MAGAZINE OF HISTORY
NOTES AND QUERIES
SExtra Numfor No. 5
THE EXPEDITIONS OF CAPTAIN JOHN LOVE-
WELL AND HIS ENCOUNTERS WITH THE
INDIANS Frederick Kidder
(ACCOUNT OF LOVEWELL S EXPEDITIONS,
[JOHN CHAMBERLAIN, THE INDIAN FIGHTER,
AT PIGWACKET - - - George W. Chamberlain, B. S.
141 EAST 25TH STREET,
THE INDIAN FIGHTER AT PIGWACKET
GEORGE W. CHAMBERLAIN, B. s.,
Member of the Maine Historical Society.
Author of "Soldiers of the American Revolution of Lebanon, Maine,"* &c.
(Being Extra No. 5 of The Magazine of History With Notes and Queries.)
JOHN CHAMBERLAIN, THE INDIAN FIGHTER AT
SEVERAL historical writers in the vicinity of Boston have
given to the public, during the years 1895 and 1896, long
discussions relative to the part performed by John Chamber
lain, of Groton, while under the command of Captain John Love-
well in the Pigwacket fight of 1725.
It is the purpose of this paper to give a summary of the
life of this man in general, and of his part at the Pigwacket fight
Born in the town of Chelmsford, March 29, 1692, he was
the eldest child of Thomas and Elizabeth (Hall) Chamberlain,
who lived first in Chelmsford, but later in Groton. His life had
its beginning in the earlier half of the Indian war period of New
His grandfather, Thomas Chamberlain of Chelmsford, who
was both senior and junior, was a soldier in King Philip s war,
being stationed at the frontier garrison in Groton on November
30, 1675. He was probably the Thomas Chamberlain who served
in Syll s Company and also in Poole s Company in 1676. Thomas,
the father, and Thomas, the grandfather, were both stationed at
the garrison in Chelmsford on March 16, 1691-92.
In 1697, when John Chamberlain had reached the age of five,
he first listened to the story of the capture of Hannah Dustin at
Haverhill, less than twenty-five miles from his home. At the
fireside he often heard rehearsed her heroic bravery in scalping her
captors on the island at Penacook. In 1702, he was thrilled by news
of the massacre of the Rev. Thomas Weld, the first minister of old
Dunstable, within ten miles of his own home.
[Reprinted from the Quarterly of the Maine Historical Society for January, 1898,
John Chamberlain was not the author s ancestor.
112 MEMOIR OF CHAMBERLAIN
In 1704, in the same year that the fearful slaughter at Deer-
field occurred, the Indians carried their guerrilla warfare into
Groton, where they killed one or two men in the southwesterly part
of the town. On May 8, 1706, at a town meeting held in Groton,
" Thay ded by uot [vote] declare they would and doe desire Thomas
Chamberill [Iain s] mill may bee uphelde by a solgar or solgars for
the good of the town." Therefore, John Chamberlain was cradled
and reared in the midst of Indian warfare and vigilant defense.
Of his education nothing is known except that his signature
to a petition to the judge of probate for Middlesex County was
plainly written. It was probably as good as that of the average
man of that time.
Thomas Chamberlain, the father, removed from Chelmsford
to Groton before March 10, 1699. He was a wheelwright, and on
the last-mentioned date bought of John Cadey, Sr., fifty acres of
land at " Baddacook " by " Brown Loafe Brooke," near " Cow-
pond Medow " in Groton. The inventory of his estate was taken
March 30, 1710. On the preceding day John Heald of Concord
was appointed guardian to "John, son of Thomas Chamberlain,
late of Groton, a minor in ye 18th yeare of his age." In 1713,
John Chamberlain reached his majority, and on June 30 of that
year the estate of his father was settled. Abigail, the widow (who
was the second wife), received her dower. John received "two-
thirds of the mill, housing, stream and lands in Groton," condi
tional upon his paying the other ten children 2, 17s., 6d. each.
Here at a place called " Baddacook," a little southeast of the vil
lage of old Groton, John Chamberlain lived from 1699 to 1729.
On September 4, 1724, Thomas Blanchard and Nathan Cross,
both of old Dunstable, were captured within the limits of the city
of Nashua, New Hampshire, by a band of Indians, who carried
them captives into Canada. A small party of Dunstable men pur
suing the Indians some distance up the Merrimack valley, the
entire party was killed excepting Josiah Farwell. For this reason
John Lovewell, Josiah Farwell and Jonathan Robbins, all of Dun-
stable, petitioned the General Court of Massachusetts for leave to
MEMOIR OF CHAMBERLAIN 113
raise a company "to keep out in the woods for several months
together in order to kill and destroy their enemy Indians." Their
petition was granted November 17, 1724, and they were promised
for each male scalp brought in one hundred pounds, which, accord
ing to Kidder, was equivalent to one hundred and thirty-six dollars.
John Lovewell, a son of John Lovewell (who by some
authorities is said to have been first of Weymouth), a native of
old Dunstable, was commissioned captain, and conducted three
expeditions northward in quick succession. John Chamberlain, how
ever, is not named in the list of the sixty-two men of the second ex
pedition, but all agree that he was one of the forty-six men who
started on the third expedition, and that he was one of the thirty-
three who met and resisted more than twice their number of In
dians on the north shore of what is now LovewelFs pond in the
town of Fryeburg, Maine, on May 8, 1725, O. S.
Four accounts of this fight were published within one and
one-half years of its occurrence. The first and second, published
on the seventeenth and twenty-fourth of May, 1725, in the Boston
News-Letter and the New England Courant respectively, make
no mention of Paugus, the chief of the Pigwacket tribe, nor of
any of the surviving English except Ensign Seth Wyman, who
took command on the death of Capt. Lovewell, Lieut. Farwell
and Ensign Robbins, near the beginning of the engagement.
Wyman had returned to Boston and been granted a captain s com
mission by the Lieutenant-Governor, William Dummer, before
May 24, 1725. The New England Courant of that date states
that " His Honour the Lieut.-Governour has been pleased to grant
a Captain s commission to Lieut. Wyman, who distinguished
himself with great courage and conduct during the whole engage
ment." The other accounts were written by the Rev. Thomas
Symmes of Bradford, Massachusetts, and by Judge Samuel Pen-
hallow of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Each of these accounts
is invaluable; both say that Paugus, the chief of the Pigwacket
tribe, was killed during the action, but neither state by whom the
deed was done.
114 MEMOIR OF CHAMBERLAIN
If John Chamberlain killed the old chief, the evidence of such
fact rests entirely upon widely disseminated traditions. If Ensign
Seth Wyman performed the act resulting in the death of that
"vile and bloody wretch," as Penhallow calls the chief, the evi
dence for such conclusion is found in an anonymous ballad of un
certain age and veracity; and I am asked to choose between
Scylla and Charybdis.
The Chamberlain-Paugus tradition was first published at
Fryeburg, Maine, in the year 1799, by Elijah Russell in his edi
tion of Rev. Thomas Symmes s "Memoirs of the Fight at Pigg-
wacket." It runs as follows:
Several of the Indians, particularly Paugus, their chief, were
well known to Lovewell s men, and frequently conversed with each
other during the engagement. In the course of the battle Paugus
and John Chamberlain discoursed familiarly with each other ; their
guns had become foul from frequent firing ; they washed their
guns at the pond, and the latter assured Paugus that he should
kill him ; Paugus also menaced him, and bid defiance to his insinu
ations. When they had prepared their guns they loaded and dis
charged them, and Paugus fell.
This story was printed seventy-four years after the battle
occurred, and one year after Noah Johnson, the last survivor of
the battle, had died. Was this story a fabrication invented by
Elijah Russell? Did it exist before 1799 in other parts of New
England? Does it contain any of the elements of truth?
In 1846, the Rev. Stephen Thompson Allen delivered an his
torical address at the centennial anniversary of the town of Merri-
mack, New Hampshire. In that address, which has the appear
ance of being truthful and scholarly, he alludes to one of the early
settlers of that town, a man whom I have traced in the state
and provincial papers of New Hampshire as a provincial repre
sentative of Merrimack from 1756 to 1775 inclusive. That man
was Capt. John Chamberlain, who erected the first mills at
" Souhegan Falls" in 1734. He was a large land owner at
MEMOIR OF CHAMBERLAIN 115
"Souhegan Falls," "Natticook," "Benton s Farm," and "Narra-
ganset Township No. 5."
In his address Mr. Allen says:
It is by many supposed that this Chamberlain is the same
that killed Paugus, the Indian chief in LovewelPs fight. But such
is not the fact. They were cousins, and from a descendant of the
family I learn that to distinguish them from each other, one was
called " Paugus John " and the other " Souhegan John."
Continuing, Mr. Allen says:
Souhegan John Chamberlain married [Hannah] a daughter
of Lieut. [Josiah] Farwell, who died of wounds received in Love-
well s fight. Souhegan John Chamberlain lived until the year
Mr. Allen learned these facts of a descendant of " Souhegan "
John, and published them within fifty-two years of his death. If
they are true they show what? That Paugus John Chamberlain
was so called during his lifetime. Is it reasonable to suppose that
the name " Paugus " should have been affixed after the year 1799
to John Chamberlain, who had then been dead forty- four years?
If it was not affixed ofter 1799, but was an appellation of his
lifetime, it could not have had its origin in Elijah Russell, but
must have originated from some other source.
But Souhegan John Chamberlain s wife Hannah was the
daughter of Lieut. Josiah and Hannah (Lovewell) Farwell. Her
father was killed in the Pigwacket fight, as also was her uncle,
her mother s brother, the intrepid Capt. John Lovewell. May we
not believe that this woman frequently heard the incidents of the
battle related by those who were eye-witnesses, and may we not
suppose that she had more than a passing interest in every par
ticular, especially as her father and her uncle both fell on the bat
tlefield? May we not also suppose that she knew that Paugus
John Chamberlain was so called because he shot Paugus?
116 MEMOIR OF CHAMBERLAIN
In 1890, I found a tradition in the Chamberlain family con
cerning the origin of that family in America. It was told by
one Jacob Chamberlain of Chelsea to his wife before 1735. About
1777 she related it to her grandson, Gen. William Chamberlain
of Peacham, Vermont, once a lieutenant-governor of that state.
He wrote it down in 1820. After six years of research on the
earlier families of the name, I am prepared to say that that tradi
tion contains some of the elements of truth, but is not literally
true. A correspondence and acquaintance with several genealo
gists have brought to my attention other family traditions, not
true in letter, but resting on the foundation of more or less truth.
From these facts I am led to believe that traditions of long stand
ing contain some of the elements of truth.
The story of John Chamberlain would seem to have come
to us from other sources. Caleb Butler, a native of Pelham, New
Hampshire, a graduate of Dartmouth College in 1800,, and a
tutor there in 1801, removed to Groton in 1802. After many
years of research he published his History of Groton in 1848.
On page 104 he gives the story of John Chamberlain and Paugus,
mentioning in a foot-note his authorities. As the story is some
what different from Russell s, I give it in Butler s words:
Some time in the day the gun of John Chamberlain, of Groton,
becoming foul by continued firing, he undertook to wash and
cleanse it at the pond. While in this act, he espied Paugus, whom
he personally knew, performing the same process upon his gun at
a small distance. A challenge was immediately given and ac
cepted, each confiding in his own dexterity, and predicting the
speedy fall of his antagonist. Chamberlain, trusting to the
priming of his gun by a thump on the ground, had time to take
deliberate aim, while Paugus was priming from his horn. Cham
berlain s ball reached Paugus s heart just as he was in the act of
firing. His ball passed over Chamberlain s head.
Notice how Butler continues:
After this event there was a short respite. The Indians
MEMOIR OF CHAMBERLAIN 117
withdrew. Ensign Wyman and Chamberlain crept unperceived
after them, and found them formed in a circle around one in the
center, whom there were qualifying, it was supposed, for a chief
instead of the deceased Paugus. Wyman fired and killed this
intended chief. Then both hastened back to their fellows at the
Compare the above paragraph with one sentence of the New
England Courant, of May 24, 1725, already referred to. It
reads: "About two hours before night the Indians drew off, and
presently came on again." One cannot help thinking that Butler s
relation contains some truth.
As to authorities, his foot-note states that the general account
of the fight was taken from printed sources, and some of the inci
dents were from the lips of the wife of Josiah Johnson, one of the
men. In the same connection he writes that this woman was thir
teen years old when the battle was fought, that she lived in Wo-
burn, where Johnson belonged, and afterwards married him. " In
the latter part of her life," continues Butler, " she lived in my
father s family [at Pelham], often told the story, and always told
it alike, agreeing with the printed account in general and adding
some particulars." From Butler s statement as to how he ob
tained the list of Lovewell s men, it is inferred that he never saw
Russell s edition of Symmes s " Memoirs."
It seems to me that we are warranted in concluding that this
story was not a fabrication invented by Elijah Russell, a news
paper editor of uncertain character. If we accept Butler, may we
not see that the part performed by Seth Wyman and the part
performed by John Chamberlain would, in the absence of positive
statements, end in confusion.
In 1824, ninety-nine years after the battle, and twenty-five
years after the Chamberlain-Paugus story had first been pub
lished in the Russell edition of Symmes s "Memoirs of the
Fight," Farmer and Moore published at Concord, New Hamp
shire, in the third volume of their " Historical Collections " a bal
lad entitled "The Song of LoveweTs Fight." It is here stated
118 MEMOIR OF CHAMBERLAIN
that Seth Wyman " shot the old chief Paugus which did the foe
defeat." In their introductory note the editors affirm that the
author of the ballad is unknown, that it is about one hundred
years old, and that is was sung throughout a considerable portion
of New Hampshire and Massachusetts for many years.
If Wyman shot Paugus, and many throughout New Hamp
shire and Massachusetts sang this ballad for many years, why
did not the old people ascribe to Wyman this fact? Why did
Wyman s neighbors accord that act not to their own townsman
who had received praises from the newspapers and a captain s
commission from the commonwealth but to John Chamberlain,
a private? Why did not Sarah Wyman, the widow of Seth
Wyman, in her petition to the Great and General Court in 1726,
in giving the particulars of her husband s military record, inci
dentally refer to his Paugus combat if the ballad story were true?
As early as 1865, Frederic /Kidder in his " Expeditions of
Capt. John Lovewell," asserted that the ballad is true, and that
not John Chamberlain but another slew Paugus. In his sketch
of John Chamberlain he gives these facts. Why did he not in his
biographical sketch of Seth Wyman accord to him the honor which
he denied to Chamberlain? Did it seem to Mr. Kidder that the
ballad, which he would have his readers believe is the "very best
authority," is strong enough for a destructive argument against
the Chamberlain-Paugus story; but that it was not of sufficient
strength for a constructive argument for his Wyman-Paugus
theory? Consistency seems to require that Wyman should have
had not only a widely-extended tradition among the common peo
ple of such fact, but that his biography should also have con
tained such a statement. The New England Courant of Septem
ber 11, 1725, gives ten lines on the death of Wyman. Why did
it not refer to the killing of Paugus, if by that Wyman did defeat
When it is remembered that a great poet, a renowned pro
fessor in the most learned university of America, in writing what
has become classic, places Priscilla, the wife of John Alden, for
MEMOIR OF CHAMBERLAIN 119
her wedding tour upon a "snow-white bull" before any cattle
had been brought to the Plymouth Colony, the immortal Long
fellow cannot be excepted in stating that poetry, however beau
tiful, is not historic truth.
What value, then, shall we place upon a single statement
of an anonymous ballad first published ninety-nine years after the
battle it describes occurred? One statement of the ballad is con
trary to iall contemporary accounts, viz., that by the death of
Paugus the foe was defeated. Since this ballad is untruthful
in one fact, may we not consider it untrustworthy on every fact
not corroborated by the narrations of that time?
But Mr. Kidder prejudices his own argument by saying that
"we trust that the story [of Chamberlain and Paugus] will not
again be republished as historical truth." In the absence of docu
mentary evidence reason dictates that circumstantial and traditional
evidence is suggestive and to some extent reliable. John Chamber
lain has such evidence. Seth Wyman \vas accorded by Symmes
the honor of killing the chief of the powwow during the respite,
as Butler relates. It is likely that he shot both Paugus and the
new red chief, and that Symmes should have accorded him the
less important service without ascribing to him the more impor
tant act in the battle?
It is not claimed, however, that the other traditions relating
to Chamberlain and the son of Paugus, and growing out of this
one, are true; but the bottom fact that John Chamberlain shot the
old chief Paugus on the shore of Lovew^ell s Pond, on that memor
able May 8, 1725, must, in my opinion, await a more critical
investigation before the honor can be consistently denied him.
After the Pigwacket fight, John Chamberlain, although re
ported by Symmes as w r ounded during the action, returned to his
farm and corn-mill the Chamberlain homestead at " Baddacook,"
in Groton. On May 31, 1727, the township of Suncook (now
Pembroke, New Hampshire), on the Merrimack River, was
granted by Massachusetts to sixty grantees who served in Love-
weirs expeditions. John Chamberlain was one of the grantees,
120 MEMOIR OF CHAMBERLAIN
and on April 12, 1729, he sold all his right and title to said lands
to Joseph Gilson, of Groton, for twenty pounds and ten shillings,
equivalent then to the paltry sum of twenty-seven dollars and
eighty-eight cents. His deed to Gilson recorded at Middlesex
Registry, Liber 30, page 106, mentions that the tract of land
described was recently granted "to the Officers and Soldiers
lately in the service of the province under the command of Capt.
John Lovewell, deceased, and others, in an expedition to Pig-
wacket against the Indian enemy, and which shall hereafter accrew
and fall to me as one of the soldiers under said Capt. Lovewell."
On the fifth of January of the same year, 1729, he sold the
Baddacook homestead to Samuel Woods, Sr., of Groton, and
on February 19, 1730, he bought another farm of James Lakin,
at a place called the " Four Acres " in Groton. Dr. Samuel A.
Green, who is authority on the history of Groton, is unable to
identify this place. He lived there until April 20, 1741, when he
deeded this farm at the " Four Acres " to Samuel Chamberlain,
of Chelmsford, a gentleman.
In the meantime his wife s father, Thomas Woods, of Groton,
had died and there was trouble in settling the Woods estate. On
September 8, 1740, John Chamberlain and Amos Woods, two of
the heirs, petitioned the Judge of Probate for Middlesex, to have
Samuel Chamberlain, of Chelmsford, a gentleman, appointed ad
ministrator. A lawsuit followed. On August 20, 1741, his wife
Abigail, sold to this same Samuel Chamberlain of Chelmsford, and
Josiah Sartel of Groton, her share in her father s estate, situated
on the north side of Brown Loaf Hill. This Samuel Chamberlain,
called captain, was, I conjecture, an uncle to Paugus John and
the father of Souhegan John, and should be distinguished from
Samuel Chamberlain, of Westford, called Lieutenant, a con
However, John Chamberlain probably owned no real estate
after 1741. In June, 1742, his name appears among the inhabitants
and residents of the northerly part of Groton (now Pepperell),
on a petition to Governor William Shirley.
Of his family I will give but little. On October 13, 1713, the
MEMOIR OF CHAMBERLAIN 121
year he reached his majority, he married Abigail, daughter of
Thomas and Abigail Woods, of Groton. To them were born at
Groton four daughters and two sons, viz.:
i. ELIZABETH, 5 b. 27 Oct., 1714; m. 23 Mch, 1736, Jeremiah,
son of Zachariah and Abigail Lawrence. He was b. 7
Dec. 1713, became deacon of First Parish in Pepperell,
where he d. 29 Aug., 1759. She d. 1 Feb., 1774, ce. 60
ii. HANNAH, 5 b. 18 Jan., 1716.
iii. JOHN, Jr., 5 b. 24 Mch., 1720; m. 3 Dec., 1746, Rachel, daug. of
Zachariah and Abigail Lawrence. She was b. in 1727, and
d. 6 Oct., 1756. He served in Capt. J. Shattuck s Co. in
1758 in the French and Indian War, (Green s Groton
During Indian Wars, p. 167). Children :
1. Rachael, 6 b. 10 July, 1747 ; d. 13 Oct. 1756.
2. Abigail, 6 b. 8 Sept., 1749; m. in Pepperell, 7 June, 1770,
Edmond, son of Dr. Benjamin and Dinah (Hunt) Shat-
tuck of Littleton, Mass. He b. 20 July, 1744, removed to
Groton, Mass., abt. 1773, where she d. 17 Mch, 1796, ae.
47 y. 6 m. 9 d. He was selectman, town clerk, repre
sentative, postmaster, justice and removed to Cockermouth,
(now Groton), N. H. where he d. in 1816.
3. John, 6 Jr., b. 27 Feb., 1752,
4. Ede, 6 b. 9 Oct., 1754.
iv. SARAH, 5 b. 27 April, 1727.
v. AsiGAiL, 5 b. Jan., 1732.
vi. TnoMAs, 5 b. 2 Sept., 1735; m. (?) 9 May, 1769, Lydia
Adams, of Groton, Mass. Perhaps the Thomas, a cooper,
who purchased 160 acres of the Great Farm belonging to
Hon. Samuel Waldo s heirs, 28 Jan., 1762, situated in Pep
perell (Middlesex Deeds, Liber 60, p. 221).
On March 31, 1756, Jeremiah Lawrence, then of the district
of Pepperell, a son-in-law, was appointed "administrator of the
estate of John Chamberlain, late of Groton, Husband-man." The
last resting-place of this man is unknown; but his service rend
ered at Pigwacket outlives the skepticism of the ages.
MALDEN, MASS. GEORGE W. CHAMBERLAIN.
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