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Full text of "March Meeting, 1902. Tribute to Samuel Rawson Gardiner; Tribute to James Bradley Thayer; Will of Mrs. Charlotte A. L. Sibley; Suffolk Registers of Probate"

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PROCEEDINGS 



MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 



MARCH MEETING, 1902. 

THE stated meeting was held on Thursday, the 13th 
instant, at three o'clock, P. M. ; the President, Chaeles 
Francis Adams, LL.D., in the chair. 

After the reading of the record of the last meeting and 
reports from the Librarian and the Corresponding Secretary, 
the following committees were appointed to report at the An- 
nual Meeting : To nominate officers, Messrs. James Schouler, 
Solomon Lincoln, and A. Lawrence Lowell ; to examine the 
Treasurer's accounts, Messrs. Arthur Lord and James F. 
Hun ne well ; to examine the Library and Cabinet, Messrs. 
Morton Dexter, James De Normandie, and S. Lothrop 
Thorndike. 

The President then said : — 

It is my ill fortune on this occasion to announce no less 
than three names stricken by death from our rolls. The first 
is that of Samuel Ravvson Gardiner, prominent on our list for 
twenty-eight years, — since the November meeting of 1874. 
Then chosen a Corresponding Member, in 1896 he was trans- 
ferred to the Honorary roll. He stood fifth on that list at the 
time of his death, the 23d of February. The other two names 
are both those of Resident Members : James B. Thayer, whose 
election into the Society dated back to the 10th of October, 
1889, died on the 14th of February, and Uriel Haskell 
Crocker on the 8th of this month. Mr. Crocker became a 
member five years earlier than Professor Thayer, on the 14th 
of February, 1884. 

1 



2 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

The Honorary Roll of the Society is, by the death of Mr. 
Gardiner, reduced to seven names. His is the second stricken 
from it during the current Society year, the death of Bishop 
Stubbs having been announced by me at our meeting in May 
last. 

It was not customary formerty, except in very exceptional 
cases, to take notice of the death of either an Honorary or a 
Corresponding member. Under the rule now in vogue cover- 
ing the selection of Honorary Members, a different practice in 
this respect will naturally result. The Honorary list now is 
composed of those who are counted as distinct and individual 
luminaries of the first class in what may be called the historic 
planetary system. When one of them dies, it is as if. a bright 
light were extinguished. In the case of Mr. Gardiner, it is 
so unquestionably. Of the highest order of historical compo- 
sition known to our time, his work was unique. I think I may 
safely say that, among historical writers in the English tongue, 
he has not left his peer behind. 

As respects Mr. Gardiner in this historical aspect, the Society 
will presently hear from others far more competent to speak 
than I. It devolves on me only to announce his death. 

Though members of the Society respectively for thirteen 
and eighteen years, neither Professor Thayer nor Mr. Crocker 
had ever taken a conspicuous or active part in our proceedings. 
Both were constant attendants at our meetings, and it was a 
satisfaction to see them ; but, with the exception of the tribute 
to his former law partner, George O. Shattuck, I am not aware 
that Professor Thayer ever contributed anything to our 
printed record. He became a member of the Council at the 
election of 1900, and was re-elected at our last Annual Meeting. 
As one of the Council, he ever showed that excellence of judg- 
ment and kindliness of disposition, not without a strong infu- 
sion of character and self-understanding, which distinguished 
him, I may fairly say, in all the walks of life. His presence 
there, as here, will be greatly missed. 

Though in his membership antedating Professor Thayer by 
five years, Mr. Crocker had been even less a participant in our 
activities. A somewhat constant attendant at our meetings, 
he was a silent one. He never served upon the Council. A 
conveyancer by profession, his election to the Society was due 
to the high opinion entertained by the late Charles Deane of 



1902.] TRIBUTE TO SAMUEL RAWSON GARDINER. 3 

the extent and accuracy of his knowledge upon points of anti- 
quarian interest connected with Boston realty. He did at one 
time design to furnish us a paper on the handwriting of the 
seventeenth century, a subject in regard to which he was pecu- 
liarly competent to reach conclusions ; but the purpose was not 
carried out. In 1898 he made to our Proceedings a short contri- 
bution on " William Aspinwall and the Book of Possessions." 
Outside of the Society, he contributed to the " American Law 
Review " of October, 1875, a curious conveyancer's tale, en- 
titled " The History of a Title ; a Conveyancer's Romance." 
He also published " Notes on Common Forms," and " Notes 
on the General Statutes of Massachusetts," both works of a 
purely legal character. At one period he took much interest 
in economic questions, writing two treatises, one upon the 
" Cause of Hard Times," the other upon the tendency during 
such times to excessive saving, to which tendency he attrib- 
uted much of the prevailing commercial distress. It is almost 
needless for me to add that his views on this subject did not 
meet with general acceptance. They were by many, who had 
made a study of economic and financial subjects, considered 
paradoxical. Apart from his specialty of conveyancing, I am 
not aware that Mr. Crocker had paid any considerable degree 
of attention to historical studies. 

Mr. James F. Rhodes, having been called on, read the 
following paper: — 

I count it a privilege to speak in this Society to the memory 
of Samuel Rawson Gardiner. In making him an Honorary 
Member we honored ourselves. Who of the historians that 
have wrought during the past forty years better represents 
what this Society stands for ? He was thorough in his investi- 
gation. He spared no labor and pains to get at the truth. It 
may well enough be true that the designedly untruthful histo- 
rian, like the undevout astronomer, is an anomaly. Inaccuracy 
comes not from purpose but from neglect. Now Gardiner 
went to the bottom of things, and was not satisfied until he had 
compassed all the material within his reach. As a matter of 
course he read many languages. Whether his facts were in 
Spanish, Italian, French, German, Dutch, Swedish, or English 
made apparently no difference. Nor did he stop at what was 



4 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

in plain language. He read a diary written chiefly in symbols 
and many letters in cipher. A large part of his material was 
in manuscript. We all know the greater labor entailed in 
drawing from the written instead of the printed page. As one 
reads the prefaces to his various volumes and his footnotes, 
amazement is the word to express the feeling that a man 
could have accomplished so much in forty-seven years. One 
feels that there is no one-sided use of any material. The 
Spanish, the Venetian, the French, the Dutch, nowhere dis- 
places the English. In Froude's " Elizabeth " you get the 
impression that the Simancas MSS. furnish a disproportionate 
basis of the narrative; in Ranke's "England," that the story 
is made up too much from the Venetian archives. Gardiner 
himself copied many Simancas MSS. in Spain, and he studied 
the archives in Venice, Paris, Brussels, and Rome ; but these 
and all the other great mass of foreign material are kept 
adjunctive to that found in his own land. In writing me once 
touching a matter on which he thought some documents in 
New England might throw light, he speaks of the " stores of 
material in the Massachusetts Historical Society's publications." 
In the first volume of the " History of the Commonwealth " he 
quotes from the Hutchinson Papers of the Prince Society; 1 
and he knew his " John Winthrop " well. 2 My impression from 
a study of his volumes is that more than half of his material 
is in manuscript, but because he has a mass of matter which 
no one else had ever used he does not neglect the printed 
pages open to every one. " To form a judgment on the char- 
acter and aims of Gromwell," he writes, " it is absolutely 
necessary to take Carlyle's monumental work as a starting- 
point" ; 3 but distrusting Carlyle's printed transcripts, he goes 
back to the original speeches and letters themselves. Carlyle, 
he says, " amends the text without warning " in many places ; 
these emendations Gardiner corrects, and out of the abundance 
of his learning he stops a moment to show how Carlyle has 
misled the learned Dr. Murray in attributing to Cromwell the 
use of the word "communicative" in its modern meaning, 
when it was -on the contrary employed in what is now an 
obsolete sense. 4 

i P. 328, n. 4. s History, vol. viii. p. 163 et seq. 

8 History of the Great Civil War, vol. i. p. viii. 
* Commonwealth, vol. Hi. p. 27. 



1902.] TRIBUTE TO SAMUEL RAWSON GARDINER. 5 

Gardiner's great work is the History of England from 1603 
to 1656. In the revised editions there are ten volumes called 
History of England from the Accession of James I. to the Out- 
break of the Great Civil War, and four volumes on the Great 
Civil War. Since this revision he has published three volumes 
on the History of the Commonwealth and the Protectorate. 
He is also the author of many smaller volumes : was a contribu- 
tor to the " Encyclopaedia Britannica " and the " Dictionary of 
National Biography," and for ten years was editor-in-chief of 
the " English Historical Review." 

I know not which is the more remarkable, — the learning, 
accuracy, and diligence of the man or, withal, his modesty. 
With his great store of knowledge the very truthfulness of his 
soul impels him to be forward in admitting his own mistakes. 
Lowell said in 1878 that Darwin was " almost the only per- 
fectly disinterested lover of truth " he had ever encountered. 
Had Lowell known the historian as we know him to-day, he 
would have placed Gardiner upon the same elevation. In the 
preface to the revised ten-volume edition he alludes to the 
" defects " of his work. "Much material," he wrote, "has 
accumulated since the early volumes were published, and my 
own point of view is not quite the same as it was when I 
started with the first years of James I." 1 The most important 
contribution to this portion of his period had been Spedding's 
edition of Bacon's Letters and Life. In a note to page 208 of 
his second volume he tells how Spedding's arguments have 
caused him to modify some of his statements, although the two 
regard the history of the seventeenth century differently. Writ- 
ing this soon after the death of Spedding, to which he refers as 
" the loss of one whose mind was so acute and whose nature 
was so patient and kindly," he adds, " It was a true pleasure to 
have one's statements and arguments exposed to the testing 
fire of his hostile criticism." Having pointed out later some 
inaccuracies in the work of Professor Masson, he accuses him- 
self. " I have little doubt," he writes, " that if my work was 
subjected to as careful a revision it would yield a far greater 
crop of errors." 2 

Gardiner was born in 1829. Soon after he was twenty-six 
years old he conceived the idea of writing the history of 

1 History, vol.' i. p. v. 

2 Ibid., vol. ix. p. viii. 



6 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

England from the accession of James I. to the Restoration of 
Charles II. It was a noble conception, but his means were 
small. Having married the youngest daughter of Edward 
Irving, 1 the enthusiastic founder of the Catholic Apostolic 
Church, he became an Irvingite. Because he was an Irvingite 
his University, — he was a son of Oxford, — so it is commonly 
said, would give him no position whereby he might gain his 
living. Nevertheless Gardiner studied and toiled, and in 1863 
published two volumes entitled " History of England from the 
Accession of James I. to the Disgrace of Chief Justice Coke." 
Of this work, as Mr. Gardiner told me himself, only one hun- 
dred and forty copies were sold. Still he struggled on. In 1869 
two volumes called " Prince Charles and the Spanish Marriage " 
were published and sold five hundred copies. Six years later 
appeared two volumes entitled the " History of England under 
the Duke of Buckingham and Charles I." This instalment paid 
expenses, but no profit. One is reminded of what Cailyle said 
about the money rewards of literary men in England. " Homer's 
Iliad," he wrote, " would have brought the author, had he offered 
it to Mr. Murray on the half-profit system, say five-and-twenty 
guineas. The Prophecies of Isaiah would have made a small 
article in a review which . . . could cheerfully enough have 
remunerated him with a five-pound note." The first book from 
which Gardiner received any money was a little volume for 
the " Epochs of Modern History Series " on " The Thirty Years' 
War," published in 1874. Two more instalments of the History 
appearing in 1877 and 1881 made up the first edition of what 
is now our ten-volume history, but in the mean time some of 
the volumes went out of print. It was not until 1883, the 
year of the publication of the revised edition, that the value of 
his labors was generally recognized. During this twenty-eight 
years, from the age of twenty-six to fifty-four, Gardiner had his 
living to earn. He might have recalled the remark made I 
think by either Goldsmith or Lamb, that the books which will 
live are not those by which we ourselves can live. Therefore 
Gardiner got his bread by teaching. He became a professor in 
King's College, London. He lectured on history for the Lon- 
don Society for the Extension of University Teaching, having 
large audiences all over London and being well appreciated in 
the East End. He wrote school books on history. Finally 

1 His first wife. 



1902.] TRIBUTE TO SAMUEL RAWSON GARDINER. 7 

success came, twenty-eight years after his glorious conception, 
twenty years after the publication of his first volume. He had 
had a hard struggle for a living with money coming in by 
driblets. Bread won in such a way is come by hard, but he 
remained true to his ideal. His pot-boilers were good and 
honest books ; his brief history of the Thirty Years' War has 
received the praise of scholars. Appreciation brought him 
pecuniary rewards. In 1882 Gladstone bestowed upon him a 
Civil List Pension of ,£150 a year. Two years later All 
Souls College, Oxford, elected him to a research fellowship; 
when this expired, Merton made him a fellow. Academic 
honors came late. Not until 1 884, when he was fifty-five, did 
he take his degree of M.A. Edinburgh conferred upon him 
an LL.D. and Gb'ttingen a Ph.D., but he was sixty-six when he 
received the coveted D.C.L. from his own University. The 
year previous Mr. Bryce on behalf of Lord Rosebery had 
asked him if he would accept the Regius Professorship of 
History at Oxford. Gardiner declined it because he would not 
relinquish his great work, which obliged him to be near the 
British Museum. I rejoice that nine years before he was appre- 
ciated generally in England this Society elected him a Corre- 
sponding Member (1874). His acknowledgment of this may 
be seen on the titlepage of the first ten volumes of the revised 
edition. 

My personal acquaintance with Mr. Gardiner was slight. In 
1895, being introduced by letters from this country, I called 
upon him at the British Museum, and sitting on a wooden 
bench in one of the outer halls, we talked together for half an 
hour. Certainly I have never seen a more honest face. It has 
the same quality that looks out from the pictures of Darwin. 
I told him that Macaulay's idea of Wentworth [Strafford] and 
Laud had sunk deeply into my mind, and his portrayal of them 
was a revelation. Never shall I forget the smile that spread 
over his great homely face as he declared with enthusiastic 
earnestness, "They were indeed honest men." With kindness 
he spoke of the imperfections of Macaulay, of his meagre study 
of the original materials relating to Wentworth and Laud, but 
he left me the impression that he admired greatly that historian 
who charmed those of us who were reading history thirty-five 
years ago. I thought of Gardiner's charity ; for among his- 
torical scholars in England those who loved Stubbs and 



8 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

Gardiner seemed to have but a single idea of Macaulay, — that 
he was a prejudiced partisan who would not own up when he 
was shown to be wrong. In 1899 I saw Mr. Gardiner again. 
We took luncheon together and had a tete-a-tete conversation 
of two hours. It was then that he told me about the sale of 
his earlier volumes. We talked of Froude. He spoke of the 
inaccuracy of his translations from the Simancas MSS. Yet he 
went on to say Froude meant to be truthful, but he had always 
some idea in his head which he desired to prove. I was glad 
to find Gardiner an admirer of John Richard Green. Even 
sometimes, he said, when Green's details were inexact, as in his 
account of the Thirty Years' War, the general impression 
which one gets from it is true. The slight glimpses I had of 
Gardiner confirmed me in the impression which I had gathered 
from his books and from common friends, that he had a gentle, 
kind nature and was the embodiment of truth. He told me of 
his manner of labor. He was then living at Sevenoaks, whence 
it took him about an hour to reach the British Museum, where 
he did his work. He labored on his history from eleven 
o'clock to half-past four with an intermission of half an hour 
for luncheon. He did not dictate to a stenographer, but wrote 
everything out. As Mr. Firth has told me, he was totally un- 
accustomed to collaboration and never employed a secretary or 
assistant of any kind. In the evening — I am now following 
Mr. Gardiner's conversation — he did no serious labor ; he 
attended to his correspondence or read a novel. Thus he 
worked five hours daily. What a brain and what a splendid 
training he had given himself to accomplish such results in so 
short a working day ! From 1895 to 1900 we carried on a 
desultory correspondence. He did me the honor to read my 
volumes, and the kind words he sent me across the sea were 
very grateful as I looked upon him as the greatest living mas- 
ter of our profession who wrote in English. He sent me his 
volumes as they appeared from time to time, and I read every 
word of them. His last volume was published in 1901 and my 
copy reached me March 1st. Before he received my letter 
which told of the delight and instruction I had received from 
it, he had the paralytic seizure that terminated in his death the 
23d of February last. His mind was not affected, and Mrs. 
Gardiner read my letter to him and he sent me by her pen his 
last kind word. 



1902.] TRIBUTE TO SAMUEL RAWSON GARDINER. 9 

As the newspapers have recently been full of the discussion 
as to who sympathized with us during our Spanish War, an 
extract from a letter of Mr. Gardiner written April 2, 1898, 
twenty days before the Congressional resolution that was a 
virtual declaration of war, may be interesting. " May I," he 
wrote, "add a word of sympathy with your nation in the 
present crisis. I do not think that there is any division of 
opinion here on that head." 

In the preface to his first volume of the " History of the Com- 
monwealth," published in 1894, Gardiner said that he was 
" entering upon the third and last stage of a task the accom- 
plishment of which seemed to me many years ago to be within 
the bounds of possibility." One more volume bringing the 
history down to the death of Cromwell would haye completed 
the work, and then Mr. Charles H. Firth, a Corresponding 
Member of this Society, was to take up the story. Firth will 
now probably begin his history in 1656. Gardiner's mantle 
has fallen on worthy shoulders. 

Where historical scholars congregate in England and 
America Gardiner is highly esteemed. But the critics must 
have their day. They cannot attack him for lack of diligence 
and accuracy, which according to Gibbon, the master of us all, 
are the prime requisites of an historian, but they assert he was 
deficient in literary style, he had no dramatic power, his history 
is not interesting and will not live. Gardiner is the product 
solely of the university and the library. You may visualize 
him at Oxford, in the British Museum, or at work in the 
archives on the Continent, but of affairs and of society by per- 
sonal contact he knew nothing. In short, he was not a man of 
the world, and the histories must be written, so these critics 
aver, by those who have an actual knowledge by experience of 
their fellowmen. It is profitable to examine these dicta by the 
light of concrete examples. Froude saw much of society and 
was a man of the world. He wrote six volumes on the reign 
of Elizabeth, from which we get the distinct impression that the 
dominant characteristics of Elizabeth were meanness, vacilla- 
tion, selfishness, and cruelty. Gardiner in an introductory 
chapter of forty-three pages restores to us the great queen of 
Shakespeare who brought upon her land " a thousand, thousand 
blessings." She loved her people well, he writes, and ruled 

them wisely. She " cleared the way for liberty, though she 

2 



10 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

understood it not." 1 Elsewhere he speaks of " her high spirit 
and enlightened judgment." 2 The writer who has spent his 
life in the library among dusty archives estimates the great 
ruler more correctly than the man of the world. We all know 
Macaulay, — a member of parliament, a member of the supreme 
council of India, a cabinet minister, an historian of great merit, 
a brilliant man of letters. In such an one, according to the 
principles laid down by these critics, we should expect to find a 
supreme judge of men. Macaulay, in his essays and the first 
chapter of his History, painted Wentworth and Laud in the 
very blackest of colors, which " had burned themselves into the 
heart of the people of England." Gardiner came. Wentworth 
and Laud, he wrote, were controlled by a " noble ambition " 
which was ". not stained with personal selfishness or greed." 3 
" England may well be proud of possessing in Wentworth a 
nobler if a less practical statesman than Richelieu of the type 
to which the great Cardinal belonged." 4 Again Wentworth 
was " the high-minded, masterful statesman erring gravely 
through defect of temper and knowledge." 5 From Macaulay 
we carry away the impression that Wentworth was very wicked 
and that Cromwell was very good. Gardiner loved Cromwell 
not less than did Macaulay but thus he speaks of his govern- 
ment : " Step by step the Government of the Commonwealth 
was compelled ... to rule by means which everyone of its 
members would have condemned if they had been employed by 
Charles or Wentworth." Is it not a triumph for the bookish 
man that in his estimate of Wentworth and Laud he has with 
him the consensus of the historical scholars of England ! 

What a change there has been in English opinion of Crom- 
well in the last half-century! Unquestionably that is due to 
Cariyle more than to any other one man, but there might have 
been a reaction from the conception of the hero worshipper had 
it not been supported and somewhat modified by so careful and 
impartial a student as Gardiner. 

The alteration of sentiment about Wentworth and Laud is 
principally due to Gardiner, that of Cromwell in part. These 
are two of the striking results, but they are only two of many 
things we see differently because of the single-minded devotion 

1 History, vol. l p 43. s Ibid., vol. viii. p. 36. 

* Ibid., vol. viii. p. 67. ♦ Ibid., p. 215. 

6 Ibid., vol. IX. p. 229. 



1902.] TRIBUTE TO SAMUEL RAWSON GARDINER. 11 

of this great historian. We know the history of England 
from 1603 to 1656 better than we do that of any other period 
of the world; and this we owe mainly to Samuel Rawson 
Gardiner. 

Mr. Edward Channing spoke substantially as follows : — 

Professor Gardiner was a prodigious worker. He printed 
in all some thirty volumes. Of these a few were educational 
works, as his "Student's History of England," which marked 
out new lines of development of historical text-books, both in 
mode of treatment and in illustration. Another work of this 
class is his " Thirty Years' War," in the " Epochs of Modern 
History Series " ; it was a standard book twenty-five years 
ago, it is still in every-day use. , A third work belonging 
to the class of educational books is bis "Select Documents 
illustrating the Puritan Rebellion " ; his introduction to these 
documents is the best compendious constitutional statement 
of the Puritan movement in existence. Among minor works 
is his " What Gunpowder Plot really was," — a controversial 
book written in answer to Gerard's " What was Gunpowder 
Plot? " " Cromwell's Place in History," comprising the sub- 
stance of lectures, may well be classed among controversial 
works, because in it Mr. Gardiner sought to show that 
" Cromwell was the greatest, because the most typical of 
Englishmen." Besides writing books, he wrote numerous in- 
troductions, as that to the " Verney Papers" in the " Camden 
Society Series," and articles dealing with single episodes in 
the " English Historical Review," and elsewhere, as the re- 
markable article on Glamorgan in the " Review " for Octo- 
ber, 1887. These books, introductions, and articles were 
all by-products of his great work on the History of England, 
from the accession of the first Stuart to the end of the Puri- 
tan supremacy. Of this work seventeen superb volumes were 
published, when death put an end to his wonderful career. 

To understand Gardiner's stupendous industry, one must 
try to realize that he labored alone, writing everything with 
his own hand. He visited storehouses of documents : archives 
in foreign cities, and manor houses of historic English families. 
Thousands of documents which he consulted in manuscript 
have since been printed. The printed mass alone is sufficient 



12 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

to daunt all save the most earnest student. Mr. Gardiner 
abstracted and extracted, returned to his home and set to work 
to study his materials and write the chapter or volume in 
hand. 

The modern historical writer often makes use of what are 
sometimes termed " helps." He employs stenographers, type- 
writers, secretaries, and assistants, sometimes he even employs 
others to write portions of his text, and in one instance at 
least declines to point out which poi-tions of the book were 
written by the unknown assistant, which by himself. Pro- 
fessor Gardiner, like Justin Winsor, worked in a very different 
way. He was his own secretary, assistant, and stenographer. 
Other men, as our Corresponding Member Mr. Firth, by their 
researches aided Mr. Gardiner, but the responsibility for his 
great work was almost entirely his. And that is the reason 
why it is regarded by students almost in the light of a 
"source." For my part, when Mr. Gardiner gives us the result 
of his examination of twenty sources of information on one 
subject, I would rather stake an argument on his conclusion 
than on my own examination of the five or ten documents 
within reach. 

It is sometimes said that Gardiner's work will not live. 
The best answer to such a statement was made by a former 
student, who chanced to visit me a few evenings ago. On 
being asked what large works he had perused on the Tudor 
and Stuart periods, he said that Gardiner's History was the 
only long connected work which he could claim to have read 
through. The natural inquiry was at once made as to Froude 
and Macaulay. But the answer was no less prompt. Yes, 
he had read in Froude and Macaulay. They were interest- 
ing, as was the current historical novel ; but Gardiner gave 
one a knowledge of the actualities, and after all that was 
what one read histories to get. So he had abandoned Macaulay 
and had read Gardiner, and had found him absorbingly inter- 
esting. And in the next few years he will give Gardiner's 
interpretation of a phase of the first half of the seventeenth 
century to hundreds of eager, earnest students. For many 
years to come countless readers will seek Gardiner's works 
for the same reason, — a disgust of the historical romance and 
a desire to know the truth. 

A few years ago it chanced to be my fortune to study for a 



1902.] TRIBUTE TO JAMES BRADLEY THAYER. 13 

few weeks in the British Museum. The problems which in- 
terested me were in part those which interested Professor Gar- 
diner. It was my privilege to ask him his opinion on several 
matters, and to sit not far from him as he worked. And there 
was his workshop in that hive of industry, the Reading Room 
of the British Museum, in the midst of seekers of all sorts and 
conditions. One strange figure was a man without stockings 
and trousers reaching only part way to his shoes. He was a 
living experiment, trying in his own person the effect of diets 
of different sorts; at that moment it was said to be Indian 
corn. One was irresistibly reminded of Carlyle's description 
of the Reading Room as the place to which unsound persons 
were daily consigned for safe keeping by their relatives. An- 
other curious personage recalled that other "reader" who 
annoyed Carlyle by persistently and regularly blowing his 
nose every thirty minutes. Yet on Mr. Gardiner wrought day 
after day as placidly and gainfully as few men work in the 
seclusion of their studies. To have been near him was an 
inspiration ; to connect one's name with his in any fashion is a 
distinction. 

Mr. John C. Gray read a tribute to his late associate in the 
Harvard Law School, Mr. James B. Thayer, as follows : — 

The death of James Bradley Thayer will be widely felt. 

Few men had more or warmer friends. I have often thought 
of him as an ideal'New Englander. With all the good quali- 
ties of the race, he was without the angularity of mind or 
character which sometimes accompany them. Of perfect good 
breeding, there was no company to which he was not a wel- 
come addition. He had . a breadth of nature difficult to de- 
scribe, but impossible not to feel. 

He had much public spirit, and threw himself with zeal into 
those philanthropic movements which attracted him. Some of 
us thought that he was at times called upon to do more than 
could be fairly asked from him ; but he himself never measured 
the time nor counted the cost. 

For nearly thirty years he was professor in the Harvard Law 
School. He published two collections of cases, one on " Con- 
stitutional Law " in two large volumes, and one on " Evidence " 
in one volume of equal size, both of great excellence ; the 



14 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

latter, it is safe to say, is the most successful of the numerous 
collections of authorities that have been published in the Har- 
vard Law School during the last quarter of the nineteenth 
century. It is used all over the country. 

It will be at another time and in another place that his long 
line of pupils will tell what they owe to him ; to me who may 
have the honor to succeed him, the aid to be derived from his 
work is incalculable. 

But it is appropriate that I should speak here especially of 
his historical labors, and it was his historical work that he 
loved the best. Its bulk is not large. Mr. Thayer was fas- 
tidious, not in judging what others had done, for he was a 
generous and kindly critic, but in passing upon his own work. 
To discover or verif} 7 a fact which might make his material 
more complete, to arrange and rearrange that material so that 
its expression might be more perspicuous, no time or trouble 
seemed to him too great. But though the pages which he 
wrote cut no great figure when measured by the base modern 
standard of so many thousands of words, their qualitj' is high. 

The law of evidence is the most characteristic feature of the 
common law ; no part of the law has reacted so strongly upon 
the English race. In the love of facts, and in the desire of 
getting those facts at first hand, which distinguish us, the 
common law of evidence has played a considerable part. 
Every one knew in a general way that our law of evidence was 
the offspring of the jury, but only in a general way. Here 
was Mr. Thayer's good fortune. There was 'a new country to 
be discovered, he seized the opportunity, and in the essays 
afterwards collected, revised, and published in his " Preliminary 
Treatise on the Law of Evidence," he worked out not only 
the general lines but the details of the subject in a masterly 
manner which ultimately satisfied that severest of judges, 
himself, and gave him a distinguished place among those 
eminent jurists whose contributions to legal history have illus- 
trated the closing years of the last century. 

Mr. S. Lothbop Thorndike, a classmate and life-long 
friend of Mr. Thayer, read the following paper : — 

Mr. President, — When I received your request to say as a 
friend something about Thayer, my first thought was, of how 



1902.] TKIBUTE TO JAMES BKADLEY THAYEE. 15 

many I was but one who could speak of him from that stand- 
point. Since his death, less than four weeks ago, words have 
already been spoken about him in various circles of companion- 
ship, and every word has sounded the note of personal regard 
and affection. Whatever can be said now must seem a mere 
echo of the voices of others. 

Yet it must be in that way that I speak, if at all. Our paths 
in practical life did not lie together. I was never associated 
with him in a cause, and of his great work as a teacher and 
his high place among jurists I have only the same means of 
judging as any one else who has mere scraps and driblets of 
what may be called the scholarship of the law. 

But of Thayer as a man, as a dear friend, a genial com- 
rade, as one whose daily life was an example and his intimacy 
an education, I may claim a right to speak, — a right founded 
on a half century of regard and esteem and a quarter century 
of familiar companionship. During the latter period we were 
neighbors in Cambridge, we belonged to the same clubs and 
societies, — four or five of them, — and I was often his guest 
at his quiet and delightful summer home at Bar Harbor. My 
recollection of all this time it would not be worth while to try 
to detail. There would be no remarkable events to recall. It 
would only be the story of books interchanged or books read 
together, of walks and drives at Mount Desert, of long talks 
about the events of the day, the friends we had known, the 
things we had read, the thousand and one matters of the mo- 
ment. But out of it all comes the memory of the most lovable 
man whom it was ever my fortune to know, — one in whom to 
the qualities which make men attractive, sweetness of disposi- 
tion, nobility of character, dignity of presence, cordiality of 
manner, thoughtful kindness, there was added the indefinable 
something which is oftener attributed to women than to men, 
— charm. 

I made my first acquaintance with Thayer when we entered 
college in 1848. Of his earlier years in Northampton one gets 
a passing glance in his excellent sketch of Chauncey Wright, 
his schoolmate, afterward our classmate, and I have sometimes 
heard him speak of the pleasant river town, as yet untrodden 
by the march of improvement. In his life of Wright he is 
careful to mention an admirable teacher of theirs, — his kindly 
influence and wise and original methods of instruction ; but I 



16 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

fancy that Thayer's college fitting was mainly his own work, 
with little aid from without. 

In college he was, as throughout life, a diligent student ; but 
as he was obliged to eke out his slender means by much teach- 
ing, his class rank was not exceptional. His chosen com- 
panions were always of the best. I especially associate him 
in my recollection with men who afterward became of note in 
various positions, — the two Choates, Gurney, Wright, Darwin 
Ware, and William Robert Ware. His wit and humQr, clean- 
minded at a time when vulgarity was sometimes mistaken for 
wit, — college boys were three years younger then than now, — 
made him the most attractive man of the class, and his sweet- 
ness of disposition made him the best beloved. 

I must not pause to speak of his years of law study, which 
had to be broken by intervals of teaching, or of his useful 
career of fifteen or twenty years as a lawyer in active practice. 
But of this period some phases must be noted. One was his 
long residence in Milton, from which resulted some of his most 
cherished friendships. Another was his marriage with Sophia 
Ripley, a union of rare felicity followed by more than forty 
years of such domestic happiness as I must not try to depict, 
and by the growth of a family at all times an unfailing source 
of pleasure and of pride. This marriage with the grand- 
daughter of Dr. Ezra Ripley, the minister of Concord fame, 
and the daughter of the Samuel Ripley of whom Thayer after- 
ward wrote, at Judge Hoar's suggestion, the charming sketch 
so well worth reading, brought him into that close connection 
with Emerson and the other Concord notables which was such 
a feature of his later life. 

In this period, moreover, appear the first manifestations of 
that literary bent of which all Thayer's eulogists have spoken. 
His printed writings, outside of the law, were not, either at this 
or any later time, great in number or extent, but they all 
showed the deftness and fineness of his literary touch. Even 
his legal works could not have been written by any other than 
a man of letters. His English was almost faultless, his choice 
and command of words admirable, and his sentences all seemed 
to begin and to end as they ought. This is also true of his con- 
versation and of his somewhat infrequent public speech. He 
was certainly not in the popular sense an orator, and I think 
that he did n't much like. to be called upon for a speech. But 



1902.] TRIBUTE TO JAMES BRADLEY THAYER. 17 

once on his legs he spoke in clean-cut sentences and bright and 
apt words. So in conversation. One of our associates, who 
has presented in another place a most thoughtful and appre- 
ciative tribute to his memory, spoke of his readiness to take 
upon his shoulders the burden of a conversation. I should n't 
have said just that. I never happened to hear Thayer do or 
try to do just that. But in the give and take of ordinary talk, 
or of high talk, he had few equals. He always took his fair 
share of listening as well as talking, and when he did speak it 
was always with the same unconscious ease, the same happy 
choice of words, and the same felicity of stating just what he 
meant, and not something else, which mark his writing. 

I' must not pause to speak of the course of events which led 
Thayer, after he had been offered and had declined a literary 
chair at Harvard, aside not only from the pleasant paths of 
letters, but from the practice of his profession, into the pursuit 
of the law upon its academic side. Of what in his later years 
he accomplished as' the teacher and critic of students and the 
critic and teacher of judges, Professor Gray has already spoken. 

I have already overstepped the limit of the few words allotted 
me ; but I must say a word or two to explain, perhaps to 
modify, what I have said about his amiable disposition. His 
temper was not at all of that saccharine quality which is never 
sharp. His standard of what a man ought to be and think and 
do, whether in public or private life, was so high and fine that 
he was apt to be impatient of shortcomings, and very plain- 
spoken about them. For whatever seemed to him vulgar or 
self-seeking or disingenuous or pretentious he had little charity. 
The word " cheap " was a favorite with him, and was made to 
cover a multitude of sins. I have sometimes been amused to 
imagine how certain persons who were quite self-satisfied 
would be astonished at hearing themselves described by him as 
" cheap." He was equally impatient of sloppiness of thought 
or speech, and it has seemed to me that many judges who have 
perhaps read some of his personal remarks in his law writings 
must have heartily wished that they could commit him for con- 
tempt, and that there must have been many negligent students 
in his classes who did n't find his comments upon their work 
quite agreeable. I sometimes thought him needlessly severe 
in his judgment of others. He would not, I am sure, blame me 
for finding this fault, if it was a fault, for he was himself con- 

3 



18 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

scientiously careful in speaking or writing about his dearest 
friends, alive or dead, not to bide imperfections or bestow un- 
discriminating praise. 

Let me add a word about his domestic life. His housekeep- 
ing was as modest and unpretentious as himself, but his 
hospitality was unbounded. This had, of course, its amplest 
opportunity at Bar Harbor. Every inch of his pleasant house 
was always full during the whole summer, and the people that 
one met there were always people worth knowing. Perhaps 
it would be some wandering man of letters or the law, perhaps 
some favorite clergyman whom he had invited for the weekly 
service in the little Unitarian church, perhaps Booker Washing- 
ton. Outside his own circle he associated so freely and kindly 
with all sorts and conditions of men, that one would hardly 
suspect how almost fastidious he was about the people that he 
really liked to have near him. They must be persons whose 
tastes, sympathies, habits of thought rang somehow in accord 
with his own. This may be understood by what I have already 
said of his judgment of " cheap" people. 

But this fastidiousness did not in the least affect his pleasant 
relations with the grand society by which at Mount Desert he 
was surrounded. His modest house had rich men's houses all 
about it. He used to tell with amusement of overhearing a 
tourist guide say, as he passed it, " Now here is a house of a 
man of moderate means." The relation of the houses was 
somehow significant of the relation of the owners. Thayer no 
more realized what some of his neighbors might consider social 
distinction than he realized his own true distinction. If his 
grand neighbors recognized the latter, as they often did, he 
accepted the recognition with unconscious ease, never aspiring 
to the other. 

There are many other aspects in which it would be pleasant 
to speak of Thayer, if this were a time for a full memoir. One 
would be his citizenship, in which he was as conscientious as 
in any daily duty. He did his own thinking, and his question 
upon any proposed measure, whether of the nation, the State, 
or the city, was whether it was the right thing, not what party 
or what man had launched it. His thinking often found 
words in a brilliant newspaper article, or in earnest conference 
with the men whose habit of thought was like his own. He 
could never have been a politician, in the ordinary sense, and 



1902] REMARKS BY MR. BARRETT WENDELL. 19 

could never, even if his busy life had not prevented, have gone 
into politics to advance the interests of any party or any indi- 
vidual, least of all himself. 

Another topic might be his religion. He told me that once 
in his boyhood, in Calvinistic surroundings, he went, or 
thought he went, through the mental process of " experiencing 
religion." As I knew him, he was troubled by no such ex- 
periences. His religion was a part of him, like his conscience, 
not disturbed by dogmas or forms, and not very patient of 
what Bishop Brooks once called " the fluttering frivolities of 
an effete mediae valism." I asked him once what was his no- 
tion of the hereafter, and he answered, " I don't know the 
what or the how, but I believe that somehow it will be all 
right." We too may well believe that it is all right with 
Thayer. 

Mr. Gamaliel Bradford related an interesting anecdote 
of his early acquaintance with Mr. Thayer, who was precisely 
of his own age, both having been born on the same day. 

Rev. Dr. Alexander V. G. Allen was appointed to write the 
memoir of the late Horace E. Scudder for publication in the 
Proceedings ; Mr. Thorndike the memoir of Mr. Thayer, and 
Mr. Henry G. Denny the memoir of Mr. Crocker. 

Mr. Barrett Wendell read some informal memoranda 
concerning the Empress Eugehie, kindly lent him by a lady 
who was at one time a member of the Empress's household in 
England. 

Mr. Wendell added : Some weeks ago, my colleague, Pro- 
fessor John Hays Gardiner, of Harvard College, received from 
Mr. Gardiner Stewart, of New York, a letter concerning certain 
old papers in Mr. Stewart's possession. Some of these relate 
to the affairs of the Gardiner family ; the others, which I bring 
here to-day, seem perhaps of more general interest ; all are said 
to have belonged to Governor Hancock, and to bear indorse- 
ments in his handwriting. In a letter to Professor Gardiner, 
of February 19, 1902, Mr. Stewart writes : " The pencil mem- 
orandum on the back of [each paper] is in my father's hand- 
writing. . . . My father, Thomas J. Stewart, who died some 
years ago, received [the papers] from his father, Thomas 
Stewart, who personally knew John Hancock. They must 
have been in our possession seventy-five years or more." 



20 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

At the suggestion of Professor Gardiner, Mr. Stewart has 
authorized me to present to the Massachusetts Historical 
Society, in his name, the following papers, which record certain 
details in the local history of Massachusetts : — 

1. Copy of Statement of William Jackson, accused of misappropri- 
ating, during the Siege of Boston, goods belonging to Cyrus Baldwin, 
a patriot absentee. Dated, 12 June, 1776. 

2. Copy of a letter to Beriah Norton, concerning illicit trade. 
Dated, 30 August, 1782. 

3. Copy of a Proposition to the French Consul at Boston, and to 
the claimants of two prizes brought into the port of Boston by a French 
privateer. Dated, 26 August, 1793. 

4. Various memoranda concerning returns of Votes for Hon. George 
Leonard, Peleg Coffin, Jr., Phanuel Bishop, and David Cobb, Esq 8 ., 
candidates in Bristol County for election to the Federal Congress. 
No date. 

5. List of civil officers in Dukes County, &c. No date. 

6. Copy of Resolve concerning William Frobisher. No date. 

7. Statement of facts in- the case of George Dana, in trouble con- 
cerning a note for £60. No date. 

Dr. Samuel A. Green said : — 

It is well known that our former associate Mr. John Lang- 
don Sibley, late Librarian of Harvard College, bequeathed the 
bulk of his estate to this Society, subject to a life interest on 
the part of his widow. He died in Cambridge, on December 
9, 1885 ; and an official announcement of such disposition of 
his property was made at the meeting held on January 14, 
1880. A copy of his will is printed in the Proceedings of 
that date. It was then stated that the appraisal of his estate 
was upwards of $ 150,000, — the largest sum of money ever 
given or bequeathed to the Society, — which would place the 
name of Sibley among the most munificent promoters of his- 
torical research. The subject was of such importance that it 
was referred to a special committee, — with the late Judge 
Hoar as chairman, — who at the next March meeting, in recog- 
nition of this large bequest, reported a set of resolutions 
which were duly passed. The Committee mentioned the fact 
that the fund might not become " available for a consider- 
able period of time." When the resolutions were drawn, this 
period was very indefinite, but now it has elapsed. 



1902 ] WILL OF MRS. CHARLOTTE A. L. SIBLEY. 21 

As executor of the estate, it devolves on me to make the 
announcement of Mrs. Sibley's death which took place at her 
home in Groton, on Wednesday, January 22. With no sur- 
viving kindred nearer than first cousins once removed, she had 
few family relatives. Mrs. Charlotte Augusta Langdon (Cook) 
Sibley was an only daughter of Samuel and Catharine Amelia 
(Langdon) Cook, of Boston, where she was born on October 
5, 1819. Since the death of her husband she has been a resi- 
dent of Groton, where she was conspicuous in many good 
works. She will be missed both there and in the neighboring 
towns among the local charitable organizations, in which she 
ever took an active part. It was largely through her benefac- 
tion that a few years ago the Groton Public Library building 
was erected, for which she gave the lot of land on which it 
stands, and nearly $20,000 in money. 

The funeral services were held in the First Parish Meeting- 
house on January 25, and were attended by a large number 
of friends and neighbors, including the President and first 
Vice-President of the Historical Society, and the two assistant 
librarians ; and the interment took place two days later in the 
family lot at Mount Auburn in Cambridge. 

For an account of her mother's family, see " The New- 
England Historical and Genealogical Register " (XXX. 33-37) 
for January, 1876 ; and for the Rev. Dr. Andrew P. Peabody's 
memoir of her husband, see the Proceedings (second series, 
II. 487-507) of this Society, for May, 1886. 

A copy of her last will and testament is herewith 
presented: — 

This is the last will and testament of me, Charlotte Augusta 
Langdon Sibley, of Cambridge, in the Commonwealth of Massachu- 
setts, widow of John Langdon Sibley, late of said Cambridge, deceased, 
testate. 

I appoint Samuel A. Green, of Boston, in said Commonwealth, 
executor of this, my will ; and I request that he be exempt from giving 
any surety on his bond as such executor. I direct him to give to the 
Massachusetts Historical Society the pair of old bronze candlesticks 
formerly owned by my father, now in my residence on Phillips Place, 
in said Cambridge. And I give to said Samuel A. Green my wearing 
apparel, articles of personal ornament and use, books, pictures, and 
engravings, as legally his own, and without any trust, but with the full 
confidence and understanding that he will dispose of the same as gifts, 



22 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOEICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

or otherwise, without any sale or public exhibition thereof, in such 
manner as he shall have reason to suppose would be agreeable to me. 

I give the house and land now owned by me, on which I now reside, 
situated on Phillips Place, in said Cambridge, and all the furniture 
remaining therein at my decease, to the Cambridge Hospital, a corpora- 
tion established by law in said Commonwealth, with power to hold and 
retain or to sell and convey the same, and to use the same, or the pro- 
ceeds thereof, in such manner as it shall deem to be best calculated to 
promote and carry out the purposes for which it was incorporated. 
And whereas, my late husband, the said John Langdon Sibley, by his 
last will and testament, gave all his property and estate to me in trust 
to retain all the rents and income thereof remaining, after deducting 
certain payments which by his said will he directed and desired should 
be made out of the said rents and income, to my own use during my life, 
with power in every year when I shall deem said net rents and income 
to be insufficient for my comfortable support, to apply to such support 
so much money out of the capital of the trust fund given to me in trust 
as aforesaid as in my judgment may be required therefor, and whereas 
he further gave the capital of all said trust property and estate remain- 
ing at my death, after deducting a certain legacy in and by his said last 
will given and so deducted, to the said Historical Society ; and I am 
advised that any of said rents and income so given to me, accumulated 
or remaining, and not expended before my death, would or may be and 
pass as my estate, and not under and by his will ; and I desire to give, 
subject to the terms and provisions hereinafter set forth, to said Society, 
in which he was interested, all which shall remain at my decease, both 
of said rents or income, and of any part of the capital of said trust 
property and estate of which I can dispose. Now, then, I hereby give, 
devise, and bequeath to said Massachusetts Historical Society, without 
any restrictions, to be used and appropriated for the purposes of its 
incorporation, in such manner as it shall deem expedient, all stocks, 
bonds, securities, investments, or moneys, derived from all or any part 
of said rents or income, and remaining at my decease unexpended, and 
not given away or transferred by me. And I also give unto said 
Massachusetts Historical Society, but to be kept with said trust prop- 
erty or estate, and held on the same trusts as those for and upon which 
the said trust fund, property, or estate was by his said will given to 
said Society, any and every part so remaining of the capital of said 
trust fund or estate which the power to me given by his said will 
enables me to dispose of. 

The foregoing is intended to dispose of all the property I now have ; 
and it shall be assumed that all property I shall have remaining at my 
decease, other than said bronze candlesticks, and the property, whether 
real or personal, hereinbefore given to said Samuel A. Green or to the 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 23 

Cambridge Hospital aforesaid, unless it shall otherwise clearly appear, 
is derived from or part of said rents and income, or said capital of said 
trust fund or estate. I revoke all other wills by me at any time here- 
tofore made, and declare this only to be my last will and testament. 

In witness whereof, I hereunto set my hand and seal on this fourth 
day of March, in the year eighteen hundred and eighty-six. 



Charlotte A. L. Siblet. 



Signed, sealed, published, and declared by the above-named testa- 
trix, Charlotte Augusta Langdon Sibley, on this fourth day of March, 
in the year eighteen hundred and eighty-six, as and for her last will 
and testament in the presence of all and each of us, who, at her request, 
in her presence, and in the presence of each other, attest and subscribe 
the same, and hereunto set our hands as witnesses thereunto on said 
day. 

Charles F. Walcott, Cambridge, Mass. 

Andrew Fiske, Weston, Mass. 

Martha H. Sawyer, Boston, Mass. 

In behalf of Mr. John T. Hassam, who had been detained 
from the meeting, Mr. Charles C. Smith presented by title the 
following paper : — 

Registers of Probate for the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts. 
1639-1799. 

At the meetings 1 of this Society held in May, 1898, and 
March, 1900, 1 gave some account of the Recorders, Clerks, and 
Registers of Deeds for the County of Suffolk, beginning with 
the year 1639, when the office of Recorder was first created, 
and ending with the year 1900. 

I purpose now to present the result of some researches con- 
cerning the Suffolk Registry of Probate, and those who have 
administered it from the year 1639 to the year 1799. 

Under our first charter, in the early colonial period, the 
Registry of Probate and Registry of Deeds were both under a 
single official, styled the Recorder. The Recorders were suc- 
ceeded by the Clerks, and finally, under our second charter, by 
the Registers of Probate and the Registers of Deeds, each of 

i 2 Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc., XII. 203-250 ; XIV. 34-104. These papers were 
afterward reprinted, with some additions, chiefly in the foot-notes, as part of the 
introductions to Lib. X. and Lib. XI. Suffolk Deeds. 



24 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mak. 

these Registries then having its own executive officer, separate 
and distinct from the other, as in our own day. 

Stephen Winthrop was the first Recorder. He held the 
office from 1639 to 1644, and was succeeded in the Probate 
Office by the following Recorders, Clerks, and Registers of 
Probate : — 

William Aspinwall, 1644-1651. 

Edward Rawson, 1651-1670. 

Freegrace Bendall, 1670-1672, 1673-1676. 

John Davenport, 1676. 

Edward Randolph, 1 1686. 

Daniel Allin, 1686, 1687. 

Thomas Dudley, 1686-1689. 

Joseph Webb, 1690-1692. 

Isaac Addington, 1672, 1673, 1676-1686, 1689, 

1690, 1692-1702. 
But as they all held a like official position in the Registry 
of Deeds, it will be unnecessary to add anything here to what 
has already been said concerning them in the first mentioned 
paper, where a full account of them may be found. 

When Isaac Addington, November 19, 1702, retired from 
the office of Register of Probate to become Judge of Probate, 
he was succeeded by Paul Dudley. 

PAUL DUDLEY. 

1702-1715. 

Paul Dudley, 2 son of Governor Joseph Dudley and grandson 
of Governor Thomas Dudley, was born 
in Roxbury, September 3, 1675, and 
was baptized there 5. 7^° 1675. 

His father, when presenting him for 

1 During the Inter-Charter period, when Edward Randolph was Register and 
Secretary, the Probate Records were, in part, attested by John West, Deputy 
Secretary. Under the .first charter, some of the earlier records were attested by 
Increase Nowell, Secretary of the Colony. 

2 History of the Dudley Family, by Dean Dudley, I. 521-534 ; New England 
Historical and Genealogical Register, X. 130, 337, 343, XXIII. 287, XXXIV. 185, 
XLI. 303; Professional and Industrial History of Suffolk County, Bench and Bar, 
1.638; Memorial History of Boston, II. 351, 428, IV. 572,609; Report of the 
Third Annual Meeting of the Governor Thomas Dudley Family Association, held 
in Boston, October 15, 1895. The address of the Rev. Francis B. Hornbrooke 
delivered at that meeting has been reprinted in the New England Magazine, 
XIX. 634. 



JaAA.t jhltitetA 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 25 

admission to Harvard College, in a letter 1 dated April 26, 
1686, to the Rev. Increase Mather, then Acting President of 
the College, says : — 

". . .1 have humbly to offer you a litle sober & well disposed 
son, who though very yong, if he may have the favour of admittance, I 
hope his learning will be tollerable ; & for him I will promise that 
by your & my Care, his own Industry, & the blessing of God, his 
Mother, the Vniversity shall not be ashamed to allow him the place of 
a son at seaven years end. I pray you will please to appoynt a time 
when he may wayt on you to be examined, which his Brother Thomas 2 
may prepare him for . . ." 

He was graduated in the class of 1690, perhaps the youngest 
Bachelor of Arts in all the long line of Harvard Alumni. 3 He 
took his second degree in 1693. 

i 4 Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., VIII. 484, The Mather Papers. See also Ibid., VIII. 
656, for a letter dated May 17, 1686, of John Cotton (Harvard College, 1678), then 
Librarian of the College, to Acting President Mather in relation to Paul Dudley's 
admission to College. 

2 Thomas Dudley (Harvard College, 1685), the eldest son of Governor Joseph 
Dudley, was born in Roxbury February 2G, 1669-70 ; and was appointed June 
2, 1686, one of the Clerks for Suffolk County. See Early Suffolk Recorders, by 
John T. Hassam, in 2 Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc, XII. 244, and in the Introduction 
to Suffolk Deeds, Lib. X. 

In addition to what is there stated concerning him the following anecdote may 
be of interest : — 

" When M r Thomas Dudley, the eldest son of the late Gov' Dudley, was at the 
Inns of Court a candidate for the practice of the law, and at a certain time at- 
tending a court in Westminster Hall, the chief judge observ'd this young student 
as he was taking his notes with uncommon care & diligence, and after calling for 
the notes of several seargents and barristers, he askt this young gent m for his, and 
in open court did him the great honour of saying his was the best account of all 
the pleadings in the causes. This I tell you to prick up your emulation. But 
still to do greater honour to this young gent m , he returned to his country a much 
better (&most excellent) Christian from the Temple than when he went to it; 
and this of all things is most worthy of your imitation." (Letter of Governor 
Belcher to his son Jonathan Belcher, Jr., Belcher Papers, I. 51. See also Ibid., 
II. 124 for another version.) 

Governor Dudley in a letter (Winthrop Papers, V. 520) dated Cowes, Isle of 
Wight, December 23, 1700, to Paul Dudley, then at the Middle Temple, London, 
says : — 

" Your brother was here but three yeares and wanted neither learning nor 
repute when he returned." 

For approximate date of the death of Thomas Dudley, see Governor Dudley's 
letters in Winthrop Papers, V. 513-515, and Sewall's Diary, I. 455. 

3 Sibley (Harvard Graduates, III. 6, note) says: "I recollect only two 
alumni of Harvard University who were younger when they graduated than Cot- 
ton Mather. Paul Dudley, born 3 September, 1675, was fourteen when he took 

4 



26 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

In the Act for the Incorporation 1 of Harvard College in 
1697, he was one of the fourteen Masters of Arts who were 
constituted Fellows of the College. 

In the same year, 1697, he went to London, 2 entered upon 
the study of the law in the Middle Temple, 3 and was called to 
the Bar. 

his first degree, 2 July, 1690 ; and Andrew Preston Peabody, D.D., LL.D., born 
19 March, 1811, was fifteen when he graduated, 31 August, 1826." 

See also " Harvard's Youngest Three," by Eliot Lord in the New England 
Magazine, XIII. 639. 

i Acts of 1697, Ch. 10, § 1 ; Province Laws, I. 288. 

The election of President Leverett was a turning-point in the history of Har- 
vard College. It was a bitter disappointment to the Mathers, father and son, 
and as Governor Dudley was largely instrumental in bringing it about, they 
never forgave him for it. At the inauguration, January 14, 1707-8, the Governor 
delivered the care of the College into the hands of the new President. " A Psalm 
was sung (Chorago D. Paulo Dudleio) and the Gloria Patri closes the whole." 
(Sibley's Harvard Graduates, III. 186). Judge Sewall (Diary, II. 208) also gives 
an account of it. 

At a meeting of the Overseers, November 12, 1718, Paul Dudley seems to have 
acted with the party opposed to President Leverett. (Sewall's Diary, III. 203.) 

Judge Sewall (Diary, II. 355) tell* us that at Commencement July 2, 1712, 
" Mr. P. Dudley set the Tune : At Gloria Patri, our L' Gov stood up, alone." 

2 His father, who after the overthrow of Andros had been compelled to go to 
England in 1690, writes from Covves to his wife in New England, under date of 
June 24, 1697 ( Winthrop Papers, V. 515), he being then Deputy Governor of the 
Isle of Wight : — 

" If Paul be coming towards mee, he shall be welcom ; if you have otherwise 
disposed him at the Coledge and he have a fellowship there, I will be content, 
though I know not whether an employment that way will be so agreable as the 
law might be. Let him take care of your affayres at home, especially referring 
to your orchards." 

See Records of the First Church, Cambridge (I. 23), for a letter of recommen- 
dation, dated June 24, 1697, from the First Church, Roxbury, with which Paul 
Dudley provided himself when " purposing, by the will of God, a Voyage into 
England." 

He may have first sailed to Spain, for in his " Essay on the Merchandize of 
Slaves & Souls of Men," he says : — 

" I my self being at Coruna in Spain in the year 1697. saw more than an hun- 
dred Men and Women passing thro' that City on a Pilgrimage, to the Shrine of 
some noted Romish Saint, at two or three hundred Miles distance from their own 
Habitation." 

8 Winthrop Papers, V. 519. 

Governor Belcher, who had frequent occasion to deplore the extravagance of 
his son Jonathan Belcher, Jr., who had spent upward of £333 for the year ending 
August, 1732, he being then engaged in the study of the law at the Temple, 
writes : — 

" Judge Lynde & Judge Dudley tell me they never exceeded £ 120 st r in one 
year while at the Temple, & M r Dudley was a Gov r '» eldest son. However, I 
know the world is more extravagant now a days." And again : "The times may 
be alter'd, and extravagance now more fashionable & tyrannical; yet the differ- 
ence is vast." (Belcher Papers, I b5, 185, 263.) 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 27 

His father having while in England received the appoint- 
ment of Captain-General and Governor in Chief of the Prov- 
inces of Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire, returned 
home after an absence of twelve years, arriving in Boston 
June 11, 1702. The son had already preceded him. 

Judge Sewall, in his Diary, 1 writes : — 

" July, 6. [1702] ... In the Afternoon Paul Dudley esqr. is Apointed 
the Queen's Attorney." 

He held the office of Attorney-General until November 22, 
1718, when he resigned it to take his seat on the bench, a 
Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature. 

At a Council 2 held at Cambridge, November 19, 1702, His 
Excellency nominated Isaac Addington to be Judge of Probate 
for the County of Suffolk and 

" Paul Dudley "Esq- for Register of Wills and Adminstrhtions &c? 
within the same County of Suffolk," 

and he held the office until 1715, when he was succeeded by 
Joseph Marion. 

i Sewall's Diary, II. 59 ; Council Records, III. 348. 

In addition to this appointment, which was made by the Governor of the Prov- 
ince, Dudley held also from Queen Anne a royal commission as Attorney-General. 
It was dated Westminster, April 22, 1702, and is printed in full in 2 Proc. Mass. 
Hist. Soc, XII. 51. 

See Mr. Goodell's paper on the Attorneys-General and Solicitors-General of 
Massachusetts in 2 Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc, X. 285. 

There are many references to Attorney-General Paul Dudley in Sewall's 
Diary. Under date of May 23, 1704 (Diary, II. 102), Judge Sewall says that on 
his return from Salem : " Refresh at Lewis's, where Mr. Paul Dudley is in egre 
pursuit of the Pirats." 

And John Chamberlayne in a letter dated Westminster, England, February 13, 
1704-5 (Winthrop Papers, V. 546), to Governor Dudley, compliments " M r Att : 
Gen : vpon his obliging letter to me, as well as of his rich wife & the fine things 
spoken at the pyrats tryals, admired by M r Blathwait & every body." 

For an account of the pursuit and capture of these pirates, their trial, convic- 
tion, and execution, see Sewall's Diary, II. 103-111. See also Publications of 
the Colonial Society, III. 71. 

It was while on circuit at Plymouth, after the adjournment of the Court, in 
the leisure hours of the evening of April 1, 1714, that there took place between 
the Judge and the Attorney-General, that curious discussion on the Resurrection, a 
fragment of which Judge Sewall has carefully preserved for us (Diary, II. 430). 
Under date of October 24, 1726, — after the Attorney-General had himself 
become a Judge, — in reply to an invitation from Thomas Robie, of Salem, Judge 
Sewall (Letter Book, II. 215), writes : — 

" I apprehend the Providence of GOD calls me off from any further labours 
in riding the circuit ... If you please to entertain Judge Dudley in my room, 
'twill please me. His Honour will be very good Company." 

2 Council Records, III. 388. 



28 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

At a previous meeting 1 of the Council June 30, 1702, he 
had been nominated and appointed a Justice of the Peace for 
Suffolk County. 

The work of welding together and consolidating the British 
Empire, aud bringing its outlying parts into closer relations 
with the Crown, essential as that work was, went on under 
our second charter, in the midst of such difficulties and per- 
plexities that the lot of a Royal Governor was far from being 
an enviable one. 

The Dudleys were of the prerogative party, and the unpopu- 
larity of Governor Dudley was fully shared by his son Paul. 

A bitter attack on Governor Dudley was made in a pamph- 
let entitled " A Memorial of the Present Deplorable State of 
New England," etc., which is supposed to have been prepared 
here, perhaps by the Rev. Cotton Mather, and sent to London, 
where it was printed in 1707. This was followed by an able 
defence of the Governor entitled " A Modest Enquiry," etc. 
" By a Disinterested Hand," London, 1707. A renewed attack 
was made in " The Deplorable State of New England," etc., 2 
a pamphlet printed in London in 1708. 

In the third of these pamphlets there was printed a letter 
of Paul Dudley 3 which was thus introduced : " His Son Paul, 

i Council Records, III. 339. 

2 These three very rare pamphlets were reprinted in the Introduction to 
Sewall's Diary, Vol. II. 

3 Sewall's Diary, II. 109*. See also New England Historical and Genealogical 
Register, XIX. 167. 

Sir Henry Ashurst in a letter to Wait Winthrop (Winthrop Papers, VI. 133), 
dated Kensington, September 16, 1704, thus refers to it: "I haue inclossed you 
a chois leter of M r D. son's heer, by w ch you may see how true hee is to the 
interest of his countray." 

In a postscript he adds : " I pray sho Cos. Sergant by my directions, & also 
M r Mathers, M r Dud. leter, and any of the papers, but not my generall leter to 
yo r bro." 

The Rev. Cotton Mather in a letter (1 Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., III. 132) dated 
January 20, 1707-8, to Governor Dudley says : " We have long since had sent 
over to us, your son's letter to a kinsman, which declares your good will to the 
charter, expressed more ways than one." 

And the Rev. Increase Mather in a letter of the same date (Ibid., III. 126) to 
Governor Dudley says : " Your son Paul's letter, dated January 12, 1703-4, to 
W. Wharton, seems to those that have read it, to be nothing short of a demon- 
stration, that both of you have been contriving to destroy the charter privileges 
of the province ; and to obtain a commission for a court of chancery, alias a 
court of bribery. A gentleman in London gave ten pounds for that letter, that so 
his friends in New England might see what was plotting against them." 

More than thirty years after the feud between the Mathers and the Dudleys, 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 29 

(the great Instrument of his Oppressions) Writes over to his 

Governor Belcher, intent upon injuring Paul Dudley, with whom he also had 
quarrelled, was endeavoring to get into his hands an original letter written by 
Dudley. He thus refers to it in his own letter to Thomas Coram, dated Boston, 
October 29, 1739 (Belcher Papers, II. 233) : — 

" I shall write M r Newman a letter on purpose to obtain from him (if possible) 
Paul the Preacher's letter to J. D." 

In a letter dated Boston November 20, 1739 (Ibid., II. 494), Governor Belcher 
desires his son Jonathan Belcher, Jr., then in London, to procure the original letter 
from Mr. Dudley to Mr. Dummer. 

Governor Belcher in a letter dated Boston, November 20, 1739 (Ibid., II. 247), 
to Henry Newman, says : — 

" This comes to ask after your health & is under M r Belcher's cover, & he is 
order'd to deliver it into your own hands, to pray you to let him have the letter 
dropt in your lodgings, being from M r Dudley to M r Dummer, now deeeas'd. It 
can be of no service to you, but may be considerably so to me, and as it shall 
alwayes remain a secret how it came to my hands, I fully depend you will show 
me a hew instance of your sincere respect by letting me be possest of it." 

Governor Belcher, in a letter to Thomas Coram (Ibid., II. 334), dated Boston, 
October 25, 1740, referring to the reception of Coram's letters to the Speaker and 
the Secretary, and the disposal of them made by the House of Representatives 
and the Council and the votes concerning them obtained by Paul Dudley, says : — 

" I think you are bound in honour to find out some way of making an answer 
and to expose him publickly, which you may be able to do by advising among 
your friends and mine, and the better to inable you, I put in this packet a book 
call'd The Deplorable State of New England, where you'll find a vile letter wrote 
by this man to his cousin in England to put him upon indeavouring to take away 
the charter of this countrey. This letter might go into one of the publick prints 
witli proper animadversions upon it, & you might send a number of 'em that each 
member of the Assembly might have one. This wicked attempt of his is almost 
lost and forgot by the present generation, but the revival of it I beleive wou'd 
do his business, & I have no reason to think but that he is the same man still in 
heart & principle." 

In another letter to Coram (Ibid., II. 524 ; Belcher's Letter Book, V. 69), dated 
Boston, November 14, 1740, he says : — 

" The Pamphlet I sent you, in which is his fine Letter, may help to paint him 
in his Colours ... If the Executors to M r Dummers will could obtain the 
Original Letter, it would be a great point gaind, and if they pursue it heartily, 
it would fright him to think of a Bill in Chancery, do all you possibly can to 
get it." 

In a letter to Henry Newman, dated Boston, November 15, 1740 (Belcher 
Papers, II. 524 ; Belcher's Letter Book, V. 74), Governor Belcher charges him 
with injustice in withholding" the Letter, wrote by M r . P. Dudley, to the deces'd 
M^ J. Dummer." See also Belcher Papers, II. 394. 

In a letter dated Boston, September 1, 1741 (Ibid., II. 411), after he had been 
superseded as Governor, he writes again to Henry Newman : " As things are 
circumstane'd I shall wave saying anything more at present upon the subject of 
the vile letter wrote by P. D. to the late J. D." 

The Thomas Coram here mentioned was Captain Thomas Coram, the founder 
of the Foundling Hospital, London. At its gates, facing the street, stands his 
statue by Marshall. In a vault beneath the Chapel he lies buried. His portrait 
by Hogarth hangs in the gallery of the hospital. 

A letter written by him to the Secretary, dated London, April 5, 1740 



30 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

Friend in London, a Letter, wherein are these following 
Words." 

'* wherein are contained many reflections on the conduct of the Hon 1 ; 1 . 6 Paul 
Dudley Esq?, and on tlie memory of the Hon 1 ! 1 . 6 Nath 1 .. Byfleld Esq?. dec d " was 
not received into the Council Files, there appearing nothing to support the 
allegations and reflections contained therein (Council Records, X. 375, June 17, 
1740). 

The Speaker cf the House of Representatives received likewise a letter of the 
same date, and the House voted, May 29, 1740, that it was " unworthy the Notice 
of this House, save their Displeasure, and that therefore the aforesaid Letter be 
delivered by the Speaker to the said Paul Dudley, Esq ; that so he may the better 
have his Remedy against the Author of the same." (Journal of the House of 
Representatives, a. d. 1740, p. 8.) 

Belcher and the Mathers evidently refer to the same letter of Paul Dudley. 

It will be noted that Governor Belcher speaks of a letter to " J. D.," to " M r 
Dummer" to "his [Dudley's] cousin in England." The pamphlet of 1708 says 
" his Friend in London." The letter itself reads " Dear Kinsman." 

Such are the ramifications of our early New England families, owing to re- 
peated intermarriages, fruitful in children to marry and be given in marriage in 
their turn, that it would perhaps be rash to assert, without further investigation, 
that there was no blood relationship between Paul Dudley and Jeremiah Dum- 
mer. There was, indeed, a relationship by marriage, William Dummer, the 
brother of Jeremiah, having married Catharine Dudley, a sister of Paul Dudley. 
But this marriage was solemnized in 1714, long after the letter above printed was 
written. 

Taking everything into consideration, we may be permitted to doubt if Jere- 
miah Dummer was the one to whom that letter was written. 

This doubt is more than justified when we learn that Jeremiah Dummer was 
not in London at the date of that letter. He had received the degree of Philoso- 
phies Doctor at the University of Utrecht in 1703, and had returned home. Sew- 
all (Diary, II. 92) tells us that "Dr. Jer. Duiiier preaches," January 16, 1703-4, 
in Boston. At Commencement at Harvard College, July 15 following, " Dr. Dumer 
rose up and in very fluent good Latin ask'd Leave, and made an oposition." 
[Ibid. II. 111.) 

Mather speaks of the letter as written to " W. Wharton." Now William 
Wharton was a kinsman of Dudley, and he was in England at this time. 
Yet if " a gentleman in London " — perhaps Sir Henry Ashurst — " gave ten 
pounds for that letter " and sent it — presumably the original letter and not a 
copy — to New England, how did it happen to be " dropt in [Mr. Newman's] 
lodgings " \ 

The indented note on page 9 of the pamphlet of 1708 (Sewall's Diary, II. 109*) 
reads : " See P. Dudley's Original Letter to Mr. W. Wharton Printed at London 
with some Necessary Queries." 

There are in the Library of the British Museum two copies of the London 
pamphlet of 1707. They are both perfect copies, whole and unmutilated. Neither 
of them contains any letter of Paul Dudley to W. Wharton. If still another 
pamphlet — containing another letter of Paul Dudley, or the same letter with 
certain annotations — is referred to in the indented note, nothing is known at 
the British Museum of such a publication, and the Library has no copy of it. 

After much research and considerable correspondence I have been unable, so 
far, to obtain any further light on this subject. Perhaps future investigations 
may lead to something more definite and satisfactory. 



1902.] SUFFOLK EEGISTERS OF PROBATE. 31 

" Boston, 12th Jan. 170j. 
Dear Kinsman, 

/ Confess I am Ashamed almost to Think, 1 should be at Home so long, 
and not let you know of it, till now. Tho' after all, a New-England 
Correspondence is scarce worth your having. . . . I liefer you to *Mr. 
. . . for an Account of every thing, especially about the # g ee p, Dudley's 
Government, and the Colledge ; both which, are Discoursed Original Letter to 
of here, in Chimney Corners, and, Private Meetings, as con- p rint ed at London 
ftdently as can be. Jf there should be any Occasion, you with some Neces- 
must be sure to stir your Self and Friends, and show your Bary yuenes- 
Affection and Respect to my Father, who Loves you well, and Bid me 
Tell you so. . . . This Country will never be worth Living in, for Lawyers 
and Gentlemen, till the Charter is taken away. My Father and I 
sometimes Talk of the Queen's Establishing a Court op Chancery in 
this Country ; I have Writ about it, to Mr. Blathwayt : If the Matter 
should Succeed, you might get some Place worth your Return ; of which 
I should be very Glad. If I can any ways Serve you or your Friends, 
Pray Signify it to (Dear Sir) 

Your Affectionate Friend, 

and Humble Servant, 

Paul Dudley." 

Paul Dudley was one of the few trained lawyers of the 
early Provincial period, and notwithstanding party rancor and 
in spite of the vituperation showered upon him hy political 
opponents, his great abilities and many accomplishments com- 
pelled the admiration and respect of the entire community. 

He lived first in Boston, where he took a prominent part in 
town affairs. He was chosen Moderator of various town meet- 
ings 1 and served on several important committees. 

At a town-meeting 2 held in Boston December 27, 1708, it 
was voted that 

" a Committee be chosen to draw up a Scheme or draught of a Charter 
of Incorporation (or any other projection) for the Incourragement and 
better Governm' of this Town," 

i Boston Town Records, II. 305, 339, 344. 

He served on Committees also — 

" To prevent damage by the Sea's wasting away y e neck." (December 19, 
1709. Town Records, II. 306.) 

On the surrender of the " Lease of y e Town Dock, or Bendalls Dock." (March 
13, 1709-10. Ibid., II. 311.) 

" To consider and prepare what they Shall think proper to be layd before the 
Town." (March 13, 1710-11. Ibid., II. 323.) 

" To Treat w th D r Cook Al>' his Incroachm' on King street." (March [April] 3, 
1711-12. Selectmen's Minutes, II. 40.) 

2 Boston Town Kecords, II. 299. 



32 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

and Dudley was one of the thirty-one freeholders and inhab- 
itants who constituted that Committee. 

At a town-meeting 1 held in Boston, March 11, 1711-12, he 
was chosen one of the Selectmen. 

At a town-meeting 2 held in Boston, March 9, 1712-13, he 
was again chosen one of the Selectmen, but declined to serve. 

He published his Objections to the Bank of Credit 3 in 1714. 

As early as 1706, when it was thought that Isaac Adding- 
ton, then Secretary of the Province, was about to die, Gov- 
ernor Dudley wrote the following letter : 4 — 

"Boston, 15 Febr. 1705-6. 

Honorable S r , — Besides my other letters wherewith I have troubled 
you, this is upon the perticular ocasion of M' Secretary Addington, 
who has been long in service here, the most diligent servant her 
Majesty has in America; but he is lately much indisposed and I dowt 
will not live loDg. I humbly ask your favour for my son, Paul Dud- 
ley, that in case I should further advise that M r Secretarye's service is 
ended, which yet I heartily desire may last long, that he may stand in 
your favour for that office. Tho' there is no salary to be had, the fees 
are worth sixty or seventy pounds per annum, and will assist him. 
His atturney general's place is not worth to him twenty pounds per 
anum, tho' he drudges at it, as well as his other law. And I should be 
glad my self to be honored to be your deputy auditor, and should serve 
it carefully. I hope, notwithstanding what I write, M' Addingtons 
life & health. 

I am Sr your Honours most faithful humble servant, 

J. Dudley." 

This appointment was not made, for Addington unex- 
pectedly recovered and continued in office for nine years 
longer. After his death, however, which occurred March 19, 
1714-15, the Governor appointed, 5 March 26, 1715, Addington 

1 Boston Town Records, II. 335. 

2 Ibid., II. 339. 

» J. Hammond Trumbull (Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 
New Series, III. 291) says that " Of nearly thirty pamphlets and tracts printed 
from 1714 to 1721, inclusive, for and against a private bank or a public bank, the 
emission of bills of credit, and paper-currency in general, this of Mr. Dudley's 
was the first, and is in some respects the ablest." 

See also Ibid., New Series, XI. 76 ; New England Historical and Genealogical 
Register, XIX. 166-168 ; Currency and Banking in the Province of the Massachu- 
setts-Bay, by Andrew McFarland Davis, II. 87-90. 

* Winthrop Papers, V. 651. 

« Council Records, VI. 336; Mass. Archives, XL VIII. 427; Boston News 
Letter, April 18, 1715. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 33 

Davenport and Paul Dudley Commissioners to take care of 
the seals and the office until the appointment of the new Sec- 
retary. Samuel Woodward, the new Secretary, arrived in 
Boston September 22, 1715, and was sworn in on the 24th of 
that month. 

Another unsuccessful attempt of Governor Dudley is thus 
chronicled by Judge Sewall : 1 — 

April 7, 1715. "Gen 1 Council p.m. Gov' propounds Mr. Paul 
Dudley for Judge of Probat. Ten No's ; Eight yea's, as the Gov* told 
them." 

Still another effort to advance the fortunes of Paul Dudley 
is recorded by Judge Sewall : 2 — 

" Satterday, Feb: 8 [1717-18]. Afterward Mr. Belcher [Governor 
Belcher] enter'd into discourse about the Nomination and Apointment 
of Officers to be next week propounded, that Paul Dudley esqr. might 
be Chief Justice ; and I put in Col. Hutchinson's Room, that place 
being near as profitable. Govf would do nothing to displease me. 
Mr. Dudley would be Chief Justice or nothing: was of a good Family, 
Capacity, his Country had yet done little for him." 

This prospect does not appear to have pleased Judge Sewall, 
for he adds : — 

"I desired a day or 2. to Consider of it. He desired it might be 
between the Gov' , himself and me." 

Notwithstanding "Mr. Dudley would be Chief Justice or 
nothing," the Council Records 3 under date of November 20, 
1718, record the fact that 

" Paul Dudley Esq' [was appointed] one of y e Justices of the Su- 
periour Court of Judicature &? throughout this Province," 

1 Sewall's Diary, III. 45. 

Judge Sewall's apprehensions (Ibid., III. 105) seem to have been aroused on the 
arrival, October 5, 1716, of Governor Shute to succeed Governor Dudley. When 
the signal gun announcing his coming was heard, the Judge and the other mem- 
bers of the Committee " Go aboard the Ship under sail, . . . and Congratulated 
the Governour's safe Arrival. The Dept s had invited him to Col. Tayler's to 
lodge, till he went into his own house. They say his Excel's Answer was, He 
engaged in London to lodge at Mr. Paul Dudley's. . . . The Governour's going 
to Mr. Dudley's makes many fear that he is deliver'd up to a Party. Deus avertat 
Omen ! " 

2 Sewall's Diary, III. 167. 

8 Council Records, VI. 623. 

6 



34 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

and it was not until January 24, 1745-6, long after Judge 
Sewall had passed away, and on the death of Chief Justice 
Lynde, that Paul Dudley was appointed Chief Justice. 1 

He was chosen, May 30, 1718, a member of the Council, 2 
and he held his seat until 1736, except in the year 1730. In 
1737, 1739, and 1740 his election was " negatived " by Gov- 
ernor Belcher. 

He continued to live in Boston — and he is described in 
deeds and other instruments as " of Boston " — until about the 
time of the death of his father in 1720, when he removed to 
Roxbury. 3 There he played a conspicuous part in the affairs 
of the town, serving on committees and acting as moderator 
of various town meetings. 4 

At a town meeting 5 held in Roxbury May 17, 1738, he was 
chosen a Representative to the General Court, but thanking 
the town for the respect paid him, he declined the honor. 

At a town meeting 6 held May 14, 1739, he was again 
chosen a Representative, and this time he accepted. The 
House elected him its Speaker, but the Governor not con- 
senting, another was chosen Speaker in his stead. He was 
re-elected the following year, 1740, and again in 1741, a 
Representative 7 from Roxbury. 

1 Council Records, XI. 553 ; Boston News Letter, January 30, 1746. 

2 General. Court Records, X. 230; Boston News Letter, June 2, 1718; Belcher 
Papers, II. 264, 265, 267, 300, 317, 333, 508. 

8 The Boston News Letter of September 25, 1721, contains the following: — 

" Roxbury, September 19th. 1721. 

Last Night about the Middle of the Night, the House of Paul Dudley Esq ; in 
Roxbury, was broke open, and from thence stole and carryed away, viz. A pair of 
Silver Candlesticks of Mr. Dummer's make, a Silver-hilted Sword, Silver Spurs, 
and Silver Buckles, Three or Four small Silver Tea-Spoons : a Bever Hat, a 
light Perriwig ty'd up, almost New ; A gray broad Cloth Coat, trim'd and fac'd 
with black, half worn, half a dozen Holland Shirts, Three Shifts, Four Muslin 
Neckcloths, and a pair of English Mens Shoes, rosted Soles. Whosoever shall 
apprehend and take up or stop and secure the abovesaid things, or any of them, 
so that they may be conveyed to the abovesaid Owner at Roxbury, shall be well 
Rewarded, and necessary Charges paid." 

Samuel Sewall, Jr., in his Notes (Sewall's Letter Book, II. 303) says: "July 
17th. [1722] Judge Dudley' House Raised," and Judge Sewall (Diary, III. 319) 
January 22, 1722-3, when he went to Roxbury Lecture, " Visited Mr. Dudly 
and wish'd him joy of his new House." 

* Roxbury Town Records, I. 328, 337 ; II. 22, 24, 28, 43. 

6 Ibid., II. 56. 

« Ibid., II. 61 ; Boston News Letter, May 17, 1739. 

7 Roxbury Town Records, II. 67, 70, 71. He was one of a Committee ap- 
pointed by the House July 17, 1741, to prepare a new edition of the Province 
Laws. (General Court Records, XVII. 3, 19.) 



1902.] SUFFOLK EEGISTERS OF PROBATE. 35 

He was one of the Feoffees of the Roxbury Latin School, 
and when the old school house, which had gone to decay, was 
replaced by a new one in 1742, he " was pleased to bestow, for 
the use of said school, a good, handsome bell." x 

Some of the old milestones, marked with the initials P. D., 
erected by him in Roxbury, are still to be seen ; but the stone 
bridge built by him over Smelt Brook, for which he received 
the thanks of the town and which was named " Dudley's 
Bridge," 2 has long since disappeared. 

He was appointed, 3 September 9, 1721, by the Governor 
and Council, one of the Commissioners to meet the Five 
Nations at Albany. 

He had always shown a scholarly interest in the Indian 
languages, and a valuable letter 4 dated Chilmark, March 20, 
1721-2, to him on that subject, apparently in response to some 
inquiries of his, is still extant. It was written by Experience 
Mayhew of Martha's Vineyard, a most competent authority 
for he had " an hereditary interest in the apostolic mission to 
the Indian," and had been " in childhood a play-mate with 
the Indian children." As he himself says, " I learnt the In- 
dian Language by Rote, as I did my mother Tongue, and not 
by Studying the Rules of it as the Lattin Tongue is comonly 
Learned." 

Dudley was elected, November 2, 1721, a Fellow 5 of the 

1 History of the Grammar School in Roxbury, by C. K. Dillaway, p. 64 ; 
" The Roxbury Latin School," by the Rev. James De Normandie, in the New 
England Magazine, XVIII. 388. 

2 At a town meeting held in Roxbury, March 7, 1719-20 (Roxbury Town 
Records, I. 305), the following vote was passed : — 

" Voted that the Select men are desired to Return thanks to the Honourable 
Paul Dudley Esqr for Building the upper Stone bridge over Smelt brook in the 
town street, And that henceforward it be Called by the name of Dudleyes Bridge." 

3 Council Records, VII. 306, 424. 

In 2 Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., VIII. 243, there is an Account of the Names and 
Numbers of the Five Indian Nations in Alliance with the Government of New 
York and under the Protection of the Crown of Great Britain, " taken from a 
memorandum of Paul Dudley's Esq. who had it at Albany in October, 1721 when 
an agent of the Province of the Massachusetts to treat with the five nations 
abovementioned. Copyed 3d of Nov. 1721." 

4 This letter of Experience Mayhew was printed, with an introduction by the 
late John S. H. Fogg, M.D., in the New England Historical and Genealogical 
Register for Janunry, 1885, (XXXIX. 10). 

See also " English Definitions of Indian Terms. From Paul Dudley's Papers," 
by J. Wingate Thornton (1 Maine Hist. Soc. Coll., V. 425). 

6 Thomson's History of the Royal Society, Appendix, XXXV. See also New 
England Historical and Genealogical Register, XLVI. 117. 



36 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

Royal Society of London, and he communicated a number of 
papers to the Transactions of that Society. 

The following letter l to John Chamberlayne, also a Fellow of 
the Society, is interesting in connection with this subject : — 

" Dear Sir, 

About twenty dayes since I wrote a large Letter to our Brother 
Newman by Capt. Clark wherein I have taken particular notice of 
Professor Brandts noble History of the Reformation in Holland &c. and 
of Your merit in translating it to which I shall add no more in this 
than to say how much our College is obliged for Yr. repeated Favours 
of that kind and that the book is making all the hast it can thither. 
But I believe his Excellency will arrest it in the way for his own read- 
ing on my commendation. I am mightily pleased to hear you think of 
adding to Your Version of the Lord's prayer and Hope to have the 
Honour of casting in at least a Mite into Your great and rich Treasury. 
But then it must be upon Condition or as Lawyers phraze it in their 
Conveyances, provided alwayes that in Your next Edition you doe new 
England and our famous Eliot justice in Expunging Virginia and make 
the title of that Version as it ought to be Nov-angliaa Ex Versione 
Celeberrimi Elioti. I beseach you not to forget it. The Version I 
now send you has not the Conclusion of the Lord's prayer for what 
reason I know not, it is just as the Jesuit who is a man of some Learn- 
ing rendred and Taught it to the Eastern Indians and You need not 
scruple to put it among the Number ; I shall Endeavour in a few 
Months to send you another Version in the pequot or Moheeg Language. 
They are a considerable Tribe of Indians to the westward of Boston as 
the Kennebeck are towards the Eastward. During the time our Indian 
Hostages and the Interpreter were at Boston I composed a small Nomen- 
clature to which I have added some Remarks on the Indian Language 
with an Account of some of their manners and Customs with my Opin- 
ion of their Origine or first Migration. But I dare not send it for fear 
You should first laugh at me yourself and then expose me to others. I 
shall very speedily send the Society some curiosities of Our Rattle- 
snakes which I believe you have not Yet met with. But they are 
frozen at present. I have lately been at Albany, which is a small City 

1 New England Historical and Genealogical Register, XIX. 20-22. 

Mr. William S. Appleton, who communicated this letter to the Register, adds 
that Chamberlayne " was ' distinguished as a linguist,' which is abundantly 
proved by the work of which Dudley writes, viz. ' Oratio Dominica in Diversas 
Omnium fere Gentium Linguas versa,' " etc. etc., published in 1715. "It con- 
tains versions of the Lord's Prayer in about one hundred and fifty languages or 
dialects, including three of the Indians of North America. The one which dis- 
pleased Dudley is described in the preface as, ' Virginianam ex Bibliis Cantabrigiae 
impressis.' " 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 37 

in the Government of New York and situated upon Hudson's River above 
fifty Leagues from the sea. You will easily find it in any Map of North 
America ; There I met with a French Trader and a Man of good sence 
Just come in from Canada ; he gave me a very particular acc°'t of the 
famous Falls of Niagara & assured me He had seen them at seaven 
different times. I have chosen to draw it up in a paper by itself 
that so you may the better communicate it if You think it deserves 
that Honour; I wish I had met with it before I sent You Kellugs 
Voyage to Missasippi that so I might have Joyned them together. 
However this of Niagara may serve as an Appendix to that of Missa- 
sippi: as I remember I desired You to present the Latter to the 
society in Generall & in speciall to professor Halley. But whoever it 
was or wherever it is, this of Niagara must follow it. I shall endeavour 
to gratifie Dr. Mead with some of the poyson-wood. But as to More 
Experiments our People don't much care for making them, if I have 
not been particular euo in my acco't of that matter you must tell me 
what further satisfaction the Doctor wants. But in Generall as to its 
poysonous Quality and Operation viz by the scent and touching, I can 
have many declarations of it Offer'd upon Oath if need be. I am 
afraid I have tired you with this long Letter and Yet I cant put an End 
to it untill I have with abondance of Thanks and Respect acknowledge 
Your last kind Letter under Mr. Newman's Cover, & the many honours 
You are confering upon me & especially of allowing me to be Sr. 
Yr. mos affectionate humble servant 

Paul Dudley. 

Roxbury, new England, 20fA Jan. 1721-22. 
Superscribed. — Copy to Mr. Chamberlayne 
about Niagara and Indians Lord's prayer. 
1721 January." 

He was one of the proprietors of Leicester in 1713, and 
when the Town of Dudley 1 was established by Act of the 

i The First Book of Records of the Town of Dudley is thus inscribed : — 

" The Gift of Paul Dudley Esq r to the town of Dudley 
Roxbury the 17 th of Novem' 1732." 
There was given to the town of Oxford, for the use of the minister, a library of 
books contributed, some of them as early as 1719, by Paul Dudley, the Rev. Ben- 
jamin Wadsworth, and other gentlemen of Boston and its vicinity. Some of 
these books are now in existence. One " is entitled ' Hexapla,' or commentary on 
Romans. On the back of the title-page is written ' Roxbury 3 d July 1736. For 
the use of the Parish Library in Oxford New England the Rev Mr. Cambel being 
the present minister 

Given by Paul Dudley.' " 

Paul Dudley also gave a volume by William Morice, Esq. 
The Rev. John Campbell in his book published in 1743 " acknowledges his in- 
debtedness to this collection, and adds : ' The Honorable Judge Dudley devised 



38 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

General Court, February 2, 1731-2, he was one of the largest 

landowners. 

In 1736 he was one of the Prince Subscribers. 1 

The Boston News Letter of January 31, 1751, contains the 

following notice of his death : — 

" Last Friday Evening died at his Seat in Roxbury, in the 76th 
Year of his Age, the Honourable Paul Dudley, Esq ; Chief Justice 
of His Majesty's Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize, fyc. 
within this Province." 

The Boston News Letter of February 7, 1751, contains the 
following : 2 — 

"Roxbury, February 2. 1750,1. 

Yesterday, with great Decency and Respect, were interr'd here the 
Remains of the Honourable Paul Dudley, Esq ; Chief-Justice of the 
Superior Court of Judicature, fyc. within this Province : A Gentleman 
not more distinguished by his high Station, than by his eminent Virtues 
and great Abilities, so long and happily employ'd for the Good of the 
Public. 

He was bom at Roxbury in the Year 1675, was the Grandson of 
Thomas Dudley, Esq ; one of the first Governors of the Massachusetts 
Colony, and the eldest surviving Son of the late Governor Dudley, to 
whose Estate, as he was principal Heir, so he inherited a large Share of 
those superior Talents that enrich'd the Mind of that great and accom- 
plish'd Gentleman. At the Age of eleven Years he was found qualified 
for an Admission into //arvarrf-College, where he proceeded Batchelor 
of Arts in the Year 1690, and Master of Arts in the Year 1693. Soon 
after which he went over to England, and was enter'd a Student in the 
Inner-Temple. After he had finished his Studies there, and had been 

this liberal thing and seduously promotes it among Gentlemen. The Donors' 
names are in a Catalogue of the Books, in perpetuam Doni memoriam ; I hope their 
Names will be in everlasting Remembrance with the Lord.' " (Daniels' History 
of Oxford, 104 and note.) 

1 New England Historical and Genealogical Register, VI. 192, XIII. 139; 
Memorial History of Boston, II. 562. 

2 This obituary notice was written by Chief Justice Stephen Sewall, Dudley's 
successor as Chief Justice. It was afterward reprinted in separate form. Chief 
Justice Stephen Sewall must not be confounded with Chief Justice Samuel 
Sewall, his uncle, to whom we owe the invaluable Diary. See also Eliot's 
Biographical Dictionary, 159-161. 

Samuel Curwen, the Loyalist, who was graduated at Harvard College in 
1735 and who has left us a most interesting Journal, kept by him when in exile 
in England, writes, under date of July 4, 1775, that he saw at the King's Bench, 
London, Lord Mansfield and Mr. Sergeant Wedderburne. 

" Lord Mansfield's manner is like the late Judge Dudley's, of Massachusetts. 
His peering eyes denote a penetratiqn and comprehension peculiarly his own." 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 39 

called to the Bar, he returu'd to his native Country, to the Service of 
which he had early devoted himself. 

As his natural Endowments were uncommon, so he had abundantly 
furnished his Mind by great Reading and close Study. His Knowledge 
(far from being confin'd to the Law) was great in most Parts of Liter- 
ature : He was well versed in Natural Philosophy ; an honourable 
Proof of which was his being a Member of the Royal Society : He 
had thoroughly studied Divinity : And in History, both civil and sacred, 
he had scarce an equal. These were some of the Accomplishments 
which so well qualified him for public Service, which was the constant 
Business of his Life. 

Upon his Return to New England he was appointed Attorney-General 
for the Province, and for several Years he served the Public in that 
Capacity. He was some time a Representative for his native Town 
in the General Court; and sate for many Years at the Council- Board; 
In all which important Offices he acquitted himself with great Fidelity 
and Honour. But it was in the Seat of Justice he was most generally 
known, and therefore most admir'd. To that he was advanced in the 
Year 1718, being then appointed one of the Justices of the Superior 
Court, of which, upon the Death of the Honourable Judge Lyndb, he 
was commissionated the Chief-Justice : and in this high and important 
Station he served the Province till his Death. Here it was that he 
display'd so eminently his admirable Talents, especially his quick 
Apprehension, his uncommon Strength of Memory, and extensive 
Knowledge ; and at the same time his great Abhorrence of Vice, 
together with that impartial Justice which neither respected the Rich, 
nor countenanced the poor Man in his Cause. Thus while with pure 
Hands and an upright Heart he administred Justice in his Circuit 
through the Province, he gain'd the general Esteem and Veneration of 
the People. As his Presence always commanded Respect, so it might 
justly be said of him that he scatter'd Iniquity with his Eyes, which 
struck with Awe the most daring Offenders. When he spake, it was 
with such Authority and peculiar Energy of Expression, as never fail'd 
to command Attention, and deeply impress the Minds of all who heard 
him ; and his Sentiments of Law and Evidence iu all Causes before the 
Court, had generally a determining Weight with those who were 
charged with the Trial of them. 

The Powers of his Mind retain'd their Vigour to a remarkable 
Degree in his advanced Age ; though he labor'd under great Indisposi- 
tions of Body : These were often heavy upon him while attending the 
Business of the Court, which perhaps occasioned his discovering some 
Impatience, when Arguments at the Bar were drawn out to a great 
Length, and his expressing himself with some Appearance of Severity : 
But if hereby he he gave any Disgust in public, he made full Amends for 



40 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

it in private ; where all who enjoy'd his Company were charm'd with 
his entertaining and polite Conversation : For, with all his other Accom- 
plishments, he had naturally a most happy Turn for Conversation ; in 
which he always shew'd the Gentleman, the Scholar, and the Christian. 
As he early made a Profession of the Christian Religion, so he was 
ever careful to adorn it by a suitable Conduct in the several Relations 
of Life. He always express'd a tender Concern for the Interests of 
his Country, both civil and religious, and greatly lamented any ill- 
boding Aspects upon either. He was a Friend and Patron to Men of 
Learning and Religion, especially to the Clergy, to whom he always 
shew'd a particular Respect. The Interests of our College he tenderly 
regarded while he lived ; and at his Death he enrich'd it by a generous 
Donation. 

All who had the honour of an acquaintance with him and his Family, 
knew him to be one of the most tender Husbands, a kind indulgent 
Master, a good Neighbour, and an affectionate Friend. As in his own 
House his Behaviour was truly exemplary ; so he was an eminent 
Pattern of just Deportment in the House of God : His unaffected 
Gravity and devout Attenion, while engag'd in Divine Service there, 
. shew'd him to be what he was at Heart, a Man of real Religion. This 
Religion was his Support and Comfort in the Hour of Death. He had 
the Exercise of his Reason during the whole of his Sickness ; and all 
along discover'd that Humility, Patience, Charity and Confidence in 
his God and Saviour, which one would wish to see in a dying 
Friend. 

His vertuous Consort, (to whom he owed no small Part of the 
Happiness of his Life,) was one of the Daughters of Colonel John 
Wainwbight of Ipswich. By her he had several Children, who all 
died in their Infancy. This Lady still lives to deplore her great Loss, 
and mingle her Tears with those of the Public." 

He was buried in the Dudley Tomb 1 in Roxbury. 

In his will dated January 1, 1750, probated February 15, 
1750, he gave to Harvard College £133. 6. 8 to be appropri- 
ated as he should direct. And by another instrument he after- 
ward ordered the yearly income of that sum to be applied 
toward supporting an anniversary sermon or lecture to be 
preached at the College once every year on certain topics 
selected by him. 

This is the " Dudleian Lecture " which is still given accord- 
ing to his will. 

1 1 Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc, XX. 212. 

Historic Burial Places of Boston and Vicinity ; Old Roxbury Burial Ground, 
in Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, New Series, VII. 404. 



1902.] SUFFOLK EEGISTEBS OF PEOBATE. 41 

By his wife, Lucy Wainwright, 1 whom he married in Ips- 
wich, September 15, 1703, he had several children 2 who died 
in infancy. 

His portrait 3 and that of his wife are in the possession of 
Dudley Richards Child, of Boston. 

He was the author of the following works : — 

Objections to the Bank of Credit Lately Projected at Boston. Be- 
ing a Letter upon that Occasion, to John Burril, Esq ; Speaker to the 
House of Representatives for the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay, 
in New-England. Better is a little with Righteousness, than great 
Revenues without Right. Boston : Printed by T. Fleet, in Pudding- 
Lane, near King-Street. 1714. 

An Essay on the Merchandize of Slaves & Souls of Men, Bevel. 
XVIII. 13. With an Application thereof to the Church of Borne. 
Added-, an Excercitation on Numb. XXXII. 10, 11, 12, with an occa- 
sional Meditation on I. Sam. XXIII. 11, 12. By a Gentleman. 
Boston in N. E. Printed by B. Green. 1731. 

and the following papers in the Philosophical Transactions of 
the Royal Society of London : — 

1 " The Character of a Christian's Life and Death illustrated. A Sermon Upon 
the Death of Mrs. Lucy Dudley, Relict of the late Honourable Paul Dudley, 
Esq ; Who Died October 24, 1756. Mt. 72. Preached at Roxbury, October 31, 1756. 
By Amos Adams, A.M. Pastor of the First Church in Roxbury. BOSTON : 
Printed and Sold by Edes and Gill, next to the Prison, in Queen-Street, 1766." 

The Boston News Letter of January 13, 1757, contains the following : " To 
Be Lett, The Mansion-House of the late Hon. Judge DUDLEY, deceased in 
Roxbury; together with the Coach-House, Barnes, and other out Buildings; and 
Gardens ; with about Thirty Acres of Land. Enquire of Samuel Williams, Re- 
tailer, or Thomas Dudley, of Roxbury aforesaid." 

2 The births of these children are recorded in the Boston Records. Their 
baptisms are to be found in the Records of the Brattle Street Church. Dudley 
was admitted to full communion with the First Church in Roxbury, December, 
1696. 

Judge Sewall (Diary, II. 129), under date of April 26, 1705, notes the burial 
of the first born of these children. 

" Mr. Paul Dudley buries his little son Thomas : ... On the coffin was nail'd 
a little Plate of Lead with this Inscription 

Thomas Dudley. 
Pauli Dudlati Armigeri et Lucim uxoris Filius primogenitus, Nepos Josephi Dudlozi 
Gubernatoris Novce Anglice. Natus est 13. Aprilis 1705. Obi't 25 ejusdem." 

3 There is a photographic copy of each of these portraits and of the " Parting 
Stone 1744 P. Dudley " in the Keport of the Third Annual Meeting of the Gov- 
ernor Thomas Dudley Family Association. Dudley's portrait may be found 
also in the History of the Dudley Family, by Dean Dudley, I. 184; in the New 
England Historical and Genealogical Register, X. 343 ; and in the Rev. James 
De Normandie's account of the Roxbury Latin School in the New England Mag- 
azine (XVIII. 391). See also Ibid., XIX. 641. 

6 



XXXI. 


27. 


XXXI. 


165. 


XXXI. 


145. 


XXXI. 


148. 


XXXII. 


69. 


XXXII. 


231. 


XXXII. 


231. 


XXXII. 


292. 



42 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

An account of the Method of making Sugar from 
the juice of the Maple-tree in New England 

A description of the Moose deer in America 

Account of the Poison-wood-tree in New England 

A method lately found out in New England for dis- 
covering where the Bees hive in the woods, in order 
to get their Honey 

An Account of the Falls of the River Niagara 

Of a new sort of Molasses made of apples 

Of the Degenerating of Smelts 

Account of the Rattle-snake 

An Account of an extraordinary cure by Sweating in 
Hot Turf; with a description of the Indian Hot-houses XXXIII. 129. 

Observations on some Plants in New England, with 
remarkable instances of the Nature and Power of 
Vegetation XXXIII. 194. 

An Essay upon the Natural History of Whales, with 
a particular account of the Ambergris, found in Sper- 
maceti Whales. XXXIII. 256. 

An Account of a Stone taken out of a Horse at Bos- 
ton, in New England, 1724. XXXIV. 261. 

An Account of the several Earthquakes which have 
happened in New-England since the first settlement of 
the English in that country, especially of the last, which 
happened in October 29, 1727 XXXIX. 63. 

Some MS. notes are in the Boston Public Library. A diary 
kept by him in an interleaved Almanac for the year 1740 
was printed in the New England Historical and Genealogical 
Register for January, 1881, XXXV. 28. See also Ibid., XV. 

58. 

JOSEPH MARION. 
1715-1717. 

Joseph Marion, son of John Marion, 1 was born in Boston, 
June 10, 1686, and was baptized June 13, 1686, at the First 
Church, of which his father was a Deacon. 

He was admitted to membership in the First Church, March 
27, 1715. 

1 Memorial History of Boston, II. 546; History of the First Church, Boston, 
163 ; New England Historical and Genealogical Register, XLV. 86-88 ; Bridg- 
man's Inscriptions in King's Chapel Burial Ground, 264. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 43 

He was bred a scrivener. 1 

At a Council 2 held in the Council Chamber in Boston, De- 
cember 9, 1715, 

" The Hou ble The Lieutenant Governor nominated . . . Samuel 
Sewall Esqf to be Judge of Probate of Wills in the County of Suffolk 
Ml Joseph Marion to be Register to the Judge." 

On the arrival of Governor Shute in 1716, Judge Sewall 3 
secured his own reappointment as Judge of Probate, but Joseph 
Marion was told that the Governor had already in London 
promised the place of Register of Probate to John Boydell. 

Marion continued to attest, as Register, the Probate records 
to June 27, 1717. 

At a town meeting 4 held in Boston, March 13, 1715/6, he 
was one of the candidates for County Register, but Colonel 
John Ballantine received a majority of the votes cast, and 
was elected. 

He was appointed May 10, 1716, Deputy Secretary 5 of the 
Province, Samuel Woodward being then Secretary, but when 
Josiah Willard was appointed Secretary in the place of Wood- 
ward, December 4, 1717, the Council 6 

" Ordered That Joseph Marion Deputy Secretary to Sam 1 Wood- 
ward Esqf late Secretary of this Province, with all convenient speed 
make delivery of all publick records books & records of the Council & 
Assembly with the Seal of the Province, enrowlment of the Laws and 
Files of Papers & all utensils & c . a of & belonging to the s? Secretary's 
Office." 

1 Judge Sewall, March 8, 1707 (Diary, II. 182), wrote some verses in honor of 
Queen Anne, who began on that day the sixth year of her reign, " Having got 
Mr. Joseph Marion to write the verses fair, I gave them to Mr. Winthrop, in the 
Governour's absence, saying, I can't drink the Queen's Health, parvum parva 
decent — Accept of a small essay for the honor of my Soveraign." 

2 Council Records, VI. 396. 

3 Sewall's Diary, III. 114. 

* Boston Town Records, II. 364. 

6 Council Records, VI. 448 ; Boston News Letter, May 14, 1716. 

« Council Records, VI. 526, 527. 



44 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mak. 

He was by occupation a scrivener, and for nearly twenty 
years after he ceased to be Deputy Secretary, the Council 
Records 1 show that warrants were continually issued to pay 
him for " writing for the Publick " " writing for the Gov'," 
etc. etc. 

In Judge Sewall's Letter Book 2 there is the following 

" Letter of Recommendation. 

Copy of a Certificat given Mr. Joseph Marion at his desire. 

These are to certify whom it may concern, that when I had the 
Favour to be Appointed Judge of Probat for the County of Suffolke, 
by the Hon b .' e William Tailer Esqr. Lieut. Governour, and Commander 
in Chief of this Province, with the Consent of the Hon b .' e Council, Mr. 
Joseph Marion was at the same time Appointed my Register. And 
during that Relation, he behaved himself very agreeably, with Skillfull- 
ness, Industry, and Integrity. And after the said Marion ceased to be 
Register, he has frequently attended the Court of Probat as there 
might be Occasion, with sutable Demeanour, in Proving of Wills, plead- 
ing as an Attorny for Parties, writing for them, and forming their 
Accounts so as they might be received in the Court of Probat. 

SamV Sewall. 
Boston op the Massachusets Bay, 
February the Eleventh, 172§." 

He was appointed August 3, 1720, by the Archbishop of 
Canterbury a Notary Public. 3 

Joseph Hiller and Samuel Tyley, who had been elected by 
the General Court November 11, 1720, Public Notaries in 
Boston, memorialized the General Court, December 15, 1720, 

" That Mr Joseph Marion of Boston Scrivener (as they are inform'd) 
takes upon him the Character & Acts as Publick Notary for the Pro- 
vince, Under Pretence (as is commonly said) of a Commission from his 
Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury," 

1 Council Records, VII. et seq. 

2 Sewall's Letter Book, II. 261. 

3 Province Laws, I. 731 note ; General Court Records, XI. 108. 

In the Boston News Letter of October 31, 1720, Marion announces his 
appointment, August 8, 1720, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, as Notary 
Public, and adds : — 

" N. B. The said Marion keeps his Office on the North side of the Court 
House or Exchange in Boston, where the Merchants, Trading part and others 
may be furnished with all Instruments of Conveyances, Sales, Contracts, Agree- 
ments, and Merchants Affairs, as well as other Clerkship with Fidelity and 
Dispatch. Boston in New England, Octob. 24th Anno Dom 1720." 



1902.] SUFFOLK EEGISTEES OF PEOBATE. 45 

and they asked the Court to interpose. After a hearing before 
the whole General Court, at which his commission was pro- 
duced and read, a Resolve was passed that the nomination and 
appointment of persons to the office of Public Notary 

" of right & by Virtue of the Royall Charter is vested in his Majesties 
Governm' : of this Province & has been at all Times So practised, And 
that for any person or persons within this Province to Claim or Act in 
the s d : office without a Commission from this Governm': is Contrary to 
and a Breach of the priviledges of the Royall Charter, and that M' 
Joseph Marion be Served with a Copy of this Resolue, & be directed 
to Act no further as Notary Publick in this Province, Unless he be 
chosen to that office by this Court." 

Notwithstanding this Resolve, Marion continued to act as 
notary. 1 

In 1724 he opened the first insurance office ever established 

1 In the Boston News Letter of December 15, 1737, there is the following an- 
nouncement : — 

" Whereas some Invidious and Evil-minded Person for a considerable Time past, 
has industriously Reported in and thro' this Town and Province, and the adjacent 
Provinces and Colonies, That Joseph Marion, dwelling in Boston in New England, 
who by Royal Authority on the third of August 1720, was appointed a Notary and 
Tabellion Publick, is superseded in his said Office of Notary ; which Report could be 
with no other Design than to impose on the Publick, and injure the said Marion in his 
Living and Employment, 

THESE are therefore to Certify the Merchants, Trading Part, and others, that the 
said Report is altogether groundless, and without the least shadow of Truth : For that the 
said Merion still Holds and Exercises his said Notarial Faculty, in like manner as 
he has done for seventeen Years last past, at his Office in King-street, Boston, opposite 
to the North Door of the Court-House or Exchange ; where the Merchants, Trading 
Part and others, may be furnished with all Instruments of Conveyances, Sales, Con- 
tracts, Agreements and Merchants Affairs, as well as other Clerkship with Fidelity 
and Dispatch." 

To this a reply was made in an advertisement of John Stuart, published also 
in the Boston News Letter of December 15, 1737, reciting that whereas some 
Invidious and Evil-minded person, supposed to be Joseph Marion, had, in the 
Gazette of the 12th inst. and in other places, publickly advertised that the said 
Marion is not superseded in the office of Notary Public, but that the said Marion 
still holds his Notarial Faculty appointed August 3, 1720, which advertisement 
could be with no other design than to injure said Stuart, these are to certify that 
said John Stuart is the only person, commissioned by the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, now in the Province to act as Notary and Tabellion Publick ; that the said 
" Stuart still keeps his said Office at Mr. John Franklin's between the Dwelling- 
Houses of Messi Andrew Lane and said Marion at the North side of the Town 
House, where the said Marion as well as all Gentlemen, Merchants and others " may 
be furnished with writings. " So that the said Marion, may not think it altogether 
an Imposition on the Publick if there is such a Report that he is superseded in his 
aforesaid Office," etc., etc. 



46 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

in Boston. 1 He is thought to have been " the first under- 
writer ever known in Boston ; and, what is more, the first 
person in America to enter definitely into this business." 2 

He also carried on a Lottery Office, disposed of lands and 
general merchandise by lottery, 3 and was one of the partners 
in the Land Bank 4 of 1740. 

He was active in town meetings, served on numerous com- 
mittees, 5 and was one of the sufferers in the Great Fire of 

1 In the Boston News Letter of Dec. 26, 1745 : — 

" The Publick is hereby advertised, That the Insurance-Office first opened 
in Boston, Anno Dom. 1724, by Joseph Marion, Notary-Publiek, is still held and 
kept by him on the North Side of the Court-House, near the Head of King- 
street, where Money upon the Bottom of Ships and Vessels may also be obtained 
for a reasonable Premium; which Affair of Merchandize as well as other Clerk- 
ship, the Trading Part and others may be by him furnished, with Fidelity and 
Dispatch." 

He seems to hare contemplated, a few years later, an assurance office to insure 
houses and household goods, for The New England Weekly Journal of November 
25, 1728, contains the following notice : — 

" Whereas a Scheme is Projected for the Erecting an Assurance Office for 
Houses and Household Goods from Loss and Damage by Fire in any part of the 
Province of the Massachusetts-Bay, by the Name of the New-England Sun-Fire 
Office in Boston . . . the said Scheme or Proposals may be seen at the Office of 
Mr. Joseph Marion on the North side of the Court-House or Exchange in Boston." 

2 Memorial History of Boston, IV. 179, ch. vii. ; Insurance in Boston, by Os- 
borne Howes, Jr. 

8 Boston News Letter, September 14, 1719. See also Suffolk Court Files, 
CXXVI. 12, 37; CXXVIII. 139, 140. 

4 New England Historical and Genealogical Register, L. 187, 310; Mass. 
Archives, CII. 53. 

A photographic copy of a bill of the Land Bank payable to Joseph Marion or 
order may be found in Andrew McFarland Davis's " Currency and Banking in 
the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay," II. 224. See also Publications of the 
Colonial Society, III. 12. 

6 Some of these committees were as follows : — 

At a town meeting held March 10, 1734/5, he was appointed one of a Com- 
mittee to consider the petition of the inhabitants of Rumney Marsh (Town 
Records, III. 142). 

At a town meeting held May 7, 1735, the Selectmen made a report on Mr. 
Marion's Proposals referred to them March 12, 1734/5. These proposals were 
eight in number and in writing, signed by Joseph Marion. One of these proposals 
was 

" That as the Release of Mr. Blackston the First Proprietor of the Town of 
Boston made by him to the said Town is now on File in the Town Clerk's Office, 
as also the Indian Deeds to the Select Men — That the S#id Release and Deeds 
be Registred by the Town Clerk in his said Office, That so the Town may have 
Recourse to the same when there may be Occasion therefor " — 

Another, — " That all Deeds, Leases, Releases, and Instruments in writing 
made and Executed by the Select Men of the said Town in their said Capacity 
or the Town-Treasurer in his said Capacity be Registred by the Town Clerk in 
a Book of Records to be specially kept for that purpose — By which Means, a 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 47 

1760, " the most terrible Fire that has happened in this Town, 
or perhaps in any other Part of North-America, far exceeding 
that of Octo. 2, 1711." 1 

The Boston Gazette of Monday, October 12, 1761, contains 
the following : — 

" Yesterday morning died here, Mr. Joseph Marion, aged about 76 
Years. We hear his Funeral is to be attended on Wednesday next." 

few Hours may discover a Hundred Years Transactions, When much time may 
be spent in Searching for Papers on Kile — Which Files are liable to be Mislay 'd, 
or lost, — Of which the Town has a Memorable Instance in the loss of a Paper of 
the greatest concern to the Town." (Town Records, III. 157.) 

At a town meeting held August 5, 1735, he was chosen one of a Committee to 
draw up an answer to the " Petition of John Bowles, Thomas Tilestone, and 
Seven Others, Representatives of several Towns within the County of Suffolk, 
pref err'd to the Great and General Court — Praying, That Boston may be a County 
by itself, And the Country Towns in the County of Suffolk a County by them- 
selves." (Ibid., III. 166.) 

At a town meeting held November 21, 1738, he was chosen one of a committee 
to draw up an answer to the " Petition of Sundry of the Inhabitants of the Dis- 
trict of Rumney-Marsh, within the Township of Boston, Presented to the Great 
and General Court, to be Set off and Erected A distinct and Separate Township." 
[Ibid., III. 321.) 

At a town meeting held May 2, 173^, he secured the appointment of the com- 
mittee "to Consider of Ways and Means for Retrenching and Lessening the 
Annual heavy growing Charge of this Town." (Ibid., III. 355.) 

He was also on various committees in 1740-1742 in regard to encroachments 
on the Town's rights at Fort Hill. (Ibid., III. 401, 415, 416, 432, 464, 468, 477.) 

At a town meeting held March 14, 1742/3, there was " A Motion made by Mr. 
Joseph Marion that the Thanks of the Town be given to Mr. John Lovell for 
his handsome Performance in the Forenoon in Pronouncing the Oration desired 
of him by the Select Men on Occasion of the Death of Peter Faneuil Esq r . & that 
the same be Entred in the Records of the Town & that a Copy thereof be desired 
for the Press." (Ibid., III. 511.) This was the first meeting held in Faneuil Hall 
since the death of Peter Faneuil. The oration of Master Lovell is recorded in the 
Town Records, III. 527. 

He was one of the committee appointed May 19, 1742, to pray the General 
Court for relief as to the Town's proportion of the Province Tax. Their report 
is recorded in the Town Records, III. 523. 

At a town meeting held March 25, 1745, there was " A Motion made by 
W Joseph Marion, that as the Old Brick Church Bell which for many years 
past has been rung at five and eleven a Clock in the forenoon, and nine in the 
Evening is now broke, the Town would direct that the old South Church Bell 
shall be rung at those hours." (Ibid., IV. 56.) 

At a town meeting held May 17, 1745, he was one of the committee to audit 
the Accounts of the Town Treasurer and of the Overseers of the Poor. (Ibid., 
IV. 78.) 

1 Boston Post Boy & Advertiser, March 24, 1760; Report of the Record 
Commissioners, XXIX. 78 ; New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 
XXXIV. 288 ; Boston News Letter, March 21, 1760. 

But misfortune had before this overtaken him. See Suffolk Deeds, Lib. 77, 
fol. 176; Lib. 78, fol. 56, 262, 263, 264. 



48 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

He was buried in the Granary Burial Ground, where his 
gravestone is still to be seen. 

He married in Boston, June 7, 1711, Ellen Bridge, daughter 
of the Rev. Thomas Bridge, 1 by whom he had several children. 



JOHN BOYDELL. 
1717-1739. 

John Boydell, son of Edward Boydell, 2 came to New Eng- 
land in 1716, as private secretary to Governor Shute. 

John Barrington — r 

afterward Viscount / I ^^g ^A? 

Barrington — brother I C^/tffo&Zs'lAJ frtf£}£0$[_ 
of Governor Shute, in 2^r * 




a letter 8 dated London, July 
30, 1716, to the Council of the 
Province of Massachusetts Bay, says : — 

" But I hope I have given you the highest proof of my sincere 
esteem, and Affection for your Country, in consenting to part with an 
only Brother, and persuading him to give his Consent to be your Gov- 
ernour ; . . . I have likewise parted with Mr. John Boydell [with Col. 
Shute], to be his privat Secretary. He has been iu my family many 
years, where he rendred me very faithfull Services, to my utmost Sat- 
isfaction. I cannot omit this opportunity of Recomending him to you, 
as a person you will find extreamly faithfull and capable in any thing 
the Governour shall recomend him to, and you employ him in." 

Judge Sewall, 4 under date of December 24, 1716, records 
the fact that he dined that day with Governor Shute at Mr. 
Bromfield's : — 

" Before I went to Diner, Mr. J. Maryon told me that upon his 
petitioning for the Governour's Favour as to the place of Register : His 
Excellency said, He had promised it to Mr. Boydell in London. And 
after Diner at Mr. Bromfield's ; his Excel, took me aside, and told me 
he intended to make Mr. Boydell my Register ; would do little but 
settle the Judges this Council, which was like to be but thin." 

i History of the First Church in Boston, by A. B. Ellis, p. 163. 
2 Sewall's Diary, III. 869. 
8 Sewall's Letter Book, II. 61. 
* Sewall's Diary, III 114. 



1902.] SUFFOLK EEGISTEKS OF PROBATE. 49 

And when Judge Sewall waited on the Governor, June 19, 
1717, to secure his own reappointment as Judge of Probate, he 
adds that Governor Shute x 

" Mention 'd Mr. Boydel, for Register ; I said if he could condescend, 
'twas a Laborious place." 

There is an hiatus in the Council Records of this date, but 
Boydell began to attest the Probate Records as Register July 
8, 1717, and he held the office until his death. 

Judge Sewall also records the following : 2 — 

"Tuesday, Xr. 23, [1718]. Supe r Court, Fined Capt. Tho. Smart, 
and Mr. John Boydell, for Duelling on Tuesday, Xr. 1 6. in the Comon 
near Mr. Sheaf's House, £10. each ; 24. Hours Imprisonment, and 
order'd them also to find Sureties for their good Behaviour till the Ses- 
sions in May. Mr. Sheriff VVinslovv had them to Prison. Clock struck 
Four when the Sentence was pass'd." 

In 1722 Boydell made a visit to England, 3 returning the fol- 
lowing year. During his absence Benjamin Rolfe filled his 
place as Register of Probate. 

Boydell was also Register of the Court of Vice-Admiralty 
and one of the Naval Officers for the Port of Boston. 

He was also in 1736 one of the Prince subscribers. 4 

Governor Belcher in a letter 5 dated Boston, April 24, 1732, 
to ex-Governor Shute, who had returned to England, says : — 

" M r Boydell & his wife are very easy under their present circum- 
stances. I suppose what he enjoys under me makes him 4 to £500 a 
year, and his grocery shop 6 (doubtless) maintains the family. Pie is a 
very honest man, & I am glad in his welfare." 

1 Sewall's Diary, III. 133. 

2 Ibid., III. 208. 

In a " List of the Well disposed Gentlemen and other Persons that Con- 
tributed their assistance for the Building a Gallery, a new Pulpit, and adorning 
the Kings Chappel in Boston, and the Paving before it in the Year 1718," appears 
the name of "John Boydell £ 5" (Annals of King's Chapel, I. 265.) 

» Sewall's Diary, III. 310,311; Sewall's Letter Book, II. 147,157; Council 
Records, VII. 409. 

4 New England Historical and Genealogical Register, VI. 190; Memorial His- 
tory of Boston, II. 561. 

6 Belcher Papers, I. 114. 

6 The Boston News Letter, June 3, 1731, contains the following advertise- 
ment : — 

" Mrs. Hannah Boydell, Wife of Mr. John Boydell (Register of Probates for the 
Count)/ of Suffolk) Sells Tea, Sugar, Coffes, Chocolate, Starch, Indigo, Spices, and 
other Grocery Ware, reasonably, in a Shop adjoyning to the Naval Office, and over 
against the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in King-street, Boston." 

7 



50 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

In a letter 1 to Lord Barrington dated Boston, October 21, 
1732, Governor Belcher writes : — 

"Mr Lord, — Sometime the last month I gain'd your favour of 24 
June, wherein I observe your Lordship's kind acceptance of the assur- 
ances I had given your Lordship & M r Boydill of serving him still fur- 
ther in the Naval Office ; and your Lordship will always find my 
promises grow into performances when in my power, M r Boydill having 
had the half of the Naval Office conformable to the time I wrote your 
Lordship. I am now further to acquaint your Lordship that M r Mar- 
shal, the late postmaster here, dy'd about 14 days ago, upon which M r 
Boydill came to me & desir'd I wou'd appoint him his successor 'till 
orders appear'd from the Commiss 18 of the Post Office at home, or from 
Coll 11 Spotswood, of Virginia, Deputy Postmaster General of North 
America, and that if he might be confirm'd in the Post Office here he 
wou'd quit his half of the Naval Office, which is worth but ab' £200, 
and the other (viis & modis) near £400 a year. Upon M r Marshal's 
death I immediately fill'd up the vacancy by M r Boydill, and wrote the 
inclos'd in his favour to Coll" Spotswood ; and since that I have reed 
one from Coll" Spotswood, of which the inclos'd is a copy, and have 
this day fill'd up the blank in Coll" Spotswood's commission with M r 
Boydill's name & deliver'd it to him. Notwithstanding M r Boydil is 
apprehensive that several will be endeavouring to get a deputation from 
the Commissioners of the Post Office at home, or a recommendation 
from them to M r Spotswood, that may endanger M r Boydill's removal. 
It's a pretty place that don't require much attendance, in which M* Boy- 
dill wou'd be glad to be establisht, and if your Lordship cou'd procure 
a letter from Gov' Harrison & M r Cartwiight (the Commiss 1 ) to M' 
Spotswood, approving of what he has done in favour of M r Boydill, the 
matter wou'd be compleat. And if you are inclin'd to do good to an 
old faithfull servant, I don't know when your Lordship will have an 
easier or better opportunity ; but of this M r Boydill writes you more 
particularly. As this office depends cheifly on the trade, I wou'd only 
add that M r Boydill is very acceptable to the trading part of this 
country." 

Governor Belcher in a letter 2 dated Boston, December 6, 
1732, to ex-Governor Shute, says: — 

" Since my last I have prevail'd with Coll" Spotswood to appoint M r 
Boydill postmaster here (in the room of M r Marshall deed), upon which 
he resigns the half of the Naval Office, — the postmaster's place being 
(as he supposes) much better. As I wrote you before his grocery shop 
full out supports his expence, and his places are 

1 Belcher Papers, I. 209. 

2 Ibid., I. 221. See also Ibid., I. 231, 370, 456, 512. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 51 

Postmaster 400. 

Admiralty Register 150. 

Probate ditto 150. 

is £ 700 a year. 
I think his lott is fallen in a pleasant place, and he can't fail of doing 
well." 

Boydell succeeded Marshall not only as postmaster but also 
as publisher of the " Boston Gazette." 1 He continued to pub- 
lish the " Gazette " even after he retired from the postmaster- 
ship in 1734. He was its publisher up to the time of his death. 
After this, it was printed for the benefit of his family until 
1741, when it fell into other hands. 

Governor Belcher in a letter 2 dated November 19, 1739, to 
Sir Charles Wager speaks of" M r John Boydill, who is now dan- 
gerously ill," and in a letter 3 to Peter Warren — afterward 
Vice- Admiral Sir Peter Warren — dated Boston, December 24, 
1739, he says: — 

" Poor Boydill, after a strong struggle with a fever, jaundice, &c*, 
dyd the 11 currant, belov'd as much as any man in his life & so 
lamented in his death." 

The Boston Gazette of Monday, December 17, 1739, contains 
the following obituary notice : — 

" On Tuesday last died here in the 49th year of his age, John Boy- 
dell, Esq ; late Publisher of this Paper, and some time Deputy Post- 
Master within this and the three neighboring Governments, than whom 

1 Professional and Industrial History of Suffolk County, The Postal Service, 
by C. W. Ernst, II. 457; Memorial History of Boston, The Press of the Provin- 
cial Period, by Delano A. Goddard, II. 392 ; Transactions of the American Anti- 
quarian Society, History of Printing in America, by Isaiah Thomas, VI. 29, 30, 
225. 

The Boston News Letter of June 27, 1734, contains the following : — 
"From New York, We have Advice, That they were credibly informed, that 
Mr. Ellis Huslce will be appointed Post-Master of Boston, Mr. John Boydell having 
desired to resign that Place, and Col. Spotswood (in whose disposal it is) having 
promised it to the said Mr. Huske, whenever it became vacant." 
In the same issue of the News-Letter is this announcement : — 
"We are well inform'd that Mr. Boydell (Life permitted) will continue to pub- 
lish his News Paper call'd the Boston Gazette, for his Customers both in Town and 
Country, after he is succeeded as Post-Master of Boston." 
The Boston Gazette of December 17, 1739, contains the following : — 
" This is to acquaint the Publick, That this Paper will be carried on as usual 
for the Benefit of the Family of the late Publisher Mr. John Boydell, deceased." 

2 Belcher Papers, II. 494. 
8 Ibid.. II. 255. 



52 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

none ever lived in this Province more generally esteem'd and beloved, 
as an honest worthy man, by Persons of all Ranks, Perswasions and 
Parties, or was more lamented as such at his Death. He first came 
over from England into this Country in the year 1716, Secretary to the 
late worthy Governor Shute, and Register of the Court of Vice Admi- 
ralty for this Province, New Hampshire and Rhode Island ; after which 
he was appointed Register of the Court of Probate of Wills, &c, for 
the County of Suffolk, and Naval Officer for the Port of Boston ; all 
which offices he discharged with such singular diligence, integrity and 
goodness, that this community never lost a more useful and valuable 
member, than he was in his degree and station." 

In his will dated December 9, 1739, probated December 20, 
1789, he mentions his wife Hannah, his sons Edward and John, 
and his daughters Martha and Mary, his " Honour'd Mother " 
and his " Dear Sister now living in England." 1 

i In Suffolk Court Files, CCCXLIX. 147, there is a letter dated November 26, 
1741, and addressed to J. Yeamans Esq 1 ; It is unsigned, but was probably writ- 
ten by John Payne. It begins as follows : — 

" Sir, 
I wrote you p? Cap! Watts of the Death of Mr 8 Boydell since which one M* 
Goldthwait at the request of the Gov* has taken the adminacon of the Estate, 
he is a very capable & also a very honest Man and believe he will do every thing 
in his power for the benefit of the Estate. 

It is very Surprizing that W. Boydell (who was a perfect Slave to Mankind in 
General) should not have one Friend that wou'd undertake the admninacon, but 
so it is, and it was 3 Weeks after her death before there was an ad n V ap- 
pointed tho' all his Friends were desired to undertake it. 

The Family are now broke up, and the greatest part of y e Goods disposed of. 
M T . a 1'atty is at M* Middletons who is a relation to Ml Peagrum. Polly is with 
Col. Hatch and Jack is at present at a Boarding School. M* Bollan promised 
his Mother to take him and he intends to do it when he is fit. Before the 
adminacon was Granted I took out all the Letters that pass'd between M* Boy- 
dell & you and also those of your Family & his Letter Book & deliverd them to 
Miss Patty as thinking 'em not proper to come into the hands of the Admins and 
those Papers that related to your Estate here I delivered to the Gov? ... I beg 
pardon for Troubling you so long, y e reason of w« h was I thought you wou'd de- 
sire to know the State of Mr Boydells affairs. 
Sent p Fones Nov. 26. 1741. I am St 

Yo* hum bl .e Serv« 
J. Yeamans Esq? " 

The Boston News Letter of July 26, 1744, contains the following : " We have 
also Advice from Jamaica of the Death of Capt. Cobbet and Mr. Edward Boydell 
of this Town." 

In the Mass. Archives (V. 481-486), there is a letter dated Boston, March 18, 
1746/7, addressed to the Governor-General of Canada concerning the exchange of 
prisoners of war held by the French. Among those prisoners then in Canada 
whose exchange was demanded was " John Boydell a Youth of about 19 Years of 
Age taken in a Vessel coming from Louisbourg by one of the late Duke 
d'Anville's Squadron." 





1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 53 

In one of the inventories of his estate, which was ap- 
praised at .£2277. 13. 9. there are, among other items, the 
following : — 

" Negro Philip £70 " 

"Judge Sewalls Picture 15 

Judge Bjfields D° 15 

Judge Auchmutys D° 15" 



BENJAMIN ROLFE. 
1722-3. 1726-8. 

Benjamin Rolfe, son of the Rev. Benjamin Rolfe 1 of Haver- 
hill, was born in Haver- 
hill September 2, 1696. 

In the Indian attack 
on Haverhill his father, 
mother, and youngest sister were killed. 

"At the assault ou Haverhill, at daybreak, on Sunday, 29 August, 
1708, the enemy immediately attacked Rolfe's house. He sprang out 
of bed, braced himself against the door which they were trying to force 
open, and unavailingly called for assistance from the soldiers who were 
in his house. The enemy fired through the door two balls, one of which 
wounded him in the elbow. According to one statement the ball killed 
him. But the most probable is, that the Indians pressed against the 
door so hard, that Rolfe, being wounded and no longer able to resist 
successfully, fled through the house and out at the back door, and was 
tomahawked at the well by the Indians who pursued him. One soon 
sunk the hatchet into his wife's head, and another, taking the youngest 
child from her dying grasp, dashed its head against a stone near the 
door. Upon the first alarm, Hagar, the negro slave, jumped from her 
bed, and took the young girls Mary and Elizabeth into the cellar, 
placed them under tubs, and concealed herself behind some barrels. 
The Indians plundered the cellar, repeatedly passed the tubs, even 
stepping on the foot of one of the children, drank milk from the pans 
and dashed them on the cellar bottom, and took meat from the barrel 
behind which Hagar was concealed, without discovering either of them. 
An intrepid man, named Davis, went behind Rolfe's barn, and with a 
large club pounded it so violently, at the same time calling on the men 
by name, and giving orders for an attack, that the party in Rolfe's 
house became alarmed, and, after attempting to set the house on fire, 

1 Sibley's Harvard Graduates, III. 310 ; New England Historical and Gene- 
alogical Register, II. 353, III. 151, XXXI. 87, XXXVI. 143. 



54 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

precipitately left. Another female named Anna Wbitaker, who then 
lived in Rolfe's family, concealed herself in an apple chest under a 
flight of stairs, and was not discovered." l 

Father, mother, and child were buried in one grave. The 
surviving children, four in number, were placed under the 
guardianship of their uncles, John and Henry Rolfe of 
Newbury. 2 

Benjamin the son was bred a scrivener. The Boston 
News Letter of August 11, 1718, contains the following 
advertisement : — 

" These are to give Notice, that Mr. Benjamin Rolfe who served an 
Apprenticeship with Addington Davenport, Esq ; now keeps a Scriv- 
eners Office at the New Brick House next to the late Mr. Secretary 
Addington's Deceased near the lower End of the Town House in 
King's-Street, Boston." 

Elisha Cooke, Clerk of the Superior Court o£ Judicature, 
having incurred the resentment of the Governor on account of 
words spoken over a bowl of punch, His Excellency informed 
the Judges of that Court that " he expected he should be re- 
mov'd from his Clark's place." While the matter of Cooke's 
removal was still pending, Judge Sewall writes in his Diary 3 
the following : — 

" Feb. 18. [1718/9]. After the Council, Mr. Tylye speaks tome for 
the Clark's office if the place be vacant. Mr. B. Rolfe, and Mr. Trea- 
surer's Son had done it before. Judge Menzies and Mr. Boydell visit 
me." 

And again : 4 — 

" Midweek, Feb. 25. [1718/9]. The Judges met p.m. in the Council- 
Chamber, before the Meeting of the Council ; and after some arguing, 
Sewall, Lynde, Dudley, Quincey, gave their Opinion, that all things 
Considered, twas convenient to dismiss Mr. Cooke from being Clark of 
the Super. Court. Mr. Davenport mention'd his Relation, and voted 
not, or voted the contrary way. 

1 Sibley's Harvard Graduates, III. 312, 313. 

2 Essex Probate Records, Nos. 24102, 24104. 
8 Sewall's Diary, III. 212. 

* Ibid., III. 212. 

See also Catalogue of Records and Files in the office of the clerk of the 
Suffolk Supreme Judicial Court, 75. Benjamin Rolfe sworn February 26, 1718-9. 
(Records Superior Court of Judicature, [IV.] 1.) Reappointed January 
28, 1728-9. [Ibid., [VII.] 185.) Reappointed April, 1735, sworn May 13, 1735 
(Ibid., [X.] 193.) 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 55 

Then, in the Closet, voted it convenient to have Two Clerks. Then 
I told the Judges, Though they put me upon Nominating, yet would 
have them previous to it,»freely confer about it. I acquainted them 
that Mr. Benjamin Rolfe, Mr. Samuel Tylye, Mr. Treasurer Allen's 
Son, had been mentioned to me, and Mr. Jn° Boydell. Some spake of 
Mr. John White, if there was but one Clerk. Mr. Davenport said his 
son was under Age, he would not mention him. Mr. Lynde said he 
would have mention'd his Son but for the same reason. All inclin'd 
to the two first save Mr. Lynde ; and he came over. I nam'd Mr. 
Tylye, and he was Unanimously voted, then I named Mr. Rolfe, and 
he was likewise Unanimously voted. 

Feria quinta, Feb. 26. Gave our New Clerks their Oaths, all 
sign'd it : I drew it up all save the last words about Fees. 

All sign'd an order to Mr. Cooke to deliver the books, Files, Seal — 
He delivered the Seal and asked 20. days for the rest." 

Judge Sewall gives this account 1 of the appointment of Ben- 
jamin Rolfe to be Register of Probate, during the absence in 
England of the Register, John Boydell : — 

" Oct r 8. [1722]. Mr. Boydell, told me he intended to go to England 
in Lethered, and propos'd Mr. Rolfe to supply his place in his absence; 
which I was surpris'd at ; I think I mention'd Mr. Tylye. He had 
spoken to me, and had serv'd a hard Aprenticeship in the place. 

8f 105 Mr. Boydell prefers a petition to the Gov r and Council, 
that Mr. Rolfe might supply his place in his absence. I take this to be a 
direct breach on the Order used to be observ'd in Nominations. I said, 
it ought to be a Gen! Council : Mr. Belcher seconded me. Mr. Daven- 
port pleaded that any Council might do for this. At last an Appoint- 
ment was made to call a Council. When men's privat self-interests 
are to be served, then Methods may be broken in upon ; which at 
other times will be strenuously urged ; and by none more than by Mr. 
Davenport. Gov' gave a paper to Mr. Davenport to be considered by 
the Judges. And his Excellency in that maner frequently passes over 
me. May the Blessed God reach out his Hand to me ; and that shall 
abundantly suffice ! " 

At a Council 2 held at the Council Chamber in Boston, Fri- 
day, October 19, 1722, 

" The General Council for civil Officers being met according to ap- 
pointing His Excellency was pleased to nominate Mf Benj* Rolfe to be 
Reg'f of Wills for y e county of Suffolk in the room of Mf John Boyd- 
well & during his absence. 

To which nomination His Majestys Council advised & consented." 

1 Sewall's Diary, III. 310. <* Council Records, VII. 409. 



56 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

Judge Sewall 1 thus comments on this appointment : — 

"Octri9. Mr. Rolfe is made Register. I said I am many times 
better provided for by others than by myself. I tried before the 

Council met, and found if I had used my Interest for I e M r. 

it would not have pass'd." 

Rolfe performed all the duties of Register of Probate until 
the return of Boydell, who resumed his attestation of the 
records with volume twenty-three, which begins September 30, 
1723. 

At a Council 2 held in Boston, February 23, 1726, the 
Lieutenant-Governor nominated 

" Mr Benjamin Rolfe to be Register to the Judge of the Probate 
of Wills & for granting Letters of Administration &c in the County of 
Suffolk so far as relates to the Administration on the Estate of Thomas 
Lewis 8 decs'! in the room of Mr John Boidel (the standing Register) in 
case the s"! Judge should see cause to grant Administration on the s<! 
Estate to the said John Boidel. The si Benjf Rolfe to have y* Admin- 
istration Bond in his Custody." 

The Council Records 4 show continual payments made to 
him for " writing for y e Publick " and " writing for Gov! " 
from 1720, at least, down almost to the time of his death. 

August 14, 1722, he was allowed £4. 5s. " for his service as 
Clerk to the Commissioners appointed to meet the Indians at 
Arrowsick in July 1721." 5 

June 28, 1734, he was appointed a Justice of the Peace for 
the County of Essex. 6 

On his petition in behalf of himself and the other children 
and heirs of his father, the Rev. Benjamin Rolfe, the General 
Court, December 23, 1735, granted to them a tract of land 
" lying on the "West side of the Town of Lunenburg," not to 
exceed six hundred acres. 7 

i Sewall's Diary, III. 311. 

2 Council Records, VIII. 623. 

8 Thomas Lewis was Postmaster of Boston. When administration on his 
estate was granted to John Boydell, a creditor, and therefore an interested party, 
the appointment of a special " Register in y e affair " hecame necessary. 

* Council Records, VII., VIII., IX., X. 

* Ibid., VII. 890. 
6 Ibid., IX. 520. 

' General Court Records, XVI. 242«. 

By deed dated September 18, 1750, recorded with Worcester Deeds, Liber 32, 
folio 84, Benjamin Rolfe of Boston, gentleman, one of the children of Benjamin 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OP PROBATE. 57 

December 23, 1737, a warrant was ordered to be issued x to 
pay' Benjamin Rolfe " Register of the Special Court of Admi- 
ralty for trying Pirates, of the Charge of the Trial of John 
Barns," .£66.19 to be by him paid to the persons to whom it 
was due. 

He was elected by the General Court 2 June 28, 1727, one of 
the two Notaries Public for the Port of Boston, and was 
annually re-elected to that office until the year of his death. 

The November Term, 1738, of the Superior Court of Judica- 
ture was held at Salem, 8 and Benjamin Rolfe was there in the 
performance of his duties, when he was overtaken by death in 
the manner described in the following notice from the Boston 
News Letter of Friday, November 24, 1738 : — 

" We hear from Salem, That last Tuesday Night Mr. Benjamin 
Bolfe, of this Town, one of the Clerks of the Superiour Court of Judi- 
cature, having eat his Supper, went to Bed as well in Health, to all 
Appearance, as he had been for a long Time, but was the next Morning 
found Dead in his Bed." 4 

He married in Boston, March 1, 1719/20, Elizabeth Garland, 
by whom he had several children. 

Rolfe late of Boston, gentleman, deceased, who was the eldest son of the Rev. 
Benjamin Rolfe, late of Haverhill, clerk, deceased, conveys to John Greenwood 
of Boston, painter, all his interest in the said tract of six hundred acres. 

i Council Records, X. 164. 

2 General Court Records, XIII. 374. 

8 Records of the Superior Court of Judicature, XII. 1. 

4 The Boston News Letter of February 15, 1739, says : — 

"Mr. John Wallet/, jun. of this Town, is appointed one of the Clerks of the 
Superiour Court of Judicature, Court of Assize, &c. in this Province, in the Room 
of Mr. Benjamin Rolfe, lately deceased." 

The Boston News Letter of March 30, 1739, contains the following advertise- 
ment : — 

" All Scriveners Business done by Daniel Marsh, at his Bouse opposite to the 
Governours, agreeable to the Rules of the late Mr. Benjamin Rolfe, deceas'd." 

The advertisement of Benjamin Pollard, Notary Public, in the Boston News 
Letter of March 20, 1740, adds : — 

" The said Pollard has employ'd William Morto, Clerk of that late accurate Con- 
veyancer Mr. Rolfe, and with his Assistance will give constant Attendance and Dispatch 
to the aforesaid Business." 

8 




58 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 



ANDREW BELCHER. 

1739-1754. 

Andrew Belcher, eldest son of Governor Belcher, 1 was born 
in Boston Novem- 
ber 7, 1706, and was 
graduated at Har- 
vard College in the 
class of 1724. 

When his father sailed for London in 1729, as agent of the 
Province of Massachusetts and Colony of Connecticut, the son 
went with him. 2 It was while in England upon this mission 
that his father received the appointment of Governor of Massa- 
chusetts and New Hampshire, his commission bearing date 
January 8, 1729-30. He landed in Boston on his return 
August 10, 1730. 

Governor Belcher's second son, Jonathan Belcher, Jr., who 
was graduated at Harvard College in the class of 1728, entered 
upon the study of the law at the Middle Temple, London. It 
was the Governor's desire that his eldest son also should be 
bred to the law, but the latter had apparently little taste or 
aptitude for a professional life, and in a letter 3 dated July 18, 
1733, to Lord Townshend, the father writes : — 

" After all my own inclinations, my Lord, I have been in a great 
measure oblig'd to conform 'em to those of my children, where it re- 
spected their future employment in life. I wou'd feign have had my 
eldest son gone to the Temple, but he wou'dn't, and chose to be a man 
in trade." 

i New England Historical and Genealogical Register, XXVII. 239; XXXI. 
57; IV. 345. 

2 The Boston News Letter of March 13, 1729, contains the following :" On 
Monday last the 10th Currant, early, sailed Capt. Fones for London, in whom 
went the Hon. Jonathan Belcher, Esq ; and his Eldest Son." 

8 Belcher Papers, I. 508. 

Governor Belcher writes to Francis Harrison, under date of Nov. 15, 1731 : — 

" I am now become a perfect stranger to all trade & commerce, and my son 
who succeeded me therein has no concern in shipping." (Ibid., I. 455.) 

In a letter to Davy, dated Boston, July 13, 1733, Governor Belcher recom- 
mends Messrs. Foye, Belcher & Lyde as a good house for him to correspond with. 
" The first of the house was in business with my father & self for about 30 years, 
and is perfectly knowing in all the trade of this country, and it's 9 years that my 
son has been in business, being about 27 years of age, and M r Lyde marry 'd my 
only daughter." (ibid., I. 507.) 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 59 

In a letter 1 to George Bellamy, dated Boston, October 21, 
1732, Governor Belcher, mentioning the death of Henry Mar- 
shall, the Postmaster of Boston, and publisher of the Boston 
Gazette, who had recently died, leaving no heirs in this coun- 
try, says : — 

" As my son Andrew is a merch' I shou'd esteem it a favour that 
they wou'd order the administrator to pay the money here into his 
hands to be remitted them in such manner as they may direct. He is 
as capable of it as any body else, and the commission may be some 
small perquisite to him." 

Governor Belcher, in a letter 2 dated Boston, April 30, 1733, 
writes to his brother-in-law, Richard Partridge, who was then 
in London, in reply probably to the latter's suggestion of a 
government appointment for Andrew Belcher : — 

"If And r will be diligent & mind his business, his compting house 
will be much more profitable than any paltry office in this government ; 
and why can't he live by business as I have done before him ? I de- 
sire none of my children to work harder or take more pains to get into 
the world than I have done." 

Governor Belcher in another letter 3 to Richard Partridge, 
dated Boston, May 28, 1733, says : — 

" My son Andrew sends his brother 4 p Crocker a cage with 5 flying 
squirrells, the dam & 4 young ones, the latter are very tame. I wou'd 
have Jonathan contrive to be introduc'd to the Princess Royal, and 
present them to her. I know they are a curiosity in England." 

In a letter 6 dated Boston, January'7, 1734/5, to Lord Towns- 
hend, whose son, the Hon. George Townshend, was then in 
Boston, Governor Belcher refers to the latter as 

" the Hon bUl M* Townshend, who is so good as to make my house his 
home, and my eldest son (of 28 years of age) is his bedfellow and con- 
stant companion, and is highly pleas'd & honour'd therewith." 

i Belcher Papers, I. 208. 

2 Ibid., I. 275. Andrew Belcher seems to have made one or more journeys 
to Comiecticut in 1732-4, to look after his father's property there. The 
Belcher Papers contain numerous letters from the father to the son, embodying 
the instructions for his visit, and from the father to Governor Talcott of Connec- 
ticut and others, introducing the son. Ibid., I. 487, 488, 501, 502 ; II. 475. See 
also Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, IV. 115, 282, 307, 312. 

8 Belcher Papers, I. 299. 

4 Jonathan Belcher, Jr., was then in London. 

6 Belcher Papers, II. 184; see also Ibid., I. 421. 



60 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

Governor Belcher, in a letter 1 dated Boston, October 4, 
1733, to Richard Partridge in London, refers to Benjamin 
Pemberton's 

" bringing the King's order to rend from me the Naval Office, the one 
half whereof I gave my son Lyde 2 towards the support of his family, 
and intended the other half for my son Andrew (the whole office being 
worth about £550 this money)." 

The order to the Governor to make Pemberton Clerk of the 
Naval Office was resented as being an encroachment on the 
rights and privileges of the Governor, that office having been 
always considered "an inseperable perquisite of his commis- 
sion." 

" However , I have obey'd the King's order, and given him a com- 
mission, tho' I have turn'd my children out of so much bread." 

He asks Partridge to ascertain 

" whether it may not be practicable to regain this office to my family, 
— I mean to get the King's patent either for my son Andrew or Lyde. 
... I wou'd realy leave no stone unturn'd to get it again, not only 
for the profitt, but for my own honour." 

Governor Belcher, in a letter 3 dated Boston, October 4, 1733, 
writes to the Duke of Newcastle : — 

" I have, my Lord Duke, reed, his Majesty's commands for appoint- 
ing M r Pemberton Clerk of the Naval Office of this Province, which I 
wou'd humbly observe to your Grace is the first instance of the kind 
here, and seems to militate with the act of 7 & 8 of K. W. 3 d , where 
the Gov r is made intirely accountable for that office, and is one of the 
best perquisites of this governm', all which his Majesty in his royal com- 
mission to me sayes, I shall hold & enjoy ; yet the sight of his Majesty's 
order in that behalf commanded my ready obedience, and I have in 
compliance therewith turn'd my son out of the office, to whom I had 
given it to help support his family, and have put M r Pemberton into 
possession thereof. How hard this is upon me, your Grace in your 
great goodness will please to consider, that while I have been con- 
stantly attacht to his Majesty's interest & honour in a strict adherence 
to all his royal instructions, and for that reason only have been kept 
out of my just support by the people, with great submission to your 

J Belcher Papers, I 376. 

2 Byfleld Lyde and Sarah Belcher, daughter of Governor Belcher, were mar- 
ried August 17, 1727. 

' Belcher Papers, 1 385 ; see also Ibid., I. 413. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PEOBATB. 61 

Grace, to have the best perquisite of my government taken from me, I 
believe your Grace must think severe & discouraging to a good servant. 
I humbly pray your Grace wou'd so consider it, as that in a convenient 
time I may restore my son to the place, which will oblige me & my son 
to pray for your lasting health & happiness." 

In a letter 1 dated Boston March 3, 1734/5, to his son Jon- 
athan Belcher, Jr., in London, Governor Belcher says : — 

" If any thing can be done about the Naval Office, and it be not fin- 
isht before this comes to hand, 1 shou'd rather it shou'd be given to your 
bro And' than to your bro Lyde, because I have lately well provided 
for the latter by making him sole Clerk of the Inferiour Court, which 
is worth near £1000 a year." 

Governor Belcher, in a letter 2 dated Boston, November 19, 
1739, to Sir Charles Wager, 3 asks that Andrew Belcher may 
be appointed 

" Register of the Court of Vice Admiralty in New England in case 
of the death of M r John Boydill, who is now dangerously ill." 

The following is the letter 4 of Governor Belcher, dated Bos- 
ton, December 13, 1739, to Sir Charles Wager: — 

" Hon ble Sir, — The 29 last month I askt your favour for my son M r 
Andrew Belcher to be Register of the Court of Admiralty here in case 
of a vacancy, since which M r John Boydill, the late Register, dy'd (the 
10 th [see] ins', in the morning), & I have this day appointed my son to 
be Register of the said Court, & pray he may have a commission from 
your board for that place in the usual form, which I shall esteem as a 
fresh obligation laid on, S r , 

Your Honour's most faithfull & most obedient servant. 

J. B. 

Boston, Dec 13, 1739." 

1 Belcher Papers, II. 191. 

The Boston News Letter of August 27, 1741, has this announcement: "His 
Excellency has been pleased to appoint William Shirley, junr Esq ; to be Naval 
Officer for the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay. This is to give Notice, that the 
Naval Office is now kept at the Office of Andrew Belcher, Esq; at Mr. Holmes's 
House in Kingstreet." 

2 Belcher Papers, II. 494. 

8 Sir Charles Wager was then First Lord of the Admiralty. 

* Belcher Papers, II. 253. The Boston News Letter of Thursday, December 
20, 1739, contains the following : — 

"On Thursday last his Excellency the Governour was pleased to appoint 
Andrew Belcher, Esq ; to be Register of the Admiralty of the Provinces and Colo- 
nies of the Massachusetts-Bay, New Hampshire, Colony of Rhode Island, and 
Providence Plantations, and the Narraganset Country or King's Province in New 
England, in the Room of John Boydell, Esq ; deceased." 



62 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOBIOAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

In a letter 1 dated Boston May 7, 1740, to Richard Partridge, 
Governor Belcher says : — 

" I must pray you to procure from Sir Charles a warrant for your 
cousin Aud w to be Register of the Court of Admiralty. It would be 
a great dishonour to me & to him to have him put out after my putting 
him in, & I can't beleive S r C. would make any stick about it, if you 
went to him at a proper juncture." 

Governor Belcher writes to Jonathan Belcher, Jr., in a letter 2 
dated Boston, May 19, 1740 : — 

" The Register of Admiralty being but a trifling place it will the 
more dishonour me to have your brother put out after I have put him 
in. You must therefore with Coram plye S r Charles close for a warrant." 

And again, June 5, 1740, in a letter 3 to Richard Partridge, 

" I would pray you not to fail sending me a Warr! for your Nephew 
Andrew being Register of Admiralty." 

In another letter 4 dated Boston, July 25, 1740, to Richard 
Partridge, Governor Belcher says : — 

" I must pray you, bro, to get out & send me a warr' from the Ad- 
miralty for Andrew's being Register. I know severall people have 
wrote for it, & I am afraid by the delay he may lose it, which would 
be a great trouble to him & a dishonour to me." 

In a letter 6 dated July 28, 1740, to Sir Charles Wager, Gov- 
ernor Belcher thanks him for his intercession with the Duke 
of Newcastle, and desires a warrant for Andrew Belcher to be 
Register of the Court of Admiralty. 

Governor Belcher writes to Richard Partridge in a letter 6 
dated Boston, August 25, 1740 : — 

" I am very thankfull for your care in sending my son Andrew's 
patent for being Register of Admiralty, which I am expecting to receive 
g Snelling." 

i Belcher Papers, II. 289. 

2 Ibid., II. 300. 

s Ibid., II. 508; Belcher's Letter Book, IV. 379. 

* Belcher Papers, II. 319. 

6 Ibid., II. 513. 

« Ibid., II. 323. The Boston News Letter of October 30, 1740, announces: 
"Andrew Belcher, Esq; having received by Capt. Snelling His Majesty's Com- 
mission for Register of the Courts of Vice-Admiralty in His Majesty's Provinces 
and Colonies of Massachusetts- Bay, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, Providence 
Plantations, Narraganset Countrey or King's Province in New England, was last 
Saturday sworn into the said Office before His Excellency the Governour." 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 63 

In another letter 1 to Richard Partridge, dated October 25, 
1740, he says : — 

" I again thank you, for my Son Andrews Commission, as Register 
of Admiralty, which is Come well to hand p Snelling." 

In a letter 2 dated Boston, August 25, 1740, to Jonathan 
Belcher, Jr., Governor Belcher, after rebuking him for his ex- 
travagance, continues : — 

" You mention the situations of your brother And" & your brother 
Lyde. Andrew lives with me. I give him his dyet & lodging, & he 
has not besides for many years past, say communibus annis, spent sixty 
pounds sterling a year, so good a husband is he, & so much he knows 
the value of money. . . . Pray compare these things with your expence. 
Your brothers have at present the offices I have given them, but in case 
of my supersedeas, my successour will have favourites (as well as other 
governours), & your brothers then perhaps stript of all . . . Your 
brother is greatly oblig'd to you for the kind sollicitation of his Admi- 
ralty patent, but he is an indolent creature, & I know not whether he'll 
ever write you a letter. ... I had forgot to say that all the places held 
by your two brothers here are not worth two hundred & sixty pounds 
sterling a year. Such are their poor settlements and mean subsistences." 

In a letter 3 dated Boston, May 7, 1741, to Richard Partridge, 
Governor Belcher again speaks of the great extravagance of 
his younger son, Jonathan Belcher, Jr., who was then living in 
England at " the rate of £530 sterling a year, or upwards 
£2900 this money," and adds : — 

" His brother is at lodgings in town, keeps his horse and footman, and 
does not spend £70 sterl s a year." 

Governor Belcher's apprehensions concerning the future 
proved to be only too well founded. His unscrupulous enemies 
resorted even to forged and anonymous letters to secure his 
removal, and he was superseded in 1741 by Governor Shirley. 

1 Belcher Papers, II. 521 ; Belcher's Letter Book, V. 25. 

2 Belcher Papers, II 325; see also Ibid., II. 542. Governor Belcher, in a letter 
dated March 9, 1740/1 {Ibid., II. 534) to Sir Robert Walpole, solicits the appoint- 
ment of Andrew Belcher as Collector of Boston to succeed Mr. Jekyll, who died 
March 1. He writes also on the same day to Sir Charles Wager and Richard 
Partridge on the subject. " The place is worth £500 sterl'g a year." 

* Ibid., II. 383. 



64 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mae. 

Smarting under a sense of wrong and injustice, disheartened 
and chagrined, he retired to his country-seat at Milton. 1 

Andrew Belcher was not long allowed to hold the office of 
Register of the Court of Vice-Admiralty. 

The following is a letter 2 dated Milton, March 18, 1741/2, 
from Governor Belcher to his son Andrew : — 

" Mr. Belcher, — I think I can appeal to Him whom I adore while I 
say I have as a good parent done my duty to you, your brother & sister 
for establishing you in the world. The shadows of the evening are now 
stretcht out upon me, my hitherto good constitution begins to fail, that 
I cannot rise & shake myself as in dayes past, so you must stand upon 
your own legs, be up, & doing. When I saw you last, you may remem- 
ber, I told you to write a handsome letter to Sir Clia. Wager, another 
to M r Wilks, & another to your uncle, & then to bring them to me, & 
I would write in conformity, & send all forward, but that if you would 
not rouse from your hug'd indolence & deadly lethargy, nor take one 
step towards your own security in the office of Register of Admiralty, 
I would give myself no further concern about it. This is now six weeks 
ago, & altho' I live within an hour & half's ride of you yet I have not 
heard a syllable from you since, so am wholly ignorant whether you 
have acted in any shape or manner on this head, in which & all others, 
I wish you well, & am Your affec. father, 

J. B. 

Milton, March 18, 1741/2." 

Governor Belcher, in a letter 8 to Richard Partridge dated 
October 23, 1742 : — 

Hears that Auchmuty is endeavoring to secure for his own son the 
office of Register of the Court of Admiralty now held by Andrew Bel- 

1 " I am got to my little cottage at Milton, where I desire my life may be hid 
with Christ in God, and there I shall indeavour to spend the little remainder of 
my dayes as silently as I can." (Jonathan Belcher to Jonathan Belcher, Jr., De- 
cember 1, 1741, Belcher Papers, II. 418.) 

After remaining some time in Boston and Milton, he went to England, vindi- 
cated himself from the aspersions of his enemies, and was restored to favour. 
He was appointed, July, 1746, Governor of New Jersey, and died in Elizabeth- 
town, New Jersey, August 31, 1757. He married his second wife, Mary Louisa 
Emilia Teale, September 9, 1748, in Burlington, New Jersey. 

2 Belcher Papers, II. 420. Notwithstanding the rebukes he so frequently ad- 
ministered to his son Andrew, Governor Belcher, in a letter dated September 20, 
1742 (Ibid., II. 557) to Richard Waldron about Andrew Belcher and Waldron's 
going to England with Colonel Vassall, says : " A father, I own, is easily blinded in 
favour of a son, but if I am not, I think he [Andrew Belcher] is a cautious, sedate, 
prudent young gent™, & his conversation agreeable ; I wish his sire had had the 
power of begetting in him more vivacity & fire." 

» Ibid., II. 557. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 65 

cher, and desires Mr. Partridge " to do all in your power to prevent so 
great a misfortune." 

But all Governor Belcher's efforts were of no avail, as is 
shown by the following letter 1 to his son Andrew. It is dated 
Milton, April 20, 1743. 

" . . .1 am much concern'd for the loss of your place in the Ad- 
miralty Court. I think I can truly say, more than I was upon hearing 
of my own supersedeas. I pray God to support you under it, & by 
this dark providence teach you the uncertainty & mutability of all 
human affairs ; & may God carry up your thoughts on this occasion to 
Himself, and show you that there can be no true happiness or satisfac- 
tion short of a fixed, saving interest in the favour & mercy of God, 
through Jesus Christ, His blessed Son, the only Saviour of poor lost 
man. If this melancholy scene lead you into a realizing sense of these 
things, it will prove the happiest article of your life. God, of his in- 
finite mercy in Jesus Christ, so make it. Amen. Your other small 
place will be some help, and we must be thinking how to improve the 
little stock you have in the best manner. I shall always stand ready to 
do every thing in my power to assist & comfort you, for I am, dear 
Andrew, Your very affectionate father, 

J. B. 
Milton, April 20 th 1743." 

In a letter 2 dated Milton, May 3, 1743, to Richard Partridge, 
Governor Belcher says : — 

" I am much concern'd for my son A.B.'s loss of his place in the Ad- 
miralty Court, it being his main support, and this, 1 am told, was done 
a month before you knew any thing of the matter. I shall be glad you 
& his other friends may be able to get him restor'd tho' I tell him he must 
hardly maintain a hope of it, for I can't see it consistent with the honour 
of the Crown, or with that of its officers, to thrust persons out & 
suddenly to restore them. Yet 1 shall take it very kindly if you '11 
endeavour to serve him in this or in any other way." 

In a letter 3 dated May 10, 1743, to Colonel John Vassall, 
Governor Belcher desires him to try to get Andrew Belcher 
restored to the office of Register of the Court of Admiralty. 

The " other small place " which still remained to Andrew 
Belcher was the office of Register of Probate. 

* Belcher Papers, II. 448. 2 Ibid., IL 461. » Ibid., H. 580. 

9 



66 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

" At a Council * held at y e Counc! Chambr in Boston on 
Fryday Deer 21 1739," His Excellency the Governor [Jonathan 
Belcher] was pleased to nominate . . . 

"Andrew Belcher Esqf to be Register of Wills &c for the County of 
Suffolk in the room of John Boydel Esq- dec d ." 

And Governor Shirley, on his accession to the Governor- 
ship, reappointed 2 him, November 5, 1741. 

At a Council 3 held July 14, 1749, His Excellency nominated 

" M r John Payne to be Register of Wills &c for the County of Suf- 
folk, during the Absence of Andrew Belcher Esq? (the standing Register 
out of the Province." 

At a Council' 4 held in Boston January 25, 1754, His Excel- 
lency nominated 

" M; John Shirley to be Register of Wills &c? in the County of 
Suffolk, in the room of Andrew Belcher, Esqf " 

This ended Andrew Belcher's connection with the Probate 
Office. 

But the efforts made in his behalf to secure his restoration 
to the office of Register of the Court of Vice-Admiralty were 
successful. His second commission 6 as Register of that Court, 
from the Lords of the Admiralty, bears date July 22, 1743. 
He held this office at the time of his death. 

He was one of the Prince subscribers 6 in 1736, and a Justice 
of the Peace 7 in 1738. 

1 Council Records, X. 339. The Boston News Letter of Thursday, December 
27, 1739, announces that on Friday last his Excellency the Governor, among 
other appointments, made the following : " Andrew Belcher Esq ; to be Register 
of the Court of Probate for the County of Suffolk." 

2 Council Records, X. 552. 
a Ibid., XII. 111. 

* Ibid., XII. 321. 

6 Mass. Archives, XLIII. 634. 

The Boston News Letter of October 10, 1765, contains the following : " The 
Public are hereby informed, that the Honorable Andrew Belcher, Esq ; 
Register of the Court of Vice-Admiralty for the Province of the Massachu- 
setts Bay, has appointed Mr Ezekiel Price to be his Deputy in the Room of 
William Stokt, Esq ; and that the Business relative to said Court will be 
attended at Mr. Price's Office, the South Side of the Court-House." 

6 Memorial History of Boston, II. 561 ; New England Historical and Genea- 
logical Register, VI. 190, XIX. 206. 

1 Council Records, X. 196; Boston News Letter, March 16, 1738. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 67 

In deeds and other instruments he is described as of Boston, 
until after his marriage 1 in 1754, when he removed to Milton. 

He represented Milton in the General Court from 1759 to 
1764, and he was a member 2 of the Council in 1764, 1765, 
1766, and 1767. 

Governor Hutchinson, August 14, 1770, writes : s — 

" M r Belcher the Register of the Court of Vice Admiralty is in a 
desperate state of health and his Physicians think cannot continue many 
weeks." 

Plans were even then laid to provide him with a successor. 
The Boston News Letter of January 81, 1771, contained the 
following obituary notice : — 

" On Thursday the 24th Instant died at his Seat in Milton, the Hon. 
Andrew Belcher, Esq; in the 65th Year of his Age: He was eldest 
Son of the late Governor Belcher, and for some Years a member of 
his Majesty's Council for this Province. — His Remains were decently 
interred in this Town, last Monday in the Afternoon." 

1 Governor Belcher, in a letter to Andrew Oliver (Letter Book, VIII. 339) 
dated Elizabethtown, New Jersey, April 5, 1754, writes : " I am now with Pleasure 
to advise you that my Sons Marriage with my Wife's very good Daughter was 
consummated yesterday in the evning about 8 : Clock and I think to the good 
Satisfaction of all coneern'd therein and I pray God that they may be long 
Happy living together as Heirs of the Grace of Life Amen." 

In another letter to Andrew Oliver (Letter Book, VIII. 364) dated Elizabeth- 
town, New Jersey, May 3, 1754, Governor Belcher thanks him for his " Con- 
gratulation upon the late double Alliance between myself and my Wife and in 
which I hope by the Favour of God my Son and Daughter may be long happy 
I believe they cant readily fix the Day of beginning their Journey homeward 
but which I suppose will be some time this Month I am full with them in their 
Prudent Resolution of going directly to their own House at Milton." 

In a letter to John Foye (Letter Book, VIII. 407) dated Elizabethtown, 
New Jersey, June 13, 1754, Governor Belcher thus refers to his son Andrew : " He 
& his Wife took leave of us last Fryday & I hope are now well forward in their 
Journey I pray God send them in Safety to Milton." 

Governor Belcher, in a letter to Andrew Belcher (Letter Book, VIII. 426) 
dated Elizabethtown, New Jersey, July 12, 1754, mentions the receipt of a letter 
from the son, written at New Haven, and adds : " I am now to own the due 
Reciept of your good Letter of the 20 ; of the last Month & we all praise God 
that you are got in Health & Safety to y] desired Milton." 

And in another letter to Andrew Belcher (Letter Book, VIII. 451) dated 
August 16, 1754, Governor Belcher asks for an account of rents : " That of 
Milton to 4: of April last (when it became yours). And those of Boston to 
20 : of June when you arriv'd at Milton." 

2 In 1764, while a member of the House of Representatives, he was chosen to 
the Council in place of Timothy Ruggles, who had been elected, but had declined 
to serve. (Journal of the House of Representatives, 1764, pp. 65, 68-70.) 

8 Mass. Archives, XXVI. 535. 



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125: - 


_»» 



68 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

He died intestate and without issue, and his widow Eliza- 
beth Belcher was appointed administratrix of his estate, which 
was appraised at £1062 : 16 : 4. 

In the inventory there are, among other items, the follow- 
ing:— 

" 4 family Seals with handles 

" House in Boston Tenented by Christ! Prince &c 

200 acres land in freetown 

500 acres in Belcher Town 

He married in Elizabeth, New Jersey, April 4, 1754, Eliza- 
beth Teale, 1 a daughter of Mary Louisa Emilia Teale, the sec- 
ond wife of his father, Governor Belcher. 

1 Their marriage contract, dated March 27, 1754, was recorded July 23, 1754, 
with Suffolk Deeds, Lib. 85, fol. 200. 

After the death of Andrew Belcher, Elizabeth Belcher, his widow, and her 
mother, Mary Louisa Emilia Belcher, the widow of Governor Belcher, continued 
to reside on the Belcher estate in Milton. On the 27th of January, 1776, the 
Belcher house was destroyed by fire. It was afterward rebuilt. (Eliot's Bio- 
graphical Dictionary, 57 note; Teele's History of Milton, 111, 113.) 

Samuel Curwen (Harvard College, 1735), the Loyalist, to whose Journal, kept 
when he was an exile in England, reference has already been made, gives much 
information concerning his fellow refugees. At Dover, under date of July 3, 
1775, he writes : — 

" At the Coffee-house met James Teal, a son of the widow of the late Gov. 
Belcher, of Massachusetts, by her first husband. He wished to convey intelli- 
gence of his residence here to his mother in New England ; his letters have mis- " 
carried for some time past." 

The will of Mary Louisa Emilia Belcher, of Milton, widow of Governor Belcher, 
dated February 22, 1770, was probated April 27, 1782. 

By deed dated May 15, 1781, recorded with Suffolk Deeds, Lib. 132, fol. 216, 
Elizabeth Belcher, widow, conveyed to John Rowe, of Boston, merchant, a farm 
with woodland and marshes lying in seven tracts, partly in Milton, partly in Dor- 
chester, and partly in Braintree, all formerly of Jonathan Belcher, late Governor, 
one of said tracts being " the homestead farm on which I the said Elizabeth now 
live and on which his excellencies seat formerly stood and which contains by esti- 
mation two hundred Acres," situated partly in Braintree and partly in Milton. 

In the Massachusetts Archives (CCXXXVII. 319) is the following petition of 
Elizabeth Belcher, the widow of Andrew Belcher : — 

" To the honorable senate and house of representatives of the commonwealth of 
Massachusetts in general court assembled 
Elizabeth lielcher respectfully shews that she is a native of England and that 
there are all her natural connections and the principal part of her property and 
resources for subsistance which are irresistable inducements to her to remove to 
that country and a convenient opportunity now presenting by which she can in a 
cartel with small expence and great safety at this time transport herself and 
effects to New York and from thence immediately for England she therefore at 
this time intreats the permission of the court that she may depart this common- 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 69 

JOHN PAYNE. 

1749, 1754, 1755-1759. 

John Payne, son of William Payne, was born in Boston, 
February 9, 1712. His brother, Edward Payne, in his account 1 
of the family thus speaks of him : — 

" My brother John Payne lived two years A t s-\ 
as an apprentice to Mr. Jona. Sewall, viz., till Jfrnri JoJJttjf 
his Decease ; then he wrote in the Register's ff 

Office with Mr. Boydell, till his Decease, 

being 1740; after which he continued in said Office under Mr. Jona. 
Belcher, while he held said office, being ; then under Mr. Auch- 

muty while he held the said Office, being . Then under Mr. Bel- 

cher again, in which Place he continues at this day." 

At a Council 2 held in Boston July 14, 1749, the Governor 
nominated 

" M r John Payne to be Register of Wills &c. for the County of 
Suffolk, during the Absence of Andrew Belcher EsqT (the standing 
Register out of the Province. To which Nomination the Council 
Advised & Consented." 

wealth in manner as aforesaid and take with her one female servant and personal 
appendages and your petitioner as in duty bound will ever pray 

Eliz? Belches " 

This petition was granted and the General Court, September 26, 1782, passed 
the following Resolve : — 

" On the petition of Elizabeth Belcher, 

Resolved, That said Elizabeth Belcher be and she hereby is permitted to go to 
New York, in any cartel bound from this Commonwealth to that place, for reasons 
set forth in her petition, not to return again without leave first obtained from the 
legislature of this Commonwealth, and also to take with her a servant girl and 
their personal appendages, and such effects only as may be necessary for their 
suitable accommodation on their passage to England; and the Commissary of 
Prisoners is hereby directed carefully to inspect her and her effects, and to take 
especial care that no letters of intelligence be conveyed to the enemies of the 
United States by means hereof." (Chapter 15 of the Laws and Resolves of 
Massachusetts, 1782-3 September Session.) 

Letters of administration on the estate of Elizabeth Belcher, late of Milton, 
deceased, widow of Andrew Belcher, late of said Milton, deceased, were granted 
February 11, 1794, to Edward Hutchinson Robbins, of Milton. The citation bears 
date May 9, 1792. 

1 Genealogy of the Payne and Gore Families, Publications of the Prince So- 
ciety, 18 ; 1 Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc, XIII. 405 ; Memorial History of Boston, II. 
549 ; New England Historical and Genealogical Register, XLII. 256. 

a Council Records, XII. 111. 



70 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

At a Council 1 held in Boston September 20, 1754, 

" His Excellency also nominated M' John Payne to be Register of 
Wills &c", for the County of Suffolk, in the Room of John Shirley Esq? 
for the Space of three Months from this Time, or untill the Return of 
the said John Shirley in Case it be before three Months be expired." 

At a Council 2 held in Boston, January 11, 1755, the Gover- 
nor made the following nomination : — 

" Mr John Payne to be Register of Wills &c* for the County of 
Suffolk in the Room of John Shirley Esq' for the Term of two Months, 
Provided the said John Shirley be absent so long." 

The Council consented to these nominations. 

At a Council 3 held in Boston March 28, 1755, the Governor 
announced the resignation of John Shirley as Register of Wills, 
etc., and then nominated 

" M* John Payne & Mr John Cotton to be Joint Registers of Wills 
&c* within the County of Suffolk," 

and the Council consented. 

The General Court 4 in 1754 passed an " Act to enable John 
Payne of Boston, gentleman, to attest certain records in the 
Probate Office of the County of Suffolk," reciting that 

" Whereas the records in the probate office of the county of Suffolk, 
from the seventeenth day of February, one thousand seven hundred and 
forty three, until the first day of February, one thousand seven hundred 
and fifty-four, have not been attested by the register of probates for 
said county ; and whereas John Payne of Boston, gentleman, for and 
during the whole term aforesaid, has acted as a clerk in said office, and 
all original papers registred in the books of said office have, by the said 
Payne, been compared with the registry or records, before such papers 
were delivered out of said office," — 

said Payne was authorized and empowered to attest the records 
during the term aforesaid. 

He was Deputy Register of the Court of Vice-Admiralty 6 

i Council Records, XII. 357. 
2 Ibid., XII. 378. 
» Ibid., XII. 394. 

4 Province Laws, III. 750 ; Mass. Archives, XIX. 152. 
6 Boston News Letter! December 11, 1740 et seq. 

In Mass. Archives, XLIII. 634, there is a commission dated January 10, 1753, 
of " Andrew Belcher Esquire Register of the Court of Vice-Admiralty in his 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 71 

for many years — as early at least as 1740 — and so continued, 
with perhaps some brief intermissions, up to the day of his 
death. At one time he had charge of the Naval Office. 1 

He was a Prince subscriber 2 in 1736. 

The Boston Evening Post of Monday, November 19, 1759, 
contains the following obituary notice : — 

" Last Saturday Morning died here after a short and violent Illness, 
Mr. John Payne, a Gentlaman of known Abilities in the several Offices 
he sustained, and remarkable for his unsullied Integrity : He was a 
Father as well as a Son to his aged Mother, and not only a Brother, but 
a Guardian to his Sisters. His Death is as justly as it is universally 
lamented." 

In his will, dated March 25, 1752, probated November 23, 
1759, he gives all his estate to his " Hon*? Mother Margaret 
Payne of Boston afores* Widow," making her sole executrix. 
This will, although not signed by the testator, was allowed by 
the Judge of Probate, so far as respected personal estate. 

The inventory shows personal property amounting to 
£1198. 12. 9, and real estate consisting of one ninth of a house 
in Cornhill, appraised at £26. 13. 4. 

The executrix's account mentions 

" paid And. Belcher Esqf for moneys Lodg'd in the hands of the De- 
ceasd as Dep y Register of the Court of Admiralty. £1290. 19. 6." 

Majesty's Provinces & Colonies of the Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, 
Rhode Island &c* in America " appointing John Payne of Boston gentleman " my 
Sufficient and Lawfull Deputy for the Province of the Massachusetts Bay afore- 
said and Maritime Parts of the same in the Room and stead of William Story my 
former Deputy for the Province aforesaid whom by these Presents I Supersede." 

1 In Suffolk Court Files CCCCXVI. 27-29, there are several depositions con- 
cerning a personal encounter February 23, 1749/50, of John Payne with " Benjamin 
Pemberton of Boston aforesaid Esq; & Naval Officer of Our Province of the Massa- 
chusetts Bay " in consequence of remarks made by Pemberton concerning the fees 
paid for "a Pass Captain [Solomon] Davis had Lately had from his Honour Liev' 
Governour Phips ; for his Brigantine to Pass the Castle on Sunday." Payne 
" within the Courthouse in Boston aforesaid with force & Arms a Violent As- 
sault on y e Body of the said Benjamin committed Struck him Diverse Grevious 
blows on his face and other Parts of his Body." See also CCCCXI. 32, CCCCIV. 
55, and CCCCXIX. 65. 

2 Memorial History of Boston, II. 562 ; New England Historical and Genea- 
logical Register, VI. 196. 




72 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

JOHN SHIRLEY. 
1754, 1755. 

John Shirley was a son of Governor Shirley. 1 

At a Council 2 held in Boston 
January 25, 1754, His Excel- 
lency was pleased to nominate 

" M* John Shirley to be Register • 
of Wills &c* in the County of Suf- 
folk, in the room of Andrew Belcher EsqT," 

to which nomination the Council advised and consented. 

At a Council 3 held September 20, 1754, John Payne was 
appointed Register 

" in the Room of John Shirley EsqT for the Space of three Months 
from this Time, or untill the Return of the said John Shirley in Case it 
be before three Months be expired." 

Payne was again appointed Register January 11, 1755, 

" for the Term of two Months, Provided the said John Shirley be 
absent so long." * 

At a Council 6 held March 28, 1755, 

" His Excellency intimated to the Council that John Shirley 
EsqT had resigned his Office of Register of Wills for the County of 
Suffolk ; And then nominated " 

John Payne and John Cotton in his stead. 

1 William Shirley, afterward Governor Shirley, arrived in Boston October 27, 
1731. "M r Shirley arriv'd here 27 in the evens, and made me a short visit, and 
din'd with me yesterday ... I shall heartily recommend him (as a pleader) to 
the Courts of the several counties in this and the neighbouring Province, and to 
the Superiour Judges in their Circuits." (Governor Belcher's letter October 29, 
1731, to Arthur Onslow, Speaker of the House of Commons. Belcher Papers, 
I. 21.) 

"M r Shirley is got safe to us with his good lady & family." (Governor 
Belcher's letter November 20, 1731, to Henry Newman, Ibid., I. CO.) 

Shirley succeeded Belcher as Governor, Ids commission bearing date May 
25, 1741. 

2 Council Records, XII. 321. 

3 Ibid., XII. 357. 
« Ibid., XII. 378. 
* Ibid., XII. 394. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 73 

The Boston Gazette of September 8, 1754, says : 1 — 

"On Saturday last John Shirley, Esq; Son of His Excellency 
our Governour, arrived here from Falmouth in Casco Bay," 

and he gave an interesting account of the expedition of Lieu- 
tenant^Colonel Preble, with the forces under his command, to 
the head waters of the Kennebec. 

" His Excellency was in good Health when Mr. Shirley left him, 
and proposes to be in Town, with the Gentlemen who attend him, in 
about ten Days Time." 

These repeated absences from his duties in the Probate 
Office were caused by his employment in other public affairs. 
He recruited men for his father's regiment and received a com- 
mission as Captain. 

The following November he was in New York, as appears 
by a letter 2 written by him to Governor Morris, of Pennsyl- 
vania, on the 19th of that month, and he was then about to 
return to Boston. 

In another letter 3 to Governor Morris, dated Boston, May 
29, 1755, he refers to the preparations then making for the 
expedition to Niagara. 

"Dear Sir: 

I should not sleep quiet on my Bed was this Express to go away 
without a line from me, to give You a short Acco' of our Proceedings. 
The Nova Scotia Troops sail'd not 'till four days after our Return 
hither . . . 

We go on as fast as I expected in our particular Expedition, & this 
Province & Connecticut Seem near ready to march their Men towards 
Crown Point. Our Regiment will begin to move in Companies from 
hence to Providence, where Transports are ready to receive 'em, by 
this day Week, & they are to proceed directly to Albany, without de- 
barking at New York. . . . 

1 New England Historical and Genealogical Register, XXII. 406 ; 1 Collec- 
tions Maine Historical Society, VIII. 230 ; see also Boston News Letter, Septem- 
ber 5, 1754. The Boston Gazette of September 10, 1754, announces : — 

" Testerday about Noon, the Province Sloop, Thomas Sanders Master, arrived 
before Castle William, after a very short Passage from Falmouth in Casco-Bay, 
with His Excellency our Governour, and several Gentlemen attending him, on 
board; at which Place His Excellency has for some Time past resided, and where 
His Presence was peculiarly wanted, in managing the important Affairs of the 
Province on our Eastern Borders." 

* Penn Archives, II. 199. « Ibid., II. 332. 

10 



74 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY, [Mar. 

This is possitively all my time will allow me to say to You at present, 
for my father takes up every Moment of it, & I imagine, if I was not 
his Son, as he is now a Major General, he would declare me his Aid 
de Camp ; but you know how nice he is in providing for those w eh all 
y e World beside provide for first . . . 

I am w th the warmest Affection, 

D r Sir, Your Oblig'd & most 

Obedient Servant, 

John Shirley. 

. . . My father & myself dont move from hence before three Weeks, 
every body else goes w th y e Regiment." 

In a letter 1 to Governor Morris, dated Oneida Carrying 
Place, August 12, 1755, he informs him : — 

"... I have little of News to add since my father's last letter to 
You, inclosing Copies of his Orders to Col. Dunbarr, whose Retreat is 
tbo't by many here to be a greater Misfortune than the late Gen 1 Brad- 
dock's unhappy Defeat. What Dishonour is thereby reflected upon 
the British Army ! . . . 

We left Albany the 24th of July & w th great Difficulty got here not 
till ye 8 th Instant, the Wafer being excessively low . . . 

We go from hence tomorrow, & expect to be at Oswego in 4 days 
afterwards. Col. Mercer will be six days behind us, & we can't have 
less than six more to fit out from Oswego after he joins us, so that we 
shan't be before Niagara 'till the 1" Week in ye next month. ... My 
father has been so good as to declare me one of his Aid-de-Camps. . . . 

If you will promise to excuse Blots, Interlineations & Grease (for 
this is wrote in ye open Air upon ye head of a Pork bb 1 & 20 People 
abo' me) I will begin another half sheet." 

In another letter 2 to Governor Morris, dated Oswego, 'July 
[August] 20, 1755, he says : — 

" I wrote to you about Six days ago from the Great Carrying place. 
We got here safe the day before yesterday, & expect Col. Mercer will 
be here by the 24"', w th the last of everything b'longing to the Ex- 
pedition. ... I find this Express is just going; We must, I perceive, 
stay here 10 days longer." 

In a letter 3 to Governor Morris dated Oswego, September 
8, 1755, he writes : — 

" Dear Sir, 

I am much oblig'd to You for yo r two letters dated 21st & 24th 
Aug', & for the hint you have given my father concerning my being 
i Penn. Archives, II. 387. 8 Ibid., II. 381. 8 Ibid., II. 402. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 75 

sent home w th his Dispatches. My father is now in Conference w th 
the Indians, & has given me your three last Letters to answer for 
him, w ch I am sorry for, as I can't w th Propriety answer that part 
of yo r last w ch relates to me ; but he has that high Opinion of your Judg- 
ment, that I look upon myself now, as sure as if I had his Promise of 
it : however, I sh d have been glad to have seen what he would have 
said to You upon it. I have put into his Letter all the News concern- 
ing ourselves w ch I tho't was proper for him to mention : You therein 
see how difficult a Navigation is from Schenectady hither-. Col. Mer- 
cer was 26 days coming here & some of the 9 Pounders are still upon 
a Rift a Mile from hence, where they bilg'd the Battoes. The French 
have found means to alter the Indians vastly ; they were much our 
friends before, but they are now so troublesome, it is a difficult matter 
to live in the same place. . . . The Conference is just ended & the 
Indians have declar'd in a seeming hearty Manner, that they will be 
true to him, my father, & follow him where ever he goes. They are cer- 
tainly a most necessary and useful set of People to have w th us, but 
then they are by far ye most troublesome in the World. . . . Nobody 
holds it out better than my father & myself. We shall all of us relish 
a good House over our heads, being all incampt except the General & 
some few field Officers, who have what are call'd at Oswego, houses, 
but they would in other Countries be call'd only Sheds, except the fort 
where my father is, Adieu, Dear Sir, I hope my next will be directed 
from Frontenac. 

I am ever w th a most sincere Regard, 

Yours most Affectionately, 

John Shirley. 

Oswego, 10 o'Clock at Night, 
in a Wet Tent, SepT 8th, 1755. 

P. S. . . . Ten o'Clock at Night, Sept'. 11th. 

. . . We have now only 8 days Bread, Pork & Beef enough, but no 
Rum or Pease ; & what makes this y e more provoking is, that these 
Provisions have been ready for us in Abundance these two Months at 
least." 

In a letter 1 to Governor Morris, dated Oswego, September 
22, 1755, he says : — 

" Dear Sir, 

I am set down in hopes I may have a Minute to write to You in. 
By my last I inform'd You that we were going to Cadaraqui, or Fron- 
tenac, & so it was then determiu'd by the General in his own Mind ; 
We have since had further Intelligence from Niagara, w ch has alter'd 

i Penn. Archives, II. 42a 



76 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOEICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

him, & it was Yesterday determin'd in a Council of Warr to go as soon 
as possible upon the Attack of the last mention'd Place : The Council 
unanimously agreed to every thing w ch was propos'd by the General. . . . 

If our Provisions come up we may set off in five days. This day 
finishes all our Bread & flour in Store, but we have in Sight some 
Battoes, w ch I hope will deliver a large Quantity of the Articles most 
wanted ; & as both Men & Officers are pick'd, I dare say we shall give 
a good Ace' of ourselves. . . . All I am uneasy about is our Provi- 
sions Our Men have been upon half Allowance of Bread these three 
Weeks past, & no Bum given to 'em ; We have many ill . . . more 
Officers in proportion ill than men. ... 

My father yesterday call'd all the Indians together & made 'em a 
Speech on the Subject of Gen 1 Johnson's Engagem', w ch he calculated 
to inspire them w th a Spirit of Bevenge, & it had the desir'd Effect, 
for at night, in feasting upon a Bullock w ch he order'd 'em upon the 
Occasion, they roasted in their way, & eat the Gov r of Canada, had a 
grand Warr dance, & shew'd a Spirit quite Satisfactory to all of 
us. . . . 

You know how my father employs every body who are near him, he 
makes me write all his Letters. ... I will not again appologize for my 
unintelligible Scrawls, but am, w th the sincerest Regard & Affection, 
D r Sir, Your most Oblig'd & faithfull Humble Servant, 

John Shirley." 

The Boston Gazette of Monday, November 24, 1755, con- 
tains the following : — 

" New-York, November 17. 

Wednesday last arrived here in a Sloop from Albany, Capts. Shirley 
and Morris, of Shirley's Regiment, and Capt. Ascough, Commander of 
one of the Vessels of War on Lake Oswego, where we are told, Colonel 
Mercer is left " in command. 

The Boston Gazette of Monday, December 1, 1755, an- 
nounces : — 

" We hear from New -York, that Yesterday Morning was sev'night, 
about Six o' Clock, departed this Life, Mr. John Shirley, youngest 
Captain in the Regiment under his Father General Shirley, and one of 
his Aid de Camps." 

Governor Morris, writing to Governor Dinwiddie of Vir- 
ginia, in a letter 1 dated Philadelphia, November 29, 1765, 
says : — 

1 Penn. Archives, II. 531. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PBOBATE. 77 

" My Heart bleeds for Mr Shirley. He must be overwhelmed with 
Grief when he hears of Cap' John Shirley's Death, of which I have an 
Account by the last Post from New York, where he dyed of a Flux 
and Fever that he had contracted at Oswego. The Loss of Two Sons 
in one Campaign scarce admits of Consolation. I feel the anguish of 
the unhappy Father, and mix my Tears very heartily with his. I have 
had an intimate Acquaintance with Both of Them for many Years, and 
know well their inestimable Value." 

Governor Morris, in a letter l dated November 27, 1755, 
writes to General Shirley : — 

" Permit me, good sir, to offer you my hearty condolence upon the 
death of my poor friend Jack, whose worth I admired, and feel for him 
more than I can Express. His good sence and sweetness of temper 
made him generally beloved, and few men of his age had so many 
friends. Your affliction is truly great, to be deprived of two such sons 2 
in one year, is a loss uncommonly heavy, and would bear down any 
man not fortified with the same firmness of mind, and resignation to the 
divine will that you are. ..." 

JOHN COTTON. 
1755-1775. 

John Cotton, son of the Rev. Nathaniel Cotton 3 (Harvard 
College, 1717), of Bristol, Rhode 
Island, and great-great-grandson of /A A 
the Rev. John Cotton, minister of **- " 
the First Church of Boston, was 
born March 25, 1728, in Bristol, 
Rhode Island. 4 

After the death of his father, his mother, left a second time 
a widow, removed with, her children to Boston, and in the 
record of the admission of John Cotton to Harvard College, 5 

1 Penn. Archives, II. 524. 

2 William Shirley, another son of Governor Shirley, was killed " in the Action 
on the Banks of the Monongahela the 9M Dai/ of July, 1755 " at the time of Brad- 
dock's defeat. He was General Braddock's secretary. " Poor Shirley was shot 
thro' the Head." (Letter to Governor Morris from Captain Robert Orme, aid-de- 
camp, who was himself wounded in the action. Penn. Col. Rec, VI. 488-489.) 

8 New England Historical and Genealogical Register, I. 165; Munro's History 
of Bristol, Rhode Island, p. 219. 

4 Bristol, Rhode Island, Vital Statistics, p. 71. 
6 Harvard College Faculty Records, 1. 197. 





78 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

his residence is given as Boston. He was graduated from 
Harvard College in the class of 1747. 

At a meeting of the Council 1 held in Boston March 28, 
1755, the Governor announced the resignation of John Shirley 
as Register of Wills, etc., and then nominated 

" Mr John Payne & M: John Cotton to be Joint Registers of Wills 
&cf within the County of Suffolk," 

and the Council consented. 

John Cotton was also Deputy Secretary of the Province for 
many years. 

He was chosen, April 23, 1757, Collector 2 of the Duty of 
Excise upon Tea, Coffee, and China Ware for the County of 
Suffolk. 

He was a farmer 3 of the Excise for the County of Suffolk 
on Tea, Coffee, and China Ware in 1764, and he was to receive 
the duties on these articles at his house in Sudbury Street. 

He was Clerk of the Commissioners 4 to settle the New York 
line in 1766. 

In the Massachusetts Archives there is a letter 6 from Lieu- 
tenant-Governor Hutchinson, dated August 12, 1770, in which 
he says : " M r Belcher is upon his last legs and cannot con- 
tinue many weeks," that the place of Register of the Court of 
Vice-Admiralty cannot be worth more than £100 a year, " which 
nobod}' in England of any credit would accept of, especially 
when the Officers of the Court of Admiralty are so unpopular " 
that he, Hutchinson, had taken the liberty to write to Sir 
Edward Hawke in behalf of Mr. Cotton, etc. 

The letter 6 of Hutchinson to Sir Edward Hawke 7 is dated 
August 14, 1770, and is as follows : — 

"Sir 

M r Belcher the Register of the Court of Vice Admiralty is in a 
desperate state of health and his Physicians think cannot continue many 
weeks. The business of his Post has always been done by a Deputy. 

i Council Records, XII. 394. 
2 General Court Records, XXI. 554. 

« Suffolk Court Files, DXCVII. 1-11 ; Mass. Archives, CXX. 662, 673-675 ; 
Boston News Letter, April 19, 1764, et seg. 
* Mass. Archives, VI. 823-325. 
« Ibid., XXVI. 535. 
6 Ibid., XXVI. 535. 
' Sir Edward Hawke was then first lord of the admiralty. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 79 

From the best judgment I can make the whole fees do not exceed One 
hundred pounds sterling p r Annum. If there was a probability that a 
person proper for such an Office would leave England at a time when 
the Officers of that Court meet with so much trouble from the prejudices 
and peverseness of the People, I would not presume to ask the Office 
for any person in America. M r John Cotton who has been many years 
Deputy Secretary for the Province and Register of Probate for the 
County of Suffolk, both which places are worth to him but about one 
hundred pounds sterling and the first very precarious depending not only 
upon the principal for the continuance of it but upon the House of Repre- 
sentatives for any grant or allowance, has been attached to Government 
and serviceable as far as his Sphere would admit. If you- have any 
other person in view I may not expect this favour for him ; if you have 
not, I beg leave to mention him as qualified for it and to ask it as a 
favour to myself he being half brother to my late wife, and having been 
many years one of my family. 1 . . . 

R Hon bIe : Sir Edward Hawke." 

Governor Hutchinson 2 writes to Sir Francis Bernard under 
date of May 23, 1771 : — 

" By the death of M r Cooke Clerk of the Court I wished to have 
provided for M! Cotton but I find Goldthwait the other Clerk averse to 
it and he gives this reason that the place requires so constant attendance 
that it is not possible he should hold that and the Deputy Secretary* 
place also. "While I was considering Price the Deputy Register of the 
Admiralty made Interest with Hill Dana Avery and the Justices of that 
Faction and got himself appointed Clerk to the Sessions with Gold- 
thwaits privity and connivance ... I would have recommended Mf 
Cotton as Deputy to your Son in the Admiralty if it had been vacant 
but I believe Price is more used to the business and though he has not 
used me well I am not willing to deprive him of anything he enjoys. 
The Marshalls place in the Admiralty if he could be the principal, would 

1 Governor Hutchinson married, May 16, 1734, Margaret, daughter of William 
Sanford (Harvard College, 1711), of Newport, Rhode Island, and Grizzell (Syl- 
vester) Sanford, his wife. William Sanford died April 24, 1721, and his widow 
married (intentions published, January 20, 1721-2) for her second husband the 
Rev. Nathaniel Cotton, of Bristol, Rhode Island. He died July 3, 1729, leaving 
her again a widow. 

John Cotton was a son of Grizzell (Sylvester) Cotton by her second husband, 
and he was therefore half brother to the wife of Governor Hutchinson. 

Margaret Sanford Hutchinson died March 12, 1753, and Governor Hutchinson 
never married again. (Rhode Island Historical Magazine, VII. 800 ; The Sanford 
Family. Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson, by Peter Orlando Hutchinson, 
I. 49; Life of Thomas Hutchinson, by James Kendall Hosmer.) 

2 Mass Archives, XXVII. 169. 



80 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mae. 

make him I believe fifty or sixty pounds a year and would be worth 
taking and with what he has just give him a living ... I am told 
Captain Hallowell has wrote in favour of one Shipard who has a place 
of Tide Surveyor in the Customs. I could wish for Cotton but am not 
known to My Lord Sandwich ... I would make application to Lord 
Sandwich and ask it as a favour to myself as well as a reward to M r Cotton 
for having done all which his Sphere would admit of for the service of 
Government if I had been as well known to his Lordship as I was to 
Sir Edward Hawke ... I had the honour of spending a day at Sir 
Hans Sloans in 1741 when he shewed his Collection to Lord Sandwich 
but I dare say he has no remembrance of me. 

I confine this Letter to this Subject 

I am Dear Sir 

Your faithfull humb 1 Ser' 

Sir Francis Bernard Bart " 

Governor Hutchinson in a letter 1 dated Boston, September 
23, 1771, to the Earl of Sandwich says : — 

"My Lord 

There being no person within the Prov. authorized to act as Mar- 
shall of the Court of Vice Admiralty pursuant to the powers given 
me in such cases by His Maj. Comission I appointed one W m Shep- 
pard to act in that Office but intimated to him that his continuance 
in it would probably be short & that he would be superceded by some 
person Comissd by the Lords of the Admiralty. The business & emolu- 
ments of the Office are so very small that no person will come from Eng d 
for the sake of that Office only. For more than 30 years it was held by 
M' Paxton who enjoyed another place in the Gov' at the same time. 
If your Lordship shall think proper to appoint any person in the Prov- 
ince I beg leave to recomend M r John Cotton who for several years past 
has been Deputy Secretary & has behavd well in the late disorderly times. 
I have My Lord some self interest in this recomendation M r Cotton 
being half brother to my late wife. This would not induce me to name 
an unfit person to y r Lordship. M r Cotton stood well w th S r Francis 
Bernard & I have heard him express a desire to give him some addi- 
tional Office what he has not affording him necessary support." 

Governor Hutchinson in another letter 2 dated May 27, 1772, 
says : — 

" My Lord 

M* W m Sheppard the acting Marshal in the Court of V Admiralty 
died the 17 Inst. It was necessary the place should be immediately 

i Mass. Archives, XXVII. 232. « Ibid., XXVII. 837. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 81 

filled & I have appointed M r John Cotton to act as Marshal until the 
Marshal who is in England shall appoint a new Deputy. ... If your 
Lordship shall think it expedient to avoid any dispute at present upon 
this point I shall be ready to continue my Comission to M r Cotton or 
to give a Commission to any other person M r Howard may prefer as 
his Deputy." 1 . . . 

Governor Hutchinson in a letter 2 dated Boston, October 1, 
1772, writes : — 

" Sir, 

Immediately after the receipt of your Letter I sent for M r Cotton 
& delivered him your Commission to be recorded in the Registry of 
the Admiralty but soon after he returned it to me, the Judge de- 
clining to cause it to be recorded, or to receive it or to admit your 
deputations because it does not appear upon the Commission or by in- 
dorsement that you have qualified yourself for the Trust by taking the 
Oaths to the Government. 

I endeavoured to find some expedient to prevent sending back the 
Commission but to no purpose. ... I have told MT Cotton he is to 
consider himself as your Deputy so far as to be accountable to you for 
one half the profits notwithstanding this accident and as much as if 
the Deputation sent him had been without exception & he expects it. 
It will be necessary notwithstanding to renew the Deputations and to 
date them after the date of the Oaths for the prejudice is so strong 
against the Court of Admiralty that not only every legal objection but 
every cavil will be made against the doings of the Officers." 

At a town meeting 3 held in Boston, June 27, 1774, a " Mo- 
tion for Censuring & annihilating the Comittee of Correspond- 
ence " was made. It was thought by many that the Committee 
had gone too far and had exceeded its powers. The merchants 
took sides against it. After a long and heated debate, which 
lasted all day and part of the next, the motion to censure was 
"put and pass'd in the Negative." The dissentients, however, 
made a "publick and solemn Protest against the Doings of 
the said Committee, as such, against the Solemn League and 
Covenant aforementioned, and against the Proceedings of the 

1 The Boston News Letter of May 21, 1772, announces the death of William 
Sheppard, Esq., Marshal of the Court of Admiralty, and further : " His Excel- 
lency the Governor has been pleased to appoint John Cotton, Esq ; to the Office 
of Marshall of the Court of Admiralty." 

2 Mass. Archives, XXVII. 547. 

3 Boston Town Records, V. 522; Diary of John Rowe, 2 Proc. Mass. Hist. 
Soc, X. 86. 

11 



82 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

Town so far as they have adopted the illegal Proceedings of 
the said Committee of Correspondence." This protest 1 was 
dated June 29, 1774, and bore the names of many of the fore- 
most citizens. John Cotton, who, as Governor Hutchinson 
says, was " attached to Government," and who "behaved well 
in the late disorderly times," signed the Protest, and so ranged 
himself on the side of the Government and against the popular 
partj 7 . 2 But he did not live to take an active part in the im- 
pending struggle. He died in Boston during the siege. 

The Massachusetts Spy of July 26, 1775, contains the 
following : — 

" By a person of undoubted veracity, who came out of Boston, last 
Thursday se'nnight, by permission of Gen. Gage, we learn that . . . 
several of the tories had caught the distemper from the troops and died, 
among whom it is said, are Edson, Winslow, Hutchinson and Cotton." 

And in its issue of August 16, 1775, the Spy publishes a let- 
ter of William Brattle, 3 written in Boston, and dated Saturday, 
August 5, 1775, in which he says : — 

" Mr. Cotton and eldest son are dead of the flux." 

The date of his death was July 15, 1775, as appears by the 
entry in the Cotton Family Bible. 4 

John Cotton married in Boston, October 5, 1755, Mary 

1 Boston News Letter, July 7, 1774 ; Force's American Archives, 4th Series, 
I. 490 ; 1 Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc, XI. 302. 

2 Sabine's Loyalists of the American Revolution, I. 337 ; Memorial History of 
Boston, III. 176. 

» William Brattle (Harvard College, 1722) was a Loyalist. He remained, 
during the siege, in Boston, and on its evacuation sailed in the fleet to Halifax. 
(Sabine's Loyalists of the American Revolution, I. 250.) 

* I am indebted to Miss Edith Child, daughter of the late Dudley Richards 
Child, of Boston, for extracts from the record contained in the family Bible of 
John Cotton. His children were eleven in number, and the names and dates of 
birth and death of each are all carefully set forth in this Bible. 

Rowland Cotton, then the eldest surviving son, and aged seven years, died in 
Boston during the siege, July 9, 1775, a few days before the death of his father. 

Grizzell Cotton, a daughter, died November 5, 1782, aged nearly twenty. 
Dudley Cotton, born January 3, 1771, entered the Boston Latin School in 1779, 
and died January 5, 1793. He was the only one of the eleven to arrive at full 
age. The others, except the daughter above mentioned, all died in childhood. 

The birth of only one of the children of John and Mary Cotton is recorded in 
the Boston Records. 

Mary Cotton, the mother, died February 6, 1796, having survived her husband 
and all her children. Her will, dated January 12, 1796, was probated February 
16, 1796. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 83 

Dudley, daughter of William Dudley, a brother of Chief 
Justice Paul Dudley. The baptisms of several of the chil- 
dren born to them are recorded in the Brattle Street Church 
Records. 

WILLIAM COOPER. 

1759-1799. 

William Cooper, son of the Rev. William Cooper, 1 of the 
Brattle Street Church, Boston, was born 
in Brookline, October 1, 1721. His ///* /t 
mother, Judith Cooper, was a daughter of M/ 7 
Judge Sewall, and Judge Sewall in his /// . LuiSTfyVf^ 
Diary 2 says : — / 

"Lord's Day OctobT 1. [1721]. Gleson brings me "Word that my 
daughter Cooper was deliver'd of a Son the night before." 

And Samuel Sewall, Jr., in his Notes, 3 writes : — 

"1721 October 1st, Sabbath-day morning, between twelve and one, 
sister Cooper brought to bed of a son at Brooklin, in our best lower 
room. 8- h brother Cooper preach'd at Brooklin and baptized his son 
William, taking him in his arms." 

In deeds and other instruments 4 he is styled at first mer- 
chant and afterward gentleman. 

1 Memorial History of Boston, II. 558, III. 28 n. ; New England Historical 
and Genealogical Register, XLIV. 53-61, XLIX. 385; Waters' Genealogical 
Gleanings in England, II. 1041 ; " Thomas Cooper of Boston and his Descend- 
ants," by Frederick Tuckerman. (Reprinted from the New England Historical 
and Genealogical Register, XLIV. 53) ; " William Cooper, the Town Clerk of 
Boston," a paper read at the meeting of the Boston Antiquarian Club, April 12, 
1881, by Frederick Tuckerman (Reprinted from the Boston Evening Transcript 
of July 7, 1881), Amherst, 1885 ; Bangor Historical Magazine, II. 33-40, V. 45, 46. 

2 Sewall's Diary, III. 292. It was on account of the smallpox then raging in 
Boston that William Cooper happened to be born in Brookline, for Samuel 
Sewall, Jr., in his Notes (Sewall's Letter Book, II. 301, 302) says: — 

" 1721, May 29th. Sister Cooper came to live at our House for fear of the 
small Pox, with her Maid, Susannah Thayer." 

"1721, Nov>>r 18th. Sister Coopers Maid, Susanah Thayer, carried away 
from our House in a Coach, Sick of the small pocks. 30th., She dies of the 
Small Pox at Boston." 

3 Sewall's Diary. I. xxxix. 

4 In 1755 he was fitting out " two Vessels for the Bay of Hondoras," and he 
petitioned for " Liberty to take on Board about sixty-five Barrels of Beef Pork 
and Flour for each Vessel," as " a Quantity of Provisions is a necessary Part of 



84 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

At a town meeting J held in Boston, April 8, 1746, lie was 
chosen one of the Clerks of the Market. 

At a town meeting 2 held March 9, 1752, he was chosen con- 
stable, but paid the fine of £Z, and was excused from serving. 

At a town meeting 3 held May 16, 1755, he was chosen one 
of the Representatives to the General Court. 

During his term of service there, he was a member of various 
committees i of the House, and at its expiration, when his suc- 

the Cargoes designed for that Place, which, as the Law now stands, cannot be 
Cleared out by the Impost Officer." This petition was granted September 8, 
1755. ( Mass. Archives, LXV. 134; Journal of the House of Representatives, 
1755, p. 161.) 

1 Boston Town Records, IV. 99. 

2 Ibid., IV. 270. 
8 Ibid., IV. 365. 

' Among the committees of the House on which he served were the following : — 

" To prepare and bring in a Bill in Addition to the several Acts now in Force, 
relating to Culling and Packing Fish, Assize of Shingles, and Admeasurement 
of Boards &c." (May 30, 1755, Journal of the House of Representatives, 1755, p. 9.) 

" To take under Consideration that Part of his Excellency's SPEECH of this 
Day, relating to the Supply of the Treasury." (May 30, 1755, Ibid., 11.) 

"To examine the Province Treasurer's Accounts." (June 2, 1755. Ibid., 16.) 

" To wait on his Excellency," with the " Report of the Committee directed to 
prepare an Answer to his Excellency's Message of Yesterday," concerning an 
increase of the forces intended for Crown Point. (June 3, 1755. Ibid., 21.) 

" To examine the Commissary-General's Accounts." (June 6, 1755. Ibid., 33.) 

"To enquire what Stock of Powder and Small-Arms there is in the several 
Magazines of this Province." (June 9, 1755. Ibid., 45.) 

" To prepare the Draught of a prosper Message to be presented to his Excel- 
lency for the Purposes aforesaid," viz., " not to suffer any of the Soldiers now in 
the Pay of this Province for the Defence of the Frontiers, or that may be raised 
therefor, to enter into any other Service whatsoever." (June 9, 1755. Ibid., 48.) 

" To wait upon his Excellency the Captain-General," with the Message. (June 
9, 1755. Ibid., 49.) 

To desire his Excellency " to acquaint the other Governments with what this 
Court have done respecting the Transportation of Provisions and Warlike Stores 
out of this Province, and to urge them to join in the same Measures." (July 14, 
1765. Ibid., 77.) 

To examine the " Act for preventing the Exportation of Provisions and War- 
like Stores out of this Province; and report what Amendments they think proper 
should be made thereon." (August 12, 1755. Ibid., 132.) 

To consider how to raise men " to Reinforce the Garrison at Fort-Bummer" 
(August 13, 1755. Ibid., 139.) 

To consider a method of raising " two Thousand Men," " in Addition to the 
Forces already ordered for the Crown-Point Expedition." (September 5, 1755. 
Ibid., 153.) 

To enquire " whether there be any Money to be borrowed sufficient for the 
present Exigency of the Affairs of the Government." (September 24, 1755. 
Ibid., 169.) 

To consider " the Affair of the Recruiting Officers sent here by Governoui 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 85 

jessor was chosen, at a town meeting held May 11, 175G, it 
was 

LAWRENCE for Misting Men into his Majesty's Service in Nova-Scotia." (Sep- 
tember 26, 1755. Journal of the House of Representatives, 1755, p. 171.) 

" To make a proper Representation to his Majesty of the late important Vic- 
tory obtained over General Baron Dieskau, and the French and Indians at Lake- 
George, by his Majesty's Colony Forces under the Command of Lieut. General 
Johnson; and that the present Situation of Affairs, especially relating to this 
Province, together with our peculiar Distresses, be set in a full Point of Light; 
and that a humble Application be made unto his Majesty for a Reimbursement of 
our late Charges, or for such Relief and Assistance as his Majesty in his great 
Wisdom and Compassion shall think meet." (September 26, 1755. Ibid., 172.) 

" To prepare a Bill to regulate the inlisting Soldiers." (September 27, 1755. 
Ibid., 176.) 

" To regulate the Sale of Poisons or other Drugs, by the Apothecaries, or any 
other Persons within this Province." (September 29, 1755. Ibid., 179.) 

To confer with the committee of the Council as to " their Non-concurrence of 
the Vote of this House, desiring his Honour to declare War against the Penob- 
scot Tribe of Indians." (October 1, 1755. Ibid., 184.) 

" To prepare Letters to the Earl of Halifax and Sir Thomas Robinson," " ac- 
quainting them with the Substance of the late Address of this Government to 
his Majesty ; as also with the Instructions relating thereto to Mr. Agent Sharpe ; 
and desiring them to favour us with their kind Assistance, that we may obtain 
that Relief under our present Distresses, which we are sollicking his most sacred 
Majesty for." (October 2, 1755. Ibid., 185.) 

To consider " Letters lately received from his Excellency Governour SHIR- 
LEY and General JOHNSON." (October 23, 1755. Ibid., 190. October 31, 1755. 
Ibid., 210.) 

" To prepare Instructions for the Commissioners appointed to repair to Albany, 
in order for the more effectual carrying on the Expedition against Crown-Point." 
(October 28, 1755. Ibid., 203.) 

To wait on the Lieutenant Governor, and " desire that he would be pleased to 
declare War against the Penobscot Tribe of Indians." (October 30, 1755. Ibid., 
208.) 

" To prepare a proper Vote for allowing the Exportation of Gun-Powder from 
this Province to the Neighboring Governments." (November 4, 1755. Ibid., 
216.) 

" To inquire into the Circumstances of the said French People, [from Nova 
Scotia] and report to this House the State they shall find them in." (November 
5, 1755. Ibid., 218.) 

" To examine into the State of the French on Board the several Transports 
now in the Harbour of Boston." (November 6, 1755. Ibid., 224.) 

" To order and direct in the Disposition of such of the Inhabitants of Nova- 
Scotia, as are or may be sent hither; and that they dispose of them in such Man- 
ner as may be least inconvenient to this Government." (November 7, 1755. 
Ibid., 226.) 

To consider " the Affair of the four Towns which have withdrawn from this 
Government, and put themselves under the Jurisdiction of the Government of 
Connecticut." (December 16, 1755. Ibid., 234.) 

To examine " An Act for regulating the Inlistment of Soldiers into his Majesty's 
Land Service" "and make the proposed Amendments." (December 16, 1755. 
Ibid., 234.) 



86 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

" Also unanimously Voted that the Thanks of the Town be and 
hereby is given unto M' William Cooper for the good Services he has 
done the Town as their Representative for the Year past." 1 

At the town meeting 2 of March 9, 1761, he was chosen 

" On the Impost and Excise Bills." (December 17, 1755. Journal of the 
House of Representatives, 240.) 

"To prepare and bring in a Bill allowing a Lottery for the Benefit of the 
Town of Boston, for the better repairing and maintaining the Road over Boston- 
Neck, so called, and report thereon." (December 19, 1755. Ibid., 245.) 

To consider " the past Proceedings of the Court" relative to Province Lands. 
(December 26, 1755. Ibid., 262.) 

" Mr. Cooper communicated to the House his Thoughts upon the Affair of 
an Excise, which he read at his Seat, and then laid on the Table." (December 
26, 1755. Ibid., 264.) 

"To provide for the Support of such Inhabitants of Nova-Scotia." (Decem- 
ber 27, 1755. Ibid., 266.) 

To consider " the last Year's Excise-Act ; Mr. Hooper's and Mr. Cooper's 
Tho'ts on an Excise-Bill," etc. (January 15, 1756. Ibid., 271.) 

To consider " the Pilotage of the Harbour of Boston, more especially with 
Regard to the Keeper of the Light-House." (January 22, 1756. Ibid., 281.) 

To enquire " what Sums of Money are due to the Province." (January 26, 
1756. Ibid., 289.) 

To enquire " into the Conduct of the several Commissaries on the Western 
Frontiers of the Province." (February 4, 1756. Ibid., 310.) 

To consider the account of the " Trustees for the Affairs of the Punkapoug 
Indians." (February 10, 1756. Ibid., 322.) 

To consider " the Cost and Charge this Province hath been at in the Crown- 
Point Expedition." (February 11, 1756. Ibid., 325.) 

To examine " sundry Accounts of Persons living on the Western Frontiers of 
the Province, for Billeting Soldiers sent from the Government of Connecticut for 
the Defence of the Inhabitants there." (February 11, 1756. Ibid., 325.) 

" To prepare the Draught of a proper Vote relating to the Commencement of 
the Subsistence of the two Thousand Men raised to Reinforce the Army in the 
late Crown-Point Expedition." (February 26, 1756. Ibid., 373.) 

"To farm out the Excise on spirituous Liquors for the County of Suffolk." 
(Marcli 3, 1756. Ibid., 386.) 

To raise " Men for the intended Expedition against Crown-Point." (April 2, 
1756. Ibid., 429.) 

To wait on the Governor to know " whether he can advance the Sum of Twelve 
Thousand Pounds Sterling to this Government, for the Crown-Point Expedition, 
out of the Money in his Hands belonging to the Crown." (April 7, 1756. Ibid., 
440.) 

To consider the " Petition of Joseph Mitchell." " One of the Neutral French 
Inhabitants late belonging to Nova-Scotia now residing at Marshfield in the 
County of Plymouth." (April 20, 1756. Ibid., 487; Mass. Archives, XXIII. 
51.) 

1 Boston Town Records, IV. 379. 

2 Ibid., IV. 464. 

The Boston Gazette of Monday, March 15, 1784, contains the following : — 
" An Inhabitant of this Town expresses his happiness, that notwithstanding 
the opposition, the Office of Town Clerk remains with its former Possessor — 
observing that an old Servant, who, as in this Case, has ever executed his Trust 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTEES OF PROBATE. 87 

Town Clerk succeeding Ezekiel Goldthwait, who had held the 
office for twenty consecutive years. William Cooper held it 
for even a longer period, being annually elected from 1761 
till 1809, the year of his death, sometimes by a unanimous 
vote and sometimes by a majority vote. 

He took an active part in all town affairs and was a mem- 
ber of many important committees. 1 

with Faithfulness, and that too in the worst of Times, when double Diligence and 
Attention were requisite — that, a Person thus proved worthy of his Employ- 
ment ought still to be employed." 

At a town meeting heid March 8, 1790 (Town Records, VIII. 142), 

"A Letter from Maj? William Thompson to the Selectmen of Boston, in- 
closing the Copy of a hand bill which had on the Saturday proceeding been dis- 
persed in this Town containing his offer to serve in the Office of Town Clerk for 
one half the Salary granted the last Year to the present Clerk & requesting that 
they may be read to the Inhabitants, previous to the Votes being given in for a 
Town Clerk — were accordingly distinctly read by the Town Clerk — a short 
Pause followed The Inhabitants were then directed by the Selectmen to with- 
draw, and bring in their Votes for a Town Clerk, and the same having been 
brought in and sorted, it appeared that the whole number was 616. and that 

William Cooper 
having 512 of said Votes, was chosen Town Clerk for the Year ensuing." 

1 He was also a fireward for thirty-five successive years — from 1755 to 1790 
— being annually chosen to that office. After his election in the latter year 
(Town Records, VIII. 144, 153) he announced that he must now decline that 
Service, whereupon it was 

"Voted, That the Thanks of the Town be and hereby are given unto Sft 
Cooper for his good Services during so long A Period." 

He served also on the following town committees : — 

To audit the " Town Treasurers Accompts " and the " Accompts of the Over- 
seers of the Poor." (March 10, 1746 /7 ; Town Records, IV. 128 ; March 12, 1750/ 1. 
Ibid., IV. 254 ; March 13, 1753. Ibid., IV. 304 ; March 12, 1754. Ibid., IV. 340 ; 
May 11, 1756. Ibid., IV 380; March 14, 1757. Ibid., IV. 384>£ ; March 14, 
1758. Ibid., IV. 41S>£.) 

To consider how to reduce the Town's Expenses. (March 12, 1750/ 1. Ibid., 
IV. 252.) 

To " Reduce the present Excessive price of Provisions" etc. (March 9, 1752. 
Ibid., IV. 275 ; March 10, 1752.' Ibid., IV. 284.) 

To " Visit the Publick Schools." (March 13, 1753. Ibid., IV. 310 ; Mav 15, 
1754. Ibid., IV. 346; May 10, 1757. Ibid., IV. 393; June 15, 1756. Selectmen's 
Minutes, X. 5.) 

To draft a petition to the General Court " that the Town may be Abated 
such Taxes as have been usually paid by those of its Inhabitants that the last 
Summer remov'd into the Countrey Towns to avoid the Small pox and paid 
Taxes there." (March 13, 1753. Town Records, IV. 311.) 

" To Enquire what Fines have been paid into the Town Treasury for several 
years Past." (March 12, 1754. Ibid., IV. 337.) 

" To Consider of some Method of lessening the Publick Taxes," etc. (May 
15, 1754. Ibid., IV. 349.) 

" To forward the Letter now read " to Christopher Kilby the Agent for the 
Town in London. (January 3, 1755. Ibid., IV. 360.) 



88 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

At a Council held in Boston, December 19, 1759, His Ex- 
cellency the Governor (Thomas Pownall) nominated 

To consider methods " for promoting a more general Reformation of Manners." 
(March 8, 1756. Town Records, IV. 377>£.) 

To examine the accounts of the " Managers of Boston Lotteries for raising 
Monies to Pave & Repair the Neck." (November 1, 1767. Ibid., IV. 401 ; March 
14, 1758. Ibid., IV. 412 ; May 16, 1758. Ibid., IV. 416)£.) 

To consider " what is necessary to be done for the preservation of Beacon 
Hill." (May 16, 1758. Ibid., IV. 416.) 

To prepare instructions to the Representatives in the General Assembly or 
Great and General Court. (March 10, 1760. Ibid., IV. 443 ; May 20, 1772. Ibid., 
V. 362, 364 ; May 5, 1773. Ibid., V. 439 ; May 10, 1779. Ibid, VI. 271.) 

The official copy, in the handwriting of William Cooper, Town Clerk, of the 
Instructions to the Representatives adopted May 20, 1772, was presented to the 
Massachusetts Historical Society and printed in the Proceedings of the Society. 
(1 Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc, XII. 9.) 

See also 2 Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc, IV. 50, 51, for a letter of the Town Clerk of 
Boston to all the towns of the Commonwealth enclosing the instructions concern- 
ing the Fisheries voted at the Town Meeting, December 11, 1781. 

To consider " increasing the number of Watchmen, and advancing their 
Wages, or enter into any other measure, for the better security of the Town." 
(June 10, 1761. Town Records, IV. 492 ; June 17, 1761. Ibid., IV. 492.) 

" To Consider of some suitable methods for employing the Poor of the Town, 
whose Numbers and distresses are dayly increasing by the loss of its Trade & 
Commerce." (March 13, 1769. Town Records, V. 129.) 

"Toenquire into the Titles to the Dock." (September 20, 1770. Ibid., V. 272.) 

To consider " that some steps may be taken to vindicate the Character of the 
Inhabitants grosly injured by some partial and false publications relative to the 
tryalsof Cap'. Preston &' " (March 12, 1771. Ibid., V. 291; March 19, 1771. 
Ibid., V. 295.) 

To consider what shall be paid for lands taken for anew street. (May 7, 1771. 
Ibid., V. 302 ) 

To attend the Committee when about to fix upon the places of the " Lamps 
that are to be Erected in this Town," as their proper placing " is of great im- 
portance for the convenience and eligance of the Town." (May 11, 1773. Ibid., 

V. 451, 452. See also V. 497-500.) 

On filling up the Town Dock. (March 15, 1774. Ibid., V. 489.) 
To obtain leave to use the Old South Meeting House for the Town meeting 
held June 27, 1774, to consider the conduct of the Committee of Correspondence, 
Faneuil Hall " not being sufficient to contain all the Inhabitants assembled." 
(Ibid., V. 521.) 

" To draught a Vote of Thanks of the Town of Boston expressive Of their 
Gratitude for the benevolent Assistance which they have received from the other 
Colonies, during their present Calamities & particularly for generous Recomenda- 
tion of the respectable Continental Congress for farther Support from their Sister 
Colonies, during their unhappy Struggles, under the arbitrary & oppressive 
Measures of the present British Administration." (December 7, 1774. Ibid., 

VI. 3 ) 

" To wait upon Joseph Warren Esq. & acquaint him, that it is the Desire of 
the Town " that his " Oration to commemorate the Horrid Massacre of the fifth 
of March 1770" be delivered " at the Old South Meeting House, at half after 11 
O'Clock this Forenoon." (March 6, 1775. Ibid., VI. 16.) 

"To wait upon the Rev? Peter Thacher" who had delivered at the request 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 89 

" M? William Cooper and M? John Cotton to be joint Registers of 
the Probate of Wills &c for the County of Suffolk." 1 

of the Town of Boston in Watertown Meeting House March 5, 1776, an oration 
on the " Horrid Massacre " " & in the Name of the Town, to require of him a 
Copy of the said Oration for the Press." (March 5, 1776, at Watertown. Town 
Records, VI. 34.) 

To apply to a proper Gentleman to deliver an Oration 6th of March next. 
(March 5, 1776, at Watertown. Ibid., VI. 34.) 

" To wait upon Benjamin Hitchburne, Esqr " who had delivered at the request 
of the Town March 5, 1777, an Oration on the Horrid Massacre & request a 
copy for the press. (March 5, 1777. Ibid., VI. 101.) 

To apply to a proper Gentleman to deliver an Oration 5th of March next. 
(March 6, 1777. Ibid., VI. 101.) The committee made choice of Jonathan 
Williams Austin. 

To apply to a proper Gentleman to deliver an Oration 6 of March next. 
(March 5, 1778. Ibid., VI, 153.) 

To report what may be further done to prevent the return of " those Persons 
that have left this Town, & have sought & Received Protection from the British 
King." (August 6, 1778. Ibd., VI. 194, 195 ; see also ibid., VI. 208.) 

To report measures for the Town to adopt " in order to releive the Inhabitants 
under their great and growing difficulties." (January 13, 1779. Ibid., VI. 215.) 

To present a memorial and address to Major-General Gates. (January 16, 1779. 
Ibid., VI. 221.) 

Reports for Committee appointed March 5, 1778, that they had appointed 
Col. William Tudor to deliver an Oration on the Horrid Massacre. (March 5, 
1779. Ibid., VI. 237.) 

To wait upon William Tudor Esql who had delivered an Oration on the 
Horrid Massacre and request a copy for the press. (March 5, 1779. Ibid., VI. 239.) 

To apply to a proper Gentleman to deliver an Oration 5 March next. (March 
6, 1779. Ibid., VI. 239.) 

To regulate the prices of imported goods and articles of consumption. (August 
16, 1779. Ibid., VI. 301, 305 ) 

At a town meeting held in Boston, October 28, 1777, " The Town Clerk hav- 
ing acquainted the Town, that being just recover'd from a Fever, the stormy 
Weather would not permit his attending the Meeting," Harbottle Dorr was 
chosen Town Clerk pro tern. (Ibid., VI. 136.) 

At a town meeting held in Boston, September 9, 1779, "The Inhabitants 
being Informed that the Town Clerk was by Sickness prevented from giving his 
Attendance," Samuel Ruggles was appointed Town Clerk pro tern. (Ibid., VI. 
316.) 

At a town meeting held September 14, 1779, he being still " detained at home 
by sickness," Elisha Avery was chosen clerk pro tern. (Ibid., VI. 819.) 

He served also on these committees : — 

To consider what Sums may be necessary for the town to raise to defray the 
Charges of the present year, etc. (June 23, 1780. Ibid., VI. 444.) 

To wait on Mr. Jonathan Mason, Jun r who had delivered an Oration on tho 
Horrid Massacre and request a copy for the press. (March 6, 1780. Ibid., VI. 
360.) 

"To consider what further provision is necessary for the Work House." 
(March 14, 1780. Ibid., VI. 376.) 

" To prepare an Address to his Excellency John Hancock Esq^ congratulating 



1 Council Records, XIV. 141. Boston News Letter, December 20, 1759. 

12 



90 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

At a Council 1 held in Boston November 5, 1761, His Excel- 
lency the Governor, Sir Frances Bernard, nominated 

" M' William Cooper and M* John Cotton to be Joint Registers of 
Probate, for the same County." 

He was among the Sons of Liberty who dined August 14, 
1769, at Liberty Tree, Dorchester, 2 and he early became con- 
spicuous among the opponents of the Government. The Bos- 
ton Gazette 3 came to be looked upon as the organ of the 
Revolutionary party, and its office in Queen Street was much 
frequented by the leaders of that party. 

him on bis late Appointment " " as first Governor of the Commonwealth of 
Massachusetts, by the almost unanimous Sufferages of the People " and " to wait 
upon his Excellency, and in the name of the Town, to present him with said 
Address." (November 2, 1780. Town Records, VI. 464, 465.) 

To wait on Mr. George Richards Minot who had delivered an Oration on the 
Horrid Massacre and request a copy for the press. (March 5, 1782. Ibid., VII. 52.) 

" To prepare an Address to His Excellency the Baron Viomenil General & 
Commander in Chief of the Forces of his Most Christian Majesty, lately arrived 
in this Town." (December 7, 1782. Ibid., VII. 161.) 

He was one of the Committee which reported against forming into one county 
ten towns in Suffolk and four in Middlesex. (May 14, 1784. Ibid., VII. 345.) 

He reported for the Committee to consider the " Petition of a Number of 
Gentlemen for being Incorporated as a Fire Insurance," that in the opinion of 
the Committee " it will not be for the Advantage of the Town, that such an 
Institution should be established." (May 23, 1785. Ibid., VII. 439.) 

He was a member also of the committee : — 

To consider the Expediency of Erecting Stalls in the Market square. (October 
26, 1791. Ibid., VIII. 235.) 

To consider " the By Laws of the Town." (March 12, 1792. Ibid., VIII. 267.) 

To consider and state " the objections to the several articles of the Treaty " 
" now pending between the United States and Great Britain " " that the same 
may be respectfully represented by an address to the Pressident of the United 
States, and request the interposition of his constitutional Authority to prevent 
the said Treaty being carried into effect." (July 10, 1795. Ibid., VIII. 485.) 

To " take into Consideration a late law of this Commonwealth intitled ' An 
Act to prevent the spread of of Contagious Distempers.' " (March 12, 1798. Ibid., 
IX. 60.) 

To consider " What steps shall be taken to prevent dead Carcasses being 
thrown into the Mill Pond " and " To prevent the Sale of Oysters in the Summer 
Months." (March 12, 1798. Ibid., IX, 63.) 

i Council Records, XV. 43. 

2 1 Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc, XI. 140; Diary of John Adams, I. 218. 

3 Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society, VI. 54 n. ; History of 
Printing in America, by Isaiah Thomas. 

Memorial History of Boston, II. 404 ; III. 133, 134, " The Press of the Pro- 
vincial Period " and " The Press of the Revolution," by Delano A. Goddard. 

William Cooper contributed to the Boston Post-Boy and Advertiser of March 
24, 1760, an account of the Great Fire of 1760. It has been reprinted in the 
New England Historical and Genealogical Register (XXXIV. 288). 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 91 

In the Massachusetts Archives 1 there is the following letter 
from the Governor, Sir Francis Bernard, to Lieutenant-Gov- 
ernor Hutchinson : — 

" Boston July 29 th 1769 

S r 

As I am going to leave the Province I think it proper to inform you 
that after the Death of the late King, the Council advised me to appoint 
M r John Cotton & M r William Cooper to be joint Registrars of the 
Court of Probates in the County of Suffolk they being then in the same 
Office : but that upon some Doubts of the form of such Appointment it 
was deferred for some time. In this Interval- I discovered that 
M r Cooper was so unfit to bear any Commission under the King, that I 
determined not to compleat this Appointment in Eegard to him : but 
having no Objection to the nomination of M r Cotton, I should have made 
out a Commission to him if I had not doubted of the Propriety of sep- 
arating Persons named by a Joint Vote of Approbation : but I intended 
to have settled this Matter with the Council by the first Opportunity. 
In the mean Time the Faction which has harrast this Country by set- 
ting them in Opposition to the King & Parliament (in which Faction 
M r Cooper was known to bear a principal Part) had gained so much 
Ground and created a general Intimidation amongst good Men who 
desired to be quiet, that I could not find a proper Opportunity to pro- 
pose this matter to the Council. I therefore left the Office to be 
executed under the former Commission, which appointment must be 
understood to continue while it was acquiesced in by the Judge. But 
being now leaving the Province I think it necessary to inform your 
Honour that there is no Commission of the Office of Registrar of the 
Court of Probates for the County of Suffolk granted by me since the 
Death of the late King ; and therefore the Place, as I understand, is 
still vacant and remains to be filled up ; and I must add that M* Wil- 
liam Cooper is (in my Opinion) a most unfit Man to serve the King in 
any Office whatsoever. 

I am with great Regard 
S r Your most obedient 
humble Servant 

The Honorable FrA Bernard 

Lieut Gov r Hutchinson." 

The massacre in King Street took place on the night of 
March 5, 1770. At the meeting 2 of the inhabitants which 
was held in Faneuil Hall the following morning, William 
Cooper acted as Moderator until the Selectmen could be sum- 

1 Mass. Archives, XXV. 321. 

2 Boston Town Records, V. 211. 



92 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

moned, they being then in consultation with the Lieutenant- 
Governor in the Council Chamber. 

The minutes of the Tea Meetings 1 in 1773 are in the hand- 
writing of William Cooper. 

He was Secretary of the Committee of Safety, 2 Clerk of the 
Committee of Correspondence 3 for Boston and Clerk also of 
the Boston Committee of Correspondence, Inspection, and 
Safety. 4 

The following is a copy of a Royalist Handbill 5 which was 
distributed among the British soldiers in September, 1774. It 
is addressed " To the Officers and Soldiers of his Majesty's 
Troops in Boston." 

" It being more than probable that the King's Standard will soon be 
erected, from rebellion breaking out in this province, its proper that 
you soldiers, should be acquainted with the authors thereof, and of all 
the misfortunes brought upon the province, the following is a list of 
them, viz. — Mess. Samuel Adams, James Bowdoin, Dr. Thomas Young, 
Dr. Benjamin Church, Capt. John Bradford, Josiah Quincy, Major 
Nathaniel Barber, William Molleneux, John Hancock, William Cooper, 
Dr. Chauncy, Dr. Cooper, Thomas Cushing, Joseph Greenleaf, and 
William Denning. The friends of your King and Country, and of 
America, hope and expect it from you soldiers, the instant rebellion 
happens, that you will put the above persons immediately to the sword, 
destroy their houses and plunder their effects ; it is just they should 
be the first victims to the mischiefs they have brought upon us. 

A Friend, to Great Britain and America." 

1 These Minutes were printed in 1 Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc, XX. 10, from papers 
belonging to the Overseers of the Poor of the City of Boston. 

2 The Committee of Safety was chosen October 27, 1774, by the Provincial 
Congress. (Journal of the Provincial Congress, 35.) 

3 The Committee of Correspondence was appointed in town meeting Novem- 
ber 2, 1772, on motion of Samuel Adams. (Boston Town Records, V. 373.) 

4 Boston Town Records, VI. 44. 

The Records of the Boston Committee of Correspondence, Inspection, and 
Safety from May to November, 1776, have been printed in the New England 
Historical and Genealogical Register, XXX. 380, 441; XXXI. 31,290; XXXII. 
44; XXXIII. 23; XXXIV. 14, 167, 251. The Resolve of the General Court 
authorizing its election was passed February 13, 1776. William Cooper was 
chosen Clerk of this Committee May 21, 1776. 

At a town meeting held in Boston August 29, 1776 (Boston Town Records, 
VI. 62) ten new members were elected "in the Room of those who have re- 
signed, or look'd upon by the Town, as ceasing to be Members of said Com- 
mittee, since their being chose Representatives," William Cooper being one of 
those whose places on the Committee were thus filled. 

6 New England Historical and Genealogical Register, XXL 60. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OP PROBATE. 93 

The last Boston town meeting 1 of which we have any 
record, before the siege, was held in Faneuil Hall, April 3, 
1775. After disposing of certain matters, it was adjourned to 
April 17th, but there is no record of this adjourned meeting. 

The Selectmen, 2 however, met on April 19th, — the day of 
the battle of Lexington, — but their records also end abruptly, 
and there is no official account of their proceedings. 

No town meetings were held in Boston during the siege. 
There is a gap in the Town Records. 3 The civil government 
came to an end. The Town Clerk left the town and cast in his 
lot with the Revolutionary party. 

But the Provincial Congress sitting at Watertown passed a 
resolve 4 July 5, 1775, directing William Cooper, Town Clerk 
of Boston, to notify the freeholders and others who were in- 
habitants of Boston, but were then dispersed, to meet at the 
Meeting House in Concord, on the 18th day of July, to choose 
a representative to a Great and General Court to be convened 
in Watertown July 19, 1775, " as the choice of representatives 
for that purpose, in legal town meeting, convened, in the com- 
mon and ordinary way, is, at present, utterly impracticable," it 
appearing to this Congress that " the good people of the town 
of Boston, though at present in a dispersed state " should be 
represented in that Assembly. 

Notifications of this meeting signed by " William Cooper 
Town Clerk of Boston " were printed in the newspapers outside 
of Boston. The Boston News Letter, that stanch supporter 
of the Government, in its issue of July 13, 1775, thus com- 
ments on one of these notices : — 

1 Boston Town Records, VI. 30. 

2 Boston Selectmen's Minutes, XV. 89. 

8 The Boston Gazette of June 26, 1775, printed at Watertown, has an 
" authenticated Copy of the Agreement between General Gage and the Town of 
Boston," a report of the proceedings at a meeting of the inhabitants held April 
22, 1775, — three days after the battle of Lexington, — but there is no official 
record of such a meeting. Henry Alline, Junr., who was afterward Register of 
Deeds for the County of Suffolk, acted on this occasion as Town Clerk pro 
tempore. After several adjournments of this meeting the inhabitants having de- 
livered up their arms, General Gage finally issued an order allowing such of them 
as were so inclined to remove from the town with their families and effects. 
This order bears date April 27, 1775. A list of the names of those " who lodge 
their Arms with the Selectmen," in accordance with this agreement, " & also of 
the Number by each delivered," may be found in the Report of the Record Com- 
missioners (XXIX. 321). See also Memorial History of Boston, III. 76. 

4 Journal of the Provincial Congress, 450. 



94 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

" Some have been wondering of late at the peaceableness of this 
Town ; it is to be hoped that their surprize will now cease, when they 
find that Mr. Cooper, and the rest of our Town-meeting folks havo 
adjoruned [sic'] to Concord." 

After the General Court met at Watertown, " the dispers'd 
Inhabitants of Boston" were again called upon to choose a 
Representative to that body, for the remainder of the session, 
in place of Samuel Adams, who had been elected to the Coun- 
cil. 1 And they were " notified and warned " in a notice dated 
Watertown, August 25, 1775, signed " WILLIAM COOPER, 
Town-Clerk of Boston" and published as the former notice had 
been, " to assemble at the Meeting House in Watertown " Sep- 
tember 5, 1775, for that purpose. 

The result of this election was that William Cooper was de- 
clared chosen a Representative from the Town of Boston. 2 

It does not appear how many alleged inhabitants of Boston 
took part in these out-of-town meetings ; but inasmuch as the 
civilian population, shut up within the town, is said to have 
been at the beginning of the siege 6573, we may safely assume 
that these ambulant " town meetings," outside the lines, were 
far from being formidable in point of numbers. They seem, 
however, to have answered the purpose of their ingenious in- 
ventors and promoters. 3 

Having in this way become a member of a House of Repre- 
sentatives, so constituted, William Cooper speedily began to 
take a prominent part in its deliberations. He was chosen, 

1 Journal of the House of Representatives, 95, 97, August 22, 23, 1775; 
Massachusetts Spy, August 30, 1775 ; Boston Gazette (printed at Watertown), 
September 4, 1775. 

2 Journal of the House of Representatives, 107 ; Boston Gazette (printed at 
Watertown), September 11, 1775. 

8 Other so-called " town meetings " for the Town of Boston were held in 
Watertown, during the siege, from time to time, when it suited the interests of 
their promoters, notices of them appearing in the newspapers of the day and an 
" audience of supposable Bostonians " at " Watertown Meeting House " March 5, 
1776, listened to the " spirited Oration " of the Rev. Peter Thacher on the 
" Horrid Massacre of the 5'. h of March 1770," and it was " received by them with 
the greatest Applause." A record of this last meeting, however, which was 
styled a " Meeting of the Freeholders & other Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, 
at Watertown," is to be found in the Boston Town Records, VI. 33. See also 
Memorial History of Boston, III. 96 note ; Boston Gazette (printed at Water- 
town) September 11, 1775, November 13, 1775, November 20, 1775 ; Massachusetts 
Spy, September 20, 1775, December 8, 1775, February 16, 1776; Boston News 
Letter, December 14, 1775; New England Chronicle, February 22, 1776. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 95 

September 29, 1775, its Speaker pro tempore, 1 and he was 
active on many of its Committees. 

1 Journal of the House of Representatives, 128 ; Boston Gazette (printed at 
Watertown), October 9, 1775. 

Some of these committees were as follows : — 

" To settle such Accounts of the Committee of Supplies, as yet remain unset- 
tled." (September 20, 1775, October 17, 1775. Journal of the House of Repre- 
sentatives, 108, 171.) 

To bring in a bill for regulating the militia of the Colony. ( September 2o, 1775 ; 
December 5, 1775. Ibid., 118, 16.) 

He was chosen December 14, 1775, Chairman of the Committee of the whole 
House to consider the Militia Bill. (Ibid., 42.) See also Ibid., 159, 169, 236. 

To consider the Resolve of Congress forbidding the Sale of English Goods 
after October 10 next. (September 27, 1775. Ibid., 121.) 

To consider the expediency of fitting out a number of Armed Vessels. (Sep- 
tember 28, 1775. Ibid., 125.) 

To examine the bonds of the Nantucket petitioners and see if they be sufficient. 
( September 29, 1775. Ibid., 127.) 

" To wait on his Excellency General Washington, and consult him on the Ex- 
pediency of fitting out Armed Vessels, and to enquire if any Powder can be spared 
for that Purpose." (September 29, 1776. Ibid., 128.) 

To " consider and report a proper Method wherein to bring Dr. Church before 
this House." (October 17, 1775. Ibid., 111.) 

On " A Petition of William Greenleaf, in Behalf of the Overseers of the Poor of 
Boston, praying the Sum of One Thousand Pounds, to enable them to purchase 
Winter Stores for the Support of said Poor in Salem Hospital." (October 20, 
1775. Ibid., 111.) 

" To enquire into the State of the Treasury." (October 21, 1775, December 5, 
1775. Ibid., 184, 16.) 

For " selecting such Resolves of the Congresses of this Colony as are proper to 
be printed." (October 23, 1775. Ibid., 189.) 

" To direct proper Refreshments for the Guards that shall attend Dr. Church." 
(October 27, 1776. Ibid., 200.) 

" To wait on General Washington this Evening, and desire him to defer giving 
Orders " concerning obtaining Muster Rolls of the several Regiments raised by 
this Colony. (October 31, 1775. Ibid., 215.) 

" To bring in a Resolve to remedy the difficulty under which the County of 
Suffolk are labouring thro' want of a Goal." (November 9, 1775. Ibid., 252.) 

" To consider what Precautions are proper to be taken to prevent the spread- 
ing of the Small-Pox by Means of Persons coming out from the Town of Boston, 
and what Provision is requisite to be made for transporting into the Country such 
Persons as may come out, who are unable to transport themselves." (November 
10,1775. Ibid., 258.) 

To procure a number of copies of the Resolve supplying the army with wood. 
(December 2, 1775. Ibid., 11.) 

" To bring in a Bill for the further Emission of Bills of public Credit." (Decem- 
ber 5, 1775. Ibid., 16.) 

He reported December 9, 1775, concerning "Plates for striking off a new 
Emission of Bills," and he was ordered "to bring in a Resolve for agreeing with 
Mr. Revere." Paul Revere had made a proposal for printing the bills. (Ibid., 
28; Mass. Archives, CXXX VIII. 271.) 

" To take into Consideration the State of the Poor of Boston, lately come out, 



96 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

At a Council held in Watertown, August 24, 1775, 

and also a Letter from the Committee at Point-Shirley." (December 6, 1775. 
Journal of the House of Representatives, 17.) 

" To take into Consideration the Conduct of Mr. Rand ... a suspected Per- 
son." (December 8, 1775. Ibid., 25.) 

" To take into Consideration a Letter from Thomas Crafts, jun. informing that 
the Small-Pox has broke out in two Families that are brought out of Boston, and 
that they are in great need of Fire Wood." (December 11, 1775. Ibid., 32.) 

" To bring in a Resolve for the Purpose of establishing Committees of Corre- 
spondence in the several Towns in this Colony." (December 15, 1775. Ibid., 45.) 
" To consider a Letter from the Committee of the County of Fairfax, in Vir- 
ginia, and a Letter from General Washington, inclosing it, relative to a Sum of 
Money sent to him for the suffering Poor of Boston." (December 16, 1775. Ibid., 
46.) 

" To consider a meet Grant to the President of Harvard-College." (December 
26, 1775. Ibid., 75.) 

" To bring in a Resolve for raising the Price of Hay." (January 15, 1776. 
Ibid., 147.) 

" To consider what further is necessary to be done for supplying the Army 
with Hay." (January 15, 1776. Ibid., 148.) 

" To consider the necessity of raising a Company of Matrosses to defend the 
Fortresses erected in the Town of Marblehead." (January 17, 1776. Ibid., 162.) 

To consider "a Resolution of the American Congress passed January 2d, 
1776." (January 19, 1776. Ibid., 175.) 

" To confer with his Excellency General Washington at large, on the subject 
of raising a Regiment for reinforcing the Army in Canada." (January 20, 1776. 
Ibid., 176.) 

" To bring in a Resolve for raising the Regiment to go into Canada." (January 
21,1776. Ibid., 178.) 

" To Revise the several Resolves of this Court relative to Salt-Petre, and report 
what is proper further to be done." (January 22, 1776. Ibid., 186.) 

" To bring in a Bill for regulating the Commencement and Prosecution of 
Civil Actions." (January 29, 1776. Ibid., 222.) 

" To consider the State of the Ordnance, &c. at Falmouth." (February 7, 1776. 
Ibid., 254.) 

On the 18th of March, 1776, — the day after the evacuation of Boston by the 
Royal forces, — " the honorable William Cooper, Esq ; Speaker pro. tem. being 
absent," the House appointed another to act in his stead. 

" Mr. Speaker Cooper " and others were appointed a committee March 19, 
1776, " to go into Boston, and make Enquiry into the State of that Town, with 
respect to the Small-Pox, to direct the removal of any infectious Persons, and to 
take such Measures to prevent the spreading of that Distemper as they may 
think proper." (Ibid., 18.) 

" Mr Speaker Cooper " was on the committee appointed March 23, 1776, " to 
provide a dinner for his Excellency General Washington, and the other General 
Officers, with their Suits, the Council, the Speaker, and the Ministers of Boston." 
(Ibid., 36.) 

" To repair to the Town of Boston, and there take, or cause to be taken, just 
and true Accounts of said Houses and Real Estates, Personal and other moveable 
Effects, the Property of the before-mentioned Mandamus Counsellors, and others, 
to commit the Charge and Care of said Estates and Effects to such suitable Per- 
sons as they may judge proper, and to make Report of their Proceedings 
hereon." (Marcli 23, 1776. Ibid., 37.) 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBAT3. 97 

" William Cooper was Nominated to be Register of Probate for the 
County of Suffolk to which Nomination his Majesty's Council did 
advise & consent." * 

He held this office until 1799 when he resigned and was 
succeeded by Perkins Nichols. 2 

At a Council 3 held in Watertown September 8, 1775, 
"William Cooper Esqf" was appointed a Justice of the 
Peace for Suffolk County. 

The following letter 4 from Thomas Cushing, the Revolu- 
tionist Judge of Probate, 5 to William Cooper, dated Philadel- 
phia, October 23, 1775, is of interest : — 

" To lay before the Court a particular Sketch of the Harbour of Boston." 
(March 25, 1776. Journal of the House of Representatives, 40.) 

" To repair to the Town of Boston, and to take or cause to be taken a just and 
true Inventory of all the Estates, . . . belonging to such Persons as have 
departed the said Town." (March 25, 1776. Ibid., 40.) 

" To wait on his Excellency General Washington, and request, as this Colony is 
greatly weakened by the Destruction of our Fortifications and warlike Stores by 
our Enemies, and will be more so on the removal of the Continental Army, as a 
large Proportion of the Men and Arms therein are from this Government, that he 
would further consider the exposed State of this Colony ; and if it is consistent 
with the general Interest, he would continue here six Regiments of the Conti- 
nental Troops, and two Companies of the Train of Artillery, for the Defence 
thereof, instead of the three or four Regiments his Excellency informed this 
Court he intended to leave." (March 25, 1776. Ibid., 42.) 

" To report a Form of Beating Orders and Inlisting Papers for the Regiment 
raised to fortify Boston." (April 10, 1776. Ibid., 108.) 

" To consider what Number of Artillery Men it is Expedient to raise for the 
Service of this Colony." (April 13, 1776. Ibid., 120.) 

" To bring in a Resolve for appointing a Committee of War." (April 29, 1776. 
Ibid., 194.) 

" To bring in a Resolve impowering of the Committee for fortifying Boston, to 
hire a further Number of Men, not exceeding two Hundred." (May 2, 1776. 
Ibid., 237.) 

To consider " sundry Matters proposed by the Committee for fortifying the 
Harbour of Boston." (May 4, 1776. Ibid., 245.) 

On the " Report of the Committee appointed to consider what is proper to 
be done to promote the raising Col. Whitney's Regiment." (May 4, 1776. 
Ibid., 245.) 

i Council Records, XVII. 43 ; Massachusetts Spy, October 20, 1775 ; Boston 
Gazette, October 9, 1775. 

* Council Records XXXIII. 185, 190. 

The Columbian Centinel of Wednesday, November 27, 1799, announces : — 
" Perkins Nichols, Esq. is appointed Register of Probate for the County of 

Suffolk, in the room of Wm. Cooper, Esq. resigned." 

8 Council Records, XVII. 90 ; Massachusetts Spy, October 13, 1775 ; Boston 

Gazette, October 2, 1775. 

* 4 Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., IV. 364. 

» Thomas Cushing may be called the Revolutionist, to distinguish him from 
Foster Hutchinson, the Loyalist Judge of Probate. The Court House for the 

13 



98 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

«' Dear Sir, . . . 

I am obliged to you for the inquiry you made at Dedham, for a 
house for me ; should be glad to govern myself by the opinion of the 
County, as to the place of holding the probate, provided at this diffi- 
cult time I can be accommodated with such a place as will be agreeable 
to them. If I had been so happy as to have seen you before I left 
"Watertown, I doubt whether it would have been proper for me to have 
signed any blank letters of administration, or letters of guardianship, 
before I had my commission, and more than a month before, by law, 
I could have entered upon the discharge of the office I was appointed to ; 
for, if you will recollect, you will find, that, by the law that was made 
by the General Court upon this occasion, none of the new appointments 
were to take place till after the 20 of September last. This matter I 
considered before I left Watertown, or else should certainly have seen 
you previous to my departure, aud have signed the papers you mention, 
which I am sensible, could it have been done with any propriety, would 
have been for the ease of the County. I am much surprised that any 
persons among us should just now think of dividing the County, espe- 
cially at this very critical time, when we have so many other matters 
of the greatest magnitude to engage our attention. Such a thing was 
never attempted in any other County, without first notifying every town 
in the County of such an intention. Can the inhabitants of Boston, 
(the shire town, whose interest it so nearly affects,) in their present 
distressed, dispersed state, attend to a question of such moment ? Cer- 
tainly not. And will the inhabitants of the other Towns in the County 
take the advantage of this their distress ? or if they would, will the 
General Court attend to them at such a time ? Certainly not. ... I 
cannot as yet form any judgment when I shall be able to return. Many 
interesting and important' matters demand my attention and presence 
here. As, therefore, I shall be necessarily detained here for some time, 

County of Suffolk was in Boston, and there, in the care and custody of John 
Cotton, the Loyalist Register of Probate, were all the files and records of the 
Probate Court, and there they remained during the siege. After the death of the 
Loyalist Register, Judge Hutchinson took them into his own custody and, on 
the evacuation of Boston by the Royal forces, carried them with him to Halifax, 
where they were safely kept during the whole of the Revolutionary War. 

Thomas Cushing,the Revolutionist Judge, and William Cooper, his Register, 
were both appointed August 24, 1775, at Watertown, by the " Major Part of the 
Council " styling themselves " His Majestys Council," " The Places of Governor 
and Lieutenant Governor being vacant." A foundation for these and other 
appointments had been in some sort laid by the passage by the same General 
Court which met at Watertown July 19, 1775, of an act for removing all officers, 
both civil and military belonging to the Colony of Massachusetts Bay claiming 
under any appointment by any Governor, Lieutenant Governor, &c, of the Prov- 
ince of Massachusetts Bay. All to cease and determine from the 19 th Sept. 1775 
next. (Chap. IV., Acts of 1775; Council Records, XVII. 43; Boston Gazette, 
October 9, 1775 ; Massachusetts Spy, October 20, 1776.) 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 99 

I have no objection that, during my absence, you should take guardian 
and administration bonds, in particular cases, where you may find it 
necessary ; and I doubt not you will take special care and caution, that 
in all such cases the bondsmen are good and sufficient. Let me know 
whether it is necessary for me to return home immediately. ... I con- 
gratulate you upon your late promotion as Speaker. [When] my friend 
is honored and meets with the approbation of his countrymen, I partake 
of the pleasure, and am always highly gratified. . . . 

Thomas Cushing. 

The Honorable William Cooper, Esq." 

The first town meeting 1 in Boston after the siege was held 
in the " Old Brick Meeting House," March 29, 1776, — just 
twelve days after the evacuation of the town by the Royal 
forces, — and William Cooper was again elected Town Clerk 
for the ensuing year. 

At a town meeting 2 held in Boston, May 23, 1776, he was 
elected a Representative to the General Court. He was chosen 
July 4, 1776, Speaker pro tempore of the House, 3 and he was a 
member of various committees. 4 

1 Boston Town Records, VI. 35. 

2 Ibid., VI. 48. 

8 General Court Records, 145. 

4 Among these committees were the following : — 
To make plans for the seizure of " any Vessels belonging to the Enemy, that 
may be coming into, or may Arrive in the Harbor of Boston." (June 15, 1776. 
General Court Records, XXXV. 52.) 

To bring in a new Bill for the omission of tendering the Declaration in the 
Test Act. (July 2, 1776. Ibid., XXXV. 136.) 

The House resolved July 4, 1776, that the " Comittee for taking Inventorys &c 
of the Estates within the Town of Boston, which have been left, or deserted by 
sundry Persons supposed to be inimical to the rights & Liberties of America, be, 
& they hereby are directed to make Sale of all Chaises & other Carriages belong- 
ing to such Estates, they first having the same appraised by the most suitable 
persons, & then advertizeing the same for Sale at such Appraizements, & all that 
may remain unsold at a day that said Com tee may appoint, shall then be adver- 
tized to be Sold at public Vendue." (Ibid., XXXV. 149.) 

To confer upon a Resolve to write to Gen'l Washington about military mat- 
ters. (July 5, 1776. Ibid., XXXV. 153.) 

July 8, 1776, Mr. Cooper being absent, another was chosen Speaker pro tem- 
pore in his place. (Ibid., XXXV. 158.) 

To confer " on the subject of permitting persons inimical to America to depart 
this State." (General Court Records, October 9, 1776, to February 6, 1777 ; No- 
vember 21, 1776, p. 213.) 

On the Resolve commanding " Naval Officers not to permit any vessel to de- 
part this State with Provisions " except what may be necessary for her crew dur- 
ing the voyage. (December 2, 1776. Ibid., 263.) 

" To consider immediately, in what way most beneficial to the United States, 
to employ the troops of this, and the neighbouring Governments, that are on their 



100 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

He had served on several committees of the town to com- 
memorate the " Horrid Massacre " which was annually from 
1771 to 1783, celebrated by an Oration, but at the town meet- 
ing 1 held in Faneuil Hall, Monday, March 5, 1783, and ad- 
journed to the Old Brick Meeting House to hear the oration 
of Doctor Thomas Welch, 

" The Town did not proceed as usual to the choice of a Committee 
to provide an Orator to deliver an Oration the 5 th of March next " 

William Cooper, the Town Clerk, having made a motion to 
substitute therefor a celebration of the 4th of July in each year. 
This motion was referred to a Committee to consider and report. 
Their report 2 which was read at a town meeting held March 
25, 1783, was as follows : — 

" Whereas the Annual Celebration of the Boston Massacre on the 5'. h 
of March 1770, by the Institution of a Publick Oration has been found 
to be of eminent Advantage to the Cause of America in disseminating 
the Principles of Virtue and Patriotism among her Citizens ; And 
whereas the immediate Motives which induced the commemoration of 
that day, do now no longer exist in their primitive force ; while the Bene- 
fits resulting from the Institution may and ought to be forever preserved, 
by exchanging that Anniversary for Another, the foundation of which 
will last as long as time endures. It is therefore Resolved, that the 
Celebration of the fifth of March from henceforwards shall cease; and 
that instead thereof the Anniversary of the 4^> Day of July A. D. 1776 
(a Day ever memorable in the Annals of this Country for the declara- 
tion of our Independence) shall be constantly celebrated by the Deli- 
very of a Publick Oration, in such place as the Town shall determine 
to be most convenient for the purpose — In which the Orator shall 
consider the feelings, manners & principles which led to this great 
National Event as well as the important and happy Effects whether 
general or domestick, which already have, and will forever continue to 
flow from this Auspicious Epoch." 

This report was accepted by the town, and Dr. John War- 
ren delivered the first of these orations. From 1789 to 1809, 

march to New York ; and those that are ready to march." (December 30, 1776. 
General Court Records, 390.) 

To "confer with Commodore Manly, Cap 1 M c Niel, and the Commanders of 
other Continental and Colonial vessels." (General Court Records, February 7, 
1777, to October 25, 1777 ; April 17, 1777, p. 268.) 

To consider how to better the " execution " of " the Laws of this State." (April 
19, 1777. Ibid., 289.) 

i Boston Town Records, VII. 192, 196. 2 Ibid., VII. 225. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 101 

the year of his death, William Cooper was annually chosen 
moderator of the meeting called to celebrate in this manner 
the anniversary of the 4th day of July, 1776. 

He lived in Hanover Street for many years, and in the re- 
turns made for Boston, in accordance with the Direct Tax of 
1798, levied by the United States (Record Commissioners' 
Report, XXII. 298), the house is thus described : — 

" Increase Sumnek, owner ; William Cooper, occupier ; brick dwell- 
ing; West on Hanover Street; North on Mrs. Hixon ; South on Ins. 
Sumner; Kitchen, 320 square feet; 2 stories, 5 windows; brick. 

Land, 1,718 square feet; house, 800 square feet; 3 stories, 22 win- 
dows ; Value, 4,500." 

The Independent Chronicle of Wednesday, November 29, 
1809, makes this announcement : — 

" Last evening departed this life, after a short illness, the venerable 
WILLIAM COOPER, Esq. aged 88 years, deeply lamented by his 
numerous connections and friends, and by the citizens of his native 
town generally. As the first testimony of respect, his death was an- 
nounced by the tolling of all the bells in the town. His character will 
hereafter be delineated by some person fully acquainted with its merits : 
at present it becomes us only to state, that he has been honored with 
the suffrages of his fellow citizens as Town Clerk forty-nine years suc- 
cessively, and it is worthy of remark, that during the whole of that time 
he was never absent from his duty at a Town Meeting." 

The Chronicle of Monday, December 4, 1809, gives this ac- 
count of his funeral : 1 — 

" On Saturday last, the remains of that venerable patriot and pious 
man WILLIAM COOPER, Esq were interred in the family vault in 
the Granary Burying Ground, agreeably to the arrangements of the 
Selectmen of the town. The procession was lengthy and respectable, 
consisting of the principal public Officers of the town, country, state, 
and U. States, & a large number of his fellow-citizens, who entertained 
a respectful sense of his long and faithful services, and were impressed 
with a grateful remembrance of his patriotic virtues." 

The Boston Patriot of December 6, 1809, contains the follow- 
ing obituary notice : — 

" On Tuesday, Nov. 28th, the venerable WILLIAM COOPER, 
in the 88th year of his age, resigned himself into the bosom of his 

1 The Selectmen, November 29, 1809, appointed a committee to make arrange- 
ments for his funeral. (Boston Selectmen's Minutes, 488.) 



102 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

Father and his God. He was born in the year 1722, of respectable 
parents, no doubt, for his manners and education ever marked him the 
gentleman ; — and the worthy brother of the late celebrated Samuel 
Cooper, D. D. 

Mr. William Cooper was bred a merchant, and in the early part of 
his life was one of the Representatives from Boston. He was for a 
long series of years Register of the Probate Court for Suffolk under 
every form of government that has been experienced in Massachusetts 
since his birth. He united to a competent degree of assiduity and in- 
telligence in business a suavity of manners and a quick discernment of 
the characters of those witli whom he had to do. The peculiar tempera- 
ment of his mind and manners enabled him to glide smoothly down the 
stream of life; — to be happy in himself, and never fail to afford satis- 
faction to those around him. 

He was very active and ardent in the early stage of the American 
revolution ; and although he was not one of those master minds that 
are formed to move the universe, yet he was a co-operator with James 
Otis, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, John Adams and James War- 
ren ; was perfectly in their confidence and esteem, and a constant 
attendant on all their meetiugs, both in public and in private. 

Mr. Cooper was one of the Boston board of safety during the war ; 
and officiated as its Secretary. 

In 1760, when Mr. Cooper was about 38 years of age, he was chosen 
Town Clerk of Boston. In that respectable annual office he has con- 
tinued uninterruptedly till the day of his death. This circumstance is 
a very just criterion whereby to judge of his integrity, his intelligence, 
industry, and deportment, towards his fellow citizens. 

Like the venerable Judge Cushing Mr. Cooper has lived through all 
changes of political times and seasons, without ever losing either his 
place; or the good opinion of those who bestowed it — and without 
any change of principles. 

Mr. Cooper was a decided Republican. His most happy and active 
days were spent in arranging the preliminary scenes of the revolution. 
Had he lived to the age of Nestor he would never have ceased to be a 
friend of liberty and the rights of man ; yet if all men were like him 
(judging from what we have seen of him in the decline of life) we ven- 
ture to assert there would be no such thing as party. He never con- 
cealed, he never could conceal his sentiments ; yet we believe he never 
obtruded them in any time, place or manner, wherein they could give 
offence, or fail to have their intended good effect. 

His remarkable health and long life indicate that he was born with a 
fine constitution, which he never injured, by any irregular habit. In 
him we have witnessed a man whose age, usefulness and good tem- 
per made him truly honorable. He seemed to be a stranger to that 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 103 

decrepitude and petulance which often destroys the dignity of years. 
He seems ever to have improved his talents to the best advantage ; and 
to have lived and died a model for all good men." 

He died intestate, and administration on his estate was 
granted January 8, 1810, to his son " John Cooper Esquire of 
Machias." 

He married in Boston April 25, 1745, Katharine, daughter 
of Jacob Wendell. 

He had a large family of children, seventeen in number. 
But it is worthy of note — and it is a striking commentary on 
the condition of the Boston Records — that notwithstanding 
he was himself Town Clerk for so many years, the births of 
none of his children are recorded in the Town Records, although 
no fewer than six of them were born during his own term of 
office. 

A Town Clerk who neglected to record the births of his own 
children could hardly be expected to show much concern for 
those of his fellow townsmen. 

William Cooper's colleague in the Probate Office was John 
Cotton. They were friends and near neighbors. They lived 
within a stone's throw of each other. William Cooper must 
have had personal knowledge of all that happened in the Cotton 
family. Its joys and its sorrows could not have remained un- 
known to him. John Cotton was the father of eleven chil- 
dren. Eight of them were born, and all but one of them died, 
while W r illiam Cooper held the office of Town Clerk. Yet 
only the birth of one of these eleven children is to be found of 
record. The others have no official existence on the Town 
Clerk's books. 

These meagre records of the Cotton and Cooper families are 
only two of a large number of instances of this neglect. They 
can be multiplied indefinitely. They are only two counts in 
the indictment. The same proportion holds good in the case 
of nearly all Boston families. 

William Cooper cannot of course be charged with the short- 
comings of his predecessors or his successors. But inasmuch as 
he held the office of Town Clerk for nearly half a century, his 
sins of omission are largely responsible for the deplorable de- 
ficiencies of the Boston Records. 

Boston is the despair of the genealogist. It is practically 
impossible to compile complete and satisfactory family histories 



104 MASSACHUSETTS HISTOEICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

of our old Boston families. Indeed, it is only during the lat- 
ter half of the century which has just drawn to its close that 
any systematic or intelligent attempt has been made to record 
Boston births, marriages, and deaths. 

Prior to that time probably not one in a dozen of the births, 
with deaths in a still smaller proportion, can be found of record, 
while perhaps fully a third of the marriages are missing. 

The Boston records are in painful contrast to those of the 
other towns of Massachusetts. Their records have in general 
been kept with great care and are reasonably complete. 

The record of the town meeting 1 held March 11, 1765, is 
strangely silent as to the choice of a Town Clerk for the ensu- 
ing year. Although William Cooper himself was undoubtedly 
on that day elected to this important office, he singularly enough 
neglected to make any record of the fact, and there exists no 
official account of the action of the town in that regard. 

THE REGISTRY OF PROBATE. 

The first Town House in Boston stood where now stands the 
Old State House. The expense of its erection was borne partly 
by the legacy left by Captain Robert Keayne for that purpose, 
and partly by subscriptions made by other public -spirited 
inhabitants. 

The General Court, 2 in making an allowance to the Town 
toward the cost of the edifice, stipulated 

" that sufficient roomes in the sajd house shall be for euer free, for the 
keeping of all Courts." 

This first Town House was destroyed by fire in 1711, and the 
second Town House — the present Old State House — " for 
the Province, County & Town," was erected on its site. 

The Boston Weekly News-Letter of March 19, 1730, makes 
this announcement : — 

" These may Notifie all Persons within the County of Suffolk, that in 
Consideration of the Small Pox being now in Boston, and for the benefit 
and safety of those living in the Country, The Hon. Josiah Willard Esq ; 
Judge of the Probates of Wills, ^c. for the said County intends to hold 

1 Boston Town Records, IV. 613. See, however, the Boston News Letter of 
March 14, 1765. 

2 Mass. Col. Bee., IV. Part 1, 327. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 105 

his Court at Mr. Rogers's the Sign of the George wear Roxbury, the last 
Monday in the Month, from Half an Hour after Nine in the Morning., 
to Half an Hour after Twelve. 

By Order of his Honour the Judge, 

John Boydell, Reg." 

The Boston News-Letter of October 8, 1730, contains the 
following notice : — 

" These may Inform all Persons within the County of Suffolk, That 
the Honourable Josiah Willard Esq ; Judge of Probates for said County, 
will {for the future) hold his Court at his Own House in Boston every 
Monday as usual. 

By Order of the said Judge. J. Boydell, Reg." 

On Wednesday, December 9, 1747, this second Town House 
very narrowly escaped the fate of its predecessor. Only its 
substantial brick walls saved it from total destruction. 

" Yesterday Morning between 6 & 7 o'Clock we were exceedingly 
surprised by a most terrible Fire, which broke out at the Court House 
in this Town, whereby that spacious and beautiful Building, except the 
bare outward Walls, was entirely destroyed." 1 " But the County 
Records, and Papers belonging to the Inferiour Court, being deposited 
in an Office upon the lower Floor, were most of 'em preserved." 2 

The General Court, 3 March 9, 1747/8, 

" Voted that the late Court House in the Town of Boston be Re- 
paired as soon as conveniently may be," 

and apportioned the cost to the Province, the County of Suffolk, 
and the Town of Boston. 

The inhabitants of Boston being aggrieved at this apportion- 
ment at a town meeting January 7, 1750/1, voted to petition 
the General Court for relief, 4 alleging as follows : — 

" And your Memorialist accordingly Represent that it appears prob- 
able from the ancient Records of the Town that about the Year 1657 a 
House was built on the Towns Land for the immediate Use and Service 
of the Town, & that the Charge thereof was born by a Subscription of the 
Inhabitants — It further appears from the Province Law made in the 

i Boston News Letter of December 10, 1747. See also Boston Gazette of 
December 15, 1747. 

2 Boston Evening Post of December 14, 1747. 
8 Mass. Archives, XLIX. 211, 212, 213. 
1 Boston Town Records, IV. 241-244. 

14 



106 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

year 1693. that the said House had some time before been made use of 
both by the Province and County as well as by the Town ... In the 
Year 1711, by the Providence of God the said House was Consumed by 
Fire . . . The Town being then destitute of any House for publick Meet- 
ings, and other publick uses, agreed to the proposals made by the General 
Court . . . for rebuilding said House, and upon the Proportion which 
the Town should bear of the Charge thereof . . . But it pleas'd God 
in his providence in the month of December 1747. to Suffer the Town- 
house to be again Consumed by Fire, and this while in the immediate 
use and Service of the General Court ; " 

all the papers and records of the town having been removed 
in October, 1742, to the commodious building erected by Peter 
Faneuil for the town ; the rooms in the Town House which 
had been appropriated to the use of the town having been, on 
such removal, occupied by the General Court and the town 
excluded from any benefit thereof. 

"... Must it not then appear to your Honours a much greater hard- 
ship that the Town should be held to pay more than their proportion 
in common with the rest of the Province for the Charge of building a 
House, which they have no manner of Use and Occasion for & when 
those Rooms the Town formerly had in it for several years past have 
still been and still are wholly Improved by the Province. 

Your Memorialists could Enlarge upon the unequal Proportion they 
Imagine they Pay to the Province Tax upon the Decrease of the Polls, 
Buildings and other Estate of the Town, and the declining State of their 
Trade, but they humbly Apprehend that without this, your Honours 
will be Induc'd to think favourably of this their Application, and that 
you will not Suffer the aforesaid Vote by which they apprehend them- 
selves to be aggrevied, to take Effect, or that you will otherwise releive 
them, as to your Wisdom shall seem meet." 

But the General Court 1 seems to have been deaf to this 
appeal. 

The Probate Office was then in Pudding Lane, now Devon- 
shire Street. 

In the Boston Weekly News Letter of Thursday, April 16, 
1752, there appears this notice : — 

" THE Records of the Court of Probate, fyc. for the County of Suf- 
folk are remov'd to the House of Robert Spur, Esq ; in Dorchester, 
where the Judge will hold a Court every Friday, from Nine to One 

i General Court Becords, XIX. 337. 



1902.] SUFFOLK EEGISTEES OP PROBATE. 107 

o'Clock, until further publick Notice : and he proposes to Act upon 
such Business as the Inhabitants of the Country Towns are concern'd 
in on Friday next, and upon such Business as the Inhabitants of Bos- 
ton are concern'd in, the Friday next after, and so alternately, to 
prevent, as far as may be, the Small-Pox being communicated from the 
Town to the Country. And the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston 
are desired to use all possible Precaution against bringing the Infection 
in their Apparel, Papers, or by any other Means, as one of the Officers 
of the Court is liable to the Distemper." 

"As no Probate Business has been done in the said County for 
several weeks past, a Court will be held for the Inhabitants of Boston, 
on Tuesday next, but from thence forward on no other Day than 
Friday." 

The Boston Weekly News Letter of Thursday, September 
21, 1752, contains the following: — 

" We are desired to inform the Publick, That the Records of the 
Probate-Office for the County of Suffolk, will be this Week remov'd 
from Dorchester, to the Office in Pudding- Lane in Boston, where they 
were formerly kept ; and the Judge will hold his Court there, on Fri- 
day next from Nine o'clock in the Morning until One, and so on every 
Friday until further Publick Notice." 

The condition of the Probate Records at this time may be 
learned from the following memorial 1 of Judge Hutchinson, 
who afterward became Governor Hutchinson : — 

" To the honourable Spencer Phipps Esq L' Governour & Coman- 
der in chief & the honourable his Majestys Council of the Prov- 
ince of the Massachusetts bay 

The Memorial of Thomas Hutchinson Esq Judge of the Probate of 
Wills &c* for the County of Suffolk, humbly sheweth, 

That upon your Memorialist entring upon the aforesaid Office he 
made enquiry into the state of the Records & Files and found that from 
some time in the year 1720 until some time in the year 1723 there are 
no authentick Records in any Book but part of the business of the 
Office during that term is copyed on sheets of paper and about one half 
of said business lyes in the Original papers on file & have never been 
copyed or Registred into any book or on Sheets of paper Your Memorial- 
ist apprehends it very unsafe for the County that the papers should 
remain in this state. Enquiry has already been made by an Executor 
to a Will proved during that Time for a Copy thereof but the Original 
cannot be found and there is danger that the Settlement of many Es- 

1 Mass. Archives, XVIII. 874; Council Records, XII. 261. 



108 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

tates may be affected by this neglect. And as the several Probate Of- 
fices and what relates to them are subject to the direction of your 
Honour & the Honourable Board, your Memorialist therefore prays 
that such Order may pass in this Affair as to your Wisdom shall seem 
meet and as in duty bound shall ever pray &c* 

Tho Hutchinson 
Milton 27 June 1752 " 

At a Council held at the College Library in Cambridge June 
27, 1752, " Read and Ordered That the Memorialist cause the 
several Papers mentioned in the Memorial to be recorded as 
soon as may be, and the further consideration of the memorial 
is referred till that be effected." 

The Act 1 passed by the General Court in 1754, to enable 
John Payne, a clerk in the Probate Office, to attest the records 
from February 17, 1743, until February 1, 1754, they not having 
been, during all that time, attested by the Register of Probate 
as required by law, has already been cited. 

The Records of the Court of General Sessions, 2 under date 
of November 7, 1752, contain the following : — 

" The Petition of Andrew Belcher Esq' Register of the Court of 
Probate as entred in January last Setting forth that the Records of 
the Probate office are kept in a place which has twice taken fire not 
owing to any Carelesness of the officer and therefore pray'd the 
Consideration of the Court ; Whereupon the Court appointed Abiel 
Walley, Thomas Hubbard & John Philips Esq? a Committee to take 
the Petition aforesaid into Consideration and Report to the Court 
which they have Accordingly done as is Set forth in their Report which 
the Court accepted off and thereupon appointed the aforesaid Com- 
mittee to provide a Suitable place in order to lodge the Records of the 
Probate office in at the charge of the County." 

This was followed, January 1, 1754, by the memorial 3 of 
the Judge of Probate : — 

" The Memorial of Thomas Hutchinson Esqf Judge of the Probate 
of Wills & granting Administration &c. for the County aforesaid, Set- 
ting forth to this Court 

That the Reccords of the probate office for s* County are now & for 
many years past have been kept in a room not only Inconvenient for 
an office & holding Courts of Probate but extreemly unsafe, & exposed 

1 Acts of 1754-5, Chap. 2; Mass. Archives, XIX. 152; ante, p. 70. 

2 Minute Book of the Court of General Sessions of the Peace, II. 
*Ibid.,U. 



1902.] SUFFOLK EEGISTEES OF PROBATE. 109 

to the Damage of fire he apprehending that with the expence of about 
one hundred and twenty or thirty pounds lawfull money a Convenient 
brick building .might be erected on the County Land by the prison in 
the Town of Boston a room of about 20. or 22 feet square will be suffi- 
ciently large, and will be much Safer, than if there are any Other 
Rooms over it or contiguous to it. And he prays the Consideration of 
this Houb 1 . 6 Court, &?." 

The Committee appointed by the Court on this memorial 

"reported [January 28, 1754] that they had Viewed the Land in s? 
Mem? mention'd, & were of Opinion that a Convenient Brick Building 
for the Probate office might be Erected in the front of said Land ad- 
joyning to the County Goal, & thereupon It is Ordered that John Fay- 
erweather, Joshua Winslow & Joseph Dowse Esq™ be & they hereby 
are appointed a Com*. e . e to Erect a Brick Building on said Land for an 
office for the Judge of Probate for this County, & that they do it in 
the most convenient manner, & at the cheapest Rate they can." 1 

This Committee erected on Queen Street, now Court Street, 
a brick building for the Probate Office. It was ready for 
occupancy, December 3, 1754, for on that day 

"John Fayrweather Joshua Winslow & Joseph Dowse Esq™ a 
Committee appointed by this Court to Erect an office for the Judge of 
Probate for this County, reported that they had built said office, & 
the same was now Compleated." 2 

But the new Probate Office proved far from satisfactory, as 
appears from the Report and Order 8 made May 14, 1756, on a 
petition of the Registers of Probate : — 

"The Petition of John Payne and John Cotton Registers of the 
Court of Probate, for the County of Suffolk — Setting forth That the 

1 Minute Book of the Court of General Sessions of the Peace, II. 

s Ibid., III. 

The Court ordered payment to several persons named in the account of the 
Committee, among others to Alexander Young, " for Liquor deld Masons Car- 
penters, &c " £1. 8. 2. 

3 Ibid., III. 

The Boston News Letter of March 15, 1764, contains the following notice : — 

" The Judge of Probate for the County of Suffolk, intends to hold a Court at 
his House in Milton, every Monday in the Forenoon whilst the Small-Pox con- 
tinues in the Town of Boston." 

The official Report on the Small Pox, printed in the Boston News Letter 
of July 5, 1764, shows that 1,537 persons removed into the Country to escape 
infection. 



110 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

Walls of the office of said Court were so damp that your Petitioners 
apprehend they Endanger their health thereby and that the papers & 
Reccords of said Office are very much exposed to the dust and Rot more 
especially since they have made use of Sea Coal firing, they further 
beg Leave to Represent to this Court that they are nat Considerable 
expence in providing Coals which they humbly apprehend ought to be 
a County Charge, and are Informed is so with Regard to the Clerks 
office of the Court of the Court of General Sessions of the peace for the 
s d County and Your petitioners would hope that they are equally En- 
tituled thereto, and therefore prayd that the Court wou'd have Con- 
sideration thereof, Which Pett" was Preferd to the Court in January 
last, at Which time Joshua Winslow and Joseph Dowse Esq™ were 
appointed a Committee to make Enquiry into the Necessity thereof, & 
make report to the next Court. Which they have accordingly done, in 
the Words following 

We the Subscribers being appointed to View the office within men- 
tioned are of Opinion that it Would be of Service to have Glass doors 
placed before the Books and papers, also to have the lower part of the 
Wall lin'd with Boards, also some alteration in the Chimney. Which 
Report after being Read to the Court Was Accepted by them, And 
Joshua Winslow and Joseph Dowse Esq!" are desired to see that the 
Severall things Reported, be done." 

The Records of the Court of General Sessions under date of 
January 26, 1768, show the following petition : * — 

" The Petition of Sundry Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, pray- 
ing that the wooden Shop adjoyning to the Probate Office in Queen 
Street may be removed, they apprehending said Office to be much 
endanger'd by Fire, in case said Shop is suffer'd to remain there any 
longer. It is thereupon Order'd that the Sheriff of this County take 
care that said Shop be immediately taken down, or removed to some 
other place distant from said office." 

As early as July 30, 1765, the Court of Sessions had ap- 
pointed a committee to consider the expediency of building a 
new Court House and a new Jail. 2 The Jail was " begun the 

1 Minute Book of the Court of General Sessions of the Peace, IV. 

2 Ibid., IV. 

It was while the Probate Records were kept in the Brick Probate Office in 
Queen Street that the Stamp Act was passed. 

These records, during the disgraceful riot of August 26, 1765, fortunately 
escaped the fate which befell the records and files of the Court of Vice-Admi- 
ralty, which, in part at least, were committed to the flames b}' the drunken mob 
in the attack made on the house of William Story, the Deputy Register of that 
Court. Swollen in numbers and " ripened in ebriety and madness," after plun- 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. Ill 

twelfth day of August 1766, and finish'd the twenty first of 
March 1767." 

dering the house of Benjamin Hallowell Jr., the Comptroller of the Customs, and 
consuming the contents of his wine cellar, the rioters "with intoxicated rage" 
next fell upon the house of Thomas Hutchinson, Lieutenant Governor and Judge 
of Probate, demolishing every part of it except the walls. The wanton destruc- 
tion of liis large and valuable collection of manuscripts and papers, public and 
private, relating to the history of the colony from the first settlement — the ac- 
cumulation of a lifetime and the only one of its kind — waa a great and irretriev- 
able loss, the extent of which can hardly be estimated. 

In connection with this subject, the following letter is of interest and may 
properly claim to find here a place. Judge Hutchinson, writing to William 
Bollan under date of Boston, December 20, 1765, says : — 

"D R S E 

I thank you for your intell. by Scott The inclosed paper will surprize you. 
Affairs grow worse & worse I came to town to day uncertain whether I should 
not be obliged to go aboard this ship to avoid the like dishonorary submissions 
If something is not done that y e law may have its course I fear there will be a 
general overturn & confusion. It would be as much as a mans life is worth to 
touch a stamp if it was in his power to come at them. 

The only post of safety is a private station 

I shall inclose a rough draft of past proceedings because being from home I 
cannot have it transcribed 

I am y°r hum bls 

Dec 21 I have resigned my office of Judge of Probate to prevent a demand of 
proceeding in a way in w h . I am not yet convinced the necessity of aft will jus- 
tify, the governor refuses to accept my Resignation, some expedient is projecting 
I had an intimation of a design to compel me from particular prsons I mean to 
compel me to proceed without stamps." (Mass. Archives, XXV. 22.) 

The following is from the Council Records under date of December 21, 
1765: — 

"The Hon ble Thomas Hutchinson Esq! Judge of Probate for the County of 
Suffolk, having made a motion to His Excellency in Council, that for some pecu- 
liar reasons he had mentioned, for leave to resign the Office of Judge of Probate 
absolutely or for a limited time, as should be judged best, and it being thereupon 
moved to the Council he might be permitted to make a Deputation to some per- 
son to act in the Office for a term not exceeding a year. 

The said Motion was approved of, & advised to by the Board, provided that 
such Deputy shall be approved of at the next General Council appointed to be 
held on Wednesday the 1" day of January next." (Council Records, XVI. 78.) 

The Boston News Letter of December 26, 1765, says: — 

" We hear that on Saturday last bis Honour the Lieutenant Governor desired 
Leave from his Excellency the Governor, in Council, to resign the Office of Judge 
of Probate for the County of Suffolk, either absolutely or for a limited Time." 

At a meeting of the Council held January 1, 1766, final action was taken : 

"The Governor and Council on the 21?' day of December last having on the 
Motion of the Honorable Thomas Hutchinson EsqF Judge of Probate of Wills 
&? for the County of Suffolk, allowed the said Judge to make a Deputation to a 
person to act in the said Office for a term not exceeding one year, provided such 
Deputy should be approved of at the General Council appointed to be held as on 
this day. And the said Judge being now present in Council and desiring that 
instead of his making a Deputation as aforesaid, His Excellency would with the 



112 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

On the completion of the Jail, the Court turned its attention 
to the subject of a new Court House, 1 and on May 4, 1768, 

" Order'd that the Brick Building Erected a few years since on the 
Land belonging to the County near the Goal in Boston, for an Office 
for the Court of Probate, be taken down, for the better Accommoda- 
tion & Convenience of A New Court house — ... 

Order'd that a New Courthouse within the Town of Boston, for the 
Several Courts of Justice to Sit in, be Erected ... on the Lands 
belonging to the County in Queen Street in Boston (on part whereof 
the old stone Gaol lately stood) . . . that on the lower Floor of said 
Building, s* Committee Assign & Sett off such parts of it, for the 
Probate Office, for the Begister of Deeds, & for the Clerks of the 

Advice of the Council appoint some person for the term aforesaid. His Excel- 
lency did thereupon nominate Foster Hutchinson Esq r . to be special Judge of 
the Probate of Wills &? for the County of Suffolk during the absence of the said 
Judge, and for a term not exceeding a year. To which Appointment, as afore- 
said, the Council did Advise and Consent." (Council Records, XVI. 81.) 

Judge Hutchinson, under date of January 2, 1766, thus refers to this appoint- 
ment : — 

"... I have held a place of about 60£ a year for a dozen years past Judge 
of Prob. for this county. The town of Boston alone at their meetings insisted 
that I should proceed without stamps & prayed the gov & council to direct me 
with the courts of common law so to do. I was determined not to comply but at 
a loss how to secure my self. In this state two of my friends who have always 
been watchful for my safety came to me and assured me further violence was 
just at hand & they could not say to what length it would be carried, unless I 
complied, left the Prov. or resigned my post & they were not sure the latter 
would be satisfactory. I pitched upon that however upon mentioning it to the 
gov. he thought he could not appoint a successor without a stamp & proposed 
my making a deputy I did not like this & upon further considering the act it 
was agreed a person might be appointed in my stead for a term not exceeding 12 
months. I made my proposed voy e to Engl* the principal reason for my resign- 
ing & no great exception has been taken." (Mass. Archives, XXVI. 193.) 

The Boston News Letter of January 2, 1766, makes this announcement : — 

" We hear that Foster Hdtchinson, Esq ; is appointed Special Judge of 
Probate for the County of Suffolk, during the Absence of His Honour the 
Lieutenant-Governour, not exceeding the Term of Twelve Months." 

When the Stamp Act went into operation, the people generally refused to 
buy or use stamps, business was paralyzed, and the provincial courts were closed. 
This sullen determination had at last its effect, and the Freeholders and others, 
assembled in Town Meeting December 26, 1765 (Boston Town Records, IV. 671), 
were assured " that the Courts of Probate within the Province would be opened ; 
that the Sheriff of the County of Suffolk had served and was ready to serve all 
Writts brought to him, and that the Court of Common Pleas for said County 
next in course to sit, would meet & proceed to Business." At an adjourned 
Town Meeting held January 16, 1766, it was announced that " the Inferior Court 
of Common Pleas for the County together with the Court of Probate is 
now open and Business going on as usual." Two months later, the Act was 
repealed. 

1 Minute Book of the Court of General Sessions of the Peace, IV. 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 113 

Court of General Sessions of the peace, & Court of Comon pleas, as they 
shall Judge to be necessary & convenient for their respective offices." 

This Court House, which is described as " an handsome 
Brick Building," was finished early in the following year, the 
first session of the Court of General Sessions being held in it 
April 18, 1769. 

The Probate Records were however already installed there, 
as appears from the following notice in the Massachusetts 
Gazette of March 9, 1769 : — 

" The Probate Office for the County of Suffolk, is now kept in the 
new Court House, Boston." 

But not long after its establishment there, Thomas Hutchin- 
son — to whose efforts the erection of this "handsome Brick 
Building " was so largely due — who had been Judge of Pro- 
bate for the County of Suffolk since April 3, 1752, except 
during the Stamp Act troubles, resigned and was succeeded 
August 3, 1769, by his brother Foster Hutchinson, the last 
Judge of Probate to hold that office under the appointment of 
a Royal Governor. 

Foster Hutchinson, the new Judge, was likewise a Loyalist. 
During the siege of Boston the Records and Files of the Pro- 
bate Court were kept in the new Court House in Queen Street, 
in the care and custody of John Cotton, the Loyalist Register 
of Probate. 1 After his death Judge Hutchinson took them 

1 See ante, p. 98. 

Thomas Cushing, the Revolutionist Judge of Probate (see ante, p. 97), held 
a Probate Court during the siege outside the lines, as appears from the following 
notice : — 

" County of Suffolk, January 22 1776 

PUBLIC NOTICE is hereby given, that it is intended a court for the Probate 
of Wills, &c. shall be held at Dedham, in the said county, at the public house kept 
by Mr Woodward, on the first Monday of February next, and if that day should 
not be sufficient, on the day following and the like in each of the following 
months, until public notice is given to the contrary." (The Boston Gazette 
[printed at Watertown] Monday, January 29, 1776.) 

After the evacuation of Boston the Probate Court was again held in the 
Court House in Queen Street. 

" The Public are hereby notified that a Court of Probate will be held at the 
Probate Office at Boston, on every second and fourth Monday in this and the 
ensuing Months, until further Notice." (The Boston Gazette, printed at Water- 
town, June 17, 1776.) 

" December 2, 1776 

An. concerned, are hereby Notified, That the Courts of Probate for the 
County of Suffolk, will, for the future, be held at the Probate-Office in Boston, on 

13 



114 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

into his own custody, and on the evacuation of Boston by the 
Royal forces carried them with him to Halifax. 

After the siege, when the inhabitants had begun to resume 
their usual occupations and had returned to their ordinary 
ways of life, the loss of these records began to be severely felt, 
and many difficulties arose in the settlement of estates of 
deceased persons. 1 

Fridays at Ten o' Clock in the Forenoon." (The Boston Gazette, printed at 

Boston, December 16, 1776.) 

The Boston Gazette of Monday, March 12, 1781, contains the following 

notice : — 

" Boston, March 10, 1781 

The Judge of Probate for the County of Suffolk, agreeable to a Resolve of the 
General Court, passed the 13th of November 1780, informs the County, that he 
shall hold his Court of Probate in the Town of Medfleld, on the First Tuesday of 
next April, June, August, October and December : And at the House of Capt. 
Arnold, in the Town of Weymouth, on the First Tuesday of next May, July, 
September and November : And at the Probate Office in the Town of Boston, 
every Tuesday excepting the First of each Month." 

The County of Norfolk was set off from the County of Suffolk March 26, 
1793. Since that time the Probate Courts for the County of Suffolk have been 
held in Boston. 

The county of Suffolk now consists of the city of Boston, the city of Chelsea, 
and the towns of Revere and Winthrop. 

1 In some instances it became absolutely necessary, even in the midst of the 
Revolutionary War, to obtain from Judge Hutchinson copies of certain of the 
papers and records then in his hands at Halifax. He seems to have offered no 
objection to this proceeding, and he continued from time to time during the 
whole of the war to make and attest such copies, claiming to the very last to be 
" Judge of Probate for the County of Suffolk in his Majestys Province of Massa- 
chusetts Bay." 

In cases where attested copies were for any reason not obtained, resort was 
had to other expedients. 

In the case of William Whitwell, of Boston, merchant, deceased (No. 15,787), 
whose will dated January 8, 1774, had been probated April 14, 1775, the General 
Court, April 26, 1776, passed the following Resolve : — 

" Whereas the Records and Papers belonging to the Probate-Office in the 
County of Suffolk, cannot be found ; and it is apprehended the same were carried 
off by the Enemies when they fled from Boston, and the original Will referred to 
in the within Petition [of William Whitwell] cannot be found : Therefore, Re- 
solved, That the Hon. the Judge of Probate for the County of Suffolk be, and he 
hereby is fully authorized and impowered to grant out Letters of Administration 
on the Estate of the said William Whitwell, deceased, to the Petitioner, he giv- 
ing Security as the Law requires for the faithful Discharge of that Trust, and 
that the said Judge proceed in the Settlement of said Estate, in the same Man- 
ner as in the settling of Intestate Estates, unless the Heirs shall otherwise agree, 
or the original Will shall hereafter be found." (Journal of the House of Repre- 
sentatives, 187.) 

An administrator was accordingly appointed by the Revolutionist Judge of 
Probate and the estate was settled as if it had been an intestate estate. 

In the case of Joseph Crosby, late of Braintree, Esq., deceased (No. 14,400), 



1902.] SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 115 

The Massachusetts Archives contain the following : — 

" State op Massachusetts Bay 

Council Chamber Dec' 29 : 1777 
Whereas many Difficulties have arisen to this State for want of 
the Papers belonging to the Judge of Probate's Office which were con- 

whose will dated January 26, 1769, had been probated March 17, 1769, the 
General Court appointed a committee, February 24, 1778, on the petition of Ann 
Crosby et at., setting forth that the last will and testament with a codicil of said 
Joseph, together with the record of the same was " carried off by Foster Hutch- 
inson Esq. late judge of probate for the County of Suffolk, when he fled with the 
British troops from Boston in the Year 1776; & that no attested copy thereof is 
left in the hands of any person within this State; & therefore praying that an 
unattested Copy of the same, to this court exhibited, might be authenticated & 
made valid in law ; which copy being made to appear to this court to be a true & 
correct one," etc. etc. This committee was instructed to consider the petition, to 
hear the parties, and to report thereon. (Mass. Archives, CCXVII. 192 et seq.) 

In the case of Robert Ford, late of Boston, mariner, deceased (No. 14,193), 
whose will dated November 29, 1765, had been probated February 26, 1768, "as 
the original will & Probate Records are Carried off to Halifax & Cannot be Pro- 
cured," the General Court on petition of William Winter, passed a Resolve Octo- 
ber 6, 1779, confirming a copy of said will as the last will of said Robert Ford 
and authorizing the Judge of Probate to grant administration with the will an- 
nexed, " the Executors named in said Will being Dead & the Estate unsettled." 

This copy bore the following attestation : " The above & foregoing are true 
copies of the Will of Rob' Ford late of Boston Mariner dec'd and also of the 
Inventory of the said dec'd" Estate extracted from the Records of the Court of 
Probate for the County of Suffolk, in his Majesty's Province of Massachusetts 
Bay 

Attest Foster Hutchinson 

Halifax 14ih Sept 1779 Judge of Prob' for s d County " 

(Mass. Archives, CCXXIV. 332.) 

In the case of Thomas Child, late of Boston, distiller, deceased, intestate 
(No. 9,937), letters of administration were issued January 30, 1752, and a parti- 
tion of his real estate was made March 22, 1754. The copy of this partition was 
thus certified : — 

" Nova Scotia 

The Subscriber Judge of Probate of Wills &c for the County of Suffolk in his 
Majestys Province of Massachusetts Bay certifys that the Division or Partition 
of the Estate of Thomas Child deceas'd contain'd in the six foregoing Pages is 
a true & faithf ull Extract from the Probate Register of the aforesaid County of 
Suffolk 

Foster Hutchinson. 

Halo-ax 15th June 1780 " (Mass. Archives, CCXXXI V. 495-501.) 

In the case of Robert Jenkins, late of Boston, merchant, deceased (No. 15,525), 
whose will dated November 26, 1773, had been probated December 10, 1773, the 
original will being in the possession of Foster Hutchinson, the General Court, on 
petition of John Jenkins, the son of said testator, passed a Resolve July 1, 1782, 
directing the Judge of Probate to allow and approve a copy of said will which 
was established as the last will and testament of said Robert Jenkins (Mass. 
Archives, CCXXXVI. 132-136; Supplement to Acts and Resolves of Mass., I. 
123). Letters of administration with the will annexed on his estate were issued 
April 18, 1782, to John Jenkins, of Providence, Rhode Island, merchant. 



116 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

veyed from Boston to Halifax by Foster Hutchinson Esq late Judge of 
Probate for the County of Suffolk 

Ordered — That the Honble Thomas Cushing Esq. be and he hereby 
is desired to write a Letter to Foster Hutchinson Esq. representing the 
Inconveniences this County labours under for want of said Papers and 
to desire him to deliver them to John Brown Comander of the Cartel 
Brig? Favourite addressed to the Care of the said Tho? Cushing Esq 
Judge of Probate for said County in Order that they may be lodged in 
the Probate Office in Boston for the Benefit use and Relief of the Poor 
Widows & Orphans to whom they more irnediately relate — 

Read & Accepted 

Jn° Avery D y Secy." 1 

But if such a letter were written it proved of no avail, for 
long after the war had been brought to its close, the General 
Court, February 13, 1784, passed the following Resolve: 2 — 

" Resolve requesting the Governor to take measures for recovery of 
Records of Probate Office, Suffolk County said to be in possession of 
Foster Hutchinson. 

Resolved, That the Governor of this Commonwealth, be requested 
to take such Measures for the Speedy Recovery of the Records of the 
Probate Office, of the County of Suffolk, said to be in the Possession 
of Foster Hutchinson Esq, of Halifax, as he may judge necessary." 

In compliance with this Resolve, Governor Hancock secured 
the services of Benjamin Kent, 3 a member of the Suffolk Bar, 
who proceeded to Halifax on this most important mission. 

i Mass. Archives, CLXVIII. 118. 

2 Acts and Resolves of Mass., Chap. 54, 1782-3. 

8 Benjamin Kent, son of Joseph Kent, of Charlestown, was baptized June 13, 
1708, at the First Church, Cambridge. He was graduated at Harvard College in 
the class of 1727. Among his classmates was Governor Hutchinson. He was 
ordained in 1733 a minister at Marlborough, but doubts arising as to his ortho- 
doxy, a council convened in 1735 found him unsound in the faith. He afterward 
removed to Boston, studied law and became a barrister, noted for his wit and 
eccentricity. He married in Chelsea, November 6, 1740, Elizabeth Watts. She 
was the daughter of Samuel Watts, of Chelsea, and was baptized there Septem- 
ber 16, 1722. 

Under date of 1758, John Adams, then a young lawyer just entering upon the 
practice of the law in Boston, says : — 

" Rode to Boston . . . went into the court house and sat down by Mr. Paine, 
at the lawyers' table. I felt shy, under awe and concern ; for Mr. Gridley, Mr. 
Pratt, Mr. Otis, Mr. Kent, and Mr. Thacher, were all present, and looked sour." 
And at a later date : — 

" Kent is for fun, drollery, humor, flouts, jeers, contempt. He has an irreg- 



1902.] SUFFOLK EEGISTEES OF PROBATE. 117 

The following letter * written by him to Governor Hancock 
tells of its success : — 

ular, immethodical head, but his thoughts are often good, and his expressions 
happy." 

At the meeting of the bar at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern January 3, 1770, 
Benjamin Kent presided, he being the eldest barrister-at-law then present. 

He took an active part in the affairs of the town, served on many important 
committees, and was chosen Moderator of various town meetings. His political 
opinions seem to have occasioned some discussion. 

He wrote from Boston, April 24, 1776, to John Adams, then in Philadelphia, 
complaining of the hesitancy and delay of the Continental Congress: " What in 
the name of Common Sense are you Gentlemen of the Continental Congress 
about 1 " " the present time to make a final Declaration of Independence is the 
best." In his reply Mr. Adams said, " You cannot make thirteen clocks strike 
precisely alike at the same second." 

He was appointed, December 4, 1776, one of the committee to petition the 
General Court in relation to the quota of the Town of Boston of men " this State 
is to raise, for the Continental Army," and, March 14, 1777, one of the committee 
concerning the " persons resorting to, or residing in the Town, who are justly 
suspected of being innimical to the American States." 

Notwithstanding this, Sabine asserts that he was a Loyalist and says : " To 
the gentlemen who have suggested that the subject of this notice was not a 
Loyalist, 1 return my warm thanks for the endeavor to correct an inaccuracy in 
this work ; but the name was not inserted in the first edition without thought, 
and is retained now, after due consideration of the circumstances to which my 
attention has since been kindly directed." 

The Town, County, and State Records and the Record Book of the Suffolk Bar 
all show that he remained here during the Revolutionary War. He was present 
for the last time at the meeting of the bar held April 20, 1784, and it was not 
until May 7, 1784, as his own account shows, that he sailed for Halifax, where his 
youngest daughter Sarah, wife of Sampson Salter Blowers, a Boston Loyalist 
refugee, — afterward Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, — was 
then living. 

In a deed dated April 15, 1785, he describes himself as " Benjamin Kent of 
Boston in New England Esquire now residing at Hallifax in Nova Scotia," and he 
recites that he intends shortly to make a visit to Boston and to leave in Halifax 
his wife Elizabeth and his daughters Elizabeth Kent and Sarah Blowers. He men- 
tions his " son Benjamin, if living." This deed was acknowledged April 30, 1785, 
in Boston. But his stay here was of short duration, and he returned to Halifax. 
The inscription on his tombstone in St. Paul's Cemetery, Halifax, shows that he 
died, October 22, 1 788, in the eighty -first year of his age, his widow Elizabeth dying 
August 2, 1802, in the eightieth year of her age. 

The house in Boston where Benjamin Kent lived for many years, first as 
tenant and afterward as owner, stood on the north side of King Street, now 
State Street, next to the corner of Wilson's Lane and directly opposite the Town 
House. It was of brick, and his next-door neighbor on the west was William 
Story, whose house was attacked during the Stamp Act riots, as has been before 
related [ante, p. 110). After Benjamin Kent's decease, his widow and daughters 
conveyed the house and land by deed dated May 26, 1793, executed at Halifax, 
to William Burley, of Boston, merchant. 

When Devonshire Street was extended through Wilson's Lane in 1872, the 



1 Senate Document, 156. 



118 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

" Halifax Nov 1 9* 1784. 
SlE, 

After a tedious negociation & more Trouble than you can imagine, 
I have received seventy two books (I think N?'13, being wanting) 
with a parcell of loose papers which are packed now in a box marked 
S.S.B. & also four boxes of papers which I have not seen having re- 
ceived them packed as they are now sent — These M r Hutchinson who 
delivered them says, are all he has had of the Probate Records — 
The Office Seal he has not Delivered — You will be so good as to 
direct the receipt of them to be acknowledged & to pay to M r Tudor 
who is my attorney at Boston whatever you may think an adequate 
compensation for my trouble & the expence of Packing, Truckage &c 
paid here 

I have the honor to be 

Your Excell cy s Most Obed 4 Serv* 

Bknj" Kent." 

He seems to have had the co-operation of Governor Parr, of 
Nova Scotia, as appears from the next letter : 1 — 

" Halifax 12 th Nov 1784. 
Sir 

I should have done myself the honor of Answering your Excellency's 
letter long ere this, but delayed from day to day untill I could get the 
records of Probates out of M' Hutchinson's hands, he has at last de- 
livered them to M r Kent who forwards them to Boston by this Con- 
veyance — If any should be wanting, you will be pleased to inform 
me — 

I have the honor to be, Sir 

Y' Excell y s Most Obed' & most humble Servant 

J. Parr. 
His Excellency Gov Hancock." 

whole of the estate on the corner of Wilson's Lane and State Street and all but 
a strip about five feet wide of the Kent estate were included in the new street. 
Part of the new Devonshire Building now covers the site of the Story house and 
the narrow strip which was all that was left of the Kent estate. 

(Authorities : Wyman's Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, II. 572 ; 
Hudson's History of Marlborough, 122-125; Life and Works of John Adams, II. 
45, 75, 291 «., IX. 401 ; Record Book of the Suffolk Bar, 1 Proc. Mass. Hist. 
Soc, XIX. 147-159 ; Boston Town Records, VI. 97, 111 ; Sabine's Loyalists of 
the American Revolution, 1. 600 ; Briggs's Kent Genealogies, 38 ; Suffolk Deeds, 
Lib. 148, fol. 190, Lib. 178, fol. 137, Lib. 1115, fol. 184; Acadian Recorder of 
Halifax, N. S., February 21, 1902. There is a typographical error in the copy 
of the inscription on his tombstone, as printed in the Acadian Recorder. Benja- 
min Kent died October 22, 1788, as before stated.) 

1 Senate Document, 156. 



1902.] 



SUFFOLK REGISTERS OF PROBATE. 



119 



The Massachusetts Archives contain also the petition 1 of 
Benjamin Kent for compensation for these services : — 

„" Commonwealth ) To the Hoiible the Senate & the Hofible the 
of Massachusetts ) House of Representatives in General Court 
assembled at Boston Feb y 1785 — 

Most humbly sheweth 

Benjamin Kent of Boston in the County 
of Suffolk — 

That by the Request of his Excellency the late Governor of this 
Commonwealth he took upon him the Care of procuring & transmit- 
ting certain Papers belonging to the Probate Office with the Records 
of the same, which were carried away by the late Judge Hutchinson 
on the Siege of Boston being raised in the Year 1776 from a full as- 
surance from his Excellency that all the Costs & expences arising 
therefrom should be punctually defrayed — 

That Your Petitioner after many tedious conferences with M r Hutch- 
inson now resident at Hallifax & his Excellency Governor Parr at last 
effected a Restoration of Seventy two Books of Record with all the 
Papers in the hands of the s d Hutchinson belonging to said Probate 
Office which were transmitted to his Excellency the late Governor Han- 
cock & as your Petitioner humbly conceives it to be a Govermental 
Charge he most earnestly requests Your Honors to graut him such 
Compensation as your Honors shall esteem just for his Trouble ser- 
vices & Expence as aforesaid 

And Your Petitioner as in Duty bound 
Shall ever pray — 

Benj^ Kent" 

The bill 2 accompanying this petition is as follows : — 
" The Commonwealth of Massachusetts 



1784 I 
7 May)" 



30 th Sep' 



To Benjf Kent. DJ 

To my Passage to Hallifax at the ' 
Request of his late Excell 1 ' John 
Hancock Esq' to collect the Records 
of the Probate Office for the County 
of Suffolk carried away by the 
Enemy in the Month March 1776 

f To my Time & Attendance in 
soliciting for & procuring the above 
Records of Foster Hutchinson EsqT 

w being 5 months @ 6£ p* month 

1 Mass. Archives, House Document No. 1781. 
a Ibid., No. 1731. 



}S.. 12.. — 



30.. — 



120 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mab. 



15 Dec5 r To 4 large Boxes & packing the 

above Records therein & Truckage 

-j of the same from M* Hutchinson's 

to the Vessell in which they were 

I brought to Boston. 



4 : 16 . — 



£38.. 8 ..- 



Boston 25 th June 1785 

Errors excepted 

Benj a : Kent" 

This bill, which seems to be a just and moderate one, was not 
readily collected, and the proverbial ingratitude of Republics 
was .again exemplified by the action of the Committee of the 
Representatives. 1 For the return of these priceless records and 
files, whose value can scarcely be computed in money, these 
Bceotian lawmakers purposed to award the munificent sum 
of £15!! 

Thus after an exile of nearly nine years, since that fateful 
day in March, 1776, when the fleet set sail for Halifax, the 
records and files of the Probate Court were returned to their 
proper place in the Brick Court House in Queen Street. 

Ten years later, in 1794, Thomas Pemberton thus describes 
this Court House : 2 — 

" It is a large handsome building of brick, three stories high, and has 
on the roof an octagon cupola. The lower floor is used partly for 
walking, and has on it the Probate office and the office of the County 
Register of Deeds." 

Another new Court House 3 of stone was erected in 1810 on 

1 On the petition of Benjamin Kent "setting fortli that, att the Request of the 
Late Gouernor of the Commonwealth, he had been att sum Trouble and Expence 
in procuring and Conueying the Books and papers belongine to the probate office 
of the County of Sufolk — Which ware Carried to Halifax — Tharfore — Resolued 
that the Treasurer of the Commonwelth be and hearby is ordered and Diracted 
to pay to the Said Benj? Kent the Sum of fifteen pounds in full Discharge of all 
accounts for his Service aforesaid." (Mass. Archives, House Document No. 1938 ; 
Report of Committee House of Representatives, June, 1785.) 

Several of the volumes of the records in the Probate Office contain entries 
relating to the return of the books from Halifax. Vide inter al. LXXV. 43, 63 ; 
LXXVI. 250, 318, 645 ; LXXVI1I, 161, 659, 664 ; LXXIX. 47, 195, 198 ; LXXX. 
282, 355, 356, 553, 554; LXXXII. 120. 

2 1 Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., III. 253. 

8 In the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society (2 Proc. Mass. 
Hist. Soc, XIV. 97), and in the Introduction to Lib. XI. of Suffolk Deeds, I have 
given a description of these various Court Houses. As the Registry of Probate 



1902.] SUFFOLK BEGISTEES OF PROBATE. 121 

land between Court Street and School Street, and the Probate 
Office was thereupon removed to that building, where it occu- 
pied the lower floor of the western wing, the Registry of 
Deeds being on the lower story of the octagon centre. 

When the Courts removed in 1836 from this stone Court 
House to the new stone Court House in Court Street — now 
called the Old Court House — the Probate Office and Registry 
of Deeds remained for a time in the former building. 

But the petitions of the Judge of Probate and the Register 
of Deeds for a separate fire-proof building were finally granted, 
and July 1, 1839, the order l for its erection was passed. 

This new building was of brick. It stood in Court Square, 
directly in the rear of the building of the Massachusetts His- 
torical Society on Tremont Street, and its southerly windows 
overlooked the King's Chapel Burial Ground. 

The Probate Court occupied the lower floor, which was 
divided by the entry into two small rooms, one for the Judge 
and one for the Register, while beyond a larger room, " con- 
trived a double debt to pay," served alike for an office where 
the records were kept and a court room where the sessions of 
the Probate Court were held. 

Those who then had occasion to consult the Probate Records 
did well to choose carefully a time when the court had ad- 
journed for the day or was not in session. 

For on a court day, especially if a case of unusual impor- 
tance, or one which had attracted much attention, was being 
heard, the court room was crowded, all the available space 
being taken up by Judge, Register, lawyers, clients, witnesses, 
and the general public. These monopolized not only all the 
space, but practically all the light, as the windows were on the 
side where the Judge sat, the record books being kept in cases 
on the dark side of the room, remote from the windows. In 
summer, when the trees in the King's Chapel Burial Ground 
were in full foliage v the light that filtered through their leaves 
was certainly dim if not religious. 

Under such disadvantages the members of the bar were com- 
pelled to carry on their investigations in the Probate Office. 

and Registry of Deeds, since the erection of the County Court House, hare 
always been under the same roof, it is unnecessary to repeat what I have there 
said, and the reader is referred to that paper for a more detailed account of 
them. 

1 City of Boston Records, Mayor and Aldermen, XVII. 248. 

16 



122 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mar. 

It will seem hardly credible to the lawyer of to-day that, 
down to a time comparatively so recent as thirty years ago, 
such utterly inadequate accommodations were afforded his pre- 
decessors in a city of the size and importance of Boston. 

But if the lawyer of to-day finds it difficult to believe that 
the office accommodations were so meagre, what will he say 
when he learns that in those days the court had no docket and 
had never had any ; that the files were inaccessible and could 
not be consulted ; and that the records had no index — or at 
least not anything deserving the name of index, the antiquated 
" alphabets " then in use being an aggravation rather than an 
assistance ! x 

But the condition of the files forms the weightiest count in 
the indictment of the system — or want of system — that then 
prevailed. 

These original papers, many of which had never been re- 
corded, were tied in bundles and thrown up on top of the 
cases in which the record books were kept. There they re- 
mained, covered with dust, unseen by mortal eye, untouched by 
mortal hand, since the day when they were first so unceremoni- 
ously " skyed." In some of these packages papers having no 
relation to each other and separated in date by one hundred 
and fifty years were afterward found side by side. 

This administrative chaos, too long submitted to in silence, 
at last aroused the lawyers and others who suffered most incon- 
venience from it. The result of their efforts was that the 
Judge and Register of Probate, May 18, 1868, and January 11, 
1869, petitioned 2 the Board of Aldermen acting as County 
Commissioners for the County of Suffolk "for the classifica- 
tion and preservation of the Probate papers " ; and the Com- 
mittee on County Accounts were authorized, June 8, 1869, to 
contract with some suitable person to arrange and classify the 
papers and indices in the Probate Office. 

Judge Edwin Wright was selected to carry out this order, 
but after he had spent more than two years over the Probate 
papers, dissatisfaction was caused by the slow progress of the 

1 On the petition, October 13, 1873, of the Judge of Probate, an order was 
finally passed, January 1, 1874, for a Classified Index to the Probate Records 
from 1638 to 1870 inclusive. (City Council Minutes, Board of Aldermen, x.o. 
1873, pp. 418, 665, 667). 

2 City of Boston Records, Mayor and Aldermen, XL VI. 492, and City Coun- 
cil Minutes, a.d. 1869, p. 6. 



1902.] SUFFOLK EEGISTEES OF PROBATE. 123 

work, and Daniel S. Gilchrist x was chosen to finish what had 
been begun. 

This great undertaking was brought to its close in 1876. 
It effected a complete transformation in the Probate Office. 
Chaos gave place to order and system, and the vast mass of 
documents comprising the Suffolk Probate files and records 
became for the first time accessible to the investigator. 2 

1 2 Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc, XIV. 87, and Introduction to Liber XL, Suffolk 
Deeds. 

2 The system by which all this has been accomplished certainly deserves a 
word of explanation here. 

The contents of the Registry of Probate may be considered, for the purpose 
of this description, as divided into four classes, the Index, the Docket, the 
Records, and the Files. 

The Index contains the names of all persons whose wills have been probated, 
or whose estates have been administered upon, using the word " administration " 
here in its broadest sense. This Index is not a mere "alphabet." It is admi- 
rably arranged according to Christian as well as surnames ; briefly sets forth the 
nature of the case (i.e. whether a testate or intestate estate, guardianship, trust, 
etc.) ; gives the year in which the proceedings were begun; and points out the 
number under which the case is entered on the docket. Any name in it, from 
1636 down to the present year, can be found in an instant, as readily as in a city 
directory. 

Having thus by means of the Index ascertained the docket number, we turn 
to the Docket. This is an entry book, or chronological arrangement of cases, 
more than 120,000 in number, and gives us at a glance the title of all the papers 
filed or recorded in each case ; the date of such filing ; and the volume and page 
of the record books where such of the instruments as have been recorded in 
extenso may b& found. 

The Records of the Court consist of upward of 800 large folio volumes, hav- 
ing, some of them, more than five hundred pages each. They contain in the 
words of the statute (Revised Laws, Ch. 162, § 35) all "decrees and orders, all 
wills proved in the court, with the probate thereof, all letters testamentary and 
of administration, all warrants, returns, reports, accounts and bonds, and all other 
acts and proceedings required to be recorded by the rules of the court or by the 
order of the judge." 

The Files include all the original papers, recorded or unrecorded, in each case. 
Every paper is marked with the number of the case, and all the papers in each 
case are placed by themselves in a stout envelope, which has stamped upon it 
the number of the case, its date, and the name of the party to whose estate it 
belongs. By this system it is possible to find in a moment, not only the record 
of every will, but the will itself, and every paper, however unimportant, which 
has ever been filed in the Probate Office. 

It depends, of course, on the nature of a case how many papers are filed in it. 
In large and complicated estates, where considerable sums of money are involved, 
especially where the property is held for many years in trust, the number is 
naturally greater than in the smaller and less important ones. It is not easy, 
therefore, to determine just how many documents the Probate Office contains, 
but, at the present rate of increase, there will soon be, in all probability, not far 
from a million of them. And yet any one of these million papers can be found 
in an instant, so admirable is the arrangement. It is in fact much simpler than 



124 MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY. [Mail 

The condition of the records during the Provincial period 
is shown by the petitions of Judge Hutchinson and John 
Payne, to which reference has already been made. Further 
evidence, if any is needed, is found in the fact that when 
Mr. Gilchrist's work was completed and the files were syste- 
matically arranged, thirty-two thousand seven hundred and 
five papers of a date prior to A.D. 1800 were found which had 
never been recorded, among them no fewer than two hundred 
and eighty wills. In six hundred and sixty-nine cases, prior 
to that date, which now appear on the dockets, not a single 
paper filed in those cases had ever been recorded, so that not 
even the names of the parties, or the fact that such persons 
ever lived, could have been known to one who consulted the 
records. 1 

The value of an examination of title to lands at a time when 
real property changed hands, by purchase, much less frequently 
than now, often remaining in the same family for generations, 
when the greater part of such an examination must necessarily 
have been made in the Probate Office, may be left to the 
startled conveyancer to determine. 2 

An enlargement of the Probate Office was made by the 
lease 3 to the City of Boston, January 1, 1873, of part of the 

this description of it, and should be seen in its actual working to be understood 
and appreciated. 

This system, first introduced in the County of Suffolk, has since been adopted 
by other Registries of Probate. (Cf. New England Historical and Genealogical 
Register, XXXVIII. 131.) 

i Cf. Ibid. XXXIV. 45-48. 

2 During the term of office of the present Register, Elijah George, and largely 
due to his efforts and zeal, many improvements have been made in the Probate 
Office. He has caused to be recopied several of the earlier volumes of the 
records, which were fast falling into decay, while the papers left unrecorded, by 
the neglect of his predecessors in office, are now at last, under bis direction, 
being duly recorded. 

But perhaps what is best appreciated by the general public is the printed 
index ; for the County of Suffolk is the first in this Commonwealth to provide 
the searcher of the probate records with a printed index to guide him in his 
investigations. 

It is in three large quarto volumes, printed in large, clear, and handsome type 
on paper made expressly for the purpose, and covers the period from 1636 to 
1893 inclusive. It is a complete key to 94,757 cases shown on the docket. 

The superiority of the printed page over the page written by hand is well 
exemplified by this Index. It is a foretaste of what is to come when, in the 
progress of the age, manuscript indices in all public offices shall give place to 
printed volumes. The advantages are obvious and need not be recited here. 

3 City Council Minutes, a.d. 1871, pp. 212, 218, 221, a.d. 1872, pp. 46, 253, 
254, 261 ; 2 Proc. Mass Hist. Soc, III. 293, XI. 310. 



1902.] REMARKS BY MEMBERS. 125 

building of the Massachusetts Historical Society. A new 
room thus acquired, extending to Tremont Street on the lower 
floor of that building, then became the Probate Office, and the 
records and files of the court were there placed, while the old 
office was, from that time, used exclusively as a court room. 

These additional accommodations gave temporary relief, but 
they were soon outgrown, and on the erection of the last new 
Court House in Pemberton Square, the Court and Registry of 
Probate were, in September, 1893, removed to that structure. 

Remarks were also made during the meeting by the Presi- 
dent and by Messrs. Morton Dexter, Albert B. Hart, 
Edward Channing, Daniel H. Chamberlain, Barrett 
Wendell, Charles E. Norton, and Charles C. Smith. 

A new" serial of the Proceedings, containing the record of 
the January and February meetings, was on the table for dis- 
tribution to the members.