse propounded to be received and were entertayned as members” of the Church, together with sketches of sermons.

    10 In addition to the before named discouragements, which tempted Mr. Shepard and his company to abandon Cambridge, may be mentioned the loss of two most valuable associates, namely John Haynes, who removed to Hartford in 1637, and Roger Harlakenden, who died November 17, 1638, aged 27 years. The former had been Assistant, 1634; Governor, 1635; and Assistant again, 1636, and remained in office up to the time of his removal in the spring of 1637;—the latter was elected Assistant in 1636, at the first election after his arrival, and reelected in 1637 and 1638. One was colonel, and the other lieutenant-colonel, of the military force. Both were conspicuous for moral excellence and mental ability, and each bore a large share of the pecuniary burdens of the public. The death of Mr. Harlakenden was peculiarly grievous to Mr. Shepard, who had been protected by him in England, when pursued by the emissaries of the established Church. Describing his sufferings during the last few months of his residence in his native land, Mr. Shepard says, in his autobiography: “Being in great sadness and not knowing where to go, nor what to do, the Lord sent Mr. Roger Harlakenden and my brother Samuel Shepard to visit me after they had heard of our escape at sea, who much refreshed us and clave to me in my sorrows.” Again, in a house at Bastwick, freely offered by Mrs. Corbett, “an aged eminent godly gentlewoman,” he says: “I lived for half a year all the winter long among and with my friends (Mr. Harlakenden dwelling with me, bearing all the charge of housekeeping), and far from the notice of my enemies, where we enjoyed sweet fellowship one with another and also with God, in a house which was fit to entertain any prince for fairness, greatness, and pleasantness. Here the Lord hid us all the winter long, and when it was fit to travel in the spring, we went up to London, Mr. Harlakenden not forsaking me all this while, for he was a father and mother to me,” etc. (Boston Ed., 1832, pp. 54, 55). Mr. Shepard was accompanied to New England by this “most precious servant of Jesus Christ,” and bitterly lamented his early death; This loss was partially repaired by the accession of Herbert Pelham, Esq., in 1638 or 1639. He married the widow of Mr. Harlakenden, and was successively Treasurer of Harvard College, 1643, Assistant, 1645-49, and Commissioner of the United Colonies, 1645-46. He brought with him his daughter Penelope, who afterwards became the wife of Governor Josiah Winslow, and died at Marshfield, 7 Dec., 1703, aged 72. Mr. Pelham was an active citizen and officer, but returned to England about 1649, was a member of Parliament, and a steadfast friend of this Colony. He died in 1673.

    11 Mass. Coll. Rec., i. 306, 330; II. 62.

    12 This spring may still be seen a few feet westerly from the University Press between Brattle and Mount Auburn Streets. Mr. Dunster's barn stood on the northerly side of Brattle Street, near Church Street, where he owned a lot containing six acres.

    13 Cooke's Mill, afterwards known as Rolfe's Mill, or Cutter's Mill, near the Town House in Arlington.

    14 At this time Sparks Street and Vassal Lane formed part of the boundary line between Cambridge and Watertown; and the Great Swamp extended northerly from Vassal Lane on both sides of Menotomy River. It would seem that the Townsmen immediately commenced suit against one of the trespassers. In the Court Files of Middlesex County, 1649-50, is still preserved “The Reply of Richard Jackson and Thomas Danforth, plaint., in the behalf of the town of Cambridge, against Samuel Thatcher, of Watertown, def., unto his several answers in the action of the cause for taking away wood out of their bounds.” In answer to the allegation that the swamp was common property, it is declared that, “The present inhabitants of Cambridge purchased the whole dimensions of the town (this legally settled their bounds by order of Court) of the Harford Company about fourteen years since, at which time the chiefest and best parts of this swamp for wood was allotted into particular propriety and fenced in with their planting land by a general fence.” If the trespass continue, “It would then be a groundwork of endless contention, if not the desolating of our poor straitened town, and that for these reasons. (1.) The branches of the swamp so runeth over all our bounds, which is for five miles together not much if any above a mile broad, so that hereby no man can peaceably enjoy his own propriety. (2.) It is the chief supply of the town for wood, being near to us, and many having none elsewhere within the compass of four miles and a half of the town, which cost them two shillings a load more than they can have it for in the swamp: Besides the expense of the inhabitants, it is not unknown the great expense of wood in our town by the College, which we cannot estimate much less than 350 load a year, the chief supply whereof if it be not out of the swamp, it will be costly, as every load must be fetched above five miles.” It is added that the wood from the swamp costs four shillings per load in Cambridge; the cost of cutting and hauling being twenty pence.

    15 At the foot of Dunster Street.

    16 Mass. Col. Rec., IV. (i.), 237-240.

    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

    An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

    hide People (automatically extracted)
    Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
    Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
    Thomas Shepard (15)
    Samuel Shepard (10)
    Thomas Hooker (8)
    Roger Harlakenden (7)
    Edward Goffe (7)
    John Winthrop (6)
    Henry Dunster (6)
    Richard Cutter (6)
    Herbert Pelham (5)
    Henry Vane (4)
    Josiah Moore (3)
    T. Hooker (3)
    Wintrop (2)
    Edward Winship (2)
    John Stedman (2)
    John Ston Sam (2)
    John Russell (2)
    Charles Rec (2)
    Prydden (2)
    Robert Parker (2)
    John Parker (2)
    William Manning (2)
    Thomas Longhorne (2)
    John Jacson (2)
    Richard Jackson (2)
    Sarah Hutchinson (2)
    Robert Holmes (2)
    Ralph Hill (2)
    John Haynes (2)
    Nathaniel Greene (2)
    Daniell Googine (2)
    Fenwick (2)
    Edward Collins (2)
    William Clemmance (2)
    Richard Champney (2)
    W. Cambridge (2)
    Roger Bucke (2)
    Josiah Winslow (1)
    George Willowes (1)
    Wilkerson (1)
    Francis Whitmore (1)
    John Watson (1)
    Umphrey (1)
    William Towne (1)
    Edward B. Thomas (1)
    Samuel Thatcher (1)
    John Taylor (1)
    Thomas Swoetman (1)
    John Swan (1)
    Gregory Stone (1)
    David Stone (1)
    Daniell Stone (1)
    John Sterne (1)
    Robert Stedman (1)
    Nathaniel Sparhauke (1)
    Sarah Simes (1)
    Joseph Sill (1)
    Edward Shephard (1)
    John Shepard (1)
    Edward Shepard (1)
    Senr (1)
    Habijah Savage (1)
    Richard Robbins (1)
    Thomas Prentise (1)
    Henry Prentise (1)
    Penelope (1)
    William Pattin (1)
    William Patten (1)
    James Parker (1)
    Richard Parke (1)
    Thomas Okes (1)
    Edward Okes (1)
    Thomas Oakes (1)
    Edward Oakes (1)
    Joseph Miller (1)
    Edward Michelson (1)
    Michell (1)
    Increase Mather (1)
    Thomas Marret (1)
    Daniell Kempster (1)
    Junr (1)
    Henry Jeftes (1)
    Homan (1)
    N. E. Hist (1)
    Richard Hildreth (1)
    John Hasteings (1)
    Richard Hassull (1)
    Nathanell Hancocke (1)
    Thomas Hammond (1)
    Theodore Hall (1)
    Edward Hall (1)
    John Gibson (1)
    William French (1)
    George Farley (1)
    Samuell Eldred (1)
    Edmund (1)
    Richard Ecles (1)
    William Dixon (1)
    Thomas Danforth (1)
    Jonathan Danforth (1)
    Richard Dana (1)
    John Croe (1)
    Gilbert Crackbone (1)
    Gilbert Cracbone (1)
    Elijath Corlet (1)
    Lovice Corbett (1)
    John Cooper (1)
    Philip Cooke (1)
    Josseph Cooke (1)
    Joseph Cooke (1)
    Coll (1)
    Jonas Clearke (1)
    Jesus Christ (1)
    Thomas Chesholme (1)
    Daniell Cheaver (1)
    Chancy (1)
    William Chamberlyn (1)
    Ranold Bush (1)
    William Bull (1)
    Peter Bulkeley (1)
    Robert Browne (1)
    Robert Brodish (1)
    Thomas Briggam (1)
    Thomas Bridge (1)
    Benjamin Bower (1)
    John Boutell (1)
    Andrew Bordman (1)
    Boman (1)
    Daniell Blogget (1)
    John Betts (1)
    Thomas Beale (1)
    Thomas Beal (1)
    Roger Bancroft (1)
    Banbricke (1)
    Edmund Angier (1)
    William Andrews (1)
    John Adams Albro (1)
    Abra (1)
    hide Display Preferences
    Greek Display:
    Arabic Display:
    View by Default:
    Browse Bar: