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History of Martha's Vineyard 




MARTHA'S Vineyard 











191 1 


PREFACE ^- -^ 

Having now brought forward the narrative of events from 
the beginning of time, through the first occupation of the Vine- 
yard by Enghshmen for a permanent residence, and presented 
the story of its progress as a whole to our own day, the sub- 
sequent annals of the island, under its new tenants in segre- 
gated communities, will be considered in detail. Separate 
histories of each township growing out of the initial settlement, 
commencing with Edgartown, the eldest, taking each in turn 
according to its chronological relations to the parent towns, 
will follow, and the local developments of each one be 
particularly treated. In order to maintain this plan, however, 
certain arbitrary limitations will be necessary in its application 
to simplify the relation, owing to the divisions of Edgartown, 
to form Cottage City (now Oak Bluffs) ; of Chilmark to form 
Gosnold; and of Tisbury, to form West Tisbury. Therefore, 
for the purposes of definite historical study of these towns, the 
present boundary limits of each, although at one time a part 
of another, will be considered as originally belonging to the 
later incorporated community. For example, all that relates 
to persons and events in the present territorial limits of Oak 
Bluffs, although enacted when a part of Edgartown, will be 
related as happening in the history of that section now called 
Oak Bluff's. This topographical plan will prevent duplication 
of statements and constant explanation of the relation of events 
and places to each other, and give proper credit to the scenes 
enacted on each one's particular soil. 

In the quotations from the early records, which will be 
found in the text of the work in each volume, the reader may 
miss the familiar word '^ye" a fantastic affectation of the 
ignorant to indicate the definite article " the," as if our ances- 
tors were in the habit of using, or even ever used, such absurd 
expressions as "ye house" or "ye cow." In the early days 
of printing the Saxon th was represented by a symbol which 
looked like a 3' or ^, and when the Roman alphabet was 
employed exclusively there was no symbol to represent this 
th sound and the letter y was used as a substitute ; but always 

9.Ur\ \ ir»f%-^. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

pronounced as th and not as ye, as it looks. This explanation 
may help to correct an absurd error which is perpetuated by 
persons unfamiliar with the true reason for the apparent 

The reader is also reminded of the differences in the 
calendar in the Colonial period before 1752, by which there 
occurred the "double dating" between January ist and March 
25th of each year. An explanation of this is given in Vol. I., 
pp. 489-90, and an understanding of it is required to interpret 
dates correctly when a double date occurs. 

It has not been deemed practicable, in view of the neces- 
sity of economy of space, to supplement the Annals v/ith long 
and dreary lists of town officers which have but little meaning 
to most people; nor to extend the details of present-day affairs 
to the extent of composing a business and social directory for 
future reference. All that can be done in such a comprehen- 
sive work as this is to bring down the narrative of events to 
the memory of the living. Some day in the future an historian 
for each principal town will be able to use the foundation I 
have laid as the basis for a complete superstructure in each 

C. E. B. 


Rev. Jonathan Mayhew Frontispiece 



Signature of Thomas Mayhew ii 

Plan of Edgartown, 1694 15 

Signature of Thomas Bayes 38 

Signature of Thomas Burchard 49 

Signature of John Burchard 53 

Signature of Nicholas Butler 54 

Signature of John Daggett 63 

Signature of Peter Folger 67 

Signature of Thomas Jones 76 

Signature of Matthew JVIayhew 79 

Signature of Andrew Newcomb 84 

Signature of Nicholas Norton 85 

Signature of Thomas Paine 90 

Signature of John Pease 91 

Street in Great Baddow, Eng 92 

Signature of Richard Sarson 104 

Signature of Benjamin Smith 108 

Signature of Thomas Trapp 113 

Second Meeting House 147 

Signature of Deodate Lawson 149 

Plan of Fourth Meeting House 158 

Rev. Joseph Thaxter Facing 160 

Fifth Meeting House 163 

Jared W. Coffin Facing 186 

Leavitt Thaxter " 191 

The Parson Thaxter House 193 

Doctor John Pierce Facing 196 

Old Mayhew House " 198 

Methodist Church 200 

Survey of Chappaquiddick, 1795 202 


Plan of Tisbury, 1694 6 

St. John the Baptist, Tisbury, Eng. (two views) . . .Facing 16 

Signature of James Allen 25 

Signature of Simon Athearn 28 

Signature of Robert Cathcart 41 

Signature of John Eddy 46 

Signature of Henry Luce 54 

History of Martha's Vineyard 


Signature of Isaac Robinson 60 

Signature of James Skiff 72 

Signature of Josiah Torrey 79 

Third Meeting House 86 

The Whiting Homestead Facing 90 

Old Mill on Tiasquin loi 

Henry L. Whiting Facing no 

RuFUS Spalding House 114 

Waskosim's Rock 116 

Sign Manual of Josias, Sachem 133 

Signature of Thomas Butler 141 

Home of Captain Nathan Smith 145 

Old Curb Well 147 


Street in Chilmark, Eng Facing 4 

Plan of Chilmark, 1694 6 

Wequobsket Cliffs 10 

Glacial Drift 15 

The Fish Bridge, New York 20 

Arms of Thomas Dongan 24 

Rev. Jonathan Mayhew Facing 26 

Signature of Nathan Bassett 29 

Signature of John Mayhew 32 

Signature of Thomas Mayhew 35 

Signature of Benjamin Skiff 36 

Old Skiff House Facing 38 

Map of Chilmark, 1780 46 

Signature of Rev. William Homes 48 

Methodist Church 59 

Signature of Zaccheus Mayhew 64 

Corbel, S. Margaret's, Chilmark, Eng 70 

Noman's Land (Simancas Map, 1610) 71 


View of Homes Hole, 1838 Facing 8 

Map of Homes Hole Neck, 1725 17 

Signature of Isaac Chase 19 

Baptist Church 42 

Rev. John Adams Facing 44 

Rev. Joseph Snelling " 44 

Grace Church " 50 

Grace Church (Interior) . 52 

Sign of Claghorn Tavern 56 

Map of Homes Hole, 1775 57 

Capt. William Daggett Facing 60 

U. S. Marine Hospital " 64 

Doctor Winthrop Butler " 70 

Old Wind Mill 82 




Glacial Kames, Lagoon 4 

Map of Daggett Farm i8 

Trinity Church Facing 33 

School House, Eastville 35 

The " JMajor Norton " House, 1752 40 

The Claghorn Tavern 48 

Signature of Malitiah Davis 56 

S. Mary's Church, Great Baddow, Eng 68 


Gay Head Cliffs 4 

Cheepy's Cornfield 11 

Stone Weir 16 

Gravestone of Silas Paul 24 

Light House 29 

Stone Bowl . 35 


Elizabeth Islands (Simancas Map, 1610) 4 

Church and School, Cuttyhunk ... 13 

Major General Wait Winthrop Facidg 17 

Gosnold's Island 22 

Elizabeth's Ile, 1632 27 



The beginnings of the history of Edgartown took place 
in Watertown, when, on March i6, 1 641-2, the grant of 
township was made by the two patentees, Mayhew senior and 
junior, unto five of their townsmen as previously stated, and 
the first foundations were laid in that year when young Thomas 
Mayhew set foot on the shores of its ''great harbour," with 
his companions, to consummate the title and take possession. 

The identity of the passengers who came in that first 
shallop to Great Harbor in 1642 as companions of young 
Mayhew is yet an unsolved problem. We only know he came 
"with some other persons" and that there were "divers fam- 
ilies," including "some of Watertown," and the records lend 
us no aid in the solution. Speculation may be indulged in 
to the extent of supposing that some of the original grantees 
of Watertown came to look over their deed of gift, but we 
know that of these only John Daggett remained to become a 
settler, and he may be included with the first contingent. To 
these we may add John Folger, John Smith (John Bland), 
possibly Edward Sales of Rehoboth, and their families, and — 
here we stop, lest speculation carry us too far. 

Such was the beginning of our first settlement by the 
Mayhews and their associates, and little that they did in the 
early years of the plantation is known to us. We can picture 
them as busy in clearing the land east of Pease Point Way, 
felling timber, building houses, laying out lots, tilling the 
soil, and fishing in the adjoining waters. 

As they landed at their future home, doubtless they were 
met in a questioning attitude by groups of Indians under the 
leadership of Tewanquatick, Sagamore of Nunnepog, for 
such was the Algonquian name for the place which Mayhew 
chose for the town site. This Indian name for the territory 
now comprising the present bounds of Edgartown is the only 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

one which was attached to the sachemship of the eastern half 
of the Vineyard. It occurs in various forms: as Nunpauket, 
Nunpaug, Nunpog, and in an Indian deed of 1684 it is written 
Unnunpauque (Deeds I, 18), and in another of 1696, Won- 
nottaquan, squaw sachem of Nunpawquit, sold land situated 
on the east side of Watchusate neck (Ibid., I, 208).^ 

The meaning of this word is "fresh pond or water place.'" 
Just what particular pond gave its character to the sachem- 
ship of Nunnepog is a matter of speculation, but it was prob- 
ably the Great Pond, on the shores of which was the Masha- 
kemmuck, or Great House of the sachems of this territory. 


The basis of all land titles in Edgartown rests upon the 
original grant of the two patentees to certain individuals 
named in the following grant of township rights : — 

unto John Doggett, Daniel Pierce and Rich'd Beeres and 

John Smith and Francis Smith with ourselves to make choice for the 
Present of a large Towne upon the same Terms that we have it: And 
also equall Power in Governm't with us, and equall Power in admission 
of all that shall present themselves to come to live upon any part of the 
whole grant of all the Islands; and wee grant also to them and their 
Associates with us to receive another Townshipp for Posterity upon the 
same Terms wee have from the Grantees.'' 

This document invested these grantees with proprietary 
rights in the soil, and the management thereof in a corporate 
capacity as townsmen, but it was not until the elder Mayhew 
came to live on the island that the extent of this ''large Towne" 
was made clear, by which their rights were defined : — * 

This witnesseth that Mr. Mayhew the Elder and also Mr. Mayhew 
the Younger have freely given to the men now inhabiting on the Island 
namely the Vineyard, this Tract of land following for a Townshipp: 
namely all Tawanquatack's his Right, together wth all the Land as farr 
as the Easter-Chop of Homses Hole, and also all the Island called Chapa- 
quegick, wth full Power to dispose of all and every Part of the said Land 

^It would seem that the name had, perhaps, a more circumscribed application, 
for the Report of the Commissioners for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, 
made in 1698, refers to Nunnepoag as a part of Edgartown. 

^Eliot in James III, 12, has Nunnupog, equivalent to "fresh water." 

^New York Col. Doc. Deeds, I, 72. 

*Ibid., Ill, 68. 


Annals of Edgartown 

as they see best for their own comfortable Accommodation. The Line 
is to goe from Tequanoman's Point to the Eastermost Chop of Homses 
Hole. This I doe acknowledge to bee the free Grant of myselfe and my 
Sonn, the day and yeare above written. 

per me 

>-'- — ~;^^: f%y/^<^^^ 

Decem: 4 th, 1646. 

There is nothing of record to show the reason for the 
selection of this locaKty as the site of the new settlement, but 
it offered the most natural advantages for the purpose, a safe 
harbor and what was quite as important, a spring of potable 
water convenient to the shore. As elsewhere related, it is 
probable that the younger Mayhew determined this selection 
upon his first visit, and chose the homestead site for his father 
and himself as a nucleus of their personal holdings on the 

In fact, the senior Mayhew himself, in an instrument 
dated Dec. i, 1642, clearly shows that on that date he had not 
selected all his own land. In their grant to John Daggett, 
Sr., the proprietors, father and son, provide that the meadow 
and farm shall not be selected by Daggett until the elder May- 
hew had picked out similar lots for himself. The deed, how- 
ever, indicates that the elder Mayhew had visited the island 
and had chosen his home lot, "upon the point," ^ and Daggett 
was limited to a distance of three miles from "the Spring 
that is by the harbor in my lot." 


The present limits of Edgartown do not comprise all the 
territory above described, as in 1880 the northern half of the 
town was set off and incorporated as Cottage City, since changed 
(1907) to Oak Bluffs, leaving for consideration topographically 
and historically the land within the following bounds : — 
Beginning at the middle of the inlet to Sanchacantacket Pond, 
and crossing the pond to the ancient landmark known as 
Miober's Bridge, at the head of Major's Cove; thence on a 
straight line to the stepping stones at the head of the Lagoon; 
thence on a straight line crossing the State Highway to the 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 189. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

head of Tashmoo Pond; thence returning on a straight hne 
to the Four Town Bound; thence by nine bound-stones in a 
direct Hne southerly through the middle of Watcha Neck to 
the South Beach. All territory south and east of these divi- 
sional lines, including the island of Chappaquiddick, now 
belongs to Edgartown, and the events of historic interest 
connected with the people who lived within this region will be 
related in the annals of the town which are to follow. 


For the first few years after the settlement of the town^ 
no name was formally bestowed upon it, as it was the only 
place upon the island inhabited by the whites and it needed 
no distinguishing title. In all the extant correspondence of 
the elder May hew, during that early period, his letters were 
uniformly dated as "Uppon the Vyneyard" or "the Vyne- 
yard" simply, while contemporary legal instruments referred 
indefinitely to the "Towne uppon the Vineyard." The name 
of Great Harbor first appears in 1652 in the town records as 
the title of the settlement now comprised in the territory of 
Edgartown, but even ten years later in a suit prosecuted by 
John Daggett at Plymouth the legal entry of it was made 
as Daggett versus ''the towne of the said Vinyard." As the 
population increased and new settlers began to occupy the 
territory now covered by West Tisbury and Chilmark, the 
necessity for a distinctive nomenclature was felt, and Great 
Harbor began to be applied slowly to the settlement now 
known as Edgartown, while the newer village was called 
Middletown, probably because of its location in the center 
of the island. This condition lasted for about twenty years 
when it received the title of Edgartown, which it has ever 
since borne. The inquiry is frequently heard "why was 
it called Edgartown?" because it is an unusual name. In- 
deed, there is but one Edgartown in the world! The 
Gazetteer confirms the fact that in the nomenclature of 
places, throughout the known world, the name of our shire 
town has stood alone in unique isolation for over two cen- 
turies. The source of its title has long been an object, not 
only of curiosity on the part of the public, but of prolonged 
investigation at the hands of historical students, past and 
present. A number of ingenious suggestions have been made, 
such as it might be a corruption of Egerton, a parish in England,, 


Annals of Edgartown 

but no answer has ever been given that could be defended on 
historical grounds, and indeed no really serious suggestion 
as to its origin has yet come to light. 


The baptism of the town took place in New York City, 
at Fort James, the seat of the Provincial governor, during 
the important conferences held between Colonel Lovelace, 
the representative of the Duke of York and the elder Mayhew, 
in the month of July, 167 1, when the entire government of 
the Vineyard was reorganized. These events are narrated 
elsewhere, and it will not be necessary to explain the details 
of this meeting beyond a cursory review of so much as relates 
to this particular topic. 

"The business under consideration," read the council 
minutes, ''was Mr. Mayhew's affayre about Martins Vine- 
yard, etc. His Peticon and Proposalls rec'd." It was at 
once decided "that the Townes seated there shall have 
Patents of Confirmation as other Townes." On the next 
day a satisfactory relationship and mutual understanding 
had been reached ; and from that time on during the remainder 
of the conference all was plain sailing. Mayhew had found 
his "Popish" master more than complaisant, and equally 
generous in his dealings. On the next day, July 8, it was 
decided to issue patents for the incorporation of the two towns 
on the island hitherto called Middletown and Great Harbor; 
and it became necessary either to adopt these names as the 
permanent designations or to choose others more distinctive. 
The latter alternative was adopted. Tisbury was selected 
for the settlement "formerly known by the name of Middle- 
town," doubtless at the suggestion of Mayhew in memory 
of his native parish in Wiltshire; and it was now necessary 
to deal with the principal settlement, the chief town of the 

We may here surmise that Mayhew, desirous of estab- 
lishing and continuing the reciprocal cordiality which had been 
manifest throughout, requested Governor Lovelace to christen 
the place "formerly knowne by the name of Great Harbour." 
It was then the custom to honor the royal family, particularly 
the reigning monarch, in the bestowal of names on places in 
the new English possessions on this continent, as, for examples, 
Jamestown, Charlestown, Maryland, and later we find Wil- 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

liamstown and Georgetown. Whether this surmise be correct 
as to the initiative in this matter, the probabihties strongly 
point to a suggestion from Lovelace that His Royal Highness, 
the Duke of York, Lord Proprietor of the Provinces which 
included the Vineyard then in its confines, should be compli- 
mented in the selection of a name for the principal town in 
this new county. King Charles was childless, and besides 
his name was already attached to another town. The same 
situation obtained with relation to the Duke's name, then in 
use by the first settled colony in Virginia. 

The children of James, as heir presumptive, would there- 
fore become heirs apparent to the crown of England, and the 
eldest son in turn become King. At this date (1671) the 
first three children of the Duke, viz.: Charles b. 1660, James 
b. 1663, and Charles b. 1666 had died in infancy, and the 
fourth, born Sept. 14, 1667, was the only surviving son and 
heir to perpetuate the direct royal line. This young Prince 
was named Edgar, and bore the title of Duke of Cambridge. 
He would become the Prince of Wales upon his father's ac- 
cession to the throne. What more natural suggestion could 
have been offered than that Great Harbor should exchange 
its indefinite name for a distinctive title in honor of the Duke's 
only son, Edgar, a possible future King of England? Who- 
ever was responsible for the suggestion, it was then decreed 
that Great Harbor "for the future shall bee called by the 
Name of Edgar Towne, and by that Name & Style shall bee 
distinguisht and Knowne." There can be no mistake in the 
word. It is plainly "Edgar Towne" in the patent of in- 

The young Prince did not live to know or appreciate 
the honor intended. In fact, he was dead when his name 
was bestowed on our county seat, his demise having occured 
June 8,(1671, just one month before, a fact doubtless un- 
known to Lovelace and Mayhew when the choice was made, 
owing to the infrequency of communication with the mother 

These, then, were the actual and supposed events leading 
up to the christening of our shire town, all of which have un- 
mistakably pointed to a natural and reasonable conclusion 
as to the naming of Edgartown. The death of young Prince 
Edgar, scarcely four years old, has made him practically an 
unknown personage, even though of royal birth. Edgar 
was an uncommon name in the reigning family, that being 


Annals of Edgartown 

the first use of it for many generations. Besides this, King 
James, his father, came to be thoroughly hated and feared 
in the colonies on account of his religious affiliations, and 
except in this instance, which was doubtless done as a stroke 
of policy, there was no disposition in Puritan New England 
to honor him or his family. 


The growth of population in this town prior to 1700 has 
to be estimated from scattered and unsatisfactory bases. 
We only know that at first ''divers famihes" came, but beyond 


* cn-\.*T<~y 


surmising how many that might comprise, we have no means 
of telling with any accuracy. In 1653, there were fifteen 
persons kno^vn to be "heads of famihes" who took part in 
a division of land, and by using five as a multiple we have an 
estimate of 75 souls living at that date in the town. In 1660 
there were probably twenty "heads," and by the same process 
a total of 100 souls is obtained. In 1676 there were about 
twenty- seven "heads," Aiaking a total of 125 souls, a slow 
but steady increase. Eighteen years later, 1694, we have the 


History of Martha's Vineyard ' 

first definite basis of calculation, the Athearn map of that 
date in which he states that there were "35 or 36 houses in 
the town." Census returns always show that more than one 
family is to be reckoned to a house, and by counting this num- 
ber as forty families, and applying the same multiple we have 
as a result, about 200 souls living in the town in the last decade 
of that century. The data is not sufficient for any further 
accurate computation until after the middle of the next cen- 
tury, in 1757, when a muster roll of the company of militia 
in the town give us an enumeration of 182 persons able to 
bear arms. Using the accepted multiple, we can estimate, 
at this date, a total of about 900 souls then resident in this 
town. The first census of the Province was taken in 1765, 
and from this we obtain the following figures : — families 1 50 
comprising a total of 1030 souls living in 128 houses. Of 
these, there were 233 males and 248 females above sixteen 
years of age; 234 males and 209 females below sixteen; 20 
negroes (12 males and 8 females), and 86 Indians, of whom 37 
were male and 49 female. At this date, Edgartown had the 
largest population of the three towns, about 38 per cent, of the 
entire country. In 1776, there were 1020 persons credited 
to the town in the census. The first national census of 1790 
gives us an enumeration by names, and from this the following 
statistics are drawn: - total population, 1356 (whites), of which 
number there were 335 males above sixteen years, 318 below 
sixteen and 683 ''free white" females and ten ''other free 
persons." This leaves a balance of ten, which are assumed 
to be negroes. 

The following figures show the population of Edgartown 
as enumerated in the decimal censuses of the United States 
from 1800 to the present time: — in 1800 it was 1226; in 1810, 
1365; in 1820, 1374; in 1830, 1509; in 1840, 1736; in 1850, 
1990; in i860, 2118; in 1870, 1516; in 1880, 1303; in 1890, 
1 1 56; and in 1900, 1209. 

The maximum population of over 2000 was reached in 
i860, but the census of 1900 showed a decrease of 17 from 
that of 1800. The population had thus been practically 
stationary for a hundred years. The state census of 1905 
showed a population of 1175.^ 

^Assessed valuation (May i, 1900), $720,682.00; rate of taxation, per $1000, 
$15.40; number of dwelling houses, 391; number of horses, 116; number of cows, 
213; number of sheep, 934; number of acres of land assessed, 11,337; number of 
persons assessed on property, 781. 


* Annals of Edgartown 

Ancient Landmarks, 
algonquian place names. 

Ahquompache, Acqumnpache, Aquampesha, etc. — This 
was the name of a neck of land sold by three Indians to Joseph 
Norton in 1682. (Deeds, I, 285, comp., Ill, 98; 119; IV, 
157). And Thomas Burchard sold to Joseph Norton, May 2, 
1682, ''a neck called Aquampacher neck near Pahoggannot." 
(Ibid., IV, 36). In John Daggett's will (1673) it is written 
Aquampache. In a deed dated 1723, a neck "caled nonna- 
maset & aquampesha" is referred to. The translation of 
this word is "forsaken swamp or marsh." 

Crackatuxett. — This place is first mentioned June 26, 
1652, in the town records (p. 126). It is called " Crackatukset 
or Short Neck" in 1681, when Philip Watson sold two shares 
at Crackatuxet, "late belonging to John Bland, deceased." 
(Deeds, I, 255.) The letter R in this name is probably 
an error^ as the sound of that letter ought not to appear in 
the Nope dialect. The appellation originally designated 
the outlet of the pond, now obliterated by the action of the 
sea. It should be written Cheke-tuk-es-et, meaning "the 
violent, swift, or turbulent tidal cove or estuary." 

Cataama. — Simon Athearn recites (no date mentioned), 
that his grandfather, Nicholas Butler, gave him the "neck 
called Cattwama." (Town Records, 17.) It has various 
spellings, as Cotamy, Kuttamy, and the modern form is 
Katama. The same name occurs on Long Island, varied 
as Catawamuck, Katawamac and Ahkataamuck, (Indian 
fishing stations upon Long Island, pp. 54-57). It means 
"a crab-fishing place." 

Manadoo. — In her will of June 8, 1690, Elizabeth Norton, 
widow, gives to her son Joseph, land at a place called "Mana- 
doo." It is called more frequently Menada, and as such it 
is known at the present day. It is in the northern part of 
the town, on the road to Oak Bluffs. 

Manequoy. — This is a neck of land, referred to in a 
sale from Matthew Mayhew to Thomas Daggett, dated Aug. 
23, 1680, when it is called "Monequoy," and in 1719 Joseph 
Daggett sold to Brotherton Daggett one-third of the "short 
neck lying on the south side of the place between Matewase 
and Manequoy." (Deeds, II, 19; III, 246.) Manequoy 
was west from Mattakeese (Ibid., V, 38). 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Mattakeset. — This was also the Indian name of Dux- 
bury, Massachusetts. (Winsor, History of Duxbury, p. 13.) 
It is first mentioned in our records under date of March 23, 
1646, when John Bland bought of John Pease a tract of land 
and meadow ''lying against Mr. Blands house at Matta- 
keekset." The derivation of this word is not entirely apparent. 
It may be formed of Matta(or Mat)-auk-es-et, "at the bad 
place," meaning a bad or unfavorable place for canoes, or 
for cultivation. It may be an abbreviated form of Namat- 
auk-es-et, "at the sitting down, or resting place," as applied 
to a portage, or ferrying place; where one sits down to rest 
before crossing to the other side. This may have been a 
point where the Indians habitually crossed from Nope to 
Chappaquiddick, The creek which drained into Matta- 
keeset was called Ameshoak (the Indian word for Herring) 
Creek (Deeds, XI, 387). 

The name Matewase (Deeds, III, 246), described ^s 
next to Manequoy, in 1719, is probably a corruption, or mis- 
spelling of Mattakeese(t).^ 

Mashakamocket-Mashacket. — The town granted to Philip 
Tabor, May 20, 1653, "the neck called Ashakomaksett from 
the bridge that is at the East side of the head of the Swamp" 
(p. 131). On Aug. 2, 1655, after he had removed to Rhode 
Island and exchanged property with Thomas Layton, this 
land was described as bounded on the west side by "Mo- 
manequins Neck." (Deeds, I, 325.) This name appears 
as Shokamackset (1655) ^^^ Mashacket (1662), which last 
is the modern spelling. There is a loss of the initial conso- 
nant in both of the first two forms, which is retained in the 
later form. The survival of the M indicates that its original 
form was Masha-komuk-et, meaning "at the great house," 
or "enclosed place;" probably referring to a palisadoed in- 
closure built by the native inhabitants for the Sachem's house. 
The Sachem of Nunnepog may have had his "great house" 
here. It is the equivalent of the Powhatan Machacamac, 
meaning "great house," Captain John Smith writes: "For 
presently they robbed their Machacomocko house of the towne, 
stole all the Indian treasure thereout, and fled into the woods 
as the Indians often related." (Historic, Arbers, Reprint, 
538.) Eliot gives it Mishikkomukquash(pe), for "palaces." 

'Mattakeece plain or neck is mentioned as S. S. E. from Crackatuxet. A short 
neck in Edgartown, bounded E. by a pond called Mattakeese and on the W. by a pond 
called Manaquoy is described in an early deed. (Deeds, V, 38.) 

Annals of Edgartown 

(Isaiah, XXXII, 14.) The ''neck called Shackamoksett, 

adjoining to Quanomica on the west to Mashackett 

Pond on the East," occurs in the Town Records of Edgartown 
(p. 13) under date of Jan. 25, 1671. 

Matiilihiikqiissee. — In a deed of sale, from three Indians 
to Joseph Norton, they convey ''all that neck of land called 
Acquampache and over a small neck of land called Matuh- 
hukqussee." (Deeds, III, 98.) 

Nonnamesset. — This appears to have been an alias for 
Pohoganut, or Aquampache, to which reference should be 
made. (Deeds, II, 32; IV, 157.) It is also a name for one 
of the Elizabeth Islands. In a deed, the following mention 
is made of this place: — ". . . . called Nonnemassett which 
said Nonnamessett is a neck of Land lying next and adjoining 
on the South of the lands in s'd Town called Aquompache." 
(Ibid., V, 375-) 

Nashqiiite. — Under date of April 14, 1681, this word 
appears in the Edgartown Records, "a neck called Nashquite 
lying the Eastw^ard of Mattakes . . . ." (p. 30). Benjamin 
Smith sold to Benjamin Pease, Oct. 10, 1713, six acres in 
Edgartown adjacent "to the plain commonly called Nash- 
akittee." (Deeds, IV, 223.) These place names are probably 

Nashawamass or Nashamoiess. — This was in the southern 
part of Edgartown, and was one of the praying villages of the 
Indians. Governor Mayhew, in his will, devises land "bought 
of Felix at Nashowamass," which is undoubtedly the same 
word. It is probably a name bestowed by Governor Ma3^hew, 
especially as it designates one of his "praying towns." Rev. 
John Cotton called it Nashamoiess (1674), a name that has 
survived to the present day. Nashau-wamass means "the 
spirit he loves," i.e., "He is beloved of the Spirit," and one 
of Eliot's "praying towns" had a similar derivation, viz: — 
Nashau-boh, " he is of the spirit." It was next to Poketapace's 
neck and next to Nashamoies. (Deeds, IV, 38.) Another 
reading is "Nashowamoiasuk" as in a deed (Ibid., I, 263). 
This would seem to suggest a different meaning, as Nashowa- 
means half or divided, seen in Nashowakemmuck (Chilmark). 
"Natooquan sachem of Nunpoge and of the East end of Nope 
Island," sold to Thomas Daggett, Sept. 10, 1688, a neck of 
land "called Nashamoies .... bounded by the cart path 
which is at the head of Wintucket swamp and runes South 
westerly to Cackatookit (?) swamp." (Ibid., Ill, 441.) 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Pohoganut. — The first reference to this name is found 
in a deed, Burchard to Norton, May 2, 1682, when "Pahogg- 
annot is the spelhng (IV, 36). The next mention is in an 
Indian deed, in 1684, where it is written Pahauknit (Ibid., 1, 18). 
Again, in 1700, as Pahocknit. In 1704, in a conveyance from 
Joseph Norton to Samuel Smith, the following language occurs: 
"a cove of water on the east side of a small neck of land called 
Nonnamesset . . commonly called Pohoganit." (Ibid., II, 
32.) This would seem to establish an alias for Pohoganut. 
The meaning of the word is, "at or on the cleared land," and 
the same word in its variations appears throughout New Eng- 
land, as Pokanoket, Pancanauket or Pockenocket. This 
was the name of King Philip's home near Mount Hope, R. I. 
Pahauknit was probably a planting field of the Nunnepog 

Paqua. — This is a neck of land adjoining Paqua Pond, 
called at the present time Faqua. It is mentioned as early 
as 1704, under the orthography of Paquay. (Deeds, II, 52; 
III, 10; IV, III.) 

Quanomica. — The division of this neck of land was made 
in 1663 (Town Records, 109), and the name has survived 
in its first form to the present time. It is from Quan-amaukeag, 
"the long fishing place," or possibly from Quan-naumkeag, 
"the long eel fishing place." Either definition would apply. 
It appears as " Quananamack " in a deed (II, 346,) and 
"Quenomokey," in 1731. (Athearn Mss., Cong. Lib.) The 
lots on this point were numbered from the point and contained 
about two acres each. (Ibid., V, 141.) 

Sivanneck. — It is probable that this is an Indian word, 
and the origin of Swan Neck of modern times. The deriva- 
tion may be Sowane: south, southern, and ack: land, the 
southern place, neck or land. It is called Swanneck in 1687 
(Deeds, III, 146), and Swan Neck about same time, but it is 
safe to say that the name was not derived from the bird. 

Sopotaminy. — This is first mentioned in the Court rec- 
cords, under date of June, 1686, when the Indian Job was 
adjudged to be the lawful owner of the "land, viz at Sapra- 
taine, in the right of his ancestors as gentlemen in an Indian 
way." In the Deeds it is called Sopotaminy, as above. Andrew 
Newcomb bought it of Job, Sept. 24, 1690 (Court Records, 
I). In later records it is called, " Jobs neck alias Sapotemmy" 
and "Sapotammy." (Deeds, I, 352; II, 81.) The etymology of 
this word is Sepohta-may, meaning "the extended or stretched 


Annals of Edgartown 

out path," perhaps "the continuing path or road." (Massa- 
chusetts.) Simon Newcomb's Path is one of the early land- 
marks in the boundary line l^etween Tisbury and Edgartown. 

Wintucket. — This neck of land is first mentioned in 
the town records, Dec. 28, 1659, when the "first town lots" 
are to be divided, (p. 134.) The word is from the com- 
bination Win-ne-tukq-et, meaning "at the good tidal cove," 
probably referring to its advantages for landing, or protection 
from storms. Winnetuckquett and Winnetucksett occur 
in Plymouth county, and are the same words. 

Wachusade-Woachet. — This was the name of a neck 
of land on the south side, now called "Watcha." An instru- 
ment recorded in the county records recites that a neck of 
land commonly "caled Woachet was divided, the East half 
to popmechoa & the west half to Josias alias Keetanumon 
the known and acknowledged sachem of Takemmy." (Deeds, 
I, 299.) Josias sold to Thomas Bayes, Feb. 27, 1676, cer- 
tain land in Tisbury, being the neck "caled Wachusade." 
(Deeds, I, 309.) This is a variation of the spelling of the 
name, (comp.. Deeds, II, 71.) It may be derived from Wad- 
chu, "a hill," or as Eliot has it, Wad-chue-me-sik, meaning 
"little mountains," (Hosea, X, 8): This does not partic- 
ularly apply to the lowland neck now known as Watcha, and 
the word may be derived from a like word, Wad-chu, "a 
keeper" (Eliot, Genesis, IV, 9), and refer to the fact that it 
was the land of some Indian keeper of cattle. In the Edgar- 
town Town Records (p. 35), under date of Feb. 5, 1685, it 
was voted that Thomas Daggett should have "that neck of 
Land that the horse keeper Lived upon." This may be a clue 
to the origin of the name — Wadchusate, Horse keeper's 
Neck. Experience Mayhew wrote it Watshat (Indian Con- 
verts, p. 83). 

Weenomset. — This was, probably, the Indian name 
for Felix' neck. It occurs as Wynomesett and Weenomsit, 
the former in 1662 and the latter in 1663. Edward Searle 
owned a small island, in Sanchacantacket Pond, now called 
Sarson's Island, described as southeast of Weenomset Neck, 
which applies to Felix Neck, and Sarson acquired Searles' 
property by purchase. The meaning of this word is, "at 
the place of the grape tree," or literally, "vine-berry place." 
There was probably a native vineyard on this neck when the 
whites first came to the island. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 


Bayes^ Neck. — So-called as early as 1666 from Thomas 
Bayes, its first owner. Situate'd on the eastern shore of the 
Great Herring Pond. 

Burying Hill. — It was so-called in 1731 (Athearn, 
Mss. Lib. Cong.), but it was doubtless the name which had 
been applied to it for years previous. The first cemetery in 
town was located here, to the south of Tower Hill, and it 
has retained the name to the present time. 

Codmrnt's Spring. — Mentioned in 1 743 (Deeds, VII, 
154), and so-called from Robert Codman, the early settler 
who had a grant of land (opposite Sarson's Island), on which 
a spring was located. 

Eel Pond. — This pond has had other names, viz: — 
Gurnet Pond (Des Barres Map, 1775), and Daniel's Pond 
(State Map, 1795). 

Felix Neck. — First mentioned in 1664 in the town rec- 
cords (p. 127), and named for an Indian who was living "near 
Sanchakantackett," as late as 1683. (Deeds, I, 259; comp., 
Court Records, I.) It retains the same name at the present 

The Gurnet. — The extreme north-eastern point, or hook 
of beach, in the town was very early called the Gurnet. In 
1660 ''the Gurnetts nose" is mentioned, and in 171 2, the ''neck 
called the Gurnet" was referred to in deeds of that date. 
Gurnet is an obsolute or dialectal form of Gurnard, which 
is the name of a fish commonly called the Grunter, from the 
noise it makes on being landed out of the water. Hakluyt 
says: "the west part of the land was high browed, much like 
the head of a gurnard." (Voyages, II, 11.) 

JacoVs Neck. — Sackonets or Jacob's neck is mentioned 
in a deed (Deeds, V, 323), and Jacob's neck is again referred 
to in 1736 (Ibid., VI, 168), located on the Great Pond. 

Jones' Hill. — In 1689, Samuel Smith sold to Daniel 
Steward a lot of land on "Jones' Hill," next land, now or 
late, in the tenure of Edward Hadaway, part of the house 
lot of the late John Smith, deceased. (Deeds, I, 366.) It is 
the hill just south of Cleveland Town, and once had a wind- 
mill on its summit. Thomas Jones, an early settler, lived 
there and hence its name. (Deeds, XI, 926.) 

LohVs Cove. — Great Pond, Edgartown. Probably named 
for Ishmael Lobb, a colored man who may have dwelt there. 
He was baptized in 1801, at the age of 62. 


Annals of Edgartown 

Momanequin^s Neck. — Philip Tabor," now being at Ports- 
mouth in Rhode Island," exchanged his house and lot at 
Shokamocket, upon the Vineyard, bounded on the side by 
the land of John Burchard, and on the west side by Momane- 
quin's Neck, with Thomas Layton, Aug. 2, 1655. (Dukes 
Deeds, I, 325.) It was named from the ''godly" Indian 
Momanequem. (Indian Converts, 12.) 

Mortals Neck. — This neck of land probably received its 
name from an Indian sachem named Peter Mortal. In the 
will of Towanquatuck, dated Jan. 25, 1669, this great sachem 
decrees that his loving friend, "peter mortal!," shall be sachem 
"in my room." (Town Records, p. 83.) Thomas Mayhew 
the elder at one time owned this tract of land, and the grant 
of this neck to him was dated May 20, 1653. (Towti Rec- 
ords, p. 131.) Nicholas Norton, in his will gave to his son 
Benjamin a piece of meadow at Mortal's Neck, April 17, 
1690. (Court Records, I.) The bounds of this neck are 
thus given: — "S. E. and E. side by the creek that runs into 
Trapp's pond." (Deeds, VII, 515.) Mortal's Neck pond 
or Mile Brook rivulet occurs in the records. (Ibid., I, 49.) 

Poketapace^s Neck. — This was next to Job's Neck. A 
cove of water ran up between it and Nashamoiess. George 
Gardner of Nantucket sold land at "Poketapaces neck lying 
between the lands now in the improvement of Capt. Samuel 
Smith," in 1725. (Deeds, IV, z^.) 

Sarson^s Island. — This small marshy island in Sancha- 
cantocket Pond, southeast of Felix Neck, derived its name from 
Richard Sarson, who bought it of its first owner, Edward Sale 
or Searle, before 1664. It appears on current maps errone- 
ously as Sason's Island. 

Starbuck's Neck. — The purchase in 1678, by Nathaniel 
Starbuck, of Home Lots 2, 3, half of 4 and 5, situated in the 
north-east part of the town, gave to this section the name 
of Starbuck's Neck, a title which it has retained to the present 
day. The first time it was so-called to the knowledge of the 
author, is in a deed dated 1735. (Dukes Deeds, VI, 169.) 

Swan Neck. — Mentioned in a deed, where Namasquin 
an Indian dwelt in 1673. (Deeds, I, 257.) See under 

Turkey Land. — This name appears in 1742 as belong- 
ing to "certain land on the dividing line between the neck 
called Mashackett & the land called the Old House Land 
or Turkey Land." (Deeds, VI, 276.) It may have derived 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

thisyname from the planting of Turkey wheat (corn) there, 
although a tradition is to the effect that it was paid for in 

Tower Hill. — The origin of this name is not known to 
the author, but it is about a century old, probably. In 1838 
William Mayhew, in a disposition, refers to the "hill which 
is now called Tower Hill." It may have been the site of some 
signal tower used for maritime purposes, or a semaphore 
staff employed in a similar way might have been erected there. 

Weeks^ Neck. — The narrow strip of land between Trapp's 
Pond and the Sound was called Weeks' Neck. 

Will Lays Plain. — This is commonly called at the 
present time Willie's Plain, and is said to refer to a son of 
the first Nicholas Norton, named William, who lost his life 
there in a well which he was engaged in digging. As Nicholas 
Norton had no son of that name this legend must be cast 
aside, and the records appealed to for the true title. "Will 
Layes pond" is mentioned in 1716 (Deeds, III, 357); Ponit, 
the sachem of Homes Hole sold to Henry Luce, Feb. 4, 171 7 
or 1 718, a tract of land bounded on the south-west by a cart 
path running from Chickemmoo "to the place called Will 
Lays Plain" (Ibid., IV, 183); and "Will lays Plain" is men- 
tioned in 1726 (Ibid., IV, 151). It got its name from one 
William Lay, an Indian of Edgartown, known as Pannunnut. 
In his youth he lived in the family of Governor Thomas Mayhew 
and in later years became the principal Indian magistrate. 
He preached at the Indian church at Chilmark about 1690. 


It seems probable that the first settlers in the town oc- 
cupied lots of land by assignment of the proprietors, . the 
metes and bounds of which do not appear of record. It was 
not until 1646 that the limits of the settlement were defined 
by the elder Mayhew and his son, at which time there may 
have been a dozen settlers residing eastward of the line then 
drawn "from Tequanomen's Point to the Eastermost Chop 
of Homses Hole." Naturally, these settlers arranged their 
home lots contiguously and the location afforded the best 
advantages was bordering on the harbor. Presumably, these 
home lots were sold to the first comers by the Mayhews, but 
no record of such sale exists today. Otherwise, it is not 
possible to see how the original patentees recovered on their 


Annals of Edgartown 

investment.* As was the case at other settlements, the early 
comers here formed a body of proprietors, limited in number, 
who were in effect stockholders in a real estate transaction, 
and these original proprietors admitted others from time 
to time, either by an increase in their number, or by the dis- 
posal to the new man of divisions of the individual shares. 
A proprietor could hold more or less than one share, but its 
value was always based on such a fractional part of the whole, 
using the number of shares as the denominator. The entire 
area outside of the "home lots" was held in "common." 


The town records afford us but little positive help on the 
earliest land transactions of the settlers, and the first comers 
seemed to acquire land without adequate written evidences 
of the purchase. The sparse community, where everybody 
knew as much about his neighbor's land as his own, needed 
no elaborate system of records for the protection of their 
titles, but a little more definite notation of such events would 
have saved the author many hours of study. From the scant 
allusions here and there, and the sequence observed in recording 
individual holdings in after years, it is believed that the first 
.allotments of the common lands occurred between 1646 and 
1652, and including what was termed "Dividend Lots," 
and the Chappaquiddick division. These dividend lots, 
probably the first in the point of time, varied in size from ten 
to forty acres and were situated in the south part of the town, 
bordering on the Great Pond and Katama. Their extent 
and bounds were carefully recorded years after by a com- 
mittee of proprietors, but it was necessary for this body to 
rely on hearsay and private records to fix the limits of each 
man's property.^ 

On Feb. 2, 1652, it was voted to divide twenty acres to 
a man, "only those that have land already shall have so much 
less." ^ It is not probable that this can be identified. The 
first record of the action of the proprietors on this subject 
occurs under date of Jan. 4, 1652, when it was "Ordered 

'"The first of us was admitted by their approbation and some purchased their 
Lands." (N. Y. Col. Rec. Deeds, I, 72.) 

^here were also "thatch lots" taken up on the south shore, but when they were 
laid out and drawn is not known. They were used for purposes of roofing their 
houses and barns. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 124. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

that all lands shall be divided by persons and estates: 

this is the way concluded for the present." ^ This language 
is somewhat obscure, but the meaning, as shown by their 
subsequent action based on it, is reasonably clear. 


The first known division of the "common" land was 
made under date of May 8, 1653, and at that time there were 
twenty proprietors to participate in this allotment, shown 
by the following record, and the list establishes the prior 
settlement of the persons named, viz: — ^ 

Ordered that the meadows upon the pond is to be devided into twenty 
equal parts beginning at the path of meadow over the ware, and so to 
Hannah Mayhews marsh only the Pasture and Hannah Mayhew is to 
have that meadow that lies upon the Pastures neck: so all the rest of the 
meadow is to be devided into eighteen parts: 

Here followeth an account of the above written Devision of meadow: 

Peter Folger 


Mr. Mayhew the 




John Daggett the 




Nicolas Butler the 




John Foulger the 

■ 17 

John Butler Jr 


John Bland the 


Browning the 


Tabor the 


Burchard the 


Thomas Daggett the 


Burchard the 


Hannah Mayhew the 


Weeks the 


The Pasture the 


Paine the 


Smith the 


The names in this list require some explanation as to 
the indentity of the individuals who only appear by surname. 
Lay was Edward Lay, and the others will be given in full, 
in order of occurrence: — Edward Searle (Sale), John Pease, 
Malachi Browning, Thomas Burchard, John Burchard, 
Thomas Paine, Richard Smith, and Peter Tabor.^ Hannah 
Mayhew was the oldest daughter of Thomas Mayhew, Sr., 
and was then scarcely eighteen years of age, but this was the 
first of the large real estate holdings which she was destined 
to acquire and manage throughout her long and strenuous 
life. "The Pasture" is the phonetic disguise under which 

'Edgartown Records, I, 125. 

^Ibid., I, 172. 

^It may be noted here, in this connection, that James Covel, who had been granted 
land the year previous, was not a proprietor at that date, to participate in the trans- 


Annals of Edgartown 

Thomas Mayhew, Jr., is intended to be designated as Pastor, 
and it is one of the few instances in which he is even indefi- 
nitely referred to as a property holder in the town. 

This division of "Meadow" is believed to be what was 
since known as "The Planting Field," which was situated on 
the north side of the town between Weeks' Neck and Mills' 
or Miles' Brook. Each lot consisted of ten acres, and a tract 
of two hundred acres was therefore thus allotted. 

The policy of Mayhew in relation to the Indians led him 
to regard their rights, as is well known, but it became neces- 
sary also to protect the proprietary as a whole from the acts 
of individual members who wished to add to their holdings 
by private purchases of lands set off to the use of the Indians. 
Consequently, the following order was passed under date 
of Jan. 4, 1652: — 

No man shall procure from the Indians in any place within the town 
bounds any land upon Gift or Purchase upon the Penalty of Ten Pounds 
for every acre so purchased without the consent of the town first had.' 

This order was necessary to guard the common interests 
of all against independent holdings not subject to the pro- 
prietors' control. 


The limit of eighteen proprietors did not long remain 
at that number after this division, and within a year the num- 
ber was increased to "five and twenty." Under date of 
Feb. 6, 1654, the town voted that "the twenty-five lotts are 
to Bear Equall Charges & so are to have equal Priviledges." ^ 
This limit remained in force for many years and represents 
the number of the home lots bordering on the harbor from 
Pease's Point to Katama, varying in size from eight to forty 
acres, the largest number containing about ten acres. Thomas 
Mayhew and his son held the only lots of forty acres. The 
lots in this division, which is assumed to be the first distri- 
bution in severalty of the common property of the townsmen, 
were called and ever afterwards known as the lots of "Five 
and Twenty," and became the basis for nearly all the sub- 
sequent divisions of land in various parts of the town. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 140. This afterward was the cause of much trouble to 
one of the proprietors. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 136. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Whenever it was decided to allot in shares to the towns- 
men any undivided section of land, the division was made 
into twenty-five parts, and each of the original "Five and 
Twenty" was entitled to one of these divisions/ 

The original "Five and Twenty" retained the names 
of their first owners for nearly a century, and long after they 
had passed from their possession, subsequent holders trans- 
ferred them as "commonly known by the name of William 
Weeks his lot," or "the lot formerly belonging to Malachi 
Browning." In the same way the various lots in the divisions 
of land subsequently made were referred to as belonging to 
an original proprietor of one of the "Five and Twenty." 

In a few cases more than one lot belonged to the same 
person, and the first list of proprietors of these lots contains 
but twenty-one names as follows : — 

Arey, Richard i Burchard, John i Mayhew, Thomas, Jr. i 

Burchard, Thomas i Daggett, John i Paine, Thomas 3 

Butler, Nicholas i Daggett, Thomas 2 Pease, John i 

Butler, John i Folger, John i Sarson, Richard i 

Bland, John 2 Harlock, Thomas i Smith, John i 

Browning, Malachi i Lay, Edward i Vinson, William i 

Bayes, Thomas i Mayhew, Thomas i Weeks, William i 

This list is made up and alphabetically arranged from 
two proprietors' drawings of Crackatuxet held on April 21, 
1660, and gives the number of lots credited to each.^ 

The new names not occuring in the previous list of 1653, 
are Arey, Bayes, Harlock, Sarson, Smith and Vinson. Al- 
though Thomas Mayhew, Jr. and Thomas Paine had been 
dead for nearly three years, their estates drew on account 
of their original holding. This division of Crackatuxet was 
made after its acquisition on Oct. 4, 1659, from the sachem 
proprietor. The following record explains : — ^ 

This record testifieth that the owners of the five and twenty lots have 
purchased of Towontecutt all Cracketuxett and the neck that is called 
Chapequeco is with all the Necks and Lands thereabouts: nothing re- 
served to the s'd Tewantecutt but his two shares of Commonage. 

Witness hereunto Towon W quatuck 

Thomas Mayhew mark 

*The drawings must have been conducted after the manner of a lottery, probably 
by numbers placed in a box or other receptacle, as there was no regularity in the 
later divisions of land which fell to the original home lots. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 156. 

"Ibid., I, 147. 


Annals of Edgartown 

THE "line" lots. 

The next division of lands held in common was known 
as "Lots on the Line," and it took place about 1659, the 
significance of the title being thus explained under date of 
August 22, that year in the record: — 

Ordered By the town that the Line shall Run from Wintuckett four 
Rods to the Westward of the Great Pond By the Ox pond and so By the 
upper End of Goodman Weekes his Lott to John Peases Lott.^ 

It referred to a purchase line bounding rights acquired 
of the Indians, and was sometimes called the Old Purchase 
Line. It is not known, except in a few instances, who drew 
the original lots, as the following is but a partial list and is 
the only record of the allotments : — 

Ordered by the town that the first eleven lots upon the line backwards 
from Wm Weeks fence to Wintucket are given to the first eleven houselots 
in town beginning at 

John Peases- one Richard Arey- one Robert Codman- one 

Wm Vinson- one Edward Lay- one Thomas Harlock- one 

Thomas Paine- one William Weeks- one Thomas Bayes- one 

Thomas Paine- one Thomas Mayhew- one 
Ten acres apiece^ 

It is supposed, however, that the remaining Line lots 
were credited to the owners of the " five and twenty " in the 
same order from Main Street south as was followed in the 
assignment just quoted. Any other method would have been 
discriminating, though there were special reasons of location 
to warrant the assignment of the first eleven. 

Later in the same year (1660) there was a more elaborate 
scheme of dividing the land, which is here printed in full to 
preserve the list of proprietors and their holdings: — ^ 

Voted by the town this 22: 8: 1660 that all the lands in the town shall 
be devided into four parts first & afterwards these four parts every one of 

'Edgartown Records, I, 130. In a deed of John Pease to Robert Codman it is 
stated that "the Line Runs from Behind the said Peases house to Quanomica." (Ibid., 
I, 6.) 

*Ibid., I, 36. This record must be read horizontally, instead of by columns, 
and by this means the correct relations of the first eleven lots are obtained. This is 
an instance of the exasperating method employed by the town clerk in copying the 
original many years ago. 

nUd., I, 147. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

them into thirty seven shares of which there are thirty three and a half 
are now appropriated: their names are hereunder written: 

John Pease Thomas Paine or heirs which was Mr. Edward 

Richard Arey Thomas Paine or heirs given by the town 

William Vinson Thomas Mayhew Senior 

Edward Lay Thomas Mayhew jun'r or heirs 

Thomas Harlock Mallachia Browning his heirs 

William Weeks Thos Paine or heirs which was Wakefields 

Thomas Bayes Thomas Daggett which was Joshua Barnes 

John Daggett Thomas Daggett given by the town 

John Smith John Foulger or heirs 

Nicolas Butler John Butler or heirs 

Mr. John Bland given John Pease was Edward Sayles 

by the town Robert Codman given him 
Mr. John Bland which Robert was William Cases 

was Tabors Richard Arey for Peter Foulger 

Thomas Burchard John Edy given him by the town 
Richard Sarson 
Nicolas Norton 
John Burchard 

All these thirty one one whole share 
James Covel ^ share Isaac Norton ^ share Jacob Norton J share 
Thomas Trapp is voted not of this town. 


About 1652, when a considerable number of men left 
the island for the purpose of settling elsewhere, the proprietors 
found it necessary to require a time limit of residence on grants 
before the grantee could acquire a full title to his land. It 
was seen that there would grow up a class of non-resident 
proprietors if some restrictions were not placed upon the 
holders, while the object of the grants was to secure a per- 
manent resident population. Accordingly, when William 
Case was granted his lot on Nov. 11, 1652, it was provided 
that "this Land he is to Build upon and Live on four years 
att the end of which time it is his proper inheritance."^ This, 
however, seemed to apply only to him. and in the course of 
time other "absentee landlords" developed, necessitating 
a general order dated April 27, 1663, covering such cases. 

Whereas there was an order made at the time of entertaining of Willm 
Case into this town that no man should have a full inheritance in land 
except he did inhabit upon it the full term of four years: for as much as the 
same order is thought to be lost by the loss of a leaf out of the book, being 

'Edgartown Records, I, 120. 

Annals of Edgartown 

always kept in force: this is recorded to testify it was never taken off and 
to continue the same in full power still: by virtue hereof and that all grants 
so ever are under subjection to that order and are still to be hereafter voted. ^ 


The division of the various ''Necks" of land occupies 
considerable space in the land records of the town. On May 
20, 1653, three men, Thomas Mayhew, Sr., Thomas Burchard 
and Philip Tabor, were selected "to devide to the Inhabitants 
out of all the necks so much land as thay in their Best 
Judgment shall see meat." ^ The principal "necks" were 
Crackatuxet, Quanomica, Felix, and "the little neck by Crack- 
atuxet." It is probable that the "thatch" lots were on one 
of the small necks bordering on the Great Herring Pond. 
This committee did not seem to work with much celerity, 
as there is no record of a division of one of these until 1660, 
when Crackatuxet was laid out into twenty-five shares.* 
Quanomica was divided three years later into thirty-three 
shares, and in 1664, Felix Neck was divided into thirty-seven 

On Jan. 29, 1663, the neck called Quanomica was di- 
vided; and on April 26, 1664, the tract known as Meachemy's 
Field, near the Planting Field, and on the same day Felix 
Neck, were divided, all into twenty-five shares, but Qua- 
nomica had thirty- three (ibid., I, 109), Meachemy's Field 
thirty-seven (ibid., I, 128), and Felix Neck thirty- seven lots 
(ibid., I, 127). 

The following are the new names appearing as lot owners 
in these three divisions : — Robert Codman, James Covell, 
John Eddy, John Gee, Thomas Harlock, Thomas Jones, 
Mistress Mayhew, as heir to Thomas Paine, her son, Nicholas, 
Isaac and Jacob Norton, James Pease, Mrs. Searles, Mrs. 
Scott, and Peter Tallman.^ 

At an unknown date, which may be assigned to the 
period between 1660 and 1670, the tract of land bordering 
on Sanchacantacket and extending south to Mills or Mile 
Brook, was divided into lots which took the name of Mile 
Brook lots.* This tract is thus bounded: — 

'Edgartown Records, I, 145. 

^bid., I, 131. 

^Ibid., I, 156. 

*Ibid., I, 109, 127, 128. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

On the south beginning at a black marked tree standing by the side 
of a swamp, which is the nearest swamp to the house of Mr. Thomas 
Harlock and running from said tree about 3 rods Southwest to a rock 
in the ground by the side of an old path which led to Sanchacantacket; 
thence about Southeast and by South continuing by said path 258 rods 
to a rock by the side of said path; thence Northeast 2 rods & a half to a 
stone set in the ground at the head of the swamp called the Cranberry or 
Mile Brook Swamp near the Pond; thence including all the land or ridge 
between the two swamps, and then beginning at a stake at the East side 
of Mile Brook and running thence Southeast and by South continuing by 
the path 20 rods to a stake stuck in the ground; thence East and by South 
27 rods to a marked white oak tree; thence North and by East 30 rods 
to a rough white oak sapling marked near the ranging hne of the land 
granted to Mr. Sarson. And is further bounded on the North partly by 
the salt water and partly by land of heirs of Matt: Mayhew dec'd.^ 


The next division was of the "New Purchase" as it was 
then called. There were two great sections within the town 
limits of Edgartown, the "rights" of which were purchased of 
the Sachem representing the Indians. The first was bought very 
early of Tewantquatick, and consisted of all the land south 
of the "Line" so-called, running from Wintucket to the end 
of the home lot of William Weeks, as before stated. All 
this tract was known as "The Old Purchase," and all divisions 
heretofore described, excepting those of the Planting and 
Meachemy's Fields and the Mile Brook Lots, were in this 
section. On May 16, 1653, the town ordered that "Mr. 
Mayhew is to Purchase part of Ogissket [Sanchacantucket] 
Neck of the Indians," ^ and this is known as "The New Pur- 
chase," but when the transaction was completed is not of 
record. For many years this tract, bounded by a line drawn 
"from Wintucket to Myobers Bridge,"^ called the "New 
Purchase Line," remained undivided, and it was not until 
Feb. 15, 1673 or 4 that it was allotted to the proprietors. On 
that date they "made choice of Justice Norton, Capt. Daggett, 
Isaac Norton, Mr. Benjamin Smith and Thomas Pease, 
according to their best Judgement for to Divide the Neck 
called Sachacantackett Neck." In the "Old Purchase" 
there were three final divisions, so-called, and in the "New 
Purchase" two. * 

^Edgartown Proprietors Records. There were at least thirty-eight lots in this 
division, and probably forty was the full number. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 131. This is an example of the errors made by the old 
town clerk in his unfortunate copy. The word is Ogkeshkuppi. 

^Ibid., I. 


Annals of Edgartown 


The next division was of the "Plain," the largest tract 
held in common that was laid out up to this time, and it was 
surveyed and divided by Richard Sarson, Thomas Bayes 
and Isaac Norton into forty lots, receiving co^rifirmation on 
Feb. 14, 1676 by the town. The folio wing . ure the bounds 
of this tract : — 

Beginning at a stone set in the ground on a knowl at the Southwest 
and by westerly end of the Great Hollow, at a place called Burchard's 
pond lot; said stone standing in the ranging line between the first of said 
Plain lots and 3d Pond lot; thence running Southwest and by west. half 
a point westerly, one mile and seventy two rods to an old ditch near and 
opposite against the head of the Cove of meadow at Short Neck, Northerly 
from Crackatuxet; said ditch being in the ranging line between the last 
lot of the Plain lots and said Short Neck. Said lots running or extending 
in length about Southeast, southerly from said line. And is further bound- 
ed by the Common on the Northwest, northerly; and on the Northeast 
by Cotamy and said Pond lot; and on the Southwest by the dividend 
called Major Mayhew's dividend and partly by Monoquoy, and partly 
by Joshua Daggett's Short Neck. 

And said lots is further bounded on the Southeast by Little Cotamy 
and partly by the sea or harbor, to the old ditch which first enclosed that 
land called Mattakeesett.' 

As this division is an important one, the list of partic- 
ipators as recorded is herewith given to show the new pro- 
prietors as well as the old ones who still remained, twelve 
years later : — 

The Division of the Plaine.^ 

Thomas Burchard the first Lott i & ^ 23 

Phillip Watson the 2 & 3 

^ohn Pease 4 

>;John Gee 5 

">, William Weekes 6 

Nicholas Norton 7, 25, 19, & 34 

Isaac Norton 8, 38, 39 

]Mr. Lawson & Simon Athearn 9th 

Thomas Daggett 10, 27 & ^ 14 

Thomas Trapp ii 

James Pease ' 12 : 24 

Mr. Butler, 13 & ^ 37 

John Butler 15 & | 37 

Richard Sarson 16, 17 & 18 

Mr. Mayhew 20 : 33 & 35 

'Dukes Deeds, III, 498; comp., Proprietor's Records. 
^Edgartown Records, I, 21. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

Phill'ip Smith 

Richa'jd Arey 

Thos li»ayes 

John Fi;eeman & Joseph Norton 

Joseph Daggett 

Matthew Mayhew 

William Vin5on 

Peter Jenkins" & James Covel 

Stephen Codman 

Thomas Ha dock 


& 23 

& 14 


The next division was on Feb. 27, 1684, when a tract in 
the northwest part of the town, towards the Tisbury Hne, 
called the Woodland was divided into lots, being forty-two 
shares.* It is supposed the East Pine and West Pine lots 
are comprised in this division. There were no further di- 
visions of common land made durii>g the remainder of the 
century, and nothing occurred worth noting until Aug. 28, 
1704, when an additional share was added to the "Five and 

Ordered in the meeting by the Proprietors that the lott that is put 
in the lot which was put in amongst the 25 proprietors which made 26 
shall be made to appear between James Pease and Mrs. Ann Sarson. 

At the same meeting was chosen four men to wit Major Matthew 
Mayhew Mr. Benjamin Smith Capt. Thomas Daggett Simon Newcomb 
to state and settle bounds between particular mens lands and the pro- 
prietors commons of Edgartown throughout the whole bounds of Edgar- 
town to the end that the commons and undivided lands of Edgartown 
be not at all questioned or infringed upon by any person whatsoever.^ 

The following is a list of the Proprietors about this date,, 
as given in the records : — ^ M 

Major Mayhew 
Joseph Ripley 
Samuel Smith 
Joseph Norton, Esq. 
Capt. Daggett 
Simon Athearn 
Joseph Daggett 
John Coffin 

Matthew Mayhew i 

Capt John Butler i 

Benja: Smith ij 

John Arey i 

Andrew Newcomb ^ 

Anne Sarson 3 

John Butler Jr. i 

James Pease i^ 

Thomas Pease 
Thos. Harlock 
Phillip Smith 
Thos. Lothropp 
Isaac Norton 
Goodwife Vinson 
Joshua Daggett 



'Edgartown Records, I, 2,3- 
^Ibid., I, 99, loo. 
^Ibid., I, 139. 


Annals of Edgaxtown 

Half shares: 

Isaac Norton 


Thos. Trapp i 

Capt. Butler 


Joseph Nortons 


Andrew Newcomb i &^ 

Esqr Norton 


(Jacob Norton) 

Thos Harlock 


Mr. Harlock 3 

Gershom Dunham 


Simon Newcomb 


Justice Norton 2 
^ his fathers 
^ that was bought 

Isaac Norton 
h Arey 
^ his fathers 


Thos. Vinson 


James Pease 2 

John and Charles 



one Codman 


Mr. Dunham 


Moses Cleveland i 

Hester Dunham 


James Covel 


It is not possible to understand the arithmetic of the half 
shares, which amount to 31 3-4, and it is left for some future 
investigator to clear up the problem. Much that was clear 
and understood by them was either left to the town clerk to 
hopelessly befog in ambiguous phraseology, or else it was 
not recorded at all and posterity was afforded the privilege 
of digging out the facts by slow and laborious methods. 


Among the privileges which were attached to the pro- 
prietorship of lots, was that of "commonage" for cattle and 
liberty to cut fire-wood. The record shows that in 1653 a 
commonage comprised feeding for eight cows, or equivalent, 
and the extent of a commonage as it existed in 1663 is more 
particularly defined: — 

Voted that a commonage is 12 great cattle or horses a man may keep 
upon a commonage for sheep and goats 8 for one cow or horse: it is agreed 
that every man that hath more than twelve great cattle or eight sheep or 
goats for every cow or horse that they must hire commonage of others is 
to be at 12 d a year for a beast and not more. 

Expressed by Willm Vinson, Richard Sarson, Thomas Daggett & 
J'ohn Edy, which judge they have commonage to spare, but that those 
that are overstocked do not provide commonage of such as have it then 
they must pay for every beast to the town one shilling an six pence that 
is for every beast more that they can keep upon their own with six pence 
over and above falls to the town in good * 

Fire-wood rights were specifically granted as appears by 
a grant to Robert Codman in 1657, of a "commanage of 
wood." It was found necessary in 1683, to restrict the quan- 
tity taken. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 145, 149. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Voted that every man shall have a load of wood or timber for his use 
for a share and he that shall have any more shall pay five shilling for every 
tree that shall be cut without order from the town till further order/ 

One year later the following modification was made : — 

Voted that all wood in the Old Purchase that is not layd out to be 
common for men to cut for their occasions. 



In the early records of the Massachusetts Bay Colony 
the name of this settler is spelled in many different ways: 
Aree, Aerie, Ayre, Ary, and it is probable, for this reason, that 
some of his record may be lost in this variety of form.^ The 
first known of him is at Salisbury, Mass., in 1646, where he was 
associated with Robert Codman and was sued in that year and 
the year following by Tristram Coffin on account of a freighting 
transaction in a vessel owned by Codman.^ He was probably 
a mariner engaged in the coasting trade. How long he had 
lived in Salisbury before this is not known, nor when he re- 
moved from there. It is possible that he may have gone 
to Gloucester, Mass., and from thence to New London, Conn., 
about 1 65 1, where "Richard Aerie who was from Gloucester, 
mariner," had a grant of land that year, but it was "forfeited," 
as he did not settle in that town.^ Our next record of him 
is in the following year (1652), when he was granted a house 
lot in this town on Dec. 17, 1652, ^'Between Mr. Burchards 
and Thomas Daggetts." ^ This was one of the Five and 
Twenty situated on Starbuck's Neck, and its southern \in\-, 
was about at the harbor breakwater. He sold this to his 
old Salisbury neighbor, Robert Codman, the next year and 

'Edgartown Records, I, 29. Dated April 11, 1682-3. See also I, 129. 

^In the will of Robert Sole of London, 1593, mention is made of his daughter 
Mary Arye (Court of Husting, II, 722). Richard Ayre of Orsett, Co. Essex, de- 
ceased before 1634 is mentioned in London marriage licenses. 

'Salem Quarterly Court Files, 1 638-1 647, p. 20 r. 

*Caulkins, History of New London, 77. The author says of him further that 
he often visited the town in subsequent years, probably in his coasting business, arid 
was there in 1667 and early in 1669. (Ibid., 250, 297.) 

'Edgartown Records, I, 124, 125. 


Annals of Edgartown 

bought a lot still further north, of Philip Tabor, the second 
from Pease's Point/ 

In 1 66 1, he submitted to the Patentees Government, 
and was of the train band the next year. In 1663 he figured 
to some extent in the courts, being sued by William Weeks 
and John Daggett for debts. ^ He is recorded as participating 
in the divisions of Crackatuxett, Quanomica, Felix Neck 
and Meachemy's Field, and his purchases of two lots entitled 
him to two shares. The following is a record of his property : — 

The petickeler parcells of Land of Richard Arey which he Bought 
of Phillip Tabor and are now in said Areys Possession, first: Ten acres 
of Land which is my house Lott Bounded By the Sea on the East, the 
Common on the West, John Peases on the North, Joseph Codmans, which 
was Thomas Doggetts on the South: More Two acres of Meadow Lying 

at Chapequideck Bounded By More one Ten acre Lott 

upon the Line Bounded By with a full Right of Common- 
age: this was Confirmed By the Town the 30 Day of Desember: 63.^ 

His second lot or share was that which originally belonged 
to Peter Folger, situated on Tower Hill, just north of the 
cemetery, and was purchased of Folger, probably about 1662, 
when the latter removed to Portsmouth, R. I. The following 
is the record of this additional property : — 

The Petickeler parcells of Land of Richard Arey which he Bought 
of Peter Foulger and are Now in the sd Areys Possession, first: Ten acres 
which (is) my house Lott Bounded By the Sea on the East, John Smith 
on the South, the Comon on the West, Mr. Browning and John Doggett 
on the North: with two acres of Meadow more or Less Beginning at the 
Comon wading Place on the' East Riming West and Joynes to the Pastors 
Meadow on the West with one Ten (acre) Lott upon the Line Bounded 

By : with a full Right of Comonage. These Lands 

were Confirmed by the Town the 30th of Desember: 63.'' 

This lot was the one on which he lived, the one near 
Pease's Point passing into the possession of the Codman 
family, shortly after the date of the above record. 

He testified in 1668-9 at New London, relative to a charge 
made against him of circulating false reports about one Thomas 
Stanton, concerning matters in Virginia twenty years before. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 2. Dukes Co. Deeds, I, 319. 
'Ibid., I, III. 
'Ibid., I, 2. 
nbid., I, 2. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Shortly afterwards, in this same year, he was drowned on Nov. 
19, with Samuel Streeter, while on a trip to Nantucket or 
the mainland, The inventory of his estate showed property 
to the value of £128-13-7, ^^ which £40 was credited to house 
and land. 

His wife was Elizabeth, who appears in the records 
several times as "Goodwife Arey," and she seems to have 
transacted business on her own account.^ The following 
record appears under date of Aug. 30, 1663: — 

Ordered by the town that Goodwife Arey hath a commonage con- 
firmed to her to make good that bargain which she made with Robert 
Pease and this commonage is given to that lot which was sold to Robert 
Pease. ^ 

On Oct. 6, 1663, she sued William Weeks for trespass 
and damages due to "hoggs Ruting of Medo and spoiling 
of Grass" to the value of thirty shillings. In 1665, she gave 
testimony about the nuncupative will of John Folger, but 
nothing further is known of her, after that date. It is pos- 
sible she may be the Elizabeth Ayre, wife of Richard Ayre, 
mentioned in the will of Richard Crouch of S. Giles, without 
Cripplegate. The testator bequeaths to his brother, William 
Crouch, beyond seas in New England [of Charlestown, Mass.], 
if same be demanded in twelve months, and by like terms 
indicating residence in New England, also the sum of twelve 
pence is given to "my sister Elizabeth Ayre." ^ 


This sturdy yeoman was the 
■^ Tna^^ ^^ e^ Miles Standish of the Vineyard 

^ "^^^-trUnSky _the martial leader of the little 
^"^ settlement of Great Harbor. He 

first appeared in this country in 
1636, when he signed the town Covenant at Dedham, Mass., 
and became a selectman in 1638. At that time he was prob- 
ably a bachelor, as on Dec. 26, 1639, he married Anne Baker 

'She sued Robert Pease in 1659 to adjust differences due on a real estate trans- 
action. (Edgartown Records, I, 133.) 

^Edgartown Records, I, 140: comp. Dukes Deeds. I, 319. 

^P. C. C, Nabbs, 206. Will dated October 27, proved Nov. 29, 1660. An 
Elizabeth Ayre witnessed the will of Robert Pearce of Dorchester, Mass., in 1664. 


Annals of Edgartown 

in that town. Whether this was his first location in New 
England is not known, as he may have been of the party 
who removed from Watertown to Dedham.* Some clue 
to his English home is found in the following record : — 

Thomas Bayes of Dedham, carpenter, appoints Isaac Martin of 
Hingham his attorney to demand of the executors of — Wiseman of Bar- 
row Apton in County of Norfolk his grand father, deceased, the legacy 
due to him by will. (1646) ^ 

There is a registered pedigree of a Bayes family of York- 
shire, 1600-1767, and there are scattered references to persons 
of the name of Base, Baze, and Bayes in Norfolk County, 
from 1572 to 1700.^ 

Our Thomas Bayes was born in 161 5, and had just reached 
his majority when he emigrated. As appears by the above 
quoted record, he was a carpenter by trade, possibly a ship 
carpenter. In 1648, he resided in Boston, and from the fol- 
lowing record it would appear that this supposition regarding 
his trade and relations with shipping, may be well founded : — 

Thomas Bayes of Boston, carpenter, constituted Joseph Wilson of ^ 

Boston his attorney to ask of all persons in Barbadoes, Christophers and f 

any of the Carribbee Ids. Monies due him.* v 

When Thomas Bayes removed to the Vineyard is not j 

accurately known, but he was a proprietor at Great Harbor 
as early as 1652, for in that same year he was chosen hog 
reeve for the town. In 1655 he was made a constable, and 
in 1656 was chosen leader of the train band. This ofhce 
he filled in 1661, 1662 and 1663. These are all the recorded 
instances of his military leadership, but as no other person 
was chosen to this position in subquent years, it is probable 
that he continued to hold it. In 1676 he was chosen select- 
man, the last office filled by him prior to his death. 

'He was convicted in 1643 of "mutinos & turbulent speaches," and bound over 
"to bee of good behaviour the meane while" to next Quarter Court. 

^Aspinwall Note Book, 68. A genealogist searched the principal court in London, 
and the local courts, whose records are deposited at Norwich, all formerly exercising 
probate jurisdiction over Burgh Afton and the vicinity, for the period of 1646 back 
to 1630. The result was that no will of any Wiseman described as of Burgh Afton 
was found. Four wills of Wiseman of Co. Norfolk, 1634 to 1638, and eight wills of 
Wisemans of other counties, 1634 to 1645, were found. This will be a sufficient record 
for some descendant to follow. 

'See Familiae Minorum Gentiorum and County History of Norfolk. Wills of 
Thomas Bayes, 1619, William Bayes, 1630, Thomas Bayes, 1652, are recorded in the 
Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Somerset House, London. 

*Aspinwall Note Book, 145, dated 11 (9) 1648. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

He lived on one of the ten-acre lots known as the "five 
and twenty," which had its southern boundary on Main 
street, and extended as far back as Pease Point way. His 
proprietary holdings are recorded as follows in the town 
records : — 

This is a true Record of the Perticular percells of Land and town 
Rights on this Island Marthas Vineyard as followeth: which are now in 
the possession of Thomas Bayes & belonging to him the sd Thomas Bayes: 
first one house Lott being Ten acres more or less bounded by the Harbour 
which is Twenty Pools broad by the sea on the East, the high way as the 
same stands on the south the common on the West William Wix on the 
North with one Devident known by the name of Thomas Bayes neck 
bounded by the Pond on the south & west Isaac Nortons on the North 
Richard Sarsons on the East this being Thirty acres more or Less, with 
one Ten acre Lott upon the Line bounded by William Wix on the East 
Mr. Mayhew on the west with the Tenth Lott at Crackatuxett, with the 
third Lott on the adjoyning Neck, with the Thirty first lott at Quanamaca, 
with the Twenty fourth lott at Mechmas field, with the 19th Lott at falex 
neck, with two acres of Meadow adjoyning to Mrs. Blands, which was 
Tabors on the south, Thomas Daggets which was Barnes on the North: 
with all the upland adjoyning up to the old high way, some I bought of 
Mr. Mayhew the younger, this Land & meadow being ten acres more 
or Less, with the Northermost neck of Chappaquiddick for a Thach Lott, 
upland 81 Meadow being four Acres more of Less, with two acres of Mea- 
dows at Chappaquiddick lying in the great meadow, with the southermost 
point of the Neck at Chappaquiddick, upland & meadow being three 
acres more or Less, which was Cases on the North, with one full Right 
of Common & all other Dividable Lands in the Town Bounds, with one 
six & Twentieth part of fish & whale, with small shares of fish & whale: 
these Lands were confirmed by the Town this 19th of March 1666. 

In addition to the above he owned the eastern half of 
Watcha Neck, which he bought of the Sachem Josias in 

The death of his only son Thomas, Nov. 17, 1669, with- 
out issue, and his own death which took place between Feb. 4 
and May 31, 1680, terminated this family name in the male 
line, but it has been perpetuated in the Norton family in every 
generation to the present time following the marriages of his 
daughters, Mary and Ruth, to the brothers Joseph and Isaac 
Norton. Bayes Norton is a familiar name on the Vineyard, 
and Bayes as a baptismal name was also used in the New- 
comb family, after the marriage of Andrew Newcomb to Anna 
Bayes. His will was dated Feb. 4, 1679-80, and the inventory 
taken May 31, following. Among the personal property of 
this martial leader was "one gunne & loadeing staff e" and 
"one rapier." The total value of his estate as inventoried 


Annals of Edgartown 

amounted to .-^214-07-06. This is a large amount for those 
times, and is equivalent to about $5000. His will is as fol- 
lows: — 

[Dukes Deeds, I, 309] 

I Thomas Bayes finding myself weake in boddie but sound in memorie 
and understanding doe make this my last will and testament as followeth; 
And first my will is that my wife Anne Bayes, shall have and improve all 
my Estate of land and moveables, whatsoever for her comfortable sub- 
sistence, during her Natui^ life provided that she continue a widdow: 
Secondly, I will and bequeath to Hannah Bridges, my Daughter twenty 
pounds after the decease of my Said wife or changing her condition of 
widdowhood : 

Nextly, I will and bequeath to my two Daughters, Mary the now wife 
of Joseph Norton, and Anna the wife of Andrew Newcomb, to each of 
them fifty pounds, so to be understood, with what they have alreddy re- 
ceived of mee, with what was also received of the estate of their brother 
deceased; to be payed after the decease of my wife as aforesaid. 
Nextly, I will and give to my daughter Ruth, wife of Isaack Norton five 
pounds to be payed within a year after my own decease, in Bibles and 
bringing up the children to reading and Education. 
Nextly, when all these legacies shall be payed, according to this my will, 
if any estate be left, it shall be equally Devided among all my Daughters, 
and children of my daughter Abigail Deceased, and my will is that if any 
my said Daughters shall decease before they receive their portion herein 
willed, then it shall go to their children, and in defect of their issue, or the 
issue of any my beforesaid Daughter Abigail's children then such portion 
shall be equally devided among the surviveing. 

Lastly my will is, and I do order and Request that my wife aforesaid, and 
Thomas Mayhew Junior, be whole executors and administrators to this 
my last will and testament: And in witness of this to be my last will and 
testament I the said Thomas Bayes, have hereunto Subscribed with my 
hand and put to my Seal, this fourteenth day of February in the year of 
our Lord one thousand six hundred seaventy and nine or eighty. 

Matthew Mayhew, THOMAS BAYES, (seal). 

William Weekes. 

Nothing further is known of his wife. She was living 
at the date of the will, but \vhen or where she died is not 
of record. 


There is a certain air of mystery about this person, who 
was one of the earliest settlers at Edgartown.* If the town 
records can be trusted, he must have been here as early as 
the elder Mayhew, and perhaps before. The following entry 

'A John Bland was a passenger in the ship Globe in 1635, aged twenty-six years. 
Whether the same person as John Bland of Martha's Vineyard is unknown. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

in them shows that he had acquired property in the « vicinity 
of Katama prior to 1646: — 

Mx. John Bland has bought of John Pease of Martins Vineyard a 
parcell of Land about ten acres & two acres of medo Lying against Mr 
Elands house att Mattakeekset. March 23, 1646. 

Mem : Mr John Bland bought of PhiHp Tabor March 2, 1647 all 
his rights that he then possessed. 

He was a resident of Colchester, England, prior to his 
emigration to New England, and it seems that for reasons 
which will be explained later in this sketch, he had adopted 
the alias of John Smith, under which name he would in all 
probability successfully defy identification. He is undoubt- 
edly the John Smith associated with the Mayhews in the first 
movement from Watertown, of whom we hear no more in 
subsequent Vineyard history, as he resumed his correct name 
when he established himself here. Certain it is, that there 
was some controversy about him and his identity as two of 
his early acquaintances, Nathaniel and Abraham Drake of 
Hampton, N. H., deposed that "he was sometimes called John 
Smith, but his name and his ancestors was Bland. "^ His 
loiown family consisted of Joanna his wife and two daughters, 
Annabel and Isabel, both married, and that his station in life 
was above the average of his neighbors here is evidenced by 
the prefix of distinction, Mr., which uniformly precedes his 
name in the records. His wife is given the prefix of Mistress 
also, and with Nicholas Butler he is the only one besides the 
elder and younger Mayhew so distinguished by a title which 
had a definite significance in those days.^ 

In 1654, John Bland was chosen one of the seven magis- 
trates to assist the elder Mayhew in the government, but 
beyond this it is not known that he held any office. He par- 
ticipated in all the divisions of land up to the time of his death 
and his possessions are thus recorded in the town books : — 

These are the petickelers upon the Vineyard of my Known Lands 
and are above Intended: Twenty acres of Land Lying near the North 
pond with two acres of Meadow Joyning: which Land and Meadow More 
or Less Bounded By the pond on the East, the Comon on the South, the 
Comon on the West, John Bland on the North: with Ten acres of Land 
Lying in the Planting feild Bounded with with one Ten 

'Deeds, I, 282. 

'Records, Commissioners of United Colonies, II, 205, 261. For " healpfulness 
in Phisicke and Chirurgery att Martin's Vineyard" and "for her pains and care 
amongst the Indians there and for Phisicke and Surgery." His wife was paid a gra- 
tuity by the Society for Propagating the Gospel. 


Annals of Edgartown 

acre Lott upon the Line Bounded with with two acres of 

Meadow Lying at Chapequideck Bounded By : with a full 

Right of Comonage and the six and twenty part of fish. 

These Lands were Confirmed By the Town the 30th of December: 

This property he bequeathed to his wife by an instru- 
ment dated or "confirmed" Nov. 2, 1663. He died, in all 
probability, shortly before Jan. 6, 1668, as Mrs. Bland begins 
to participate in the divisions of land credited to his share in 
the commons from that time forth. His estate was inventoried 
at ;^355-io-o, an especially large sum for that period, and 
the full list of articles shows evidence of household refinement 
in the way of looking glasses, silver plate, table linen, books, 
and china, while among his stock are found horned cattle, 
horses, sheep, and goats. A servant, "a Lad for a Term of 
Time," was rated at ;^io, and his houses and lands were valued 
at £120, all of which he distributed by a will in the following 
terms : — 

The Sixth of Jan'ry 1663: this is the Last will and Testament of 
me John Bland of Martens Vineyard in or Belonging to the Province of 
Main in New England I say made By me John Bland Delivered Into 
the Possession of my wife Joanah Bland this Second of November in the 
year of our Lord one Thousand Six Hundred Sixty and three. 

In the name of God, Amen. Be it Know unto all men By these Pre- 
sents and Express Partickelars that I John Bland Being in perfect memory 
and full understanding But Week in Body: 

first I do willingly Bequeath my Body to the Earth from Whence it 
came When the Lord Shall Be Pleased to Call for itt and my Soul and Sperit 
unto God that Gave itt. Now for my Temporall Goods after my Decease 
as Well as Whilst I am aLive I doe wholly Give unto my well Beloved 
wife Joanah Bland all my houses and Lands with all my housellstuflf to- 
gether with all my Goods or Chatties of what Kind So Ever Giving her 
Most Hearty thanks for all Her Care and Graft Love Toward me in all 
my needs and Nessessityes : Excepting Twenty Shillings Which I doe 
Give unto my Two Dafters Anable and Isable who are all the children 
that are aLive whome I own and Give them Twenty Shillings that is to 
say ten Shillings to each of them after my Decease to Be Truly paid to 
them at there demand: and I Do Here by these Presents make and ordain 
my well Beloved Wife my real and Sole Executive of this my Last will 
and Do apoint her to Pay my Debts and Leagecies Dated this Second 
of November in the year of our Lord 1663 and Confirmed By Me John 
Bland as witness my hand this same Second of November 63 
witnesses his 

Thos Daggett John X Bland ^ 

Richard Sarson mark 

'Edgartown Records, I, 7. 

*Ibid., I, 54. The signature with a "mark" can be explained upon the theory 
of physical inability as he was "weak in body" when it was made. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

The terms of this will, by which he disowned all children 
except the two daughters, Annabel and Isabel, together with 
his dual personality as Bland and Smith, led the author into 
a long and finally successful search to identify him as "John 
Smith" prior to his migration to the Vineyard. His early 
appearance here, contemporary with the first coming of the 
Mayhews, indicated Watertown as the possible place of his 
settlement upon his arrival in New England. A John Smith 
was found there in 1630 with a wife Isabel, and this name 
being borne by a daughter of Bland was regarded as significant. 
The Watertown records contain an entry of the death of Isabel 
Smith, the wife, who was buried July 12, 1639, aged sixty 
years. ^ An examination of the Watertown land grants and 
estates also disclosed the fact that John Smith's homestall 
was contiguous to those of Jeremiah Norcross and William 
Barsham and that later William Barsham succeeded in 1645 
to the possession of Smith's lot. It further appeared that the 
wife of Barsham was named Annabel and this cumulative 
evidence further pointed to an identity with the John Bland 
and his daughter Annabel, a most unusual name and therefore 
an aid to a solution of the problem.^ 

The connection of Jeremiah Norcross with Smith also 
proved to be important and convincing, practically establishing 
the connection between John Bland and John Smith. Nor- 
cross was a later arrival in Watertown than either Bland and 
Barsham, as he did not appear until 1639, with a second wife 
Adrian, who was the mother of our John Bland. From all 
the facts in the case, too numerous to rehearse, she had prob- 
ably married first Bland and second Smith and third (late in 
life) Jeremiah Norcross, a well-to-do gentleman of a London 
family, connected with the parishes of S. Mary, Sunbury, 
Middlesex and SS. Dunstan and Sepulchre in the metropolis. 
He was son of Thomas Norcross, a linen draper, married his 
second wife, Adrian Smith, about 1630, and came to America 

'This is a possible error as the early Watertown Records are a copy transcribed 
by John Sherman, who enters this explanation: "What was taken before was by 
Mr. Eirs and uncertaine in the transmitting." It seems that this age as given is ten 
years too great and may be an error for fifty years. 

^William Barsham was of Watertown in 1630 and d. July 13, 1684. His wife 
Annabel signed a deed in 1678, but is not mentioned in his will dated Aug. 23, 1683. 
By her he had ten children, 1635-1659, and it is estimated that she was b. 1614-16, 
and married after her arrival in New England. 


Annals of Edgartown 

eight or nine years later/ The connection between Norcross 
and John Bland-Smith is found in the following record: — 

Mr Collens, Mr Sparhawke & goo:(dman John) Bridge are desired 
to heare businesses betwen John Smyth & his father Jeremy Norcros & 
examine accounts, & settle things if they can: if not to make report to 
the Courte if there be cause.^ 

This indicates a family disagreement between the son 
and step-father, probably about inheritances, and surely es- 
tablishes the relationship of the two, and Adrian as the mother 
of John. It enables us to conclude that John was the son of 
her first marriage (Bland) and that as a boy he adopted the 
name of Smith at her second marriage (Smith), or was legally 
adopted by the second husband. In adult life, for reasons 
unknown, but possibly to be found in property interests, he 
resumed his true birth name of Bland when he came to the 

Jeremiah Norcross returned to England after making his 
will in 1654, and died there three years later. In this will he 
bequeaths to John Smith "my wives sonne" and to Joanna 
Smith his wife, "one ewe sheep." ^ 

Nothing has been developed to explain the reference in 
Bland's will to his two daughters as the only living children 
"whom I owne." It is inferred that he had others by the 
first wife, and that his second marriage to Joanna resulted in 
opposition from some of them which caused him to ignore 
them in the division of his estate. 

As to the identity of this second wife, we are likewise in 
darkness. She was living here Aug. 12, 1680, when she sold 
part of her husband's estate,^ but when and where she died 
is not known. The Bland property in part came later into 
the possession of Philip Watson, through means not of record, 

'A manuscript genealogy of this family by Joel W. Norcross, in the library of the 
N. E. Hist. -Gen. Society, furnished many corroborative facts in the Bland-Smith 
search. This genealogy gives no authority for date of second marriage. Adrian 
Bland-Smith-Norcross was probably born about 1575, and was undoubtedly con- 
siderably older than her third husband. It is not believed that she returned to Eng- 
land with him, and may not have survived him. 

^Record, Court of Assistants, Dec. i, 1640. 

'This apparently ignores the Bland connection, but in view of all the circumstances 
which have developed, Norcross may not have known that John Smith had reassumed 
his true name at the Vineyard, and it is clearly apparent that there was a family dis- 
agreement and a probable estrangement. Bland's will further corroborates this. 

*Dukes Deeds, III, 116. This was the "Home" lot on the harbor front just 
south of the burying ground. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

and it is surmised that he was a relative of Mrs. Bland and 
obtained it by gift or inheritance/ 

Isabel Bland, the second daughter, married first about 
1636 Francis Austin of Dedham, Mass., by whom she had 
three daughters, and second, about 1643, Thomas Leavitt of 
Hampton, N. H., by whom she had six children at least. 
Mrs. Isabel Leavitt died Feb. 10, 1698-99, aged "about 87 

He left no known descendants on the Vineyard, and only 
those through the Barsham and Leavitt lines are certain 
descendants elsewhere. 


This person was one of the Watertown contingent of first 
comers. He had been an owner of a home stall in that place 
in 1642, and probably emigrated to New England some two 
years before that date.^ He was from Maldon, Co. Essex, 
England, a few miles distant from Baddow Magna, the home 
of John Pease, and Bromfield, possibly the residence of the 
Vincents prior to their emigration. Malachi Browning and 
his brother Jeremy were appointed in 1630 administrators of 
the estate of their sister Sarah Armestronge als Browninge of 
Maldon,^ and in 1647, after his arrival in this country, he 
gave a power of attorney to a party to agree with Mr. Thomas 
Browning of Maldon in Essex, Clerk {i. e., minister), con- 
cerning his reversionary title to lands in the Ratchford Hun- 
dred in same county.^ These clues enabled the author to 
make a definite search for his family antecedents, and he had 
the registers of the two parishes of St. Mary, and All Saints 
and St. Peter searched for Browning records. The result as 
given below is a satisfactory solution although the name of 
Malachi does not appear, yet that of his brother Jeremy and 

'A Joanna Watson was a member of the Church in Salem in 1636, but there is 
no evidence to associate this person with the wife of our settler. 

^Dow, "History of Hampton," 810. Mrs. Isabel Leavitt claimed the Bland 
estate on the Vineyard, and filed as evidence the depositions of Nathaniel and Abram 
Drake of Hampton in support of her heirship as John Bland's daughter. These de- 
positions disclosed the "Smith-Bland" situation and established the clues to his 

'On June 2, 1640, "Mr Browning for seling strong water was fined 5s witn: to 
ha: 28 of it." (Record, Court of Assistants, I, 282.) There was no other Browning 
in Massachusetts as yet come to light, and taken in connection with a subsequent 
entry it is entirely probable this relates to our Malachi Browning. 

^P. C. C. Administration Book (1630), fol. 173 b. 

'Aspinwall Notarial Records, 94. 


Annals of Edgartown 

his sister Sarah are given, and it will be noted that there is a 
Daniel in the list of children, and that our Malachi had a son 
of that name. It is probable that the family removed to another 
parish as no further record of the father's family is to be found 
in St. Mary's. Malachi was in all probability, short of absolute 
proof, the son of William and Dorothy (Vernon) Browning 
of Maldon, the record of whose family from 1581 to 1599 
appears on the parish register of St. Mary.* By his first wife 
Martha, who was buried in 1583, he had two daughters, and 
by his second, Dorothy, to v*'hom he was married Sept. 10, 
1 583, at All Saints, he had the following children baptized : — 

Michael, October 5, 1584 (All Saints) 
(all entries below in St. Mary's) 

[Mary, bur. 23 June 1588I 

Priscilla, December 5, 1587, bur. Mch. 24, 1589 

Daniel, December 10, 1588 

Jeremy, October 18, 1590 

Mary, October 8, 1592, bur. July 29, 1593 

Susan, May 12, 1594 

Saree, March 28, 1597. [m. Armstrong] 

Anne, September 9, 1599. m. Michael Cooper, 161 5 
[Malachi, b. about 1601] 

But if this is not convincing we have the will of William 
Browning of Maldon, dated April 23, 1635, then in business 
as a merchant of London, of the parish of S. Botolph, Bishops 
gate, in w^hich instrument he mentions "Malachy Brownyng 
my Sonne." To him he bequeaths his messuages in Maldon.^ 
The w^ill was proven a few days after its date as the testator 
was sick when it was drawn. 

In April, 1645, ^^^ was an appraiser of an estate in Massa- 
chusetts, and he probably removed to the Vineyard during 
the next year or early in 1647, as on Oct. 13, 1647, he is called 
"late of Watertown in New England, Gent."^ On Oct. 27, 
1649, he was in Boston on legal business, in connection with 
his brother-in-law, Joseph Collier of London. At the same 
time Mrs. Elizabeth Scott was there also on similar business 
with her husband Robert Scott. ^ In an inventory of the estate 
of Adam Winthrop, 1652, there is an item of a debt due from 
''Mr" Browning, and a like entry under date of March 10, 

'William was probably son of an earlier William of same parish. 

2P. P. C. Sadler, 35. 

^Aspinwall Notarial Records, 94. 

*Ibid., 226. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

1652-3, in an account of the estate of Robert Bulton of Boston/ 
His activities on the Vineyard were very sUght. The first and 
only record of him is under date of May 8, 1653, when he 
was given a share in the planting field. ^ His homestead on 
which he drew this was the first lot on Tower hill, south of 
the "Slough" and was apparently part of a lot of which John 
Daggett owned the western half and Browning the harbor 
end. On a visit to Boston he died "at the house of Robert 
Scott," Nov. 27, 1653, thus terminating a short and unevent- 
ful career in New England.^ His occupation while on the 
island is shrouded in obscurity, and all clues to his connection 
with persons on the island end in unsatisfactory threads. A 
"Mrs." Scott, presumably the wife of Robert, above referred 
to, appears in 1663 and 1664, as an owner of a share of land 
at Great Harbor. Conjectures as to relationship with our 
Browning may be easily entertained, but we are left without 
any recourse to confirmation as she disappears as suddenly 
from the scene, leaving no trace. 

His known family consisted of a wife Mary, a daughter 
Susanna, who by her marriage with William Vinson became 
the ancestreps of all the Vincents here, and a son Daniel. 
The wife was probably born Mary Collier, sister of Joseph 
Collier, cit'zen and grocer of London, who in 1648 left a be- 
quest to "my sister Mrs. Mary Browning in New England."^ 
Of the son Daniel, but few traces remain. In view of the 
standinr, of the family, an uncle perhaps a clergyman in Eng- 
land it is fair to presume that this Daniel may have served 
in a clerical capacity in the town after the decease of the 
younger Mayhew. The following entry in the records seems 
to point to that conclusion : — 

February 16: 1659 

Ordered by the town that what charge shall arise for the finishing 
of Mr. Brownings house more than the first covenant shall be paid in corne 
at harvest.^ 

The building of a house was usually one of the things 
done for ministers by towns and the "covenant" probably 
refers to an agreement made when he was settled. How long 

IN. E. Gen. Register, VIII, 59. 
^Edgartown Records, I, 172. 
^Boston Town Records. 
*N. E. Hist. Gen. Register, I, 58. 
'Edgartown Records, I, 14. 


Annals of Edgartovvn 

he remained is not known, and like all the others connected 
with the first settler he disappears without leaving a trace. 

Malachi Browning had a ''mansion seat" a little dis- 
tance south of Burying Hill fronting the harbor. In what 
manner it passed from his estate into the possession of Thomas 
Trapp is not known, but it may indicate some relationship.^ 
Apparently the widow only had her "thirds," which she deeded 
as a gift to her grandson, Thomas Vincent.^ The widow sur- 
vived until Sept. 7, 1672, and the inventory of her estate 
showed property to the value of ;^2 2-7-5, which was admin- 
istered by her son-in-law Vinson. Her daughter Susanna 
makes several references to her property rights in England, 
and it is presumed to relate to the estate in Essex to which 
the father had made claim as above related. 


In the ship True Love sailing 

y^T%j^ 0^i>li^^^^^ ^^^"^ En2,land in September, 1635, 
^jn/Cr*^-{Ar/;^i^j^ ^^^g ^ f-j^jj^^ Q^ Burchards, and 

from the similarity of names it is 
believed it was the family which later settled on the Vineyard. 
The husband Thomas, aged forty years, a laboring man, was 
accompanied by his wife Mary, aged thirty-eight and children, 
Elizabeth thirteen, Mary twelve, Sarah nine, Susan eight, 
John seven, and Ann eighteen months old.^ In 1652 a Thomas 
Burchard and his son John were residents in this town, and 
from all subsequent records this John seemed to be his only 
son, as was the case of the immigrant Thomas and his only 
son of that name. Somewhat extended search has been made 
to ascertain the antecedents of Thomas, who is thought to 
have come from London, but no clue has yet been obtained.* 
On May 17, 1637, Thomas Bercher was admitted as 
freeman by the General Court of Massachusetts.^ and a Thomas 

'There is a tradition that Susanna Browning sold Tower Hill for a pair of gloves 
or some equally trivial consideration. While nothing in the records justifies such a 
legend, as the Browning lot was some distance south of Tower Hill, yet there may be 
enough truth in the story to account for the appearance of Trapp in 1684 as owner 
of the ten acres. 

^Edgartown Records, p. 82, dated July 12, 1669. 

^Hotten, Original Lists, etc. 

*A Thomas Burchwood, cordwainer, of St. Peter's, Cornhill, had a family of six 
brought to baptism 1597 to 1603, including three named Thomas, but the dates do 
not correspond to the family which came in the True Love. (Parish Registers, 
St. Peter's, Cornhill, London.) The name is variously spelled Bercher, Birchard, 
Burchard, Burchwood. 

^Mass. Col. Rec, I. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Burchard, member of Rev. John Eliots' Church in Roxbury. 
Tv/o years later, in 1639, we find a Thomas Burchard at 
Hartford, and no further trace of him has come to Hght until 
the year 1650, when he was of Saybrook and probably had 
been there some time before, as Thomas Birchard, He was 
Deputy to the General Court of that colony in 1650-51, and 
on May 15, 1651, was appointed one of a committee to go 
to Pequot and lay out the lands granted to Capt. John Mason's 

The next record of him is under date of 1652 at Great 
Harbor, when "Mr. Burchards" lot is mentioned, and on 
May 8, 1653, two lots in the planting field are credited to 
"Burchard."^ It is an arbitrary inference to assign this to 
him, rnther than his son John, but on May 20, 1653, we are 
relieved of further speculation as Thomas Burchard was then 
chosen with Mayhew and Tabor to divide the Necks of land 
among the inhabitants.^ On June 8, 1653, he was chosen as 
the first assistant to the chief magistrate, and on Oct. 31, 1654, 
''Thomas Burchard the elder" was made town clerk. ^ He 
was the first person who held this office in Edgartown, of 
whom we have record. On June 5, 1655, he was again chosen 
as the first assistant to the chief magistrate. On Jan. 7, 1656, 
he is recorded as "present" at a town meeting in Saybrook, 
probably as a proprietor with interests yet undisposed of, 
for on October 31 of that year he sold his lands in that town 
to his son John."^ He was again chosen first assistant on 
June 23, 1656, being one of the two so elected, the number 
having formerly been four, but from this time on he seems to 
have declined in favor with the freemen or with the elder 
Mayhew, for this is the last time he held any office in the town 
and the next twenty-five years of his residence is scarcely 
marked by any public appearance.*^ It is noted that in the 
earlier records he had been called "]Mr" Burchard, but that 
henceforth he was either Thomas Burchard or "Goodman 
Burchard; and in connection with this it is observed that he 
did not sign the submission to the Patentees Government in 
1661, from which it seems clear that he had become disaf- 

'Conn. Col. Rec, I, 221. 
'Edgartown Records, I, 124, 172. 

^Ibid., I. 131. One lot may have belonged to his son John. 
*Ibid., I, 121. He was succeeded by his son two years later. 
^Saybrook Town Book, 11, 99; comp., Caulkins, "History of Norwich," p. 53. 
He called himself "of Marthas Vineyard." 
"Edgartown Records, I, 120. 


Annals of Edgartown 

fected with the Mayhew regime.* He participated in the 
divisions of land from 1660 to 1676, as a proprietor, including 
Crackatuxett, Quanomica, Meachemy Field, and the Plains. 
At the Quarter Court of April 8, 1663, he was plaintiff in a 
suit against Thomas Jones, and on May 11, same year, had 
a small grant of land.- Besides engaging in real estate trans- 
actions during the following decade, nothing is heard from 
him in a public way till 1673, when he joined or probably 
led the opponents of the ISIayhew family in the ''Dutch Re- 
bellion" of that year. His name is the first one signed to the 
appeal to Massachusetts, and Simon Athearn testified that 
Burchard was a " principal instigator " of the affair.^ There is 
no record that Burchard was punished for his part in it, per- 
haps on account of his great age, near four score, and he 
apparently continued to reside in the town in quiet possession 
of his large landed estate for the ten years following. On 
May 9, 1683, he sold out a small parcel of land, and in the 
deed calls himself "late inhabitant upon Martins Vineyard," 
where he had resided the past thirty years of his life.* His 
son John had long since removed to Norwich, and the father 
in his old age, then eighty-eight, may have gone thither to 
live with his son or some of his married daughters. 

The marital complications of Thomas Burchard require 
some explanation. There was a "Goodwife Burchard" who 
died in Roxbury March 24, 1654-55, and she must have been 
the Mary who came with him in the True Love!" His second 
wife was Katherine Andrews, a widow, mother of John An- 
drews, a linen draper of London, whom he married before 
1659, and by this became related to our Thomas Trapp.^ 
In several papers he refers to Trapp as "my cusen" (nephew) 
and "my kinsman," and it appears that Trapp was a "cousin" 
to Andrews. This wife was living on March 4, 1674, whens 
she signed as witness to John Pease's will, with her husbants,- 
and Thomas Trapp.^ When she died is not known, but 5t 

'Edgartown Records, I, 136, 138, 144, 147. He was a member of the Train Band 
in 1662, at which time he must have been about sixty-seven years of age. 

^Ibid., I, 135, 139. 

^Dukes Co. Court Records, I. 

^Dukes Deeds, I, 209. No residence is stated in this deed. It was acknowledged 
before Richard Sarson. 

^The Burchards were early members of Rev. John Eliot's church, and possibly 
she was visiting old friends there. 

«N. E. Gen. Register, X, 87. 

HDukes Deeds, I, 340. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

appears that a third wife named Deborah was in existence for 
some indefinite time, and like the first she died away from 
home. The records of Charlestown, Mass., contain entry of 
the death of "Deborah Burcham, wife of Thomas of Marthas 
Vineyard," under date of May lo, 1680, and that is all we 
know about her.^ 

It is believed that the family enumerated in the passenger 
list of the True Love represents all his children with the possi- 
ble exception of a Hannah Burchard, who married in 1653 
John Baldwin of Guilford.^ 

Thomas Burchard' s real estate holdings began with the 
acquisition of the harbor lot of Richard Smith about 1652, 
being number five of the "Five and Twenty," which he later 
sold to Robert Codman. He probably resided there at first, 
but he acquired from several owners a tract at Katama, 
whereon he lived the remainder of his life here, as far as 
known. ^ 

The following is a detailed description of the various 
lots, divisions, and rights owned by him in 1669: — 

Upon the Vineyard anno 1669: the Lands and accomodations of 
Thomas Burchard: my house Lott and five acres I had of John Pease 
in all I Judge Eighteen acres more or Less, Bounded with the Sea on the 
East and the Plain on the west, Mrs. Blains Land on the North and South: 
my Divident Lott with my pond Lott Lying together: my pond Lott 
I had part of it of old John Folger and part of it I changed with Bland 
and his wife, a third part I took out of my Devidend Lott: both parcells 
I Judge to be about thirty acres more or Less, Bounded the Sea on the 
East and North East the East also, Mr. Butlers Land on the South and 
West on the plain and on the North Mr. Blands Land: thirdly att Cracka- 
tuxett two Lotts the third and fifteen with my thach Lott without Side 
the fence, that was Containing three acres More or Less: my Land (at) 
Meeshackett Containing I Judge Sixty three acres more or Less Bound 
with the Shrubed plain or Comon Land on the North, on the East Comon 
<and and Isaac Nortons Devident Lott on the South, with the fresh pond 
id on the west the pond and William Vincents Land: fifthly one ten 
re Lott (upon the Line) within ili.. general fence more or Less: Bounded 
on the South Comon Land, on the west Mr. Butlers Lott, on the north 
the Comon Land, on the East Thomas Butlers Lott, on the north the 
Comon Land, on the East Thomas Doggett his Land: Sixtly my meadow 
two acres more or Less which I Bought of Richard Smith Lying att poche 
on Chappaquidick Island, Bounded on the East towards the Sea on the 
South with Mr. Butlers meadow and part with the upland, Bounded on 

^Wyman, "Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown," 154. 

^Thomas Burchard is the ancestor of President Rutherford Burchard Hayes of 

'There are no records to show when or how he purchased these lots that consti- 
tuted his Katama property. 


Annals of Edgartown 

the west with the upland and on the north part, a part next WiUiam Vin- 
cents meadow and a part upon the upland: two acres more or Less of 
meadow I had of John Burchard that the town gave him of which John 
Eadie hath one acre and one Remains mine Still in my Possession att 
this Day: I have a Shear and a half of fish & alewives att our Common 
Wares Called Mateckesse wherein are twenty Seven shears upon one half 
Divided from the heathen as also a Shear and a half of whale in our half 
with the Endians in the twenty Six Shears: also one Commonage and 
half Commonage upon all our common feeding for Eighteen neat Cattle 
with a purchase or Division of any of all our Common Lands.' 


The eldest and prob- 
ably only son of the pre- 
ceding, came to the Vine- 
yard before his father, 
and is among the earliest 
settlers here, being fifth in 
priority of appearance on 
the records. His name occurs under date of March 27, 1651, 
for the first time, when his land at Meshacket is mentioned.- In 
1656 he was chosen town clerk, probably in succession to his 
father, and his fine signature indicates excellent clerical ability, 
and an education above the ordinary.^ His life on the 
Vineyard was uneventful, as far as the records furnish 
data, and it is probable that beyond continuing as town clerk 
till his departure for another place of residence he was engaged 
in husbandry at Meshacket. He removed about 1 660-1 to 
Norwich, Conn., and in October, 1663, was accepted as an 
inhabitant of that town, where he resided the remainder of 
his life.^ He was one of the original proprietors (1659) of 
this new settlement. 

He became a prominent citizen of Norwich, serving as 
its Deputy to the General Court, 1671; Clerk of the Courts,- 
1673, and Justice, 1676. He also served as town clerk, 1661 
to 1678, a period of seventeen years, almost from his first 
settlement there. In 1677 he was schoolmaster for the town.^ 

^Edgartown Records, I, 174. 

^Edgartown Town Records, I, 124. He had lived previously at Saybrook, where 
he was a lot owner in 1648-9. (Saybrook Records, I, p. i.) 

^Ibid., I, 120. It is to be regretted that the records kept by him are not extant, in 
the place of the doubtful transcript made in the next century. 

'The father, Thomas Burchard, as attorney, sold the house and land of John 
Burchard to Thomas Jones, July 10, 1662. (Ibid., I, 129.) 

'Caulkins, History of Norwich, 61, 66, 73, 82, 92, 94. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

His wife was Christian Andrews, whom he married July 22, 
1653, during his residence here, and we may indulge the sur- 
mise that she was related to his father's second wife (Mrs. 
Katherine Andrews), or possibly to Edward Andrews, his 
neighbor at Meshacket/ By her he had Abigail, who married 
John Calkins; Mary, who married Jonathan Hartshorn; 

Lydia, who married Raymond; Samuel, b. 1663; 

James, b. 1665; Thomas, b. 1669; John, b. 1671; Joseph, 
b. 1673; ^^^ Daniel, b. 1680, all living in 1725 in Norwich 
and Lebanon.^ He died November 17, 1702. 


^' /) /^ /P ^^^ sixteen years prior to his 

fUc4)K^^ ^^/ti>^^^ settlement on the Vineyard, 

about 165 1 or 1652, Nicholas 
Butler had resided at Dorchester, Mass., whither he emigrated 
in 1636 from England. The ship's list names Nicholas But- 
ler with three children and five servants as coming from 
Eastwell, Co. Kent, in that year, of whom John, who came 
here, probably with his father, and Lydia who married 
John Minot of Dorchester, May 19, 1647, are two. The 
third child is not known, as the son Henry did not reach 
New England for several years after, perhaps with his mother 
Joyce, and therefore is not to be counted at that time. Nicholas 
is first mentioned in the records under date of May 8, 1653, 
when he participated in one of the divisions of land. Two 
years prior to that, on Oct. 15, 1651, he had made his "well- 
beloved Sonne John Butler" his attorney to collect and pay 
debts, which may be the most probable indication of the time 
of his leaving Dorchester and entrusting the settlement of 
his affairs there to his son. When he came to the Vineyard, 
he was well into middle life. Though the date of his birth 
is not known, yet the knowledge existing of his children's 
ages enables us to proximately fix his birth about the years 
1 595-1600, and his age at fifty-five when he took up his resi- 
dence at Edgartown. That he was a man considerably above 
the social average is shown by the number of his servants, 

'Some family connection will be discovered, probabl_v, between these persons and 
the Mary Andrews of Norwich, mother of Sarah (Post) Vincent, wife of our Thomas. 
Hinman state's that Samue' Andrews of Hartford. Saybrook and Norwi'h wn= a 
brother of Christian (Andrews) Burchard. (Puritan Settlers of Connecticut.) 

^Saybrook Records, III, 343, 419. There was a David Burchard of Norwich, 
1723, who was her son probably. 


Annals of Edgartown 

the fact that his son Henry was a graduate of Harvard College 
(class of 1 651), and this standing was at once recognized in 
his new home, for he became in 1653 one of the "five men to 
end controversies," that is magistrate. The next year he was 
again chosen and in 1655 he was re-elected and called "As- 
sistant" to the chief magistrate. In all the records he is 
called Mr. Butler or Mr. Nicholas Butler, a use of which 
prefix is distinctive. In December, 1661, he was fined for 
absence from town meeting and "for Going away Disorderly." 
Beyond the usual duty on juries and an occasional trivial 
litigation his name does not further appear upon the town 
records. The following is the account of his landed pos- 
sessions : — 

This is a True Record of the petickeler parcells of Land of Mr. Nicolas 
Butler, which Lands are upon Marthas Vineyard Partickraly as foUoweth: 
first my house Lott with that Lott which I Bought of Mr. John Bland: 
adjoining to it is Twenty acres More or Less with one acre of Meadow 
I Bought of Mr. Browning, Bounded by the Sea on the East, Mr. Blands 
Lott on the South, the Plaine on the West, John Butler on the North: 
with my Divedent att Catemy forty acres, More or Less, Bounded By the 
Sea on the East, the Sea on the South, Mr. Blands lands on the West, 
the Plaine the Sea on the North North: More two thach Lotts, one Lying 
(at) Meshackett Bounded by John Foulger on the West, John Doggett 
on the East: the other Lying att Monaqua Bounded By Thos Doggett 
on the West, John Pease on the East: this hath four acres of upland Joyn- 
ing to itt More or Less: More one Ten acre Lott upon the Line Bounded 
by Thomas Burchard on the East, the Common on the South, Thomas 
Doggett on the West, the Common the North: More Two acres of 
Meadow Lying att Chapequideck Bounded By the Pond on the North 
Lying over against my house, Mr. Mayhew the youngers Meadow on the 
South: this Meadow is two acres More or Less: More four Acres of 
Meadow to two Given to my house Lott and two I Bought of Thomas 
Joanse Lying on the North end of Chapequideck John Wakefield Now 
in Possession By his heirs Joyning to Mine is More or Less: More three 
acres of Meadow one Bought of Peter Foulger and Two of John Pease: 
this Meadow is More or Less Lying att the East End of Chapequideck 
Joyning and Bounded By Richard Smith on the North, By John Foulger 
on the South: with a full Commonage and a Six and Twentyth part of fish 
and whale: More three acres att Crackatuxett Bounded By Mr Mayhew 
the Elder and Thomas Birchard.' 

His homestead lot was near Swimming Place Point, and 
consisted of twenty acres. Here he lived having as a next 
northerly neighbor his son John, from whom descends all of 
the name on the Vineyard. Nicholas Butler died Aug. 13, 
1 67 1, the day after his will was made. That he was an old 

'Edgartown Records, I, 159. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

and feeble man seems to be clearly evidenced by the curious 
reference to the "mark" which he used to indicate his signa- 
ture, ''his sight as it were Gon." The will reads as follows: — 

[Dukes Deeds, I, 313] 

Mr. Nicholas Butler Deceased the 13th of August in the year of our 
Lord one thousand Six hundred Seventy one 

The Record of his will: 

This doth testify that I Nicholas Butler Being at present Sound in memory 
doe Now by this my last will give my Estate Whatsoever that I left after 
I Shall be buried like a Christian wholly unto my wife Joyce Butler, uppon 
serious consideration for her to dispose of to hir children and my children 
as shee shall see good, and hereunto I praise [god] being of memorie as 
aforesaid Sound. I doe witness with my hand this 12th of August 167 1. 
This will is witnessed 

by us His sight as it were 

Thomas Mayhew gon 

Tho' Birchard the mar X of 

The marke of Nicholas Norton NICHOLAS BUTLER. 

Mrs. Joyce Butler is By the worshipfuU Govornour and Assistants 
Sitting in Court this 26th day of June 1672, admitted Administratrix & 
Executrix uppon the Estate of JVIr. Nicholas Butler deceased. 

The Inventory of the Estate. 

To one common & half with house, fence 8z all priveledges 80 — 00 — 00 

to fiveteen pound of pewter at is 8d 01 — 02 — 06 

to twelve pound of pewter at is 2d 00 — 14 — 00 

to 8 pound of pewter at is 6d 00 — 12 — 00 

to one Silver Boule 03 — 07 — 00 

to a Brass Candlestick 00 — 02 — 00 

to 3 brass kettles at is pr pound 03 — 00 — 00 

to two Iron potts, one frying pan and dripping panne 02 — 10 — 00 
to one trammell, 2 payer of tonges, one payer of Andirons 

& Spitt 00—15—00 

The inventory of the estate, amounting to ;^92-o-6, is 
remarkable for the paucity of articles which should belong to 
a gentleman of his standing in life. It may be that he had 
given his household furniture, etc., to his children during his 

Whether his wife Joyce was the mother of all his children 
is placed in the doubtful category by the apparently careful 
way in which he refers to "her children and my children," 
as though she had been a widow with children or that he had 
children by a former wife. No allusion is made in her will 


Annals of Edgartown 

to children by a former husband. She survived as Nicholas 
Butler's widow for eight years, and died between March 13 
and Oct. 28, 1680, leaving an estate valued at ;;(Ji65-2-o, 
which she bequeathed to her descendants in the following 
will : — 

[Dukes Deeds, I, 314.] "''" 

I, JcMce Butler being through Gods blessing at present, of sound 
memory and understanding, doe make this my last will, and testament: 
Revoking all former whatsoever; and first my will is and I will and be- 
queath to my son Hennerie Butler, my Silver Boule and a carpet, & to 
each of his three sonnes, one Silver Spoone: 

Nextly, I will and bequeath, to my Grandson John Butler, all the 
brass of the kitchen; and to my Grandson Thomas Butler one iron pot- 
tage pott, an Iron Kettle, and my bead, Beadstead, and all the furniture 
belonging to it, as it is in present use, as two pair of blanketts, two pillows 
&c — And I Give more to my Grandson John Butler, all the Bead and 
Beading above stairs: 

Nextly, I will and bequeath, all my Hnnen, to be Equally devided 
Between my Grandchildren, John and Thomas Butler, and Mary Athearn. 

And Nextly, I will and Bequeath, to my three Grandchildren afore- 
said, all my Great Cattle, to be Equally devided among them, that is to 
say, John Butler, Thomas Butler, and Mary Athearn: Except only that 
my Grandson Thomas Butler, shall have two more to his part; and one 
heifer, before the devision set apart, which heifer I doe will and bequeath 
to my Grandson Samuell Minott: 

^\nd my will is, and I bequeath all my Sheep to my two Grandsons 
John Butler, and Thomas Butler, to be Equally devided between them: 

Nextly, I will and bequeath to my Grandson Thomas Butler, my 
Dwelling house, with the long Table and hanging Cupboard, and to my 
Grandson John Butler, my cupboard, and Chest which was Joseph But- 
lers: and to my Granddaughter Mary Athearn, my Chest and two joint 
Stools: and as to my Chaires, I give the table Chaires to my Grandson 
Thomas Butler: the remainder of the Chaires, I leave to be Equally de- 
vided between my Grandchildren, John, and Thoinas Butler and Mary 

Nextly my will is, and I doe oblige my two Grandsons John and 
Thomas Butler that they shall pay to my Grand Daughter Hannah Chad- 
duck, two hundred weight of fleece wooll, yearly fivety pounds, untill it 
is payed which is within four years: 

And as to Lands, I will and Bequeath, all my lands with the privel- 
ledges and appurtenances, to my Grandson Thomas Butler and my pew- 
ter, I will to be Devided, as my linnen as abovesaid, viz: between my 
Grandchildren John and Thomas Butler and Mary Athearn. 

And lastly I Appoint my Grandson John Butler to be Sole Execcutor 
and Administrator, to this my last will, and my will is, and I doe Request 
my friendes Mr. Richard Sarson, and Matthew Mayhew, to be overseers 
that it may be performed: 

And in witness of this my last will and Testament I the said Joice 
Butler have put hereto my hand and Seall, this thirteenth day of March, 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

in the year of our Lord, one Thousand, Six hundred Seventy & nine, 
Alias Eighty 


ISL^tt: Mayhew, her I B marke 

Richard Sarson. 

The inventory of the Estate of Mrs. Joice Butler deceased taken by 
Joseph Norton and Thomas Trapp Octobr : 28th : 1680. 
the lands and accommodations 

a five and twentieth lot Valued at 40 — 00 — 00 

half a commonage 08 — 00 — 00 

land at the Short Neck 02 — 00 — 00 

two shares & halfe of Meadow not of said accommodations 12 — 00 — 00 
The moveable Estate valued at 102 pd 12s 102 — 12 — 00 


This settler is first mentioned in the records in June, 
1652, and on Nov. 11, 1652, he was granted a house lot, with 
the provision of four years' residence to make it "his proper 
inheritance.'" This lot for many years after was referred 
to as "Case's" lot, though the early records fail to show how 
it passed from his possession. In some way Peter Tallman 
of Rhode Island became proprietor of a part of it. In 1655 
he was sued for slander, fined for a misdemeanor, and placed 
under bonds for good behaviour. He was living on February 
15, 1659, but must have died before July 15, 1659, and on 
August 22, the creditors of widow Case are given "the priviledge 
of Daniel Lane's bill for their satisfaction," and an inventory 
of his estate was returned Dec. 28, 1659, as amounting to 
£19-6-3." This practically constitutes all that is known of 
him, omitting some details, and it remains to be shown whether 
he was related to the William Case, freeman, of Newport, 
1655, and deputy from same in 1675.'' In the next century, 
the first decade, there died on the Vineyard one John Case, 
who had received a grant of land in Tisbury, 1681, but the 
author has been unable to establish any connection between 
the two, though a son of John, named William, probably 
the eldest, might be suggestive of kinship. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 120. 

^Ibid., I, 129, 138. 

^William Case of Newport, R. I., died in 1676, are two different men. His sons 
were William, settling in East Greenwich, R. I., Joseph Case, settling in Portsmouth 
and South Kingston, R. I., and James Case of Little Compton. His wife's name 

was Mar}' , maiden name unknown. She died in 1680. William of Newport 

is claimed to be the emigrant William Case, aged nineteen, who came over in the ship 
Dorset, 1635. His descendants intermarried with many of the historical families 
of that state. 

^ 58 

Annals of Edgartown 


The early spelling of this settler's name is Codnam, and 
the correct form is probably Codenham, which is a parish in 
Suffolk, England/ Robert Codman appeared first in Salem 
in 1637, with his mother, and on July 12 of that year the town 
granted him five acres of land for himself and five for his 
mother. He held a petty office that year, and was also en- 
gaged in a small law suit. In 1639 he removed to Salisbury, 
where he became proprietor of a ten-acre lot on the Merrimack 
river.'^ Codman took a wife unto himself about this time, 
and had a son baptized in Salem, 1641, and a second in Salis- 
bury, 1644, but no information has yet been discovered to 
show whom he married.^ His occupation was that of a 
mariner, and he was engaged in coastwise trading, which 
took him as far south as Virginia. In 1646 he is called "of 
Conecticot."^ His vessel was, apparently, partly owned by 
the town of Salem, as the townsmen voted on Sept. 30, 1647, 
to authorize the sale of the ''barque" Codman sailed in, as 
the profits belonged in part to the town.'^ Tristram Coffin 
sued him July 6, 1647, for the loss of merchandise which he 
was freighting in his vessel, and Richard Arey, late of the 
Vineyard, was one of the defendants with Codman.^ This 
association of these two early settlers in Salem, where John 
Pease lived, is significant, taken in connection with their sub- 
sequent location in this town. We next find him at "Har(t)- 
ford uppon Conecticot river," where Robert Codnam, mariner, 
executed Sept. 25, 1650, a general power of attorney to his 
"trusty & beloved freind" Samuell Hall of Salisbury, planter, 
which he signed with a mark.'^ This indicates his removal 

'In the Salem Court Records, Robert Quodnam brought suit against Henry 
Harwood in 1638, an instance of fantastic orthography, and Quodnam's pinnace is 
mentioned on the Connecticut river in 1645. There was a John Codman at Salem 
in 1638, but what relation he bore to Robert is not known. 

'There was living in this latter-named town one John Stevens, Senior, who called 
our Codman "my brother," but as there are no records which show how this relation- 
ship came about, it is not known whether Stevens married Codman's sister or vke 

'Robert Codman sued Richard Cook at Salem June 30, 1640, and was defendant 
in a suit June 27, 1643, brought by Thomas Ruck. 

*Aspinwall Notarial Record, 35; comp., Manwaring, "Digest of Early Wills," 
I, 93; History of Colony of New Haven. 

^Salem Town Records. 

^Salem Quarterly Court Records, 1638-1647, p. 201. Both Codman and Arey 
made depositions in this case before Governor Winthrop. 

'Old Norfolk County Deeds, I, 49. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

to the colony of Connecticut some time before this, probably 
soon after 1647, and it is of record that he had disposed of 
his home lot on the Merrimack to his brother John Stevens, 

His residence in Hartford was of short duration, and he 
removed down the Connecticut river to its mouth, within four 
years, as on June 19, 1654, Robert Codman "of Saibrooke 
fort, mariner" conveyed some of his Salisbury land to a resi- 
dent of that town.^ From Saybrook he removed, within a 
very short time, to this town, where his old neighbor, Richard 
Arey, was already settled, and of whom he bought the harbor 
lot of eight acres on Starbuck's neck, closely adjoining John 
Pease. On Oct. 31, 1654, Codman received a grant of land 
from the town, a tract of meadow near Sarson's island, in 
Sanchacantacket, where for nearly a hundred years, perhaps 
longer, there was a run of water known as " Codman's Spring."^ 
His litigious habit seemed to follow him here, as on the above- 
named date he sued William Case for defamation of character, 
and Codman was found "not guilty of those aspersions which 
were cast upon him. . . . concerning himself and the wife 
of Edward Lay."* It is apparent that he continued his busi- 
ness of coastwise trading after his settlement here.^ 

In 1656, Codman made a deposition about a maritime 
transaction, and on Jan. 2, 1657, he was granted a commonage 
of wood and grazing for his cattle.*^ On June 2, 1657, he 
received another grant of land, and probably by this time had 
acquired the lot next his, to the north, which afterwards was 
comprised in the Codman estate."^ He was admitted as free- 
man on June 5, 1660, up to which time he had drawn no 
shares of common land in the divisions, but on October 22 
of that year he is credited with two shares, his own and "that 
was William Cases. "^ In 1661 he submitted to the patentees 

'Old Norfolk County Deeds. This passed into the possession of George Martin, 
who is believed to be the father of George Martin of Edgartown (1683). 

^Tbid., I, 148. The land sold was two acres, bounded east and north by the 
green by the meetinghouse and Isaac Buswell was the purchaser. Codman signed 
with a mark. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 121; Dukes Deeds, VII, 154. 

*It will be noted that Edward Lay was a townsman of Codman in Hartford and 

'Letter, Mayhew to Winthrop, 4 Mass. Hist. Coll., VII, 36. 

*Edgartown Records, I, 115, 129. 

'Ibid., I, 139. 

*Ibid., I, 147. He had acquired Case's share, probably of the widow of William 
Case, who died about 1659, but there is no record of the transaction. 


Annals of Edgartown 

government with his son Joseph, and both were enrolled in 
the train band the next year/ In 1663 and 1664, he par- 
ticipated in the divisions of Felix Neck, Quanomica, and 
Meachemy's Field, ^ besides being engaged with William Weeks 
in a law suit, as defendant in "an action of debt to the sum 
of twenty pounds." On June 6, 1667, he made a purchase 
of the lot adjoining his own from Thomas Burchard, thus 
making with the two bought of Richard Arey and Thomas 
Doggett and the one owned by his son Joseph three lots and 
a half on the present Starbuck's Neck.^ 

After this date he disappears from the records, and his 
decease is inferred thereby, probably before 1676, when 
Stephen Codman, his son and heir, drew a lot in the division 
of common land that year. The son Joseph had died also, 
and as representative of the respective rights of the two, per- 
haps by a will not now on record, Stephen, the son and brother, 
sold on Dec. 10, 1678, the family estate to Nathaniel Starbuck 
of Nantucket, and from that day to this the thirty-five acres 
thus purchased has been known as Starbuck's Neck. 

He left no descendants of his name on the Vineyard, but 
in the female line through the marriage of his daughter Hep- 
zebah with Nathan Skiff, there are numerous families who 
can trace back to this pioneer. 


This person was a later settler at Great Harbor than 
James, but he had been living at Plymouth probably since 
1635, the year he came to New England in the ship "Abigail."* 
He was then fifteen years of age, and doubtless was in the 
care of some person as an apprentice till he reached his majority. 
He bought ten acres of land and a house at Wobury Plain, 
Plymouth, in 1641, and as far as known, continued to live 
there for many years. ^ No trace of him has been discovered 
elsewhere until January 22, 1677, when he was granted ten 
acres of land near the house lot of James Covell at Meshacket.^ 

'Edgartown Records, I, 138, 144. 

^Ibid., I, 109 127, 128. 

^Dukes Deeds, I, 320. ' 

His name appears on the list as "Cesora" Covell. 

^Plymouth Deeds, I, 132. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 22. In 1678 it was "voted by the town that Ezra Covell 
shall keep six head of neat cattle and a horse and liberty to cut fire wood on the com- 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Whether this indicates relationship of the two is uncertain^ 
but as James named one of his sons Ezra it may be assumed 
that they were kinsmen, perhaps brothers. Ezra Covell was 
a "marchant taylor," and presumably plied his trade here. 
He served as juror in 1677 and 1681, but nothing further 
of him appears of record until his death. He made his will 
April 29, 1696, "aged about 80 yeares," in which he mentions 
his wife, "formerly Abagaill Trevis," and it is more than 
probable that there was no issue of the marriage. He directed, 
in case both himself and wife "should depart the world at one 
time," the residue of his estate should "be bestowed in bibells 
or other good Bookes for the use of the children" of Edgartown.^ 
The widow Abigail did not "depart the world" with Ezra 
and survived to become the wife of James Pease, April 22, 1706. 
She was probably the daughter of Richard and Grace (Clem- 
ent) Trevis of Boston, b. January 8, 1662, and is mentioned 
in his will of May 17, 1688, as Abigail "Cove."' It will be 
seen that she was the young wife of his old age. 


This person was one of the first comers, and received 
a grant of ten acres March 27, 1651, on the Meshacket Path, 
where he built a house and continued to live there till his death. ^ 
He was admitted as the proprietor of a half share in 1660, 
and "submitted" to the Mayhew government the next year. 
He was elected the drummer of the train band at the sam.e 
time, and served as a juror in 1659 and 1677. His name 
appears in the records continuously in the drawing of lots, 
though there is a hiatus, 1664-1682, when it appears but once 
in any connection.^ In 1687 he was granted twenty acres 
of land in the New Purchase, the last time his name occurs 
during life.^ On August 19, 1690, administration of his estate 

'Dukes Probate, I, 15. 

^Suffolk Probate, XI, 379-381. The original will and papers were examined 
for the author, and the name "Cove" is written in a contracted form, not in the hand- 
writing of the testator, which may account for the spelling of the name. 

^Edgartown Town Records, I, 124. He received an additional grant of five acres 
in 1660. 

^In 1682 "Mr." Covell and in 1684 "Goodman" Covell occur in the records, 
a differentiation hard to understand, unless one refers to Ezra Covell. 

*This was sold by his son James to Hannah Daggett, May 23, 1694. (Dukes 
Deeds, I, 142.) 


Annals of Edgartown 

was granted to his son Philip, and he was then called ''late 

Nothing is known to the author of his wife, either of her 
Christian or family name. He had three sons, Philip, James, 
and Ezra, and perhaps some daughters, but if so they are not 
of record. Through the children of his son James a numerous 
posterity resided in Edgartown during the next century, but 
there has been none of the name in town for a hundred years 

There were Indians who adopted the name of Covell 
befor.e 1700, and this complicates an already difhcult genea- 
logical problem to differentiate the various James Covells, 
senior and junior. 


^ ^ The published genealogy of the 

Q Q-$^^^>-^^^*'^^9H Doggett-Daggett family gives a full 
d^ account of the English and Ameri- 

can families bearing this name, and 
the reader is referred to that source for detailed information 
about them." The name was, undoubtedly, Doggett, and 
some branches still retain that form of spelling, and our early 
New England records bear out this view. The family historian , 
in his review of the English origin of our John Daggett, thinks 
he may have been the third son of William and Avis (Lappage) 
Doggett of Boxford, Suffolk, baptized Nov. 4, 1602, but it 
may be said in criticism of this guess that the names of William 
and Avis do not appear in any of the immediate descendants 
of John for three generations, and that is an unusual omission, 
according to all custom and experience. The first definite 
knowledge we have of John Daggett is his appearance in 
Massachusetts as one of the large body of immigrants who 
came to New England with Governor Winthrop in 1630, 
settling first at Salem, later at Charlestown and Watertown. 
He was made a freeman of the colony May 18, 1631, having 
taken up his residence in Watertown. There he continued 
to live, receiving his shares in the several proprietors' divisions, 
until some time about 1646, when he removed to Rehoboth. 

'Dukes Court Record, Vol. I. A Covell family resided contemporaneously on 
the Cape. Nathaniel Covell was among the first settlers at Eastham, before 1700, 
and Joseph Covell at Chatham about the same time. No connection with our family 
has yet been discovered, after much research of the records. 

^" Doggett-Daggett Family in America," by Samuel Bradlee Doggett, vide pp. 
71-76 for references to John Daggett. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Prior to that, however, Thomas Mayhew had become a towns- 
man of his in Watertown, and when the purchase of Martha's 
Vineyard was made in 1641, Daggett became an interested 
party, as a grantee, with others of a township on this island in 
March, 1642. There is no evidence that he came here with 
the first contingent from Watertown, as his next recorded 
appearance is in Rehoboth, as stated, about 1646, when he 
was granted land in that new settlement. He remained in 
that town as late as the summer of 1648, but how much longer 
is unknown, as the next record of him is on March 29, 165 1-2, 
when he was chosen corporal of the military company on the 
Vineyard. Between those dates he removed here, probably to 
avail himself of the rights he held in the new settlement by 
grant from Mayhew. He soon attained to prominence in 
local affairs, and on June 8, 1653, was chosen assistant to the 
chief magistrate to manage the business of the island, a posi- 
tion to which he was annually elected for the three following 
years. It then becomes apparent that he did not get along 
smoothly with Mayhew, and by 1660 he was entirely at ''outs" 
with him. This probably arose, as elsewhere explained, from 
his purchase of the Indians at Ogkeshkuppe of a farm of 
five hundred acres without Mayhew's consent, though Doggett 
had been granted the choice of a farm of that size by Mayhew, 
in 1642, to be located not less than three miles from the gov- 
ernor's lot. How Daggett was fined ;^5ooo and had to sue 
for his rights, will be related, and his success in retaining 
the "farm" was one of great humiliation to Mayhew, though 
the latter was clearly in the wrong. Daggett was one of the 
townsmen who "submitted" to the Mayhew government in 
1 66 1, and in the next two years he is recorded as plaintiff in 
several civil suits against his neighbors for debts or damages. 
The last notes of him are in the fall of 1663, as one of the 
subscribers to the "general fence," and early in 1665 acting 
as agent for the town in purchasing some fishing rights of 
the Sachem Tewanticut. Sometime after this he removed to 
Plymouth, Mass., and it is inferred that the wife of his youth 
and mother of his children had died here prior to that change. 
He married, in his old age in Plymouth, Mrs. Bathsheba Pratt, 
Aug. 29, 1667, probably the widow of Joshua Pratt of that 
town, and the record of the marriage calls him "of Martins 
Vineyard." It is probable however, that he had by that 
time removed to that Pilgrim town which ever after became 
his home. 


Annals of Edgartown 

Of his first wife we know nothing definite, but the author 
is of the opinion that the Hepzibah Daggett who signed as 
witness March 3, 1660, to the sale of the "Farm" from Wamp- 
amag to John Daggett was then his wife/ That it could not, 
in all probability, be the daughter Hepzibah, is based on her 
age at that date, seventeen years, and on the further reason 
that Hepzibah Daggett w^as then the wife of John Eddy, and 
would not sign as Hepzibah Daggett. The daughter was 
undoubtedly named for her mother, and grandchildren bore 
this name for John's first wife rather than in honor of the 

Besides the five hundred acre "Farm" the real estate 
holdings of Daggett were as follows : — 

This is a true Record of the pertickeler parcells of Land Now in Pos- 
session of John Doggett Inhabitant upon Marthas Vineyard: first four 
acres Lying at the South End of the Lott that he Sould to John Edy and 
of the Same Lott, Thomas Jones on the South East, the Comon on the 
South and on the West: Secondly one Comonage Belonging to it: third 
one Lott of Meadow at Sanchacantackett two acres More or Less Bound- 
ed By John Smith on the South East and Thomas Doggett meadow on 
the North: fourthly Two acres of meadow upon Chapequideck on the 
further side of the Island from the Town: fifthly one Lot at Cracketuxett 
Runing from one side of the Neck to the other side of it: Sixly one Lott 
at Quanomica: Seventhly one Lott at Meachemies his feild: and one 
Ten acre Lott upon the Line Bounded by John Gee his Lott upon the 
North East: Eighthly one Lott in Felix Neck: and Ninthly one thach 
Lott at Wintuckett: Tenthly one shear of alwives and a shear of whale: 
and Eleventhly one Seven and thirty part of the Meadow that the Town 
Bought of Tom Sesetom the Injain: all that Land Comonage and Pre- 
veledges were granted By the Town to the fore said John Doggett and 
his heirs and assigns for Ever to Injoy and are now in the possession of 
the foresaid John Doggett and Recorded by me 

Thomas Doggett Clerk 
Date May the 26th In the Year 1668.^ 

His home lot at Great Harbor was the first one south of 
Governor Mayhew's, and was situated on the west side of 
the road to the plains as it passes Tower Hill. It was ap- 
parently the west half of a lot owned by him and Malachi 
Browning. It is probable that this was the site of his resi- 

'A guess may be hazarded that her maiden name was Brotherton. This appears 
as a baptismal name in the Thomas Daggett branch as early as 1686, and is used in 
the Joseph Daggett branch after the intermarriage with Thomas Martin in 1715. 
Brotherton Martin continued as a family name in Nova Scotia, whither this branch 
emigrated, until recent years. Hester Brotherton was a passenger for Virginia in the 
Transport in 1635. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 7. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

dence. He died in Plymouth in 1673, between May 17, the 
date of his will, and June 4, when it was probated. 


There are but two fragmentary traces of the person who 
owned one of the "Five and Twenty" lots here very early, 
being number eight from Pease's Point. He is referred to 
as '*Mr Edwards" in 1660, whose share as proprietor had 
become a part of the estate of Thomas Paine, and this lot was 
mentioned in 1679 as ''formerly Edwards his lot."^ The first 
name of John is assigned to him as a supposition only, because 
our Robert Codman had business dealings in 1646 w^ith a 
John Edwards "of Connecticot, " and in absence of anything 
more definite this may stand. This is believed to be John 
Edwards of Wethersfield, where our Richard Smith went, and 
who may be the John Edwards, earlier of Charlestown or 
Watertown, 1640, a blacksmith.^ 


One of the most distinguished Americans this country 
has ever produced, Benjamin Franklin, a great grandson of 
our early settler, made some investigations into the origin of 
his maternal ancestors, the Foulgers or Folgers, and concluded 
that they were of Flemish origin, and came to England in the 
time of Queen Elizabeth. John Folger, the first of the name 
in this country, is said to have come from Norwich, Co. Nor- 
folk, England, in 1635, ^^ a passenger in the Abigail, sailing 
from London, and he may have gone to Dedham, where in 
1638 he was proposed at a proprietor. From the age of his 
son it would appear that he was born about 1590-5, and was 
about forty years of age at emigration. It is supposed that 
he brought with him his wife Merible, whose maiden name 
was said to be Gibbs, and a son Peter, but much of the early 
history of this family rests on tradition. He next appears as 
a proprietor of a homestall of six acres in Watertown, Mass., 
1642 or 1644, both dates being given by the historian of that 

He came to the Vineyard sometime before Sept. i, 1652, 
when he was chosen hog reeve. ^ He drew a lot in the Planting 

'Edgartown Records, I, 24, 147. 
^Lechford, Note Book, 176, 223, 225. 
^Bond, "History of Watertown," pp. 225, 1009. 
^Edgartown Records, I, 119. 


Annals of Edgartown 

Field division May 8, 1653, and again April 21, 1660, at 
Crackatuxett, but on Oct. 22, 1660, the share belonging to 
John Folger ''or heirs" is mentioned, and it is believed this 
date proximately represents the time of this settler's decease. 

On Jan. 29, 1663, the "Widow" Folger drew a lot at Quan- 
omica on his share. He has left very little trace behind him 
to show for the twenty-five years' residence in New England, 
and only a nuncupative will recorded March 30, 1665, remains 
to give us a brief reference to his estate. This will is as 
follows : — 

[Edgartown Records, I, 112.] 

The Testemony of John Pease Sayth that Goodman Foulger said 
to him that his will then was that his wife should have that Estate he Left 
During her Life to use for her Comfortable Living : though she spent 
itt all for her Livelyhood : this was a Little Be Fore he Sickened and Died. 
This was as nigh as I can deam about a Month or six weeks afore he Sick- 
ened and Died. 

The Testemony of Mary Pease the wife of John Pease, Saith she 
heard Goodman Folger the Elder Say upon his Last Sickness that what 
Estate he Left his wife should have after him Duering her Life: 

The Testemony of Goodwife Arey Before the Town was: she saith 
that she went to John Folgers when he was sick before he died and saith 
she heard him say ■ — wife to have all he had as long as she lived. Eleazer 
to have house and land after his wifes death. Mary to have the Cow 
presently and another after his wifes death. Nothing to Peter, "because 
he had spent or Put away so much Before." 

His home lot was one of the "Five and Twenty" con- 
taining five acres, or a half share, and was situated about half 
way between the swimming place and the burial ground on 
Tower Hill. It was held by the widow and descended to 
Peter, who sold it to Thomas Mayehw, senior. It finally 
became part of the Thomas Daggett homestead. Mrs. Mer- 
ible Folger (her son Peter called her Myrable) was probably 
deceased before 1664, when the house and lot was sold. The 
children of John and Merible, as far as known, are: I, Peter, 
b. about 161 7. ?II, Ruth (signed as witness to deed of 
Meribell Folger, 1663), and ?III, Joanna (signed as witness 
as above). 


This distinguished settler was 
/V^dyf^ ^(yuZa^^ "^^ °^^y known son of John and 
7 (P u Merible Folger, and having been born 

about 161 7, was brought by his 
parents to New England from Norwich, the supposed English 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

home of this family when they emigrated. In absence of any 
definite facts bearing on the early life of Peter we may infer 
that he resided with his father at Dedham and Watertown, 
and came with him to the Vineyard, although our first record 
of Peter at Edgartown antedates that of his father by five 
years. This is in 1647, when he signed as a witness to a 
document drawn up here October 14 of that year.^ In the 
years that follow the evidence from the records clearly estab- 
lishes the superior ability of the son as compared with his 
father, for the former soon became a prominent person in the 
community. He had a grant of two acres of land "near the 
school house," where he undoubtedly taught in 1652, and in 

1653 he drew a lot in the division of the Planting Field. ^ He 
was elected one of the assistants to the chief magistrate in 

1654 and again in 1655, and about this time began the work 
of aiding the younger Mayhew in his missionary labor among 
the Indians of the island.^ He had acquired a knowledge of 
the Indian tongue in conjunction with Mayhew, and was 
thereupon employed by the missionary with the approval of 
the Commissioners of the United Colonies to teach the Indian 
youths the English language.* It is believed also that he 
taught the village school in connection with this work. For 
this service he was paid at first £30 per annum, and later 
£25 and £20, as the funds of the Society for Propagating the 
Gospel would warrant.^ He was called the "English scoole- 
master that teacheth the Indians and Instructs them on Lord's 
day." The Rev. Thomas Prince, author of New England 
Chronology (1736), thus speaks of him: "an able godly 
Englishman, named Peter Foulger, employed in teaching the 
youth in Reading, Writing, and the Principles of Religion by 
Catechizing, being well learned likewise in the Scripture, and 
capable of helping them in religious matters."^ In this 
capacity he was in the service of the missionary corporation 
from 1656 to 1 66 1 inclusive, and was the principal assistant 
of the elder Mayhew after the departure of the younger Thomas 
in 1657 on his fatal voyage to England."^ 

'Suffolk Deeds, I, 86. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 126, 172. He was chosen "hog reeve" in 1652 with his 
father and two others. 

^Ibid., I, 119, 132. 

^Records, Commissioners United Colonies, II, 167. 

*Ibid., II, 189, 205, 218. 

^Indian Converts, 291. 

'The senior Mayhew wrote in 1659: "If I should be taken by death, here is 
hellpe that the schoolemaster (Peter Folger) who hath some languadge," etc. (Let- 
ter to John Winthrop, Jr., in 4 Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., VII, 36.) 


Annals of Edgartown 

Peter Folger was becoming ''irregular" in his orthodoxy 
about this time, and embracing the views of a sect then called 
Anabaptists by their opponents, and now known with the 
prefix omitted as Baptists.^ It is probable that this was 
formally brought before the town for action or perhaps upon 
his own request to withdraw from the church. The following 
record under date of Oct. 4, 1659, seems to indicate a sort of 
dismissal from fellowship of the religious society established 
by Rev. Thomas Mayhew : — 

The request of Peter Folger granted touching the laying down of 
his creed as by the major part of the freemen and voted the same October 


But he continued his services to the Indians, and laid the 
foundations of that doctrine among them which they after- 
wards adopted in considerable numbers before the close of 
that century. He was a visitor at Nantucket early after its 
purchase in 1660, and again in 1662, where he was a witness 
to land transfers. In this latter year he left the Vineyard, 
and removed to Rhode Island, settling first at Newport and 
later at Portsmouth in that colony.^ Under date of Nov. 3, 
1662, he leased a house and some land in Portsmouth, and a 
month later the following vote was passed in that town : — 

That day [December 3] Peter Folger late of IMartins Vinyard pre- 
sented to the free inhabitants of this toune of portsmouth a lease of house 
and land from William Corry, the Assembly doth graunt that the said 
peter folger shall hauld beinge amongst us during the terme of the saide 

How long he remained in Portsmouth is not known, but 
it is certain that he began early negotiations for a settlement 
at Nantucket, for on July 4, 1663, he was granted half a share 
of land on that island, "on condition that he come to inhabit 
on Island aforesayd with his family within one year after the 
sale hereof. Likewise the sayd peter shall atend the English 
in the way of an Interpreter between the Indians and them."* 
These moves take Peter Folger out of the sphere of this history, 

'Backus, "Church History of New England," III, 167. He joined Rev. Mr. 
Clarke's Society in Newport in 1675, and is considered the first of the Baptist faith 
on the Vineyard by that author. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 147. 

'Rhode Island was then a stronghold of the Baptists, under the influence of Roger 
Williams' teaching, and probably Folger went thither for that reason. 

^Portsmouth (R. I.) Records, 115, 322, 325. 

'Nantucket Records, Vol. I. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

and the story of his later life belongs to our neighboring island, 
but it will be proper to complete briefly his personal and 
family record. 

He married about 1644 Mary Morrill, who was said to 
have been attached to the household of Rev. Hugh Peter of 
Salem, and it is a tradition that the young people met as 
passengers crossing the Atlantic. Ten children were born to 
them, all upon the Vineyard, it is stated, except the youngest, 
Abiah, who became the mother of Benjamin Franklin.^ Peter 
Folger died in 1690, and his widow survived until 1704. 

In addition to the grants of land and shares drawn as 
stated above he received on Dec. 28, 1659, "ten acres of land 
next to Nicolas Nortons lot toward the west as the line runs," 
and these several lots were sold to Richard Arey before Folger 
left the Vineyard and became part of the Arey estate.^ His 
home lot was on Tower Hill, north of the cemetery, about the 
site occupied by the house of the late Sol Smith Russell. 


There was a John Gee who came to this country in the 
Transport in 1635, at the age of eighteen years, but whether 
this man was the John Gee who appeared at the Vineyard 
twenty-five years later cannot be stated.^ 

The first appearance of John Gee at Great Harbor, as 
far as the records show, was on Dec. 23, 1661, when he sub- 
mitted to the Patentee's government, but it is probable that 
he had been here some time before. The Boston records con- 
tain the birth of a son to him and his wife in May, 1662, so 
that we may conclude his residence here had lately begun and 
that the family remained at the former residence. Two years 
later he was granted land as follows on Aug. 20, 1663: — 

Voted by this town that John Gee shall have that lot and commonage 
which was given to Thomas Trapp: itt forfeited: which lot is ten acres 
upon the Hne and half a commonage and he to build and inhabit accord- 
ing to the order in fifty two.* 

He participated in the divisions of Felix Neck and Ma- 
chemys Field the next year, and on March 12, 1665, was chosen 

"Hinchman, "Early Settlers of Nantucket," 49. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 134; Dukes Deeds, IV, 16, VI, 416. 

^There was a Peter Gee, fisherman, who was living at the Isles of Shoals in 1653, 
and was of Boston in 1667, who may have been a brother of our settler. (N. H. 
State Papers, XVIII, 151. Comp. Savage Gen. Diet. art. Gee.) 

*Edgartown Records, I, 140. 


Annals of Edgartown 

^'to divide the fish" caught at the town weir/ This seemed 
to be his occupation for some time, as on May ii, 1667, the 
town voted that "John Gee is to have three thousand of fish 
for orderly dividing of the towns fish every morning."^ He 
was one of the five men chosen by Chief Magistrate Thomas 
May hew, in 1667, to dispossess Francis Usselton from Homes 
Hole Neck, and received as compensation one-sixth part of 
the land there which remained a part of his estate, undivided, 
for sixty years. Gee was "lost at sea," and is marked as de- 
ceased in the town records, Dec. 27, 1669.' He left a widow 
bearing the extraordinary name of Hazelelponah, which is a 
scriptural name according to Webster. She was living at the 
Vineyard in June, 1670, but had removed to Boston, the next 
year, when she was received for baptism at the First Church 
in that town." There she remained for a number of years, 
until Obadiah Woods, a widower and a baker of Ipswich, met 
her, proposed, and they mere married. William Harris of 
Ipswich testified' that he "well remembers Obadiah Woods 
intermarrage with the widdow Hazelelepony Gee .... that 
sd Wood brought her from Boston, that it was the Taulk of 
the Times when she came to Dwell at Ipswich."^ It does not 
appear what caused this "Taulk of the Times," but it may be 
surmised that her name was enough to excite village gossip. 
The late Hon. James Savage, whose monumental work on 
the dictionary of the early settlers of New England gave him 
unusual opportunities of meeting with strange names, confessed 
that it was unique in his experience. As might be expected, 
the various records spell it in a number of ways, and in later 
generations it was clipped to Purney! She survived her 
second husband, and died at Ipswich, where a stone records 
the last resting place of "Haselelpony Wood widow of Obadiah 
Wood, died Novem'r the 27, 1714 Aged 78 years,." Hence 
she was born about 1636, and was first a widow when thirty- 
three years old. John Gee had the following children by her: 
I, Mary b. about 1660; m. Thomas Pickering of Newington, 
N. H., about 1679 and d. before 1730. One daughter was 
named Hazelponi. II, John, b. May 27, 1662 (Boston). 
Ill, Anna, b. 1664; m. Samuel Hodgkins of Gloucester, 

'Edgartown Records, I, 113. 

^Ibid., I, 140. 

^Ibid., I, 41. 

*Sup. Jud. Court Files, No. 971; comp., Records ist Church, Boston. 

*Dukes Deeds, VI, 238. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Mass.; she d. July 28, 1724. IV, Martha, m. Thomas Cotes 
"in his Ufe time was an Inhabitant of the Island of Marthas 
Vineyard"; d. before 1730. He left no known descendants 
on the Vineyard. 


In the passenger list of the ship Assurance, sailing for 
Virginia in July, 1635, may be found the name of Thomas 
Harlock, aged 40 years, and whether this be the person of the 
same name who subsequently appeared at Martha's Vineyard 
twenty-five years later cannot be stated with certainty, but 
the name is sufficiently rare to regard it as entirely probable.^ 
Where he resided after his arrival in Virginia, for the next 
twenty years, is undetermined. Thomas Harlock is first known 
at the Vineyard certainly in 1658, as a witness to the sale of 
the Chickemmo region to Thomas Mayhew, and if the identity 
is to be accepted, he was then about sixty-three years of age, a 
few years the junior of the governor, whose daughter he mar- 
ried.^ This was Bethia Mayhew, b. Dec. 6, 1636, and therefore 
forty years younger than her husband. This is not altogether 
an improbability, and as he died many years before his wife 
the circumstances all seem to favor the theory of this union 
of May and December. While 1658 is the first positive record 
of his appearance here, yet it is fairly inferential that he had 
been a resident of Great Harbor for a number of years previous. 
He acquired the house lot "formerly (John) Wakefields," 
who had left about 1652, and it may be supposed that he 
purchased it when the latter removed to Boston. 

When he married the governor's daughter can only be 
conjectured. She was twenty years old in 1657, and as their 
son Thomas, Jr., was born about 1658 we may assume that 
this was the probable date of the nuptials. Harlock's home 
was on one of the harbor lots, number seven from Pease's 
Point, in the "five and twenty," proximately located between 
Cottage and Morse streets as shown on the map. Here were 
born to him "Thomas and John Harlock and their sister," 

'The name occurs in English records generally as Horlock, and it ma,v be iden- 
tical with Halleck and Hallock. A Thomas Harlock was of Trowbridge Co., Wilts, 
temp. 9 Elizabeth and a Richard Harlocke of the same county died about 1644. Widow 
Joan of Trowbridge, Parish of Studley, made her will in 1645, '^vhich was proved 
same year by Samuel Ghy. This county is apparently the home of the family. 

^Deeds, I, 355. Dated Aug. 10, 1658. 

Annals of Edgartown 

as named in the will of their grandfather Mayhew, and re- 
ferred to in the same document as "the three Harlocks."^ 

Thomas Harlock participated in the divisions of the com- 
mon lands in 1660, 1663, and 1664, and received a grant in 
1663 of one-half commonage.^ His name appears on the town 
records continuously from 1660 to 1664 in various connections, 
the last time occurring on Apr-'I 26, 1664, when he drew lots 
in the Felix Neck and Meachemys Field. After that date the 
name of Harlock does not reappear for twelve years (Feb. 14, 
1676), when it undoubtedly refers to his son Thomas, Jr., 
who succeeded to the properties of the father. We may 
therefore place the death of Thomas, Sr., at some time not 
long after April 26, 1664, at which time he would have been 
about seventy years old. 

His widow Bethia, left with two boys and possibly a 
girl, the oldest of whom was six or seven, probably remained 
on the Vineyard. Sometime before September, 1676, w^hen 
Thomas was eighteen or nineteen years old, she married a 
second husband, himself a widower a dozen years her senior, 
Lieut. Richard Way of Dorchester.^ He was a man of sub- 
stance, had been an officer at the castle, and in 1674 was 
farmer general of the imposts. At her second marriage 
Bethia (Mayhew) Harlock was forty years old, and on July 13, 
1677, a daughter named Hannah was born, who may be the 
"sister" referred to by Governor iSIayhew, of whom we hear 
nothing further.'* Bethia W^ay died four years before her 
father's decease (which occurred in 1682), and her Harlock 
children are given many special bequests in the Governor's 
will. It is further know^n that Richard Way took unto him- 
self a third w'ife, Hannah (Townsend) Hall, who survived 

Of the children, the "three Harlocks," the oldest Thomas, 
Jr., will be the subject of a separate sketch, because of his 

'Probate, III, io8. It is probable that Thomas and John and the unknown 
sister were the only issue of the Harlock-Mayhew marriage. 

'Edgartown Records, io8, 109, 127, 156. There has been doubt expressed as 
to whether Thomas Harlock, Sr., ever lived in Edgartown, but this seems to be clear 
from the fact that his house is mentioned in 1663 (Ibid., 99), and he was a juryman 
in same year. (Ibid., 145.) 

^In 1671 the first wife of Way, named Esther, was living, and it would appear 
that Mayhew had had business dealings with him, which explains the subsequent 
family connection. (Middlesex Co. Court Files, XXI, 5.) 

*In his will Richard Way states that he had "no reason to believe any of my 
own children are surviving." (Suffolk Prob. Rec.) Will dated Jan. 2, 1697; prob. 
Oct. 28, 1697. 

^Savage Gen. Diet., IV, 440. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

prominence in town affairs during his lifetime. The sister, 
who is nameless, is only known through her grandfather's 
will, probably died in youth, as her interests do not subsequently 
appear in any property dealings. John Harlock seems to 
have been a favorite grandchild, if we may judge from the 
bequests in the old governor's will. Besides sharing con- 
tingently with his brother and sister in certain joint gifts of 
land at Chickemmoo, Kataymuch (Elizabeth Isles), and in 
Chilmark, he is given personally a lot on Chappaquiddick, 
five acres at Nashamoiess, "and all the small allotments 
everywhere," and as if this were not enough he was to have 
half of "all lots not mentioned" in his will. What became of 
him finally is not known, and but one record exists showing 
that he was here in person to make disposition of his inheri- 
tances. On May 9, 1690, he sold one half-share in common 
lands to John Welch, a mariner of Boston, the acknowledg- 
ment being made before Matthew Mayhew, and thenceforth 
disappears from view.^ Shortly after the above date a John 
Harlock of Ratcliff in Stepney, Co. Middlesex, England, 
gentleman, was made the attorney for William Read of New 
England, mariner, on Oct. 2, 1691, and it is left to the reader 
to judge whether the Stepney John Harlock was the grandson 
of the old governor.^ On May 24, 1707-8 Thomas (2d) Har- 
lock sold property as "heir to his brother John," and this 
undoubtedly shows the previous decease of John.* 

The real estate holdings of Thomas Harlock, Senior, 
besides the harbor or home lot, consisted of a ten-acre lot on 
the "line" and what was probably his "Dividend Lot" on 
the plain situated just south of Jones Hill. 


In the little settlement of "Bromigum," in Rowley Village, 
Mass., there lived from 1668 to 1672, one Peter Jenkins; and 
in 1660 one Sarah Jenkins, aged 43 years, also resided there 
at the last named date." The woman is believed to be the 

'Deeds, II, 46. Welch later sold this to Nathaniel Starbuck, but the date is not 
known (Ibid., II, 48). John Harlock's name appears as owner of one common share 
in the town in 1695, but this does not indicate that he resided here. Thomas also 
is credited with one share. (Town Records, 84.) It is probable that all of John's 
property went to Thomas by some blanket deed not recorded. 

2p. C. C. Fane, 173. 

'Dukes Deeds, VI, 115. 

*Essex Court Rec, V, 143. Bromigum is early vernacular for Bromidgeham or 


Annals of Edgartown 

mother of Peter Jenkins, and that he is the person of the same 
name who first appears in Edgartown before 1675, when his 
landed possessions were recorded. In 1668, in Rowley, Peter 
Jenkins was indicted "for profaening the Lords day by Labour- 
ing about Bricke," which would indicate his occupation in 
the manufacture of that article;^ and it is significant that he 
had a clay pit in this town on the property he purchased as 
a homestead.^ He was born about 1644, and while a resident 
of Rowley led a strenuous life which frequently resulted in 
court proceedings;^ and our Peter Jenkins, early in his career 
on the Vineyard, began and continued the same unconventional 
habits, which resulted in like judicial cognizance. On one 
occasion (1680), while on trial for disorderly conduct, he 
began to abuse the court (Matthew Mayhew was sitting as 
Assistant Justice), and on being admonished for "carrying 
himself in a scornful way," Jenkins "pulled of his coat saying 
com let me have it, let me be whipt, often itterating the same: 
the said Assistant bidding the Marshall carry him to Jaill, he 
answered, I will break it down then."* 

The first occurrence of his nam.e on our records is under 
date of Dec. 31, 1675, when there is an entry of his lands, 
which were situated "on the south side of Meshacket Path," 
and comprised ten acres as a homestead.^ In addition to 
his public appearances indicated above, he served once as 
a juror (1680), but does not seem to have taken any active 
part in local affairs. His wife was named Sarah, but nothing 
is further known of her family, though it is a fair guess that 
she was the daughter of Thomas Jones, whose property he 
received in consideration of care and support. He was married 
to her before September, 1679, and had at least four known 
children, and a probability of more whose relationship is sur- 
mised, viz: Sarah, b. [1675]; Matthew, b. [1681]; Thomas, 
b. [1683]; Joseph, b. [1685]; the dates being estimated. There 
is no record of the death of himself or wife, nor any settle- 
ment of his estate. He was deceased before Aug. 18, 1707, 
when his house and lot was divided between his son Thomas 

'Essex Court Rec, XIII, 78. His name does not appear in the land records. 

"Edgartown Records, I, 17. 

^Essex Court Rec, XVIII, 85, 91. 

*Dukes Court Rec, Vol. I. June 30, 1680. The identity of Peter Jenkins of 
Rowley and Edgartown seems to be quite well established from these court proceedings. 
After 1672 there is no further record of him in Essex County. 

*Edgartown Records, I, 17. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

and Thomas Harlock/ It is possible that he may have died 
off the island, as two of his sons, Matthew and Thomas, resided 
in Nantucket and Boston. The name was perpetuated on 
the Vineyard in the line of his son Joseph until after the Revo- 
lution, when the grandsons removed to New York state. None 
of the name have been residents here since that time. 

/'^TA^frm fi ^/^QOLpfS^ 


It has been impossible 
to identify this person 
^ among the numerous im- 

K^ migrants of his name, who 

came to New England in the great movement following the 
settlement of Boston. As a number -of our pioneers were iden- 
tified with New London, the Thomas Jones who had a lot 
granted there in 1651 and forfeited," may be the one who is 
first mentioned in our records the next year as grantor of a 
lot "that was given him .... ccontaining to the estimation 

of four acres in this our town called Great Harbour."^ 

This indicates a prior residence of some period, long enough 
to acquire a title to a grant. The records show frequent 
appearances in court as plaintiff or defendant in suits at law, 
and these references indicate that he was a weaver.* He signed 
the submission in 1661, was chosen clerk of the Train Band 
same year, and served as juror in 1663. He joined the "Dutch 
Rebellion" of 1673, and signed the appeal to Massachusetts, 
but does not appear to have been punished therefor. In May, 
1676, he transferred all his real and personal property to 
Peter Jenkins in consideration of care and maintenance during 
the remainder of his natural life.^ How long he survived is 
not known, but he died before April 28, 1687, when the widow 
Jones is mentioned as a town pauper.*^ She was living the 

^Dukes Deeds, II, 173. The wife of Thomas Harlock may have been a daughter 
of Jenkins. Her name was Hannah. 

^Caulklns, Mss. Collections, comp., History of New London, 265. 

^Deed Thomas Jones to William Scudder, June 4, 1652. (Edgartown Records, 
I, 122.) 

^Thomas Jones, a tailor of Caversham, Oxfordshire, with wife Ann, came to 
New England in 1638 and lived in Hingham and Hull, where it is stated that he died 
about 1 681. Our Thomas had a wife Ann. 

'Dukes Deeds, II, 143. The reason for this, aside from the usual inference of 
age and feebleness, is not apparent. Jenkins may have been his son-in-law or a rela- 

'The town entered into an agreement with George Martain, April 28, 1687, to 
keep the widow Jones. (Edgartown Records, I, 38, 40.) 


Annals of Edgartown 

next year in the same situation. It is not known that this 
couple had any children, and the records do not indicate any 

Thomas Jones lived on the hill which bears his name, 
south of Cleveland Town, sometimes called Mill Hill. He 
owned a half share in the proprietors' divisions, which fell 
to Jenkins, and was later sold to Gershom Dunham.^ 


The first of this well-known family to acquire proprietary 
interest here was John Marchant, who had a grant of ten 
acres "on the right hand of Sanchacantucket cart path, near 
the cart path that goes to Mortall's Neck."^ He had been 
before that time a resident of Yarmouth, Cape Cod, where 
his father, also named John, had settled between 1645 and 

Marchant, as a family name, is probably of French origin, 
derived from "marchand," a trader or merchant, from which 
our English word is obtained. The name is not of very frequent 
occurrence in England. Thomas Marchaunt of Colchester, 
Essex, 1392 to 1436,^ temp. Richard II and Henry VI, is the 
earliest recorded instance known to the author, and a pedigree 
of one family living in Sussex has been published.* The author 
found also in Wiltshire, the wills of various persons of the 
name from 1592 to 1674, recorded in the Prerogative Court of 
Canterbury,^ while scattering references occur in other counties 
about the period of the early emigration to New England.^ 

The first of the name on this side of the water are two 
planters at Barbadoes, in 1635, William and Silas Marchant, 
and as the name Silas occurs quite early (1722), in our island 
family, the origin of the Vineyard Marchants might be looked 


'Edgartown Records, I, 139. 

'Ibid., I, 31. 

^Records, Borough of Colchester, 29, 39, 43. 

^Sussex Archaeological Collections, XXV, 199. 

^These were all original wills on file in the Bishop's Consistory Court, Sarum, 
at Somerset House. The testators were John, of Marlborough, March 28, 1592; John, 
of Tilsed, March 16, 1604; John, of East Knoyle, June 17, 1625; Thomas of West- 
bury Leigh, July 9, 1647; and Tristram, of Warminster, Sept. 18, 1674. A corre- 
spondent recently informed the author that there were many Marchant wills recorded 
at Wells, CO. Somerset. 

*There was a John Marchant of Georgeham, Devon, in 1620 (P. C. C. Soame, 
45), and Walter Marchant, haberdasher, of Bristol, Gloucestershire, in 1640. (Lech- 
ford, Note Book, 209.) 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

for at that source/ The first one found in New England 
is John Marchant, who was admitted an inhabitant of New- 
port, R. I., June 2, 1638, but did not remain long there as 
he is found next year at Mount Wollaston, Braintree, where 
on February 24, 1638-9, he was granted eight acres for two 
heads, that is himself and another male.^ He had brought 
with him a wife Sarah and a son to the new settlement, and 
shortly after, on Dec. 3, 1638, his wife died. Contempora- 
neously a Wilham Marchant is found at Watertown in 1641,' 
and thither our John probably removed as early as 1642, and 
in 1645 he is mentioned as of that place. ^ Once more he 
removed, this time to Yarmouth, some time before 1648, as 
on June 7th that year he was chosen as constable for the 
town, an office that presupposes a residence of some duration. 
How long he resided there or when he died is unknown. He 
appears in court twice, once as plaintiff and once as defendant, 
and probably he was dead prior to 1670, when his son John, 
who by this time had married, was promoted from ensign 
to be lieutenant in the militia, and is called "Senior."'^ 

The second John continued to reside in Yarmouth with 
his family, and is frequently mentioned on the records usually 
by his military title.* He was "rated" in the town in 1676, 
for "the late war" (King Phillip's), and was in the list of towns- 
men in 1679.' It is not known whom he married, nor the 
christian name of his wife, but he had taken a wife before 
1648, when children are recorded to him in the Yarmouth 
town records beginning that date. In 1682, as above stated, 
he received his grant of land in this town, but whether he 
came here to reside is uncertain.*^ It is the author's belief 

^The Barbadoes and other West India islands were frequent stepping stones for 
immigrants to New England. (Hotten, Lists of Passengers, &c.) 

^Boston Town Records, I, 39. 

^Savage, III, 197. ^ 

*Pope, Pioneers of Mass.; N. E. Gen. Register, VIII, 56. William Marchant 
may be the Barbadoes planter. He removed to Ipswich, where he died, Sept. 4, 1668, 
and is the ancestor of the Marchant family of Gloucester and other towns in Essex 
County. It is significant that one of the Yarmouth family went to Gloucester for a 
wife in 1719. 

'Plymouth Col. Records, VII, 60; III, 36. In the natural order the elder John 
would not begin a military career in 1664 and be promoted in 1670, hence the belief 
that the first John died before the last named date. 

*He had been made freeman June 3, 1652, and ensign in 1664. 

'Yarmouth Town Records. 

'There is a singular absence of records connected with this family which makes 
so much conjecture necessary. Taken in connection with the loss of the Barnstable 
County Land records, by fire, Oct. 22, 1827, Ayhen 93 volumes of deeds and three vol- 
umes of wills were destroyed, the task of piecing out the pedigree is diffjcult. 

♦Annals of Edgartown 

that he came here to live, as the grant would have been for- 
feited for non-residence, while it was retained as belonging 
to him and his estate for ten years.' His daughter was already 
living here, and three of his sons were here at this time." When 
he died is not known, but some time before 1693 is the probable 

The next of the name who is certainly known to have 
made a permanent settlement in this town is John*, who was, 
in all probability, the son of Abisha of Yarmouth, though 
proof is lacking.^ This John is the definite head of the Mar- 
chant family of Edgartown, and he acquired his first property 
here by purchase, April 8, 1707, when he bought a harbor 
lot, just south of Burial Hill, of Joseph Ripley." He was 
then a young man of twenty-seven years, and had just married 
his first wife. In 1711, he lx)ught the so-called "ministerial 
lot," and both of these were retained by him for over half a 
century, and descended to his sons Silas and Abisha. His 
life was uneventful, if we may judge from the entire absence 
of his name from the records, law, probate and court. Beyond 
serving as juror in 1722, 1730 to 1734, he attended strictly 
to his private aft'airs, and died February, 1767, at the ripe 
old age of 87 years. 


Next in importance to the 

/^O Li C^ /li/) ^ ^^^ governor himself, in the 

[o/K » \TrJ^ id^^Vi ^^U.^^ political life of the Vineyard, 

^ was his grandson, Matthew. 

He was the oldest son of 
Rev. Thomas and Jane (Paine) Mayhew, and was born in 
1648, undoubtedly in Edgartown. Of his youth, up to the 
time of the death of his father in 1657, we have no knowledge, 
but after that unfortunate event, the widow wished to conse- 
crate Matthew or one of his brothers to the work in which 
their father had acquired such an enviable reputation. Acting 
on the advice, presumably, of the elder Mayhew, it was de- 

'It was sold by his son Abisha Dec. 6, 1693. (Dukes Deeds I, 393). 

^Joseph in 1682, Christopher in 1685, and Abisha in 1693. Joseph bought five 
acres of William Vincent, near the cemetery, in 1698, and sold it back in 1707. (Deeds 
I, 140, 146.) 

^This is the natural inference. The only other tenable hypothesis is that he was 
a son of the second John by an assumed second marriage. 

^Dukes Deeds, III, 438. 


History of Martha*s Vineyard 

termined to educate Matthew so that he might follow in the 
footsteps of his father. It is probable that his brother John 
was also to be dedicated to the same work, for in August, 
1658, the governor wrote to the Commissioners of the United 
Colonies asking assistance for "my daughter and her 6 chil- 
dren," and further requesting them to "find a way to keepe 
two of the sonnes at schoole." The Commissioners acceeded 
to this request for the relief of the widow and for "Keeping 
her eldest son att scoole to fitt him for the worke." He must 
have begun these studies early in 1658, as the Commissioners' 
accounts for 1659 contain the following item: — 

To Mr. Corlett Schoolmaster att Cambridge for his extreordinary 

paines in Teaching Mr. Mahews son about two yeares. 

The young student continued his studies at Cambridge 
for four or five years, as shown by the following items, which 
are taken from the accounts of the Commissioners of the 
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Indians 
of New England : — 


(II, 261.) September, 1661. To Mr Corlett for teaching 4 Indians and 

Mathew Mahew 12 00 co 

To the clothing of Mathew Mahew for 
the yeare past. 05 00 00 

(II, 277.) September, 1662. To the Diett and Clothing of Matthew 

Mahew for one year past 13 00 00 
To the Scoolmaster att Cambridge for 
2 Indian youthes and Mahew 08 00 00 

(II, 296.) September, 1663. For clothing and diet of Mathew Mahew 

A further reference shows the expectations of the Com- 
missioners respecting the future usefulness of young Mayhew 
to them in their work : — 

And whereas Matthew Mayhew is devoted by his parents to the worke 
and a considerable charge hath for his fathers sake bin expended on him; 
the Commissioners expect that together with his other learning hee apply 
himselfe to leame the Indian Language having now an oppertunitie to 
attaine the same, otherwise the Commissioners wilbee necessitated to 
consider some more hopeful way for expending the stocke betrusted in 
their hands. 

How long he continued as a student at Cambridge is not 
known, but probably not beyond the dates above quoted, 
showing expenditures on his account. Upon his return to 
the Vineyard, he devoted himself to the task of learning the 


Annals of Edgartown 

Indian dialect, which he mastered successfully. In 1672, 
the Commissioners write as follows concerning him : — 

One whereof is the son of that Reverend and Good man Mr. Mahevv 
deceased whoe being borne on the Hand of Marthas Vineyard and now 
grown to mans estate and there settled, is an hopeful! young man, and 
hath theire Language p'fectly. 

But it is evident from our knowledge of his future career, 
that the ministry was not his sphere. His younger brother 
John inherited the saintly character of the missionary, and 
followed the work of his father on the island as a substitute 
for Matthew; and doubtless the substitution was agreeable 
to the inclinations and temperament of both. As Matthew 
grew to manhood he developed business qualifications which 
made him useful to the aged governor, and it was in line with 
family custom for the eldest to succeed to the estates and 
temporal management of them. That he did not, however, 
entirely forget his obligations to the Commissioners appears 
from a statement of the governor in 1675, in which he says: 
*'I praise God two of my grandsons doe preach to English 
and Indians Mathew sometimes and John the younger." 

His first appearance in political affairs, in which he was 
destined to exercise such an important role for the rest of his 
life, was in 1670, when he was sent to New York by his grand- 
father to wait upon Governor Lovelace in respect to sub- 
mitting to the jurisdiction of the Duke of York over the island. 
He was then about twenty-three years of age, and from that 
time he was exclusively identified with the executive manage- 
ment of the Vineyard and Nantucket. On July 5, 1671, 
when the government of the island was provided for, he was 
commissioned as collector of customs "in & about Martins 
Vineyard with places adjacent." This was the first of the 
offices held by him during the forty remaining years of his 
active life. 

He was the first secretary of the General Court of the 
Vineyard held in 1672, and one of the assistants to the Gover- 
nor. He also held at different times the office of Register 
of Deeds (1672), High Sheriff (1683), Judge of Probate (1697), 
Register of Probate (1685), besides continuous service in the 
office of Justice of the King's Bench. In 1682, upon the 
death of the aged governor, he was commissioned "in the 
stead of that worthy Person Mr. Thomas Mayhew his (grand) 
father Late Deceased to be cheife supplying the Defect by 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

another of the Name." While not specifically designating 
him as governor, his functions were identical, and he is termed 
in the Provincial Records as '^ Chief Magistrate " of the 

His administration of the public affairs of the island was 
not only as vigorous but equally as tactless as that of his pre- 
decessor. All the elements opposed to his grandfather con- 
tinued their opposition to him and the Mayhew family. 
In particular, Simon Athearn of Tisbury renewed his assaults 
upon him as the representative of the reigning family, and 
these attacks, ranging over many years, often partook of a 
personal character. In these contests Mayhew was generally 
successful, as he could control the local courts and other 
tribunals through his political affiliations and family influence. 
When the jurisdiction of New York ceased and Martha's 
Vineyard became a dependency of Massachusetts by the 
charter of William and Mary in 1691, Mayhew was not favor- 
able to the change; but bowing to the inevitable, he finally 
accepted with as good a grace as possible, the new order of 
things, and on Dec. 7, 1692, was newly commissioned as 
Justice of the Peace with two others of his family. He thus 
aligned himself with "those in authority," and maintained, 
ostensibly, amicable relations with his new superiors. That 
this acceptance was only a matter of policy has appeared in 
the narration of the political relations of the island with the 
Massachusetts authorities, immediately following the transfer. 

Matthew Mayhew was a versatile man and through his 
early training was probably the most cultivated person, in- 
tellectually speaking, on the island in his time. He utilized 
his leisure moments in writing the first book relating to the 
island, and published it in London in 1695. Thus he has the 
distinction of being the earliest author in the bibliography of 
Martha's Vineyard. This volume gives a most interesting 
and authentic account of the Indian tribes of the island, 
their manners, customs, and the progress of religion among 
them. It has been quoted at length in another portion of the 
work, and extended reference will not be made to it here. 
It was customary in those days for men in all walks of life 
with literary aspirations, to write upon a religious topic, and 
when Matthew Mayhew selected as his subject and title, 
''The Conquests and Triumphs of Grace," and had it attested 
by several clergymen, it does not necessarily follow that the 
author was a "religious man" in the accepted sense of the 


Annals of Edgartown 

word. Indeed, we have evidence quite to the contrary within 
a few years of his pious references to the "success which the 
gospel hath had among the Indians of Martha's Vineyard" 
and the "state of Christianity in other Parts of New England." 
The following amusing statements concerning his religious, 
or lack of religious beliefs, doubtless let us into his real opinions, 
rather than the stilted sentences of his published narrative. 
While the information came from his ancient opponent, Simon 
Athearn, yet he had corroborating witnesses to the conversa- 
tion. The old warrior of Tisbury, under oath, made the 
following statements: — 

That on the i6th of March, 1697-8, major mathew mayhew, & Mr, 
Joseph merion com to sd. athearns house, at marthas vineyard, then sd 
athearn asked what newse & said he heard there wase to be a publice fast 
this weeke — then major mayhew pulling som papers out of his pocket, 
said, he would read it — and reading, made a stop • — & said, what a redic- 
olas thing is this, that thay should order a fast, for a man that thay did 
not know whether he was in the land of the living, or no, — sd athearn 
saied, you have not heard the ship is Cast away, have you? the major said 
no — but he did not know what security a Governor have of his life, mor 
then another man * — sd athearn said no) but hopet they were well, & 
said he thought the Liuetenant Governor & ye Gentillmen of the Councill 
did much desier his Lordship the Governor were safe a rived, and thought 
thay did well to pray for him — then major mayhew said, what a redicolas 
thing is it, when halfe the men of the Country had wrather he were hanged 
than ever come here to my knowledg, — 

But the author of "Conquests and Triumphs of Grace" 
did not stop there. According to his brother-in-law, Benjamin 
Smith, "Major Mayhew have said viz: that ther was no such 
thing as fall of man for man is naturally Inclined to virtue: 
And that Religion is so Redicolas a thing that seaven thous- 
and of the wisest Gentelmen in London had declared them- 
selves to be athe(i)sts." 

In addition to the above, Thomas Butler, then constable 
of Edgartown, is reported to "have said that when he would 
have shewed our most Gratious Kings most Royal proclama- 
tion, against vice and imorallity: Major Mayhew then answered 
& saied that he had scene it all redy And take but the Kings 
name from it And its fit only to "* 

'This reference was to a Fast ordered by the h'eutcnant-governor for the safe 
voyage of the Earl of Bellomont, the newly appointed governor, who arrived in New 
York, April 2, 1698, from London. He acknowledged the efficacy of the prayers 
offered up for his safety in a letter to the Massachusetts magistrates. (Sewall, Diary, 
I, 477-) 

'The remainder of sentence is omitted on account of its vulgarity. These depo- 
sitions are on file in the Suffolk County Court Records, Case no. 4605. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Notwithstanding these imputations upon the character, 
loyalty, and religious sentiments of Mayhew, he had previously 
laid the foundations of a reputation for piety in his book, 
which doubtless stood him in good stead on the occasion 
when he had to explain these charges of "heresy and schism" 
before the magistrates of Boston, 

He was Lord of the Manor of Tisbury from 167 1 till 
his death. He resided in Edgartown, where he was born, 
and was the first citizen of the town and county for more than 
a generation. His home was on South Water street on the 
"entailed lot," but the house is not in existence. It was 
probably situated several rods north of the present "Old 
Mayhew House." He married Mary, daughter of James 
Skiff of Sandwich in 1674, and she died in 1690, aged forty 
years. He died May 19, 17 10, aged about sixty-two years, 
leaving four surviving children. 


This settler came to 
Edgartown about 1676, 
from the Isles of Shoals and 
Kittery, Maine, where he 
had resided for about ten 
years previously.^ He was 
born in 1640, and probably was the son of Captain Andrew 
Newcomb of Boston, a resident of that town at least as early 
as 1663 until his death in 1686.' Our Andrew brought with 
him to Edgartown six children by his first wife Sarah, who 
may have deceased prior to his coming, as he married shortly 
after, Anna, daughter of Captain Thomas Bayes. He bought 
a ten-acre lot of land, Feb. 13, 1676-7, of John Daggett, and a 
half share of commonage formerly granted to John Freeman.^ 
The death of his father-in-law, early in 1680, made him an 
heir to the Bayes lot on Main street, of which in right of his 
wife, he acquired the northern half and there made his home. 

'Newcomb Genealogy; Comp., York Deeds, II, 162, which shows that he was 
a fisherman of Kittery in 1669. 

^Boston Town Records. Captain Andrew Newcomb married in 1663, for a second 
wife, Mrs. Grace Ri.x, widow of William, by whom he had Grace, born Oct. 20, 1664. 
This daughter m. (i) James Butler, 1682, and (2) Andrew Rankin of York, Maine, 
Oct. 15, 1692, brother of Mary Rankin, the wife of Paine Mayhew of Chilmark. Cap- 
tain Newcomb made his will Jan. 31, 1682-3, which was probated Dec. 8, 1686. 

^Dukes Deeds, I, 37. 


Annals of Edgartown 

His other principal holding was Job's Neck. He became one 
of the prominent citizens of the town, both in civil and military 
affairs. He served as juror, 1677, 1680, 1681, 1700, 1703, 
1704; constable, 1681; tithingman, 1693; selectman, 1693, 
1694; lieutenant of the militia, 1691; and was in command 
of the province fortification that year by commission from 
the Duke's government.^ When the Massachusetts charter 
of 1692 took in the Vineyard, he was proposed for the new 
chief justice, but the Mayhew influences were against him 
and he w^as not appointed. He died between Aug. 20, 1706, 
and Oct. 22, 1708, leaving a widow and nine additional children. 
The sons removed to Connecticut and the Cape and the family 
was extinct here before the close of the 19th century. 


The ancestor of the numer- 

^^^pQ /Ptjn,/ ous family of this name on the 

/7i^/2^&o Yl^JJrOyL. Vineyard was born about 1610,^ 

probably in England, although 
the place of his nativity is not known. ^ It will probably be 
found upon investigation that he emigrated from Somerset- 
shire, and perhaps came from the vicinity of Batcombe or 
Broadway in that county, and there is some reason for in- 
ferring that he was one of the party of colonists accom- 
panying the Rev. John Hull in 1635 to New England.'* He 
first appears at Weymouth, Mass., in 1637, where he married 
his wife Elizabeth, and in which place he maintained a resi- 
dence for twenty years prior to his removal to the Vineyard. 

That he was of a social station somewhat above the aver- 
age appears from the fact that he kept a servant, whose "mis- 
cariages" brought the subject of this sketch into trouble in 
1658 with the magistrates of Massachusetts. The following 

'N. Y. Col. Mss., XXXVII, 230; Edgartown Records, I, -^,2,, 37, 39, and Dukes 
Court Records, Vol. I. In 1688 he was indicted for taking the Hfe of his son Andrew 
but the jury found no bill It was an accidental death. 

^He testified that he was aged sixty-six years in 1676. (Dukes County Court 
Records, Vol. I.) 

'There is a will of Robert Norton of Wells, Somersetshire, dated Sept. 29, 1590, 
who mentions his nephew Nicholas. (17, St. Barbe.) This is too early for our set- 
tler, but may be a clue to the family. 

*Rev. Mr. Hull brought twenty families from the vicinity of Batcombe and Broad- 
way, and in 1639 Nicholas Norton had some business dealings with one Standerwyck, 
a clothier of Broadway in the County of Somerset. In 1640 he had a suit at law 
with Parson Hull. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

petition explains the case as related by Nicholas Norton 
himself to the General Court : — 

To the Honorcl Genii Court now assembled the Petition of Nicholas Norton 
humbly Sheweth: 

That whereas yor poore peti'or stood engaged to the Treasurer in the sume 
of five pounds to bring in his servant to a County Court held at Boston to 
give answer for sume miscariages Comitted, which accordingly he did, at 
which Court yor poore peti'ors servant was also pr'sented by the grand- 
Jury either for the same or for some other offences, the Court was then 
pleased, to deferre the Issue of the Case, & to require the Coutynuatio 
of the sd bond of yor poore peti'or, where upon he did agayne engage him- 
selfe in the foresd sume to bring in his sd servant to the last Court of as- 
sistants, but in regard he was under a pr'sentment, expected to have him 
sent for by warrent & that wittnesses should also have bin sent for to 
prove the same as is usueall in case of pr'sentments, where upon yor poore 
peti'r, through Ignorance of the manner of Courts p'ceedinges in such Cases 
hath forfeited his foresd bond. 

Now although yor peti'r cannot blame any but himselfe, yet is bold to 
Crave the favour of this Honrd Court, that the forfeiture may not be re- 
quired of yor poore peti'r, but thort you would be pleased (out of yr woonted 
tendernes in offences which p'ceed meerely out of Ignorance, to remitt 
the same or so much of it as in yr wisdome you shall thinke meet, hopeing 
you will the rather be moved hereunto considering the great loss yor poore 
peti'r hathsustayned in the service of the Country in Collecting of the Country 
rate which he hopes is yet in yor mynds, & that the delinquent is ready 
when required suffer the Just sentence of the Court according to the merritt 
of his offences, which if the Lord move yr harts to grannt it will abundantly 
engage yr poore pet'r ever to pray.' 

The Court granted his petition providing he should bring 
his servant to bar. 

Of his life in Weymouth but little is worthy of mention. 
He shared in the division of lands in i65i,andwas constable 
in 1657, ^^ office of some distinction in those times. Two 
years later he was still called "of Weymouth," and in the 
same year his name first appears in the records of Edgartown. 
This may be taken as the probable date of his removal to 
the Vineyard. He was chosen a referee to represent the town 
in its controversy with John Daggett respecting his farm at 
Oak Bluffs. 

On Aug. 22, 1659, "Goodman" Norton was granted "a 
Lott of forty acres of Land" and on the same day it was 
"ordered by the town that Goodman Norton shall have 
Liberty to make use of any Pond about the Ox Pond for his 
Trade, except the Great Ponds." It does not appear what 

'Mass. Archives, XXXIX, 39. 


Annals of Edgartown 

trade Nicholas Norton followed, but the use of ponds suggests 
that he may have been a tanner. Before the end of that 
year, he was engaged in two lawsuits as a plaintiff and a 
defendant. He was sued by Henry Goss in that year and 
was mulcted in the sum of five shillings "for charges about 
the cure of Mr. Gousse's child: to pay one half in Wampam 
current and halfe in corne and five shillings to the constable 
for the Tryall about the abuse of Mr. Gousse's child." The 
exact nature of this suit at law is not clear from the records. 
In that same year he sued the Rev. Mr. Cotton, missionary 
to the Indians. In 1661 he was one of a committee to buy 
land of the Indians for the use of the town. In 1662-63 and 
1669, he again appears in litigation with various townsmen, 
and if not a pattern in this respect, his fence was deemed 
the pattern and lawful standard to which others were required 
to conform in the maintenance of boundary fences in the 
town.^ In 1666 he was forbidden by the proprietors of the 
fish weir from taking any fish at Mattakeesett Creek, the 
right to which he claimed by purchase from the sachem 
Tewanticut, "contrary to our patent," upon a penalty of 
;^5 yearly so often as he disobeys the order.^ In 1673 he 
joined in the "Dutch Rebellion" with others of his townsmen, 
and when it had collapsed he was tried and convicted. The 
following: is the record in the case.: — 


Whereas Nicolas Norton upon Commission from the Right honorable 
Sr Edmond Andros Knight Governor of New York &c hath beene before 
the Court legally convicted of oppugning the Government established 
here under his ^Nlajestie wherein he acknowledgeth that he is ashamed 
and Sorry in his heart that he was Misled therein and hopes he shall be 
more careful for the future: The Court by virtue of the said Commission 
do adjudge the said Nicolas Norton to make a publique acknowledgment 
of the same at this Court and at the next quarterly Court holden at'Mar- 
thas Vineyard: or to pay the summe of fift}- one pounds as a fine to the 

In 1685 he was one of a committee "chosen to make the 
Govenors Rate" and this is his last appearance on the town 
records before his death.* 

There is no consolidated record of his real estate holdings 
such as was entered by others proprietors. He lived on his 

'Edgartown Records, I, iii, 138. 
''Ibid., I, 144. 

^Dukes County Deeds, I, 65. 
*Edgartown Records, I, 39. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

forty-acre grant situated north of the Great Swamp and south 
of the present road to West Tisbury. He was an early owner 
of land at Sanchacantackett in the vicinity of Major's Cove, 
where his descendants for two centuries resided and improved 
that beautiful estate. These purchases were made of the 
Indians Wampamag or "Sam" and Thomas Sisseton, both 
of which are unrecorded, though it is said that the original 
deed from "Sam" was in existence in recent years in the 
hands of a descendant. It is not believed that he ever resided 
on this property. He also held the usual proprietor's shares 
in the various divisions of town lands, besides a plot of meadow 
land at Aquampache. At the ripe age of four score years 
Nicholas Norton died, leaving four sons and six daughters, 
at least two of whom were born in Weymouth. Following is 
a copy of his will dated April 17, 1690: — 

[Court Records, Vol. I, 1690.] 

The last will and testament of me Nicolas Norton Being very weak 
in body but of perfect understanding and Souend memory After my death 
and desent Christian burial : I give and bequest my worly good as folo- 
eth : — 

Iprimes: I give my Son Izak Norton on half Comminig as also 
fouer Small Shares of medow 

Secondly I give my Son Benjamin Norton all my medow at Saniacan- 
tick as also my medow at Morthals neck beach from the Crick dug into 
the Great pond westward as also my now dwelling houes and all my land 
aioyning to my Sayd houes after the deces of my wife Elizabeth Norton 
as also my lots at quompasha with all my devided land Elsewhere: pro- 
vided my Sayd Son Beniamin deliver up his now dweling houes to my now 
wife Elizabeth Norton with the land aioyning to the Sayd houes: to be 
at my Sayd wifes sole will and pleseuer to dispose of at or before her desese. 
as also all that medow I have from a Creek to Izak Norton Medow 

thirdly. I give Moses Cleveland the Remaynder of the Sayd medow 
to joyne with Weeks medow also on halfe Commonidg with all prev- 
leges belonging there untoo 

fourthly I give my Son in law Thomas Wolling on halfe Commonidg 
with all prevelidges belonging to it with a pese of medow from Izak Nor- 
ton's medow to the Creeke abofe named. 

fifthly I give my Son Joseph Norton a tract of land lying at Sania- 
cantacket joyning to the mill Creke which I bought of Mr Sam. 

Sixtly I give that whole Commonidg which was Arys to my aforeSayd 
Son Beniamin Norton 

Seventhly I give to Elizabeth Norton my wife all my Catle Coues 
oxen Steeres & Sheepe also all my hors kind & furder I give my Sayd 
wife Elizabeth Norton all my houeshold goods Beding pewter bras Iron 

Annals of Eldgartown 

tin wood wood as Chests trunks tables Chayers and all other things not 
named, also all yjlowes Carts Chayns yoks and all other utensells with all 
lumber: furder 1 leve my Sayd wife to give my dafter pese and my dafter 
wil (Wollong or Williams) and my dafter Stanbridg & my dafter Butler 
Something to Every one of them as much as shee sese cause: as also my 
dafter huxford to her my wife knows my mind 

Eithly. my medow at the neck Caueled the Manado I leve to my wife 
Elizabeth Norton 

Ninthly I doe apoynt my Sayd wife Elizabeth Norton to be. my Sole 
Execitor and to performe my will as abof whritin. 

The mark of N Nicklis 
Witness Norton 

Richard Sarson 

Joseph Norton. 

His widow did not long survive to carry out the pro- 
visions of her husband's will. She died a few monthes after 
him, between June 8, the date of her will, and Oct. 8, 1690, 
when it was proven in Court. The following is a copy of her 
will: — 

[Court Records, Vol. I, 1690.] 

Edgartown in Marthas Vineyard June 8, 1690 

The Last will and testament of me Elizabeth Norton widow I doe 
give to my fouer dafters named in my husbons will, five Shillins to Each 
of them. 

I give that houes & land to Ester huxford that my Son benjamin Norton 
lives in and to be delevered before his Entering into mine I dwell in acord- 
ing to my Said husbons will & mind he left with me to performe & I give my 
Sd dafter Ester huxford that pese of medow laying between Izak Nortons 
meadow and the medow of Moses Cleveland nere Mortols Neck. Then 
my will is after my death Christian buryall & funerall Rights be performed 
first I give that pese or parsoU of medow laying at a place Caueled Mana- 
doo to my Son Joseph Norton 

Secondly I give to all and Every on of my gran-Children on Shillin in 
money to Every one of them and to be pa yd wthin ten days after my buriall 
thirdly I give all my lands houeses medows fences Commons Cattle 
Sheep horses and horskind & monys with all my household goods as beding 
& bed furnyture with all my Chests trunks tables Chayers with all my 
pewter bras Iron and tin vesels with all my plews Carts Chayns yoks wedges 
Siths with all other things and goods that is mine to all my Sons and 
dafters to be Equally devided amongst them to Every on alick Equall por- 
tion and sher 

fourthly I doe apoynt my Son Joseph Norton to be Execitor to this my 
will to pay all my depts and delever out all my legasys treuly and faythfullv 
acording this my mind and will. 

fifthly I doe Request Richard Sarson to be overser to see this my will 
performed soe far as he is able : and in witnes to this my will I have put 
too my hand and Sele the day and yere abof whritin 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Sixtly I doe Request my beloved son Izak Norton to be overser with 
Richard Sarson to this my will 

Witness here untoo The U Elizabeth Norton. 

mark of 

The X Johnnathan danham 

gershom donham 

This abof mentioned will be profed in Coart is Exepted 
Court held Octobr the Eight: 1690 

pr Curiam Tho Butler Clarke 

Whereas by the last will and testament of Elizabeth Norton is mentioned 
as bequeathed to hester huxford an hous and land according to the will 
of Nicolas Norton left with his wife sd Elizabeth Isaac Norton 

The maiden name of his wife is not known. He married 
her probably in Weymouth, and she must be sought for in 
that locaHty. Their descendants have constituted one of the 
largest families on the island from the earliest times. ^ 


>^ , ^, This young man was the step-son 

^'^f\Q fO Cny\ y' of Thomas Mayhew, Senior, and 

'^ r was brought to the Vineyard as a 

boy when about fourteen. He was 
born Feb. 8, 1632, the son of Thomas and Jane [Gallion?] 
Paine of London. His father was a London merchant, who 
died after May, 1631, and before July, 1635, by which latter 
date the widow had become the second wife of the elder May- 
hew.^ Thomas Paine, the father, must have been a well-to-do 
business man, as he owned property outside of London, in 
Whittlebury, Northamptonshire, and Greensnorton, same 
county, which descended to the son. The latter estates were 
declared to be worth ;^i4o per annum, a goodly sum in those 
days.^ It was this property in part, which led the Rev. Thomas 
Mayhew to go to England with his brother-in-law Paine, on 

*A century ago there were thirty-three separate families bearing this name on 
the Vineyard, the second largest numerically at that time. 

^Savage states that Mayhew married the widow Paine in London. (Gen. Diction- 
ary, III, 337-) 

^The wife of Sir William Bradshaw had an interest in the Greensnorton property, 
but though Sir William "challenged some interest during his Ladyes life, yett none 
to the Inheritance." Mrs. Jane Mayhew went to England in 1642, "to settle her 
sons Rights." (Records, Commissioners of the United Colonies, II, 165; comp., 
Lechford Note Book, 117; Aspinwall, Notarial Record, 14, 35, iii, and Suffolk Deeds, 
I, 86.) 


Annals of Edgartown 

the fatal voyage, when both were lost. Young Paine became 
of age in 1652, and his name appears in the first division of 
common land in town the next year. His patrimony had 
evidently been invested by his parents in the purchase of land 
on the island, as he owned the largest number of rights in 
Great Harbor (three) of all the early settlers. He took no 
part in the public aflfairs of the town or island, in spite of his 
relationship to the proprietors, and beyond the records of his 
property holdings nothing about him remains to be said. He 
sailed for England in November, 1657, with his brother-in-law. 
Rev. Thomas Mayhew, and as before detailed, the ship was 
never heard from. He owned the home lot bounded northerly 
by Main street, but it is not known that he ever married, or 
lived on it. 


M The relations which this pio- 

/^4jSn, flDS^U^ ^^^^ bears to the legendary and 

^J^ / J actual history of Edgartown has 

made it necessary for the author to 
institute researches in the English Archives and bestow an 
equal amount of careful investigation of the records in New 
England, to establish the identity of John Pease of Great 
Baddow, County of Essex, England, and John Pease of Salem, 
County of Essex, Massachusetts. These researches have a 
definite bearing upon the alleged settlement of John Pease 
and some companions upon our island in 1632, or thereabouts, 
which is elsewhere discussed; and as part of the collateral 
evidence in this mooted cfuestion, the results of these searches 
must have a detailed exposition for the better understanding 
of the case. In no other instance has so much time and labor 
been spent. 

In Great Baddow, as early as 1540, and doubtless a 
much earlier period, there lived a numerous family of the name 
of Pease, as evidenced by the frequent occurrence of the name 
in the parish registers of that place. In the entries of bap- 
tisms, marriages, and burials, this name occurs eighty-four 
times between 1540 and 1654, the earliest one recording the 
death of a daughter of Robert Pease "the Smythe." It will 
only concern us to consider the branch from which our John 
descends, and this line begins with John^ Pease the clothier, 
who was the son of John* "the Smythe," of the same parish. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

He married Margaret, daughter of Richard Hyckes, June 23, 
1560, and had two children, of record, namely Robert^ and a 
daughter Mary, who married Benjamin Carter in 1586. John 
the clothier died in November, 161 2, and Margaret, his wife, 
deceased in the previous month. 

Robert^ Pease probably lived and certainly died in Great 
Baddow, where he was buried April 16, 1623, leaving a widow 
Margaret and several children. The following is a record of 
his children as taken from the parish registers. His marriage 


is not entered, and it is to be inferred that his wife was a 
resident of some adjoining parish : — 

i [daughter] bapt. Dec. 10, 1587. 

ii [son-Robert ?] bapt. Oct. 28, 1589. 

iii William^ bapt. Sept. 26, 1591. 

iv John^, bapt. May 24, 1593, d. 1600. 

V MaryS bapt. Jan. 10, 1600. 

vi Elizabeth*, bapt. Sept., 1602; m. Abraham Page, 

vii Richard*, bapt. 4 and d. 5 April, 1607. 

viii. JOHN*, bapt. Nov. 20, 1608. 

Robert^ the father, made his will May 10, 1613, and it 
was proven June 12, 1623, two months after his death. In 
this testament he names his wife Margaret, sons Robert* 
and John^ daughter Elizabeth^ and her husband Abraham 
Page. The widow Margaret and her family continued to 


Annals of Edgartown 

reside in Great Baddovv for ten years after the death of her 
husband. Robert*, the elder son, had married a wife named 
Lydia, and two children of theirs are recorded as baptized 
at Great Baddow, viz:. Robert^ April, 1630, and John^, 
Feb. II, 1631-2, both of whom will be referred to later. 

The next we learn of the two brothers, Robert* and John* 
Pease, is when they embarked in the ship Francis^ which 
sailed in November, 1634, from Ipswich, a seaport town not 
far from Baddow. Their names are entered as follows: 
John Pease, twenty-seven years; Robert Pease, twenty-seven 
years (doubtless an error for forty-seven, as he was about 
twenty years older than his brother John) and Robert Pease, 
aged three years, the child whose baptism we have just noted. 
The widow Margaret remained in Great Baddow for some 
time, as her name appears as witness to a bond given in 
August, 1636, by William Vincent of Bromfield (a Parish 
adjoining Great Baddow), to be paid to Abraham Page when 
he should come of age. This minor was a gi'andson of the 
widow Margaret, the child of Abraham Page and Elizabeth 
Pease, whose marriage we have stated. (The young boy was 
then an orphan, his father having died in 1628.) It will thus 
be seen that the widow Margaret and her grandson, Abraham 
Page, were the only ones, in all probability, left of a numerous 
family in this little English Parish; and vre shall later hear 
of them both following her emigrant sons to the new world. 

The ship Francis arrived in New England late in 1634, 
and landed her passengers at Boston. Where the two brothers, 
Robert* and John*, first took up their residence is not known, 
but early in 1637, they were at Salem, when the land of 
'^ Robert Pease and his brother" is mentioned in the early 
records of that town. The considerable difference in the 
ages explains this form of entry in the town books. On Jan. 2, 
1636-7, Robert Pease was granted ten acres, and John Pease 
twenty acres of land. On the 23d of April, 1638, the town 
granted John Pease "five acres of land next adjoining to 
Samuell Cominge neer unto the watermill."' John was con- 
cerned in a maritime transaction in October, 1638, for which 
he was wanted as a witness in August, 1639;^ but he was 
absent from his place of abode as appears by the following 
record : — 

'Salem Town Records. 
'Lechford, Notebook, 103. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

25: 4 mo: 1639: 

It is ordered that wheras Mr Gervas Garford had a Cowe of John 
Pease for hire for a year, the tyme now being expired, and the said John 
Pease not returned whereupon the sd Mr Gervas requested advice from 
this Court wt to doe with hir: upon which the Court ordered him to keepe 
the Cowe untill the ptie shall returne upon the same tearmes he kept hir 

He may have been on a voyage to England to bring back 
his aged mother, as she appears for the first time in New 
England in that year (1639), when she was admitted a mem- 
ber of the church in Salem. She lived but a few years in her 
new home, and we may bring consideration of her to a close, 
in so far as her record has any bearing upon the person im- 
mediately concerned in our researches. She died in 1644 and 
her will, dated September i of that year, mentions only her 
grandchildren, Robert and John, the fatherless sons of her 
deceased son Robert. Of the elder brother Robert* we shall 
have but brief concern. He joined the Church in 1643, ^^^d 
on October 1 5 of that year three of his children were baptized. 
He died before his mother, the next year, as on Nov. 3, 1644, 
an inventory of the estate of Robert Pease of Salem, late de- 
ceased, was taken, and the widow Marie Pease appointed 
administratrix 3: 11 mo: 1644. Robert^ Pease was named 
as the eldest son of the deceased, and John^ Pease the second 
son. There were other young children by this second marriage.* 

Thus of the Great Baddow family there were left John* 
and his nephew Robert^ who had come over with him in the 
Francis ten years previously. The further history of these 
two persons is all that will now engage our attention, as both 
became residents of the Vineyard, the first named being the 
progenitor of our island family, and the latter a temporary 
sojourner where his uncle had previously settled. At this 
date (1644) John* Pease was thirty-six, and Robert^ fourteen 
years of age. By order of the Court young Robert remained 
with his mother for a year, at the end of which time he applied 
for permission to learn a trade. In 1645 ^^ "^^^^ thereupon 
bound as an apprentice to Thomas Root of Salem, weaver, 
for the term of five years, to learn the art of linen and woolen 
weaving. This fact is of significance as will be shown later. 

We can now return to follow uninterruptedly the further 
history of John Pease of Great Baddow and Salem, stopping 

'Records, Quarterly Court, Vol. I. 
*Files, Essex Court Records. 


Annals of Edgartown 

only to refer to a collateral incident occurring in this year 
(1645), which has a circumstantial relation to the subject. 
Abraham Page, the son of his sister Elizabeth^ before referred 
to, emigrated to Boston.^ The last reference to John Pease 
was under date of 1639, and related to his absence from Salem. 
The next recorded entry concerning him is under date of 
January 25, 1 641-2, when Elias Stileman, Sr., appears as 
plaintiff in a civil suit against him, and again under date of 
Dec. 26, 1643, 1"^^ appears as plaintiff in a civil suit against 
Thomas Trusler. ^ These suits indicate dealings in maritime 
business, and doubtless he was engaged in coastwise trading, 
which may account for the infrequent references to him, 
owing to absences on voyages. On June 18, 1644, John 
Pease sold to Richard Ingersoll of Salem "one house & 75 
acres of Land adjoyning to the fearme whereon the said 
Richard dwelleth,"^ and thenceforth his name disappears 
completely from the Essex County and the town records of 
Salem. The next appearance of his name occurs in the 
records of Edgartowm two years later, under date of March 23, 
1646-7, when he sold ten acres of land at Mattakeeset to 
Mr. John Bland, and we may safely conclude that following 
the disposal of this Salem land in 1644, he came hither with 
his family to settle. His eldest son James was born March 15, 
1637, anci this presupposes his marriage in Salem or elsewhere, 
and the bringing of a wife and young children to take up their 
life work in the island home. The identity of this wife is 
fully established, in the opinion of the author, but this is a 
view which contravenes the conclusions to be found in the 
published genealogical accounts of the early Peases in Salem.* 
A court record dated Nov. 3, 1635, contains the following 
statement : — 

Ordered that John Pease shalbe whipt & bound to his good behaviour 
for strikeing his mother [in law] Mrs Weston & deryding of her & for 
dyvers other misdemeanors & other evill carriages.^ 

'Savage, III, 330. 

'Essex County Court Records. 

^Suffolk Deeds, I, 53. This was "the one moytye of the fearme wch the towne 
of Salem graunted unto Frances Weston," and was probably held by Pease at this 

^There are two genealogies of the Pease families. The first was compiled by 
Frederic S. Pease and printed in 1847, and this author adopts the legend of the land- 
ing of John Pease on the Vineyard in 1632. The second was prepared by Austin 
Spencer Pease and published in 1869, and is an enlarged and more critical work. 
This author discards the legend as improbable and advances many arguments to 
show the fallacy of it. 

''Mass. Col. Rec, I, 155. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

The compiler of the Pease genealogy, without any evi- 
dence cited or reason given, states that this particular John 
Pease was another one of the name residing in the same town. 
There is not a scintilla of proof that two of this name resided 
there 163 5-1 644, and the Salem records make no mention 
of a "Senior" or "Junior" John, which was absolutely nec- 
essary and customary for distinguishing persons bearing the 
same name involved in land grants or legal proceedings. 
Otherwise there would be inextricable confusion of titles to 
property. It is therefore certain that our John Pease married 
Lucy, daughter of Mrs. Margaret Weston, wife of Francis 
Weston of Salem, a fact which is of interest because of its 
collateral bearing on our subject. Weston was an early set- 
tler at Salem, originally a friend and supporter of Roger 
Williams, whom he followed in exile to Rhode Island. He 
was unfortunate, however, in his second marriage, as Mrs. 
Margaret Weston was afflicted with one of the religious 
whimsies of the period, and incurred the opposition of the 
authorities, not then famed for charity and tolerance, and she 
was made to sit in the bilboes for her schismatic "notions."^ 
The particular doctrines she imbibed were those promulgated 
by Samuel Gorton, for which he and others suffered persecu- 
tion and were driven from Salem to seek an asylum in Rhode 
Island. The nature of these doctrines is imperfectly under- 
stood now, as they were a part of the abstruse hair-splitting 
theological controversies of that period. Sufficient to say 
they were regarded as heretical by ecclesiastical authorities, 
and that was enough to condemn those who subscribed to 
them. In a few years Weston himself became a disciple of 
Gorton, and his step-daughter, Lucy Pease, likewise joined 
the sect, all of which was doubtless to the disadvantage of 
John Pease, socially and commercially, in orthodox Salem. 
In addition to this Mrs. Weston was undoubtedly unbalanced 
mentally, and later became of hopelessly unsound mind.* 
We are thus enabled to see the environment of John Pease, 
and considering the stress of the times and the religious in- 
tolerance of the period may not harshly judge his unlawful 
chastisement of his mother-in-law. Doubtless she deserved 
forcible repression, and invited it by her actions. Weston 
was banished in March, 1638, from the jurisdiction of Massa- 

'Felt, Ecclesiastical Annals, I, 341. 
^She died in 1651 in Rhode Island. 

96 1? 

Annals of Edgartown 

chusetts for promulgating the tabooed Gortonian doctrines, 
and took up his residence at Shawomet, Rhode Island, whence 
he continued to spread them by whatever means he could 
employ. The magistrates of the Massachusetts colony tol- 
erated this defiance for five years, and then determined to 
silence him, by forcible measures if necessary, and place him 
under arrest for teaching heretical doctrines. John Pease 
heard of this in the fall of 1643 at Salem, and undertook to 
give his wife's father a warning of the approaching danger. 
The following account of this aft'air, written by Samuel Gorton 
himself, discloses John Pease in a highly favorable light con- 
sidering all the circumstances. A letter dated Shawomet, 
Sept. 26, 1643, signed by Gorton and others of his sectaries, 
addressed to the military emissaries of Massachusetts, was 
sent by the hand "of one John Peise ivho lived amongst them 
in the Massachusetts, who having a father-in-law amongst us 
was willing to come and declare unto his father, out of the 
tenderness towards him, of the nearness of the soldiers ap- 
proach, and as near as he could the end of their coming, to 
persuade his said father to escape for his life."* From this 
letter we glean the most convincing fact about John Pease 
vv'hich bears so conclusively upon his alleged settlement on 
this island before the coming of the Mayhews. Manifestly, 
he could not have been a prior settler here because as late as 
September, 1643, he *' lived amongst them in the Massachu- 

This expedition resulted in the seizure and return of 
Weston as a prisoner to Boston, where he suffered incarcera- 
tion with hard labor in the Dorchester jail.^ Doubtless this 
caused the wife of John Pease to consider her own safety, 
and shortly after her husband's return from the mission above 
related, she recanted her heretical views, as appears by the 
following records : — 

Luc(i)e Pease the wife of Pease, p'fessing that she doth abhor & 

renounce Gortons opinions & confessing her fault in bloting out some 
things in the booke wch she brought & in showing the same before shee 
deUvered it & p'fessing shee was sorry for it, shee was dismissed for the 
p'sent to appear when she shall bee called for.^ [17 October 1643.] 

'Simplicities Defence, London, 1647. The italics are used by the author to 
emphasize this important statement about John Pease. This letter was delivered 
to the Massachusetts Commissioners, who answered it, addressing their reply "To 
our friend John Peise." 

^He died in prison before June, 1645, after a confinement of two years. 

'Mass. Col. Records, II, 50; comp., Felt, Ecclesiastical History, I, 492. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

From these facts and resulting conditions we are now- 
able to explain why John Pease left Salem to seek a home 
elsewhere outside the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. The 
religious atmosphere was too threatening and his wife would 
be constantly menaced with the fear of arrest, being held under 
bonds by the court for the future determination of her case. 
Consequently, he sold his property and that of his father-in- 
law in the summer of 1644, and left Salem forever. 

The removal of John Pease from Salem about 1644,. 
following the arrest of his wife, the death of his mother and 
elder brother, is a natural effect of causes easily understood, 
and the appearance of a John Pease on Martha's Vineyard 
immediately thereafter are consecutive facts too significant to 
be mistaken for mere coincidences. They might be classed 
as such but for a further confirmation of these evidences of 
identity afforded us in connection with the subsequent history 
of Robert^ nephew of John of Great Baddow and Salem. 
It will be remembered that this young lad had been appren- 
ticed to a wTaver to learn that trade. His term of service ex- 
pired in 1650, and records of his residence in Salem are extant^ 
showing that in 1652 and 1655 he was an inhabitant of that 
town. The next year a Robert Pease appears in Edgartown; 
and if anything were waiting to establish the relationship 
between him and the John Pease already a resident here, the 
following entry from the town records will furnish it : — 

['Edgartown Town Records, i, 138.I 

February i, 1656. 

Richard Sarson will give Robert Pease 100 and half of fish every 
year so long as he liveth upon the Island and the same will be given 
him by John Burchard, Edward Lay, William Weekes, Thomas Burchard 
and Thomas Bays, "if the said Robert Pease doth Ingage to weave the 
Cloth of the town for such pay as the town can raise among them selves, 
except w^mpam." 

What more natural thing could occur than this? The 
new settlement needed a weaver, and John Pease made it 
known to his nephew in Salem, and he forthwith came to con- 
tinue his fortunes with an uncle whom he had accompanied 
from England as a boy and with whom he had been associated 
much of his life. Robert Pease remained here several years, 
but had removed before 1660. The connection between the 
Salem and Vineyard Peases thus seems to be established, and 
family tradition is not wanting, if it were needed, to sub- 


Annals of Edgartown 

stantiate this. The late Captain Valentine Pease, an aged 
man in 1849, stated that he had heard his father and grand- 
father speak of James' and John^, the two eldest sons of John* 
as having lived in Salem or having come from that place. 
This is undoubtedly true, as these two boys must have been 
born in Salem, the only children (surviving at least) by his 
first wife.^ Accordingly, the demonstration of the identity of 
John of Great Baddow, Salem, Mass., and Martha's Vineyard 
is left at this point for the impartial judgment of the historical 
student. It is a clear trail. 

On March 23, 1646, John Pease sold to John Bland 
"a Parcell of Land about Ten acres and Two acres of Meadow " 
at Mattakeeset.^ The circumstances surrounding this sale 
can only be surmised; whether it comprised all his property 
or a part of it, but the records afford us no further insight. 
It is probable that the former is most likely and that he left 
the island for Connecticut after this sale. He is next found 
at New London, in 1650, in connection with business matters, in 
which Governor John Winthrop of that colony was interested, 
but the historian of that town confesses that ''of John Pease 
little is known. "^ It will be remembered that about 1645 to 
1650 the new settlements at Saybrook, New London, and New 
Haven were being founded and were attracting hundreds 
from the old towns in Massachusetts and probably our John 
Pease was prospecting and trying his fortune on the main 
land. Whether at this time or later, it is known that he ac- 
quired land at Mohegan, in the town of Norwich, Conn., 
and on it he probably established his second son, John, Jr., 
and it appears that he retained it until his death, bequeathing 
it to this son, "with that frame of a house I set up upon some 
part of that land,"* But the island proved to be more at- 
tractive to the father, and he returned here before March 5, 

'In another branch of the family residing here in the latter part of the i8th century, 
a son was christened Robert, a distinctive name in the Salem branch, in honor of a 
great uncle who belonged to the Salem Peases. 

^Edgartown Records, II, 125. This is the earliest record in the town books. 

'Caulkins, "History of Norwich," log. This author also wrote the "History of 
New London," and confounds John senior and John his son, who was a settler at 
Norwich, on the lot granted to the father in 1659. John junior was his second son, 
and probably not of age. 

*There was a land grant in November, 1659, to John Pease of seven acres on a 
branch of the Yantic River, now called Pease's Brook, west of Norwich, now a set- 
tlement called Bozrahville. (History of Norwich, 193.) Whether this was to John, 
Sr., or John, Jr., depends on the age of the latter. James, the oldert son, was b. 
March 15, 1637, and unless John was born by November, 1638, he would not have 
been able to hold property then. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

1653, when he was engaged in a suit about some land with 
Edward Sales, of which all we know is contained in the fol- 
lowing record : — 

The town hath ended the case between John Pease and Edward 
Sales thus: that the sd John Pease is to enjoy that commonage that was 
first given Edward Sales and the said Edward Sales hath his old right of 
fish still.' 

From this and other fragmentary references it seems 
certain that Pease bought his property on the Vineyard of 
Edward Sales, whether at his first coming or on his return 
from Connecticut cannot be determined in the absence of any 
existing records.^ 

On Nov. 7, 1653, he was elected constable, the only office 
he is known to have held in the town. In 1658 he was one of 
the appraisers of the estate of John Butler, and on Feb. 15, 
1659, made a deposition concerning Thomas Mayhew's 
"Land at home which is in controversy." At the quarterly 
court in September of that same year, he was sued by Richard 
Raines, probably a coastwise trader, and the verdict of the 
court was that "John Pease shall pay the Court charge and 
sixty weight of leafe tobacco to the Plaintiff."' In 1662 he 
had further legal trouble with Edward Sales who sued him, 
an outcome of their previous differences. He was a member 
of the train band this year. On Oct. 3, 1662, the town selected 
him to represent the proprietors at the Plymouth County 
Court, "to answare the suite of John Doged comenced 
against the said towne," involving title to certain granted 
lands.* In 1665 his testimony was given and is of record 
concerning the nuncupative will of John Folger. The fol- 
lowing seven years contain no further references to him until 
1673, when he with nineteen others of the leading residents 
of the Vineyard, outside of the Mayhew party, signed the 
celebrated appeal to Massachusetts for annexation, and joined 
in the "Dutch Rebellion" of that and the following year. 
He was one of the first to be attacked in reprisal, five days 
after the petition was dated. The following is the record in 
the case : — 

'Edgartown Records, I, 149. 

'Ibid., I, 120. "John Pease defendant: Lawfully bought of Edward Searles 
his ... . and all his meadow & upland." 
»Ibid., I, 140. 
^Plymouth Colony Records, IV, 27. 


Annals of Edgartown 

John peas Being By the Govournour By his officer warned to appear 
to answer his misdemeanour for committing a Riott at Edgartown the 
Marshall Returneth answer that the warrant was by the said peas his wife 
taken from him and therefore he cannot Return his warrant: the said 
peas appearing Before the Govournour is Both person and estate Bound 
to answer at the next sessions of Triall held uppon the Duke his highness 
province and Territories for the said Riott committed and his wife for 
forcibly taking the warrant out of the marshalls hands.' 

These are the only references to John Pease in the town 
and county records, except casual mentions not important 
enough for citation, with the usual drawing of lots at the 
regular divisions. In this connection it may be stated that 
he was the proprietor of one full share in the "Five and Twenty" 
and as such participated in every recorded division from 1653 
to 1676 in the same equality with others.^ 

The following list of his property, certified to by Thomas 
Trapp, town clerk, shows the extent of his real estate : — 

The records of the lands of John Pease the elder: 

Imprimis: one house and house lot of ten acres of upland and 2 
acres of meadow lying at the northermost end of the town Great Harbour, 
with a Cove of water on the north of the meadow and east of the harbour, 
the west with the land of Joseph Codman and on the South and Southeast 
the commons and main Island. 

2d. — A dividend lying from beyond the plain containing twenty five 
acres more or less, called Mashakett, in the Cove of the Neck, bounded 
on the main pond on the South and southwest and the Pond on the south- 
east: the land of Thomas Daggett on the northeast: Richard Sarsons 
land on the west and northwest. 

3d. — A little neck of land containing five acres of land, more or less, 
lying towards Sanchacontackett, bounded with the Salt Pond west, south 
and east: and with the meadow and beach on the north. 
4th. — A lot of land upon Chapequideck Neck lying upon the higher land 
there, from water to water, cross the Neck: the harbour bounding it upon 
the north and on the south; the land of John Smith on the west, and Wil- 
liam Weeks' lot on the east. 

5th. — A small parcell of meadow (at) Sangacontacett in the last division 

6th. — A share at Mechems Field, being 21st lot bounded by Robert 
Codman on the east and James Pease on the west.^ 

It is believed from all obtainable evidence that John 
Pease lived at first at Mattakeset and later, when the home 
lots were laid out, he drew the first one of the Five and Twenty, 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 403. Nothing of later record shows that he suffered further in 
person or estate for his part in the trouble. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 21, 109, 156, 172. 

^From an unrecorded document furnished to the author by Miss Harriet Marshall 
Pease. It came from the papers of the late Jeremiah Pease, Esq. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

situated at north end of town at the place ever since known 
as Pease's Point. It consisted of ten acres, and by inheritance 
and acquisition from other heirs it came into the possession 
of his son Thomas, who sold it in 1692 to Mrs. Hannah (May- 
hew) Daggett.^ 

John Pease was twice married. It is clear that the two 
eldest sons — James of Edgartown and John of Monhegan 
(Norwich) Conn., — were issues of Lucy, the first wife, and 
perhaps there was a daughter or daughters. When she died 
is not known, nor where she is buried. His second wife bore 
the Christian name of Marie or Mary, and was married to 
him as early as 1656.^ She was probably much younger than 
her husband, and calculations based on the birth of her children 
would place her own birth at about 1630. There is a family 
tradition that her maiden name was Browning, and presum- 
ably daughter of Malachi Browning of this town.^ 

It is not known when John Pease died. The last mention 
of him in the record is on Sept. 25, 1677, when he served as a 
juror,* at which time he was seventy years old and had already 
executed his last will and testament. This document is as 
follows : — 

[Dukes Deeds, I, 340.I 

March the 4th. 1674. The last will land testament of me, John Peas, 
husbandman and inhabitant uppon Martins Vineyard in the Town called 
Edgartown, I John Peas having upon good consideration and being now 
in some measure in good health and perfect understanding and memory 
though I am striken in years andCrasy in respect of what formerly; I having 
had two wives one formerly deceased and by her have yet two sons sur- 
viving, James Peas, & John Peas and these two sonnes James the Elder, 
God hath been pleased to bless him in his labours & indeavours and I 
have been helpful! to him so that he is verry well to pass in his Estate farre 
beyond myself : I do therefore in this my last will and testament give 
to my Eldest Son James Peas twelve pence; My second son John Peas 
I have alreddy given unto and do hereby give unto him all tliat was given 
unto me at Mohegin, with that frame of a house I set up uppon some part 
of that land; I say I give it unto my son John Peas & his heirs forever: 
I having by my now living wife Mary Peas, four sonnes & four Daughters, 
my Sonnes Thomas Peas Jonathan, Samuell, and David and my Daughters 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 104. 

^Thomas Pease, the first born son of this second marriage, was born in 1657, 
but he may not have been the oldest child. 

^From information furnished by Miss Harriet Marshall Pease taken from her 

father's papers. The note made by him states: "Red coat John's 2d wife was 

Browning daughter of Browning," and cites as authority Peter Pease (b., 1765), 

who derived it from a conversation with John Coffin (b. 17 10) living contemporary 
with Thomas Pease (b. 1657). 

*Dukes Court Records, Vol. I. 


Annals of Edgartown 

Abygaill Peas, Mary, Rebecca, and Sarah Peas unto these my four Sonnes 
and four Daughters I doe give all my landes and houseing that I have 
upon this Hand Martins Vineyard to be either equally devided or valued 
or sold or exchanged and the price thereof Equally devided to everyone 
of them alike and this to be performed at convenient age of them: or as 
my now living wife Mary shall see meet whome I make my full and whole 
Executrix to performe all this my last will and testament; and I give unto 
Mary Peas my wife all my cattle of every sort with all my household goodes 
whatsoever I ha\e more or less for her use and comfort and helpfulness 
■in bringing up my children at her disposing for Ever. 
In witness hereunto my hand and seal. 

John Peas. 
Further I give and bequeath unto 
my second son John Peas twelve pence. 
Wee whose names are underwritten 
are witnesses to this will and testament. 

Thomas Birchard, 

Kathrin Birchard, 

Thomas Trappe, 

His demise took place some time between September, 
1677, and June 3, 1689, when his widow had already remarried, 
and on that date disposed of her interests in the estate of her 
late husband.^ Her second marriage was to a man named 
Creber, probably Capt. Thomas Creber of Portsmouth, N. H., 
master of the ketch John and Mary, engaged in the coastwise 
trade. ^ In 1669 he was the son-in-law of John Moses of 
Portsmouth, and this marriage to the widow, Marie Pease, 
was his second.^ She also outlived this husband, and was a 
widow again in 1695.* The date and place of her death yet 
remain unsolved. An Alice Shortridge, wife of Richard of 
Portsmouth, N. H., was the only surviving child of Thomas 
Crebar, late of Portsmouth (1721), deceased.^ These facts 
above outlined constitute practically all our knowledge of this 
prominent settler, the progenitor of one of our largest and 
best known Vineyard families.*^ 

'Dukes Deeds, I, gq. 

^. Y. Col. Mss. XXXIII, I. 

^York County (Me.) Deeds, II, 209. 

^Dukes Deeds, II, 309. She disposes of land formerly belonging to Ezra Covell, 
but it is not known how it came into her possession. 

'York County (Me.) Deeds, X, 226. 

®For the purpose of collating all the scattered references to him the following 
memoranda are here inserted for future investigators: "James Oliver constituted 
Richard Hogg of Boston in New England, tailor, his attorney to demand of John 
Pease and Nicholas Trevvorgie certain monies due. 5 (12) 1648." (Aspinwall 
Notarial Record, 194). In the inventory of the debts due estate of David Evans in 
1663, that of John Pease is classed as among those "hoped good." (Gen. Reg., XI, 


History of Martha's Vineyard 


In May, 1635, one Richard 

^^\)'0^a/»'9>'i'aA.j'<m^ Sarson, a tailor, embarked 

Vj\ at London in the Elizabeth 

\^^J and Ann for these shores, 

and was listed as twenty- 
eight years of age, but what relationship he bore to the person 
of the same name who became so prominent in the affairs of 
this town, cannot be surely stated/ The tailor was born in 
1607, while our Richard was born in 1637, and the former 
might have been the father, as one authority states that the 
elder went to Nantucket.^ The first record of a Richard 
Sarson in this town is under date of Feb. i, 1656, in connection 
with an agreement made by the townsmen with Robert Pease, 
at which time Richard Sarson and five others agreed to give 
Pease "two and half of fish every year so long as he liveth 
upon the Island."' As our known Richard Sarson was born 
in 1637 he would have been only nineteen years old on this 
date, not able to make a legal contract, and we may assume 
that it was the elder Richard who came here, bringing a son 
of the same name, and that he was admitted on June 2, 1657, 
as townsman. Otherwise we should have to concede that 
our later Richard was admitted as such before he was of age.* 
This hypothesis of a father and son here seems applicable to 
the next record of Feb. 18, 1659, when Richard Sarson was 
chosen as arbitrator in a land controversy, a duty to which a 
young man just turned twenty-one would hardly be called, 
and on June 7, 1659, Richard Sarson was chosen constable, 
an office of some considerable dignity in those times. ^ If 
this theory be correct, we are obliged to dispose of the elder 
Richard ''without benefit of clergy" as there is nothing further 
to indicate when he died to relieve us of the doubt. There 
is scarcely a reference to a death or settlement of an estate 
on the Vineyard before 1660, and early vital statistics are 
entirely wanting, so that the disappearance of the elder Richard 
is not an unnatural conclusion to reach. As Richard Sarson 

'Hotten, "List of Emigrants." In the same ship came Edward Seale and Jeremy 
Whitton, who are probably identical with the persons of those names living at the 
Vineyard in later years. 

'Savage, Gen. Diet., IV, 17; comp., Dukes Deeds, I, 354. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 138. 

^Ibid., I, 139. 

«Ibid., I, 142, 158. 


Annals of Edgartown 

died in 1703, he would have been ninety-seven if it were the 
elder of the name.^ 

After this date the younger Richard could be responsible 
for all the acts of which we have knowledge in the records. 
He took part in the division of Crackatuxett April 21, 1660, 
and was named among the proprietors that year.^ He sub- 
mitted to the Patentees Government in 1661, and in 1662 
was one of the train band and in 1663 drew a lot at Quanomica.^ 
About this time he had obtained the favor of the elder Mayhew, 
and on June 30, 1663, he was chosen recorder of the Vineyard 
Records, land court and probate **and General Assemblys," 
a position he held till 1668.'* This relation resulted in a 
further connection of a more intimate character. The widow 
of Thomas Mayhew, Jr., had been in weeds for seven years, 
and being dependent on the charity of the Society for the 
Propogation of the Gospel for her maintenance, she accepted 
the suit of Richard Sarson, and a marriage was arranged 
some time after Dec. 20, 1664, when the widow disposed of 
her estate by gift to each of her children in anticipation of the 
event. She provided a loophole for herself by this clause, 
however: "in case this match go on betwixt Richard & I," 
evidently recognizing that there was uncertainty about affairs 
of the heart. ^ At this time the widow, Jane Mayhew, must 
have been about thirty-six years old, while Sarson was her 
junior by eight or nine years. The marriage took place, 
however, despite this and her uncertainty, and from that time 
the position of Richard Sarson was assured. By it he ac- 
quired control of the inheritances of the Paine interests de- 
scending to his wife and thus became a considerable property 
owner, and as stepfather of Matthew, Thomas, and Rev. 
John Mayhew he managed their affairs until they were old 
enough to look out for themselves. He became one of the 
governor's assistants shortly after the inauguration of the 
duke's government here, and remained on the bench for about 
thirty years, sitting with his two step-sons most of that time.^ 
This spectacle gave rise to much of the discontent among 

'Richard Sarson was witness to a deed Oct. 8, 1659. (Dukes Deeds, I, 182.) 
*Edgartown Records, I, 147, 156. 
^Ibid., I, 109, 138, 144. He was a juror in 1663. 
'Ibid., 143. 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 312. 

"N. Y. Col. Mss., XXIV, 159; XXIX, 212; XXXIII, 95; XXXVII, 230; comp., 
Dukes Co. Court Records. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

the people elsewhere described. On Oct. 2, 1694, he was 
licensed to retail liquor, not for drinking purposes, but as a 
convenience for the public.^ 

Richard Sarson lived on one of the "Five and Twenty" 
lots and his house was probably on North Water street, as 
the lot extended from Morse to Cottage and from the harbor 
to Pease Point way. This lot originally belonged to Thomas 
Paine, and after Sarson's death descended to Samuel his son, 
and thence to the heirs of Samuel, viz., Anne Belcher and 
Jane Little. The following is a list of land holdings: — 

This Record May Sufficiently Testefy of the pertickeler parcells of 
Lands which followeth was Given By this Town to Searls and Sould by 
the Said Searls to Richard Sarson: one house Lott Being forty Poles 
Square with four acres of Land added to it with three acres of that Swomp 
Joyning to it: this Land and Swomp Near to the old School House Peter 
Foulger Two acre Lott on the North side, otherwise Common Round 
about: More one Devedent about thirty six acres More or Less Lying 
on the South side of the Plaine Bounded with John Peases Lands on the 
East, the Pond on the South, Thomas Bayes Land on the West, the Comon 
on the North: More an Island Lying In Sanchacantacket Pond Near the 
Harbour that Comes Into that Pond: with the fifth Lot at Quanomica 
Neck: with the thirty forth Lott att Felix Neck that Comes Into that 
Pond: More on(e) Lott of thach Meadow Lying at Mattecessett and 
Joyning to the weir Eastward. Also the Six and Twentyth part of fish and 
whale that Belongs to this town and with the above Mentioned pertickelers 
the seven and thirt3^[eth] part of this Town Shipp upon the Island Marthas 
Vineyard : with one Ten acre Lott upon the Line : also a Comonage and 
the Six and twentyth part of fish and whale: these Lands were Confirmed 
by the Town the 30th of Desember 63 and Recorded b}' me the same 30th 
of Desember 63: 


Given to Richard Sarson By the town one half Comonage that is a 
half a thirty seventh part of the Lands and Comons that are undivided 
In this Town Bounds: with one Ten acre Lott upon the Line Being the 
Seventh from Quanomica: with half the thirty fourth at Meachemies 
feild: with half the Lott at Felix Neck.^ 

Besides this Sarson owned land in Chilmark and Tisbury. 
He was an owner of one-sixth of Homes Hole neck in 1667 
(as one of those who helped evict Francis Usselton), but he 
sold it two years later.^ When he died he owned a tract of 
a hundred acres at Homes Hole, bought of an Indian. 

^Dukes Co. Court Record, Vol. I. This is a curious instance of the homely life of 
the Vineyard at that time when a justice of the King's bench could be seen pouring 
out a gill of rum for a thirsty yeoman who perchance had sat in his court a few hours 
before as plaintifif or defendant. 

^Edgartown Records, I, i. 

^Dukes Deeds, I, 239; V, 358. 


Annals of Edgartown 

Richard Sarson died sometime before October 2^, 1703, 
intestate, when administration of his estate was granted to 
Mrs. x\nne Sarson, widow of his son Samuel, and Mr. Thomas 
Lothrop, the husband of Mehitable Sarson, only daughter of 
Richard.^ An inventory of his personal effects amounted to 
;^i 5-1-0, and his real estate was appraised on June 20, 1704, 
as follows : — 

An house lot at Edgartown, formerly called Searles lot with 
a dividend adjoining, with 4 acres of upland & 3 of swamp 
adjoining £3'^— 0—0 

One lot at planting field 24 — o — o 

A share of meadow, a lot on the Neck, with a whole common 
on Chappaquiddick 

A hundred acres of land more or less near Cutteshmoo Spring 

A small island in Sanchacantucket Pond, near the gut 

One share and a half in Pocatapaces Neck 

One share in Commons throughout the township except Chap- 
pa quiddic 

One half share of lands in Commons in the Old Purchase 

It is to be understood that there being several small allotments sup- 
posed to belong to the said estate the apprisement thareof is deferred by 
reason of uncertainty until it be better known. ^ 

The homestead had been deeded to his son Samuel in 
1699, and so does not appear in the estate.^ 

It is not known when Mrs. Jane (Paine) Mayhew-Sarson 
died, nor is there any record of the settlement of her estate. 
By the curious ante-nuptial document of 1664 she gave to her 
children her personal and real property, including the Paine 
homestead, whose northern boundary is the present Main 
street, and extending from the harbor to Pease Point way. 
The following is a copy of this deed of gift : — 

To Matthew I give 5 pounds, which is in my fathers hand, and the 
hors colt: — and the half lot, which was betwixt my mother and me, with 
all the privileges thereto belonging, 

I give unto Thomas; 
and the cow called by the name of yong brown, 

I give unto John, 
and if any of these three die single, it shall be given to Jerusha and Jedida, 
unless I shall see occasion to dispose of it otherwise. This in case this 
match go on betwixt Richard & I. 

'Dukes Probate, I, i6. His son Samuel had died but a short time before his 

'Ibid. The appraisers were Joseph Norton, Benjamin Smith, Isaac Norton, 
Thomas Daggett, and James Pease. 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 206. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

That which is written in this paper I Jane Mayhew, of the Vineyard 
wicldow, did freely give unto my children, as I have expressed in this writing 
bearing date this 20th of December 1664: for the confirmation hereof 
and of all and every of the said gifts and also to testify the premises to 
whom it may concern, I have hereunto set my hand, the day and year 
abovesaid. This writing is not to be in force except she marrieth with 
Richard Sarson. 
Witness hereunto JANE MAYHEW.^ 

Thomas Mayhew 

John Cotton 

There were at least two children born to Richard Sarson 
and his wife Jane, namely Samuel, b. about 1667 and Me- 
hitable who married Thomas Lothrop of Barnstable. If 
other children were born they died young, and the name be- 
came extinct w^ith Samuel, whose children were daughters 
that grew to marriageable age. The name, however, is per- 
petuated in the small island in Sanchacantackett, opposite 
the opening or ''gut" as expressed in the inventory of his 
estate, and is erroneously called on the charts "Sasons Is- 


This prominent 
. /7 ^ settler was a late 
sS-m/i C^yyi^YU jy^^^TTC^comer, and through 

''^ his marital connec- 

tion with the ruling 
family he soon attained public ofhce, and ever after held high 
places in the gift of his relatives, or through their influence. 
Because of his prominence for many years in the political 
life of the island, from his coming here, about 1684, to his 
death, in 1720, the author has endeavored to satisfy the desire 
to know something definite of his antecedents. At the end 
of many extended investigations, which cannot be enumerated 
or explained, it is necessary finally to state the presumptions 
based on all that has been worked out. The author therefore 
gives as his opinion, that he is the son of Rev. John Smith of 
Barnstable and Sandwich, born January, 1658-9, in the former 
town. All other Benjamins in New England have been traced 
out, and this one offers the reasonable solution as regards age, 
condition, and propinquity.^ Only one confusion exists — 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 312. 

^Sandwich was closely connected with the Vineyard by emigration of its famih'es, 
as well as with the Mayhew family by marriage. Governor Mayhew's daughter 
Martha had married Thomas Tupper of Sandwich, and Joseph Wing of the same 
town had married (in 1682) Jerusha Mayhew, elder sister of Jedidah, the wife of 
our Benjamin Smith. 


Annals of Edgartown 

there was a Benjamin Smith in Sandwich having -children 
by a wife Elizabeth, 1687-1704/ while our Benjamin was 
here, and children were born to him 1685-1700. The Ben- 
jamin of Sandwich has been supposed to be the son of Rev. 
John, but of this, as in our case, there is absolutely no proof."* 
There were two Benjamin Smiths living in Sandwich in 1681, 
who were admitted as "townsmen" in that year, Shubael, John, 
and Benjamin "Senior," evidently the three sons of Rev. John, 
and Benjamin Smith, "son of Richard," so-called evidently 
to distinguish him from the other Benjamin. Richard Smith, 
the father of the latter named, was evidently in a humble walk 
of life. He had come to Sandwich about 1657, from Plymouth, 
where he is first heard of in 1643, and he was employed to 
keep the town cattle, and to have for his pay the use of ten 
acres of land and a peck of Indian corn for each creature 
put on the commons.^ In 1665, he was granted three acres 
of bog below his house, and after that his name does not appear 
in the records until 1684, when he was "deceased," and on 
Oct. 24 that year his son Benjamin was appointed admin- 
istrator of the estate.^ In those days, social distinctions 
were well defined, and it is the stronger probability that Ben- 
jamin, the son of the Rev. John, would marry the daughter 
of Rev. Thomas Mayhew and grand-daughter of a governor, 
rather than Benjamin, the son of Richard, cattle keeper for 
the town of Sandwich.'^ It may be said in response, that our 
Benjamin was a "carpenter" by designation, but that does 
not militate against the social position of his family. A me- 
chanical trade was sometimes specified as an occupation in 
early times for purposes of distinguishing individuals, especially 

'The names of these children include Elkanah, Elisha, Peninah, Bathsheba, 
which are not known in the descendants of Rev. John's sons. The only names used 
in common are Ichabod and Ebenezer, which are found in the minister's immediate 

'Benjamin Smith, son of Richard, took the oath of fidelity July 4, 1678, at Sand- 
wich. (Plymouth Col. Rec.) 

'Sandwich Town Records, 1659, 1662. 

^Plymouth Col. Records, VI, 145. Richard Smith had married Ruth Bonum, 
March 27, 1646, and she had died before 1684, as her estate was included in the ad- 
ministration letters granted to Benjamin. 

*Rev. John Smith went to New Jersey with his family and acquired property 
there. Mrs. Jerusha (Mayhew) Wing of Sandwich, went there also with her husband, 
and resided at Shrewsbury in that province. This affords a possible and probable 
association of the Smith and Mayhew families about the time of the marriage. It is 
further to be noted that Shubael Smith, the elder brother of Benjamin, came to the 
Vineyard later in life and spent the remainder of his days here, (i 713-1734). 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

if they were a number of the same name/ There is evidence 
however, that he was a carpenter in fact as well as name during 
the earlier years of his life. 

He had a grant of land in 1684 in this town adjoining a 
previous grant of unknown date, and it is now impossible to 
assign the exact time of his settlement, though it is certain 
that he had married Jedidah Mayhew, youngest daughter of 
the younger Thomas, before Feb. 8, 1683-4, and we may 
agree that 1683, when he was about twenty-four years of age, 
was the probable date, both of marriage and settlement.^ 
This alliance became a career for him, and his name dots the 
records frequently thereafter. He was attorney for the town 
in 1687, 1692; commissioner as King's Attorney for the county 
in 1691; selectman, 1693, 1696, 1697; county treasurer, 1698, 
1 715; representative to the General Court, 1692, 1703; county 
commissioner, 1703, 1708, besides doing other less important 
work in town affairs up to the last years of his life. Notwith- 
standing his family associations it appears that he did not 
entirely approve of all the things that were done by his relatives 
in the government of the island, and in particular the head 
of the clan received his private condemnation, although he 
could not afford open opposition.^ From this we may con- 
clude his sense of justice was keen, even if his strength of 
character was not enough to apply the corrective. 

Parson Homes enters in his diary under date of July 10, 
1720, "Mr. Benjamin Smith of Edgartown died last week. 
He died suddenly, July 4, 1720, being a Monday." The grave- 
stone records the same date, and reads further, "in the 65 year 
of his age." This is probably an error of the cutter of the 
inscription for 63, which would bring his birth to about 1658, 
proximately that of Benjamin, son of Rev. John of Sandwich.'' 

He left a widow Jedidah, who survived him sixteen years, 
and eight children, two of whom, Thomas and Ebenezer, 

'The number of "cordwainers" (shoemakers) who appear on the records, could 
make shoes enough for an army. It is not to be supposed that all followed this occu- 
pation — but they were proficient in it ancj could do so if required. They made their 
own shoes. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 99; comp.,' Dukes Deeds, V, 72. 

^Simon Athearn is our authority that Benjamin Smith told him privately, "that 
they of Edgartown" had consulted together to have Mayor Mayhew "discarded .... 
least he should destroy the place." Athearn adds: "I once asked Mr. Benjamin 
Smith why some Englishmen found stealing in Edgartown & that by the Sheriffe too," 
were not prosecuted, and Smith confessed he "did not know." (Sup. Jud. Ct. Mss., 

^Edgartown Vital Records, 261, where the age is que.stioned by the editor as 
probably 63rd. 


Annals of Edgartown 

became the transmitters of his name unto this present time. 
Four daughters married leaders in the social and political 
circles of the period. 


It is a bold task to attempt the discrimination of the various 
Jghn Smiths who appeared early in New England, but as 
one of this name settled in the town it becomes necessary to 
individualize him if possible. All probabilities favor the theory 
that he first settled at VVatertown, where he married Deborah, 
daughter of George and Phebe Parkhurst of that town, who 
was baptized in Ipswich, England, Aug. i, 1619, and that he 
removed about 1644 to Hampton, N. H., at which place her 
aunt, Mrs. Ruth Dalton, wife of Rev. Timothy Dalton, then 
lived. ^ By this marriage he became later brother-in-law of 
Joseph Merry of Tisbury. 

The earHest record found relating to him here is on June 6, 
1654, when he was chosen as one of the magistrate's assistants.^ 
He may be the "Smith" who on May 8, 1653, drew a lot in 
the Planting Field.' Further mention of him occurs in 1656 
and 1659,* and in the latter year he became connected with 
the movement to settle Nantucket. He was a witness to the 
deed of conveyance of that island July 2, 1659, and later in 
the same year was chosen one of the ten Associate Proprietors 
to settle on the land in equal shares with the original pur- 
chasers.^ Thenceforth he became active in the development 
of that island, although retaining his property interests here. 
He was of the Edgartown train band in 1662, and his name 
is mentioned in the town records in 1660, 1663, and 1664, 
either as drawing lots in the various divisions of the common 
land, or in other minor connections. After that it is believed 
he removed to Nantucket to spend his declining years. 

His home lot was on Tower Hill, just north of the ceme- 
tery in that locality, and descended to his son Philip by will. 

He made his will in Nantucket, but called himself "of 
Martin's Vineyard." He does not use any expression denoting 

'Dow, "History of Hampton, N.H.," 979. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 122. 

nUd., I, 172. 

*John Smith "of Martins Vin Yard" had a suit against Jonas Weed late of South- 
ampton, L. I., in an action of debt in the Connecticut Courts 1657. (Mainwaring, 
Digest of Connecticut Wills, I, 113.) 

'Macy, "History of Nantucket," 32. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

"advanced years," as was a common phrase employed by 
the aged, and it may be assumed that he was not much beyond 
middle life when it was executed. It is as follows: — 

I John Smith of Martin's Vineyard, being in perfect health and Sound- 
ness Both in body and Minde, doe make my Last Will and Testament 
this 14th day of Febua: in the year : 1670 : as foUoweth: — 

Imprimis: I Give unto my two sonnes John and Samuell all my 
lands on the Hand of Nantuckett wth all privelledges thereto belonging 
to be equally devided between them : they paying to their two sisters 
Deborah and Abigaill unto either of them five pounds to be payed within 
one year after their Entrance and Possession thereof. 

Item: I give unto my sonne phillip my land and house at Martin's 
Vineyard with all priviledges belonging to the aforesaid land, to be his 
after the decease of his mother; and in the mean time after my decease 
my will is that the said Phillip my sonne shall injoy two thirds of the said 
lands and privelledges. The true intent and meaning of this my Gift 
unto my sonne phillip is this : because the wise disposing hand of God 
hath ordered that my said Sonne at present is impotent in his understand- 
ing : that his weakness shall not alienate the lands from my familie : there- 
fore my will is that the lands and priviledges as aforementioned shall be 
thus disposed : Namely : if he said phillip shall Marrie and have issue : 
then the lands are Given to him and his heirs for Ever : but if the said 
phillip shall dy without issue, then it shall at his decease fall to the next 
heir in the family : and farther I Give to my sonne phillip what drawing 
cattle are in being on the land or living aforesaid at my decease, with carts, 
plowes and all furniture belonging to the teame, and also two Cowes : and 
liberty to dwell in the house all the time of his Mothers life. 

lie: I mak Deborah my wife whole Executor of tliis my last will, and I 
desire and appoint my Loving Friends Mr. Thomas Mayhew and Isaac Rob- 
inson at the Vineyard & Mr Edward Starbuck and Thomas Macy of Nan- 
tuckett overseers of this my last will and testament : and in case one or more 
of these friends dy or leave the country and their places vacant, then the 
Survivors or Remainers shall have liberty to chuse others to supply, and 
are desired so to doe : for the confirmation hereof I the said Testator 
have hereunto set my hand the day & year above written.^ 

Witnesses John Smith 

Thomas Macy Junr 
Sarah Macy 
Mary Starbuck. 

It is not known when he died, but it was sometime before 
June 16, 1674, when his son John sold the Nantucket property.' 
This son returned to Hampton, N. H,, where descendants 
resided. He was a lieutenant and by trade a cooper.^ 

The following is a list of the landed property of John 
Smith which he bequeathed to his son Philip: — 

>Dukes Deeds, I, 348. 

^Nantucket Deeds. 

^Dow, "History of Hampton," 979. 


Annals of Edgartown 

a True Record of the Lands now in the Possession of Phillip Smith of 
Edgartown upon Marthas Vineyard: Desembr 27th (1676.) 
Inprimus one House Lott Containing Ten acres more or Less Bounded By- 
Thomas Harlock on the East & South the Common on the West, Richard 
Arey on the North: It. one Lott at the Planting feild Being Ten acres 
More or Less Bounded By Thomas Daggett on the East & South, Richard 
Sarson on the North, Joana Bland on the North: It. one Devidant at 
the Great Neck Bounded By the Plain on the East, Joana Bland on the 
South, Mr. Mayhew on the West, the Pond on the North: with the 36 
Lott at Pheli.x Neck: 25 Lott at Meachamus feild and the 28th Lott att 
Quanomica with the 25th of wood Lott that was Laid out By the Ponds : on 
the East : Mr. Mayhews on the South, Joseph Daggett on the West and Thomas 
Daggett on the North: with one share of meadow at Cracketuxett Being 
Two acres more or Less Bounded by Thomas Daggett on the South or 
South East: It. one Lott at Chapequidick Neck, Mr. Mayhew on the 
North west, John Pease South east: It. one thach Lott Lying By Mr. 
Sarsons Devidant that he Bought of Thomas ISIayhew: with one whole 
share of Commonage and one share of fish and whale and share of all 
undivided Lands.* 

It is not known either when the widow Deborah died, 
but she probably survived till about 1686, when Philip sold 
the homestead to his brother Samuel, from which it is evident 
that the mental infirmity referred to in the father's will had 
been relieved, as Philip was marshal of the county at that 
time. Descendants through both these sons remained on 
the Vineyard, and now reside on the island in the tenth genera- 


/p Especial interest attaches to 

*— ^^[(^^^ ^ this person, as a Trapp is one of 

*^ '-^/^^tf^i^Jt- the four legendary settlers before 

• ♦ the coming of the Mayhews. 

The only Trapp positively known 
to have come to the Vineyard was Thomas Trapp, a late 
arrival (1659), who was born in 1634-5, according to his grave- 
stone, and hence but a child at the time when alleged landing 
occurred. His choice of this place for a home was a natural 
one, probably because of the Burchards who were kinsmen 
of his and among the first settlers.^ The English home of 
Trapp is not known, although diligent search has located 

'Edgartown Records, I, 21. 

^Thomas Burchard and wife Katharine speak of "cusen Thomas Trapp of Mar- 
tins Vineyard," on two separate occasions. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

many of his name in various parishes of Essex, the county 
whence came the Brownings and Peases/ A Thomas Trapp 
Kved, married, and had children in Great Baddow, 1 639-1 659, 
the home of John Pease, ^ and our Thomas Trapp emigrated 
to New England in company with a husbandman of Purleigh, 
Essex, a parish only seven miles distant from Great Baddow.^ 
After his arrival in this country, in 1659, he evidently came 
directly to Great Harbor and established a residence in this 
town, for he was granted a ten-acre "lot on the line" in Decem- 
ber of that year.^ This vvas north of Main street and west 
of Planting Field way, and he gradually increased his holdings 
in that vicinity northward to the pond which still bears his 
name. He also acquired land in the Great Swamp by pur- 
chase, and after 1670 shared in the division of the common 

He held numerous and important minor ofhces in the 
town and county. He was marshal, water bailiff and crier 
in 1667; juryman, 1679; deputy sheriff, 1694-1700; and 
town clerk, 1700 till his death. This event occurred Oct. 15, 
1719, in his 86th year, and he lies buried in the old cemetery. 
The maiden name of his wife Mary is not known, but by her 
he had at least nine children who grew to adult life, five sons 
and four daughters. '' These left a numerous posterity, who 
lived on the paternal acres until about 1800, when the last 
of the name had migrated, mostly to Norwich and other towns 
in Connecticut. The name is now extinct on the Vineyard, 
but is represented in the Norton and Pease families through 
marriage of his daughter. 

'Trapps are to be found at this period in Ongar, Orselt, Bobbingworth, Chig- 
well, Greensteed, Bromfield, Great Baddow, and Good Easter, all in the county of 
Essex, and most of them near the home of John Pease. Doubtless a further search 
would definitely place Thomas Trapp in some contiguous parish. See Visitation of 
Essex, 1612, p. 506. 

^Thomas Trapp, single man, of Great Baddow, married Jane Burre, Oct. 28, 1639. 
She was daughter of the vicar of the parish. 

^Suffolk Co. Probate Records, X, 87, 88. This fellow passenger, Lewis Martin, 
died on the voyage and left all his property to John Andrews of Fenchurch Street, 
London, a linen draper who was a "cousen" to Thomas Trapp. 

^He was voted "not of this town," on Oct. 22, 1660, but on Jan. 28, 1661, he is 
credited as owner of one lot. (Town records, I, 20, 22.) He forfeited a "lot on the 
line" before 1665, and it was granted to another. (Ibid., I, 35). It is certain however, 
that the Trapp property was in that section. (Ibid., I, 29). 

'Edgartown Town Records, I, 20, 21. He also owned one-third of Homes Hole 
Neck, which he acquired by purchase, but sold same within a short time. 

'The widow Mary Trapp survived. 


Annals of Edgartown 


The antecedents of this early settler remain unknown to 
the author after much searching in this country and England. 
The association of the name of Vincent with the alleged land- 
ing of John Pease, before 1642, made it desirable that the 
Vincent should be identified. There were none of the name 
at Great Baddow in Essex, where John Pease lived, but in 
the adjoining parish of Bromfield, about four miles distant, 
a family of Vincents had long lived, when the Pease family 
emigrated to New England. One Robert Vincent, *'ane 
ancient man" of Butlers, an estate in the parish, died in 
December, 1632, and the property descended to his son Robert, 
who married Elizabeth Godsaffe on June 28, 1633, and on 
the same day William Vincent of Bromfield, singleman, mar- 
ried Mary Burr, daughter of the vicar of the parish.^ As our 
William Vincent was born in 1627, it is evident that he could 
not be the son of either of these persons.^ These people, how- 
ever, had dealings with our Pease family and their connections, 
William Vincent, yeoman of Bromfield, gave a bond in August, 
1636, to pay ;i^io to Abraham Page (nephew of John Pease), 
when he comes of age, "at or in the South Porch of the Church 
of great Baddow." The witnesses were Thomas Burre, vicar 
of Bromfield and Margaret Pease, widow, grandmother of 
young Page.^ When Page arrived in this country in 1645, he 
made Robert Scott of Boston his attorney, to collect "money 
from any Pson or Psons whatsoever within the Realme of 
England,"* and it will be noticed that it was at Robert Scott's 
house where Malachi Browning died some years later. These 
facts have a direct bearing upon the possible association of 
the Vincents with the group of people who lived in the sight 
of the church at Great Baddow.^ 

A William Vincent was granted a lot of land at Norwich, 
Conn., in 1651, but the w^ord "forfeited" is marked against 

'Morant, "History of the County of Essex," II, 77. The Parish Registers of 
Bromfield contain no Vincent entries before the marriages just quoted. 

^He testified in 1693, aged 66 years. (Dukes Court Records.) 

^Suffolk Deeds, I, 66. Recorded Dec. 12, 1645. This may be the William 
Vincent who married the vicar's daughter. 

^Aspinwall Notarial Records, 14. 

^here was a William Vincent, a potter, of Salem, 1636, later of Gloucester, Mass., 
1643, who died in i6qo, having married twice and had at least eight children, neither 
of whom could have been identified with this island. A William Vinson was of Provi- 
dence, R.I., in 1666, but he is identified as a son of Thomas of Amesbury, Co. Wilts, 
baptized in 1638. (Savage, Gen. Diet., IV, 374-5; comp., Esse.x Antiquarian, 


History of Martha*s Vineyard 

it, and a guess may be hazarded that this was our WiUiam, 
then a young man of twenty-four years, who was there at the 
time when John Pease was prospecting for a new location/ 
We may suppose that he returned to the Vineyard with Pease, 
in absence of a better hypothesis as to his whereabouts before 
coming to this town. His first appearance on our records is 
on March 15, 1655, when he bought of Robert Codman one- 
half of the harbor lot on Starbuck's Neck, which Arey had sold 
to Codman, consisting of four acres.^ Whether he lived there 
is uncertain, but presumably he did, until the next year, on 
Feb. 18, 1656, when he bought of Edward Andrews "his 
house and land adjoyning to it twenty acres more or less 
bounded on the east side by the land of John Burchard: on 
the west Mamanekorn Neck: the one end butting upon 
the fresh pond, the other end upon the common."^ This was 
at Mashakommukeset, where he afterwards resided, and it 
remained Vincent property for generations. Before Decem- 
ber, 1655, he had married Susannah, daughter of Malachi 
and Mary (Collier) Browning, and the young couple set up 
housekeeping in this beautiful region, overlooking the great 
pond. In December, 1659, he was a juror, and in 1660, he 
is recorded as one of the proprietors and began to draw lots 
as such.* He submitted to the Patentee's Government in 1661, 
■and was one of a committee appointed to evict the Indians 
living within the town bounds the same year.^ He was of the 
Train Band in 1662, and in 1663 he was sued by William 
Weeks for a small debt, and with three others built the general 
fence for the town under contract. He was credited with 
owning half a lot at this time, presumably the Arey-Codman 
lot above referred to.^ In 1664 he participated in land divisions, 
and on April 21, 1665, was chosen town constable." But little 
is heard of him for the next ten years, except in some minor 
land transaction until the "Dutch Rebellion," in which he 
took part and was fined therefor. In 1675 he sued Peter 
Jenkins for debt, and four years later had a suit against sundry 
Indians who had detained his share of a whale and some 

'Caulkins, "History of Norwich. 
^Edgartown Records, I, 137. 
^Ibid., I, 115. 
*Ibid., I, 147, 156. 
nbid., I, 144. 

*Ibid., I, 109, III, 140, 147. He sold this lot to Joseph Codman this year. (Ibid., 

'Edgartown Records, I, 112, 127. 


Annals of Edgartown 

*'Blober."^ In 1680 he was fined for felling trees and ''cut- 
ting wood for Mr. Mayhew," and in 1681 was a juror. ^ Va- 
rious real estate transactions in 1682, 1684, and 1687, includ- 
ing further grants to him at Meshacket and Wintucket give 
us glimpses of his continued activity, and this brings us to 
May 10, 1690, when he made his will, then in his sixty-fourth 
year.^ By this time he had become estranged from his only 
son Thomas, to whom nine years before (Sept. 16, 1681), he 
had sold considerable of his property including one acre "by 
my shop."* His name appears on the records in 1693, when 
he made an affidavit; in 1694, when he sold land at Wintucket, 
and on March 15, 1694-5, when he was listed as a proprietor 
of one share in the town. 

The following is a list of his real estate holdings : — 

This is a true Record of the Petickeler parcells of Land which are now 
In the possession of WilHam Vinsin upon this Island as foUoweth: first 
one Neck Called Shockamockset adjoining to Quanomica on the West 
and so Runing by Marked Trees on the North, to Meshaket Neck on the 
East: and straight Down to the Pond on the South: this Neck meadow 
and upland Being Twenty five acres More or Less: wath two acres of Land 
at Quanomica Being the Sixth Lott: with one acre of meadow Lying att 

Chapequideck Bounded By : with the Second Lott at 

Felix Neck: with the Seventh Lott Mechmies feild: with a whole Right 
of Comonage and a sixth and twentyth part of fish and whale. 

this Recorded by me the 24th of February 1663 Richard Sarson 
with that feild where the said Vinson fenced In Lying Near the Great 
Swamp Being five acres More or Less: this was Given May the Last Day: 
64: with a full Right of all the allotments which Towonticut Sachem 
Reserved In the townshipp and was Bought of the said Sachem by Richard 
Sarson having Liberty by this town so to Do: the said Vinson hath paid 
for his part pt this foresaid purchas 2 :8.* 

It is probable that William Vincent lived well into 1697, 
at which time he was three score and ten years of age, the 
Scriptural limit. His will was proven in court on July 14 of 
that year, and an abstract of it is as follows, being the first 
will recorded in the probate records of the county : — 

Edgartown upon Marthas Vineyard: the last will and testament of 
me William Vinson 

I do give unto my son Thomas Vinson ten shillings to be paid within 
ten days after my burial if he demands it of my executor: but if not de- 

'Diikes Court Records, Vol. I. 


'Edgartown Records, I, 31, 2^; comp., Dukes Deeds, I, 344. 

*Dukes Deeds, I, 326. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 2, 13. 

History of Martha*s Vineyard 

manded within the said ten days, then my will is, and I do give my s'd 
son Thomas Vinson only one shilling to be paid at demand after the said 
ten days, at any time within an hundred year after the day of my burial: 
and my reasons for so doing and giving my said son Thomas Vinson no 
more is this, first: I have gi\'en him near forty pounds: besides he my 
said son Thomas Vinson hath not demeaned himself well towards me nor 
his mother, to our sad great grief. 

I do give my wife Susannah Vinson all my whole estate, both real 
and personal, 

I do appoint my said wife Susannah Vinson to be my sole executrix. 

and I do desire Richard Sarson and Simon Newcomb to do 

that kindness for me to see this my will performed so far as they can 

this tenth diiy of May 1690. 

The mark of VV \'\^illiam Vinson ' 
Witnesses : 
Richard Sarson 
Philip Covel 

It is not known whether Thomas demanded the half 
crown or was content to be ''cut off with a shiUing," which 
was made available to him for the entire next century. It 
is pleasant to record that there is evidence of the repentance 
of Thomas and the restoration of confidence between the aged 
mother and her only son in later years. The widow Susannah 
Vinson survived her husband a quarter of a century, and must 
have been very aged when she died. She made her will 
April 2, 1720, "being sick and weak in body," in which she 
gives some bedding and a "white chest with lock & key" 
to her grandson, Thomas Vinson, Jr., and gives all the rest 
of her estate to her son Thomas and his nine children.^ It 
was proved May 10, 1722, and it will be safe to infer that 
she died a short time before that date, probably in the early 
part of that year. Assuming that she was twenty years old 
when her son was born, she was about eighty-five at her de- 


In the parish of Staines, on the north bank of the Thames 
in the County of Middlesex, about fifteen miles west of London, 
there lived during the early part of the 17th century a family 
bearing the name of Atwick alias Wickes.^ In 1638 Richard 
Wickes died, and hisAvill, dated August 4, was proved Novem- 
ber 8, that year. In it he directs his executor "to pay to my 

'Dukes Probate Records, I, 2. 

^Dukes Probate, I, 127. 

•'Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Soame 80. 


Annals of Edgartown 

son John Wickes now living in New England £200 at the 
feast of the birth of our Lord God next coming," and if he 
should die before its receipt the amount was to be divided 
equally among his minor children. This John Wickes was a 
friend of Samuel Gorton, and had lived at Plymouth in 1637, 
and later in Rhode Island at Portsmouth, on the island of 
Aquidneck, 1639, from whence he removed in 1643 with Gor- 
ton to Warwick across the bay/ His friendship for Gorton 
resulted in his arrest and imprisonment, but this did not last 
beyond a year, for on Aug. 8, 1647, his townsmen elected him 
a magistrate.^ He continued to reside there till his death, at 
the hands of the Indians, during King Philip's war, in Novem- 
ber, 1675, aged sixty-six years. ^ 

Robert Wickes of Staines, gentleman, also left a bequest 
to another son reading thus: "To my son William, ;£3oo, as 
follows, ;^3o in three months and the remainder in three years 
and he to have ;^io paid him every half year in the meantime, 
and if he should die, or never come to claim it, then to be di- 
vided between my sons John and Robert and their children."^ 
In absence of direct proof it cannot be stated positively that 
this is the William Weeks whose name first appears in 1653 
on the Vineyard records, but who must have been there at an 
earlier date to have participated at that time in a division of 
land. One son of Robert Wickes had already gone to New 
England as above stated, and it is evident that Wilham was 
either going away or was absent from England, creating a 
doubt about his return to claim the bequest. It is a fair 
presumption that one brother followed the other, and as our 
William was a sea-faring man, and did a packet business 
between Rhode Island and the Vineyard, it seems that we 
have here a presumptive connection established for William 
of Edgartown.^ 

As before stated, William Weeks participated in the first 
recorded division of lands in this town. May 8, 1653, indicating 

'Savage, Gen. Diet., IV, 538. It is believed he is the same person who embarked 
at London in September, 1635, aged twenty-six years, with a wife and a daughter 
Ann. His daughter Ann married WilHam Burton of Rhode Island. 

^The whole story may be read in Winthrop Journal, II, 140-149; Compare Mass. 
Col. Rec, II, 52. He must have personally known John Pease of the Vineyard. 

^Savage, Gen. Diet., IV, 539; eomp., Leehford, Note Book, 188, and R. I. Hist. 
Coll., II, 86. 

^Prerogative Court of Canterbury. Lee 140. 

^John Wickes of Rhode Island eould not liave been the father of our William, 
in all probability, as William must have been born before 1620 to take part in the 
business he did in later years. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

a prior residence of some duration, and on April lo, 1655, 
was granted land "near the pines in the middle of the island." 
That he was married at this time is indicated by a deposition 
of Goodwife Weeks, dated Dec. 25, 1655, and it is probable 
that his children were either brought here when he settled 
or were born shortly after. His name occurs in 1656, 1657, 
1659, and 1660, in which year on February 22, he was sued 
by one William Lambert. This same year he is mentioned 
as a proprietor of one share in the town and was elected con- 
stable. That he kept an ordinary or inn seems to be indicated 
by the following entry on the town records, as well as a later 
one to be referred to : — 

William Weeks is fined for selling of strong liquor: paying ten shil- 
lings: to Thomas Mayhew 14 s. Sz: t(w)o bottles of liquor to the townsmen 
and further he doth promise for himself and family that they shall no more 
be sold by him or them. [28 January 1661] ' 

The next year Wiiham Weeks had some lawsuits on his 
hands, suing Thomas Jones for his passage from Rhode 
Island,^ and in turn was sued by Jones for weaving done. 
In both cases he received the verdict. His name is not in 
the train band Hst of 1662, perhaps he was exempted on ac- 
count of his occupation, but he took part in the division of 
Quanomica the next year, and was plaintiff in a number of 
suits against Robert Codman, Richard Arey, Nicholas Norton, 
and William Vinson. 

His name occurs in the records each year following in 
minor connections till 1667, when on November 18 of that 
year, while making a trading trip from the Vineyard in his 
"vessel of 15 tunnes, laden with corn, pork, hides, tobacco, 
wheat, vegetables and other miscellaneous freight," he was 
wrecked at Quick's Hole and his vessel was seized and looted 
by the Indians of the Elizabeth Islands. His son William 
was on board, and according to the story of their experiences 
testified to by them they were very badly treated. ''They 
tooke away a new hatt and a new paire of shooes from my 
Sonne," he said, and "a suite of cloathcs from me, 2 pre of 
shooes (and) all my tooles."^ John Dixey "brought the 
deponents with his sloop out of their bondage" and carried 
the news to the Governor of New York, who wrote back to 

^Edgartown Records, I, 145. His "family" must have been sufficiently grown 
to be included in a proceeding of this kind. 

^This indicates that Weeks was engaged in coastwise traffic with Rhode Island. 
'New York Col. Doc, III, 168. 


Annals of Edgartown 

Governor Mayhew to deal with the piratical Indians for their 
unlawful acts and require restitution of the vessel and all the 
stolen cargo/ It was not until 1671 that he had his lands 
recorded on the town books, and the following is a copy of his 
estate as then held by him : - - ^ 

Desember the nth 1671 The Petickelers of the parcells of Land Granted 
unto William Weeks by the Inhabitance of Edgartown at the Great Har- 
bour of Marthas Vinyard and Ordered to Be Recorded the Day above 
writ en 

one whole Comonage of the thirty seven Shears with all preveledges 
there unto Belonging as fish and whale: one house Lott of Twenty Poles 
Broad Bounded By Thomas Bayes on the South and Richard Sarson on 
the North Being Ten acres More or Less: to the Line Ten acres eleven 
Poles and a half Breadth Bounded By Thomas Bayes on the West 
Richard Sarson on the East: Land Bought of Peter Foulger one Neck 
Lying West to the Planting feild Being Eight acres More or Less: with 
one acre and a half of Meadow at Sanchacantackett one shear of Mea- 
dow:- one Shear at Felix Neck: another Shear at Meachemus feild: one 
Shear at Quanomica: one Shear at Cracketuxett: One Devidant Lying 
at the Great Neck Being Twenty five acres more or Less Lying betwixt 
Thomas Peases and Mrs Blands: with one thach Lott ajoyning Part upon 
my said Devidant at the Neck: at Chapequideck one Lott of three acres 
More or Less Bounded By John Pease on the North and young Mr. May- 
hew on the South: two acres of Meadow Lying on the South East Side 
of Chapequideok More or Less: one acre of Meadow on the East Side 
of the Planting feild Lying Northward of Thomas Doggetts Be it More 
or Less: These all Granted By this Town and Purchased of Indians 
and one twenty fifth part 

He had acquired some land at Homes Hole before the 
first record of it appears (Feb. 9, 1680), as that is the only 
way to account for his appointment on a committee in Tis- 
bury on Jan. 16, 1678, to view every man's lot and equalize 
it in the matter of swamp lands. ^ It is likely he was on the 
committee as an outsider, wnth Isaac Chase and Thomas 
Mayhew, to deal impartially as arbitrator. The next year he 
was juryman at Nantucket, and w^as plaintiff in a suit against 
John Daggett for trespass.^ In 1680 he served again as a 
juror, and in 1681 Arthur Biven entered a complaint against 
Weeks as follows: The "said Buiven caled for a gill of Rum 
& they brought half water and the said Weekes had no lodge- 

'The name is spelled Weexe. Ibid., Ill, 169. 

•Edgartown Records; I, p. 10. 

^Tisbur}' Records, 10; compare Dukes Deeds, I, 227, where he bought land of 
the Sachem Ponit and I, 377, a sale of land at Homes Hole, Feb. 9, 1681, by Thomas 
Mayhew. This is the only reference to him in the Tisbury Records. 

^Nantucket Records, I; Dukes Court Records, I. 


History of Martha*s Vineyard 

ing for him nor food for his horse. "^ This complaint shows 
that Weeks was still keeping a tavern. The town and county 
records give evidence of his activities in business and litiga- 
tion in 1684, 1685, and 1687, not necessary here to enumerate. 
He sold to Isaac Chase on July 25, 1688, his real estate in- 
terests at Homes Hole, and his last appearance on the records 
is another sale on December 29, same year. Between that 
date and Aug. 3, 1689, he had died, as his widow Mary sold 
the home lot and he is referred to as then deceased.^ This 
sale of her interest to Simon Athearn resulted in litigation 
with the sons, William and Richard, who claimed ownership, 
and the court gave them possession.^ There is no record of 
a will or administration of William Weeks' estate. His son 
Samuel had a grant of land in the town in 1681, consisting 
of ten acres on the north side of the old mill path, but he sold 
it in 1688 to Benjamin Smith, and is not further known as a 
resident here.* 

With the death of William, Senior, the family name ceased 
on the island until 17 10, when Joshua Weeks came here and 
brought the house lot formerly owned by George Martin of 
Edgartown and Newport. Joshua later settled in Tisbury, 
and his descendants resided there and in Chilm.ark until 
within recent years. 


This settler was a late comer and is another of the sons-in- 
law of Nicholas Norton, attracted to a residence here by one 
of his daughters. Where he lived before 1681, when his land 
is mentioned, is an unsettled question.^ There was a Thomas 
Wallen or Walling of Providence (1645), who died in 1674 
leaving a wife Mary and son Thomas with other children. 
This Thomas Junior, married in 1669, Margaret Caldwell, 
and he may be the one who came to this town and took a 
second wife, as above. He lived near the Mile Brook, on the 
Sanchacantacket Path as late as 1722, but nothing further is 
known of him. His only known son Elisha, continued the 
family name in Edgartown to the middle of that century. 

'Dukes Court Records, I. June 28, 1681. 

^Dukes Deeds, III, 41. 

'These sons were then living in Falmouth, where children are recorded to William 
and another son John. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 29. See also Dukes Deeds, I, 81, 255 and 259, where 
he disposes (1686) of the interest he had in his father's lot bought the year before. 

^Ibid., I, 29. 


Annals of Edgartown 


As distinguished from the settlers who made permanent 
homes here, hved their Hves and reared famiUes; whose de- 
scendants developed what the pioneers had opened to the 
settlement of white men, there were a goodly number of tran- 
sient residents who remained but a few years and then sought 
homes elsewhere. These men have their place in our history, 
but the interest in them does not call for extended notice 
beyond the record of their brief doings while here. 


This person was one of the early "transients," of whom 
we know but little. He was, possibly, a settler at Newport 
in 1639, later admitted as freeman at Warwick, in 1655, but 
before Feb. 13, 1656, he had acquired from Thomas Layton 
the property of Philip Tabor at Mashakommukeset, and 
called himself a ''now inhabitant on Martin's Vineyard." ^ 
He had been in possession of the property but a few months 
when he sold it on the last mentioned date to William Vincent, 
and left the island, soon after in all probability. He was 
sued in the town court, June 24, 1656, by John Burchard. 
He removed to Portsmouth, R. I., and later to Warwick in 
the same colony. He was a shoemaker by occupation, and 
his wife's name was Bridget.^ 


This person was an early resident of Boston, and on 
Sept. 4, 1632, he was apprenticed to Mr. [William] Paine 
"for five years from his landing," and we may presume that 
he was sent over, by his parents perhaps, for that purpose.^ 
Upon the expiration of his service he removed, probably, 
to Yarmouth, as we find him named on a committee, March 
5, 1639, with Philip Tabor, to divide the planting lands in 
that town, and on June i, 1641, he was entered as an applicant 
for citizenship.* In 1642 he was fined for scoffing at religion 
and disturbing public worship.-' His connection with the 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 325. He bought this after August, 1655. 

^Austin, Gen. Diet, of R. I., 3; comp., Savage, art. Andrews. 

'Mass. Col. Records, I, 99. William Paine was a great merchant in Boston. 

*Freeman, History of Cape Cod, I, 135, 142, 144. II, 17, 29, 31, 36, 41. 

^Plymouth Col. Rec. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Vineyard is of a transient nature. It is inferred that he 
came hither with his fellow townsman, Peter Tabor, who was 
here before 1647, and the date of his acquiring a lot may be 
placed anywhere after 1644 when the township was established. 
As to the location of this lot we way suppose it to be the har- 
bor lot on Starbuck's Neck, later owned by Thomas Daggett, 
who had succeeded before 1660 to the possessions of Barnes.^ 
It requires some adjustment of facts to place this person 
as a settler at Southampton, Long Island, before 1642, as 
the author of the history of that town classifies him in his 
lists, in view of previous residence known at Yarmouth.^ 
He may have gone there from Yarmouth following his court 
experience at Plymouth, and returned to the Vineyard to ac- 
quire a lot here. However, he finally became a settler at 
Easthampton in 1649, and continued to reside in that locality 
till his death, sometime after Sept. 13, 1696, and his descend- 
ants remained there. ^ 


This person first appears in Edgartown, in 1663, when 
he was "freed" from a bond and his "master." He was 
plaintiff in actions for debt against Nicholas Norton in 1663 
and William Weeks in 1665, and defendant in similar action 
brought in 1663 by the widow of John Folger. He had a 
lot between the "line" and "home" lots which came into 
possession of Isaac Norton before 1681. 


John Freeman was a blacksmith, and lived here, in Cleve- 
land Town, in 1677, but the time of his coming or going or 
his antecedents are not known. ^ He was fined, in 1678, for 
"an unseemly act in the governour's house," during a trial. 


He served as a juror in 1684, the only time his name is 
mentioned.^ , 

'Edgartown Records, I, 147. 

^Thompson, "History of Long Island," pp. 205, 207. 

'Chronicles of Easthampton, pp. 16, 17. Records of Southampton, II, 278, 325. 

^Dukes Deeds, I, 37. 

'Dukes Court Records, Vol. I. 


Annals of Edgartown 


He is first mentioned in 1659, when he was chosen as 
referee in a land dispute between John Daggett and Thomas 
Bayes, and the same year he sued Nicholas Norton for some 
dispute about a ''cure" for "Gousses" child. The next year 
he sued the Indian Sachem Cheeshachamuck, and in 1662, 
accounts between him and Edward Leader are presented for 
trial. A John Goose was witness in 1681. Nothing is known 
of either of them beyond these items, and no land is credited 
to their name.' 


In 1689, and for some time previous, this person held 
the tenure of the home lot at the north side of Jones' Hill. 
There is no record of the manner in which he acquired it nor 
of the disposal of it by him after the date mentioned. It may 
have been a forfeited grant. ^ We may suppose that this per- 
son was that Edward Hathaway, b. Feb. 10, 1663-4, the son 
of John and Hannah (Hallett) Hathaway of Barnstable. 


This settler was one of the Connecticut contingent which 
furnished several additions to our island population between 
1650 and 1660. He is first heard of at Hartford in 1640, and 
later at Saybrook in 1648, where he was living on the East 
side of the Connecticut river in the present town of Lyme. 
He was associated there with our Robert Codman, as appears 
by the following record of a court held Aug. 12, 1657: — 

The Court considering the ingagement of Edward Lay to this Juris- 
diction of Robert Codmans Estate, that the said Lay should appear several 
years since at Hartford to answer at the Courte his abusive carriage and 
expressions before several of Seabrooke, which to this time he hath not 
attended, they order that upon the payment of ;^5 to the Treasr by said 
Codman, hee shall be free from the aforesaid seizure of Robert Codmans 
estate in his hands; and the said Edward Lay shall be free from the for- 
feiture of bond and contempt therein, which ;^5 being paid by Codnam 
for Edward Lays disappearance according to ingagement, the judge that 
Edward Lays estate should satisfy Codnum for the same.' 

'Egdartovvn Records, I, 125, 130, 132, 142; Dukes Deeds, I, 90. 
'Dukes Deeds, I, 366; II, 464. 

^Conn. Col. Records, I, •?02. He was brother of Robert and John Lay of Lyme 
and Saybrook. (G. R., LXIL, 172.) 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

Edward Lay's ''disappearance" from the Connecticut 
''several years since" is accounted for by his migration to 
Martha's Vineyard. He removed to this town some time 
prior to May 8, 1653, when he had been here long enough to 
be one of the proprietors and participate in the division of 
the Planting Field. ^ He owned at this time the sixth lot 
from Pease's Point, fronting the harbor and, presumably, lived 
there. ^ He is mentioned with his wife, whose name was 
Martha, in connection with a neighborhood "slander case early 
in 1655, and on Feb. i, 1656, is one of those who entered into 
an agreement with Robert Pease about his settlement.^ In 
June, 1656, Lay and his wife had a case against John Pease 
for slander, in which he recovered damages.* He was fined 
for leaving town meeting before it was adjourned in August, 
1659, and the next year, Oct. 22, 1660, is rated as a proprietor 
and drew lots on his share. ^ In 1661 or 1662 he removed to 
Rhode Island and took up a residence at Portsmouth, where 
he became an important citizen. He sold on Oct. 18, 1662, 
the following described property, which represented his real 
estate holdings acquired here in ten years : — 

I Edward Lay inhabitant in portsmoth upon rhoad Island and in 

the Colonny of providence in america Bargain and sell unto 

thomas Layton (of Portsmouth) these parcells of Land with all the housin 
upon them first: a Lott of Eight acres of Land more or less with a Dwelling 
house upon the same which Land and house as all other parcells in this 
Deed and Sale lyeth upon the Island called Marthas Vineyard: as also I sell 
twenty acres of Land more or less Lying near the path Going (to) Me- 
shackett and adjoyning to a parcell of Land of thomas Bayeses in the 
same Neck: as also one acre and half acre of Land Lying upon Chappa- 
quiddick neck a Lott there be the Land more or Less and Lying between 
John Daggetts Land on the one side and thomas Mayhews on the other: 
as also ten acres of Land more of less Lying between the Land of thomas 
Harlock and the Land of Robert Codman Butting upon the highway to 
the plain: as also two acres of meadow more or Less Lying Between the 
land of John Pease Butting upon Mortles neck from the Sea: as also one 
acre of Land more or Less Lying att Crackatuxett att the going in of the 
next to the Land of thomas Burchards there: as also one thach Lott Joyn- 
ing to peter folgers Land on the South Beach: all those above mentioned 
parcells of Land together with all my write of Commonage fish and whale.^ 

'Edgartown Records, I, 172. 

^It was sold by him with a dwelling house on it in 1662. (Ibid., I, 98.) 

^Ibid., I, 124, 138. 

^bid., I, 114. 

*Ibid., I, 147, 156. 

«Ibid., I, 98. 


Annals of Edgartown 

After settling in Portsmouth, he was of the Grand Jury 
in 1663, Constable 1665, Deputy to the General Court 1667 
and 1677, besides holding minor offices in the town. He was 
licensed to keep a public house in 1675.^ His wife Martha 
died in 1682, and he died in 1692, aged eighty-four years. 
No descendants of his are known to have lived here. 


This person who bought the property of Edward Lay, 
in 1662, was from Portsmouth, R. I., where he was first set- 
tled in 1638, and in 1655 was made a freeman.^ He is found 
in this town on Aug. 16, 1662, when he appears in the list of 
members of the train band, and a few months later he made 
his purchase of the Lay estate.^ It seems probable that there 
is a confusion of the names Lawton and Layton in the records, 
as it appears there were two men of similar names in Ports- 
mouth, Thomas Lawton and Thomas Layton. both of whom 
had property interests here. This Thomas Layton did not 
long remain here, but sold all he had purchased from Lay, 
as previously detailed, on June 26, 1664, when he became 
once more a resident of Portsmouth. He became interested 
with Peter Tallman of Newport in purchasing the Indian 
rights of Homes Hole Neck about this time, and it caused a 
vast amount of trouble to Governor jMayhew to disestablish 
the tenant whom Tallman and Layton had put there. It is 
here that confusion exists as to the names of Lawton and 
Layton. Isaac Lawton, who had married the daughter of 
Tallman, bought three of the shares of Homes Hole Neck 
and later disposed of them, while Thomas Lawton of Ports- 
mouth, by his will of June 6, 1674, proved Sept. 29, 1681, 
bequeathed to his son Isaac "all rights at Marthas Vineyard."^ 


The first reference to him is under date of April 14, 1681, 
when he was granted "ten acres of land between the line of 
the ten-acre lots .... with the privilege of firewood and 

'Portsmouth Town Records, passim. 

^Savage Gen. Diet., Ill, 44. 

'Edgartown Records, 98, 138. 

^Austin, Gen. Diet, of R. I., art. Lawton. There were no "rights" belonging 
to a Thomas Lawton on this island, but there were speculative "rights" vested in 
Thomas Layton, unless some Rhode Island record contains a sale of such from Lay- 
ton to Lawton. 


History of Martha*s Vineyard 

to Live [thereon] four years.'" The next important reference 
to him is as follows: Dec. 15, 1685, he was ordered to take 
into his possession all goods "belonging to Marget lord alias 
Raincr late desesed," as administrator.^ What significance 
this has is not apparent by any further search, as this is the 
only reference to Margaret Lord. Whether she was born 
Lord and married Rainer, or vice versa, is to be construed 
according to facts which may develop. Neither name appears 
on the Vineyard Records before or after this, and where Martin 
got his authority is a mystery. It is possible she was Margaret, 
daughter of William and Jane Lord of Salem, born 1660, who 
on Jan. 23, 1683-84, conveyed property to her brother-in-law, 
and of whom no further trace is found. 

On April 28, 1687, the town of Edgartown agreed with 
George Martin as to the keeping of "Widow" Jones, the widow 
of Thomas Jones. This transaction may have been without 
significance of relationship, a "farming out" of the town's 

Following this chronologically is a deposition of George 
Martin of Newport, under date of Sept. 18, 1690, relative to 
certain facts in a case then pending, together with one on same 
subject by Abigail Martin of Newport.^ On Nov. 3, 1690, 
George Martin and Abigail, his wife, both of Newport, sold 
the house lot granted to him in 1681, and as far as known this 
ends his relation with the Vineyard. 

In the second decade of the next century a Thomas Martin, 
or Martain, appeared at Edgartown, married and raised a 
family, living on the lot granted to George Martin. How 
he acquired it is not Imown, perhaps by redeeming a mortgage 
on it. The bounds of it were run in 1722, entered on the 
Proprietor's Records as belonging to Thomas Martin, "being 
a grant of ten acres from the town to his father, George Martin 

Thomas (2) had six children recorded, of whom five were 
sons — Peter, Brotherton, Thomas, Lemuel, Benjamin. In 
1773, Thomas (3), "gentleman," was of Lebanon, Conn., and 
Brotherton of Horton, Kings County, Nova Scotia. Thomas 
(2) was living in 1736, but died intestate before Oct. i, 1739, 
w^hen he was styled "gentleman," an unusual title on the 

'Edgartown Records, I, 30. 

''Court Records, Vol. I. 

'Court Records, Vol. I; comp., Dukes Deeds, III, 126. 


Annals of Eldgartown 

Vineyard records. The family name became extinct on the 
island in 1746, when Peter (3) died. 

As to the origin of George Martin, he may have been son 
of George and Susanna (North) Martin of Salisbury, born 1648, 
several inhabitants of that town having gone to the Vineyard 
before 1700. Or he may be that George Martine who came 
to New England in the Hannah and Elizabeth, arriving at 
Boston, Aug. 10, 1679.' 


He was the son of William Nash of Charlestown, Mass., 
born about 1632, and he appears to have been a mariner. 
The author finds him as witness to a deed of Edward Cottle 
in Salisbury, 1660, again at Haverhill in 1662, and a witness 
to a deed here in 1665 in connection with Stephen Codman.^ 
Later, in 1671, he bought a ten acre lot on the ''line" of Cod- 
man, which he held for many years, though probably not 
residing on it, and it became a part of his estate at his decease, 
Sept. 3, 1695, ^^ Charlestown.^ This lot was sold in 1709 to 
Thomas Trapp by Elias Brigden and wife Margaret, of Charles- 


In 1 68 1, a person of this name was granted ten acres of 
land "near the pond" which was later "changed," and he 
obtained thirteen acres adjoining the grant to Andrew New- 
comb, which later became the homestead of Mr. Jonathan 
Dunham.^ What relation, if any, he bore to Andrew is not 
known. A Francis Newcomb lived at Braintree, 1635 to 1692, 
and had eight children of record, but no Francis appears as 
his son. Our settler remained here about four years and sold 
his house lot on Aug. 11, 1685, and we hear no more of him 
on the island or elsewhere.*^ 


This person was a currier of leather residing in Weymouth 
as a neighbor of our Nicholas Norton, before both removed to 

'Essex Antiquarian, IV, 137. 

'Essex Antiquarian, II, 182; III, 108; also Dukes Deeds, I, 354. Savage finds 
him of Rowley, in 1660. Probably he was a mariner. 

^The inventory of his estate included ten acres of land at Martha's Vineyard. 
(Wyman, Gen. and Est. of Charlestown, 696.) 

*Dukes Deeds, III., 377. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 30. 

''Dukes Deeds, V, 230. 


History of Martha's Vineyard* 

the Vineyard. How long he had Hved there is uncertain, but 
his first wife Esther died there July ii, 1655, and he married 
again the following year. On Nov. 6 and 9, 1658, he sold 
all his property in that town; house, orchard, land, and pro- 
prietory interests in commons, and removed to the Vineyard.^ 
It is more than probable that he came here with Norton, as 
we have found that the latter is first mentioned in our records 
early in 1659; and taking into account the occupation of Roe 
with what is known of Norton, the author thinks that both 
came to carry on their trade, one as a tanner and the other 
as a currier. He was granted a ten-acre lot on the "line" on 
Aug. 22, 1659, and twenty acres as a dividend at Mile Brook. 
It is evident that he did not show symptoms of remaining per- 
manently, for on Oct. 22, 1660, the town voted that he "did 
not have right to sell or otherwise dispose of that land" granted 
to him.' Shortly after he removed to Hartford, Conn., where 
he was admitted an inhabitant, Sept. 2, 1661, as a currier, 
and in 1674 he again removed, this time to Suffolk, where he 
died Aug. 5, 1689, leaving a widow and several married chil- 


This man was one of the early settlers at Great Harbor, 
coming here within the first decade after the younger Mayhew^ 
and under various spellings of Sales, Sarle, Searles, Scale, and 
Sale his name appears in the records from 1653 to 1663 con- 
tinuously. Undoubtedly, he had been here for some time 
prior to March i, 1653, when there was a "case" between 
him and John Pease, in which it was decided "that the said 
Edward Sales hath his old right of fish still."* Whence came 
the settler may be determined, probably, from the following 
facts relative to a person or persons, bearing his name earlier 
in the history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony: An Edward 
Sale, aged twenty- four years, embarked in the Elizabeth and 
Ann, April 27, 1635, from London, and in the same vessel was 

'Suffolk Deeds, XI, i8i. The land had in part been fiiit granted to Nicholas 
Norton. The deed was acknowledged June, 7, 1659. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 147. 

^Hampshire Probate Records, I, 267. Contemporaneously with Hugh Roe there 
lived, in Gloucester, Mass. (1651-1662), one John Roe, who had land once owned 
by Nicholas Norton in that town. John had a son Hugh born about 1640, and as 
the baptismal names are similar in both families it may be inferred that John was 
an elder brother of our Hugh. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 149. 


Annals of Edgartown 

Richard Sarson and Jeremiah Whitton, both early residents 
here.* In 1637 he was probably a resident of Salem or Marble- 
head, with his wife Margaret, who in that year was tried and 
convicted of gross immorality and banished from the colony. 
At the same time ** Edward Scale for his beastly drunkennes 
was censured to bee set in the bilboes till the end of the Court 
& then to bee severely whipt."^ An Edward Scale was of 
Rehoboth in 1643 ^^^ ^^^ estate was appraised at ;^8i-oo-co 
that year, but whether an older Edward or the same one can- 
not be stated with confidence.^ The next occurrence of the 
name is in our records under date of February 6, 1653, when 
it is entered : — 

Edward Sale hath four acres added to his house lot so that it may 
be laid out together with least hurt to the town.* 

This house lot was a ten-acre grant "forty Poles square," 
near the Great Swamp, half way between the West Tisbury 
road and Meshacket path. It is known to this day as the 
"Sarson Lot," now owned intact by Mr. Clement Norton. 
In May, 1653, Edward Sale drew lot number 3 in the Planting 
Field, and was fined for absence from town meeting.^ On 
June 6, 1654, he was received as "townsman," and was elected 
as an Assistant to the Chief Magistrate.*^ There is no further 
m.ention of him except incidentally until 1659, when he was 
witness to the sale of Nantucket to the "Ten Associates" 
July 2 of that year,^ and on December 2, same year, a com- 
monage and a ten-acre lot on the line was granted to "Brother 
Sale."^ In 1660 there is a further record about his lands, 
and on Dec. 23, 1661, he submitted to the Patentees Govern- 
ment.^ He had a suit against John Pease, elsewhere referred 
to, in 1662, and the next year was granted the small island 
in Sanchacantacket, now known as Sarson's island. ^° The last 

'Gen. Reg., XIV, 312. 

'Court of Assistants, I, 197, 2co; comp., Winthrop, "Journal," II, 349. There 
was a John Sayle bound out to service with his daughter Phebe in 1633 (Ibid., I, 99). 

'Arnold, "Vital Records of Rehoboth, 910. John Daggett and Edward Seale 
were associated in Rehoboth. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 131. To this was added three acres of swamp in 1654. 
(Ibid., 119.) 

'Ibid., pp. 131, 172. 

®Ibid., 122. 

'Macy, "History of Nantucket, 20. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 132. 

^Ibid., no, 144. 

'"Ibid., 108, 138. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

record of him personally is under date of April 8, 1663, when 
he acted as a juror, and before December 30, same year, he 
had sold all his lands and estate in the town and thenceforth 
disappears from the records.^ 

Whither he went is not positively known, but again at 
Rehoboth is found a record that Goodman Searle was accepted 
as inhabitant July 3, 1663, and granted a home lot, and we 
may assume that he returned thither, where twenty years be- 
fore an Edward Sales had lived. ^ It further appears that 
Jared Ingraham, son of Richard of Rohoboth, married in 
Boston, May 28, 1662, Rebecca, daughter of an Edward 
Searles, from which, in connection with the fact that Christo- 
pher Gibson of Boston speaks of "my brother Eddward 
Sealle," we may infer that Gibson was her uncle, and that 
we here have further clues to this Sales family and its descend- 
ants.' We may have a final view in old age of our first settler 
in the person of Edward Sale of Weymouth, who died before 
Oct. 6, 1692, when an inventory of his estate was taken, 
and on April 13, 1693, administration was granted to John 
Rogers of Weymouth.* 


A person of this name is entered on the early records of 
Edgartown, as one of the proprietors of land in 1664, and is 
credited in the division of shares with two drawings of lots 
during that year.* This is not the first mention of her name, 
however, as in the previous year, when a "general fence" 
was to be built, the "engagers" {i. e., subscribers), who were 
charged with the expense, are given in a list, and she appears 
in the following entry : ' ' Thomas Mayhew for himself, Thomas 

'Edgartown Records, I, 135. 

^Bliss. "History of Rehoboth," 55. In July, 1664, "Rebeckah Sale, the late wife 
of Edward Sale .... hanged herself in her own hiered house," according to a coro- 
ner's inquest. (Plymo. Col. Rec, IV. 83.) 

'Boston Record Com'rs Report, IX, 86; comp., Suffolk Probate, VI, 64. In his 
will proved in 1674 Christopher Gibson names Hannah Seale, Alice Sealle, Ephraim 
Sealle, and "sister Ingrham & her husband my friend Willyam Ingrham." and 
Jarrat (Jared) Inghram and his wife Rebecka Sealle. There is no Edward Sale, 
Seale or Searle in the Suffolk Deeds. 

^Suffolk Probate, XIII, 156, 403. We are further confronted with another Ed- 
ward Searle who lived in Rhode Island, at Warwick, about 1670, and married, prob- 
ably as second wife, Joan White, a widow, sister of Edmund Calverly of Warwick. 
This Edward had a son Edward, who in 1671 married Ann, widow of John Lippit, Jr., 
and removed to Cranston in that colony. This Edward senior died in 1679. (Savage, 
Gen. Diet., IV, 45-) 

*She drew lot 27 at Felix Neck and seven at Meachemy's Field. 


Annals of Edgartown 

Harlock, Thomas Paine 3, younger Mayhews one, Mrs. 
Scott one, Widow Foulger one, all in eight Lott(s)."' In this 
connection a previous entry may be of significance, a list of 
lot owners as defendants in a suit, 1661, which reads: " Thomas 
Mayhew for Alyself and all Relations in the town that is eight 
lotts." These two entries taken together may be interpreted 
as a list of the relatives by marriage or blood of Governor 
Mayhew, then living, or owning property in Edgartown, for 
the first contains the name of Thomas Harlock, son-in-law; 
Thomas Paine, step-son; "younger Mayhews," grandchildren, 
and ''Mrs." Scott and "Widow" Foulger (Merible, wife of 
John), by implication as "relatives." It is believed that the 
identity of "Mrs." Scott can be established, and the following 
facts are marshalled to indicate that she was Elizabeth, wife 
of Robert Scott of Boston : — 

Malachi Browning and an Elizabeth Scott had legal 
business connected with their respective relatives in London 
on the same day in Boston, 27 (8), 1649, though no relation- 
ship between them is stated.^ This conjunction would not 
necessarily be conclusive of anything more than accident, but 
for the further fact that Malachi Browning died four years 
later "at the house of Robert Scott," in Boston, as appears 
by the town records. He was probably on a visit to "Mrs." 
Scott when his death occurred, Nov. 27, 1653, and this asso- 
ciation of these two incidents seems to enable us to extend 
the name of this lady in full to Mrs. Elizabeth Scott, the wife 
of Robert, a haberdasher of Boston. 

Just how Mrs. Scott came into possession of a lot in 
Edgartown before 1664 cannot be determined, as the records 
give no clue. It is possible that in consideration of care 
during his last illness in Boston Malachi Browning bequeathed 
this proprietary share to her, but there remains no record of 
his will by which this surmise can be re-enforced. There is 
no record to show how Mrs. Scott's share passed into other 

Elizabeth Scott received a bequest of money from her 
grandmother, Mrs. Mary Hussey of London, some time before 
May 21, 1648, when Robert Scott, her husband, gave a power 
of attorney for collecting the legacy.^ This might indicate 
that she was born a Hussey. After the death of Robert Scott, 

"Edgartown Records, I, 147. 
'Aspinwall Notarial Records, 226. 
'Ibid., 147. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

in February, 1654, she became the wife of John Sweete. Doro- 
thy, wife of Nicholas Upsall, made a bequest in 1675 to her 
"sister, Ehzabeth Sweete," who may or may not be our Ehza- 
beth. In a deposition, 1663, Ehzabeth Scott, aged forty-seven 
(born 1 61 6), testified to matters in London about twenty-six 
years ago (1637)/ 


A person of this name, born about 161 7, resided here 
before 1652, and was the owner of a half lot, one of the Five 
and Twenty, the fifth from Pease's Point. He drew a lot on 
May 8, 1653, in the division of the Planting Field, which he 
sold to John Folger.^ On June 6, 1654, he was chosen with 
six others "to end all controversies," and to hold Quarter 
Courts.^' Previous to this, however, he had been prospecting 
for another settlement in Connecticut, and had received a 
grant in 1652 in the town of New London.^ He had relatives 
also in other portions of that colony, as he speaks of "my 
brother Matthias Treate," who took him on a trip up the 
Sturgeon River, in the present town of Glastonbury. "I will 
show our country here," said Matthias, "it may be you will 
come and live here."^ This was "30 or 40 years ago," as 
Richard Smith deposed in 1684, making the date of his visit 
1 644-1 654, of which the latter is the more probable. Smith 
remained in the new town, or at least sold out here about that 
time, and ended his connection with the Vineyard.^ Diligent 
effort has been made by the author and others to indentify 
this person in his new home and to learn more of him and his 
family there, as nothing is of record here to help the solution." 
The number of Richards, Senior and Junior, in that town 
has proven an almost hopeless barrier to a satisfactory con- 
clusion, and as he belongs to Wethersfield, his record after 
leaving the Vineyard is left to the historian of that town.*^ 

'Pope, "Pioneers of Massachusetts," art. Robert Scott. 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 252. 

^Edgartown Records, I. 

^Caulkins, History of New London, 322. He was called "of Martin's Vineyard." 

^Connecticut Archives, Vol. III. (Personal Controversies.) HoUister vs Bulke- 
ley, No. 122. 

®He sold his harbor lot to Thomas Burchard. (Deeds, I, 320.) 

'Particular mention must be made of the help given by Mrs. D. E. Penfield, of 
Vineyard descent, who has spent much time and labor in the attempt to clear up the 
doubts about this Richard. 

'Stiles, History of Wethersfield, I, 299, is equally befogged with the rest who have 
undertaken to identify the various Richard Smiths in that town. 

Annals of Edgartown 


This man was a tailor by occupation, who is first heard 
of in Boston, 1674, on the tax list, and in 1678 he took the 
oath of allegiance in that town. He is found there in 1681, 
1687 and 1688, but before this, probably about 1673, he had 
married Sarah, daughter of Nicholas Norton, which explains 
his connection with our island.' How soon he came here to 
live is not definitely known, possibly before 1692, when he 
was a witness to a deed.^ After this he seems to have removed 
as in 1 703 he bought property here (part of the Mayhew home 
lot), and is then called "late of Newport."^ Evidently he 
was a roamer. He remained here for some ten years, and 
is mentioned in the records until 1714, when it appears that 
he again removed to Newport. The next record of him is 
in 1719, when "John Stanbridge, Taylor and wife, wich came 
from R. Island" were warned to depart from Boston by the 
authorities. This however was not followed out by Stanbridge, 
as he was an unsuccessful petitioner in that town for a license 
to retail liquor in 1723, the last we hear from him.* In 1731, 
his wife, or widow probably, entered suit in our courts against 
ten of her nephews by blood and marriage, alleging that they 
had invited her to come from Boston to Edgartown, promising 
maintenance, which they had failed to perform, and asking 
damage. The court awarded her £100 and the defendants 


This man was a tailor originally, settling at Gloucester 
and later at Nantucket. He was granted a ten acre lot on the 
"line" Jan. 12, 1663, is mentioned in a deed, 1665, and a short 

'Sarah, wife of John Stanbridge, was convicted of selling rum without a license, 
Jan. 30, 1685-6. (Dukes Court Rec, Vol. I.) 

^Dukes Deeds, I, 48. He was plaintifiF in a suit in the Cambridge, Mass., Court 
1690. (Records, Court of Assistants, I, 330.) 

'Ibid, I, 134. 

^Boston Town Records. 

*Dukes County Records, Vol. H. She called herself a seamstress. It is possible 
that the plaintiff may be a daughter of Sarah (Norton) Stanbridge, who sues her cousins. 
There being no court files in the county archives of that date, the pleadings are not 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

career was terminated on Nov. 19, 1669, when he was drowned 
with Richard Arey between this island and Nantucket/ 


This person was among the earliest settlers, almost con- 
temporaneous with Mayhew himself. He had first seated 
himself at Watertown, where he was made a freeman May 14, 
1634, and about four years later he removed to Yarmouth, 
Cape Cod." He remained there for an undetermined period 
and moved thence to Great Harbor. As he had been a towns- 
man of Thomas Mayhew in Watertown his migration to the 
Vineyard after the latter had purchased the island in 1641, may 
be attributed to personal acquaintance with Mayhew. Taber 
was in Edgartown before 1647, at which time he sold to John 
Bland "all his Right that he then Possessed," but it is evident 
that Taber acquired further holdings, not recorded, as he 
continued to reside on the Vineyard and participated as a 
proprietor in all the divisions of land until 1655.^ In this 
year, on May 15, "it was agreed" by the magistrates that 
he had been guilty of immoralities, and on Aug. 2, 1655, "Philip 
Taber now being at Portsmouth in Rhode Island" sold his 
estate on the Vineyard and thenceforth lived elsewhere.* He 
had lived here for at least nine years, but the New London 
records show a house lot granted to him in 165 1, on which 
a house was built, presumably by him. This was sold in 
1652 or 1653 by Cary Latham, in behalf of "my brother Philip 
Tabor now dwelling at Martin's Vineyard."" 

In the "History of New London," he is mentioned as 
coming to that town from "Martha's Vineyard" with a body 
of Eastern emigrants, and was among those who "wrought 
at the mill dam" that year in July.'' It is possible that he 
removed to New London from the Vineyard in 1651, remained 
a year or two, and returned to the latter place in 1653, when 
a land grant to him is recorded. But he had drawn lots in 

'Edgartown Records, I, 130. Dukes Deeds, I, 354; Savage, Genealogical Diction- 
ary, IV, 223. The late Abner Mayhew owned a book, printed in 1632, which was 
once the property of Samuel Streeter and containing his autograph, 1664. Its sub- 
sequent owners were Matthew Mayhew, Experience Mayhew, Joseph Mayhew, Jane 
Bassett and Benjamin Bassett, all of whom left their autographs inside the covers.^ 

'He had a son baptized at Barnstable, Nov. 8, 1640, John, "son of Phillipp Tabor, 
dwelling at Yarmouth, a member of the Chh att Watertown." He was propoundsd 
as freeman, Jan. 3, 1638-9 at Yarmouth. 

^On Oct. 14, 1647, he signed as witness at Great Harbor. (Suffolk Deeds, I, 86.) 

^Dukes Deeds, I, 325. 

^Caulkins, Manuscript Collections. 

•'Caulkins, History of New London, 70 


Annals of Edgartown 

August, 1 65 1, at Edgartown, thus practically giving us con- 
flicting dates with the New London records. 

In 1656 he appears as a freeman of Portsmouth, R. I., 
and not long after at Providence, of which place he was a 
Representative in 1661. Later he was of Dartmouth (1667-8), 
and probably ended his days there after all these wanderings.^ 
Descendants continued to reside in this latter named town 
during all of the next century, and probably all of the name 
in that vicinity can trace their lineage to him. 

He was born about 1605, and married, as is stated, three 
times. His first wife was Lydia Masters of Cambridge. The 
others are not known to the author. By her, perhaps she 
was the mother of all his children, he had John, 1640, Philip, 
Lydia, Thomas, 1646, and Joseph. 

During his life on the Vineyard, about nine years, his 
name appears frequently on the records, as grantee of sundry 
lots. He owned No. 2 in the "Five and Twenty" homestalls, 
and in 1653 acquired by grant of the town a considerable 
tract at Mashacket. He was one of the magistrates chosen in 
1653, but was not re-elected the next year, and in 1655 was 
convicted as above stated and left the Vineyard. 


It is probable that this man came to New England in 
1648, bringing "three negros" in the ship Golden Dolphin, 
and settled in Rhode Island." He became a freeman in 1655, 
and in 1661 was Solicitor General of that colony. Whether he 
ever lived here is problematical, but it is certain that he was 
a land owner in 1663 and 1664, taking shares in the land 
divisions of those years. ^ He acquired the William Case lot, 
but in what manner is not known, possibly by marrying his 
widow. The lot is spoken of as "William Cases which is 
Tallmans."'* With his son-in-law, Thomas Lawton, also a 
proprietor here, he bought Homes Hole Neck of the Indians 
about 1664 or 1667, as will be related in the annals of that 
place, and lost it through the opposition of Mayhew. This 
is his last connection with the Vineyard. 

'Plymouth Colony Records, V, 254. No record of the settlement of his estate 
is to be found in the Bristol County registry. Savage states that he wa» also of Tiverton, 
but the author finds no evidence to substantiate the claim. 

^Aspinwall, Notarial Record, 359, 370. He vi'as an apothecary. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 109, 127. 

nbid., I, 4. 

History of Martha*s Vineyard 


He was a juror here in 1681, which probably indicates 
residence of some duration prior to that date. He is, it may 
be assumed, the person of that name who was of Dorchester, 
1635, Hartford, 1640, then Say brook, and in 1669 of Norwich, 
showing that he was a roamer. 


There were in New England before 1653 ^ number of 
Wakefields bearing the baptismal name of John, and the 
meager data respecting the John Wakefield who owned a lot 
here prior to 1652 does not afford any definite clue to the 
particular one who came to the island early and left it equally 
so. He was witness to a document signed here Oct. 14, 1647, 
in relation to a guardianship for Thomas Paine. ^ Whether 
he was the John of Salem and Marblehead, 1637, 1638, or the 
John of Plymouth, 1639, or John of Watertown, 1646, who 
may all have been one person having these residences in suc- 
cession, cannot be satisfactorily determined.^ Under date of 
Nov. II, 1652, "the Lott that is next that which was first 
given to John Wakefield" is mentioned, and this tells us of 
his disappearance from the island before that date, and his 
possessions had passed either by purchase or regrant to Thomas 
Paine.' A John Wakefield appeared in Boston subsequent 
to this and died there about 1667, and administration of his 
estate was given to his widow Anne on July 18, that year.* 


This settler was a late arrival in the town, coming hither 
from an unknown direction, about 1670, but soon attaining 
prominence. He became town clerk in 167 1, which office he 
held for an undetermined period, but as late as 1686 he was 
still in office as such.^ He was selectman in 1676, juror in 
1 68 1, and during the twenty years of his life here maintained 
the usual activities of a citizen in and out of court. It has 
been hinted in the sketch of John Bland that Watson may 
have been some ''kith or kin" of Mrs. Joanna Bland, as he 
and his son had dealings with parts of the Bland property. 
Beyond this supposition there is no clue to his origin prior to 

^Suffolk Deeds, I, 86. 

^Savage, Gen. Diet., IV, 385; Pope, "Pioneers of Mass.," art. Wakefield. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 120, 147. 

^Suffolk Co. Probate. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 13, 35, 36. 

Annals of Edgartown 

settlement at the Vineyard. No person of his name is to be 
found in any of the Watson family histories, nor in any of the 
New England settlements/ He may have been a recent im- 
migrant from England ^ 

He died April 28, 1690, and an inventory of his estate 
showed property to the value of ;^56-7-i, and a son Elias 
was recorded as "heir of Philip Watson late of Edgartown, 
late deceased."^ No wife is mentioned, or known to the 
author. Elias remained in Edgartown as late as 1704, when 
he was a witness to a deed, but nothing further is known of 
him, whether married or having descendants. 


This transient resident was another son-in-law of Nicholas 
Norton, and he is first found here in 1679, as a witness, and 
again in 1684 and 1687 in the same connection.* The town 
records have an entry relating to him in 1681, and it may be 
inferred that he was a constant resident here between the 
earlier and later dates. Of his antecedents nothing is definitely 
known, but he was probably a resident of Stonington, Conn., 
(1663), and possibly a mariner. He married Hannah Norton 
(13), and had Thomas [1678], Hannah, 1680, Daniel, 1683, 
Bethiah, 1686, and Matthew, 1688, all recorded at Killing- 
worth, Conn., whither he removed about the last named date. 
He died shortly after this, as in 1692 his widow Hannah was 
empowered by the General Court to sell certain property, 
according to a verbal bargain made by her deceased husband.^ 
She was here on Aug. 17, 1692, as witness to a deed, probably 
on a visit.** She married a second time, before 1699, elder 
John Brown of Killingworth.'^ 

^There was a Philip Challis in Salisbury, who was sometimes called Philip Wat- 
son Challis and had a son born in that town in 1657. (Hoyt, ''Old Families of Salis- 
bury," 89.) He was fifty-two years old in 1669, and died about i68r in Amesbury. 

'A Philip Watson married Margaret Seele in Nottingham, Nov. 30, 1630, ac- 
cording to the Parish Registers. 

^Dukes County Court Records, Vol. I; comp.. Deeds, I, 398. Thomas Harlock 
was appointed one of the administrators of his estate. 

*Dukes Deeds, I, 322, 331. The Diary of Thomas Minor of Stonington speaks. 
of delivering corn to Augustine Williams in 1680 (p. i6o), indicating residence in 
Connecticut at that date. 

'Conn. Col. Records. 

*Dukes Deeds, I, 184. 

'Killingworth Town Records. Thomas Williams, natural son and heir to Augus- 
tine Williams, deceased, deeds to his natural mother, Hannah Brown, administratrix 
of estate of his father, March 12, 1699. Elder Brown died in 1708, but whether she 
survived is not known to the author. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 


Although the conditions of government for the settlements 
on the island, made at the time of its purchase, were presented 
to be "such as is now established in the Massachusetts," yet 
we have seen that this course was not pursued by the patentees 
in the general administration of its affairs as a whole, nor was 
it in the town of Great Harbor. In Massachusetts the towns 
were governed by boards of selectmen, chosen annually by the 
freemen, but this practice would not be countenanced by 
Mayhew, and there is no evidence to show that any town 
officers having the powers of selectmen were chosen for manag- 
ing its business. John Burchard had been "chosen town 
Clarke" in 1656 and John Butler "chosen Constable" in 1658, 
and these officers were filled annually from those dates, but 
beyond these two necessary officials, without initiative authority, 
we have no town government like that "established in the 

When the Duke of York extended his jurisdiction over 
the island, this requirement, already a dead letter, became 
by the process null and void. As a part of New York it par- 
took of the customs and laws of that province, and it has been 
seen that the ducal government did not encourage popular 
elections nor town meetings. The principal fruit of this 
political change was the incorporation of Great Harbor on 
July 8, 1 67 1, under the name of Edgartown. The charter 
under which this town now exists is as follows : — 

FRANCIS LOVELACE Esqr: one of the Gentlemen of his Maties Hon'ble 
Privy Chambr and Governor Genii under his Royall Highness JAMES 
Duke of Yorke and Albany &c of all his Territories in America: To all 
to whom these Presents shall come sendeth Greeting: WHEREAS there 
is a certaine Island within these His Royall Highness his Territoryes 
lyeing & being to the North West of the Island Nantuckett which said 
Island was heretofore Graunted unto Thomas Mayhew Senr & Thomas 
Mayhew Junr his Sonn by James Forrett Agent to William Earle of Sterling 
in whom the Government then was and by them a Proportion at the East 
end thereof Graunted to Severall Inhabitants Freeholders there for a 
Towneshipp who have made Purchase of the Indian Right, the said Towne 
being formerly knowne by the Name of the Great Harbour the Precincts 
whereof are Bounded on the East by the Eastermost End of a Small Island 
called Chappo-quiddick; on the South by Teque-Nomens Neck; on the 
North by the Eastermost Chap of Holmes Neck and on the West by a 
Line to bee runn between the South and North Bounds: NOW for a 
Confirmacon unto the prsent Inhabitants Freeholders there and their 
Associates in their Possession and Enjoyment of the Premises KNOW 
YE that by vertue of the Commission and Authority unto mee given by 


Annals of ELdgartown 

his Royall Highness upon whom (as well by the resignation & Assignment 
of the Heyres of the said William Earle of Sterling as also by Grant & 
Patent from his Royall Matie CHARLES the second) the Propriety & 
Government of Long Island, Martins Vineyard Nantuckett & all the 
Islands adjacent amongst other things is settled I have Given & Graunted 
& by these Presents doe Give Ratify Confirme and Grant unto the present 
Inhabitants Freeholders and their Associates their Heyres Successors & 
Assignes the Land whereon the said Towne is settled Together with all 
the Lands Soyles Woods Meadowes Pastures Marshes Lakes Waters 
Fishing Hawking Hunting & Fowling within the Bounds & Lymitts 
afore described & all other Profitts Commodityes Emolumts & Heredi- 
taments to the said Towne & Land belonging or in any wise appertaining: 
the Tenure whereof is to bee according to the Custome of the Mannor 
of East Greenwich in the County of Kent in England in free & Common 
Soccage & bv Fealtv onlv. And the said Towne (which for the future 
shall bee called by the Name of EDGAR TOWNE and by that Name 
& Style shall bee distinguisht and knowne in all Bargaines and Sales Deeds 
Records and Writeings) shall bee held, deemed, reputed, taken & bee an 
Entire Enfranchized Towneship of it selfe & shall alwayes from time 
to time have hold & enjoy like & equall Priviledges with other Townes 
within the Governmt & shall in noe manner or any wise bee under the 
Rule, Order or Direction of any other Place but in all mattere of Governmt 
shall be Ruled Ordered & Directed according to the Instructione I have 
alreadv given or hereafter shall give for the Good and Welfare of the 
Inhabitants by the Advice of my Councell : TO HAVE AND TO HOLD 
the said Towne with the Lands thereunto belonging with all and Singular 
the Appertenances and Premisses unto the said Inhabitants, Freeholders 
and their Associates their Heyres Successors & Assignes forever. THEY 
the said Inhabitants & their Associates their Heyres Successors & Assignes 
Yielding rendring & Paying yearly & every yeare unto his Royall Highness 
the Duke of Yorke his Heyres & Assignes or to such Governor or Governors 
as from time to time shall bee by him Constituted & Appointed as an 
Acknowledgment two Barrells of Merchantable Cod Fish to bee delivered 
at the Bridg in this Citty. GIVEN under my Hand and Sealed with 
the Seale of the Province at Fort James in New Yorke on the Island of 
Manhattans this eighth day of July in the three and twentyeth yeare of 
the Reigne of our Sovereigne Lord CHARLES the Second by the Grace 
of God of England Scotland France and Ireland King Defender of the 
Faith &c & in the yeare of our Lord God One Thousand six hundred 
seaventy & one.* 

It will be noted that the new town was to hold its charter 
"in free & common soccage,"^ according to the "custome of 
the Mannor of East Greenwich," county of Kent, England, 
which was a phrase employed in similar circumstances to 
describe the tenure as honorable in character, and determined 

*New York Col. Mss. (Patents, IV, 71). 

^Free and common soccage is to be distinguished from villein soccage. The former 
was definite in conditions, as by fealty and the payment of a certain nominal sum 
as annual rent. Villein soccage was of a base or menial quality, such as rendering 
labor for the proprietor, and was equivalent to what is now called copyhold tenure. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

solely by fealty to the cro^\Tl without service or other subor- 
dination. It was also specially prescribed that it was to be 
"Ruled, Ordered & Directed according to the Instructions" 
of the Governor and Council of New York, having at the same 
time "Equall Priviledges with other Townes within the Gov- 
ernm't" of that province. 

It seemed to make but little difference with the affairs 
of this community whether the freemen lived under Mayhew's 
personal rule or under a charter. Not much remains to show 
that they exercised many or few "priviledges" afterward. In 
1676 occurs the first indication of participation in town business. 
On that date, Thomas Bayes, John Pease, and Philip Watson 
were "put in by the town to see all orders put in execution,"^ 
and this may be interpreted as three chosen or select men 
to administer its affairs, though they were not so designated. 
The title of selectmen was then a peculiar one in New England, 
and was not adopted by New York. In 1682, Joseph Norton 
and Thomas Butler were chosen "overseers," the first use of 
that title, and under various phraseology certain men were 
chosen to "act" for the town each year. We may suppose 
that they were equivalent to our selectmen. This title was 
not used until March, 1692, immediately following the con- 
solidation of the island government with Massachusetts, under 
the charter of William and Mary. In 1693 they were called 
"townsmen", and in 1694 "overseers," but in 1696 the name 
"selectmen" was applied and has been borne ever since by 
those chosen to manage our town affairs. 


In considering the inception of ecclesiastical matters in 
the town it seems necessary to eliminate Thomas Mayhew, 
Jr., as originally migrating hither in a ministerial capacity. 
That he served the handful of people who came with him as 
a spiritual leader, conducting the usual weekly services and 
performing such other functions of a kindred character is 
quite within the probabilities. The necessities of the situation 
imposed this duty on him, which was undoubtedly agreeable 
to his inclinations as well as befitting his temporal leadership. 
But that this relation of pastor and proprietor was not regarded 
by the settlers as more than one of temporary expediency 
seems clear from the statement of Governor Winthrop in 1643, 

'Sept. II, 1676. Edgartown Records. 

Annals of Edgartown 

when recording the migration of '^ divers families" from 
Watertown to the Vineyard. He says: ''they procured a 
young man, one Mr. (Henry) Green/ a scholar to be their 
minister, in hopes soon to gather a church there. He went 
not."^ It is probable that this was an effort to secure a regu- 
larly educated clergyman for the little congregation of settlers, 
and it is scarcely probable that it did not have the sanction 
of both the elder and younger Mayhew, whose interests were 
paramount in all that pertained to the welfare of the infant 
colony. In consequence of the failure to secure the services 
of Mr. Henry Green, a continuation of the lay ministrations 
of young Thomas Mayhew became not only the most expedient 
but a mutually satisfactory arrangement. Daniel Gookin, 
writing in 1674, says of the young Thomas: "being a scholar 
and pious man ajter some time was called to be minister unto 
the English upon that island."^ Rev. Thomas Prince, the 
New England chronologist, writing in 1723, says of Thomas 
Mayhew, Jr., that "soon after their settlement on the Island 
the new Plantation called him to the ministry among them."* 
It may, therefore, be fairly concluded that this pastoral 
relation borne by the younger Mayhew was determined by 
accident rather than by design, and was the natural outcome 
of the isolated situation in which the dozen families here found 
themselves, unable to induce an educated young clergyman 
with prospects, to a far-off isle, or to offer sufficient pecuniary 
profit to tempt one to this seclusion. Although Johnson^ and 
Gookin state that he was "called" to the "Church of Christ 
gathered at the Vineyard," yet for reasons above given the 
author doubts if he was ever ordained in the usual way by a 
council of ministers or regarded as more than a "teacher." 

'Green, Rev. Henry, scholar, minister, Ipswich, freeman, May 13, 1642; was paid 
in 1643 for service against the Indians. Was invited to be minister at INlartin's 
Vineyard in 1643, but "went not." He was ordained pastor at Reading May 9, 1645, 
and died in May, 1648. (Pope, Pioneers of Mass.) 

'Journal, II, 152. 

"Mass. Hist. Coll., I, 141. 

^The Rev. Experience Mayhew in his preface to the ordination sermon preached 
by him at the settlement of the Rev. John Newman, in 1746, places the establishment 
of the Church in the year 1642, and adds: "in the same year that the first Inhabitants 
came to this Island your Church was gathered and a Reverend and worthy Person, 
(Mr. Thomas Mayhew) was ordained Pastor of it." While this distinguished grand- 
son should be a competent witness on this point, yet writing as he did a century after 
the events he narrates, he is not entitled to the same credence as one writing contem- 
poraneously like Gookin, who got his information direct from the younger Mayhew, 
"being well acquainted with him," as he states. 

'Wonder-working Providence, c. 10. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 


It is not known when or where the first meeting-house was 
erected. There could not have been much demand for one 
of great size to accommodate the few people, and it is more 
than likely that services were held in dwelling houses, or per- 
haps the scohol- house, until such tim.e as the settlement increased 
in numbers, and this temporary shelter ceased to be adequate. 
The ''English Meeting" is referred to in 1643.^ The first 
notice in the town records is under date of Feb. 6, 1653, and 
is as follows : — 

"Ordered By the town that upon the first day of March the town 
is to come together at the Pastors house to Begin to build a meeting house. 
The Leader is to order the Company and Set every man to his worke.'" 

Probably this first house was then built, and we may ac- 
cept 1653 as the date of its erection. Thus far no clue to the 
proximate spot selected by the settlers for this primitive house 
of worship has been found. The records are absolutely silent 
on the subject, and it has even escaped the uncertain aid of 
tradition to help us fix the site. In this predicament a sur- 
mise is allowable and may pass for what is it worth. The 
author regards it as highly probable that this first building 
was placed in the acre on Burying hill, set aside for the dead 
in the little town. This was the usual custom in other New 
England towns, to set the meeting-house next the cemetery, 
and it mav be concluded that our ancestors followed this ar- 



When the young missionary left the Vineyard in the late 
fall of 1657 to go to England, never to return as it unfortu- 
nately proved, he left the care of the church to Peter Folger, 
the schoolmaster.^ This young man had been an assistant 
to Mayhew in his religious work among the Indians, and was 
familiar with the duties devolving upon him. When the pro- 
longed absence of the young pastor made it certain that he 
had been lost at sea, Folger undoubtedly served in the capacity 
of "teacher" or "elder" for a number of years, until about 
1663, when he removed to Nantucket. He had become a 

*Mayhe\v, Indian Converts, 2. 

^Town Records, I, 125. 

^Letter of Experience Mayhew to John Gardner, 1694. 


Annals of Edgartown 

Baptist, and it is more than probable that his departure from 
the settled doctrine of the Puritan sect was the cause of his 
leaving the Vineyard. Meanwhile the bereaved governor was 
searching about for a settled successor to his lost son. He 
sought the assistance of Governor John Winthrop, Jr., of 
Connecticut, in the selection, and among others endeavored to 
induce the Rev. Abraham Pierson of Branford to take up the 
fallen thread. Mr. Pierson was an A.B. of Trinity College, 
Cambridge, England, 1632, and had been the minister of 
Branford, Conn., since 1647.^ This expectation proved futile. 


The opportunity to secure a suitable candidate presented 
itself later, doubtless through the agency of Governor Winthrop. 
John Cotton, Jr., son of the celebrated Boston preacher of 
that name, was living in Wethersfield, Conn., and preaching 
occasionally in that town and also at Haddam and Killing- 
worth. He was born in Boston in 1640 and was graduated 
at Harvard College when but seventeen years of age. Going 
to Connecticut soon after graduation, he pursued theological 
studies under Rev. Samuel Stone of Hartford. He married 
Joanna, daughter of Dr. Bryan Rossiter of Killingworth. 
His son Josiah writes as follows of the young clergyman and 
his bride: " He could hardly have made a more suitable 
Choice on account of age & other Qualifications. She was 
born July, 1642. And by consent of all Parties they were 
Married November 7, 1660. My Father remained unsettled 
Several years after & I suppose might preach at those Places 
above mentioned & elsewhere occasionally till Providence 
opened a Door at Edgartown or old Town on Marthas Vine- 

The young clergyman came here with his equally youthful 
wife about 1664-5, he twenty-four and she twenty- two years 
of age, bringing with them their first born child, also named 
John. Shortly after their arrival a daughter, named Sarah, 
born Jan. 17, 1665, was added to their household. Probably 
this was during his probationary term of preaching, customary 
in those times, and he proved satisfactory, as a scion of the 
famous Cotton family could not help proving. On Feb. i, 
1664-5, the town voted: — 

'Savage, III, 433. 

^Diary, Josiah Cotton, part 2, loc. cit. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

"there shall be forty Pounds Raised yearly to maintain the Ministry^ 
the way is to Rate the yearly sum By Rating of Kine, houses & Lands," 

And they supplemented this necessary preHminary basis for 

negotiation with a "joynt vote for calHng of Mr. Cotton 

to the Ministry of this Island.'" 

The town records contain his reply, short and to the 
point : — 

"May 24, 1665. I do accept of the Call of the town so far as to continue 
Preaching of the gospel amongst them whilst god in his orderly Providence 
continues me hear.'" 


As a regularly educated clergyman was now settled amongst 
them, the townsmen made immediate arrangements to build 
a new meeting-house to accommodate the growing population 
and on the same day of the acceptance of the call the following 
vote was passed : — 

"There shall be a meeting house Built with all convenient speed: 
the place where the Meeting House is to be sett is at the West end of Mrs. 
Searles Lott upon the Common Land: the Dimentions of the house is 
thirty three foot long; nineteen foot in Breadth and eight foot Stud."* 

No plan of this house remains, nor is any view of it ex- 
tant. The subjoined sketch of the floor plan and elevation 
is presented for the purpose of indicating approximately the 
interior and exterior of this modest meetinghouse, whose 
"dimentions" did not exceed that of the ordinary dwelling 
of the present day. The location of this new structure can 
be more accurately fixed. The "Searles Lott" passed into 
the possession of Richard Sarson, and for over two centuries 
has been known as the "Sarson Lott."^ On the east side of 
this lot was the "Ministerial Lot," so called, but never used 
as such, probably owing to the lack of settled clergymen after 
the death of the younger Mayhew. Near by it lived the Rev. 
Jonathan Dunham, when he came to assume pastoral charge 
here, and in the early days, when the first owner, Edward 
Searles, occupied it, the schoolhouse stood on adjoining land. 
It was therefore the intellectual centre of the town. Burial 

'Edgartown Records, I, no. 
'Ibid., I, III. 
^Ibid., I, III. 

^Its present owner (1907) is Clement Norton, who derived title through the heirs 
of Edmund Lewis and Christopher Beetle. It is just north of "Cleveland Town." 


Annals of Edgartown 

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History of Martha's Vineyard 

hill was out of the way as a convienent location. The popu- 
lation of the town was then mostly housed between Cleveland 
Town and Meshacket, and this new location was intended 
to accommodate the majority of the settlers. It is of course 
hazardous to attempt locating the exact spot on the "Common 
Land" where they erected this second house of worship, but 
we can guess that it was on the old path that bounded the 
north side of the Sarson lot and near the great swamp. 

The young clergyman immediately began to apply him- 
self to his duties as pastor to the town and teacher of the Indian 
mission. Cotton Mather, his uncle, says of him: "He hired 
an Indian after the rate of Twelve pence per day for Fifty 
Days to teach him the Indian Tongue; but his Knavish Tutor 
having received his Whole Pay too soon, ran away before 
Twenty Days were out; however in this time he had profited 
so far that he could quickly preach unto the Natives.'" In 
this dual capacity Cotton labored for over two years, when he 
fell under the displeasure of the old Governor. The cause of 
it is not known. Cotton was then twenty-five and Mayhew 
seventy-five years of age, and doubtless the young man re- 
fused to submit to the dictations of the elder in the perform- 
ance of his duties, and a rupture resulted. The governor re- 
ported the matter to the Commissioners of the United Colonies, 
by whom Cotton was paid as a missionary to the Indians, 
and in September, 1667, 

" Mr. John Cotton appeared before the Comissioners and was seriously 
spoken too To Compose those allianations between him and Mr. Mayhew: 
otherwise it was signified to him that the Comissioners could not expect 
good by theire laboure wheras by their mutuall Contensions and In- 
victives one against the other they undid what they taught the Natives, 
and sundry calles (as he said) being made him by the English to other 

places he was left to his libertie to dispose of himselfe as the 

Lord should Guid him."^ 

The young man considering his usefulness at an end 
promptly decided to leave the Vineyard, and on Nov. 30, 1667, 
removed to Plymouth, one of the places which desired his 
services, and there under happier conditions he served a use- 
ful pastorate for twenty years, finally removing to Charleston, 
S. C., in 1697, where he died two years later. ^ 

'Magna Ha Christi Americana. 

^Records, Cora. United Colonies, II, 329. 

'Davis, Landmarks of Plymouth, 98. 


Annals of Edgartown 

INTERREGNUM, 1667-1680. 

Great Harbor was again left without a pastor, and the 
town records do not afford any information relative to the 
means employed to fill the vacancy for many years. At the 
departure of Cotton in 1667, the young sons of Rev. Thomas 
May hew, Jr., Matthew and John, were only nineteen and 
fifteen years of age respectively, and of course not old enough 
then to fill the breach. As the Indians WTre then conducting 
two or three meetings of their own at the time and had 
"teachers" of their race presiding, the English would avail 
themselves of the services of the native preachers. Experience 
Mayhew says: "when there was no English Pastor upon the 
Island some of our godly English People very cheerfully re- 
ceived the Lords supper administered by him," referring to 
John Tackanash.^ This was only a return for "bread cast 
upon the waters." It is probable also that the Governor acted 
in the capacity of lay pastor during such times as occasion 
required." In this instance it was a long period. John May- 
hew, who later preached at Tisbury, may have begun his 
ministerial work in Edgartown during this time, probably as 
soon as he was of age in 1673, as it is only thus that we can 
account for the long period between 1667 and 1680, when the 
next reference to religious matters occurs in the records. 



It would seem that the interregnum of thirteen years 
had not been fruitful for the state of religion, as on July 3, 1680, 
the town voted to build another meeting-house with dimen- 
sions smaller than the first. The following is the record: — 

"Voted that there should be a meeting house built of twenty foot 
square with four cross Galleries with ten feet stud; this house is to be 
finished by the last day of March next Insewing."^ 

The occasion of this vote is not clear; perhaps the second 
building of 1665 had deteriorated from disuse or was con- 
sidered beyond repair. It is suspected however that a new 
candidate in the person of Mr. Deodate Lawson was preaching 

'Indian Converts, 15. 

*Ibid., 301. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 24. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

a probationary spell, and this action was taken to encourage 
his settlement. Deodate Lawson, the son of Rev. Thomas 
Lawson of Denton, County of Norfolk, England, was a late 
comer to New England. He took the oath of allegiance in 

1680, and is next heard of in our records under date of May 12, 

1 68 1, as follows: — 

Voted that "Mr. Lawson hath a Call to this town and that this town 
will Bye him half Commodation Providing that he Lives and preaches 
for the Term of seven years.'" 

It is not known whether Mr. Lawson accepted or how 
long he preached, but it is certain that he did not stay "seven 
years" nor half that time. It is probable that he may have 
remained for a year. As a child born to him is recorded in 
Boston in 1682, it is probable that he had by that time severed 
his short connection with this town. He afterwards lived at 
Danvers and Scituate in a ministerial capacity, but it seems 
that he left the latter church in an unaccountable way.^ The 
brief residence of Mr. Lawson here probably resulted in 
dampening the enthusiasm for a new meeting-house, and 
doubtless the plan to build began to languish when the new 
minister failed to show indications of settling down. Indeed, 
it would appear from the following vote passed under date of 
Aug. 5, 1685, that the meeting-house was begun in 1680, in 
accordance with the former vote, and that operations were 
suspended when he took his departure. 

"Voted that Thomas Daggett, James Pease Sr. & Isaac Norton 
are Impowered in behalf of the town to Treat with Richard Ellingham 
about finishing the Meeting house and to conclude with him or any others 
according to their Discression for finishing said House, finding Timber 
and all the Necessarys about the same and what they shall do In the Towns 
Behalf shall sattisfie and Be obliged to Perform."^ 

Whether this was "finished" on the plan laid out in 1680, 
of twenty feet square, is not known, but it is presumed that a 
larger building was found to be necessary as a new clergyman 
had been engaged the previous year. 


Negotiations had been in progress during 1684 between 
Matthew Mayhew, as agent for the town, and Mr. Jonathan 
Dunham of Falmouth (Cape Cod), relative to his settlement 

'Edgartown Records, I, 27. The earliest publication relating to Salem Witch- 
craft, was a little pamphlet by Deodate Lawson, issued in the summer of 1692. 
^Deane, History of Scitusfte, 196. 
^Edgartown Records, I, 35. 

Annals of Edgartown 

as pastor in this town, but the townspeople evidently tiring of 
the long delays which ensued passed the following vote on 
Oct. 27, 1684: — 

V^oted, "that if Mr. Mayhew cannot Prevail with Mr. Dunham the 
Town desire him to Treat with some other man whom he shall think fitt 
and is ordered to give thirty-five pounds a year."' 

This brought the hesitating parties to the bargain to a 
rapid conclusion, as appears by the following statement in 
the town records : — 

"I, Matthew Mayhew being employed by Edgar town in the year of our 
Lord 1684 to procure Mr. Dunham or some other Minister for them did 
agree with Mr. Dunham as minister of the gospell in said Town viz: to 
allow Thirty Pounds per annum was excepted by them which I now for 
there Better satisfaction do declare to said Town to have been my return 
to them."' 

Jonathan Dunham, a native of Plymouth, was at this 
date 52 years of age, past middle life, and came to Edgartown 
ripe with the experiences of half a century in temporal affairs, 
and now chosen to be a guide in spiritual concerns. He was 
not an educated minister, nor a college graduate. "With toil 
and Pains at first he tilled the ground," his epitaph states. 
He had been for some time "employed in Preaching the Good 
word of God amongst us for our Edification," according to 
the statement of a committee representing the settlement at 
Succonnessitt [Falmouth] in 1679, but he was only a lay preacher 
in reality.^ The choice however proved to be a happy one, 
and for a generation of years, laboring with ever increasing 
satisfaction to the church until he had reached the ripe age 
of eighty-five, this pastoral relation in our town was continued.* 
Infirmities incident to his years however, in 1711, made it 
necessary that he receive some assistance in his work, and 
on May 15th of that year, at a special town meeting, it was 
voted to obtain "some able minister of the Gospel to be helpful 
to Mr. Dunham in the ministrie." Early in 1713, the church 
had unanimously selected Rev. Samuel Wiswall as coadjutor, 
and on March loth of that year the town unanimously voted 
to endorse that action in behalf of the proprietors.^ The town 

'Edgartown Records, I, 32. 

'Ibid., I, 64. 

^Sup. Judicial Court Files, No. 2 no. 

*Mr. Dunham was not ordained until Oct, 11, 1694, when he was installed as 
^'teacher" of the church at Edgartown, ten years after his call. The pastor of the 
Plymouth church and Mr. Fuller came by invitation to assist at the ceremonies. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 65, 88, 93. He was ordained that year. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

voted him a salary of £7,0 per annum for the first year and 
raised this to ;^40 the next year, at the same time paying Mr. 
Dunham his regular salary, although he had "through age 
and other infirmity desisted preaching for the two years last 
past."* Mr. Dunham died Dec. 18, 1717, and on his tomb- 
stone the following metrical elegy is to be seen : — 

With Toil & Pains at first He Tell'd the Ground 
Caird to Dress GOD'S Vine Yard & ws faithful Found 
Full Thirty Years the Gospel He Did Despence 
His Work Being Done CHRIST JESUS Cal'd Him Hence. 


He was succeeded by his assistant, Mr. Wiswall, then 
in his 38th year.^ This pastor was the first liberally educated 
clergyman settled in the town, having heen graduated at Har- 
vard as B. A. in 1701 and taken his degree of Master of Arts 
three years later. After this latter event he prepared himself 
for the duties of the ministry. He had no settled charge at 
first, and preached transiently as opportunities offered. Later 
he went on a voyage as chaplain of a large ship which was 
captured by the Spaniards and taken to Martinico, "where 
he underwent a dangerous Fit of Sickness, but God sparing 
his Life he returned to his Country again. "^ He preached 
at Nantucket for about six months before accepting the call 
to this town. While here he acquired the Indian tongue 
"with a design to do what service he can amongst that people,"^ 
and labored both among the English and natives with highly 
satisfactory results. His ministry was uneventful, and like 
that of his predecessor the pastoral relations continued for 
over thirty years until terminated by death. He was "often 
infirm with respect to his bodily state," and never married, 
so that he might attend the work of his ministry "without 
Distraction." After much added labor in a season of sickness 
and mortality, he succumbed suddenly on the 23d of December, 
1746, in the 68th year of his age. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 102. Feb. 10, 1 714-15. 

^He was the son of "pious and worthy Parents in the Town of Dorchester," Mr. 
Enoch and Elizabeth (Oliver) Wiswall, and was born Sept. 2, 1679, in that town. 

'Boston Gazette, No. 1325 (1747.) 

^Mather, "India Christiana" (1721). Mr. Wiswall evidently was of a roving dis- 
position, and when he first came showed symptoms of restlessness. In 1714, when 
Judge Sewall visited Edgartown, he was asked by Capt. Thomas Daggett to "en- 
deavour to persuade him to stay among them." (Diary, II, 432.) 

Annals of Edgartown 


Immediately following his accession to the place made 
vacant by the death of Mr. Dunham, the town held a meeting 
to consider the necessity of repairing the old structure, which 
had been in use over thirty years. "After some debate," the 
record states, ''they being sensible, or the greater part, did 
find the old meeting house to be too scanty for the inhabitants 
of this town, they passed a unanimous vote for a new meeting 
house. "^ With that deliberation however, which characterized 
all such affairs, they did not act upon this vote for a year, 
and on Jan. ii, 1719-20, they finally agreed with Thomas 
Daggett to build the new structure, which should "not contain 
nor cover more ground than forty feet long and thirty wide."^ 
This was the third meeting-house erected in the town since 
its foundation. During the ministry of Mr. Wiswall he was 
paid a yearly salary ranging from ;^5o in 17 18, to ;^ioo in 
1745, the latter amount being that received by him at his 

The town, on Jan. 7, 1746-7, voted to raise ;^i5o for 
the ministry, and a month later a committee of five was ap- 
pointed to procure a successor to their lately deceased pastor. 
This committee acted promptly, and in two months had secured 
as a candidate, a young clergyman, the Rev. John Newman, 
then in his twenty-seventh year, brother-in-law of John Sumner 
of Edgartown, and a graduate in the class of 1740 of Harvard 
College. He was the son of John and Mary (Marshall) New- 
man of Gloucester, Mass., where he was born March 14, 171 6. 
The church had voted, on May 8, 1747, to give him a call 
to settle, and on May 15th the town voted to concur in the 
selection, and further "for an incouragement " voted him the 
sum of ;^3oo, for a settlement and for a yearly salary. 

"The sum of two hundred and fifty pounds in the old tenor to be 
settled at the rate of silver money at forty six shillings old tenor the ounce 
and so to raise or fall as the same shall rise or fall at all times hereafter 
as long as he the sd Mr. John Newman shall continue in the office of the 
ministry among us in this town."* 

'Edgartown Records, I, 75 
^Ibid., I, 150. 
nhid., I, 72. i8r 
*Ibid., I, 188. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 


Mr. Newman accepted this offer promptly, and the town 
"returned thanks for his acceptance." Elaborate preparations 
were made for the entertainment of the delegates from the 
churches which were invited to assist at his ordination, which 
occurred July 29, 1747, and the sum of ;!^5o was raised to 
defray the expenses of entertaining the council.^ All this 
seemed to be in marked contrast to the simplicity which had 
heretofore obtained in the history of this church, but Rev. 
Mr. Newman was an entirely different character from his 
predecessors. He was the youngest pastor who had ever 
occupied this pulpit, and had recently returned from the siege 
of Louisburg, at which place he had served as chaplain to 
the garrison. Being possessed of some private fortune and 
imbued with the commercial spirit, he entered at once into 
the business of shop keeping on his own account, and in mari- 
time ventures in partnership with Mr. Sumner.^ In addition 
to this he was of a "worldly" temperament, which soon begat 
doubts and anxieties among those who could compare him 
with the grave and saintly Dunham, and the studious, ascetic 
Wiswall. This situation had in it the elements of probable 
discord, and the usual factions consequent upon this grew 
into activity. The older and conservative church members 
disapproved him, and the younger element in the town became 
his supporters.^ 

One of the Deacons of his church, Benjamin Daggett, 
became a bitter enemy and circulated scandalous stories about 
his character. He sued the deacon in the local courts for 
slander in March, 1757, and recovered a small verdict with 
costs, from which the defendant appealed.^ Thus vindicated, 

^Edgartown Records, I, 190. The ordination sermon was preached by Rev. 
Thomas Balch, pastor of the Second Parish, Dedham, Mass, who had married his 
sister-in-law, Mary Sumner. 

^An account book kept by him in Edgartown, 1747-1758, is now in existence in 
excellent preservation, and furnishes undoubted evidence that he did a thriving 
business in retail shop-keeping. He sold chintz and lawn to the women, ship chand- 
lery, pipes and tobacco to the men. Being skilled in "phisick" and "surgery," he 
purged and vomited the ailing townspeople and drew their aching molars during the 
week, as a preparation for his spiritual prescriptions on Sundays. 

'Letter to Rev. Thomas Foxcroft of Boston. A similar condition existed simul- 
taneously in Tisbury, and under date of Feb. 21, 1755, Experience Mayhew wrote: 
"There are great Travails & Dissentions arisen in two of our churches here viz at 
Edgartown and Tisbury. How they will end I know not. They need the help of 
the prayers of others for them." 

*Dukes County Court Records, March term, 1757. 

' Annals of Edgartown 

he asked dismission from the church. The church finally 
acceeded to his request for severance of the pastoral relations, 
but the town, by a vote of 30 to 14, would not concur in July, 
1758. In the following October the town reconsidered its 
objections, and for the "mutual good and comfort of this 
church and congregation doth concur with the vote of the 
church, and grant a dismission unto the Rev. Mr. John New- 
man from his pastoral or ministerial relations."^ If these dis- 
sentions drove him from the ministry they did not drive him 
from the town, and like his associate in Tisbury, the Rev. 
Nathaniel Hancock, under similar conditions, he decided to 
remain rather than turn his back on his enemies. He entered 
into public affairs, became Justice of the Court of Sessions 
and Common Pleas in 1761, and w^as Colonel of the Militia 
of the county the same year. He died Dec. i, 1763, in his 
forty-third year, and lies buried in the cemetery beyond Tower 


The church and town, on July 10, 1759, voted to call 
Mr. Zachariah Mayhew of Chilmark as pastor to fill the 
vacancy created by the dismission of the Rev. Mr. Newman, 
but owing to his employment by the Society for Propagating 
the Gospel and "some obstructions or obstacles that were in 
the way," he decided not to accept the charge.^ Another 
attempt was made to secure the services of a clergyman, and 
the Rev. Joshua Tufts, Harvard College 1736, who had been 
settled as pastor at Litchfield, N. H., and Narragansett Town- 
ship, No. 2, was invited to assume the vacant pastorate in 
December, 1759. The town voted to purchase a parsonage, 
and made the usual provisions for his maintenance. Mr. 
Tufts accepted, and further provision was made "for the 
Removal of his family and things here and for the maintainance 
of his family until they may arrive."* But he was scarcely 
warmed in his seat before trouble began, and on July 9, 1760, 
a committee was appointed "to wait upon the Rev. Mr. Joshua 
Tufts and discourse with him with respect to his asking and 

'Edgartown Records, I, 217 

'In the same cemeterj' is buried the body of Mrs. Mary Newman, his mother, 
who died September 28, 1755, in her seventy-first year. His widow, Mrs. Hannah New- 
man, married Aug. 27, 1766, Jonathan Metcalf. She was five years older than Mr. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 219. 

*Ibid., I, 221-223. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

taking a dismission from his call to the pastoral and ministerial 
office in this town." A sum of money was also voted him^ 
"provided he asks and obtains a dismission."* His pre- 
decessor, now John Newman, Esq., was chairman of the com- 
mittee of the church which reported the advisability of ter- 
minating the relations. In this report, in which the church 
concurred, the following recommendation was given Mr. Tufts : 

That notwithstanding some reports have been spread to the prej- 
udice of the Rev. Mr. Joshua Tufts' character since he came to this place 
by which the affections of some of the people seem to be so far alienated 
from him that it has been thought convenient by the sd Mr. Tufts and 
this Church that he be dismissed from his pastoral and ministerial relation 
thereto: yet we hereby declare we are in full charity with the sd IVIr. Tufts 
and hope that in some other place he may have an opportunity of improving 
his ministerial talents and of being more extensively useful in promoting 
the Kingdom & Interests of our Common Lord.^ 

The exact nature of the disaffection indicated by his invol- 
untary exit is not known, but it may have been an echo of the 
troubles of his predecessor.^ 


The usual town and parish committee was forthwith 
charged with the duty of providing a successor, and a 
year later Rev. Samuel Kingsbury, a recent graduate of Har- 
vard in the class of 1759, was invited on July 15th by the 
church, and the town concurred, July 21, 1761, with a money 
offer for a settlement.* The town further voted him a yearly 
salary of £66, 13 shillings and 4 pence, and he accepted the 
call. He was ordained November 25th of that year,^ and 
entered upon a successful pastorate which lasted for seventeen 
years, until terminated by his death from small pox, on Dec. 
30, 1778, in the forty-third year of his age. He was the last 
victim of an epidemic of that disease, which had existed in 

'Edgartown Record, I, 224. 

^Edgarton Church Records. This report was signed by the moderator of the 

^The town voted to reconsider the purchase of a parsonage, and devoted a portion 
of this money "to pay the towns debts." He was later settled at Cumberland, N. S., 
and died in 1766. 

^Samuel Kingsbury was born in Dedham, Dec. 28, 1736, the son of Ebenezer 
and Abigail Kingsbury of that town, where his ancestors had lived for four generations. 

*The ordination sermon was preached by the Rev. Moses Adams of Roxbury^ 
and other portions of this ceremony were taken by Reverends Andrew Boardman of 
Chilmark, Jacob Bacon of Plymouth, Thomas Balch of Dedham, and Abraham Wil- 
liams of Sandwich. 

Annals of Edgartown 

the town for some time. Rev. Mr. Kingsbury, after a residence 
of two years in the town, had married, Dec. 15, 1763, Jedidah, 
daughter of John and Jedidah (Smith) Sumner of this town, 
a niece of Mrs. John Newman, and thus indentified himself 
with one of the leading families of the town. 

During the pastorate of Mr. Kingsbury, the old meeting- 
house, built in 1720, and used for nearly fifty years, succumbed 
to the ravages of time and our climate, after many annual 
patchings, and on Dec. 29, 1767, the first move was made 
towards rebuilding, by the appointment of a committee to 
consider the subject and report conclusions. A change of 
location was advisable among other things at this time, as 
the centre of population in the village had moved steadily 
northward since the early settlement in the Mashacket region. 
On Feb. 2, 1768, after having voted to build a new meeting 
house, a committee was appointed "to agree with Deacon 
Matthew Norton concerning a spot of land to set or build 
the meeting house on as also with Mr. Matt. Mayhew concern- 
ing a way [to the land]." This arrangement was effected 
satisfactorily, and two weeks later, in consideration of £$ 
lawful money, an acre of land was purchased of Deacon Norton, 
and the deed passed to the church.^ This site was described 
as follows : — 

The Meeting house is to be set up on the easterly part of the land 
that Deacon Matt. Norton purchased of Mr. Matt. Mayhew a few rods 
to the westward of a tract of land belonging to Thomas Vinson, on the 
Northwest side of the way that leadeth from Peases Point to the Plain. ^ 


In order that the residents then living in the locality 
of South Water street might reach this new site readily, Matthew 
Mayhew simultaneously with Norton, deeded to the town a 
way one rod wide extending from Water street to the church.' 
With these preliminaries settled, the committee charged with 
the construction of the new house of worship, "having met and 
considered of the same and the bigness of sd house," made 
the following recommendations as to dim.ensions and other 
details concerning ways and means : — 

'Dukes Deeds, IX, 758, dated Feb. 9, 1768. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 292. 

^Dukes Deeds, IX, 759, dated Feb. 9, 1768. 

History of Martha*s Vineyard 


— c= 
















Annals of Edgartown 

First that the meeting house be built forty-five feet wide and sixty 
feet long and that there shall be built in sd Meeting house ninety-seven 
pews sixty-four of sd pews to be set up below and thirty-three pews to 
be built and set up in the gallery above: .The sd meeting house and pews 
to be built according to the plan drawn by the sd Committee.' 

Of these pews, the one next the pulpit on the left was 
reserved for the ministry, and the remaining pew owners were 
assessed a total of £26. 36s. 8d. towards building the meeting- 
house. Further provisions were made for payments and for- 
feiture of pews, and that the town should be assessed to pay 
the balance of cost above the amount charged to the pews 
for construction. With a liberal disregard of all architectural 
requirements and symmetry of design, the town voted further: — 

if any persons have a mind to have a v^indow against their pews in any 
part of sd meeting house, and person so minded may have liberty there- 
for, provided that they do it upon their own cost and maintain the same, 
and before the outside is finished.^ 

As the work progressed, various changes in details were voted 
by the town, including the raising of the studding eighteen 
inches, "by splicing the posts," elevating the wall pews six 
inches above the main floor, and raising the underpinning. 
At length this large new structure w^as completed, probably 
about the early part of the spring of 1769, and became the 
fourth meeting-house erected for the worship of God in Edgar- 


After the death of Rev. Mr. Kingsbury the church and 
town began to cast about for a successor, and on April 6, 1 780, 
it was voted that the town should "proceed in the most expe- 
ditious manner to procure a Gospel minister to preach to the 
town for the space of three months." The committee who 
had this matter in charge procured the services of Mr. Joseph 
Thaxter of Hingham, as a temporary supply, some time in 
May following, and he began to "preach to the town."* Mr. 
Thaxter was a son of Deacon Joseph and Mary (Leavitt) 

'Edgartown Records, I, 292. 

*Ibid., I, 275. It is only fair to say that this vote was reconsidered later, and it 
was voted that these be proportioned by the carpenter. The windows in second story 
were to have twenty panes and those below twenty-four panes. 

'On March 21, 1769, the selectmen were "impowered to Prime the windows of 
the meeting House," which wonld indicate its completion about that date. 

*Edgartown Records, I, 321. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

Thaxter of Hingham, and was born April 23, 1744, in that 
town. He was graduated at Harvard College in the class of 
1768, and was subsequently engaged in teaching school in 
his native place. He had represented Hingham at the General 
Court, and at the outbreak of the Revolution joined the patriot 
forces at Concord and later at Cambridge, and was chaplain 
of Colonel Prescott's regiment at the Battle of Bunker Hill. 
At the date of his first coming to Edgartown he was in his 
37th year and unmarried. After the usual "trying out" and 
baiting process with the new candidate, a committee was 
appointed to "treat" with him upon the basis of a permanent 
settlement. On August loth the church unanimously gave 
him a call, and the town, concurring in the same manner, 
offered him ;^ioo in silver at 6s. 8d. per ounce as a yearly salary. 
His reply is worth printing in full. 

Gentlemen: Whereas the Church of Christ in this place did on 
the loth of August last past unanimously invite me to settle with you in 
the work of the Gospel Ministry & whereas the town on the same day 
did unanimously concur with the Church in their choice and did then 
for my encouragement and support vote to pay me annually the sum of 
one hundred pounds in Silver money at six shillings eight pence per ounce 
so long as I shall continue in the office of the ministry among you. I have 
taken your invitation and encouragement into consideration and think 
your unanimity has made the call clear. Sensible of the care and trouble 
in which I must necessarily be involved in having all the necessaries of 
life to purchase wherever I can find them I most sincerely wish to avoid 
such cares as much as possible and therfore would propose that your agree- 
ment with me may be to give me ten cord of good oak wood, three tons 
of good English hay, forty-five bushels of Indian Corn, fifteen bushels 
of rye, eighty weight of good fleece wool, two hundred weight of large 
pork, two hundred weight of good beef including the proportion of tallow 
and two hundred Spanish milled dollars. Your compliance with these 
proposals will free me from such care and trouble and tend to my comfort 
& happiness, and I shall consider it as an evidence of your love and affection 
to me which I sincerely wish ever to enjoy should my proposals be agreeable 
and be accepted by the town. I then shall be ready to join with your 
committee in agreeing upon the Council and appointing the day for my 
solemn Seperation & introduction into work of the Gospel ministtry 
among you. Asking your prayers for me that I may be made a blessing 
unto the Church and People of God in this place I am, gentlemen, in love 
and affection your devoted and obedient servant in our Lord Jesus Christ. 

September 19th, 1780. 

This reply was considered satisfactory, and all its require- 
ments accepted by formal vote of the town, and agents were 
appointed to carry out its provisions yearly in respect to the 



In possession of his grand-daughter, Mrs. Susan Coombs. 

Annals of Edgartown 

produce and fuel. He was ordained Nov. 8, 1780/ and began 
a distinguished pastorate under circumstances that were 
favorable for both parties to the contract. One exception, 
however, is to be noted. As he entered upon what proved 
to be a long ministerial service here, there arose in the town as 
elsewhere, those schisms in the church, which resulted in the 
separation of large numbers who began to follow the new 
doctrines preached by itinerant Baptist and Methodist preach- 
ers.^ As time progressed, these dissenting bodies grew larger 
numerically, and in local influence, and were a continual 
thorn in his flesh. This however was but an incident in his 
long career of usefulness, and only the requirements of space 
in this volume prevent an extensive review of his life and 
services. "Parson" Thaxter, as he was generally known, was 
the last of the old school village pastors, the guide, philosopher 
and friend of his flock, from the cradle to the grave. He 
ministered to them in their physical ills as well as leading 
them in the spiritual paths when in health, and for forty years 
he was easily the most distinguished personage in Edgartown. 
He wore to the end of his life the cocked hat, short clothes, 
knee and shoe buckles, and carried the long cane familiar 
to the generation that lived during the Revolution. At the 
laying of the corner stone of Bunker Hill Monument in 1825, 
he was designated as the official chaplain to offer prayer, in 
the presence of the distinguished Marquis de Lafayette, and his 
venerable appearance on that occasion attracted general at- 
tention and incited public comment.^ His prayer was reported 
in all the current papers of the time, and the noted Chaplain 
Thaxter of Prescott's regiment, then passed four score, was 
one of the marked figures on that memorable occasion. 

The Unitarian sentiment which pervaded New England 
in the early part of the 19th century and penetrated the hallowed 
fanes of so many of the old Puritan churches, also found 
lodgment here under the later ministrations of Parson Thaxter, 
but he was affectionately regarded as a gentle heretic. 

'The ordination sermon was preached by Rev. Timothy Hilyard, and Revs. 
Zachariah Mayhew, George Damon and Isaiah Mann took the other portions of this 

'As early as 1781, when he had just begun his work, "the religious society com- 
monly called Annabaptists in this town" were in existence, and when Mr. Thaxter 
was ordained, a committee was appointed to negotiate with them as to attendance 
on the services. 

'It is traditional that when passing him in the streets men and boys lifted their 
hats, and the women and girls made a courtesy. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

He died July i8, 1827, and lies buried in the cemetery 
that adjoined the meeting-house on Pease Point way. In the 
same enclosure are buried the remains of his two wives, Mary, 
daughter of Robert and Desire (Norton) Allen and Ann, 
daughter of Samuel and Anna (Wass) Smith, together with 
a number of their children. 

After the death of Parson Thaxter the regular services at 
the church were suspended, and for nine years there was only 
occasional supply of the pulpit by traveling or missionary 
preachers. In 1836, the Rev. Samuel A. Devens, a Unitarian 
clergyman, held services for a while, and wrote some interesting 
descriptive letters containing his observations of this place 
and the island as a whole.* 

The following description of the ancient structure where 
Parson Thaxter preached, as it appeared in 1836, was written by 
a traveler who spent some time in the town, and published his 
observations in a volume of sketches of places visited by him : — 

The style of architecture — to frame a new order — is Quaker. 
It is situated a little out of the village and is the first object, when approach- 
ing it, that attracts attention. It is of large dimensions and without a 
steeple. No part of it is painted but the roof, which is of brick color. 
Of course with its broad paintless sides, relieved only by its reddish roof, 
it has a somewhat grave and sombre aspect. This specimen of antiquity 
rears its venerable form in the centre of an oblong enclosure of considerable 
extent, all of which with the exception of a path from the gate to the Church- 
door is occupied with graves, headstones, and monuments of various 
forms, dimensions and appearance. The venerable Pastor of the Town 
reposes in the rear of the Church just beneath the window of that pulpit 
in which he served his Maker for such a succession of years. A weeping 
willow gracefully waves over a marble monument erected by his children. 

The interior of the Church accords well with the exterior. All is 
simple and plain — in the taste of the Puritans. The front of the galleries 
and pulpit, with the sounding board above, and the deacons' seats below, 
are painted light blue. There is nought else but what wears its natural 
color. A neat green curtain and a cushion of the like material adorn the 

At one extremity of the enclosure is a straw-colored hearse-house 
— neat and appropriate — recently built by a benevolent widow, daughter 
of the departed worthy Pastor.^ 

'Published in the Christian Register, 1836-7, and later in book form, Boston, 
1838, 12 mo., pp.207. 

^Devens, Sketches of Martha's Vineyard, &c., pp. 39-41. The author adds the 
following reference to the care bestowed by this daughter upon the old building: 
"This spot is the object of sacred affections — of many sad as well as sweet remem- 
brances to her soul. Not a broken pane of glass nor a loose stone in the foundation 
of the old Church escapes her eye. It is never suffered to go to decay, and its hallowed 
precincts are swept by her own hands some three times every twelvemonth and pre- 
served sweet and clean." 


Annals of Edgartown 




History of Martha*s Vineyard 

This relic of departed days survived the storms of about 
ten winters and was finally torn down, as it was becoming 
an unsightly object on account of disuse and decay. 


The passing of Parson Thaxter also marked the end of 
the old church, which for nearly sixty years had been the 
scene of the ministrations of himself and his immediate pre- 
decessor. It had been repaired annually for many years, 
until further expenditures of this kind could not save it from 
decay, and a new structure was planned shortly before the 
death of Parson Thaxter. Another lot was procured on the 
corner of Commercial and Summer streets, and the present 
structure erected thereon. It was completed the year following 
his death, and dedicated Dec. 24, 1828, with appropriate cere- 

The succession in the pastoral office since the death of 
Parson Thaxter has been as follows : — 

John H. Martyn, 1827-1831; Reuben Porter, 1832-1833; Ebenezpr 
Poor, 1833-1835; David Tilton, 1835-1838; James Thomas, 1839-1840; 
Allen Gannett, 1842-1843; JohnS. Stores, 1843-1844; Charles C. Beaman, 
1844-1846; William M. Thayer, 1846-1847; Smith B. Goodenow, 1847- 
185 1 ; JohnE. Corey, 185 2-185 2; William J. Breed, 1853-1856; Nathaniel 
B. Blanchard, 1856-1857; Nelson Scott, 1858-1859; Stephen C. Strong, 
1859-1860;' Edwin H. Nevin, 1860-1863; Hartford P. Leonard, 1863- 
1865; Benjamin T. Jackson, 1865-1867; Luther H. Angier, 1868-1869; 
Edson J. Moore, 1870-1874; Ephraim N. Hidden, 1874-1874; T. Frank 
Waters, 1875-1878; John G. Hall, 1878-1880; J. Emerson Swallow, 1881- 
1883; Calvin Terry, 1885-1885; Frank N. Greeley, 1885-1887; Samuel 
Clark, 1887-1889; Frank A. Mansfield, 1890-1890; Caleb L. Rotch, 189a- 
1891; Charles L. Woodworth, 1891-1892; Charles N. Gleason, 1893-1897; 
Duncan McDermid, 1897-1898; James Lade, 1898-1900; Charles L. 
Woodworth, 1900-1903; and Frederick Morse Cutler, 1903, who is the 
incumbent at the present time. 

This historic congregation maintains the semblance of 
its historic past, as the parent religious organization on the 
island, and the worshipper at its services must have impressed 
on him the spiritual presence of its founders and pillars, the two 
Mayhews, Dunham, Wiswall, and Thaxter, as he enters this 
ancient temple.^ 

'A Rev. Mr. Fiske was temporary supply in i860. 

^Mrs. Newman, widow of its early pastor, presented a silver communion service 
to this congregation and it is still in use. She also left a fund of £33^ for the benefit 
of derserving widows. 


Annals of Edgartown 


The religious body holding the Baptist doctrines in this 
town is an ofifshoot of the first association of Baptists organized 
in 1780 at Homes Hole. Services were held for many years 
in the meeting-house at Homes Hole by persons of this denom- 
ination residing in the towns of Tisbury, Chilmark and Edgar- 
town. Most of the members from this town resided in the 
northern part, on the shores or contiguous to the Lagoon, 
and they continued their attachment to the Tisbury meeting 
till about 1823, when by reason of increased numbers a sep- 
arate parish was organized. This was accomplished on April 
16, 1823, when Elder William Hubbard and Benjamin Graf- 
ton of Boston came here and officially instituted the Baptist 
Church in Edgartown. Benjamin Davis was appointed first 
Deacon, and the following named persons constituted its mem- 
bership at that date: — 

Saml. Wheldon, Saml. Vincent, Zachariah Pease, Salthiel Pease, Jesse 
Pease, Benjamin Dunham, Matt. Allen, Thomas Norton, Henry Marchant, 
Thos. Cofl&n, Deborah Marchant, Lydia Pease, Molly Pease, Olive Vincent, 
Betsey Vincent, Hannah Marchant, Sally A. Pease, Sally Dunham, Ann 
Norton, Margaret Arey, Abigail Cook, Sophronia Norton, Louisa Norton, 
Ruama Coffin, Sophia Marchant, Deborah Pent, Abigail Cook, Velina 
Luce, Elijah Pease, Lydia A. Vincent, Jerusha Dunham, Hannah Ripley, 
Warren Vincent, Rev. Wm. Bowers, Charlotte Bowers, Lois Cleveland, 
Betsey Frisbey, Mary Cornell, Prudence Jernigan, Cordelia Coffin, Char- 
lotte Fisher, Saml. Whelding, Hannah Norton, Marshall Luce, Puella 
Cleveland, Ann Covel, Nabby Crosby, Peggy Pease, Sukey Fisher, Rebecca 
Cleveland, Hannah Cook, Eunice Whelding, Betsey Whelding, Anna Pease, 
Huldah Coffin, Sally Marchant, Harriet Cleveland, Waitstill M. Pease, 
Saml. Pent, Betsey Pent, Mary S. Vincent, Ephraim Marchant, Velina 
Coffin, Charlotte Cathcart, Sophia S. Marchant, John Pease, Ambrose 
Vincent, Deborah Norton. 

Elder Hubbard became the first pastor of this society, 
serving in that capacity for two years. He was succeeded 
by Henry Marchant [170], a native son. Services were held 
at first in houses, then in school buildings, and in 181 1 they 
joined with the Methodists in the erection of a ''Union" meet- 
ing-house on Winter street, nearly opposite the residence of 
the late Sirson P. Coffin. It was an unfinished shell of a 
building, provided with a regulation high pulpit, and the audi- 
ence had to be content with plain board seats, without backs. 
This served its purpose for ten years till, finally, during the 
pastorate of Rev. W. W. Hall, funds were obtained for build- 
ing a separate church structure for the use of Baptists solely. 


History of Martha*s Vineyard 

A lot was procured on Maple street, and the edifice was com- 
pleted in the fall of 1839. A contemporary account gives the 
following particulars of the dedication exercises: — 

Friday, September 6, 1839, the new and Elegant Baptist Meeting 
house in Edgartown was dedicated to the worship of God. The Exer- 
cises of the Occasion were as follows: — Reading of the Scriptures by Rev. 
Henry Marchant; Reading Anthem by Rev. Mr. Hall, pastor of the Church; 
Introductory Prayer by Rev. James C. Boomer of Holmes Hole; Sermon 
and dedicatory Prayer by Rev. Mr. Neale of Boston.' 

The following named clergymen have served as pastors 
of the Baptist Church from its establishment to the present 
time: William Hubbard, 1823-5; Henry Marchant, 1826-7; 
William Bowen, 1828-9; Seth Ewer, 1830-4; Jesse Pease,^ 
1834; Darius Dunbar, 1835-6; W. W. Hall, 1836-40; L. 
Holmes, 1840-3; A. Webb, 1843-4; S. Richards, 1844-8; C. 
G. Hatch, 1849-51; G. D. Crocker, 1851-3; L. Holmes, 1853-7; 
A. D. Gorham, 1857-60; W. W. Ashley, 1861-2; J. E. Wood, 
1863-5; W. W. Ashley, 1866-7; L. B. Hatch, 1868-75; Wm. 
McCullough, 1876-7; Geo. D.Reid, 1877-80; Wm. W. Walker, 
1881-5; H. B. Tilden, 1885-8; J. A. Bailey, 1888-9; Thos. 
C. Crocker, 1 890-1; Fennimore H. Cooper, 1892-5; Wilber 
T. Rice, 1895-8; Henry D. Coe, 1898-1901; Edwin D. Rich- 
ardson, 1902-4; Frederick T. Kenyon, 1904-7; W. J. B. 
Cannell, 1907. 


The beginnings of the Methodist Episcopal religious denom- 
ination date from the arrival of John Saunderl, a negro slave 
from Virginia, who had become a convert to that doctrine, 
and held services from time to time. This was in 1787 and 
continued till his death eight years later. As in the case of 
the other schismatics from the established order, the early 
assemblies of persons professing this faith were combined 
from the several settlements on the island. Itinerant mission- 
aries were given commission to preach to such as would gather 
in the towns, and the history of one is a repetition of the others 
in the early annals of this denomination.* Rev. Joshua Hall 
preached here in 1797; Joseph Snelling in 1798; Epaphras 

'From paper in possession of Mrs. Wm. Pease, West Tisbury. 

^Mr. Jesse Pease of Edgartown was ordained July 15, 1824, at the Tisbury Meet- 
ing house. 

^It is confidently claimed that the celebrated Jesse Lee preached here in 1795 
on his return from a tour in the District of Mainei It is known that he visited New 
Bedford and thence came to the Vineyard. 


Annals of Edgartown 

Kibby, 1799; William Beauchamp, 1800, after which for 
several years the supply was irregular until 1809, when a 
fresh start was made. 

During the year last named — that of 1809 — the Rev, 
Erastus Otis came to the island from his circuit, Falmouth. 
He preached his first sermon in Edgartown at a dwelling 
house provided by Mrs. Naomi Beecher, wife of Erastus 
Beecher, who was a cousin of the late Dr. Lyman Beecher. 
IN'Irs. Beecher, who had then recently removed to this place 
from Nantucket, and Miss Love Stewart, who a few years 
before had been "converted" in Maine, were then the only 
Methodists in the town. The preaching of Mr. Otis was of 
a new style — quite different, indeed, from that to which the 
majority of the people had been accustomed to listen — yet 
it found hearers, and the father of Miss Stewart and others 
consented to open their doors for it. During the long inter- 
lude the numbers in society on other parts of the island had 
been reduced by deaths, removals, and perhaps by other 
causes, to seven; the two named in Edgartown making the 
number nine in all. 

Mr. Otis was remembered as a man of fine personal 
appearance, and of a cultivated mind. He was zealous in 
the Methodist cause, and finding here a field for work, he 
entered into it with a hearty zest. He taught a school in 
Edgartown for a while, still preaching there and elsewhere 
on the island, and his efforts resulting in frequent "revivals." 
On the fourth day of November of that year he formed the 
first "class" in Edgartown consisting of six persons. The 
organization took place at the house of the late Joseph Vincent, 
about a mile from the village. It had been for a long time 
one of the homes of the preachers. 

The numbers increased gradually so that there was a 
roomful at the weekly class. Thomas Stewart, Jr., a son 
of the ocean, then recently "converted," soon joined and 
became the leader. The work spread, and another "class" 
was formed on the neighboring island of Chappaquiddick. 
It reached Eastville, where resided Joseph Linton, who with 
his wife came many times on foot seven miles to worship with 
this new sect. 

The next year, 1810, Mr. Otis came by assignment, al- 
though his name was associated with that of Benjamin F. 
Lansford at Falmouth. He was still succesful in his work, 
although in the midst of it there arose a great storm of per- 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

secution in Edgartown village. The new religion, as it was 
called, was treated with scorn and derision by large portions 
of the inhabitants, insomuch that many who adhered to the 
new cause resorted to the outposts — the neighboring island, 
the Plain, and elsewhere, where they could worship in greater 
quietness. Instances of physical opposition to the main- 
tenance of these meetings are known, and in common with 
the Baptist preachers who were then sharing the new field, 
the pioneer rivals of the established order of things suffered 
frequent personal indignities. The Rev. Mr. Otis once came 
to the ferry opposite the town in a heavy rain, having an ap- 
pointment to attend. Such were the demonstrations of the 
crowd assembled on this side, laughing at Mr. Otis' condition 
while waiting, that they so overawed the ferryman that he 
did not dare to incur their anger. Mr. Otis, after waiting 
some time in the drenching rain, wended his way back on 
foot, a mile, to the nearest house. Once at an election of 
a representative to Congress, two men slurringly cast their 
votes for the "Immortal Erastus Otis." He was succeeded 
in 1811 by Rev. William Hinman, and the society was legally 
organized to comply with the state law respecting taxation 
for the support of the ministry. The succeeding preachers 
were Edward Hyde, 181 2; William Frost, 1813; John W. 
Hardy, 1814; Benjamin Hazelton, 1815; Shipley W. Wilson, 
1816; Thomas W. Tucker, 181 7-18; Eleazer Steele, 1819-20^; 
John Adams, 1821-2; Francis Dane and Frederic Upham, 
1823; Edward T. Taylor, 1824; David Culver, 1825 and 
John Adams, 1826. It is to be understood that these preachers 
held services at the other towns as well and were in fact as- 
signed to the general work on this circuit. During this period 
the Methodists had relinquished (1822) their share in the 

*Rev. Hebron Vincent relates the following incident: "It was during this year 
that while preaching on a Sunday evening, Mr. Steele lost the power of speech, through 
an excess of religious fervor, and stood trembling with clenched hands upon the top 
of the pulpit. The pulpit being but poorly secured and the side of the building — 
which was still unfinished within — so shook as to cause a rumbling noise, which gave 
rise, under a disturbed imagination, to various conjectures. A scene of great excite- 
ment ensued, most of the people leaving the house in crowded haste — causing some 
accidents and giving to those whom they met in their flight various answers to inquiries 
such as, "Earthquake" — "The power of the Lord shook the meeting house," etc. 
One of the men strongly prejudiced against the new cause, hearing the noise at his 
house — the evening being quite still — hurried to the place. On entering the church 
and looking up to the pulpit, he exclaimed, "Look at your preacher in fits." Putting 
his hand on the sides of the pulpit and feeling the trembling, he said, "Your preacher has 
made complete fools of the whole of you! and if you will allow me, I will take him 
out of the pulpit and demonstrate it to you." This the brethren present refused to 
consent to. This man used to tell this story a great deal, afterwards — calling the 
scene, "the home-made earthquake." 


Annals of Edgartown 

Union meeting-house to the Baptists, and built one for them- 
selves on the site of the house of the late Sirson P. Coffin, 
Winter street. This was occupied till 1827, when it was sold 
to the Methodist Society of Chilmark, who took it apart and 
removed it to that town piecemeal.^ Soon after a new church 
building was erected on ^lain street, which later (1843) became 
the present Town Hall. 

Rev. Jotham Horton preached here in 1827; Thomas C. 
Pierce in 1828-9; Epaphras Kibby, 1830-1; John J. Bliss, 
1832; John E. Risley, 1833; Joel Steele, 1834; James C. 
Bontecou, 1835-6; Asa Kent, 1837-8; Thomas Ely, 1839-40; 
Ezekiel W. Stickney, 1841 ; Charles Macreading, 1842-3. 
It was during the last named pastorate that the meeting-house 
on the south side of Main street was sold for a Town Hall 
and a new site procured on the opposite side of the street. 
A more commodious building was begun in 1842 and com- 
pleted the next year. It was dedicated October 10, 1843, 
and is still occupied by the society. The following is a list 
of the pastors who have been assigned to this station since 
the present house of worship was completed: William T. 
Harlow, 1844-5; Cyrus C. Munger, 1846-7; Thomas Ely, 
1848; Frederick Upham, 1849; Charles H. Titus, 1850-1; 
John B. Gould, 1852-3; William Kellen, 1854; Sanford Benton, 
1855-6; William H. Stetson, 1857-8; Lucius D. Davis, 1859- 
60; Charles Nason, 1861; Frederick A. Crafts, 1862-3; Seth 
Reed, 1864-5'; A. W. Paige, 1865^-6; George W. Bridge, 1867^ 
Andrew J. Church, 1867--8-9; Daniel A. Whedon, 1870-1-2; 
Elisha M. Dunham, 1873-4-5; Samuel M. Beale, 1876-7-8; 
John D. King, 1879-80-1; John O. Thompson, 1882; James 
H. Humphrey, 1883-4-5; Silas Sprowls, 1886; John D. King, 
1887-8-9-90; Herman C. Scripps, 1891-2-3; Charles T. Hatch, 
1894-5; Joseph Hollingshead, 1896-7-8-9; William H. Allen, 
1900-1-2-3; George E. Brightman, 1904; Florus L. Streeter, 


This is a recent addition to the religious congregations 
in the town, and the annals of the church do not go back beyond 
a decade. Services had been held occasionally in houses and 

'As an evidence of the continued antagonism of the people to this new religious 
body it is related that an attempt was made to upset this building by levers while the 
services were being held inside. The members were still called by opprobrious names. 

^Part of that year. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

public halls until about 1^5, when the Bishop of the Diocese 
of Massachusetts placed the pastoral charge of the church in 
Edgartown in the care of Rev. William C. Hicks of Vineyard 
Haven. A weekly service was started in September of that 
year, and the growth of the work was such that the building 
of a mission church was considered necessary by the incum- 
bent. A lot was secured on the corner of Winter and Summer 
streets and plans for an elaborate building were prepared. 
These were subsequently modified and the erection of a smaller 
church was begun in 1899, to be called St. Andrew by the 
Sea. The corner stone was laid September 7, 1899, by the 
Rt. Rev. Ethelbert Talbot, Bishop of the church, assisted 
by Rev. Andrew Gray, D.D., the missionary in charge, who 
had succeeded Mr. Hicks the previous year. The church was 
called by the shorter name of St. Andrew's, which is the legal 
title of the parish. It is still under the supervision of the 
rector of Grace Church, Vineyard Haven, who holds services 
alternating with those provided at that place. 


Notwithstanding the close proximity of Nantucket, which 
was essentially a Quaker community almost from its inception, 
our Island had very few members of this sect. In the year 
1657 two itinerant Quakers visited the little settlement at 
Great Harbor on their return from Nantucket, where they 
had been on a proselyting mission. The following is their 
story of the reception they met with on "Martins Vineyard:" 

16 August 1657. 

Nor did John Copeland and Christopher Holder 
John Copeiand meet with better Usuasje at their hands for having; been 

Cnnstopner . ^ t~, i i i 

Holder at Martins Vineyard (a Place between Rhoad Island 

month?^657 and PHmmouth Colony) and speaking there a few 

vfn*' ard Words in the Movings of the Lord (who moved them 

to go thither) after that Priest Maho (the Governors 

Son) had ended his Divination in their Meeting House, 
they were both thrust out of the Meeting House Door by the Constable 
to an Indian (where were many on that Island) in order to be carried in 
a small Cannoo (or hollowed piece of Timber to the Mayne Land over 
a Sea nine Miles broad (dangerous enough for any to Pass over) having 
first took their mony from them to Pay the Indian; who taking the Custody 
of them, shewed himself more hospitable (as did the rest of the Indians) 

and supplied them freely with all necessaries according 
of the'indfa^ns to what the Indians had, during the space of those Three 

vine"r'd ^ dayes they stayed there waiting for a Calme season) and 

refused to take any Consideration, he who had them in 


Annals of Edgartown 

Custody saying — That they were strangers, and Jehovah taught him to 
Love Strangers — (learn of the Heathen ye who pretend your ^ savory 
selves Christians) and an Opportunity presenting, set them Speech of 
on shoare on the Main Land.^ 

From this narrative it appears that there was about as 
little charity for Quakers on the Vineyard as elsewhere at 
that period. These two pilgrims who landed on the Vineyard 
were lucky. On the mainland they would have been whipped 
"at the cartes taile from towne to towne." From their own 
story it is clear that they purposely created a disturbance in 
the meeting-house, but their own story of experiences is not 
to be allowed to stand alone. A contemporary historian has 
recorded another version of the incident, and the statement 
of the attorney for the defendant in the case is here given in 
order that the reader may reach a satisfactory conclusion : 

''And here I may take occasion," writes Gookin, "to mention a short 
but true story of certain Quakers who landing upon that island, went 
to some of the Indian wigwams, and discoursed with some of the Indians 
that understood English, as divers of them do, the Quakers persuaded 
and urged the Indians to hearken to them and told the Indians that they 
had light within them that was sufficient to guide them to happiness; and 
dissuaded the Indians from hearing Mr. Mayhew or reading the scriptures; 
and said that the ministers that preached from or used the scriptures were 
as Baal's priests and hireUngs &c. And at last the Quakers offered the 
Indians some of their pamphlets and books which they always carry with 
them, exhorting the Indians to read them; As they would be of greater 
benefit to them than the bible. The Indians heard all this discourse 
patiently; and then one of the principall of them that could speak English, 
gravely answered the Quakers in this manner: You are strangers to us, 
and we like not your discourse. We know Mr. Mayhew that he is a good 
and holy man; but we know you not. You tell us of a light within us 
that will guide us to salvation; but our experience tells us that we are 
darkness and corruption, and all manner of evil within our hearts. You 
dehort us from using the bible, but offer your books and commend them 
to us; we cannot receive your counsel contrary to our own experience 
and the advice and exhortations of our ancient and good teachers. There- 
fore we pray you, trouble us no further with your new doctrines; for we 
do not approve it. So the Quakers not long after departed from the island; 
and never since have they been infested with them."^ 

In 1704 a wealthy English Quaker, who had been pro- 
selyting on Nantucket, made preparations to engage in a 
mission at Edgartown, but his meetings were so thinly attended 
that he soon became discouraged and left.^ In 1715 another 

'Bishop, "New England Judged," (London, 1661), p. 123. 

^ Mass. Hist. See. Coll., I, 141-227. Daniel Gookin's account, which was written 
in 1674. 

'Journal of Thomas Story. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

itinerant Quaker visited this Island and relates his experiences 
in Edgartown: — 

"From thence (Nantucket) I went to another Island called Marthas 
Vineyard where I had some meetings; Being at a Place called Old-Town 
on a First day I found some Drawings in my Mind to go to the Presbyterian 
Meeting house in the Afternoon and Nathaniel Starbuck a Friend of Nan- 
tucket being with me, he accompanied me to the Meeting: I waited till 
the Priest, whose name was Samuel Wisell had done speaking, and then 
I desired Liberty to speak to the People. I directed them to the Teacher, 
in themselves which was sufficient for them as they took heed imto it. 
After I had done speaking, the Priest made some Objections concerning 
the anointing, which I had spoken of, mentioned in the second Chapter 
of the First Epistle of John, and we agreed to have a Dispute the next 
Day at the Meeting house, to begin at nine of the clock, to which the Priest 
and several of the hearers came: The Things we chiefly disputed upon 
were concerning the Light, and the Sufficiency of the Divine anointing, 
the Holy scriptures and of his call to the Ministry and Maintenance not 

being Apostolical: The Dispute might hold near four Hours But 

when I came to speak of his Maintenance and touch 'd him in that tender 
Part he was somewhat disturbed. After the Dispute was over I went that 
night to a Place called Home's hole, and the next Day to the Main 

Doubtless many persons from Nantucket who changed 
their residence to the Vineyard were of Quaker sentiment, 
and brought with them their "peculiar" doctrines. The 
Cofhn family was a notable instance of this kind. Persons 
holding this belief were not accorded full civil rights and were 
not allowed to serve as jurors.^ As time went on those who 
were attached to this belief by inheritance or family association 
gradually affiliated with the new sects which began to be 
formed on the island about the latter part of the i8th century. 

There is very little evidence of religious intolerance in 
Colonial times on the island as shown by the number of pros- 
ecutions for neglect to attend public worships There were 
no cases of this kind before 1700, and the first case on record 
occurs in 17 10, when John Steward was fined five shillings 
for not attending church. From that date up to 1780 there 
were not two dozen prosecutions for this offence, the last 
occurring in 1770. :The fine varied from nine shillings to one 
pound, with the alternative of sitting in the stocks if it was 
not paid. 

'Life and Travels of Benjamin Holme, p. 17. 

^In 1763, in a civil case, Richard CofBn, Prince Norton and Samuel Coffin, who 
were drawn as jurors, were objected to as being Quakers. (Mass. Arch., XIV, 480.) 


Annals of Edgartown 


One of the earliest entries in the town records [165 1], 
relates to the training of the citizen for his duties as a soldier. 
Surrounded as they were by an alien race of scarcely civilized 
natives, who greatly outnumbered them, it became a matter 
of common prudence for the settlers to be proficient in the 
use of arms and accustomed to military discipline. On March 
29, 165 1, the following vote was passed by the town: — 

"Men shall Be Compleat in there armes the last fryday in May next 
if not to be fined according as the town shall think meat.'" 

This was probably the first militia organization in the 
town, and on the same date John Daggett senior was chosen 
"corperall" of the company, which we may infer was the 
title of the ranking officer, as the train band was numerically 
small. On April i, 1653, it was voted that each man should 
be "complete in armes," and this was prescribed to include 
''a Peece a pound of powder & twenty bullets."" Each mem- 
ber of the train band was also required to provide himiself 
with a specified number of fathoms of match. The bullets 
were of home manufacture. By a vote on June 8, 1653, the 
company was ordered to train five times more that year, and 
on Feb. 6, 1654, it was provided that ammunition should be 
kept at Mr. Mayhew's and at the leader's, and that the "leader" 
should appoint four training days a year. This was the name 
given to the commander of the town militia, and John Butler 
was chosen to that office on the date mentioned, for the ensuing 
year. The town also agreed to reimburse each man of the 
company for the cost of twenty-five pounds of powder, one 
hundred pounds of shot and twenty-five fathoms of match. 
Each of the twenty- five lots was required to furnish one full 
equipment for a musketeer, and as a penalty for failure to 
do militia service the following was enacted : — 

"He that wilfully neglects Trayning shall Pay five shillings and com- 
mon ordinary occasions to pay three shillings."^ 

John Butler was re-elected "Leader" for the year 1655, 
and in 1656 Thomas Bayes succeeded him in that office. 

'Edgartown Records, I, 122. 

^Ibid., I, 131. The "Peece" refers to the fire-arm of that period, the match- 
lock musket, which preceded the flint-lock. This weapon was operated by means 
of a match, attached to the lock, made of tiax fibre in the form of a wick, which was 
ignited by a hammer and flint, thus communicating with the priming charge. 

^Ibid., I, 120. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

Absence of further references to military matters for five years 
following leaves us without knowledge of the personnel and 
progress during that period. On Dec. 30, 1661, the townsmen 
apparently were stimulated to increased activity in martial 
affairs, and several laws were passed on that date as follows : — 

Voted: that there shall be six Trayning Dayes the year, that is all 
the six dayes between the Last of March and the Last of October to be 
appointed by my self and the company. 

All men & youths in the town are to Traine except such as are freed 
by the Pattentees and major part of the freeholders. 

Every lott that hath not a person for to train shall pay five shillings 
.... for use of the militia.' 

On this same date the following ofhcers of the train band 
were chosen: Thomas Bayes, Leader; Thomas Jones, Clerk 
of the Band; and James Covell, "Drumer for this yeare." 
The company consisted of the following named persons in 

Thomas Daggett Jacob Norton Thomas Karlock 

Richard Sarson William Tupman^ John Smith 

Robert Codman John Daggett Joseph Daggett 

Isaac Norton John Pease Nicholas Norton 

Goodman Burchard James Pease William Vinson 

James Covell Thomas Bayes, Jr. Mr. [John] Bland 

Thomas Jones Joseph Codman Richard Arey 

John Eddy ISlr. [Nicholas] Butler Thomas Layton 

This list represents one man for each of the twenty-five lots, 
as required by town order, and it was not far from being the 
effective total of persons capable of bearing arms. In 1675 
there were ''not above 40 men" who could do military service 
on the Vineyard, and at the same time there were ten times 
that number of Indians.* Thomas Bayes was continued as 
the Leader in 1662 and 1663, but further allusions are wanting 
in the records for many years following these dates. Doubtless 
the organization of the train band was kept up with more or 
less interest from year to year, but the anxieties occasioned 
by the uprising of the Indians on the mainland during King 
Philip's war, 1675-6, were sufficient to stimulate the train 
band to continued activity. 

The organization of the government under the Duke 
of York's regime, in 167 1, made no particular provisions for 

'Edgartown Records, I, 143. 

'Ibid., I, 138. 

'This name is probably an error in the old copy of our records. It may be Weeks. 

*New York Col. Rec, Council Minutes, II, (2) 57. 

Annals of Edgartown 

a military body, and doubtless it was left to the inhabitants 
to deal with this question as a detail of local concern. That 
an organization of those "able to bear arms," was continued 
from year to year is evident from fragmentary allusions, though 
not regularly entered upon the several records. In 1684, 
Matthew Mayhew, in addition to his other ofhces, was com- 
missioned by the Governor of New York as "Captain of the 
Company at Martins Vineyard," possibly a sort of general 
officer in charge of the combined forces.^ 

From that time till 1690 there was general peace through- 
out the colonies, but the symptoms of another outbreak of the 
Indians were plainly evident. This time they were reinforced 
by the French settlers in Canada, and these allies began a 
series of frontier massacres and depredations that continued 
intermittently for the ensuing half century, and some parts 
of New England had to be yielded back to these savage hordes. 
While this terrible situation was not felt on the Vineyard, 
by reason of its natural barrier, yet in the menaces of French 
sloops-of-war, on piracy bent, the islanders got some taste 
of the dangers to life and property which threatened their 
neighboring colonists on the main. In Edgartown the militia 
was revived, and on April 13, 1691, the following organization 
effected : — 

At a meeting of all the melisha In general of the town of Edgartown 
Left. Thomas Daggett Esq. was chosen by them their captain, by unan- 
imous choice of them; at the same meeting Mr. Andrew Newcomb was 
chosen Left, at the same time, John Butler had the place of the first or 
eldest sargent; the same time, Moses Cleveland was chosen the second; 
the same time Jonathan Dunham was chosen corporal; Jonathan Pease 
the next corporal; the same time Mr. John Boult was chosen their ensign. 
This was their choice and agreement."^ 

Nothing further relating to the militia is found on the 
town records for many years, and we can only assume that 
an organization of some sort was maintained as a matter of 
law and custom. Enoch Coffin was Captain of the militia 
in 1739, and in 1757 the "Foot Company of Melitia" was 
under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Norton, and 
comprised one hundred and twenty-one privates, with an 
"alarm list" of fifty-four additional. The officers of the 
company were Elijah Butler, Daniel Vinson, Benjamin Pease, 

*N. Y. Col. Records. Commission dated June 5, 1684. (Vol. XXXIII.) 
^Edgartown Records, I, 38. 

History of Martha*s Vineyard 

and Solomon Norton, Sergeants, and Joseph Daggett and 
Matthew Mayhew, Drummers/ 

H In 1 761 there were two companies of mihtia in Edgartown, 
the first under John Newman as Captain, Solomon Norton 
as Captain Lieutenant, Daniel Coffin as Second Lieutenant, 
and Daniel Vinson as Ensign. The second company was 
under command of Peter Norton, Captain, Elijah Butler as 
Lieutenant, and Malatiah Davis as Ensign.^ In 1765 there 
were two companies of militia in Edgartown; the first under 
Peter Norton as Captain, Eddy Coffin as First Lieutenant, 
Matthew Mayhew as Second Lieutenant, and Malatiah Pease 
as Ensign. The second company had the following officers: 
Elijah Butler, Captain; Malatiah Davis, Lieutenant; and 
Ebenezer Smith, Jr., as Ensign.^ 

The state of the public mind for the next twenty years 
kept alive the military spirit, and without doubt this "Foot 
Company" held its organization. Early in 1776, the newly 
organized government formed a regiment of militia which 
superceded the town companies,* but the war resulted in 
other measures of a military character, which have been de- 
scribed in the first volume. The abandonment of the island 
to neutrality had the effect of destroying all military activities 
for many years after the Revolution. 


There was a fortification in this town as early as 1691, 
of which Andrew Newcomb was the Commander, with a 
number of men enlisted to man the works; but of its size, 
strength, or location no evidence is obtainable.^ It was prob- 
ably situated at or near Pease's Point, the most available 
site from strategic considerations. Nothing further of its 
history is known. 

In August, 1 741, the General Court appropriated the 
sum of £700 to build in Edgartown "a sufficient Breastwork, 

'Mass. Arch., XCV, 209. The full list of members of this company is preserved 
in this document. The "alarm list" indicates persons available at that time for service 
in the French and Indian Wars. Vide Appendi.x, Vol. I. 

'Mass. Arch., XCIX, 24. There was also an Indian Military Company in Edgar- 
town, with Enoch Cofhn, Jr., as Captain, Elijah Smith as Lieutenant, and Richard 
Coffin as Ensign. 

3Mass. Arch., XCIX, 25. 

*The officers of this regiment of militia were Beriah Norton, Colonel; Malatiah 
Davis, Lieutenant Colonel; Brotherton Daggett and Mayhew Adams, Majors. 

^N. Y. Col. Mss., XXXVII, 230. 


Annals of Edgartown 

a Platform & eight guns, six Pounders or others equivalent 
mounted & all suitable Warlike stores procured." The con- 
ditions of this grant were that "the same be maintained from 
time to time in good repair," and upon failure to abide by 
the covenant the town should repay the amount granted into 
the public treasury/ At a town meeting held in December 
following, the thanks of the people were tendered for the 
grant, and it was voted "that the fortification shall be erected 
and built in the most convenient place near the harbor." A 
committe of five^ were also appointed, "to determine where 
the fortification should be built and get the work done," but 
the conditions of the grant were finally deemed to be dis- 
advantageous, and a sentiment against acceptance prevailed 
to such an extent that a town meeting was called for March 
lo, 1 74 1, when it was "voted to reconsider the vote relating 
to receiving the seven hundred pounds granted by the General 
Court" and all other votes "relating to agent & committee 
to draw money, build fort, get guns &c." 

John Sumner, Enoch Coffin, Esq., Simeon Butler, Esq., 
A'Ir. Tristram Coffin, Ebenezer Norton, Esq., Mr. Matt. 
Norton, and Capt. Timothy Daggett, were chosen a committee 
to consider the whole affair and report to adjourned meeting.' 
This was held on March 19, 1741, and the report made by 
them was as follows : — 

"The committee appointed to consider and report what is proper 
for the town to do in the affair of the seven hundred pounds granted by 
the General Court to fortify the town are of opinion that the town at present 
should neither Except or Refuse said money on the conditions it is granted 
and that a Petission be prepared to the General Court representing the 
great advantages which will probably acrue from our harbor being well 
fortified in protecting and securing the vessels which will use it in times 
of war and praying that the s'd sum of seven hundred pounds be granted 
to the town, we obliging ourselves to expend the whole of s'd money in 
erecting a suitable breastwork procuring great guns and necessary warlike 
stores and whenever the town shall fail of keeping said breastwork and 
guns in good order and repair to return the guns and what powder 
and bullets are not necessarily expended to the Province or whenever 
s'd Province shall call for them.* 

In accordance with this vote, a petition was prepared by 
a committee who represented to the General Court, that "our 

'Acts and Resolves, Chap. 8i, Vol. XII, 702. 

'Enoch Coffin, Samuel Butler, John Norton, Joseph Jenkins and Christopher 
Beetle. (Edgartown Records, I, 165.) 
'Edgartown Records, I, 170. 
♦Ibid., I, 171. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Indigent circumstances will not at present allow us to receive 
the s'd money upon the Terms it is granted, (fearing that the 
Immediate expense of procuring and providing according to 
the Directions of the Grant and Constant Charge of main- 
taining the same will exceed our ability.)" They asked that 
the money be allowed for the fortification, and when the town 
* 'should fail of keeping s'd Brestwork and Guns in good order 
and repair to return the guns and what Powder and Bullets 
are not necessarily expended to the Province."^ 

The General Court made answer to this proposition, in 
a bill prepared by William Pepperrell of the joint committee 
of the two houses, which was passed April 3, 1741, making 
provision for the purchase of "five six-pound cannon, with 
suitable carriages, five half bbs. of Gun Powder, a suitable 
number of shot & other warlike stores." The provision 
attached to this was that the town should "erect at their own 
cost & charges & (keep) in repairs a Breast Work & plat- 
form suitable for said Cannon & a house to secure the stores."^ 
Whether this finally resulted in the building of a fort is not 
known, as there are no further references to it in the records 
to show expenditures for maintenance or repair. 


It is probable that William Weeks was the first taverner 
at Edgartown, as early as 1680, though no record appears 
of his receiving a license as such. Under that date he was 
fined five shillings "for suffering disorder in his house by 
drunkenness & fighting." In fact, as far back as 1661, he 
was fined "for selling strong liquor," but neither of these 
entries would be conclusive that he kept a tavern, but for the 
following record, which in 1681 shows him to have been the 
proprietor of a public house : — 

The complaint of Arthur Biven against William Weeks "for taking 
six-pence for two amesho-ogs Sz said Biven caled for a gill of rum & 
they brought half water and the said Weeks had no lodging for him nor 
food for his horse. "^ 

Arthur Biven was a resident of Tisbury, and had probably 
driven to Edgartown on court business, where he was a suitor 

'Mass. Archives, LXII, 561, 562. 

^Acts and Resolves, Chap. 186, Vol. XII, 742. The Captain General of the 
Forces of the Province was directed to carry out this law. 

'Court Records, Vol. I. "Amesho-ogs" is the Indian word for eels. 


Annals of Edgartown 

at the March quarterly court, and the complaint against Land- 
lord Weeks was in accordance with the laws of the times, 
governing the keeping of taverns. His "ordinary" was located 
on North Water street, about fifty rods above Main street, 
and it is probable that he had kept it as such long before the 
records above quoted. North Water street was dotted with 
taverns in the next century. William Weeks' next neighbor 
to the north was Richard Sarson, and his house and its suc- 
cessors became famous as taverns. Sarson had licenses to sell 
"strong liquor" on his premises in 1694, but that does not 
imply a public house kept for travelers. In 1701, his only 
son Samuel, who succeeded to the estate, was granted a license 
to keep "a publike house of entertainment," and after his 
death, in 1703, his w^idow Anne renewed this in her own name. 
Here the widow Sarson dispensed hospitality for a year, when 
she married John Worth for her third husband, and the busi- 
ness of tavern keeping was carried on by them for many years, 
in the old Sarson house. The licenses were taken out in his 
name. The location of this ancient hostelry was between 
Cottage and Morse streets on North Water. Near-by, 
Lothrop kept a tavern for a quarter of a century, 1 715-1740, 
on a part of this lot. At the same time, on this same home 
lot, as part of her father's estate, lived Jane Sarson, succes- 
sively the wife of Lemuel Little and Dr. John Sanderson. 
Both of these husbands took out licenses to retail liquor (1722) 
and to be innholders (1726); and as she took a third husband, 
Duncan Kelley, and they continued to reside on the property, 
it is probable the i)usiness was continued. 

John Norton took out a license as innholder in 171 5, and 
was given the same privilege for 34 years, from which it is 
assumed that he kept open his "house of publick entertainment" 
continuously. It was located on the Bayes home lot, just 
north of Main street. 

In 1699, Samuel Smith, who married Hannah (Mayhew) 
Daggett, was licensed as innholder, and it is probable that 
the tavern was situated in the northerly end of the town, at 
Pease's Point. How long he continued to dispense hospitality 
to travelers is not known. 

Parson Homes of Chilmark, in his diary, speaks of the 
tavern kept by "Mr. Hamellon" in Edgartown, under date 
of 1738, and the allusion is probably to James Hamellin (now 
Hamlin), who resided on Burying Hill, south of the old 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

James Claghorn, whose residence was on the old home 
lot of Edward Lay (later Isaac Norton's), was licensed an 
innholder in 1740, an occupation which he followed until 
his death, ten years later. His house stood a short distance 
north of the Harbor View Hotel. His successor was his son- 
in-law, Enoch Coffin, Jr., who kept his license for ten years 

The Kelley House of today is on the site of a hostelry 
that is over a century old. It is on the northerly half of the 
original Bayes home lot, which descended to the Newcombs 
and was bought of their heirs in 1743, by John Harper. He 
began keeping a tavern there in 1748, and was succeeded by 
his son-in-law, Lemuel Kelley, in 1772, and by Kelley's widow 
(Bathsheba Harper), in 1798. Her son, William Kelley, 
followed in 1801. 

In 1850 it was kept by a Mr. L. Marcy and was known 
as the Marcy House. Today it is known as the Kelley House, 
and its landlord, the late William Kelley, was a descendant 
of the family which first gave its name to the old tavern. 

On North Water street is the house in which Major- 
Gen. Worth, of Mexican War fame, lived when a boy. For 
many years this house was kept as a hotel, known as the Gibbs 
House, and it was at this ancient hostelry that Daniel Webster 
was often a guest. It was later known as the Norton House, 
and was built by Capt. Thomas Worth, probably about 1800. 
It is now in the possession of Capt. William H. Roberts, 
Revenue Cutter Service, as a private residence. 

The following named persons were licensed innholders 
in the town of Edgartown by the County Court, for the years 
specified: — Samuel Smith, 1699- 1704; John Worth, 1711- 
1723; Thomas Lothrop, 171 5-1 740; John Norton, 1715- 
1749; Lemuel Little, 1722; John Sanderson, 1 726-1 728; 
James Hamlin, 1 733-1 740; Christopher Beetle, 1 734-1 746; 
James Claghorn, 1 740-1 748; John Dikes, 1 743-1 744; George 
Stevens, 1 743-1 752; Daniel Cruttenden, 1 745-1 746; Bayes 
Norton, 1746; John Harper, 1 748-1 77 1 ; Enoch Coffin (suc- 
ceeded James Claghorn), 1749-1759; Abner Coffin, 1751-1758; 
Thomas Arey, 1 752-1 759; Lemuel Kelley (succeeded John 
Harper), 1 772-1 787; Bathsheba Kelley (widow of Lemuel 
Kelley), 1798- 1800, who was succeeded by William Kelley, 
1801-1807; Matthew Mayhew, 1 776-1 787; Richard Whelden, 
1782; Timothy Coffin, 1 786-1 787; Beriah Norton, 1798- 
1804; Jonathan Pease, 1800- 1806. 


Annals of Edgartown 


The earliest action of the town on this important subject, 
was under date of June 26, 1652, ten years after the settlement, 
when it was voted that "Mr. Mayhew the Elder and John 
Daggett shall lay out all highways belonging to this town." 
At that date it seems probable there were but two highways, 
exclusive of "paths," for the use of the settlers. Nearly seventy 
years later, another general vote was taken on this subject 
(Feb. 7, 1 716 or 171 7), "to lay out convenient highways for 
the use of the town." Doubtless this action was taken to 
establish legally the various paths and ways which had grown 
into accepted streets in the course of time. 

Main Street. — The first street of record in this town is the 
present Main Street, and undoubtedly it was laid out when 
the home lots were divided. It separated the tenth and eleventh 
lots, almost the centre of the "five and twenty." The earliest 
reference to it is as follows : — 

Whereas there was a Controversy Between Thos. Paine and Thos. 
Bayes Concerning the Lott that Lyes next the high way: this Controversy 
is ended and the said Thomas Paines Lott is to Lye as it did Before, only 
a high way Between Thos. Bayes & he Two Rods wide: the Verdict 
of the Court.* [February 6, 1654.] 

This street was formally laid out by metes and bounds 
in 1773, as a part of the road from Edgartown to Homes 
Hole. It was thirty feet wide from the harbor to the house 
of John Norton, tertia, and thirty-three feet wide from that 
point as the street and road then ran. In 1824, upon peti- 
tion, the bounds were renewed by the Court of General Ses- 
sions, and again in 1861 the County Commissioners relocated 
that portion extending from the Court House to Pease Point 
Way, and made it thirty-three feet wide. 

Pease Point Way. — This well-known thoroughfare is next 
in point of interest and age. It is mentioned in 1660 for the 
first time.^ It extends from the harbor, at a point near the 
present location of the Harbor View Hotel, on the southerly 
side, and near to the house of the late Thomas Adams Norton, 
a house situated southerly of the house of Judge Braley ; thence 
westerly by the North schoolhouse, and thence southwesterly by 
the cemetery, and still continuing southwesterly through what 

'Edgartown Records, I, 119. 

*Ibid., I, no. It is there called three rods wide. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

is known as "Cleveland town" (a few houses just out of the 
village), thence still southwesterly to the Great Pond. It 
derived its name from the point where John Pease had his 
house lot, and has retained it to the present day. By its 
windings it might indicate an Indian trail, but it is in reality 
the road that intersected the heads of the home lots as far 
as Slough Hill, where it branches off to the westward. It 
was the great highway which enabled the settlers to travel 
from the north end of the town to the Plains. 

Planting Field Way. — This road intersects Pease Point 
Way, north of Main Street, and is of great antiquity, leading 
as it does to the "planting field" lots, which were laid out 
in 1653. 

Plain Road. — ^This provided an outlet from the Slough, 
southwards, and is first mentioned in 1662, though a cart 
path must have been in existence for a number of years. 

Swimming Place Path. — Extending from the Swimming 
Point towards the Great Pond this road was a necessary "cross 
path" in that section. Mention is first made of it in 1675. 

Mashacket Path. — This old path is doubtless of greater 
antiquity than the first record of it would indicate (1677), 
and it is one of the names which has survived the two-and-a- 
half centuries. 

Sanchacantacket Path. — After this region came into the 
plans for extending the area of settlement, a path was required 
to reach there, and it became in effect an extension of the 
main highway leading out of the village. It was first mentioned 
in 1678. 

Mill Path. — The mill at West Tisbury, which was set 
up before that town was settled, gave the name to an old path 
which led from Cleveland Town to Takemmy, south of the 
present road. It is described in the first volume. 

Wintucket Path. — This road, leading to Wlntucket from 
the old Mill Path, is mentioned in 1708. 

Moh Street. — The road or way bearing this curious name 
received its baptism about 1762, and retained it for many 
years. It ran from the "Mill Path" to the "Meeting House 
Way," in an easterly direction towards Tower Hill, south of 
Cleveland Town, and probably crossed the land once owned 
by David Gray. Traces of Mob Street may now be observed 
in this land, but in the land nearer Tower Hill frequent cul- 
tivation has obliterated all traces so that it is not possible 


Annals of Edgartown 

now to find just where it ended. All that can be learned about 
the origin of the name is as follows: Many years ago there 
was a sailors' boarding-house near "Mill Hill," and near the 
point where "Mob Street" meets "Mill Path" there was a 
dwelling-house occupied by people of somewhat questionable 
reputation. At both houses intoxicants were sold in large 
quantities. The street connecting the two places was so often 
the scene of drunkenness and rioting that it received the name 
"Mob Street." This may be the correct story of its origin, 
unless it refers to some particular outbreak or riotous gathering 
of drunken sailors which occurred to give it a local significance. 
South and North Water Streets. — These streets are a part 
of the same continuous highway, the divisional line being at 
Main Street. It represents practically the harbor frontage 
line of the home lots, and was a path or "alley" for many years, 
before it was formally laid out. South Water Street was 
called an "alley" in 1703, but this way or path had been in 
existence long before that date. The appearance of this 
locality at the time of the Revolution is thus described by 
Capt. Valentine Pease (born 1764): — 

"When I can first remember and for years afterwards there was a swamp 
near the shore below the bank extending from below the house of Mat- 
thew Mayhew, now Joseph Mayhew's, to Uriah Morse's or where the Mar- 
ine Railway now is. There were then but two ways through it to the shore; 
one, now the termination of Main street; the other leading from the old 
Tavern kept by Kelley and others to the wharf now Mayhew's wharf.'" 

This street was laid out by order of the Court of General 
Sessions, by metes and bounds, in March, 1786, from the 
house of William Mayhew to the house of Enoch Coffin at its 
extreme north end. The width was "twenty five feet in each 
and every part," and this survey as approved by the Court 
represents this street as it now exists.^ 

Meeting House Way. — ^ In 1768, when the new meeting 
house was completed on the grounds of the cemetery on Pease 
Point Way, the need of a public way thither from the water 
front was apparent, and on February 9th of that year, Matthew 
Mayhew made a gift to the town of a way one rod wide, extend- 
ing from the harbor to the meeting-house. It is the present 
Commercial Street (so-called). 

'From a statement made to the late Richard L. Pease, in 1851, when the Captain 
was in his 87th year. 

'Dukes County Court Records. 

History of Martha*s Vineyard 

Pilgrim'' s Alley. — The path or way leading from South 
Water Street, northwest to Pease Point Way, and frequently 
used as a "short cut" by the people who attended service at 
Parson Thaxter's meeting-house, was called by this quaint 
name. After another denomination established a place of 
worship in Edgartown, the people of that belief called Parson 
Thaxter's adherents "Puritans" and "Pilgrims," and the 
straight and narrow path which they trod when going to and 
coming from the meeting-house, "Pilgrim's Alley." 

The Beach Road to Oak Bluffs was built in 1872, and 
rebuilt in 1902 on the Macadam plan, as a part of the state 
highway system. 

Penny Wise Path. — There was a locality bearing this 
title in Edgartown as early as 1734. "Penny Wise" (a place) 
is mentioned in a deed from Joseph Norton to his grandson 
John, in that year. "Penny Wise Path" is referred to in 1735, 
as near the "middle line."^ "Penny Wise Way" was described 
as near the road from Edgartown to Homes Hole; also near 
the Claypit.^ 

The "Penny wise Path" is the first road byond the home- 
stead of the late William Jernegan, on the left side of the old 
Homes Hole road. It leads by the north side of the Dark 
woods to and by the south side of the West woods, on the West 
Tisbury road. A continuation of it meets Pease's Point Way 
at Great Pond. It was called "Pennywise Path" because it 
was laid out as a shorter way to Homes Hole than Pease's 
Point Way. But it proved to be as long if not longer than 
the old way, so was called Pennywise. 

Tarkill {Tarkiln) Path. — There were kilns for extracting 
tar from wood in the Penny Wise region, and this path ran 
to that locality as early as 1738.^ 

Bridges. — There were no bridges in town of any im- 
portance, in construction, span or elevation. While there are 
a number, yet they are scarcely more than culverts over the 
small streams which run to the sea. A bridge at Mashacket 
is mentioned in 1653, again in 1676 and 1678. A couple of 
small bridges span Mile Brook and Menoda Creek, while a 
considerable pile bridge joins this town to Oak Bluffs, over 
the Sanchacantacket inlet. 

'Deeds, VI, 20. 

'"Penny Wise Swamp" is mentioned in 1743. 

'Deeds, VI, 364. 


Annals of Edgartown 



This branch of the national government was established 
in this island in 1789, shortly after the formation of the Union, 
and Edgartown was made the port of entry, with Homes Hole 
as the sub-port. There has never been a government building 
for the accommodation of this department, and from the begin- 
ning until about 1850 the Collector of Customs had his office 
in his own house. It is known that in 1799 the office was 
located in the 'Squire Thomas Cooke house, corner of Com- 
mercial and School streets, when the office was held by that 
gentleman, and his successor in 1830 transferred it to the 
Capt. Edwin Coffin house. North Water street. It is therefore 
probable that the first collector, John Pease, kept the office 
and records in his own residence. According to the best 
information now obtainable the building on the northeast 
corner of Water and Main streets was rented for the customs 
service during the tenure of Leavitt Thaxter as collector 
(1849-1853), and it has been occupied ever since that time 
by this service. 

Since 18 18, and probably some years before that, there 
has been a Deputy Collector of Customs at this port. The 
following is a list of these officials from the establishment of 
the service to the present time, with the date and term of 
service of each: — 


John Pease from 1789' to April 10, 1809. 
Thomas Cooke, March 24, 1799 to April 10, 1809. 
Thomas Cooke, Jr., April 10, 1809 to Feb. 20, 1830. 
John P. Norton, Feb. 20, 1830 to April 8, 1842. 
Leavitt Thaxter, April 8, 1842 to Sept. 16, 1845. 
Joseph T. Pease, Sept. 16, 1845 to Sept. i, 1849. 
Leavitt Thaxter, Sept. i, 1849 to May 10, 1853. 
Joseph T. Pease, May 10, 1853 to May, 1855. 
Constant Norton, May, 1855 to June, i860. 
Ira Darrow, June, i860 to June 3, 1861. 
John Vinson, June 3, 1861 to March i, 1870. 
CorneHus B. Marchant, March i, 1870 to June 7, 1886. 
Sirson P. Coffin, June 7, 1886 to July 12, 1890. 
Charles H. Marchant, July 12, 1890 to March 7, 1895. 
-Abraham Osborn, March 7, 1895 ^o April 4, 1899. 
Charles H. Marchant, April 4, 1899 to present time. 

'He was commissioned as Collector March 21, 179 1. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 


John Cooke, (indefinite), probably to 1818. 

William Cooke, Nov. 18, 1818 to 182 1. 

Jeremiah Pease, Sr., 182 1 to 1855. 

Sirson P. Coffin, 1855 to 1861. 

Jeremiah Pease, Jr., 1861 to 1890. * 

John W. Pease, May 16, 1890 to present time 


The mail service was established officially in 1795, when 
Col. Beriah Norton was appointed the first postmaster. It is 
probable that there was a post route to the island long before 
this, though the first postmaster at Homes Hole received his 
appointment on the same date as Colonel Norton. After the 
island was united with the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1691) 
a postal service was inaugurated under patents from the 
crown/ but the isolated position of the Vineyard prevented 
its participation in any of the post routes established at that 
early date. We may conclude that mails wxre brought from 
Boston overland to Plymouth, thence by Sandwich to Woods 
Hole, and delivered by ferry to the Vineyard. 

In 1830 the Post office v/as on the corner of Water 
and Main streets, on the lot now occupied by the Vineyard 
Gazette, but it is not known how long it had been located 
there prior to this, nor when it was transferred to its present 
quarters. It is probable that it began the occupancy of the 
building opposite, where it now is, when the Custom House 
was installed there. The following is a list of the postmasters: 

Beriah Norton, January i, 1795; Timothy Coffin, Jr., May 20, 1819; 
Silvanus L. Pease, May 29, 1838; William Vinson, Sept. 28, 1846; John 
Pierce, Nov. 26, 1847; Jared W. Coffin, Feb. 26, 1849; Silvanus L. Pease, 
May 26, 1853; Jared W. Coffin, 1861; William Bradley, 1865; Jared W. 
Coffin, 1869; Richard L. Pease, 1877; Henry A. Pease, 1885 (present 


The government maintains in addition to the usual 
beacons, buoys and bells, two lighthouses in Edgartown for 
general and local maritime benefit. The first lighthouse was 

*The conveyance of a letter from Boston to Salem, at that date, cost three pence; 
to Ipswich, four pence; to Portsmouth, six pence. In 17 10 the postage between 
Boston and New York was one shilling; between Boston and any town within sixty 
miles, four pence. (Mass. Prov. Laws, 117, 123, 263, 420; Comp. 3 Mass. Hist. 
Coll., VII, 72-79) 



I 823- I 885 


Annals of Edgartown 

established at the point of Cape Poge by act of Congress 
approved Jan. 30, 1801, and the sum of $2,000 was allotted 
therefor. Jurisdiction of the tract had been ceded by the 
State the previous year, and the title passed Aug. 10 ,1801, to 
the United States.^ The tower was completed in 1802 and 
lasted for forty years, when the inroads of wave action on the 
sandy soil forced the erection of a new light-tower in 1843. 
This second structure survived a half century of storms and 
further encroachments of the sea, when in 1893 the third and 
present light-tower was built still further back from the tip 
of the cape. The first keeper was Matthew Mayhew (360), 
who continued in office until his death in 1834, when he was 
succeeded by Lot Norton (1019) who held the post about 
eight years.^ Succeeding keepers have been Aaron Norton, 
Edward Worth, 1850-53; Daniel Smith, 1853-59;^ George R. 
Marchant, 1859-65; Edward Worth, 1865; Jethro Worth, 
George Fisher and George Dolby. 

The light was originally a fixed one, but was changed 
about 1885 to a revolving light. 

The Harbor light was authorized by an act approved 
May 23, 1828, and the sum of $5,500 was appropriated for 
its erection about a quarter of a mile from the shore at the 
harbor entrance.* Communication with the town was main- 
tained by boats for over a year after its completion, when the 
sum of $2,500 was allowed "for extending the pier on which 
the lighthouse is built to the shore." 'J'his bridge was built 
of wood and eventually cost $7,000 before it was completed;^ 
and by reason of its box construction it was frequently broken 
by storms and ice. In 1847 the sum of $4,000 was allowed 
for a breakwater of rock construction, and the existing stone 
causeway was built on the lines as it runs to the shore today. 


This town has never been a manufacturing centre, and 
but few records are to be found relating to the production of 
finished articles of merchandise from the raw material. The 

^U. S. Statutes, II, 88; III, 405; comp. Mass. Laws, 1800, p. 70. The consider- 
ation was $36 for four acres. It was the twelfth hght erected by the government on 
the Massachusetts coast. 

^An interim appointment of Benjamin C. Smith of Chappaquiddick followed 
after Mayhew's death. 

^During Mr. Smith's term the lighting power was changed from the reflector 
system to prisms. 

*U. S. Statutes, IV, 282; VIII, 64. 

'Devens, "Sketches of Martha's Vineyard," p. 18. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

sea and its wealth gave a distinctive feature to such industries 
as grew into being here from time to time. The whale and 
other fisheries have constituted the chief occupation of the 
people from the earliest times to the last quarter of the past 
century. The whaling industry has already been described.^ 
Second in importance were the general fisheries and the by- 
products of marine sea foods. In 1850 the largest single 
industry of this character was the oil and candle works of 
Daniel Fisher & Co., with a capital of $40,000 invested in 
the business, and the annual product for that year was 118,000 
pounds of candles, 13,200 barrels of strained and refined oils. 
With other minor products the annual value of this business 
was reported to be $284,370, an industry far exceeding in 
direct cash income to the town the whale fishery interests. 
The general government was supplied with oil and candles for 
the lighthouses by this firm, and this business grew in im- 
portance in later years till the time of the Civil War. Whole 
cargoes of oil were contracted for at one time, involving values 
of over $100,000 at a purchase, and the industry gave em- 
ployment to many men. 

The general fisheries in 1850 yielded a value in product 
of $15,325, of which $4,500 is credited to the Mattakeeset 
herring fishery, the latter representing a catch of 1,250 
barrels. At the present time the shell fisheries are an equally 
important industry, and rival in value the other sea foods 
collected in these waters for the metropolitan markets. It is 
impossible to give an accurate account of the yield, financially 
considered, of these several industries, but the value may be 
estimated by a "catch" made in the first week of January, 
1908, when about 10,000 of fish were taken by five boats, having 
a market value of $2,000. 

In the years preceding the Revolution the manufacture 
of salt by the process of evaporation of sea water in large 
wooden vats or pans was an important industry, and it was 
followed up as late as 1840. This business, at one time so 
valuable in the state, has entirely disappeared as an occupa- 
tion hereabouts since the development of salt mining in other 
sections of the country. 

Other industries allied to the above sea products, cooper- 
age, blocks and tackling, and boat building have been in 

'Vol. I, pp. 430-451. The annual value of the whaling business to Edgartown 
in 1850 was $83,267, but this was only the product of one vessel owned in the town 
at that time, the ship Vineyard. (U. S. Census Report, 1850.) 


Annals of Edgartown 

existence in the town for brief periods in the past, but were 
of ephemeral importance and are only worthy of incidental 
mention/ The only mills operated in town have been pro- 
pelled by wind power and were local grist mills only. Before 
the days of the great manufactories of cloth the limited pro- 
duction of hand looms from wool was an occupation of the 
women in their spare hours, but of no great importance. 


The earliest mention of the subject of education in the 
town records occurs under date of 1652, when the "school 
house" is referred to, showing the establishment of schools 
prior to that year. Peter Folger was the first school-master, 
and the building where he taught was on the Old Mill path 
near the Sarson lot on Slough hill. He probably kept school 
until his departure from town in 1662, but it is not known 
who was his successor, nor what arrangements were in existence 
prior to the beginning of the next century. In 1687 Thomas 
Peat was " skoollemaster of Edgartown," and the school was 
then held in the house of Richard Arey.^ Not until 1710 
is there further reference to the subject, when a committee 
was chosen to procure a schoolmaster, to be paid at the rate 
of ;^3o per annum ''for learning of children for to read, right 
and learn arithmetick," with the privilege of "taking of six 
scolers for the learning of Latten" outside of his school hours.' 
In 1 71 2 Josiah Bridge, "now resident in Edgartown," was 
chosen schoolmaster at the rate of ;^25 per annum, and two 
years later the town voted "to hire him as reasonably as they 
can." In 1723 Thomas Cathcart was called "schoolmaster 
of Edgartown." From this time forward the records contain 
almost yearly reference to the subject of schools, and the 
manner of maintenance. Committees were chosen yearly to 
hire masters, and an annual appropriation was made, varying 
from ;,^45 in 1738 to ;^6o in 1747, for the support of education. 
After this the amount dropped to ;^i3 in 1750 and £S in 
1760, but this decrease may be explained by the fluctuations 
of the provincial currency, in old and new tenor. 

'A spool house, erected about 1777, is mentioned in the records, but its significance 
is not known (Deeds, XI, 463). 

'Dukes Court Records. The identity of this person is not established. It is 
possible the name should be read Peac (Pease), as the writing in the records at this 
date by the clerk of courts is execrable and often undecipherable. 

'Town Records, I, 53. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

The growth of the town northward, and the development 
of the Farm Neck settlement, necessitated, as early as 1750, 
the division of the school funds and separate schools for these 
widely separated districts. The expedient of "moving" 
schools was first adopted, meaning the holding of sessions 
alternating in time and place between the districts. In 1760 
the old school-house was sold, and in May, 1765, the town 
voted that "there should be but one school house built in 
the town and no more." This was located by a vote of 14 to 8 
on the "road that leadeth to the meeting house," about fifteen 
or twenty rods to the southward of Silas Marchant's, "a spot 
near the center of the inhabitants," now Cleveland town.^ 
In the following month, however, two school-houses were 
authorized, one of which was for the northern district in 
Farm Neck, and ;^ioo was voted for this combined object. 
Before the Revolution the town was divided into four dis- 

The names of the school-masters do not appear in the 
records, and only occasional collateral documents reveal them 
to us. Ichabod Wiswall, a cousin of the pastor, was one 
in 1746 and doubtless was such before and after this date.' 

The growth of population in the next century necessitated 
new district divisions, and schools at Pohoganut, the Plains, 
and on Chappaquiddick were maintained in addition to 
those in the village. The "old red school house" of song 
and story, on Pease Point way near the meeting house, was 
a landmark and a childhood reminiscence for the older gen- 
eration now living, but it gave up its primacy before 1850, 
and new buildings took its place in other sections. The 
North school was situated on Planting Field way and ac- 
commodated two grades, grammar and primary, for scholars 
on that side of Main Street. The South School followed in 
point of time, being dedicated in 1850, and was located on 
the corner of School and High streets. It contained what 
corresponds to the modern high-school grade, besides the 
grammar and primary. At the present time the North school 

'Town Records, I, 245-246. 

*The north-west section was to draw its "proportionable" share, and a committee 
of residents there appointed to locate the building. This arrangement was observed 
ever after. In 1771 Chappaquiddick was granted a separate school with "their pro- 
portion of money they pay" (Ibid, I, 295). 

^Probate Records, III, 206. He was born in Newton, Mass., 1709, and was 
graduated at Harvard. He married Jerusha Norton (404) of Edgartown and died 
here in 1782 aged 78 years. He came of a family of teachers and ministers. 





Annals of Edgartown 

has the intermediate and primary grades, and the high and 
grammar grades are taught in the South School. 

Sometime before 1850 an additional school was built on 
the corner of Summer and Thomas streets, and was in operation 
for a number of years. The following named persons have 
taught in Edgartown schools, and will be remembered by the 
older residents: Frances E. Mayhew, Harriet R. Fisher, 
Caroline Arey, Emeline Marchant, Eliza A. Worth, Maria 
L. Norton, Eliza F. Pease, Hannah Davis, Eunice Lambert, 
and Emily Worth. The masters have been George A. Walton, 
Constant Norton, Joseph B. Gow, Richard L. Pease, John 
J. Leland, Smith 13. Goodenow, and Henry Baylies. 


A complete survey of the subject of education in this 
town could not be made without devoting adequate space 
to the life and work of Hon. Leavitt Thaxter, a noble scion 
of a worthy sire. Born here, March 13, 1788, the second 
son of Parson Thaxter, he was trained for the duties of life 
by his distinguished father. Although he had prepared for 
Harvard College, which he entered at an early age, he did not 
complete the course, but was led like so many of his youthful 
companions by the lure of the sea, and apparently began the 
life of a sailor. He made a number of voyages to the East 
Indies, and during our second war with Great Britain, although 
not a belligerent, he was made a prisoner at Calcutta, and 
experienced the discomforts of a British prison in that climate. 
After several years of the seafaring life, for which he was not 
fitted, he turned to the work better suited to his temperament 
and training. Gifted with a superior mind, his father had 
encouraged him to use it for the benefit of others and urged 
the occupation of a teacher as one best fitted for his talents. 
A letter addressed to him by his father, bearing date New 
Year's day, 1819, says: "I early devoted 3^ou to God. I have 
spared no pains or expense to qualify you to act your part 
gracefully as a man and a Christian. By my advice you have 
devoted yourself to the instruction of youth. The office is 
the most important and useful in which man can be employed. 
That ought to be esteemed the most honorable which is the 
most useful; it is so in the sight of God." 

He taught in several towns in the western part of this 
state, Leicester, Northampton, and Williamsburg, and in the 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

latter place found a wife in the person of Martha White May- 
hew (741), whose grandfather, Paine Mayhew (201), had 
emigrated in 1786 from Chilmark to that town. Thence 
Thaxter went, in 18 19, to Sparta, Georgia, where he remained 
three or four years in charge of a large and successful academy. 
Returning to Edgartown in 1823, he decided to make this 
his permanent home, and at once engaged in teaching. With 
the aid and influence of his father he erected a school building 
for his work on the northwest corner of Davis and Maple 
streets, in 1825, and it was dedicated as Thaxter' s Academy,, 
November 29th, by public exercises, in which an oration was 
delivered by the principal.^ Here for the best part of a long 
and useful life he followed the occupation of guide, philosopher, 
and friend of the youth of his native town. One of his pupils 
in an appreciative review of his career wrote as follows con- 
cerning this school and its head : — 

The school room where he presided was to those pupils who had caught 
his spirit and imbibed his principles, a place of delight and not an irksome 
prison house. Strict in his discipline, that was the place for vigorous 
application and toilsome study; a paradise for those thirsting for knowl- 
edge, but a hard and thorny way to the idle and obdurate. And then 
the recess! Indoors and out what teacher ever more sought the comfort 
and happiness of his pupils, or more bountifully provided for them the 
means of amusement. 

His life however was not all devoted to this special work. 
He was eminently a leader of thought in all the things that 
make for the development of the moral and material welfare 
of a community, and his fellov/ citizens honored him with their 
places of public trust, until the close of his life. He was 
representative to the General Court (1830), senator from 
this district (1836,-1847), and Governor's councillor (1839). 
Under the National government he held numerous commis- 
sions, including judge of the Court of Insolvency, and collector 
of customs at this port. He was the first president of the 
Dukes County Educational Association (1848), and the first 
president of the Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Association 
(1858), and in this latter capacity his abilities as a practical 
horticulturist made him something more than a parliamentary 
head of this body. Not a few of the ornamental flora of 

'This was published under the title "An Oration Delivered At The Dedication 
of Thaxter's Academy in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, November 29th, 1825. Also, 
A Hymn Composed For The Occasion, By Leavitt Thaxter, New Bedford, 1825." 
A copy is in the author's collection of the printed literature of the Island. The hymn 
was probably composed by Parson Thaxter. 


Annals of Edgartown 

this town now adorning the private gardens were introduced 
and cultivated by him, and generously given to others. 

His human sympathies led him to entertain a practical 
interest in the remnants of the tribe of Indians living in the 
town, and in 1836, having been made their legal guardian, 
he devoted nearly twenty years' service to their welfare. Such 
was the confidence inspired by his execution of this apparently 
thankless task, that he was always after regarded by them 
as their trusted friend and counsellor, to whom they constantly 
came for advice and encouragement. This distinguished son 


Built 1784-5 

home of the parson and birthplace op leavitt thaxter 

of Edgartown died at his residence on Davis street, Nov. 27, 
1863, in the seventy-fifth year of his age, and he lies buried 
beside his parents, whose name he bore with increased honor. 
The portrait of Mr. Thaxter, which illustrates this, now 
hangs in the office of clerk of courts, having been placed 
there as a public memorial by "a number of his former pupils." 
The sittings were given at their request in 1862, and the 
artist, Cyrus Worth Pease (1091) of this town, succeeded in 
painting an excellent likeness in his best style. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 


Another institution for the higher grade of education was 
established by David Davis of Farmington, Me. He v^as of 
Vineyard ancestry, being the son of Sanford and Mary (Coffin) 
Davis of Eastville, born Dec. 23, 1802, and returned to this 
town in his early manhood. This school which prospered 
under his management was unfortunately destroyed by fire 
in 1836 after a few years of existence, but by the aid of con- 
tribution from friends and patrons here he rebuilt. This new 
academy building is still in existence On the corner of Maple 
street, diagonally opposite the building formerly known as 
Thaxter's Academy. Owing to ill health which followed 
shortly after these events, Mr. Davis was obliged to suspend 
teaching, but continued to reside here in the upper story of 
this building. The schoolroom was used by other teachers 
during the day and in the evening lectures, concerts and similar 
public meetings were held in this room, generally called 
** Davis Hall." Mr. Davis was a highly esteemed resident 
and citizen and was honored by his neighbors in 1855 by an 
election to the council, and when Governor Henry S. Gardiner, 
his chief, visited Edgartown, he was tendered a public reception 
in the schoolroom of his councillor. Mr. Davis died Nov. 
6, 1868, at the age of 66 years, generally lamented. 



Free Masonry had some following in this town about 
1800 though no lodge was in existence here as early as that. 
Several residents of Edgartown were members of King Solo- 
mon's Lodge in Perfection at Homes Hole at this date and 
others became affiliated later with Union. Lodge of Nantucket. 
Thomas Cooke, Benjamin Smith and John Pease were mem- 
bers of the former lodge, while Thomas M. Vinson, Jared 
Coffin, James Banning and Valentine Pease were of the 
Nantucket lodge. On Aug. 16, 1819, the Edgartown mem- 
bers just named, with three others, laid before the lodge a 
petition to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to establish an 
independent lodge in Edgartown, to be known by the name 
of ''Seven Stars," and requesting Union Lodge to recommend 
the granting of their petition. The lodge took the following 
action : — 


Annals of Edgartown 

Voted: — That we recommend to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts 
the following brethern to establish a Lodge in Edgartown Martha's 
Vinyard : — 

Rt. Wor. Thomas M. Vinson to be the first Master. 
Wor. Samuel Wheldon to be the first S. W. 
Wor. Samuel Worthman to be the first J. W. 

The Grand Lodge acted favorably upon the recommen- 
dation and the new lodge was chartered Sept. 13, 1820. The 
Worshipful Master, Col. Thomas Melville Vinson was not 
of the Edgartown family of this name, but a native of New- 
port, R. I., where he was born in 1784 and his military title 
came from service in the War of 181 2 under General Samuel 
McComb on the northern frontier of New York. 

Colonel Vinson married Hepsibah Young Marchant (160) 
of this town April 5, 1814, and later removed to Dorchester, 
Mass., where he resided until his death. He was an employee 
in the customs service at the port of Boston, and falling on 
the steps of the Custom House, March 4, 1852, received fatal 
injuries from which he died four days later. His widow 
survived twenty years, dying in Dorchester. 

The Senior Warden, Dr. Samuel Wheldon (i 765-1841) 
was a native of Edgartown where he married, but he removed 
late in life to Coventry, Conn. Samuel Worthman, the Junior 
Warden, was a transient resident, "a Scotchman by Birth," 
but he married here. It will be seen that the officers of the 
lodge were not associated by birth with this town and that 
fact may account for the entire absence of further knowledge 
concerning its existence, if it had any, after the above quoted 
records of its establishment 

A lodge of Master Masons, under the jurisdiction of 
Massachusetts, was chartered June 25, 1867, by the name of 
Oriental Lodge, and it has been in existence for over forty 
years and is now in a flourishing condition. The first officers 
elected were: John Pierce, Worshipful Master; Grafton N. 
Collins, Senior Warden; James M. Coombs, Jr., Junior 
Warden; William L. Lewis, Secretary; and Jonathan H. 
Munroe, Treasurer. 

The first lodge-room was over the store of Frederick E. 
Terrill, on North Water street, which was occupied until 
removal to the present room over the store of Jonathan H. 
Munroe on Main street. The first installation of officers, 
after some brief existence under dispensation, was a public 
ceremony held in the Methodist Church. The Grand officers 

195 . 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

of the Grand Lodge of the State were present, and installed 
the officers above enumerated in the presence of a large audience 
of interested friends. 

The following is a list of Worshipful Masters to the 
present time: David J. Barney, Francis P. Vincent, Joseph 
W. Donalson, Richard G. Shute, Jason L. Dexter, James C. 
Sandsbury, John E. White, Zenas D. Linton, John N. Pierce, 
Jeremiah Pease, Elmer E. Landers, and Thomas A. Dexter. 


The practice of medicine in the early days has been 
elsewhere described as carried on by the clergy, mid wives, 
and often by lawyers. Besides those referred to the following- 
named persons have followed this profession in the town in 
the past two centuries: Solomon Bacon, 1720; John Sander- 
son, 1724; Daniel Crittenden, 1747; Nathan Smith, ^ 1767- 
^775? John Wright, 1782; Joseph Thaxter (during his 
ministry), John Pierce, Samuel Wheldon, W. T. S. Brackett, 
E. Maybury, Ivory H. Lucas, Daniel Fisher, Clement F. Shive- 
rick, G. B. Cornell, Thomas J. Walker, Theodore P. Cleveland, 
and E. P. Worth. 

The long services of Dr. John Pierce in this community, 
covering nearly half a century (1836- 18 79), deserve special 
notice. He was a native of Lebanon, Conn., where he was 
born Nov. 25, 1805, and he received his preliminary education 
in Monmouth, Maine. He was graduated from Bowdoin 
Medical School in 1833, and practiced for a few years in Maine 
prior to his settlement in this town. While there he served 
as surgeon to the troops called out to quell the disturbances 
over the northeastern boundary. During his residence here 
he was for eight years in charge of the U. S. Marine Hospital 
Service at Homes Hole, and the medical examiner for Dukes 
county from the establishment of that office till his death. 
He became a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society 
in 1840, and held various offices in that organization. He 
was a valued town official in various lines of work, a prominent 
Mason, and an active member and officer in the Methodist 
Church. He died Nov. 25, 1885. 

'He was not of the Vineyard Smith families. He was born in 1730 and prac- 
tised at Stamford, Conn., before he came here. He removed to St. John, N. B., where 
hedied in 1818. 


I 805- I 885 

Annals of Edgartown 


The first tract set apart for the last resting place of the 
dead was the acre on Burial Hill. It was on the home lots 
of John Bland and John Eddy, adjoining the harbor end, 
an equal part being taken from each, and probably was dedi- 
cated to its purpose before the division of lots. In 1849 it 
contained seventy-five stone memorials, all of slate, but this 
number has been reduced in the last half century by breakage 
and other causes.^ 

The second cemetery was a gift to the town in 1768; 
the donation being made by Deacon Matthew Norton, "in 
consideration of the love, good will and regard that he hath 
toward the public worship of almighty God."^ It was an 
acre in extent, and was situated on Pease Point way, adjoining 
the lot on which the then new meeting house was being 
erected. It has since been enlarged by subsequent acqui- 
sitions. The first burials were in 1782, when six men of 
Edgartown, drow^ned at Gay Head, were interred in the new 

There was a burial place at Aquampache used by the 
residents of that locality, some time prior to 1836, but how 
long it had been in existence is not known. In that year 
an addition was made to it by Elihu P. Norton as guardian 
of an estate.^ 

As happened in all communities there were private 
burial places used by families on their own farms or homesteads. 
The most important of these is the Mayhew graveyard on 
South Water street, in the Collins lot, just north of the old 
Mayhew house. This is doubtless the place where Governor 
Mayhew was buried, also Major Matthew Mayhew and his 

'The list of these stones was made by Richard L. Pease in April, 1849, and pub- 
lished in the N. E. Genealogical Register, Vol. LI, 196. 

^Dukes Deeds, IX, 758. Dated Feb. 8, 1768. See also deeds from estate of 
Rodolphus W. Coffin, April 29, 1842 (XXVII, 352) and Elijah Norton, Jan. 25, 1847 
(XXXII, 150) to the town of Edgartown. In 1765 the town had voted to enlarge 
the old burial ground by the purchase of an additional acre. 

*This wreck was the subject of a contemporaneous poem, of little merit except as 
an historical narrative. The eighteenth stanza reads as follows: — 

" Six men belonged to Edgartown, 
They left four widows in distress; 
And parents for their sons did mourn, 
And twenty-six little children fatherless." 
♦Dukes Deeds, XXVI, 7. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

family.^ Several slate stones are now standing, but being 
in private property in alien possession no care of this sacred 
spot can be bestowed on the place by an interested public. 


The most picturesque object of interest in the town to 
strangers, is the ancient Mayhew homestead on South Water 
street. Situated on the ''entailed lot," which was originally 
owned by the Governor, its weathered appearance, unpainted 
walls and huge square chimney lend aid to the common belief 
that it was the home of the famous head of this family. Such is 
not the case, however, as the first house stood about one hundred 
feet to the northward of the present "old" house. ^ It cannot 
be stated with any accuracy when it was built. The present 
owner, Charles Mayhew (9) (Joseph, 8; Wilham, 7; Matthew, 
6; Micajah, 5; Matthew, 4; Matthew, 3; Thomas, 2; Gov. 
Thomas, i), has no definite knowledge of its age, beyond the 
fact that his grandfather. Deacon William (351) told him that 
at the age of twelve he assisted his father, Matthew (150), in 
shingling this house. Deacon William was born in 1748, and 
this shingling was therefore done in 1760, but whether he 
referred to the original shingles or to their renewal is not known. 
This date would make the building about one hundred and 
fifty years old now, and beyond this, guessing may add any 
further antiquity to it. 


The public meetings of the citizens for the transaction 
of town affairs were held in the church buildings at first, and 
in the Court Houses. Such was the custom throughout New 

"In 1838 Deacon William Mayhew (351) in his 90th year, deposed as follows: 
"Gov. Thomas Mayhew and his wife according to the best of my knowledge were 
buried in the west corner of Grafton Norton's lot about ten feet from the street, and 
a little to the north-west of the graves that are now visible. I think there is a rock 
near the head of the graves of the said Thomas and wife; there are also several other 
persons buried near the same place and I believe the whole number to be eight." 
Excavations would probably confirm this statement of the aged Deacon, who was 
greatly interested in the lives of his ancestors and wished to preserve for posterity 
his knowledge of their place of sepulture. The eight graves would include Thomas 
Mayhew and wife, Matthew and wife, besides those known by existing stones. It 
should be a public duty to disinter these bodies and place them in a public cemetery. 

^Information given by Mr. Charles Mayhew. He states that he had heard his 
grandfather, (Deacon William, 1 748-1840) say that the original house stood on the 
site of a house built 75 years ago, and of late years when more cellar room was desired 
the workmen in digging came on evidences of a former building, such as bits of broken 
crockery, etc., and part of a wall which he is satisfied was the cellar wall of the original 


K\v\h. « ■ '111 ii"ii'<-^s,»,--::^=s^.. 




Annals of Edgartown 

England in the early days, when the meeting-house was con- 
sidered as much for secular as for religious purposes. When 
the Methodists abandoned, in 1843, their house of worship 
(built by them about 1828) on. the south side of Main street, 
the town acquired it by purchase for use as a public hall. 
It was remodeled for the convenience of the town officials 
and later afforded room for the fire extinguishing apparatus 
of the volunteer firemen. It served these purposes for over 
sixty years and in 1908, by popular subscription and town 
grant it was enlarged at a cost of over three thousand dollars 
and reopened to the public Aug. 19, 1908, with appropriate 
dedication services. It has a stage and a new and handsome 
set of scenery for theatrical exhibitions. 


The first newspaper to be published in Dukes County 
was established in this town in the spring of 1846 by the late 
Edgar Marchant (148). The first issue, on May 13th, was a 
small sheet printed on a hand press, and he was not only the 
editor but its printer and publisher. In 1850 it had reached 
a circulation of 600 copies, and by his prudent management 
and intimate knowledge of the wants of his patrons, he built 
up a weekly journal that maintained a high standard of ex- 
cellence from the first with a steady growing clientele. About 
1868 he sold the property and removed to Salem to continue 
a similar business. At the end of five years he returned to 
Edgartown, repurchased the Vineyard Gazette and continued 
its publication until his decease in 1878. His successor, 
Charles Henry Marchant, a grand nephew, has since then 
carried on its publication with success. It is now an eight 
page paper and is held in increasing favor each year by Vine- 
yarders scattered over the world. It is a model country 


In 1850 there was a Lyceum Library of 150 volumes 
and a School Library of 275 volumes for public uses. The 
present Public Library was established in 1892, and its collec- 
tion first kept in a small room in the Pierce building, where 
it remained for six years. Then it was removed to a room 
over W. E. Marchant's store, and continued there for six years 
more. Mr. Andrew Carnegie, of New York, presented to the 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

town a library building which was erected on a lot on North 
Water street, donated by Mrs. Frederick Warren. The build- 
ing was completed for occupancy in 1904 at a cost of $5,000, 
and the library has grown to a collection of 2,400 volumes. 


The town has now been settled two hundred and sixty- 
six years and it may be of interest and worthy of preservation 
to incorporate at the close of our annals the following statistics 
to show its present growth from the humble beginnings at 
Great Harbor. From the assessors' lists the following figures 
regarding the valuation in Edgartown on May i, 1908, have 
been furnished: Personal estate assessed, $177,530; real 
estate assessed, $831,810; total, $1,009,340. Total tax as- 
sessed, $18,259.67; acres of land assessed, 12,169; number 
of dwelling houses, 458; horses, 126; cows, 123; sheep, 95; 
polls, 358; residents assessed on property, 411; non-residents 
assessed on property, 808. Increase in assessed valuation 
over 1907, $83,630. 



Annals of Edgartown 


For the purpose of preserving the individuahty of this 
insular part of Edgartown, it will be considered as a separate 
section and given special treatment. From the earliest times 
it has always borne the name by which it is now known. 
It is an Algonquian word, compounded of Tchepi-aquiden-et, 
which is translated as "the separated island," because it was 
divided from Nope by the narrow strait of water that some- 
times is a continuous run and at others only a closed inlet. ^ 
The Massachusetts dialect requires the ending in -et, but it 
has become softened into -ick.^ 

While separated physically, it has always been a legal 
part of Edgartown since 1646, when the township grant in- 
cluded ''also all the Island called Chapaquegick." When 
the whites first came here it was under the dominion of a 
sagamore named Pahkepunnassoo, who for many years 
remained an opponent of the religion brought to his people 
by the missionaries. Following out his plan of purchasing 
the aboriginal "rights" to the soil, Mayhew bought of this 
Indian head man, in 1653, "the Neck that lies over the river 
for the which land the town is to give the Sachem twenty 
bushels of corn a year for three years; also his son is to have 
two lotts when it is devided."^ This form of quit-rent was 
doubtless a concession to the dignity of the chieftain, and 
was renewed in another form in 1663, when Mayhew agreed 
to pay him "one Good Goat Ram yearly or as much in Good 

pay as (a) Good Goat Ram should be worth and one 

yarde round every whale. "^ It is significant of the scrupulous 
spirit which actuated Mayhew in his dealings with them, 
that this agreement was in effect and presumably observed 
as late as 1724, when the great grandson of this chief man, 
named Seiknout, also a sachem, commuted his quit-rent 
for ;^5 in money to the successor of the old Governor. 

'From this changing condition Chappaquiddick is often called a neck in the 
early records, and such was probably its state at the settlement of the Vineyard. 

^The pronunciation, Chabbaquiddick, now used by the older people is equally 
correct, as P and B are interchangeable consonants in the Algonquian dialects. The 
early spelling was always with a P and that is the more correct sound. 

^Edgartown Records, I, 149. 

*Dukes Deeds, IV, 72. In 1654 Thomas Paine was granted permission "to 
buy of the Indians the lot lying upon Chapequidick which hath the graves in it, pro- 
vided the said Thomas Paine do not exceed the value of three bushels of corn in his 
pay for it." 


History of Martha's Vineyard 


J3 g^X4!A^?vgA^!?T^v!c7::r? ^ ! . . . ,->.u . u . - . - ^ ^ 



Annals of Edgartown 


The value of this island to the settlers was its excellent 
grazing facilities, a place where cattle could be safely pastured 
without the need of fences to restrain their ranging. Each 
of the "five and twenty" lots had its share in the division of 
the land, with rights of pasturing a specified number of great 
cattle and small stock to a commonage. This has already 
been explained (p. 35) and was held as one of the most valu- 
able rights of proprietorship. These rights of grazing were 
subsequently rented out by those who had no cattle. In 
1703 there were nearly two hundred and fifty "great" cattle, 
besides sheep, entered for that year by the proprietors or 
their tenants. The "great" cattle, horses, oxen, cows, were 
taken over every fall, about October 5th and brought back 
in the spring, about April 25th, by the way of the Swimming 
place. At slack tide of low water the animals were driven 
in and made to swim across the "river." 

Such was the extent of this business that the proprietors 
held annual meetings to regulate the affairs of the "separated 
island." Elaborate regulations were drawn up to guard 
against trespassing and overloading the quotas of each share, 
and the lists are an interesting, as well as at times amusing, 
evidence of their methods of conducting affairs. One puts 
over "one steer upon Dorcas Bayley," another "a young 
horse upon his grandfather Bayes" and a third "for his wifes 
former rights he put over 13 head."^ To add to these com- 
plicated privileges there was great uncertainty among the 
proprietors themselves as to what they owned, either in sever- 
alty or in common. There had been a division of the meadows 
about 1668, but "the certain bounds were not known except 
of some particulars," and a second division was made in 1679, 
"which though the writings thereof are lost, yet have generally 
(been) improved and acknowledged."^ Such a condition 
naturally caused confusion and trespassing on the lands 
reserved to the Indians, who lived in considerable numbers 
on this island, as one of their settlements.^ 

'Edgartown Records, I, 68, 78. 

^Ibid., 155. "only Thomas Harlock dissents from it" as the record concludes. 

^A portion of the land owned by the whites was fenced, and in 1700 a pound was 
erected by the proprietors to impound stray cattle without marks or suspected of 
belonging to trespassers. Field drivers were chosen to carry out the directions of the 
trustees. In that year Matthew Mayhew, Samuel Sarson and Jacob Norton acted 
in that capacity. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

This reservation assigned to the Indians was on the 
north side of the road leading from Collop's pond eastward, 
and comprised all the land to the shore bordering the harbor 
and bay. 


These encroachments, as they became more flagrant, 
were resented by the sachem and his tribe, and the proprietors 
in 1708 appointed a committee "to treaty with the present 
Indian Sachem (Joshua Seeknout) that therein may be 

done as to right doth appertain, as also to make such 

accord agreement and confession as they shall think meet." 
This plan effected a temporary truce in the hostile camp of 
the natives, but four years later, failing to obtain the redress 
which he thought due them for trespasses, he resorted to the 
courts and appealed to the agents of the Society for the Prop- 
agation of the Gospel. He entered a test suit against Thomas 
Pease and others at the October term, 171 2, in an action of 
trespass "on the southeast part of it (Chappaquiddick) at 
a place called Wassaechtaack alias pocha."^ The proprietors 
joined issue and appointed Matthew Mayhew and Thomas 
Lothrop to represent them. The sachem had for his attorney 
Benjamin Hawes of Edgartown and the case was tried before 
a distinguished tribunal. Lieutenant Governor Tailer with 
Samuel Sewall the Younger and Col. Penn Townsend of the 
Governor's Council sat in judgment on the case with the 
local magistrates. Sewall thus records the incident: — 

[Oct. 8, 1 712.] Had a great dispute about Chappaquiddick, the 
Sachem appearing before us and Mr. Haws his Attorney for him. Mr. 
Turner plead for the EngHsh for their right in the Herbage, the Island 
right over against the Harbour.^ 

Subsequent suits were brought on the same grounds in 
March and October, 1713, and the March term of the next 
year against various parties.^ At this time the old sachem, 
Joshua, died and was succeeded by his son, Jacob Seeknout, 
who took up the prosecution in behalf of his people with 

'Dukes Court Records, 1712. 

'Diary (printed in N. E. Gen. Register). 

'Seeknout complained in January, 1713 of "Undue Proceedings in a Suit brought 
by John Norton against Nicholas and Phinehas Norton for Trespass for Driving a 
Mare of the said John Nortons off the said Island by Direction of the Petitioner, 
And in which Suit he was admitted Defendant." (Mass. Resolves, IX; appendix 
IV, 268; comp. Legislative Record of the Council, IX, 255.) 


Annals of Edgartown 

continued zeal/ The Justices required the proprietors to 
''give in to them a particular account of their interest and 
present claim" and the proprietors at once raised the sum 
of ;!{^ioo for "the just and lawful defence of their rights." 
As a result of all this litigation the matter was finally sub- 
mitted by agreement between Thomas Lothrop as agent and 
Seeknout the Sachem, Oct. 29, 1713, to the Governor, the 
Lieutenant Governor, Samuel Sewall, Penn Townsend and 
John Gushing as arbitrators. They were requested to hear 
and determine all their differences "and give resolve thereon." 
The General Court authorized these officials to act in the 
capacity of arbitrators as they had "manifested their willing- 
ness to undertake the compromising & Issuing of that unhappy 
Difference." An order was passed setting the hearings for 
May, 1 7 14, "and all Quarrels & Suits depending relating to 
the Island are hereby stayed in the mean Time."^ The 
findings were not made, however, for over eighteen months. 
Under date of Dec. 19, 171 5, the referees made the follow- 
ing decision: (i) The English should have the undisputed 
fee of the neck called Menechew, saving one share to the 
sachem; (2) The Indians should have the sole possession of 
the Island of Chappaquiddick for themselves and posterity, 
never to be sold without the consent of the Provincial govern- 
ment; (3) The English should have the right to mow the 
salt marshes (saving the "wobshaw grass" for the Indians, 
use in making mats), paying therefor one shilling per acre 
annually; (4) The winter herbage should be shared in common 
by both English and Indians "as stented for the number of 
grate catle goats and sheep between October 25 and March 
25th yearly," the English paying Seeknout " the fifteenth goat 
and for every fatted Beast one Shilling & Sixpence" annually; 
and (5) the proprietors were restricted to a total of one hun- 
dred head of great cattle for grazing purposes. This decision 
afforded the usual loophole for the English and payment was 
refused to the sachem in many cases on the question of what 
constituted a "fatted beast." Several years more of contest 
followed before the end was reached. After the case was 
settled the Sachem sold in 1718 to Benjamin Hawes "one 
eight of all the herbage on Chappaquiddick that shall ever 

'The Sachem Jacob made his last will Sept. 25, 1734, and it was probated March 
5, 1735, between which dates he died. This document mentions wife Elizabeth and 
daughters Hepzibah and Dorcas. Samuel Norton and Thomas Lothrop were made 

^.^cts and Resolves, IX, 318. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

hereafter grow from the 20th of October till the 25th of March 
every year forever however it may be stented."^ This was 
the last of the famous herbage case. 

Ancient Landmarks, 
algonquian place names. 

Capoag (Capawack, Cape Pogue). — The earliest known 
aboriginal name attached to the Vineyard. It has already 
been discussed and explained (Vol. I, 34-6). It applied to the 
pond properly and became identified with the point or cape. 

Mashshachaquak. — This was "a little creek on the 

west side of sd Island running to the southermost little 

creek that runneth out of Collops Pond" (Deeds, IV, 163; 
XI, 69). 

Menechew. — A neck of land, ''being the northermost 
part of the said Island" (Deeds, IV, 139, 166). 

Micenuckchuwat. — The pond now known as Caleb's 
pond. The spelling of this name in 1726 was "Collops" 
and it may be regarded as the correct form (Deeds, IV, 163). 

Momabhegoins Neck. — A place mentioned in 1709 
(Deeds, II, 244). 

Natick. — This was, in the first eighty years after the settle- 
ment, an island at the northern tip of Chappaquiddick, some- 
times called Capoag island. The narrow and shallow channel 
which separated it from the main portion of the island was 
closed up during a great storm, about 1725, and it has ever 
since remained a part of the peninsular formation (Deeds, 
I, 388; IV, 153, 328; VI, 401, 520). See Great Neck. 

Pocha. — This is one of the earliest place names of the 
island and marked the southeastern point, as early as 1665, 
having also an alias, Wassaechtaack. The word is derived 
from Pok-sha-muk, signifying "where there is a breaking in," 
as a pond formed by the inrush of the sea. There is a Potchey 
or Pochey in Eastham on the Cape. 

Quamoks. — A "place called Quamoks" in 1722 was in 
the region of Pocha Pond (Deeds, IV, 218). 

Wassaechtaack. — See Pocha. 

Wasqiie. — The southermost point of Chappaquiddick 
was early called Wasque, an abbreviation of Wannasque, 
meaning "the ending or point." Wasqua hill is mentioned 
in 1742 (Deeds, VI, 401). 

'Dukes Deeds, IV, 44; comp., IV, 204. where he sold a tract "excepting 

the grass privilege already sold." 


Annals of Edgartown 


Caleb's (Collops) Pond. — See Micenuckchuwat. 

Great Neck. — After Natick Island became a part of 
the main island it was later called Great Neck. 

Little Neck. — A small part of the original Natick was 
known in 1790 as Little Neck. 

Tofit's Neck. — This name was attached as early as 1790 
and still belongs to the small neck of land on the eastern side 
of the island. 


For the first hundred years after the settlement, this 
island was occupied solely by Indians, and their numbers had 
fluctuated during and since that time, through epidemics and 
immigration. In 1698 there were 138 Christianized natives, 
perhaps two-thirds of the entire population. In 1765 about 80 
were left and in 1790 there were 75, "not more than one third 
of whom are pure."^ In the next century enumerations 
taken at irregular times give the following figures: In 1807, 
65; in 1828, no; in 1849, 84; in 1861, 74, and at the close 
of the last century, 7.^ 

The Des Barres map of 1781 shows twenty-three houses 
on the island, both English and Indian, indicating a population 
of about 175 of the combined races. The census of 1790 
makes no separation of those resident here, but counting 
the families known to have lived on the island, it is estimated 
that about 190 constituted its population. 


It was not until about 1750 that the whites began to take 
up the land for residential purposes, and it is believed that 
Captain Thomas Arey (35) was the first one of the Edgar- 
town people to settle there. ^ He was born in 1 716 and followed 
the sea in his younger days. He died in 1787 and was, in his 

'Benjamin Bassett in ist Mass. Hist. Coll., I, 206. The Edgartown records 
note the death of Bethiah Moses in 1818 aged 92 and gtate that she "Left only Ruth 
Maqud of Clear Indian about the Same age on Chappaquiddick to Survive her." 

.^Concerning their condition in 1849 an official report states: "Twenty years 
ago [1829] they were preeminently a degraded people, unchaste, intemperate, and by 
consequence, improvident; now they are chaste, not a case of illegitimacy, so far as 
we could learn, existing among them; temperate, comparing, in this respect, most 
favorably with the same population, in the same condition of life, in any part of the 

^Dukes Deeds, VIII, 46, 158-9. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

time, undoubtedly the largest landed proprietor of Chappa- 
quiddick.^ The next settler was Joseph Huxford, about 1755, 
and following him in probable order was Thomas Fish (31) 
about 1758; Henry Fish (34), Benjamin Pease, Jr. (311) about 
1760; Thomas Smith (45) in 1774; Matthew Butler (53) in 
1778; and about 1782, Joseph Swasey, Jr., was added to the 
growing white settlement. Before 1790, besides the sons of 
the above-named pioneers the residents of the island included 
Seth Dunham, Elisha Dunham, George Daggett, William 
Covell, John Clark, Cornelius and Ephrairn Ripley, and two 
of the first Portuguese immigrants to our shores, Emanuel 
Silvara and Antony Chadwick.^ These aliens had married two 
of the Fish(er) girls, Sarah (51) and Anna (61) respectively, 
and became identified with the church of their wives. 


Chappaquiddick was one of the 'Spraying towns" of the 
Vineyard established by the Mayhews as a result of their 
mission work, and in 1670 Joshua Momatchegin was ordained 
as one of the ruling elders of the native church, gathered by 
the elder Thomas in his capacity of religious instructor. 
The converted Indians on the east side of the Vineyard were 
gathered into one congregation at first, but after the death 
of Hiacoomes in i6go the Chappaquiddick tribe were set 
off as a separate body and continued under the charge of 
Momatchegin.^ This elder dying in 1703 was succeeded by 
Jonathan Amos, who survived but three years. The con- 
dition of this church at this period is thus described; "And 
now the Indians at the said Chappaquiddick were in a miserable 
State, the Candlestick which had been there being removed 
out of its Place. The Place being thus unchurched, was filled 
with Drunkards instead of the Good People who had before 
inhabited it."^ What became of the church organization 
after this date is not known. None of the maps of that century 
(i 700-1 799) show the existence of a church structure on this 

'Council Records, No. 946 (1782). He owned or claimed not less than 250 acres 
bought of the Indians at various times. 

^Chadwick was probably an adopted name as it is of English origin. Thaxter 
notes the death in 1820 of Anthony Chadv/ick, "a Portugee a state Pauper" aged 
67 years. Descendants now reside in Edgartown. 

^He was assisted by Hiacoomes and later by John Coomes, until the latter re- 
moved to "the main." 

^Indian Converts, 34. 


Annals of Edgartown 

island and it is doubtful if there was one. The absence of 
records and the disappearance of the tribe contribute to our 
lack of information. Doubtless they were cared for by the 
societies which supported missionaries here. The state map 
of 1830 shows a meeting-house on the Indian reservation, 
but it is not known where it was erected nor how long it was 
in use. In i860 the Indian Commissioner made the following 
report on this subject: "The Chappaquiddicks have no 
religious organization, nor have they any religious services 
or instruction, distinct from their white neighbors. They 
attend meeting at the 'Marine Church' at Sampson's hill, 
across the line, whenever there are services there, which is 
at irregular intervals."^ These services were held by ministers 
of all denominations from time to time. Such is now the case. 
The old meeting-house has been recently repaired, and during 
the summer months the Edgartown clergy supply the pulpit 
in turn in the present century. 

'State Senate Report, No. 96 (1861), p. 21. The Rev. John Adams in his Auto- 
biography in 1840 tells of preaching "in the new church in Chappaquidick" (I, 420). 


Annals of West Tisbury 



The present limits of West Tisbury represent the old township 
of Tisbury as it was originally laid out, and the history of this 
town, though the latest creation in our corporate galaxy, begins 
actually two and a third centuries ago. West Tisbury occupy- 
ing as it does the original settlement once called Middletown 
is therefore the historic Tisbury, though bearing a modified 
title. The Algonquian name of this locality was Takemmy, 
as it is generally written in English by the first settlers. 

Taacame and Taukemy are variations of the Indian name 
for the territory mostly comprised in the present town of West 
Tisbury. Through this section flows the largest stream on the 
island, and this big "river" when the whites first purchased 
Takemmy in 1669-70 was called "Old Mill River" giving evi- 
dence that some sort of a mill had been erected there by previous 
settlers or residents of the island long before its purchase from 
the natives, possibly soon after the settlement of Edgartown. 
This first mill was, probably, a primitive affair, but quite 
sufficient for the wants of the settlers. It is possible that it 
was merely a large wooden mortar and pestle run by an under- 
shot wheel, enclosed by a temporary structure. 

The road leading from Edgartown to Takemmy was and 
is still called the "Mill Path," and the road from Chilmark run- 
ning east to Takemmy was also called the "Mill Path" as early 
as 1 664. These facts are strongly corroborative of our study of the 
name. The full etymology of it is Tackhum-min-eyi, of which 
-hum is a special affix, and implies exertion of strength, as he 
forces him or it after the manner expressed by the root Tack, i. e., 
to pound, grind, strike the object which is -min, (Grammar 
of the Cree, 86, 87). Min was the generic term for any small 
berry, nut or grain. Here it denotes the grain, par excellence, 
corn, (Trumbull). In the Narragansett and Massachusetts 
dialects Mayi, May or Meyi, signifies a path, road, which is 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

formed from the suppositive (subjunctive) of the verb au, aui, 
meaning he goes to or towards (a place), with the indefinite 
m' prefixed, where anybody goes (Trumbull), 

Hence we have Tackhum-min-eyi, with the reading "where 
anybody goes to grind corn," in allusion to the mill erected 
by the whites. 


The original bounds of Tisbury, as given in the charter 
of 1 67 1 were as follows: — 

neare the middle of the said Island on the south side thereof granted 
to several Inhabitants, freeholders there for a Towne-ship, who have 
made purchase of the Indian Right, the said Towne formerly known by 
the name of Middle-Town, the Precincts whereof are bounded on the 
East by the Land heretofore belonging to the Sachem Towonquateck : 
on the West by Nashowakemmuck: on the South by Qua-niems & a 
fresh Pond & on the North by the Sound: 

When West Tisbury was incorporated, May i, 1892, 
it was given the following division lines, as shown by the 
several bound marks between the towns adjoining to her 
limits : — 

West Tisbury and Tisbury 

I St. Stone monument at Makonikey near the Sound shore. 

2nd. same on top of the hill at Makonikey. 

3rd. same on south side of North Shore Road, near old school house site. 

4th. same, top of hill, southerly from No. 2, in D. D. Norton's pasture. 

5th. same in woods, westerly from outside gate of Shubael Weeks' place. 

6th. same on south side of West Tisbury — Tisbury State Highway. 

7th. same south-westerly from M. M. Smith's, in edge of the woods. 

8th. same on easterly side of Chickamoo Path. 

9th. the "four town bound." 

West Tisbury and Edgartown 

ist. Stone monument at the ''four town bound." 

2nd. same on south side of Farm Path. 

3rd. same on south side of Smith's Path. 

4th. same on north side of West Tisbury — Edgartown Road — old track. 

5 th. same on south side of Watcha Road. 

6th. same on south side of first clump of woodland in Watcha. 

7th. same on south side of obscure wood road in Watcha. 

8th. same on south side of middle section of woodland in Watcha. 

9th. same on south side of southermost woodland in Watcha. 

loth. same near South Beach on the bluff. 

Annals of West Tisbury 

West Tisbury and Chilmark 

I St. Rock in Vineyard Sound, with a copper bolt. 

2nd. Stone monument in Prof. Shaler's Place, on top of hill. 

3rd. Great Rock, (Wascoseems). 

4th. Stone monument in Orlin F. Davis' meadow. 

5th. same on South Road at "Nab's Corner." 

6th. same at southerly side of Look's brook, westerly side of road. 

7th. same about four rods easterly from No. 6. 

8th. same on South Beach, at the half width of the Tisbury Great Pond. 


The above limits are practically those of the original 
township grant. 


West Tisbury had no known population before 1670, 
when the four proprietors made their first purchase of the 
soil and opened it up for settlement. From a computation 
based on the genealogies of families known to have been 
living here ten years later (1680) we can enumerate about 
120 souls resident then. The map of Simon Athearn (1694) 
shows twenty-two houses in the town, and as families always 
exceed houses in numbers, we may reckon 25 families of five 
each at that date, or a total of 125 souls. Removals and the 
opening up of Chilmark to settlement took away in the inter- 
vening time what would be the normal increase. In 1700 
there were probably about 150 people here. No further 
basis of computation until 1757 has been found. In a list 
of members of the ''Foot Company" for that year, 132 men 
are listed for military service, and— using the accepted multi- 
ple — a total of 660 souls can be reckoned as then living in the 

The first Provincial census of 1765 shows the following 
figures relating to Tisbury: — families 100, comprising a total 
of 81,8 souls, living in no houses. Of these there were 226 
males and 233 females above sixteen years of age; 165 males 
and 166 females below sixteen; 9 negroes (4 male and 5 female) 
and 39 Indians (15 male and 24 female). Tisbury was then 
the smallest town, numerically, on the Island, though second 
excluding negroes and Indians. In the census of 1776 there 
were 1033 persons resident in the town. 

The first federal census of 1790 gives us an enumeration 
by names; and from this the following statistics are drawn: 
total population, 1,135 (whites), of which number there were 
287 males above sixteen years, 238 below sixteen, and 609 

History of Martha's Vineyard 
Ancient Plan of Tisbury, 1694. 

Note. — This interesting and valuable plan of Tisbury in 1694, is 
the first one of its kind known to the author, and is a part of a sketch of 
the entire island. It is here printed with the east to the top for the 
convenience of reading the written descriptions made by him on the map. 
These legends are as follows, beginning at the top: — 

holms his hole 

holms his hole have hitherto payed rat(e)s to tisbury 

this included lands is Claimed by and pay rat(e)s to Chilmark 

its Called Chikkemoo 

this included is pattant from York Called the town of Tisbury 

the meting house 

a farm claimed by two patants 

The plan shows two houses in the Chickemmoo district, and twenty- 
two houses in the town of Tisbury, besides the meeting-house, in 1694. 
The position of the meeting-house bears out the views of the author as 
to its location at that date. It was the first house of worship built, and 
occupied the present site of Agricultural Hall. The "farm claimed by 
two patants" is, undoubtedly, the Quinames property, a part of the Manor 
of Tisbury. 

Annals of West Tisbury 

''free white" females and seven "other free persons," pre- 
sumably negroes. Tisbury was then the second town in 
population on the Vineyard. All computations, however, do 
not make any distinction between the two sections (Homes 
Hole and West Tisbury) which then made up the whole town. 

The following figures show the population of Tisbury 
as enumerated in the decennial censuses of the United States 
from 1800 to the present time: In 1800 it was 1092; in 18 10, 
1202; in 1820, 1223; in 1830, 1317; in 1840, 1520; in 1850, 
1803; in i860, 1631; in 1870, 1536; in 1880, 1518; in 1890, 
1506; in 1900, 1 149. 

The population of Tisbury reached the maximum in 
1850 and showed a gradual decrease to 1900, when the popu- 
lation was but fifty- seven above^ that of the census of 1800. 
The town of West Tisbury, which was formed from Tisbury 
in 1892 had a population of about 450, and the loss in the 
census of 1900 is thus accounted for to the parent town. 

Tisbury was the first in population of the three original 
towns, 1 860- 1 890 inclusive, as shown in the three decennial 
censuses. The state census of 1905 showed a population of 
1 1 20. 


The settlement at Great Harbor had continued for tvv^enty- 
five years to be the sole settlemicnt on the island, but by 1666 
the necessity for an extension of their territorial occupation 
became more apparent, and it is probable that by this date 
some persons had taken up land here, or occupied it for tillage 
purposes. Doubtless the attraction to this place was the fine 
water courses and the fertile meadows, which have made this 
the garden spot of the Vineyard. In what way the original 
proprietors of Tisbury were induced to invest in this territory 
is not known. They had no previous association with the 
Vineyard as land owners, nor were they connected by marriage 
with any of the existing families on the island. Surmises on 
the influences which caused them to turn their faces hither 
would be useless. It is sufficient to state that on the first day 
of July, 1668, as a result of previous negotiations, Thomas 
Mayhew gave authority to William Pabodie and Josiah Standish 
of Duxbury, and James Allen of Sandwich to enter into agree- 
ment with the Sachem of Takemmy to buy what land they 
wished within his bounds, and confirming previous purchases 
made by them. The following is the grant to the three pur- 
chasers : — 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

Foreasmuch as I have a grant of this Island both from the agent of 
the Lord Sterling, and alsoe from the agent of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, 
Knight, for this Island, the Vineyard, this doth witness that I, Thomas 
Alayhew, doe grant unto William Pabodie, Josias Standish, and James 
Allin, liberty to buy land, I say liberty to buy what land they can uppon 
this Island, within the compass of the bounds of Takemmy, of the Indian 
Sachims, the right owners, and to enjoy all such lands, themselves, heirs 
and assigns, forever, uppon the same terms and conditions, that that I have 
it from the Lord Proprietor: but for the people that are to be brought 
on, they are to bee, not only approved of by the said William Pabodie, 
Josias Standish, and James Alhn, or the major part of them, & their 
heirs and assighnes, but also by mee, the said Thomas Mayhew, my heirs 
and assighnes-; And for the government of the inhabitants that shall bee 
there uppon said land, it is to be carried on by myself, & the major part 
of the freeholders thus, that is I, the said Thomas Mayhew, cannot act 
without them, nor my heirs nor assignes; nor they, the said William 
Pabodie, Josias Standish, and James Alhn, nor their heirs nor assighns, 
shall not doe nor act without mee, the said Thomas Mayhew, or my suc- 
cessors. This is also an approbation of what land they have bought 
alreddy, so far as concerns mee, I doe heerby allow of it, and this I doe 
in consideration that they, the grantees, are to pay mee six poundes, 
thirteen shilHngs and four pence, at Boston, to Captain Oliver, or Peter 
Oliver, at Boston. Witness hereunto my hand and seal the first day of 
July, 1668.1 



It is not known what was confirmed to them in "land 
they have bought already," as no transfers appear of record, 
though it may possibly refer to purchases for the mill and a 
few lots within the greater territory which they soon acquired. 
Negotiations with the Sachem were finally consummated on 
Aug. 2, 1669, when in consideration of £80, four associates, 
James Skiffe, Jr., of Sandwich having later been admitted to 
partnership, received title to the following described land: — 

From the mouth of Tyasquan River to the Bridge and from the Bridge 
in the path that goeth to the school house till it doth meet with the Bounds 
of Nashowakemmuck, from thence in the Bound line to the Sound: secondly 
from the mouth of Tyasquan to a tree in the vally by the house of papa- 
meek marked and from that tree to another tree marked tree westerly 
marked and from that parellell with the bound line between Nashowa- 
kemmuck and Takemmy: and also from the tree in the valley aforesaid 
near paapameks house in the winter 1668, it is to run Eesterly one mile 
and from that miles end it is to run Southerly unto the water that comes 
into the vally where Titchpits house and his sonnes were in the winter 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 239. 

Annals of West Tisbury 

1668 aforesaid which includes all the land or neckes westerly to Coske- 

The Sachem also granted by this same deed for a further 
consideration of ;^65,-all "the meadow upon all the neckes of 
land on the South side of the Island in his bounds." It is not 
possible to plot out this last indefinite territory, but the bounds 
of the other portion are shown in the accompanying map. 

This tract of land is known as the "First Purchase," and 
it will be seen that it excluded the flexible "mile square" on 
the Sound, granted previously by Josias and Wanamanhut to 
the praying Indians and elsewhere described. The four partners 
endeavored to have this included in their grant, "but the said 
Josias refused to let us have any land further Eastward of the 
said bounds," as James Skiff e said some years later, "alledging 
that he had already granted it to the praying Indians."^ It 
appears that the subjects of the Sachem were displeased at this 
purchase, by which so large a tract became alienated to the control 
of the whites, and as a result of the agitation the bounds of the 
Christian town were definitely determined in May, 1669,^ 
and a written agreement about further sales was made by the 
Sachems and chief men, as related in the chapter dealing with 
the affairs of the Indian town.^ 

On June 17, 1670, about one year after the purchase, 
the planters finding the restrictions regarding the herding of 
their cattle impracticable or unnecessarily vexatious obtained 
from Josias an instrument in consideration of five shillings 
providing for a removal of this condition, in which he gave 
their cattle "liberty lawfully and peaceably to greas within 
the Commons of Tackemy without any molestation."^ This 
permission of free ranging for their cattle required the marking 
of each man's live stock, and the methods adopted by them are 
described elsewhere. It is not known who, at this time, had 
undertaken actual residence within the "first purchase" limits. 
There are no records extant showing grants of land or transfers 
of real estate to establish priority of settlement for any person. 
Benjamin Church of Duxbury, the famous Indian fighter, had 
erected a grist mill "on the westermost brook of Takemmy" 

^Dukes Deeds, I, 33. One of the conditions of the sale was that the EngHsh 
should herd their cattle, and not allow them to roam at large; a proviso inserted by 
them because the cattle would destroy their corn fields and squash meadows. 

'Sup. Jud. Court Files, 4714. 

'Deeds, I, 378. 

*Sup. Jud. Court Files, No. 953. 

^own Rec, 15. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

sometime before Nov. 19, 1669, when he sold it to Joseph 
Merry, with "one eighth part of the first purchase of land," 
showing that he had become interested in the speculation early. 
The consideration was ;;^i2o "by Bills" and the transfer was 
made in person. This division into eighths was probably in 
the nature of an undivided allotment. The later divisions 
were on a different basis as will be seen. 

Of the four purchasers, but two became residents, or 
remained to settle the tract they had bought. Peabody and 
Standish were land speculators, the former being interested in 
land "booms" in Rhode Island, and the latter in lands about 
Norwich, Connecticut. Pabodie was the oldest partner, being 
49 years of age in 1668. He had married Betty, a daughter 
of John Alden of the "Mayflower." He is the lineal ancestor 
of the author of this history, through the maternal side. 

The name was early written Pabodie and so spelled by 
him, but it was gradually evolved into the modern form 
Peabody, though the early spelling has been retained by some 

Josiah Standish was the son of the redoubtable Captain 
Miles of Plymouth and Duxbury, and he had married Sarah, 
sister of James Allen of Braintree, and hence was brother-in-law 
of his partner. 

James Allen was the son of Samuel of Braintree, but he 
was a resident of Sandwich at the time of the purchase. 

James Skiffe, Junior, came from Sandwich also, and was 
the son of James Skiffe, of that town. Prior to his coming 
here he had probably resided at Sherborne, Nantucket. 


It could not be said that there was necessity for additional 
land to accommodate purchasers, actual or in prospect, but for 
reasons satisfactory to themselves, perhaps because land was 
cheap, the four proprietors for the sum of fifteen shillings bought 
more land of Josias the Sachem, Jan. 31, 1671, which is known 
as the "Additional Purchase," and was thus described: — * 

I Josias Sachem of Tackkomy do sell and Inlarge the Lotts of the 
English further on the East side unto the East sid of the deep woody 
valiy in the cart way goeing to the town 'and so to run upon a straight 
line unto the mille from the marked tree & from the marked tree by 
papemikes field and so taking in all the Land and neckes westwardly 
as appeareth by trees marked on the east sid of the woody vally, by me 
Josias, James Allen and John Eddy. 

»To\vn Rec, 15; Deeds, XXXIII 544. » 


Annals of West Tisbury 


No formal name was adopted by the proprietors for the 
new settlement, as they were not yet incorporated, but it was 
generally known as Middletown, because of its relative position 
between Great Harbor and Nashowakemmuck. 

Having obtained all the available property from the Sachem, 
the partners proceeded to the next step of admitting inhabitants 
and associates. It will be remembered that Thomas Mayhew 
reserved the right to supervise this feature of the programme 
and approve of all who applied for the right of admission. 
The following document records the first admission and the 
division of the land. May 20, 1671, into fifteen shares, and 
should be read in full: — ^ 

Whereas we whose names are under writen have obtained liberty 
of Mr Thomas Mayhew to buy & purchas land within the bounds & 
limits of Taakimmy upon the Vinyard this may signifie unto men that 
we WilU: Pebodie josiah Standish, James Allen and James Skiffe have 
made purchas of certaine Lands within the above saide bound with a 
purpos to people or plant the same and in order thereunto have devided 
the whole into twelv partes or shares payable to the charges of the whole 
purchas besids one lott for the mill one for a minister and one lott for 
John Eddy if he com according to Compacicion and further we have 
admitted of several persons to have thar severall shares both upland and 
medow land allreddy purchased or to be purchased alwayes P'vided that 
the parsons admited shall pay or cause to be payed their just proportion 
of cost and charg justly arisin thereupon unto the above named Willi 
Pebodie Josias Standish and James Allen or their assignes and in con- 
sideration thereof we the above named Wilham Pabodie Josias Standish 
James Allen and James Skiffe doe admit of Isack Robinson, James 
Skiffe Sinour, Simon Athearn, Jeramiah Whitne and John Rogers to 
be full and joynt parcherais with and to have full Right and title to the 
whole with our selves: allsoewe have admitted of Thomas Mayhew Juner 
who is to pay five pounds to his brother Matthew Mayhew for and in 
consideration of a parcell of lands purchased by Willi: Pebodie Josias 
Standish and James Allen of Matthew Mayhew about holmes hole as may 
apere by a deed under his hand which parsall of land is to belong unto 
the whole purchas of takimmy. 

May 20 167 1 William Pabodie 

witness hereunto James Allen 

Thomas Boni James Skiffe 

The mark N of Josias Standish 

Nathaniel Bruster 

This list completes the twelve shares, and John Eddy, 
''if he com according to Compacicion," makes thirteen; and as 

'Supreme Jud. Court Files, No. 4974. This paper was probably drawn up in 
Duxbury, as Thomas Bonney and Nathaniel Brewster, the two witnesses, were resi- 
dents of that town, unless they came to the island on a prospecting tour at that time. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

he did settle here soon after, it raised the shares to that number. 
The "lott for the mill" seems never to have come into the 
subsequent transaction of the proprietors, as far as the writer 
is aware, and may be dismissed from further consideration. 
The number of proprietors' shares was soon increased to sixteen, 
at which number it stood in 1673,^ although in 1685 Pabodie 
sold ''one whole share or lot of land or fifteenth part" of the 
Takemmy purchase to Henry Luce."^ 


We are now brought to the time and event, elsewhere 
described, when the elder Mayhew was summoned to New 
York by Governor Lovelace to arrange for the future govern- 
ment of the Vineyard. This was in July, 1671, and as one of 
the results of that journey he procured a to^vn charter for the 
territory lately purchased in Takemmy. For this new settle- 
ment commonly called Middletown, he recommended to Love- 
lace that it be called Tisbury, in honor of the little Wiltshire 
parish where he was born and baptised, and whose green lanes 
and rolling downs filled his recollections as he was called upon 
to suggest a proper name for the infant town raised up under 
his assistance. The original charter of incorporation is still 
in existence among the archives of the town, the only one of 
the three that has survived the two and a third centuries inter- 
vening, and it is a in fair state of preservation, minus the wax 

Under its terms the new town of Tisbury was accorded 
identical privileges, and the same requirements as to govern- 
ment were imposed as those given to Edgartown. As in the 
case of the other places incorporated at the same time the 
quit rent was tw^o barrels of cod fish payable in New York.* 

The inclusion of the West Chop or Homes Hole Neck 
in the town limits of Tisbury was a matter of subsequent ar- 
rangement, as will be seen when we deal with that precinct. 
It was not considered a part of the original corporate town. 

'Deeds, II, 306. 

'Deeds, I, 173. 

^Printed in full in the volume of Town Records, v-vi. 

^The present seal of Tisbury bearing representations of two barrels and codfish 
is an oflScial recognition of this ancient tribute, on which our existence as a town de- 


Annals of West Tisbury 


Within the few years succeeding the purchase and the 
incorporation, the original and admitted proprietors' shares were 
divided and bounded. How they were assigned is not known, 
as no ]*ecord remains touching this point, but the territory 
bordering on the Old Mill river, north from the Tyasquin, 
was selected for the location of the "home lots," and these 
were declared to be limited to forty acres each, measuring forty 
rods on the brook and "eaight skore polls" in length, east and 
west. This forty acres represented one share and twenty acres 
half a share. The location of these original lots is shown on 
the map accompanying this, to which reference should be made 
for a more particular representation. It will be seen that most 
of the lots were on the west side of the brook where all the 
prominent shareholders located, which seems to indicate that 
the selections made were by mutual consent rather than by lot. 
The only important exception is the location of Simon Athearn 
on the east side, without any near neighbor, a lot which he had 
occupied before 1672. 


The proprietors of Tisbury were now in possession of all 
the present bounds of West Tisbury, except the Christian 
town and the meadows or necks eastward of Tississa to the 
bounds of Edgartown and to the south of the Mill path. The 
original purchases had taken in Great Neck, Little Neck and 
"the neck by John Eddys," leaving Tississa in dispute. The 
townsmen determined to acquire these valuable meadows and 
necks eastward to the bounds of Edgartown, and empowered 
James Allen and John Eddy to effect a purchase from the 
Indians. On Dec. 24, 1681, they bought of John Papameck a 
tract as follows: — 

a certain neck of land lying within the sachemship of Takemmy, 
commonly called Mussoowonkwhonk, being next to Sekonquit eastward: 
and bounded by the uppermost end of the west cove of water: and from 
thence upon a square line to the vally which runs from the east cove of 

water: and from thence hy the said east cove of water unto the sea 

for the use and benefit of the EngHsh town.' 

This was the neck between Long Cove and Pasqunahom- 
mons Cove. The next purchase was made of Josias the Sachem 

'Deeds, I, 129. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

on Jan. 6, 1681-2, and included Scrubby Neck and the western 
half of Watcha as far as he controlled, as follows: — 

a certain neck of land lying in the town of Tisbury and commonly 
called Wachekemmihpickquah Neck bounded with water eastward and 
westward: the northern bounds to begin at the line which bounds the 
land late sold by John Papameck to said Allen and Eddy: from thence 
it is to run on a straight Hne to the northern end of the swamp at the end 
of a cove which parts the said neck from a neck of land called Washusade.'" 

It was not until two years after that the remaining neck, 
Seconquit or Charles', was acquired. On March 29, 1683, 
Josias with the consent of some "parties concerned," local 
native magnates, sold to the townsmen this neck, which was 
thus described: — 

a certain Neck of land called Seconquet, known to the English by 
the name of Charles his Neck: bounded Westerly by a cove of water and 
by the Deep Bottom unto the highway: and Easterly by a cove of water 
called Seconquet: and from said cove upon a straight line unto the afore- 
said highway.^ 


This property lay in common for several years until Oct. 
19, 1687, when it was "agreed and voted by the town that 
the neck of land called Charles is neck shall be devided and 
eatch mans proportion shall be layed out as allso the medoe 
one the above said neck of land and the two next neckes ajoyning 
eastward from said neck."^ But there w^as trouble and delay 
when this proposal was undertaken. There were Indians who 
claimed rights on these necks which had not been satisfied by 
the purchase from their Sachem, and the town left the matter 
in abeyance for five years, when it passed, on Feb. 2, 1692, 
the following vote:— 

Voted that James Allen & peter Robinson are chosen and impowered 
by the town of tisbury to goe and discors the Indians Steeven and Joseph 
Skeetup & theire company who have dwelt in Seconquit & the necks 
agasint And to a gree with said Indians so that the said Indians do quit 
Claim of said necks To the town of tisbury And yeld peasable possesion 
to the English as Reasonable as thay cann: to be understood to agree 
with Steven Joseph Skeetup sam nahommon & Joseph potobppan as 
Reasonable as thay Cann.* 

It is evident that the results of the "discors" with the 
Indians was not productive of satisfactory results, for on July 

'Deeds, I, 271. 
nbid., I, 271. 
^Town Records, 5. 
*Ibid., 23. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

15, 1693, the town took the following action looking to a legal 
defence of its rights in these necks: — 

that peter robinson and John Manter be constituted and apoynted 
this towns Atorneys to use theire cuning in defending this towns right 
of the medow gras and hay on Seconquit, peanaskenamset and mossoonk- 
honk effetully to prevent any Indian or Indians directly or indirectly to 
have any improvement by Confedryce or otherwise for the space of three 
years: now from this day above mentioned having to themselves all the 
mowing grass and hay on the premisses for the term of three years afore 
said upon Condition that peter robinson and John manter doth make 
use of the law also for the defence of the premisses as the caus may require 
from time to time untill three yeares be expired."^ 

Ten years had now elapsed since the completion of the 
purchase of these necks, and from the deliberate manner in 
which the proprietors proceeded we may infer that they had 
entered upon the slow process of "freezing out" the red men 
by the aid of time. 

The following is a record of the more important of the 
divisions of the common lands in the town prior to the Revo- 
lution : — 

Kepegon Lots, (resurveyed) 

Pine Hill Lots 
Charles Neck 
South of the Mill Path . 

do do do to Watsha 

Additional Purchase (31 Jan., 167 1) 
Between Indian Town and Homes Hole Road 

15 March, 1699 
27 Feb., 1700 
15 March, 1700 
23 Feb., 1702 
4 April, 1707 

14 August, 1 7 19 

15 May, 1738 
6 Feb., 1750 

22 Feb., 1750-51 

The last division of the properietors' "common lands" 
was made in in 1836. 


It will be interesting at this point in the story to learn 
something of the Old Tisbury from which our town derived 
its name. >In 1898 the author, while on a visit to England, 
made a special journey to the old parish and spent two days 
there as sruest of the vicar, the Rev. F. E. Hutchinson. While 
thus so favorably situated much was open to him to see and 
learn about the ancient places that were in existence in May- 
hew's time. The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, 
is the central object in the parish, and is a venerable and curious 

'Town Records, 25. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

structure, probably six or seven hundred years old, showing in 
its cruciform design a composite style of architecture marking 
the changes and enlargements which have taken place in all 
these centuries. The present Vicar has extended and decorated 
the chancel during his incumbency. The illustrations which 
accompany this text show exterior and interior views of the 
church, and afford a much better description than can be 
conveyed by words of the character and appearance of the 
building. It still retains on its inner walls those mural orna- 
ments and devices originally placed there when the church 
was erected and used in the worship of the Romish ritual^ 
before the Reformation. The old stone font, many hundred 
years old, at which Thomas Mayhew was baptised still stands 
just within the west porch. Oaken arches, supported by 
grotesque figures which overhang the nave like gargoyles, tell 
of the antiquity of the building. On one is carved : IN THE 

The name Tisbury is variously spelled in the ancient 
records: Tisselbury, Tisselburie, Tysbery, Tissbury and Tis- 
burie.^ In the Domes Day Book of William the Conqueror 
it is called Tisseburie. At that time it had forty ploughlands, 
forty villagers and fifty borderers who occupied twenty-five 
ploughlands. It had four mills which were taxed then ; show- 
ing the early establishment of its industries, remains of the 
foundations of which are still extant. These mills were run 
by water power obtained from a pretty stream, somewhat 
larger than our own "Old Mill Brook," which flows through 
the town and is called the Noddre or Nadder. By the time 
of Henry III Tisbury had been erected into a manor and 
the grant of it in capite of the King was held by the Abbesses 
of Shaftesbury. This continued until the dissolution of the 
religious houses in England at the Reformation and the last 
Abbess surrendered it to Henry VIII. This famous king, 
in 1540, granted the manor to Sir Thomas Arundel, Knight, 
who held it until his attainder, when it reverted to the 
crown. King James the First, in 1608, restored it to the 
grandson of Sir Thomas, who was also Thomas, and made 

'The Vicar is of the opinion that it was originally Teazelbury, so called because 
it was a place where woolen cloth was manufactured, and the use of the teazel in the 
process of raising the nap gave it a name. 





Annals of West Tisbury 

him Lord Arundel of Wardour, by which title and in whose 
family the lordship of the manor still remains. Within its 
ancient bounds is the famous ruin of Wardour Castle so 
gloriously defended by Lady Blanche Arundel during the 
Civil War. Nearby is the new castle occupied by the present 
Lord Wardour, who by the way, still retains the faith of his 
family, the Roman Catholic, held by them for generations. 

Tisbury is situated in a beautiful garden spot, a rolling 
country, the South Downs of England, noted for the splendid 
sheep raised in that section. It is probable that the early 
practice of raising sheep on our island was brought here 
through Governor Mayhew, who had been familiar with the 
herds that grazed on the hills of his native county and had 
supplied for ages the people of England with wool and mutton. 

In 1886 the population was 2,445, ^^^ ^he present number 
would not differ much from that. The people are chiefly 
occupied in agriculture. 

Ancient Landmarks, 
algonquian place names. 

Animtissewokset. — In 1679 Josias the sachem sold to 
William Rogers twenty acres at a "place called in Indian 
animtissewokset" in North Tisbury (Deeds, III, 288). 

In March, 17 16-17, there was a suit in ejectment brought 
by the Indians against Ebenezer Rogers, his son, and the 
tract is thus described: "a certain piece or parcel of land 

containing twenty acres at a place caled by the Indians 

A-nimte-sawohqussuk and is bounded on the South west and 
North west by the fields of Issac Ompany & Job Soomannau, 
Ned Chamick and is the land whereon the said Ebenezer 
Rogerses dwelling house standeth" (Court Records). The 
derivation is probably from anim-tisashg-auk-es-et, meaning, 
"at the bad mowing place." There is another possible source, 
which would include the words, sawoh and qussuck, meaning, 
"scattered rocks," which is quite descriptive of that locality 
so prolific in bowlders left on the surface during the ice age. 

Aushoepin. — This is the name of a cove near the lower 
part of Watcha neck, and Aushoepin Cove and Aushoepin 
Neck are mentioned in deeds as early as 1 748 (Dukes Deeds, 
VIII, 57). In 1782 it was called Aushaven Cove (Ibid., XI, 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Brandy Brow. — This bluff of the bibulous name was a 
part of the James Skiff home lot. How it came by the ap- 
pellation of Brandy Brow is not known. It is said a dram 
shop was once located there. From James Skiff it passed 
into the possession of Nathaniel Wing and then to William 
Parslow (1686), James Allen (1695), John Eddy (1696), 
and Robert Cathcart (1696).* 

The last named died intestate and it passed to heirs, 
of whom Miriam^ m. Whitten^ Manter, whose son Robert* 
Manter came into possession. On July 3, 1765, Robert 
Manter and wife Elizabeth sold to Joseph Daggett, of Edgar- 
town, for ;^73-6-8, "a certain tract of land & buildings 
whereon I now dwell in Tisbury afores'd Bounded as followeth: 
on the south by land Belonging to Gershom Cathcart, on the 
west and north By the highway; on the east by the road 
Leading from the highway to the house of Benjamin Manter, 
Esq." (Deeds, IX, 449). 

On August 10, 1780, Prince Pease (who had m. Hepzibah 
the dau. of Joseph Daggett, heir to this part of her father's 
estate) of Edgartown sold to Cornelius Norton, husbandman 
of Tisbury for £t,6, "a, certain Dwelling House Situate in Tis- 
bury, being the house that was formerly Joseph Daggets 
together with a piece of land whereon the house stands con- 
taining one acre" (Deeds, XI, 173). Cornelius Norton 
retained possession till his death. He was found dead in 
bed March 26, 1809. He was succeeded by his son Cornelius, 
Jr., who in turn was followed by his daughters Damaris (n. 
cm.) and Lydia. A ruined house on this bluff was a picturesque 
landmark until very recent years. 

Cedar Tree Neck. — See Squemmechchue. 

Charles^ Neck. — Probably so called from one Amos 
Charles, an Indian of Tisbury, who may have lived there 
(Indian Converts, 156). It was known by that name in 1681 
and its Indian designation was Seconquit. 

Commaquatom. — This was a '' Little pond by the 

Sound" in the northwest corner of Christian town (Cong. 
Lib. Mss., 1737-8). Josias, the Sachem, sold to Ebenezer 
Rogers, April 15, 1698, a tract of 150 acres, bounded westerly 
by Kiphigon lots, north by the Sound, easterly by the east end 
of a "little pond called Com-a-quaton by the Sound" (Deeds, 
III, 293). In 1738 certain Indians sold to Ebenezer Rogers 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 39, 51, 236, 200. 

Annals of West Tisbury 

150 acres, bounded west by Kiphigon Lots, north by the Sound, 
east by the east end of a little pond called Commoquaton by 
the Sound (Deeds, VI, 240). 

Coskenachasoo. — (1669.) Mentioned in a deed of sale 
to William Pabodie and his partners, to include "all the land 
or neckes westerly to Coskenachasooway " (Dukes Deeds, 
I, 2)^). This word is a compound term formed of Coskenuk- 
chice-issu, meaning "he is a stooping or staggering old man," 
and the way probably referred to a path leading to the wigwam 
of some old chief or head man living on or near the bounds 
of Chilmark and Tisbury, which became the bounds of Pa- 
bodie 's purchase. 

Duck Pond. — Jonathan Lambert sold to Samuel Luce, 
in 1722, a tract of land in Tisbury, bounded north by Duck 
pond, which lies eastwardly from the now dwelling house 
of widow Desire Luce, extending from the middle of said 
pond till it meets with the eastern corner bounds of the Indian 
town or "Onkokemeh" (Deeds, V, 102). 

Erashog. — This is the name of a creek, which is the 
outlet of Great James pond. "So far as Chickamoot goes 
viz: to the bounds selected for Weachpoquasset which is 
close to the Crick caled heren Crick or Erashog Crick, just 
above high water mark, which is the bounds between the 
Christiantown and Checemoot" (Deeds, IV, 208). Erashog 
is the Indian word for herring, and describes this creek, which 
has for years been used for herring fishery. 

Maanette. — (1699.) "A place called Maanette," form- 
ing the south bounds of Christian town (Sup. Jud. Court 
files, 72,789). This is perhaps the same as Maanexit, an 
Indian village in Connecticut (Trumbull, Indian Names in 
Conn., 28), which alludes to the establishment of a community 
of Christian Indians, and is defined "where there is a gathering 
togetheL" This locality being in Christian town the meaning 
is applicable. 

Mack-kon-net-chas-qua. — Included in the bounds of 
Christian town (1699) "and so the South bounds running 
westerly Mackkonnetchasqua including the field where my 
uncle (Pa)pamick dwelt and dyed" (Sup. Jud. Court files, 
72,789). In a deed, Josias to Isaac Chase, 1682, the land is 
bounded to the northeast corner of a pond lying in the woods 
commonly called Mokonnichashquat (Deeds, I, 281). Another 


History of Martha*s Vineyard 

reading (1694) is Moconitcashtque (Ibid., I, 248). The 
meaning of it is "a plain field of grass" or "grassy field." 

Manaquayak. — A pond in Tisbury, called sometimes 
"Old House Pond." In 1699 it was in a description of the 
bounds of Christian town, "a little eastward of a pond called 
Nanaquayak" (Sup, Jud. Court files, 72,789; comp. Dukes 
Deeds, I, 357). This word is from Nan-nau-wiy-ack, signify- 
ing a "safe or secure place." The pond or the surrounding 
region was held as a secure place for canoes, or else there was 
located an Indian stockade close to its shores, to which they 
could safely retreat. The terminal in its usual signification, 
(aki, auke, age) means "land" and the preference would 
be given to the allusion to the stockade. 

Mattapaquattonooke. — (1669.) In the region of Christian 
town and part of its bounds, being a pond called Mattapa- 
quattonooke (Sup. Jud. Court files, 72,789). There is a small 
pond just easterly of Obed Daggett's farm at Cedar Tree 
neck now called Mattaqua, which is probably an abbreviated 
form of this name. This name originally belonged to the 
tract of land adjoining, and not to the pond itself. Mat-ta- 
pau-quet-tah-hun-auke means "bad, broken up land," i. e. 
land that had been once planted or dug over. In a report 
of a Committee of the General Court, relative to the bounds 
of Christian town, the name Mattapaquaha occurs (1709). 
Ebenezer Rogers sold to John Lewis, blacksmith, 25 acres, 
part of the land sold to Rogers by Josias, and mentions "a 

little pond known by the name of Mattapaquaton 

(Deeds, VI, 314), and there is a similar reference to Matta- 
paquaton, "a little pond" in 1744 (VII, 285), 

Monawquete. — "A place called by the Indians Monaw- 
quete being at the Easternmost end of that Great Pond called 
Taukemey Pond," according to a description in 1735, probably 
refers to the lower end of Peanaskenamset. It means the 
"fertilized land," in allusion to the fact that it had been 
artificially enriched by the whites. 

Moohoufs Neck. — This is probably a name derived 
from an Indian of the place. Samuel Manter sold a tract 
of land at the North shore in 1740 called "Moohow's Neck" 
bounded southeast by Great James pond (Deeds, VII, 400). 
It is written Moohoe's Neck and there was a Little Moohoe's 
Neck, both being "within the bounds of a deed that Experience 


Annals of West Tisbury 

Luce had of Samuel Cobb and Samuel Manter, being to the 
N. E. of sd Luces bounds" (Ibid., VIII, 84). 

Mossoowonkwonk (alias Mossoonkhonk, Mossoounkwonk, 
Mussoo-onk-sumkeh). — This is the neck now known as 
Scrubby neck, and is referred to as such in deeds (II, 244, 
317; III, 105, 130). An alias in the Indian tongue was 
Peanaskenamset (Ibid., II, 245), and another was Wache- 
pemepquah (Ibid.). 

Nepissa. — This is a pond at the north shore. In 1699 
it made the northwest bound mark of Christian town, "a 
pond at the north shore called Pissa," (Sup. Jud. Court files, 
72,789). This is the contracted form of the word, and in that 
form gives no indication of its meaning. In the report of the 
Committee on the Indian Lands in Christian town, in 1762, 
the full orthography appears, "the Pond called Nepisse" 
(Records, General Court, XXIV, appendix). It means "a 
little pond," — isse being the diminutive form of the locative 
■case, the same as -es, in some names. Literally it is "the 
little water place." In the testimony of some Indians in 1714, 
relative to the meeting of the Indians when Josias gave the 
Praying Indians the "mile square," for a town, it is stated 
that "all agreed that Wonamonhoot should have all the land 
to the westward of a place called Neppessieh." Another 
form given in 171 7 was Neppessoo (Sup. Jud. Court files, 

Newtown. — The name applied generally to the settle- 
ment in Tisbury in distinction to Old Town at the east end 
of the Vineyard. It is more particularly applied to North 
Tisbury and occurs as early as 1750 (Newman, Mss. Account 
Book, p. 82). 

Nittowouhtohquay . — ■ In the record of the landed posses- 
sions of Simon Athearn (1672) is the following entry: "fifteen 
acres "which lyeth at the turn of the brook on the north side 
of the brook, which land is caled in Indian Nittowouhtohquay, 
& is bounded by the old mill river on the south side & a 
small run of water on the west" (Deeds, I, 306). In 1701 
James Allen sold to Simon Athearn a parcel of land "near 
to a place called Nictowouhtoquoh by Wampache" (Ibid., I, 
324). This land is near the present farm and mill of R. W. 
Crocker in North Tisbury, The meaning of the word is 
"land sought for use," in allusion to the desire of the Pro- 
prietors to extend their purchase to cover the territory to the 
east of their post line. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Nohcouwohwoothuktack. — This is by far the longest 
place name on the Vineyard, and is used to describe certain 
land on the north shore sold Dec. 9, 1703, by Josias the Sachem 
to Experience Luce (Deeds, III, 19). It is a boundary desig- 
nation, signifying "the right hand understood tree," in allusion 
to some boundary mark. 

Onkakemniy. — This was a pond described as ''on the 
East side of the Indian town between the Indian line and 
the line of this town" (Town Records, 1711), at a place now 
called Okokame, or Christian Town" (Indian Converts). 
"At Ohkonkemme, within the bounds of Tisbury" (Report, 
Commissioners of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, 
1698. Variations of this name are Onkkokemmo, Uncakem- 
mo. It is derived from Ong-kone-amaug, which is defined 
as "beyond the fishing place," and refers probably to Ashap- 
paquonset, as the great fishing station of the Indians on the 
North shore. Uncacame is a form existing in 1745 (Deeds, 
VIII, 71). 

Papamek^s Field. — This is a tract of land, which is now 
represented by a portion of the farm of R. W. Crocker, Esq., 
on the north side of the road leading to the North Shore. 
It was referred to in ancient documents as the field where 
Papameck planted and where he died. 

Paul's Point. — This was probably named for "Old 
Paul," one of the pious Indians of Christian town, who died 
about 1676 (Indian Converts, p. 131). 

It is mentioned in a deed of 1730 (VI, 303), and again 
in 1738 Ebenezer Rogers and others convey land at Paul's 
Point, bounded west by the Indian line; then east to the 
brick kiln, or run of water. The grantee was Experience 
Luce (VII, 400). 

Peanaskenamset. — This was the Indian name for Scrubby 
Neck (Deeds, II, 245). In the proper orthography it should 
be Uppeanashkonameset. (See under Scrubby Neck.) 

Pepekonnoh. — This was a small pond on Scrubby Neck. 
In 1 71 5 Samuel Nahommon sold to David Paul (Indian), a 
tract of land on Scrubby Neck, and on the "westward side 
of neck, bounded southerly by the beach, westerly by Ta- 
kemmy pond, easterly by the beach, untill it meeteth with a 
small pond caled pepekonnoh" (Deeds, III, 109). 

Seconquet. — This was a neck of land "known to the 
English by the name of Charls his neck," as recited in a deed 


Annals of West Tisbury 

(Vol. I, 271). In the town records under date of 1707, Secon- 
quet, alias Charles' neck, is mentioned and the " thumb " was 
included as part of this neck (p. 42). The meaning of this 
is "at the mouth of a stream," or *' emptying out," of which 
variations in the Delaware dialect are Sakunit, Sacunk and 

Seekaquatwaupog. — This is the pond between Charles' 
Neck and Scrubby Neck, and while the word means ''the 
spoiled, deserted or broken-up spring," the word was used in 
connection with the cove that extends up between the necks 
in 1735- 

Squemmechchue. — This was the name for Cedar Tree 
Neck, as appears in a deposition of Jonathan Luce, made in 
1 718, and this date is the earliest mention of the name Cedar 
Tree Neck (Sup. Jud. Court Mss., 24,769). It is derived 
from M'squ-mechch-auke, meaning "the red fruit land." 
This may refer to the cranberry, or some similar fruit or vege- 
table food. 

Tahkenshahakket. — This was the name of a small neck 
of land "lying within" Scrubby Neck, on the southern side, 
"near or next the fence of Robert Cathcart" (Deeds, II, 60, 

Tequanoman^ s Neck. — In June, 1692, this is referred to 
in a document as "on the south side of the Island" (Mass. 
Arch., CXII, 422). It is there spelled Tickanoman. It also 
is referred to in the charter of Edgartown, dated July 8, 1671, 
as the southwest bound mark of that town. It was probably 
Watcha Neck. 

Tiasquin. — This early Indian name for the New Mill 
river is of uncertain origin. This stream was crossed by a 
bridge, probably constructed by the settlers soon after their 
occupation, and it is referred to often, as in 1664, a deed from 
the Sachem Pamehannet to Thomas Mayhew, recites certain 
bounds as "from the bridge of the river called Tyasquan" 
(Deeds, I, 83). The Algonquian word Tooskeonk, means a 
fording place, ford or bridge, and while it may be accidental 
yet it can be the source of this name — the ford or bridge 
river. Another possible origin is Tisashg-om-(uck), "where 
we go to cut grass," meaning the meadows along the lower 
parts of this stream. 

Tississa. — This was a neck of land lying between 
"Tyers" cove and Deep Bottom cove, and was generally 


History of Martha*s Vineyard 

known in the records as ''Copeck alias Tississa" (Dukes 
Deeds, I, 301). It was purchased by Simon Athearn of the 
Indians in 1674, without the formal approval of Thomas 
Mayhew, and became in consequence a source of prolonged 
litigation (Deeds, I, 305). The meaning of Tississa is not 
known, but Copeck is a compound of two words, Kuppi-ack, 
signifying " land or a place shut in," being from the same root 
as Cap-o-ack. The modern abbreviation of the neck is 
"Sissa." John Manter sold land on Tississa, "in the Point 
called Sepiessa, alias Manter's Point," bounded east by Deep 
Bottom pond and on the west by Copeck, Sept. 17, 1736 
(Deeds, VI, 137). 

Wampache. — Josias the Sachem sold to Simon Athearn 
certain land "neer to Simon Athearns house and land at 
Wampache" in Tisbury, the land being Josias' "planting 
feild for many years," November 18, 1685 (Deeds, I, 29Q). 
James Allen sold to Simon Athearn in 1702, "a little parcel 
of land near to a place called Nictowouhtoquoh by Wampache, " 
with "liberty to dig earth to use to dam the water and drown 
the swamps there" (Ibid., I, 324). This is believed to be in 
North Tisbury at or near the site of Mr. R. W. Crocker's mill, 
where in early days a mill formerly stood. 

In the Massachusetts dialect Wompasg, or Wompasket, 
means a marsh, swamp or bog, a definition which seems to 
apply to the locality conveyed in the last-named deed. Another 
later form is Wampatchey, 1735 (VI, 23-4). 

Waskosim's Rock. — This is the well-known landmark, 
now as of old forming one of the boundaries between Tisbury 
and Chilmark, It is first mentioned in the town records 
under date of Feb. 9, 1681-2, as "a place called Wasqusims," 
and again in 1702 as "Waskosims" (pp. 10, 274). It may 
have obtained its name from some Indian who had a wigwam 
in that vicinity. 

Wechekemmipihquiah or Wechepemepquah. — This was 
one of the Indian names of Scrubby Neck, known also as 
Pasquanahomman's Neck, one of the planting fields of the 
Indians before the advent of the white settlers. The meaning 
of this word is "cornfield," from Wachimin, corn, and pequ- 
auke, clear place, or field. This is mentioned in a deed dated 
1700 (Dukes Deeds, I, 46), under that designation, but it has 
had several aboriginal titles. It is mentioned in the town 
records, under date of 1700 (p. 35), as Pasqunahammans 


Annals of West Tisbury 

Neck, and later (1743) it had been shortened to Nahamons, 
and at the present day it is curtailed to Homers, and the name 
is given to the adjoining pond. Another alias was Mossoo- 
wonkwonk (Mossoonkhonk, Mosoounkwonk, Mussoo-onk- 
sumkeh), as recorded in the County books (Deeds, II, 317, 
244; III, 105, 130). Another alias was Peanaskenamset 
(Deeds, II, 245), occurring in 1693. I^ its full form this 
should be written as Uppeanashkonameset, meaning "a place 
where flags grow," or literally, "at the covering-mat place," 
designating a low marshy spot where the cat-tail flag (Typha 
Latifolia) grows in abundance. This plant was used by the 
natives for covering their wigwams, in making mats, baskets 
and such like articles, while the down which surrounds the 
fruit was used for the filling of cushions for the head. The 
same name designates other Indian localities in New England. 
Mossoonkhonk (1693): a field in Tisbury where meadow 
grass was cut and which became the subject of a dispute with 
the Indians as to proprietorship. Mos-soon-khonk, means 
"that which is sheared, or made bare" hence "a mowing 

Weechpoquassitt. — This name is commonly written and 
spoken Eachpoquassit. It is a boundary designation, probably, 
as the word means, "as far the opening out," from Wekshe- 
^'as far as, or extending to," and pocasset, "the open out or 
widening." Weechpoquasset was the natural boundary line 
between the sachemships of Takemmy and Nunnepoag, at 
that part of the island. It was also the west bound of Chick- 



^ A yfpj The only one of the original 

\p^'''^^'^/y/ZSyi^-> purchasing proprietors of this town 

who remained as a settler, except 
James Skiffe, was James Allen, the progenitor of the Vineyard 
Aliens now scattered over this land from Maine to California. 
He was the son of Samuel Allen of Braintree and Anne his 
wife, and was probably born in that town in 1636, the year 
after his father was made a freeman. Of his early years we 
have no knowledge, as the records of Braintree and Suffolk 
county are entirely silent about him, and it is more than likely 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

that, after 1657, when he became of age, he may have removed 
to some other town in the colony. His sister Sarah married 
Lieut. Josiah Standish of Bridgewater about this time, and 
possibly he might be found in that town where his brother 
Samuel lived, or in that vicinity. About 1662 James Allen 
married, his wife's name according to family tradition being 
Elizabeth Perkins, who was born about 1644, and therefore 
eight years his junior.^ It is believed that about this year he 
removed to Sandwich, Cape Cod, where the births of three 
children known to be his are recorded, 1663 to 1667, and where 
he probably formed his personal and business connection 
with James Skiffe of the same town.^ In the summer of 1668 
he was here making the preliminary arrangements with his 
partners and Mayhew about the purchase of Takemm.y, and 
in the summer of 1669 the bargain with the Indians was 
consummated. His coming here is almost coincident with the 
death of his father, which occurred in Brain tree in 1669, where 
he had been town clerk for many years. ^ By his will, dated 
Sept. 16, 1669, Samuel Allen bequeathed to his son James 
five pounds to be paid ''within three years after my decease," 
and to his "sonn in Law Josiah Standish" he devised double 
that amount. James Allen's settlement here can be assigned 
fairly to that year, as no more births of children are recorded 
in Sandwich. From this time on for forty-five years he was 
the leading spirit in the towns of Tisbury and Chilmark, and 
one of the largest land holders. At one time or another he 
owned seven of the original home lots on the west side of 
Old Mill brook, besides all the dividends accruing to them, 
and there are no less than thirty conveyances from him recorded 
on the county land records. The first home lot drawn by him 
is thus described: — 

Thes are the Lands of James allin Lieng In the tounship of tisbury 
one Lot containing forty 8 ackers bounded on the south by nathannil 
skiffs Lot and on the north by Jaremiah whittons Lot Lieng in bredeth 
forty 8 pols by the reiver and runeth westward from the reiver 8 skore 
pols in lenght with one Lot in the gret neck bounded on the est by the 
middel of the watar which partth the neck and on the west by goodman 

'The printed Perkins genealogies fail to mention any Elizabeth Perkins suitable 
to correspond with the above facts. 

^James Allen's sister Abigail married John Cary and lived in Bridgewater and 
later in Taunton. Benjamin, son of James, preached in Bridgewater after his gradu- 
ation from Yale. 

'James Allen signed as witness to a deed in Sandwich, Nov. 13, 1669 (Plymo. 
Col. Deeds, III, 163). 


Annals of West Tisbury 

of with a sixtenth part of all undevided Lands and Meddo to the 

said town the devided Lands being more or les as thay are Laid out 

This is the [Record] of the Landes and inharitanc of [James Allen] 
in the town of tisbury' 

Tliis land, wliich is now tlie property of Everett Allen 
Davis, Esq., was doubtless the location of his residence for 
twenty years until his removal to Chilmark. He sold it in 
1692 to John Pease, Jr., of Edgartown, whose heirs deeded 
it to Gershom Cathcart in 1723, and it remained many years 
in the possession of the latter's descendants.^ When he 
removed to Chilmark is not definitely known. He began his 
purchases of the large estate he finally owned there early in 
February, 1677-8, a tract bounded south by the pond, and 
he is called ''of Tisbury." In 1686, when making another 
purchase, he is called "of Nashowakemmuck," and this may 
be the probable date of his change of residence.^ 

His estate or home farm amounted to about 250 acres, 
by successive purchases, and this he gave to two of his sons 
before his death. Ebenezer received one half of the entire 
property in 1698, to be available after the decease of his father 
and mother,^ and Samuel received the Keephiggon lot in 1705 
near the Tisbury line.^ Ichabod had acquired large holdings 
in Chickemmoo and John and Joseph were probably provided 
for, through their mother's inheritance. Benjamin was the 
youngest son and not of age till just before his father's death. 
This probably accounts for the absence of a will or adminis- 
tration on such a large and valuable estate — these ante- 
mortem transfers of property. 

His public services were characterized by quality and 
not quantity. In 1675 he was an Assistant under the Mayhew 
regime, equivalent to a justice on the bench. How long he 
held this is not known.** Besides this he held possibly one 
town ofiice and but one other county office during his long 
life. He was appointed on a committee ''to procure a new 
charter" for Tisbury in 1687 (a thing that was never done), 
and after the inclusion of the island in Massachusetts he was 
one of the first three justices of the peace.' He was recom- 

'Tisbury Records, 8. 

^Dukes Deeds, I, 155; III, 446, 509. 

'Ibid., I, 277; II, 277. 

nbid., II, 41. 

^Ibid., I, 299. 

«N. Y. Col. Mss., XXIV, 159. 

'Council Records, II, 207. He had served but once as a juryman in all his twenty 
years of residence up to this date, an unusual record. James Allen was Selectman of 
Chilmark in 1704, but it may have been his son. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

mended for his appointment by Simon Athearn, who stated 
that Allen was "reputed wealthy and having such Influence 
in the people there," and at the same time he advised that Allen 
be made captain of the military company/ It is evident that 
he had no taste for arms, as he had petitioned the court two 
years before on the subject, as appears by this record : — 

Whereas James Allin of Chilmark did apere before the Coart in 
order for a dismission from Irayning: The Coart hath granted him a 
dismission provided he doth apere in time of mustering: and doth help 


His standing in the community as stated by Athearn 
was that of a man of influence, wielding more power than 
if he had held a score of minor ofhces in the course of his life. 
Now he was in the most exalted one to which men in those 
days could aspire, a justice on the King's Bench, and in this 
capacity he served the people for at least six years at the 
Quarterly Sessions of the Peace. As the first one to hold any 
considerable office of honor or profit on the Vineyard since 
its settlement, not connected either by blood or marriage with 
the Mayhew family, Mr. Justice Allen had some distinction 
beside that of the position itself. 

In 1 701 he gave to the town of Tisbury its first "God's 
Acre" for the burial of the dead and as a location for the new 
meeting-house under contemplation, and within this enclosure 
lies his body marked with a well-preserved slate stone. His 
declining years were passed in Chilmark, where a large family 
of a dozen children were reared, married and half of them 
settled in homes of their own. All the daughters left the 
island, but seven sons have perpetuated the name of James 
Allen, their honored father and the parent of sons who main- 
tained his splendid reputation. 

He died July 25, 1714, aged 78 years, and his wife Eliza- 
beth survived till August 7, 1722, being of the same age at 
the date of her death. 


Nothing less than a 

separate chapter would 

^Trricn J^'^&aJt/yi^ enable the author to give 

an adequate portrayal of 
the strenuous life and fruitful career of this unique character 
among the early settlers of the Vineyard, Simon Athearn of 

*Mass. Archives, CXII, 424. 

'Dukes County Court Records, July 10, 1690. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

Tisbury. Amid the settings of a most peaceful and bucolic 
life he managed to stir up more contrary breezes than any 
man of his time, and was a continual thorn in the flesh of the 
ruling family on the island. It is a matter of regret that the 
author has not been able to ascertain his antecedents. Indeed, 
his name is unique, and nowhere has it been observed in the 
scores of volumes containing the records of English parishes; 
and a professional genealogist of London stated that he had 
never seen the name in his long experience. No other family 
of this name emigrated to New England in the 17th century, 
and as far as known he was the sole and first bearer of it in 
this country. It has been suggested that the name is of 
similar origin to Attwood, Att-water, Att-well, being originally 
Att-hern. Sewall spelled it Atturn in his Diary in 171 2. 

His gravestone at West Tisbury records the name Attharn 
and the only early English instance with a spelling approaching 
it — Atturn — occurring before 1600, seems to bear out this 
theory rather than the supposition of its identity with Atherton. 
It may be identical with Hathorn, now Hawthorne. But 
whatever the mystery attaching to his antecedents, and it 
covers as well his previous residence if any in this country 
before his appearance at the Vineyard, his subsequent life and 
doings after his settlement are an open book. 

If the record on his tombstone is correct he was born about 
1643, ^i^d the first mention of his name in the town records 
of Edgartown is under date of 1659, when he served on the 
jury. This presupposes an error somewhere; either on the 
gravestone or the Edgartown records, which are a transcript, 
not too carefully made, for he would have been at that date 
a minor sixteen years of age, and therefore ineligible for that 
duty. The occasion of his first appearance, however, on the 
record seems to be plausible as wtII as characteristic, for he 
spent most of the remainder of his career in court, as he had 
begun. He stated in a deposition that he was aged about 
56 years in 1698, which carries us back to 1642. It is the 
belief of the author that he came to this country as a boy in 
the employ of Nicholas Butler of Edgartown, who was a man 
of property, and kept a number of servants. According to 
tradition he selected his future wife as she was romping with 
her playmates near her father's house, having about her dolls 
and other childish evidences that her thoughts were far away 
from matrimony. The girl was Mary, daughter of John 
Butler, and according to Judge Sewell "his wife was not 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

fourteen when he married her." The young husband had 
probably taken up land at Tississa in the present limits of 
West Tisbury, by a purchase from the Indians before the settle- 
ment of Tisbury, contrary to the rights of Thomas Mayhew, 
the patentee, who had prohibited the purchase of Indian 
titles without his consent. Athearn thus began his long course 
of opposition to the Mayhews and their official control of 
affairs on the Vineyard. Out of this Tississa incident endless 
litigation arose. As soon as Peabody, Standish, Allen and 
Skiff e made their purchase in Tisbury Simon Athearn purchased 
a lot of land in 1670 and was admitted, May 20, 1671, as an 
associate proprietor. In 1672 his dwelling house was located 
on Great Neck on the east side of the Old Mill river on a lot 
of land comprising twenty acres. He also owned fifteen acres 
"at the turn of the brook" where the well-known Dr. Fisher 
mill property was afterwards developed. Here on his home 
lot were born to him and his wife nine children, all of whom 
married save one, and the sons maintained the high standing 
and distinction in Vineyard affairs that their father had set. 

When in 1671 Thomas Mayhew came back from New 
York with town charters for Edgartown and Tisbury, a mano- 
rial grant for Tisbury Manor, and a commission as governor for 
life, the spirit of Simon Athearn rose within him as he saw the 
destinies of the island confined to the personality of one man 
and the government of one family. He felt that there was 
no place in the Massachusetts system for governors for life. The 
details of the abortive rebellion against this undemocratic 
form of government have been elsewhere related, and it will 
only be necessary to explain the part played by Athearn. 
His growing estate, comprising his sole worldly possessions, 
constrained him after its failure to throw himself on the mercy 
of the legally established government, however distasteful it 
may have been to him personally, rather than to accept the 
full consequences of his act, and seek or be driven to a new 
home elsewhere. So he cleared himself as best he could, as 
appears by the following record: — 

At his Majesties court: held at Edgartown uppon Marthas Vineyard 

Jan: 8: 1674-5. 
Simon Athearn desiring by way of petition that whereas himself was by 
the Authoritie Reputed one of the Ringleaders in the late Resisting of the 
Govourment that being lead and induced thereunto by others the Govemour 
and Associates would so looke uppon him and Judge him accordingly and 
testified uppon oath that Thomas Burchard was a principall instigator of 
him whereby he was induced to act in the opposition of Authoritie. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

The Court fined him twenty-five pounds, one half to be 
paid "forthwith," five pounds and ten shilHngs in money 
and seven pounds in cattle or corn. And for speaking against 
the fine and sentence of William Vincent he was fined ten 
pounds, one half "forthwith" as above and the other half in 
produce. "And (the Court) doe take from him his freedom 
during the pleasure of the Court And doe revoke the former 
sentence against him of sending him to New Yorke." But 
Athearn, though defeated, was not conquered in spirit. 

"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." 

Before the year had expired we find him continuing agita- 
tion against the Mayhew government, as shown in a letter 
dated Oct. 8, 1675, addressed to Gov. Andros of New York. 
It is an interesting statement of the difficulties experienced 
by those not in the favor of the official circle, but is too long 
to be given in full. 

The death in 1682 of the aged Governor removed one 
cause of complaint on the part of Athearn against that feature 
of the government of the island, the life tenure of the chief 
magistrate, and though no change occurred in the tenure of 
the Mayhew family upon the offices of the island, yet it is 
evident that Athearn chose to accept the inevitable conditions 
and bide his time. The only change in the results of his ap- 
pearances in litigation after the decease of Gov. Mayhew as 
shown by the court records, is a series of decisions in which 
he is enabled to compromise or divide with his opponent. 
Prior to this they had all been adverse verdicts. But a new 
enemy soon appeared on the scene in the person of William 
Rogers, and he kept Athearn constantly before the court for 
two years. He charged him with stealing a cow the year 
previously and killing it privately. Athearn was non-suited. 
He sued him for slander and asked damages to the amount 
of fifty pounds. The jury returned a verdict of non-liquet. 
The next year he complained against him for stealing a black 
cow, but the charge was withdrawn. Athearn had evidently 
reached the limit of his patience, and proceeded to take the 
law into his own hands by personally chastising his persistent 
persecutor. Rogers forthwith complained against Athearn 
"for hailing or pulling sayd Rogers by the eres and caueling 
him sayd William Roge and thefe with other Skurvie words 
in court." The court found for the defendant, though the 
act took place in its presence. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

An amusing incident occurred at this time in which 
Athearn again figures as a defendant in an action for slander 
with damages claimed to the amount of ;^ioo. The plaintiff 
was Thomas Peat "Skoole master of Edgartown" and his 
declaration relating his grievance so dramatically sets forth 
the circumstances constituting the offence, that it were best 
told in his own language and it is here quoted: — 

The plaintiff stated that he was in the house of Richard 
Arey on the 14th of March, 1686-7, "teaching som of his skol- 
lers then in skoolle, when in came Simon Athearn, who asked 
the plaintiff to give him his dafter Marys Coppy book & sum 
Coppys the sayd playntiffe was Ready to pleasure the said 
defendant, but in the entrem" the defendant was writing in 
his daughter Mary's book "without the liberty and privity" 
of the schoolmaster. The defendant "tok a pen of one of 
the skollers and writ in a Coppy boock som Skandloues & 

slandrous words as may apere by a manniskript of the 

sayd defendant, which the sayd plaintiffe will produce 

in which the defendant undervalewed & disparraged the sayd 
plant : to his skollers, counseling them to forsak him. Render- 
ing him to be an Idell wasting person in the way of his caulling 
in the very Instant that the sayd playntiffe was bisied in the 
performance of his Douty in his Skoole, yet was the sayd 
defendant so Impudent before the sayd plantiffes face, Subtilly 
& fox like to Record the sayd Plaintiffes name in a mock 
verse in the skoole." 

The jury found "it a trespass for a man to com into a 
Skolle and take a pen of one of the Skollers in Skool & whrit 
in one of the Skollers books without the aprobation of the 
master of the Skoole," and the plaintiff was awarded twelve 
pence damages and costs of court. It is only to be regretted 
that the "mock verse" which Simon Athearn composed that 
day in his daughter Mary's "coppy boock" has not been 
preserved in order that we might enjoy a perusal of the lines 
which so incensed this pedagogue. 

Notwithstanding all these evidences of a litigious life 
Athearn retained the confidence of his neighbors. He was 
one of the committee of the town of Tisbury to lay out sixteen 
shares in the new purchase in 1675. He was chosen county 
commissioner in 1686; constable of Tisbury in 1687; assessor 
in 1692; commissioner for the town (for the trial of small 
cases) in 1693; selectman in 1695. Such a character as the 
subject of this sketch is not made of the material that enters 


Annals of West Tisbury 

into the composition of a popular man, and although easily 
the first citizen of Tisbury in his day in point of energy, 
progressive spirit and interest in the public welfare, yet viewed 
from the standpoint of office-holding his true dimensions are 

Athearn's possession of Tississa, which he purchased of 
the Indian Jude in 1674, and held without confirmation from 
the Lord Proprietor, or approval of the town, involved him in 
a long series of differences with his townsmen and litigation 
with a number of them on account of trespass, defamation of 
title and assaults. In 1678 he reached an agreement with the 
town, concerning this neck of land by the terms of which 
Athearn yielded his claim to the largest part of the neck, 
receiving ten pounds as a return for his purchase money, out 
of which he was required to pay two pounds for the portion 
that was confirmed to him. It appears, however, that the 
town failed to live up to the agreement, and he felt free to 
act accordingly. As the neck was declared to be common 
lands, x'\thearn proceeded to acquire the shares of others from 
time to time ; but this arrangement did not settle the contention 
and two years and a half later, at a town meeting, held on 
June 18, 1680, the following vote was passed: — ■ 

being a town mitting it was put to vott whare or no Simon Atharne 

shoulde have the necke of land that liath upon the pountes of the 

indian necke but the towne voted that the said simon Attharne should 
but have his share with the reste of the inhabitants and tendred the saide 
simon Attharne if hee youlde sine the dedes the yould pee him themony. 

Whatever the hitch in the negotiations depended upon, 
it appears that the town authorities undertook to dispose of 
this neck of land by grants in 1683, and Athearn caused his 
protest to be recorded in the town book. This was immedi- 
ately followed by the reciprocal protest of the townsmen 
against the entry of his caveat. He took this matter finally 
to the county court, and on June 22, 1684, the following 
record of the case appears: — 

Simon Athearn complaineth against the Constable and overseers of 
the Town of Tisbury for non-payment of certain monies due by contract 
about a neck of land caled Copeck alias tississa. 

Athearn finally acquired by one means or another the 
possession of the much-disputed neck. -^ 

A political change which followed several years after the 
death of the old Governor, the transfer by Matthew Mayhew 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

of his manorial rights as lord of the manor to Thomas Dongan 
by sale, was not to the satisfaction of Athearn, but he was 
helpless to prevent this situation and was obliged to await 
the adjustment of these difficulties till a more fortunate time. 
It was not far off and came unexpectedly. The accession of 
William III brought in a government which exercised less 
of the ancient prerogative and seemed to give expectation 
to Athearn that the rights of the people would be heard and 
considered and that the liberality of the Prince of Orange 
would be reflected in his Colonial representative in New 
York. So when Gov. Henry Slaughter, the new appointee, 
arrived in New York in March, 1691, he was scarcely seated in 
his new office before Athearn addressed him on the condition 
of affairs at the Vineyard. 

This letter is printed elsewhere (Vol. I, pp. 179-80), but 
it was not in this direction a change in the Athearn 's horizon 
was to occur. The procurement of the new charter for Massa- 
chusetts in 1 69 1 became the opportunity for Simon x'Vthearn 
to establish himself in new relations with the authorities of 
the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He wrote a letter of infor- 
mation and advice to Sir William Phipps and recommended 
some of his friends for local offices, and Sir William appointed 
one of them to the most important office on the island. If 
he had aspirations for official preferment himself the following 
recommendation from prominent residents of the Vineyard 
seems to show that he was a candidate for the bench. This 
testimonial with its curious phraseology, is worth printing 
in full:— 

Wee whose names under writen present our most humbel duty to 
your Excellency & your honnored Consesell & ar redy upon all demand 
or Command from your Exsellency to Sarve you with our Lives & fortine 
& pray for your exsellencys happines & prosperuty & for the happines 
& prosperity of your honoured Consell and we Count our sealfs happi 
that we are under the shaddow of your Exsellency & wee are willing to 
acquaint your Exsellency that wee were not willing to specke when the 
Gentlemen were here. Because that your Exsellencys orders might be 
setteled in Peease & quitnes now wee are willing to give your Exsellency 
an aCount of Mr. Simon Athearn we Looke upon him to be a well acom- 
pHsh man he is no drunkerd nor no Card player nor a man that freequint 
tavoms but wee doe know but he may have his feialing as well as other 
men: for estate: few or none upon our Hand goeth beyond him & for a 
Justes wee Looke upon him as fit a man as any here: so wishing & pray- 
ing for your Exsellencys happines & the god of paese Bles you with al 
Spritual Blessings & give you a hart after his owne hart that he may tack a 
delight in you to doe you goode & save you from all your enemies:: wee 


Annals of West Tisbury 

humbly beg your Exsellencys pardon in what is amisse in writing to your 
Exsellency & Remaine your most humbel & dutiful sarvants.* 

This interesting document was signed by Andrew New- 
comb, Joseph Norton, James Pease, Jacob Norton, John 
Butler, Thomas Norton, WilHam Vinson, Thomas WoUing, 
Thomas Butler, Isaac Norton, Benjamin Norton, Moses 
Cleaveland, John Pease and Thomas Vinson. It is to b 
noted that no member of the Mayhew family appended hi;, 
name to this testimonial. 

In the meantime the Mayhews had made their peace 
with the new regime, and Athearn failed in his aspirations. 
He had to swallow his feelings as he saw the same old officials 
reinstated in the Vineyard courts. Thereafter he devoted 
his time to an agitation in favor of consolidating Tisbury 
and Chilmark as one township, the details of which are else- 
where narrated. Although he was representative of Tis- 
bury at the General Court for several sessions he was unable 
to effect anything of personal advantage to himself or for the 
benefit of his town. In 1696-7 he was engaged in another 
litigation arising from alleged trespass on his property, and 
personal assaults which followed this. Voluminous papers in 
the case prepared by him detail the injustice he received at 
the hands of Richard Sarson and Matthew Mayhew, who 
imprisoned his son and refused to allow him an appeal to 
the superior court at Plymouth; Athearn states that he had 
been under indictment without trial for two years, on a charge 
of felony, and declared that there seemed to be no law by which 
the accused may be "discharged from such vexatious imprison- 
ment espetially when a father-in law and his two sons are the 
rulle in such Infeariour Court." 

It is thus that Athearn pays his respects to Richard Sarson 
and his stepsons Matthew and Thomas Mayhew. It is not 
possible to weigh the equities of this long controversy, but 
the recital of his grievances caused Gov. Stougton to address 
a letter to these justices, in which he "Signified" to them 
that Athearn should have the proceedings against him con- 
ducted "equal and agreeable to the Rules of Law and Justice, 
which is all that is expected." It must have been a strong 
case that induced the executive to interfere with a judicial 
proceeding. After the recital of all his experiences for so many 
years and the unfortunate results of his litigations, we may 

'Mass. Arch., CXII, 435. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

safely conclude that Athearn made a vital error in not effecting 
a matrimonial alliance with the Mayhew family. 

The remainder of his life, as far as external evidences 
warrant the conclusion, was devoted to the care of his estate 
and the enjoyment of the declining years of an active if not 
a politically fruitful life. In worldly possessions ''few or none 
'ipon our Iland goeth beyound him" as stated by his friends 
^,, 1692, and with extensive acres at Great Neck, Tississa, 
Charles' Neck, and scattering parcels of land in Chilmark, 
Edgartown and Tisbury, he doubtless found greater satisfaction 
than in the bootless campaigns he waged against the family 
that held sway over the island in his day and generation. 

On the several visits of Judge Sewall to the island in 
1702 and 1 712 he mentions dining with and meeting Mr. 
Athearn, and again in 1714 he notes in his diary under date 
of April 10: "ViewJd Watsha Neck all over, being conducted 
by Mr. Simon Athearn. " We thus have trace of him to within 
a year of his death. 

He had a family of nine children — four boys and five 
girls — growing up about him, of whom his eldest, Samuel, 
remaining a bachelor until after his father's death, inherited 
many of the pugnacious qualities of his famous parent. His 
daughter Sarah was the wife of his clergyman, the Rev. Josiah 
Torry. His second son, Jabez, destined to lead a distinguished 
life on the Vineyard, had contracted an advantageous alliance 
with Miss Catherine Belcher. His daughter Mary became 
the wife of Thomas Waldron, and before Simon Athearn paid 
the debt of nature his latter years were doubtless made happy 
by the coming of grandchildren to play on his knee. He 
had passed three score years and ten, and on the 20th day 
of February, 1 714-15, his earthly career was closed. The 
enumeration of his real and personal property disclosing, 
as it does, varied possessions of a man of wealth in that time, 
aggregating £1639, 14 shillings, 11 pence, equivalent at this 
time to about $50,000 is worth of the space required for its 
presentation. The items of tankard, cordial-cup and drinking- 
cup indicate that he maintained the hospitalities required of 
a country gentleman. Judge Samuel Sewell of Boston was a 
guest at his house in the spring of 1702, while on a journey 
to Gay Head, and doubtless sipped sack-posset from these 
same cups. 

Not the least of the attributes of this versatile and interest- 
ing character are the helps he has given to the historian of 


Annals of West Tisbury 

the Vineyard in his letters regarding affairs upon the Vineyard 
written during the period of his pohtical activities. They 
are the only documents extant dealing with the personal 
phases of that remote time, and the motives actuating the 
characters in the drama, as they appeared to him. To him also 
are we indebted for two manuscript maps of the island drawn 
before 1 700, and although crude in execution and sadly lackin§^ 
in typographical accuracy, yet they contain valuable informatic'^ 
nowhere else to be found. Facsimiles of various portions ot 
these maps appear in other portions of this work. 

In the graveyard at West Tisbury carved with the grue- 
some emblems of mortality a slate stone tells the passing stranger 
where lies the m^ortal remains of Tisbury' s first great citizen. 

July 21, 1715. The estate of Mr 
deceased prized by us the subscribers. 

The lands and building in Great Neck 

or homestead 
The land in Tississa Neck 
The land in Charles Neck 
The land in the Oldtown or Edgartown 
the meadow in Chilmark 
the land at Keephegon 
the small parcels lands between the Pine 

the Old Mill River his right of lands on 

the plain 

Probate Records, I, 50. 

Simon Athearn of Tisbury late 




The Moveable Estate 

;^i234 - 

one pair oxen 


one pair oxen 


5 cows 


7 cowes & calves 


2 steers 


4 two year old steers 

2 two year old heifer & a bull 


8 yearlings 

one mare and a colt 


6 swine 

1. 16 

one mare 

3. 0. 

£ s 

112 sheep with their lambs and fleeces at 


;^8.ios per score 
190 sheep with their fleeces at £6 





History of Martha's Vineyard 

4thly Money and household stufif 
Province bills 
one silver tankard 
6 silver spoons 
one silver cup 
one silver porringer 
one bed with furniture 
one do do 

one do do 

one do do 

one do do 

5ly his wearing apparel 

2 large Bibles 
one do old 
some small books 

4 law books 

3 pair sheets 
2 pair do 

I pair do 

1 pair do 

2 pair do 

2 pair pillow bears 

5 do 

I pair do 
one carpet 

61y 4 table cloths 
23 napkins 
I cupboard cloth 
I towel 

3 cushions 

1 brass kettle 

2 brass kettles 

3 brass candle-sticks 
I bellmettle skillet 
one iron kettle 

I chafing dish 

I spit pan & fender 

one warming pan 

one brass frying pan 

one pair beases 

one brass gun 

one iron pot 

one do 

one do 

one iron kettle 

one do 

I cupboard 

I trunk 

I parcel wooden vessels 




9. 0. 


3. 0. 

3- o- 

II. 7. 

12. 8. 





s d 

5. 7 




5. 0. 


I- 3- 

I. 0. 


2- 5 

2. 5 



I. 4 





s d 


3- 6 

I. 4 











I. I 







- 9 

1. 10 




1. 10 

Annals of West Tisbury 

I Gridiron . 6 

I pair tongs & slice 8 

3 trammels .15 
box heaters & goose 3 
I pair bellows 2 
old iron i 
I pair steelyards i. o 
I pair worsted corns .12 
I sword 4 
I table I- 10 
I do I. 5 
I do .12 
I do .8 

1 do & form .10 

2 joint stools . 6 
I dozen chairs 2.14 
8 chairs 1.12 
6 old do .10 
I chest . 5 
I do .10 
I do .6 
I do .6 
I chest drawers 3. o 
I cupboard .12 

4 pounds hops c 9 

3 corn selves . 4 
I half bushel . 3 

1 hair cloth ' .12 

2 bridles & saddles 1.15 

1 side saddle .15 

3 selves . 5 

2 meal bags . 6 

2 sleighs & harnesses .16 
warping bars & boxes .10 
I pair looms i .10 

3 spinning wheels .18 

1 pr. wool cards 2. 6 

4 pewter platter i . 1 2 

2 do .12 
4 do .16 
13 plates I. 6 

2 basons . 6 
4 porringers . 6 
I cordial cup . 5 
I tankard . 7 
I candlestick . 3 

1 salt cellar . 2 

10 spoons .3.4 

3 drinking cups . 4 

2 looking glasses 
mantletree furniture . 5 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

60 pounds sheeps wool 

I bushel flaxseed 

6 pound flax 

4 axes 

3 hoes 

I spade 

I adze 

1 auger, chisel, gouge 

2 pitchforks 

1 lantern 

2 pudding 
I tunnel 

1 cart & wheels 

2 cops & pins 

1 plow with irons 

2 harrows 

2 rings, staple & yoke 

2 chains 

I cart rope 

I thousand boards 

100 cedar bolts 

I beetle & wedges 

I Grindstone 

20 bush barley 


• 4 

• 4 

. 8 

• 9- 
. 2 

- 4 
. 6 

- 3- 
. 2. 

- 3 

. I . 

2- 5 

• 7 

1. 10 
. 6 

• 3 

. 6 



76. 2.10 
92- 5- 7 
33- 3- 6 

1639. 14. II 
Errors Excepted 

Robert Cathcart 
John Manter 
Benjamin Manter 


This early settler came to Tisbury from parts unknown 
about 1 68 1, as the first knowledge we have of him is found 
in a town vote on December i6th of that year, when a home 
lot was granted to him on the north side of New Mill river, 
adjoining the Chilmark boundary line. His connection with 
any of the contemporary families of this name in other parts 
of New England has not been established/ He married, 
probably after his settlement here. Desire (13) daughter of 

'There were several Case families in Connecticut and Rhode Island before 1700 
and the indications point to the former colony as the early home of our settler. Most 
of his children removed there after his death. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

John Manter, by whom he had eight children of record as 
shown by his will. His career was uneventful and scarcely 
any references to him appear in the town or county books. 
He was undoubtedly a young man, perhaps had just reached 
his majority when he came to Tisbury, and his death occurred 
in 1705 or 1706, when he was in the prime of life. His will, 
dated Feb. 5, 1704-5, was probated February 11, 1706, but the 
estate was not divided until 1720, when the minor children 
became of age.^ The estate was inventoried at ;^io5, and 
his son William, a weaver by trade, was made administrator 
in 1 719, before the final settlement was effected. Descendants 
of this son William remained in Tisbury till about 1800, but 
the name became extinct here after that time.^ 


^p jp - ^_ ^ jf This early settler was 

(^^Vc^tf^^''"^" i^-^^f'^^^'^^-'^^^ "^ Scotchman and the family 

^^ ^ is said to have originated 

or derived its name from 
the Barony of Cathcart in Renfrewshire, Scotland. It is not 
known when he came to this country, nor when he was born. 
The tradition in the family is that he had been engaged in 
some of the numerous border or clan wars of the period, and 
received a wound from a bullet which he carried to his death. 
The first record of him on the Vineyard is in 1690 when he 
purchased a lot of land in Tisbury from Arthur Biven, a tract 
of twenty acres in the northernmost home lot on the west 
side of Old Mill brook.^ He married about this time, Phebe, 
daughter of Thomas Coleman of Nantucket, and it is probable 
that the young Highlander "set up his Ebenezer" at once in 
the new town.* Here he began the occupation of innkeeper, 
which he followed throughout his life,^ and in March, 1693, 
he was chosen town clerk, an office which he likewise held 
to the date of his decease. In 1696 he bought a new home- 
stead lot on the west side of the South (Chilmark) road, just 
south of the Whiting estate, and in 1706 added the southern 

'Dukes Probate,' I, 24. The estate of the widow Nickerson of Yarmouth 
showed a debt due from John Case in 1706 (Barnstable Town Records). 

^Members of this branch removed to Maine after the Revolution, and it is probable 
that the name still survives in that state. 

^Dukes Deeds, I, loi. Dated Dec. 2, 1690. 

*This Nantucket marriage may indicate his previous residence in that island. 

4n 1696 his license to sell strong drink was "renewed." 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

half of this lot, making in all about thirty acres. Here he con- 
ducted a "shop," kept an ordinary and acted as town and 
proprietors' clerk until the spring of 1 718 when death terminated 
his career.^ His birth is estimated as in 1650, and he was 
therefore about 68 years of age. His widow Phebe, who was 
evidently many years his junior (she was b. June 15, 1674), 
married Samuel Athearn the following year. Five sons and 
six daughters of Robert and Phebe Cathcart are known, 
though no record of their birth exists, and while the family 
was prominent in Tisbury through that century, it is now 
extinct in the male line on the island.^ Branches of it resided 
in Nantucket and western Massachusetts during the last 
century, and descendants may be traced throughout the United 

It is supposed that the name "Scotchman's Bridge" in 
West Tisbury derived its name from Robert Cathcart, who 
may have built it, or from one of his sons. 


This early settler of Tisbury was born about 1628, and 
although a discrepancy exists in the records a^ to this point*, 
it is considered more probable that this represents the date 
of his birth, rather than ten years earlier. He first settled in 
that part of Salisbury now known as Amesbury, Massachusetts. 
There is extant a statement made by him of his experiences 
there which is printed here as the best account of the reasons 
which caused him to move from that place: — 

* * * "I the sd Edward Cottle obtained among other lands a tract called 
the Lion's mouth being a neck of land * * * & built a sufficient house 
— sd lands possessed many years, which house being providentially burnt 
together with my goods, I then built a small house att a place called Ja- 
maica, w'thin same township, w'ch being burnt by the Indians (1668) & 
not being so able in estate as some other of my associates in said parts 
was necessitated to try what .success I might have by removing to the south- 

'He died between Jan. i6 and March 24, 17 18. Administration of his estate 
was granted to the widow Oct. i, 17 19, two months after her remarriage. He died 
intestate, and his estate was finally divided in 1739, when the youngest child had 
come of age (Dukes Co. Prob., Ill, 121). 

^he last member of the family to live on the Vineyard was Mrs. Ann Judson 
(Cathcart) Johnson, widow of Henry C. Johnson and mother of Norman Johnson 
of Vineyard Haven. She died in 1907. 

'Mr. Wallace Hugh Cathcart (Salmon*, Hugh^ Thomas*, Robert^ Gershom', 
Robert') of Cleveland, Ohio, President of the Western Reserve Historical Society, 
is a distinguished scion of this Vineyard family and a patron of this work. 

*Esse.x County Court Rec, XII, 368; XIII, 72. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

wardly part of New England, hopeing the Eastern parts might in time obtain 
a settled peace that I might then Return, to my inheritance again: but 
matters occuring Contrary, I purchased a small settlement at ye town of 
Tisbury in Dukes County afores'd, & being now grown aged & out of 
hopes of Ever returning" etc., etc.^ 

This interesting and valuable statement does not disclose 
his intermediate place of residence, before coming to Tisbury, 
but we learn that he removed from Amesbury with his wife 
Judith and a family of six or seven children and migrated to 
Nantucket about 1668-9, where he resided about seven or 
eight years. ^ At least four children of record were added to 
his family there, and then he probably returned to the main- 
land, taking up a residence at a place called "Mannamoiett." 
This is probably identical with Monomoy on the southeastern 
part of Cape Cod. He is mentioned as of that place in 1677, 
and on March 5, 1677-8, "Edward Cottle & his wife of Manna- 
moiett, for prophaning the Sabath by quarrelling [were] fined 
40s — " with the alternative "to be whipt."^ His stay there 
was brief, not exceeding three years. 

He came to Tisbury about 1680 and is called a "freeholder" 
in the records as early as 1683. He was chosen one of a 
committee to procure a new town charter in 1687; to divide 
proprietors' lands in 1688; a fence viewer in 1688; a constable 
in 1689, and surveyor of highways in 1699. It is not known 
where he lived before 1688, but in that year he bought of 
Thomas Mayhew the eastern half of the home lot of Josiah 
Standish, consisting of twenty-four acres, now owned by the 
heirs of the late Henry L. Whiting. It is probable that this 
had been the site of his residence for some years prior to that 
date. This he sold to his son John in 1 700, and his declining 
years were probably spent in Chilmark, perhaps with his son 
James, as in 1 710 he calls himself a resident of that town 
and is so designated by others.* There is no record of his 
death either in the town or probate records. He had disposed 
of all his property to his son and nothing remained to be di- 
vided and made a matter of record. As he was at least 82 
years old in 1710 and "grown aged" it is probable he died 
not long after. By his wife Judith, of whom nothing further 

'Essex County Deeds, XXII, 201. 

'Nantucket Records. 

'Plymouth Colony Rec, V, 254; VII, 207; VIII, 148. 

^Essex Co. Deeds, XXI, 231. It is quite probable that he lived in Chickemmoo, 
then a part of Chilmark, rather than in the present town limits of Chilmark. His 
son James owned land in Chickemmoo. 


History of Martha*s Vineyard 

is known, he had fourteen children, three of whom are 
not of record in towns where he Hved. 

Edward Cottle was probably from Wiltshire. In the 
church at Bradford-upon-Avon in that county there is a mural 
coat of arms of this family, and the name is frequently found 
in the records there. The earliest form of the name (1250) 
is Cotele or Cothele, and the family was early seated at At- 
worth, Wilts, now called Cottles, near Melksham.^ 


The youngest son of John Daggett, the pioneer of the 
family on the Vineyard, was the only representative of that 
distinguished family in Tisbury. He was born about 1647^ 
and is particularly noted as having married a native whom 
we can designate as the Pocahontas of our island. It is 
believed that she can be identified as the daughter of Thomas 
Sissetom, a Sagamore of Sanchacantacket, named Alice by 
the English, and that the marriage occurred some time prior 
to 1685, as at that date two children of this union were old 
enough to receive property. Presuming they were eighteen 
and sixteen respectively that would carry the date of assumed 
marriage back to 1667, when Joseph was about twenty years 
of age. It is doubtful if a lawful marriage was consummated. 
This strange fact is established by a deed on record in which 
" Puttuspaquin of Sanchacantacket gives to his cousins 
[nieces] Ellis [Alice] & Hester Daggett" a tract of land which 
is now known to be in the present limits of Eastville adjoining 
the ponds on the east bank of the Lagoon.^ This territory 
is identical with a tract of land granted sixteen years before 
in 1669 by the sachem Wampamag to ''Ales Sessetom and 

Keziah Sessetom the daughters of Thomas Se[sse]tum" 

and probably was a gift in confirmation to the children of 
Alice of the property originally given to the Indian sisters.* 
It remained as an inheritance of the two half-breed Daggett 
girls, Alice and Esther, and was divided between them in 1698, 
after the latter had married Edward Cottle.^ 

Joseph Daggett was one of the first proprietors in the 
new settlement and his holdings are thus described: — 

'History of the Cotel or Cottle Family by W. H. Cottell. Pamphlet, 23 pp., 1871. 
^Deposition. Aged about 51 years in March, 1698-9. 
'Dukes Deeds, I, 251. 
*Ibid, VI, 412. 
»Ibid, I, 24. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

The Lands & Accomadations of Joseph Doggatt which Leieth in 
the Township of Takymmy or tisbury on the vineyard as foloeth One halfe 
house Lot which containeth twenty-five Acres Leying on the east side of 
the brook where his dwelling house is this present year 1673 bounded the 
brook on the west ( & the halfe lot which James Redfield hath taken on 
the south) ( & the halfe lot which Charls Crossthwat hath taken on the 
north) laid out twenty five rods in bredth by James Allen & Thomas 
Mayhew & Runing eight score rods Easterly from the brook being twenty 
five Acres mor or lesse 

And halfe the sixth part of the neck by John Eddys of which; halfe 
the fifth lot is Joseph Doggats leying next to henery lewis his lot leying 
Acrosse the neck as the neck is devided to every mans lot Contained in 
the neck As before spoken in the order of devision of the three necks baring 
date february the first 167 1 

And the two And thirtyth part of all undevided lands whether pur- 
chesed or that may be purchesed 

this is the lands And Acomadations of Joseph doggatt* 

This property had its north boundary at the Scotchman's 
Bridge road on the east side of Old Mill brook, and extended 
half way down to the Post Office corner. Here his house stood 
and there played in the front yard the two half-breed children 
born of the romantic union, Alice (Ellis) and Esther. He 
maintained his residence until sometime between 1711 and 
1 715, when in a deed on latter date to his grand-daughter 
Esther Cottle, he describes himself "of Edgartown, wheel- 
wright." There is nothing to indicate that he ended his days 
on his home lot in Takemmy, where he had lived so long. 

His public services were of the average kind and quantity. 
He was surveyor of highways, 1687; committee to divide 
common lands, etc., 1689, 1690, 1703, 1708; selectman, 1689, 
1693, 1695; pound keeper, 1690; constable, 1697; and had 
other small duties at various times till 1716. When he died 
is not known, nor the place of his burial. Equal uncertainty 
exists as to his Indian wife. It is probable that he was living 
on March 5, 1720, when as one of the proprietors of the town 
he executed a deed with fourteen others to a purchase of some 
common lands. 

Of his children, Joseph,^ the only known son, married 
and had issue, descendants of which are represented to-day in 
the lines shown under his family in the genealogical portion 
of this work in the Daggett, Huxford and Enoch Norton lines. 
Through these claim can be made of descent from the Vineyard 
Pocahontas, Alice Sessetom, the Indian bride of Joseph 
Daggett. Esther^, the second daughter, married Edward 

'Tisbury Records. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Cottle sometime between 1690 and 1698, and she had deceased 
before June 10, 1708 (Deeds, II, 184). Issue of this marriage 
was but one daughter named Esther, who probably married 
(i) a Harding (and had a son Shubael) and (2) Manasseh 
Kempton. It is not possible to say whether issue is now 
represented on the Vineyard. The oldest daughter of Joseph, 
Ellis^ (Alice) left quite a record for a girl of her age and ante- 
cedents. She had three children born out of wedlock named 
for their presumptive fathers, Henry Luce, Samuel Look and 
Patience Allen. This unfortunate half-breed was made of 
better stuff than would be inferred from comtemplating this 
promiscuous progeny. She was evidently honest, honorable 
and thrifty, and true to her offspring. She did not live beyond 
middle life, as her will dated March 19, 1711, when she must 
have been not much over forty, was probated two months 
later. It is a legal condition that illegitimate children cannot 
inherit property, but her will devises real and personal estate 
to each of her children by name, and as the will was allowed and 
the real estate passed to the one called Henry Luce, who 
later disposed of it, this would seem to act as a legitimation 
of this anomalous family. Henry Luce so-called received his 
share of the property originally given by the Sachem Wampa- 
mag to Alice Sessetom; Samuel Luce was given fy, and Pa- 
tience Allen the movable estate. Her father, Joseph Daggett, 
was named as executor, and fulfilled the trust (Probate, I, 31). 
Altogether it was a very creditable transaction on her part. 
It is not known what became of these children, but the pre- 
sumption is that they became united with their Indian asso- 
ciates, and finally lost identity among them, if they survived 
to adult life. 



Among the passengers for 
New England in the ship 
"Handmaid," sailing in 1630, 
' I ^ was Samuel Eddy, who settled 
at Plymouth and became a resident of that town until his 
death. The name as spelled in the Colony records is Eedy, 
Eedey, Edeth, Eddy and Edy.^ He was a tailor by trade 
and by his wife Elizabeth "having many children and not 
able to bring them up as they desire" he bound them out to 

'Plymo. Col. Rec, II, 112, 113, 173; Deeds, II, 39, (part 2), 37. 

Annals of West Tisbury 

their neighbors as they became old enough to be of service. 
The first of these apprentices of record is Jolin Eddy, born on 
Christmas day, 1637, who was placed in the care of Francis 
Goulder of Plymouth, yeoman, April 3, 1645, being then under 
eight years of age/ Contemporaneously with this Plymouth 
family of Eddys there lived in Watertown, Mass., another 
family, the father of whom was John, and who also came to 
Plymouth in 1630 in the "Handmaid."^ 

John Eddy left Plymouth prior to 1632 and settled at 
Watertown, where he became a freeman in 1634 and resided 
there until 1684, the year of his death, being then ninety years 
of age.^ By his wife Amy he had a son John, b. (February 6, 
1636-7, just ten months before our John of Plymouth came 
along, and who is the one entered as "Deced December 27: 
1707" in the Watertowm records.* It does not appear that 
he left any issue, as his brother Samuel in his will dated Aug. 
6, 1702, makes provision for the maintenance of "my brother 
John Eddi during his natural life."^ It is evident that he was 
then without a family, in straitened circumstances and perhaps 
''a little distempered" mentally as his father had been. This 
Watertown family had the names of John, Samuel, Caleb and 
Benjamin, as did the Plymouth branch. 

Another John Eddy lived contemporaneously with these 
two just mentioned, in the person of John Eddy or Eddway, 
carpenter of Taunton in 1660, and as John of Plymouth bought 
land in Taunton that year, which was bounded by John the 
carpenter's land, it makes a pretty good foundation for some 
confusion which earlier investigators did not successfully 
escape.^ Whence came this John to Taunton is not known, 

'In 1647 and 1653 his younger brothers, Zachary, aged 7, and Caleb, aged 9, 
were "put out" to John Brown of Rehoboth. The town records contain only the 
names of five children born to Samuel and Elizabeth, not enough to be called "many," 
so a number of others must have been born and died early. 

''Ward, 274. There is no proven connection yet established between Samuel and 
John, though it is a reasonable supposition that they were near relatives. It is 
stated that John of Watertown, born about 1595, was son of Rev. William Eddy of 
Bristol, later of Cranbrook, England, who had been educated at St. Johns and Trinity 
Colleges, Cambridge, and received the degree of Master of Arts in 1591 at Cambridge 
University. The young graduate became a clergyman and received the appointment 
as Vicar of St. Dunstan's, Cranbrook, Kent, where he remained until his death, 
which occurred in 1616, after a service of twenty-five years. (Bond, Watertown, 203.) 

'Winthrop Journal, I, loi. 

*He had married, probably, before 1677, the date of his father's will. A bequest 
of £30 was made to him contingently, payable in £^ installments, annually, by his 
brother Samuel (Middlesex Probate, VI, 301). 

'Middlesex Probate, XII, 454. 

*The Eddy Genealogy makes a hopeless tangle of the several Johns, particularly 
the Plymouth and Taunton men. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

but he is distinct from our pioneer. He may have been a 
half brother, or even a full brother, though bearing the same 
name, as there are a number of vi^ell-known instances of this 
double nomenclature in New England families. John of 
Taunton had two wives, Susanna Paddock and Deliverance 
Owen, and died in 1695 leaving three sons and five daughters.* 

Having disposed of two other Johns whose contemporary 
life has possibly some family interest, the fortunes of our John 
of Plymouth will now be related. His apprenticeship with 
Francis Goulder terminated in 1658 and he had during that 
period learned the trade of a blacksmith. In what way he 
became attracted to the Vineyard is only a matter of con- 
jecture, but presumably through the representations of John 
Daggett, senior, whose daughter he married later. Under 
date of Dec. 28, 1659, the following entry occurs in the Edgar- 
town records: The town [of Great Harbor] voted "to pay the 
charge of the Smiths Transportation hither if he Desires: this 
is John Edy of Plymouth."^ This offer made to the young 
blacksmith was accepted by him in the next year as we find 
that on Oct. 22, 1660, he was the owner of one share in the 
town lands "given him by the Town." 

This undoubtedly marks the date of his removal hither, 
as from that time forth his name is found on the town and 
county records each succeeding year. It is quite certain that 
he came here in 1660 as a married man, as it is known that 
his wife was Hepzibah Daggett, daughter of John, and that 
a daughter Alice was born to them May 3, 1659. John Dag- 
gett sold to his son-in-law a homestead six acres, a portion 
of a ten-acre lot in that town believed to be on the "Line," 
but it has not been possible to identify the exact location.^ 
There were born to him his first five children prior to his 
removal to Tisbury. Meanwhile he was attending to his 
smithing and qualifying as an inhabitant under the require- 
ments. He was a member of the train band in 1662 and 
constable the same year. On May 11, 1663, having remained 
three years a town, it was voted that he should "have a lot 

of ten acres and a Commonage with two acres of Meadow 

the meadow lies about the pond att Miles Brook."' This 
lot was one of the "Five and Twenty," just south of the ceme- 

'Bristol Co. Probate, I, 46; II, 20. Savage, Gen. Diet., Ill, 326, 328. 
^Edgartown Town Records, I, 133. 
'Edgartown Records, I, 4, 7. 
*Dukes Deeds, VI, 115. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

tery on Tower Hill, having a frontage of 14^ rods on the 
harbor. As proprietor he participated in all the divisions of 
land during his residence in Edgartown, and in 1667 was 
granted one sixth of the West Chop neck by Governor Mayhew/ 
This incident will be found explained elsewhere. At this 
time the project for the purchase of Takemmy was under 
consideration, and he entered into negotiations with the three 
partners for admission as a proprietor in the proposed new 
settlement. Accordingly he offered his lands at Homes Hole 
as an exchange for this right, as shown in the following docu- 
ment : — 

Know all men by these presents that I John Eddy of the town of 
great-harbour upon the Vineyeard do for myself my heires and assignes 
sell unto William Pebody Josias Standish and James Allin I say I do sell 
my whole accomodations lying at Holmes his hole being on sixth part of 
that which was bought of the Indians by thomas Layton of Rode Island 
and this I do for and in consideration that the for s'd William Pebody 
Josias Standish and James Allin are to lett me the said Eddy have five 
pounds worth of Land at Takemmy at the same Rate as they bought it 
of the Indians provided that the sd Eddy demand it within two years after 
the date hereofe as also they shall let me have one Lote among them to 
live upon I the sd Eddy paying for it at the rate that they buy of the Indians 
the afores'd five pounds worths to be part of the Lote if I do not demand 
the Land and live upon it then to pay me five pounds at the end of the s'd 
2 years the payment to made in current pay at prices current and in witt- 
ness of the premises I have hereunto set my hand this 29 of June 1669 

Memorandum — that the lote mentioned is to be one whole accomoda- 
tion of the town now to be setled and that if ye town be not settled then the 
fores'd land at holmes his hole to be returned to me the s'd Eddy in witt- 
ness to all the premises I haye set hereunto my hand the day and year 
above s'd John Eddy ' 

Within two years, the new township being an assured 
success, he was granted a lot by the proprietors, on May 20, 
1671, "if he com according to compacicion," and he came.' 
Thenceforth he was identified with Tisbury till the close of 
his life. Eight years ilater he sold all his Edgartown prop- 
erty to John Coffin, with the exception of some small divisions 
on the necks.'* In 1680 he was a defendant in a suit brought 
by Simon Athearn for trespass and defamation, and acted as 
a juror later in the same year.^ He was chosen constable 
of Tisbury in 1683, 1684, 1692; selectman, 1687, 1688, 1693, 
1696, 1697, 17005 tithingman, 1699; besides acting in several 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 239. 

*Tisbury Records, p. 17. 

'Supreme Judicial Court Files, Case No. 4974. 

*Dukes Deeds, I, 318. Dated March 6, 1679. 

'Court Records, Vol. I. 


Flistory of Martha's Vineyard 

minor capacities on committees appointed by the proprietors 
or freeholders. His last public office was held in 1711, when 
he was chosen constable, being then in his 73rd year. He had 
provided for his declining years by an arrangement with his 
son Benjamin in 1706, by which all his property was given 
to this only son on attaining his majority in consideration of 
support during the remainder of his life.^ But this was destined 
to be broken by the early death of Benjamin, May 19, 1709, 
in his 24th year. By a will however the son, who had married, 
required his wife as executrix to see "that agreement I have 
with my honored father and mother, John and Hepsibah Eddy 
touching their annual allowance shall be well and faithfully 
observed."^ In the month following his death, Hannah, the 
widow of Benjamin, on June 4th, evidently desirous of being 
relieved of the support of the aged couple, transferred the entire 
property to John^ Manter, grandson of John Eddy, in consider- 
ation of his assuming the "agreement between John & Ben- 
jamin Eddy about his son to the value of fy annually for the 
support of John Eddy and wife living in one end of the house." 
The Eddy homestead property became absorbed into the 
Manter holdings on Dec. 20, 17 10, by a deed to his grandson, 
the son of his daughter Hannah Manter.' This homestead 
of forty acres was located on the east side of the Old Mill 
brook abutting the Mill path, on which it had a frontage of 
160 rods, running east, and a depth of 40 rods. During the 
following five years of his life John Eddy requires but little 
notice. He held no public office and beyond disposing of 
scattered property holdings to his children and others his name 
does not occur on the records. He died May 27, 171 5, aged 
78 years, and his widow died May 3, 1726, aged 83 years, 
both lying together in the West Tisbury cemetery, having well- 
preserved stones. His estate was almost all disposed of during 
his lifetime, except a few pieces of outlying property and 
personal estate which he bequeathed in an unrecorded will 
dated Dec. 24, 1715. 

In the name of God amen: This Twenty Fourth Day of December 
Anno Domini 17 14, I John Eddy of the Town of Tisbury in Dukes County 
in New England being of perfect mind & memory Yet Considering the 

'Dukes Deeds, II, 140. 

^Dukes Probate, I, 27. The son had probably married in Boston. His will is 
dated there, and after his death the widow removed to that place and remarried. A 
Hannah Eddy m. Thomas Cole June 22, 1710 (Boston Record Com. Reports, XXVIII, 

^Dukes Deeds, II, 203, 216. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

mortallity of my Body do make & ordain this my Last will and Testament, 
viz: Principally and first of all I Give & Recomend my Soul into the 
hands of God that gave it: and my body I recomend to the Earth to be 
Interred in decent Christian manner att the Discretion of my Executors, 
and as to my worldly Estate I give & dispose the same in the following 
manner and form: — 

Imprimis I give and bequeath to my well beloved wife Hepzibah Eddy 
the sole and entire use and Improvement and Comand of all and singular 
my reall and personall estate that I sd John Eddy shall Decease seized 
of in my own proper right During her Natural Life together with all my 
Just Dues and Debts from any person or persons whatsoever Excepting 
out of my personal estate one chest comonly called and known by the 
Name of My Chest (By the family) and which I give to my grandson Samuel 
Manter, and one Iron Dripping pan which I gave to my Daughter Hannah 

And Furthermore 

2. I give & bequeath all my household goods which may remain and be 
Left att the death of the sd Hepzibath Eddy my wife & all my Live or 
quick Stock or any moneys that may then be Due to me unto my Daughter 
Abigail Eddy & to her proper use and benefitt. 

3. I give & bequeath to my Daughters Hannah Manter and Beulah 
Coffin all the lands belonging to me sd Jno Eddy Lying on the East side 
of the old mill Brook in Tisbury to be equally Divided between them. 

4. I further give & bequeath to my Daughters Abigail Eddy all the 
Lands belonging to me sd Jno Eddy on the West side of the Old Mill 
Brook in Tisbury being Part of Two of those Lotts of Land Comonly 
called the Hill Lotts with all the priviledges and appurtenances thereunto 
Belonging And I also give to my Daughter Abigail Eddy & my Grandson 
Sam'l Manter all my share and Part of the Comon undivided Lands 
throughout the Township of Tisbury which Contains one whole share in 
Commons to be divided equally Between them. 

5. Furthermore I give and bequeath to my grand son Sam'l Manter all 
that percell and tract of Land which belongeth to me sd Jno Eddy Lying 
in the Township of Chilmark, (which was formerly purchased by me and 
my son in Law John Manter of Major Matt: Mayhew of Edgarttown) to 
be his and his heirs ferever with all Priviledges and appurtenances there- 
unto belonging 

And I do Constitute make and ordain my well beloved and Trusty 
friends Mr. Benjamin Manter of Tisbury & Mr. James Allen of Chilmark 
the Executors of this my Last will and Testament. 

And I do hereby utterly revoke disallow and make void all and every 
other former wills & Testaments Legacys bequests and executors by me 
in any ways att any Time before named Willed and bequeathed Ratifying 
and Confirming this and no other to be my Last Will & Testament. 

In witness whereof I Have here unto sett my hand and seal the Day 
and Year above written j^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^1) 

Signed sealled Published and ordared by the Sd John Eddy as his 
Last Will and Testament in the presence of us the subscribers, viz: 
Josiah Torrey 
Sarah Torrey 
William Case 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

The death of this prominent citizen and his only son 
without male issue before him removed the name of Eddy 
henceforth from our records, but it has survived as a baptis- 
mal name in several families. The following are his children : 

Alice Eddy, b. 3 May 1659, m. 16 Mch. 1682-3 Benjamin Hatch, (Falmo. 
Rec. in Gen. Adv., Ill, 84). 

Sarah Eddy, b. prob. 1661, m. i May 1681 Nathan Manter of Tisbury 

Elizabeth Eddy, b. prob. 1663, m. 11 Dec. 1683 Jonathan Lambert, 
(Barnstable Rec. in G. R., Ill, 272). 

Hepzibah Eddy, b. prob. 1665, m. 9 May 1686 Moses Hatch of Barnstable, 
(vide Otis Gen. Notes 471). 

Hannah Eddy, b. prob. 1670, m. (date unknown) John Manter of Tis- 
bury, d. 24 Oct. 1724 

Beulah Eddy, b. about 1680, m. about 1701 Enoch Coffin of Edgartown 

Benjamin Eddy, b. about 1685-6, d. 27 May 1708 aet. 24 

Abigail Eddy, b. about 1688, m. Thomas Trapp 18 Jan. 1716-17 and d. 
14 Feb. 1717-8, aet. 29 y. 5 m. 


The first of this name to reside in Tisbury came here 
from Taunton, at the solicitation of Matthew Mayhew, who 
deeded to him in 1706 a tract of land in Chilmark, "to give 
incouragement to Cloathing."^ Edward Hammett was by 
trade a worsted comber, and took up his residence in that 
part of the town now known as North Tisbury. He was 
married in Taunton in 1704 to Experience Bowles of that 
place and brought his wife and one child to his new home. 
Here ten more children were born to him, four sons and seven 
daughters in all, of whom Jonathan and Robert remained on 
the Vineyard to perpetuate the name. The daughters married 
here also. Beyond doing his citizen duty as juryman oc- 
casionally, he held few public offices during his residence 
here. He served as constable, tithingman, and surveyor of 
highways, the latter for a considerable period till his death, 
and these compose his career as a town officer. He died 
March 20, 1745, in the 66th year of his age, which makes 
the year 1679-80 the date of his birth. His wife survived 

'Dukes Deeds, II, 72. Nothing has been developed regarding his antecedents. 
There is a fantastic legend about him to the effect that his mother, a beautiful English 
girl was captured from a ship by some Algerian pirates and she became the consort 
of the chief. A son was born who bore the name of Hamid and when he grew up 
his mother told him the secret of his birth and bade him escape to her own people, 
which advice he followed. Those who wish to believe this story will probably do so. 
There were Hammets living in Plymouth, Newport and Boston contemporaneously 
with Edward of Tisbury, but no relationship between them is evident. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

him. In his will dated March i6, 1744-5, which was probated 
on May 7th following, he mentioned all his children.^ In the 
census of 1850 three families of this name lived in the town. 


This pioneer of a numerous family came from the Cape 
as one of the later settlers, about 1692-3, having been prev- 
iously a resident of Barnstable. He was born in 1657 and 
had married Elizabeth Eddy, daughter of John Eddy of this 
town in 1683, and this relationship was doubtless the influence 
which brought him here. He had served in the famous 
expedition to Quebec in 1690 under Sir William Phips, but 
after this single essay in military life he settled down on the 
Vineyard to follow the peaceful occupation of carpenter.^ 
In 1694 he bought a tract of land bordering on Great James 
pond of the Sachem Josias, and ever since that date the 
name of Lambert's Cove has been a memorial of his residence 
in that region.^ Here he lived until his death, and his sons 
and grandsons remained on the paternal acres until it became 
thoroughly indentified with the family. His life was unevent- 
ful as he was a deaf mute, and the records give but little to 
indicate any public activities. Two of his children were also 
unfortunately afflicted with congenital deaf mutism, the first 
known cases on the Vineyard. Sewall refers to him during 
his visit in 1 714 to the island: "We were ready to be ofif ended 
that an Englishman, Jonathan Lumbard in the company 
spake not a word to us, and it seems he is deaf and dumb."* 
His will, dated March 23, 1736-7, was probated Oct. 3, 1738, 
and his death occurred between those dates. ^ He left three 
sons and four daughters, the latter of whom married on the 
mainland. Ebenezer and Beulah, the mutes, remained single. 


The first of this family to settle here was Thomas, a son 
of Thomas Look, a collier at the Lynn Iron Works. The 

'Dukes Probate, III, i8o. 

^He received a share in Narragansett township No. i (Gorham, Me.) for military 
service. In 1695 Jonathan Lambert, master of the Brigantine Tyral, was despatched 
to Quebec to bring back prisoners from that place. This may be our early settler. 

^Dukes Deeds, I, 248. 

*Diary, II, 432. 

^Dukes Probate, III, i. In his will he provides as follows: "considering my two 
Poor children that cannot speake for themselves, I Earnestly Desire that my son Jona- 
than and my Trusty Beloved friend David Butler, after the understanding hereof would 
Please as they have oppertunity to help them in any Lawful way as they shall see 


History of Martha*s Vineyard 

father, born about 1622, settled in Massachusetts, whither he 
had come probably from Scotland to follow his trade at the 
newly established iron foundry at Lynn. The name Look 
is derived from the biblical Luke, and the first settler so spelled 
it. It is a name found in Scotland before 1600 among the 
rentallers of the Archbishop of Glasgow.^ Thomas, the 
collier, became one of the original ten associates of Salis- 
bury in 1659 who purchased Nantucket, and through this 
transaction his son Thomas, born June, 1646, removed to 
that island about 1670 and took up the share as a settler. 
There he married Elizabeth Bunker, and four of his six known 
children are recorded as born there. 

The date of his removal to Tisbury may be placed about 
1685-6, as he made the first purchase of land in town on Feb. 
15, 1686, acquiring of Joseph Merry the valuable water and 
mill privilege on the Tiasquin which his descendants im- 
proved for over a century.^ Here he spent the rest of his 
days, following the occupation of a miller until his death. 
He was a selectman in 1688 and 1695, surveyor of highways 
in 1689, and deputy sheriff of the county in 1699, besides 
the usual services as juror. He was one of four dissenters 
against extending a call to Rev. Josiah Torrey as minister, 
but the reasons for this are not known. ^ 

His will, dated Dec. 4, 1725, when he was four score 
years of age, was signed with "his mark," probably because 
of infirmities or disability from illness. It was probated in 
January, 1726, and we may conclude that he had died in the 
latter part of the previous year, making some allowance for 
the time before the will was presented for the action of the 
court. ^ He called himself ''miller" in this testament, and 
bequeathed all his property to his son Samuel and five daugh- 


^ The ancestor of the largest island 

^^y^^^ v^ family left behind him fewer traces 

JJ O^ <^WrO*-- q£ ]^-g movements, before and after 

his coming to the Vineyard, than any 
other of the first settlers. The first record we have of him is 

'In the next century there were several opulent merchants of the name of Luke 
in the city of Glasgow. It is also of record that a considerable number of Scotchmen 
were employed at the Lynn Iron Works (Essex Antiquarian, XII, 70). A Thomas. 
Lucke was a merchant of Penthurst, Co. Kent, in 1662 (Suff. Deeds, IV, 35). 

^Dukes Deeds, I, 290. 

^Tisbury Records, 42. 

^Dukes Probate, II, 3. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

on November 13, 1666, when he was a juror in Scituate, where 
he may have resided, and in 1668 he was admitted as a pro- 
prietor of purchased lands in Rehoboth/ The similarity of 
the name to Lewis, together with the varieties of spelling both 
names in early records, renders identification difficult. Lewis 
was written Luis, Luice, Lewes; and Luce appears as Lews, 
Lewse, Luice and Luse. The origin of the name is unknown 
to the author, as it is of the rarest occurrence in early English 
records, though the name Lucie or Lucy is well known. The 
Connecticut branch has a tradition that the family is of Hugue- 
not extraction, while another statement is to the effect that it 
originated in Wales. ^ When he came to the Vineyard, or 
through what connection, is not known, but he had acquired 
before Feb. i, 1671, a home lot on the west side of Old Mill 
river about forty rods north of Scotchman's Bridge road.^ 
There is no record of the purchase, and he is not known to 
have been related to any of the settlers in the town. When 
he came here he had already married, probably in Scituate, 
Remember, daughter of Lawrence and Judith (Dennis) 
Litchfield of that town, about 1666, and had brought with 
him two or more children to his new home. His wife was 
born about 1644, and estimating him a few years older it 
would make 1640 as the probable date of his birth. He 
joined the "Dutch Rebellion" of 1673; was chosen surveyor 
of highways, 1675; juror, 1677, 1681, and selectman, 1687; 
the last recorded appearance of his name being on May 12 
of that year. In March, 1689, his widow Remember is men- 
tioned, and his death occurred between those dates. He was 
then a comparatively young man, but left behind him ten 
sons, all of whom married and seven of them begat large 
families to perpetuate the name. In 1807 there were 41 
distinct families of Luce on the Vineyard, the largest quota 
of any of the island patronymics, and it has probably main- 
tained the supremacy in the century which followed. 

Besides his home lot, he owned at Great Neck, and by 
the several proprietors' divisions had land at Kepigon. To 
this he added by purchase 60 acres in Christian town border- 

'Plymouth Col. Records; comp. Suffolk Deeds, VII, 163. The History of Scituate 
says he was of Barnstable (vide, p. 305). 

^History of Windham, Conn; comp. N. E. Hist. Gen. Reg., XXXI, 415. The 
spelling of the name in the island records is uniformly Luce and his signature is in 
that form. There was a Thomas Luce in Charlestown, according to Farmer (Gen. 
Dictionary), who had a son Samuel b. 1644, but of whom nothing further is heard. 
It is probable that this was Lewis. 

'Tisbury Records, 5. The name is spelled Lewes in this case. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

ing on Great James pond. There is no record of any division 
of his estate among the heirs, all minors probably at the 
time of his death, but there are scattering references to such 
an allotment. The same obscurity attends the wife and widow 
of Henry Luce as followed him. This grand old Puritan 
mother of ten children was living as late as 1708, but the 
date of her death or burial place is not known. She left not 
less than 42 grandchildren, of whom twenty were boys, on 
the Vineyard, which is exclusive of those of the Connecticut 
and New Jersey branches. 


This early settler in the town was one of the Cape Cod 
men. He was first known there at Eastham, when in 1657 he 
was admitted as a freeman, under the name of John Mantah.' 
From this, supposing him to have been at least 21 years of 
age, the date of his birth can be placed at 1636 or thereabouts. 
In 1668 he was on a coroner's jury in the case of the accidental 
death of Isaac Robinson, Jr., of Barnstable, older brother 
of our Isaac. ^ 

John Manter married Martha, daughter of Bernard 
Lambert, July i, 1657, who was born in Barnstable Sept. 19, 
1640, and died in Tisbury Oct. 3, 1724. Eight children of 
record were born to them. At some date unknown, probably 
before 1668, he removed to Falmouth, then called Succonessit, 
where he acquired considerable property. He remained there 
until 1677, when he became attracted to the Vineyard and 
effected an exchange of his house and lands there on Dec. 
24, 1677, with Nathaniel Skiff e, one of the early proprietors 
of this town. He gave Skiff e 

"my house with threescore acres of land adjoining thereunto; all other 
housing appertaining thereunto lying and being in the township of Sac- 
conessit in the Collonie of New Plymouth with a whole share of meadow 
lying in the great marsh with a share of meadow in the little marsh which 
I bought of Jonathan Hatch with all my meadow lying at the Bass pond 
with half a town right in all undivided lands and meadows with all and 
singular privileges and apputrenances whatsoever thereunto belonging.'" 

In return he received the eastern half of the Josiah Standish 
lot on which the house of the late Henry L. Whiting now stands. 

'The name being an unusual one was frequently misspelled in the Cape Cod 
records and appears as Martin occasionally. 
'Plymouth Col. Rec, V, 7. 
'Dukes Deeds, I, 272. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

For some reason this did not suit his purpose and on May 4, 
1678, he bought of Thomas^ Mayhew the seven-acre lot on the 
east side of the Chilmark road, at the turn opposite the church, 
together with that part of a "neck of land" adjoining on the 
south, and east of ''Merrys Field," and a half lot to the north, 
formerly belonging to James Skiffe, Jr. These properties 
remained in the family by inheritance for several generations. 
Two years later he sold the Standish lot to Mayhew.^ 

John Manter began early a career of usefulness in the 
town. He was on a committee to lay out land, Sept. 29, 1677,' 
his first recorded appearance here, and in 1679 and 1689 was 
chosen surveyor of highways. In 1681 he was a juror and 
in 1692 was appointed as Ensign in the Foot Company of 
Tisbury. This military instinct seemed to be transmitted to 
his descendants, particularly through the line of Whitten,' 
whose sons Robert and Jeremiah served in the French and 
Indian and Revolutionary Wars. He was chosen selectman in 
1699, 1703, 1704, 1705, and had acted in behalf of the town 
in minor capacities previous to those dates. ^ By this time he 
was about three score and ten and sons had grown up about 
him to take his place, both destined to follow in the footsteps 
of their father as useful citizens. 

He died probably early in 1708, as his will, dated Sept. 
12, 1698, was admitted to probate May 25, 1708, and the last 
time his name appears in the town records is March 28, 1707, 
in a division of land.* The following is an abstract of his 
will : — 

To Son John all my land at "Keephegon" and all my several shares 
of land in the necks eastward from the Old Mill Brook, and half a common 
write in said town. 

To Son Benjamin my Dwelling house, with all my lands both 
meadow land and upland ajoining thereto with all out housing and fencing 
whatsoever thereto belonging and also half a common write in said town. 

All my movable estate unto his three daughters to be divided equally 
among them.* 

It will be seen that Benjamin inherited the homestead, 
and then, after his father's death, added by purchases of his 
own, the entire section bounded by the Chilmark road, Mill 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 98, 267. 

^Ibid., II, 306. 

'Town Records, 31, 45, 48, 50. 

^Tisbury Records, 52. 

*Dukes Probate, I, 19, 20. ; 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

path and Old Mill brook on the east, which constituted the 
Manter estate until the present century. 

Mrs. Manter survived her husband sixteen years, and 
died at the ripe old age of eighty-four. 


This prominent pioneer of Tisbury is first found as a 
resident of Haverhill, Mass., in 1640, v^here he lived with a 
wife named Mary until about 1654, when he removed to 
Hampton, N. H. There his wife died April 4, 1657, having 
given birth to one child of record, Joseph, b. Dec. 19, 1654. 
The father, Joseph, was a carpenter by trade and plied his 
craft in Hampton as he had done before in Haverhill. Shortly 
after his wife's death he bought a house and ten acres of upland 
in Hampton, of Thomas Coleman, Sept. 29, 1657, and at the 
age of 47 years found himself a widower, with possibly a 
child to care for in his new home. But this was not long to 
remain so. Emanuel Hilliard of that town was drowned 
shortly after this in October, 1657, leaving a widow Elizabeth, 
daughter of John and Phebe Parkhurst of Ipswich, England, 
and sister of George Parkhurst of Watertown, Mass. The 
young widow was then about 29 years old, and before two 
years had passed she entered into a marriage covenant with 
Joseph Merry, who was then 21 years her senior. In this 
agreement he gave her the house and ten acres he had recently 
acquired, and sometime about Dec. 13, 1659, when the cove- 
nant was dated, they set up housekeeping, and four children 
were born to them in rapid succession, who later spent their 
days on the Vineyard. This explains the curious epitaph on 
the gravestone of Joseph in the West Tisbury cemetery — 
"That being verified in him Psalms 92 14 They shall bring 
forth fruit in old age," a reference to his second marriage 
after middle life and the raising of a family. 

Joseph Merry and his young family, consisting of Hannah, 
Abigail, Bathsheba and Samuel, born between 1660 and 1669 
in Hampton, continued residence there till 1670, when in some 
way he became attracted to the Vineyard. If we are to credit 
the tradition that Governor Mayhew's first wife was a Park- 
hurst, possibly the sister of George of Watertown, it will be 
seen that Elizabeth Merry was related by marriage to the 
proprietor of Martha's Vineyard and thus the family connection 
is responsible for Merry's migration. However that be, almost 


Annals of West Tisbuty 

as soon as the new township of Tisbury had been bought by 
Pabodie and his partners, Merry bought of Benjamin Church, 
on Nov. 19, 1669, the grist mill and its privileges "uppon the 
westermost Brook of Takemmy" with one eighth part of the 
propriety, or two shares, in the new settlement. The purchase 
price was ;^9o and Merry paid for it in whole or in part with 
his Hampton property, the homestead, an island of salt marsh 
and two shares in cow and ox commons in that town. The 
deeds finally passed Dec. 2, 1670, (Mrs. Merry and Nathaniel 
Batchelor acting as his attorneys by previous appointment), 
and from this it is presumed that Merry was already at the 
Vineyard attending to his new purchase and preparing the 
new home for his little family. The property purchased 
consisted, as laid out, of the mill on the New Mill river so 
long operated by the Looks, with land adjoining on the west 
side of the road, and about eighteen acres on the east side 
of the road, bounded by the river. This last lot is still known as 
"Merry's Field" after a lapse of two and a half centuries, 
though the property did not remain in the family beyond 
1705. After operating the mill for five years, Joseph Merry 
sold that part of his estate to Tristram Coffin of Nantucket, 
and being then about three-score-and-ten years of age it is 
presumed that he devoted the rest of his life to his trade and 
tilling the soil. There is no record as to the location of his 
house, but in all probability it was in his "Field." His public 
services were few. He was constable in 1675, road surveyor 
in 1678 and 1687, and was chosen to divide common lands 
in 1689 and 1690. On March 2, 1677-8, the grand jury 
presented him "for contempt of authoritie in not obeying the 
summons in his Majesties Name to give in testimony" and 
for this he was mulcted in the sum of five shillings. In 1681 
he sued Simon Athearn in the sum of ;^2o "for non payment 
of a frame of an house," but the two compromised on £7 and 
divided the costs. On July 12, 1689, being then about 82 
years of age, he gave his homestead by deed of gift to his only 
son Samuel, then just entering his 21st year, and from that 
date on until 1701 his name appears but once in the records, 
when he gave some "information" about the ancient bounds 
of a town lot, being then in his 94th year. He passed the 
century mark in 1707 and died April 5, 1710, at the remarkable 
age of 103, undoubtedly the oldest person who has ever lived 
in the town. It is not known whether he survived his wife 
Elizabeth, as there is no record of her death nor a stone at her 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

grave. If she survived she was 82 when her husband died. 
Of his children further evidences of longevity are noticeable. 
His daughter Abigail Pease died in her 80th year and Hannah 
Skiff e at 97 years. 


It is probable that this settler was a resident of Sandwich 
and prior to that may have lived in Boston, but no definite 
statement can be made without further evidences of identi- 
fication.* He was one of the later settlers receiving a grant 
of land Oct. 2, 1701, next the minister's lot on the east side 
of Old Mill brook. In the spring of that year he had married 
Sarah Manter (17) of this town, and these dates probably 
indicate the time of his settlement. His name appears but 
few times in the records, as surveyor of highways in 1703, 
constable in 1715, and grand juror in 1722. In his will, 
dated July 30, 1731, he calls himself yeoman, "advanced 
in years." It was probated Sept. 11, 1733, and this last year 
may be taken as the date of his decease.^ As he left no sons 
the name became extinct at his death, and if any descendants 
now live here they may trace descent through his daughter 
Elizabeth, who married Joseph Foster. 


^ The first of this family to 

^/Q'^^^ iJiOotf^/oY^ come to Tisbury was Isaac, 

/ ^ the second son of Rev. John 

Robinson, famous as the pastor 

of the Pilgrims at Leyden, Holland, and of Bridget White 

his wife.^ "He came not to New England" writes Sewall, 

"till the year in which Mr [John] Wilson was returning to 

'An Edward Milton took the oath of allegiance in Boston in 1679 and was taxed 
in 1 681 in that town. Judge Sewall in his Letter Book refers, in four letters, dated 
1687-1691, to Edward Milton as a carpenter at Sandwich, building a church there 
for the Indians, the first built in the English manner (Chamberlain, Historical Dis- 
course). Experience Mayhew in "Indian Converts," refers to him and his "religious 
family" (p. 257). 

^Dukes Probate, III, 3. 

'Rev. John Robinson was a native of Lincolnshire, born about 1575. He matric- 
ulated at Emanuel College, Cambridge, in 1592, becoming a Fellow of Corpus Christ! 
six years later. He resigned in 1604 and became identified with the Puritans or 
Dissenters, and fled to Amsterdam about 1608 and thence removed in 1609 to Leyden. 
His record as spiritual leader of the English exiles, who later became the "Mayflower" 
Pilgrims, is well known. He died March i, 1625. His wife, whom he had married 
in Northampton, England, Feb. 15, 1603, survived, and perhaps came to New Eng- 
land in the fleet with Winthrop (Letter, Shirley to Bradford, March 8, 1629-30). 


Annals of West Tisbury 

England after the settlement of Boston."^ This was in 1631, 
and Isaac immediately settled at Plymouth, later removing 
to Duxbury (1634), Scituate (1636), Barnstable (1639) and 
Falmouth (1660). In Scituate he married for his first wife 
Margaret, daughter of Theophilus and Eglin (Mortimer) 
Hanford, June 27, 1636, sister of Rev. Thomas Hanford of 
Norwalk, Conn., and niece of Mr. Timothy Hatherly. By 
her he had five children and after her death (June 14, 1649), 
he married second, Mary Faunce, 1650, and four more children, 
all sons, were the fruit of this union. 

By reason of his parentage he was a prominent man in 
Plymouth Colony, but later in 1669, for displaying liberality 
toward the doctrines of the Quakers, was disfranchised by 
Governor Thomas Prince. It appears that he had attended 
their meetings for the purpose of showing them the error of 
their ways, but instead of accomplishing this, became self- 
convicted and embraced some of their beliefs. He was re- 
stored to citizenship in 1673 by Governor Winslow.^ 

It appears that Isaac Robinson with others, in 1660, 
decided to leave Barnstable presumably for the Vineyard, 
and took letters of dismissal to the church at Great Harbor, 
but finally decided to settle at Falmouth.^ How long he 
remained an actual resident of that town is not known, but in 
May, 167 1, he was admitted a proprietor of the new settle- 
ment at Takemmy, and probably soon after this became 
identified with Tisbury. At this time he was about 60 years 
of age, having been born in 1610, and he was perhaps, with 
the exception of Joseph Merry, the oldest resident of the new 
settlement. In 1673 he became associated with the "Dutch 
Rebellion," but suffered no punishment therefor, unless the 
records are silent regarding him. His four sons by the second 
marriage, Israel, Jacob, Peter and Thomas, became residents 
of the Vineyard, though none of them left descendants here 
to perpetuate the name. Those who resided here in the next 
century were his descendants through his first marriage. 
His son Israel, baptized Oct. 5, 1651, assumed the name of 
Isaac in memory of an older half brother of that name who was 

^Sewall, Diary. He came in the ship "Lyon." 

^The old record of disfranchisement is interlined with the words: — "there being 
some mistake in this the said Isaac at his request is re-established." (Hist, of Fal- 
mouth, 13.) 

^Records, Church, West Barnstable, comp. History of Falmouth. He built 
his house in 1661 on the neck between Fresh and Salt Ponds, Falmouth Heights 
(Ibid., 14). 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

drowned in 1668, and was ever after known by the adopted 
name/ This change made two Isaac Robinsons in the town 
and creates difficulties in identification of the one whose name 
appears on the records, but it is probable that he is the ''good- 
man" Robinson chosen townsman in 1678, 1680, 1683, rather 
than the younger of the name. He had his home lot on the 
east side of Old Mill river, bounded on the south by the 
Mill path. This he sold in November, 1701, to his son Isaac, 
together with all his dividend lots in various parts of the town.^ 
He was then over ninety years of age, but continued to reside 
here, presumably with one of his sons. Sewall saw him 
here when on a visit in 1702 and thus refers to the incident: — 

"He saith he is 92 years old is the son of Mr. Robinson pastor of 
the ch. of Leyden, part of wch came to Plimo. * * * * j told him I was 
very desirous to see him for his fathers sake and his own. Gave him an 
Arabian piece of gold to buy a book for some of his grandchildren."^ 

According to tradition this scion of a distinguished family 
died about 1704 in Barnstable at the home of his daughter, 
Mrs. Fear Baker. ''A venerable man," writes Prince in his 
Annals, "whom I have often seen." 

His sons Isaac and Jacob remained in Tisbury, dying 
within eighteen days of each other, in 1728, while the other 
two brothers, Peter and Thomas, removed to Connecticut 
early in the i8th century. 


From his home in the neighboring island of Nantucket 
came William Rogers, bringing with him his wife Martha and 
children, Ebenezer and Experience. He had been here possibly 
continuously since June 29, 1669, when he signed as witness 
to a deed,^ but the first positive indication of his settlement 
here is found ten years later in the following extract from the 
town records: — 

It is vootted by the inhabbitants in a towne mitting that will. Rogges 
shall purchchis therty eakers of land of sias Sogimer for for an heritance 
the toune is to chuse two men to Hit out and the saide rogers is to buld 
upon it and to live upon it fouer yeare and what the saide rogers cann 
purchis more it is to reteune to the toune againe ^ 

'He signed as Israel in 1670 and 1671. Tisbury Records, 3, 4. 
^Dukes Deeds, II, 35. This establishes the identity of Isaac Senior as the resi- 
dent here, as his son Isaac was childless. 
'Sewall, Diary. 
'Tisbury Records, p. i. 
"Ibid., p. 13. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

This was dated Oct. 8, 1679, and on Jan. 29, 1679-80, he 
bought of Josias the Sachem twenty acres within the hmits 
of the Indian town at a place called Animtissewoksett, or 
Animtesawohqussuk, by the Indians.^ There he built a house 
and lived an uneventful life for thirty years, troubled only by 
that strenuous townsman Simon Athearn, with whom he had 
the misfortune to run amuck. On May 26, 1685, he charged 
Athearn with appropriating some of his cattle, but the Court 
divided the number disputed and awarded half to each. He 
then sued Athearn for slander, but was non-suited. The next 
year on June 2, 1686, he returned again to the fray and charged 
Athearn with stealing a cow, and by the record it appears 
that Athearn in the presence of the court plucked Rogers 
"by the eres and cauelled him thefe with other Skurvie words." 
The jury took Athearn's view of it. 

On Oct. 31, 1687, he mortgaged all his real estate to 
James Skiffe, an incumbrance that was later satisfied. On 
Oct. 13, 1699, be bought of Samuel Tilton all the latter 's rights 
to Homes Hole Neck, which was one third, and held it during 
his lifetime. He occupied none of the town offices during his 
residence of perhaps two score years here, and as he lived 
almost in obscurity so he died at a date unknown to us, but 
somewhere prior to Feb. 9, 1714.^ 

His wife, named Martha, was daughter of Robert and Jane 
Barnard of Nantucket, testified in a land suit in 1696, being 
at that time 49 years of age, which would place her birth about 
the year 1647, ^^^ from this we may estimate the probable 
age of her husband.^ It is supposed that she returned to 
Nantucket after his death, as some of her children lived on that 
island, and that she is the Martha Rogers whose death on Jan. 
23, 1 71 7-18 appears in the Nantucket records. 


According to Savage (Genealogical Dictionary, IV, 532), 
there came in the ''Elizabeth and Ann," in 1635, one Thomas 
Whitten, aged 36 years, bringing Audrey aged 45, who may 
have been his second wife, and Jeremy aged 8 years, but he 

'Dukes Deeds, III, 288; comp. Court Rec, 1716-17. Case, Praying Indians vs. 
Ebenezer Rogers. His house was near the "Red Ground" so called in 1701 (Tis- 
bury Records, 41). 

^Deeds, HI, 170. 

'Sup. Jud. Court Files, Case No. 4714. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

does not know what became of them/ It can now be stated 
that he settled at Plymouth, where in 1643 Thomas and Jere- 
miah Whiton or Whitney were ''able to bear arms." Before 
1657 Jeremiah had removed to Sandwich as he appears that 
date to take the oath of fidelity. In 1660 the father gave 
certain property rights to his son Jeremiah^ 

The four original proprietors of Takemmy admitted, 
among others, in May, 1671, Jeremiah Whiten to joint pro- 
prietory rights, and if this be the Jeremy of 1635, as it un- 
doubtedly is, our Jeremiah was forty-four years old when 
he took up his residence and cast his lot in the new township 
of Tisbury. His homestead is thus described in the records: — 

June the 27 1673 the Record of the lands And Accomadations of 
Jeremiah Whitin in Takymmy or tisbury on the vineyard. One house 
Lot which containeth fourty Acres [lying on the west side of the brook 
where his dwelling house] is this present year or 1673 bounded by the 
hey [way] And James Aliens lot on the south being fourty [rods by the 
brook] more or less And the brook on the east And runing eight score 
rods in length westward being fourty Acres more or less. And the sixth 
part of the neck by John Eddys of [which half] the sixth and furdermost 
lot next the poynt is Jeremiah whitins Leying Across the neck as the neck 
is devided to every mans [lot], contained in the neck as before mentioned 
in the order of the devision of the three necks bareing dates the first of 
february [167 1]. And the sixteenth part of all undevided lands whether 
purchased or to purchesse or that may be purchased 

This is the record of the lands And Accomadations of Jeremiah 

At the time of his coming here he was married to Eliza- 
beth, daughter of John Daggett, of Watertown and the Vine- 
yard. She was born about 1638 and two children were born 
to them, Thomas and a daughter IVIary, b. May i, 1666, 
recorded in the town book of Tisbury, though it is probable 
she owned some other place as her native town. Thomas 
died young. 

Jeremiah Whitten remained in Tisbury the rest of his 
days, until death terminated his earthly career late in 1711. 
There is no record of his decease, nor of his wife's, and no 

'With him came three Morecock children, probably belonging to his second wife 
by a previous marriage. They were certified by the Vicar of Benenden, Co. Kent, 
as to "conformity" in religion, but their names cannot now be found in the records 
of that parish. The name Whitten was commonly written Whitney in the Plymouth 

'Thomas Whitton (Whitney) is frequently mentioned in the Plymouth records 
and was a juryman every year 1643-1667. He married twice after the death of the 
wife Audrey (before 1639), and in his will he mentions son Jeremiah and grandson 

'This lot was between the cemetery and Scotchman's Bridge road. 

Annals of West Tisbury 

gravestones mark their last resting place. His will shows that 
the ''aged Mother Elizabeth my wife" was living in November 
of that year. The daughter Mary married Benjamin Manter 
and the son-in-law with his wife were the beneficiaries of his 
estate, subject to support of the widow during her lifetime. 
Whitten Manter received a gun ''which formerly belonged 
unto my son Thomas Whitten deceased" (Probate, I, 33). 
His estate inventoried at £2'&2„ 7s. 

In his lifetime he made but little impress, if we may judge 
from the infrequency of appearance of his name in the town 
records. He was selectman in 1679, and on the committee 
to rearrange the town books in 1689, and this constitutes all 
that is known of him. The name became extinct here at his 
death, but that of Whitten Manter was familiar to past gener- 
ations, and all the descendants of Benjamin Manter may 
look to him as a common ancestor. 



The first college graduate from Tisbury was the youngest 
son of James Allen, Esq. He was born in 1689 and as the last 
of a large family of boys was given the benefit of a college 
education to fit him for the ministry. He studied theology, 
it is said with the Rev. Jonathan Russell, father of his class- 
mate Jonathan, with whom he went to Yale and entered 
the class which was graduated in 1708, and whose daughter 
Rebecca Russell became the wife of his brother Ebenezer 
Allen of Chilmark. When Benjamin got his degree of Bachelor 
of Arts he was about 19 years of age, and it is supposed that 
he returned to his home for a while before entering upon his 
calling. In 1710 he was preaching for a short while at Chat- 
ham, but not as a settled minister. He appears to have been 
in Barnstable, though not in a clerical capacity, for he found 
a wife there, whom he married April 5, 171 2, Elizabeth, daugh- 
ter of Deacon Job and Hannah (Taylor) Crocker, born May 
15, 1688, and with her he next appears at the re-settlement of 
Worcester, in 1715, when he remained about two years. 
He removed to Bridgewater where, on Aug. 17, 171 7, he preached 
for the first time in the newly incorporated South Parish in 
that town, and on July 9, 1 718, was ordained as its pastor, 
"but being an unsuccessful manager of his private secular 
concerns, he fell into debt, and his parish, after often reliev- 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

ing him, became at last weary of it, and he was dismissed by 
an ecclesiastical council." He preached his last sermon there 
on Oct. II, 1730, and for several years he seems to have had 
no settled work. His next field of labor was in Falmouth, 
Province of Maine, a new (Second) Parish being formed in 
that part of the settlement known as Cape Elizabeth in 1733, 
and he was installed as its pastor Nov. 10, 1734, and this 
charge he held until his death. The installation sermon was 
preached by the Rev. Samuel Willard (Harv. Coll., 1723). 
He preached at this frontier town for twenty years, when on 
May 6, 1754, his death terminated a ministry that was eminently 
successful. The following account of him appeared in the 
Boston Gazette of June 25, 1754: — 

Falmouth June 13, 1754. No more Account having been given of 
the late worthy Pastor of the Second Church in this Town, the Rev. Mr. 
Benjamin Allen, I think it proper to inform the Publick, that the said 
Rev. gentleman died here on Monday the 6th of May last, in the 65th 
year of his age; and on Thursday following was honourably interr'd at 
the Expense of his Flock. God sent him to us in the height of his Powers 
and Usefulness and continued him a blessing for upwards of 20 years. 
He was justly accounted a Person of superior intellectual Powers, and 
withal a good Christian and Minister of Jesus Christ, well accomplished 
for the sacred office and faithful in discharge of the Trust committed to 
him, as well in pastoral Visits as Publick Administrations, thereby making 
full Proof of his Ministry, and being an Example to the Flock: His 
Discourses were nervous and solid, his Method clear and natural, his 
Delivery grave, serious and pathetick, more adapted to reach the Hearer's 
Hearts and Consciences, than with Words and Phrases to gratify the 
Fancies of the curious. He was of a healthy, strong Constitution, his 
Eye never dim while he lived; and tho' he used a strong Voice, yet it was 
easy, and without straining, and seemed not to spend for most of his Days. 
He was in some of his last years much impaired by Lethargick and repeated 
Shocks of paralytick Disorders, yet continued in his Lord's Works, till 
they with a Fever returning with greater Force, Nature could no longer 
bear up. After being last seiz'd, he continued to the tenth Day, but scarce 
speaking a word, much disordered in his Senses, and taking Httle Notice 
of any Thing. He was exemplary in every Relation, a kind Husband, 
a tender Father, a wise Counsellor and affectionate, faithful Friend. His 
Conversation very agreeable and entertaining; and tho' so well accom- 
plished a Person, he was withal affable/condescending, humble and modest, 
never that I could observe or hear elated with Pride upon any Occasion. 
His disconsolate Yokefellow continues still struggling with her Infirmities, 
waiting for her change. He had Nine children, six of which survive him, 
a son and five Daughters. 

The son referred to in this obituary notice was Joseph, 
born February 14, 1720, who is said to have matriculated at 
Harvard College, but was not graduated. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

His eldest daughter, Hannah, married Oct. 8, 1742, 
Rev. Stephen Emery, Harvard College, 1730, who was born 
Aug. 3, 1707, and died May 24, 1782, and she died June 7, 
1799. He was settled at Nottingham, N. H., 1 741-8, and at 
Chatham, Cape Cod, from 1749 till his death. His daughter 
Elizabeth, born in 1716, married Clement Jordan, Esq., 
April 29, 1744, a prominent resident of Falmouth, and she 
died May 23, 1752, before her father. Another daughter, 
probably named Dorcas, married Tristram Jordan, Esq. in 
December, 1778, a prominent citizen of Saco, Maine, for his 
second wife, and died Dec. 19, 1781, without issue. Another 
daughter married Rev. Joseph Crocker, Harvard College, 
1734, of the South Parish in Eastham, now Orleans. The 
fifth daughter married Rev. Caleb Upham, Harvard College, 
1744, of Truro, Cape Cod. 


The name of this early transient was variously written 
Biven, Beven, Buiven, Bivens, and it probably is a Welsh patrony- 
mic. He was married when he came here but, of his antecedents 
prior to removal to the Vineyard nothing has been learned. 
He is first mentioned in 1677 in the court records, when he 
was fined for a breach of the peace. He was plaintiff in a 
suit for recovery of money due in 1680, and in the next year 
entered complaint against Simon Athearn for trespass and 
obtained judgment. What his status in the town was before 
1682 is not clear, as he did not acquire property till that year. 
He then bought several tracts of land on the west side of Old 
Mill brook on the road leading to North Tisbury, including 
the house and home lot of Thomas West, and resided there 
until his removal. He was chosen town commissioner in 
1688, a title which probably had the significance of selectman, 
but beyond this he held no public office. He sold his holdings 
in 1692-4, and before 1695 had removed to Glastonbury, 
Conn. He died there Dec. 15, 1697, leaving a widow and 
twelve children. 


Before his residence in this town Samuel Bickford had 
lived in Salisbury and Nantucket.* He had married Mary, 
daughter of our Edward Cottle, and followed his father-in- 

'He may have been the son of John Bickford of Dover, N. H., and the father 
of Jeremiah Bickford of Eastham and Yarmouth, Cape Cod. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

law in his several removals hitherward as already detailed. 
The last record of him in Nantucket is in 1679, and in 1680 
he was a witness to a document recorded here.^ In 1681 
he was called ''of Tisbury" as defendant in a suit. How 
long he remained on the Vineyard is not known, and nothing 
further has been found to throw light on his residence here. 


The stay of this individual on the Vineyard was of short 
duration, probably not extending over two or three years, 
but it is not possible to determine just when he came or the 
time of his departure, for his name does not appear on the land 
records. Whence he came is unknown. He received a grant 
of a half lot in the town, on the east side of Old Mill brook, 
bounded northerly b)i»the Scotchman's Bridge road, containing 
twenty-two acres, and presumably built a house thereon. 

He was one of the anti-Mayhew party and in 1673 joined 
the ranks of the insurgents, being one of the signers of the 
petition to the Massachusetts authorities against the Governor. 
With the rest he suffered the consequences and chose to seek 
better social and political conditions elsewhere. On Oct. 
28, 1675, he appeared before the town in meeting assembled 
"and acknowledged that he had made legall sale of his house 
landes and all Rightes and priveledges which he had in the 
Town of Tysburie unto Thomas Berrick" and the town at 
once confirmed the transfer and placed it on record. 

He went thence to Boston, where by wife Judith, four 
children are recorded to him, George, b. 1671, probably died 
young; George, 1676; Charles, 1678; and John, 1680, and 
that is the last we hear of him. Whether he married here, or 
left any descendant through a daughter is not known, but 
the presumption is all against it. 


This transient was another contribution to our early 
population from the Cape. He was born in 1660 and came 
here as a young man about 1685, probably from Harwich. 

*Dukes Deeds, I, 266. In 1678 Tobias and Thomas Coleman of Nantucket 
sell to Bickiord " an accomodation [of land] by us received of the said Samuel 
Bickford in a parsell of land at Mathews Vinniard as appears by our deed from him.' 
In 1679 Bickford conveys the same property back to the Colemans (Nantucket Deeds 
I, 75; II, 27). There is no record of what this property was in any of our town or 
county books and doubtless it has disappeared with other of the early Tisbury records. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

He bought the west half of the Standish home lot in 1686 
and remained about ten years, perhaps following his occupation 
as weaver. During this period he served as constable in 1688, 
his only public appearance. He removed to Harwich before 
July, 1696, and was living there in 171 7, when his wife Susanna, 
daughter of Joseph Wing of Sandwich, died. She was sister 
of the Nathaniel Wing who was a land owner here, and of 
the Joseph Wing, who married Jerusha Mayhew {^^) of 


He was the son of William Redfin (Redfyne, probably 
same as Redfern), whose name was afterwards written in the 
form used by our settler. William Redfin with his wife 
Rebecca was first at Cambridge, Mass, in 1639, and sometime 
before 1653 removed to New London, Conn., where he remained 
until 1662, the date of his death. ^ The son James was born 
about 1646, probably after his parents had moved to Connecti- 
cut, and on the decease of his father was bound out till his 
majority to Hugh Roberts of New London.^ In 1666 Redfield 
was "rated" in that town, his master having removed, and in 
May, 1669, he married Elizabeth How at New Haven, where 
he also removed about this time, as would appear by the birth 
of a child the next year at that place. ^ About 1671 he is found 
in Tisbury, where he took up a lot on the east side of Old 
Mill brook, near where the late Dr. D. A. Cleaveland resided. 
His possessions are thus described in the town records: — 

The Lands And Accomadations of James Redfield which Leyeth in 
the Township of Takymmy or Tisbury on the vineyard as folloeth one 
half house Lot which containeth twenty five Acres Leying on the East 
side of the brook where his dwelling house is this present year one thou- 
sand six hundred seventy & three bounded with the brook on the west 
And Joseph doggats half Lot on the north & Isack Robinsons Lot on 
the South being twenty-five rods in bredth And runing in length eight 
score rods easterly from the brook being twenty five Acres more or Lesse 
And halfe the Sixth part of the neck by John Eddys of which halfe the 
fifth lot is James Redfields Leying on the south side of Joseph doggats 
halfe lot Leying Acrosse the neck as the neck is devided to every mans 
share Contained in the neck As before spoken in the order of devision of 
the three necks baring date february the first 1761 

And the two And thirtyth part of all undevided Lands whether pur- 
chesed or that may be purchesed This is the Lands And Accomadations 
of James Redfield but to be remembred the purches not yet paid* 

'American Ancestry, III; io8. 

^Caulkins, "History of New London," and New Haven Town Records. 

^Redfield Genealogy, passim. 

^Tisbury Records, p. 4. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Redfield became identified with the opposition to the 
Mayhew regime in 1673, and was arrested and fined Hke the 
rest after the "Dutch Rebelhon" had collapsed, but upon 
public acknowledgment of his "error," and "in consideration 
of his poverty," the fine was remitted/ It is probable that 
he was unable to remain under these circumstances, and his 
lot was forfeited, being regranted to John Tucker a few years 
later.^ He returned to New Haven, where on May 8, 1674, 
he is called "now resident" of that town, and acted as repre- 
sentative of the "rebels" on the Vineyard in their further 
attempts to secure their rights.^ In 1676 he was recommended 
as a fit man to have charge of the fort at Saybrook, Conn., 
and presumably he went there, as in 1683 and 1686 he had 
grants of land in that town/ His wife is believed to have 
died there and he is next found at Fairfield, Conn., where in 
1693 he married a second time, Deborah Sturgess. By these 
two wives he had the following children: Elizabeth, 1670; 
Sarah, 1673; Theophilus, 1682; Margaret, 1694; James, 
1696, none of whom remained on the Vineyard, or married 
here. It is supposed he died about 1723 in Fairfield. 


This early resident was the son of George Russell of 
Scituate, and was connected by marriage with William Pabodie. 
The latter sold his home lot to George Russell, Jr., from 
whom it passed to Samuel his brother in a short time. It is 
not known whether George ever resided here, but it is certain 
that when Samuel came into possession of the lot he entered 
on it as a settler and became identified with the Vineyard. 
This is shown by his participation in the "Dutch Rebellion" 
in 1673, and as in the case of many of his associates in that 
affair, it resulted in his withdrawal from the island altogether. 
He probably returned to Scituate, and in the early part of 
King Philip's War fell a victim in the assault of the Indians 
on Rehoboth March 28, 1676, leaving two daughters, Mary 
and Elizabeth, as heirs to his Tisbury estate. His widow, 
Mary, married Cornelius Briggs, and Russell's interest in 
the estate, in 1683, passed to Simon Athearn by purchase. 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 65. 

'Tisbury Records, p. 10. 

^N. Y. Colonial Mss., LXXV 124. 

^Town Records, Saybrook, Vol. I. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

This lot became the object of a troublesome suit in 1716, 
when Joseph Briggs, son of Cornelius, entered claim for the 
Pabodie lot, and being defeated in the local courts appealed 
to the Superior Court at Plymouth. 


The father of James, Nathaniel, Benjamin and Nathan 
Skiffe who became settlers on the Vineyard, was himself a non- 
resident proprietor and his connection with the town was very 
brief and unimportant. However, as the progenitor of a num- 
erous and influential family he deserves special mention aside 
from his original ownership of one of the first home lots. James 
Skiffe first appeared in New England at Lynn, Mass., about 1635 
and is said to have come from London.^ He had some asso- 
ciation with Isaac Allerton of Plymouth, who came from Lon- 
don and was a passenger in the Mayflower, 1620, and "for 
his service Donn to Me Isaack Ollerton" he was granted 
land in Sandwich Jan. 14, 1636-7, which place became his 
permanent residence.^ He was representative to the General 
Court, beginning in 1645, ^^r thirteen years, and in 1656 was 
appointed to train the militia, and in various ways was a 
leader in the public life of Sandwich. 

His interest in this town undoubtedly was of a speculative 
character, brought about through his son James and his 
acquaintance with James Allen, and was subsequent to the 
formation of the partnership of James, junior, with Peabody, 
Allen and Standish. He was admitted as a proprietor on 
May 20, 1671^ and granted a full share of land. His lot was 
on the west side of Old Mill river, and his holdings in the 
town are thus enumerated: — 

Thes are the Lands of J earns Skiffe senier [in the] the township of 
tisbery: one lot containing forty ackers Bounded on the est By the reiver 
on the north By thomas wests Lot on the south By the heyway that leieth 
on the north sid of henery Luessis Lot and so runeth from the reiver 
westward fore poles in length and one Lot In the gret neck Bounded on 
the est by Jeans alhns Lot on the west by Samuel russeles Lot with a 

'No proof of connection with any English family has yet been discovered. A 
John Skiff and wife Joan lived in Modingham, Kent, England, in 1609, when the 
husband died. 

^Plymouth Colony Court Orders, I, 98. It is probable that Skiffe was in the 
service of Mr. Allerton as the context of the grant indicates this as the reason for the 

'Sup. Jud. Court Files, No. 4974. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

sixtenth part of all undevided landes and meddo the devided Landes 
Being more or les as thay are Laied out thes are the Landes purchased 
by the above named Jeams Skiff 

recorded by ordor of the town: febbarary the 5: 1674' 

This lot he gave to his son Nathan on June 15, 1675, 
and his quitclaim of it, when Nathan sold to Arthur Bevan, 
June 9, 1687, is the last record of him in connection with 
the town and Vineyard. 

His first wife is said to have been Margaret Reaves, and 
he had a second wife named Mary, by one or both of whom 
he had the following named children:—^ 

I. James, b. 12 September 1638. Came to Tisbury. 

II. Stephen, b. 14 April 1641. 

III. Nathaniel, b. 20 March 1645. Came to Tisbury. 

IV. Sarah, b. 12 October 1646; m. Thomas Mayhew. 

V. Bathshua, b. 26 April 1648, m. Shearjashub Bourne. 

VI. Mary, b. 24 March 1650; m. Matthew Mayhew. 

VII. Patience,^ b. 25 March 1652; m. Elisha Bourne. 

VIII. Benjamin, b. 15 November 1655. Came to Tisbury. 

IX. Nathan, b. 16 May 1658. Came to Tisbury. 

It will thus be seen that through his children James Skiffe, 
senior, transmitted a powerful influence upon the affairs of 
the new settlement. His wife Mary died Sept. 21, 1673, but 
it is not known how long after 1687 he survived. 

Otl-«4>^^ ^^MJ- 


Although one of the 
four proprietors of Tis- 
bury, yet his relation to 
the town was of a tran- 
sient character. His 
home lot was on the 
west side of Old Mill brook just south of the Whiting property 
but how long he resided on it is not known. It passed into 
the possession of Nathaniel V^ing some time before 1677, and 
it may be inferred that the participation of the Junior Skiffe 
in the "Dutch Rebellion" of 1673 may have been the cause 
of his departure. He does not appear to have been punished 
for it directly, but the ruling family found opportunity to reach 

'Tisbury Records, p. 8. 

'Sandwich (Mass.) Records. An Elizabeth Skaffe was buried at Rehoboth in 
1676, possibly a daughter. 

'This name is written Marianne, apparently, but Patience is believed to be correct. 

Annals of West Tisbury 

him in other ways. Thomas Daggett entered complaint 
against him in 1674 for slander, in calling him "a theif,a Iyer 
and knave and other opprobrious words," as previously related 
(vide Vol. I., pp. 166-7), ^^^ thenceforth his usefulness and 
personal safety were ended. He remained several years, the 
last record of his residence here being in 1677, and then re- 
moved to Nantucket. He had contracted a second marriage 
with Sarah, daughter of Robert Barnard of that island, in 
March, 1676-7, and thenceforth became a townsman there.^ 
The fruit of this union was five daughters and a son, but 
as the latter was killed in 1723, supposedly unmarried, this 
line of Skiffes became extinct. The daughters married and 
died in Nantucket. He became a deacon of the church, 
and was living in 17 19, when he visited Chilmark with one 
of his married daughters.^ He was then eighty-one years of 
age, having been born Sept. 12, 1638, and his death occurred 
not long after. His widow Sarah survived and died in 1732. 


This transient came to Tisbury from the Province of 
Maine, where he had been a pioneer in the eastern portion 
of that province, at Cape Anna waggon, Sheepscot Bay.^ He 
was in Dartmouth, England, in 1659,^ which was probably 
the region of his birthplace, and in 1662 he purchased land 
at Sheepscot.^ There he resided with his family until driven 
off by the Indians in 1675, when he migrated to the Vineyard. 
His home lot was on the east side of the Old Mill river, next 
north of Isaac Robinson. He at once became an active 
citizen in the new settlement, being chosen surveyor and cons- 
table in 1675 and town clerk in 1679 and 1680.^ But he did 
not long survive, as in July, 1681, Susanna, the widow of John 
Tucker, "late of Martha's Vineyard," is mentioned in the 
Plymouth Colony.^ His son John was living in Harwich, 
Cape Cod, in 1716 and at that date disposed of his father's 
interests in Tisbury to Samuel Cobb.^ 

'Nantucket Records, III, 75. His previous marriage and divorce has been noted 
in this history (I, 474). 

^Diary of Rev. William Homes, May 31, 1719. 

^Dukes Deeds, I, 372. 

*As witness to a deed. York Deeds, I, 103. 

'Essex Deeds, LIV, 228. 

*Town Records, 12-14. 

^Plymouth Colony Records, VI, 65. 

*Dukes Deeds, III, 132. Comp. Essex Antiquarian, IV", 32; VIII, 47. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 


The beginnings of the religious history of this town can 
probably be dated coincidentally with the coming of the 
first settlers, although there is nothing of record in the town 
books touching this subject until ten years after the "first 
purchase." As was the case at Great Harbor, there was but 
a handful of settlers in the early years of the town's existence, 
and the easiest available means of securing ministerial services 
and a place in which to hold them were adopted by the planters. 
In the division of the Takemmy purchase, made May 20, 
1 67 1, by the original proprietors, Pabodie, Allen, Skiff e and 
Standish, when they "devided the whole into twelve partes 
or shares" they provided "one for a minister."* 

This lot had already been laid out and its dimensions 
and boundaries were as follows: — 

The Lands & Accomadations which belongeth to the minisstrie in 
takymmy or tisbury on the vineyard as foloeth 

One house Lot with an Adishon of low land unto the house lot the 
house Lot Leying on the East sid of the brook next northward unto the 
halfe lot once grannted unto Mr John [Bishop] upon condishon but to 
be remembrd, there is to be A heye way betwen this Lot And halfe Lot 
or there A bout most conveniant over the brooke up into the woods East 
And west so — this lot is to run fourty rods in bredth northward And in 
length Eastward eightfoor rods and the addishon of low land is all the 
low land betwen the lot And Simon Athearns fenc but the upland which 
leyeth betwen Simon Athearns lot and the lot for the minisstrie is left 

And the seventh part of the great neack as before spoken in the order 
of the devision of the three necks for an Inhearitanc for ever bareing date 
the first of february 167 1 as also a sixteenth Part of all the undividedd 
lands and meadows lying within the bounds of said Town ship of Tisbury 
whether Purchased or to be purchased of the Indians^ 


The Rev. Thomas Prince, the New England chronologist, 
is our authority for the statement that the Rev. John Mayhew, 
the youngest son of the ill-fated missionary, was called to 
preach in Tisbury as soon as he had reached his majority. 
This was in 1673, when this young man, who more than any 
of his kindred resembled his gifted father, is described as 
"of great worth and usefulness and fell not short either of 

'Supreme Judicial Court Files, No. 4974. 
^Tisbury Records, p. 5. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

the eminent genius or piety of his excellent progenitors." He 
had these inherited scholarly inclinations, which were early 
developed by the aid of his grandfather's teaching and the 
benefit of his father's library. As his older brothers, Matthew 
and Thomas, applied themselves to executive and judicial 
duties, the way was cleared for him as one of the co-heirs 
of the proprietary, to devote himself to the work of his choice.^ 
He began his ministry coincident with the establishment 
of marital relations. He was married in 1672 to Elizabeth 
Hilyard, orphan daughter of Emmanuel Hilyard of Hampton, 
N. H., who at the time of her marriage was a little more than 
seventeen years of age. She was brought to Tisbury by her 
mother, who had become, after the death of her husband, 
the second wife of Joseph Merry. With his young bride, he 
set up a home for himself at Quansoo, where he ever after 
lived, raised a large family of eight children, the eldest of 
whom was the celebrated Experience, and there ended his 
days. It appears that he was "minister of the Gospel to the 
inhabitants of Tisbury and Chilmark united," as testified by 
the epitaph on his gravestone, and it can be readily understood 
that such an arrangement for a joint pastorate would have 
been the natural plan for the two small communities iying 


Where the services were held first, whether in Chil- 
mark or Tisbury, is not known, but it can be surmised that 
the school house, frequently mentioned about that period, 
may have served for a time as a meeting-house. Situated 
as it was on the South road, near the boundary line of the 
two towns, it would admirably serve this purpose That a 
meeting-house was built before 1700 in this town seems to 
be a clear inference from the vote of the freeholders: "at a 
Leagall Town meeting [29 November, 1699] by the maiger 
part of the town that this meeting house shall be put in Con- 
venient Repair." This action, however, does not seem to 
have been entirely satisfactory to "the maiger part" after 
subsequent consideration, for the next year the town expressed 
a determination to build a new "meeting-house."^ 

There are no church records extant covering John May- 
hew's ministry and our only knowledge of his work, which 

'Indian Converts, p. 302-306. 

•"Tisbury Records, 32, 40. The first meeting house was probably built before 
1604 as there was at that date a "publique place for religious services. (Ibid, 25) 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

continued until his death on Feb. 22, 1668-9, ^ period of 
sixteen years, is to be found in scattered contemporary docu- 
ments, from which this slender thread of facts enables us to 
weave an equally slender narrative of a long pastorate. 

On June 17, 1679, the townsmen of Tisbury took action 
for the first time, so far as the records indicate, to make pro- 
visions for the support of the ministry, as expressed in the 
following vote : — 

June the sevententh day: 1679 

It is agread and ordred by the touns men of tisbury that from this 
day and forward that theare shall be two men chosen by this toun to rayse 
fiveten pounds yearly from year to year for the worck of the ministry by 
way of a rate apon all that shall attend the publique meteing in this place 
and the men to be chosen from year to year and that thay shall make the 
said rate according to theare best descration and shall see the said sum 
truely paid ' 

This provision for the support of the ministry appears 
to have been (in the absence of any other record) the stipend 
paid by the town to its minister at this date, and this small 
amount would equal about three hundred dollars, on the 
basis of comparative values at the present time. Neverthe- 
less, this worthy and zealous man accepted this as a sufficient 
reward for his modestly appraised labors. It is related by a 
writer touching this point that although "what was allowed 
him was very inconsiderable indeed yet he went steadily on 
in this pious work and would not suffer any affairs of his own 
to divert him from it." In 1687 the Commissioners of the 
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel increased his salary 
by thirty pounds per annum, in consideration of his additional 
work among the Indians. 


The death of this worthy man left a vacancy which was 
not filled for a number of years, and it is not known that any 
person regularly held services for a decade following. The 
oldest son of the deceased pastor. Experience, was but sixteen 
years old when his father died and therefore not yet ready to 
walk in his footsteps. As soon, however, as he became of 
age in 1694, the town passed the following vote: — 

"at a town meeting at tisbury the 26 day of October 1694 we the 
Inhabitants do' freely desier you Mr Experience Mayhew to Come to the 

'Tisbury Records, 13. 

Annals of West Tisbury 

publique place upon the Lords daye to teach us according to the measure 
and gift that god hath given you the which we hope and are perswaded 
will tend to the glory of god and our comfort by Jesus Christ our Lord' 

It is supposed that the desired arrangement was effected, 
although there is no further reference to the subject in the 
records, either by payment of salary annually or in other ways. 
The young man was not an educated or ordained clergyman 
and had only been invited to "teach," which term was used 
to distinguish this form of ministerial supply from that of a 
settled pastorate. The community was not, however, entirely 
without opportunities of attending religious services of a regular 
character for coincidental with the above request to young 
Mayhew, the neighboring town of Chilmark had called a 
minister, the Rev. Ralph Thacher, to be their pastor, and it 
is not improbable that the people of Tisbury drove over on 
Sundays to his services, when no one was present to conduct 
them in this town. But this sort of ecclesiastical poaching 
on their neighbors' preserves did not satisfy the people of 
Tisbury and they set about the task of securing a minister 
who should be regularly settled.^ It appears that they applied 
to the Rev. Jonathan Russell of Barnstable for advice and 
help in this matter, and as an expression of the gratitude of 
the town for his efforts in their behalf the townsmen wrote a 
letter to him. In it they say: — 

We render you hearty Thanks for all the Christian fatherlike Care 
and pains you have taken for our Better Settlement: and now againe for 
your Care of and Advice to us' 

At a town meeting held on May 28, 1700, the freeholders 
voted the sum of ;^2o per annum "towards the support of an 
orthidox Learned and pious person to be settled our ministerr 
who is also to Inherit for ever a valluable posesion of Lands 
saved for him in tisbury: being the first settled ministe: 
therein in tisbury." Recognizing that this amount was not 
a temptation to many they expressed the hope that "all such 
persons of honour as are concerned in power to add unto sd 
20 lb. sum other way that such a minister may be able to live 
upon : for our poverty & other necessary charges is such that 
we cannot procure above 20 lb. per year."^ 

'Tisbury Records, 25. 

'Three Athearn children were taken to Barnstable for baptism about this time. 
In November, 1699, the town voted that the meeting-house shall be put in "Con- 
venient Repair." 

^Tisbury Records, 35. 



History of Martha's Vineyard 

Reverend Mr. Russell was asked to obtain ''Mr. [Nathan- 
iel] Stone or some other orthodox Lerned and pious person" 
but Rev. Mr. Stone had just been settled in Harwich and was 
not available. He recommended another in the person of 
John Robinson. 

The town entered at once into negotiations with him to 
supply the vacant pulpit and the matter proceeded so far 
that at a town meeting held on July 23, 1700, it was voted 
"that Roberbert Cathcart shall go to barnstablea mesenger 
for this Town to accompany mr John Robinson over in order 
for setlement in the work of the ministry in Tisbury." 

It was also voted at the same meeting "that mr John 
Robinson shall at his Comming Take up his place of Resi- 
dence at Simon Atherns house. "^ 

It is supposed that this candidate was the Rev. John 
Robinson, who settled in Duxbury two years later,^ and not 
connected with the Robinson family of Cape Cod, nor with 
the early settlers of the name in Tisbury. There is nothing 
to indicate whether this minister came or preached here. If 
he did, he remained a very short time. On June 21st the next 
year a committee consisting of Ebenezer Allen and Robert 
Cathcart, was appointed "to prossicute the obtaining of an 
orthodox minister for this Town in way and manner as hath 
been heretofore prossicuted by this Town."^ 


While this committee was engaged in this search, and 
before a candidate was finally selected, the town took practical 
steps towards building another and undoubtedly larger meeting- 
house to accomodate the gradually increasing population. 
On the same day the following vote was passed: — 

It is voted and agreed upon by the maiger part of the freeholders 
and other Inhabitants then met at a Leagall Town meeting that there 
shall be built in Tisbury a new meeting-house after the manner and 
dementions of the meeting-house in Chilmark and it is also voted that 
Simon Athern and Robert Cathcart shall agree with a Carpinter in behalf 
of This Town of Tisbury to build the said meeting-house as Cheap as 
they Can^ 

'Tisbury Records, 36. 

^Winsor, History of Duxbury, 185. He was called to Duxbury on Sept. 2, 1700 
but did not accept for two years. His salary in Duxbury was ;£6o annually. 
'Tisbury Records, p. 40. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

Concurrent with this the town petitioned the General 
Court for financial assistance in the furtherance of this object. 
The petition was favorably considered and on June 26th of 
the same year the following resolve was passed: — 

RESOLVED that the sum of fifteen Pounds be Allowed out of the 
Publick Treasury to the town of Tisbury for their Assistance in Building 
a Meeting House.' 

At the town meeting held on October 2d following, much 
important business was transacted relating to the new meeting- 
house, its location and the settlement of a minister. In the 
first place it was voted to raise the sum of sixty pounds "for 
the building a new meeting-house," by assessment on the 
polls and estates. The location was determined by the gen- 
erosity of James Allen, who on that day made a gift of land 
for this particular object. The brief record of this first public 
gift to the town is as follows: — 

Know all men by these preasents that I James Allen of Chillmark 
do give and grant unto the Town of Tisbury an acker of Land Lying within 
abigall peses fence for Ever for a burying place and to set a meeting house 
on free from me my heires or assignes for Ever 

October 2: 1701' James Allen 

The town accepted this donation by passing a vote that 
a new meeting-house should be ''set upon an acker of land 

which Mr. James Allen granted to this town for 

a buring place." This lot is the "God's Acre" on the west 
bank of the Old Mill river, which for two hundred years 
has been a cemetery for the town and here for one hundred 
and sixty-five years the townspeople assembled weekly for 
worship. The "dementions" of this building as first con- 
structed are not now known, except that it was to be the same 
as the structure then existing in Chilmark. As no records of 
that town are extant prior to 1 704 we are left without means 
of determining this interesting point. 


^ /^J ^^^ committee which 

( / i I] ^ ^^^ ^^^^ charged in June 

C J OSLcJU, Joil^CJf Previous with the duty of 

^'^— ^ / * procuring " an orthodox 

minister," reported that they 
had secured Rev. Josiah Torrey, whom they recom- 
mended as a suitable person for settlement as their pastor. 

'Mass. Archives, XI, i6o. 
^Tisbury Records, 40 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

The townsmen thereupon passed the following vote: — 

Mr Josias Toary shall be the minister of Tisbury according to their 
former proceedings for the call and setlement of a minister in Tisbury.' 

But this action was not unanimous. The call was passed 
"by the maiger part of the Inhabitants" as it appears of record, 
yet four of the freeholders, Thomas Look, Joseph Daggett, 
Edward Cottle and Zachariah Hossuet (an Indian), separately 
"enters his decent against the above writen vott," but the 
reasons therefor are not stated. Their objection may have 
been to his youth, for he was then scarcely entering his twenty- 
first year. The young clergyman was the son of Josiah 
Torrey, by his wife, Sarah Wilson, and was born Feb. 9, 
1680, in Boston. It is believed that this was his first pastoral 
charge. He had graduated from Harvard College as Bachelor 
of Arts in 1698 and thus had received the highest education 
obtainable at that period. In fact all of his successors in the 
pastorate during the century which followed were Harvard 

The Selectmen of Tisbury refused to act on the matter 
of raising the sixty pounds, and at a town meeting held Dec. 
2 following, Simon Athearn, Robert Cathcart and Experience 
Luce were impowered to "assess the Town of Tisbury & 
precincts the said sum of Sixty Pound. "^ During the period 
while the new house was under construction, services were 
probably continued in the existing building used for the pur- 
pose. The new meeting-house was probably completed in the 
early part of the summer of 1702, for in July of that year the 
old building was sold at public auction.^ 

These are the formal records of the building of the church 
and beginnings of the pastorate which continued twenty-two 
years. Mr. Torrey, following the example of the other ministers 
to the English, devoted a portion of his time to missionary 
work among the Indians. Increase Mather, in a letter to the 
governor of the New England Company, under date of March 
2, 1705, speaks of him as "a hopeful young man who had 

'Tisbury Records, 42. 

^Tisbury Records, 43. "At the same time Peter Robinson and Experience Luce 
were authorized to "Receive in of the people of the Town and preacincts what they 
are willing to allow to Mr Tory." 

'"July 17, 1702. At a Town meeting held in Tisbury it was voted by the major 
part then preasant that the ould meeting house should be sould at an outcry: also 
it was voted that he that bid most at three times going Round should have it and at 
the last time of biding which was the third Time of asking on the third going Round 
Robert Cathcart was the bider who bid five pounds six shillings" 


Annals of West Tisbury 

learned the Indian tongue, and begun to preach to them in 
their own language."^ 

The records covering the period of his ministry do not 
disclose anything to indicate other than harmonious relations 
between pastor and people. He was paid twenty pounds per 
annum with occasional arrearages until 171 7, when it was 
voted to pay twenty-four pounds "to Gratifie & reward the 
Reverend Mr. Josiah Torrey for his Labour in the ministrye 
for the year 17 16." The next year, finding themselves unable 
to meet this charge, they voted at a town meeting "to send 
a petition to the General Court for their assistance in allowing 
them sum Relieff in helping them to maintain their minister 
out of the publique Treasury."^ Whether this was granted 
does not appear, but at a town meeting on August 1 1 following, 
it was voted: — 

That Mr Torrayes Salary be raised to thirty pounds per annum 
provided that he the said mr Josiah Torrey do accept of the same and 
will be obliedged to tarry with them and preach for Ever in the work of 
the ministrie in Tsibury ^ 

Annually thereafter this amount was voted for his salary 
throughout the remainder of his pastorate. It is evident that 
he filled his office to the satisfaction of the people, although 
in recording his death the Rev. William Homes of Chilmark 
writes in his diary: "it was said that of late he had drunk 
too freely and too frequently of spirits."^ 

After an illness of some months, during which he had 
been "under a bad habit of body," he died on Saturday, 
Oct. 7, 1723, "in the 43d year of his age," and was buried 
the next evening. He married Sarah, daughter of Simon and 
Mary (Butler) Athearn of Tisbury, by whom he had four 
daughters, Sarah, Susanna, Mary and Margaret, the eldest 
daughter becoming the wife of Rev. Nathaniel Hancock, his 

'In his "India Christiana," published in 1721, Cotton Mather thus speaks of 
Parson Torrey's labors: "The Rev. Mr. Josiah Torrey, Pastor of the English Church 
in Tisbury on the Vineyard, has also for many Years Past Preached as a Lecturer 
unto the Indians on that Island, having for that End learned their Language. He 
Preacheth in some or other of their Assemblies once a Fort-night, and goes frequently 
to their Church-Meetings, to advise & assist them." 

^Tisbury Records, 68, 69. 

^Ibid., 6q. This indicated a firm belief that Mr. Torrey had partaken of the 
"Elixir of Life." 

*That he at one time shared a barrel of rum with Paine Mayhew appears in the 
latter's "Commonplace Book," now in the possession of a resident of the Vineyard, 
according to a memorandum of a division entered therein, viz.: "in ye small cask 
15 g. to be taken out for tory," 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

successor in the pastorate. His personal estate was inventoried 
at £295-19-10 and his real estate, including the ministerial 
share, was equally divided in 1730 between his daughters/ 
This ministerial share was granted to Mr. Torrey in perpetuity 
with certain conditions Aug. 16, 1704, as shown by the follow- 
ing vote: — 

That all the ministers lands in Tisbury with all the priviledges there to 
belonging to Mr. Josiah Torry who is now minister, for an inheritance 
for ever: he Taking office in the work of ministrie in Tisbury & in con- 
sideration that if at any time the said ministers Lands be sould that the 
Selectmen of Tisbury have the Refusall in Proffer to buy said lands for 
the use of the Town and ministrie, for Ever.'' 

The town at the annual meeting in March, 1724, voted 
to raise fifty pounds for the support of a minister, and on 
May 20, following. Experience Luce was chosen "to go of 
to the main and to use all proper means to supply the town 
with a minister that the publick worship of God may be 
upheld with us."^ It appears that a Mr. Benjamin Ruggles 
was a candidate in August of that year and he "proposed his 
willingness to abide and take office in the ministry" in the 
town if "encurraged with a present settlement of two hundred 
pounds and seventy pounds pr. annum sallery for sum time 
and then eighty pound per anum for the futer," but while 
the freeholders agreed to give the settlement named they would 
not agree to more than fifty pounds as a salary. Jabez Athearn 
and Experience Luce were chosen as a committee to treat 
with Mr. Ruggles and to petition the General Court and the 
Society for Propagating the Gospel "for sum assistance."* 

That the town needed help would appear from the fact 
that it was already indebted for unpaid salary to their late 
pastor, and on August loth of that year it was voted to raise 
;!^i 5-16-3, "to clear our Rears that was due to the Rev. Mr. 
Josias Torey now desesed for his Labours in the ministry." 
That the committee failed to come to terms with the Rev. 
Mr. Ruggles, probably for financial reasons, may be con- 
cluded from a vote passed Nov. 23, 1724, by which Jabez 
Athearn was chosen "to go over to the main" in quest of an- 
other candidate. 

'Dukes Co. Probate Records, II, 59. 

'Tisbury Records, 49, 50. This became the basis of a famous suit for possession 
as elsewhere related. 
^Ibid., 83. 
^bid., 84. 


Annals of West Tisbury 


The town adhered to its vote of fifty pounds per annum 
or a proportionate sum ''to such person as shall come upon 
tryall: in case there shall not be an agreement made." 

Mr. Athearn secured the Rev. Nathaniel Hancock, a 
young man about twenty-five years of age, the son of Nathaniel 
Hancock of Cambridge. He was graduated from Harvard 
in the class of 1721 as Bachelor of Arts, and during the years 
1722-3 had taught school in Woburn. He was a second 
cousin to the celebrated John Hancock of Revolutionary 
days. This was the person whom Athearn induced to come 
forward as a candidate. He began preaching early the next 
year, and on March 29, 1725, "the town having had Tryal 
of the abilities of the Rev. Mr. Handcock in the Ministry 

and having had the approbation and advice of the 

reverend neighbouring Ministers," voted to call him at a 
salary of fifty pounds per annum with two hundred pounds 
as a settlement.^ But the young clergyman was not disposed 
to hasten matters, and while he continued to preach regularly 
he kept himself free from the responsibility of a settled pastor- 
ate. He was at this time unmarried, and it may be that his 
mind was more or less concerned with the probabilities of a 
matrimonial settlement with the young Miss Torrey, who was 
to become his wife. On Oct. 24, 1725, Jabez Athearn and 
Experience Luce were chosen a committee to petition the com- 
mittee on Indian affairs of the General Court, "to se whare 
they will alow aney incuragement to the Rev. Mr. Handcock 
in case he doth Learn the Indaen Langueg & preach lectures 
to them." In this they were not successful.^ 

On May 23, 1726, the question being still undecided the 
town renewed its offer for a settlement on the same terms 
as formerly voted. Still Mr. Hancock hesitated to commit 
himself, and while he continued to occupy the pulpit as a 
stated supply for many months, yet it was not until January 26, 
1726-7, that he finally decided to accept the town's proposal. 
The following is his agreeing letter to the terms of settlement 
and salary: — 

To the Church of Christ and Other Inhabitants in Tisbury: — 
Having taken Under Consideration the Call you have given me to 
Settle in the Work of the Gospell Ministry among you as also the Pro- 

'Tisbury Records, 86. 
Ibid., 87. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

posalls made to me for the Encouragement Respecting my Outward Sub- 
sistence with you, Bearing Date 23 May 1726 I have at Length come to 
the following Thought and Resolutions, vizt: — That the offers you made 
to me be very low and so the Encouragement in that Regard be very 
slender, yet considering the smallness of the Place and how few the In- 
habitants are and that what you offer may be near as much as for the 
Present you are able to Do for me: Having also Considered the Poor as 
well as others ought to have the Gospell Preached to them: Relying on 
the Gracious Providence of God, That God whom I Desire to serve & 
under him on the Justice & Generosity of the People by whom I am 
called, I do (you still continuing Desirous of it,) accept of your Call, both 
as to your offers in my Settlement & Sallery: and as I think, the call 
of God to serve Him in his work among you; and am content that my 
former answer (being not yet on Record) should become void, and be 
Committed to the Fire; this only vi/ith your Invitation and Proposals 
being Preferred and Recorded. And if what is now offered be acceptable 
and satisfactory to you, I Desire, in the strength of Christ, and under a 
Deep sense of my own Insufficiency for so Great a work, to devote myself 
to your Service, Resolving according to the best of my ability, & the 
measure of the grace of God granted unto me, to endeavor to Promot 
the good of your souls; Earnestly Desiring and Praying that we may be 
helped in our Respective Stations, so to Discharge the duties Incumbent 
on us that we may be Mutual Comforts one to another, here in this World, 
and Rejoice together in the day of the Lord. So I remain yours in the 
service of the Gospell. 

Tisbury, 26th January, 1727. 

Nathaniell Hancock."^ 

The townsmen, gratified at last to have him come to a 
favorable decision, sent him a letter of thanks and caused all 
the correspondence to be spread on the records. 

The ordination of Mr. Hancock took place in the follow- 
ing July, and the ceremonies on that occasion are thus dis- 
cribed by a contemporary writer: — 

July 30 1727. Being Lords day Mr Handcock preached both before 
and afternoon from James 2. 23 And he was called the friend of God: 
the discourse was not very animate yet hope it may be useful. Lord 
follow thy word and ordinances with a blessing. The day was fair clear 
and hot. On Wednesday last, being the 26th instant, Mr. Handcock was 
ordained Pastor of the Church in Tisbury. I preached the ordination 
sermon and Mr Russell and I imposed hands on him, for there was none 
other minister there. Mr Russell made the first prayer and I gave the 
Charge and made the second prayer, and Mr Russell gave him the right 
hand of fellowship' 

From the remark made by the diarist as to the absence 
of other ministers it is supposed that reference was intended 

'Tisbury Records, 90. 

'Diary of Rev. Wm. Homes in Maine Historical Society Library. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

to the Rev. Samuel Wiswall of Edgartown, whose failure to 
join in the ordination may be variously interpreted. 

Again the town tried in the year following, May, 1728, 
to secure from the General Court "some assistance toward 
the Suport of the Ministry," and Jabez Athearn went to Boston 
for the purpose, but it is not known what were the results, 
if any, of his mission. The young pastor had now attained 
the object of his affections, and on July 16, 1729, was married 
to Sarah Torrey, with whom as consort he presided over the 
church affairs of the town for the twenty-seven following years. 


The new pastor stimulated the town to provide a new 
house of worship, and in January, 1733, "it was voted that 
a New Meeting house should be built," and a committee of 
seven was appointed to "Determin the bigness of the meeting 
house & the manner of the Seats Pews & Alleys, Doors, 
stairs windows & Pulpit." The committee "considered & 
agreed upon the following Scheem: — " 

The Meeting house is to be 35 foot in length & 30 in breadth 18 
foot between Joints a Double Doore on the fore side of four foot wide & 
a doore at Each End of 3 foot wide with forteen Pews around the walls 
of five foot Extent from the walls with an Alley of 3 foot wide around 
within the Pews: Not allowing any alley in the middle of the body of seats 
but allowing four Pews behind the maine body of seats of five foot forward 
from the Alley to be equally divided; with a Convenient Pulpit & Deacons 
seat: and in the Gallery four Pews in the hinder part of the front of five 
foot Extent from the Walls: with Suitable Stairs & Windows.* 

Samuel Cobb was employed to construct this building 
in accordance with the specifications for the sum of ;^320, 
of which amount £20 was credited as the value of the old 
meeting house in part payment. The frame was "raised" 
probably in June following and the town provided an entertain- 
ment of "good wheaten cake, good Beere & Rum & Sugar," for 
those participating in this curious religious custom adopted 
by our forefathers.^ Three men of Chilmark were chosen 

'Tisbury Records, 95 . 

^Ibid, 97. It faced the south, having an area in front separating it from the fence. 
Its west side made a part of the cemetery enclosure and its east side was parallel with 
the road, a board fence finishing the east side of the cemetery, partly to the front and 
partly to the rear. It must be remembered that the road continued along its east side 
to the Scotchman's Bridge road, instead of turning an angle to the west as laid out 
about 1872. 






Annals of West Tisbury 

as a committee to arrange the delicate question of allotments 
to the pews and the assessments therefor. For thirty-five 
years this building served its purpose as a meeting-house 
until the growing population had need of more room. 

In 1768 it was voted "to Cut sd house in the middle and 
Enlarge it 15 feet and to Inlarge it 2 feet on the Back Side 
and to Finish all the wooden work and to Shingel the Rooff 
with new Shingles and to Remove the Pulpit back and to 
Lengthen the Galerys," and the next year it was painted 
''with Tarr and Oker to Preserve the Shingles." In 1771 
it was plastered. In 1788 six pews were added to the accom- 
modations for the worshippers by a rearrangement of the floor 
plan. Thus altered, this third house survived exactly a century 
as a meeting place of the religious people of the town.^ 

The pastorate of Nathaniel Hancock terminated in an 
ecclesiastical quarrel, the underlying reasons for which do 
not appear, because of the loss of the church records covering 
the services of himself and his predecessors also, from the 
beginning.^ His salary, originally ;^5o, was raised to £80 
in 1744 and in 1747 it was made ;^i5o old tenor, because 
''the fall of money & Riseing of Goods made his Sallery of 
but little value." The fluctuations of currency during his 
pastorate made continual trouble between him and the town 
to adjust an equitable settlement. In 1755 " severall agreved 
brethren of the Church .... obtained a Seperate Coun- 
cell against their Reverend Pastor" and secured an opinion 
adverse to him. In February, 1756, the town voted "not 
to Desire sd Pastor to take a Dismission," but four months 
later, probably by reason of Mr. Hancock's insistence on a 
severance of the pastoral relation, the "Majr Part of the 
voters then present" (June 22) voted "to Concur with the 
Advice of the Late Venerable Councell." In July the church 

'Tisbury Records, pp. 194, 270. 

'The church records of the Torrey and Hancock pastorates were in the possession 
of Rev. Mr. Hancock in 1760, four years after his dismissal. The church voted that 
"Deacon Athearn should go to Mr. Hancock and desire him to give a record of the 
transactions of the Church during the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Torrey and also during 
his ministry" (Oct. 30, 1760). The Deacon reported that Mr. Hancock refused to 
give them up. What became of them is not now known, but it is traditional that 
they were destroyed because of the minutes they contained regarding offences com- 
mitted by members of the church and the action of the oflBcers against the offenders. 
The Rev. Mr. Damon began a new record book in 1760 which he continued for twenty 
years, but this also has disappeared, although in 1850 it was in existence. In that 
year, fortunately, the late Richard L. Pease made a copy of all the baptisms, marriages 
and funerals, and abstracted a portion of the business records. This is the only knowl- 
edge we now have of that period of the church annals, and that copy has been used 
by the author in the preparation of this history. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

passed a vote of censure on Mr. Hancock as a result of the 
quarrel and this ended any further prospect of harmony. 
The dismissed pastor continued his residence in town, 
but kept aloof from the services of the church for sixteen 
years, as a mark of his resentment against the vote of censure. 
In 1772 he petitioned for a restoration of privileges as a member. 
He wrote: — 

You know the terms on which I stand with respect to this church 
of which I am a member. I have withdrawn myself from the communion 
of this church now for a number of years. You have passed an act by 
which you have suspended me from church privileges. I own the justice 
of your proceedings and am desirous of being restored to your Charity. 
I am sensible that I have missed it greatly in withdrawing and have no 
other excuse to make for my conduct but this, that it has been a time of 
difficulty and temptation with me, which I hope the church will make 
due allowance for. I desire the Christian candor and forgiveness of the 

The church on March 24th of that year, voted to accept 
his confession and restore him to full communion. Mr. 
Hancock was then over seventy years old, in poor health, 
and did not long survive. He became a judge of the King's 
Bench in 1761, sitting as a member with John Newman, 
who had been dismissed from the church in Edgartown. 
He continued to be prominent in civil affairs until his death, 
which occurred on September 10, 1774, in the 74th year of 
his age. He lies buried in the old cemetery, near the last 
resting place of his predecessor. 


A successor was found the next year in the person of 
"a Yong Gentlman as a Candidate for the Ministry, viz. 
Mr John Rand." He was an alumnus of Harvard in the 
class of 1744 and had been the college librarian (1753-5) 
before his coming to Tisbury.^ At this time he was thirty 
years of age. On Jan. 24, 1757, a formal call was given him 
by the church, with the concurrence of the town, to become 
their pastor. A settlement of ;^75o and an annual salary of 
£SS^ ol<i tenor was voted, but the candidate proposed other 
terms which the town thought "Rather too hard to Comply 
with at Present." He accepted however on May 20th, but 

'He was born in Charlestown Jan. 24, 1726-7, the son of Jonathan and Millicent 
(Estabrook) Rand of that town, and related to a family of this name already resident 


Annals of West Tisbury 

his ministry for some reason was exceedingly brief, scarcely 
three months. On August 12th, that same year, the pastoral 
relations were formally severed. He removed to Lyndeboro, 
N. H., and later preached at Derryfield and Bedford in the 
same state. He died in the latter town on Oct. 12, 1805, 
where he had lived for over a quarter of a century. 


For the two ensuing years Samuel West (55), son of 
Dr. Sackville West of Yarmouth, Cape Cod, a graduate of 
Harvard in the class of 1754, supplied the vacant pulpit, 
and during all this time the town, church and candidate were 
''dickering" about terms of settlement. He was then a 
young man of twenty-six and at first said "that he should 
Incline as Willingly to Preach at Tisbury as any other place;" 
but that he was not fully qualified to hold the office of minister 
and preacher, but ''hoped with submission to accomplish 
that end in about the space of six weeks." Various offers 
were subsequently declined by him, as he insisted on the use 
of a parsonage.^ This the town could not agree to, "relating 
to our ability" as the record reads, and matters hung thus 
until March 22, 1759, when he made the following reply to 
their last formal call: — 

I have a Tender Regard for your Spirituall & Everlasting wellfare 
(and) am therefore WilHng to serve you as far as Godd shall enable me: 
But Considering the great Averseness my own Parents have Manifested 
about my settling here, together with my own Bodily Infermities which 
very much unfitt & Indispose me for studiing: for these and some other 
Reasons I shall be willing if the Town pleases to be Dismist from the Call 
you gave Me, yet if Providence should so order that the Discouragements 
I now labour under be Removed I shall be Ready to settle among you, 
In case you are not better Provided for.^ 

Although the town and church voted not to dismiss the 
call this reply ended his relations as candidate, and nothing 
further came of the negotiations. This clergyman removed 
to Dartmouth, Mass., shortly after, and there for nearly 
a half century achieved widespread fame as the pastor of the 
church in that place. He was a man of great intellectual 
ability, of marked individuality bordering often on eccentricity 
and in the annals of the pulpit at that period he was easily 

'Tisbury Records, pp. 159-169. 
*Ibid., p. 170. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

a leading character. He died Sept. 24, 1807, at Tiverton, 
R. I. After the departure of Mr. West the town sought the 
services of Rev. Zachariah Mayhew of Chilmark, the mission- 
ary, but he decHned the call and Mr. William Whitwell, 
Jr., "now Resident at Mr Zachariah Mayhews," was asked 
in September, 1759, to fill the vacancy, but beyond preaching 
for a few weeks the negotiations were dropped. 


Early in 1760 the usual committee on candidates reported 
a success in their search for a new minister, in the person 
of George Daman of Dedham. He was the son of John and 
Elizabeth (Metcalf) Daman of Dedham, where he was born 
July 7, 1736, and had just graduated in the class of 
1756 at Harvard College. On June 16, 1760, he was 
given a unanimous call by town and church to become their 
pastor. This he accepted on July 30th following, ''not for 
the sake of Filthy Lucer," as he replied to them, but because 
he felt the call was "the Mind & Will of Christ the Great 
Head of the Church."^ Mr. Daman was ordained as pastor 
Oct. ist of that year. In the terms of settlement the town 
agreed to pay him a gratuity of ;^iooo and a yearly salary 
of ;£400, and at once set about providing a parsonage for 
his use. The town bought for this purpose of Samuel Cobb, 
a tract of land on the west side of Old Mill brook, with an 
old house and buildings thereon, now known as the Whiting 
homestead. The house was repaired, broken windows glazed, 
rooms plastered, the barn shingled and the premises made 
ready for the new minister, under an agreement that the 
settlement of ;^iooo should be relinquished by him in con- 
sideration of the use of a parsonage.^ 

His ministry covered the troublous times of the pre- 
Revolutionary period, and lasted throughout the war, when 
the financial situation was so greatly affected, and the people 
of Tisbury, like all other towns on the Vineyard, suffered from 
the business depression as a result of the struggle for inde- 
pendence. His salary was often in arrears, and payments 
were made in the depreciated currency of the times. In 1767 
eflorts were made to increase his stipend and enlarge and 

'Tisbury Records, 175-6. He was dismissed from the church of Dedham on 
Sept. 14, 1760 (Records, First Church, Dedham). 

'Tisbury Records, 177-8. This property was valued at £2000 in the depreciated 
currency of the time. It was made ready for occupancy in 1762 and he signed a waiver 
in that year (ibid., p. 182). 


Annals of West Tisbury 

repair the church, but both proposals failed. This created 
discontent on his part and a committee was chosen "to goe 
and Treet with the Revend Mr Damon Consarning his un- 
eseness." Ten years later, 1777-8, arrearages had again piled 
up and a compromise was made upon partial payment, and 
the town further agreed to 'Xut and Cart Ten Cord of Wood 
to sd Mr Damans Dore for his fireing the Ensuing Winter."^ 
This temporary shift was repeated the next year and he offered 
to relinquish his salary for one year if the town would give 
him title to the parsonage and guarantee payments for the 
future. This was not favorably received by the townsmen 
and various alternative offers were made by them to pay his 
salary in Spanish m.illed dollars, silver bullion, "or in other 
specia." He was also to be allowed to preach in Edgartown 
"one Quarter Part of the year for his Own profitt," and 
another quarter in the Homes Hole district, until the time 
when his stipulated salary should be regularly paid.^ The 
remainder of his pastorate was a repetition of the same finan- 
cial deficiencies, continually growing larger and at last a 
committee of Chilmark and Edgartown men were chosen by 
himself and the town as referees "to Settle what Mr Daman 
should have Considering him a Sufferer with his People since 
the war by reason of the fall of monney." The arrangement 
effected by this arbitration appears to have been satisfactory, 
and might have resulted in his indefinite retention, but at 
this juncture the new society of Baptists had been formed 
at Homes Hole and they refused to pay their share of the 
ministerial taxes. This was the "last straw" and on the 2nd 
of March, 1781, he made formal request to the church for 
his dismission from the pastoral office. In his letter he recited 
the difficulties of his position for several years past as above 
related, claiming that "he did not in six years and a half 
scarcely receive his usual small support for one year and a 
half." He added that "nearly one half the town always 
appeared opposite to every thing that was proposed and some 
of them some of the foremost men for ability."' The church 
on March 28th voted his dismission, and gave him a hand- 
some "letter of recommendation." He removed to Wood- 
stock, Vt., after his dismission and died there in December, 
1 796, aged 60 years. His wife was Dinah Athearn (47), whom 

'Tisbury Records, 226. 
'Ibid., 230. 
'Church Records. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

he married here Oct. 14, 1762, and by whom he had three 
sons and four daughters. 

The town concurred with the church in his dismission 
and then spent several months in a contest with him over 
his unpaid salary for past services. They voted ''to Hire 
out the Personage to the Highest bidders" and instructed a 
committee *'to Treat with the People of Chilmark about 
Hireing Some Person to Preach by Turns as they shall agree." 
What arrangement was finally made is not known, but re- 
ligious interest was evidently at a low ebb in Tisbury at this 
time. For three years the records are silent on all church 


This clergyman became a candidate for the vacant place 
in July, 1784, and in the fall of that year he was formally 
invited to become the pastor. He was born Jan. 27, 1745, 
a graduate of Harvard in the class of 1767, and had held a 
pastoral charge in Nova Scotia at Granville and Annapolis, 
about 1 771; and at the time when invited here he was a resi- 
dent of Harwich, Cape Cod.^ Mr. Morse was at that time 
forty years of age with a family, his wife, Hepsibah Hall, 
being a member of the church in East Yarmouth, Cape Cod, 
at the time of her marriage. He accepted the call Oct. 26, 
1784, and was ordained as pastor December ist following.* 
His salary was fixed at ;^7o yearly with the use of the parson- 
age, after it should be repaired for his occupancy. His min- 
istry continued till the close of that century and was character- 
ized by uninterrupted harmonious relations between pastor 
and people. During his term of service the important subject 
of the support of the clergyman by taxes levied on the town 
had become acute, beyond amicable settlement. The Bap- 
tists of Homes Hole had continued to refuse payment of their 
share and in 1793 the town offered as a compromise that Mr. 
Morse should preach in that precinct "in proportion to the 
taxes they may pay towards the Minesters Sallery." This 
ecclesiastical shuffle was not satisfactory to the Baptists, who 
wished for preachers of their own doctrines, and in 1794 the 
town agreed to join with the inhabitants of Homes Hole, 

'Tisbury Records, 251. In 1790 Mr. Morse petitioned the County Court for 
naturalization, as he had "moved out of the jurisdiction of the state into Nova Scotia 
some time before the late war" (Dukes Court Records, Oct., 1790). 

'Church Records. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

in a petition to the General Court, that all residents east 
of Savage's Line be incorporated as a separate parish for 
purposes of church taxation.^ This was the beginning of the 
final settlement of an important and exceedingly delicate re- 
ligious question which had vexed the people of the two 
extreme sections of the town and marked the separation of 
church and state matters in Tisbury. In the la^t year of 
the century, Mr. Morse asked and obtained his dismission 
from the pastoral office, after about fifteen years' service.^ 


After an intermission of two years the Rev. Nymphas 
Hatch was elected to fill the vacancy, and on Oct. 7, 1801, 
was ordained. He held the charge for eighteen years, and on 
June 26, 1 81 9, received his dismission. At the close of this 
pastorate the flock had become almost decimated through 
secessions to the new sects, the Baptists and Methodists.^ In 
asking for his release after years of depression and discord, 
due to the numerous withdrawals, he wrote: "You have 
long witnessed and no doubt with much regret, the great 
diminution of our church by deaths, by emigration and by 
seceders. You are my witnesses of the opposition and may 
I not add variegated discouragements which I have had to 
encounter during my ministry."^ Five male members only 
remained loyal to the old organization to consider this solemn 
situation — Joseph Look, Jonathan Smith, Malachi Luce, 
Timothy Athearn and Ephraim Luce — and they granted his 

He was followed by Josiah Henderson in 1822, who re- 
mained four years. His agreement included the "use of the 
Parsonage, for Feedage and Tillage and $100 for one year, 
together with all that may be obtained by subscription, con- 
tribution or otherwise." The line of succession as given below 
includes all those ordained or installed, and those who supplied 
the pulpit for a year or more : — 

'Tisbury Records, 274, 2Q9. 

^r. Morse died April 25, 1803, four years after his dismissal. 

^Not less than forty persons withdrew during Mr. Hatch's pastorate to join the 
Baptist society alone; how many became Methodists is not known. 

^Church Records. About 181 7, during his ministry, assessments ceased and 
voluntary' contributions became the method of supporting the ministers. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Joshua Payson, 1827-30; Timothy Davis, 1831-32; Wil- 
liam Marchant/ 1834-35; Ebenezer Chase,^ 1835-42; John 
Walker, 1843-47; Henry Van Houton, 1849-50; Lot B. 
Sullivan, 1851-52; Samuel Cole, 1852-59; William H. Sturte- 
vant, 1859-77; John W. Hird, 1878; Frank L. Bristol, 1879; 
John H. Hellish, 1880-82; A. M. Rice, 1882-86; J. R. Flint, 
1887-89; Richard T. Wilton, 1889-92; Horace Parker, 1892- 
98; R. C. Moodie, 1898-1904; Haig Adadourian, 1904-07; 
Charles G. Fogg, 1907 (present incumbent). 


The old meeting-house, which for a hundred years had 
resounded to the preaching of Hancock, Daman, Morse, 
Hatch, Payson and Davis, reached its limit of usefulness 
in 1833 and was considered beyond repair or remodeling. 
A new structure was authorized by the church and completed 
that year. The old building was torn down and the fourth 
meeting-house erected on the spot hallowed by the associations 
of the past. There it remained until 1865, when it was re- 
romoved to its present location, next Agricultural Hall, and 
the site previously occupied by it became a part of the old 
cemetery enclosure. 


The development of this denomination in old Tisbury 
dates from about 181 5, when the itinerant preachers, assigned 
to the Vineyard, with station at Edgartown or Homes Hole, 
visited the western part of the island in search of converts. 
The earliest follower of this sect was Mrs. Mary (Chase) 
Lambert, and about 1820 she invited Rev. Eleazer Steele, 
then at Edgartown, to come to this part of the island and 
preach the new religion. This he did and succeeded in form- 
ing a "class" at the North Shore. Among the first converts 
was Captain Thomas Luce, who had lost his sight at sea, 
while using the spy-glass against a bright sun; David Nicker- 
son, then a young man residing in West Tisbury,' and George 

'The church records speak of him as "a missionary now here." 
'"Reformation" John Adams, the Methodist parson of Homes Hole said of Mr. 
Chase in 1842: "his note preaching I think has been a lullaby" (Autobiography, 495). 
^The following story of a "remarkable Providence," which happened to young 
Nickerson is related by the chronicler of this denomination: He was accustomed 
to read his bible after retiring to bed; the weather being cold, and he having no ac- 
commodations for a fire in his room. One night he dropped asleep without extinguish- 
ing his light. What was his astonishment on awakening, to find that his candle had burned 
down, having somehow caught his bible and burned the cover to a crisp, caught the 
bed-clothes and burned them and the bed all round his head. The fire had then 
gone out of itself, without so much as scorching a hair of his head. It was considered 
a miraculous preservation. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

Weeks, who afterwards became a noted preacher, exhorter 
and assistant on the circuit. 

The services were held in the houses of the members 
of this denomination, for they were few in numbers and unable 
to support a regular ministerial supply or to build a house of 
worship. Among the earlier preachers to this "class" at 
the North Shore before 1850 were, William Barstow, Caleb 
Lamb, Mark Staple, "Reformation" John Adams andMicah 
J. Talbot. In 1845 the present existing chapel at Lambert's 
Cove for the use of this sect was built and dedicated, and 
has been a regular station in the Vineyard district ever since. 

The following list of ministers represents the successive 
assignments to this society by the Southern Conference since 
1857. Prior to that date the ministers of Chilmark or Homes 
Hole were given oversight of this mission. 

L. C. McKinstry, 1857; Joseph Hunt, 1858-9; Benjamin 
Haines, i860; Jason Gill, 1861-2; Isaac B. Forbes, 1863; 
David Cook and G. A. Silfverston, 1864-5; James Dixon, 
1867-8; Wm. T. Miller, 1869-70; Lawton Cady, Wm. A. 
Cottle and R. F. Macy, 187 1 ; R. F. Macy and C. G. Downing, 
1872; Moses Brown, 1873; Charles Stokes, 1874-5; T. B. 
Gurney, 1876-7; A. B. Bessey, 1878; E. H. Hatfield and 
J. B. Hamblin, 1879; J. B. Washburn, 1880-2; J. S. Fish, 
1883-5; J- B. Washburn, 1886-7; James A. Wood, 1888-90; 
C. P. Flanders, 189 1-3; F. D. Sargent, 1894; Walter A. 
Gardner, 1895; Chauncey W. Ruoff, 1896. 


The beginnings of this church here were marked with 
much ill feeling, caused by the refusal of the adherents of the 
new sect to pay the legal tax for the support of the standing 
order. This in addition to the resentments caused by their 
withdrawal from the old church, engendered much bitterness. 
Early in 1800 John Davis, a leading man in the new sect, 
as well as a prominent citizen, was arrested for non-payment 
of the ministerial tax and being found guilty and refusing 
still to pay, was sent to jail. This act aroused great excitement 
in all circles and the Court, recognizing its tactical error, speedily 
released him. Not so the members of the old church. A 
parish meeting was called for May 13, 1800, to consider the 
action of the Court in discharging Davis from prison. Ezekiel 
Luce, Benjamin Allen and Cornelius Dunham were chosen a 


History of Martha*s Vineyard 

committee to inquire into the matter and they reported that 
Davis should not have been released until he had paid his tax, 
and the church voted to enter a protest against this action. 
This occurrence did more than anything else, in all probability, 
to promote the schism and enlist sympathy for the new de- 

The annals of this denomination are fragmentary and 
date from about 1805, when there were probably a dozen 
residents of this town, who had joined the society previously 
gathered at Homes Hole, and began holding meetings at the 
private houses of the members. Many proselytes from the 
ancient congregation worshipping in the old meeting-house 
were made, and such was the growth of the new society that 
in 1820 they arranged with the authorities for the use of that 
building on alternate Sundays; and the next year they were 
so flourishing and the old church so feeble and without a pastor, 
that it was practically given up to Baptist preachers most of 
the time. The earliest known members were John and Ben- 
jamin Davis, Hugh and Jonathan Cathcart, John Hancock, 
Prince Rogers, William Rotch and Belcher Athearn. The 
jQrst ''teacher" was the Rev. Abisha Sampson, who led the 
new flock for about four years. His success was marked 
and in that period, 1807-1812, the notices of withdrawal 
from the old church numbered nearly thirty adults. They 
included Russell Hancock, Patience Allen, Mary Allen, William 
Athearn, Solomon Athearn, Elijah Athearn, Matthew Manter, 
Jeremiah Manter, Samuel Crowell, Matthew Manter, Jr., 
Jeremiah Crowell, Nathan Clifford, Lot Rogers, Jacob Clifford, 
William Ferguson, Stephen Clifford, Ephraim Dunham, Jr., 
Robert Rogers, Henry Athearn, James Luce, Ephraim Harding, 
John Athearn, James Cleveland, Clifford Dunham, Abigail 
Dunham, George Manter, Athearn Manter, Melatiah Norton, 
Edmond Cottle, Shubael Merry and Warren Cleveland.^ 


The first house of worship built by this denomination 
was located on the road to Middletown near the Scotchman's 
Bridge road and was completed about 1 820-1 for occupancy. 
It was a branch of the Homes Hole church and so remained 

'October 7, 1801 the old church voted to release from further obligations, all 
Baptists whose ministerial taxes were unpaid, including that of John Davis for 1799 
which caused his arrest. 

'Tisbury Records, 344-392. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

until May 19, 1832, when by mutual agreement the West 
Tisbury congregation was recognized as an independent 
parish. Rev. Mr. Harris of Barnstable preached a dedicatory 
sermon June 4, 1832 in celebration of this event. The first 
minister was Jesse Pease (397) of Edgartown! who remained 
until 1828, when he was succeeded by Seth Ewer, both of 
whom had had charge of the church at Homes Hole. He 
remained till 1835 when Jesse Pease returned and preached 
three years. Cyrus Miner followed, 1841-3; Charles C. 
Lewis, 1844; Cyrus Miner, 1845-7, whose pastorate was the 
last in this meeting house. It was sold and is now doing duty 
as a barn on the Whiting estate. 


The second house of worship for this sect was built in 
the village of Middletown in 1847, and has existed to the 
present time with a fairly complete record of regular services 
for over half a century. In 1852 the members in the village 
of West Tisbury seceded to form a new society. The suc- 
cession of clergymen who have ministered to this church is 
as follows: — 

O. T. Walker, 1847; Bray, 1850; Bartlett Pease, 

1851; Dennison, 1852; Stephen A. Thomas, 1853; C. 

R. Northrup, 1861; William Hurst, 1863; Thomas Atwood, 

1865; John Sawyer, 1866; Blake, 1869; H. P. Watrous, 

1871; C. R. Nichols, 1876; Goff, 1878; Terry, 

1881; Maury, 1883; Willard Packard, 1885; Hat- 
field, 1889; Vinal, 1891-3. 

Since that time services have been irregularly maintained, 
though temporary supplies have maintained the organization 
through these periods, notably by Mrs. George Hunt Luce 
of West Tisbury. Rev. O. W. Kimball is the present pastor. 


As a result of a church feud the members of this denom- 
ination living in the old village of West Tisbury seceded from 
the Middletown society in 1852, and aided by popular sub- 
scription the meeting-house now standing on the Edgartown 
road was built. Rev. Jesse Pease was the leading spirit in 
the enterprise and was its first pastor, remaining five years. 
The next minister was Bartlett Mayhew and later William 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

A. Cottle. This society never flourished after the death of 
Mr. Pease and its existence as a church organization has been 
a precarious one. The Middletown pastor in later years has 
supplied both churches at times, but the old church is now 
practically defunct and the building out of commission. 


The town records are singularly lacking in allusions to 
military affairs and references to such matters can only be 
found in scattering documents in other depositaries. It 
seems that this town combined with Chilmark in maintaining 
a "Foot Company," and the first reference to it occurs in 
1692, when it was under command of Benjamin Skiffe as 
Captain, Isaac Chase as Lieutenant and John Manter as En- 
sign.^ Skiffe continued as Captain as late as 1709, and in 
that year Paine Mayhew of Chilmark was commissioned as 
Lieutenant of the combined company.^ In 1746 Sergeant 
Jacob Robinson and Ensign Gershom Cathcart are mentioned, 
showing continuous organization of the local company. In 
1749 Cathcart is called Lieutenant.^ In 1757 the following 
oflficers were in command of the town militia, and by that 
time the military union with Chilmark had terminated : — 
Gershom Cathcart, Captain; Thomas Look, Joseph Merry, 
John Luce and Ransford Smith, Sergeants; Thomas Butler 
and Joseph Cathcart, Drummers. In 1761 there were two 
companies in the town, as a probable result of the French 
and Indian Wars of that period, of which the first was under 
command of Peter Norton as Captain, Benjamin Allen as 
ist Lieutenant, Stephen Luce as 2nd Lieutenant, and Josiah 
Hancock as Ensign. The second company was under com- 
mand of Thomas Waldron as Lieutenant, and Noah Look 
as Ensign.* There were in addition two Indian companies 
in the town, the first under command of Eliakim Norton as 
Captain, with Thomas Allen, Lieutenant, and Bernard Case, 

'Mass. Arch., CXII, 424. Simon Athearn recommended that James Allen be 
commissioned as Captain in the place of SkifiFe, and Peter Robinson as Lieutenant 
in the place of Chase, who was the Quaker and "will not take an oath." 

^The original commission is in possession of Miss Eunice G. Mayhew of Edgar- 

'Town Records, 126, 138. 

*Mass. Arch., XCIX, 24. Captain Peter Norton was promoted to be Major of 
the County Regiment in the place of Benjamin Manter, who had been made a general 
officer in the regiment. Eliakim Norton succeeded Peter Norton in command of the 
first company. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

Ensign; and the second under command of David Butler 
as Captain, with Noah Look as Lieutenant and William 
Foster as Ensign. In 1765, the peace having been established, 
there was but one company thereafter in the town; and on 
that date it was commanded by James Athearn as Captain, 
Noah Look as Lieutenant, and Russell Hancock as Ensign.* 
Particulars are wanting for details of military matters until 
the time of the Revolution, when such interests became merged 
in the general county organization. It is probable that Nathan 
Smith, who had seen active service in the previous wars, was 
a leading spirit in the foot company of Tisbury before the 
Revolution. The part played by this town in that great 
national struggle has been related. Since then the martial 
spirit has not been manifest in the organization of parading 
companies of citizen soldiery in times of peace. It is doubt- 
ful if any such existed; but if so, they were short lived and 
no records remain to tell the tale. 


Contemporaneous with Isaac Chase at Homes Hole, 
Robert Cathcart became a taverner in the present village of 
West Tisbury. In 1701 he was licensed "to keep publike 
house of Entertainment," and for many years after, probably 
till his death about 1719, ''Kith carts," as it was called, was 
one of the well-known hostelries of that day. It was located 
on the west side of Old Mill river, not far from the store now 
occupied by S. M. Mayhew & Co. A diary of the visit of 
the famous Judge Samuel Sewall to the Vineyard in 1702, 
describes the local taverns he patronized on his journey. 
After embarking at Wood's Hole, he says: — 

Have a good passage over in little more than hours time. Refresh 
at Chases; from thence rode to Tisbury. First man I speak with is Joseph 
Daggett: he tells me Kithcart keeps an Ordinary: we go thither, the day- 
light being almost spent. Mr. Robinson's son helps us and bears company 

In 1722 Samuel Cobb and Samuel Athearn were licensed 
as inn-holders, the latter probably to fill the void left by the 
death of Cathcart. Cobb lived on the lot now occupied by 
the post office, his land extending to the brook. As he married 
Isaac Chase's daughter, the instinct for tavern keeping came 
to him by marriage, and it is probable that he continued the 

•Mass. Arch., XCIX, 25. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

business through his long life. He died in 1786. Samuel 
Athearn married the widow of Cathcart and doubtless con- 
tinued the business at the old tavern made famous by his 
predecessor. He was called in 1722 a '^ shopkeeper," and it 
is probable that her house was a combination residence, inn 
and general ''store." 

On the opposite side of the road from the old Cathcart 
House stands the building known in 1850 as ''the Travelers 
Home," then kept by William Athearn, and in later years 
called the Tyasquin House. 

The situation of West Tisbury has been such that there 
has been no demand for taverns in its limits, as transient 
travelers were infrequent visitors to the centre of the island 
and such as came were guests of private individuals. 

The following named persons were licensed Innholders 
in the town of West Tisbury by the County Court for the 
years specified : — 

Robert Cathcart, 1701-1716; Samuel Cobb, 1 722-1 767; 
Samuel Athearn, 1 722-1 724; Gershom Cathcart, 1 737-1 772; 
Wilmot Wass, 1 739-1 752; Shubael Nickerson, 1 749-1 752; 
Shubael Cottle, 1759-1770; Ebenezer Rogers, 1776; Jam*es 
Manter, 1 777-1 780; Ezekiel Luce, 1 780-1 784; William 
Case, 1 786-1 787; James Cook, 1787; Jabez Luce, 1803. 


The natural topography of the Vineyard does not favor 
the employment of water-power, because there are no large 
streams on the island, and the fall of water in the small brooks 
is not sufficient to develop considerable horse-power. The 
value of a mill privilege was recognized by every community 
in the settlement of New England, and Tisbury was the only 
town on the island able to profit by her natural advantages. 
Thomas Mayhew, Sr., in a letter to John Winthrop of Conn., 
Aug. 6, 1 65 1, says, "we here have greate want of a mill and 
there is one with you that I here is a verry ingenuous man 

about such work now these are to intreate you if 

possible you can dispense a while with him that you would 
be pleased to doe it & wee shall rest much obleidged unto 
you for it." Whether anything came of this is not recorded, 
nor is^ it known what kind of a mill was contemplated, as 
there is no water-power in Edgartown. It is probable that 
it resulted in the erection of a mill on the large brook flowing 


Annals of West Tisbury 



History of Martha's Vineyard 

through Takemmy, which continued in operation till the 
power on the Tiasquin was utilized about 1668 by a new 
and improved structure. 

The mills of the early days on the island were all operated 
by the under-shot wheel, as there was not sufficient fall of 
water to use the other form. The under-shot wheel was set 
directly in the running stream or placed close to a sluice 
leading from the dam. The water was admitted by a gate 
at the bottom of the dam. The wheel, made of wood securely 
ironed, had stays projecting from its rim, upon which stout 
planks, called floats, and also palettes, extended along its 


The mill privilege on Old Mill river, the larger and more 
valuable, seems to have been unused for nearly a century 
after the "first purchase," as we have no record of a mill on 
that stream until 1760, except that it was a site "where a mill 
anciently stood." It is probable that the first mill erected 
there before the white settlement was a crude affair, and that 
it had fallen into decay. The erection of a mill on the Tias- 
quin in 1668 or 1669 seems to warrant such an inference, as 
there could be no urgent business requiring the capacity of 
two mills so near together. We are reduced to such specu- 
lations for want of a definite allusion to the continued existence 
of a mill on this stream in any records of property transfers 
covering this ancient site. The location of the mill was on 
the Josiah Standish home lot, which after several transfers 
came into the possession, in 1688, of Edward Cottle, and 
by him was sold in 1700 to his son John. The early death 
of John in 1705, leaving a widow and three young children, 
prevented any development of the property and the estate 
was not divided till 1726, when Sylvanus, the oldest son, 
attained his majority. 

At what time the mill was erected cannot be told, but 
Sylvanus in a deed dated August 11, 1760, sold to Samuel 
Cobb his dwelling house, barn "and my Mill with every utensil 
&c."^ A month later, Manter disposed of his half of this 
mill to Barnard Case, July 26, 1765,^ and on Sept. 11, 1769, 
Cobb sold his moiety to Rev. George Daman for ;^24, who 

*Dukes Deeds, IX, 51. 
^eeds, IX, 457. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

thus combined the work of grinding out sermons and corn 
for the parishioners of his flock. But this association of ma- 
terial and spiritual garnering of wheat and separation of. the 
chaff, lasted only a brief time, for the parson sold his interest to 
Case on Jan. lo, 1770,^ and thereafter, till his death, Barnard 
Case operated the mill. By his will, he bequeathed it in 1792, 
to his sons William and James, to he held in equal shares,^ 
the latter of w^hom parted with his half Feb. 7, 1797, to Cor- 
nelius Dunham.^ This share passed from Dunham to Samuel 
Hancock, May 19, 1802,'' and seven years later, July 12, 1809, 
to David Look.^ Look had purchased, two years previously, 
William Case's share, March 18, 1807, and thus became the 
sole proprietor of the two grist mills on the Old and New Mill 
rivers.^ But he did not intend to enter into competition with 
himself as a grist miller by this purchase, for he utilized the 
power for carding wool by machinery, and further enlarged its 
usefulness by adding looms for weaving woolen cloth. For a 
quarter of a century under his ownership, the click of the shuttle 
and the noise of the treadles and looms responded to the swish 
of the water in the mill-race. After his death, in 1837, the 
property was managed by his widow for eight years, when 
she sold it for $1800 to Thomas Bradley, June 12, 1845,^ 
who continued the business of manufacturing woolen cloths.^ 
On May 27, 1859 Bradley sold this to Henry Cleveland for 
$3000,^ and on Nov. 3, 1874 it passed into the hands of the 
late Thomas G. Campbell for a consideration of $1700.^^ 
It is now a part of the Campbell estate and its use as a woolen 
mill ceased in a few years. 

Farther up Old Mill river, where Dr. Daniel Fisher 
built his grist mill, another power was available and was early 
ulitized. This property belonged to Simon Athearn originally 
and descended to sons and grandsons. When a mill was erected 

'Dukes Deeds, X, 124. 

'Dukes Probate, VIII, 244. 

^Dukes Deeds, XIV, 276. 

nbid., XIV, 350. 

'Ibid., XVIII, 50. 

«Ibid., XV, 265. 

'Deeds, XXX, 525. 

*Seven hands were employed and the annual production was 7000 yards of Satinet, 
9000 yards of Kersey and 6000 pounds of rolls, of the total value of about $10,000 
(Census, 1850). 

"Deeds, XXXVIII, 558. 

'oibid., LVII, 320. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

there is not known, but the brook shows the remains of an 
old dam, and the grist mill of Ezra Athearn is mentioned in 
1792. It had doubtless been in operation many years before 


Benjamin Church of Duxbury built the first grist mill 
in this town about 1668, ''which mill standeth uppon the 
westermost Brook of Takemmy," a speculative venture in 
common with that of his townsmen, Pabodie and Standish. 
He sold it Nov. 19, 1669 for ;^i2o to Joseph Merry of Hamp- 
ton, together with one eighth part of the first ''purchase." 
Merry operated this as a grist mill until March 5, 1675, when 
he disposed of it to Tristram Coffin, Sr., of Sherbourne, Nan- 
tucket,^ from whom it passed into the possession of Jethro 
Coffin of Mendon, his grandson. The last named sold the 
"corn or grist mill" July 5, 171 5, to Thomas Look, who re- 
sided on the property and had been operating the mill in 
behalf of the owner. ^ Thomas Look, who was then nearing 
three score and ten, held this mill but three years, when "for 
love and good will" he transferred it, Aug. 7, 1718, to his son 
Samuel.^ The son continued the business of grinding the 
grist that came to his doors for thirty years, when he in turn 
"for love and affection" sold it to his youngest sons, Noah 
and Job, Jan. 29. 1748.^ The two brothers followed in the 
footsteps of their forbears until Nov. 14, 1763, when Job 
disposed of his moiety to his older brother Elijah.^ 

The business was then carried on by the new proprietors 
until May 7, 1777, at which date Elijah purchased Noah's 
interest^ and thenceforth conducted the mill alone, until his 
death, Jan. 29, 1800, at which time it passed by inheritance 
to his sons, Robert and Elijah, Jr.*^ On Sept. 4, 1804 Elijah, 
Jr. sold his interest to his cousin David (the son of Job), 
and on June 19, 1805 Robert sold his right and title to the 
same person.® David Look kept the mill running for over 
thirty years until his death, April 28, 1837, when his widow 

^Deeds, I, 337. 

'Ibid., Ill, 199. 

nbid., Ill, 338. 

*Ibid., VIII, 9. 

»Ibid., IX, 477. 

*Ibid., X, 444. " 

'Prob. Rec, IX, 55. " 

^Deeds, XV, 29, 276. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

succeeded to the business and kept it in operation during a 
long widowhood and until near the end of her life. She died 
Jan, 15, 1877, ^i^d David N. Look, a grandson of Robert, 
bought it of her executors. For two centuries its wheel had 
turned to the flow of the Tiasquin river. 

Of this time it had been in the possession of the Look 
family for one hundred and fifty-six years, which is almost 
an unprecedented record of continuity of occupation in the 
succeeding generations of one family. The last proprietor 
closed its career as a mill soon after coming into possession, 
removed the building and converted it to other uses. 

The second mill built on this water-course before 1850 
was set further up the stream and was owned by Matthew 
Allen. It came into the possession of his son-in-law, Captain 
George Luce, who rebuilt the property about i860 and operated 
it for twenty years or more as a grist mill. 


One of the first landmarks in the town was a building 
designated in 1669 as ''the school house," situated on the 
path that now is known as the South road, near the Chilmark 
line. The time of its erection could not have been much 
earlier than that date, unless it was one of the places where 
the Indian youths were taught by the younger Mayhew as a 
part of the missionary work. No actual reference to a school 
in the town appears in the records until nearly seventy years 
after this date, and we are left in doubt as to the existence 
of a public school during this time. In 1675 Simon Athearn 
bewailed the lack of "a scool master to teach our children." 
There were, perhaps, at that date fifty children of school age 
in the town, and we cannot suppose that the absence of any 
records on the subject means that educational matters had no 
part in the life of the people. In 1724 James Smith "late 
of Tisbury, schoolmaster," is mentioned in the court records 
in a suit, and from this casual reference we may conclude 
that the teaching of the youth was then a private business 
arrangement among the parents whose children needed in- 
struction. The first action of record taken by the town was 
in 1737, when a committee was appointed " for Considering 
& Settling a schoole." This language indicates that no 
public school system was then in existence. The committee 
made the following recommendations : — 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

"The aforsd schoole to be held & keept in Tisbury near the house 
of Whitten Manter seven months & a half in a year from the time of its 

2: To be kept & held att Checemmoo near the Common Road 
betwixt the Dwehng houses of David Butler & John Cottle eleven weeks 
next Ensuing the aforsd Terme. 

3 The Remaining part to Compleat a year, to be keept at some 
Convenient place at Homeses hole:' 

The town accepted the report and voted "that there 
should be a schoolehouse built forthwith as Conveniently 
may be & to stand at the Easterly corner of Whitten Manters 
field in sd Tisbury which is to be Twenty feet in length & 
Sixteen feet in breadth six foot & an half between joints 
which is to be built & finished suitable for such a use having 
a Chimney to itt."^ Fifty pounds were appropriated for this 
building and "a schoole master Provided for that End to 
Teach children & youth to Read & Write &c." 

As far as our knowledge goes this was the beginning of the 
public school system in Tisbury. From this time forward the 
yearly disposition of the subject of schools became a matter 
of quite regular record, and this confirms the above conclusion. 
The large area of the town, sparsely settled, in three separated 
village districts, turned the question of teaching children into 
an inevitable annual quarrel about the time and places where 
the school sessions should be held. It began almost im- 
mediately after the above plan was inaugurated and the 
townsmen resorted to the usual committee of outsiders to 
settle the difficulty. Samuel Bassett, Ebenezer Smith and 
Tristram Coffin of Chilmark and Edgartown were asked to 
determine whether the school should be "fixed" or "moving" 
and to devise plans for either method.^ The latter alter- 
native was recommended and a moving school, to be held 
seven months in West Tisbury and five months each year at 
Lambert's Cove, was agreed upon by the town.* At this time 
Samuel Draper, a native of Boston, was employed as school 

'Tisbury Records, loi. The house of Whitten Manter was next north of the 
old cemetery. The school house at Chickemmoo was near the turn of the North 
Shore road at Lambert's cove. 

*Ibid., 103. In 1739 "a house of 14 foot square Conveniently finished for that 
use," was built at Lambert's cove at a cost of £^0, "together with (what) might be 
gathered by free Contribution." 

'Ibid., 107. 

^Ibid., 112. No arrangement seems to have been made for the convenience of 
Homes Hole at this time. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

master and continued in that service about forty years. His 
salary was 150 Spanish milled dollars at fifty shillings apiece, 
or in goods. 

In 1748 a redistricting of the town was made for school 
purposes as follows: — 

In the first place to be keept at homeses hole two months begining 
at the first begining of the school & then at the School hous at Chickemmo 
for three months, and then at the place Called Kiphigan that is all to the 
northward & North westward of the River or Runs of water from Chil- 
mark line to Wasksha so on Including Timothy Luces for two months 
& then at the School house in Tisbury near the meeting house for the 
space of five months.' 

This plan lasted ten years. In 1758 the school-house 
near the cemetery was removed to the west side of the road 
''near about opposite to a pair of barrs of John Luces near 
the Dividing Line between sd John Luces Land & the Land 
of Mercy Luce or her family." This was on the road leading 
to Middletown, about half way between the two. villages. 
Another decade almost passed during which the old plan was 
followed, until 1765, when a revision of the "moving" school 
plan was determined upon. In that year the town left the 
question to ''Squire Jeams Athern Mr Maletiah Davis (of 
Edgartown) and abijah Athern to Purfix a Place Wher It 
Should Be Cept," for seven months of each year. The spelling 
and writing in the records just quoted imply the need of 
considerable schooling, but we are to learn that in 1768 the 
town abandoned its work in this line and was indicted at the 
County Court for neglecting to provide school facilities.' 
Abijah Coye was the next schoolmaster, following Samuel 
Draper. He came to Tisbury about 1762, married Judith 
Luce and was first employed in 1770 "to keep the Town 
Chool the yeare In Suing." In 1776 and 1777 the teaching 
was done by Henry Young' and in 1 778 by Ebenezer Skiff e (105), 
afterwards an attorney-at-law.* Fifteen years later (1783) the 
town again fell under the indictment of the grand jury for 

'Tisbury Records, 129. There were no school-houses at the first two named 
districts and the people resident therein were required to provide suitable "house- 
roome" during the sessions assigned to them. 

'Town Records, 200. 

'Ibid., 293. There were two persons of this name resident in West Tisbury at 
that time, Levi and Henry, and it is not possible to say which one served as teacher, 
but the latter is believed to be the one. 

^Ibid., 226. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

neglect of her schools, and on several occasions after that the 
records disclose the same discreditable failure.* 

In 1792 a redistricting of the town for school purposes 
was devised by a committee selected from the various sections. 
Four districts were laid out, substantially as follows: ist, 
all residents south of the Old Mill brook, including a line 
drawn southeast from the turn of the brook in North Tisbury 
to the bounds of Edgartown; 2nd, all residents north of this 
brook to the Sound as far as Christiantown ; 3rd, Chickemmoo; 
4th, Homes Hole. The sum of £60 was raised "to Support 
a Lawful School in Tisbuary" and the committee above 
named was further directed to ''devide the Monney already 

raised according to the Number of Children in Each 

District Sett forth as above Males from Twenty one year old 
and under, and Females from Eighteen years old and under. "^ 
In 1793 the school appropriation was increased to £70, and 
after this certain persons in each district were chosen to ar- 
range equitable divisions of these funds raised by taxation. 
This was probably the beginning of the ofhce of school com- 
mittee in the town. In 1801 these persons were specifically 
chosen '*to provide for and Superintend the Schools in the 
several School districts."^ After this time they were annually 
elected to attend to these duties. 

The first school census of record, in 182 1, shows that 
there were 255 children in attendance in the three districts 
now comprised in the bounds of West Tisbury. In 1825 
the number was 262 and in 1835 it had fallen to 248 pupils, 
while in 1870 a further decrease to 124 shows the losses in 
the town's population. The annual appropriation at this 
period was $200, or less than one dollar for each child. In 
1870 the amount spent averaged about $8.75 each, while in 
1900 the total school expenses amounted to nearly $3,000 for 
sixty scholars, an average of $50 each pupil. This most credit- 
able record must demonstrate the gain in the last century 
in the estimation of the townsmen of the importance of their 
public school system. 

'Indictments were presented against the town in 1783, 1792 and 1793 for these 
neglects. In 1787 the town refused to vote any money for schools (ibid., 248, 260, 
285, 290). As late as 1810 the town was indicted for the failure to maintain a school 
(ibid., 353). 

^Ibid., 286. These districts remained practically the same for the next twenty- 
five years. 

'Ibid., 314. 

Annals of West Tisbury 


In 1797 a movement was started to establish an Academy 
in this county for the higher education of selected pupils, 
and Rev. Asarelah Morse, Edmund Cottle and Peter West 
were chosen in Tisbury "to Join the other Commites that are 
or may be Chosen in Dukes County for to Consult about the 
Establishment of an academy."* Nothing definite resulted 
from this early effort, as far as known, but the seed thus sown 
bore fruit in the next century. During the term of David 
Look as Representative to the General Court (1830- 183 5), 
he secured from the State an appropriation of $3,000 for a 
County Academy to be located in this town.^ It was com- 
pleted about 1833, and was located on a commanding site 
next the Congregational church.^ The original building was 
sold about 1850 and became the dwelling house of the late 
Obed Nickerson. 

Leavitt Thaxter was the first teacher and he was followed 
by Robert Coffin. The following list comprises the succes- 
sive pedagogues to the merging of the institution into the 
town school system: — 

M. P. Spear, 1840; W. S. Butler, 1846; T. D. Blake, 1847; J- P- 
Washburn, 1848; Henry Baylies, 1850; F. N. Blake, 1852; Robert 
McGonigal, 1854; J. W. Allen, 1855; S. W. Matthews and G. B. Muzzey, 
1856; Bartlett Mayhevv, 1857; Atwood Severance, 1858; Henry M. 
Bishop, 1859; C, R. Parker, 1861; Simon W. Hathaway, 1862; J. G. 
Leavitt, 1863; I. N. Kidder, 1864; C. G. M. Dunham, 1865; N. C. 
Scoville, 1866; Wm. B. Allen, 1867; Moses C. Mitchell, 1869-72; J. T. 
Merrick, 1876; E. A. Daniels, 1877; G. H. Calver, 1879; F. E. Perham, 
1880-2; P. R. Kendall, 1881; S. S. Sanborn, 1884; Addie Weeks, 1886; 
James Richmond, 1887; J. R. Flint, 1888; Mary C. Humphrey, 1889; 
Amy S. Rhodes, 1890; Ella W. Bay, 1891; Edna Merrill, 1892 and Lena 
B. Carlton, 1893. 

About 1850 a new building was erected and remained 
in use about twenty years, when it was found to be unsuited 
for the requirements of its growing patronage. After serving 
as an "annex" to its successor it was sold and now exists as a 
carriage house. 

'Tisbury Records, 305. 

'The grant was conditioned upon the contribution of a like amount by the citizens, 
which was done. 

^The grave stone of David Look records the fact that "thro' his influence a grant 
of Three Thousand Dollars was obtained from the state." He died April 28, 1837 
aged 70 years. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

In 1869-70, during the service of Moses C. Mitchell, and 
largely through his efforts, a new building was erected with 
funds in the treasury and added contributions of the citizens, 
and on Nov. i, 1870 was ready for occupancy. The General 
Court, in April, 1871, appropriated $5,000 towards this new 
building, almost the last grant of this kind made by the legis- 
lature, and thus the academy fund was reimbursed. 

Since 1894 the town and academy have merged their 
interests in educational matters. A grade equivalent to a 
High School curriculum is provided, in addition to the grammar 
and primary grades. 


In the autumn of 1890 the late Professor Nathaniel S. 
Shaler proposed the establishment of a public library in the 
town, and Rev. Caleb L. Rotch canvassed this section of the Vine- 
yard for the purpose of obtaining financial aid in starting such an 
institution. Encouraging results were obtained, and on Dec. 
29, 1890 a meeting of persons interested was held to perfect 
a temporary organization. Rev. Mr. Rotch was chosen 
president, with a secretary, treasurer, executive committee, 
and Dr. Lyman H. Luce as librarian. This meeting selected 
the name of "Dukes County Library Association," adopted 
a constitution and made arrangements for quarters in the 
Dukes County Academy. Books were purchased with the 
funds subscribed, many were donated by friends, and from 
this time until July, 1892 the library was operated in that 
building. Sanderson M. Mayhew succeeded Rev. Mr. Rotch 
as president in 189 1 and in May, 1892, it was voted to purchase 
"Mitchell's School" for a library building. This was accom- 
plished by the aid of outside subscriptions, and the exterior 
and interior fitted up for the special purposes of a public library.^ 
The association in 1893 became incorporated under the name 
of "West Tisbury Free Public Library," and Everett Allen 
Davis was chosen its first president. At this time it had 11 00 
volumes and at the present time about 2500 have been ac- 


The Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society, founded 
in 1858, has its headquarters in this town. The Hon. Leavitt 
Thaxter was its first president, and a fair was held that year, 

'Up to May, 1895 there had been subscribed by friends the total of $1063, to found 
and maintain the library. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

the exhibits being displayed in the Academy. In 1859 the 
Agricultural hall was built, next the church lot and annual 
fairs have been held ever since in this large and commodious 


The layout of the first roads in town, the Mill road, the 
Scotchman's bridge and the road leading from Nashowakem- 
much to North Tisbury, is not of record. The earliest refer- 
ence to a road is found under date of 1699, when a way "of 
about 3 Rods broad" from the Old Mill brook to the Sound, 
was laid out, "between the Ministers Lot & Israel Luces 

Lott to & for the generall use of those interested & 

to no other." This road had no real existence elsewhere and 
probably was never staked out. "Ways" and "Paths" were 
in existence and in common use, without legal acceptance by 
the town, from the earliest times. Their course changed at 
the convenience of the people in driving their carts through 
the woods and over the hills. ^ Most of them were closed 
"by Gates and Bars" until within the last hundred years.' 
Those roads which have some definite history are as follows : — 

Mill Path. — The first road in town was the "path" 
leading from Edgartown to the Old Mill brook. It has already 
been described (vol. I, p. 460). It was the "great road" of 
the settlement and a part of the county system of highways. 

School House Path. — Contemporary with the Mill path 
and a continuation of it from the brook to the Chilmark line, 
was this highway, now the south road. Both of these were 
old Indian trails. 

Scotchman's Bridge Road. — This was the first highway 
mentioned in the records, as early as 1671, and was doubtless 
laid out when the home lots were plotted. It was originally 
the road midway of the lots running east and west the entire 

Homes Hole Path. — This road led from the Mill path 
on the east side of the Old Mill brook to Homes Hole, follow- 
ing very nearly the present road over the plain. It is first 

*An example of this is to be found in the following record of a layout in 1741: 
"both sd ways meet Each other at the old way that before Lead from sd Hametts 
house: the aforesd new way being Cleared of the wood that Grew upon itt by sd agents 
by Consent of the Owners of the Land." 

■^The map of Des Barres (1781), which was the best map of the Vineyard up to 
that date, shows but one road in West Tisbury, the way leading from Chilmark to 
the old church and on past the cemetery. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

mentioned in the records in 1700, but doubtless it was in 
existence long before that. 

Meeting- House Way. — A path leading west from the 
School House path (South road), at a point where the Con- 
gregational meeting-house now stands, to the head of the 
home lots, existed before 1 700 and has continued to the present 
day. It was a "way" used by residents of the Kephigon 
section to reach the first meeting-house. 

The Back Road. — In 1726 there was a formal layout of 
the road bounding the west headline of the home lots. It 
began at the meeting-house way and extended to the Scotch- 
man's Bridge road. In 1741 this way continued northward 
to intersect in Middletown the road on the east side of the 
brook that led to Christiantown. 

Pow-wow Hill Way. — Starting from the Homes Hole 
path, about sixty rods north of Scotchman's Bridge road, and 
running along parallel to the brook, a way two rods wide 
was laid out in 1700 to the present village of Middletown. 

LamherVs Cove Road. — This was a way laid out in 1751 
by the owners of land as a combination of the North Shore 
road from West Tisbury village, and it was provided that 
it should extend through Chickemmoo,'' towards the North- 
east as may be best for Conveniancie of Said Road and as 
may be Leaste for Dammage on each Mans Land untill it 
comes to goe thro Saviges Line." It then intersected the 
Homes Hole path near its present junction. In 1770 there 
was a petition to the Court reciting the need of a road in this 
section to connect Tisbury and Homes Hole. It is probable 
that it had never been accepted. 


But one branch of the general government has a repre- 
sentation in the town, the Post Office Department. A mail 
service was doubtless in operation for a considerable time 
^prior to the establishment of a local office here, and it is prob- 
able that it was served through the Homes Hole office until 
1828, when it was established as an independent mail station. 
The first postmaster was Willard Luce, who was commis- 
sioned Jan. 25, 1828, and the office was designated as Tisbury. 
The next year it was changed to West Tisbury, and Mr. Luce 
continued in office for twenty-three years. He was succeeded 
in 1 85 1 by William A. Mayhew for a short term, and in sequence 


Annals of West Tisbury 

the office was held by Joseph B. Nickerson, Caroline W. 
Nickerson (his widow) and Mrs. Phebe L. Cleveland. 

The office has been continued for over fifty years in its 
present location on the corner of the Edgartown and Vineyard 
Haven roads. 


Rufus Spalding was the earliest practitioner of medicine 
in this town before 1800, and he lived in a house opposite the 
post office. Here was born his son, Rufus Paine Spalding, 
distinguished in later life as a member of Congress from Ohio 
and a judge of the Federal Court. Dr. Spalding removed 
to Homes Hole about 1805 and later to Connecticut. Dr. T. 
J. E. Gage came about 1837, remaining ten years, and a Dr. 
Philbrick about 1845, living opposite Agricultural hall, 
followed. Dr. W. H. Luce succeeded to the practice of Dr. 
Gage and remained here throughout his long life. His son. 
Dr. Lyman H. Luce, formerly in practice in Falmouth, took 
up his father's work and continued until 1892, when a mortal 
disease terminated his career. Dr. C. D. N. Fairchild came 
from Fairhaven about 1893 and still practices here. Dr. D. 
A. Cleaveland, until his death in 1903, had practised here at 
intervals, having been settled elsewhere for a considerable 
period of his professional career. 


In 1782 the town voted that James Athearn should 
"Examine the Records of this Town county or the Registree 
of Probate and See wt Land Said Town has Reserv'd for a 
Bureying Place." It is not known what he found, but besides 
a few private places of interment there are only two public 
enclosures in the town. 

Old Cemetery. — The first burying place owned by the 
town was the ''acker of Land" donated by James Allen in 
1 70 1, and with several subsequent enlargements it continues 
to be used for this purpose at the present day, a record of 
over two centuries. 

LamberVs Cove. — There is a cemetery on the North 
Shore near the John Look place which has been used for public 
interments for more than a century. The oldest stones in it 
bear date of 1771, and the land was probably set apart for a 
burial place about that date, though there are no records of 
its acquisition by the town, nor is it known how it was dedicated 
to such uses. 


Histoiy of Martha's Vineyard 


In 1850 the village of Homes Hole had outgrown in pop- 
ulation the western section of Old Tisbury and was gradually 
developing at the expense of the smaller settlements in the 
rest of the town. The interests of these two portions of the 
town were not homogeneous — the one was a compact village 
with a maritime and manufacturing population, and the other 
was chiefly devoted to agriculture and fishing.* Several miles 




of "ragged plain" separated West Tisbury, Homes Hole and 
North Tisbury, and the inevitable jealousies and disagree- 
ments arose between the village and the town regarding im- 
provements to roads, school facilities and the proper balance 
of appropriations. This became more and more acute as the 
village of Homes Hole thrived and grew and demanded modern 
streets, sidewalks, fire protection, lighting, water supply and 
all the requirements of a compact settlement. The farmers 
of the western section were outnumbered in town meetings, 
and chafed under the load of enforced taxation for those things 
which they could not utilize. Each year these troubles became 
accentuated and would be temporarily composed under some 
form of truce between the two parties. It was a case of the 

'In 1850 Homes Hole had 259 polls to 153 in the rest of the town. 

Annals of West Tisbury 

offspring outstripping the parent, for the older men could 
remember the time when the "Hole" was an insignificant 
part of Tisbury town. They remembered, too, that Governor 
Mayhew in his original grant of West Chop to Tisbury in 
1673, had in view its ultimate separation as a distinct corpor- 
ation. It was to be a part of Tisbury he wrote "until the said 
necke of Land be a particular township. " Early in the decade 
of 1880-90, the farmers of West and North Tisbury began 
to agitate for this separation decreed by history and topog- 
raphy. Each year the subject was discussed with much 
spirit and considerable acrimony at times, as the people of 
the village of Vineyard Haven objected to a division. In 
1890, after much political agitation, a petition was sent to 
the General Court by the people of West Tisbury asking for 
a division of the town, but it was referred to the next session. 
In 1 89 1 the General Court enacted a permissive bill for di- 
vision, provided it should be accepted by a majority vote of 
the townsmen at either of two meetings called for the purpose 
at Vineyard Haven and Middletown. 

At the first meeting, held in the former village, the pro- 
posal failed by a vote of 115 yes to 161 no; and at one of the 
largest town meetings ever held the second test vote, 150 yes 
to 204 no, resulted in its final rejection. The people of "\Vest 
Tisbury renewed the contest the next year, and it was decided 
by the General Court in favor of the petitioners without use 
of the referendum. It became a law April 28, 1892, when 
signed by the Governor, William E. Russell, and the new 
town of West Tisbury celebrated its victory by a torch-light 
procession and a jubilation meeting at Agricultural Hall.^ 


The first town officers, elected May, 1892, were the fol- 
lowing: William J. Rotch, Horatio G. Norton, Edwin A. 
Luce, Selectmen; George H. Luce, Horatio G. Norton, 
Edwin A. Luce, Assessors; George G. Gifford, Clerk; San- 
derson M. Mayhew, Treasurer; Ulysses E. Mayhew, David 
Mayhew, Frank L. Look, School Committee; Richard Thomp- 
son, Walter G. Cottle, Constables; Henry H. Lovell, Auditor; 
James F. Cleaveland, Collector of Taxes; Henry L. Whiting, 
William J. Rotch, Cyrus Manter, Cemetery Committee. 

^The leading spirit in this movement was William J. Rotch of West Tisbury 
and the satisfactory results which have followed the years of bickering between the 
two sections, justifies the wisdom of his contentions during the campaign. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

This village is now about two hundred and forty years 
old, and the town sixteen years in its independent standing. 
Its material progress and present prosperity, as indicated by 
the following statistics taken from the assessors' books. May 
I, 1908, shows in contrast to the lone mill of 1669 on the 
ancient stream of Taakemmy: Personal estate assessed, 
$155,373; ^^^1 estate assessed, $379,414; total, $534,787. 
Total tax assessed, $2429.14, with about $700 additional, 
which is appropriated from other income. Acres of land, 
12,821; dwelling houses, 190; horses, 125; cows, 164; neat 
cattle, 40; sheep, 685; fowl, 2589. 




Annals of West Tisbury 



The beginnings of Christiantown carry us back to the 
year 1659, when according to the evidence of Josias, the 
sachem, ''there was only Known but four Praying Indians 
in my Sachimshipp Whose names was Pamick my uncle and 
Nonoussa and Tahquanum & Poxsin." In the winter of 
1659-1660, continues the sachem, "I gave one mile square 
of land unto my uncle Pamick Nonoussa, Tachquanum & 
Poxsin of Taukemey to be a township for them."^ It is 
believed that Papamick, the well-known Indian of Takemmy 
is meant as the uncle of Josias, to whom the grant was made, 
as "Papamek's Field" was one of the bounds of this tract. ^ 
This grant was laid out to these four Christianized natives 
for a "praying town," so-called, and the condition of the 
grant provided "That the Praying Indians should give Twenty 
Shillings every yeare to me Their Sachim," but it appears 
that in after years this ceased to be observed by the grantees, 
through death and removal.^ There was no formal record 
of this transaction, and it obtained a standing in the knowledge 
of men through common report, that this square mile of land 
at the North Shore, in the bounds of Takemmy, had been 
set apart for the sole use of these converts. This arrange- 
ment lasted for about a decade. 

When Thomas Mayhew, the elder, on July i, 1668, gave 
permission to William Pabodie and his partners "to buy 
what they cann uppon this Island withm the compass of the 
bounds of Takemmy, of the Indian sachims, the right owners," 
the rank and file among the natives did not relish the idea of 
their sachem selling territory, which belonged to them, to a 
new lot of "pale-faces." Already the eastern half of the 
Island had been alienated by Tequanomin to the settlers of 
Great Harbour, and when the prospectors for a new town- 
ship came to the fertile meadows of Takemmy, in 1668, and 
began to negotiate with Keteanummin, alias Josias, the sachem, 
for the purchase of that land, the discontent was openly ex- 
pressed. It came to the knowledge of Mayhew, and it was 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 357. 

'Experience Mayhew calls one of the Indians Pockqsimme (Indian Converts, 73). 
^Dukes Deeds, IV, 173. The date of the agreement was February 23, 1658, 
probably 1658-9. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

determined to appease them in some way. The land desired 
by Pabodie and his associates was known to them as being 
valuable, and they would not derive any benefit from the sale 
of it by the sachem. However, Josias sold to Pabodie the 
tract known as the First Purchase on Aug. 2, 1669, as else- 
where described, and was negotiating with the buyers for the 
sale of more territory. There were constant quarrels between 
the sachem and the angry braves of Takemmy, and Mayhew 
called a general meeting of the natives to hold a "pow-wow" 
over the matter. It was held early in March, 1669-70 and 
one of the earliest settlers of Tisbury has left on record his 
recollections of the matter. The deponent is Joseph Daggett, 
who, as a young man, was a witness of the proceedings. He 
was able to understand the native language and frequently 
acted as interpreter for the town. His evidence is as follows: — 

The Testimony of Joseph Daged aged 51 years or thereabouts 
testifieth & Saith, that about 28 or 29 years agoe [1670-167 1] I was at a 
Meeting of the Indians at Tacamy and there was a great quarrell between 
the Indians and Josias commonly called Sachim for that he the sd Josias 
had Sould so much land to the purchasers of Tisbury in so in so much 
that mr Thomas Mayhew Esqr deced who was then present had very 
much adoe to quiet the Indians untill at length sd Josias did agree to and 
oblige him Self that he would Sell no more land with out the Consent 
and approbation of a Certain number of Indians who were then named 
& Confirmd as Trustees for and in behalfe of the sd Indians: ' 

This agreement, made at that time, is as follows : — 

It is absolutely agreed by us Thomas Mayhew, Kiteanumin, Tichpit, 
Teequinom(in) Papamick and Joseph, and wee doe hereby promise for 
our heirs and successors that all the lands in Takemmy that is not sold 
unto the English shall remain unsold for the use of the Indians of Takemmy 
and their heirs forever; except the said Thomas Mayhew, Kiteanumin, 
Tichpit, Teequinomin, Papamick and Joseph their heirs successors doe 
all and everie one of them consent to the sale thereof of any part of the 

This agreement was made with the consent and approbation of most 
of the inhabitants at a meeting held the 15th day of March (1669-1670). 

Further it is agreed that noe person that buyeth any land except it 
be of all the aforenamed trustees shall enjoy the same; and whosoever 
shall presume to sell land without the consent of the trustees, shall be 
liable to be fined att the will of the major part of the trustees. 

Witness our hands the day and year above written:' 

'Superior Judicial Court Mss., No. 3834. The date of this deposition is March 
3, 1698-9. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

Further the old custom about elwifes is to bee observed. 

Thomas Mayhew 


his mark 

This is an absolute agreement 


his mark 



his mark 

Thomas Mayhew 


his mark 


his mark 

This is to testify that Keteanummin hath noe power to sell any more 
land; but hath made a pubHque promise that all the land imsold is to 
remain for the Indians of Takemmy forever, except he hath sold not 
half already: yet not then may he sell till one half be sold. 

Witness my hand this 29th (Alarch) 1669. He doth not by tliis 
exclude himself. 

Thomas Mayhew* 

The last codicil, if it may be so termed, attached to this 
agreement by Mayhew is thus explained, in part, by Joseph 
Daggett, in the sanie deposition. He states that when the 
agreement about the trusteeships and the powers under 
which they held these relations to the Indians and to "each- 
other was Concluded and Effected," he says: — 

I went away from the Meeting but have often been Informed that at 
the same Meeting the sd Josias confirmed a Grant of a certain tract of 
land which adjoyneth to the Northern line of the purchased Township 
of Tisbury for a Christian Town or for the Settlemt for the praying Indians 
and that ever since the sd Meeting it hath generaly been esteemed to be 
the Indians and called by the name of the Indian Town.^ 

The motives which actuated the elder Mayhew and the 
sachem Josias may, or may not, have been altruistic. It looks 
like a bone thrown to snarling dogs to keep them quiet. Ac- 
cordingly, to satisfy the discontented, it was decided by the 
governor and the sachem to renew the old grant of a ''mile 
square," formerly given to Papameck and his fellow converts 
so that the praying Indians should always have a place by 
themselves, which they could call their own. The governor 
testifies : — 

Josias and Wannamanhutt Did in my Presence give the Praying 
Indians a Tract of Land for a Town and Did Committ the Government 
Thereof into my hand and Posteritie forever: the Bounds of the said 
Land is on the North sid of (the) Island bounded by the land called Ich- 
poquassett and so to the Pond called Mattapaquattonooke and into the 

'Superior Judicial Court Mss., No. 953; comp. Dukes Deeds, I, 402. 
^bid., No. 3834. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Island so far as Papamaks fields where he Planted and now Plants or 
soes: it is as broad in the woods as by the Seaside.^ 

A supplemental agreement was drawn up several months 
later to provide for the defect of a proper succession, in case 
the ''Praying Indians" should recant, die out or leave. Ac- 
cordingly the following document was drawn up on Jan. 9, 
1670: — 

Agreed by myself and Keteanummin that the town Manettouwatoo- 
tan in Taukemey Shall Remain forever in the possession of the Praying 
men — That is Thus: That if the Inhabitance Turn from god his Ways 
Other Praying Indians of Taukemy shall have their land If there Be Anny: 
If not Then other Praying men of this Island: Further Keteanummin 
Saith That When 20 Families are settled in this town it shall be enlarged 
with Land the same say I it is fitt itt should: This Town for the Govement 
of it was put by the Sachims Keteanummin and Wanamanhut into the 
hands of Thomas Mayhew and his posterity for ever: The meaning is 
If all do forsake the Worship of God They shall loose their Predecessors 

Thirty years later Josias, then an old man, confirmed this 
grant and amplified the description of the boundaries in a 
deed, dated Aug. 26, 1699, as follows: — 

Boimded on the north by the North shore and bounded on the East by 
Ichpoquassett the black water, and so to run southerly in the bound line 
Between Taukemy and Chickemoo land, untill it come to a little Eastward 
of a pond called Manaquayak and boimded on the south from that mile 
end near the Pond called Manaquayak, and so to the south bounds runing 
westerly Mackkonnetchasqua including the field where my imcle Pa(pa)- 
mick Dwelt and Dyed and so the south bounds to Come to a Place called 
Maanette and from that mile end Bounded on the West to a Pond at the 
north shore called Pissa: so this mile square of land Lyeth in Taukemmy 
on the north east corner of my Sachemship.^ 

Ten years after this, owing to some disputes about the 
territory in the possession of the remnants of these ''Praying 
Indians," and in response to a petition of the town authorities, 
a committee, appointed by the General Court, consisting of 
John Otis and William Bassett, made a re-survey of the 
tract in October, 1 709 and defined the bounds as follows : — 

Beginning att the Stake standing on the Easterly side of the Ware att 
the beach att of neare the place Caled Itchpoqueassett and thence Runing 
westerly by the sea or Sound imtill it come to a Stake standing att the 

*The date of this paper is May 28, i66g, probably written shortly after the meeting 
above referred to, and written down for permanent record (Dukes Deeds, I, 378). 

'Superior Judicial Court Mss., No. 72789. This was signed by Thomas Mayhew 
and Ketanummin (his mark), and witnessed by a number of Indians. 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 3517. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

East corner of Mattapaquaha pond by the fence, and thence Runing up 
Southerly on a Streight line to a great Rock, extending Easterly unto a 
stake with stones about it standing on the plain land over against the house 
in which Robert Luce now dwelleth, and thence Runing down a streight 
Line to a marked tree with stones about it standing att the head of the 
pond caled Great Jameses Pond at Itchpoqueassett pond and thence 
down on a streight Line across the s'd pond unto the first mentioned 
stake standing: on the beach.' 


From contemporary documents, it is certain that Josias 
adhered to the compact which he had made with the braves 
of his tribe. James Skiff e gives testimony of this in a state- 
ment made thirty years after. In it he says : — 

We the said purcjasers (of Takemmy) desired of said Josias to 

let us have our bounds and limits to extend further Eastward 

but the said Josias refused to let us have any land further Eastward of 
said bounds, alledging that he had already granted it to the praying Indians; 
and the next year after when we the said purchasers were about to purchase 
another parcel of Land of the said Josias in Tacomy the Indians who 
then dwelt on the said Tacomy were much displeased at Josias for inclin- 
ing to sell any more land and would not consent thereto untill Josias did 
confirm the remainder to them the said Indians.^ 

Joseph Daggett gives similar testimony as to the general 
observance of the conditions by the whites, when he says 
that those ''imployed to buy lands of the Indians by and in 
behaife of the Town of Tisbury have refused to buy any lands 
there as concluding properly belonging to the Christan In- 
dians."' But Josias was not above the temptations which 
beset human nature, especially the simple nature of the red 
man. He never embraced the Christian religion, and as a 
consequence failed to be embalmed among the "good men" 
in Mayhew's Indian Converts." Indeed, Mayhew goes out of 
his way to give him a doubtful certificate of respectability. 
''Of him I can give no very good character," says the author 
of that volume of praise for all sorts and conditions of con- 
verted natives. In an explanation of his predicament, in his 
old age, he says : — 

Now long since miy uncle Pamick Dyed and his sons are dead Nonoussa 
and Taquanum and Poxsin are all dead and they never Pay'd me my 
fifteen pounds: — so the Praying Indians Being Dead and Removed and 

'Mass. Archives, CXIII, 534. Report of Otis and Bassett, 1709. 
'Superior Judicial Court Mss., No. 4714. 
'Ibid., No. 3834. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

forsook that place so I had Nothing as they had Promised That the Praying 
Indians should give Twenty Shillings every yeare to me Their Sachem 
ans Being grown old and Poor not able to work Proposed to sell the land 
to the English for my maintenance.* 

So he began to sell, first to Simon Athearn, on Nov. lo, 
1674, a tract of land, which became, in after years, the origin 
of a fam.ous law-suit which extended over many years, and 
was the occasion of many exciting encounters, due to alleged 
trespass. It will be, therefore, well to have a copy of this 
deed for reference: — 

this parcel of land that I have now sold lyeth by Wampache 

with there corners almost three square bounded on the south and south 
west and west sides with the land I sold to William Peaboddie and his 
friends and it is bounded on the north and by west side through marked 
trees one old dead tree with a forked toppe and one white oak butt stand- 
ing by a crook of the brook of water and one old tree standing on the 
north side of a little bushy swamp and so this Hne do runne west norwest 
and east south east until it come to the land I sold to William Peaboddie 
and his friends on both ends ^ 

The sale of this land by Josias gave rise to prolonged 
litigation in subsequent litigation with abutting owners, per- 
haps owing to the usual indefinite description of its bounds, 
and in order to settle the controversy, Richard Sarson and 
Matthew Mayhew were chosen arbitrators by the litigants. 
The two arbitrators, who could not be called friendly to 
Athearn, on account of the family and political differences 
in the past, nevertheless made an award, in the following 
terms, entirely in his favor: — 

In the Controversy left to the arbitrament of us Between Simon 
Athearn & the Town of Tisbury concerning a tract of land bought by 
said Athearn neer William Rogers his land we award as followeth, viz: — 
that the said Simon Athearn shall enjoy said land and that the other pro- 
prietors or sharers in said townshipp shall be each of them allowed and 
allotted as much land as said purchase and one eight more in the two 
necks and half last purchased, and what it may want if there be not suf- 
ficient, to be made up to each man out of the next land that shall be pur- 
chased: before he hath any allotment, having the land aforesaid witness 
our handes this 24th of December 1682.^ 

This certainly left Athearn in full and quiet possession 
of this tract. 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 357. 

Ibid., I, 302. 

'Superior Judicial Court Mss., No. 4974. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

The next purchase was made by William Rogers, twenty 
acres, Jan. 29, 1679,^ and on Jan. 13, 1686, another tract 
was sold to Arthur Bevan, adjoining the Rogers purchase 
on the east.^ This latter transaction caused considerable 
unfavorable comment, and Bevan "tendered to the Town of 
Tisbury at a Town Meeting some land which he had bought, 
which land was a part of s'd land which s'd Josias had barred 
him self from selling without the approbation of the Trustees 
afores'd and the Town refused to Meadle with it for the 
Reasons aforesaid (viz) that they looked at it to be Indians 
Town."^ But Josias put on record his justification for these 
sales, in which he states: — "Having sold som of the Land 
to Isaac Chase and to John Manter and others, for which 
Mr. Mayhew Witt(nessed) the Deed, and Mr Mayhew con- 
tented That I might sell it now."^ After this the old sachem 
made four more sales, before his decease, to the following 
named persons: To Henry Luce, on Feb. 3, 1687, of sixty 
acres;"^ to Experience Luce, on Dec. 9, 1693, ^^ sixty acres; ^ 
to John Lambert, on May 17, 1694, of sixty acres,' and to 
John Manter, on Aug. 17, 1694, of forty acres. ^ 

These continuous sales incensed the members of the 
tribe and there arose, as William Parclow of Tisbury testifies, 
"a great Contest between Josias Indian Sachim and the 
Christian Indians, so called, about the Title of some lands 
called the lands of the Christian Town." This was "some- 
time in or about the year 1688." He continues: — 

and the s'd Christian Indians having committed their Deed of Gift from 
sd Sachim unto my Custody, which Deed was subscribed and sd Josias 
told me it was by himself; and sometime after the sd Sachim came to 
me & desired me to Burn sd Deed or writing, saying that if I would do 
it he would give me some of the land, but I refusing sayd I would not 
undoe those praying Indians to whom it was granted. The Sachim 
replyed saying it may be you think I will give you but a little piece, then 

'The purchase made by Rogers was authorized by the town of Tisbury, when 
it was voted "that Will. Rogges shall purchchis therty eakers of land of (Jo)sias 

Sogimer for an inheritance and what the saide rogers can purchis more it is 

to returne to the towne againe" (Tisbury Records, 13). The deed is recorded, Vol. 
Ill, fol. 288, Dukes County Registry. 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 340. There is no record of the disposal of this land from Bevan 
and it is probable that it reverted to the Indian Town. 

^Superior Judicial Court Mss., No. 3834. 

^Dukes Deeds, I, 357. 

^Ibid., Ill, 476. 

«Ibid., Ill, 19. 

'Ibid., I, 248. 

*Ibid., I, 207. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

I sayd how much will you give me if I burn the Deed he then answered 
I'Ue will give you halfe, then I told him he had no love for the Christians 
& I will not do it if you will give me all of it.^ 

The sale to Isaac Chase, to which he refers, was made 
on Aug. 15, 1682, and comprised the tract between Great 
James pond and the Black Water brook, as far south as Old 
House pond, and the town of Tisbury gave authority to Chase 
to make the purchase less than a month before the transaction 
was completed.^ Notwithstanding the premises stated, there 
was growing up a continued opposition to the alienation of 
this territory, and as Josias himself avers, "Ev(er)y(man) 
have made much Trouble about Land (I) have sold to the 
English and some men say that the Praying Indians Must 
have their Town I formerly gave them." Accordingly, on 
Aug. 26, 1699, the ancient Sachem executed a deed of confirm- 
ation, of the mile square previously granted, describing the 
bounds as above given. It was the last recorded act of this 
"bad" Indian chief, in which he left to his people the original 
tract, in perpetuity, as he had given it to them in his simple 
way, forty years before. xA.lthough not a Christianized native, 
his recognition of the portion of his sachemship which had 
embraced the new religion, was an act which measures up well 
with the attitude of the whites who dealt with him. He died 
somewhere between that date and Aug. 17, 1702, and on the 
highest hill of Christiantown, some monument should be 
erected to this historic sachem of the Takemmy tribe of the 
Algonquian race, as a memorial of an Indian who dealt fairly 
with his own people and justly with the whites. In his last 
words to "the great English Justices to helpe me who am an 
Indian," he solemnly announced in his appeal for justice, 
in the legal proceedings growing out of the greed of the whites 
for his territory: "I have don the English no hurt nor don 
anything out of the Indian custom." This well might be the 
epitaph on the place marking his memorial.^ 

On Aug. 18, 1702, Zachariah Peeskin, "son and heir 
to Josias Keteanummin, late deceased, sachem," executed a 
deed amplifying the grants of his late father of the territory 
of Christiantown, in the following terms, in favor of the Indians 
Wekommooinnin, Ashahhowanin, Isaac Ompanit, Cottoowan- 

'Superior Judicial Court Mss., No. 3834. 

T3ukes Deeds, I, 281; comp., Tisbury Records, 16. 

'Superior Judicial Court Mss., No. 4974. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

nawook, Stephen Nashokow and Wawapeehkin, as trustees, 
and to their heirs and successors : — 

Upon serious reflections finding that my said father Josias as well 
jointly together with Wanamanhut firstly as latterly before his own de- 
cease, being sole lord and sachim of the said domionion of Takemmy, 
had and did not only according to the usual custom of the time in use 
but for better affirmance thereof, by request of my father said Josias, 
obtained the favor of the then English Governour, Thomas Mayhew, 
late deceased, of his assistance to commit the same to writing, give and 
convey a considerable part of said sachimship and lands to the same 
belonging, for and to the use of all such, within his said sachimship as did 

or hereafter should profess the Christian religion, as an addition 

to the said grant all and every the lands, soils, waters, fishing and fowling, 
royalties and privileges, woods, marshes and all other rights, estate, of 

what nature soever, to the use of the Christians of the Protestant 

relig'on, natural subjects of the siad sachimship. 

The regulation of this grant was provided for in the person 
of the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay, for the time being, 
and exception was made in favor of the sachem's "right of 
drifts, ^vrecks on the beach or sea-shore." The deed was 
"approved" by the following Indians, probably to conform 
to the requirements of the ancient trustees, in the following 
manner : — 

We the subscribers inhabitants of that part of Marthas Vineyard, 
called Takemmy, assent to the within written conveyance: 

Ely Shokaw Job Soomanau Isaac Ompanit Nen Amos 

William Nunmin Thomas Paul Nen Abel Jonathan 

Francis Ezekiel Ammuck Hosea Manhut Samson 

Wecammoone Japhet Wanahut Stephen 



The government of Christiantown, as far as the manage- 
ment of the land was concerned, was vested in Governor 
Mayhew and five Indians as Trustees, and their heirs and 
successors from the year 1669, as before related. From 
fragmentary references it is certain that a form of civil govern- 
ment, like the town organization of the whites, was settled 
in this little Indian village. Governor Mayhew is authority 
for the statement that Josias and Wannamanhutt "Did Com- 
mitt the Government Thereof into my hand and Posteritie 
forever."^ The form of government instituted by Mayhew 

*Dukes Deeds, I, 417. In the report of a committee on Christiantown lands, 
in 1762, it is stated that Zachariah gave a deed previous to this on April 6, 1702, but 
if so it was not recorded. 

^bid., I, 378. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

was probably suited to the monarchial customs of the Indians 
at first, rather than the democratic order. An Indian ''magis- 
trate" of this town is mentioned in 1690, and it is altogether 
likely that native courts were instituted here, as in the other 
parts of the island very early. How soon a regular town 
government was formed cannot be stated, but while there 
is no record of such before 1 700, it is probable that one existed 

The trustees of the Indian Town in 1696 were Isaac 
Ompanit, Stephen Nashokow and Obadiah Paul, and in a 
case relating to disputed land, they refer to the rights "of 
them selves and body politick as a town.'" In 1703 Stephen 
Shokow (an abbreviation of Nashokow) was "Justice of 
peace for the Indians of Takymmy." 

Of Isaac Ompanit, the author of "Indian Converts," 

says that he "was a Magistrate as well as a Minister among 

his own Countrymen, and faithfully discharged the Duties of 

.that Office, according to the best of his Skill and Judgment, 

not being a Terror to good Works, but to those that were Evil.^^^ 

The Indians, however, as a tribe, were under the guardian- 
ship of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in material 
as well as spiritual matters. An instance of this occurred in 
1 714 respecting the use of a house belonging to the town, and 
evidently built by the society.^ In addition to this, agents 
were appointed by the provincial authorities to attend to certain 
defined duties regarding their legal rights. In 1731 Experience 
Mayhew held this office, and he presented a petition to the 
General Court, setting forth "the inconvenience they are 
under for want of the power of chusing officers among them- 
selves" and praying that they may be constituted "a Seperate 
Town or Precinct or have the priviledges necessary for the 
Chusing & Appointing of officers among themselves for the 
ordering & managing of their own Affairs."* The latter 

'Sup. Judicial Court files, No. 4714. 

'Op. cit., p. 60. 

^In answer to Thomas Paul of Christian Town, who is angered that Isaac Ompane, 
of the same town, lives in the Town's English House Rent free. It is directed and 
ordered that Isaac Ompane for the future pay twelve shillings per annum Rent for 
the said House so long as he dwells in it, which shall go towards reimbursing the 
Widow Abigails Lease. And it is very necessary that the Town speedily join together 
as one Man, and pay what is owing to the said Widow. And the twelve shillings 
per annum shall be employed in some other public use of the Town, and shall be 
paid accordingly to the Select-Men thereof by Isaac Ompany, who has been the prin- 
cipal Doer and Sufferer in Recovering the Same. Sewall, Thaxter, Thomas Mayhew, 
Esq. Benjamin Skiff, Esq. April 8, 1714. (Sewall, Diary, II, 432.) 

*Acts and Resolves, XI, 639, Chapter 137. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

alternative was adopted and they were given restricted civil 
rights of election of officers to conduct their business. There 
is a record of ''a Legall Town Meeting held on the Fifteenth 
Day of March A.D. 1735 at Christian (town) whereof Amos 
Oyeninkesit was Moderator," and the record is attested by 
Zachariah Papamek as the Town Clerk. A similar record 
exists in 1743/ In 1762 a committee appointed by Governor 
Bernard, to correct certain abuses against the Indians, reported 
that they were "further of the opinion that they be no longer 
under Guardians," But this consummation was not reached 
for a century. 


In pursuance of the object of their existence as a religious 
community, a meeting house was built for them in the time 
of the Governor, before 1680, and this was replaced about 
1695 by another. How long this building, or any of its suc- 
cessors, existed is not known, as no records remain to throw 
light on the subject. That a meeting-house was standing in 
1770 appears from a contemporary document, and scattered 
references to "the Indian meeting" occur throughout that 
century. In 1732 two flagons of silver were presented to this 
congregation by the Old South church of Boston. 

The local English ministers of Tisbury, beginning with 
Torrey and followed by Hancock, exercised a supervision 
over the native church and frequently preached to them in 
Algonquian and administered the sacraments. In addition to 
this, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel supported 
a general missionary for the island until the Revolution. After 
this the society organized in Boston in 1787, continued the 
patronage of the mission for a century. Indian preachers 
conducted the regular services, assisted by native deacons. 
In 1858 it was reported that "for some years past this tribe 
has had no regular stated worship." 

In 1870 a church of eight members was formed and ser- 
vices were held in a building originally built for a school. 
No regular minister was attached to this organization, but it 
had occasional services supplied by the North Tisbury Baptists. 
After a precarious existence for about twenty years it ceased 
to be used for religious services and is now unfit for occupancy 
as such. 

'Acts and Resolves, Dukes Deeds, VII, 238. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

NOTED '^ praying" INDIANS. 

John Amanhut. — He was son of Wannamanhut, the 
sachem, and was a preacher in this town. He was the father 
of Hosea Manhut, also a preacher, and an ordained 
Pastor of ''the Indian Church at the West End of this Island." 
He died in March 1672.^ 

Joel Sims. — He was son of Pockqsimme, and being well 
instructed in his youth, was called upon to preach to his 
people in this town. He died young, about the year 1680, 
''much lamented."^ 

James Sepinnu. — He was a brother of Tackanash, the 
colleague of Hiacoomes, the first Indian convert on the island. 
He was one of the early preachers in this town, and died here 
about 1683.^ 

The foregoing persons appear among the "Godly Min- 
isters" of Experience Mayhew's book, and those which follow 
are classed as "Good Men," who resided in Christian town 
during his knowledge: — 

Noquittompany. — Beyond the fact that he was a "pray- 
ing Indian," and the father of Isaac Ompanit, nothing remains 
to be said further of him. He died about 1690, probably 
of the "distemper" which carried off so many of the Island 
Indians at that time. His daughter married the sachem 

J oh Somannan. — His father was a "praying Indian" 
bearing the last name, and his mother was classed as a "heath- 
en." Job was taught to read in his native tongue, and in 
later years could read and write in English. He was a weaver 
by trade and "a great Lover of good Books." While a " good " 
Indian, according to May hew, yet he "had such Apprehensions 
of the Holiness that was necessary to qualify Persons for the 
Enjoyment of Church Privileges, that he thought it not safe 
for him to venture to lay claim unto them." He died in 1718.® 

Henry Ohhunnut, alias Jannoquissoo. — This native 
"meeting with some Trouble on Marthas Vineyard, which 
made his Mind uneasy," left the island and went to Natick, 

'Indian Converts, 72. 
'Ibid., 73. 
nhid., 73. 
^Ibid., 84, 197. 
'Ibid., no. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

where he sat under the Apostle Eliot's preaching, and became 
a ''Peantamaenin, i. e. a praying Man." Later he returned 
hither, married, and lived a ''sober life" ever after. He died 
in 1724.* 

Of the noted Indians who were connected with the Church 
in Christiantown from the earliest times, according to the 
author of ''Indian Converts," the following named have been 
given special notice : — 

Wunnanauhkomun. — An Indian minister, and perhaps 
the first who exercised that office here. His wife was called 
Ammapoo, and by the English, Abigail. She was a daughter 
of Cheshchaamog, sachem of Homes Hole and a sister of 
Caleb Cheshchaamog, who took a Degree at Harvard in 
1665. This preacher died about the year 1676.^ 

Assaquanhut, alias John Shohkow. — He was a son of 
a "praying Indian" of Takemmy, called Nashohkow, being 
one of five sons of his parents. He was a ruling elder of the 
church of which Tackanash was pastor. He died in this 
settlement about 1690.' 

Micah Shohkow. — He was a brother of the foregoing, 
and is classed with the "Godly Ministers" in Mayhew's book. 
He "was a lover of strong Drink the former part of his life," 
but he reformed, and "frequently preached to the Indians on 
the Island, but especially to those in that Town in which he 
lived and died." His death occurred in 1690.'* 

Stephen Shohkow. — He was a brother of the two prev- 
iously named, and being brought up" in a pious English Family," 
where he received an education, he became a preacher to his 
people in after years. He was drowned in the year 1713, by 
the oveturning of a canoe. ^ 

Isaac Ompanit. — He was a ruling elder of the church 
in this town, and the son of an Indian called Noquitompany. 
Isaac was a civil magistrate, as well as a leader in religious 
matters. Mayhew gives him a good character for piety and 
honesty. "He was much vexed by some controversies which 
arose betwixt the Indians of the Place where he lived, and 
some of their English Neighbours, respecting the Title of the 
Land which the Indians claimed, "says Mayhew, "the Trouble 

'Indian Converts, 126. 
^bid., 20, 148. 
'Ibid., 28. 
*Ibid., 30. 
'Ibid., 54. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

whereof fell much on him, he being a leading Man in the 
Place; But I believe he acted with a good Conscience in that 

Paul, commonly called Old Paul, who died at Christian- 
town about the year 1676, "was generally esteemed a godly 
Man," says Mayhew, "being a Serious Professor of Religion, 
constant in the Performance of the Duties of it, and as far 
as I can learn, without any Stain in his Life and Conversation." 

John Howwannan. — A "praying Indian," who died 
about 1678. 

Pattompan. — He was a brother of John, Micah, Stephen 
and Daniel Shokow, all preachers, "and esteemed like them 
for Piety." He died in 1688. 


The Indian population of Christiantown is first reported 
in 1698 as 82, and no other record is known for the next sixty 
years. In 1762 it was 54; in 1790 it was 40; in 1828 it was 
49 and in 1858 it was 53, of which number 23 were males 
and 30 females. 



It is a singular fact that this Indian settlement has pre- 
served scarcely any local names of Algonquian origin. The 
few that have come down to us in the records are here noted. 

Waakesha. — In a deed dated 1742, transferring land in 
Tisbury, "a place called by the Indians Wackesha" and near 
to the dwelling house of John Merry, is mentioned. (Deeds, 
VI, 512.) In 1 743 Waakesha in Christiantown is mentioned. 
The word is probably a boundary designation, Wequshau, "as 
far as it goes," and it forms the basis of several local place- 
names on the Vineyard. 

Wahquide.— YiosQdi Manhut, an Indian sold to Elisha 
Amos, Indian, 8 acres of land at "Okokame Christiantown 

• it is called Wahquide." 1726. (Deeds, VI, 39 written 

in the Indian language.) 

'Indian Converts, 59. 

Annals of West Tisbury 


Dancing Field. — This place, where the aborigines held 
their ceremonial dances, was situated on a level plateau to the 
northeast of the (true) Indian Hill. 

Hester's Field. — This was a part of the Western portion 
of Christian Town, as described in a document of 1737-8. 
(Cong. Lib. Athearn, Mss.) 


Educational privileges for the Indians have been provided 
by the several societies devoted to missionary work among 
that race; but definite information is wanting to warrant 
particulars. In 1714 Job Somannan was the schoolmaster 
and in 1724 the ''school" was mentioned. These are the 
earliest references to this subject. In the middle of the next 
century the school had an allowance of $100 from the state 
and in 1858 there were reported fifteen children of school 
age, with an average attendance of nine scholars during 
the five and a half months annually devoted to term work. 


The settlement of the bounds of Takemmy and Christian- 
town in 1709, by the survey of Otis and Bassett, kept the 
English in check for a number of years, but the cupidity of 
the white man, and the ignorance of the red man, worked 
out its inevitable result. Gradually in the course of time, 
as the decades passed and the memory of the restrictions was 
lost, purchases were made by the whites of the complacent 
native, sometimes for a valuable consideration, oftentimes for 
an inadequate payment. An instance of the former class is 
that of Deacon Stephen Luce, who paid in specie ;^i46-i3-4 
for a tract in the Indian town. The Society for the Propagation 
of the Gospel was notified in 1760 of this condition of affairs, 
and immediately petitioned Governor Bernard to investigate 
these violations of local and province laws. A committee 
was appointed and made an exhaustive examination of the 
premises and the history of the land rights of the natives. 
They made a report in 1 762, in which they declared all purchases 
made by the whites since 1699, when Josias confirmed his 
grant, to be illegal. This required a wholesale eviction, for 
between three and four hundred acres had been sliced off 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

three sides of Christiantown, but it will be no surprise to learn 
that such a proceeding met with but scant consideration. 
The committee said: — 

if those Indians had the Right in the Land they Sold, it is plain it was 
against the Law of the Province for them to Sell, or the English to buy, 
and yet for those English late Purchasers in Christian Town, to be turned 
out of their Houses, which are eight in number: and their Improvements, 
loose all their Labour in the Stone Walls and the great Improvements 
they have made, and the money they paid as the purchase consideration 
for said Lands, seemed very hard: And on the other hand for the Indians 
to be deprived of their Inheritance, and not thro: any Fault of their own 
seemed as hard. This put your Committee to a great Plunge at last the 
following Expedient was fhought of; namely, That the English late Pur- 
chasers at Christian Town, should return to the Indians of the Lands 
they purchased, more than a sufficient Quantity for the Indians com- 
fortable support, which are but fifty four in number Men Women and 
Children. This proposal both English Proprietors and Indians acquiesced 
in, and unanimoulsy came into. The bounds were made and Agreed 
upon by both, as by their respective Petitions more fully will appear. 

The committee "upon the whole" gave it as their final 
opinion that about i6o acres should be returned to the Indians 
by the purchasers by deed to the Society, according to metes 
and bounds detailed by them; and that the land remaining 
to the Indians be confirmed to them as in common and un- 
divided. These recommendations were carried out. 


This condition of common ownership as obtained, lasted 
for sixty-five years longer, when the General Court, in 1828, 
passed an act to parcel out the undivided lands to the existing 
descendants of the Praying Indians, then resident in the town. 
About three hundred and ninety acres were so divided into 
nineteen lots, of which one was left for a meeting-house, three 
for the support of the poor, and a ''common" of about ten 
acres. This gave about twenty-five acres to each share. 

The undivided common lands remained in this state for 
sixty years longer. On Dec. i, 1878 Judge Defriez, sitting 
as a probate court, under the provisions of an act of the legis- 
lature ordered their division. Joseph T. Pease and Richard 
L. Pease were the commissioners for this purpose, and exactly 
one hundred persons, mostly living in other places, participated 
in the division of these few remaining acres of little market 

'Chapter 463, Acts and Resolves, 1869, p. 780. 

Annals of West Tisbury 

The present representatives of the ''praying indians" 
of Manitouwattootan are few in number, Joseph Quannowill 
Mingo and wife, and his son, Samuel Mingo, a widower, con- 
stituting this remnant. The former, now over four score 
years of age, an upright and inteUigent citizen, has given the 
author valuable help in a clearing up many obscurities in the 
early annals of this place. 



History of Martha's Vineyard 


One of the earliest acquisitions of property made by the 
elder Thomas Mayhew, outside of his home lot at Great Har- 
bor, was the section of land on the North Shore, then and 
ever since known as Chickemmoo. Although the owner of 
the soil by purchase, yet in accordance with his custom of 
honorable dealing with the native inhabitants of the districts 
where he obtained special titles, he bought from the sachems 
their rights in Chickemmoo, for which he paid them in coin 
or its equivalent. 

In consideration of "the summe of Ten pound to my 
content," Cheesechamuck, the Sachem of Homes Hole ex- 
ecuted the following deed:—* 

This doth witness that I Cheesechamuk, the Sachim of Holmses 
hole doe by these presents sell and set over unto Thomas Mayhew the 
Elder of the Vineyard one Quarter part of all that land which is called 
Chickemmow for him the said Thomas Mayhew his heires and assignes 
to In joy for ever: the said one quarter of the land of Chickemmow is 
to begin at Itchpoquaset Brook and so to run by the shore till it comes 
to the sea side ward and so the said quarter part of land is to runne into 
the Hand from the sea side to the Middle line of the said land called Chick- 
emmow; the said Thomas Mayhew is to have four spans round in the 
middle of every whale that comes upon the shore of this quarter part 
and no more: the hunting of Deire is common, but no trappes to be set: 

In witness to this Deed of sale I have set my hand imto it this tenth 
Day of August 1658 

The Marke 
of Cheeschamuck 

Having acquired the rights of the sachem of the Homes 
Hole territory in this property, the elder Mayhew next bought 
out the rights of another sachem, Tewanquatuck, which is 
recorded in the following deed of sale: — 

This doth witness that I, Towanquatuck, sachim, for him his heirs 
and assigns the one quarter part of that land called Chickemmoo, joining 
to that land I bought of Cheeschamuck, by the sea side, with all the 
priviledges thereunto belonging unto Thomas Mayhew his heirs and 
assigns to enjoy forever and I do acknowledge that I have had in 
full payment for that land aforesaid the full sum of ten pounds: 

Witness hereunto my hand the eight day of October 1659 

Towanquatuck, his mark^ 
'Dukes Deeds, I, 355. 
^bid., I, 182. 

Annals of West Tisbury 

By these two purchases, Mayhew had acquired half of 
the Chickemmoo region and it was ten years before he obtained 
the remainder. On Feb. 2, 1669, he bought of Maquaine, a 
praying Indian, one eighth part, and on April 25, 1669, Towan- 
quatuck sold to him three eighths, thus completing the ac- 
quisition of the entire property.^ It will be noticed that there 
is no description of the extent or limits of the territory involved 
and this very question arose later. In the charter granted 
to Tisbury Manor in 1671 the bounds of Chickemmoo are 
thus stated : — 

bounded on the East by a Spring called by the name of 

Kutta-shim-moo, on the West by a Brooke called Each-poo-quas-sit, 
on the North by the Sound & on the South by the Bounds of Takemmy.^ 

Chickemmoo is an Algonquian word and in the last two 
centuries and a half it has retained its proper spelling with 
but little and unimportant variation in the records. In 1684 
it was written in one deed Kutchickemmo,^ the prefix, meaning 
great, thus only qualifying its definition, which is "a. fish 
weir" or "a place of the fish weir," perhaps ''place of 
great fish weir."^ This had reference probably to the present 
Herring creek on the east corner bound of Chickemmoo, 
where our aboriginal predecessors undoubtedly set their nets 
for the alewives that annually ran up into Chappaquonset 
pond to spawn. In local parlance it is pronounced Chekamy. 
This tract of land became a well defined section of two towns, 
widely separated from the parent settlements of both, and was 
always given special treatment by them. For this reason it 
is here treated as a distinct local entity. 

Ancient Landmarks. 

algonquian place names. 

Conaconaket. — This word is used to describe a "Line" 
or boundary in Chickemmoo in 1701. John Daggett sold 
to Thomas Butler certain land "where was a brick kill," and 
from thence "northerly till it meets with Conaconaket line." 
(Deeds, II, 44.) In a subsequent instrument John Daggett, 

'Dukes Deeds, III, 467; V, 321. 

'New York Archives, Patents, Vol. IV, fol. 73. • ,** 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 273. 

*A similar name occurs in Rhode Island on Pawcatuck river, Chickmaug and 
another form in the Cree dialect is Chickamauga. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

in 171 1, sold to James Cottle certain land near Thomas But- 
ler's, and referred to the "Nowconaca line," which is probably 
one and the same with the first named reading, the letters 
k-e-t being omitted from the termination, and N-o being 
prefixed (ibid. III, 83). "Necorneca head line" is mentioned 
in 1734 (ibid., VI, 140). The modern spelling is Makonikey. 
This line bisected Chickemmoo into a northern and a southern 
half, running at right angles with Savage's line. 

The name is the equivalent of the Massachusetts Nuk- 
konohkee, meaning "old land" or "ancient place," and the 
Narragansett "Necawn-auke". Like many similar words, it 
came to describe a location inclosed by the line and is now 
applied to Makonikey Heights and Makonikey Head. 

Ponkquatesse. — The spring, called by this name in 1703, 
was one of the sources of the Black Water brook. In Ply- 
mouth there was a name of like derivation, Ponkatesett, a 
marsh in that town. (Plymouth Deeds, I, 87). 

Weechpoquassit (1658), or commonly written Eachpo- 
quasitt, is a boundary designation. Eachpoquassit was the 
natural boundary line between the sachemships of Takemmy 
and Nunnepoag, at that part of the island; it also was the 
west bound of Chickemmoo. The meaning of the word has 
already been explained. 


Black Water Brook. — Same as Eachpoquasitt [q.v]. 

Black Pond. — There were two small ponds called by 
this name, (i) near Lambert's Cove, as one of the chain of 
ponds, visible from the road, and (2) in the northeast part 
of Chickemmoo (1765). 

Duck Pond. — A small pond in the rear of the Edward 
Cottle place. 

Halj Moon Pond. — This was alluded to in 1727, in a 
deed from Israel to David Butler, wherein the grantor says: — 
"beginning at the North East part of a pond called half moon 
pond, then westerly to a fence and then Northerly to Great 
James Pond" (Deeds, IV, 260). Samuel Lambert lived close 
to Half Moon pond in 1732. (Deeds, V, 279). 

James Pond. — The first occurrence of this name is in 
1682 and it probably was so called on account of James, Duke 
of York, as in 1700 it was designated as "Pond Royall." 
Before this it had been called Onkakemmy pond and Each- 


Annals of West Tisbury 

poquassit pond. The modem name for it is Great James 

Muddy Pond. — A small pond near William Athearn's. 

No Bottom Pond. — Another small pond next to William 
Athearn's, the two being of the chain of four in that locality. 

Spectacle Pond. — A small pond in the central part of 
Chickemmoo. This is not an uncommon name for small 
bodies of fresh water at that period. The word is used in 
its ancient signification of a reflection or mirror, meaning 
a clear sheet of water like a mirror. There is a Spectacle 
pond in Falmouth, one in Sandwich and one in Wareham. 

Whirlwind Neck. — This was applied to a dam on the 
eastern branch of the Eachpoquassit brook at the turn of the 


When the elder Mayhew and his grandson Matthew 
secured the town charters for Edgartown and Tisbury in 1671, 
it will be recalled that a third grant was made to them person- 
ally at the same time, for the Manor of Tisbury. The par- 
ticulars of this grant will be detailed elsewhere, and it will 
be only necessary to say that this latter manorial grant included 
several scattered tracts of land in Chilmark and the Elizabeth 
Islands, including Chickemmoo, which was within the bounds 
of Tisbury. Chickemmoo being administered by the Lords 
of the Manor of Tisbury thus became an independent parcel 
of territory within the chartered limits of another town, and 
such an anomalous situation speedily led to complications 
that set two towns by the ears and became the basis of legal 
entanglements between property owners and tax collectors. 
During the life of the elder Mayhew his personality prevented 
any difficulties arising from this situation, but after his death 
when the lordship passed to Matthew his- grandson and later 
to Thomas Dongan, the dissatisfaction in Tisbury grew 
into open expression. As soon as Massachusetts assumed 
jurisdiction, in 1692, over the Island, Simon Athearn per- 
sistently complained of these incongruous subdivisions, as 
elsewhere related, and advocated a consolidation into two 
towns. In one letter to the General Court dated Oct. 20, 
1694, he says: — 

If major mayhew object, this I say it seems as Expedient as for Chil- 
mark. to Jump over tisbury to Chikkemoo & to Jump over the Sound 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

to Elizabeth lis: The end of this motion is to heal our being cut in pieces, 
and to reduce us all in to a competent Township to maintain the worship 
of God & sen'C the King & Cuntry.* 


During the lifetime of Governor Mayhew, the proprietor 
of the land and its manorial lord, no attempt was made to 
settle this region and at the time of his death not an acre of 
it had been sold by him. In his will, dated June i6, 1681, 
he disposed of it in two equal parts to his daughters, Hannah 
Daggett and Martha Tupper, of which the western half fell 
to the favorite daughter, the wife of Thomas Daggett. This 
became an accomplished fact when his will was admitted to 
probate, March 8, 1682, just after his death. Three months 
after this a definite step towards settling this region was taken 
by Isaac Chase, a recent arrival from Hampton, N. H., and 
he applied to the selectmen of Tisbury for permission to acquire 
property there. The following record shows the action taken 
by them : — 

This: 25: of July 1682 

The tounsmen of tysbury do give liberty vmto Isack Chace to purtch 
asartain parsel of land it being forty acres lying one the east side of wech- 
paquaset pond upon the condison that the foresid Izack chace shall and 
do setel a mann well proved Among men upon the aforesaid land within 
fore years after the date of this record and if the fore said Izack chace 

Do not setel the land as is Above the toun shall have the land paying 

the charg of purchas * 

With this authorization Chase proceeded to negotiate with 
the Sachem Josias, and on August 15th following he had 
succeeded in securing a large tract which was thus described : — 

bounded eastwardly by a river or small brook called Echpooquaset 
River; westerly by a pond called Echpooquasit pond by the English 
James his pond and the middlemost of these small runnes of water at the 
southern end of the said pond from the Southern end of which runne 
of water to goe by a straight line to the north east corner of a pond lying 
in the woods commonly called Mekonnichashquat; and from thence 
extending by a straight line to the middle of a small swamp lying near 
the head of the aforesaid brook caled Eachpooquasit; and from the middle 
of sd swamp by a straight line to the head of said river or brook called 
Echpooquasit which sd brook runeth through the woodes to a little pond 
called the black pond &|;^from thence into the Sea or Sound which is the 
North boundes.^ 

•Mass. Arch., CVI, 96. 
tisbury Records, 16. 
'Dukes Deeds, I, 281. 

Annals of West Tisbury 

Mekonnichashquat pond is now known as Old House 
pond and the rest of the description is so clear, an unusual 
merit in those days, that it scarcely requires any further state- 
ment to locate it accurately. 

It is presumed that Chase fulfilled his part of the bargain 
made with the selectmen, and settled ''a man well A proved 
Among men upon the aforesaid land within fore years after," 
but if he did so there is no record of his personality. This 
purchase and the Governor's death had the efifect of opening 
up Chickemmoo for the sons of the pioneers who wished 
for broad acres of their own. Joshua and John Daggett (12), 
sons of Mrs. Hannah Daggett, had built a house there, on 
their mother's portion before 1688, and in order to invest 
them and her with the full panoply of patentees' rights, Mat- 
thew Mayhew in August, 1688, confirmed to "his loving aunt" 
and his two cousins a tract about a quarter of a mile wide 
"by the Sound from said Eachpoquassit Eastward."^ It 
is not believed that Joshua lived on this land, as he was a 
resident of Edgartown, but the house of John Daggett is 
frequently mentioned in later years and it is believed that 
this place was his home in 1688 or earlier.^ Three years 
later Mrs. Hannah sold to her son, Capt. Thomas Daggett 
late of Bristol, R. I., March 18, 1691, one quarter of Chick- 
emmoo, and on Sept. 16, same year, gave her son Joshua 
another quarter.^ 

The other daughter of the old Governor, Mrs. Martha 
Tupper of Sandwich, who owned the eastern half, found a 
purchaser for the entire tract of twelve hundred acres [by 
estimation] in Isaac Chase, who on Feb. 20, 169 1-2, completed 
this great transfer, probably the largest on record on the 
island between individuals." Two years later Chase added 
to his already large holdings on Jan. 2, 1693-4, by acquiring 
the rights of Captain Thomas Daggett just mentioned. Chase 
now owned both ends of Chickemmoo and probably three 
quarters of the entire territory. Still he continued to purchase 
and on Nov. 16, 1698, he bought one hundred acres next ad- 
joining the Tupper tract of Ephraim Savage of Boston and 

'Deeds, II, 341. 

^The plan of Tisbury in 1694 shown on p. 6 shows two houses in Chickemmoo. 
It is certain that one was John Daggett's and we may surmise that the other was oh 
the Chase property occupied by his tenant, "a man well A proved." 

'Dukes Deeds, III, 294; V, 84. 

nbid., I, 187. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

from that day to this, over two centuries, the dividing line 
between the two halves of Chickemmoo has been called 
Savage's Line.^ Meanwhile on the other half the Daggetts 
were transferring to each other, until it became necessary to 
straighten out ownerships, and a division of their property 
by metes and bounds was made before 1 700. 


The question began to arise at this time concerning the 
limits of Chickemmoo on its western boundary. Some claimed 
that it extended to Great James pond, which would seem to 
have been the natural delimitation instead of the little Black 
Water brook just east, as held by others. But this did not 
prevent the sale of property in that region. Thomas Butler 
(11) of Edgartown made the first of his many purchases in 
Chickemmoo of Joshua Daggett in Feb. 6, 1700, a sixth of 
the western or Daggett half, excepting tracts disposed of to 
his brother, John Daggett.^ On Dec. 27, 1700, Butler purchased 
another sixth of the same grantors,^ and on March 6, 1 700-1, 
Butler bought of Chase the tract between Great James pond 
and the Itchpooquassit river or brook which had been sold 
to Chase in 1682 by the Sachem.^ 

Meanwhile the Tisbury proprietors were agitating the 
boundary question and levying taxes on the strip sold by 
Chase to Butler, who resisted payment. On Sept. 27, 1703, 
the town met to consider and voted : — 

that Simon Athern Joseph daggit and John Cottle shall in the behalf 
of this Town forthwith go and procure three Indifferant Indians of good 
Report to Joyn with them to settle and Run the Lyne between Nashow- 
kemuck and Tisbury & on the Est side Tisbury * 

This committee took with them Sam Mackakunit, an 
Indian preacher, from Edgartown, Pattook an Indian magis- 
trate and Isaac, a Christian Indian, to give evidence in person 
on the spot, but they were warned off by Butler as trespassers. 
However the Indians unanimously agreed that the bounds 

'Ibid., I, 3QI. It is not known how Ephraim Savage obtained his title. He was 
a Boston merchant and probably got it through business dealings with one of the 
Daggetts, although his name does not appear as a grantee in the land records. This 
effectually disposes of the legend that it was called after the savages of the region 
who annually fought at that line. 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 237, 156. 

^bid., I, 158. 

*Town Records, 46. 


Annals of West Tisbury 

between Takemmy and Nunpoag ''was so settelled many 
years ago : — " 

that is at the black water or weechpoquasit being the pond and Run of 
water: into the sound and said bounds to Run southwardly as the said 
Run of water Cometh from the spring, Called, ponkquatesse, and from 
said spring of water to the midle of watchet. on the south side of this Hand 
so that all the Est side of said bounds to belong unto nunpoak, and on 
the west side of said ponds unto Takymmy,' 



/^ V ^^^ ^^ ^^^ Indians con- 

/^oc/L«^ ^i^^iv^ sidered it "settelled," 

Thomas Butler did not, 
and he promptly had war- 
rants served on the committee of Tisbury townsmen for 
trespass and on Oct. 5, just eight days after, the case was 
tried and Butler won the suit.^ It is to be supposed that such 
would be the result with all the family influences at work on and 
off the bench to uphold the Daggetts in their warranty sales to 
Butler. However, the case was clearly misjudged, as the evidence 
of the Indians was unanimous and further investigation only 
confirmed their contention. Accordingly the selectmen of 
Chilmark, as the titular proprietary of Chickemmoo, and the 
selectmen of Tisbury agreed to submit it to the arbitration 
of a committee of Indians, to be chosen by Experience May- 
hew, in order that the question might be settled according 
to right and justice. The committee of Indians and all con- 
cerned met as agreed and their findings are thus recorded: — 

whereas we Japhet hannit Isaac wannatta Jacob sokkokkono Joshua 
seiknout sachim samuell mackkacunit and pautoh. Late sachim of Check- 
emmo was notified by mr Experience Mayhew or his order that wee are 
Chosen by mr Nathon skiff and nathon Bassit sellect men of Chilmark: 
and by simon Athem and John Manter of Tisbury to be a Committy 
of Indians to goe on monday the seventh day of Feburary and shew the 
place that is Called weechpooquasset: brook of water and the bounds 
between the Land Called Cheeckemmo: and the sachimship of Takymmy. 
and we being met together at the north shore, on marthas vinyerd at the 
place Called weechpoquasset: with divers others of our adged and Cheif 
Indian men being preasent & alsomr Nathon skiff and nathon basset, 
sellect men of Chillmark being preasent and mr Josiah Torrey and John 
daggit. being preasent. and Simon Athern Joseph daggit and John manter 
men appointed of Tisbury being preasent at weechpooqusset on the seventh 

'Tisbury Records, 47. 
'Dukes Court Records, Vol. I. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

day of February anno domy 1703-4 we whose names are under written 
doe Determine that the brook of water that runneth into the sound : being 
to the Estward of onkkekemmo pond is the only aintient place Called 
weechpooquasset and the True line and bounds between Checkemmo: 
and Takymmy as the said brook or run of water lyeth from a sartain 
spring of water Called ponquatisse which spring is to the north Est of 
Thomas butlers now dweUing house, and the land on the Est side of the 
said ponquetissee run or brook of water is Checkemmo land hear to fore 
belonging to the sachim Towantaquit: and on the west side of the saide 
ponquetissee and wechpoquassit watter: is the land of Takymmy 
sachimship now Called Tisbury: here to fore bellonging to the sachm 
Josias. (signed) Joshua seiknuit Japhet hannit Jacob sokkono patoo 
Isaac wanata Sam mackkacunit^ 

Thus was the ancient bound of Chickemmoo finally 
"settelled" as it had existed to mark the dividing line between 
the Sachems of Nunpoag and Takemmy. 


Butler acquiesced in the decision and, as a result of a 
conference between him and the Tisbury people, a compro- 
mise was reached. This is best explained by quoting the 
agreement as it is spread out on the town records : — 

For & in Consideration of an Isue of a Controversie depending 
Between the freeholders of Tisbury in dukes County & Thomas Butler 
of sd place viz: that sd Butler have and doe by these preasents release 
and discharge Isaac Chase Simon Athern & Joseph daggit of Tisbury 
from suffering any loss or damage by vertue of a Judgment of the in- 
feriour Court held in Dukes County in October 1703 so that no Excicution 
of any Judgment found for sd butler against sd Chase Athern & daggit 
at sd court shall be taken out but for Ever bard & stayed as a thing dead 
in law and also the sd Isaac Chase simon Athern & Joseph daggit do by 
these presents release & discharge the sd Thomas butler from answering 
an apeal or renew about sd Judgment: moreover for peace sake the free- 
holders of Tisbury so far as it Concerns them do grant & it is voted by 
the maior of the freeholders of Tisbury preasent at a Leagoll Town meet- 
ing held there the 20th day of march 1703-4 that Thomas Butler is granted 
to have the feesimple right of all that land which Isaac Chase bought 
of the sachim Josias at wechpoquasset in Tisbury the deed bareing tate 
the 15th of august 1682 with his now dweUing house possesion to the south- 
ward of sd purchase to Thomas Butler to unite with town of Tisbury in 
peace & love; further more it is voted by the freeholders of Tisbury abovesd 
that if the inhabitants of chillmarke shall at any Time: destrane upon 
the aforesd butler on the west of wechpoquassit or ponquatesse by vertue 
of any rat bill that shall by them from this time forward be made or pro- 
cured and also provided that sd butler do prosecute against the said In- 

'Tisbury Records, 47, 48. 

Annals of West Tisbury 

habitants of Chillmark for sd money so distraned then said inhabitants 
of Tisbury to stand by and defend sd Butler in sd sute or sutes so prose- 
cuted to afect and make up to sd Butler all his damages sustained if any 
be in sd prosocutions by and if at any Time the sd Thomas Butler for 
with within the bounds of Chillmark by vertue of any lyne fairly made 
then we the Inhabitants of Tisbury to Reimburs all the money heretofore 
Taken by Distrant by any Constable belonging to Tisbury from sd Thomas 
Butler Consented by me Thomas Butler' 

From this interesting treaty of peace we learn the location 
of Butler's house among other things and can be reasonably 
certain in placing it not far Old House pond, which 
was the limit of the Chase purchase. 


Butler thereupon endeavored to satisfy the chief Indians 
of Christiantown, who were abuttors on the west side of 
Chickemmoo, and on May 15, 1705, he reached the following 
agreement with Isaac Ompanit, trustee, Asa Howwanan, 
minister, Thomas Paul and Zachariah Papameck concerning 
their dividing line because of the "many years of contest 
and discord," viz.: — 

Beginning at a Swamp wood tree standing on the beach about four 
or five rod from the pond, being the Eastern side of sd pond called Auke- 
kemmy pond, and from thence extending southwardly into the island to 
a white oak tree marked and a heap of stones laid at the root thereof for 
a bound mark: near the head of the pond about the middle between two 
springs at the head of sd pond; and from thence to a stick pitched into 
the ground and heap of stones laid thereto for a boundary being at the east 
side of the fielde commonly (called) White Pockets field; which foremen- 

tioned boimdary said parties have set and made and as for the 

western *bound of sd Chickemoo; between sd Chickemoo and said lands 
called Christiantown 

This divisional line was more definite than any of the 
preceding general "testimonies" of Indians and the subject 
may now be better understood by further reference to the 
accompanying map of this region. 

Although Butler had legislated himself out of Chilmark 
and into Tisbury, yet he was between two fires and still a 
lawful denizen of an outlying section of Chilmark. This 
latter town "rated" him as did Tisbury, owing to the fact 
of one community holding jurisdiction over a portion within 

'Tisbury Records, 149. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

the bounds of another.^ To add to the anomalous situation 
Chilmark was not an incorporated township under the Massa- 
chusetts law. It was still the Manor of Tisbury doing busi- 
ness as a town. Consequently Butler refused to pay taxes 
to Chilmark and did pay the assessments laid on his property 
by the Tisbury tax gatherers. In order to free himself of legal 
or financial consequences he made a further agreement with 
the townsmen of Tisbury: — 

it is voted at a Legal Town meeting held this 14th day of May 1708. 
that whereas Captain Thomas Butler having been Rated divers years to 
Two towns to witt Tisbury and Chilmark to his grate detrement & and 
damage and now the saide thomas butler doth freely put himself under 
this Town Tisbury for the futter in the payment of all publique Taxes, 
wherefore it is now voted that the saide Thomas butler shall sit Rate free 
in this Town for the space of three years and halfe after the date of these 
preasents provided that Chilmark doth wholly omit Raleing the said 
Butler till such time as the bounds be setled between Tisbury and Chil- 
mark on the Est side of Tisbury^ 


With the advent of the century there were two known 
families resident in Chickemmoo, John Daggett's and Thomas 
Butler's, comprising twenty souls. The next person to acquire 
property here was Ebenezer Allen (7) of Chilmark, who 
bought out the entire homestead holdings of John Daggett 
"esteemed to be worth ;£300," in December, 1705, and several 
years later Daggett removed to Attleborough, Mass., where 
he thenceforth resided. It is not believed that Ebenezer 
Allen came here to live, as he was a land speculator in all 
the Vineyard towns. Isaac Chase (22) purchased in 1706 a 
portion of his father's tract and probably settled there, as his 
widow and children occupied the premises after his death. 
In 1 71 1 James Cottle (10), who had lived in the Keephigon 
district of Chilmark, made the first of a number of purchases 
here including land adjoining the Black Water brook and 

'In observance of advice from her Maiesties Court of quarter sessions held at 
Edgertown in March 1707 to the sellect men of Tisbury to chuse and nominat men 
of this Town to Joyne with men Chosen and appointed by the Town of Chilmark 
to setle the bounds between Tisbury and Chekemoo being part of Chilmark it is 
voted at a Town meeting that Joseph daggit and John Manter Junier shall serve 
and act in that affaire for this Town Tisbury (Tisbury Records, 55). 

*Tisbury Records, 56. The Chilmark records contain only a brief reference 
ralative to this controversy, but they do not begin till 1704, and therefore subsequent 
to its inception. In March, 1708, Pain Mayhew and Ebenezer Allen were chosen 
"to run a line between Tisbury and Thomas Butler" (p. 9). 


Annals of West Tisbury 

bordering on the Sound. This land has been identified with 
the Cottle family ever since, through its occupation by his 
descendants. Henry Luce (7), next in point of time, bought in 
1 718 one hundred acres east of Savage's line bounded south 
by the Homes Hole path. In 1720 Ichabod Allen (9), younger 
brother of Ebenezer, also of Chilmark, bought all of the 
John Daggett purchase made by his brother fifteen years 
previously, and thenceforth became a resident of this section. 
The same year William Swain of Nantucket acquired two 
hundred acres bordering on Tashmoo pond, part of the Chase 



property, but it is not known that he came here to reside. 
Samuel Merry (8) came next in 1723, purchasing a tract 
adjoining Ichabod Allen, and his descendants occupied it for 
several generations. In the next three years came Samuel 
Hatch (44) and his brother Zaccheus (47) from Falmouth, 
and they were owners of a large tract bounded east by Savage's 
line and extending from the Neconaca Head line to the 

Samuel died in 1739 and his brother had removed, prob- 
ably before this. Next in order of time came Joshua Weeks, 
a miller, who in 1726 bought sixty acres, just south of the 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Hatch's tract. Whence he migrated is not known, but he 
had married before 1710 Abigail West (11), daughter of Dr. 
Thomas, of Homes Hole, and they were members of the Sab- 
batarian church in Newport at that time. Samuel Coffin of 
Nantucket bought two hundred acres of the Chases, bordering 
on the Sound, but he is believed to have been a non-resident 
owner. Joseph Parker came from Falmouth in 1730 and 
purchased the land previously owned by the Hatch brothers. 
He sold it to Thomas Smith (355) of Edgartown in 1734 
and it was occupied by the descendants of the latter for several 
generations. It was the home of Deacon Ransford (410) 
and Capt. Nathan Smith (415) of the Revolutionary period. 
Jonathan Dunham (60) in 1735 bought thirty acres of Thomas 
Smith's lot and remained until 1743, when he removed to 
Sharon, Conn. In 1737 Bryant Cartwright, son-in-law of 
Joshua Weeks, bought a part of the Weeks' property and 
resided on it for about forty years. He was also a Sabbatarian 
Baptist and before 1767 removed to Hopkinton, R. I. Na- 
thaniel Pease (140), long a resident of Edgartown, bought 
the Jonathan Dunham house and farm in 1743, but it is not 
certain that he removed to Chickemmoo to reside. In 1745 
John Lewis, perhaps of Yarmouth, Cape Cod, came here 
and purchased a shore lot in the eastern half of the Chase 
property. In 1747 the brothers Eliakim (420) and Peter 
Norton (421) made the first of a number of purchases here 
and Eliakim became a resident. With his brother he owned 
120 acres jointly, and 400 acres individually. John Mayhew 
(120) was a purchaser in 1748, but it is not believed that he 
removed hither from his home in Chilmark. This property 
was deeded in 1756 to his son Malatiah (270), who disposed 
of it six years later. 

These were the proprietors and settlers of Chickemmoo 
up to 1750, and at that date, reckoning the known families 
resident in this district, there was a population of about 150 


The incongruous isolation of this section from the parent 
town of Chilmark became a source of great inconvenience 
to the people of Chickemmoo as the settlement here grew 
in population, and in 1736 they prepared a petition, headed by 
David Butler, Ichabod Allen and others, 


Annals of West Tisbury 

shewing that they live Eight Miles from the Meeting House in said Town, 
and but four from Tisbury Meeting House, which they must pass by in 
their Travell to Chilmark; And therefore praying That the whole Tract 
of Land called Checkamo with their Inhabitants and their Estates may 
be sett off from Chilmark and Annexed to the Town of Tisbury. 

This was heard by the General Court, "together with 
the Answer of Payne Mayhew Esqr,"* and the matter being 
fully considered, the following law was enacted Dec. 30, 1736: 

Ordered that the prayer of the petitioners be so far granted as that 
the pet'rs with their Estates lying in the place Mentioned be and hereby 
are to all Intents and purposes Set off from the Town of Chilmark and 
Annexed to the Town of Tisbury for the future; provided the pet'rs be 
and hereby are held and subjected to the payment of all Rates & Taxes 
what soever which have hitherto been Assessed on them by the Town 
of Chilmark, or otherwise by Order of Law.^ 

The separation was probably a relief to Chilmark, and 
if we may judge from the town records, Chickemmoo oc- 
cupied very little space in the calculations of the townsmen. 
The name does not occur half a dozen times up to the transfer 
of jurisdiction. 

From this date the history of the Chickemmoo district 
is a part of the annals of Tisbury and it will not be further 
considered separately from the town at large. In the division 
of the old town of Tisbury in 1892 this ancient district was 
bisected and it has consequently come to be a part of three 
towns in its existence, Chilmark, Tisbury and West Tisbury. 

'The Chilmark records have no reference to this matter. 

^Province Laws, Chap. CXVIII (1736). As showing the slow rate of dissem- 
ination of news at that time a deed dated in Oct. 20, 1737, nearly one year after recites 
that the land is "in Checamoot late of Chilmark but now Supposed to be of Tisbury" 
(Deeds, VI, 200). 






This was the Indian name for Chilmark, although the 
bounds of the section known to the Indians as Nashowakem- 
muck do not entirely correspond to the present limits of this 
town. This name of the greater part of Chilmark is formed 
of two Algonquian words, Nashowa- and kemmuck, meaning 
"the half way house," the significance of which is not clear. 
It may have referred to a school house, or an Indian house 
or stockade. 


As defined in the charter of Tisbury Manor, in 1671, 
this region was bounded as follows: "beginning at a Place 
called Wakachakoyck & goeth to the River Arkspah, running 
from the said Wakachakoyck by a straight line to the middle 
of the Island, where is the middle line that divides the Land 
of Towtoe and others & the Land sold to the said Thomas 
Mayhew and from the Place that line meeteth the middle 
Lyne soe dividing the land as aforesaid to goe to the Harbour 
on the North side of the Island called Wawattick." 

On May 12, 1685, Matthew Mayhew gave the following 
description of Nashowakemmuck : "The land called Nasho- 
wakemmuck, bounded easterly by the bounds of line between 
Takemmy or Tisbury and the said Nashowakemmuck; south- 
erly by the sea; northerly by a line called the Middle Line, 
beginning at a rock which parteth, or is bound between the 
north and south partition of that part of the said Island of 
Martin's Vineyard, and from thence extending westardly, as 
the line hath been run or set until it meet with a line to be 
drawn from the harbour on the north side of the Island, called 
Waweaktick, to the westermost part of the fence, now standing 
on the south side of the Island, called Wesquobscutt now or 
late in the tenure or occupation of Nathaniel Skiff; which 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

said line so to be drawn is the western bounds of the said 

Chilmark was a unique town, territorially, for many years, 
as it comprised three outlying tracts, widely separated, viz: 
Chickemmoo, which was within the corporate limits of Tisbury, 
Nomans Land and the Elizabeth Islands. In 1736 Chickem- 
moo was made a part of Tisbury, and in 1864 the town of 
Gosnold was formed from the Elizabeth Islands. Including 
Nomans Land, which still remains to her of her ancient 
possessions, the town boundaries on the east, adjoining Tisbury, 
have not changed. The western boundaries are at Menemsha 
creek, thence by a line drawn through the Menemsha pond 
to the narrowest part of Nashowaquidset neck where it joins 
Gay Head; thence across in a straight line to Squibnocket 
pond; thence southerly across to the point near the old house 
of Abner Mayhew; thence northerly to the northwest corner 
of the pond; thence across the beach to the sea in a south- 
west direction, as marked by stones. 


This name is first given to the Manor of Tisbury in a 
deed from Thomas Mayhew to Daniel Stewart, March 26, 1680, 
where Mayhew calls himself "of the town of Chilmark in the 
Manor of Tysbery." It is mentioned in another deed under date 
of April 1, 1693, and appears on Simon Athearn's map of 
1694. The reason for the bestowal of this name is found 
in its relation to the Mayhew family at the time Thomas 
Mayhew lived in the adjoining parish of Tisbury. It was 
undoubtedly found that confusion arose from the use of the 
names of Tisbury Manor and Tisbury, a condition which 
Mayhew remedied by reviving the old familiar title of one 
of the ancestral homes of his family. 


The earliest record of this parish is in the Saxon Chart- 
ulary of Wilton Abbey, in which King Athelstan makes a 
grant of the place called ''ChUdmearc." In the Domesday 
Book it is designated as Chilmerc, and is placed among the 
lands of the church of Wilton. It then contained fourteen 
ploughlands, fifteen villagers, twelve borderers and twelve 
freedmen, occupying twelve ploughlands. The mill paid 




'M. «Mi 



Annals of Chilmark 

twelve shillings. ''Here are," it records, "five acres of meadow 
and ten acres of thorns." 

In ''Nomina Villarum" it is mentioned as belonging to 
the Abbey of Wilton, until the 35th year of King Henry VIII 
(1545), when it, with the site of the monastery of Wilton 
and divers other manors, was granted to William Herbert, 
Earl of Pembroke, and his wife. The church living is still 
a gift of the Earls of Pembroke.^ 

The church is dedicated to S. Margaret, and is an inter- 
esting example of early ecclesiastical architecture. It is 
cruciform in shape, with a steeple, having a clock, rising from 
the junction of the nave and transept. The doorway is or- 
namented with curious efiigies carved in stone, supporting 
the arches. The rector has as a residence a beautiful stone 
house of Elizabethan architecture, situated on the glebe of 
the parish. The village is quiet and picturesque, apparently 
devoted to bucolic pursuits. Its population in 1800 was 406 
and in 1886 was 554, about the same general size as our own 
New England thilmark. It was the birth place of Thomas 
Macy, the well known settler of Nantucket, and a cousin of 
our Thomas Mayhew. Macy stones are to be seen in the 
church-yard now.^ 


Chilmark was the last of the three original towns to 
become settled, and it is not until toward the end of the 1 7th 
century that any appreciable population resided in its limits.^ 
By reference to the genealogies of the families known to have 
been living here in 1700, a total of 73 persons can be counted 
at that date. This makes no account of "others" who may 
have been here in the capacity of teachers, servants or laborers 
on the farms, exclusive of Indians. Perhaps ten or a dozen 
more, at the outside, would cover this class of transient resi- 
dents. That Chilmark increased more rapidly than the other 
towns in population in this century is known from taxation 
and valuation lists, but no definite statistics are available 

^Hoare, History of Wiltshire, IV, 124. 

^A will of Thomas Maycie of Chilmark, dated 1575, was found by the author 
during his visit to England. It mentions sons Thomas, John, Philip and William, . 
one of whom was probably the father of the Nantucket settler. 

^In 1692 there were about twenty families residing in Tisbury and Chilmark, 
the exact number in each not known. It is not far from the actual truth to divide 
this number in two and thus give twelve and eight respectively to these adjoining 
settlements. We can thus estimate about 40 persons living in Chilmark at that date. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

until 1757 in an "alarm list" of males which numbers 91 
able to respond. Using 5 as a multiple we have a total of 
455 souls at this date. The Provincial census of 1765 is 
more accurate and from this we obtain the following figures : — 
families, 114, comprising a total of 546 souls living in 90 
houses. Of these 159 were males and 179 females above 
sixteen years of age; 152 male and 156 female below sixteen; 
17 negroes (9 male and 8 female) and 188 Indians, of whom 
72 were male and 116 female. 


^-^/^.vaJ^^^iT) m ^ 




It was the second town in population at that date, though 
the large proportion of Indians living here accounts for this 
lead over Tisbury. Ten years later, in 1776, the population 
is estimated at about 700, or about one quarter of the entire 
enumeration of the island. 

The first national census of 1 790 gives us the enumeration 
by names, and from this the following statistics are drawn: 
total population 770 (whites), of which number there were 
199 males above sixteen years, 157 below sixteen and 404 
"free white" females. There were ten "other free persons," 
presumably negroes. 

Annals of Chilmark 

The following figures show the population of Chilmark 
as enumerated in the decennial censuses of the United States 
from 1800 to the present time: — 

In 1800 it was 800; in 1810, 723; in 1820, 695; in 1830, 
691; in 1840, 702; in 1850, 747; in i860, 654; in 1870, 476; 
in 1880, 494; in 1890, 353; and in 1900, 324. 

Chilmark has had an irregular but steady decrease in 
population since 1800, although the two towns of Gosnold 
and Gay Head were formed from this population, which in 
a large measure accounts for losses since i860. The state 
census of 1905 showed a population of 322. 

The crude but valuable sketch plan of Chilmark in 1694 
(on the preceding page) is the earliest one of its kind known 
to the author, and it is a part of a rough map of the whole 
island. The legends on the plan are as follows: — 

This included lands is considrd unsettled but is in propr(ie)ty by a fenc(e) 
made a Cross the Hand by the people of Chilmark and Chilmark is 
fenced by the same under their peculiar improvement. 

This, included is by pattant Called the manner of tisbury and named 
Chilmark and includes Chikkemoo and the Nashan Use. 

Seven houses are shown on the south road, one near 
the present Middle road, and two in the Keephiggon district, 
ten in all. The houses on the south road can in part be 
identified as the residences of James Allen, Nathaniel Skiff, 
Benjamin Skiff, Nathan Skiff, Rev. Rodolphus Thatcher, and 
probably Thomas Mayhew and Nathan Bassett. The house 
in the region of New Mill river is that of Richard Ellingham, 
and in Kephigon of Samuel Tilton. 



Arkessah- Arks pah. — In the grant of the Manor of 
Tisbury, dated July 8, 1671, the "river Arkspah running 
from the said Wakachakoyck" is mentioned, as one of the 
bounds of Nashowakemmuck. As far as known this is the 
only occurrence of this name as applied to a place in Chilmark. 
As written in the patent of the manor it is probably an error 
for Arkessah made by the clerk or copyist who engrossed 
the document, due to ignorance of Indian names. In the 
opinion of the author it is an abbreviation of Wachap-Arkessah, 
the Algonquian name for Pease's brook. 

History of Martha's Vineyard 

Keephikkon. — This place is mentioned in 1663 (Dukes 
Deeds, I, 93). This word has a great variety of forms, Keep- 
hickon (1671), Keipheigon (1675), Cephecand (1678) and 
Ciphccan (1684). The modern spelHng, Cape Higgon, is a 
blunder, similar to the error made in Cape Poge. It means 
''an artificial enclosure," and the word refers to the land 
purchased by Thomas Mayhew of the Indians in 1663, 
which was enclosed by a fence. In the Delaware dialect 
it is Kup-hei-gan, and in Otchipwe it is K-pah-i-kan, all 
meaning ''something that shuts in." 

In the charter of Tisbury Manor, dated July 8, 167 1, 
the following description of the bounds of this section are 
given: — ''Another parcell of Land called Ceep-hickon 
Bounded on the East by the Westermost Bounds of Takem- 
my from whence it extendeth about a Mile and halfe West- 
ward along the Sound, which is the North Bounds, and to 
the South reaching to the middle of the Island." 

It is thus described by Matthew Mayhew, May 12, 
1685: — "The whole containing by estimation one English aiiile 
and a halfe by the Sound, and extending to the beforesaid 
rock (Waskosims) and middle Line from the Sound south- 

Muckuckhonnike. — In a deed of land from Thomas 
Mayhew to Daniel Steward, dated March 24, 1680, this name 
is given to a tract of land in Chilmark, "being on the beach 
opposite against the point of a neck of Quanaimes which 
John Mayhews house standeth upon" (Deeds, I, 266). This 
word is a compound of Mukkonne- and auke, signifying 
"Land of the congregation or assembly," and probably refers 
to one of the missions for the natives conducted by one of the 
Mayhews in this vicinity. 

Meshpootacha. — This is the cove at the division line of 
Quia-naimes and Quanissoowog, first mentioned in a deed 
dated Aug. 20, 1681, Thomas Mayhew to John Mayhew, as 
a "cove of watter called by the Indians Mesputache." (Deeds, 
I, 407.) The modern name for the point designated is Black 
Point, and it is also applied to the cove adjoining. The word 
is from Massa-pootoe-ohke, "great swelling-out land." A 
similar name occurs on Long Island, Masspootupaug, now 
known as the Great South bay, the definition being "the great 
spreading-out water place." (Southampton Records, II, 27.) 

Mossommoo. — In a deed from some Indians to Hannah 
Skiffe in 1737, conveying land in Chilmark, a neck called 


Annals of Chilmark 

"Mossommoo" is mentioned (VII, 247). Massachusetts 
dialect, Mosommo ''where shearing (of sheep) is." Probably 
a place where it was customary at one time to gather the 
sheep together for shearing. The word, like many others, 
is of date subsequent to settlement of the island. 

Menemsha. — Monamesha, Unanemshie and Manams- 
hounk are variations of this name in the records. "Wester- 
most land of Nope (alias) Martin's Vineyard which 

land is distinguished or bounded from the rest of the land 
of Martin's Vineyard by a certain creek called by the name 
of Manamshounk, which land is called by the Indians Aquinnah 
& by the English Gay Head" (Deeds, III, 12). The name 
originally did not belong to the creek or the pond, but probably 
indicated a standing tree or pole placed on one of the hills 
near the creek, or it may have been the name of the locality 
itself, "as seen from afar." The terminal -unk is an in- 
separable generic denoting a solitary standing tree, while the 
adjectival prefix signifies "a vision" (Massachusetts). The 
reading would therefore be, "the observation tree or pole," 
erected for the purpose of signalling, when the whales were 
in sight. Monamansu-auke, meaning, "place of observation," 
may apply to Prospect hill, the highest on the Vineyard in 
the region of the Menemsha pond. 

Nashowaquidsee. — " Nashawaqueedse " is first mentioned 
in 1684, and later, in 1703, the neck is called " Nashowaquetset " 
" Nashaquitsa," " Nashawaqucedsee," "Nashouahquedset." 
This word in the full Algonquian rendering is Nasawa-aquiden- 
es-et from the radix, Nazhwi or Nizhv/i, the numeral two, which 
can be translated the divided or doubled; aquiden, meaning 
an island, es diminuitive, rendering it islet, or a little island, 
and -et, the locative suffix. The rendering therefore is "at 
the little divided island," referring, probably to the insular 
formation between Menemsha and Squibnocket ponds. 

NivipanikhickaniLh. — This was the name of the place 
where the Rev. Experience Mayhew lived in Chilmark. In 
1722 he wrote that it signified in English, "the place of thunder 
clefts," because there was once a tree split by lightning at 
that spot. 

Quinames. — A neck called "Quanaymes" in Nasho- 
wakemmuck, is mentioned in a deed dated May 17, 1664, 
and again in a deed dated 1678 (I, 265). The definition of 
this word is "the long fish" (eel), and refers to a locality 
where the Indians caught them. In the will of Thomas 

History of Martha's Vineyard 


Annals of Chilmark 

Mayhew, Sr., this neck is called Quannaimes or Quanniss- 
oowauge (Deeds I, 327). Matthew *Mayhew sold to his 
brother John, Nov. 8, 1687, certain "land called Quanso or 
Quanimset " (Deeds III, 174). In 1712-13 the neck was 
described as "called by the name of Quansow alias Nomagua" 
(Deeds III, 104). There was a Quansue on Nantucket, 
now called Consue. The modern spelling on the Vineyard 
is Quansoo. 

Saphehogasoo. — John Pachaket, Indian of Gay Head, 
in a deed to Zachary Hosewit, of land in Chilmark, mentions 
a neck "called Pachok neck or by the Indian name of Saphe- 
hogasoo, 1738" (Deeds VI, 294). John Phillips, one of the 
sachems of Nashowakemuck, to John Pachaket "my kins- 
man," a tract of land at a place "known by the Indians Poka- 

wamet small neck called Sapachchogasso" (Deeds IV, 

12). This name was intended for Sha-pachaug-as-soo, "at 
the midway turning place." In 1759 it is called Pechockers 
neck, near Gunning point (Deeds VIII, 659). 

Sqiieppunnocquat. — Squibnocket, modern. The defin- 
ition is "A place where the red ground nut grows." M'sque- 
pun-ock-ut; it was probably the bulb of the orange red lily 
(Lilium Philadelphicum) which grows in great profusion 
around this region. In various dialects it is known as the 
meadow ground nut. The Indians ate the roots, which are 
long in boiling, and they taste like the liver of sheep. 

Tiaskuhkonuh. — In a deed, dated 1719, Experience 
Mayhew sold land at Quansoo running due north from a 
cove of water called T(S)iashkuhkonuh (Deeds, III, 248). 
Experience Mayhew sold to Elishab Adams in 1737 a tract 
of land in Chilmark and mentions a "cove of water called 
Siashkakonsett " (VI, 236). It is difficult to say to what 
this name originally applied. It may have been "a path," 
"a bridge," "stones laid down for crossing," etc. "a place 
trodden down," Massachusetts Eliot Tashkuhkan-ah, "he 
trode down" (2 Chron., 25-8). Tashkuhkon- "Trodden" 
(Isaiah, 28-8). Tashkuhkon-es-et "at a place trodden down." 

Wawaytick. — This was the name of the creek which 
empties Menemsha pond into the Bight. The first occurence 
of the work is in the patent of Tisbury Manor, under date 
of July 8, 1671: "the Harbour on the North side of the 
Island called Wawattick." In Kendall's "Travels" (1807) 
it is spoken of as "Wawaytick Creek which runs from Menem- 
sha Pond." In all Algonquian dialects Wawi indicates "round" 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

because it refers to the shape of an egg, called by the same 
word. The last syllable -tukq, tick, is defined as a tidal 
inlet, or creek, and the whole in its application is freely rendered 
as ''round, or winding-about, creek; the winding creek," 
which is a correct description of this crooked stream (Deeds 

I, 384). 

Wequohscut. — ''Wequobsket" is first mentioned in a 
deed dated 1695 (I, 385). "Wequobset Cliffs" mentioned 
in a deed dated 1697 (I, 387). Thomas Mayhew in his will 
(1725) writes it Weaquabsqua (Probate I, 160). This word 
is probably an attempt of the Indians to describe an artificial 
bound-mark. It is from the words: Wequ-obsk-ut, meaning 
"at the ending rock," and refers to the well-known "Stone 
Wall" in Chilmark, at the southwestern boundary of Nasha- 

Wachapakesuk. — This was a small brook, probably the 
one next west of the "fulling mill brook," and is referred to 
in a conveyance from Matthew Mayhew to Benjamin Skiffe, 
July 20, 1682, viz: a neck called Nathaniel's Neck, in Nashaw- 
kemmuck, containing 18 acres, "bounded Easterly by a 
brook which runneth into a pond which pond is the South 
bound : westwardly by a small brook called by the Indians 
Wachapkesuh : North by the foot path or road which goeth 
towards the west end of the island, crossing the said brook." 
It is without doubt the stream known to the English as 
Pease's brook. 

Wakachakoyck. — In the grant of the Manor of Tisbury, 
dated July 8, 1671, the bounds of Nashowakemmuck are 
described as "beginning at a place called Wakachakoyck." 
This word is a compound of Wek-adch-ohke (auke), the 
meaning of which is "land or place at the end of a hill." 
This is the only occurrence of the word in our records and 
its location is in doubt. 


Beetle Bung Corner. — The junction of the Middle road 
and the Menemsha road has been called by this curious name 
for nearly two hundred years. A clump of hornbeam trees 
growing near this spot gave it the name of Beetle Bound Tree 
corner as early as 1729 (Deeds V, 67), because the trees 
marked a boundary. The name Beetle "Bung" corner is a 
clumsy and meaningless corruption of the original signification 


Annals of Chilmark 

of the name. Hornbeam wood was used then in the manu- 
facture of beetles for loosening the bungs of casks and hogs- 
heads, and the trees were sometimes called beetlewood trees. 

Fulling Mill Brook. — The Fulling Mill brook is men- 
tioned in a deed dated 1694. It starts in a swamp near the 
middle road and empties into Chilmark pond. 

Mile Square. — The ''Mile Square" in Chilmark was a 
tract bought by ]\Iatthew Mayhew of Chipnock, an Indian, 
and his daughter, about 1703, and adjoining Menamsha pond. 

Mark^s Valley. — Ebenezer Allen in a deed to John Allen 
sold land in Chilmark, and mentioned "Markes Valley" 
(Deeds III, 394). 

Nabs Corner. — The junction of the Chilmark-Tisbury 
line and the South road has borne this name for over a century. 
It derived its name from one Abigail Dunham, single woman, 
who lived near there, before 1800, and achieved considerable 
notoriety during her life. 

N'ew Mill River. — Matthew Mayhew conveyed to Capt. 
Benjamin Skiffe in 1696, the right to use "New mill river," 
"to improve for a mill" (Dukes Deeds I, 125). It flows 
along easterly, parallel to the Middle road, crosses the Tisbury 
line and continues its course through that town. 

Pease'' s Brook. — Mentioned in a deed, 1697, as near the 
Sugar Loaf rock in Chilmark. It empties into the western 
end of Chilmark pond, after a long circuitous route starting 
beyond the Middle road. It is not -known for whom it was 
named, as none of this island family owned land there. It 
may have derived its title from some incident connected with 
one of them. 

PamehanniVs Field. — Mentioned in a deed from Mat- 
thew Mayhew to Nathan Bassett in 1705. "Pamehannits 
Field now the top of the Hill," east of the Fulling Mill brook 
(Deeds II, 25). 

Roaring Brook. — This stream of water, emptying into 
the Sound, is first mentioned in a deed dated in 1681 (I, 263). 

Sugar Loaf Rock. — This well-known landmark is first 
mentioned in 1677, and retains this designation to the present 
day (Deeds I, 387). 

The- Stone Wall. — ''A place called the Stone Wall" is 
mentioned in a deed in 1732. See Wequobsket. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 


The first attempt of the Mayhews to acquire the Indian 
"rights" in the present limits of the town of Chilmark, was 
made by the younger Mayhew, before 1657, but as the date 
is not of record, it may only be surmised when it was ac- 
complished. It was the tract 

beginning at a Place called Wakachakoyck & goeth to the River (Wachap) 
arkessah, running from the said Wakachakoyck by a streight Line to the 
middle of the Island where is the middle Line that divides the land of 
Towtoe and others & the Land sold to the said Thomas Mayhew: and 
from the Place that Line meeteth the middle Line soe dividing the Land 
as aforesaid to goe to the Harbour on the North side of the Island called 

This tract was called by the Indians ''Nashawakemmuck," 
and represents all the territory south of the Middle line, and 
between the Tisbury bounds on the east and Pease's brook 
and Menemsha pond on the west. It is not known for what 
purpose he bought this land, but his early death prevented 
the carrying out of any design he may have had for the settle- 
ment of this region. The next purchase was made by the 
elder Mayhew on Feb. 3, 1663, when he bought of Kemasaoome 
and Mamooampete, for the sum of five pounds, the neck 
called Quanames. The conveyance recites that 

the said Neck is bounded to the Westward by the Pond: to the East- 
ward by the midst of Ukquiessa, and so to run up in a straight line into 
the woods to the path that goes from the school house to Tiasquam, some- 
where between the bridge and the school house and not further into the 
woods: and it is to goe to the sea so far as the bounds is according to 
the line that runs through the midst of Ukquiessa Pond aforesaid.^ 

This tract was bounded east by the Great Tisbury pond, 
west by Chilmark pond, and by the South road on the north. 
On Sept. 20th of the same year, Mayhew made another pur- 
chase comprising land on the north side of the Middle line. 
The grantors were three brothers of Towtowee, the sachem 
of that region, and the land purchased was described in the 
following terms: — 

which land lyeth from the midst of the Pond Kyphiggon to Koyhikkon 
way in the natural bounds by the seaside between Nashowakemmuck 
and Takemmy: and so to run into the middle of the island, and be at 

'N. Y. Col. Mss., Patents, IV, 73. 

^Dukes Deeds, II, 39. He sold this on July 14, 1673, to his two grand sons> 
Thomas and John. 


Annals of Chilmark 

the same breadth threw in the midst of the Island as it is by the sound 
side, for the which land We Konkoononammin, Makekonnit and Kee- 

squish do hereby acknowledge that the said Thomas Mayhew 

shall have as much land by the sea side from the midst of the said poynt 

M n 



I— I 




(pond ?) Keephiggon as shall make the breadth by the sea side three 
quarters of an English mile Beginning at Keephiggon aforesaid, for which 
we do acknowledge VvC have rec'd four povmds in full satisfaction.^ 

'It is probable that Crevecoeur after viewing a scene like this at the time of his 
visit in 1782 reported the valuable observation that "Chilmark contains stone for 
fencing." (Lettres d'un Cultivateur Americain.) 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 93-4. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

On May 17, 1664 Mayhew added to this tract, by purchase 
from Kessukamiih, of a square mile "beginning at the middle 
of the pond at Keepehiggon" and running a mile by the 
Sound, and a mile into the ''midle of the Island."^ This 
overlapped the other, and increased the tract by a quarter 
of a mile. It is the land in the extreme northeast part of 
Chilmark, adjoining the Tisbury line. Likewise on the same 
day he obtained from Pamehannet, the sachem of Quanames, 
father of the celebrated Japhet Hannet, a quitclaim of all his 
rights in that neck.^ Four years later he bought of Josias, 
the sachem of Takemmy, on June 27, 1668, 

all that land that lyeth to the Eastward of Quanaimes, which Peme- 

haiinett and Kemasoome sold to the said Thomas Mayhew from 

Quansooway along by the Fresh Pond till it comes to the issuing forth 
of Tyasquan: and from thence up to the bridge wch is at the path that 
comes from the mill: and so from the bridge along the school house path 
till it meets with the land sold the said Mayhew by the said Pamehannett 
and Kemesoom: so this land is bounded to the Westward by that which 
was Pamehannetts: by the Sea on the South: by the Fresh Pond to the 
Eastward: and Northerly by Teeassquan River to the bridge: and then 
by the school house path till it meet with aforesaid land which was Peme- 

The consideration for this was a "cow and suit of clothes 
from top to toe," and seventeen pounds in money. ^ This 
land is on the western shore of Tisbury pond and extends 
to the South road, and bounded on the west by an imaginary 
line from "Nab's Corner" to Mesapootacha cove. 


These purchases from the Indians secured to the Mayhews 
the fee of all of the southern and eastern portions of Chilmark, 
leaving a section bordering on the Sound and on Menemsha 
pond under the control of the natives. The reference to the 
"Middle Line" makes it desirable to have an authoritative 
definition of its relations to the lands in question, and the 
following quotation from an agreement concluded between 
Matthew Mayhew and the Indians as to this well-known 
bound mark shows its location : — 

a Line drawn straight from a great Rock standing by takemie bound 
to the middle of a line drawn across the island and so to the pond: said 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 93. 
^Ibid., I, 92. 
'Ibid., I, 408. 


Annals of Chilmark 

line to be drawn across as near the said pond as may be called Monamesha 

The rock mentioned is the present landmark, known as 
Waskosims rock, on th(5 dividing line between Tisbury and 

It is not believed that at this time there were any white 
settlers residing within the present limits of Chilmark. 

These individual purchases of the ''rights" of the Indians 
by Mayhew gave him undisputed control of by far the largest 
tract of land in severalty upon the island, and from his sub- 
sequent movements irt regard to it, we are justified in conclud- 
ing that he intended to retain it as a large landed estate, modeled 
after the medieval ownerships of the land in England and on 
the continent. ':-,] iv; 


When Thomas Mayhew and his grandson, Matthew, 
went to New York in the summer of 1671 to settle the questions 
of jurisdiction and government of this island with Governor 
Lovelace, as elsewhere related, he probably had in his mind 
a clear outline of what he wished to secure from the repre- 
sentative of the Duke of York. He was now an old man, 
and had risen to a unique position among his colonial con- 
freres. Doubtless his thoughts harked back to the place of 
his birth and the scenes of his childhood, and the recollections 
of Tisbury with its manor aroused in him a desire to become 
the head of a like social institution, the first of a line of Lords 
of the Manor in another Tisbury. He had recollected the 
Arundels of Wardour, the hereditary Lords of Tisbury Manor 
in Wiltshire, living but a short distance from his boyhood 
home, and the grandeur of their position, holding dominion 
over their broad acres, with tenants filling the manor barn 
every harvest, as acknowledgments of their fealty, in lieu of 
knightly service; and having already had a taste of the head- 
ship of a community for many years, upon a sort of mutual 
agreement, or compact plan, he now wanted the legitimate 
fruit of his position made distinctive. Thus, when he laid 
his desires before Governor Lovelace, one of them was nothing 
less than the creation of a manorial demesne on the Puritan 
Vineyard, with himself and his grandson Matthew as joint 
Lords of the Manor, and so in succession to their heirs male. 

'Deeds, III, 435. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

This idea did not meet with the least disfavor in the mind of 
the royal governor, himself son of a knight, and as there were 
already several manors erected in the Province of New York, 
a ready acceptance of it was found. Doubtless he considered 
it a good idea to plant before the eyes and under the noses 
of the Dissenters and Puritans of Massachusetts a conspicuous 
example of the good old customs of "Merrie England" with 
its arrhorial county families and loyal tenantry. 

Accordingly on the day in which the two patents of Edgar- 
town and Tisbury passed the seals, there was issued another, 
creating Tisbury Manor out of the several purchases made 
by Mayhew in the present territory of Chilmark, Tisbury 
and the Elizabeth Islands, heretofore described, the full text 
of which is herewith incorporated to show the terms and 
extent of this grant. 

The following is a copy of the "Patent or Confirmacon 
of Tisbury Mannor unto Mr Thomas Mayhew & Mr Matthew 
Mayhew his Grand Childe:— " 

FRANCIS LOVELACE Esq: one of the Gentlemen of his Ma'ties 
Hon'ble Privy Chamb'r and Governor Gen '11 under his Royall Highness 
JAMES Duke of Yorke and Albany &c of all his Territories in America: 
To all to whom these Presents shall come sendeth Greeting : 

WHEREAS there is a certaine Island within these his Royall High- 
ness his Territoryes in Length over against the Maine neare East and 
West & being to the North West of the Island Nantuckett wch said Island 
was heretofore Granted unto Thomas Mayhew Sen'r & Thomas Mayhew 
Jun'r his Sonn by James Forrett Agent to William Earle of Sterling in 
whom the Government then was a considerable part or Severall parcells 
of wch said Island hath by the said Thomas Mayhew Sen'r & Thomas 
Mayhew Jun'r his Son been purchased of the Indian Proprietors & due 
satisfaction given for the same whereof for diverse Years past they have 
been & still are in quiet & Lawfull Possession the Particulars of which 
said Parcells of Land are as hereafter is sett forth vizt That is to say a 
Certaine Piece of Land called Chickemote bounded on the East by a 
Spring called by the Name of Kutta-shim-moo on the West by a Brooke 
called Each-poo-qua-sitt on the North by the Sound & on the South by 
the bounds of Ta-kem-my : An other Parcell of Land called Keep-hick on 
Bounded on the East by the Westermost Bounds of Takemmy from 
whence it extendeth about a Mile and halfe Westward along the Sound 
wch is the North Bounds, and to the South reaching to the middle of the 
Island. Then a piece of Land called Quia-names Bounded on the East 
by Takemmy Pond on the West by Nashowakemmuck Pond & a foot 
Path wch Goeth from the said Pond to a Brooke called by the Name of 
Tyas-quin wch Brooke is its North Bounds: As also the Land called 
Nashowa-Kemmuck Sold to Thomas Mayhew Jun'r beginning at a Place 
called Wakachakoyck & goeth to the River Arkessah, running from the 
said Wakachakoyck by a streight Line to the middle of the Island where 


Annals of Chilmark 

is the middle Line that divides the Land of Towtoe and others & the 
Land sold to the said Thomas Mayhew and from the Place that Line 
meeteth the middle Lyne soe dividing the Land as aforesaid to goe to 
the Harbour on the North side of the Island called Wawattick: Together 
wth two of the Elizabeth Islands called Kataymuck & Nanname-sitt & 
other Severall Small & Inconsiderable Islands in Monument Bay: NOW 
for a Confirmacon unto the Said Thomas Mayhew Sen'r & Matthew 
Mayhew his Grand Childe the Son & Heyre of Thomas Mayhew Jim'r 
in their Possession & enjoymt of the Premisses KNOW YE that by Vertue 
of the Commission and Authority unto mee given by his Royall Highness 
upon whom (as well by the resignacon & Assignmt of the He)a-es of the 
said Wm Earle of Sterling as also by Graunt & Patent from his Royall 
Majestye CHARLES the second) the Propriety & Governmt of Long 
Island Martins Vineyard Nantuckett & all the Islands adjacent amongst 
other things is settled, I have Given and Granted & by these Presents 
doe hereby Give Ratify Confirme &: Graunt unto the said Thomas May- 
hew & Matthew Mayhew his Grand Childe their Heyres & 
all the aforementioned Pieces & Parcells of Land Islands & Premisses 
to bee Erected into a Mannor & for the future to be called & knowne 
by the name of TYSBURY MANNOR Together wth all the Lands 
Islands Soyles Woods Meadowes Pastures Quarrys Mines Mineralls 
(Royall Mines excepted) Marshes Lakes Waters Fishing Hawking Hunting 
& Fowling within the Bounds & Lymitts afore described And all other 
Profitts Comodityes Emoluments & Hereditamts thereunto belonging or 
in any wise appertaining To bee holden according to the Customs of the 
Mannor of East Greenwch in the Coimty of Kent in England in free & 
comon Soccage & by Fealty only: And the said Mannor of Tisbury shall 
be held Deemed reputed taken & bee an Entire Enfranchized Mannor 
of itselfe & shall allwayes from time to time have hold & Enjoy like & 
equal Priviledges wch other Mannors within the Governmt & shall in 
noe mannor or any wise bee imder the Rule Order or Direction of any 
other place but in all Mattrs of Governmt shall bee Ruled Ordered & 
Directed according to the Instructions I have already given for that Island 
in General! or hereafter shall give for the Good and Wellfare of the In- 
habitants by the Advice of my Councell: To have and to hold the said 
Mannor with the Lands thereimto belonging with all & Singular the 
Appertenances &• prmisses unto the said Thomas Mayhew & Matthew 
Mayhew their Heyres and Assignes to the Proper use and behoofe of 
the said Thomas Mayhew and Matthew Mayhew their Heyres & Assignes 
forever Yielding Rendring & Paying therefore Yearly & every Yeare 
unto his Royall Highness the Duke of Yorke his Heyres & Assignes or 
unto such Governor or Governors as from time to time shall bee by him 
Constituted & Appointed as an Acknowledgmt two Barrells of Good 
Merchantable Cod-Fish to be Delivered at the Bridge in this City. 

Given under my Hand and Sealed wth my Seale & wth the Seale 
of the Province at Forte James in New Yorke on the Island of Manhattans 
this eighth day of July in the three and twentyeth yeare of the Reigne 
of our Sovereigne Lord CHARLES the Second by the Grace of God of 
England Scotland France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith &c 
& in the yeare of our Lord God One Thousand six hundred seaventy 
& one. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

It will be thus seen that practically the whole of the 
present town of Chilmark, with the district of Chickemmoo, 
now in Tisbury, and the Elizabeth Islands were erected into 
a Manor, like unto the ancient form known in England, and 
the elder Mayhew and his grandson were created joint Lords 
of the Manor of Tisbury, by virtues of the Patent of Confirm- 
ation. This was a strange and unique proceeding for these 
Puritan people, and is without a parallel in the present limits 



of New England. The grant gave the Mayhews peculiar 
legal privileges, by which all persons residing within the 
boundaries of their manorial lands were tenants, subject to 
their jurisdiction, in all matters of government. To under- 
stand this it will be necessary to define what a manor was 
and is, in the English system. 


In English law a Manor is an estate in land, to which is 
incident the right to hold certain courts, called courts baron. 
The legal theory of the origin of manors refers them to grants 
from the crown, as stated in the following extract from Perkins' 


Annals of Chilmark 

Treatise on the Laws of England: "The beginning of a 
manor was when the king gave a thousand acres of land, or 
a greater or lesser parcel of land, unto one of his subjects, 
and his heirs, which tenure is knight's service at the least. 
And the donor did perhaps build a mansion house upon a 
parcel of the same land." A manor, then, arises where the 
owner of a parcel so granted has in turn granted portions of 
it to others, who stand to him in the relation of tenants. The 
name manor is of Norman origin, and signifies the same as 
the word fief in France. In some of the United States formed 
by English colonists, a tract of land occupied or once occupied 
by tenants paying a fee-farm rent to the proprietor, sometimes 
in kind, sometimes in stipulated services, is the transplanted 
form of manor as seen in New England and New York. In 
Colonial times these resembled the old English manors, their 
possession being in most cases accompanied by jurisdiction.* 

Certain domestic courts could be held by the Lord of 
the Manor, called Courts Leet and Courts Baron. A Court 
Leet was a court of record held in a particular manor before 
the steward of the leet, or district covered by the manor, to 
determine petty offences, indictments to a higher court, and 
having some administrative functions. A Court Baron was a 
small court held in the manor, consisting of the freemen or 
freehold tenants of the manor, presided over by the Lord of 
the Manor, for the redressing of misdemeanors and settling 
tenants' disputes. 

The domain was held intact by the Lord Proprietor, and 
farms let to tenants who were required to pay a "quit-rent" 
which was due the Lord from the free-holders and copy- 
holders as an acquittance from other services, such as military 
duty, or other forms of fealty to the proprietor of the soil.* 


Payment of these quit rents was to be in perpetuity, and 
constituted an "acknowledgment" of the continued sovereignty 
of the Lord of the Manor and his heirs or assigns. In the 
management of the Manor granted to the Mayhews, they 
alienated portions of the soil, but retained the "acknowledg- 
ment" of certain annual, or more frequent, payment of trifles 

^Maine Early Laws and Customs, 302 ; comp., Stubbs, Constitutional History, 98 
'It was also called the chief-rent. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

to signify their manorial privileges. During the lifetime of 
the elder Mayhew none of the manor was alienated, except 
two pieces in the Quansoo region, to his grandsons John and 
Thomas Mayhew, and it is not known that he demanded any 
quit-rents from them. In a sale of a part of the Elizabeth 
Islands, however, he instituted the custom of requiring quit- 
rents, and the first case was that of John Haynes, who agreed 
to pay "2 good sheep at the Manor House on November 15 th 
yearly and every year."^ It is not known where the "Manor 
House" was, if it existed in anything more than name. Pos- 
sibly it was the house occupied by John Mayhew at Quansoo, 
or Quanames. After his death, Matthew Mayhew, as sur- 
viving patentee, kept to the custom of requiring the annual 
payments of such ''acknowledgments" in true English style. 
Usually in the mother country the quit-rent was "a good fat 
capon," to be delivered at Christmas or Whitsuntide, or 
oftener, but Mayhew varied his requirements to all sorts of 
small articles. One was obliged to bring annually to him 
"a good chees,"^; another "one nutmegg" as a tribute,^ 
and he required "his beloved brother John," who was per- 
mitted to occupy certain land, "one mink skin" to be paid 
yearly "at my mannor house in the mannor of Tisbury," on 
the 15th of November each year.^ Benjamin Skiffe was made 
to bring "six peckes of good wheat," annually.^ As late as 
1732, Sarah, widow of Thomas Mayhew (3), in a deed to her 
two daughters conveying land in Chilmark, referred to the 
"Quitt-rents which shall hereafter become due unto the Lord 

of the Manner which is one Lamb."^ 

As may be imagined, this transplanted form of manorial 
government with its suggestions of "lords" and tenantry and 
"acknowledgments" was not favorably received by the people 
in the adjoining towns. It gave them an insight into what 
would occur if the ideas were carried out to their logical se- 
quence. But Mayhew proceeded with his plans for an ex- 
clusive domain which should be separate from all the rest of 
the settlements on the Vineyard. Very early he had surrounded 
a part of this territory with a fence, and the name of one of 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 45. 
*Ibid., I, 346. 
'Ibid., I, 265. 
*Ibid., I, 27. 
^Ibid., I, no. 
•Ibid., VI, 56. 


Annals of Chilmark 

his divisions, Kuppi-egon, or Kupegon, meaning an artificial 
enclosure, is a survival of this fact. Simon Athearn gives us 
a commentary on the situation, which doubtless voiced the 
sentiments of the settlers, when he said that they ^'have im- 
propriated a Cuntery by a fenc to themselves" and again 
referring to the same subject in describing Chilmark: "This 
included land is considered un settled but is in propr(ie)ty by 
a fenc made a Cross the Hand by the people of Chilmark 
and Chilmark is fenced by the same under their peculiar 


It has been related elsewhere (Vol. I, pp. 174-6) how 
Matthew Mayhew, in April, 1685, was created Lord of the 
Manor of Martha's Vineyard, by Governor Dongan, and 
after enjoying the honor for nearly three weeks, he sold the 
title and privileges to the creator himself. Thenceforth 
Dongan was Lord of the Manor, or what remained after 
Mayhew had excepted most of the Vineyard in the transfer 
of title. As portions of the land which actually passed to 
Dongan were situated in this town, his connection with it 
becomes of interest to students of its early annals. These 
tracts were the eastern half of the Kephigon district of Chil- 
mark and Squibnocket, for which annual quit-rents were 
exacted.^ Dongan appointed Mayhew as his steward, and 
this relationship was maintained for twenty-five years, until 
the latter' s death. Most of this territory, including the Gay 
Head peninsula, which formed the bulk of his "manor," was 
inhabited by Indians, and as tenants, they were poor pay 
and much care. It is not to be presumed that the lambs, 
nutmegs, corn and mink skins which they paid ever found 
their way to his cupboards, though they were religiously 
collected by his agent. The Society for the Propagation of 
the Gospel, by reason of its missionary work on the island 
among the natives, came to feel that with an absentee land- 

'Mass. Archives, CXIII, 94. 

^Thomas Mayhew paid to Matthew, as agent for Colonel Dongan, who succeeded 
to the Lordship of the Manor, one lamb yearly "for the neck of Land called Squp- 
nockett" (ibid., V, 89), and the Society for Propagating the Gospel in New Eng- 
land, which bought Dongan's rights in 1715, continued to receive the annual tribute 
of "one Lamb" for the same property as late as 1724 (ibid., V, 89). 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

lord disinclined to part with his broad acres, their efforts 
to uplift the Indian to the plane of civilization would be of 
little avail under such conditions. When Mayhew died, in 
1 710, the earl of Limerick was living in London, and the society 
determined to buy out if it could, the manorial rights of 
Limerick, and give the Indians the benefit of sympathetic 
landlordism. Accordingly, after some negotiations initiated by 
Jeremiah Dummer and conducted by Sir William Ashhurst, 
Governor of the company, and Judge Sewall, a sale was effected 
on May 10, 1711, and the Society in its corporate capacity 



became Lord of the Manor.* Livery and seizin was not 
taken, however, for eighteen months after the purchase. 

Three years after this Judge Sewall visited the Vineyard 
and saw the Chilmark portion of the property, and recorded 
this incident as follows: — 

April 9, 1 7 14. Go to the top of Prospect Hill, from thence to the Sound 
and by Mr. Thomas Mayhew's direction viewed the River falling into 
the Sound, [Roaring Brook], and the Shoar all along to the end of the 
327 Rods which extends Southward to the middle Line, containing about 
1000 Acres which belongs to the corporation.* 

'Records of the New England Co., pp. 93-96; comp., Sewall, Letter Book, I, 422, 
Dukes Deeds, II, 311, 327. The Governor of the Company, in a letter expressing 
bis satisfaction with the acquisition, said: "I hope it will be the means to make the 
Indians live comfortably upon it and prevent their scattering abroad, which would 
certainly have brought their offspring back again to their old Idolatry." 

'Sewall, Diary, IT, 432. 


Annals of Chilmark 

The Society subsequently acquired other property in this 
region by purchase, and for many years acted in the capacity 
of guardian of the spiritual and material interests of the 
native.^ The property was gradually sold to them individually 
as they obtained means to purchase. 


The peculiar relations which the Manor of Tisbury, or 
Chilmark, bore to the Mayhew family, being a sort of personal 
appanage of the successive Lords of the Manor, make it some- 
what difficult to determine the conditions of early settlement 
in this territory. In other words, to separate tenants from 
land owners and actual residents, when the charter was 
granted in 1671, is a difficult matter. For example, the first 
recorded deed of sale of any part of the present territorial 
limits of Chilmark made by the proprietors, is under date of 
Feb. 26, 1677-8, when Matthew Mayhew, Lord of the Manor, 
sold fifty-five acres to James Allen, of Tisbury, and in this deed 
the ''land of John Manter" and ''Meadow of William Swift" 
are mentioned. This would indicate that Manter and Swift 
were then either living in or owning land there, but no deeds 
to them are of record, showing such ownership. It is known 
that Allen, one of the Tisbury proprietors, was a great land 
speculator, but it is reasonably certain that he, then and for 
some years after, resided in Tisbury. Manter also was one of 
the original proprietors of Tisbury, lived and died there, and 
his holdings in Chilmark must have been as a non-resident, 
merely for agricultural purposes. As to William Swift, the 
county records contain no records of purchase or sale by him, 
and yet, in addition to this "meadow" in Chilmark, he had 
a "lot" on Eddy's Neck in Tisbury the same year. How he 
came by it, or in v/hat way it passed out of his hands, is not 
known. It is doubtful if he was anything more than a non-resi- 
dent land owner in either town.^ It is thus apparent that Allen, 
Manter and Swift can be eliminated as residents of Chilmark 
at that time, and we then come to the first definite evidence 
of an actual setrter. This is shown in a deed executed by 
Governor Mayhew, in 1680, to Daniel Steward, in which is 

'Deeds, III, 543. Experience Mayhew to Samuel Sewall, Treasurer of the 
Society in 1723. 

'He was the son of William Swift of Sandwich, and at the date of the deed above 
referred to, he represented that town in the General Court of the Colony of Plymouth. 
Savage, Gen. Diet., IV, 242. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

conveyed a parcel of land ''opposite against the point of a 
neck of Quanaimes, which John Mayhew's house standeth 

From this we can safely conclude that for some time prior 
to March 26, 1680, young John Mayhew had been living at 
Quanaimes, and he may he reckoned as the first actual white 
settler in the limits of Chilmark.^ It is probable that his 
residence dated from about 1672 or '3, when he married and 
reached his majority, and presumably ''set up his Ebenezer" 
as a consequence. The life work of this young man had 
already been chosen, and he selected Chilmark as the field for 
his labors among the Indians of the town. He had acquired 
of Toohtowee, Sachem of the north side of Martha's Vineyard, 
half of his rights as such, and on Feb. 4, 1673, the son, John 
Toohtowee, "confirmed" the purchase,^ which gives us|^an 
indication of the time of his adoption of this town as his home. 
In the little house at Quanaimes, built by John Mayhew, 
was born in the year 1673 the famous Experience,'; author 
of "Indian Converts," and after the property had descended 
to him, as the "first born son," it disclosed the light of day 
in 1720 to his no less famous scion, the Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, 
the great pulpit orator. This spot, therefore, may well be re- 
garded as the cradle of Chilmark's most distinguished sons, 
and is worthy of perpetual designation as the homestead of 
its earliest resident. 


Next in point of time, as respects the acquisition of proper- 
ty, is James Allen, whose earlier connection with the settlement 
of Tisbury has been recorded in the annals of that town. His 
first purchase of land in Chilmark consisted of fifty-five acres, 
situated near Abel's hill on the south side of the road, under 
date of Feb. 28, 1677-8." Shortly after he bought ninety 
acres extending from the road southward to the pond,'^ and 
eight years later, May 7, 1686, twenty acr^s more adjoining 

'Deeds, I, 266. 

'He was in Tisbury in 1677, but whether as a settler or transient is not clear. (Letter 
to Joseph Norton, in possession of Wm. J. Rotch.) 
^Deeds, III, 201. 

'Deeds, I, 277. He sold this to Thomas Mayhew on March 7, 1680-81 (ibid., I, 90), 
*Deeds, I, 265. April 2, 1678. 


Annals of Chilmark 

the last purchase/ When he ceased to be a resident of Tisbury» 
and became a citizen of this town, is not known. It was 
sometime after 1682 and before 1690, on which latter date he 
is referred to as "of Chilmark,"^ and again in 1692 he is des- 
cribed as ''of Chillmark."^ From these dates, and an unknown 
period before, we may consider him a resident, and claim 
continuity therefrom till his death. It is traditional that he 
lived half a mile north of the old meeting-house, and this is 
probably correct. 

Daniel Steward was the third land owner, chronologically, 
by his purchase of a parcel of meadow, before referred to, 
March 24, 1680, situated "on the beach opposite against 
the point of a neck of Quanaimes."* Whether he ever lived 
on this property is open to much doubt. He is called "of Tis- 
bury" and did not retain the land long, selling it on August 
14, 1684, to Simon Athearn. He resided in Edgartown till 
his death. 

With the advent of Benjamin Skiffe, another resident of 
Tisbury, we are on surer footing, as he became identified 
with this town, and at his death was one of its best known 
citizens. He made his first purchase Feb. 6, 1681, consisting 
of land on the west side of Roaring brook. '^ The next year, 
July 20, 1682, he bought a neck of land called Nathaniel's 
neck, containing eighteen acres, "bounded Eastwardly by a 
brook which runneth into a pond, which pond is the South 
bound: westwardly by a small brook called by the Indians 
Wachapakesuh : North by the foot path or road which goeth 
towards the west end of the island, crossing the said brook."* 

The location of this land is so carefully described that 
the reader can easily determine its boundaries, between the 
Fulling mill and Pease's brook, and south of the road. 

Richard Ellingham, who came here from Barnstable, 
bought of Matthew Mayhew in 1683, eighty acres of land, 
eighty rods wide on the New Mill river and running one hundred 
and sixty rods northerly therefrom, being the second lot from 
the Tisbury-Chilmark line, on the present Middle road. He 

'Deeds, II, 277. 
'Court Records, Vol. I. 

^Deeds, I, 155. His name appears in the Tisbury records as on a committee 
in5i692 and 1697 on land matters (Town Records, 24, 32). 

*Deeds, I, 266. 
*Deeds, I, 263. 
"Deeds, I, 346. The quit rent for this land was "a good chees" annually. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

was a transient and lived here less than ten years, selling 
out his interests in 1692 to James Allen/ 

A younger brother of Benjamin Skiffe, also a resident of 
Tisbury, began to make purchases of land in this town a few 
years later. Nathan Skiffe was one of the early settlers in the 
adjoining town, where he had, as a young man, held property 
and acted as one of the officials, but he decided to remove, 
and on Aug. 16, 1686, he purchased of Matthew Mayhew 
fifty acres of land bounded southerly and westerly by Pease's 
brook, which means at the turn of this stream at the end of 
the South road.^ 

Samuel Tilton, who had previously owned land at Homes 
Hole and Tisbury, became a purchaser of property in this 
town March 30, 1688, when he bought of Matthew Mayhew, 
eighty acres described as follows : — 

bounded Northward from the corner of the fence in a valley 

or bottom of a field called Japhets, on the same line as fence to a swamp 
near the River called Milne in length about 80 poles: Southwardly by a 
fence in the valley about 80 poles westwardly: and bounded Westwardly 
by a parallel line drawn from the westward part or end of said Southern 
bounds paralel to said eastern line till it meet or cometh to the aforesaid 
Swamp, and Northwardly by said Swamp ' 

This land was in the Kephigon district and adjoined the 
Thomas Hp-rlock property on the east. 

The next new resident was Nathaniel Skiffe, the third of 
the Skiffe brothers to become identified with the town. He 
bought, Oct. 3, 1689, one hundred acres to the south of Pease's 
brook, extending to the cliffs, and from time to time, as long as 
he resided on the island, added to his estate.^ He removed 
about 1 713 to Windhahi, Conn. 

The next new land owner was Ephraim Higgins, who 
came here from Rhode Island, and bought a tract of land 
March 14, 1689-90 near the ''Stone wall." It is presumed 
that he occupied and improved it, and it was held by him 
until his death, about fourteen years after.® He was probably 
a single man. 

William Homes was here at this period as a transient 

'Deeds, I, 115, 135. He was probably a carpenter, as he was employed to build 
the church at Edgartown in 1685. 
'Deeds, I, 341. 
'Deeds, i, 84. 
^Deeds, I, 107. 

*Deeds, I, 68. Richard Higgins, his "brother and sole heir," disposed of this 
property in 1714 to Benjamin Skiffe (ibid., II, 58). 

Annals of Chilmark 

resident, in the occupation of school teacher. He did not 
remain as a permanent resident, although he acquired some 
property April 3, 1690, at Squibnocket.^ 

Reverend Rodolphus (or Ralph) Thacher, who had come 
to the town in a pastoral relation to the people, became a pro- 
prietor of forty-five acres on the South road, Feb. 13, 1694, 
and built a house thereon, which he occupied with his family.^ 
This lot adjoined Benjamin Skiffe's on the east. 

Nathan Bassett came from Sandwich, on the Cape, and 
settled in town, next in order of time. His first purchase 
was thirty-five acres, July 4, 1694, the land being situated 
near Abel's hill.' 

In 1697 another permanent resident was added to the 
little settlement in the person of William Hunt from Dor- 
chester. He bought, September 9th, in that year, a tract of 
land situated near the Wequobsket cliffs, and settled there 
with his family.* 

There were several non-resident owners of property who 
bought land in town before 1700, Richard Sarson and Thomas 
Harlock of Edgartown and John Case of Tisbury, but they 
cannot be reckoned as actual settlers of Chilmark.^ 

Thus, at the close of the 17th century, about 25 years 
after John Mayhew first built himself a house at Quansoo, 
the town population compi'iscd the following heads of families : 
Experience Mayhew, John Mayhew, Pain Mayhew, Thomas 
Mayhew, James Allen, Ebenezer Allen, Nathaniel Skiffe, 
Benjamin Skiffe, Nathan Skiffe, Samuel Tilton, William Tilton, 
John Tilton, Nathan Bassett, William Hunt, and Rodolphus 
Thacher, fifteen households in all. 



^^"^ /7 Nathan Bassett was 

^-^ was a native of Cape Cod, 

born about 1666-7, and prior to his migration hither 

'Deeds, I, 175. He had been in Chilmark several years and returned to Ireland 
in 1691. 

^Deeds, I, 365. 

'Deeds, I, 67. 

*Deeds, I, 387. 

'Deeds, I, 135, 153; II, 27. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

had married Mary, daughter of John and Hope (Chip- 
man) Huckins, about 1690, at Barnstable. He came 
to Chilmark about 1694, bringing two children and 
established his residence on his purchase near Abel's 
hill. By occupation he was a blacksmith, and he carried on 
his smithing in a shop near his house. Parson Homes said 
of him, *'he was one that feared God and was peaceable 
and industrious," and this character he. maintained throughout 
his long life. His public services were of a modest nature, 
being chosen surveyor of highways in 1713, 171 8- 21, 1724-6, 
1736, and fence viewer on several occasions. He was an 
invalid for a long time, being a sufferer from palsy before 
his death, which occurred Nov. 16, 1743, in the 77th year of 
his age. His will, dated Jan. 31, 1740, in which he styles 
himself *' gentleman," was probated Nov. 29, 1743, and the 
inventory of his estate amounted to £256-18-8 as reported 
by appraisers. His wife, "a peaceable, industrious and pious 
woman," predeceased him eight days, and left a will dated 
Jan. 31, 1739-40, which was probated the same time with 
her husband's will.^ He was a public spirited man and gave 
to the town, in 1724, the site for a meeting-house. 


There is a tradition common to all the scattered des- 
cendants of this pioneer that he was "shanghaied" and brought 
to this country when 16 years of age, being taken from a fishing 
boat in the river Thames. 

As he was born in 165 1 this would make it about the year 
1667 when he landed here. The intervening time (1667- 
1675) is a blank, for being only a youth on arrival he was 
probably employed as a servant or apprentice until he reached 
his majority. It may be surmised that he lived in the vicinity 
of Salisbury or Hampton, whence came so many of the earliest 
settlers of this island and Nantucket. Where this place was 
is not known, and the first definite knowledge we have of him 
is at Tisbury some time between 1675 and 1678, when he 
came into possession of the half lot and share of Samuel Tilton, 
on the east side of Old Mill brook. This he sold in ijanuary, 
1679, to Elizabeth Norton, and the next record we have about 
him is at Nantucket. At that place his oldest child was bom 

•Dukes Probate, III, 154-163. In his will he bequeaths a silver tankard and a 
seal ring to his eldest son, Samuel. 


Annals of Chilmark 

in 1682, and there he had found his wife, Hannah, daughter 
of Edward Cottle. One account states that he was a Welch- 
man and a gardener, but the others call him a worsted 
comber, and the records describe him as a weaver. In a legal 
document he is called ''an Englishman," which may be taken 
in the restricted sense, or as an English subject. 

He returned from Nantucket about 1685 and again 
settled in Tisbury where ''he hired a farme of Simon Athearn 

for the Terme of 7 years at a place called Wampache, 

the which he quietly dwelt on 3 years of the time."* This tract 
of land was called the "Red Ground" and became the source 
of prolonged litigation between Athearn and the Praying 
Indians, who claimed it belonged to Christian town. There 
is likewise no record to show when he removed to Chilmark 
unless we accept the purchase of Oct. 3, 1711, consisting of 
twenty acres and a quarter share of common rights, as the 
date of his settlement in the town.^ This leaves thirteen 
years unaccounted for since the expii-ation of his lease from 
Athearn, and so far the gap cannot be bridged. In fact, 
his whole residence here, covering a period of perhaps forty 
years, till his death, has given us but few indications of his 
presence during that entire time. 


He was the son of Ephraim and Ebbot ( ) Hunt of 

Weymouth, born about 1655, and prior to his removal to 
Chilmark he had resided in Dorchester for a time. His 
purchase of land in 1697 is the probable date of his coming 
here, and that he was married, his wife's name being Jane, 
and brought a family with him, appears from collateral evidence. 
His life here was without incident as far as the records show 
and the only public office he held was selectman in 1705, 
which he kept one year. Homes, in his diary, makes the 
following note of his death under date of January 8, 1726-7: 
"Last night before sundown Old William Hunt departed this 
life he was a man of good age, had been long fraile. He died 
suddenly none of his family knowing when he died." His 
age was "about 73 years," according to the gravestone. He 
made his last will March 13, 1 721-2, and it was proven April 

'Deposition of John Hillman in 1698 aged 47 years (Sup. Jud. Court files, No. 
4974). The deposition means that he resided on this farm the whole time, but that 
the latter part of his occupancy was in litigation. 

'Ibid., Ill, 280. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

5, 1727. In it he bequeathed the personal property to his 
grandchildren and the residue to his son William, who was 
appointed as executor.^ His wife died some years before 
him on May 7, 1720, and some of their descendants live in 
Nova Scotia. The name is extinct in the town. 


Early in the i8th century there came to Chilmark this 
young man, son of Lieut. Isaac Little of Marshfield, born 
Dec. 15, 1674, and graduated in the class of 1695 from Harvard 
College. He had married, Dec. 5, 1698, Mary Mayhew (42) 
of Edgartown, and in May, 1 709, purchased two twenty acre 
lots in Chilmark, which is the presumed date of his settlement 
here. While a resident here he practiced law and presumably 
medicine, for his education warranted, in those days, the 
employment of his talents in all the arts and sciences.^ He 
died early, however, in 1715, leaving a widow and six minor 
children. His estate was divided in June, 1725, at which 
time his eldest son Thomas was residing in the town, succeed- 
ing to his father's professional work.^ The widow married 
Jonathan Bryant of Pembroke before 17 19, and the younger 
children became residents of Plymouth and Middleborough. 
The family became extinct here a decade before the Revolution. 


C^ Y(^nrU 6/^04/ /^Pt^ youngest son of 

\^_y'^ // Thomas and Jane 

y^ ' (Paine) Mayhew 

and was born in 1652 at Edgartown. An excellent contem- 
porary sketch of his life, written by Rev. Thomas Prince of 
Boston, is here quoted in full, as published. (Indian Converts, 
pp. 302-6). 

This Gentleman being but about five Years of Age at the Loss of 
his Father, thereby unhappily missed the Advantage of a learned Edu- 
cation; for want of which, together with his full Employment at home, 
and his not being inclined to appear abroad, he very much confined him- 
self to the Island, and was not so extensively known: and thence it is, 
there has been too little hitherto publickly said of this Gentleman, con- 

'Dukes Probate, II, 19. 

^He is called "Doctor" in the Probate Records. 

'Dukes Probate, I, 3. 


Annals of Chilmark 

sidering his great Worth and Usefulness. But I can assure my Reader 
that he fell not short either of the eminent Genius or Piety of his excellent 

He was early inclined to the Ministerial Work: and having the Benefit 
of the Grandfather's wise Instructions, and of 'his Father's Library; and 
being a Person of more than ordinary natural Parts, great Industry and 
sincere Piety, he made such a large Proficiency in the Study and KLnowl- 
edge of divine Things, that about 1673, when he was twenty one Years 
of Age, he was first called to the Ministry among the English in a new 
and small Settlement, at a Place named Tisbury, near the middle of the 
Island; where he preached to great Acceptance, not only of the People 
imder his Care, but of very able Judges that occasionally heard him. 

But he also naturally cared for the Good of the Indians, and, under- 
standing their Language well while he was a very yoimg Man, he used 
frequently to give them good instructions, and even the chief Indians 
on the Island often resorted to him for Counsel. And being arrived at 
the Age above-said, they would not be contented till he became a publick 
Preacher to them likewise: so ardent and urgent were their Desires, that 
he could not deny them, even tho his thrice honoured Grandfather was 
then a laborious and acceptable Preacher among them. 

He taught alternately in all their Assemblies a Lecture every Week, 
and assisted them in the Management of all their Ecclesiastical Affairs. 
And tho what was allowed him was very inconsiderable indeed, yet he 
went steadily on in this pious Work, and would not suffer any Affairs 
of his own to divert him from it, nor was there scarce any Weather so 
bad as to hinder him. 

And having both the English and Indians under his Care, his Dili- 
gence was now to be doubled, especially after his Grandfather's Death 
in 1681; and this much the more, by reason of certain erroneous Opinions 
in danger of taking Root in the Island. Mr. IMayhew was rightly for 
repelling them with spiritual Weapons: and being a Person of very superior 
Abilities, and Acquaintance with the Scriptures, he used to desire such 
as began to imbibe those Principles, to produce their Reasons; and those 
who wanted to be resolved in their Difficulties, to give him the advantage 
to resolve them in pubhck, that others might also receive Light and Satis- 
faction; whereby they came to be more clearly instructed, and more fully 
convinced and satisfy'd, than in the ordinary Way of Preaching, which 
yet always preceded the other. In short, he had such an excellent Talent 
for the Defence of the Truth against Gainsayers, that those who would 
have spread their Errors, foimd themselves so effectually opposed by the 
Brightness of his Knowledge and Piety, and the Strength of his argument- 
ative Genius, that they could make no Progres in their Designs on the 
Island: and the churches and People, and in them their Posterity were 
happily saved from the spreading of those erroneous Opinions, and the 
Disturbance and Troubles they would have produced among them. 

And as for the Indians, his Custom was to tarry some time with them 
after the publick Exercise was over, allowing them to put Questions to 
him for their own Instruction, and also trying their Knowledge, by putting 
Questions to them. And he was so well skilled in their Language, as to 
be able to discourse freely with them upon any kind of Subject, and to 
preach and pray in their Tongue with the greatest Readiness. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

He was a person of clear Judgement, great Prudence, and of an excel- 
lent Spirit; and the Indians very much repaired to his House for Advice 
and Instruction, and also for Relief in their Wants. And as he was fully 
persuaded, that many of them were truly religious he would sometimes 
say, "that tho he had but little Reward from Men, (having but about 
five Pounds a year for his Labours among them) yet if he might be instru- 
mental in saving any, he should be fully satisfy'd, and think himself to 
be sufificiently recompensed." But after the honourable Commissioners 
came to be acquainted with him, and the eminent Service he did, they 
raised his Salary to thirty Pounds, which was about two years before his 

He walked in his House with a perfect Heart; having his Children 
and Servants in all Subjection, they both loving and fearing him, and 
being frequently and seriously instructed and counselled by him. 

He lived and dy'd within the Bounds of Chilmark, but constantly 
preached to the English at Tisbury, for the space of fifteen Years to his 
Death, and about as long once every Week to one or other of the Indian 
Assemblies on the Island; besides abundance of Pains he took more 
privately with them. He rather made it his aim to serve his Generation 
by the Will of GOD, than to be known or observed in the World; and 
therefore went but little abroad. The whole of what was allowed him 
for his incessant Labours both among the Enghsh and Indians, put 
together, would scarce amount to ten Pounds per Annum, except the 
two last years of his Life as aforesaid; and yet he went on chearfully, 
in Hopes of a rich and joyful Harvest in Heaven. 

And having finished what GOD in his all-wise and perfect Providence 
saw meet to imploy him in, he deceased on February 3, 1688-9, about 
two in the Morning, in the 37th Year of his Age, and the i6th of his Min- 
istry; leaving the Indians in a very orderly Way of assembling on the 
Lord's Day for publick Worship in four or five several Places, and of 
hearing their several well instructed Teachers, who usually began with 
Prayer, and then after singing of a Psalm, from some Portion of Scripture 
spake to the Auditors: as also an Indian Church, of one hundred Com- 
municants, walking according to the Rule of the Scriptures. 

In his last Sickness he expressed a Desire "if it were the Divine Will, 
that he might five a while longer, to have seen his Children a little grown 
up before he died, and to have done more Service for CHRIST on the 
Earth." But with respect to his own State before GOD, he enjoyed a 
great Serenity and Calmness of Mind, having a lively Apprehension of 
the Mercy of GOD, thro' the merits of CHRIST; Far from being afraid 
to die, having Hopes, thro' Grace, of obtaining eternal Life by JESUS 
CHRIST our Lord. He counselled, exhorted and incouraged his Relatives 
and others who came to visit him: And with respect to himself, among 
other things, said, "He was persuaded that GOD would not place him 
with those after his Death, in whose Company he could take no Delight 
in his Life-time." 

His Distemper was an heavy Pain in his Stomach, Shortness of Breath, 
Faintness, etc. and continued from the End of September to the time of 
his Death. And thus expired this third Successive Indian Preacher of 
this worthy Family; after he had set another bright Example of disin- 
terested Zeal for the Glory of GOD, a lively -Faith of the invisible and 


Annals of Chilmark 

eternal World, and a generous and great Concern for the Salvation of all 
about him. 

And now I need not saj', that his loss in the Flower of his Age, and 
especially so soon after his Grandfather, was much lamjented by both 
English and Indians; and many good People yet li\ang express a very 
grateful Remembrance of him. 

He left eight children, the eldest of which was but sixteen Years of 
Age, and soon succeeded him. in the Indian Service. 


(T^oiwi ^ii^ /?:>-,:^ ^J"^"" IT"^ '"" °f l"""- 

-^ i nomas Maynew, Jr., born 

in 1650 chose this town as his home, although he resided for 
a while in Tisbury, where from 1674 to 1679 he was town 
clerk. In 1680 he purchased sixty acres of land in the new 
settlement at Chilmark, and thenceforth spent his life here 
as a resident. His birth gave him prominence through family 
influences and during all of his adult life he was an office 
holder. He was an associate justice of the King's Bench 
from 1692 to 1699 and chief justice 1699 to 1713 of the same 
court. Parson Homes, in his diary, gives us this account 
of his last days : — 

On the twenty first of July Anno 17 15 being Thursday about two 
of the clock in the morning Thomas Mayhew Esqu'r of Chilmarke de- 
parted this life he had been for several yeares troubled with the dis- 
temper called the kings evil by which he was brought neere the gates of 
Death but by some applications made to him by an Indian doctor he re- 
covered so far that he was able to rid about and look after his affairs, 
but in the latter end of the spring or begining of summer this year he 
was suddenly taken with a stopag of his urine and a violent pain in his 
right leg, after some time his left leg swelled pretty much yet the paine 
continued in the other leg, by the use of means the stopag of his mrine 
was removed, yet the other symptoms continued. After some time there 
came a doctor to the Island that thought the swelling and pain in his legs 
might be removed by bathing and sweathing, which preceded accordingly 
in some measure, but after some time the swelling proceeded upwardly 
and he was siesed with an inwerd fever and shortness of breth which 
prevaild upon him till it carried him off. His nostril and throat grew so 
sore some days before he died that he could not speak so as to be under- 
stood, he was a man of good sense considering his education and seemed 
to be piously inclined tho he did entertain some singular opinions in re- 

The nephew, Experience, has also left this brief notice 
of his uncle : — 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

He was long impowered in the Government of the Indians there, 
and was both singularly spirited & accomplished for that service: as he 
was on divers other accounts a very excellent Person/ 

He married Sarah Skiffe (5), who was born Oct. 12, 
1646, and survived her husband until Dec. 30, 1740, when 
she passed away in the 95th year of her age. 


J^ , fi * fi%, ^ H'mL. In his day and sjeneration 

JJO^CL S^^y'i'^^ Benjamin Skiffe was the most 
ch f>^ ^ ^ prominent man in Chilmark, 

' ' and held a commanding posi- 

tion in civil and military affairs throughout the county. 
Indeed, he was the leading citizen of the Vineyard, after the 
death of Matthew Mayhew. Benjamin was next to the 
youngest of the four sons of James Skiffe, Senior, who came 
to the Vineyard. He was born Nov. 5, 1655, probably in 
Sandwich, where his father resided and had been a prominent 
citizen for many years. He was a witness to a deed in Tisbury 
on Dec. 24, 1677,^ and it is probable that he had gone to 
Tisbury before that with one of his brothers, either James 
or Nathaniel, as an inmate of their homes. ^ There he first 
saw the young girl who had lately moved there from Hampton, 
and who first attracted his admiration. 

The girl, Hannah, daughter of Joseph Merry, was five 
years his junior, and on Feb. 20, 1679-80 they v/ere married. 
Where they set up housekeeping is not known, but the next 
record we find of him is a purchase of land in this town on 
Feb. 6, 1 68 1, consisting of a tract on the west side of Roaring 
brook.* The next year on July 20, 1682, he bought the land 
called "Nathaniel's Neck," but it cannot be determined whether 
either of these were used by him as a place of residence."^ 
From all evidences he still remained in Tisbury and is called 
of that town in 1681, 1682 and 1688, and on March 17, 1687, 
was chosen town clerk there. ^ He was elected county com- 

'Brief account of the State of the Indians (1720). 
^Dukes Deeds, I, 267. 

^James came to Tisbury in 1671 and Nathaniel before 1674. The younger 
brother Nathan does not appear on record till 1675. 
^Dukes Deeds, I, 233. 
'Ibid., I, 346. 
^Tisbury Records, 18. 


Annals of Chilmark 

missioner in 1686, apparently to represent Chilmark, as the 
other two were citizens of the sister townships. He continued 
to act as town clerk of Tisbury from his first election in 1687 
to 1693 inclusive, and not until 1695 is he called ''of Chil- 
mark." He was a proprietor of one share in the town, how- 
ever, in 1692/ His residence was on the east side of the 
Fulling Mill brook, not far from the site of the mill which 
stood on its banks, in sight of the South road. He bought 
one hundred acres on Feb. 13, 1694, jointly with Pain Mayhew, 
and it is supposed that it was for the purpose of carrying on 
the mill which he had erected there for fulling cloth. ^ Two 
years later he bought the mill privileges of New Mill river 
"to improve for a mill," but it is not known whether another 
one was built there by him.' 

When the great political change of jurisdiction over the 
Vineyard took place in 1692, it appears that Skiffe was one of 
those who did not like the transfer, and he took sides with the 
Mayhews in the policy of passive opposition. "Capt'n ben 
Skiffe," wrote Simon Athearn in October of that year, "have 
bene very bussie against the government from this place," 
*and as a consequence he recommended that Skiffe be super- 
seded as Captain of the military company as "the most likely 
way to bring the company to obediance."* 

But Athearn was not able to carry his point in this matter, 
and Skiffe continued to be a leader in military affairs as well 
as in civil life. He was for some time prior to 1692 Captain 
of the Foot Company of Militia of Tisbury and Chilmark 
combine;d, and is referred to as Captain Skiffe in 1693 ^^^ i^QS- 
In 1703 he appears as Major Skiffe and thereafter is known 
by that title, and late as 1709 he was in command of this 
body of troopers.^ 

The town availed itself little of his services in an official 
capacity. For three years only, 1706-7-8, he served it as 
selectman, but his time was in requisition for more important 
duties to which the whole island unanimously called him. 
In those days the three towns, as at present, sent but one repre- 

'Court Records, Vol. I. It is difficult to separate the relations of proprietors 
and residents, as there were non-resident proprietors who were entitled to hold office 
and draw lots. 

"Dukes Deeds, I, 233. 

'Ibid., I, 125. 

*Mass. Archives, CXII, 424. 

^Savage says he was employed "in an important trust" by Governor Dudley 
in 1704, but the author has no data in confirmation of it (Gen. Diet., IV, 706). 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

sentative to the General Court, and for five years, 1 707-1 711, 
1 715, and 1 71 7, he was the "member from the Vineyard."^ 
In 1 716 Edgartown voted to send him again if Chilmark would 
join, but it does not appear that this was done.^ In 1700 he 
was one of the judges of the Court of Common Pleas for this 
county, and on the death of Matthew Mayhew in 17 10, Major 
Skiffe was appointed Judge of Probate for this county in suc- 
cession and held the office until his own decease eight years 
later. It will thus be seen that this man was one of the fore- 
most men of his time, whom all were ready to honor with such 
marks of confidence and respect as was in their power to 
bestow. He seemed to have stood well with the influential 
Mayhews and thus steered clear of the difficulties into which 
his brother fell by antagonizing them. There is an entry in 
the town records of Edgartown significant of the esteem in 
which he was held by other communities. On Jan. 22, 1707-8, 
the town voted that ''Major Benjamin Skifte, Esqr. shall be 
requested by their Clerk, Thomas Trapp, to be at their next 
meeting at Edgertown to assist them in their public or common 
affairs as moderator; and do order their said clerk to request 
the same in their behalf."^ This appears to be an unusual 
and unique compliment. 

Major Skiffe, in his last illness, made his will on Feb. 15, 
1 71 7-18, and died two days later. He left a large property 
which was inventoried by the appraisers on Feb. 23, 1719, 
and returned as amounting to £2748-10-5, probably being 
the richest man in the town.* He was childless, but had 
adopted young Beriah Tilton (23), born in 1703, and to him 
he bequeathed, subject to Mrs. Skiffe's contingent interest, 
the homestead and mill adjoining. He also gave bequests 
in his will to his niece, Sarah Athearn, daughter of his brother 
Nathan, and to his brother-in-law, Thomas Pease. The 
following is an abstract of his will : — 

To Hannah my dear and loving wife my sole executrix 

all my estate to dispose of as she sees fit if she dont dispose of 

the same in her life time then my will farther is that Beriah Tilton, a lad 
that now dwells with me, shall have my housing, mill and lands adjoining 

to Sarah, wife of Solomon Athearn of Tisbury, a certain tract of 

land lying in the Town of Chilmark, near the Stone Wall pond, being 

•Chilmark Town Records, 6, 7, 8; Tisbury Records, 62. 

'Edgartown Records, II, 79. 

'Ibid., II, 90. 

^Dukes Probate, I, 65-7. 


Annals of Chilmark 

partly purchased of the Indians & part not purchased — the lands intended 
being held by me under Col. Thomas Dongan. I give her the whole 
of said tract as well the right to purchase as the already purchased. 

I give to my brother Nathan Skiffe the right of purchase or patent 
right in a certain tract of land lying at Monamesha in the town of Chil- 
mark, which patent or right of purchase I had of Major Malthew Mayhew, 

I give to Thomas Pease of Edgartov.n all the right title and interest 
which I have to any lands in Sanchacantucket Neck.' 

His widow survived him many )''ears and died Feb. 27, 
1758, at the great age of 98 years. They lie buried in the 
Chilmark burying ground on Abel's hill. She was a woman 
who partook of the distinctions accorded to her honored 
husband, and was called and known as Madame Skiffe. At 
her death she bequeathed to Beriah Tilton her "whole and 
sole personal estate" and made him executor. She had dis- 
posed of her real estate by deeds of gift and otherwise, but 
the homestead and mill remained in his possession as designed 
by her husband.^ This property descended to Beriah's son 
William and thence to his children, and was held by descendants 
till about 1897, when it was sold to George \V. Blackwell. 


This progenitor of a family, prominent in the annals 
of Chilmark for two and a half centuries, was the son of 
William Tilton of Lynn, Mass., by his second wife, Susanna. 
He was born in 1637-8, probably in that town, and at the age 
of sixteen was orphaned by the death of his father. The 
widow remarried shortly after, Roger Shaw of Hampton, N.H., 
whither the young family of Tiltons moved and resided with 
their step-father. His mother died before 1660, and the 
young man, left without either parent, learned the trade of 
carpenter, and on Dec. 17, 1662, married Hannah Moulton 
of that town.^ About 1673 he came to the Vineyard with his 
wife and three children, probably in company with Isaac 
Chase and Jacob Perkins, his Hampton neighbors. He was 
granted a lot of land in Tisbury, Feb. 5, 1674, on the east side 
of Old Mill Brook, and two years later in partnership with 

'Dukes Probate, I, 63. 
'Ibid., IV, 53. 

'Hampton Town Records. It is not known who her parents were. Two families 
of Moultons lived in Hampton at this time, headed by Robert and William, both from 
Ormsby, County Norfolk, England. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Chase and Perkins, bought one-sixth of Homes Hole neck.* 
He sold out his home lot in Tisbury before 1678, and took 
up his residence in this town about that date. By various 
purchases he acquired a large tract in the Kephigon district, 
bordering on the Sound and extending to the Middle line. 
Here he lived an uneventful life, without known public service 
for nearly sixty years. His wife died April 11, 1720, and 
he survived her eleven years. He died Nov. 29, 1731, *'in 
the 94th year of his age" and Parson Homes thus characterizes 
him: "He was a man of good understanding, was an anti- 
pedobaptist in his judgment, but pious and regular in his 
conversation. He was against swearin and usery." His will 
dated June 15, 1718, and probated March 7, 1732, disposes 
of his property, including carpenter's tools, to his sons, and 
the daughters received shares of personal and real estate.^ 



This transient resident came in the early part of the 
18th century from Sandwich. He was related by marriage 
to Nathan Bassett, being a native of Barnstable, the son of 
Elder John and Hope (Howland) Chipman. He was born 
March 3, 1669-70, and resided in Sandwich from 1691 to 171 2, 
when he removed to Chilmark and staid a couple of years. 
Returning to Sandwich, he lived there from 1714 to 1720 
and again settled here. He was a man of distinction, versed 
in legal knowledge which he exercised in a professional way, 
though calling himself a "cordwainer."^ While here he was 
local agent for the Society for Propagating the Gospel. He 
removed to Newport, R. L, about 1727, soon acquired political 
prominence and became one of the Governor's assistants. 
He died in 1756, aged 86 years. He was thrice married, 
(i) to Mary Skiffe, (2) widow Elizabeth Russell and (3) to 
a Miss Hookey of Rhode Island. 


This early settler came from Barnstable to the Vineyard 
about 1683. It is probable that he was a carpenter and 

'Tisbury Records, 7; comp., Deeds, I, 283. He was called "of Homes Hole" 
in this deed and this section was probably his actual residence from the time of his 
settlement on the Vineyard until removal to Chilmark. 

'Dukes Probate, II, 69. 

'Dukes Deeds, III, 93. 


Annals of Chilmark 

builder, as in 1685 a committee of Edgartown were empowered 
''to treat with Richard Ellingham about finishing the Meeting 
house" in that town. His residence here extended over a 
period of nine years, until 1692, when, with his wife Hannah, 
he sold his property on the Middle road and returned to 
the Cape. It is not known whether he left any descendants 
here in the female line, there being none of his own name 
after his departure. 


There were no proprietors, nor ''home lots" as in the 
other towns for the reasons already explained. Consequently 
there was no formal division of the original territory of Chil- 
mark, as occurred in Edgartown and Tisbury. The dis- 
appearance of the early proprietory records compels us to 
resort to collateral sources for information as to what was 
done in the matter of establishing a system of proprietorship. 
The land owners were actually tenants of the Lord of the 
Manor with right of purchase, not possessors in fee simple. 
In 1695, Matthew Mayhew executed a document, which is 
quoted below in part, to adjust the conditions of ownership 
in Chilmark to like circumstances in other towns on the 
island. By this document he created a proprietary of thirty 
shareholders, or owners of common land, of which number 
he retained eighteen in his own hands, or a majority of the 
shares, so that he still controlled the material interests of the 
new corporation. The deed of gift is as follows: — ^ 

Whereas Matthew Mayhew of Edgartown hath late stodd ceased of 
an estate in lands on ^Martha's Vineyard commonly called Nashowakem- 
muck or town of Chilmark, bounded on the east by a line crossing sd 
Island .... between the said Nashowakemniuck and Takenny, on 
the west by a Hne drawn from the westermost part of the lands of We- 
quobscutt now or late in the tenure and occupation of Nathaniel skiffe 
directly to the mouth of the harbor on the north side of sd Island called 
Wa-we-attake or menamesha harbor: northward by a line drawn from 
the great rock lying in sd east line and southerly by an highway between 
sd Tysbuarie and Chilmark a pond caled Nashowakemmuck pond and 
the sea or ocean; and whereas the sd Mayhew intending the settlement 
of sd land and premises & granting the same imto such parts & pro- 
portions as might entertain inhabitance sufficient for a town of at least 
thirty famihes. Hath at several times under his hand & seal given and 
granted several parts or allotments or portions or sd tract of land with 

*Dukes Deeds, Vol. i, 384. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

right in common within the commons of the same, viz. land now or late 
in the tenure of Thomas Mayhew, Esq., one ri^ht,; land &c of James 
Allen Esq. three & ^ rights; land &c of Samuel Tilton, one right,; land 
&C of Pain jMayhew; son of sd Matthew Mayhew one right; Capt Ben- 
jamin Skiff e one right; land &c of Nathanel Skiffe one right, land &c of 
Nathan Skiffe one right; land &c of Nathan Bassett one half common or 
right; and to Thomas son of sd Matthew one right; Mr. Ralph Thacther 
one right; And whereas it may happen that question and debate might 
hereafter arise of the true intent and meaning of libertie in common to be 
holden by the several grants by him the sd Matthew Mayhew granted and 

Know ye that Hee the sd Matthew Mayhew doth by these presents 
declare grant and promise that every right in common by the sd Matthew 
Mayhew granted doth and shall be construed, deemed and taken to intend 
to contain one thirtyieth part in common of and in all and evrie the lands 
within the afore mentioned bounds and limits of Nashowakemmuck or 
town of Chilmark. 

The number of shares was thirty, and as far as informa- 
• tion is available on this point, there was no change in this 
common denominator.^ The lots in this division were 
about thirteen acres each. 

Some time before 1704 a division known as "Woodland 
Lots," of about fifteen acres each, situated along the Middle 
line, were divided to the proprietors. 

About 1714 the "Second Division" of common land 
was made and before 171 7 another division, designated as 
"Hill Lots" on the west side of New Mill river.' 


Owing to its peculiar legal status Chilmark had no cor- 
porate existence as a township for many years. In a law of 
1697 it is called the "Town of Chilmark," but this was an error, 
due to lack of information on the subject on the part of the 
General Court. ^ Still the inhabitants, as -early as 1696, were 
organized into a body politic and had chosen selectmen for 
that year.* This situation lasted until 1714, when a petition 
was presented to the General Court for incorporation. The 
town records of Chilmark have no reference to the subject, 
and the following entry from the state archives is our only 
knowledge of the fact : — 

'Dukes Deeds, III, 64, but compare III, 320, where a "five and twentieth" share 
was sold in 17 17. 

^Ibid., Ill, 319. 

^Acts and Resolves of Mass., VII, 118. 

■•Edgartown Records, I, 38. The Chilmark. Town Records record the acts of the 
inhabitants as of a "town meeting." 


Annals of Chilmark 

30 October 17 14 
Upon Reading a Petition of Experience Mayhew, Agent for the 
Manour of Tisbury, otherwise called Chilmark, Praying that the said 
Manour of Tisbury, alias Chilmark, and all the Lands belonging thereto 
in Marthas Vineyard, and all other Lands Westward of the Township 
of Tisbury on said Island (Gay Head excepted), with an Island called 
No Mans Land, may be made a Town or Township, by the name of 
Chilmark with the Powers and Privileges to a Town or Right appertaining 
and belonging: 

ORDERED that the Mannor of Tisbury, commonly called Chilmark, 
have all the Powers of a Town given and granted them, for the better 
Management of their publick affairs. Laying and Collecting of Taxes 
granted to his Majesty for the Support of the Government, Town charges 
and other affairs whatsoever, as other Towns in the Province do by Law 

At the town meeting held Oct. 25, 1716, Captain Zachariah 
Mayhew was chosen as agent of Chilmark "to present petision 
to the' general Court for the inlargment of sd town," but it 
does not appear what extension of powers or limits was desired, 
unless it related to the addition of Nomans Land to the 
jurisdiction of Chilmark, as seems probable. It will be 
explained in the section which deals with that island. 

TOWN ANNALS, 1717-1742. 

A chronicle of the happenings in this small community 
for a quarter of a century in provincial times, may afford us 
an insight into the life of the people at that period. Such a 
glimpse is obtained in the diary of the Rev. William Homes, 
and the following extracts from it cover the twenty-five years, 
1 71 7 to 1742, and include the things good and bad that befell 
them: — 

February the 18 (1716-17). A violent storm of snow and Sleet is 
described, lasting several days, during which "many sheep were burryed 
under the snow." 

March 22, 171 6- 17. I found some sheep that had been hurried 
under the snow that fell Feb 21 one of wch was still aUve. She was taken 
out the 23d of March alive and continued to live for several days; she 
had continued under the snow without any food about 31 days. 

August 15. 1718. * * * This day about two of the clock after 
noon several children particularly Ben: Ward and Thomas Allen having 
got a shot gun and some powder v/ere diverting themselves near John 

'Records, General Court, IX, 428. It will thus be apparent that the date of 
incorporation shown on the town seal as Sept. 14, 1694 is an obvious error. The 
"Vital Records of Chilmark," published 1904 by the N. E. Historic Genealogical 
Society, contain the statement that Chilmark "was established September 14, 1694, 
from common land." The source of this statement is not known, but it is incorrect. 


History of Martha*s Vineyard 

Allen's barn, where were a considerable quantity of English grain and 
hay, some in the barn, and some near it in stacks. Ben: Ward having 
a brand of fire in his hand, seeing his uncle Captn Mayhew riding by to 
sermon, threw the brand out of his hands, that his uncle might not see 
it. It chanced to fall near some English grain, which presently took 
fire, and consumed the barn and all the English grain to ashes in a very 
short time. All or most of the men in town presently came with an intent 
to extinguish the flames, but they did not effect anything. 

8ber 19. 17 18. On Monday last the house of Mr Zephaniah Mayhew 
was burnt to the ground by an accidental fire and much of his household 
stuff and wearing clothes were consumed in the flames. On Thursday 
James McLelland came here to look after his sons effects and went last 
week to Nantucket on that designe 

Dec. 16. 1718. This evening about 8 of the clock. Capt Zaccheus 
Mayhew his barn catched fire. How is not certainly known, and burned 
down to the ground, together with all his hay, except one load. 

Jany. 10 1719-20. The week past hath been very cold especially 
Thursday last. Mr Bryce Blair by a fall yesterday in the evening broke 
his left arm above the elbow. 

yber 4. 1720. * * * Our house was raised on Tuesday of this 
week being the 6th day. 

Xber 25. 1720. * * Our people here, some of them, brought a 
drift whale ashore at Sqiubnocket on friday and cut her up on Saturday. 

July 12. 1724. * * * On friday last we raised our new meeting 
house. Gershom Cathcart, a young man belonging to New town fell 
from the third story, and was very much bruised. His recovery is un- 
certain [his] reason seems not to be impaired by his fall. Lord make 
the providence a wakening to others! 

August 23. 1724. * * * I took occasion to reprove some young 
folk publickly for their irreverent and profane deportment in the time of 
Gods publick worship 

8her 25. 1724. * * * I am informed that 7 Indians belonging to 
Gay Head coming from Rhod Island home in a whale boat were all lost, 
as is generally thought. It is said they were in drink when they went on 

Jan: 10. 1724-25. * * * Last Monday son Allen carryed two 
men prisoners to Boston, viz: Capt Lane and Mr McGowan: 

Xber 5. 1725. * * * Last week a sloop came ashore on the south 
side of the island, the men and cargo were saved, the master having been 
long sick died Friday night last and was buryed this day. His name was 
Cash, the sloop belonged to Rhod Island. 

March 13. 1725-26. * * * The snow which has continued for 
most part since some time in November is now almost gone. 

August 27. 1727. We had an account last week that King George 
died June nth last past in Germany on his journey to Hanover, and that 
his son the prince of Wales was proclaimed King under the title of George 2. 

9ber 5. 1727. Last Lords day, in the afternoon, about 11 of the 
clock we had a shock of an earthquake, that continued above a minute: 
it was considerably great, but seemed to be greater in some places than 
others, whether it hath been felt all the country over or not I have not 
yet heard. 


Annals of Chilmark 

pber 12. 1727. I understand that the earthquake was much more 
severe easterly than in these parts. 

Xber 31. 1727. We had a public fast on Wednesday last on account 
of the earthquake. 

July 7. 1728. We appointed Wednesday last to be observed as a 
publick fast, but we had a plentiful rain on Tuesday, which occasioned 
our changing the fast into a thanksgiving. 

June 8. 1729. I baptized a negro of Captn Mayhew called Ceasar 
this day. 

July 9 [1737] and the night after it, we had excessive rains which 
raised the rivers upon this island to such a degree that the dams of the 
water mills were carryed away by them, and the mowing grovmd near 
the rivers was very much damnified, to the great loss of several of the 

August II, 1737. The sky towards the N. and N.W. appeared with 
an unusual redness, which continued for some time extending itself more 
and more easterly. About 11 the red was mixed with white streaks that 
were very luminous, being broad below and gradual growing narrower 
till they ended in a point. About midnight there appeared a bow reaching 
from east to west in the form of a rainbow, only there was no diversity 
of colors, the whole bow was luminous so that the air was lighter than it 
is at full moon, tho, it was 2 or 3 days before the change [of] the moon. 
It did rather resemble day light before the sun rises than moonlight. 

Xber 7, 1737. About 10 at night there was felt by several persons 
on the island, Martha's Vineyard, the shock of an earthquake. 

November 21. 1738. There came a ship ashore on the South side 
of this island, belonging to New York. She came last from Jamaica: 
the lading and mens lives were saved, but it is supposed the ship cannot 
be got o£f again. 

The first that was seized with that called the throat distemper in this 
town was Susan Allen; the next was Abigail Hillman, both these died. 
The next Katharine Smith, she also died. Next Mrs Little, she is in a 
fair way of recovery. Next Sam: Bassett's daughter, she also is in a hope- 
ful way: next Bethia Clark and my grand daughter Mary Allen 

7ber 17. 1740. Was observed through the island as a day of fasting 
and prayer to beg mercy of God that the distemper that has prevailed among 

us for some time might be removed and health restored A child 

of Zach: Hatch died of the throat distemper this night. 

7ber 6, 1741. We had this summer a drought that hurt both the 
grass and the Indian corn very much. This was accompanied with an 
unusual number of grasshoppers that devoured both grass and corn. 

gber 12. 1741. We had a general Thanksgiving appointed by our 
Governour, William Shirley Esqr. 

Oct. 19. 1724. About three afternoon the chimney in the room where 
I commonly stay catched fire, and being very foul, burned very fiercely, 
which put the whole house in no small danger. It continued to burn till 
within the night. It was a day time and the wind very high, yet through 
the mercy of God we received no great damage, only the mantle tree 
catched fire and is part damnified. Several of our neighbors came to our 
assistance seasonably. I desire to bless God for our preservation. 

• 45 

History of Martha's Vineyard 




Annals of Chilmark 



The beginnings of the church history in this town date 
from the coming of John Mayhew, who settled here about 
1673 and estabhshed himself in the work of a missionary to 
the English and natives. His connection with this special 
field of labor has already been detailed (I, 247-9) and it will 
only be necessary to say that the people in this town, because 
of the fewness in numbers, formed a union with those of 
Tisbury under the pastorship of John Mayhew. This 
combination existed until his death in 1689 when, as his 
gravestone states, he was ''Minister of the Gospell to the 
Inhabitants of Tisbury & Chilmark united." The language 
makes it clear that there was no organized church at that 
date, although it is quite certain that a meeting house had 
been built for their accommodation in this town,^ When it 
was erected cannot now be determined, though we know 
that it was located on Abel's hill, probably in or adjoining the 
old cemetery inclosure. 


When the successor of Mayhew came is not known. 
The loss of the church records, prior to 1787, makes much 
of our present knowledge fragmentary, as obtained from 
many scattered sources. In a docum.ent dated Feb. 13, 1694, 
Mr. Ralph or Rodolphus Thacher was spoken of as "now 
minister of the Gospell at the Town of Chilmark," and this 
probably affords us a close intimation of the time of his coming 
hither. He was a native of Duxbury, born about 1647, the 
son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Partridge) Thacher, and 
named for his maternal grandfather, the Rev. Ralph Part- 
ridge of Duxbury. He was not a college graduate, and prior 
to his pastorate here had lived in his native town, where he 
served as constable and town clerk. He had married Ruth 
Partridge of Duxbury in 1669 and was the father of nine 
children, all of whom, with the possible exception of the 
oldest son, who was of age, he brought with him to Chilmark.^ 
There is no record of his ordination, and as he was not bred 
to the ministry, his work here partook of an irregular mission- 

'This is proven by a reference in Tisbury Records, June 12, 1701, to "the 
meeting house in Chilmark" then existing. (I, 40) 

'Savage, Gen. Dictionary, IV, 272; Mather, " Hecatompolis (Magnalia)," I, 27; 
Gen. Reg., XI, 242; Winsor, Duxbury, 178, 325. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

ary character. He lived on the South road, and both he and 
his son of the same name acquired considerable property 
here.* In 1714, when Judge Sewall visited Chilmark, Parson 
Thacher and his son called to "Welcom me to the Island," as 
the diarist records it.^ At this time he had been in continuous 
pastoral work here for over twenty years, of which no memorials 
remain. He was then nearly three score and ten and early 
in the year he had severed his connection with the church 
and removed to Lebanon, Conn., whither some of his children 
had already gone.^ During the last years of his pastorate 
a middle-aged Scotch-Irish clergyman had come to Chilmark 
and was engaged in teaching the town school, and when the 
aged minister departed this younger man was selected to take 
the vacant pulpit. 


William Homes was born, probably 
in Ireland, in the year 1663. He first 
^ . came to America in the year 1686, 
Trj^ when he was twenty-two years old. 
'^^ There is no known record of the fact, 

whether he came from Ireland at that time, or from Scotland, 
though the former has usually been assumed. It was about 
the period of his first coming over that both Scotch and Scotch- 
Irish commenced emigrating to America to escape the per- 
secution of the Stuarts and the Prelacy. After his arrival he 
was engaged as a teacher at Chilmark, and the people con- 
tinued to employ him as a teacher to their children for several 
years, when he returned again to Ireland in July, 1691. He 
presented " satisfactory testimonials " to the Presbytery of 
Laggan, and after preaching a "tryall" sermon was given a 
temporary license to supply vacant pulpits. He was ordained 
Dec. 21, 1692, at Strabane, a borough town twelve miles south- 
west of Londonderry, Ireland, by the Presbytery of Laggan, 
and was settled as pastor of the Scotch Presbyterian parish 
there. He was often chosen moderator of the Provincial 
Synod. While there he married, Sept. 26, 1693, Katharine, 
daughter of Rev. Robert Craighead, who had been minister 

'Dukes Deeds, I, 365. He sold his residence to his successor, Rev. William 
Homes, (ibid., Ill, 102). * 

'Diary, II, 432. 

'He witnessed a deed here in September, 1714, and in April, 1715, he calls him- 
self of Lebanon. 


Annals of Chilmark 

of Donoughmore in Donegal, and who was translated to 
Derry in the beginning of the year 1690, and continued there 
until his death, Aug. 22, 1711. In the adjoining parish of 
Urney another William Holmes was ordained in 1696, and 
this led to a confusion of identity. To distinguish him from 
his namesake, our subject was called "William Homes, the 

In 1 7 14 he came again to America and revisited Martha's 
Vineyard, at the age of 50." The people of Chilmark re- 
membered the young man who had previously taught among 
them, with satisfaction, and invited him to become their pastor. 
There remains no record in possession of the church or 
town to give us any details of his agreement with the people. 
A note in his diary is our only knowledge of the beginning 
of his pastorate. He wrote: — 

On the fifteenth of 7ber [1715] I was installed in the pastorate office 
in the congregation of Chilmark there were then but two members of that 
church that wer men, viz Nathan Skiffe and Benjamin Mayhew that day 
Mr Experience Mayhew who was formerly a member of the Indian church 
upon this Island having obtained his dismission from thence was joyned 
to this church. On the second of October Mr Nathan Basset & Mr 
Ja: Allen were added to the church here and were both baptized that day.^ 

It is not known whether there was a formal service of 
laying on of hands with other symbolic ritual of the Puritan 
church, but it seems from all circumstances that such was not 
the case. Mr Homes was a Presbyterian by birth and edu- 
cation. His salary was ;^6o at first, and in 1723 the sum of 
£80 was raised for the ministry. 


In September, 1723, a town meeting was called "for the 
ordering the building of a publique meeting house" and as 
a result of their deliberations the following vote was passed: — 

Voted by the major part of the meetors present that their be a house built 
att the charge of s'd town for the End and use afores'd anc' that the s'd 
house be of the Dementions following (viz) forty feet in Length and 35 
feet in breadth and 20 feet between Joynts, or any other Dementions 

'Our William Homes has been credited with graduation from Edinburgh Univer- 
sity in 1693, but the author is of the opinion that the degree belongs to the other 
William Holmes. It is unlikely that our subject was a student at Edinburgh after 
he had been ordained as a minister. 

'When Judge Sewall visited the island in April, 17 14 he notes in his diary that 
"Mr. Homes who boards at Mr. Allen's to teach school" dined with him. 

^The use of the term "installed" indicates that having been previously ordained 
in Ireland, a settlement as pastor only was necessary. 



History of Martha's Vineyard 

that may be thought more Convenant by such agents as Shall be Chosen 
by the town to manage the affaires; provided it amounts to so much and 
no rnore Square roome in the whole as above expressed: and that the s'd 
house be finished att or before the first Day of November in the year 1724: 
and that the agents to manage the afair to procure the s'd house to be 
built be Pain Mayhew and Zacheus Mayhew Esqrs and Shubal Smith 
To hire a carpenter and other workmen to build the above house, and 
that the method of finishing the s'd house be whooly Left to the*Decretion 

of the s'd agents 

Voted att the meeting above that the meeting house Shall set on the hill 
neare the old or present meeting house in s'd town by the County Roade.' 

The site for this new building was given July 10, 1724, 
by Nathan Bassetf ''for the Incouragement of the Publick 
Worship of God."^ 

The frame was raised in July, 1724, and the senior member 
of the building committee makes the following entries in his 
account book of his expenditures at this function : — 

To wheate 0-12-0 

to flower I- i-o 

to buter i- 0-6 

to shuger 1-13-0 

Spice o- 2-0 

Nutmegs o- 2-6 

Bear 1-15-0 

Rum gall'ns loj 6-06-0 

Bred 0-06-0 ' 

The ingredients provided by the committee indicate that 
they had an ample quantity of rum punch, beer and cakes, 
with an unnecessary amount of bread. 

The building was completed in the fall of that year, and 
a committee of Edgartown and Tisbury men were chosen to 
attend to the troublesome question of allotting pews and pew 
room to the worshippers.* The three arbitrators or "any 
two of them agreeing" were empowered to "Determine who 
of sd Inhabitance shall have Roome in sd house for the buld- 

'Town Records, I, 32. The old meeting-house was sold after the completion 
of the new building. 

^Dukes Deeds, V, 22. 

^Pain Mayhew's Commonplace Book (1724). Parson Homes also makes the 
following reference to the raising in his Diary: "July 12. 1724. * * * On friday 
last we raised our new meeting house. Gershom Cathcart, a young man belonging 
to New town fell from the third story, and was very much bruised. His recovery 
is uncertain [his] reason seems not to be impaired by his fall. Lord make the provi- 
dence a wakening to others!" It may be stated that young Cathcart recovered and 
survived to a ripe old age. 

*The committee consisted of Enoch Coffin and John Norton of Edgartown and 
Experience Luce of Tisbury (Town Records, I, 40). 


Annals of Chilmark 

ing of pews, who the first Choice and so on to the Last." 
The number of pews on the main floor was twelve, and four 
in the front gallery, and the persons given permission to build 
were required to have them ''bult Workman Like," within 
a year or "Loose his privilege." The entire cost of the new 
meeting-house was ;£448, exclusive of the pews. 

Following the completion of the church the town made 
in 1728 a permanent increase in the salary of Mr. Homes 
to ;/^8o yearly, and for the next eighteen years the story of 
his pastorate is without special interest. He discharged the 
duties of a village parson faithfully altogether for thirty-one 
years, and acquired here and elsewhere a high repute for his 
piety, humility and learning. He was the author of five 
printed volumes, dealing with theological subjects, three of 
them published during his life. The earliest, "A Discourse 
concerning the Public Reading of the Scriptures by the Lord's 
People in their Religious Assemblies" (1720), had an extensive 
circulation. His sectarian affiliations with the Presbyterian 
order prevented his recognition by the Congregational body 
by which he was surrounded, and having no college associ- 
ations here, his isolation was further increased beyond what 
would naturally follow work on a secluded island. 

He became too feeble to preach regularly in 1744, and 
died June 17, 1746, at the age of 83, and lies buried in the 
cemetery on Abel's hill. 

In the library of the Maine Historical Society there is a 
manuscript volume of 96 pp., of the size known as quarto, 
bound in contemporary leather and containing the notes of 
births, marriages, deaths, and important events occurring 
within the personal knowledge of the diarist. It is closely 
written from cover to cover, even the fly leaves and insides 
of the covers being utilized by the original owner or its sub- 
sequent possessors. It is the diary or note book of the Chil- 
mark pastor, begun in 1689 and continued to 1746. The author 
of this history copied the historical and genealogical entries 
found therein and published them in 1895-6.^ 

The greater portion of the diary is made up of weekly 
entries dated "Lord's day," detailing his texts and sermon, of 
which the following is a sample of the whole : — 

xber 7 1 7 18 being Lords day I preached before noon from i pet 24 
to whom coming as unto a living stone and after sermon administered 

'See N. E. Genealogical Register, Vols. XLVIII and XLIX. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

the sacrament of the Lords supper afternoon I preached from Col: i. 13. 
Who hath dehvered us from the power of darkness in all which I hope 
I was assisted the Lord follow my poor labours with a rich blessing to 
edification and salvation of souls. 

These weekly entries are usually followed by some note 
of a death, "remarkable providence," birth, baptism, ad- 
mission to church membership, state of weather or such 
kindred items. The first few leaves of the book contain his 
family record, sons, daughters and grandchildren, with a list 
of marriages and deaths in the town of Chilmark during his 

Mrs. Katherine Homes survived her husband several 
years and died in 1754, aged 82 years. She is buried by his 


During the last month of the incapacity of Mr. Homes 
his pulpit was occupied by temporary supplies, Bellamy 
Bosworth, Richard Pateshall and Andrew Boardman. The 
church and town extended a call to the last named to become 
their pastor, at a salary of ;^2oo old tenor. He accepted in 
April, 1 746, and was ordained in September following. Andrew 
Boardman was born in Cambridge, Mass., Feb. 20, 1 720-1, 
the son of Moses and Abigail (Hastings) Boardman of that 
town, and was graduated in the class of 1737 from Harvard 
College. He was unmarried when he came, but a year after 
he took to himself Catherine Allen (41) of Chilmark, to wife, 
and thus identified himself with the people among whom he 
ministered. His pastorate was uneventful as far as we can 
gather from the records of the town, although he suffered 
the usual difficulties of his colleagues at that period, from 
the fluctuations of value in the currencies of the Province, 
and a final settlement with his heirs was not effected till ten 
years after his death. He had served the town over thirty 
years when he was stricken with small pox and died there- 
from Nov. 19, 1776, in the 57th year of his age. He left a 
widow and nine children. She married a second husband, 
in 1780, Shubael Cottle (53), and died in 1802, aged 75 years. 

|This diary became the inheritance of his daughter Hannah, who never married, 
and in her old age she went to live with Deacon James Allen, her nephew. She died 
in 1790, aged 94 years. Zebulon Allen, son of James, carried the diary to Maine 
in 1818 and dying in 1837, it was presented to the Historical Society by his heirs. It 
should be placed in some suitable depositary on the Vineyard, as it relates wholly 
to Island matters for a period exceeding half a century. 


Annals of Chilmark 


The successor to the deceased minister was not found 
for several years. Rev. Timothy Fuller began to preach in 
March, 1778, and under a temporary arrangement continued 
to fill the pulpit for over three years, but notwithstanding 
several committees were chosen to "treat" with him, nothing 
was accomplished. It was a time of unrest, socially and finan- 
cially, and doubtless the town was unable to meet his require- 
ments and settle the unpaid salary of their late minister.^ 
Timothy Fuller' was born May 30, 1739, the son of Jacob 
Fuller of Middleton, Mass., and was graduated in the class 
of 1760 from Harvard College. Before preaching here he 
was settled in Princeton, Mass., 1 760-1 776, and came here 
as a married man with a family. He left Chilmark about 
1782 and finally settled in Merrimac, N. H., where he died 
in 1805, aged 69 years. After his departure the church and 
town extended a call, in 1783, to Rev. Asa Piper, but he did 
not accept.^ 


The meeting-house built in 1724 was now about sixty 
years old, undoubtedly out of repair, and owing to the growth 
of the town, somewhat inconveniently located. In April, 
1782, it was voted to remove the old building to a place which 
would better accommodate the people, and a committee of nine 
were selected to accomplish this delicate task.^ It is evident 
that they failed, for in March, 1783, the town selected Stephen 
Luce and Ezra Athearn of Tisbury and Malatiah Davis of 
Edgartown ''to view the town and Pick upon some convenient 
spot or place to set the meeting house upon."* This com- 
mittee promptly reported a site, but when the town voted 
on the report, "it went in the negative."^ For a year and a 
half the matter rested, until on Sept. 21, 1784, the town voted 
to move the meeting-house "to a knole in Prince Look's 
land," and appointed a committee to buy the necessary land.^ 
Again nothing was done for another year, when in November, 

*In 1 781 the town appointed a committee to "set Price on the Pork & Corn that 
was paid the Rev. Timothy Fuller Last year." 
'Town Records, I, 199. 
^Ibid., I, 188. 
^Ibid., I, 192. 
"Ibid., I, 192. 
«Ibid., I, 197. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

1785, the town voted to build a new meeting-house "on Abels 
hill near Abel Abels house where the commity here to fore 
Pointed out as the most convenient spot."' The usual com- 
mittees were appointed to carry out this design, but in the next 
month another town meeting upset this arrangement and 
voted that "the meeting house be Repared as it now stands."^ 
This comedy of cross purposes, which had been enacted for 
nearly four years, was continued for a while longer. In 
January, 1786, a committee was chosen to find the center of 
the town, and they reported that it was "forty Rods east from 
a stile in William Stewarts fence in the division between his 
two east Plases and 20 Rods southly."^ The townsmen then 
voted to "remove the old meeting house to the hill near Abels 
here to fore chosen and Rebuild the same;" to purchase "half 
one acre of land of William Stewart about twelve Rods North 
from the Gate near Abel Abels" and selected a committee 
"to Draw a Plan of the new meeting house and a Plan how 
to Proceed in building the same." The committee advised 
the expenditure of ;^3oo in tearing down the old structure 
and utilizing the available material in rebuilding on the new 
site. This was the final settlement of the question of a site, 
which was on the cross road that leads from the old Warren 
Tilton house on the South road to the Middle road, on a 
hill near the latter highway. The work of construction was 
similarly juggled at various town meetings during the building 
operation, and it is impossible to tell anything positive about 
its dimensions or architecture. A traveler in 1807 says of 
it: "Chilmark meeting house is without spire and in all 
respects humble in exterior appearance."* It had a porch 
entrance carrying stairs to the gallery, and interiorly the 
gallery extended on three sides. The congregation, in high 
back box pews, received the solemn warnings of the preachers 
perched in a lofty pulpit, surmounted by a great sounding 
board. It was austere in appearance both inside and outside. 


During the four or five years of wrangling about rebuild- 
ing the meeting-house the town was without any regular 
ministrations. The old building was in a discreditable con- 

*Town Records, I, 205. 


^Ibid., I, 206. 

^Kendall, Travels, II, 184. 


Annals of Chilmark 

dition. In 1785 the town voted "to Board up the windows 

and other Parts of the House that is necessary," and 

we may conclude that the cause of religion was at low ebb. 
In 1787 the town finally secured a candidate for the vacant 
pulpit in the person of Jonathan Smith. He was a native 
of Hadley, Mass., born Jan. 28, 1748, and was graduated 
in the class of 1768 from Harvard College. It is presumed 
that he was a bachelor of about forty when he came here, 
as he married two years later, in 1789, Anna Williams of Sand- 
wich, Mass. In August, 1787, the church extended a call to 
him to become the pastor, and the town at once concurred, 
offering him ;^iio as an annual stipend. He accepted under 
date of Dec. ist following, and the town voted at once "to 
support and strengthen the Gallerys for the ordination" and 
to reserve the "two front gallerys and the womens four long 
Gallerys for the Singers" at the ordination services."^ Com- 
mittees were appointed to entertain "the councell" and the 
long religious drouth was to be broken in a series of ecclesi- 
astical festivities, with a new minister in a new meeting house. 

Rev. Jonathan Smith was ordained to the pastoral care 
of the church of Christ in Chilmark, on the twenty-third day 
of January, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight. 

The following named persons belonged to the church 
at the time of the ordination : — ^ 

Mr. Zachariah Mayhevv & Elizabeth his wife Mercy, wife to Seth Mayhew 

Matthew Mayhew Esq. Hannah, wife to Elijah Smith 

Dea. James Allen & Martha his wife Mary, wife to John Allen, Esq. 

John Bassett & Jane his wife Zerviah, wife to Ezra Hilman 

John Cottle & Zerviah his wife Ruth, wife to Timothy Mayhew 

John Mayhew Elizabeth, wife to Josiah Tilton 

Jeremiah Mayhew & Fear his wife Widow Rebecca Norton 

Robert Allen & Desire his wife Widow Elizabeth Butler 

WilHam Steward & Deborah his wife Widow Peggy Mayhew 

Nathan Mayhew & Abigail his wife Mehitable Mayhew 

Hannah Homes Mary Hunt 

Widow Anna Allen Margaret Allen 

Widow Deborah Allen ' Hannah Wyer 

Widow Remember Skiff Catherine Boardman 

Widow Mary Tilton Eleanor Mayhew 

'His acceptance is spread upon the town records (I, 218). In it he says: "As 
my Residence with you will separate me at a great Distance from many of my ac- 
quaintance you will cheerfully from time to time indulge sufficient opportunity to 
visit my friends & near connections." 

'Chilmark Church Records. The entry above quoted begun the present oldest 
book of records of the Congregational church. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Widow Mary Tilton Jerusha Mayhew 

Zilphah, wife to Joseph Tilton Bethia Mayhew 

Beiilah, wife to Samuel Tilton Ruhamah Tilton 

Abigail, wife to Reuben Tilton Widow Thankful Pitts 
Rebecca, wife to Stephen Tilton 

The pastorate begun so auspiciously, became the longest 
in the history of the church. He survived the widespread 
controversy over the ministerial taxes, which caused so much 
trouble in other towns, ^ and passed safely through the early 
opposition of the newly imported religions, the Methodist and 
Baptist. For forty years he remained as the beloved pastor 
of this flock, until Sept. 4, 1827, when fourscore years of age, 
he ''was dismissed by his desire on account of ill health." 
His wife had died in 1807, and lies buried in the old cemetery, 
and after his work was ended here, he returned to his native 
place in 1827 to spend the few declining days left to him. 
He died April 14, 1829, aged 81 years. 


With the advent of a new pastor in 1841 the usual zeal to 
build a new house of worship, or repair the old, overtook the 
members of this parish. The existing building was about fifty- 
four years old, had suffered much from disuse and lack of care, 
and it was considered wiser to erect a new meeting-house 
rather than patch the old timbers. Accordingly a new build- 
ing was erected about twenty rods to the southward of the old 
house, and was completed early in 1842 and dedicated Feb- 
ruary 2nd that year with appropriate ceremonies. The old 
structure was torn down, the lumber parcelled out in lots and 
sold at public auction. This was the last meeting-house 
erected by this denomination, and served the gradually de- 
creasing remnant of its former numerical strength until about 
1875 when it was torn down, and the last relic of the historic 
church of Chilmark went down into oblivion. 


The loss or destruction of the records of this church has 
rendered an accurate and complete account of it a matter of 
difficulty, and much that might be definitely stated can only 

*In 1801 the town chose an agent to represent it at the Court of Sessions, !'with 
regard to Benjamin Bassett Esquires Ministerial tax" (I, 256). In 1805 this tax 
for 1801 and 1802 was remitted to him (I, 308). 


Annals of Chilmark 

be given approximately now/ The church organization was 
officially known as the Congregational Union Society and was 
in affiliation with that religious body which had a general or 
parent association in New England.^ This general association 
has no records of the Chilmark church in its published reports 
until 1837, when it is marked '* Vacant." It may be fair to 
conclude that it had remained so since the death of Rev. 
Jonathan Smith. It was without a pastor until 1841, when 
Rev. Luke A. Spofford was employed as "stated supply." 
In the year following, on Feb. 2, 1842, he was regularly in- 
stalled as pastor. The installation sermon was preached by 
Rev. Mr. Hooker of Falmouth; the charge was given by Rev. 
Ebenezer Chase of West Tisbury, and the right hand of fellow- 
ship by Rev. Allen Gannett of Edgartown.^ Mr. Spofford 
remained five years (i 841 -1845) ^^d from his departure until 
1850 the pulpit was vacant, except for temporary services held 
as clergymen could be obtained.^ Silas S. Hyde was "stated 
supply" in 1846, and in 1850-1 Elijah Demond held the same 
status. Nathaniel Cobb, an eccentric individual, preached 
here regularly in 1852 and 1853 and occasionally in the next 
year. Thomas W. Duncan followed as "stated supply" in 
1856-9, and after his departure the pulpit was vacant for the 
next ten years (1860-9). Elijah Demond returned as acting 
pastor for two years following (18 70-1) when it again became 
vacant. William H. Sturtevant was acting pastor 1875-6-7; 
the last of the clergymen who had official connection with this 
religious society. 

The Congregational church died a natural death about 
this date — perhaps it was really defunct before the official 
records indicate. The. old building was difficult of access and 
the younger element were attracted to the newer religious 
doctrines taught by the Methodists. In its latter days the 
attendance on the Sunday services was principally of the aged, 
and when they died there was none left to sustain a regular 

* The late William Norton of Menemsha was the last clerk and custodian of, the 
Church records. After his death no further trace of the books can be found and 
from all circumstances it is believed they were destroyed. 

* Tisbury Town Records, 367-8, 373. A number of residents of Tisbury were 
members of this Society in 1815. 

^Autobiography of John Adams, 404. 

^Rev. Richard Cecil Spofford, his son, died in this town May 25, 1843, of 
consumption and is buried at Abel's Hill. A daughter also died in the following 
July and these sad events doubtless caused his departure from the town. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 


The act incorporating the First Baptist Society of Tis- 
bury in 1803 specifies a number of the incorporators as resi- 
dents of Chilmark, and it is possible to enumerate from the 
list those persons who belonged in this town. From it the 
following names are taken: Ezra Allen, Joseph Allen, Lot 
Cottle, Theophilus Mayhew, Jonathan Tilton. There may 
have been others who identified themselves with the Tisbury 
church in later years, but there are no records to throw light 
on the matter. It is not believed that any independent organ- 
ization was ever formed in this town. 


The first itinerant preacher of this sect to penetrate the 
Vineyard as far as Chilmark, was the Rev. Joshua Hall, in 
1797-8, when he was stationed at Homes Hole, to which this 
town was connected under the existing system of supervision. 
He organized a small "class" at that time, but ten years later 
(1807) there were reported to be only four Methodists in the 
town.* In 1 8 10 the "class" was revived, being reinforced 
by Shadrach Robinson, who had removed hither from Naushon 
and whose house became a home for the preachers and a place 
for their meetings. Another of the early and prominent 
Methodists in this town was Captain Francis Tilton (296), 
and after his sudden death, following a return from a long 
voyage in 1828, his widow continued to receive in her house 
the faithful of this small flock for "class" and prayer meet- 
ings.^ In 1827 the old Methodist meeting-house in Edgar- 
town was purchased, moved up here in sections and recon- 
structed on a site on the Middle road, opposite to the present 
meeting-house. The growth of the congregation was now 
steady and increasing, until in 1833 it was separated from the 
parent organization at Homes Hole and set out upon an 
independent career. Philip Crandon was the first preacher 
assigned to the new station, and following him in order came 
James Bicknell, 1835; Elijah Willard, 1836; Joseph Brown, 
1837; (none in 1838); Otis Wilder, 1839; Thomas D. Blake, 
1840; Charles D. Cushman, 1841; Ebenezer Ewins, 1842; 
and in 1843, William Nanscoin. 

I2 Mass. Hist. Coll., Ill, 63. 

^During all these years the preachers of this sect on duty at Homes Hole or Edgar- 
town came regularly to Chilmark. as a part of their missionary work. 


Annals of Chilmark 

During the ministry of the last named a new house of 
worship was finished, the one in present use, and in January 
1843 it was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies. It cost 
about $2,000, and had a seating capacity for 300 persons. 
The succession of ministers since that time has been as follows : 
George W. Wooding, 1844; Nahum Taintor, 1845-6; O. P. 
Farrington, 1847; Henry Mayo, 1848; Lewis Bates, 1849; 



Thomas Slater, 1850-1; Robert C. Gonegal, 1852-3; John 
Tasker, 1854-5; William Sheldon, 1856; John F. Fogg, 1857; 
Franklin Sears, 1858-9; James H. Cooley, i860; George D. 
Boynton, 1861-2; Abel Alton, 1863-5; Josiah C. Allen, 1866-8; 
Seth B. Chase, 1869-70; D. J. Griffin, 1871-3; B. K. Bos- 
worth, 1874; E. S. Fletcher, 1875-7; H- S. Smith, 1878-80; 
Isaac C. Sherman, 1881-3; John N. Patterson, 1884-6; Win- 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

field Hall, 1887-8; C. T. Hatch, 1889-91; C. S. Thurber, 
1892-4; B. K. Bosworth, 1895; J. S. Bell, 1896-8; C. W. 
Ruoff, 1899-1901; B. F. Raynor, 1902-4, and A. Stanley 
Muirhead, 1905-7. 


The earliest references in the records of the Vine- 
yard in connection with this section are to a "school house." 
The allusions to this "school house" are not yet clear, unless 
we assume a native mission school taught by one of the young 
sons of the deceased Thomas Mayhew, Junior, either Matthew 
or Thomas, or possibly John, for it will be remembered that 
Matthew was brought up to teach the Indians, and was given 
an education for that purpose. There was an Indian meeting 
"about eight miles off my house," wrote the Junior Mayhew 
in 1 65 1, and this distance would bring us to the present village 
of West Tisbury, and the writer announced his intention of 
setting up a school for the natives during that winter. It is 
probable that such an one was established somewhere to the 
westward of the Tiasquan river on the South road, not far 
from the dividing line between the two towns, before he died, 
but whether it was in Tisbury or Chilmark is not understood 
from the scant description. 

There are no references to a school in this town prior 
to 1729, at which time the town voted that sessions be held 
in the spring "att the place where it now is," and further 
provision was made for the several sections of the town as 
follows : — 

July and August & September near Willm Hunts provided the 
people westward of the fulling mill River provide a Suitable house there 
for that purpose: and att Kephickon October and November (if) the 
people in that part of the town provide a house as aforesd.' 

The sum of £$0 was appropriated to carry into effect this 
vote of the town. The peculiar territorial situation of Chil- 
mark, with its scattered segments, Elizabeth Islands, Chick- 
emmoo and Nomans Land, rendered the administration of 
school affairs not only difficult, but expensive. The several 
sections demanded facilities equivalent to those arranged 
for the central settlement, and as a result there was constant 

'Town Records, 48; Feb. 14, 172S-9. 

Annals of Chilmark 

bickering in town meetings whether there should be a ''fixed" 
or a ''moving" school from year to year/ In 1731 the towns- 
men could not settle this question among themselves and 
called in outside advisors. Samuel Cobb, Jabez Athearn 
and Abner West of Tisbury were requested to act as referees 
on this disputed problem. They rendered the following 
decision : — 

We the Subscribers as a Comittee within Spesifyed being mett to- 
gather and haveing heard the Lauvall Information of the within mentioned 
agents as also Considered the particulars of the within note & upon the 
whole Determin that the within mentioned School be kept for tlie Space 
of ten months in Each of the two years at the foot of the bureing hill be- 
tween the bureing hill and the meeting house in Chilmark & the Space of 
two months (in) October and november at the house of David Butler at 
Cheekommo in sd Chilmark and that the Cost and Charge for School 
Rooms be Defrayed by the whole town.^ 

As a result of this report the town voted that Pain Mayhew 

Do procure a Suteable house for the use of sd town and att their Charge 
for the keeping the towns Scool in the Same to be twenty feet Long Sixteen 
wide and Six in the upright and to Chose the Same to be Sett att the place 
ordered by the Com'tee appointed for that end to sit near the meeting 
house in sd town and to be finished as the sd mayhew Shall think best 
and most Convenant for that use.' 

The location of what is probably the first town school- 
house built for the purpose, is sufficiently clear to^i all 
residents and does not need further explanation. The 
sum of ;^5o was voted, later in the year, "to pay J the 
present school master for his service, " but it is not 
known who he was. It is probable that it was Francis 
Bryan, who occupied that position the two following years, 
and whose services were the cause of litigation. In 1732 
Zephaniah Mayhew, one of the selectmen, entered complaint 
against Bryan before the court because he refused "to teach 
Sundry children belonging to sd Town & perticularly a ser- 
vant Girl of the Plaintiffs."* The next year John Allen sued 

'Recently a suit was tried involving this same trouble, a lack of school privileges 
at Nomans Land. A resident of that island sued to compel the town to provide 
school facilities at that place, and being defeated appealed to the Supreme Court. 
The final decision (1908) was against the contention of the plaintiff. 

'Chilmark Records, May 18, 1731. 

^Ibid., June 22, 1731. Mayhew was also ordered to make arrangements with 
David Butler for school rooms in the Chickemmoo district, "until the school house 
can be built." 

*Athearn Mss., Congressional Library. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

Bryan for punishing his son, William Allen, "with a Large 
Cane or Walking Staff." The schoolmaster won the case, 
but the experiences were such that he decided to labor in other 
fields, and as a result the town was "presented" in Court 
in 1737, by the Grand Jury for "not haveing a skole Master."^ 
Not only did it have no schoolmaster, but no school-house, 
for Pain Mayhew had evidently neglected to carry out the 
wishes of the town as above expressed, for in 1733 the follow- 
ing vote was passed : — 

voted that there be a Small house bult att the Charg of & for the use of 
sd town to be Sett near the meeting house the sd house to be 17 feet Long 
14 wide & Six in the upright to be Covered Either with Clabord or Shingles 
on the wall the wall to be plastered with Lime and the Chimney to be 
brick and that Willm and Josiah tilton be the towns agents to procure 
the Same to be Done as Soon as may be.^ 

In 1742 this diminutive building needed some repairs, 
but the motion to accomplish it "past in the negitive" at one 
meeting, and at an adjournment the following vote was 
recorded on the subject : — 

voted that the voate past att a meeting in July Last respecting the School 
be reconsidered and after a considerable Silance it was proposed to re- 
consider the Last vote and voted accordingly and then that the vote past 
in July as above be reconsidered So far as the time remaned of the three 
years as Shoild be remaining after the time expired that the School master 

was hired for and then brake up the meeting.^ 


Spelling and confusion of expression like that might 
break up any meeting, and the reader is left to decide what the 
town really decided to do in the premises. In 1743 the town 
voted "the school house be removed and set near the tan 
fats by the house of Noah Abel,"' and in a burst of fortitude 
further decreed that it should be kept there "for the space 
of ten years next coming." Meanwhile the Chickemmoo 

'Athearn Mss. The Grand Jury, in view of its own spelling, might have been 
indicted for the same offence. 

^Town Records, Jan. 26, 1733. This reduced the dimensions by several feet 
each way, and "Six feet in the upright" indicates the need of a short teacher. It 
was finished in December following. 

^Town Records, Nov. i, 1742. 

*Several references to this locality require that its exact situation be indicated. 
There is a place still known as the "Tan Yard," on the easterly side of the brook 
which flows across the Middle road, a little to the eastward of the house of the late 
Capt. Horatio W. Tilton, and thence down past the house formerly occupied by Beriah 
T. Hillman, Esq., Anally discharging into the cove. This brook has its source in the 
"Peaked Hill Place" in swampy ground, and the "tan fats" or yard was near the 
source of this brook. 


Annals of Chilmark 

district had been eliminated as a factor in this burdensome 
problem, but the several communities at Keephigon, Elizabeth 
Islands, Menemsha and the other outlying precincts kept 
the question always a source of contention at the yearly meet- 
ings. In 1758 it was voted that there be a "fixed school," 
for the ten years ensuing, "to be kept on the land of Zachariah 
Mayhew near Wm. Stewards," and a committee was appointed 
to provide suitable accommodations. Five years later, there 
being some uncertainty about the regularity of service, an 
inspector was appointed to "see if the Town School be Regerly 
Kept," and also to see "if Mr. Steaven Skiff will go and keep 
a Regular School the year out according to agreement and to 
make good the lost time."^ 

The ten years having elapsed, the town renewed the 
vote, establishing it for another decade near the "tan fats." 
In 1777 the sum of ;^25o was raised "for a school or schools" 
and a committee was appointed "to divide the town into 
districts as will be most for the advantage to the inhabitants."^ 
In 1789 a similar vote was passed, and the school-house at 
that time was situated "on the land of Robert Allen & near 
the place where the house of Capt. James Allen deceased 
lately stood. "^ The money was to be divided according to 
the number of children in each division. Owing to the large 
area and the scattered settlements, this involved further friction 
and families were changed from one district to another to 
obviate the hardships of arbitrary divisional lines. A school 
census, "from twenty one years old and under" was ordered 
in 1790 to aid the selectmen in apportioning the school funds. 
This plan was followed until the close of that century. In 
the beginning of the next century the school districts were 
divided by a north and south line, drawn from "the roreing 
brook leveing Pain Tilltons and Prince Look to the Westward 
said line running thence to the meeting house thence south 
easterly untill it comes to the sea."* The sum of two hundred 
dollars was raised in 1801 for educational purposes. 

In 1850 there were three public schools in the town, 
with an attendance of 133 scholars, for the support of which 
^333 was raised by taxation. The teachers in this period 

'Town Records, July 8, 1763. 
^bid., I, 163. 

'This was the school for the southern division of the town. May ist was set 
as the time for opening schools. 
*Town Records, I, 259. 


History of Martha's Vineyard 

for the following decade were A. J. Blake, Rev. Elijah 
Demond, (the Congregationalist Minister), Quincy E. Dick- 
erman, subsequently master of a Boston school, Charles E. 
Alden, Bartlett Mayhew and J. Dana Bullen. In 1863 there 
were 182 scholars enrolled and $451.50 was the expenditure 
for that year. The school-houses were situated then as 
follows: (i) Western District, near Beetle Bound corner 
(the present site), and the teachers were Ruth H. Nickerson, 
principal, and Charlotte J. Hillman, assistant; for the 
winter term, I. N. Kidder, principal and Ada S. Luce, 
assistant. (2) North East District, in Keephigon, near 
the Tisbury line, and the teachers were Cyrus M. Lovell 
(summer) and Henry H. Luce (winter). (3) South 
East District, on South road, near Nabs corner, and the 
teachers were Josephine R. Cottle (summer) and Cyrus M. 
Lovell (winter). 


As elsewhere related, the military affairs of this town were 
merged with Tisbury, and the combined company was under 
command of Benjamin Skiff e for many years, until he was 
promoted to be major of the County Regiment. Zachariah 
Mayhew became identified with the militia, and is given the 
title of Captain immediately following the death of Skiffe, 
and it is presumed he commanded the local company.^ His 
brother Zaccheus, however, had a longer record in connection 
with the town militia, and became its captain some time 
before 17 18. In the French and Indian wars this combination 
with Tisbury terminated, and in 1757 the company, still 
under command of Zaccheus Mayhew, had the following 
additional officers : Fortunatus Mayhew, Lieutenant ; Eliashib 

Adams, John Basset, Uriah 
^t,C X' ^"^^^^ T^ ^f^ Tilton and Josiah Tilton as 
/^/ Sergeants, and Zaccheus 

Mayhew, Jr. as Ensign.^ 
In 1 761 there were two companies of foot in Chilmark, 
of which the first was under command of Cornelius 
Bassett as Captain;^ Samuel Mayhew, First Lieutenant; 

'Town Records, under date of Oct. 25, 1716, page 11, Zachariah Mayhew de- 
voted his time for most of his life to missionary work among the Indians. 
^Mass. Arch., XCIX, 24. 

^Ibid., XCIX, 24. Captain Bassett was also Lieutenant Colonel of the County 
Regiment of Militia. 


Annals of Chilmark 

Uriah Tilton, Second Lieutenant, and Mayhew Adams as 
Ensign. The second company was under command of 
Robert Hatch as Captain, Lemuel Weeks as Lieutenant, 
and Zephaniah Robinson as Ensign. There was also 
an Indian company in the town at this time under 
the command of the following officers: Adonijah Mayhew, 
Captain; Lemuel Butler, Lieutenant, and Thomas Daggett, 
Ensign. Neither the town records nor other sources of in- 
formation furnish evidence of activity in local military affairs 
subsequent to the Revolution. In 1794, when the Major 
General of the state militia issued orders to those towns which 
had no organized companies to supply the deficiency, Chilmark 
directed the selectmen to "write to Major General Goodwin 
themselves or by joining with the other towns in Dukes County 
requesting a suspension of his orders to organize militia" and 
further desiring Beriah Norton of Edgartown to assist said 
town in making said request."^ 


Chilmark has never been a tavern town, and no record 
has been found by the author showing that a license was granted 
for the express purpose of "keeping a publicke house," except 
in one year. Undoubtedly Chilmark was one of the towns 
referred to in 1694, which "thinck it inconvenient to have 
such houses." In 171 5, however, Ebenezer Allen, and in 
1722 William Clark and Lemuel Little were licensed as "inn- 
holders in Chilmark," and obtained a license as such. It is 
believed that these licenses cover rather the retailing of "strong 
drink," as three taverns in the town were not required for the 
convenience of wayfarers at that period. Situated as it was 
and is, the need of such houses occurred so infrequently, that 
private homes have always been ample, and at the service of 
the "stranger within its gates" temporarily. 

The following named persons were licensed innholders 
in the town of Chilmark by the County Court for the years 
specified: Ebenezer Allen, 1715-16; William Clark, 1722-32; 
Zaccheus Mayhew, 1735-8; Bethiah Mayhew, 1738; Thomas 
Mayhew, 1761; Zephaniah Mayhew, 1746-7; Josiah Tilton, 
1748; William Hunt, 1749-52; Uriah Tilton, 1749-51; John 
Allen, Jr., 1752-3; John Cottle, 1741-65; Cornelius Bassett 

'Town Records, I, 240. 


History of Martha*s Vineyard 

1761-73; Salathiel Tilton, 1769; Abisha Cottle, 1772-7; 
Beriah Luce, 1781-2; Ebenezer Bassett, 1782, William 
Stewart, 1782-4; Benjamin Bassett, 1786-7; John Allen, 


The South Road. — This was the first "hie way" in the 
town and probably existed as a foot or cart path from the 
earliest occupation by the English. Undoubtedly it followed 
the old trail used by the Indians in their intercourse between 
Takemmy and Nashowakemmuck. It was a continuation of 
the ''Mill path" or "school house path" from Tisbury, and 
was gradually extended as the settlement grew. In 1 704 the 
selectmen, upon petition, laid it out as appears by the following 
record : — 

beginning att the road on the top of the hill near the meeting hous 
runing to a heap of stones near the house of Nathan Basset and from 
thence running to a stake and a heap of stones, being in an old field 
sometime within the Inclosour of nathan basset: and from thence to the 
northerly Corner of the land of Ebenezer Al