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Chapter 9: civil History.

  • President Dudley assumes the government.
  • -- protest of the General Court. -- arrival of Governor Andros. -- Danforth's description of the public distress. -- arbitrary proceedings of Andros. -- Titles to land declared invalid. -- Memorial of John Gibson and George Willis. -- proceedings on petition of Edward Randolph for a grant of land in Cambridge. -- death of Major-gen. Gookin. -- Revolution in England. -- Governor Andros deposed and imprisoned with several of his adherents. -- the old magistrates reinstated. -- a new house of Deputies elected. -- the inhabitants of Cambridge request the old officers to resume the government, and pledge life and fortune for their help and assistance. -- letters of Thomas Danforth to Gov. -- Hinkley and to Increase Mather. -- Danforth omitted from the Council by Mather, but reinstated by the General Court; appointed Judge of the Superior Court, but not of that special Court which tried and condemned the unfortunate persons suspected of witchcraft. -- death of Deputy Governor Danforth. -- Cambridge Deputies.
    On the 17th day of May, 1686, Joseph Dudley and his associates communicated to the General Court a copy of the King's commission authorizing them to assume the government of the Colony. The Court replied, under date of May 20, 1686, addressed, “These for Joseph Dudley, Esq. and the rest of the gentlemen named in his Majesties commission,” as follows:—

    Gentn: We have perused what you left with us as a true coppy of his majesties commission, shewed to us the 17th instant, impowring you for the governing of his majesties subjects inhabitting this colony and other places therein mentioned. You then applied yourselves to us, not as a Governor and Company, but (as you were pleased to terme us) some of the principall gentlemen and cheife of the inhabitants of the severall townes of the Massachusetts, amongst other discourse saying it concerned us to consider what there might be thought hard and uneasy. 1. Upon perusall whereof wee finde, as wee conceive, first, that there is no certaine determinate rule for your administration of justice, and that which is seemes to be too arbitrary. 2. That the subjects are abridged of their liberty as Englishmen, both in the matter of legislation and in the laying of taxes, and indeed the whole unquaestioned priviledge of the subject transferred upon yourselves, there being not the least mention of an assembly in the commission. And therefore wee thinke it highly concernes you to consider whither such a commission be safe, either for you or us: but if you are so satisfied therein as that you hold yourselves obleidged thereby, and do take upon you the government of this people, although wee cannot give our assent thereto, yet hope shall demeane ourselves as true and loyall subjects to his Majesty, and humbly make our addresses unto God, and, in due time, to our gracious prince, for our releife. Past by the whole Court, nemine contradicentes. By order,

    Edward Rawson, Secretary.

    1 [100]

    Dudley was superseded in the government by Sir Edmund Andros, who “landed at Boston Dec. 20, 1686, and his commission was published the same day.” 2 During his administration, the people were in a condition little better than slavery. In the “Massachusetts Archives” 3 is a statement by Thomas Danforth, that, “Our rulers are those that hate us and the churches of Christ and his servants in the ministry; they are their daily scorn, taunt, and reproach; and yet are we, our lives, and liberties, civil and ecclesiastical, in their hands, to do with us as they please; some of the chief of them have said,—no better than slaves, only they had not power to sell us for slaves. We are deprived of privileges of Englishmen, of the benefit of the great Charter of our nation; our lands and possessions seized and granted to strangers, contrary to the Stat. Car. I. Cap. 10, and contrary to the assurance given to his Majesty's subjects here, by the declaration of his late Majesty and of his present Majesty, copies whereof I herewith send you.”

    A tract was published at London, in 1689, entitled “A Sixth Collection of Papers relating to the present juncture of affairs in England.” The tenth and last paper in the collection is “A narrative of the miseries of New England, by reason of an Arbitrary Government erected there.” It was evidently prepared by a person well acquainted with the facts, perhaps by Increase Mather, who was at that time in London. The case is so well stated that I shall quote freely:—

    Before these changes happened, New England was of all the foreign plantations (their enemies themselves being judges) the most flourishing and desirable. But their Charters being all (one way or other) declared to be void and insignificant, it was an easy matter to erect a French Government in that part of the King's dominions, (no doubt intended by the evil counsellors) as a specimen of what was designed to be here in England as soon as the times would bear it. Accordingly Sir Edmond Andross (a Gernsey man) was pitched on as a fit instrument to be made use of; and a most illegal commission given him, bearing date June 3, 1686, by which he, with four of his Council (perhaps all of them his absolute devotees) are empowered to make laws, and raise moneys on the King's subjects without any Parliament, Assembly, or consent of the people. . . . . Laws are made by a few of them, and indeed what they please: nor are they printed, as was the custom in the former governments, so that the people [101] are at a great loss to know what is law, and what not. Only one law they are sensible of, which doth prohibit all Town-meetings, excepting on a certain day once a year: whereas the inhabitants have occasion to meet once a month, sometimes every week, for relief of the poor, or other Town-affairs. But it is easy to penetrate into the design of this law, which was (no question) to keep them in every town from complaining to England of the oppression they are under. And as laws have been established so moneys have been raised by the government in a most illegal and arbitrary way, without any consent of the people. “4 ‘Several gentlemen in the country were imprisoned and bound to their good behavior, upon mere suspicion that they did encourage their neighbors not to comply with these arbitrary proceedings, and that so they might be sure to effect their pernicious designs, they have caused juries to be picked of men who are not of the vicinity, and some of them mere strangers in the country and no freeholders, which actings are highly illegal. One of the former magistrates was committed to prison without any crimes laid to his charge, and there kept half a year without any fault; and though he petitioned for a Habeas Corpus, it was denied him. Also inferior officers have extorted what fees they please to demand, contrary to all rules of reason and justice. They make poor widows and fatherless pay 50s. for the probate of a will, which under the former easy government would not have been a tenth part so much. Six persons, who had been illegally imprisoned, were forced to give the officers 117l., whereas upon computation they found that here in England their fees would not have amounted to 10l. in all. And yet these things (though bad enough) are but a very small part of the misery which that poor people have been groaning under, since they have been governed by a despotic and absolute power. For their new masters tell them that, their Charter being gone, their title to their lands and estates is gone therewith, and that all is the King's; and that they represent the King; and that therefore all persons must take patents from them, and give what they see meet to impose, that so they may enjoy the houses which their own hands have built, and the lands which, at vast charges in subduing a wilderness, they have for many years had a rightful possession of as ever any people in the world had or can have.’5” These were the miserable effects of New England's being deprived of their Charters, [102] and with them of their English liberties. They have not been altogether negligent, as to endeavors to obtain some relief in their sorrowful bondage; for several gentlemen desired Increase Mather, the Rector of the College at Cambridge in New England, to undertake a voyage for England, to see what might be done for his distressed country, which motion he complied with; and in June the 1st, 1688, he had the favor to wait on the King, and privately to acquaint him with the enslaved and perishing estate of his subjects in New England. The King was very gracious and kind in his expressions; then and often after promising to give them ease as to their complaints and fears. Amongst other things the said Mather caused a petition from the town of Cambridge in New England to be humbly presented to his Majesty; which, because it doth express the deplorable condition of that people, it shall be here inserted.

    To the King's most excellent Majesty.
    The petition and address of John Gibson, aged about 87, and George Willow, aged about 86 years; as also on behalf of their neighbors the inhabitants of Cambridge in New England, in most humble wise sheweth:

    That your Majesty's good subjects, with much hard labor and great disbursements, have subdued a wilderness, built our houses, and planted orchards, being encouraged by our indubitable right to the soil by the Royal Charter granted unto the first planters, together with our purchase of the Natives: as also by sundry letters and declarations sent to the late Governor and Company from his late Majesty, your royal Brother, assuring us of the full enjoyment of our properties and possessions, as is more especially contained in the declaration sent when the Quo Warranto was issued out against our Charter.

    But we are necessitated to make this our moan and complaint to your excellent Majesty, for that our title is now questioned to our lands, by us quietly possessed for near sixty years, and without which we cannot subsist. Our humble address to our governor, Sir Edmond Andross, shewing our just title, long and peaceable possession, together with our claim of the benefit of your Majesty's letters and declarations, assuring all your good subjects that they shall not be molested in their properties and possessions, not availing.

    Royal Sir, we are a poor people, and have no way to procure money to defend our cause in the law; nor know we of friends at Court; and therefore unto your royal Majesty, as the [103] public Father of all your subjects, do we make this our humble address for relief, beseeching your Majesty graciously to pass your royal Act for the confirmation of your Majesty's subjects here in our possessions to us derived from our late Governor and Company of this your Majesty's Colony. We now humbly cast ourselves and distressed condition of our wives and children at your Majesty's feet, and conclude with the saying of Queen Esther,—If we perish, we perish.

    In the Massachusetts Archives6 is a manuscript by Thomas Danforth, so nearly identical with this petition that it may properly be regarded as its first draught. It is highly probable that Danforth prepared it, and sent it; to Mather, who made a few verbal alterations before presenting it to the king. It seems to have been written in 1688, while Randolph was endeavoring to obtain possession of seven hundred acres of land near Spy Pond. This was one of his many attempts, of a similar kind, to enrich himself at the public expense. Besides asking for free grants in divers other places, he ‘petitioned for half an acre of land, to be taken out of the common in Boston, for a house lot.’7 Several documents relating to the Cambridge case are here inserted, as a specimen of the wrongs and indignities to which the inhabitants were subjected under the arbitrary government of Sir Edmund Andros. Other communities suffered like evils; and other persons were only less rapacious than Edward Randolph.

    At a Council held at the Council Chamber in Boston on Wednesday the nine and twentieth of February, 1687. Present,

    His Excellency Sir Edmund Andros, Knt., &c.

    Joseph Dudley, Esqrs.

    John Winthrop, Esqrs.

    Wait Winthrop, Esqrs.

    John Usher, Esqrs.

    John Green, Esqrs.

    Edward Randolph, Esqrs. ffrancis Nicholson, Esqrs.

    Samuell Shrimpton, Esqrs.

    Upon reading this day in Council the petition of Edward Randolph Esq., praying his Majesty's grant of a certain tract of vacant and unappropriated land, containing about seven hundred acres, lying between Spy Pond and Saunders Brook, near Watertown in the County of Middlesex,—Ordered, That the Sheriff of said County do forthwith after receipt hereof, give public notice both in Cambridge and Watertown, that if any person or persons have any claim or pretence to the said land, that they appear before his Excellency the Governor in Council, on [104] Wednesday the 7th of March next, then and there to show forth the same, and why the said land may not be granted to the petitioner as desired; of which he is not to fail, and to make due return. By order in Council, &c.

    Per virtue of this order, notice is given to the persons concerned. 5 March 87-8, pr. Samll. Gookin Shff.8

    March 4, 1687-8. Memo. This warrant was sent up from Boston to Cambridge on the Sabbath day morning by a boat, which was an unusual thing in that place to see the Sabbath day so profaned and a warrant posted on the meeting house to give notice.9

    At the time appointed, the inhabitants of Cambridge asserted their claims, to wit:—

    To his Excellency Sir Edmund Andros, Knt., Captain General and Governor in chief of his Majesty's territory and dominion of New England, and his Majesty's Council. The petition and address of his Majesty's most loyal subjects, the inhabitants of Cambridge, in most humble wise showeth:

    In observance of the Council's order sent unto us referring unto those lands petitioned for by Edward Randolph, Esq.,— we humbly inform and certify your Excellency and the Council, that they are neither vacant nor unappropriated lands, but are a part of those lands granted by his Majesty's royal Charter, under the great seal of England, to the persons therein mentioned, and by the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay to this town of Cambridge, as the Records of the General Court will show, and have been quietly possessed and improved by this town of Cambridge for more than fifty years; and was also purchased of the Indian Natives that claimed title thereto. And more particularly as to those mentioned by the petitioner situate and lying between Spy Pond and Sanders Brook, they were by allotment granted and measured out, more than forty years now past, to sundry of the inhabitants of this town; and they have accordingly peaceably possessed and improved the same, and are at this day lawfully seized thereof. And for that other part, lying near to Watertown line, the town hath hitherto improved those lands in common, for timber, firewood, and pasture for all [105] sorts of cattle, the just interests of each person therein having been legally settled more than forty years; and the proprietors have accordingly respectively bought and sold their interests, as they have seen meet; and for the securing said lands from damage to ourselves by our neighbors of Watertown, the proprietors of the said lands have, at their great charge, erected a stone wall, more than one mile in length, and made provision of gates upon the highways as was needful.

    We do also humbly inform your Excellency and Council, that the lands above petitioned for are of so great concernment to the inhabitants of this town for their necessary supplies of timber, firewood, and pasture, that, should we be deprived thereof, it would be the inevitable ruin of more than eighty families of his Majesty's subjects here settled, who have spent their strength and estates in confidence of their indubitable right and peaceable enjoyment thereof, by virtue of his Majesty's royal Charter, and to them legally derived in manner as is above recited.

    We do therefore humbly render to your Excellency and honorable Council our humble and thankful acknowledgement of your respect to our welfare (as well as to justice and equity) in giving us this opportunity to inform your Excellency and Honors of our claim and just title to those lands petitioned for, as above said, and do humbly pray that the royal authority wherewith his Majesty have invested your Excellency for the government of this part of his dominion may put a check upon the abovesaid information and unreasonable request of the petitioner for said lands, and that your petitioners may not be thence illegally ejected or disturbed in their peaceable enjoyment thereof, contrary to his late Majesty's declaration of the 26 July 1683, published upon the issuing a Quo Warranto against the late charter of this Colony, and to his present Majesty's gracious declaration to all his loving subjects for liberty of conscience and maintaining them in all their properties and possessions in any their lands and properties whatsoever; the benefit whereof we humbly claim.

    Your petitioners are his Majesty's most loyal subjects and your Excellency's humble servants, in the name and by the order of the inhabitants of Cambridge.


    In his rejoinder, Randolph gives an abstract of his petition and the order thereon, together with the objections urged by the inhabitants of Cambridge, and then proceeds thus:—

    To which the Petitioner answereth, that, in case the inhabitants of Cambridge do produce to your Excellency and the Council the royal grant to any person or persons of the said land petitioned for, and from such person or persons a legal conveyance to the inhabitants of the said town, and that the said town were by that name, or by what other name the same hath been to them granted, able and sufficient in the law to receive a grant of such lands, then the petitioner will cease any further prosecution of his said prayer: otherwise the petitioner humbly conceives the right still to remain in his Majesty, and humbly prays a grant for the same. Ed. Randolph. Boston March ye 17th 1687-8.11

    Subsequently, another order of notice was issued:—

    Boston 22d June 1688. Mr. Sheriff, You may give notice to any persons that lay claim to the land in Cambridge petitioned for by Edward Randolph Esq., that on Thursday next, in the forenoon, they appear before his Excellency in Council, and give their full answer therein. I am, sir, your servant,

    John West, D. Sec.

    Superscribed, ‘To Samuell Gookin Esq. High Sheriff of Middlesex, at Cambridge.’12

    At the time appointed, the proprietors of the lands in controversy presented their case more fully:—

    The Reply of the proprietors of those lands lying between Sanders Brook and Spy Pond near unto Watertown, in the County of Middlesex, to an answer made to their address presented to your Excellency and the honorable Council, referring to the petition of Edward Randolph Esq., he praying a grant of seven hundred acres, part of the abovesaid tract of land, as vacant and unappropriated.

    Your humble suppliants do crave leave to remind your Excellency and the honorable Council, that, in our former address, we have briefly declared and asserted our just title and claim to said lands, deriving the same from his Majesty's royal grant by his letters patent under the great seal, under the security whereof the first planters of this Colony adventured themselves into this then waste and desolate wilderness, and have here wasted and [107] spent great estates and many lives, for the planting, peopling, and defending themselves and his Majesty's right therein. The abovesaid royal grant being made not only to the gentlemen named in said letters patent, but also to all such others as they shall admit and make free of their society, making them one body politic by the name of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, and under that name are empowered to make laws and ordinances for the good and welfare of said company and for the government and ordering of the said lands and plantation, and the people that shall inhabit therein, as to them shall seem meet. We further declared that, by the said Governor and Company, the lands petitioned for by Edward Randolph Esq. are granted to Cambridge, then called Newtown, and by the said town have been orderly distributed among their inhabitants, the grants and settlement whereof upon the several proprietors and their names as they stand entered upon the Town Book we do hereby exhibit to your Excellency and the Council. If further evidence be required of the same, or of our possession and improvement thereof, plainly evincing that those lands are neither vacant nor unappropriated, as the petitioner hath most untruly represented, we are ready to present the same, if your Excellency shall please to appoint us a time for so doing.

    Your Excellency have not required of us to show or demonstrate that the formalities of the law have been, in all the circumstances thereof, exactly observed, nor do we judge it can rationally be expected of a people circumstanced as the first planters were, by whom those matters were acted in the infancy of these plantations; they not having council in the law to repair unto, nor would the emergencies that then inevitably happened admit thereof; and, as we humbly conceive, nor doth the law of England require the same of a people so circumstanced as they then were. But from the beginning of this plantation [they] have approved themselves loyal to his Majesty, and in all respects have intended the true ends of his Majesty's royal grant, and, through God's great blessing on their endeavors, raised here a plantation that redounds greatly (as is now well known in the world) to the honor and profit of the crown. And his late Majesty, by his letters sent to the Governor and Company, accordingly declared his royal acceptance thereof, with promise of protection in our long and orderly settlement of this Colony, as his Majesty was graciously pleased to term the same: [108] the further security whereof, given us by the declaration of his late Majesty, when the Quo Warranto was issued forth against this Colony, as also by his present Majesty in his declaration, as in our address so we do hereby again humbly claim. If any thing be yet behind on our part, necessary for the evincing our claim, we humbly pray that we may be informed what those things are, and time given us to bring in our further answer to your Excellency and the Council. In the name and by the order of the proprietors, together with ourselves of those lands petitioned for by Edward Randolph Esq.

    On the same day, June 28, 1688, the Council passed the following order:—

    Upon further hearing of the petition of Edward Randolph Esq., praying his Majesty's grant for a certain parcel or tract of vacant and unappropriated land, containing about seven hundred acres, lying between Spy Pond and Sanders Brook near Watertown in the County of Middlesex, as also a certain writing presented by Samuell Andrews and others of Cambridge, termed the reply of the proprietors of the lands lying between Saunders Brook and Spy Pond to an answer made to their address: but they declaring they had no authority to speak in behalf of others but only for themselves14 and by reason of the general description of the land petitioned for not knowing whether the lands claimed by them be within the quantity desired or not: It is ordered, that a survey and draught be forthwith made of the said land and returned into the Secretary's office accordingly.

    By order of Council, &c.,

    John West, D. Sec.15

    Nothing further is found in the Archives concerning this transaction, and the Records of the Council are not accessible. As the title to the lands in controversy was not afterwards disputed, it seems probable that the act of robbery was not consummated; or, if it was, such arbitrary proceedings were held to be utterly void, after the Revolution which soon followed.16 [109]

    Early in 1689, much excitement was produced by a rumor that the Prince of Orange had landed in England, with an armed force, and that a Revolution in the English Government was probable. This rumor took a more definite form, April 4, when “one Mr. Winslow came from Virginia and brought a printed copy of the Prince of Orange's declaration. Upon his arrival, he was imprisoned by Justice Foxcroft and others, for bringing a traitorous and treasonable libel into the country, as the mittimus expressed it. Winslow offered two thousand pounds bail, but it could not be accepted. A proclamation was issued, charging all officers and people to be in readiness to hinder the landing of any forces which the Prince of Orange might send into those parts of the world. The old magistrates and heads of the people silently wished, and secretly prayed, for success to the glorious undertaking, and determined quietly to wait the event. The body of the people were more impatient. The flame, which had been long smothered in their breasts, burst forth with violence Thursday, the 18th day of April, when the Governor and such of the Council as had been most active, and other obnoxious persons, about fifty in the whole, were seized and confined, and the old magistrates were reinstated.” 17 Several accounts of this Revolution appeared within a few months after it occurred, in which there is a substantial agreement in regard to the most important circumstances. Among others, a pamphlet of twenty pages, written by Judge Nathaniel Byfield, was published at London in 1689, entitled “An account of the late Revolution in New England, together with the Declaration of the Gentlemen, Merchants, and Inhabitants, of Boston, and the country adjacent, April 18, 1689.” He describes the outbreak thus: “Upon the eighteenth instant, about eight of the clock in the morning, it was reported at the south end of the town that at the north end they were all [110] in arms; and the like report was at the north end respecting the south end: whereupon Capt. John George18 was immediately seized, and about nine of the clock the drums beat through the town, and an ensign was set up upon the beacon. Then Mr. Bradstreet, Mr. Danforth, Major Richards, Dr. Cooke, and Mr. Addington, &c., were brought to the Council-house by a company of soldiers under the command of Capt. Hill. The mean while, the people in arms did take up and put into goal Justice Bullivant, Justice Foxcraft, Mr. Randolf, Sheriff Sherlock, Capt. Ravenscroft, Capt. White, Farewel, Broadbent, Crafford, Larkin, Smith, and many more, as also Mercey, then goal-keeper, and put Scates, the bricklayer, in his place. About noon, in the gallery at the Council-house, was read the Declaration here inclosed,” etc.19 Under eleven heads, this Declaration sets forth the grievances which had become intolerable, and which justified armed resistance. It is scarcely possible that a document of such length and character could have been prepared in the four hours of intense excitement and confusion, between eight o'clock and noon. In all probability, it had been previously written in anticipation of some such occasion for its use. The twelfth article in this Declaration announces the conclusion: “We do therefore seize upon the persons of those few ill men, which have been (next to our sins) the grand authors of our miseries; resolving to secure them for what justice, orders from his Highness, with the English Parliament, shall direct; lest, ere we are aware, we find (what we may fear, being on all sides in danger) ourselves to be by them given away to a foreign Power, before such orders can reach unto us: for which orders we now humbly wait. In the mean time, firmly believing that we have endeavored nothing but what mere duty to God and our country calls for at our hands, we commit our enterprise unto the blessing of him who hears the cry of the oppressed, and advise all our neighbors, for whom we have thus ventured ourselves, to join with us in prayers and all just actions for the defence of the land.” 20 As a fitting result of this Declaration, Judge Byfield inserts the summons sent by the magistrates and others to Sir Edmond Andros, who had retired to the fortification on Fort Hill:—

    At the Town House in Boston, April 18, 1689. Sir, Ourselves and many others, the inhabitants of this town and the places adjacent, being surprised with the people's sudden taking [111] of arms, in the first motions whereof we were wholly ignorant, being driven by the present accident, are necessitated to acquaint your Excellency that for the quieting and securing of the people inhabiting this country from the imminent dangers they many ways lie open and exposed to, and tendering your own safety, we judge it necessary you forthwith surrender and deliver up the government and fortification, to be preserved and disposed according to order and direction from the Crown of England, which suddenly is expected may arrive; promising all security from violence to yourself or any of your gentlemen or soldiers, in person and estate; otherwise we are assured they will endeavor the taking of the fortification by storm, if any opposition be made.

    To Sir Edmond Andross, Knight.

    Unable to resist the force arrayed against him, the Governor obeyed this summons, surrendered the fort, and with his associates went to the town-house, whence he was sent under guard to the house of Col. John Usher, who had been Treasurer under his administration, but, like Stoughton and other members of his Council,22 united with the patriotic party in this revolutionary movement. But this kind of duress did not satisfy the people; and on the following day, at their urgent demand, he was imprisoned in the fort. Some of his associates shared his confinement, while others were committed to close jail. The day after the Governor was thus securely confined, some of the old magistrates, together with several other persons who had been active in overturning the former government, organized a “Council for the Safety of the People and Conservation of the Peace,” of which the old Governor, Bradstreet, was elected President and Isaac Addington, Clerk. The authority of this Council needed the support of a body more directly representing the people. “On the second of May, they recommended to the several towns in the [112] colony to meet and depute persons, not exceeding two for each town, except Boston four, to form an assembly, to sit the ninth of the same month. Sixty-six persons met and presented a declaration to the president and former magistrates in particular, taking no notice of such as had associated with them, but upon receiving an answer in writing, they desired the whole council to continue in their station until the twenty-second instant, at which time it was agreed there should be a meeting of the representatives of all the towns in the colony, at Boston, who were to be specially instructed by their towns.” 23 A large majority of the towns instructed their representatives to vote in favor of reassuming the old Charter. The magistrates hesitated to adopt such a decisive measure; but at length, when a new House of Representatives, which assembled on the fifth of June, “urged the council to take upon them the part they ought to bear in the government, according to the charter, until orders should be received from England, and declared they could not proceed to act in any thing of public concerns until this was conceded, an acceptance was voted, this declaration being given as the reason of the vote. By these steps the change was made from the unlimited power of Sir Edmund and four of his council, to the old government, which had continued above fifty years; but the weight and authority did not return with the form.” 24 This form of government, by consent of the King, was administered about three years, until Sir William Phips arrived, in 1692, with the new Charter.

    In this change of government, the inhabitants of Cambridge were actively engaged, and took their full share of the responsibility. Their delegate to the Convention which assembled on the ninth of May, presented the following declaration:25

    Cambridge, May 6, 1689. We, the freeholders and inhabitants of the town of Cambridge, being very sensible of and thankful unto God for his mercy in our late deliverance from the oppression and tyranny of those persons under whose injustice and cruelty we have so long groaned; and withal desirous heartily to express our gratitude to those worthy gentlemen who have been engaged in conserving of our peace since the Revolution; yet withal being apprehensive that the present unsettlement may expose us to many hazards and dangers, and may give occasion to ill-minded persons to make disturbance:—do declare that we expect that our honored Governor, Deputy Governor, and assistants, [113] elected by the freemen of this Colony, in May, 1686, together with the Deputies then sent down by the several respective towns to the Court then holden, which was never legally dissolved, shall convene, and re-assume and exercise the Government as a General Court, according to our Charter, on the ninth of this instant May, or as soon as possible. And in so doing, we do engage that, to the utmost of our power, with persons and estates, we will contribute to their help and assistance, as in duty and equity we are bound, praying that God would direct them in this difficult juncture; and do hope that all that are concerned for the peace and good of this land will readily join with us herein.

    Memorandum. It is here to be understood that what we expect to be done, as above, is only for a present settlement until we may have an opportunity to make our address unto, or shall be otherwise settled by, the supreme power in England.

    These lines above written, as they are worded, was agreed upon by the inhabitants of the town of Cambridge, this 6th of May, 1689, as attests Samuel Andrew, Clerk, in the name of the town.

    This revolutionary movement was full of danger. It was not yet known here whether the Prince of Orange would be successful in his attempt to dethrone King James the Second. If he should fail, those who had resisted and imprisoned the king's Governor might well expect the direst vengeance. But this peril did not prevent the inhabitants of Cambridge from pledging their “persons and estates” to the support of the principal actors; nor did it prevent their favorite and trusted leader, Thomas Danforth, from taking a conspicuous position in the front rank of those actors. The venerable Bradstreet, indeed, was made President of the Council of Safety, and reinstated as Governor, when it was decided to organize the government according to the old Charter; but he was now eighty-seven years of age, and however desirable and important it may have been to connect his name and his presence with the enterprise, he was incapable of energetic action. Moreover, he was timid and yielding in disposition, and counselled submission rather than resistance during the controversy which preceded the abrogation of the Charter. On the contrary, Danforth had been recognized as a skilful and resolute leader through the former struggle; and now, at the age of sixty-seven, he retained the full possession of [114] his faculties, and bated not one jot in his hatred of tyranny. He was reinstated as Deputy-governor,26 ostensibly the second office, but, under the circumstances, the chief position of labor and responsibility. What Palfrey says of their respective capacity, when originally elected Governor and Deputy-governor in 1679, had become even more manifestly true at this later period:— Bradstreet “can scarcely be pronounced to have been equal, either in ability of mind or in force of character, to the task of steering the straining vessel of state in those stormy times. More than any other man then living in Massachusetts, Thomas Danforth was competent to the stern occasion.” 27 Danforth did not hesitate to act, though fully conscious that his head was in danger, if King James succeeded in retaining the throne,—the more because he had so long been the leader in opposition to arbitrary authority,— and, even if the Prince of Orange became King, that this seizure of the government, in opposition to the constituted authority, might be regarded and punished as an act of treasonable rebellion.28 Yet he took the prominent position assigned to him, and manfully performed its duties for the space of three years, until Sir William Phips became Governor under the new Charter in 1692. For some reason he was not one of the Councillors appointed under the new Charter; but his fellow citizens manifested their regard for him and their approbation of his long and faithful services, by placing him in the Council, at the first general election, 1693, and kept him there by successive elections as long as he lived. They could not reinstate him in his former position, nor promote him to a higher, because, under the new charter, both the Governor and Lieutenant-governor were appointed by [115] the King. Before his election to the new Council, he had been appointed one of the judges of the Superior Court. His associate, Judge Sewall, in his Journal, thus refers to his appointment: “Tuesday Dec. 6, [1692.] A very dark cold day; is the day appointed for chusing of Judges. Wm. Stoughton Esq. is chosen Chief Justice, 15 votes (all then present): Tho. Danforth Esq., 12: Major Richards, 7: Major-Genl. Winthrop, 7: S. S.,29 7. . . . . This was in Col. Page's30 rooms, by papers on Wednesday, Xr. 7th, 1692.” 31 “Dec. 8, Mr. Danforth is invited to dinner, and after pressed to accept his place.” This place, which he seems to have accepted with some hesitation, he retained through life, and presided in a court at Bristol, less than two months before his death.

    It is due to the reputation of Danforth, to state emphatically, that he was not a member of the court which tried and condemned the unhappy persons accused of witchcraft. That special Court of Oyer and Terminer, appointed by Governor Phips and his Council, May 27, 1692, consisted of William Stoughton, John Richards, Nathanael Saltonstall, Wait Winthrop, Bartholomew Gedney, Samuel Sewall, John Hathorne, Jonathan Corwin, and Peter Sargeant;32 and it completed its bloody work before the next December, when the Superior Court was organized, of which Danforth was a member. Notwithstanding he held no judicial office during this period (except that he was one of the first Justices of the Peace and Quorum), the name of Danforth has often been very improperly associated with the witchcraft tragedy. Even Savage, familiarly acquainted as he was with the history of that period, was so forgetful as to say that he was appointed “in 1692, judge of Sup. Court for the horrible proceedings against witches.” 33 The only connection he had with those proceedings, so far as I have ascertained, is mentioned by Hutchinson.34 Before the arrival of Governor Phips, he presided as Deputy-governor, over a Court of Assistants at Salem, April 11, 1692, for the examination of accused persons,—not for their trial. There is no evidence that he was satisfied with the result of that examination, which, according to Hutchinson's account, seems to have been conducted chiefly if not entirely by Rev. Samuel Parris.35 On the [116] contrary, perhaps partly in consequence of this examination, he declared his dissatisfaction, and dislike of the judicial proceedings. In a letter dated Oct. 8, 1692, Thomas Brattle, one of the most intelligent and persistent opposers of the witchcraft infatuation, says: “But although the chief judge, and some of the other judges, be very zealous in these proceedings, yet this you may take for a truth, that there are several about the Bay, men for understanding, judgment, and piety, inferior to few, if any, in N. E., that do utterly condemn the said proceedings, and do freely deliver their judgment in the case to be this, viz., that these methods will utterly ruin and undo poor N. E. I shall nominate some of these to you, viz., the Hon. Simon Bradstreet, Esq. [our late governor]; the Hon. Thomas Danforth, Esq. [our late deputy-governor]; the Rev. Mr. Increase Mather, and the Rev. Mr. Samuel Willard. Major N. Saltonstall Esq., who was one of the judges, has left the Court, and is very much dissatisfied with the proceedings of it. Excepting Mr. Hale, Mr. Noyes, and Mr. Parris, the Rev. Elders, almost throughout the whole country, are very much dissatisfied. Several of the late justices, viz., Thomas Graves Esq., N. Byfield Esq., Francis Foxcroft Esq.,36 are much dissatisfied; also several of the present justices: and in particular, some of the Boston justices were resolved rather to throw up their commissions than be active in disturbing the liberty of their majesties' subjects, merely on the accusations of these afflicted, possessed children.” 37 That Danforth, in common with almost all his contemporaries, believed in witchcraft, and considered witches justly obnoxious to [117] punishment, is probably true; but it is not true, that he was a member of that special court which held such bloody assizes, nor, if we may believe Brattle, his personal friend, did he approve its proceedings. The Superior Court, of which he was a member, held a session at Salem in January, 1693, at which twenty persons were tried, and three convicted; but “spectral evidence” was not admitted;38 moreover, there is no proof that he concurred with his associates, all of whom had been members of the Commission of Oyer and Terminer.

    The latter years of Danforth's life seem to have been peaceful. Doubtless he lamented the loss of the old Charter, for whose preservation he had struggled so long and so manfully. His strong opposition to some of the provisions of the new Charter is said to have induced Mather to omit his name from the list of Councillors; yet he finally accepted it as the best which could be obtained, and faithfully labored, both as Councillor and Judge, to administer its provisions in such a manner as to secure the benefit of the people.39

    In the long and perilous conflict on behalf of chartered rights, Gookin and Danforth were supported by their brethren the Deputies from Cambridge, all good men and true. Deacon Edward Collins was Deputy from 1654 to 1670, without intermission; Edward Oakes, 1659, 1660, 1669-1681; Richard Jackson, [118] 1661, 1662; Edward Winship, 1663, 1664, 1681-1686; Edward Jackson, 1665-1668, 1675, 1676; Joseph Cooke, 1671, 1676-1680; Thomas Prentice, 1672-1674; Samuel Champney, 1686, and again, after the Revolution, from 1689 to 1695, when he died in office. Their names should be in perpetual remembrance.

    1 Mass. Col. Rec., v. 515, 516.

    2 Hutchinson's Hist. Mass., i. 353.

    3 Mass. Arch., CXXVIII. 142, 143.

    4 The case of Ipswich is related.

    5 Seizures of land in Charlestown and Plymouth are specified.

    6 Mass. Arch., CXXVIII. 300.

    7 Hutchinson's Hist. Mass., i. 360.

    8 Mass. Arch., CXXVIII. 56.

    9 Ibid., p. 68. This memorandum, endorsed on a copy of the order of notice, is in the handwriting of Thomas Danforth.

    10 Mass. Arch., CXXVIII. 297.

    11 Mass. Arch., CXXVIII. 111, 112.

    12 Ibid., p. 281.

    13 Mass Arch., CXXVIII. 115, 116.

    14 They could not speak by the authority of the town, because the town was prohibited from holding meetings, except once in each year for the choice of officers.

    15 Mass. Arch., CXXIX. 3.

    16 About two years before this Revolution, Cambridge lost one of her most eminent citizens, Maj.-gen. Daniel Gookin, more familiarly known as Major Gookin. Sad and disheartened at the loss of the Old Charter, yet cheered by the consciousness that he had faithfully and earnestly labored for its preservation, he survived the catastrophe not quite a year. He found rest from his labors and deliverance from oppression, March 19, 1686-7, at the ripe age of 75 years; and a large horizontal slab marks the spot of his sepulture in the old burial-place. In his will, dated Aug. 13, 1685, he says,— “I desire no ostentation or much cost to be expanded at my funeral, because it is a time of great tribulation, and my estate but little and weak.” Hence it has been supposed that he was quite poor. On the contrary, while he was not rich, the number of houses, and the quantity of silver plate and other goods bequeathed by him, in his will, denote that his estate was at least equal to the average at that period. His character is described very tersely by Judge Sewall, in his Journal: “March 19, Satterday, about 5 or 6 in the morn, Major Daniel Gookin dies. A right good man.”

    17 Hutchinson's Hist. Mass., i. 373.

    18 Captain of the Frigate Rose, then at anchor in Boston harbor.

    19 Revolution, etc., pp. 3, 4.

    20 Ibid., p. 19.

    21 Revolution, etc., p. 20.

    22 Winthrop, Shrimpton, Gidney (or Gedney), and Brown, had been members of the Council.

    23 Hutchinson's Hist. Mass., i. 382, 383.

    24 Ibid, pp. 387, 388.

    25 Mass. Arch., CVII. 20.

    26 Also, as President of Maine, June 28, 1693.

    27 Hist. New Eng., II. 332.

    28 In a letter to Governor Hinkley of Plymouth, dated April 20, two days after Sir Edmund Andros was deposed, he says, “I yet fear what the consequences thereof may be. I heartily pray that no bitter fruits may spring forth from this root. We have need of God's pity and pardon; and some do apprehend it will be wisdom to hasten our address to those that are now supreme in England for pardon of so great an irruption, and for a favorable settlement under the sanction of royal authority.” —Coll. Mass. Hist. Soc., XXXV. 192.

    Three months later, writing to Rev. Increase Mather, then in London, he says:— “I am deeply sensible that we have a wolf by the ears. This one thing being circumstanced with much difficulty,—the people will not permit any enlargement, they having accused them of treason against their king and country; and those restrained, they threaten at a high rate for being denied a habeas corpus. I do therefore earnestly entreat of you to procure the best advice you can in this matter, that, if possible, the good intents of the people and their loyalty to the Crown of England may not turn to their prejudice.” —Hutchinson's Coll. Papers, 568, 569.

    29 Samuel Sewall.

    30 Col. Nicholas Paige.

    31 Two days, it seems, were devoted to this selection of judges.

    32 Council Records. It is said that Saltonstall left the court, being dissatisfied with its proceedings.

    33 Genea. Dict.

    34 Hist. Mass., II. 27-29.

    35 Mr. Poole says,— “Mr. Parris on no occasion was employed to examine the accused. At the request of the magistrates, he took down the evidence, he being a rapid and accurate penman. On the occasion mentioned in the next paragraph, Danforth put the questions, and the record is, ‘Mr. Parris being desired and appointed to write out the examination, did take the same, and also read it before the council in public.’ ” —Gen. Reg., XXIV. 395. Mr. Upham also says,— “The deputy-governor first called to the stand John Indian, and plied him, as was the course pursued on all these occasions, with leading questions.” —Salem Witchcraft, II. 102. But, after quoting from Hutchinson a part of the examination, Mr. Upham adds,— “I would call attention to the form of the foregoing questions. Hutchinson says that ‘Mr. Parris was over-officious: most of the examinations, although in the presence of one or more magistrates, were taken by him.’ He put the questions. They show, on this occasion, a minute knowledge beforehand of what the witnesses are to say, which it cannot be supposed Danforth, Russell, Addington, Appleton, and Sewall, strangers, as they were, to the place and the details of the affair, could have had.” —Ibid., p. 104. For this reason, even if there were not many others, it seems most probable that the “leading questions” were put by Parris, and not by Danforth.

    36 Son-in-law of Thomas Danforth.

    37 Coll. Mass. Hist. Soc., v. 74, 75.

    38 Upham's Witchcraft, II. 349.

    39 The closing scene is thus described by Judge Sewall in his Journal: 1699. “Oct. 28. I visit Mr. Danforth who is very sick; his daughter Foxcroft tells me he is much troubled with the palsy. Was much indisposed the 22d instant, which was the beginning of his sickness; yet would go to meeting, which did him hurt, especially going out in the afternoon. I wished him refreshings from God under his fainting sickness.” — “Lord's day, Nov. 5. Tho. Danforth Esq., dies, about 3 past merid., of a fever. Has been a magistrate forty years. Was a very good husbandman, and a very good Christian, and a good councillor; was about 76 years old.” “Third day, Nov. 7. Mr. Stoughton, in his speech to the grand jury, takes great notice of Judge Danforth's death; saith he was a lover of religion and religious men; the oldest servant the country had; zealous against vice; and if [he] had any detractors, yet [there] was so much on the other as to erect him a monument among this people. Mr. Willard, in his prayer, mentioned God's displeasure in his removal, and desired the Judges might act on the Bench as those who must also shortly go to give their account. Indeed it is awful, that while we are sitting on the bench, at the same time the ancientest Judge should be lying by the wall, dead, in his house. I can't tell how it came about, but I told Mr. Danforth at Bristow I thought he would never come thither again; which made him take a more particular leave than otherwise he would have done.” “Sixth day, Nov. 10, 1699. Mr. Danforth is entombed about 1/4 of an hour before 4 P. M. Very fair and pleasant day; much company. Bearers: on the right side, Lt-Governor, Mr. Russell, Sewall; left side, Mr. W. Winthrop, Mr. Cook, Col. Phillips. I helped lift the corpse into the tomb, carrying the feet.”

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