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On the commencement of the work, now arrived to the termination of 
the first year of its existence, it was proposed by the publishers, *o far as 
they jhould he sustained by public patronage, to furnish to each subscriber 
within the Count) of Worcester, a minute and particular account of the 
town of his residence. It was intended to collect and preserve those fact* 
tending to develop.: the origin, progress, and present condition of our useful 
institutions ana social relations, and exhibit the resources and advantages be- 
stowed o: ci.r feliOTV citizens, until an entire and complete history should be 
furnished o.< in< divisions of a territory, from its local situation, physical, po- 
litical,, at d a f. a 1 advantages, extent, population, and the variety of its 
instil utio'i:', ' .' .o im ousiderable consequence among the sister sections of 
the '"omai/ Iefliunted more by the wish to place on permanent re- 
cord t'ne reiir? la=t fading h jm memory, than by the expectation of reputa- 
tion lo be derived from tbe humble toil of compiling local histories, or the 
humbler merit of being merely thi architects of the mateiials of others, still lets 
by the hop-; ol great pecuniary reva¥3, but relying on the aid of friends who 
have kindly rendered effectual assistance, and on the liberal spirit of au en- 
lightened community, the Publishers commenced this Journal. Thus far they 
have proceeded, until they find that greater sacrifices would be required for 
the pro«t:cution of the undertaking than il is possible for them to meet, with- 
out more extensive support than has been received. They are then fore com- 
pelled to suspend the work, for the present, to awairmore favourable circum- 
stances for its successful conclusion. 

As their motives have been generally understood and duly appreciated, 
they can feel little personal regret on being forced to relinquish an enter- 
prise, necessarily attended with so much labour, expense and responsibility. 
It is, however, matter of sorrow that the materials for the completion of the 
undertaking are fast perishing. Every succeeding year rend<rs its accom- 
plishment more difficult. Many of the most interesting particulars exist only 
in fleetirig traditions, in the memory of the aged and gray haired fathers of 
our villages, soon to be numbered with the companions of their early years, 
to carry with them to their graves the rich recollections of the past, there to 
he irrecoverably lost. Valuable and curious documents are dispersed among 
the families of actors in remarkable scenes : Much iufemnation is scattered 
through the broken masses of (own and church records ; but these are almost 
unintelligible without the communications of the survivors of the events par- 
tially described, to furnish the connecting links. The effacing fingers of time 
are busy on the monuments of our ancestors and the memorials of those who 
here laid the foundations and raised the solid structures of social virtue, reli- 
gious and civil liberty, moral improvement, and national prosperity, must pass 
intoforgetfulness unless some vigorous and speedy effort be made to rescue 
them from oblivior. 


Without eousuming space in the expression of uuavailin:; regret, the Ed- 
itors may be permitted to look back, with something of satisfaction, on those 
portions of the woik already accomplished, for the purpose of makiug their 
grateful acknowledgments to the writers of the papers communicated 
through the pages of this work. The general view of the county, the notic- 
es of the civil and ecclesiastical history of Sterling, the list of civil officers, 
and the'catalogue of Ministers, were prepared by Isaac Goodwin, Esq. Th« 
History of Shrewsbury has been furnished by A. H. Ward, Esq. — of North- 
borough, by the Rev. Mr. Allen, — of Leicester, by Emory Washburn, 
Esq. — of Lancaster, by Joseph Wili.ard, Esq. — of Paxton, by Mr. Liver- 
more — and of West Boylston, by the Rev. Mr. Crosiiy. Of the merits of these 
performances it would not become the Publishers to speak. In the opinion of 
those possessing too much discernment to be deceived, and too much sinceri- 
ty to bestow undeserved praise, they have exhibited minuteness of detail, 
fidelity in research, and historical learning not exceeded by preceding com- 
positions of similar character. 

To the Hon. EnwARn D. Bangs, the Publishers have been deeply in- 
debted for the untiring patience and politeness with which he has furnished 
copies of long documents from the records of his office, or entered into the 
examination of questions, without any pecuniary compensation. 

It has been the earnest wish and constant effort of the Publishers to pre- 
sent to their readers, a work of permanent value, which should not alone fur- 
nish amusement to while away the passing hour, but beneficial information for 
future use. Since the commencement of the second volume, in the pursuit of 
its primary object, the pa^es of the Journal have been rigorously devoted to 
the communication of the mass of historical facts, by the almost entire exclu- 
sion of papers of more general interest and miscellaneous character. That 
which has been recorded, may seem of inconsiderable importance to many of 
our fellow citizens : but even the trifh s of the preeent age become matters of 
weight with future generations. The facts of History increase in value as 
they grow in aye : the faithful picture of our own period, reflected from its 
mirror, will acquire interest as time passes. 

Circumstances have induced the Publishers to believe that they have 
over-rated the present demand for this species of information. They would not 
therefore contend against public taste. It is better their %vork should perish 
by a sudden death than continue through the struggles of protracted dissolu- 
tion. If the Journal cannot be nourished by the liberality of the public, it 
must not live as the dependent on stinted charity. 

To those who have generously aided by their pens or patronage in the at- 
tempt to obtain a full and accurate History of our territory, its population, 
and resources, the publishers present thanks for their liberality : to those 
who have looked on their efforts with the surly determination to see faults 
only they recommend more pleasant employment : to the people of the 
County, they wish Historians with the same earnest disposition to perpetuate 
the remembrances of the past and better abilities to execute their purposes 

than the subscribers. 





U&-8V'$&8QA'aii 9ifiir4^ 

VOL. II. MAY, 1826. NO. 1. 




This town is situated E.' N. E. from Worcester, 5£ miles from 
the Court House, and 37 : miles from Boston by the way of the old 
post road. It is a post town, and the tenth in age, twentieth in popu- 
lation, and eighteenth in valuation in tho County of Worcester ;* and 
is bounded, beginning at the N. W. corner, on West Boylston, one 
hundred and two rods, and by Boylston hfteen hundred and seventy 
rods and an half on the north, ten hundred and seventy two rods 
by Northborough and seven, hundred and seventy rods by West- 
borough on the east, fourteen hundred arid sixty four rods and an 
half by Grafton on the south, and nineteen hundred and fourteen 
rods by Worcester on the west/' 

The township of Shrewsbury was granted to certain persons, 
Nov. 2, 1717, most of whom belonged to Marlborough, and was 
originally laid out much larger than it now is. ' It began to be set- 
tled in 1717, by a few people from Marlborough, though not so soon 
as a few towns in its vicinity : indeed, at that time, people not 
deeming it a good tract of land, passed through and took up their 
residence elsewhere. Little other use was made of it, than to pass 
over it in pursuit of a settlement in some supposed better place, 
while repeated and destructive fires, set by people in the adjacent 
towns, had consumed vast tracts of wood and timber, and even the 
very soil itself, in some places to the hard pan, for many acres. 

It is not known that the Indians ever disturbed the settlement 
of this town ; there being no accounts on record, or otherwise, of 
their having destroyed the lives or property of their more civiliz- 

* According to the census of 1820, and its proportion of 75,000 dollars, 
being the State tax of Feb. 21, 1024. 

VOL. II. 1 


ed, but encroaching neighbors in this quarter; or that any fear was 
ever here entertained on account of them. They had some years 
before, in that retrwat, which they have ever since continued, and 
which has been as rapidly followed by the white men, retired to a 
distance too great to alarm the first settlers of Shrewsbury. It 
may seem remarkable, but it is believed, that the name of Indian 
is not to be found on the records of the town. 

The town at first contained all the lands lying between the orig- 
inal grant of Lancaster on the north, Marlborough on the east, Sut- 
ton on the south, and Worcester on the west. So rapid was the in- 
crease of the population, that the inhabitants of the town, in ten 
years from the commencement of its settlement, presented the fol- 
lowing petition to be incorporated into a town. 

"To the Hon. William Dummer, Esq. the Lieut. Governor and 
commander in chief, the Honorable the Council, and the Honorable 
House of Representatives of His Majesty's Province of the Massa- 
chusetts Bay, in New England, in General Court assembled, Nov. 
22, 1727. 

" The petition of the inhabitants of Shrewsbury, in the County of 
Middlesex, humbly sheweth : that your petitioners were by this 
Great and Honorable Court erected into a township, and not having 
granted unto them the immunities and privileges of other towns 
within this Province, were put under the care of a committee, 
which committee carried on that work to great satisfaction, but 
have now declined acting; so that your petitioners are under great 
difficulties as to paying their Minister and raising the public taxes ; 
and the Province Treasurer has issued forth his warrant directing 
the assessing of the inhabitants of the town of Shrewsbury their 
Province tax for this year: And for as much as your petitioners 
have no Selectmen or Assessors, nor are empowered to choose 
town officers, whereby many and great inconveniences do arise ; 
therefore, your petitioners most humbly pray your Honors consider- 
ation of the premises, and that your Honors would be pleased to em- 
power the town of Shrewsbury to use and exercise the same immu- 
nities and privileges as other towns within this Province hold and en- 
joy, and that a day may be assigned for the choice of town officers 
for the year current, and your petitioners, as in duty bound, shall 
ever pray, &c." 


In behalf of 
the totvii. 


The foregoing petition having been presented, was acted upon 

as follows : 

"In the House of Representatives, Dec. 14, 1727. Read 
and ordered, that the prayer of the petition be granted and 
that the said town of Shrewsbury is accordingly endowed with equal 
power, privileges, and immunities, with any other town in this 
Province; and that Capt. John Keyes, a principal inhabitant in the 
said town, be empowered and directed to notify and summon the 
inhabitants duly qualified for voters, to meet and assemble for the 
choosing of town officers, to stand until the next annual election ac- 
cording to law. Sent up for concurrence. 

Wm. Dudley, Speaker. 

In Council, Dec. 15, 1727, read a first and second time and pas- 
sed in concurrence. J. Wiixabd, Sec'y. 

Consented to, Wm. Dummer. 

The first town meeting held here was on the 29th day of Dec. 
1727. Shrewsbury originally included most of what is now Boyls- 
ton, most of West Boylston, a small portion of Sterling, Westbo- 
rough and Grafton. In 1741, four petitioners, viz. Ebenezer Cut- 
ler, Obediah Newton, Noah Brooks and David Read, with their 
farms, were taken from tbe town of Shrewsbury, and annexed to 
the town of Grafton; in 1752, William Whitney, Zachariah Eager, 
Jonathan Foster, Zachariah Harvey, Edward Newton, Samuel New- 
ton, Ezekiel Newton and Daniel Wheelock, with others, at their 
request : and all the lands in the then north part of the town, lying 
on the north side of Quinepoxet river, and between the towns of 
Lancaster and Holden, known by the name of the Leg, were voted 
off by the town, and, in 1768, annexed to Lancaster; in 1762, Wil- 
liam Nurse and others, living in the southeasterly part of the town, 
and so much of that part of the town, usually called the Shoe (some- 
times Nursed corner) were annexed to Westborough. March 1, 
1786, the north part of the town, then constituting the 2d Parish, 
was incorporated into a town by the name of Boylston : and in 
March, 1793, Elijah Whitney and his farm were taken from this 
town and set to Westborough. Having thus been pared and clip- 
ped, always giving and eventually receiving nothing, the territory 
of the town has, since that time, remained entire, yet not without 
attempts to dismember some part of it.* ' . . 

In 1795, Silas Keyes, known as a skilful and correct surveyor, 
with a view, among other things, to ascertain the contents of the 
* There has been another amputation since the above was written. Tar- 
rant Merriam, with about 186 acres of land, has been ta,ken from this town 
and annexed to Grafton. 


town, look a survey of its limits, which it may not be amiss to make 
matter of public record. It was found on a loose paper, and is as 
follows : "The following are the limits of the town of Shrewsbu- 
ry, as taken by Silas Keyes, in the'year 1795, begining at the south 
west corner of Boylston, (now West Boylston) and runs east, nine de- 
grees north, ten rods to road ; thence east, nine degrees north, seven 
and an half rods ; thence north, six degrees east, thirty nine rods ; 
thence east, thirteen degrees south, one hundred and sixty rods to 
county road ; thence same course fifteen rods to a heap of stones ; 
thence east, nineteen degrees north, two hundred and seventy rods 
to do.; thence south, fifteen degrees west, thirty five rods to do. J 
thence east, eleven degrees forty one minutes north, one hundred 
and sixty six rods to do. ; thence north, twenty six degrees east 
seventy four rods to do.; thence east nineteen and a half degrees 
north, five hundred and fifty nine rods to a stake and stones ; thence 
south, forty four degrees east, sixty seven rods to a heap of stones ; 
thence west, thirty degrees south, forty three rods (o rock and 
stones ; thence south, three degrees west, thirty seven rods to stake 
and stones ; thence east, twelve degrees north, one hundred and elev- 
en rods to a heap do.; thence south, seven and a half degrees west 
forty four rods to do. ; thence east, thirty five degrees south, sixty 
rods to north east corner; thence south, sixteen degrees west, one 
hundred forty nine rods to heap stones; thence south, twenty four 
degrees east, one hundred and eighty two rods to great rock ; 
thence south, twenty one degrees east, one hundred and fifty rods 
to heap stones ; thence south, one degree east, twenty rods to 
great road ; thence same course three hundred and seventeen rods 
to an oak ; thence south, twenty eight degrees thirty five minutes 
east, one hundred and ninety four rods to Westborough corner . 
thence same course three hundred and fourteen rods to heap of 
stones; thence west, twenty eight degrees forty minutes south, two 
hundred and twenty six rods to do. ; thence south forty two degrees 
fifteen minutes west, sixty seven rods to a maple; thence south 
thirty five degrees west, one hundred and twelve rods to heap 
stones; thence south thirty three degrees thirty minutes east, iiCty 
one rods to an oak at Grafton corner ; thence west, thirty three de- 
grees south, one hundred two and a half rods to heap stones ; 
thence west, forty five degrees south, twenty three rods to white 
oak; thence west, twenty four degrees north, six rods to heap 
stones ; thence north, seventeen degrees west, thirty four and an 
half rods to do. ; thence west, twenty three, degrees south, thirty 


four rods to do. ; thence south, twenty six degrees west, forty one 
and an half rods to do. ; thence west, thirty four degrees north, 
forty five rods to do.; thence north, six and a half degrees west, 
seventy three and an half rods to white oak; thence west, thirteen 
degrees south seventy three and an half rods to heap stones • 
thence south, eighteen degrees east, thirty four rods to an oak and 
stories; thence west, twelve degrees south, seventy nine rods to 
heap stones ; thence south, six degrees west, forty two rods to do. ; 
thence west, four degrees north, sixty eight rods to pitch pine; 
thence north, two degrees west, twenty six and an half rods to a 
walnut tree ; thence west, four degrees north, twenty rods to an 
oak at Bummet meadow ; thence south, nine degrees west, forty 
six rods by meadow ; thence south, twenty eight degrees east, 
twenty six rods to stake in do. ; thence south, twenty four degrees 
west, twenty two rods to poplar stump ; thence south, six degrees 
west, thirty three and an half rods to an oak by county road ; thence 
west, four degrees north, twenty nine rods to heap stones ; thence 
west, thirty nine degrees south, forty five and an half rods to do. ; 
thence south, forty four degrees west, forty eight rods to do.; 
thence west, five degrees south, one hundred and thirty six rods to 
white oak; thence north, thirty degrees west, eighty five rods to 
county road; thence east, twenty seven degrees north, nineteen 
and an half rods by said road ; thence north, four degrees west, 
fourteen rods to heap stones ; thence west seven degrees north, fifty 
five rods to do. ; thence south, five degrees east, sixty rods to do. ; 
thence west, fourteen degrees south, one hundred and eighteen 
rods to white oak; thence south, five degrees east, twenty four 
rods to maple tree at the river ; thence angling up said river, one 
hundred eighty seven rods to a creek that connects Flint's pond and 
said river ; thence west, three degrees south, forty rods to Flint's 
pond; thence west, forty degrees south, fifty four rods by said 
pond; thence west fifteen degrees north, twenty two rods; thence 
west, eight degrees north, forty rods ; thence north, forty degrees 
west, twenty eight rods to half moon pond ; thence west, seven de- 
grees north, one hundred rods to a heap stones ; thence north, 
eleven degrees west, two hundred sixty nine rods to a chesnut tree 
on the west side long pond; thence north, two degrees west, nine 
hundred and ten rods to a grey oak on the west side and near the 
head of long pond ; thence north, twenty degrees west, twenty two 
rods to great road ; thence same course one hundred and fifty two 
rods to Boylston road ; thence same course one hundred and ninety 
rods to where it began." 


An error occurred in making the plan of the town of Boylston, 
when set oft* from Shrewsbury, nnd was copied into the Act incor- 
porating that town. The plan commences at Worcester line 
(West Boylston having since been set off from Boylston) and, after 
describing two short courses, arrives at the north line of Nathaniel 
Hey wood's farm; then it is marked on the plan east, thirteen and 
one quarter degrees north, one hundred and seventy eight rods, in- 
stead of north, thirteen and one quarter degrees east, one hundred 
and seventy eight rods, as the line should be ; making a difference 
of twenty six and one half degrees, and, being on a long line and 
near the beginning of the plan, all the after courses are removed 
seventy nine rods northward from what was intended— As this er- 
ror is suffered to continue without any measures being taken to 
have it corrected, it will not be matter of surprise, if, at some fu- 
ture day, it should give rise to some legal controversy; more par- 
ticularly, as there are several families now within the limits ot 
Shrewsbury, whom, with their lands, it was intended to have set off 
with Boylston ; who are now taxed and do duty and enjoy previleg- 
es there, yet are not within the limits or jurisdiction of that town. 

Cultivation, &c. — This town presents to the eye an uneven 
surface, variegated with hills and vallies. A range of high land, 
extending from north to south, passes through the middle of the 
town. The numerous swells and tracts of rolling land, which are, 
most of them, in a good state of cultivation, are to be seen in all di- 
rections from the middle of the town and serve to relieve the eye 
from that sameness, which some towns afford, when taking a land- 
scape view of them. There is more wood, it is generally suppos- 
ed, growing here now, than there was fifty years ago; it consists 
of oak of the various kinds, walnut and chesnut on the high grounds ; 
and in the low lands, maple, ash, birch Slc. There is but little pine 
in the town. There are some indications of coal, as far east as the 
middle of the town, of the same nature as the Worcester coal, but 
not so near the surface. No minerals are known to exist here, at 
least not sufficient to induce people to explore by day and watch 
by night, as they have done in some places, for hidden treasures. 
Yet, as a great proportion of the inhabitants are farmers, they find 
their treasure by digging, but not more than furrow deep. They 
have made great improvement inthe appearance of their farms, 
stocks of cattle and swine for a few years past ; to which they have 
been in no small degree excited by the influence of agricultural 
societies and publications on agricultural subjects. An agricultural 

History of Shrewsbury. 7 

society, composed of individuals associated from the towns of 
Shrewsbury, Boylston, Northborough and Westborough, was form- 
ed here in 1811, and continued its enquiries, experiments and pur- 
suits, not merely to the advantage of those belonging to it, but to 
others, till some time after the formation, of the Worcester Agri- 
cultural Society ; when its members, dissolving their connexion, 
most of them became members of that society. 

Clay is found here suitable for making bricks, and probably 
there are considerable beds of it — but at present they are but little 
explored and little use is made of it. The soil, though naturally 
rough and hard to subdue, is very strong, and never fails to yield 
an equivalent to the industrious husbandman for the labor be be- 
stows upon it. A good proportion of the fences are stone walls ; 
which it has been the practice of late to set in trenches, whereby 
much loam and vegetable earth, sufficient to pay for digging the 
■trench, are procured and carried upon low mowing grounds or into 
yards for manure. And this, though an ample compensation for 
the labor it requires, is but a small part of the benefit arising from 
this practice. The trench furnishes a place of deposit for multi- 
tudes of small cobble-stones, troublesome in the field, but here put 
out of the way, making a sure and stable foundation for the walls, 
which are never thrown down by the frost. Generally the trench 
is not dug so wide as it should be; bushes and briars are apt to 
spring up and flourish by the sides of walls ; and though a good 
husbandman will cut them down, yet they are less likely to grow, 
and if they do, they are easier removed, root and branch, when 
the trenches are made several inches wider than the walls stand. 
It is remarkable to observe here, and it may be seen in many towns 
in this vicinity, the astonishing difference between the present and 
former times in making manure. Scarcely a low place can be 
found by the road side, that is not occupied with compost which 
with the wash of the road, that incorporates itself with it, is in a 
year or two carried to the fields and* its place supplied with new 

But little attention is paid to the cultivation of flax. Grains of 
all kinds yield abundant crops, while the white honey suckle of 
the pastures furnishes good keeping for dairy cows, and early beef. 
Plaister of Paris has been used here with success, and though most 
so on pasture land, yet not without effect on mowings and tillage 
land. The amount of hay cut in this town is large, and much of it 
of good quality ; it has become a staple article, and is carried to 
Boston in large quantities, and finds a ready market. 


Ponds and Streams. — Though there are no considerable streams 
in this town, it suffers very little in a dry season. It is supplied 
with a sufficiency of water, in small rivulets, to answer the common 
purposes of the inhabitants. The largest stream is that which 
comes from Sewall's Pond, in the south west part of Boylston, and 
running southerly about a mile and an half falls into Long Pond, 
where, and at the head of which, passes the old Post road to Wor- 
cester. This pond was called by the natives Quinsigamond Pond, 
but is now better known by the name of Long Pond ; it lies partly 
in Shrewsbury and whether the residue is in Shrewsbury or Wor- 
cester, will probably be a subject of future investigation. Worces- 
ter was laid out in 1668, to be bounded Easterly on Quinsigamond 
Pond, and when Shrewsbury was laid out in 17 17, it was bounded 
by Worcester on the west. 

As Keyes' survey does not include all of the Pond in this town (why 
he departed from the line as originally established between Shrews- 
bury and Worcester is not known) it would seem, if he is correct, 
that a part of it belongs (and there are no islands in that part) 
to neither town. Long Pond extends north and south; and is a 
very large body of water, nearly in the form of a crescent, and is 
about four miles in length on the western shore ; yet, on a straight 
line, as measured on the ice, it is but a little more than three 
miles ; its width varies from one hundred rods to three fourths of a 
mile ; it is the largest body of water in the county and deserves 
rather the name of a Lake, than a Pond. Much of the wood, 
which formerly grew on either shoie, has been cut off, and the view 
of its waters become more extensive. It is well supplied with the 
usual kinds of fish, that are to be found in the interior Ponds ; and, 
from the depth, as well as extent of its waters, is a suitable place 
to try the experiments, said to have been successfully made in En- 
gland, of propagating in fresh water those noble fish, the cod, 
mackerel, haddock, and perhaps the halibut ! for which, we, as yet, 
have to depend wholly on the ocean. That such an undertaking 
would not succeed, we ought not to believe, merely because no one 
has yet been liberal and patriotic enough to exile some of the fin- 
ny tribes from their great and briny domain in a living state to this 
interior sea, this water house of correction, if you please, there to 
be confined to hard labor for life ! And which, if it did not improve 
their morals, would at least without the means of doing harm, give 
them a fresh opportunity of improving those talents, which nature 
has given them; and result beyond all doubt in the multiplication 


of their numbers to the great comfort and well being of those of 
the human family, who live in the vicinity ! There is no doubt it 
would succeed ; and if he, who makes two blades of grass grow, 
where but one grew before, is worth more to mankind, than the 
whole race of politicians put together, the man, who should effect 
this, would be held in estimation far exceeding the united regard 
entertained for all the grass growers in the country. He would, 
in nil probability, live to see the time, when the consequences of 
his benevolent undertaking would be in every mairs mouth, and 
every man's mouth full of the consequences: while thousands, en- 
joying the sport of taking and feasting on the luxuries of the Pond, 
would hand down his name to posterity, as that of a public bene- 
factor. Then there would be also the satisfaction, and it would be 
no small one, of knowing, that while gormandizing, some, even 
while under the greatest excitement, should they have a disposi- 
tion to find fault with the times, censure their neighbors, speak 
evil of their rulers, slander their best friends, or curse their enemies, 
would have their mouths stopped for a while by the bountiful pro- 
ductions of the pond : and even the Legislature have some occa- 
sional respites from the anathemas, so generally and plentifully be- 
stowed upon them, for their over much legislation on the subject of 
the preservation of small fish, and th ereby fishing money from the 
pockets of their constituents. Instead of so much legislation for 
the preservation of small fish in small streams, it would better ac- 
cord with the spirit of the times, in this age of internal improve- 
ment, to encourage by Statute, the large fish of the ocean to emi- 
grate to our large inland ponds : should they decline emigrating, com- 
pulsory process, authorized and encouraged by law, would effect it. 
The immense advantages that would arise from it, cannot be fore- 
seen, if it were only, as farmers say, from the benefit, that might 
be derived from crossing the breed ! 

There are several brooks, which empty their waters into this 
pond. It is clustered with no less than twelve islands of various 
sizes. The first is Ram Island, at the west end of the Floating 
Bridge; it contains about two acres, and is mostly covered with 
wood. Little Pine Island, the second, is one and an half mile down 
the pond, and is about 40 rods from the western shore ; it contains 
half an acre, principally covered with small pines. The third is 
three rods south of the last, of one fourth of an acre, covered with 
fruitful grape vines, and called Grape Island. The fourth is 

VOL. 11. 2 


Grass Island, of one eighth of an acre, mowed sometimes, and is 
twenty rods from Grape Island, and nearer the middle of the pond. 
Bowman's Island is the fifth, covered with wood, and lies southeast 
twelve rods from Grass Island, and contains three acres. The sixth 
is Bayberry Island, near the west shore, of about two acres. The 
seventh, is Sherman's Island, of one and a half acre, near the east 
shore, and covered with wood. Nearly south, and about thirty 
five rods is the eighth, called Grass Island, of one eighth of an acre 
and has been mowed. The ninth is called Shoe-make Island of 
one and an half acre, and is twenty five rods south of Bayberry Isl- 
and. The tenth is Sharp Pine Island, of half an acre, and twenty 
five rods south of Shoe-make Island. The eleventh is a small Grass 
island, half a mile south of Sharp Pine Island, of one eighth of an 
acre, and twenty rods from the south west corner of the, pond. 
The twelfth is called Stratton's Island, and contains one hundred 
and fifty acres, principally under cultivation, and has several fami- 
lies living upon it. 

Some of the other Islands are more or less cultivated, and are 
known by different names. 

Some idea of the boldness of the shores, the depth of the water 
and unevenness of the bottom of the pond, may be formed by view- 
ing the land on its borders and adjacent to it. So large a body of 
water was not destined to lie always dormant and unimproved. 
This pond, and the others connected with it, at its south end, unite 
in one outlet, which, passing in a southeasterly direction, enters 
the town of Grafton, and becomes a principal tributary to Black- 
stone River, upon which a Canal is now constructing to Providence. 
This pond rises and falls, according as there are heavy rains and 
sudden thaws in the spring, or dry seasons, about two feet ; though 
it has been known to vary considerably more. It was in contem- 
plation many years ago, to construct a Canal from Providence to 
unite with the waters of this pond, but the death of its principal 
projector caused it to be abandoned. The subject has been again 
called up, and the work is progressing and excavations making to 
carry it into effect; and the time is not far distant, when this body 
of water wilt contribute wonderfully to the growth and prosperity 
of the neighboring villages and towns, and eveji to the more remote 

Stratton Island is bounded on the west and north by Long Pond, 
on the east by Round Pond, south by Flint's Pond, and south west 


by Half Moon Pond; all of which communicate with each other 
The communication of the waters on the southwesterly part of the 
Island, between Half Moon and Flint's pond has been stopped by 
means of a gravel causeway having been constructed there. The 
outlet from Long Pond, is into Round Pond, and is at the northeast 
corner of the Island; it is very narrow, and by means ot a short 
bridge, the Island and the main land are connected. A dam was 
erected here about four years ago, at a trilling expense with a small 
flume and gate ; by means of which, the water was raised in the 
pond several feet ; yet, on account of its steep banks, it did not over- 
flow so much land as might naturally have been expected. It is 
now in contemplation by means of a dam at this place, to raise the 
water still higher, (from four to nine feet,) for the purpose of pro- 
curing and retaining a head of water sufficient for the use of mills 
&c. situated below, and manufacturing establishments about to be 
erected there. 

There is but one other pond in Shrewsbury, and that is called 
Jordan Pond, lying about midway of the length of Long Pond and 
about half a mile east of it. Its waters, at some seasons in the 
year, empty into Long Pond. On the stream that runs from Sew- 
alf s Pond into Long Pond, there is a grist mill and a saw mill : 
there ia also a stream on which are two saw mills and a grist mill, 
that rises in the north west part of the town, and, running souther- 
ly, crosses the old post road about a mile east of the head of Long 
Pond and empties into it about ten rods north of where the Wor- 
cester Turnpike crosses the Pond. 

Some small brooks, rising in the southerly part of Boylston, and 
northerly part of Shrewsbury, and running southerly and easterly, 
form a stream on which there is a saw mill and grist mill ; thence 
running northeasterly passes through the south east corner of Boyls- 
ton ; then it turns southerly, and runs into Northborough and through 
cold harbour meadows into the river Assabet. A small stream, ris- 
ing principally from springs a little south of the Congregational 
Meeting House, and running easterly and then northeasterly, has 
two grist mills thereon and comes to the side of the post road in 
the east part of the town, furnishing a convenient watering place 
for travellers and teamsters: here it is joined by two small rivulets, 
that come in from the north, when it takes a southe'ast direction 
and falls into the Assabet in the southwesterly part of Northbo- 
rough. Still farther south are .springs, that give rise to a stream, 


that runs southerly and has a grist mill and saw mill thereon, and 
continuing in the same direction, takes, with other waters, the 
name of Bummet Brook, and passes into Grafton ; thence hy the 
way of the Blackstone to the sea below Rhode Island. 

Most of the waters of this town go that way to the sea, while a 
small portion, those that fall into the Assabet, go into the Merri- 

There are in this town six grist mills, and five saw mills ; yet, 
in dry seasons, some of the inhabitants are under the necessity of 
resorting to the mills in the neighboring towns, principally Boyls- 
ton and Grafton, for grinding. 

Highlands. — The greater part of this! town is high land : it 
consists rather of gradual and large extensive swells^ than steep 
and high hills. There are none of them inaccessible to teams, or 
in an uncultivated state. Sewall's hill, however, in the northwest 
part of the town is the most so, and is considerable rocky. The 
land falls but very little to the north, while to the south, the de- 
scent is long and gradual. To the east, there is a descent of more 
than two miles, extending into Northborough ; on the west, the 
descent is moderate for about half a mile over Rocky Plain, so cal- 
led, when it becomes more steep, till it reaches the fiat land, that 
extends nearly to the head of Long Pond ; beyond which the land 
immediately rises to a considerable height ; from the top of which 
it is about thirty rods to Worcester line. 

One of these swells received from the proprietors, at the first 
settlement of the town, by way of distinction, the name of Meeting 
House Hill, and is about half a mile north of where the Congrega- 
tional Meeting House now stands. About half a mile east of north 
of this swell is another, called Rawson Hill ; while to the south- 
east, something more than a mile, is another, called Sounding Hill ; 
over the south part of which passes the Worcester Turnpike ; from 
this, a short distance northerly, is another, called Goulding Hill. 
Besides these, there are several others. The soil of them is ex- 
cellent and most of them are in a high state of cultivation. Raw- 
son Hill is the highest land in town ; being about thirty feet high- 
er than Meeting House Hill, and sixty higher than Mill Stone Hill 
in Worcester, and as high as the ground on which Princeton Meet- 
ing House stands. 

Roads, &c. — This town is proverbial for its good roads. Great 
attention is paid to them. There are two large roads passing 


through the town east and west : the north one is the olJ post road 
from Boston to Worcester; which, passing - through the thickest set- 
tled part of the town and over the head of Long Pond, forms a 
junction with the other, which is the Worcester Turnpike, near 
the Gaol in Worcester. This road was laid out as a count}' road, 
at, or before the settlement of the town, and while it formed a part 
of the county of Middlesex. It is on the records of that count}', 
but not on the town record, or that of the county of Worcester. It 
was laid out four rods wide, without any particular bounds or cours- 
es, and is 1510 rods in length, in Shrewsbury. The act, chartering 
the Worcester Turnpike Corporation, was passed June 10th, 1808 ; 
and that road soon after made ; its length in Shrewsbury is 1350 
rods. It runs nearly parallel with the post road, varying lrom one 
and an half to two miles from it. It is four rods wide and rather, 
hilly through most of the town. It crosses Long Pond, about two 
miles south of the head of it, by means of a floating bridge, being 
the third bridge, that has been thrown over the pond at this place, 
for the purpose of crossing it. The first was a floating bridge, and 
C09t about $9000. It con^ted of two or three tiers of round tim- 
bers laid lengthways and then crossways, and then overlaid with a 
course of hewn timber, covered with plank, and fastened to large 
abutments at the shores. This bridge soon proved to be weak and 
unsafe, and after a few years was succeeded by another of the same 
materials, and cost $13,000. It was constructed by sinking nine 
piers ; the centre one of these was sixty feet by sixty ; the others 
sixty by thirty, placed in aline about thirty feet apart. The piers 
were constructed separately, and designed to rest on the bottom of 
> the pond : this was done, by laying the course, then lapping and 
building after the manner of a cob house, and pinning where the 
timbers lapped and crossed ; by building in this manner, as the 
weight increased, the frames settled and the work continued, till the 
frame of each pier found a resting place at the bottom, reaching and 
remaining considerably above the water ; towards the top, the piers 
were connected to each other by timbers, and upon the top even 
overlaid with them ; over the whole was laid a quantity of grav- 
el. But on account of the mud in some places, and gravel in others, 
at the bottom of the pond, some of the piers continued to settle 
and others remained stationary. The four eastern -piers, as they 
settled, leaned to the south. It was endeavored to keep the sur- 
face level by putting on gravel, which probably hastened its de- 
struction ; for, by increasing the incumbent weight, the piers (ma- 

14 HisTony ov Shrewsbury. 

ny of their timber? having started from their fastenings) so far lost 
their perpendicularity, that in the morning of the 19th Sept. 1817, 
near the time of its completion, and while the workmen were most 
of them near by, at breakfast, the bridge separated near the center, 
and the east half turned over into the pond to the south, and the 
other half, breaking up, tumbled in, pier after pier, in broken mas- 
ses, towards the middle of the pond. Fortunately, no lives were lost, 
though some were in imminent danger. As the pond varied from 
fifty to seventy feet in depth at this place, (and in others was more 
than one hundred) it had taken no less than fifty four thousand feet 
of timber to construct this bridge; most of which, upon turning 
over, separated, and came to the surface in single sticks and large 
blocks pinued together, presenting such a wreck of materials as 
perhaps was never seen before on any inland waters in this coun- 
try. The next winter, the present bridge was built upon the ice 
at the west side of the Pond, mostly of hewn white pine timber, at 
an expense of $G,000, and in the spring following swung round to 
its place ; and to this day well answers the purpose for which it 
was designed ; it is five hundred and twenty five feet long and 
thirty wide. 

The Ilolden and Rutland Turnpike, four rods wide, is 400 rods 
in length in Shrewsbury, and ends upon entering the old Post road 
about half a mile east of the head of Long Pond. Thpre is a small 
piece of County road, three rods wide, and 200 in length, passing 
in a northeasterly direction from Worcester line, near the Poor 
house of that town, to Boylston. In the south part of the town, 
there is a County road three rods wide, and two hundred and fifty 
in length, leading from the Gore near Worcester, in an easterly di- 
rection, and crossing the town road leading to Grafton; on the 
south of which commences, and runs south, another County road, 
leading to the middle of the town of Grafton, three rods wide, 
and one hundred and eighteen in length in Shrewsbury. All the 
other roads in this town are town roads, and are thirty-seven in 
number. They were surveyed, their courses taken, and bounds es- 
tablished, the roads numbered and accepted by the town, and re- 
corded at full length on the town records in the year 1805; except 
the seven last, which have since been laid out, numbered, accept- 
ed and recorded in like manner as the first. There are also a few 
bridle ways. With some trifling alterations, the courses of the 
roads remain as in 1805. 



The width and length of each road and quantity of land occupi- 
ed by each, is as follows, viz. 


rod* of 


rods of 








Post Road, 




Town Road, No. 15 




Worcester Tump 





No. 16 




Holden Turnpike 




No. 17 




County road to 




No. 18 
No. 19 






County road from ) 
Gore, leading east, $ 




No. 20 
No. 21 




County road leading- J 
south to Grafton, S 




No. 22 
No. 23 






Town road, No. 





No. 24 









No. 25 









No. 26 









No. 27 









No. 28 









No. 29 









No. 30 

o • 








No. 31 









No. 32 









No. 33 

1 13Z 15 







No. 34 









No. 35 







No. 36 



h 323 






No. 37 




Making fifty three miles of road, occupying two hundred and sixty 
two acres of land. 

The whole contents of the town amount to fourteen thousand and 
sixty acres, of which seven hundred and ninety eight are water. 
The burying ground contains two acres and sixty one rods, and the 
common around the Congregational Meeting House, four acres 
and one hundred and twenty seven rods of land. 

The town is divided into eleven highway districts, and the usu- 
al grant for the repair of its roads $300, annually, which is paid in 
labor by those on whom it is assessed. 

The amount of the travel on the old post road and Worcester 
Turnpike, is very great. The Post Oilice is kept on the first in 
the middle of the town, where the mail from Boston is opened ev- 
ery day (except Sundays) as is also the mail from the west. Four 
Stages pass on the old road every day, (Sundays excepted) and five 
each day on the Turnpike. The great southern mail from Boston 
to New York, is carried in the stage on the Turnpike, and passes 
every day, as does the return mail from the south, to Boston. 
They generally pass each other about 6 P. M. within the limits of 
this town. There is considerable and increasing travel from the 
northward, directly through the middle of the town to Providence 


Ecclesiastical. — This town contains three religious societies, 
one Congregational, one Baptist, and one Restoration Society ; each 
having a Meeting House. The first was the only religious society 
in the town, until within a few years past. 

The precise time, when the first Meeting House was built, can- 
not be ascertained ; but from what can be gathered from the pro- 
prietor's records, it was in the latter part of 1721 and in 1722. 
Oct. 27, 1719, the proprietors of the township of Shrewsbury " vot- 
ed that the place for the Meeting House be on Rocky Plain, near 
the pines (there were several large pines within the recollection of 
some of the inhabitants now living, standing a little back of where 
the Congregational Meeting House now stands) and that, in case the 
land agreed upon for a Meeting House could not be procured upon 
reasonable terms, then, the Meeting House be set on the hill 
northward therefrom, called Meeting House bill;* and that the 
Meeting House be forty feet in length, thirty two in breadth, and 
fourteen feet stud." In April after, a committee was chosen " to 
manage about the Meeting House ;" and in May succeeding, the votes 
passed on the 27th Oct. 1719, respecting the Meeting House, were 
confirmed by the proprietors, and measures taken to have two Saw 
Mills built in the town, to be put in operation by the first of May, 
1721. On the 22d of June following, they "voted two hundred 
and ten pounds for, and towards building a Meeting House, it being 
five pounds on each proprietor;" and "chose a committee toad- 
dress the Rev. Mr. Breck, of Marlborough, in behalf of the propri- 
etors of Shrewsbury, praying his notes of a sermon preached by 
himself in said town at a lecture, on the 15th of June, 1720, in or- 
der to have the same sermon printed at the expense of the propri- 
etors." This was the first sermon preached in Shrewsbury ; it 
was printed, and if a copy could be found, it would be worth while 
to preserve it. At their last mentioned meeting, the proprietors 
empowered a committee to contract with some person to build, and 
finish a Meeting House. These meetings of the proprietors were 
all held at the house of the widow Elizabeth Howe, in Marlborough. 
In November, 1722, on application to John Houghton Esq. of 
Lancaster, he issued a warrant calling a meeting of the Proprietors, 
to be held, on the twenty eighth of that month, at the Meeting- 
house, "to consider and conclude of all, or any thing or things proper 

* r The land was afterwards procured of William Taylor, one of the Pro- 
prietors, who exchanged acre for acre (the whole quantity, ten acre3) and 
took swamp land in the Gulf, so called, for his pa)'. 


and necessary to be done for the procuring of a Minister, &c." and, 
as that appears to be the first time the Meeting House was occupied 
for any public use, it is presumed, that it had not then long been fin- 
ished. It was located about eight rods to the north east of where 
the present Congregational Meeting House now stands. That 
house, after a lapse of forty years, being unsuitable to accommodate 
the inhabitants, the Parish voted in October, 1704, to build a new 
Meeting House, which is the present one. It is sixty feet long, 
forty five wide, with twenty seven feet posts, and a porch at each of 
the three outer doors. In 1807, a bellfry, with a steeple, was an- 
nexed to the west end of the Meeting House, and in 1808, a bell 
placed therein, both at the expense of certain individuals of the town. 

At a meeting of the proprietors by adjournment, April 17, 1723, 
it was " voted, to nominate two or three Ministers to a settlement." 
Mr. Cushing, Mr. Barret and Mr. Bailey, were nominated ; and 
there appeared 18 for the first, 16 for the second, and 4 for the 
third. On the 15th of May following, they chose Mr. Cushing 
to be their Minister by a full vote, and gave him £60 settle- 
ment, and £60 salary per year, for the two first years, then 
to rise 4 pounds a year, until it should amount to £30. The 
church was first gathered here on the 4th day of December, 1723, 
and he ordained on the same day. He continued here in the min- 
istry nearly thirty seven years, and was suddenly taken away by 
a fit of the apoplexy, August 6, 1760, in the 67th year of his age. 
During his ministry, the north part of the town, after several un- 
successful attempts, sometimes to be set off as a separate town, and 
at others, as a Parish, was' set off and incorporated as a distinct 
Parish, Dec. 17, 1742; not on account of any dissatisfaction of his 
parishioners towards him, for he lived and died in peace with his 
people; but on account of the increasing number, and remote situ- 
ation in which many of them in that part of the town lived from 
the Meeting House. 

February 2, 1761, the Parish concurred with the chuich in 
the choice of Mr. Joshua Paine, to become their Pastor; and 
voted him £66 13 shillings, as an annual salary, during the 
time he should continue to preach the Gospel in this place ; and 
£200 settlement. Mr. Paine declined the invitation. After hear- 
ing several candidates, the Parish voted, Dec. 30, 1761, "to 
hear Mr. Joseph Sumner (of Pomfret, Conn.) if he might be had ;" 
and on the 30th of March, 1762, the Parish concurred with the 
church in the choice of Mr. Sumner, to be their Pastor ; and voted 
vol.. i\i 3 


him the same settlement as to Mr. Paine, and sixty six pounds, 
thirteen shillings, and four pence, lawful money, annually, as a sal- 
ary. Having 1 accepted the call, he was ordained on the 23d day oi 
June, 1762, at the age of twenty three. 

The Meeting House being small, and unsafe for so large a col- 
lection of people, as assembled, the ordination solemnities were 
held out of doors, on a platform erected in front of the Meeting 
House, and the day observed by the Parish with fasting and prayer, 
in conformity with a vote of the church, in which the Parish con- 
curred ; " to observe said day, as a day of fasting and prayer, as 
being most agreeable to the Scripture rule of ordaining, as said 
church apprehends." After Mr. Sumner's acceptance, and before 
his ordination, the Parish increased his salary to £72 or $240 
per annum, to take effect in ten years after his settlement. This 
additional grant, occasioning uneasiness in the minds of some, was 
relinquished by him in writing on the 12th of March, 1763, for 
peace sake ; he at the same time informing his parishioners, that 
he " relied on their generosity for the future, if he should stand in 
need of further help, that they would be as ready to afford it, as he 
should be to ask it of them." Thus early in his life was manifest- 
ed to our Fathers, what was exhibited to their posterity, a disposi- 
tion to live peaceably with all men; and which eo much distin- 
guished, through a long life, this late venerable man of God. 

Several grants were made to the Rev. Mr. Sumner, in the ear- 
lier part of his ministry, in addition to his stated salary. In 1809, 
his salary was raised to $286 67 per annum, and so remained till 
June, 1820; when, by reason of the infirmities of age, and the 
prospect of having a colleague, Samuel B. Ingersoll, settled with 
him in the ministry, and on whom would devolve the more ardu- 
ous labors and active duties, he, voluntarily, and in writing, relin- 
quished, from and after the settlement of Mr. Ingersoll, all his # sala- 
ry, except $142 per year, which he continued to receive till the 
time of his death, which happened Dec. 9, 1824, in the 63d year 
of his ministry, and 85th year of his age. Notwithstanding his sal- 
ary was small, he was enabled by prudence and economy to leave, 
after having brought up a large family of children, a handsome 
property, mostly in real estate.* In 1814, he received the honora- 

* Dr. Sumner was no less remarkable for his affability and social qualities 
through life, than for his sound sense and dignified deportment. He never 
seemed to be taken by surprize ; he always had a ready answer ; his cheer- 
ful manner of giving it, and its peculiar fitnesB astonished as well as delighted 
those who heard him. He was a member of an ordaining Council at Prince- 


ry degree of D. D. from Harvard University, and about the same 
time a similar honor was conferred upon him by Columbia College, 
in South Carolina ; an honor, the bestowment of which, while it 
reflected increasing honor on those Institutions, not in the least ex- 
cited his vanity or inflated his pride — honors, which brightened as 
he wore them, and proved how judiciously they were conferred, 
where the subject was so worthy of them. On tho 23d of June, 
1812, he preached his half century sermon, which has gone through 
two editions and contains much valuable information. At the time 
of his death, there was not an individual in town, who was a mem- 
ber of the church at his ordination; and all but one, who were 
then in town, and qualified by age to invite him to settle in the 
ministry, had passed off the stage to their long home. This was 
to him a painful recollection ; having many years previous, been 
deprived of the partner of his youth, and all the members compos- 
ing the church, wh en he was wedded to it ; and all but one of those, 
who had invited him to take the oversight of them in the Lord, 
whose kindness to him he held in grateful remembrance to the 
last ; and having also buried two colleagues, he could not but feel 
solitnry : he was a widower, indeed ! 

During the Revolutionary struggle between the Colonies and 
the parent country, Dr. Sumner took an open and decisive part; 
he was always no less the friend of political, than religious freedom ; 
while the privations, which he endured on account of the deranged 
state of the then public affairs, with a degree of patience and equa- 
nimity, rarely if ever equalled, furnished ample proofs of his sin- 
ton some years since, and the subject of salaries having been introduced, and 
by some complained of, as being too low — and when it was ascertained that 
his was the lowest salary enjoyed by any of the Clergymen present, and with 
which he seemed to be entirely satisfied, one of them, in the presence and 
hearing of the others, enquired of him, "how he could make out to live upon 
it?" The Doctor replied, » Oh ! they that have much, have not enough, and 
they that have little, have no lack !" 

At a dinner party in Worcester, in the latter part of his life, of a number 
of gentlemen of the Bar, and some others, among whom was the late Francis 
Blake, then Clerk of the Courts, Dr. Sumner was present, oh the invitation 
of the Sheriff. After dinner, he thought it prudent, at his advanced period of 
life, to retire early from the table and prepare for home. This early withdraw- 
al was noticed by Mr. Blake, and he publicly expressed to Dr. Sumner his 
regret on account of it ; the Doctor observed, while putting on his coat, that 
"it is time old folks were at home" — upon which Mr. Blake said to him, " Dr. 
Sumner, I hope you do not mean, because you are going, it is time for us all 
to go ?" "Oh !no," replied the Doctor,in a pleasant manner, and turning round 
towards the company, just as he was 'going out at the door, " you may stay 
as much longtr as you are younger .'" Mr. Blake was afterwards often heard 
to speak with admiration of this reply. 


cerity in the American cause, as well as his confidence in its final 
triumph. He omitted no reasonable opportunity, either in public 
discourses, or private interviews, to animate his townsmen to renew- 
ed exertions in the cause of freedom and the rights of man. u His 
constitution wns naturally vigorous ; through life he was blessed 
with good health ; his punctuality in all his engagements was re- 
markable, and he was ever prompt to the call of duty. During the 
period of 62 years, he was never absent from the stated communion 
of his church," and during 57 years of his ministry, "the public 
exercises of the Sabbath in this place were suspended only seven 
Sundays, on account of his indisposition, or in consequence of his 
journeying." The sick were sure to find him early at their bed- 
side, tenderly and with a fatherly anxiety to enquire after their sit- 
uation, and to minister to their spiritual wants; and when sickness 
was followed by death, his feelings were touched, his sympathies 
mingled with the grief of the bereaved, and he was among them, 
and mourner among mourners. The deep yet lively interest he 
took in the education of children, the punctuality with which he 
visited and inspected the town schools, the cheerfulness with which 
he did it, even when past the age of 80, the good impressions made 
on the minds of the youth by his seasonable remarks and appropri- 
ate prayers, will long be remembered. It was a maxim with him, 
when duty called, never, if I may so express it, to suffer himself to 
excuse himself During his ministry, the rite of baptism was ad- 
ministered to 1251 individuals of his society, and 367 persons were 
admitted into his church : he solemnized 488 marriages, assisted in 
the ordination of 53 Clergymen, and was a member of 33 mutual 
and exparte Councils. He preached three funeral sermons at the 
interments of three Pastors of the church in Rutland : viz. Messrs. 
Buckminster, Goodrich and Foster, and was moderator of three or- 
daining Councils in that town, viz: at the ordination of the two last 
named gentlemen, and that of the Rev. Mr. Clark. It was his re- 
quest, expressed some years previous to his disease, that, should the 
Rev. Dr. Bancroft survive him, he might preach his funeral sermon ; 
the event so happened ; and his request was complied with, and 
on the 12th Dec. 1824, all that was mortal of this worthy man, was 
committed to the tomb. 

Mr. Samuel B. Ingersoll, of Beverly, commencad'preaching here, 
Sept. 27, 1819, in aid of the Rev. Dr. Sumner; and on the 14th of 
May, 1820, the church having made choice of him, on their part, 
to become the Colleague Pastor, with the Rev. Dr. Sumner, the 


town concurred therein ; and on the 14th of June following', he was 
publicly ordained to that office with a salary of $650 a year, pay- 
ments to be made quarterly ; he reserving to himself two Sabbaths 
in the spring and two in autumn of each and every year. He 
preached here the first Sabbath after his ordination for the last time. 
His health, when he was settled, was feeble ; sickness arrested him, 
and he with his wife, whom he had married but a few months be\ 
fore, went to Beverly for the recovery of his health, where he di- 
ed, Nov. 14, 1820, five months after his ordination, at the age of 
thirty three. 

Thus far, since the year 1736, the parochial business had been 
done in the name of the town. A large number having withdrawn 
from this religious society, in 1820, and established another for 
public worship in the south part of the town, it was deemed expe- 
dient to revive the parish, the business of which had been merged 
in that of the town thirty four years, and have its concerns trans- 
acted in its own name. Accordingly, it was regularly re-organized 
on the 26th day of March, 1821, and the necessary parish officers 
chosen : since which, it has continued its operations as a distinct 
body in its own name. 

June 25th, 1821, the church unanimously made choice (and on 
the 26th of July following, the parish unanimously concurred there- 
in) of the Rev. Edwards Whipple, late the settled minister of the 
Congregational church and society in Charlton, to become their 
pastor as colleague with the Rev. Dr. Sumner. Sept. 26, 1821, he 
was regularly installed with a salary of $550 per year to be paid 
him annually. 

His manners were agreeable and his talents of the first order ; 
but while his parishioners were congratulating one another on the 
happy re-settlement of a colleague pastor, he was suddenly snatch- 
ed from them on the 17th of Sept. 1822, having been sick but a 
few days with a fever, at the age of 44 ; in the vigor of manhood 
and not a week before, the picture of health, with a fair prospect 
of living many years to enjoy it. This sudden a^dso unexpected, 
as well as repeated disappointment, as may well be expected, threw 
a gloom over the parish, the recollection of which will not soon 
be forgotten. 

Mr. Ingersoll preached one Sabbath, and Mr. Whipple failed 
one of completing a year. Thus while the united labors of Dr. 
Sumner's two colleagues just completed a full year, his, united to 
Mr. Cushing's completed a century. 


August 18, 1C23, the parish concurred with the church in the 
choice of Mr. George Allen to become colleague pastor with the 
Rev. Dr. Sumner. He was ordained Nov. 19th, 1023; having a 
settlement of $300, and a salary of $550 per annum, for two years, 
and after that, $600 annually : he is their present pastor. 

In 1791, the proceeds of the sale of certain pews, made by cut- 
ting up the body seats in the. Meeting House, were appropriated by 
the town « to begin a fund for the support of a Congregational Min- 
ister in the town forever:" in addition to which, the town, in 1799, 
granted certain other monies and public securities belonging to the 
town, amounting in all to $1920, to the use aforesaid; " the interest 
of wbich to be added to the principal, until the interest together 
with the interest of such sums, as have, or may become a part of 
said fund, shall be sufficient to support a Congregational Minister 
in said town.'* Feb. 18, 1801, nine gentlemen of the town were 
incorporated by the General Court into a body politic by the name 
of "the Trustees of the Fund appropriated to the support of a Minis- 
ter of the Congregational denomination in the town of Shrewsbury," 
with power to fill vacancies and hold personal or real estate to the 
use aforesaid, " provided, that the same fund shall never exceed 
the sum of eight thousand dollars in the whole;" and they "not 
in any case to lessen or make use of any part of the principal." 
The interest of this fund, under the existing limitation of its prin- 
cipal, can never be sufficient for the purpose intended. The Rev 
Mr. Allen's salary exceeds by $120, the interest of eight thousand 
dollars. In April after the act of incorporation, the sums subscrib- 
ed and paid into the fund by certain individuals of the town, amount- 
ed to about $2500 ; 6ince which time, additions have been made to 
it by donations and otherwise ; and the principal is now about $5600. 
Most of the interest ^was appropriated for the support of the minis- 
try, till 1820; since then, the interest has not been sufficient for 
that purpose ; the residue is made up by a tax regularly assessed 
on the parish. 

The Baptist society in this town is small, compared with either of 
the others. It is composed of members trom this and some of the 
neighboring towns, but has never been incorporated. It was formed 
in 1812, and their Meeting House built in 1813; it is 25 feet by 
32, with 12 feet posts, and cost not far from $450; it was, at its 
formation, styled the Shrewsbury and Boylston Baptist Society, and 
the number of church members was then thirty three. About two 
years since, a Baptist Society was formed in Boylston, and most of 


those from that town, who usually had worshipped here, joined 
themselves to that society, since which, this has been styled the Bap- 
tist Society in Shrewsbury. The number of members connected 
with this church in 1825, whose relations had not been removed, 
was 71. Mr. Elias M c Gregory was their first settled minister; he 
was ordained 17th June, 1818, and received by contribution about 
$200 per annum ; he was dismissed at his own request, in May, 
1821, but with great reluctance on the part of the society. After 
this, several gentlemen officiated here on the Sabbath; among whom 
was Mr. Samuel W. Vilas ; he preached to them nearly a year, and 
was about to be settled over them, when he sickened and died, July 
15, 1823, in the 33d year of his age. He was esteemed and belov- 
ed by those who knew him, and his premature death disappointed 
the expectations of many. This society has not at present any or- 
dained minister ; Mr. Henry Archibald preaches to them about half 
of tlie time with a compensation, at the rate of $250 a year. 

The Restoration Society was formed April 11, 1820; its present 
number of male members is about 170, of whom 104 belong to this 
town, as appears by certificates filed in the Town Clerks office. It 
was incorporated, April 26, 1824, under a law of this Commonwealth, 
by the name of the "First Restoration Society in Shrewsbury." 
Their Meeting House was finished and dedicated, May 29, 1823, and 
is 41 by 42 feet. It is in the modern style, with a projection of 1 1 
feet by 28, through which, by a door at either end admittance is 
gained into the house. The projection, on which is a steeple, fronts 
the Turnpike road ; on the south side of which the house is situat- 
ed. It is about a mile and an half South of the Congregational 
Meeting House. The Meeting House is painted within and without, 
and having a pleasant location, makes'a handsome appearance. It is 
furnished with a large well toned organ, an elegant piece of work- 
manship, made by a self taught and very ingenious young man ot* 
this town; and which is used on days of public worship. The 
house cost about $3000, An acre of land, for the accommodation 
of the house and other purposes, was given to the Society by one 
of its individuals. 

The Rev. Jacob Wood was installed over the church and Soci- 
ety, on the day of the dedication of the house, and has a salary of 
$468 per annum, raised, till Nov. 1825, by voluntary subscription, 
but now by legal taxation — six houses for public worship are now 
standing on the original grant of Shrewsbury. 

No. 5 draws 12 per cent 
No. 6 111 do - 

No. 7 144 do. 


ScnooiA — The grants for the support of schools have been 
$700 annually ; for several years past, but are now $720 ; $200 for 
Mistress' schools, $430 for Masters' do. and $90 for fuel. The 
town is divided into seven school districts, each having a school 
house, but all of them owned by the town. The inhabitants are 
not confined to their respective districts, but may send their children 
and youth under their care, to either of the schools, as it may best 
accommodate them. The School houses and districts are distin- 
guished by numbers ; and the amount of money granted each year is 
annually apportioned among them according to the following rule 
adopted in 1814, and founded partly on the amount of the valuation, 
and partly on the number of scholars in each district. 

No. 1 draws 165 P er cent 

No. 2 155 do. 

No. 3 17 do. 

No. 4 125 do. 

The number of scholars that attended during the winter season 
of 1825— 6, is about 500. 

Poor, &c. — The town has two or three times had under con- 
sideration the subject of procuring a farm, whereon to support its 
paupers. It never had an establishment of this kind, and does not 
yet deem it expedient to purchase one. The number of paupers 
supported, some wholly, and others partially, by the town, for five 
years past, was from 18 to 32 per year; and their annual average 
expense to the town, $650.* They are veudued, sometimes indi- 
vidually, and at others collectively, to the lowest bidder, for one 
year, commencing on the first of April. It is supposed, that when 
the paupers of a town are vendued, they are not supported in so 
economical a manner as might be adopted ; nor in one, that tends 
so much to their comfort as would be desirable. The practice of 
venduing them to the lowest bidder is one, the long usage of which, 
in many places, has obliterated that nice sense of feeling, which 
makes man shudder at the thought of being instrumental in the sale 
of his fellow man ; a practice, that places this unfortunate class of 
people, many of whom have become so by unforeseen circumstances, 
and consequently without any fault of theirs, in a condition to be 
sold like slaves. We exclaim against the inhuman practice of sel- 

* The number of paupers supported wholly or partially by the town 
was in 1821 19 expense to the town, $675,56 

1822 18 do. 549,36 

1823 19 do. 527,57 

1824 25 do. 696,11 

1825 • 32 do. 861,00 

History of Shrewsbury. 2o 

ling Africans and negroes ; it is honorable to us to do so ; it is 
an odious traffic ; and is not the selling of paupers an odious prac- 
tice ? It has been so long and so generally practised in this part of 
the country, that for an individual to attempt to remedy it, is for 
him to set himself against thousands ; yet it is a consolation to know, 
that many, even a great man)', who acquiesce in this practice, do 
, it with great reluctance, and would be glad, from feelings of hu- 
manity, to have it discontinued. 

It is true, the body of the slave is sold for the labor it can per- 
form, while it is the support of the pauper, that is put up at auc- 
tion : but the case is not materially different. Their situation is 
not so unlike, as it is thought and intended to be; the support of 
the slave is incidental to the purchase of his body, while the body 
of the pauper is incidental to the sale of his support ; the latter 
has a master no less than the former, who derives to his benefit 
what can be obtained from his servant's labor; and as it is natural 
for a man to make the most he can of a contract, the pauper often 
has a hard master, as well as the slave ; for while the one is accus- 
tomed to hard labor, ami often beaten with stripes, the other, too 
frequently, suffers the want of a sufficient support, as well as !dnd 
treatment. In some respects, the situation of the slave is prefera- 
ble; his feelings are respected by selling him to the highest bid- 
der, while the feelings of the pauper are mortified by his being 
sold to the lowest; and while the one is not sold, perhaps, but once 
in his life, the other is publicly exposed to sale annually. The 
mark of degradation is annually stamped upon him, as if to remind 
him of his dependence on his fellow men. At the same time he is 
subjected every year to the liability of having a new master ; nor is 
this all : the slave has not, while the pauper has, the benefit of a 
tolerable education ; has lived and associated with civilized peo- 
ple, and is possessed of feelings, that have thereby become refined ; 
it generally so happens, if not out of regard to his feelings, and 
those of relatives and acquaintance, that the slave, though unciviliz 
ed,is sold among strangers, himself a stranger in a strange land ; while 
the pauper, civilized and of refined feelings, is made by his coun- 
trymen to endure the grievious mortification of being publicly sold 
in his own town, and perhaps, to one, never his friend ; and of be- 
ing looked down upon in this humiliating situation, caused perhaps 
by sickness or misfortune beyond his control, by many, who once 
looked up to him, and of seeing himself neglected, if not despised 
by others, who, in his better days, had been wont to take him by 

VOL. II. 4 


the hand. Independent of the hetter treatment the poor would re- 
ceive, every town would find it for its interest to have a poorhouse, 
either by itself, or by uniting with an adjoining town, to have one 
for the common purposes of both. 

Pounds. — There have been lour Pounds built at the expense of 
the town; the two first of wood, and the two last of stone. The 
first was erected in 1723, and stood near the brook, by the old Post 
road, at the west end of Mr. Samuel Bullard's apple orchard, 
three quarters of a mile east of the Congregational Meeting House ; 
the travelled ivaj, notwithstanding the road was laid where it now 
is, was then between his house and the brook, and came into the 
road about half a mile east, and about a quarter of a mile west of 
his house, and opposite where Capt. Keyes' houses were burnt, in 
1723, (of which moie hereafter) and continuing west, it left the 
road to the north, and, passing south of where Henry Baldwin's 
house now stands, came into the road again more than a mile fur- 
ther west, on the top of Daniel Maynard's hill, so called. The 
second Pound was built in 1746, and stood on the same road, half a 
mile further west, partly on ground now occupied by a Blacksmith's 
shop. The third was built in 1764, on the same spot; and the 
fourth, in 1799, and stands on the common, a little distance north 
west from the Congregational Meeting House. 

Fires. — There have been nine dwelling houses, two barns, one 
school house, and one saw mill burnt in this town. The first was 
Gershom Wheelock's house, which stood on the old Post road, not 
far distant from where Mr. Joseph Nurse now lives. No record 
of any thing relating to this event has been found, by which the 
precise time when it happened is known 1 . As aged people say, this 
was the first house burnt in Shrewsbury; it must have been prior 
to the 7th of August, 1723 ; since which, no house has been erect- 
ed on that spot. Mr. Wheelock soon after purchased the house 
lot No. 23, where his grandson, Deacon Gershom Wheelock, now 
lives ; who has in his possession some small articles of furniture 
that were saved from the fire. The place where he now lives, 
descended from father to son and grandson, and has been in their 
united possession nearly one hundred years. The house burnt, was 
the first house built in Shrewsbury. Gershom Wheelock, who 
built it, came here from Marlborough, and was' the first man who 
commenced work in this town. 

The next fire was the most remarkable, as well as the most 
sorrowful occurrence that ever took place in this part of the coun- 


try; and, a3 the town was then in its infancy, was peculiarly 
shocking. It is related in Whitney's history of the County of Wor- 
cester ; Whitney says, he gives it in the words of the account pub- 
lished in the only newspaper, as he was told, then printed in New 
England, if not on this side of Philadelphia. It was a small half 
sheet, printed by B. Green, and is as follows : 

"Boston, August 15, 1723. 

" An exact account of the awful burning of Capt. John Keyes 1 
house, with five persons in it, at Shrewsbury, in the night hetween 
the 7th and 8th of this inst. taken from a letter of the Rev. Mr. 
Breck, of Marlborough, and from the mouth of Mr. Ebenezer 
Bragg,* of the same, formerly of Ipswich, the only person of those, 
who lodged in the house, who, by a distinguishing providence, es- 
caped the flames. 

"Capt. Keyes was building an house about nine or ten feet off 
his old one. It was almost finished ; and Mr. Bragg aforesaid, the 
carpenter, with his brother Abiel, of 17 years of age, and William 
Oaks, of 18, his apprentices, were working about it. Capt. Keyes, 
with his wife and four daughters, lodged in the old one; and the 
three carpenters, with the three sons of the Captain, viz. Solomon, 
of 20, John, of 13, and Stephen, of 6 years of age, laying in the 
new. On Wednesday night, going to bed, they took a more than 
ordinary care of the fire, being excited thereto, by the saying of 
one, he would hot have the house burnt for a.7i hundred pounds ; and 
the reply of another, he would not for two hundred; upon which, 
they carefully raked away the chips lying near it, and stayed till 
the rest were almost burnt out; and then they went all six togeth- 
er into three beds in one of the chambers; and were very cheerly 
and merry at their going to bed, which was about ten of the clock. 
But, about midnight, Mr. Bragg was awakened with a notion of the 
house being on fire, and a multitude calling to quench it; with 
which he got up, saw nothing, heard no voice, but could hardly 
fetch any breath through the stifling smoke; concluded the house 
was on fire, perceived somebody stirring, against whom he hit two 
or three times in the dark, and not being able to speak, or breathe 
any longer, and striking his forehead against the chimney, he 
thought of the window, and happily found it : when he gained it, 
he tarried a minute, holding it fast with one hand, and reaching out 
the other, in hopes of meeting with some one or other to save them, 
till the smoke and fire came so thick and scorching upon him, he 
* Father of the late Deacon John Bragj, of this town. 


could endure it no longer. And hearing no noise in the chamber, on- 
ly as he thought, a faint groan or two, he was forced to jump out, 
and, the window being small, head foremost; though he supposes, 
by God's good providence, he turned before he came to the ground. 
"As Mr. Bragg was just got up again, Capt. Keyes, being awak- 
ed in the old house, was coming to this side of the new, and met 
him. But the flame immediately burst out of the windows, and 
the house was quickly all on a light flame. No noise was heard of 
the other five who perished; and it is very questionable, whether 
more than one of them moved out of their beds. The old house 
was also burnt, and almost every thing in it; but the people were 
saved through the great goodness of God. But a most dreadful 
sight it was, in the morning, to see the five bodies frying in the 
fire, among the timbers fallen down in the cellar, till towards the 
evening; when the few almost consumed fragments, without heads 
or limbs, were gathered, put into one coflin and buried. Psalm, 
Ixvi- 3. Sayunto God, how terrible art thou in llnj works! James, iv. 15. 
Yc know not what shall be on the morrow! Luke, xii. 40. Be yc there- 
fore ready!''''' — Thu9 far the Newspaper. 

The Capt. Keyes abovenamed was afterwards the well known 
and much esteemed Major John Keyes, Esq. who died in this town, 
March 3, 1768, at the advanced age of 94. lie left a widow, who 
lived to be 96 years old, and they lived in the married state 72 
years. The houses which were burnt, stood on the north side of 
the old Post road, a little more than half a mile east of where the 
Congregational Meeting House now stands. On these spots, and 
near them, several large and handsome buildings have been erected. 
About the year 1750, Jonathan Morse's house was burnt. It 
was a large two story house, and stood a little south of where the 
Worcester Turnpike now passes ; on the same spot a house was 
erected by Mr. Southgate a few years since. The next was Joseph 
Sherman's house ; it was burnt about the year 1771, and stood 
where Capt. Martin Newton's house now is. In August, 1774, 
George Brown's house was burnt, in the night time — another, still 
standing, but much decayed, was soon erected upon the same spot. 
In 1776, the two-story dwelling house of Capt. Thomas Knowlton 
was burnt : he built another on the same ground, and is the same in 
which he now lives. A large two-story house, belonging to Dea- 
con Benjamin Goddard, was burnt in Feb. 1799, in the day time, 
with most of its contents, another was very soon alter built on the 
same spot, in which he now lives, at an advanced age. A two-sto- 


ry house, belonging to Thomas W. Ward, Esq. and in the occupa- 
tion of John Sherman, was burnt in the night time, Jan. 1816, and 
stood where Mr. Daniel Stone now lives. 

In 1797, a school house, standing in the fork of the roads, op- 
posite the house of Mr. Calvin R. Stone, was burnt, with many 
school books therein. A barn, many years since, belonging to Al- 
pbeua Pratt, and, two or three years ago, one belonging to Amasa 
Knowlton, were destroyed by tire; as was a saw mill, in February 
last, belonging to Samuel Goddard. 

In no one of these calamities were any lives lost, except at the 
burning of Capt. Keyes' houses. The number of barns burnt have 
been few, compared with the number of houses; and what is re- 
markable, no building has ever been burnt by lightning in this town 
since its settlement. 

A small house, near the foot of the hill, west of Rocky plain, 
on the Post road, suddenly disappeared in the night time, about 
three years since. Report says, it was not a house of the best fame ; 
and, as it was occupied by witches, and frequented by wizzards, it 
occasioned but little surprise ; though it was followed by an explo- 
sion that was heard at a considerable distance. Prom the best ac- 
counts, it is supposed, that, some how or other, in the absence of the 
occupants, fire and powder came in contact — the natural conse- 
quence followed — report immediately proclaimed the consequences 
— from curiosity, as well as a due regard to the observance of the 
laws, an attempt was made to search out the person or persons, 
who had, to say the least, been so careless as to leave a quantity of 
powder there : it was at last concluded that it belonged to nobody, 
and, as is generally the case, whatever else of a mischievous na- 
ture was done, nobody did it ! 

In 1818, a subscription paper was circulated in this town, for 
the purpose of procuring means to purchase two fire Engines; they 
were built here, and procured, one at the expense of $120, the 
other at $130, and placed in houses provided for them at $31 each. 
Through the favor of Providence there has been no necessity of 
using them. 

The laudable zeal manifested by the proprietors in guarding 
against fire, exceeded their judgment in purchasing these engines : 
the amount of money extinguished in this concern was $315. 

Revolution. — This town early manifested a determination to 
oppose the measures of the British Parliament, relative to taxation 
in America — the first public expression of its opinion was at a town 


meeting held in May, 1770 ; when a vote of thanks was passed " to 
the merchants and other inhabitants of the town of Boston, for the 
noble and generous stand they had made in the defence of the peo- 
ple's rights;" and in May, 1772, it instructed its Representative 
" by no means, directly or indirectly, to give up any constitutional 
right, nor to ask for a removal of the General Assembly, to its an- 
cient and legal seat, in such manner, as to give up the claim the 
House of Representatives have heretofore so justly set up." In 
January, 1773, the town voted, " that, viewing themselves as sub- 
jects, they had an undeniable right to life, liberty, and property; 
and that the several acts of Parliament and Administration are sub- 
versive of those rights." 

January, 1774, the town "voted, that we will totally lay aside 
the use of all Teas on which a duty is payable, or hath been paid 
by virtue of any Act of the British Parliament — that we will be 
ever ready to do all in our power to preserve our just rights and 
privileges — and will view, as an enemy to the continent, any one, 
who shall appear to be instrumental in carrying said Act of Parlia- 
ment into execution" — and that the town of Boston be furnished 
with a copy of the proceedings of this meeting. 

In August, 1774, they voted, u that, if the Courts to be holden 
at Worcester, for the County of Worcester, for the future, be, in 
consequence of the late Parliamentary Acts, or any new appoint- 
ments by our Governor, authorized by said Acts, that the town 
would resist, and not suffer said Courts to do business. In Septem- 
ber after, the town directed its Constables not to serve the venires 
issued by the Court to be holden at Worcester; and "voted to in- 
demnify them for neglecting to serve the illegal and unprecedented 
venire lately sent to the town." They also "voted to procure an 
iron Field piece, and ammunition for the same, at the expense, and 
for the use of the town," which was soon after done — two Dele- 
gates were at the same time chosen to represent the town in a Gen- 
eral Provincial Congress, to be holden at Concord, the October fol- 
lowing. In December after, they chose a Delegate to attend a like 
Congress, " to be holden at Watertown, or elsewhere, in February 
or sooner, if need be, and to continue to the Tuesday proceeding 
the last Wednesday in May succeeding, and no longer" — at the 
same time, the town adopted unanimously the association of the 
Continental Congress, and the addition thereto of the Provincial 
Congress; and "voted to carry them into execution with the ut- 
most vigor" — they also prohibited the Collectors from paying any 


money in their bands to Harrison Gray, Esq. the Province Treasur- 
er, but directed them to pay the same to Henry Gardner, Esq. of 
Stow ; and voted to indemnify them for so doing. 

In May, 1775, "voted that each parish raise as many men, as 
possible, to hold themselves in readiness to reinforce our army, near 
Boston, if needed, with such officers, as they should think proper;" 
they also cbose a committee to examine the Rev. Ebenezer Morse, 
Messrs. William Crawford, Jotham Bush, Benjamin Fish and Tim- 
othy Ross, suspected of toryism. The committee attended to their 
duty and reported, "that the Rev. Mr. Morse was not so friendly to 
the common cause, as the committee could wish ; and that in some 
instances he bad been unfriendly; that William Crawford was whol- 
ly unfriendly, and inclined to take up arms in defence of the King 
and Parliament; and that they had admitted the three others sus- 
pected, to sign the association, and recommended to the town to 
receive them, upon their faithfully promising to do their full pro- 
portion of duty in resisting and repelling the Kings' troops, &c. 
The committee of correspondence was then directed, by the town 
to take from said Morse, his arms, ammunition and warlike imple- 
ments, of all kinds, to be kept by the Committee ; and he forbidden 
to pass over the lines of the second precinct in Shrewsbury on any 
occasion whatever, without a permit from said committee. The like 
proceedings were had as to Crawford, except he was not to go be- 
yond the limits of his farm, until the town should see fit to liberate 
him. The acknowledgment of the other three was accepted, and 
they, by a vote, wero received again into favor. In May, 1776, 
the town voted unanimously in favor of becoming independent of 
Great Britain, if the Continental Congress should declare the same. 
In 1777, the persons, before named, suspected of toryism, were, to- 
gether with Lewis Allen,* declared, by a vote of the town, to be 

* Lewis Allen was at this time a young man ; he came here with his fath- 
er, Lewis Allen, from Boston, when a child ; his father, an old sea Captain, 
had many of those peculiarities observable in those, who have long followed 
the seas — he lived where Col. Joseph Henshaw afterwards lived and died— 
many anecdotes are related of him ; of which the following is one — 
he went down to the then Baldwin tavern, where Mr. Bullard now lives, tak- 
ing with him his little son Lewis, and his black man, Boston. Caleb, an old- 
er brother of Lewis, was left at home : Lewis, while at Baldwin's, clambered 
up upon a pair of "cheese tongs" that stood by the well curb, and fell into the 
well: Captain Allen and others were standing by and the boy was taken out 
unhurt — Captain Allen had no sooner recovered from his fright, than he ex- 
claimed, " Boston ! run — run home — and see if Caleb is not in our well .'.' 
for I never knew Lewis do a d — d trick, but what Caleb immediately did 
another just like it P' Boston ran, as commanded — but, on reaching home, 


inimical to the United States, and dangerous persons to reside with- 
in this State ; and a committee was chosen to proceed against each 
and all of them at the next court of General Sessions of the Peace. 
The resolute and daring spirit manifested by the town, thus 
early, to contend with unequal force, and where nothing but the 
justice of the cause could lay a foundation for hope of success, did 
not terminate in votes and paper resolutions. The town replenish- 
ed and enlarged its stock of ammunition ; arms were procured, and 
the inhahitants cheerfully turned out once a week to he instructed 
in military discipline. Boston had taken the lead in opposition to 
arbitrary power; distinguished individuals there, and in other towns, 
busily employed themselves in infusing among the people through- 
out the country, a knowledge of their rights ; which was followed, 
as might have been expected, hy puhlic expressions on their part, 
from all quarters, manfully to maintain them. As the mercury in 
the political thermometer rose in the country, the town of Boston 
took higher ground ; and Revolution marched onward ; of the 
troops, that soon after invested Boston, this town sent a large num- 
ber, and had its complement in the service during the war. 

In 1778, a frame of government, adopted by the General Court 
of this State and submitted to the people for acceptance, was laid 
before the town, and disapproved of j four being for, and one hund- 
red against it. 

Miscellaneous. — There is in the sonth west part of the town, 
near Mr. Elijah Rice's, a large meadow of about seventy acres, 
owned by several individuals, which has lately been found to con- 
tain excellent peat ; it has been examined in various parts of the 
meadow, and taken out in some places to the depth of several feet, 
and in all, proves to be of a superior quality : so great is the quan- 
tity, it may be said to be inexhaustable. 

A majority of this town, in 1786, sided with Shays in his oppo- 
sition to government — many of its inhabitants took arms and re- 
paired to the field — they aided in stopping the Courts, &x. and, for 
a time, the peace of the town was greatly disturbed and fears were 
entertained, that it would be followed with bloodshed — happily 
quiet and order were restored — it seems now to be as generally 

found his master's fears were groundless. The son, Lewis Allen, having ar- 
rivtd to man's estate, afterwards removed to Leicester, owned the Mount 
Pleasant farm, and died there. He was buried in the garden of the Mount 
Pleasant farm, and near the road, at his own request ; that he might, as he 
said, learn the news, when the stage came from Boston ! 


admitted, that there were causes of complaint, as it is, that the 
course pursued to remove them was unjustifiable. 

Few towns have been favored with more general health than 
this. The disorders, which have prevailed here to the greatest 
extent, have been the dysentery and the canker-rash. In 1770, 
twenty seven persons died here of the latter; two families lost four 
in each; and in 1775, the former was brought into this place from 
the camp, and proved fatal to numbers; and the whole number of 
deaths in that year was nineteen. Dr. Sumner observes, in his half 
century sermon, preached June 23, 1812, that "these two were 
the years of our greatest mortality — and that in 1790, one in fifty 
of our inhabitants had passed eighty years of age ; of these one 
died in her hundred and fifth year,* and another lived to be'one 
hundred and five years and two months oldt: they that live the 
longest, find an appointed time, beyond which they cannot pass." 
In 1821, the dysentery prevailed here again, principally among 
children, to an alarming degree. For a time, it proved fatal to 
nearly all, who were attacked with it. The number of deaths in 
that year, far exceeded those in any other, and amounted to forty. 

The following table exhibits the number of deaths in this town, 
In each year, for the last ten years, commencing January 1, 1816, 
and ending December 31. 1825. 

1816 '17 '18 '19 '20 '21 '22 '23 '24 '25 Total. 
Under 1 51 11020400 14 

Between 1 & 5 2 







• 2 


Between 5 L 10 . 









Between 10 & 20 







Between 20 & 30 3 l 











Between 30 & 40 4 









Between 40 & 50 3 








Between 50 & 60 1 









Between 60 & 70 










Between 70 & 80 1 











Between 80 & 90 1 










Over 90 1 




21 20 17 13 11 40 17 21 24 16 200 

Of those living, there were, on the first day of January, 1826, 
•ne male over 90 — females over that age, none — over 80 and under 
90, of males 8 ; females 8 — over 70 and under 80, of males 14 ; fe- 
males, 15 — total over 70 — 46. In 1810, the population of this town 
was 1210; in 1820 — 1458; if the increase has been one half as great 
in five years past, as it was in the ten preceeding, it amounts now to 

* Widow Mary Jones. tWidow Ruth Garfield. 

VOL. n. 5 



1582. The number of ratable polls is not less than three hundred 
and ninety. 

i . Twenty seven of the youth of this town have received a col- 
legiate education. 

The following is a Catalogue of their names, when and where 
graduated, the places of their after residence, professions, &c. 

* Artemas' Ward, 1768, Harvard University 


* Jacob Cushing, do. 
*Ezekiel Dodge, 1749 

* Lemuel Hedge, 1759 

* Nehemiah Parker, 1763 

* John Cushing, 1764.,..,.. I do 

* Edward Goddard, do. 

* Silas Bigelow, 1765 

* Nathan Goddard, 1770 
Isaac Stone, do. 
Aaron Crosby, do. 

* Benjamin Heywood, 1775 


Chief Jus. C. C. Pleas, Wor- 
cester Co. ; Maj. Gen. in the 
Revolution ; Mem. Con. &c.t 


Waltham, ordaint 

;d mil 














Swaiizey, N. H. 










Dummerston, Vt. 



Worcester, \ Judge C. C. Plea., Wor- 
' ) cester 

Benjamin Stone, 1776 

* Samuel Crosby, 1777 
Artemas Ward, 1783 
♦Frederick Parker, 1784 

First Preceptor of Leices- 
ter Acad'y, and Precep- 
tor of other do. now res- 
) ident in Shrewsbury. 
Charlestown, N. H. Apothecary. 

BostonJ Me "J" ° f T Con f r " s ' D] and 
' ) now Chief Jus. C. C. Pleas. 

Canterbury, Minister there. 

do. Shrewsbury 


Calvin Goddard, 1786 Dartmouth Col. Norwich, Conn. I J 1e ™- C f on & re "? and 
' ' $ Judge of Sup. Court. 

do, Southborough, \ Minister there, now 

° ' ^ resident in Vermont. 

do. Ordained minister. 

) Removed to Columbia, S. C. an em- 
H. U. ^ inent Counsellor at Law, died at 

) Middletown, Conn. 
do. Chelmsford, Minister there, 

do. Shrewsbury, Counsellor at Law. 

do. Fitchburg, do. 

do. Resident Graduate, Cambridge. 

) Went out Chaplain in the Macedo- 
do. \ nian, Capt. Downs, and died at 

) Valparaiso, 1818. 

Jubal Harrington, 1825, Providence College, At I-'aw School, Northampton. 
William Pratt, do. do. Resident in Shrewsbury. 

* Dead. t A biographical sketch of the life of the Honorable Artemas 
Ward, accompanied with interesting revolutionary papers, &c. will be fur- 
nished hereafter. 

Samuel Sumner, do. 

* Ojis Crosby, 1791 

* Henry D. Ward, 1791 

Wilkes Allen, 1801 
Andrew H. Ward, 1808 
David Brigham, 1810 
Henry D. Ward, 1816 

*Azariah Wilson, do. 


It furnished one field officer in the French war, preceeding 
the Revolution, and one Major General in the Revolutionary 
war — it has also furnished one member of the Executive Coun- 
cil, and one Speaker of the House of Representatives of this 
Commonwealth— one Judge of Probate, and two Judges of the 
Court of Common Pleas lor the County of Worcester — one Repre- 
sentative to Congress, and one High Sheriff, for the county aforesaid. 

There are between thirty and iorty buildings in this town in- 
sured by the Worcester Mutual Fire Insurance Company, which is 
attracting the attention of its citizens,' in proportion as they regard 
the truth of the old proverb, u that a penny saved is as good as a pen- 
ny earned." There are in this town, five English and West India 
goods stores, five licensed public houses, three Gunsmiths, two 
Tanneries, four Blacksmiths, and a good supply of other mechan- 
ics, two Clergymen, three Physicians, and one gentleman in the 
profession of the Law. 

Great, indeed, has. been the emigration from this town for the 
last forty years, yet it has gradually increased in numbers and re 
spectability, and greatly improved in agriculture and the mechanic 
art*. Its present flourishing condition justifies the expectation, that 
it will go on, M prospering and to prosper" for years long yet to 
come, and, as we hope and trust, till time shall be no more. 


Agricultural Society, 6 ; Agriculture, practices in, 6 ; Assabet, River 11; 
Allen, Rev. George, ordained, salary, 22 ; Archibald, Mr. Henry, 23 ; Allen, 
Lewis anecdote of, 31 ; Allen, Wilkes, graduated, 34. 

Boylston, 3, error in plan of, 6; Brooks, Noah, set off, 3 ; Bowman's Island, 
10; Bay berry Island, 10; Brooks, 11; Bummet Brook, 11; Bridge, Long 
Pond, construction and destruction of, 13 ; Burying ground, 15 ; Breck, his 
sermon, 16, letter, 27; Barrett, Mr. nomination as minister, 17; Bayley, Mr. 
nominated minister, 17 ; Buckminster, Mr. 20 ; Bancroft, Rev. Dr. 20 ; Bap- 
tist society, 22; Bullard, Samuel, 26 ; Baldwin, Henry, 26 ; Bra»g, Ebenezer, 
account of fire, 27 ; Bragg, Abiel, 27; Bragg, Deacon Johu, 27; Bush, Jo- 
tham, 31 ; Bigelow, Silas graduated, 34 ; Brigham, David graduated, 34. 

Cutler, Ebenezer set off, 3; Cultivation, 6 ; Coal, indications 6 ; Clay, 9 ; 
Canal, Blackstone 10 ; Common, 15 ; Cushing, Mr. nominated minister, set- 
tled, salary, 17; Courts, vote in relation to 30; Crawford, William, 31; 
Cushing, Jacob graduated, 34 ; Cushing, John graduated, 34 ; Crosby, Aaron 
graduated, 34 ; Crosby, Samuel graduated, 34 ; Crosby, Otis graduated, 34. 

Dam at the outlet of Long Pond, 1 1 ; Delegates to Provincial Congress, 30 ; 
Deaths for ten years, 33 ; Dodge, Ezekiel graduate, 34 ; Diseases, 33. 

Eager, Zachariah 3; Extent of the town, 15; Engines, fire, 29. 

Families, set off, 3 ; Foster, Jonathan set off, 3 ; Face of the town, 6 ; 
Forest trees, 6 ; Fishes, improvement of breeds, 8, 9 ; Flint's pond, 10 ; Fos- 
ter, Rev. Mr. 20; Fund, ministerial, 22 ; Fisk, Benjamin 31. 

Grant, original 1717, 1 ; Grafton, families annexed to, 3 ; Grape Island, 9 ; 
Grass Island, 9, 10 ; Grist mills, 12; Goulding hill, 12 ; Goodrich, Rev. Mr. 
20 ; Goddard, Benjamiu, 28; Gray. Harrison, 31 ; Garfield, Widow Ruth, 33; 

36 INDEX. 

Goddard, Edward, graduated, 34 ; Goddard, Nathan graduated, 34 ; Goddard, 
Calvin graduated, 34. 

Howe, Dauiel, 2 ; Harvey, Z. 3 ; Half Moon Pond, 10 ; Highlands, 12 ; 
Howe, Elizabeth 16 ; Houghton, John 16 ; Hills, 12, Maynard, 26 ; Hen- 
shaw, Col. Joseph, 31 ; Heywood, Benjamin, graduated, 34; Hedge, Lemuel, 
graduated, 34 ; Harrington, Jubal, graduated, 35. 

Indians, no disturbances from 1, 2, not mentioned in records, 2 ; Islands 
in Long Poud, 9 ; lngersoll, Samuel B. 20, ordained, died, 21 ; Insurance, 35. 

Jordan Pond, 11. 
' Keyes, Silas, his survey, 4, 5 ; Keyes, John, 2, 26, 27 ; Keyes, Capt. John, 
house burnt, 27, his sons, Solomon, John, Stephen, 27 ; Knowlton, Capt. 
Thomas, 28. 

Lancaster, families annexed to 3 ; Leg, annexed to Lancaster, 3 ; Long 
Pond, 8, islands in, 9 ; Little Pine Island, 9 ; Longevity, 33. 

Minerals, 6; Manure, increasing, 7; Mills, 12 ; Meeting: House Hill, 12; 
Meeting Houses, 16, 17, 22; Ministers, 17, 18, 20, 21 ; McGregory, Mr. Eli- 
as, 23 ; Maynard's, Daniel, hill, 26 ; Morse, Jonathan, house burnt, 28 ; 
Morse, Rev. Ebenezer, 31 ; Mortality, bill of, 33. 

Newton, Obediah set off, 3: Newton, Edward set off, 3 ; Nurses Corner, 
3; Newton, Samuel set off, 3 ; Nurse, William set off, 3 ; Nurse, Joseph, 26 ; 
Newton, Capt. Martin, 28. 

Outlet of Long Pond, 10, 11. 

Petition for privileges, 1727, 2 ; Parish, 3, 17, 21 ; Parish, second 3, 17 ; 
Productions, vegetable, 7 ; Plaister of Paris, 7 ; Ponds, 8 ; Paine, Joshua, set- 
tled, salary, declined, 17 ; Pews, sold, 22 ; Poor, thoughts on the support of, 
25 ; Paupers, numbers, expense, sale, 24 ; Pounds, situation of, 26 ; Parker, 
Nehemiah graduated, 34 ; Parker, Frederic graduated, 34; Pratt, William 
graduated, 36 ; Population, 34. 

Quinepoxet river, 3 ; Quinsigamond lake, 8. 

Read, David 3 ; Ram Island, 9 ; Round Pond, 10 ; Rocky Plain, 12, 16 ; 
Rawson Hill, 12 ; Roads, 12, 13, 14 ; Restoration Society, 23; Revolutiona- 
ry History, 29; Representatives, instructions to, 30; Rice, Elijah, 32. 

Shrewsbury, situation, 1; boundaries, 4, 5; extent, 2, 3, 15; survey of 
Keyes, 4, 5; leg, 3; shoe, 3; second parish, 3; cultivation, 6; face of the town, 
6; forests, 6; coal, indications of 6; productions, 7; ponds, 8; streams, 11; 
mills, 12; highlands, 12; roads, 12; stages, 15; meetinghouses, 16, 17,22, 23; 
pews sold, 22; ministers, 17, 18, 20, 21; baptist society, 22; restoration socie- 
ty, 23 ; schools, 24; poor, 24, 25; pounds, 26; fires, 26, 27, 28, 29; engines, 
29; revolution, 29, 30, 31, 32; peat, 32; part taken by inhabitants in Shay's 
insurrection, 32; revolutionary history, 29, 32; health and mortality, 33; grad- 
uates from colleges, 34; distinguished men, 35; population, 34; insurances, 
35; emigration, 35; manufactories, 35; public houses, 35; stores, 35; mechan- 
ics, 35; Shoe, eet off, 3; Survey of Silas Keyes, 1795, 4 ; Sherman's Island, 
10; Shoemake Island, 10; Sharp Pine Island, 10; Stratton Island, 10; Sew- 
alPsPond, 11 ; SewalPs Hill, 12 ; Sounding Hill, 12 ; Stages, 15 ; Societies, 
religious, 16,17,22,23; Sumner, Joseph settled, 17, salary. 18, ordained, 
18, notice of his life, 19, anecdote of 19, character, 20, funeral sermon, 20 ; 
Schools, grant for, districts, 24; Stone, Mr. Calvin R. fire, near, 29; Shays t 
his opposition, 32 ; Stone, Isaac graduated, 34 ; Stone, Benjamin graduated, 
34 ; Sumner, Samuel graduated, 34. 

Trenches for walls, 7; Turnpike, Worcester, 13 ; Turnpike, Holden and 
Rutland, 14 ; Taylor, William original proprietor, 16. 

Vilas, Mr. Samuel W. 23 ; Votes in relation to the revolutionary con- 
test, 30, 31. 
. West Boylston, 22 ; Ward, Nahum 2 ; Westborough, family annexed, 3 ; 
Whitney, William set off, 3; Wheelock, Daniel set off, 3; Whitney, Eli- 
jah, 3 ; Whipple, Rev. Edward, installed, character, died, 21 ; Wood, Rev. 
, Jacob 23; Wheelock, Gershom house burnt, 26; Whitney's history, quot- 
ed, 27 ; Ward, Artemas Gen. 34 ; Ward, Artemas, Judge, 34 ; Ward, Andrew 
H. graduated, 34; Ward, Henry D. graduated, 34 ; Wilson, Azariah graduat- 
ed, 35. 



In the war with Philip, this little tribe was entirely broken up ; 
their Sachem Shoshanim or Sagamore Sam was taken prisoner, 
confined in Boston gaol, and afterwards ignominiously executed, on 
Roxbury neck, in 1676. His possessions immediately fell into the 
hands of his conquerors. John Prescott appears to be the first En- 
glish proprietor of the spot where the Sagamores dwelt. The 
island in the Pond was granted to him in 1721.* The little hillock 
where royalty once assumed its pageantry and its power, is now 
cultivated as a corn field. The ploughshare often turns up the rel- 
ics of savage implements, stone axes and arrow heads, together 
with the bones of the former possessors. Frequently the oxen, in 
ploughing, suddenly sink inlo the concealed cemeteries of the de- 
parted brave. During the past season, the present owner, impelled 
by antiquarian curiosity, opened one of these gloomy recesses. At 
the depth of 2 or 3 feet from the surface, he came upon a flat 
atone, lying in a horizontal position ; after raising this, two other 
stones, standing perpendicularly, were disclosed, at the distance of 
about two feet; between these was the perfect skeleton of a human 
being, in a sitting posture, the hands being carefully folded upon 
the knees. The bones were carefully removed by an intelligent 
surgeon of the Vicinity, who will probably soon inform us whether 
the cranium is of an European or an Asiatic formation. 

As early as 1663, the Colonial Legislature made a grant of 500 
acres of land lying northwesterly of the east pond, to Francis Nor- 
ton and Nicholas Davison,t for the use of the town of Charles- 
town. A part of this tract still retains the name of the Charlestown 
farm. The lines were distinctly marked, and after the new grant 
to Lancaster, it was reclaimed by the original granters, or persons 

* See Proprietors' records. 

t These men were somewhat distinguished in the early history of the Col- 
ony. Johnson describes Norton as Captain of the Charlestown company, w of 
a bold and cheerful spirit, well disciplined, and an able man. 1 ' 2 Hist. 
Coll. vii. 55. After their decease, the town of Charlestown granted the land to 
their widows: partition was made, and Mrs. Davison granted her share to her 
daughter, Mrs. Lynde, from whom it descended to her heirs, John Alford and 
others, among whom were some of the most distinguished families in Charles- 
town. In 1754, they granted it to Rev. Ephraim Bound, the minister of the 
second Baptist Church in Boston, Nathaniel Brown, of Charlestown, and Col. 
Marston, of Boston, the Proprietor of a celebrated public house, in King 
street, at the commencement of the Revolution. 


under them, in 1713. On this farm, was supposed to he a valuable 
silver mine, and for the purpose of obtaining the treasure, various 
shafts were sunk near a small hill about the year 1755. Christian 
Angel, a miner from Sweden, was the principal workman. He was 
in the principal excavation at the time of the great earthquake in 
the year last mentioned. Specimens of the ore were sent to En- 
gland to be assayed, but the quantity of the precious metals was 
too small to justify a further prosecution of the design. In 1777, the 
Proprietors sold the land to Josiah Kendall, reserving to themselves 
and their heirs all the minerals, with the right of egress and regress, 
for the purpose of working the mines. The principal shaft is now 
nearly filled up with water, and fragments of rocks, casually thrown 
into the cavity, by persons visiting the mine from curiosity. 
Judging from the mass of materials thrown from it, the work- 
men must have proceeded to a great depth : tradition says up- 
wards of one hundred feet at an angle of about forty five degrees. 
Among the fragments are found plumbago, nickel, sulphates of cop- 
per and of iron, garnets and various other minerals, but the predom- 
inating material is a rich Carbonate of iron, some specimens of 
which, it is thought by an experienced mineralogist, would yield 
90 per cent, of pure metal. The high price of fuel will probably 
prevent working it. 

This place being a wilderness in the time of the Indian wars, 
had but little concern with those tragic scenes. The Washacum 
pond, however, is memorable as the scene of the only victory ever 
obtained on the water in the County of Worcester. In May, 1676, 
Capt. Henchman, of Boston, marching with a force for the defence 
of the plantation on Connecticut river, was informed by a Natick 
Jndian, that the enemy was at Washacum. Accordingly he vari- 
ed his course and suddenly supprised a party in their canoes taking 
fish. Capt. Henchman instantly commenced an attack upon the 
boats, which were defended until seven of the Indians were killed, 
and twenty nine taken prisoners. 

In 1707, another battle was fought upon this territory. Twen- 
ty four Indians, remarkable for their prowess and bravery, had the 
temerity to venture as far as Marlborough, where they captured a 
Mr. Jonathan Wilder, formerly of Lancaster. The next day they 
were pursued by a party of the Marlborough men who overtook 
them in this town. The approach of the English threw the savag- 
es into the utmost consternation. The weather was such that their 
packs and guns were secured from the wet, and it was sometime 


before they could prepare for action. Having first dispatched their 
prisoner, they commenced the fight, which was maintained with 
great obstinacy until they lost nine of their men. Two only were 
killed on our part, and two others wounded, but not mortally.* 

Settlement. — The first white inhabitants established themselves 
in Sterling as early as the year 1720. Circumstances lead us to fix 
that year as the precise date of the settlement. Gamaliel Beamanf 
was the first inhabitant ; he was immediately followed by Samuel 
Sawyer,| Benjamin Houghton,§ David Osgood|| and Jonathan Os- 
good. H Before 1726, they had all erected houses; and probably 

* Whitney ; and Harrington's century sermon. The spot where this bat- 
tle was fought is about three miles from the Meeting House on the road to 
Westminster. Tradition points out the rock against which the Indians plac- 
ed their victim before they killed him, which was effected by severe stabs 
through the sutures of the skull. 

tHe was born in 1684 and died in 1745, the first person buried in the place. 
His father was named John and his grandfather Gamaliel Beaman, who came 
into Lancaster as early as 1659 ; he died in 1707, at an advanced age. This 
family is numerous and respectable. Ezra Beaman, Esq. late of West Boyls- 
ton, was one of the descendants from a collateral branch. The farm in Ster- 
ling is now occupied by Gidton Beaman, a grandson of the first settler. The 
old house yet remains, having been recently repaired. 

X Samuel Sawyer was born in 1698, and died in 1787. His farm is now 
owned and occupied by his grandson of the same name, He has recently 
torn down the old mansion, with its huge stone chimney and erected a more 
modern and convenient house upon the spot. 

Many of the descendants of this man still reside in the place and form an 
extensive and influential family. The largest landholder in town also bears 
this name in common with that of his ancestor. He has sustained the office 
of Justice of the Peace for several years, and has often represented the town 
in the General Court. His farm adjoins that of the ancient family homestead. 
A part of this fertile tract he inherits from his maternal grandfather, Moses 
Cooper, an emigrant from Rowley, who died some years since at the age of 
90. Another of the decendants, uniting both of the family names, is a valua- 
ble and worthy citizen of Templeton. 

{There were three persons of this name in the early settlement of the town, 
distinguished by appropriate nicknames. This man kept the first tavern in 
the town and was designated by the name of Landlord Ben. The ancient 
house was accidentally burnt in 1821. The third generation owned this 
farm, but held it only for a short period. 

|| David Osgood, Esq. was the first Justice of the Peace that resided in 
the place. He was born in 1698, and died in 1771. His son of the same 
name, was able to retain the farm but a short time after his father's death. 
The old house still remains, although much varied in its form. 

V Jonathan Osgood was the first deacon in the church, appointed March 
18, 1745, and continued till his death in 1766. He was born in 1696. His 
farm was sold from the family previous to the revolution. The ancient 
dwelling house remains as a model of the primitive style of building. It was 
for many years, occupied as a tavern. Before the erection of a Meeting 
House, public worship was occasionally observed here on Sundays. 


these were the only inhabitants then in the place. They were all 
natives of Lancaster, old parish, and of families who had long- resided 
there. Their settlements were all within short distances from each 
other, lying northwesterly of the Meeting House. The inhabitants 
found there a small tribe of Indians, with whom they lived upon 
terms of the most perfect friendship, insomuch that they permitted 
them to indulge in their savage customs and laws. We are inform- 
ed by well authenticated tradition, that one of their number having 
killed a fellow Indian, was immediately tried in a summary manner 
by his companions and forthwith tied to a tree and shot to death. 
Such was their custom of " executing justice speedily," that the 
murder, trial, execution and burial, all took place in the course of a 
few hours on a Sabbath morning. Decent grave clothes were pro- 
cured from some of the English families for the murdered person, 
upon a promise to pay in deer skins, which, it was said, was never 
performed. But the rights of sepulture were denied to the crim- 
inal ; his mangled remains were thrown naked into the same grave 
with those of his victim. The place of the burial is, pointed out 
by the ancient inhabitants to this day. 

The settlements advanced with great rapidity, by accessions 
not only from the old Parish, but also by numerous emigrations 
from various towns in the county of Essex, particularly from Row- 
ley. As early as 1733, the settlers petitioned to be set off as a sep- 
arate township, assigning as a particular reason, the great abuse of 
the Lord's day, in spending so much of it in travelling to and from 
the place of public worship. Their petition was disregarded, but 
their solicitations were continually renewed until the year 1741, 
when the Legislature proposed to grant their request, provided 
they would keep in repair one half of the Cart bridge, next above 
the meeting of the rivers in the town of Lancaster.* This proposi- 
tion was rejected by the petitioners, but they sdon after became a 
Corporation by the name of the second or west parish in Lancaster. 
The precise date of this incorporation cannot now be ascertained. 
The lands in the new grant not containing a sufficient number of 
inhabitants to form a parish, it was proposed that a strip, one mile 
in width, should be added from the old parish. A principal part of 
this tract has ever since belonged to Sterling, and is unquestiona- 
bly the most valuable mile in either of the towns. 

* This incorporation included that part of the new grant not included in 
Leominster, and one half of the mile so called ; the corner boundary at Leom- 
inster corresponds with the present boundaries of the town. 


The first Meeting House was built in 1741 or '42, principally 
by the voluntary labor of the people, the town granting them but 
£10 for that purpose, oh condition they " would set it near where 
the largest timber grew." The spot selected had but few phys- 
ical advantages besides this. The lot whereon it was set, was 
a part of the division of Elias Sawyer, an original proprietor. 
Mr. Sawyer, by deed of gift, gave the Precinct about three 
acres of land, for the purpose of setting a Meeting House, and for 
conveniency, about the same for stables and other uses.* 

1744, Dec. 19. The Church gathered, and Rev. John Mellen 
settled as pastor. The ecclesiastical history will form a separate 

1756. This is called the year of the great sickness. The dys- 
entery prevailed to an alarming extent, especially among children. 
Some families, it is said, were entirely swept off. Forty two were 
buried in seven weeks. It was estimated the population of the 
place was then less than 800 souls. The proportion of the deaths 
to the whole number was as 1 to 19 ; a mortality that would have 
depopulated the parish in less than three years. t 

17G0, Oct. 9. A thanksgiving was celebrated in consequence 
of the reduction of Montreal, and the conquest of Canada. On this 
occasion a Sermon was delivered and printed, containing a history 
of the various campaigns in that memorable struggle' If the vast 
sacrifices made by this small parish were, asis probable, a speci- 
men of what was effected by this country tor the honor of their 
sovereign, the British Government owe us a debt of gratitude that 

* See his deed of February 12, 1742, in the Registry of deeds, Book 18, 
page 129. Elias Sawyer was the son of Thomas Sawyer, who was captured 
with him by the Indians in 1705. See Whitney, 43. They were carried to 
Canada, and Elias was detained there for the purpose of building a Saw mill, 
the first, it is said, in Canada. The father was an original proprietor of the 
new grant, but died before the bargain was completed. This son was admit- 
ted to his father's right, by a special vote of the Proprietors in 1716. He did 
not remove on to the land himself, but granted it to his son, Capt. Elisha Saw- 
yer, who left numerous descendants. His son, the second Capt. Elisha, who 
died in 1810, lived on the land, and conveyed it to the 4th generation, one of 
whom still retains a valuable lot. 

tSee three interesting Sermons of Rev. Mr. Mellen upon that occasion. 
In the great earthquake of Nov. 1755, a remarkable chasm was opened in 
the earth, near the southwest corner of the town, in Holden. The disease 
was attributed in that day to this cause, as the mortality increased, in pro- 
portion to its proximity to this spot. Holden, which then contained but a 
small population, buried 40 — Rutland, 45 ; the north parish of Shrewsbury, 
(now Boylston and West Boyhton) upwards of 20. The Quinepoxet rivet 
changed its channel, and many marks of a great alteration in the earth's sur- 
face are yet visible at that place. 

VOL. II. 6 


cnnnot easily be repaid. ■ Nearly all the military force of this part 
of the country was engaged in the various expeditions. Scarcely 
a family but mourned the loss of some of their valuable relatives. 
Upwards of twenty of the young men of this place fell victims in 
this contest. Four were slain in the morning action at Lake George, 
Sept. 8, 1755. Mr. Mellen has preserved the names of most of the 
slain in an Appendix to his Sermon.* 

1765, March 24. Died, Sebastian Smith, a native of Spain, aged 
70. He had lived in the parish for several years, without any 
family. He emigrated when young, and had served in the English 
fleet when a lad under Admiral Shovel. He acquired a considera- 
ble estate, chiefly by trading upon a limited scale. He sustained a 
good moral character, and having been deprived of the advantages 
of an early education, he generously determined to appropriate all 
his means to supply that deficiency in others. Having been edu- 
cated in the superstitions of his country, where the Holy Scriptures 
are a " sealed book," he took great delight in hearing the reading 
of those Holy Oracles, and for this purpose, he presented to the 
Parish a large folio Bible, on condition that it should be read as a 
part of public worship. This injunction has ever since been duly 
regarded.! He distributed his whole estate in public and private 
charity. He gave the Church two valuable silver tankards, with 
suitable inscriptions, and also bequeathed one hundred pounds ster- 
ling, to be expended in educating the poor children belonging to 
the Parish. :£ .± 

1766. The population had so far increased that an addition 

*To wit, Samuel Fairbanks, William Fairbanks, Isaac Kendall, Ithamar 
Bennet, Hezekiah Whitcomb, John Whitcomb, Jacob Glazier, Simon Kendall, 
John Farrar, Jeremiah Dickinson, William Brabrook, Ebenezer Bigelow, Ja- 
cob Smith, Jonathan Geary, t'hilip Geno, Reuben Walker, Stephen Kendall, 
George Bush, Joseph Stuart, Jonathan Fairbanks, Isaac Kilburn, and probably 
many others. 

t The "Sebastian Bible," as it was called, having become mutilated by long 
use, has recently been replaced by an edition, in two volumes, elegantly 
bound ; the donation of the Washington Benevolent Society. It probably is 
known but to few of the present generation, that the practice of reading the 
Scriptures publicly on the Sabbath, is comparatively modern, in the Congre- 
gational Churches. It was considered by our Fathers as partaking too much 
of the formality of the Episcopalians. It has been followed here ever since 
the year 1748. 

X This bounty was entirely lost in the time of the Revolution, when so many 
public funds were swallowed up. Most of the inhabitants attribute the loss 
to the failure of paper money, others to the unfaithfulness of the Managers ; 
the name of Capt. David Osgood is often mentioned in connection with this 
ungrateful fact. 



•was made to the Meeting House; it now presented a singular ap- 
pearance, with three gable ends. 

1770. Singing schools first commenced in town. This event 
was followed by a bitter and protracted controversy, respect- 
ing the proper modes of singing, and the relative rights of pastor, 
church and people. We shall notice it more fully in a subsequent 
chapter. It had been the practice for one of the Deacons to read 
the Psalm or Hymn from the old New England version, and for 
another Deacon to pitch the tune ; after which, the whole Con- 
gregation united with unharmonious jargon, in the " celestial col- 
loquy sublime." It was the wish of the people of taste and lovers 
of harmony, to introduce a better style in sacred music, but they 
were sturdily opposed by most of the Deacons with their friends. 
The controversy was in a few years ingulfed in the greater con- 
test concerning the liberties of the country, and since that period, 
no place has been more famed for the excellence and purity of its 
sacred music* 

1775. As this place then formed a part of Lancaster, we are un- 
able to state from the records, their public sacrifices in the war of 
Independence ; but few people did more according to their ability. 
A great proportion of the young men entered into the service. 
Under the pension act of 1818, seventeen of the inhabitants brought 
themselves within the provisions of this law, so far as to obtain 
this merited bounty of the government. There were but five or six 
royalists in the place, and none of those united with the enemy, 
One individual was treated with great rudeness, accompanied with 
severe threats, but he had so long enjoyed the affections and confi- 
dence of the people, that they were restrained from any per- 
sonal violence. He was a magistrate of great respectability and 
was honored with the confidence of his neighbors until his 

The place furnished its due proportion of officers, as well as its 
quotas of soldiers. Col. Asa Whitcomb commanded one of the Con- 
tinental Regiments in the expedition to Crown Point and Ticonde- 

* The first school was kept by three singing masters, to wit, Ashley, Has- 
tings and White. The Minister favored the innovation, which drew down 
upon him the resentments of the people. 

t This is the same CoL W. of whom an humorous anecdote is related in 
Thatcher's Journal. At the commencement of the war, he was one of our 
wealthiest citizens. He was for many years entrusted with the most impor- 
tant and responsible office?, was Deacon of the Church from 1760 — Repre 


1781, April 25. The long controversy between this people 
and their neighbors at Lancaster, was now happily terminated by the 
incorporation of this part of Lancaster into a town by the name of 
Sterling, so called in honor of Lord Sterling of N. Jersey. The town 
withheld their consent to the separation for a long time. It was 
contended that the new town should share with the old parish in 
support of some of their expensive bridges and numerous paupers. 
This was resisted. The crisis was hastened by an injudicious at- 
tempt on the part of the old parish to exclude the Chocksett peo- 
ple from any participation in the town offices. This induced a tri- 
al of the relative strength of the parties, when the west parish out- 
polled their neighbors of the ancient territory. The conquerors 
followed up their victory by engrossing to their own citizens all the 
offices, and by ordering all the town meetings to be held at their 
Meeting House. By this time the Pharoahs were willing to let 
the people go. The incorporating act was assented to withont 
much reflection. The line of demarcation was arbitrary, passing 
through the finest farms, and severing them into the most incon- 
venient forms.* The poor then actually supported were to be equal- 
ly divided, but as no provision was made for returning paupers, 
they all fell into Lancaster. 

These difficulties were amicably adjusted by an additional act, 
passed in 1793, wherein a line was established, including every 
man's farm in the town where his dwelling house fell, by the form- 
er line. This accounts for the great number of angles in the east- 
erly part of the town. It was further provided, that the poor 
should be supported by that town on whose territory they dwelt 

eentative from Lancaster before the division, and Justice of the Peace, be- 
sides his various military stations. Such was his zeal in the cause ofliberty, 
and so great his confidence in the patriotism and integrity of his countrymen, 
tnat he pledged his whole fortune upon the faith of the paper currency, and 
consequently became bankrupt, lie removed to Princeton, where he died fit 
an advanced age, in a state of abject poverty ; sustained by a conscious in- 
tegrity, that never departed from him, and an exalted piety that elevated 
„him above the ills of life. His farm is now owned by Rufus G. Amory, Esq. 
of Boston. 

♦See Stat. 1780, ch. 27. The line ran east, 21 south, one hundred and 
sixty rods ; then south 8 west, eight hundred and twenty rods ; then south 18 
west to the foot of the Scar, and extending on that line to Shrewsbury. Many 
places were known by the name of the Scar, (or Scaur, it being an obsolete 
Scotch word, signifying a precipitous bank or side hill, divested of vegeta- 
tion, by the sliding down of the earth, generally caused by the current of a 
river) on this occasion the scaur, next below Sawyer's Mill, was fixed upon 
a3 the boundary. 


when they gained their settlement.* Since that period the inhabi- 
tants of but few towns have lived in greater harmony, or have been 
more assiduous in the interchange of kind offices than those of 
Sterling and Lancaster. 

178G. Some of the inhabitants were infected with the spirit of 
rebellion, that led to the unhappy insurrection of this year; but 
none of them proceeded to violence or united themselves with the 
Shays army. A large majority was attached to the Government, 
and a considerable number entered into the service, and were with 
Gen. Lincoln at his triumphant entry into Petersham. 

This year is also memorable as a period of unusual pestilence. 
The dysentery prevailed to an alarming extent. The number of 
deaths was forty eight, being treble of the average number for 
many years. The mortality was principally confined to children. 

1787. This was one of the small minority of the towns of 
the County, that approved the adoption of the Federal Consti- 
tution. They chose a delegate, Capt. Ephraim Wilder,! who 
voted in the affirmative, upon that momentous and interesting ques- 

1796. A new parish was formed, by the name of the Second 
Parish in the towns of Boylston, Sterling and Ilohlen.J The par- 
ish was formed not for any difference of opinions in religious spec- 
ulations, but to accommodate those inhabitants that resided at too 
great a distance from the places of worship. 

This year the Canker Rash (Scarlatina anginosa) prevailed as 
an epidemic ; eight children died of the disease. The mortality 
was greater than in either of the ten preceding years. The prin- 
cipal physician, Dr. Israel Allen, published a treatise upon the dis- 
ease with its concomitants, in an interesting pamphlet of sixty pag- 

* Stat. 1792, ch. 55. 

t This gentleman died 1805. aged 72. He was Representative of the town 
for some years, and has left many very respectable descendants. Of all the 
ancient Lancaster families, there is no one that has sustained so many impor- 
tant offices as this. Thomas Wilder came hither from Hingham in 1659. 
After his death hi3 estate was divided between his three sons, Thomas, John 
and Nathaniel, in 1668. This last was a Lieutenant and was killed by the 
Indians in the great battle in 1704. Harrington 17. His son, Capt. Ephraim 
Wilder, died 1769, aged 94. He was wounded in the Indian fight of 1707. 
Ibid 18. Hi3 son, also, Capt. Ephraim Wilder, father to the subject of this 
notice died 1770, aged 62. A more minute notice of this family will be found 
in the subsequent history of Lancaster. 

X Stat. 1796. ch. 10. 


es.* As in the year 1786, it was followed by a malignant dysen- 
tery, that proved fatal to many children. It may be not unworthy 
of remark, that these epidemics generally return at intervals often 

1799. The Meeting House having fallen to decay, and not be- 
ing sufficient in size for all the inhabitants, a new one was built up- 
on the site of the old house. It was dedicated on the first Sunday 
of the year 1800. The cost of the building was $8,500, and al- 
though not very faithfully built, it was for many years the most 
elegant and costly structure of the kind in the County. Since its 
erection, great improvements have been introduced in the con- 
struction of churches in this part of the country, discovering more 
economy, less profusion of ornament, and a better taste than are 
displayed in this edifice. The number of pews upon the lower 
flower is 94, and there are 38 in the galleries. It is ornamented 
with a lofty steeple and a bell.t The proceeds of the sales of the 
pews exceeded the cost of the house by more than $2,000, the ex- 
cess was remitted to the purchasers of the pews.| On this occa- 
sion great labour and expense were bestowed in levelling the com- 
mon or public square. The stable lots were at this period sold, by 
vote of the town, and is the only title by which the proprietors 
hold their estates. 

In the course of a year or two, the Town House was built up- 
on the southerly side of the Common. It is believed, this was the 
first edifice erected in this County, for the purpose of holding town 
meetings. It is a decent building of 38 by 28 feet, with a porch in 

* In this work, Dr. Alien expresses doubts whether the Canker Rash is 
contagious, as when it entered a family it would often happen, that all the 
children would not be infected, and many had it, without being near a dis- 
eased person. The symptoms likewise were not always uniform, it was not 
always denoted by efflorescence upon the skin, nor by canker, but sometimes 
by a sore throat only. The most dangerous periods were those of the acces- 
sion and recession of the eruption. The methods of cure were various accord- 
ing to the symptoms. It is a subject of ret^ret that our learned physicians, do 
not oftener publish to the world, the causes, progress and cure, of those ende- 
mial diseases, that so often prevail among the children of our villages. 

1 The first bell was made by Doolittle of Hartford, weighed 879 lbs. It 
broke Oct. 1821, and was replaced by that now in use, Dec. 1, 1821, made by 
J. W. Revere of Boston, the weight of which is 1017 lbs. 

ifThe pews in the old M. H. were never sold; every spring they went through 
tht- process of seating the meeting-house, as it was called. The man who 
paid the highest tax, had the first choice, and so on in succession. The 
changes in property caused by the revolution,after which some of the best farms 
were occupied by tenants, gave to men in humble life, the foremost seats, to 
the great discomfiture of some of the patriciaji families. This probably ac- 
celerated the buildiug of the new Church. 


front. The upper story is used for a district school house for the 
Centre ward. The land upon which it stands was granted by Eb- 
enezer Pope,* and the town have but a limited use in the lot.j 

The several district school houses were generally built about 
the same time, all at the expense of the town, but are repaired by 
the individual districts. 

1808. That part of the town that belonged to the second par- 
ish in Boylston, Holden and Sterling, was incorporated into a town 
by the name of West Boylston. It included thirty one families, be- 
ing about one eighth part of the population and territory, and one 
eleventh part of the taxable property of the whole town. An 
equitable division was made of the town property, and the poor 
then chargeable were to be supported in the proportion last nam- 
ed. The act of incorporation being unskilfully drawn, an addition- 
al act was found necessary to explain one of the provisions of the 
first statute, to enable the town of Sterling to obtain their equal 
rights. This was resisted by West Boylston, but passed the Legis- 

Population. — Before the adoption of the Federal Constitution, 
there were enumerations of the inhabitants, at very great intervals 
for certain purposes. But such were the superstitious prejudices 
against numbering the people, that no great dependence can be 
placed upon the returns. The most accurate, probably, is that of 
1764: It is noted in the church records, that there were at that 
time 151 families in this parish. In the town of Lancaster there 
were 328 families and 1862 inhabitants, making to a family 5§, 
consequently in Sterling in 




The number of rateable polls at different periods is as follows. 
1793 364 I 1810 422 

1800 380 J 1820 455|| 

* This gentleman was for more than 40 years, a respectable trader in 
town. He descended from the ancient family of that name in Danvers : was 
nephew to Gen. Putnam by marriage. — He died in JVIarch, 1825, aged 73, 
leaving a considerable estate. 

t Deed recorded, book 168— page 61. JStat. 1807, ch. 48, apdl810,ch.7. 

{ This diminution may be attributed to the loss occasioned by the setting 
off thirty one families, containing about 200 inhabitants, to West Boylston. 

|| These are the numbers set to the town in the State valuations. The 
polls actually taxed, it is believed never exceeded 410. It has always been 
the fate of this town, to be severely doomed, in this particular. 

No. of Houses. 


1764 156 



1790 209 



1800 234 




The number of births and deatlis if accurately kept, furnishes 
important data, from whence to infer the amount of population, as 
well as the state of the health of the territory. An inquiry into the 
causes of the constant increase in the number of deaths, is an im- 
portant subject of examination in our political economy. It is our 
duty to furnish the details merely. The remissness of our citizens 
in causing their family events to be recorded with the Town Clerk, 
is a subject of regret. Our church records furnish no information 
previous to the settlement of Rev. Mr. Holcomb in 1779. 

The following is the result from that time in periods of ten years. 













































444 " 


1 789 



































































For seven years, 210 

*In these years the town was visited by epidemical diseases, chiefly 
among children. 

t But one adult female died this year, and she aged 92 years. 


Finances. — The revenues of the Corporation are wholly deriv- 
ed from an annual tax upon the polls of the Inhabitants and estates 
within the town. 

The expenditures are generally as follows. 

Minister's Salary* $700 00 

Support of Schools 800 00 

Support of Poor „ 600 00 

Assessor's wages 50 00 

Collector's fees ...... 30 00 

Burial of the dead 25 00 

Recording- births and deaths 5 00 

Incidental charges 100 00 

$2310 00 

The highways are generally repaired by a tax of $1200 paya- 
ble in labor, allowing a man 12 cents an hour; oxen, carts and 
ploughs in the same proportion. The last year anew method was 
introduced by appropriating for this object 600 dollars in money, 
and provision was made for its expenditure by agents chosen for 
that purpose. The result of the experiment was far from furnish- 
ing satisfactory evidence of its economy or utility'; but as it was 
opposed by the immemorial usages and prejudices of the inhabi- 
tans, it was this year abandoned, without further trial. 

The two first items in the above schedule, are uniform in every 
year's grant, the others vary according to circumstances. The sup- 
port of the poor has been ? subject of serious investigation; various 
expedients have been adopted to lessen the expenditure and the re- 
sult of all of them is not yet fully ascertained. It was formerly the 
custom to contract for the support of each pauper separately. This 
mode was abandoned 5 or 6 years since, after the annual expenses 
had gradually increased, until it amounted to $1371. The town 
then adopted the method of contracting with a single individual to 
support the poor collectively; it was found that the total expense 
was reduced. In 1822 a farm of about 60 acres was purchased for 

* The salary of the Minister is granted by the town, and assessed by their 
officers, without the intervention of a Parish. There are but few dissenters, 
from the Congregational establishment; the whole amount of their propor- 
tion of the Ministerial tax in Sterling- is short of $'25: fifteen or sixteen of theiu 
belong to the Baptist Society in West Boylston, under the minis'try of the 
■ Rev. Mr. Crosby; two to the Congregational Parish in that town; one to the 
Presbyterians ; and one or two to the Universalists. Some of the inhabitants 
of West Boylston pay their taxes and attend worship with the Congregation - 
alists here. 

VOL, it. 7 


$1900, and is yet held by the town.* The person undertaking the 
support of the poor has the U9e of this farm, besides a sum in mon- 
ey from 3 to $400 annually. The whole expenses for paupers 
since, has not much exceeded the sum of $600 dollars. Still there 
is a lamentable growth of pauperism, principally resulting from 
profligacy, idleness and vice. This has awakened the slumbering 
energies of the virtuous part of the community, and vigorous meas- 
ures are now in operation to suppress the alarming evil. The 
town has voted that the Poor house should also be a Work house, 
and the overseers are clothed with sufficient power? to enable them 
to execute the laws upon that subject. Suitable apartments are a- 
boutto be erected for the confinement of the idle, the refractory 
and the insane. A code of wholesome bye laws and "regulations 
is provided for the due order of the establishment, and the moral 
discipline of the unfortunate inmates of the house. So that if the 
present generation sustain heavier burdens, posterity will reap the 
benefits, in the diminution of the causes of pauperism. The diffi- 
culty most to be apprehended is, that a majority of the town will 
not have suffkent firmness and resolution to persevere, in a system 
introduced from motives so praiseworthy and honorable. 

In 1825, a fund of a $1000 was established by the liberal dona- 
tion of one of the most opulent of the townsmen, for the relief of 
such poor persons, as are not actually chargeable to the public for 
their 1 support, to be appropriated in the first instance, towards help- 
ing females in obtaining fuel in the winter season. The fund was 
derived from the sale of a farm, granted to the town for this pur- 
pose.! It has been sold for the sum abovenamed. The proceeds 
are secured by a mortgage of sufficient real estate for twenty years, 
with the interest payable annually.} The fund is under the control 
of a board of five trustees, to be selected every year, one from the 
Justices of the Peace resident in town, one from the Deacons of the 
Church and the residue from the board of Selectmen. They are 
to account annually to the town and their books and papers are al- 
ways to be subject to the inspection of the town as well as to the 
founder and his heirs. A judicious management of this property 
will silently relieve much individual distress. 

F mES , Several buildings have been burnt at different times, 

* Deed, Recorded Book 229, page 67. 

t See deed from Jacob Conant to Inhabitants of Sterling, Recorded Book 
246 page 536. 

J Ibid page 534. 



but in general they were of little value. The most remarkable 
tires were the following: 

1794, Sept. 27. The store of Moses Smith, the Town Clerk, 
was burnt, with all its contents; among which were all the public 
records of the town, from its first organization as a Parish. 

1809, Oct. A Blacksmith's shop was burnt in the village. 

1813. A valuable barn, with its contents, was struck by lights 
ning and consumed. 

1815, Nov. 30. The dwelling house of Jesse Partridge, upon 
the farm of Hon. John Welles, ot Boston, was burnt in tbe evening 
of Thanksgiving day, when the three sons of the tenant, the young- 
est of whom was four years, and the eldest eight years of age, 
perished in the flames. The family were upon a visit to a neigh- 
bor's house, leaving these hoys quietly asleep ; and in a few hours, 
the house was discovered to be completely enveloped in flames ; 
it was too late to save any of the property, or to afford any re- 
lief to the sufferers. Another dwelling house was burnt upon 
the same farm, thirty or forty years since. 

1819, March. A Cabinet-maker's shop was burnt. 

1821. Two old dwelling houses were consumed this year; they 
were of little value. These are all the dwelling houses ever 
burnt in town. 

1826. A Grist mill and Saw mill belonging to Mr. Jesse Dana, 
were set on fire by the carelessness of some fishermen and con- 

The same year a valuable barn with its contents was burnt 
from some unknown cause. Many attribute it to the work of an in- 
cendiary, others believe it was caused by lightning. 

Many of the Inhabitants have availed themselves of the facili- 
ties of Insurance, afforded by the Worcester County Mutual Fire 
Insurance Company. Upwards of twenty buildings belonging to this 
town are insured in the office of that Corporation. 

The people of this place have been distinguished for their be- 
nevolence in affording relief to the unfortunate sufferers by these 
calamities. These contributions being entirely voluntary, are con- 
sequently unequal ; it is true they afford an opportunity for the ex- 
ercise of the kindest affections of the human heart, but in principle 
such frequent appeals to the public charity are unjust and improp- 
er. The sums paid for the loss of a single building would often- 
times insure every house in the town, not for one year only, 
but for seven. Should (he man who loses his fortune bv the dan- 


gers of the seas solicit contributions, he would be scoffed at for his 
wanton negligence in not obtaining insurance. Why should the 
same neglect be viewed in a different light with regard to property 
upon the land? 


Appointed. Died. aged. 

1760 David Osgood, 1771 73 

1773 Ezra Houghton, 1789 G7 

1780 Asa Whilcomb, Removed to Princeton. 

1785 William Putnam, 1807 77 

1788 Benjamin Richardson, 1821 92 

1794 Edward Raymond, 1810 82 

1801 John Robbins,* 

1803 Israel Allen, 1817 60 

1809 Bartholomew Brown, Removed to Bridgwater. 

1812 Moses Thomas* 

1813 Isaac Goodwin, Removed to Worcester. 

1813 James Wilder.* 
,1814 Thomas H. Blood * 

1814 Samue! Sawyer.* 
1819 Alexander Dustin * 


Hon. Prentiss Mellen, from 1789 to 1791. 
Isaac Story, from 1799 to 1802. 
Bartholomew Brown, from 1803 to 1809. 
Isaac Goodwin, from 1809 to 1826. 
Ephraim M. Cunningham, from 1818 to 1820. 
Luke Eastman, from 1822.* 
Alexander Dustin, 1826.* 


1774. Josiah Leavitt to 1787, removed. 
1786. Israel Allen, died 1817, aged 60. 

John Barnard, died 1825, aged 82. 

Pearson Kendall* 
1804. Luther Allen.* 
1817. Pearson T. Kendall.* 


1744, Dec 19. John Mellen, Dismissed, Nov. 14, 1774 
1779, June 2. Reuben Holcomb, Dismissed, May, 1814 
1815, March 22. Lemuel Capen, Dismissed, Jan. 1819 
1819, June 30. Peter Osgood.* 

* These are still resident in tovm, faithfully laboring in their several 
vocations. ° 

Errata. On page 48, the totals of births and deaths in a part or the im- 
pressions of this No. should be transposed : 174 should be in the place of 395. 



He was born at Hartford, West Division, Conn, in May, 174G. 
He was the youngest of six children. His father, Benjamin Sedg. 
wick, died at the age of 45, leaving little property, when Theo- 
dore was only ten years old. By the aid of an elder brother he 
was enabled to enter Yale College, but his funds not permitting, he 
was compelled to leave before his term was compleated. He then 
entered on the study of Divinity, which he soon quitted and com- 
menced the study of Law in the office of Mark Hopkins, Esq. of 
Great Barrington. He was admitted an Attorney of the Common 
Pleas in the County of Berkshire, in 1776. He commenced prac- 
tice in Great Barrington, afterwards moved to Sheffield, and finally, 
in 1785, removed to Stockbridge, which was ever after his place 
of residence. 

From 1776 to the time of his death, which happened at Boston, 
Jan. 24, 1813, he was almost constantly engaged in public business. 
He was first aid to Gen. Thomas, in his expedition to Canada, in 
1776; Representative of Sheffield in the Legislature for several 
years successively; and in 1785, he was sent Representative to 
Congress. During the Shay's insurrection he was one of the most 
active and efficient on the side of Government, and in many instan- 
ces narrowly escaped with his life. The insurgents plundered his 
house, insulted his person, and destroyed his property. In 1788, 
he was of the "convention called to decide on the adoption of the 
Federal Constitution and was one of the chief advocates in its fa- 
vor." He was afterwards Speaker of the House of Representa- 
tives, and, in 1789, he was again elected to Congress and continu- 
ed there until 1793. He was then chosen Senator of the United 
States, in which office he remained until 1799, when he was re- 
elected to Congress, and was made Speaker. In 1802, he was ap- 
pointed one of the Judges of the Supreme Judicial Court and con- 
tinued in that high and responsible station until his death. 

Judge Sedgwick was the first who broke down the austerity 
and dignity of the Court in its intercourse with the members of the 
Bar. Before his time, it had been the practice of the bench to 
keep a watchful eye over its dignity, and regard with suspicion all 
appearance of familiarity on the part of those attending the courts. 
His affability and social character endeared him to the members 
of the bar, and a remembrance of him is yet preserved and cher- 
ished with great respect for his private virtues as well as for his 
invaluable public services. . ■ • B. 



The subject of this memoir was born at Rochester in this State^ 
October 11, 1711. He was the eldest son of the Rev. Timothy 
Ruggles, minister of the first parish in that town^ who was born at 
Roxbury in 1685, and settled at Rochester in 1717. He was grad- 
uated at Harvard University in 1707, and died respected, 1769, at 
the advanced age of 34. The Rev. Thomas Ruggles, of Guilford, 
Conn, was of the same family, and was settled in the ministry in 
the latter place in the beginning of the last century. Timothy 
Ruggles of Hardwick, of whom it is proposed to speak, was educat- 
ed at Cambridge and was graduated in 1732. It was the wish of 
his father to prepare him for the sacred profession ; but for this it 
seems he had little inclination. He therefore soon after leav- 
ing the University, entered on the study of the law, and commenc- 
ed practice in his native town. His first appearance in public life 
was in the provincial assembly, where he was sent a representa- 
tive, 1736, from Rochester. How much he distinguished himself at 
the early age of 25, as a legislator is not now known. He is re- 
membered, however, at this time, for having procured the passage 
of a bill, prohibiting deputy Sheriffs from filling writs, which has 
ever since continued in force. 

From Rochester he moved to Sandwich, in the county of Barn- 
stable, where he went into an office and entered on the duties of 
his profession. He soon atter married a rich widow, opened a tav- 
ern, and was remarkable for his attendance in person on travellers, 
discharging the various duties of ostler, barkeeper, &c. saying that 
no man should ever be above his business. He became emineut as 
an attorney, and attended the courts at Barnstable, Bristol and 
Plimouth. His reputation was such that he was employed in al- 
most all cases of magnitude and importance, and was generally op- 
posed by Col. Otis, father of the celebrated James Otis. His 
knowledge of the law was much above those of his time, and his 
powerful native sense united to a fearless confidence, gave him the 
name of an eminent and successful advocate. As a. scholar he was 
above mediocrity, and in his language, though he might not be al- 
ways elegant, he never failed of being foscible and impressive. In 
his reasoning he was ingenious, and in public debate often eloquent. 
About the year 1754, Mr. Ruggles removed from Sandwich to 
Hardwick, in this county. With what success he practiced as an 
attorney here, is not known. In 1755, he received an appoint- 


ment in the army destined to act against the French and Indians, 
and never alter returned to the bar. He accompanied Sir William 
Johnson in hi9 expedition against Crown Point, and held the com- 
mission of Colonel. He was next to Gen. Johnson in command in 
the battle which resulted in the total defeat of the army under the 
Baron Dieskau. His bravery and soldier-like conduct gave him 
a high reputation, and he ever after enjoyed to an unusual degree 
the confidence of government and the respect of the troops under 

The army under Johnson was at the close of the year discharg- 
ed, and Ruggles returned to his seat at Hardwick. In the cam- 
paigns of the two succeeding years, 1756 and '57, he acted with the 
commission of Colonel.* A demand of 1000 men was made on the 
counties of Worcester! and Hampshire, and of a portion of these he 
was appointed to the command. In 1758, he was commissioned a 
Brigadier General under Lord Amherst, and served under him in 
his expedition against Canada. 

He was appointed one of the Judges of the Common Pleas 
for the county of Worcester in 1757, and was present at the 
sittings of the Court during this and the following year: from this 
time to 17G0, with one or two exceptions, he was absent, engaged 
in the war. In 1762, he was made Chief Justice of the Common 
Pleas, and continued in that office until the beginning of the Revo- 

Tbe part he took in politics deprived him of his popularity 
with the whig party, though he was respected and possessed an 
important influence with the Governor of the province and those 
justifying the oppressive measures of the British Parliament. 

No sooner was the conquest of Canada effected than the Amer- 
ican provinces began to feel alarmed at the encroaching power of 
the parent country. Their charter privileges were violated and 
the whole country began to be in a ferment. The successful man- 
agement of the case of " Writs of assistance," by James Oti9 had 
made him deservedly popular and gave him the reputation of a most 
ardent patriot. His powerful opposition with Cushing and others 

* Sermon by Eli Forbes of Brookfield, who was Chaplain to Ruggles's 
Regiment during two campaigns. This sermon is very respectfully dedicated 
to the Brigadier, and gives a succint account of the war. It was "preached 
Oct. 9, 1760, being a day of public Thanksgiving for the success of the Brit- 
ish arms in North America." 

t Minot's Continuation of the History of Massachusetts, Vol. 1. 289 ; and 
Vol. II. 23. 



made him an object' of terror to the government party. When in 
1762, he was representative from Boston, the venerable ex-Pres- 
ident Adams in his letter says : " On that week I happened to be 
. at Worcester attending a Court of Common Pleas of which Briga- 
dier Ruggles was Chief Justice. When the news arrived from Bos- 
ton (of the election of Otis) you can have no idea of the consterna- 
tion among the government people. Chief Justice Ruggles at din- 
ner at Col. Chandler's on that day, said, out of this election will 
arise a damned faction which will shake this province to its found- 

The intention of Parliament to establish a standing army in the 
colonies and levy a tax for its support, created great offence. The 
duties on stamped paper and other articles in 1765, found a violent 
opposition from the inhabitants of the provinces. At the session of 
the Legislature in 1765, a committee was appointed, "consisting of 
members of different parties to consider of the course to be pursu- 
ed by reason of the burthensome acts of the British Parliament. 
The result of the deliberations of this committee was, "that the sev- 
eral colonies elect delegates to send to a general congress, which 
was to meet at New York, on the 1st Tuesday of October, to con- 
sult together and to consider of a general and united, dutiful and 
humble representation of their condition, to his Majesty and the 
Parliament, to implore relief." This laid the foundation of the 
American Revolution. The House then proceeded to choose del- 
egates to represent Massachusetts in the proposed convention. 
James Otis, John Worthington and Oliver Partridge were elected ; 
but Worthington declining to serve, Gen. Ruggles was chosen in 
his room. 

The Congress met at New'York, on the 19th of October, 1765, 
and Gen. Ruggles was appointed President.* Three committees 
were chosen to draw up petitions to present to the King, Lords and 
Commons. By two adjournments the results of committees were 
discussed, and after some alterations, were accepted; and on the 
24th the Convention again met to sign the petitions. Nine of the 
provinces appeared by their delegates and six signed the address- 
es. South Carolina and Connecticut had instructed their represen- 
tatives to submit the addresses to the assemblies of each of their 
provinces foi their approval before signir.g them. New York not 
approving of the Convention, the committee from that province 
could not affix their signatures. All the committees, however, 
* Hist. Collections, Vol. IV. second series, 262. 


sanctioned the proceedings, except Gen. Ruggles, the President, 
who dissented and refused to sign them. 

Governor Burnet, in an official letter respecting the Conven- 
tion, says, two of three, (meaning Ruggles and Partridge, delegates 
from Massachusetts) " are fast friends of the government, and pru- 
dent and discreet men, such as I am sure, will never consent to any 
improper application to the government of Great Britain." 

At the meeting of the Legislature in February, 1766, a vote of 
thanks was passed for the services of Otis and Partridge, and at the 
same time, a vote of censure on Gen. Ruggles for his obstinacy at 
the Congress. He was accordingly reprimanded in his place by 
the Speaker. He requested permission to enter his reasons for his 
conduct, in the Journals of the House, which was granted, but af- 
terwards had leave to withdraw them. 

He was a member of the Legislature in 1769. The following 
anecdote is from Tudor's Otis : "On some question in dispute between 
the legislature and the Governor, Brigadier Ruggles, the staunch 
friend of the latter, had delivered a very powerful and ingenious 
argument, which seemed to make a strong impression on the mem- 
bers. Otis arose after him, and with the fullest tone and most im- 
passioned manner that seemed to arrest the very breathing of the 
house, begun, " Mr. Speaker, the liberty of this country is 
gone forever ! and I'll go after it." He immediately turned 
round and walked out of the chamber. 

In August, 1774, he was made one of the Council by the King's 
mandamus and qualified in the same month. The odium under 
which he rested, from his adherence to the crown, was now in- 
creased by this instance of renewed attachment in the acceptance 
of an office under it. Many of those appointed Counsellors were 
compelled to decline serving from the ungovernable rage and fury 
of the people. At Bridgewater, the public displeasure was so great 
that, when Josiah Edson, one of the Council, and a Deacon of the 
Church, got up to read a hymn, no one would sing after him. A 
letter from Taunton,* Aug. 1774, says, " We hear that Brigadier 
Ruggles, one of the new made Counsellors, being at Col. Toby's, at 
Dartmouth, the people assembled there one day this week, and or- 
dered him to depart forthwith; upon which the Col. promised 
them he should go the next morning by sun an hour high. But be- 
fore that time the Brigadier's horse had his main and tail cut off, 
and his body painted all over. Since which he took refuge at Col- 
* Massachusetts Spy, for Sept. 1, 1774. 
vol. IK 8 


Gilbert's, at Freetown. This morning, about 200 men assembled 
at the Ware bridge, in this town, and after choosing a moderator, 
appointed a committee to warn the towns of Swanzey, Raynham, 
Norton, Mansfield, Attleborough, and Easton,to meet to-morrow, at 
8 o'clock, when, it is thought, two or three thousand men will be as- 
sembled, from whence they are to proceed to Freetown, to wait 
on Col. Gilbert, and desire him not to accept the office of high 
Sheriff under the present administration of the new laws, and that 
if he should, he must abide the consequences : also to desire Brig- 
adier Ruggles to depart this County immediately. It is more dan- 
gerous being a Tory here than at Boston, even if there were no 
troops there." Another letter, dated at Leicester, says, "The peo- 
ple of this county seem determined to oppose all officers holding 
commissions otherwise than our Charter directs, and will to the last 
extremity oppose those unconstitutional acts, and their being exe- 
cuted in this county. 1 heard there was a number marching to 
Hardwick, to wait on the Brigadier, the same day they went to Rut- 
land and Worcester." It was reported, however, before the}' reach- 
ed his place of residence, that he was absent on a visit, and they 
desisted. John Murray, Esq. of Rutland, and Mr. Paine, of this 
town, were both compelled to decline serving as members of the 

Soon after this, he went to Boston, and never returned to Hard- 
wick afterwards. When it was understood that he was going to 
Boston, the people flocked together from the neighboring districts, 
and assembled at the bridge across Ware river, but whether with a 
view to resist him or not, is uncertain. The Brigadier rode an ele- 
gant black horse, accompanied by his servants, with his sword and 
pistols by his side. He passed the multitude without any violence 
or insult offered him. As he rode by the throng, he very civilly, 
as was his custom, took off his hat and made a low bow, which was 
as civilly returned. 

He remained in Boston during the time that town was occupied 
by British troops. He afterwards withdrew to Long Island, where 
he resided a few months, and, finally, went to Halifax, and passed 
the remainder of his days, at a place called Roseway, where he di- 
ed in 1798, at the age of 87. 

Few men understood better, or estimated more highly the A- 
mcrican character than Gen. Ruggles. He applauded the spirit 
which lead to the Revolution, but regarded the violent efforts prac- 
ticed to effect a separation of the provinces from the mother coun- 



try as impolitic and premature. He was often heard to speak of 
the event as probable, but observed that it. was an event which 
time alone could determine, and that the colonies would one day 
fall off from the parent state as ripe fruit from a tree. 

On the morning of the battle of Bunker hill, Gen. Gage said to 
him, that the rebels would disperse at the sight of his cannon; that 
he should not be under the necessity of discharging a gun : " with- 
out discipline, without officers, and under the disadvantage of being 
engaged in an unjust cause, continued he tauntingly, it is impossible 
for them to withstand our arms a moment." Ruggles replied with 
warmth, " Sir, you know not with whom you have to contend. 
These are the very men who conquered Canada. I fought with 
them side by side ; I know them well ; they will fight bravely. My 
God! Sir, your folly has ruined your cause." 

As a public benefactor, Brigadier Ruggles was eminent. No 
man of his time devoted more attention to the improvement of stock 
of different kinds than he did. It was a subject in which he took a 
deep interest, and the result of his labor was highly beneficial to 
the public. The number of horses he usually kept was about thir- 
ty, remarkable for their size and beauty. For this kind of stock he 
had a peculiar fondness. 

He kept a park containing about twenty acres, and between 
twenty and thirty deer. Although he never hunted himself, he al- 
ways kept a pack of hounds for the sport and amusement of his 
friends. Hi3 hospitality, with his means of entertainment, gave 
him numerous visitors from Boston and elsewhere, and the large 
fortune he inherited from his ancestors, in addition to the money he 
received from government, enabled him to furnish an elegant table, 
and extend a prince-like treatment to his guests. 

When he left Hardwick, he made no disposition of his proper- 
ty. Five of his farms were confiscated. His estate was large, and 
almost the whole of it fell into the hands of government. For this 
loss, however, he was more than indemnified by the King, after his 
settlement in Nova Scotia. 

There are few whose memory has been more traduced than 
that of Brigadier Ruggles. His name has come down to us as a 
tory, which, with our republican fathers, was sufficient to justify 
any reproach. His loyalty and steady adherence to the measures 
of the British ministry, enkindled the resentments of the people a 
which could never be extinguished. Anecdotes of him both dis- 
graceful to his memory and inconsistent with his character, have 


been circulated and relied on as authentic among those who knew 
him only by report. His influence was dreaded by the leaders of 
the popular party, and no means were spared to prejudice the minds 
of the community against him. His true character was concealed 
by the false representations given of him, and to keep alive the 
hostile spirit of the people to the ministerial plans, he was pointed 
put to them as one of the odious authors of their grievances. 

He was remarkably temperate : during the latter part of his 
life he abstained entirely from animal food, and the use of spiritu- 
ous liquor. He was a man of most incorruptible integrity, and 
while a Judge, he discharged the duties of the office with great ac- 
ceptance to the public, and the respect of the people seems to 
have been paid to him when the popular phrenzy was at the 

Brigadier Ruggles in his person was large, being much above 
six feet. His appearance was commanding and dignified : his com- 
plexion was dark, and his countenance expressive and bold. He 
was attentive to his dress, but avoided ceremony. He was some- 
times profane, but swore only on very urgent occasions. He was of 
few words, and never said any thing silly. His wit was ready and 
brilliant; his mind clear, comprehensive, penetrating ; his judg- 
ment was profound, and his knowledge extensive. His abilities as 
a public speaker placed him among the first of his day, and had he 
been so fortunate as to have embraced the popular sentiments of 
the time, there is no doubt he would have been ranked among the 
leading characters of the Revolution. B. 

The treaty of peace, at Aix la Chapelle, between England and 
France, in Oct. 1748, was of short duration. By the articles of 
this treaty Cape Breton was given up to the French and Acadia, 
now Nova Scotia, was ceded to great Britain. This excluded the 
French from all the frontier coast. Their possessions lay along the 
banks of the St. Lawrence and as they claimed the country about the 
mouth of the Mississippi, it was their intention to connect the Col- 
onies of Canada and Louisiana by the intermediate waters of the 
Lakes. Forts were erected between Lake Erie and the junction 
of the Ohio with the Mississippi and the territory intervening claim- 
ed by the French. The Ohio Company which had commenced 
trading with the indians, and was now, 1753, engaged in surveying 
the country, was interrupted and driven off by the order of the 


Governor of Canada. Governor Denwiddie, of Virginia, to which 
Colony the disputed ground belonged, sent George Washington to 
demand the French to desist from the prosecution of their de- 
signs. The remonstrance proving ineffectual, the next year, 1754, 
a military force was raised in Virginia to march against the enemy 
and dislodge him from the forts erected in Ohio, but without suc- 

On the arrival of Gen. Bradock in 1755, the plan of military 
operations was determined on by a convention of the several Gover- 
nors of the Colonies, held at Virginia. While Gen. Braddock was 
to march with a force of 2000 men against fort Du Quesne, now 
Pittsburg, Penn. Governor Shirley of this State, was to proceed 
to Oswego, in New York, and thence to Fort Niagara. His strength 
was composed of two Regimrnts, one to be commanded by himself 
and the other by Sir William Pepperell. Major General William 
Johnson headed the third division of the army which was to make 
an attack on Crown Point. Ruggles was an officer in this expedi- 
tion and next in command to Johnson. He received his commission 
from the colonial Governors, and the men under him were supplied 
from the provinces. 

If the misfortunes attending the expedition of Gen. Braddock 
against Fort Du Quesne filled the colonies with chagrin and disap- 
pointment, the brilliant success of that against Crown Point diffus- 
ed a general joy throughout British America. Gen. Lyman was 
directed to advance about sixty miles above Albany and take a 
Stand at the great Carrying-place between the waters of the Hud- 
eon and Lake Champlain, where he commenced the erection of Fort 
Edward, on the east band of the river. Gen. Johnson took post at 
Fort William Henry, fourteen miles further north, at the south end 
of Lake George. Ticonderoga was situated on the isthmus between 
Lake Champlain on the north and Lake George on the south. 
Crown Point, which was now unoccupied, was fifteen miles be- 
yond. It was thought the possession of this fortress would enable 
the English to pour their concentrated forces into the heart of the 
French territories and render them an easy conquest. 

Baron Dieskau had, during the summer, arrived at Quebec 
with a body of 1200 troops. He immediately ascended the St. 
Lawrence to Montreal, from which place he despatched 700 men 
against Fort Oswego, and directed his march with a force of 2,000 
men to occupy Fort Frederick, at Crown Point. Johnson was im- 
patient to get up his batteaux for the purpose of preoccupying the 


fort ; but during the delay, Dieskau had resolved upon attacking 
hitn in his own camp. 

The French commander having embarked at Crown Point with 
his men in batteaux, landed at South Bay. He now determined to 
lay siege to Fort Edward, and if that fortress should fall into his 
hands, to proceed direct to Albany and lay that city and Schenec- 
tady in ashes. But when he had arrived within two miles of the 
fort, disclosing to his men his intentions of making an attack, the 
Indians and Canadians declined, thinking their force inadequate. 
Being informed by an Englishman that Fort William Henry was a 
few days before, but imperfectly fortified, they changed their 
plans, and determined to surprise that fortress. 

During these manouvres, Gen. Johnson having learned from his 
scouts, that the enemy meditated an attack on Fort Edward, de- 
spatched messengers to apprise Gen. Lyman of his approach. The 
messengers had not proceeded but about four miles, when they 
were intercepted by the enemy and one of them killed ; the other 
returned with intelligence that Deiskau having abandoned the de- 
sign of an attack on Fort Edward, was then on his march toward 
William Henry. Johnson ventured to go out and meet him. The 
command of a thousand men was entrusted to Col. Ephraim Wil- 
liams, a distinguished officer, to march out and commence the en- 
gagement. Deiskau disposed of his forces in an advantageous man- 
ner, to receive him. Placing his own troops in the centre, the In- 
dians and Canadians were directed to advance through thick woods 
on the right and left, and in this manner the English were at once 
encompassed on all sides. A sharp and bloody conflict ensued. 
The provincials manifested great bravery; but being overpowered 
by numbers, a retreat was ordered. Col. Williams was among the 
slain. M. St. Pieere, the Indian agent for the Canadas, was also 

The Americans being routed, the French pursued them to their 
camp, when the whole body of troops on both sides was brought 
into close combat. Dieskau with his regulars occupied the centre, 
while the Canadians and Indians hung on the English flanks. The 
enemy at first maintaining a distant fire, the provincials regained 
their order and commenced the combat with redoubled fury. The 
cannon were plied with such success and execution as soon to break 
the French line and immediately a total rout ensued. The great- 
est confusion and disorder prevailed throughout the enemies ranks: 
the slaughter was immense. The Baron was wounded in the leg 

and left alone ; he was found leaning on a stump, and while search- 
ing for his watch* to surrender it, the soldier suspecting him to 
be looking for his pistol, discharged a musket shot through his 
hip, and he was conducted a prisoner, mortally wounded, to the 
American camp. 

The importance attached to this victory can be estimated from 
the great applause bestowed on those effecting it. Gen. Johnson 
was received at New York, soon after, with great ceremony, and the 
most flattering attentions paid him. The House of Commons pre- 
sented him with five thousand pounds sterling in consideration of 
his important services and the King gave him the title of Baronet. 
Ruggles being the second in command, was highly commended. 
His activity and bravery gained for him a high and deserved repu- 
tation, and his sovereign George II, regarding his conduct with ap- 
probation, bestowed on him a lucrative office, "Surveyor Gen- 
eral of the Woods,"! and he ever after manifested the most loy- 
al attachment to the government. B. 




• Birds, joyous Birds of wandering wing ! 

Whence is it ye come with the flowers of Spring! 
— *' We come from the shores of the green old Nile, 
From the land where the roses of Sharon smile, 
From the palms that wave through the Indian sky, 
From the myrrh trees of glowing Araby. 

" We have swept o'er cities, in song renown'd — 

Silent they lie, with the deserts round ! 

We have cross'd proud rivers, whose tide hath roll'd 

All dark with the warrior-blood of old ; 

And each worn wing hath regain'd its home, 

Under peasant's roof-tree, or monarch's dome." 

" And what have ye found in the Monarch's dome, 
Since last ye traversed the blue-sea's foam." 
— " We have found a change, we have found a pall, 
And a gloom o'ershadowing the banquet's hall, 
And a mark on the floor, as of life-drops spilt — 
■—Nought looks the same, save the nest we built !" 

* This watch is now in the possession of Mr. Pomroy of Northampton. 

* Worth £3000 per annum. See Massachusetts Spy for Oct. C, 1775. 


Oh ! joyous Birds, it hath still been so ! 
Through the halls of Kings doth the tempest go ! 
But the huts of the hamlet lie still and deep, 
And the hills o'er their quiet a vigil keep. 
Say, what have you found in the Peasant's cot, 
Since last ye parted from that sweet spot ? 

" A change we have found there, and many a chauge i 

Faces and footsteps and all things strange ! 

Gone are the heads of the silvery hair, 

And the young that were, have a brow of care, 

And the place is hush'd where the children play'd 

— Nought looks the same, save the nest we made V 

Sad is your tale of the beautiful earth, 
Birds that o'ersweep it in power and mirth ! 
Yet through the wastes of the trackless air, 
Ye have a guide, and shall we despair ? 
Ye over desert and deep have pass'd — 
— So shall we reach our home at last! 


Charlton— Jonathan Winslow, 75. Ichabod Tower, 87. Mrs. Susannah 
Johnson, 27. VVm. K. O'Brien, 32. 

Dudley— Mrs. Sylvia Healy, 27. Mrs. Lucy Conant, 82. 

Rutland — Mrs. Louisa Munroe, 27. Mrs. Mary Goodrich, 49. 

Shrewsbury — Mrs. Lydia Newton, 79. Mrs. Mary Gorliam, C3. 

Barre — Miss Adeline Woodbury, 16. Mrs. Rebecca Osgood, 37. 

Boylston — Jotham Flagg, 26. 

Sterling — Miss Caroline Goss, 2. 

West Boylston — Artemas Cheney, 8. Miss Mary Gill, 38. 

Phillipston — Mrs. Alice Goddard, 75. Miss Nabby Baldwin, 30. 

Hubbardston — Philemon Woodard, 77. Levi Greenwood, 68. Widow 
Margaret Murdock, 84. Widow Ann Goodspeed, 94. 

Sturbridge — Abijah Bullard, 51. 

Worcester — Mrs. Abiah Hair, 70. Noah Harris, 68. Miss Clarissa God- 
dard, 25. 

Millbury — Sumner Barton, 19. Widow Susannah Blanchard, 74. 

Oakham — Widow Neletiah Nye, 86. 

West Brookfield— Mathew Wood, 56. 

Sutton — Jacob Severy, 91. Mrs. Elizabeth Wheelock, 25. William 
King, Esq. 91. William Dean, 95. 

Ward— Col. Josiah Goulding, 72. 

Leicester — Miss Lucretia Waite, 29. Horace W. Whiltemore, 2. 

Hardwick — Mrs. Rebecca Willis, 78. 

Gardner — David Cowee, 81. 

Holden — Widow Olive Stratton, 74. Mrs. Rebecca Maynard, 32. 

Winchendon — Thomas Greenwood, 75. 

Royalston — Amos Jones, 84. Miss Almira Greenwood, 21. Mrs. Sarah 
W. Batcheller, 42. 

Oxford — Mrs. Rebecca Shumway, 82. Jonas Miller, 30. 

Templeton — Israel Lamb, 90. Jonathan Phillips, 76. 

Northborough — Deacon Isaac Davis, 77. 


■ • ■ 

ii'i f • AND 


VOL. II. JUNE, 1826. NO. 2. 

' ■ - 



I i 


In attempting' a work like the history of any town in the interi- 
or of New England, great difficulties are to be encountered. The 
records of many are so imperfect, that they often serve rather to 
perplex, than enlighten (he enquirer. Traditions have often be- 
come-too vague and uncertain to be relied on with any degree of 
confidence, and the threads by which the labyrinth of events is to 
be traced, are often broken, or irrecoverably lost. 

Notwithstanding these difficulties and discouragements, we have 
attempted to give, somewhat fully, the description and historical 
memoranda of the town of Leicester. 

We have been prompted to this, more from feelings of local in- 
terest and attachment, than from any hope of literary reputation, 
or, much leas, of profit. The graves of our fathers are here; and 
we felt a curiosity to trace, not only their histories, but also those 
of all who were their cotemporaries, and acted or suffered with 
them. We felt desirous of snatching from oblivion, events con- 
Bected with the history Of our country, and preserving the names 
of men whose merits deserve a place on its pages. We have met 
with obstacles in accomplishing our task, which we could not sur- 
niouut, and have often been compelled to present extremely imper- 
fect sketches where justice seemed to require a complete detail. 
We acknowledge ourselves indebted for many favors in performing 
the work proposed. Every one whose age gave him a knowledge 
of events previous to our own day, has been pretty liberally taxed 

VOL. II. 9 


for the material? of this work. We have also to acknowledge our- 
selves under obligations to H. G. Henshaw, Esq. for the use of the 
valuable papers of the late Col. Wm. Henshaw. 

We cannot better acknowledge the aid received from the Hon. 
Edward D. Bangs, Esq. Secretary of the Commonwealth, than by 
transcribing the following letter politely forwarded in answer to 
enquiries made for information respecting the incorporation of the 
town of Leicester. "Agreeably to your request, I have examined 
into the particulars which were wanted respecting Leicester. It 
appears, as was the case with most towns at that period, that there 
never was a formal act of Incorporation. The votes by which the 
settlement was constituted a town, and received its name of Leices- 
ter, I have copied, and now transmit to you. In June, 1714, a sur- 
vey and plan of the town was reported to the General Court by 
John Chandler, Esq. was accepted, and is on file. I have looked 
for the old Indian deed, mentioned in the vote of the General 
Court, but it is not to be found. My copy is exactly correct, unless 
it should be the Indian names, which it is very difficult to decypher. 
I believe, however, they are right, or nearly so." 

Extract from General Court records, under date of February 
15, 1713. u The following order passed; in the House of Repre- 
sentatives, read and concurred : viz. Upon reading a petition of 
Joshua Lamb, Richard Draper, Samuel Ruggles, Benjnnin Tucker, 
and others, setting forth, that upon the twenty seventh day of Jan- 
uary, 1686, for a valuable consideration therefor paid, they pur- 
chased of Philip Traye,* and Monckhue,* his wife, John Wanpom,* 
and Wawonnoiv,* his wife, and other Indians, the heirs of Ooras- 
hoe,* the original Sachem of a place, Towtaid, lying near Worces- 
ter, a certain tract of land, containing eight miles square, abutting, 
southerly on the land which the Governor lately purchased of the 
Indians, and westerly, the most southerly corner, upon a little 
pond, called Paupogquincog* ; then to a little hill, called Wehape- 
katonnuc*; and from thence to a little hill, called Aspompok* ; and 
so then easterly, upon a line, until it came against Worcester 
bounds, and joins unto their bounds ; as may be seen more at large 
b} r the original deed, executed by the said Indians Proprietors, and 
acknowledged before the Hon. William Stoughton, Esq. praying 
confirmation of the said tract of land to them and their associates, 
that they may be encouraged to proceed forthwith to settle the 

* The Indian names designated by an asterisk are difficult to be decypher* 
ed, and may not be copied with perfect accuracy. 


aatne with inhabitants, under such directions and reservations as 
ahull be thought meet; 

Ordered, That the Prayer of the Petitioners be granted; Pro- 
vided, that within 6even years time, fifty families settle themselves 
in as defensible and regular a way as the circumstances of the place 
will allow, on part of the said land ; and that a sufficient quantity 
thereof be reserved for the use of a Gospel ministry there, and a 
school ; Provided also, that this interfere with no former grant, 
and this grant shall not exceed the quantity of eight miles square. 
The town to be named Leicester, and to belong to the County of 
Middlesex. Consented to : 


" A true Copy from the proceedings of Council, under date of 
February 15, 1713, as recorded in Vol. 8, of General Court Re- 
cords, pages 351-352. Attest, 


of tke Commonwealth.' 1 '' 

We are the more gratified in having been favored with the 
foregoing copy of the record, as we are thus able to correct some 
errors in dates, into which Mr. Whitney has fallen, in his history 
of this town. The deed from the Indians we have not been able 
to find, and as the original grantees never, we believe, removed 
here, it probably never formed any part of the records of the town. 

This tract, thus granted, had been called by the English, who 
had visited it, " Strawberry Hill," previous to the act of the Gen- 
eral Court, above recited. 

The particular boundaries of the town were fixed by a special 
act of the General Court, in January, 1714.* 

The proprietors of the township held a meeting, in Boston, on 
the 23d February, 1713, to take measures to secure their grant, 
and voted for this purpose to give the eastern half of the town to 
the first fifty families which should settle there, within the peri- 
od specified by the act. And in 1722, they again met and author- 
ized Col. Joshua Lamb,t Samuel Green, Nathaniel Kanney, and 

* Whitney. 

t Col. Joshua Lamb was an enterprising and wealthy citizen, of Roxbury. 
He wa9 largely interested in the unincorporated lands of the state He, to- 
gether with others belonging to Roxbury, were at one time proprietors of 
what is now Hardwick, which, for many years was called after him, Lavibs- 
tomi. He never removed to Leicester, but his descendants have resided in 
Spencer, and one of them, bearing the same name, is at present one of the 
Selectmen of Leicester. 


Samuel Tyler, to execute deeds to the families who had removed 
to the town, and a deed was accordingly executed on the 8th day 
of January, 1722, to John Stebbins, and forty six others, which 
deed is said to be recorded in the Registry of Deeds, for the Coun- 
ty of Middlesex, to which county this town then belonged — Book 
29, page 329. The measure of the town proved to be what sur- 
veyors call " large," and though the western half of it was set off, 
in 1753, into a town, by the name of Spencer, and two miles in 
width of its northern part taken off, in 17G5, to constitute a part of 
Paxton, and about 2500 acres again taken off from its southeastern 
corner, to form a part of the town of Ward, it still contains 14, +26 

Many of the original proprietors of the town were the ances- 
tors of families, bearing the same name, now residing here, and 
among the most respectable in town, some of whose names we may 
hereafter have occasion to mention.* 

Boundaries. — Leicester is bounded, on the north by Paxton, the 
line dividing which towns runs east, two and one half degrees 
south, twelve hundred and six rods ; east, by the town of Wor- 
cester, by a line running south, about fifteen degrees east, 
and thirteen hundred and eighty four and one half rods on 
Worcester; southeast by Ward, by a line running east, two de- 
grees fifty minutes north, one hundred and fifty six rods, fif- 
teen links, and north, thirty nine degrees forty live minutes east, 
two hundred and eighty eight rods, and north, thirty seven and one 
half degrees east, five hundred and eighty rodsj ; south, by Oxford 
north gore and Charlton, by a line running west, one and a quarter 
degrees north, seven hundred and twenty rods ; and west, by Spen- 
cer, by a line running north, four degrees west, two thousand 
and thirty two rods. The town is seven miles from the Court 
house, in Worcester, in a direction a little south of west. It is for- 
ty five miles from Boston, and the same distance from North- 

Face of the Country. — This town has been considered remark- 

* Among these were Daniel Livermcre, (who was the great-grandfather 
of the present Messrs. Daniel and Salem Livermore,) Joshua Henshaw, 
Samuel Green, Danitl Denny, David Henshaw, Ralph Earle, and Richard 

t A part of the line between Ward and Leicester is now in dispute. We 
give the lines according to a survey, taken in 1794, by vote of the town, by 
Reuben Swan and Timothy Sprague, and protracted by Mr. Peter Silvester, 
who has been long engaged as a surveyor in this town. 


able for its hilly and uneven surface ; this opinion has arisen from 
the circumstance, that all the principal roads leading- through it, 
have been made over the most considerable elevations of land, and 
give to the weary traveller the impression that the whole of its 
territory is of that character. The face of the town is, indeed, 
uneven, and lying- upon the height of land between Boston and Con- 
necticut river, it is quite elevated. Yet there are no very high 
hills, or abrupt elevations of land above the general surface of the 
country. Some of the most considerable of the bills have received 
names by custom and tradition, by which they are usually designat- 
ed. That upon which the Congregational Meeting House is built, 
was originally called Strawberry hill, from the abundance of that 
fruit found there in the early settlement of the town. Another, in 
the east part of the town, a little north of the " county road," is 
known by the name of " Indian" or " Bald hill," on account of its 
having been cleared and planted by the Indians before the white 
men settled here. The hill about one mile west from the Meet- 
ing house, has been, for many years, known by the name of "Mount 
Pleasant."* It had, within a few years, an elegant house upon it, 
fitted up as a country seat, by Maj. James Swan, who has long been 
a state prisoner in France. The seat has now gone greatly to de- 
cay, but is still an interesting spot, on account of the extensive and 
beautiful prospect it enjoys. 

Another hill, which is about half a mile north from the Meeting 
House, has been known by the name of "Carey's bill," from the 
earliest settlement of the town ; and derives its name from that of a 
hermit, who retired to this spot, long before it was settled by Eu- 
ropeans, and lived in a cave, which he dug in the hill. Who he 
was, and how much of his story is mere tradition, we are not able 
to determine. But the well from which he drew his water, the 
ditch by which he drained his cave, and the s:ones that helped to 
form his dwelling, are all visible there at this day. Moose hill is 
at the northwest corner, and Grass hill at the southwest corner of 
the town. The views from many of the hills in this town are ex- 
tremely fine. That from the Mansion house, on the estate which 
has been in the Denny family since the settlement of the town, 
embraces nine or ten churches, besides a vast extent of beautiful 
and fertile country. This landscape has formed a subject for the 

♦It wag first called Mount Pleasant by Lewis Allen, a singular man, who 
once owned the seat, afterwards Major Swan's. By his own direction, he 
was buried in his garden, where his tomb is yet visible. 

70 msroRv of lkickstkr. 

pencil of a native artist, of very considerable merit and reputation, 
Mr. Ralph Earle,* who had resided many years in England, where 
he went, together with his brother, to cultivate the natural taste 
and genius they possessed. This landscape is a very creditable ef- 
fort at painting- of that kind. 

Soil, Productions, kc. — The soil of Leicester is generally 
deej), and of a strong kind; in its composition, clay rather predom- 
inates; and although, at first, wrought with some difficulty, it is ca- 
pable of becoming fruitful and luxuriant, since it retains the ferti- 
lizing effect of proper cultivation for a considerable time. It is 
rather moist in some parts of the town, and better adapted to grass, 
which it produces in abundance, than grains; especially those 
which are called English grains. There are, however, many fine 
and productive farms in town, and nothing but a proper attention to 
agriculture is required, to elevate its character as an agricultural 
district. Mechanical business has, for years, been more productive 
of profit than agriculture, under any circumstances, could reasonably 
be expected to be ; and in consequence of this, the agricultural in- 
terest has been neglected. Within our own recollection, some of 
the most productive lands at present, were little better than mere 
wastes, where the briars and bushes were the only productions of 
the soil.t We mention this circumstance to show, by the result of 
actual experiment, the capacities of the soil of the town, better 
than by any general description of its properties we could give. 
Garden vegetables thrive extremely well, and abundant crops of 
Indian corn and potatoes reward the labors of the husbandman : 
and in the north and east parts of the town there are many excel- 
lent orchards. 

* Ralph, and James Earle, were grandsons of that Ralph Earle who was 
one of the original settlers of the town. Their father's lurae was Ralph, who 
lived in what is now Paxton, on the place owned by Mr. Joseph Penniman. 
Ralph waB made a member of the Royal Academy, in London. Both he, and 
James, excelled as much in portrait painting, as in landscape and historical 
pieces. The u Falls of Niagara," by Ralph, among his largest works, has 
been admired as one of much merit. Towards the close of his life, his habits 
became irregular, and it was only at intervals, that his fine genius exhibited 
itself, and then, always to the delight of every one. He died at Lansinburgh, 
N. Y. and his brother Jam^s, at Charleston, S. C. Both left families, but 
only the son of Ralph, bearing the same name, inherited the peculiar genius 
of his ancestors. 

t We cannot forbear noticing the great improvements which have recently 
been made in the lands near the village, by Mr. Alpheus. Smith, Dr. Austin 
Flint, and others. Within a few years, the bushes entirely covered those 
ileitis which now produce so luxuriantly. A similar effect would result to 
most of the lands in town, by applying to them the same skill and persever- 
ing industry. 


Rivers, Ponds, iic. — This town i9 well watered, although there 
is no stream of any great magnitude flowing through it. The sourc- 
es of several streams are within this town, which, taking different 
directions, pour its waters into the Atlantic by the Blackstone, the 
Thames, and the Connecticut. So slight are the barriers that sep- 
arate the waters of some of these streams, that, about a quarter of 
a mile east of the Meeting House, where the county road passes 
through an apparently level meadow, the water that runs from the 
north side flows into the Blackstone, while that from the south runs 
into the Thames. And, in the west part of the town, about two 
miles from the Meeting House, the water running from the north 
side of the same road, flows into the Connecticut, and that from the 
south side into the Thames. 

There are two natural ponds of considerable magnitude here ; 
one, containing about sixty acres, situate about a mile southeast of 
the Meeting House, called the Henshaw pond ; and the other, con- 
taining about eighty acres, called the North, or Shaw pond, in the 
northwest part of the town. The waters of the last pond are dis- 
charged at its southwest corner, and flow into the Chickapee river, 
forming one of its sources. There is, besides these, an artificial 
pond, in the southwest part of the town, called the '* Burnt-coat," 
containing about one hundred and twenty five acres. The courses 
of the streams, except that from north pond, are generally towards 
the southeast. One of these rises in a swamp between Leicester 
and Paxton, and, running south, about half a mile west of the Meet- 
ing House, where it is called the " Ravvson Brook,"* it receives 
the waters that flow from the Burnt-coat pond, about five miles 
from its source ; thence, running southeasterly, it receives the wa- 
ters of a brook coming in from the west, which has its source in 
Spencer, and afterwards receives the waters from the Ilonshaw 
pond, which flow from the northeast, at the Leicester and Saxon 
Factories, on the Stafford Turnpike, where it is called " French 
river;" then running southwardly through Oxford, it forms a part 
of the Quineboag river, which empties into the Thames, at Nor- 
wich. This unites a great proportion of the waters that flow 

* It derived this name from that of the owner of the farm through which 
it flowed, near the village, in Leicester. Thi3 was Edward Rawson, Esq. 
who removed here from Meudon. He was, for a long time, an' officiating 
magistrate in the County, and filled many responsible public stations in the 
town. He died at the advanced age of 87, in 1807, leaving one daughter. 
A son of his was ooce a practising Physician here, but died, early in life, ma- 
ny years before the death of his father. 



through the town. , There is, however, a considerable stream that 
rises in Paxton, and flows through the east part of this town, into 
Ward, and there falls into the Blackstone. It is called " Kettle 
Brook," and affords sufficient water power to carry a grist mill and 
saw mill, two woollen factories, and another grist mill, built upon 
it in this town. From the nature of the country, these streams 
present fine privileges for the erection of mills, wherever they are 
of sufficient magnitude to ensure a permanent supply of water. 
These have been mostly occupied, and there are, at present, upon 
the French river, and its branches, within the limits of this town, 
five saw mills, two grist mills, one tannery, two scythe manufacto- 
ries, one card manufactory, and one extensive woollen manufactur- 
ing establishment ; while, on the stream flowing from the North 
Pond, there are a grist mill, and two wire manufactories. 

Population. — The population of this town has gradually in- 
creased in numbers from its settlement till the present time ; but 
much more rapidly of late, than at any foimer period, on account 
ot the manufacturing establishments, from which a large number 
find employment and support. We do not possess documents to as- 
certain the precise numbers of Inhabitants in the town at the differ- 
ent periods of its history ; nor do we deem these very important 
facts. At its first settlement it contained fifty families. In 1786, 
there were 838 inhabitants, of whom, 24 were negroes. In 1810, 
there were 1181 ; in 1820, 1252, and, at present, the town probably 
contains 1500 inhabitants; of whom, there are not more than 3 or 
4 blacks.* In 1781, there were 102 effective men on the rolls of 
the militia companies, and 49 conditional exempts, and at present, 
there are about 200 men borne on the rolls of these companies.! 

The population, as we remarked, has increased rapidly in this 
town within the last few years, and promises to increase still far- 

*The population of this town includes, at present, three ministers of the 
Gospel, two Physiciaus, two Preceptors of the Academy, and two practising 
Counsellors and Attorneys at Law. Of (he Clerg-ymen, we shall hereafter 
speak. The Physicians are Austin and Edward Flint, the latter a son oi the 
former. The Attorneys at Law are the Hon. Nathaniel P. Denny, who was 
the first Attorney that established himself here, and Emory Washburn. 
Bradford Sumner, Esq. now of Boston, was in business here, as an Attorney 
at Law, from 1812 till his removal to Boston, in 1 820. 

+ The first regimental review of the regiment to which these companies 
are attached, was, we believe, in 1785. The Regiment then included within 
its limits, the towns of Holden, Paxton, Spencer, Leicester, Ward and Wor- 
cester. It was divided in 1811, and Worcester and Holden taken from it. 
The regiment when reviewed in 1785 was comma»ded by Col. Seth Wash- 
bum. At present Lieut. Col. Stone of Ward is its commander. 


ther, us new sources of wealth and support are opening to its in- 
habitants from time to time. A considerable proportion of this pop- 
ulation derives its support, directly, or indirectly, from mechanical 
and manufacturing establishments, in which many of them are en- 

Manufactures, Trade, &c. — The manufactures consist chiefly 
of cards and woollen cloths, although the more common establish- 
lishments for the manufacture of leather, scythes, and the like, are 
by no means inconsiderable. There are five Blacksmith's shops, 
in which from eight to twelve men are employed in the ordinary 
business of that trade. There are from ten to twenty persons em- 
ployed in manufacturing shoes for the ordinary consumption of the 
inhabitants of the town. In addition to these, there are two hat- 
ter's shops, two wheelwrights, two bookbinderies, one clock and 
watch maker, and one cabinet and chair manufactory. 

There are five tanneries, in which leather to the amount of 
$10,000, at least, is annually manufactured; and the amount of 
scythes annually made here is about $2000. 

The manufacture of cloths was commenced here by Mr. Samu- 
el Watson, in 1814, about one and an half miles east of the Meet- 
ing House, on the " Kettle Brook." His establishment was small, 
and the business, soon afterwards, becoming rather unproductive, 
he was induced to part with the possession of it, for a few years, 
to Mr. James Anderton, a native of Lancashire, in England, an en- 
terprising manufacturer, who, in the year 1821, purchased the 
privilege now occupied by the Leicester and Saxon factories, on 
the French River, where a small cotton factory had been previous- 
ly erected. He then made over his interest on the Kettle Brook 
to a countryman of his, Thomas Bottomly, who occupied the same 
until 1825, when, having erected a new factory a short distance 
below the former one, he surrendered up the former estate to Mr. 
Watson again, who now occupies the same. The privilege on 
French River proving to be a valuable one, and Mr. Anderton, from 
an unfavorable turn of times, being unable to occupy the whole of 
it profitably, a company was formed, and incorporated in 1823, cal- 
led the " Leicester Manufacturing Company," to whom he dispos- 
ed of his interest in the privilege, and became a member of the 
corporation. This company afterwards united, and- was incorpo- 
rated, with the Saxon Factory, in Framingham, under the style of 
the Saxon and Leicester Factories. This establishment, in Leices*- 
ter, consists at present of three factory buildings, the largest of 
vol. il 10 



which is 100 by 40 feet, and 4 stories in height, a dye house, store, 
eleven dwelling houses, and is now constantly increasing. About 
150 persons are employed in and around the establishment, and 100 
yards of Broadcloths are manufactured per day. We have been 
more particular in describing these establishments, although, 
when compared with others in the country, they may seem unim- 
portant, because they have grown up within a short period of time, 
and the success which has, on the whole, attended them, so clearly 
illustrates, what was once a somewhat doubtful problem, the policy 
of encouraging our domestic manufactures. We have also another 
object in view ; to preserve the names of those, to whose skill and 
enterprise the town is indebted for a part of its prosperity. 

The manufacture of cotton and wool machine, and hand cards, 
has been carried on extensively, for a much greater length of time 
than that of cloths. It was commenced here about the year 1785, 
by Mr. Edmund Snow, and amongst those most early engaged in 
its prosecution, was Mr. Pliny Earle, who still carries on the busi- 
ness. About the year 1790, Mr. Samuel Slater, the venerable 
originator of cotton factories in the United States, and to whom the 
country owes so much of its wealth and prosperity, having in vain 
endeavored to procure suitable cards for his machinery, in the 
principal cities of the union, applied to Mr. Earle, for the purpose 
of procuring some cards of him. Machine cards had, till then, 
been made in the manner called by manufacturers " plain." A 
part of the cards used on a machine is called " filleting," and this 
part it was desirable to have made, what is termed, "twilled." 
For this purpose, Mr. Earle was obliged to prick the whole of the 
filleting with two needles, inserted into a handle, in the manner of 
an awl. This process was extremely tedious ; but Mr. Earle, at 
length, completed his undertaking, and furnished to Mr. Slater the 
cards by which the first cotton was wrought, that was spun by ma- 
chinery in America. The difficulty with which he accomplished 
this engagement, led his attention to the iuvention of a machine by 
which to prick the leather for cards ; and about the year 1797, he 
accomplished his desired object by inventing the machine, now in 
general use, for the manufacture of " twilled" cards.* Since this 

* Pliny Earle ia the great grandson of Ralph Earle, one of the first settlers 
of the town, and possesses much of the mechanical ingenuity, in addition to 
a great fund of general knowledge, which has seemed to characterize those 
of that name in this town. Mr. Thomas Earle, who recently died here, was 
honorably noticed by Whitney, in his history, and others of the name also 
deserve a notice, which our limits will not permit us to give. 


invention, and other improvements in machinery, the business of 
manufacturing cards has regularly progressed, and it was carried to 
great perfection here, while many of the other manufactures were 
yet in their infancy. A few cards had been made in Boston, and 
some other places in the United States, before they were manufac- 
tured here. We believe, that the first considerable establishment 
ever carried on for this purpose in the country, was in this town. 
Our limits would not permit us, even if we were able, to trace the 
improvements in the, machinery by the means of which this busi- 
ness is carried on ; though we may be permitted, we hope, to men- 
tion a valuable machine for shaving, or splitting leather, invented 
by the late John Woodcock, of this town ; by the operation of 
which, leather may be prepared of any thickness desired, with 
great facility. A patent was procured for this invention, but diffi- 
culties arose under it, and manufacturers alone have reaped the 
benefit of it. There are ten establishments for the manufacture of 
Cards here, and more than $200,000 in value are manufactured 
annually. In most of these establishments, the machinery is car- 
ried by hand power; but in Mr. Earle'3, before mentioned, steam 
has been successfully employed, and in the extensive Factory of 
Messrs. J. &. J. A. Smith, & Co. a part of the machinery is carried by 
water power. The business has been found lucrative and many 
of our wealthiest and most respectable men have been engaged in 
it, and not a little of the relative wealth and importance of the 
place can be traced to this business as its source. 

There are Stores of goods connected with many of these man- 
ufacturing establishments, and there are two Stores in the village 
unconnected with them. Besides these, there are two small Book 
Stores in town, connected with the binderies which supply the or- 
dinary wants of the people. Manufactures, especially Cards, may 
be considered our staple ; and there is scarcely a state in the union 
that is not, to some extent, supplied with these from this town. 

To facilitate the transaction of the business of the town, a Bank 
with a capital of $100,000 was chartered at the last session of the 
Legislature. It has not yet gone into operation, but the Directors 
and President of the institution were elected on the 26th April, 
1826, when John Clapp, Esq of Leicester, was chosen its first 

Highways. — The great post road from Boston to Albany passes 
through the centre of this town. It is one of the most travelled 
and important roads in the interior of New England, and was, until 


within a few years, the route of the commercial Mail between Eos- 
ton and New York. This road was laid out as early, if we mis- 
take not, as 1722, it being petitioned for in that year, and the 
town appropriated j£l2 2s for their share of the expense in making 
it, and in 1725, were indicted at the Quarter Sessions in Middlesex, 
for not having a bridge over Seven Mile River, which is supposed to 
have been the stream now called by tbe same name, in the western 
part of Spencer. The road is called in the petition the " country 
road," and always bears that name when referred to in the early 
records of the town. When first laid out through what is now the 
Tillage, it passed north of its present location, running north of the 
Academy, near the dwelling house of the Rev. David Parsons, the 
first minister of the town, which stood north west of the Academy, 
the cellar of which house is yet visible : Passing across the present 
common lands, east of the meeting house, it came into the road as 
it now is, west of the meeting house. Other alterations in this 
highway, and aome of them recent, have been made for the benefit 
of the traveller, which we will not describe, nor should we have 
said thus much upon so unimportant a subject, had not the early es- 
tablishment of this highway seemed to make it a subject of histori- 
cal interest. In 1806, the Worcester and Stafford turnpike was 
laid out through the south part of this town: it is upon this, that 
the commercial Mail is now carried. Besides these roads, there 
is one running from Paxton to Charlton and Oxford, through the 
centre of this town : and another, running from Worcester to New 
Braintree, through the north part. There is a large number of 
roads leading from this to the neighboring towns, and from one part 
of this to another, making, in the whole, more than sixty miles of 
highway, supported at the expense of the town, and kept in repair 
by an annual tax of, at least, $1000. 

To those who only know this town in its present state, with its 
large and beautiful village, and the grounds around it highly culti- 
vated and productive, it may be amusing to recur to its state in 1721, 
when the highway to what is now Paxton was laid out. It began 
by the then meeting house, at a black birch, standing by a great 
red oak, behind the meeting house, and close by the same, and run 
thence, by marked trees, through the forest then covering the re- 
gion around. That forest has disappeared with the hardy race of 
men who first disturbed its solitudes, and it is difficult for the im- 
agination, when gazing on the fields now waving with rich harvests, 
to go back to tbe times when the haunts of the savage and the 


wild beasl were here, and a cheerless wilderness alone met the eye. 
Schools, Academy, &ic. — Although the inhabitants of this town, 
at its first settlement, were at comparatively great expense to sup- 
port the institutions of the gospel, they were not unmindful of the 
importance of common schools. Within ten years from the settle- 
ment of the place, if not sooner, schools were established in three 
parts of the town, and were kept by one teacher, who was employ- 
ed at the expense of the inhabitants. About the year 1732, these 
schools were, for some reason, discontinued ; but the Quarter Ses- 
sions with becoming, though somevvhat singular vigilance, discover- 
ed this omission of duly on the part of the inhabitants, and caused 
them to be presented, in 1733, for their neglect. Schools, from 
that time, have been regularly kept ; nor were they suspended, 
even during the struggle for our independence ; although it seem- 
ed as if the last remnant of convertible property had been con- 
tributed to aid on that cause. Our ancestors knew, that in order 
for their sons to retain the independence for which they were strug- 
gling, they must be enlightened and instructed. In 1733, a master 
of a " writing and reading school" was employed for three months, 
at the rate of £4 10s per month. During all this time, the schools 
had been kept at private houses, and, in 1736, a school house was 
first erected. It was 20 by 16 feet in dimensions, and stood about 
ten rods north of the then meeting house, which was a little south 
of the place where the present one stands. In 1745, schools were 
kept in seven different places in town, but all by one man, and 
£100, old tenor, was appropriated for their support. In 1750, nine 
men were chosen to superintend the schools and were directed " to 
procure a grammar school master as soon as may be." Mr. John 
Cobb had been the school master the preceding year, and had been 
allowed £125, old tenor. The schools, this year, were kept in 
three places at the same time, each for the term of six weeks- 
During this time, Spencer had been a parish of Leicester. In 1765 
the totvn was divided into five school districts, and school houses 
built in each. There have been too many changes in respect to 
these districts, since that time, to warrant a detail of them here. 
At present, they are nine in number, and the whole number of schol- 
ars entitled by law to attend these schools, may be estimated at 
about 750. The sum annually raised for the purpose of schooling 
W, at present, $600, and the compensation usnally given to teach- 
ers has been from $10 to $20 per month to men, and from $4 to p 
per month to ladies. 


Our common schools have ever been justly reckoned amongst 
the most important institutions of our country. Indeed, they may 
be considered as at the foundation of every thing valuable in our 
institutions. From these fountains of knowledge, open to all, with- 
out distinction of sex or condition, intelligence is diffused through 
the community, and with it, a love of country and an attachment 
to her institutions. The importance of these schools has been ap- 
preciated here, and the appropriations for their support have usu- 
ally been liberal, when compared with those of towns of equal 
wealth and magnitude. 

The people of this town are favored with opportunities for a 
higher education than is to be obtained in common schools, by 
means of the very respectable Academy located here. It is one of 
the oldest Academies in the stale, and the character of its instruc- 
tion is elevated and liberal. It was incorporated un-der the name 
of Leicester Academy, March 23, 1784. It owes its foundation to 
the generosity and public spirit of Col. Jacob Davis, and Col. Eb- 
enezer Crafts, whose munificence was suitably acknowledged in 
the act of Incorporation. The liberality of these gentlemen, one 
of them resident in Charlton, and the other in Sturbridge, deserves 
the gratitude of posterity.* They purchased the commodious 
Dwelling House, then recently occupied by Aaron Lopez, and its 
appendages, together with an acre of land, which they conveyed 
to the Trustees of Leicester Academy, " in consideration of the 
regard they bear to virtue and learning, which they consider great- 
ly conducive to the welfare of the community." The value of this 
estate was $1716, and was situated directly in front of the present 
Academy buildings. During the same year, (1784,) Dr. Austin 
Flint, who has ever been a firm patron of the institution, and whose 
name would fill a larger space in our history than we are allowed 
to give it, if we were at liberty to follow the dictates of our own 
feelings, conveyed one hundred and twenty four square rods of 
land to said trustees, " in consideration of a desire to encourage the 
Academy. 1 ' The liberality thus exhibited towards this institution, 

*Col. Davis was a native of Oxford, but, at the time of his donation to 
the Academy, he resided in Charlton, where he owned a valuable estate, ad- 
jacent to the estate of his brother, the late Ebenezer Davis, Esq. deceased. 
He afterwards removed to Montpelier, in Vermont, of which he was a con- 
siderable proprietor, and was the first white settler of any respectability in 
that town, now the seat of Government of Vermont. Col. Crafts command- 
ed the first regiment of Cavalry ever raised in this county. He removed 
from Sturbridge to the town of Craftsbury, Vermont, where he died. Hi3 
son, Samuel C. Crafts, who prepared for College at this Academy, was, for 
many years, a member of Congress from Vermont. 


was also manifested by many other public spirited gentlemen in 
the County. The town of Leicester, in its corporate capacity, gave 
£500 u consolidated securities." The Hon. Moses Gill gave £1 50 : 
Thomas Denny, and Thomas Newhall, of Leicester, Gen. Rufns 
Putnam, of Rutland, and Jeduthan Baldwin, of Brookfield, each gave 
the sum of £100: Mr. Reuben Swan gave £50: John Southgate, 
and Samuel Denny, of Leicester, and the Hon. Joseph Allen, Esq. 
of Worcester, and Timothy Bigelow, Esq. each gave £30 : and 
Isaiah Thomas, L. L. D. gave- the sum of £20. Donations were 
also made by Samuel Green, and Samuel Green, Jr. Peter Taft, 
Capt. William Watson, and Samuel Watson, of Leicester ; Timothy 
Paine, Esq. and Phinehas Jones, of Worcester; Caleb Ammidown, 
of Charlton, and John Pierce. Of the original subscriptions, the 
sum of $2890 was raised within the town of Leicester, and $1610 
by donations from abroad. Besides these, the state granted to the 
Academy a township of land in Maine, and a grant to raise $2000 
by a lottery in 1785, to repair their buildings. The late Hon. Mr. 
Gill, was ever a great benefactor to the institution, and gave, in ad- 
dition to his former donation, a quantity of Books, for which he 
paid £30 sterling, in England, for the use of the students in the 
Academy. In 1811, Col. Thomas Newhall, who had been one of 
its earliest and firmest supporters, died, and left by his will a lega- 
cy of $1000 to this institution, and the interest of another thousand, 
to be annually expended in defraying the tuition of those families 
in town, who reside more than a mile from the Academy. In 
1819, Stephen Salisbury, Esq. and the Hon. Dwight Foster, each 
gave the sum of $50, and five individuals in Leicester, in 1820, 
and 1822, gave a sum equal to $583. These were Alpheus Smith, 
Hon. Nathaniel P. Denny, Henry Sargent, Austin Flint, and James 
Smith, Esquires. In 1824, the Commonwealth made a donation of 
a small farm in PaxHon, estimated at $400. In 1823, Capt. Israel 
Waters, of Charlton, who had been long known as a man interested 
in public institutions, left, at his death, most of his estate to the 
trustees of this Academy, for the support of a teacher, under the 
restrictions and limitations of the devise. The exact amount to 
be realized from this estate has not yet been ascertained, but is es- 
timated at eight thousand dollars. 

The available funds of the institution, exclusive of the buildings, 
occupied for the schools, was, in May, 1825, $10,G55 ; which, ad- 
ded to the Waters donation, places this institution on a respectable 
and independent foundation. It has ever enjoyed in a good degree 



the public favor and confidence and the high character of its trus- 
tees and instructors has deserved that confidence. 

The first meeting of the trustees was held, April 7, 1784, and 
the Hon. Moses Gill was elected President of the board : which 
then consisted of Ebenezer Crafts, and Jacob Davis, Esquires, Hon. 
Moses Gill, Hon. Levi Lincoln, Hon. Joseph Allen, Hon. Samuel 
Baker, Hon. Seth Washburn, Rev. Benjamin Conklin, Gen. Rufus 
Putnam, Rev. Joshua Paine, of Sturbridge, Rev. Joseph Pope, Rev. 
Archibald Campbell, Hon. Timothy Danielson, of Brimfield, and 
Rev. Joseph Sumner, D. D. of Shrewsbury. The Hon. Levi Lin- 
coln succeeded Mr. Gill as President, and was succeeded by Dr. 
Sumner, whcse successor was the Rev Dr. Bancroft, who now pre- 
sides over that board, alike honorably to himself and usefully to 
the institution. 

There has usually been a principal and assistant teacher in this 
Academy: though, about 1789, the funds of the institution became 
embarrassed, on account of the depreciated state of the currency, 
and one instructor only was employed, and his salary in that year 
was paid out of the treasury of the town. For many years, two in- 
structors have been employed, and, at times, three. There has 
been a succession of highly respectable men as Preceptors of this 
Academy, the whole number of whom our limits will not permit us 
individually to mention. The first in order was Mr. Benjamin 
Stone,* whose assistant was Mr. Thomas Payson. After a succes- 
sion of Preceptors, Mr. Ebenezer Adams, took charge of the Institu- 
tion, in 1792, and continued in that office till 1806, when he re- 
signed it. As a teacher, his character was almost unrivalled. For 
the fourteen years he continued in that employment, he was uni- 
formly respected and esteemed, as well by his pupils, as by the in- 
habitants of the town, and when he left, he bore with him the high- 
est testimonials of the regret of the trustees at his surrender of a 
place he had so usefully filled.! Among those whose names we 
would mention with respect, as having officiated as teachers in this 
Academy, are the Rev. Dr. Pierce now of Brookline, Drs. Jackson 
and Shattuck of Boston, Chief Justice Richardson, of New Hamp- 

* Mr. Stone was a native of Shrewsbury, where he now resides. He 
graduated at Cambridge, in 177G, and studied the profession of Theology, but 
was never settled over any society. 

t Mr. Adams was a native of New Ipswich, in N. H. lie graduated at 
Dartmouth College, in 1791. In 1809, he was appointed to the professorship 
of Languages in that institution, and subsequently, to that of Mathematics 
and Natural Philosophy, which he now fills with honor, fidelity, and use- 


«hire, and the Hod. Timothy Fuller, of Cambridge, men of reputa- 
tion too high cither to need, or be advanced by encomiums of our3. 
The late eminent and lamented Bishop Dehon, of Charleston, S. C. 
was a preceptor here, in 1796.* Mr. Adams was succeeded by the 
late Rev. Dr. Moore, and be by the Rev. Luther Wilson, now of 
Pelewbam, whose successor was the Rev. Josiah Clark, of Rutland. 
The present principal instructor of the Academy is, Mr. John Rich- 
ardson: the preceptor of the English department, Mr. Increase S. 

In 1824, a respectable Philosophical apparatus was procured in 
London, through the agency of the Rev. Dr. Prince, of Salem, by 
individuals of the town of Leicester, and given to the Academy. 

This institution may now deservedly claim a high rank among 
those of our country. The salaries to its officers are liberal ; it is 
located in the centre of a rich and populous count)', and in a situ- 
ation pleasant, healthy, and retired from the confusion and dissipa- 
tion of the dense population of a large town. The situation of the 
Academy building is high, and commands a fine prospect. The 
exterior of the building is neat and well proportioned ; its interior 
commodious and well designed. It is three stories high, with six- 
teen lodging rooms or parlors, besides a dining hall, library, school 
room, aud chapel, and cost between eight and nine thousand dol- 
lars. It was intended to accommodate the students with commons, 
if desired, and a steward occupies a portion of the building for this 
purpose. Connected with the Academy, is a literary society of the 
students, possessed of a considerable library. 

This was, for many years, the only Academy in the County of 
Worcester, and is among the oldest in the State: Though our de- 
tail of its history may have been tedious, the importance of the 
subject which seemed to require it, must be our apology. 
.» There are no other literary institutions in town. There are two 
or three Social Libraries, containing, in the whole, about a thous- 

* Bishop Dehon was a native of Boston, and was born Dec. 8, 1776. He 
entered Harvard University at the age of 14 years, and graduated in 1795. 
The next year, though but 19 years old, he was employed in the English de- 
partment of Leicester Academy, and there won the respect and esteem of 
every one connected with the institution. He was admitted to the order of 
Priest in 1800, and took charge of the Church in Newport, R. 1. where he 
was remarkably popular and acceptable as a preacher. His ill health, in 
1809, induced him to become rector of St. Michael's Church, in Charleston, 
S. C. In 1812, he was unanimously elected Bishop of the Diocess of South 
Carolina, which office he sustained till his death, August 6, 1817, when he 
fell a victim to the yellow fever. He died at the age of 41, and of him, it 
might with propriety be said, " his epitaph should be his name alone." 

VOL. n. 11 


and volumes of well selected books. The people would be fur 
from being inclined to boast of the effect ot these institutions for 
the promotion of knowledge. The effect of them has been rather 
to give a good education to many, than to educate a few at the ex- 
pense of others. Although a majority of the inhabitants in town 
have, at one time or other, availed themselves of the benefits of the 
Academy here, there have not more than eight persons graduated 
from any College, who were natives of the town, since the year 
1784, and of these, not one studied theology. 

Ecclesiastical History. — As we have already observed, the 
records of the town do not go back beyond March, 1721, and the 
records of the church, as distinguished from those of the town, have 
not been preserved till within thirty years. In consequence of this, 
it is impossible to learn when the Congregational Church here was 
first formed. That it had been formed before March 30th, 1721, 
appears probable: since, at a town meeting then held, the ques- 
tion of settling Mr. David Parsons, as pastor was acted upon. He 
had, before that time, received a call to settle as their clergyman, 
and then gave his answer, accepting their invitation. He was the 
first clergyman of the town, and was installed in September, 1721. 
He had been previously, settled in Maiden, and dismissed from that 
people. The terms of his settlement here were, that he should 
receive a gratuity of£l00, be removed, with his family, from Mai- 
den, at the expense of the town, and be paid £75 salary per an- 
num. For an additional encouragement, the town gave him forty 
acres of land in rear of the meeting house, and outlands enough to 
make up 100 acres. The unanimity of the people on this occasion 
in addition to the circumstances that some, at least, of his former 
people, removed with him to Leicester, promised that his connex- 
ion with this society would be useful and happy. But it proved 
far otherwise. He was a man of strong passions, and after a few 
years, there was very little disposition manifested by many of his 
people, to quell these passions, when excited. What originated 
these difficulties it would perhaps be impossible now to ascertain. 
The embarrassed and straitened circumstances of the people of the 
town might have been a cause of their neglecting to pay him his 
annual salary according to contract. In consequence of this neg- 
lect, he complained to the Quarter Sessions, in 1728. To this 
complaint the town made defence, and a long and unhappy law- 
suit ensued. It is impossible, and would certainly be unprofitable, 
to trace the progress of these domestic difficulties. Such, howev- 


er, was the state of public feeling, in. 1729, that the town voted not 
to support him auy longer as their minister, to join with the 
church in deposing him ; and chose a committee to supply the pul- 
pit. But ecclesiastical contracts were not then so easily severed. 
This step by one of the contracting parties was inoperative, and 
the other was not inclined to recede from the strong ground he 
had taken. Even while the complaint before the Quarter Sessions 
was pending, he commenced a civil action for the arrears of his 
salary. These difficulties, at length, became so ruinous to the 
peace of the town and oppressive to its inhabitanis, that they pe- 
titioned the Legislature, in 1731, for some relief in the matter, and 
a paper containing the names of each person in town, in favor and 
against Mr. Parsons, subscribed by each, was presented to his Ex- 
cellency, the Governor, (Belcher) to inform him of the actual state 
of public sentiment upon the subject, and two agents were appoint- 
ed to offer it. A resolve, in favor of releasing the town from 
their obligation any longer to support their minister, passed the 
House of Representatives and the Council, but the Governor re- 
fused to sign it. Judgment having been rendered against the town, 
by the Quarter Sessions, and the Governor, though twice petition-* 
ed, refusing to sign the resolves, the town petitioned the Legislature 
for leave to appeal from the judgment of the Court, "so that they 
might have a trial in the common law." But this petition failed, 
on account of the Legislature's being suddenly prorogued, and the 
town were again called together to revive this petition, in the hope 
u of being relieved" in the words of the warrant, "from Mr. Par- 
sous' bondage." But by one of those sudden fluctuations in public 
opinion, which are sometimes observed in popular governments, 
the popular feeling was now turning in favor of Mr. Parsons. The 
vote dismissing him was reconsidered, his arrears of salary voted, 
«nd the Selectmen left to pay the fines assessed upon them by the 
'Quarter Sessions, in consequence of a second complaint of Mr. Par- 
sons, for their neglect in seeing him paid. These votes were, 
however, said to have been surreptitiously obtained, and produced 
much excitement. 

These facts are detailed, rather as a sample of the mode of 
proceeding, at that day, in cases of disagreement between a peo- 
ple and their minister, and the disposition of the civil authorities 
to support ecclesiastical power, than because any interest can be 
felt in them so long after their occurrence. The differences be- 
tween Mr. Parsons and his people, did not subside here. They at 



length became so notorious, that six gentlemen from Worcester 
voluntarily assumed the character of mediators and visited the 
town for that purpose. A public entertainment was provided for 
them, but their efforts had no success and there was no cessation of 
hostilities till the town voted to join with the church in calling an 
cclesiastical council to discharge him from being their minister. 
This wa9on the 13th January, 1735, and he was dismissed, March 
6th of the 9ame year from his connexion with the church and socie- 
ty in this town. He continued to reside here till his death in 1737. 
He was by his special direction buried on his own land, apart from 
the graves of his people. He was unwilling that his ashes should 
repose by the side of those with whom he had ouce worshipped in 
the sanctuary and to whom he had broken the consecrated bread; 
his grave is now visible in a mowing field, about 30 rod9 north 
of the meetinghouse — a monument of human frailty. The long 
continued difficulties, of which we have given an outline, were too 
important a subject in so young and thinly populated a town to be 
soon forgotten. They are still handed down by tradition and form 
anecdotes illustrative of the times in which they occurred. We for- 
bear repeating these, or dwelling any longer upon the character of 
one, who, with all his frailties, had many redeeming qualities. He 
left a family, from which have sprung many,who, in later times, have 
been distingaished for their learning, usefulness and talents, and 
have been among the most respectable citizens of their day. 

After ihe dismission of Mr. Parsons, preaching was supported 
for a time, by contributions taken up on each Sabbath, and a Mr. 
Rice employed for a while. In 1735, the church and society set 
apart a day for fasting and prayer, for directions in regard to a suc- 
cessor to Mr. Parsons. And on the 30th January, 1736, they gave 
a call to Mr. David Goddard, who was a native of Framingham, to 
settle here, and voted him £300 settlement, and £100 salary, so 
long as he remained their minister. Mr. Goddard accepted this 
invitation, and in a short and pertinent answer, expressed his wish 
that the church should be governed according to the rules of the 
" Cambridge platform," adopted by the New England churches, in 
1648. His salary, while their minister, was often in arrear; but 
his connexion with his people was uniformly happy and satisfacto- 
ry, and an addition of £50 per annum was voluntarily made to his 
salary for several years. He was ordained over the society, June 
30, 1736, and died January 19, 1754, at Framingham, where he 
was seized with a fever, when on a journey. He had been a min- 


ister of this church hut 13 years, and was 48 years of age, at the 
time of his death. He alone, of the live clergymen who were set- 
tled here, previous to the present one, died in the ministerial ser- 
vice of the society; all the others were dismissed from their con- 

In July, 1736, Mr. Joseph Roberts, Jr. was invited to settle as 
the minister over this society, accepted the invitation, and was or- 
dained, October 23, 1754. The town voted to give him £133, 6s. 
Zd. silver money, "as a settlement," and £66, 13s. Sd. per an- 
num, salary, in silver money, at 6s. 8d. per ounce. The salaries 
before this time had been paid according to the currency of the 
day, which was often so depreciated, that what seems at first a 
large sum, was greatly reduced by this depreciation. Provision 
was made at his ordination to entertain " ministers, messengers, and 

Although settled under favorable auspices, the relation of Mr. 
Roberts to the town soon became unpleasant. The precise causes 
of the disaffection do not appear, but they had become so strong in 
1762, that the society voted to concur with the church in calling a 
council to settle the difficulties that there existed. The meeting of 
the inhabitants was called by personal notice to each. They made 
provision to entertain the council, though they declined taking part 
in drawing up a list of grievances which the church was going to 
present to the council. The council met, and recommended a dis- 
solution of the connexion between Mr. Roberts and his people, and 
on the 14th day of December, 1762, he was accordingly dismissed. 
This did not, by any means, comport with Mr. Roberts' feelings, 
but it put an end to the difficulties between him and the people of 
the town, as he removed soon after from Leicester into Western, or 
its vicinity, where he died within a few years, at a very odvanced 
age. He lived while a minister here, in the west part of the 
town, where he owned a considerably extensive tract of land. He 
was a bachelor, and was possessed of a good estate. Money seems 
to have been his favorite object, and his reply to the invitation of 
the society, to become their minister, is a singular specimen of pro- 
fessed devotedness to God and his service, and actual sordidness 
and avarice. 

* From the death of Mr. Goddard, till the settlement of Mr. Roberts, the 
town had been supplied with preaching, and the sum of £17£ was now ap- 
propriated to pay those who had entertained the preachers, while, the greater 
sum of £18 was appropriated to defray the expense of keeping their horses 
during the same time. 


Although the Society were unfortunate in having to provide 
themselves again with a clergyman within so short a time, they 
were happy in obtaining one who united them again as a religious 
society. In August, 1763, Mr. Benjamin Conklin \vas invited to 
settle as a minister over the society, and was ordained, November 
23, of the same year. His salary was the same as that given to 
Mr. Roberts, and at his ordination, provision was made to entertain 
"Ministers, scholars, and gentlemen." His relation of minister to 
this church and society continued till June 30, 1794, when his grow- 
ing bodily infirmities induced him to accept a proposal from the so- 
ciety for his dismission, by giving him a gratuity of £170, and an 
exemption from taxation. The society, at the time of dissolving 
the connexion between them, expressed to him their thanks for his 
useful and arduous services, and their sympathies for his declining 
health and increasing infirmities. The council that dismissed Mr. 
Conklin, consisted- of the Rev. Dr9. Sumner, Bancroft, and Austin, 
and in the result of their proceedings, they bore most unqualified 
testimony to his higli character as a clergyman and a citizen. He 
survived until January 30, 1798, when he died, at the age of 65. 
A plain headstone, in the burying ground, in Leicester, bears this 
inscription, which he had selected for the purpose in his life time. 
"Hie jacet, Benjamin Conklin, M. in expectatione diei supremi. 
Qualis erat, dies iste indicabit." He married the widow of Dr. 
Lavvton, who had been a practicing physician in this town. He 
left three children, one only of whom survives. He was a native 
of Southold, on Long Island, and was graduated at Princeton Col- 
lege, in New Jersey. He came here when about thirty years of 
age, and was a minister of this society for more than thirty years, 
including the trying period of the Revolution, and the troublesome 
times of the insurrection, known under the name of " Shay's war." 
It is most conclusive evidence of his prudence and firmness, that 
during the whole time he officiated here, he was acceptable to his 
people, and every attempt by disaffected individuals to remove him 
was controlled and defeated by his society. Though never distin- 
guished for brilliancy of talents, he was a respectable preacher, 
and ever possessed a commanding influence among his people. He 
was a firm friend of his country, and never hesitated, even at the 
darkest period of her history, to avow the sentiments which he 
entertained. In one of the neighboring towns, it was thought by 
some of the people, that their clergyman did not preach strongly 
enough in favor of the cause of liberty ; " then," said he, U I will 


Mchange with Mr. Conklin, and he will satisfy you, I am sure." 
lie was aUo a decided friend of the government during the insur- 
rection of 178C, and became obnoxious to the insurgents, on ac- 
count of hi» aciiire exertions to support the laws and the govern- 
ment, and in one or more instances was obliged to seek a refuge 
• way from bit hou^e from personal violence from the insurgents. 
In bit person, Mr. Conklin was rather above the middling stature, 
and somewhat inclined to corpulency. His address was easy and 
fumiliur, and bis conversation abounded with anecdote. He, at 
times, indulged in humor, of which he possessed a considerable 
share. He was pleasing and interesting without being brilliant, 
and useful and instructive without being great. He performed the 
duties of his station honorably and acceptably, and among the pat- 
riots of the revolution, he deservedly held a very respectable 

After the dismission of Mr. Conklin, Mr. James Tufts was em- 
ployed to preach as a candidate by this society, and a majority of 
them desired to settle him, and accordingly gave him an invitation 
to that effect. But a few of the society dissenting from him in re- 
ligious sentiments, he declined accepting the invitation. He after- 
wards became, and we believe still is, the minister of Wardsboro', 
in Vermont. 

In 1795, the Rev. Jesse Appleton preached here as a candidate 
for settlement. He was, at that time, very young, and though not 
very popular at first, he became very acceptable to all, and strong 
efforts were made to induce him to settle. But though unanimous- 
ly invited, he declined the invitation, much to the regret of all the 
society. He afterwards became President of Bowdoin College, in 
Brunswick, Me. in 1807, and died in 1819, very much lamented. 

After him, Zephaniaii Swift Mooke was employed to preach 
here, and, in October, 1797, was unanimously invited to become 
the minister of this church and society. He was ordained here, 
January 10, 1798, upon a salary of $400 per annum. He continu- 
ed here till October 28, 1811, when, havir.g been appointed Pro- 
fessor of the Languages in Dartmouth College, he was dismissed 
at his own request. Dr. Moore filled too important a sphere in 
society during his life to be passed over in silenCe, when giving 
what purports to be a history of a town to which be held the rela- 
tion of a minister of the Gospel for almost 14 years. He was born 
in Palmer, in this State, but removed in early life to Wilmington, 
Vt. Here he labored with his father, who was a respectable farm- 
er, till he was twenty years of age. 


A part of his course of study preparatory to admission into col- 
lege, he pursued at Bennington. He graduated from Dartmouth 
College in 1793, with a high character as a scholar. He 9tudied 
Divinity with the Rev. Dr. Backus, of Somers, in Connecticut. He 
was appointed Professor of Languages in Dartmouth College, in 
1811, and continued there till 1815, when he received and accept- 
ed the appointment of President of Williams College, in Massachu- 
setts, where he continued till his appointment of President of Am- 
herst Collegiate Institution, which has, since his death, been char- 
tered as a college. This appointment was made in 1821, and he 
held the office at the time of his death, June 30, 1823. He died at 
the age of 52 years, leaving a wife, but no children. 

In every station which he held, he exhibited powers of mind, 
and strength of character to perform the duties incumbent upon 
him, with the greatest honor and success. He was, indeed, no or- 
dinary man, and we feel that any attempt to delineate his charac- 
ter, or do justice to his reputation, as a scholar, as a christian, and 
as a man, must, in a great measure, fail. We hope some abler pen 
will yet do justice to his memory. 

He was an indefatigable student, and possessed a remarkably sound 
and discriminating mind. His acquirements were extensive in al- 
most every department of science and literature that came under 
his examination. But his favorite study, next to that of Theolo- 
gy, were moral Philosophy and Metaphysics. He was possessed of 
an unshaken firmness of character, and though cool and deliberate 
in forming opinions or arriving at conclusions, when they were 
once formed, he adhered to them with fearless resolution till con- 
vinced of his errors. He was often able to carry through a favor- 
ite plan with success, which to others would have seemed hopeless 
and desperate. His progress from the plough to the chair of Pres- 
ident of a College, though never rapid, was sure and unwavering. 
In every situation in life, he was kind, social, and engaging. 
But it was in his own family, and at his own fireside, that he exhib- 
ited most fully those qualities which we love and admire. His 
conversation was of an elevated and improving character, and no 
one could leave his society without having been delighted and in- 
structed. In the government and discipline of a college, he had 
no superior. His accurate knowledge of human nature, his deci- 
sion of character, and his urbanity of manners, while they enabled 
him to discriminate properly in the subjects of his government, car- 
ried respect and enforced obedience, and at the same time won the 


confidence and affection of the pupil. As a writer, his productions 
may bo considered a* utmost a model of tine composition. He rare- 
ly Indulged in rhetorical ornament9 of style, but was always neat 
tod perspicuous, and often eloquent. His sermons were always 
heard with interest and attention, und would be read with pleasure 
94 well m profit. . ; 

Th« writer hai known Dr. Moore in almost every situation in 
IdV, and has had cause to love and respect him, while he admired 
ihosq qualities of mind which he exhibited under all circumstances, 
«nd some of them (he most trying. But it would be improper to 
Intrude any personal feelings towards him in this place ; we are 
only to speak of his character as it should be known in history, 
and we regret that we can do it so little justice. But we are not 
sufficiently removed from the time in which he lived, to have his 
character and reputation presented in their proper light. His is a 
fame that will brighten, and be remembered, when many whose 
genius was more brilliant and dazzling, will be forgotten. His 
name must ever be remembered as connected with Amherst Col- 
lege, for to his reputation and exertions, more than any other 
thing, may the early success and even existence of that institution 
be ascribed. We leave it to posterity to do him justice. His pri- 
vate virtues may be forgotten ; for those only who knew him could 
appreciate them ; but his character as a theologian, an instructor, 
und as a President and Director of a Seminary of learning, will be 

He married, soon after becoming the minister of Leicester, to a 
daughter of the late Thomas Drury, of Ward, in this county, who 
still survives him. In his person, Dr. Moore was large, and very 
well formed; his manners were dignified and easy; his voice, 
though not very loud, was clear and distinct, and its tones remark- 
ably pleasant. I lis manner of delivery was entirely free from af- 
fectation and attempt at display : he made use of but little action, 
but he was always listened to with interest and attention. 

lie received the degree of Doctor of Divinity at Dartmouth 
College, in the year 1816. In the year 1818, he preached the an- 
nual election sermon, before the executive and legislature of Mas- 
sachusetts. He was, for some years before his death, a member of 
the American board of commissioners for foreign missions. His 
election sermon, and a few occasional sermons, were the principal 
productions of his pen ever published. 

Although the town consented to the dismission of Dr. Moore 

VOL. II. 4 


with reluctance and regret, and his removal was then considered a 
public misfortune to his society, they were so fortunate as to unite 
immediately in giving an unanimous call to Mr. John Nelson, Jr. 
to become their minister. He accepted the call, and was ordained 
March 4, 1812; but a little more than four months from the time 
of Dr. Moore's dismission. His salary at first was $450 per annum, 
but is at present, (1826) $650. Mr. Nelson was a native of Hop- 
kinton, in this state, from whence he removed with his father to 
Worcester. He graduated at Williams College, in 1807, and was 
subsequently a tutor in that college, and afterwards pursued his 
theological studies under the tuition of the Uev. Dr. Austin, of 

From the time of the dismission of Mr. Parsons, the congrega- 
tional society have, for the most part, been in a state of great 
peace and tranquillity, and this spirit has prevailed in regard to re- 
ligious opinions throughout the town ; although there have, for 
many years, been several religious societies who have places of 
worship here. The first congregational meeting house was erect- 
ed before the year 1721, though not completed till many years after- 
wards. That having gone much to decay, and being inconvenient, 
a new one was erected and completed in 1784 and '5, a little in the 
rear of the original house. 

From the settlement of Mr. Parsons, till 1768, if the society was 
provided with church music at all, those who sung were scattered 
promiscuously through the audience. In that year, " the use of 
the hinder most seat in the front gallery" was appropriated to "those 
who had learned the rules of singing," and it was not till 1780, that 
the singers were allowed to sit in the front seat in the gallery. 

Besides the congregational society, there has, for a long time, 
been a society of Baptists, and one of Friends; an Episcopalian 
society has recently been organized in the town. There was, 
from 1777 till 1783, a society of Jews resident in this town. They 
removed here in the winter of 1777, from Newport, in Rhode Is- 
land, to escape from the war then raging so violently along our 
coasts, and especially threatening the devoted island upon which 
Newport is Situated, then in possession of the enemy. There were, 
in the whole, including servants, about seventy who removed here; 
though many of the servants were not of the Jewish faith. A- 
mong the most respectable Jews, were Aaron Lopez, and four 
others of the name of Lopez, Jacob llevera, and Abraham Men- 


tier.* Most of tbera engaged immediately in trade, and Aaron Lo- 
pe*, In particular, was very extensively engaged. He occupied, 
oiul in part built, the house afterwards occupied for the Academy. 
Licences to these are recorded in the town records, "to sell Bohea 
and other Indian teas." They all resided here until after the peace 
of 1783, Although, so far as respected their religion, they were 
entire!/ distinct from the rest of the inhabitants of the town : they 
were, in all other respects, on terms of great intimacy and friend- 
ship. . They always observed the rites and ceremouies of their law, 
and their stores were closed from Friday evening until Monday 
morning.t They were prudent, industrious, and enterprising, and 
many of them were elegant in their address and deportment, and 
possessed an extensive knowledge of the world. They were much 
respected and esteemed by the inhabitants of the town, and always 
seemed to remember with pleasure, the kindness and civilities 
they, on their part, received while resident here, and availed them- 
selves, ever afterwards, of every opportunity that presented to ex- 
press these feelings, as many who experienced their attentions 
when in Newport would attest. J 

Of all those who removed to this town from Newport, no one 
now remains here. The last of their number removed, a few 
years since, to New York. The synagogue where they worship- 
ped, is now desolate and forsaken; the grass waves luxuriantly in 
the court yard ; and the little furniture remains, as when last used 
for holy service more than thirty years ago. The church yard, in 
which most of this number are buried, is still preserved in a state 
of uncommon neatness and beauty. But we have digressed, per- 

• Aarou Lopez occupied what was afterwards the old Academy. Joseph 
wka tho ton of Aaron, aud lived with hiin. Moses and Jacob were clerks for 
Aarou. Mender lived, for a time, where B. Ilobart now lives, about half a 
mile north of the meeting house, and afterwards in the old house at the foot 
of the meeting house hill, called the "Southgate house." Ilevera lived in 
the bouie which forms a part of the Hotel, opposite the meeting house. 

t A child of one of the families having one day tasted of some pork, in one 
of the neighbor's houses, its mother, immediately, upon learning the fact, ad- 
ministered a powerful emetic, and thus cast out the sin of which it had been 
unconsciously guilty. 

$The death of Mr. Aaron Lopez, the most wealthy and intelligent of 
their number, took place under circumstances peculiarly distressing. Trav- 
elling to Providence, himself in a gig, accompanied by his wife and family in 
a carriage, he drove into Scott's pond, in Smithfield, to water his horse, 
when, from the abruptness of the shore, the horse sunk immediately beyond 
hii depth, and drawing the gig after him, threw Mr. Lopez into the water, 
where he perished, in presence of his family, whose efforts to save him were 



haps too far, to follow to their last resting place, those, who once 
formed a respectable portion of the population of this town. Their 
history had no important connection with that of the town, and it 
entirely ceased at the time of their removal in 1783. 

A society of Anabaptists was formed in this town, about the year 
1738. The first minister of the society was Dr. Thomas Green, a 
physician of considerable note in his day. It was chiefly through 
his instrumentality that the society was gathered. This church 
appears to have once formed part of a society of Baptists in Sut- 
ton, of which Dr. Green was one of the pastors. 

Dr. Green was a native of Maiden, Mass. and was one of 
the early settlers of Leicester. His circuit of business as a 
Physician was extensive, and his life was that of active and 
persevering industry. His success as a preacher was also very 
considerable, and a very respectable society was gathered. A 
meeting house was built through his agency, about three miles 
from the congregational meeting house. This house requiring 
great repairs, the society, in 1825, enlarged and repaired it, 
and it is now a very neat and convenient house of worship. Dr. 
Green died in 1773, at the age of 73 years, after a life distin- 
guished for its activity and usefulness. His descendants, though 
not very numerous, have been among the useful and distin- 
guished men of the county; and some of them have particularly 
excelled in the profession of medicine, for which they have shown 
a predilection. 

Dr. Green was succeeded, as a pastor of this church, by the 
Rev. Benjamin Foster, D. D. whose talents and acquirements rank- 
ed him among the highest order of the profession. He was a na- 
tive of Danvers, Mass. and born June 12, 1750. At the age of 18, 
he entered Yale College, where he was regularly graduated, and 
afterwards pursued the study of Theology under the tuition of Dr. 
Stillman, of Boston, and was ordained over the Baptist Church in 
Leicester, in 1772, where he continued several years, and while 
there, published some controversial tracts of considerable merit. 
Soon after leaving Leicester, he was settled in Newport, R. I. and, 
in 1788, became the pastor of the first Baptist church in the city 
of New York, where he continued till his death, in 1798. He re- 
ceived the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity at Brown Uni- 
versity, in 1792, in consequence of a learned treatise upon " the 
seventy weeks of Daniel," which he had previously published. 
He was a distinguished scholar, an eminent preacher, and a consis- 


tent christian. He fell a victim to the yellow fever, which pre- 
vailed in the city of New York during the summer of his death. 
Not dauoted in the performance of his parochial duties, he was 
unremitting in bis attention to the sick and dying, and he shrunk not 
from those scenes of ailliction, from which so many of the hest and 
the bravest recoiled with terror. He died August 26, 1793, at the 
•ge of 49 years. He was twice married, his first wife being the 
daughter of the Rev. Dr. Green, of Leicester, and the other, a lady 
from New York. 

Dr. Foster was succeeded in the charge of the Leicester church 
by Mr. Isaac Beals ; whose successor was Mr. Nathan Dana; and 
his again was Mr. Peter Rogers, who became the pastor of a church 
in Leyden, Mass. after his removal from Leicester. Since Mr. Rog- 
ers' removal, the church has been supplied pretty constantly with 
preachers, though no one has been regularly ordained over it.* 
There are funds, in lands, to the amount of $1000, belonging to 
the society, and though called to struggle with difficulties, it has 
ever maintained a respectable standing. It had, in 1812, seventy 
eight communicants in the church, and, at present, there are 
about forty two. Mr. Harris at present officiates in this society 
as their pastor, though he has not been ordained. A part of this 
society were separated, about 1818, and formed a part of a Baptist 
society in the northeast part of Spencer, and to this circumstance 
may be referred, the diminished number of its members. 

There has been a respectable society of Friends in this town 
for a great number of years. In 1732, eight persons filed their 
certificate with the Town Clerk that they belonged to that persua- 
sion, who, either from a mistake in spelling, or to make an angry 
and execrable pun, calls them " those people called Quackers/'} 
As no records are preserved of the early history of this society, we 
have not been able to trace it any farther than to the uniting of 
the families of these eight persons into a society. They had a 
house of worship, which stood where the present meeting house of 
that people stands ; but when it was erected, we have not been 

* Among those who supplied the pulpit, was the Rev. Mr. Hill, who is 
now a deservedly acceptable aud popular preacher, in New Haven, Conn. 

+ Among the original number of those professing themselves Friends, in 
this town, was Mr. Ralph Earle, many of whose descendants of the same 
name, have belonged to this society, and been among the most respectable 
inhabitants of the town. Indeed, most of the members of this society, in this 
town, have been distinguished for their enterprise and intelligence, and have 
ever formed an useful aud respectable portion of the population of the town, 
distinguished for their probity, hospitality, - and wealth. 


able to learn. The society, having become numerous, and that 
house being old, and somewhat decayed, in 1791, they removed 
the old, and built the present meeting house, which, according to 
Whitney, is a " very good house for their way of worship." It is 
situate in the north part of the town, about one and an half miles 
from the Congregational meeting house. The house is commodi- 
ous, and of good proportions, although destitute of any thing orna- 
mental. The spot in which it stands is retired, and almost sur- 
rounded with forest trees ; around it, repose in their " nameless 
graves," the ashes of those who have died of the society. Though 
we do not profess any particular attachment to their "way of wor- 
ship," we know of but few spots more calculated to awaken serious 
reflections than this. A solemn stillness reigns around it, and it 
seems as if it might be one of those few places where the cares of 
the world do not intrude. The society consists, at present, of 
about one hundred and thirty members, not all of whom, however, 
belong to Leicester. 

In 1823, an Episcopalian society was gathered and formed, in 
the south part of Leicester, embracing the manufacturing establish- 
ment there, and several families from Oxford North Gore, and from 
Charlton. Among the most active in forming this society were, 
Mr. Anderton, whose name we have before had occasion to men- 
tion, Samuel Hartwell, Esq. and family, Francis Wilby, an English 
gentleman, resident in Boston, and several other gentlemen, with 
their families, who resided in the vicinity of the church.* 

A very neat church for the use of this society was erected, by 
private subscription, and was consecrated by Bishop Griswold, on 
the last Wednesday in May, 1824. The Rev. Joseph Muenscher 
had previously been employed by the society, and it was now put 
under his pastoral charge. He is the present rector of this church, 
which is in a flourishing state. This was the first Episcopal church 
ever formed in Worcester County, and has had difficulties and dis- 
couragements to encounter, such as usually attend the formation of 
a new society. The church is situated upon the south side of the 
Stafford turnpike, about fifty rods from French River, and the Lei- 
cester and Saxon factories. Mr. Muenscher is a native of Provi- 
dence, and was graduated at Brown University. He studied The- 
ology at Andover, and was admitted to orders by Bishop Griswold, 

* Among the most active of these was Mr. Ilezekiah Stone, who liberally 
gave the ground upon which the church is erected, besides conferring other 
acts of liberality. 


in March, 1824, Immediately after which, he took charge of the 
church in Leicester. His marriage with a daughter of the late Jo- 
seph Washburn, was, we believe, the first ever consummated in 
this county in Episcopal form. 

Such are some of the outlines of the ecclesiastical history of the 
town of Leicester, which, though necessarily imperfect, are suffi- 
cient to show, that the inhabitants of the town have been highly 
favored, in general, in respect to the important interests of religious 
instruction. Many of their teachers have been eminent for their 
faithfulness and abilities ; and, on the other hand, the people have 
generally 9hown a good degree of liberality in contributing to the 
support of their clergymen. The utmost harmony and good fel- 
lowship has uniformly prevailed among the diiferent sects and so- 
cieties in town, each extending to the others, that courtesy and 
confidence which become those professing the same faith, though 
differing, in some particulars, in their mode of worship and form of 
government. In the interchange of civilities, in the election of civ- 
il officers, and in almost all the relations of society and social life, 
no distinction is made between members of different societies. 
Each is left to worship God according to the dictates of his con- 
science, and the consequence has been, that the town has flourish- 
ed and prospered, while many, possessing equal natural advantag- 
es, have been distracted by intestine divisions, and lost that elevat- 
ed rank they might otherwise have held. 

Citil History. — We feel no inconsiderable reluctance to at- 
tempt the civil history of this town, for the records have been 
found so imperfect, and the traditionary accounts so vague, that we 
are aware of our inability to do any thing like justice to the sub- 
ject, and that it must be extremely imperfect, even in relation to 
those portions that are the most interesting and important. But 
we have been able to glean enough from its records and the recol- 
lection of some of its aged inhabitants to furnish to a more patient 
and successful laborer a clue, by which to guide his future inves- 

According to the Massachusetts Register, annually published in 
Boston, the town of Leicester is the fifth incorporated, in what is 
now the County of Worcester, and was incorporated, agreeably 
with the Record we have before copied, in 1713. Whitney incor- 
rectly places this event in 1720, or 1721. 

As early as 1721, the town had begun to exercise the powers 
of an incorporated town, by choosing all the officers belonging to 


such a town, anJ was, moreover, represented in the General Court 
of the Province, though no record of any choice is to be found un- 
til the next year, when the same men who represented them the 
year before were again chosen.* 

The first Corn Mill in town was erected in 1722, and as an in- 
ducement to build it, the town voted that it should forever be 
exempt from taxation. It stood, as is believed, on the north side 
of the great post road, ahout half a mile from the meeting house. 

Although quite a numher of town meetings were held, and 
their transactions recorded, previous to 1721, we do not find his 
Majesty's name made use of, in any way, previous to that time, 
when a meeting was first called " in his Majesty's name." This, 
however, was rather the result of accident, or imperfect records, 
than from any want of loyalty, or from the preponderance of re- 
publican feelings ; since, at that day, loyalty and patriotism were 
convertible terms, and even at a later day, some of the leading men 
in town were distinguished for their loyalty.! 

, We have not been able to ascertain to what extent the inhabitants 
of the town suffered from the depredations of the Indians. They un- 
doubtedly shared in the horrors of the wars which the natives car- 
ried on against the people of the province. In 1726, the town was 

*The Hon. John Minsie was the person elected. He was a leading man 
in town and appears to have been very respectable and influential. He re- 
moved from Roxbury to Leicester, and is usually stiled Judge Minsie in the 
records of the town. When or where he held that office, we have not been 
able to ascertain. He resided upon a tract of 500 ucres, which he owned, 
around tlie Henshaw Poud, and was long remembered for having introduced 
the " IVkite /Ftecf, 11 principally, we believe, on account of its beauty. 

t Among these, we would name with respect, the Hon. Thomas Steel, 
Esq. a native of Boston, who removed to Leicester and built a dwelling house 
about half a mile east of the meeting house which is yet standing (called the 
Southgate house.) He was liberally educated, and graduated at Cambridge, 
in 1730, and stands upon the catalogue of that year, when each student's 
name was arranged according to his relative rank in life, the fourth in order ; 
the first being the famous Peter Oliver, to whom the province afterwards owed 
so much of its difficulties and distress. Mr. Steel, was bred a merchant, 
and pursued that business till his removal from Boston to Leicester, where 
he also kept a store. He was, from 1756 to 1774, an associate judge of the 
Court of Common Pleas in Worcester County, and always remained firm in 
his loyalty to the King. It is noticable, that the most spirited resolutions of 
the town against the aggressions of the mother country, previous to 1770, are 
recorded in the town records in his hand writing — a kind of involuntary trea- 
son that he dare not refuse to commit. He was wealthy when he first came 
to this town ; but owing to misfortunes, his wealth became very much reduc- 
ed. His influence, until the revolution, was, deservedly great; for he was a 
man of intelligence and integrity. He was several times chosen to represent 
the town, in the General Court, and successively held mo3t of the responsible 


Nt the expense of erecting a garrison, as it was called, around the 
house of Mr. Parsons, to protect them from the attacks of the sav- 
ages. This was a little north east of the meeting house. There 
were other garrisons, for the 9ame purpose, erected in other parti 
of the town. One of these, wa9 near the dwelling house, belong- 
ing to Ihe Henshaw family, near the Ilenshaw pond, and its outlines 
may bt traced now. The house occupied hy John King, Esq. in 
the aouth part of Leicester, upon the Oxford road, was also, as is 
believed, a garrison house, and marks of musket balls are yet said 
to he visible in parts of it, which can be referred only to the times 
of the Indian wars. Another garrison was near Mr. Jonah Earle's 
dwelling house. 

The town seems to have been troubled in its fiscal concerns 
for some time after its settlement. The inhabitants, immediately 
upon their removing here, assumed the expenses of schools and 
the support of a minister, which, together with the necessary high- 
ways they were compelled to make, rendered their expenses bur- 
densome ; especially, as much of the land in town became, in the 
course of years, either the property of a few individuals in town, or 
of those, who, residing out of it, were exempt from the burdens ot 
the resident proprietors. They lived too, at a time when false no- 
tions of wealth and public economy prevailed. An unhealthy, and 
almost worthless currency, had inundated the state, and the gener- 
al complaint of a scarcity of money prevailed throughout the prov- 
ince. The inhabitants of this town, in common with the majority 
of the people of the province, were deceived into an opinion that 
the difficulties under which all were laboring might be removed 
by new emissions of paper money, which must ever be worthless, 
when It ceases to he the representative of real wealth, and so re- 
deemable that its nominal, may become its actual value, at (he will 
of the holder. In 1727, an emission of JEG0,000 in paper money, 
was made by the Legislature, and loaned to the people of the prov- 
ince, the interest arising from which was to go towards the sup- 
port of government. This town appointed trustees to receive its 
proportion of this grant and "to loan it to the inhabitants, so that no 
one should have more than ten, nor less than five pounds. 

The question as to the value of the currency, from time to time, 
in the early history of NewEngland, though interesting and important 
in a historical point of view is attended with too much labor and 
difficulty and would occupy too much time for us to attempt to set- 
tle. Its fluctuations were so frequent, and its depreciation often 

VOL. II. 13 


so great, that what, at first sight, may seem enormous sums, when 
reduced by the scale of depreciation, for the time being, dwindle 
into comparative insignificance. The depreciation of the money 
was not so great, before the year 1745, as it afterwards was. The 
only criterion which we possess to ascertain any thing like its stand- 
ard value is, a comparison of the prices of labor and produce at 
different times, during our history. In 172G, four shillings per day, 
were allowed by the town for labor upon a "garrison" they were 
then building. In 1754, two shillings per day for men, and one 
shilling for a yoke of oxen were allowed upon the highways. In 
1774, three shillings per day for men were allowed. In 1780, so 
rapid had the money depreciated, that six pounds per day were 
paid for labor on the highways. In 1775, the delegate in the 
Provincial Congress from this town, received five shillings per day 
for his services. The same sum was paid, in 1788, to representa- 
tives in the General Court, while Senators had five shillings and 
sixpence, and Counsellors six shillings, per day. The compensa- 
tion of members of Congress from this State was fixed, that year, 
at four dollars per day. The next year, this town gave their rep- 
resentative but four shillings per day. In 1790, labor on the high- 
ways was fixed at three shillings per day, and the next year, at 
two. In the year 1752, one pound, lawful money, was paid for 
boarding a school master six weeks; and in 1779, the member of 
the convention that formed the Constitution, from this town, paid 
one hundred and eighty two dollars per week, for his board. In 
1780, the ratio of depreciation of tbe old money was, as 40 to 1. 

In 1776, a committee was appointed, agreeably to a resolve of 
the General Court, to fix the prices at which labor, produce, &c. 
then stood, and this estimation must have been made in reference 
to a currency then at par. The list of articles, prepared and re- 
ported by this committee, was very large, and we will only trans- 
scribe a few items from the report, for the purpose of comparing 
them with the same articles at the present day. Labor, per day, 
in the summer, was estimated at three shillings ; and in the winter, 
at half that sum : by the year, at twenty pounds. Men's shoes, at 
eight shillings per pair; horse hire, at two pence per mile : shoe- 
ing a horse, five and sixpence ; a good gun and bayonet at eighty 
four shillings; Indian corn, at three shillings; Rye, at four and 
sixpence ; wheat, at six shillings per bushel : Butter, nine pence ; 
$eef, three and a halfpence per pound; salt pork, at eight pence, 
per pound : and " Toddy and Flip 1 " 1 at one shilling "per mug. n 


The depreciation of the currency was not confined to the emis- 
sion from this btate. In 1786, five dollars of the Rhode Island 
currency, and eight dollars of that of New Hampshire, were worth 
but throe shilling* here. But we are approaching too extensive a 
subject for our means or time to master, and must therefore leave 
it for ioido curious aud patient antiquarian. 

It would he impossible to tix the actual state of the depreciation 
•I different times ; since it was so rapid, and withal so fluctuating, 
that a person was chosen by this town, in 1 786, to report, as often as 
ooce a week, to the inhabitants, the value of the paper money and 
public securities. 

The early records of the town are quite imperfect, and only a 
partial account of the transactions they purport to record, can be 
gleaned from them : we can, therefore, hardly pursue a correct 
chronological order in relatiug those circumstances which we have 
been able to gather respecting its history. Many of the votes 
passed and some of the officers chosen are not perfectly obvious in 
their necessity or policy. We can hardly conceive the necessity 
for a " clerk of the market" in a place where none bought, and 
few sold any thiug of a marketable character, yet that office, as 
well as that of deer-reeve, was regularly filled for a great many 
years after the incorporation of the town. Another officer who 
was chosen annually for many years, but, though a statute officer, is 
now discontinued, was a " warden." The best solution ot this 
was offered by an elderly gentleman, of whom we enquired the 
use, that coming from Old England our fathers wanted to have 
every thing here as they had left them at home. 

The inhabitants were troubled, for many years, by the proprie- 
tors of the landi, most of which then lay common, taking cattle from 
abroad to pasture upon these common laDds ; and in order to pre- 
vent this, they levied a tax of ten shillings per head, upon all cat- 
tle so taken to be fed ; and a still more singular vote was passed, 
that all rams running at large should be "free plunder," and any 
one who should take such, might have them, for his own. 

Although, as we have seen, the people of the town must have 
been far from wealthy, for many years after settling here, they 
were not burthened with taxes for the support of the poor until 
1745, when provision was made for the support of -a poor child 
that happened to be in need: not many years after, a small sum 
was appropriated to help a poor man to provide himself with a 
cow. It is impossible now to ascertain the precise amount which 


Hisxony OF U:iGE3TEI\. 

has been expended for the support of the poor of the town since 
that time. We may safely assert, that from live to eight hundred 
dollars are annually expended, for this purpose, at present. 

The people of the town were affected, in common with those of 
the whole of New England, by the early wars with the 'French, and 
furnished men, from time to time, to aid the expeditions which were 
carried on by the Province. The meagerness of the records leaves 
us in uncertaint3', as to the numbers actually engaged in these wars, 
from this town. But when the Grand Canada expedition, as it was 
called, was planned by Governor Shirley, in 1746, to drive the 
French from their North American possessions, this town furnished 
men for the army then raised, and, as an additional compensation 
for their sacrifices, their taxes were abated by the town. 

Every thing favored a prevalence of loyal feelings among the 
people of New England, at this period, and in Leicester, no less 
than in other parts of the country ; some of its most leading men 
■were natives of Great Britain, and had all the ties of kindred, be- 
sides the natural feeling of attachment to the place of their birth, 
to bind them to the mother country. Richard Southgate, and Dan- 
iel Denny, both of them influential men in their day, were natives 
of Coombs, in Suffolk county, in England.* They left Coombs in 
June, 1715, and arrived in Boston in September. The next year, 
Southgate went back to England and returned with his family, and 
Dr. Thomas Prince, who had been the clergyman of Coombs, and 
was afterwards settled in Boston, the venerable annalist of New 
England. They arrived in Boston, in July, 1717; in the March 
following, Southgate and family, and Denny and family, removed to 
Leicester. Mr. Denny settled upon the farm, still in possession of 
the family, about two miles south east from the meeting-house. He 
was a brother of Dr. Prince's wife, and of Major Denny, as he is 
called, who settled, about the year 1728, in Maine, where he be- 
came a man of wealth and influence, being, at the time of his 
death, first Judge of the " court of pleas," and president of the 
court of sessions in the county of Lincoln.! 

♦Richard Southgate was born in 1673, and died at the age of 88 years, in 
1758. Daniel Denny was born 1694, and died April 16, 1760, at the age of 
66 years. 

"tRichard Southgate had two sons, Stuart and Richard : the first, the 
father of the Hon. Robert Southgate, of Scarborough, Maine, and of the late 
Capt. John Southgate, whose family still reside in Leicester. The children 
of Richard were more numerous, and one branch of his family only, bearing 
his name, remains in Leicester — the children of his son Isaac. 

Daniel Denny had two sons, Tkomas and Samuel. Both of them we shall 


The precise number of men furnished by this town during the French wars, as they were called, cannot now be precisely 
ascertained; that it was never backward in furnishing its quotas, 
the facts which are recorded of those times, and their promptness 
In subsequent calls, most clearly prove. 

One man yet survives, at the advanced age of 86, who was a 
soldier from 1760 to 1761, and wa9 in the memorable affair of Fort 
William Henry, in 1767, when so many English and Americans 
were massacred by the savages of Montcalm's army. His name is 
Knight Sprague, a native of llingham, from which place he march- 
ed, in 1756. The next year, he was with Col. Bradstreet at the 
taking of Fort Frontinac, on Lake Ontario. His memory is yet ac- 
curate and tenacious. Fort William Henry was surrendered, ac- 
cording to hi9 account, about 10 o'clock on Wednesday morning, 
and the English were detained till the next morning and guarded 
by the French. As soon however as the army hail left the fort, to 
take up their march, according to the terms of capitulation, the 
Indians rushed upon them, and began to strip and kill the prison- 
ers. Sprague escaped, after being partially stripped. — His captain 
was stripped naked, as were many women, he passed, in his 
flight, towards Fort Edward. Of the half company to which he 
belonged, fifteen out of the fifty, were killed, that day. Munro, the 
British commander, as represented by Sprague, was a dignified 
man of about fifty years of age. Montcalm was a fine looking man, 
extremely well formed, and very active and graceful, but small in 

The inhabitants of this town early felt, and boldly expressed, an 
opposition to those acts of the mother country which tended to cur- 
tail the liberties of the colonies. At this day, it is difficult to real- 
ize, in all their forces, the feelings of the colonists from 1763 till 
their independence was acknowledged. History has done them 
justice as a nation, and eulogies upon the prominent leaders in that 
struggle have preserved their names and handed them down to pos- 
terity with a lustre which time cannot dim. But injustice must, of 
necessity, have been done to those no less deserving men, who, in 
the private circles, the village meetings, and the smaller assem- 
blies of the people, kept alive that sacred flame that burned so 

have occasion to mention hereafter. The son of Thomas was the late Col. 
Thomas, and father of the present Thomas Denny. Samuel had several 
•ons, among whom, was the Hon. Nathaniel P. Denny. These families 
have ever held a highly respectable station in society, and had deserved in- 
fluence in town. 


brightly through the land. It is surprising to read, on the records 
of obscure villages and towns, resolutions and sentiments that would 
have done credit to the hall of Congress. We do not speak un- 
guardedly. Resolutions are now preserved in our town records, 
which were prepared and acted upon in the years of the American 
revolution, that only want the name of a statesman as their author, 
to make them rank in interest and importance with those which 
have been so generally and justly admired. In this town, though 
its population must have been small, though its inhabitants had en- 
joyed none but ordinary means of education, and though, as it is 
believed, no one, except their clergyman, of the whig party, had 
ever enjoyed the means of a public education, and many of the 
foremost men were even destitute of a good common education, its 
records cannot now be read, without exciting admiration at the 
knowledge and disci imination of political principles and of public 
wrongs and injuries which those records evince. 

The town were in the habit of giving to their representatives 
instructions upon those topics upon which they felt the most inter- 
est. This began in 1765, when John Brown was chosen their rep- 
resentative in the General Court of the Province. A committee was 
then appointed to draft resolutions, of which, Daniel Henshaw was 
chairman ; the report was presented to the people, in town meeting, 
and there accepted. It will be impossible to do justice to any -of 
these papers, by the few extracts we shall be able to give, but their 
length renders the entire insertion impossible. 

The state of the controversy, at that time, is too well known to 
need a recapitulation of its history here, in order to understand the 
sketches we shall give. The contest about taxing the colonies 
was high j the stamp act had been passed; and the popular excite- 
ment had extended so far, in Boston, as to lead to the destruction of 
Governor Hutchinson's house by the mob. The instructions to 
Capt. Brown, alluded to " the then critical juncture of time and af- 
fairs," and expressed the expectation that their representative will 
maintain " their natural rights ; their rights as Englishmen, which 
derive to them as subjects of Great Britain, and those granted them 
by charter." They charge him to be frugal of the money belong- 
ing to the government, and to be strictly careful that it be not 
drawn out of the treasury, but by appropriation of the General 
Court ; as any other course would be, virtually, taxing the people 
contrary to the constitution, and in subversion of one of their dar- 
ling rights. They speak of the levying taxes, and the "stamp act. 


which, they cannot but think, is contrary to the rights of man, sub- 
versive of the English constitution, and directly tending to bring 
them into n stnte of abject slavery and vassalage : that they purchas- 
ed and settled this country, without expense to Great Britain, and 
hare cheerfully contributed to advance her glory and prosperity, 
and therefore expect all the privileges of citizens of that govern- 
ment : that they esteem it an essential privilege to be taxed by 
their representatives, and that they had no voice in levying the 
•tamp act, so burdensome, especially, upon the widow and father- 
less." The Instructions also refer to the stretch of admiralty pow- 
ers of the court, more alarming than the stamp act itself, "by 
which, every man, at the option of a malicious informer, is liable 
to be carried a thousand miles before a court of vice admiralty ; 
there tried without jury, amerced by an arbitrary judge, and taxed 
with costs, as he shall please ; and if the parties have not where- 
with to satisfy the same, to die in prison in a foreign land, without 
friends to bury them : this we apprehend to be repugnant to the 
magna charta, by which no freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, or 
deprived of his liberties, or free customs, nor passed upon, nor con- 
demned, but by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of 
the land. The love we bear to our fellow subjects of Great Biitain, 
the love and duty we owe to ourselves and posterit}', yea, the 
first instinct of nature, the great law of self preservation, all appear 
contrary to said act." They proceed to lament the state into 
which the country was thrown, and reprobate, in the strongest 
terms, the riots that had taken place : they express their surprise 
and regret at the Governor's imputing these to the people of the 
Province ; charge the representative by no means to agree to any 
thing which might show a willingness to submit to the obnoxious 
acts of Parliament, nor to consent to make good the damages sus- 
tained by the Governor in the riot, since that might lead to such 
practices in future. 

Our extracts, though somewhat liberal, convey but a slight idea 
of the spirit, or style and language of the paper. Its length alone, 
precludes our inserting it entire ; for nothing can better show the 
precise state of public feeling, at that time, than documents like, 
this, in which it is so undisguisedly expressed. We cannot but 
again repeat our surprise, at the high state of excitement which so 
early prevailed in a community, which was, comparatively, destitute 
of newspapers and posts, by which, at the present day, a feeling in, 
one part of the nation is, at once, communicated to everv part. The 


men, who, in language like that we have transcribed, could talk of 
th«2 principles of the British constitution, the magna charta, and of 
trial by jury, were but a chance selection from the general mass 
of the people, pursuing the same callings, and possessing the same 
advantages with them, and during an adjournment of their meeting 
for an hour, wrought such sentiments into a report which was unan- 
imously accepted by the people of the town. It is unnecessary to 
repeat, that the efforts of their representative, in pursuance of his 
instructions, were unavailing. The continued aggressions of the 
crown disclosed, how little the government regarded the first mov- 
ings of that mighty flood that was to overwhelm them. 

After the dissolution of the General Court of the Province, by 
the Governor, in 1768, the town of Boston passed several very spir- 
ited resolutions; in accordance with these, and in consequence of 
the alarming crisis of affairs, this town adopted sundry resolutions, 
in which tlftey condemn the dissolution of General Court, and the 
delay in summoning another, as real grievances, and chose a dele- 
gate to meet with a convention, in Boston, called by the recommen- 
dation of the people of that town, in consequence of the delay of» 
the Governor in calliug a new General Court. Capt. John Brown 
was chosen their delegate, and instructed not to sutVer any thing to 
be done rashly, and that every mild measure be adopted that might 
be consistent with the duties of Englishmen, claiming their rights. 

This town very promptly united in preventing the importation 
of English goods, with those, ivh« hoped, by this measure, to make 
the people in the various sections, feel the importance of the Amer- 
ican market for their prosperity, and therefore combine, to prevent 
the ministry from persevering in measures, so ruinous to the moth- 
er country, as well as the colonies. At a town meeting, held in 
January, 1770, they voted not to purchase of those merchants in 
Boston, who imported goods from Great Britain ; and at the same 
time, voted their thanks to those merchants, who, by refusing to 
import such goods, sacrificed their own interest to the good of 
their country.* 

*This meeting was called, in consequence of the following petition, from 
sundry individuals to the Selectmen, dated Dec. 25, 17tj9, viz. — Whereas, 
there are several persons in tins province who have sordidly detached them- 
selves from the public interest, and have taken advantage of the agreement 
entered into by the merchants for non-importatio'n, thereby endeavoring 
to defeat their noble design of saving their country from slavery : We, the 
subscribers, will endeavor, by all lawful means, to prevent their base designs, 
and for that end, we pray that you will grant a warrant for the calling a 
town meeting, to act on the following articles, viz. — To vote that any person, 


The defect of newspapers at that day was, so fur as the oppo- 
lition lo the crown was concerned, pretty well supplied hy pam- 
phlets and similar publications from the press, which were liber- 
ally scattered through the land. Whatever was thus sent, was sure 
to be read. The selectmen of this town, having 1 received one of 
there, together with a circular letter from the town of Boston, in 
1772, Immediately summoned the town together to hear them read. 
The pamphlet was one " wherein the rights of the colonists, and 
Ihe Infringement thereof, are set forth. 1 ' After hearing it, the town 
voted, that ** the rights, as there stated, do belong 10 the inhabitants 
of this province," and chose a committee, of which Capt. Brown 
was chairman, lo prepare resolutions in accord with the pamphlet. 
Among these, they express their allegiance to the King ; their wil- 
lingness to risk their lives and fortunes in defence of their rights; 
that Parliament had passed laws subversive of their rights and priv- 
ileges; that "the British Parliament, or any other power on earth, 
had no right to dispose of one cent of their property without their 
consent, in person, or hy representatives ; and that carrying any per- 
son out of this province, or beyond sea, for any supposed crime, is 
contrary to the magna chaita, and unconstitutional." They, at the 
same time, gave instructions to their representative, Thomas Den- 
ny, Ksq. wherein they recapitulate the wrdngs to be redressed. 
Among others, that the Governor is independent of the people for 
his salary, and the Judges dependent on the crown, when they 
ought, to be independent both of prince and people, in order to an 
impartial administration of justice ; and upon this subject they quote 

being an inhabitant of Leicester, who shall, directly, or indirectly, purchase 
any goods, or merchandize, of John Barnard, James and Patrick McMasters, 
John Mcin, Anne and Elizabeth Cuuimings, all of Bostr,n, Henry Barnet, of 
Marlborough, Dunkin <fc Campbell, of Worcester, or any other person who 
import* goods from Great Britain, or shop keeper who purchases goods of an 
importer, contrary to the agreement entered into by the merchants of Boston, 
such persons, so offending, shall be deemed enemies to America, and as such, 
shall be recorded in the town's book of records. 1 ' 

This was from the pen of Col. William Henshaw. and was signed by twen- 
ty eijht persons, among whom were Nathan Sargent, David Henshaw, John 
Southgate, Thomas Newhall, &c. 

In May, HTO, a company of forty six men, from this town, formed them- 
selves iuto a body, for the purpose of learning the manual exercise, drill, &c. 
of the soldier. They electr-d VVm. Henshaw their Captain, Seth Washburn, 
Lieutenant, and Samuel Denny, Ensign ; and so intent were they upon be- 
coming properly instructed in these essential qualifications of soldiers, that 
they devoted certain afternoons in each week for the purpose, and punctually 
attended to the duty, although the season of the year seemed to require their, 
constant attention to their farms. Five only of the company yet survive : 
Benjamin Watson, William Watson, Marmaduke Earle, Abner Dunbar, and 
Jonathan Hubbard. 

VOL. II. 14 


freely, from a popular and patriotic work of the day, whose author 
is not given. They urge a petition to the King, in hopes of success, 
as the Earl of Hillsborough had then been dismissed from the min- 
istry and a nobleman friendly to the colonies succeeded him. They, 
at the same time, recommended an intercourse with the other col- 
onies "as we are embarked in a common cause." " In tine, when 
we reflect upon the evils our forefathers underwent in the settle- 
ment of this country, the dangers to which they stood continually 
exposed from an insidious and blood thirsty foe, and the blood and 
treasure they expended, we think ourselves justly entitled to all 
the calamities an envious despot can heap upon us, should we tame- 
ly and pusillanimously suffer the execution of them," (the laws re- 
specting the colonies.) " It would be despising the bounties of our 
creator ; an infamous prostitution of ourselves, anJ a total disregard 
to posterity." 

We do not feel at liberty, in the space allotted us, to make ex- 
tracts from all the resolutions which were passed by the inhabitants 1 
of this town : for there was not a year elapsed, in which they did 
not express a sense of their grievances, and that with a degree of 
determination, constantly gaining strength and boldness, as the strug- 
gle progressed. We cannot forbear adding a few more extiacts, to 
those we have already given. 

In 1773, the town again chose Thomas Denny their Repre- 
sentative, and, among other instructions to him, recommend a stand- 
ing committee of correspondence, as suggested by the House of 
Burgesses of Virginia, and enjoin upon him an effort to put an end 
to slavery and the slave trade in this province. In December, of 
the same year, they expressed their feelings upon the continued 
encroachments of the Crown, and denounced the levy of duties on 
imported articles, pledging themselves to oppose, to the utmost of 
their power, and at the hazard of their lives, any imposition un- 
constitutionally laid upon them. They, at the same time, resolved 
that they would not use any tea, " while loaded with a tribute, con- 
trary to their consent," and that, whoever shall use "that destruc- 
tive herb," shall be deemed inimical to his country, as endeavor- 
ing to counteract the doings of those, who were zealous for its well- 
fare. A resolution of thanks to Boston, was voted. A committee 
of fourteen was appointed, to examine as to the use of tea in town, 
and to report the names of those who made use of it. And a copy 
of tbese resolutions was sent to the committee of correspondence 
in Boston. 


1q May, 1774, after the harbor of Boston had been blocked up, 
by order of the British Parliament, a circular letter was received 
from Boston, to which the town immediately replied, expressing a 
spirit of becoming indignation at such an act of tyranny, and assur- 
ed the Botlonians of the readiness of the people of this town to 
•Uud by them In their distress. « The cause," sny they, " is in- 
teresting to ull 'America, and all America must be convinced of this 
great truth, that by uniting, we shall stand." 

The Court of Sessions of this county, this year, had made an 
address lo the Governor, in which they reilected, with great se- 
verity, upon the conduct of the friends of liberty, calling their 
meetings, mutinous and tumultuous. This, immediately, in July, 
brought the inhabitants of this town together, and in a series of 
spirited resolutions, they expressed the feelings which that address 
had excited. They lamented the melancholy state of affairs, and, 
after stating that " their meeting was not holden riotously, tumul- 
tuously, and seditiously, hut soberly and seriously, as men, as free- 
men, and as christians,' 1 they recapitulated their rights under the 
charters of Charles, and William and Mary, " to the end that pos- 
terity may know what our claims are, and to what struggles we 
are called in defence of them." They then resolved, "that any 
power that shall attempt to nullify, or destroy said charter, in the 
whole, or in part, put, itself into a stute of war with the Province:" 
that they would, "even to the risque of their lives and fortunes, 
support and maintain the execution of the laws of this Province, as 
established by the charter and Legislature thereof:" that they 
would not purchase any goods imported from England, after the 
31st of August, then next, nor purchase of any importer, any goods, 
until the harbor of Boston be opened and the tea duty taken off:" 
and that " it is the duty of all of the age of discretion, to inform 
themselves of their rights as men, as members of society, and by 
the English constitution." In addition to these, which are but a part 
of a series of the resolutions then passed, they deny the assertions 
contained in the address of the Court, and condemn, it in the strong- 
est terms. A covenant not to purchase goods imported from Eng- 
land, had, before this time, been signed by many in town, and a com- 
mittee was appointed to present this covenant to all persons who 
had not already signed it. This, it will be recollected, was in 
July, 1774 : in September, of the same year, the town met, and 
voted, to mount their cannon, and directed the selectmen to attend 
to all those not provided with fire arms. They also voted, that 
all differences bet ween individuals should be settled by reference. 



The General Court was ordered to be convened at Salem, in 
October of the same year, and Thomas Denny was again chosen to 
represent this town. He was instructed to refuse to be sworn by 
any person, except such as might be appointed according to the 
charter; and by no means to be sworn by the Lieutenant Governor, 
" who has taken the oaths as counsellor by mandamus from the 
King:" nor to act with the council appointed by mandamus : and 
that he should refuse to adjourn to Boston while garrisoned by 
troops: if any thing impeded their acting at Salem, he was directed 
to repair to Concord, and join the Provincial Congress, to be con- 
vened there on the second Tuesday of October. At a subsequent 
meeting, they concluded not to send any other member to (he Con- 
gress than Col. Denny, and in their instructions to him, in that ca- 
pacity, they directed him to endeavor to have the militia put upon 
the most respectable footing : to provide cannon for each town ; 
"for we know not, say they, how soon we may be called to action :" 
that the Treasury be removed from Boston ; to enquire why Bos- 
ton neck and common is entrenched, and to cause the fortifications 
to be demolished ; that the daily los* sustained by that town be es- 
timated, and that the non-consumption covenant be religiously ob- 
served ; a proper intercourse kept up with the other colonies, and 
Canada, and Nova Scotia, in order to unite them. He is also di- 
rected, " to endeavor that those contumacious persons who have 
endeavored to subvert the government, by being sworn, and acting 
as counsellors by mandamus, be apprehended, and held to trial ;'* 
and that a day of thanksgiving and prayer be set apart to God, 
for his goodness the past year in discovering the machinations of 
their enemies, and for the bounties of his Providence. Col. Denny 
attended this Congress, but was taken sick at Cambridge, where it 
was sitting, returned to Leicester, and Col. Joseph Henshaw was 
chosen to supply his place. In the same year, in November, the 
town procured one barrel of powder, and four hundred weight of 
balls, for their cannon, and appointed a committee " to supply those 
who might be called to march in defence of their rights, with pro- 
visions.'"'* In December, a committee was chosen, to carry into ef- 

* Resolutions, expressing the feelings that then actuated every class, were 
formed, to aid the general cause. At a meeting of the Blacksmiths of the 
County of Worcester, holden at Worcester, on the 8th of November, 1774, at 
•which Ross Wyman was chairman, and Timothy Bigilow was clerk, they re- 
solved not to work for any persons whom they esteemed enemies to their 
country, from and after the first day of the next December. These were the 
tories, counsellors by mandamus who had not resigned, every one who pub- 
licly addressed Gov. Hutchinson at his departure from the province, and 


feet the resolves of the Continental and Provincial Congresses, the 
only law givers they then acknowledged. This committee consist- 
ed of Col. Joseph Henshaw, Ilezekiah Ward, Esq. Capt. Jonathan 
Newhall, Joseph Sargent, Seth Washburn, Samuel Denny, Thom- 
a« Newhall, and Samuel Green. The town appointed men to man- 
age their cannon, and voted to have a contribution taken up, for 
Ihe benefit of the poor in the town of Boston. The Provincial 
CongreM hnd recommended to the several towns, to withhold the 
amount of their annual taxes from Harrison Gray, who was the 
Stale Treasurer under the royal government, before the commence- 
ment of the difficulties in the colonies, and was still Treasurer ; and 
that they should pay them over to Henry Gardiner, Esq. of Stow, 
as the Treasurer for the province. With this recommendation, the 
town complied, and directed the amount of their taxes to be paid 
accordingly.* The militia of the town were called together, and a 
company of minute men drafted, who were to be ready to march 
whenever occasion required, at the shortest notice. Each soldier 
signed articles of enlistment, prepared by a committee of the town. 
This company was put under the command of Capt. Seth Wash- 
burn. 4 * 

Col. Joseph Ilenshaw was again chosen representative to the 
Provincial Congress, in 1775, and urgently enjoined to procure 
that body to assume the powers of government, to prevent that an- 
archy and ruin with which the state was threatened. This was, 
indeed, a dark and trying hour. The arm of civil power had been 
unnerved. The same acts that resisted the tyranny of the mother 
government, annihilated the salutary restraint of those laws which 
had been enacted, for there was no power to execute them. It 
seemed as if the land was to become a prey to the abandoned and 
unprincipled. But there was found to be a redeeming power in 
the land ; a power before which the wicked trembled, and the 

every person exercising authority to carry into execution any of the oppres- 
sive acts of Parliament. It was particularly resolved, that they would do no 
work for Timothy Ruggles, of Hard wick, John Murray, of Rutland, and 
James Putnam, of Worcester, Esq'rs. nor lor any one in their employment. 
They also refused to work for all who had not signed the " non-consumption 
covenant," as it was called, and not only these, but every one, who should 
work for, or be employed by these interdicted persons. And in addition to their 
own resolutions, which they printed, they called upon all denominations of 
artificers to form similar associations and agreements. To these resolutions 
the names of forty three were affixed, among which was that of Seth Wash- 
burn, from Leicester. 

* Mr. Gardiner was, afterward?, the first Ptate Treasurer under the consti- 
tution of 17U0. 


strong bowed ; the force of public and patriotic feeling 1 was suffi- 
cient to check all disorders. At the meeting, in December, 1774, 
the town voted to aid the civil officers in arresting and securing 
riotous and disorderly persons, thus giving to the officers of justice 
the aid of public opinion, the most powerful of all supports. 

In January succeeding, (1775) the town voted a bounty to each 
minute man, and, if called to march, (as they express an opinion 
they will be, before May then next,) to be allowed "the province 
pay," and they provided them all with ball pouches. All who 
were engaged in the province service were exempt from taxation, 
and yet, amidst all these fearful notes of preparation, though an at- 
tempt was made to suspend the schools and repairs to the highways, 
the town refused to suspend them. For the first six months of the 
year, they were represented in the Provincial Congress, by Deac. 
Oliver Watson, of Spencer, (then forming a district of Leicester, for 
the purposes of representation) : for the remainder of the year, they 
were represented by Hezekiah Ward, Esq In 177G, they chose 
Seth Washburn, to represent them in the General Assembly, and 
instructed him, by no means to consent to stopping the passage into 
Boston harbor, as had been proposed by the former Assembly, to 
prevent the enemy again coming into port, because it would tend 
to ruin the trade of Boston entirely. For some time before the de- 
claration of Independence, by the Congress of 1776, had been made, 
the policy of that measure had been freely discussed, and advocat- 
ed, or condemned, according to the hopes and wishes of the disput- 
ants. A meeting was had, in May, 177G, the 22d day of the month, 
in this town, for the express purpose of seeing if the town would 
uphold Congress in declaring the colonies independent of Great 
Britain, when they unanimously voted " that in case the Hon. the 
Continental Congress should declare the colonies independent of 
Great Britain, they would support said Congress in effectuating such 
a measure at the risque of their lives and fortunes." And when, in 
July, this declaration was received, it was read, agreeably to the 
order of Council, in church, by the minister, the first Lord's day after 
receiving it, and was recorded, in a fair legible hand, at full length, 
in the records of the town. The Hon. Joseph Allen, now of Wor- 
cester, was then their clerk. He had taken an active part in all 
the transactions of the day ; and, if we mistake not, some of the most 
spirited and interesting papers upon the records of the town were 
fchfi production of his pen.* 

* We regret that we are not able to trace each of these to their proper 


But it was not by resolutions and instructions, however spirited, 
•lone, that the people of this town showed to the 
cause of liberty. They made many and great sacrifices of their _ 
wealth, their case, and comfort, and of lives too. We feel safe in 
nflirming, thut they promptly answered every call for men, or mon- 
ey, or |iroTlilooa,during the war of the Revolution. Every quota of 
mco was fully furnished, and, in many cases, this became extremely 
burdensome, since the first Who enlisted into the Continental Army, 
Instead of enlisting for three years, entered the Army " during the 
war," and it was with difficulty, and great expense, that the drafts 
of three and eight month's men were rilled, because so many of 
the young men were already in the Army. When the trumpet of 
war was first sounded at Lexington, a company of men belonging to 
Leicester and Spencer, marched, without delay, to the scene of ac- 
tion, and subsequently took an honorable part in the battle on Bunk- 
er Hill. This company was commanded by Capt. Seth Washburn, 
whose Lieutenant was Joseph Livermore, of Spencer, and Ensign 
Loring Lincoln, of Leicester. There are yet six survivors of that 
company, and from them we have learned some of the particulars 
of their marching from here, and the services they performed. The 
officers of the company, besides those mentioned, were Peleg Iler- 
sey, John Brown, Anthony Sprague and William Crossman, Ser- 
geants: Jason Livermore, Hezekiah Saunders, Daniel Hubbard, and 
Elijah Southgate, Corporals. The company was attached to the 
Regiment commanded by Col. Jonathan Ward, of Southborough, 
Lieut. Col. Barnes of Marlborough, and Maj. Timothy Bigelow, of 
Worcester. The news of the engagement at Lexington, arrived 
here, about noon of the next day. The men, constituting the com- 
pany of minute-men, were then engaged upon their respective farms, 
and messengers were dispatched to collect them. Not a moment 
of delay was made on their part; the plough was left in the furrow ; 
they scarce took time to bid adieu to their families, and in a few 
hours were mustered upon the common in Leicester, and were soon 
on their march. Many anecdotes are related of the march of this 
company, that would have done honor to the days of Roman or Spar- 
tan virtue. It was truly a trying hour. It was the first time that 
the sound of war had been heard in their own borders for almost 
the life of a generation, and the fearful odds in which- they were 

authors. One of them, at least, we believe to have been from the pen of Col. 
Thomas Denny ; some, from that of Col. William Henshaw ; some, from that 
of Joseph Henshaw, and several, if we mistake not, from the pen of Mr. 


to be engaged, naturally led to the most gloomy forebodings. The 
mother of the commander of the company, was overwhelmed with 
grief and apprehension at the departure of her son ; but he, in no 
way agitated, bade her a cheerful farewell ; " pray for me," said 
he as he left her," and I will fight for you." One of the company, 
was the son of Mr. Nathan Sargent. He found it impossible to fur- 
nish himself with lead for musket balk, and to supply this defect, 
his father directed his son to melt down the weights of a valuable 
clock that was then keeping time, which was at once done, and 
most of the company supplied from this source. The company 
marched a short time before sun down, and continued their advance 
during the night to Marlborough, and, after halting to refresh, con- 
tinued their march to Watertown, where, learning there was no 
immediate need of their services, they halted. They were after- 
wards stationed in Fort No. 2, as it was called, a little north of the 
dwelling house of the late Chief Justice Dana. On the 17th June, 
the Col. of the Regiment was absent, and it was commanded by Lt. 
Col. Barnes. The Regiment left the camp, on that day, about noon, 
and halted some time at Lechmere Point, — the reason for which is 
not known. As the Regiment came to the foot of Bunker Hill, it 
was met by the famous Dr. Church, of Boston, who, for so long a 
time, acted the double part of seeming patriot and actual traitor, 
who informed the commander, that orders were sent to stop any 
more troops going on to the held, and the Regiment halted. Capt. 
Washburn, overhearing these orders, exclaimed in a loud voice, 
that they were " tory orders," and turning to his company, asked 
which of them would follow him. Every man of them marched 
from the line, and followed him into the action. The Regiment 
thus broken, was not again collected during the day. This com- 
pany came into the engagement about a quarter of an hour before 
a retreat was ordered. They took post at the rail fence nearest the 
redoubt, and were engaged until the whole American line retreated. 
No one of the company was killed, although all, except two,* were 
in the action. Capt. Washburn received a ball in his cartouch box, 
four passed through his coat, and one through his wig. Mr. Brown 
was badly wounded in the foot ; a private of the name of Ward, was 
wounded in the arm : and Mr. Crossman was also wounded. When 
the Americans were retreating, a ball struck the cord that supported 
the canteen of Mr. Isaac Livermore, and cut it off: but he was too 

* These were Mathew Johnson an\l Joseph Washburn, son of the com- 
mander, who were detached on the morWg of the 17th for guard duty. 


careful of bis possessions thus to lose a quantity of eau-de-vie that 
it contained, and turning round, returned amidst a shower of balls, 
picked up the treasure and brought it off safe. When on the march 
to the hill, CapL Washburn gave leave to any one who felt disin- 
clined to go, to return, but no one availed himself ef this license. 
Col. Barnes was tried hy a Court Martial for his conduct that day, 
bui, from tome palliating circumstances, was acquitted. 

We have been the more particular in our account of this com- 
pany of men, as it was the first raised in the town which we 
•re describing, and these, and other anecdotes connected with the 
Battle of the 17th June, 1775, are attested by living witnesses* 

Besides those we have named as having marched from this town, 
who took part in the battle of the 17th June, J 775, there are oth- 
ers still residing here, who were also actors in that glorious day. 
Mr. Caleb Barton and Capt. John Holden, who afterwards served 
as an officer during the war of the revolution, are the persons to 
whom we allude. There was residing here, till within a few 
years, a black man, who, we have good reason to believe, was the 
one who shot Maj. Pitcairn, whose death forms so affecting an inci- 
dent in that bloody affray. History relates that he was shot by a 
negro, and from the story of the one we allude to, and many cor- 
roborating circumstances, we arc led to conclude that he was the 
person who did the deed. The person to whom we refer was 
named Peter Salem ; he was a servant of Gen. Nixon during the 
revolution, was a native of Framingham, and removed here a few 
years since, where he died. Major Pitcairn was shot as he was 
mounting the redoubt, and fell into the arms of his son. His loss 
was a severe one to the British, and added not a little to their re- 
gret at the events of that day. 

In April, 1776, the town of Leicester, agreeably to a resolve of 
the General Assembly, raised a sumi of money to purchase ammuni- 
tion and entrenching tools, and the same year raised a sum of mon- 
ey to pay for transporting the provisions to Watertown the year be- 
fore, which they had furnished for the army. The poll taxes of 
all from this town who were in the continental army, were abated 
hy the town, and the families of these soldiers were taken care of, 
and provided with whatever their necessities required, at the ex- 
pense of their fellow citizens. In 1778, the sum of £30; of the then 

*The names of the survivers are, Nathan Craige, Thomas Sprajjue, of 
Spencer, Isaac Livermore and Mathew Jackson, of Leicester, Daniel Hubbard 
formerly of Leicester, but now of VVallingford, Vt. and Elias Green. 

VOL. II. 1 5 


currency, was voted to every continental soldier raised in this town, 
and a committee appointed to estimate the services performed by 
each citizen in the war, to which committee each man rendered an 
account, as well of the money paid by him, as of the services he 
had rendered, for the purpose of equalizing the burthens among 
the inhabitants. In 1779, the town raised £1000 for the payment of 
enlisted men for the ensuing' year, and appointed a committee to 
employ men for this purpose, whenever they should be needed to 
supply the drafts upon the town. In the same year, they raised 
£4000, to pay the soldiers they had hired, and the contingent ex- 
penses attendant upon the same, and in a few months added £500 
to this grant. In 1780, £5000 were, at first, raised for the pay of 
the soldiers, and in July, upwards of £22,000 were raised, one 
half to employ soldiers, and the other half to pay their "six months 1 
men," then in the army. They, at the same time, voted one hun- 
dred and ten bushels of corn to every soldier who should march 
from this town, and in November of the same year, £60,000 were 
granted, to pay the soldiers for their services. These sums must 
have been enormous for a town of the size and wealth of this, at 
that time, even after reducing them by the depreciated value of 
the currency, which, as appears by the records of the town, was in 
the ratio of 40 to 1.* 

These were not all the sums raised during this year by the town. 
Frequent calls for Beef were made upon them for the supply of 
the army, and in 1780, they raised £200 of the "new money," to 
comply with one of these calls, and the next year, £80 in silver, were 
appropriated for the same purpose. These sacrifices did not, by 
any means, embrace all that the inhabitants were called upon to 
make. The inhabitants were divided into classes, which, in 1780, 
consisted often, and whenever detachments of soldiers were called 
for, it was the duty of the respective classes to furnish their pro- 
portionate number, either from themselves, or by hiring substitutes. 
The bounties paid, for this purpose, were often large and burden- 
some in the extreme. A sum as high as $300 was, in some instan- 
ces, paid to induce individuals to enlist. And these sums form no 
part of the computation of the foregoing sums. The classes, not 
only were obliged to go into the neighboring towns to procure 
their quotas, but, in some instances, sent as far as New York to hire 

* We may judge somewhat of the value of the money, from a vote passed 
in 1780, « to pay Capt. Leviston £3 15s. lor a horse to go to the taking of 


those men to enlist whose terms were expiring. The frequency of 
the drafts, and the length of the time for which those who first en- 
listed were holder), drew, in turn, almost every young man in town 
into the ** service," at one lime or other. The amount raised at 
different timet, even in this town, now seems to be incredible, and 
we should almost apprehend some mistake in the matter, if we 
were not assured of the truth of the records by some who are liv- 
ing witnesses of the sufferings and privations of our fathers in 
the struggle. We are assured, by a gentleman of high standing 
and reputation, that his father, who was a respectable farmer in 
that day, was, more than once, compelled to dispose of portions of 
the neat stock from his farm, for the purpose of promptly meeting 
the payment of his proportion of the public taxes. Nor was this 
a solitary instance. 

But we do not mention these instances of voluntary sacrifices, 
as evidence of any peculiar devotedness in this people to the cause 
of patriotism. They probably did no more, in proportion to their 
ability, than other towns around them. But a detail of these bur- 
dens and sacrifices is enough, without a single comment, to fix the 
character of the town for patriotism and public spirit. They have 
been enough too, we trust, to show, that the spirit of this people 
did not expend itself in idle resolutions, in favor of rights which 
they shrunk from defending in the hour of danger. 

It must strike every one with some surprise, that, during the 
suspension of all judicial and executive authority in the state, the 
great mass of the people should have been kept quiet and orderly. 
It was truly a moral spectacle ; it was a nation bursting the bands 
in which they had been bound, and ruling and governing them- 
selves in an orderly and peaceable manner. The force of public 
opinion, at any time great, was then irresistible. The recommen- 
'dations of Congress were law, and the committee of safety saw 
that the laws were executed, against whom no one dare rebel. In 
this, they were fully countenanced by the people, who, in their fre- 
quent meetings and discussions of national affairs, became convinced, 
that union and order were necessary to their existence as a people, 
and they had virtue enough to guard these most sacredly. Many 
of the votes upon these subjects we have already mentioned ; others 
are upon the records, a few of which we would add. In 1777, a 
committee was appointed, to ascertain who were unfriendly to the 
government, and report their names to the general sessions of the 
1 Pe^ce, and one man was voted by the town to be of that class, and 


reported accordingly. The committees of safety and correspon- 
dence in towns, were usually constituted of the most influential citi- 
zens, whose number and character were sure to carry respect. In 
1777, this committee here, consisted of Col. Joseph Henshaw, John 
Fletcher, Benjamin Richardson, James Baldwin, Jr., Isaac Green, 
Phinehas Newhall, and William Henshaw, and in subsequent years 
was enlarged in numbers. 

In 1776, the inhabitants of this town opposed the attempt made 
by the legislature, to have the people form a constitution of gov- 
ernment, because so many, whose voice should be heard in so im- 
portant a question, were then absent in the service of their coun- 
try. But when the proposal was made in 1779, they unanimously 
voted to instruct their representative to vote for a convention to 
form such a constitution. Seth Washburn and William Henshaw 
were the delegates in that convention from Leicester. When the 
constitution was presented to the people for their acceptance, the 
inhabitants of this town, at a meeting, held June 1, 1780, acted 
upon each of its articles separately, and adopted them almost unani- 
mously, except the 3d article in the Bill of Rights, and some modi- 
fication of one or two other articles, and voted, that if these cor- 
rections could not be effected, to accept of the same as it was pre- 
sented to them, and directed their delegates to act accordingly. 
Col. Seth Washburn was chosen the first representative under the 
Constitution, and the votes for Governor, at the first election, were, 
69 for John Hancock, 2 for James Bowdoin, and 1 for James Sul- 

From the peace of 1783 till the commencement of the difficulties 
in 1786, nothing of particular interest occurred, deserving a place 
here. The town partook of the excitement of that period, and in 
the year 1786, chose their delegates to represent them in a county 
convention, to whom they detailed the grievances which they wish- 
ed to have remedied. The convention sat in this town, and the 
delegates chosen were David Henshaw, Esq. and the late Col 
Thomas Denny. They were both decided friends of the govern- 
ment, and possessed firmness of character together with great 
acuteness; and when, at length, the convention met, they so discon- 
certed the measures of those unfriendly to the government, that, 
after an ineffectual attempt to carry them through, the convention 
rose, and their meeting was dissolved without having effected any 
thing. The town also instructed their representative at the Gen- 
eral Court, upon the subject of the real grievances under which 


they were suffering, and which they wished to have redressed, hut 
charged him hy no means to agree to any change in the constitu- 
tion of government. They had ever heen opposed to the " tender 
net," as unconstitutional, and they now directed their representative 
to oppo«e hi passing, when it should be acted upon by the legisla- 
ture. This direct interference of the people with the State legis-^ 
lation, by means of instructions to their representatives, having 
heen long discontinued, it is rather a subject of curiosity, in reading 
them now, to see how many of the general topics that would be 
likely to come under the notice of the legislature, were embraced 
within their scope. If representatives held themselves bound by 
their instructions, there was hardly a subject of interest that could 
arise, upon which they were not ready to act at once. This was 
literally the government of the people. The town were as prompt 
in acting upon subjects affecting the whole nation, as upon those of 
local interest alone. And when the subject of the confederacy of 
the colonies, in 1778, was proposed to them, they unanimously ap- 
proved of the measure, and directed their representative "to aid it 
by all that lay in his power.'' 1 Indeed, there was a surprising una- 
nimity in all their proceedings during this dark and portentous era 
of our history. They were, undoubtedly, influenced in their meas- 
ures by a lew patriotic, public spirited men, who had most ardently 
engaged in the cause of liberty, and who had, withal, judgment and 
sagacity enough " to guide the whirlwind and direct the storm" of 
public feeling, so as to secure the independence of the country and 
the good of posterity. Some of these we have already named, but 
we are conscious that we cannot do them justice. The private 
histories of those men, and the anecdotes connected with them, 
illustrative of their characters and the character of the times in 
which they lived, have been forgotten, and but little can now be 
recalled. Those were days in which the individual character of 
every man was known and tried. A man must be for or against 
the existing government. In 1778, a list of every man in town, of 
the age of 21 years, and upwards, was made out, and each one 
called upon to take the oath of allegiance to the State, and those 
who should refuse were to be reported to the town. But, we be- 
lieve, few, if any, had the hardihood to refuse to take the oath at 
that stage of the war. They would hardly have risque d the dan- 
ger of popular power, when the people was the only power to 
which they could have appealed for protection against the sanction 
of such a call. 


In the year 1787, the troubles by which the State had been 
distracted, had, in a slight degree, subsided, and so many of their own 
population, as well as of the inhabitants of almost every town, had 
been involved in that disastrous train of events, known as the 
" Shays war," that the town instructed their representative to vote 
for the pardon of the insurgents, and to endeavor to redress the 
grievances under which the people labored ; among which they 
reckoned the unequal tax upon real and personal estate, the tax on 
polls, and the undue influence of Boston on the legislature, so long 
as it should continue to meet there. 

Several persons were involved in that unhappy insurrection, 
whose names have either been forgotten, or we suppress them, 
from charity to their memories. Their efforts here, were always 
thwarted by the firmness of the "government men," who were 
unwearied in their efforts to quell the spirit o^ rebellion. Many 
anecdotes are told of the firmness of the friends of the government 
under circumstances the most trying and alarming. They showed 
no disposition to compromise the dignity and interests of the State. 
Early in the winter of 1786, which was a severe one, Day, one of 
the insurgent captains, having been towards Boston upon business 
connected with the rebellion, was returning through Leicester, on 
a very severe day, and immediately after a violent snow-storm that 
rendered the roads almost impassable. He was on horseback, and 
stopped at the dwelling house of Mr. Nathan Sargent, near the 
Worcester line, to warm him, and entered the house without cere- 
mony. He laid his sword and hat upon a table, and taking a chair, 
observed that he was going to warm him. " Not until I know who 
you are," said Mr. Sargent, who had silently witnessed bis abrupt 
entrance and conduct, " for these are suspicious times, and I must 
know , who I entertain." Day, finding him resolute, assumed as 
much dignity and importance as possible, and announced himself 
as " Captain DayV " Then get out of my house," said Mr. Sar- 
gent, and seizing his hat and sword, threw them into a snow bank, 
and drove Day out after them, who swore that " vengeance should 
light on him in less than a fortnight." 

A few persons, taking advantage of the popular excitement, 
during the time of the insurrection, were chosen to offices of profit 
and trust from the Insurgent party ; but they almost invariably be- 
came satisfied of their error, as soon as, by intercourse with intelli- 
gent patriots, they saw the dangerous tendency of their measures. 
We cannot, at this day, realize the horrors of the civil war that 


then threatened, and, in many places, actually distracted the Stale. 
A house was literally divided against itself. The sound of arms 
was heard in every village, and those who encountered each other 
in hostile array, were often of the same household, or the same 
social circle. Neither sex nor age were exempt from the angry 
passions that prompted these warlike preparations. The women 
were, if. possible, more clamorous than the men, whenever they 
took part with the insurgents ; though we might record many hon- 
orable instances, where wives remained firm in their attachment to 
government, while their husbands were ready to go all lengths to 
shake off the wholesome restraints of that power. 

. It was customary, for the friends of government to wear a fillet 
of white paper in their hats, while the adherents of the opposite 
party adopted, as a badge of distinction, a sprig of evergreen. But, 
fortunately for the country, the evergreen, in the language of one 
in that day, soon withered ; the arm of power scattered the insur- 
gent forces, and the miserable and misguided adherents of Day, 
and Shays, and Wheeler, and Parsons were glad to sue for mercy to 
that power, which they had so lately risen up to crush. And their 
suit was not vain ; policy, as well as a predisposition to clemenc}', 
spared their lives, and they were suffered to return to their homes 
in peace, though very much to the chagrin and mortification of 
many, whose excited passions called for a sacrifice of expiation for 
the political sins of their adversaries. 

The insurrection of 178G is rather a matter of state history, than 
that of any particular town. Many are alive who took part with 
the forces sent out by the government to quell the rebellion, and 
though they encountered great hardships and fatigue, and, at times, 
no inconsiderable degree of danger, we doubt whether they would 
desire to be crowned with laurels, although they were conquerers, 
or wish us to publish their names to the world as soldiers, on ac- 
count of their feats of arms in that contest with their misguided 
brethren. It is not so long since those events occurred, that 
they, or those engaged in them, are forgotten. Many remember the 
scenes of uproar and confusion, into which the hitherto peaceable 
dwellings of the citizens were then thrown, by being made the 
quarters for the soldiery ; and they remember too, the anxiety they 
felt at the apprehended attacks from the exasperated insurgents. 
Those, however, whose reason returned as their passions subsided, 
became convinced of their follies and their criminality, and many 
of them became the firmest supporters of the government. We, 


perhaps, have dwelt too long upon this suhject, hut our remarks, 
though general in their terms, apply so well' to the state of this 
town for several years, that they may be considered as its history, 
unless we should go so minutely into the investigation of the sub- 
ject as to name the actors in the scenes, which, for reasons we have 
offered, we forbear to do. 

In 1787, the Federal Constitution was presented to the states 
for their approbation, and a convention of Delegates from the sev- 
eral towns in Massachusetts was called, to meet at Boston, on the 
second Wednesday of January, 1788, to act upon its adoption, 
and Colonel Samuel Denny was chosen the delegate from Leices- 
ter. The constitution having been accepted, an election of officers 
under it was had, and the votes in this town were, 38 for Hon. Mo- 
ses Gill for Representative in Congress, and 20 for Mr. Gill, and 
19 for Gen. Artemas Ward, for elector of President. 

We are now approaching, in chronological order, those events, 
that have too lately occurred, either to require, or justify, a detail 
of them. Indeed, no event connected with any important series, 
that we are aware of, has occurred, since the adoption of the Fed- 
eral constitution, in this town. Events, however, to which no par- 
ticular interest is attached now, may acquire importance at a future 
day, and their history be eagerly sought after. If we had foresight 
enough to distinguish these, we certainly uould cheerfully record 
them here, if for no other reason than to save the future historian 
the many hour's labor of gathering them from the musty pages 
of a town record book. In 1794, minute men were raised, and a 
bounty paid them. But it was upon the ocean alone that our laur- 
els were reaped in that war, and the » Oxford Army" borrowed lit- 
tle lustre from the achievements of Truxton and his associates. 

We happily live at a time when men can look back upon the 
days of party excitement and animosities, that disturbed the tran- 
quillity of the country, with feelings, if not of regret, certainly of 
surprise, at their violence and long duration. It is not within the 
scope of our plan, even if our inclinations prompted it, to trace the 
rise of the two political parties, which, for nearly thirty years di- 
vided the public opinion in the United States. This town had its 
share of this excitement, though the degree of acrimony fell far 
short of that in many. They voted resolutions condemning the 
embargo, in 1803, and petitioning the President, (Jefferson) to take 
off the same. In 1812, they passed resolutions, condemning the 
then existing war with Great Britain, and chose a delegate to meet 


a County convention to consult on measures of public policy. That 
party denominated Federalists were the most numerous in the 
town, while that distinctive title was borne by any party, though 
when in the plenitude of their strength they ever used thr>ir power 
in a liberal munner, and extended equal courtesy to their political 

The growth and improvement of Leicester, as we have already 
observed, has been constant though gradual. The refinement in 
taste that has been effected in many parts of New England has not 
been entirely inoperative here. The growth of the village here 
has been so rapid, that individuals recollect the time, when from 
four to six houses were all that were erected in the village, where 
now there are nearly forty, besides the public buildings and others 
in progress of erection. The style of architecture is neat, and al- 
though the village can boast of no palace, it is not disfigured with 
one tenement that indicates poverty or want. There have been 
many improvements proposed, and so far as unanimity in design 
can promise success, they will be carried into effect, by which this 
village may vie with any in the country, for beauty and neatness. 
A Bank, as we have already stated, was chartered and located in 
this town in the winter of 1826, and when, as is proposed, the 
building for that institution shall have been erected, and the con- 
gregational meeting house removed, so as to enlarge the common 
before it, and produce a proper symmetry in relation to the Acad- 
emy, Leicester may boast of attractions in her scenery, her public 
improvements, enterprize and wealth, which all will be ready to 

The situation of the town is healthy, and epidemics of a dan- 
gerous character have seldom prevailed. The average number of 
deaths, annually, may be reckoned at about fifteen, which will bear 
no fair proportion to the annual births. The population of the 
town has annually furnished emigrants to other towns, and other 
States, and there is scarcely a State in the Union that has not 
among its citizens natives of this town. 


We are aware that we have omitted the names of many in the 
foregoing sketches, which a sense of justice would require us to 
have inserted. Nothing but an inability to do any justice to them 
has debarred us from the pleasure of recording them. A few, 
however, whose histories we have been able to obtain, we feel 
ourselves warranted in noticing. 
vol. 11. lli 


Among those who acted a pretty important part in the event* 
of our history, was the Hon. Seth Washburn, Esquire, whose name 
we have more than once had occasion to mention. He was a na- 
tive of Bridgewater, and a lineal descendant of John Washburn, 
who was one of the original proprietors and settlers of that town. 
He was a native of England, and arrived in New England within a 
few years after the settlement of Plymouth :* He died in Bridge- 
water, in 1670. Seth Washburn, the subject of this memoir, was 
great grandson of John Washburn. He removed to Leicester 
some time previous to the year 1750, but the precise time is not 
known. Though destitute of a good education, he successively 
held almost every office in the gift of the people of the town, and 
was a member of the Senate from this County during the years 
1780, 1783, '84, '85, '80, and '87, in which body he is said to have 
possessed a very considerable influence. He was a firm patriot 
and a most unwavering and decided supporter of the rights of the 
Colonies. After his return from the service which we have spok- 
en of, in 1775, he acted as " muster master" during the war, and 
aided the prosecution of it by every means in his power — though 
we do not know that he was, for any considerable time afterwards, 
in the service. He had been a soldier in the French war previ- 
ous to 1749, and was ever esteemed a man ot great courage and 
self possession. This was particularly observed in the engagement 
on Bunker Hill. Although he carne late into the action, and the 
British were then on the point of forcing the redoubt and lines, 
and the Americans, after having expended their ammunition, were 
almost at the mercy of their exasperated foe, he showed no agita- 
tion, but delivered his commands with the utmost coolness and de- 
cision. He had a good deal of native eloquence, and whenever he 
addressed any body of men it was with propriety and effect. His 
husiness in life was that of a blacksmith until he became engaged 
in public affairs. He was distinguished for his piety and the ur- 
banity of his manners. During the insurrection in 1786, he was 
a decided friend of the Government, and influential in checking the 
spirit that then prevailed inimical to the wholesome restraints of 
the laws. He died at the age of 70, in the year 1794, leaving two 
sons, one of whom, Joseph Washburn, was a member of the com- 

* Whether he was the John Washburn who was Secretary of the Massa- 
chusf Its Company, in London, in 1629, we have not been able to ascertain ; 
but from the name, and the time of his removal to New England, we presume 
he may have been the same. 


pany which marched to Cambridge, in 1775, and he afterwards 
served during the war of the revolution, having received, during 
li is service, the commissions of Ensign and Lieutenant in the Conti- 
nental service. After his return to Leicester from the army, he 
continued to reside there till his death in 1807. The other son of 
Seth Washburn now resides in Putney, Vermont. 

The name of Capt. Thomas Newhall, deserves a place among 
those distinguished for their usefulness and public spirit. His 
life presents but few incidents out of which to swell a bio- 
graphical sketch, for it was passed in the peaceful retirement of his 
farm and his native town. He was not, however, inactive there. 
He possessed a vigorous mind and employed its powers for the 
public good, and, so far as his influence could extend, for the 
good of his country. He was a native of Leicester, and was born 
in 1732, and died in 1814, at the age of 82 years. We have al- 
ready noticed his munificence to the Academy in this town, and 
we cannot better conclude this brief notice than by transcribing the 
judicious epitaph upon his tomb stone. 

" Generous and patriotic through life : at an advanced age, he 
became a liberal benefactor of the inhabitants of this town, and to 
the literary institution established therein, of which he was one of 
the first trustees." 

He left at his death a very considerable estate, but left no chil- 


Another patriotic gentleman whose name we have mentioned, 
and who deserves a particular notice, was Thomas Denny, Esq. He 
was a man of uncommonly vigorous mind, and commanded great in- 
fluence and respect, at a time, when talents and integrity rather than 
wealth or family, were the tests of merit. He was the son of Dan- 
iel Denny, whose name we have mentioned as one of the earliest 
settlers of the town, and was born in the year 1724. 

He took a leading part in the affairs of the town early in life, and 
ever afterwards retained and increased his influence among those 
who best knew him. Some of the resolutions adopted by the town 
in regard to the aggressions of the mother Country, were, as we 
have already stated, the productions of his pen, and show, by their 
style and language, an education above that of many of his cotem- 
poraries. He often represented the town in the General Court, 
during the difficult sessions of that body, before the revolution, 


when they were constantly emhroiled in contests with the repre- 
sentatives of the Roj'al Government, and as an evidence of the con- 
fidence placed in him by his constituents, he was the only member 
chosen from this town to attend the Provincial Congress at Con- 
cord, in 1774. In this body he was one of the most useful and ac- 
tive members, and scarcely any one was listened to with more at- 
tention and respect in the debates of the assembly. After that Con- 
gress was adjourned to Cambridge, he was taken ill, and returned 
to Leicester, where he died, Oct. 23, 1774, at the age of 49. His 
death was a subject of deep regret to all who knew his worth. 
Had he lived, he must have taken a leading part in the events of 
the Revolution, in the incipient stages of which he had so decid- 
ed an interest. He held the office of Colonel of the regiment of 
Militia, in the limits of which he resided, which was then an honor- 
able mark of distinguished merit. 

In connexion with him, we ought to mention his brother, Col. 
Samuel Denny, who, though he did not take so prominent a part in 
the transactions previous to the Revolution, was a leading man 
during it, and once commanded a regiment of men in the "service." 
He held many public offices in the town, and was a member of the 
Convention in 1788 that accepted the Constitution of the United 
States. He died in 1817, at the age of 86 years. Col. Thomas 
Denny left three children at his death. His son, bearing the same 
name, was a highly respectable and influential man during his life. 
He died Dec. 11, 1815. He was, at the time of his death, a mem- 
ber of the Board of Trustees of Leicester Academy, and often dur- 
ing his life represented the town in the General Court, and was, at 
that time, the wealthiest man in the town. 

Col. Samuel Denny left five sons and three daughters. Three 
of his sons are yet living, viz. Nathaniel P. William, and Samuel. 

Another individual who deserves honorable notice in this place 
is the late Col. William Henshaw. His biography deserves an 
abler pen, and a more complete detail than we have been able to 
give it. He was the son of Daniel Henshaw, who was an early 
proprietor of Leicester, and removed there in the year 1748, from 
Boston, where he had till then resided. William, the subject of 
this memoir, was born in Boston, Sept. 30, 1735, and removed with 
his father to Leicester. His opportunities, till his removal, for an 
education, had been good, but he received none from schools after 
that period. Yet, by his own industry and application, he acquired 


a very good English education, and some knowledge of the Latin 
and Greek languages. Alter his removal to Leicester, his time 
was mostly employed upon a farm. In 1759, he went, as a Lieu- 
tenant, into the service against the French and Indians, and served 
through that eventful campaign. Having many friends in Boston, 
he early became acquainted with the views and feelings of the 
patriots and ardently engaged in the cause of liberty. Many of the 
resolutions and "instructions" of the people of Leicester were 
drawn up, as we have already stated, by Col. Hensbaw and evince 
a good literary taste while they exhibit an extremely accurate 
knowledge of the events that were transpiring as well as the ab- 
stract rights of the colonies. He was a member of the jury, who, 
at the April term of the Superior Court, in 1774, holden at Wor- 
cester, remonstrated against Chief Justice Oliver's acting as Judge 
and refused to act as jurors in case he did. The remonstrance was 
drawn with great spirit, and was from the pen of Col. Henshaw, 
we believe, as a draught of it in his hand writing is among his pa- 
pers. In June, 1775, he was commissioned by the Provincial Con- 
gress, Adjutant General of the forces that had been then raised. 
This was the first appointment to that office, of any one after the 
authority of the mother country was renounced. He faithfully per- 
formed the duties of this office till the arrival of Gen. Gates, at 
Cambridge, who had been appointed Adjutant General, by the Gen- 
eral Congress : and he continued to perform the duties of the office 
till the end of the campaign, as an assistant to General Gates. On 
the first of January, 1776, he was commissioned by Congress as a 
Lieutenant Colonel of the 12th Regiment of Infantry, and was with 
his regiment during the campaign of 177G, in and near New York. 
The precise time of his discharge from the army we cannot now 
state. But after his return, he retired to his farm in Leicester. 
He often held the highest offices in the gift of his townsmen, and 
always, we believe, faithfully performed the duties of his station. 
He died, at the age of 85, in February, 1820. He retained his 
mental faculties till his death. A few years previous to that time, 
Gov. Brooks applied to him for information concerning certain 
questions relating to the Battle of Bunker Hill, and we transcribe 
his letter in return, in order to show the part he took in the trans- 
actions of that day, and to exhibit to what degree he retained the 
vigor of his mind at the age of 82. 

" Dear Sir — When Breed's Hill was taken possession of by our 
troops, I was at home. The best information of the action I had 


from General Pomeroy, who was at the rail fence above the works 
our troops threw up. He informed me, they stuffed hay between 
the rails of the fence, to prevent the enemy discovering them, and 
ordered the soldiers to retain their fire till they advanced within 
fix or seven rods, then gave the orders to tire, which caused them 
to retreat. The enemy formed and attacked them the second time, 
and retreated in like manner. They formed, advanced, and rushed 
on to the fence the third time, and obliged our troops to retreat, 
after they had lost a large number of their men, and Major Pit- 
cairn at their head. The Americans went to Breed's Hill on the 
night of the 16th of June, the battle commenced on the 17th, and 
our forces returned to Cambridge. I believe there was only ver- 
bal orders given to go to Breed's Hill, and that they had neither 
cannon nor field pieces. Gen. Ward, the early part of May, request- 
ed Col. Gridley, Mr. Richard Devens, one of the committee of safe- 
ty in Charlestown, and myself, to view the heights from the camp 
to Charlestown. We did so, and made a written report, as follows : 
viz. 1. To build a Fort on Prospect Hill. 2. To proceed to Bun- 
ker's Hill, and fortify it. 3. To Breed's Hill, and do the same. 
Our object was, if obliged to retire from Breed's Hill, the fort at 
Bunker's Hill would cover our retreat with the cannon, and drive 
their ships out of the rivers; also would prevent the enemy from 
keeping possession of Charlestown. Why the report was not ap- 
proved, I cannot say — perhaps others recommended to proceed 
first to Charlestown. What returns I am possessed of, will send 
with the orderly book, which contains General Ward's orders." 

Signed " VVm. Henshaw," and addressed to " His Excel- 
lency John Biooks, Esq." 

Our only object is to present the outlines of a memoir, and not 
to eulogize, and we cannot better conclude this, than by extracting 
a part of an obituary notice, published at the time of his death, in 
the Boston Palladium. 

" Few have lived so little known to the world, and few so de- 
serving of its praise, as Col. Henshaw. His character was of that 
unassuming cast which shrinks from the scrutiny of observation, 
and is better pleased with the consciousness, than with the appear- 
ance of acting right. He was equally an object of admiration in 
his military and private life. He served as a Lieutenant in the 
French war, and as Colonel through the struggle of our revolution. 
He was always distinguished for his clearness in council and intre- 
pidity in action, and we find honorable mention of him in several 


histories of those times. After the Revolution, he retired to Lei- 
cester, and, entering on the business of private life, became an ex- 
emplary husband and father." 

The foregoing is but an extract from the notice of his death, 
and we should have been glad to have transcribed in this place the 
tribute to his memory, which was paid at the time of his decease, 
by his friend, the late Gov. Brooks, but the newspaper containing 
it has been mislaid, and we must content ourselves with this short 
notice, till more leisure on our own part, or some abler pen, shall 
do his memory more ample justice. He was not, alone, so promi- 
nent, as to deserve notice in this place, of the sons of Daniel Hen- 
shaw. His brother, Joseph, who resided here, was equally active 
in all public concerns, and commanded as great influence and re- 
spect. He often represented the town in the General Court, and 
was, for a considerable time, chairman of the committee of safety 
in the county of Worcester, which was formed from the several 
committees of safety and correspondence of the towns. 

David, another brother, though younger than the foremention- 
ed brothers, early took part in the events of the last years of the 
revolution, and was especially active in the events which succeed- 
ed it, having ever been a firm supporter of the Government, and a 
friend to good order. Both William and David Henshaw were, for 
many years, acting magistrates in the county, and distinguished for 
their intelligence and independence in performing their duties in 
that capacity. 

Both the brothers left pretty numerous families. One of the 
sons of the latter is, at present, a member of the Senate of this state 
from the county of Suffolk. 


In our sketches of the Ecclesiastical History of this town, we 
spoke of the Rev. Mr. Roberts and were unable to give any further 
account of him than we there stated. But we have since received 
a more particular account of him by the politeness of a gentleman 
of high respectability* which we subjoin here. The Rev. Joseph 
Roberts was born in Boston, at the foot of Copp's Hill, in 1720. He 
graduated at Cambridge in 1741, and was probably from a family 
in no way distinguished, as his name is found among the last of the 
class that graduated that year. In 1754, he was settled at Leices- 
ter and dismissed in 1762, as we have already stated. He soon af- 

* Isaac Fisk, Esq. of Weston, Register of Probate for the County of Mid- 


ter removed to Weston and occasionally preached in that and the 
neighboring towns. He purchased the estate about the same time 
upon which he resided till his death. He took an active part dur- 
ing the Revolution, as one of the committee of the town to enlist 
and provide for the soldiers. He was a member of the Conven- 
tion that formed the Constitution of Massachusetts, and among his 
papers, after his death, was found a draught, in his own hand writing, 
of a frame of Government, many of the principles of which are in- 
corporated into our present Constitution, and he is believed to have 
taken an active and efficient part in forming and adopting this Con- 
stitution. He was often afterwards a representative from Weston. 
He became connected with a cunning and shrewd speculator in 
business, and, in consequence, became involved in land suits and lost a 
considerable part of his property. His temper thus became sour, 
and in the latter part of his life he became extremely avaricious. 
He died like a beggar and after his death there were found in his 
chambers several bags of money which had been hoarded up for 
years; as on removing them the bottoms of the bags were too much 
decayed to hold their contents. He denied himself, for many years 
before his death, the conveniences and even the necessaries of life. 
All the clothing he possessed at his death, would have disgrac- 
ed the meanest beggar in the streets. Such was his love of money 
that he suffered himself to be committed to jail on a judgment 
growing out of his connexion with the speculator before mention- 
ed, and remained in jail two or three years, till he compelled his 
creditor, in this way, to relinquish a part of the debt for the sake of 
recovering the remainder. , Mr. Roberts possessed more than ordi- 
nary natural powers of mind, but they became debased by the sor- 
didness of his disposition. » He died a bachelor, at the advanced age 
of 91, in April, 1811. 

JVote to the Reader. An apology is due for presenting the foregoing sketch- 
es in so many parts imperfect. We had become pledged to furnish them with- 
in a given period, not suspecting at the time the labor of preparing them. 
A multiplicity of engagements, in addition to the shortness of the lime for 
preparation, has compelled us to present these in a form less perfect than 
we had hoped, when we assumed the task. This 'apology, while it is due to 
the reader will, we hope, in some measure screen from the severity of criti- 
cism. ■ THE WRITER. 



-HtxavQ&sQJiiL v®u retail* 

V OL. II. JULY, 18 2 6. N O.l. 




IN orthborough, though one of the youngest and smallest incor- 
porated towns in the County of Worcester, was, for nearly 50 years, 
prior to the date of its incorporation, a part of YVestborough ; first 
as part of an undivided whole, and then as a separate precinct or 
parish. This carries us back to the year 1717, before which time, 
Westborough itself, including Northborough, belonged to the large 
and ancient town of Marlborough. Northborough then, as being 
included in Marlborough, may lay claim to considerable antiquity. 
Marlborough was incorporated in 1660, only about 30 years afte 
the commencement of the Massachusetts Colony. The stream of 
emigration may easily be traced back from this, which was for ma- 
ny years a frontier settlement, bordering upon the unexplored wil- 
derness, to the fountain head. The settlement in Marlborough was 
commenced four years before the date of its incorporation, by emi- 
grants from Sudbury, which was older by about 20 years than 
Marlborough, having been incorporated in 1638. The next step 
carries us back to Concord, which was purchased of the natives 
and incorporated in 1635.* 

The next step brings us to Watertown, where a settlement was 
made in 1630, the same year that Boston began to be built. It was 
in this year that a large number of emigrants arrived from England, 
which served greatly to enlarge and strengthen the Colony, then 
in its infancy. The oldest town in the Massachusetts Colony is Sa- 
lem, where a settlement was commenced in 1628, eight years after 
the landing of our fathers at Plymouth. 

* 1. Mass. Hist. Col. Vol. I. 
VOL. II. 17 


Thus we see that within the short space of 30 years from the 
first planting of this Colony, the wilderness had been explored, and 
a permanent settlement effected, by our enterprising forefathers, 
in the ancient town of Marlborough, which then included Westbo- 
rough, Southborough, and Northborough, now within the limits of 
Worcester County. 

It will not therefore be improper to prefix to the history of this 
town some account of the first settlement and early history of the 
Plantation at Marlborough. 

The following petition was presented to the General Court 
in May, 1656. 

"To the Hon. Governor, Dep. Governor, Magistrates and Depu- 
ties of the General Court now assembled in Boston. 1 ' 

"The humble petition of several of the Inhabitants of Sudbu- 
ry, whose names are hereunder written, humbly sheweth ; that 
whereas your petitioners have lived divers years in Sudbury, and 
God hath beene pleased to increase our children, which are now 
divers of them grown to man's estate, and wee, many of us, grown 
into years, so as that wee should bee glad to see them settled be- 
fore the Lord take us away from hence, as also God having given 
us some considerable quantity of cattle, so that wee are so streigh- 
tened that wee cannot so comfortably subsist as could bee desired ; 
ud some of us having taken some pains to view the country ; wee 
have found a place which lyeth westward, about eight miles from 
Sudbury, which wee conceive might bee comfortable for our sub- 
sistence : 

"It is therefore the humble request of your Petitioners to this 
Hon'd Court, that you would bee pleased to grant unto us ( ) 
eight miles square, or so much land as may containe to eight miles 
square, for to make a plantation. 

"If it shall please this Hon'd Court to grant our petition, it is 
farther than the request of your petitioners to this Hon'd Court, 
that you will bee pleased to appoint Mr. Thomas Danforth or Lies- 
ten nl Fisher to lay out the bounds of the Plantation ; and wee 
shall satisfy those whom this Hon'd Court shall please to employ in 
it. So apprehending this weighty occasion, wee shall no farther 
trouble this Hon'd Court, but shall ever pray for your happinesse.'' £ 
Edmond Rice, Thomas King, William Ward, 

John How,* John Bent, Sen'r. John Maynard, 

♦According to a tradition handed down in the family, the first English 
person that came to reside in Marlborough, was John How, son of a How, of 
Watertown, supposed to be John How, Esq. who came from Warwickshire, in 


John Woods, Edward Rice, John Ruddocke, 

Richard Newton, Peter Bent, Henry Rice, 

Thomas Goodenow. 
"That this is a true copy of the original petition presented to 
the General Court, May, 1656, left on file and thereto compared, is 
Attested, per Edward Ravvson, SecVi/." 
To this petition the following answer was made. 
At a General Court held in Boston, May 14, 1756. 

"In answer to the petition of the aforesaid inhabitants of Sudbury, 
the Court judgeth it meete to grant them a proportion of land of 
six miles, or otherwise, in some convenient form equivalent there- 
unto, at the discretion of the committee in the place desired, pro- 
vided it hinder no former grant, that there bee a Towne settled 
with twenty or more families within three years, so as an able min- 
istry may bee there maintained. And it is ordered that Mr. Ed- 
ward Jackson, Capt. Eleazer Lusher, Ephrairo Child, with Mr. 
Thomas Danforth, or Liesten nl Fisher, shall bee, and hereby are ap- 
pointed as a committee to lay out the bounds thereof, and make 
return to the next Court of Election, or else the grant to bee void. 
"This is a true copy taken out of the Court's Books of Records, 
as Attests Edward Rawson, Secr'y" 

England, and who, as appears from a record in the possession of Mr. Adam 
How, of Sudbury, also a descendant of John, was himself the son of John 
How, of Hodinhull, and connected with the family of Lord Charles How, 
Earl of Lancaster, in the reign of Charles I. 

Mr. How came from Watertown to Marlborough, huilt a cabin a little to 
the east of the Indian Planting field, where his descendants lived for 
many generations. By his prudence and kindness, he gained the good will 
and confidence of his savage neighbors, who accordingly made him the um- 
pire in all their differences. 

The following is related as one of the verdicts of this second Solomon. 
Two Indians, whose corn fields were contiguous, disputed about the posses- 
sion of a pumpkin, which grew on a vine, that had transgressed the limits of 
the field in which it was planted. The vine was planted in one field ; the 
pumpkin grew in the other. The dispute grew warm, and might have led to 
serious consequences, had it not occurred to them to refer the matter in de- 
bate to the arbitration of the white man, their neighbor. Mr. Mow is accord- 
ingly sent for, who after having given a patient hearing to both parties, directs 
them to bring him a knife, with which he divides the pumpkin into two equal 
parts, giving half to each. Both parties extol the equity of the judge, and 
readily acquiesce in the decision, pleased, no doubt, quite as much with the 
manner in which the thing was done, a3 in admiration of the justice of 
the deed. 

The descendants of John How are very numerous in Marlborough, and in 
the towns in the vicinity. There are 28 of the name of How on the list t eg 
voters, in Marlborough, for the present year. . 

Col. Thomas How was a son of the above, who, for many years, was one 
of the leading men in the town. John How died sometime before 1686, as 
appears by a deed of his son Josiah to Thomas, of that date. Rev. Perley 
How, of Surry, N.H. was a descendant of John, and of Col. Thomas How. 


The Plantation was accordingly 9oon commenced in the neigh- 
borhood of Ockoocangansett, (the Indian name of the hill back of 
the old Meeting House in Marlborough,) and thence extending to 
Whipsuppenicke, (a hill about a mile southeasterly of the former,) 
and the neighboring parts. By this name, Whipsuppenicke, or 
WhipsufFe radge, as it was sometimes written, the English Planta- 
tion of Marlborough was known, till its incorporation, in 1G60. 

Of the Indian Plantation at Marlborough, called, from the hill 
abovenamed, Ockoocangansett, some account will be given here- 

A plan of the English plantation was made in May, 1667, by 
Samuel Andrews, surveyor, which was approved by the Deputies, 
17th 3mo. 1667. Wm. Tokrey, Clerk. 

Consented to by the Magistrates. Edward Rawson, Sc^y. 

This plan was made on parchment on a scale of two inches to 
a mile, and i9 now in the hands of Mr. Silas Gates of Marlborough. 
The plantation contained by admeasurement 29,419 acres, which, 
with the 6000 acres reserved for the Indians, of which we shall 
presently speak, amounted to 35,419 acres. The Indian planting 
field, on Ockoocangansett, the hill back of where the old meet- 
ing house stood, was included within the bounds of the English 
plantation, and formed a square containing about two hundred 
acres. From the northwestern angle of this field the boundary line 
between the Indian plantation on the east, and the English plan- 
tation on the west, extends three miles north, seven degrees 
west, to a point a little beyond the river Assabett*. From this 
point the boundary line runs seven miles west, twenty five de- 
grees south, (cutting off what is- now the northwest angle of 
Northborough, and which forms what are called the New Granl$.) 
Thence five miles south-southeast, to the south west extremity of 
the plantation; thence two miles and three-fourths of a mile east, 
nine degrees north, leading into Cedar swamp; thence southeast, 
two hundred and fifty six rods on Sudbury River; thence two miles 
and three quarters, due east; thence two miles and one hundred 
and twenty rods northeast, thirteen degrees north ; thence three 

*This name is written and spoken variously by different persons. In the 
report of the Canal Commissioners presented at the recent session of the Le- 
gislature of this State, it is written Etetbeth, and is supposed to be a corrup- 
tion of Elizabeth. By some aged persons, it is called Elzebelh; in Whitney's 
Hist. Assabtt. In the earliest records of Marlborough, however, it is almost 
uniformly written with a final h, Asabeth or Assabeth. If either of the two 
last letters are omitted, it should probably be the t. la which case the name 
would be Assabeh. 



hundred and forty eight rods north, seventeen degrees ea9t; thence 
one mile and three fourths of a mile due north, which reaches to 
the Indian line ; then three miles, due west, on this line, which 
completes the boundaries of the English plantation. 

It would seem, from the above account, that the proprietors ex- 
ceeded the limits of their grant by more than 6000 acres. We are 
not to conclude, however, that they acted fraudulently in this bu- 
siness; since it appears that the draft of the plantation was present- 
ed to the General Court for their acceptance, and approved by the 
Deputies and Magistrates. 

The form of the plantation was evidently regulated by a regard 
to the surface and soil. Thus the boundary lines on the north and 
west included all the meadows on the Assabeth, west of the Indian 
plantation, and the extensive intervale, including several large 
meadows and cedar swamps, which runs through nearly the whole 
extent of Northborougfh and Westborouq;h. The boundaries on the 
south and east were also fixed with the same sagacity and foresight. 

It is said that the meadows, at the first settlement of our country, 
produced much larger crops of grass, of a much better quality, than 
at the present day. This circumstance, together with the difficul- 
ty of subduing the uplands, will account for the eagerness manifest- 
ed by the first settlers to possess a good supply of meadow grounds.* 

The first meeting of the proprietors of the English plantation, 
was holden 25th of the Vllth month (September) 1G5G.J 

In 1657, the following eight names are found among the propri- 
etors, in addition to the thirteen original petitioners above men- 
tioned, making up the number of twenty one. 

* It appears from the early records of Marlborough, that for many yeare 
after its incorporation, the town was greatly infested by wolves and rattle- 

In a single year, (1683) the town paid a bounty for no fewer than twenty 
three wolves. In 1680, the following record was made. " Voted, to raise 
thirteen men to go out to til rattthnakts, eight to Cold II arbour- ward, and so 
to the other place they cal boston, (now the northwestern corner of West- 
borough) and five to Stoney Brook-ward, to the places thereabout. John 
Brigham to cal out seven with him to the first, and Joseph Newton four with 
him, to the latter, and they were to have two shillings apiece per day, paid 
out of a town rates." 


t"Sept. 25th. 1656. Upon amitinge of the petitioners apoynted to take 
sum course to lay out the plantation granted to several inhabitants of Sudbu- 
ry, it was ordered that all that doe take up lottes in that plantation shall pay 
all publique charges that shall arise upon that plantation, according to their 
house lottes and to be resident there in two years or set in a man that the 
town shall aprove one, or else too loose their lotts ; but if God shall take 
away any man by death, ho have liberty to give his lott to whom he will." 


William Kerly, Samuel Rice, Peter King, 

John Rediat, John Johnson, Christopher Banister. 

Solomon Johnson, Thomas Rice, 

" At a meeting of the proprietors of this plantation the 26th of 
Xber, (December) 1659. 

u It is ordered that all such as lay clayme to any interest in this 
new plantation at Whipsufferadge, (by the Indians called Whipsup- 
penicke) are to perfect their house lots by the 25th of March next 
insueing, or else to loose all their interest in the aforesaid planta- 

Agreeably to this order, thirty eight house lots, including one 
for a minister, and one for a smith, were set off, and granted to the 
proprietors, the 26th of Nov. 1660. 

Besides the persons already mentioned, the following had house 
lots assigned to them, at this date. 

Joseph Rice, Richard Ward, John Barrett, 

John How, Jr. Benjamin Rice, . Jos. Holmes, 

Henry Kerley, John Bellows, Samuel How, 

Richard Barns, Abraham How, Henry Axtell, 

Andrew Belcher, Tho. Goodenow, Jr. John Newton. 

Obediah Ward, John Rutter T 

These thirty eight house lots, amounting in all to 992£ acres 
consisted of some of the best and most commodious tracts of land in 
Marlborough. They contained from fifty to fifteen acres each, ac- 
cording to the interest of the several proprietors in the plantation- 
The principal part of the land, which was not taken up for house 
lots, with the exception of Chauncey, (now Westborough and North- 
borough,) was left common (called Cow Commons) to be disposed of 
by subsequent grants. 

The following boundaries were assigned to the Cow Commons in 

" From John Alcocks line (now known by the name of the 
Farm) to Stoney Brook ; thence up the brook to Crane Meadow, 
and so along to Stirrup Meadow Brook, and to be extended as the 
Brooke runs to Assibathe River, and down the said river till it 
comes to the Indian line. This is, and shall remain a perpetual 
Cow Common for the use of this town, never to bee altered with- 
out the consent of all the inhabitants and proprietors thereof at a 
full meeting ; excepting four score acres of upland this town hath 
reserved within the aforesaid tract of land to accommodate some 
such desirable persons withall as need may require, opportunity 
present, and the town accept." 


A vote was passed at a meeting of the proprietors in 1705, to 
divide the Cow Commons among the original proprietors and such 
as had acquired rights in the plantation, in proportion to the first 

So early as 1660, it appears that measures had been adopted by 
the proprietors of Marlborough, for the maintenance of public wor- 
ship ; and that Mr. William Brimsmead, afterwards ordained a3 
their pastor, was employed as a preacher. 

In the following year, they voted to build a house for their 
minister; and, in 1662, the frame of a house, with the house lot on 
which it stood, were granted to Wm. Brimsmead, Minister.* 

In 1662, a rate was made of 12 pence per acre upon all house 
lots for building a Meeting House ; and again, in 1664, of 3.| pence 
per acre for finishing the house. This house, which was after- 
wards burnt by the Indians, stood on the old common, within the 
limits of the Indian planting field, which, Hutchinson says, "caused 
great disputes and discouragements."! 

It appears from the following record, that the land on which 
the Meeting House was erected was afterwards purchased of an 
Indian, whose title to the land was probably disputed by his breth- 
ren of the Indian Plantation. 

" 1663, April 4. Anamaks, an Indian of Whipsuppenicke, for 
divers reasons and considerations, sold to John Ruddock and John 
How, for the use of the town of Marlborough, the land that the 
Meeting House now stands on — also the land for the highway on 
the fore side of said Meeting House, and so upon a square of ten 
feet, round about the said Meeting House." This land, with the 
addition of half an acre purchased in 1688, of Daniel, Samuel, and 
Nathaniel Gookin, sons of Maj. Gen. Daniel Gookin, of Cambridge, 
constitutes what is now the old common, the whole of which did 

* The house built for Mr. Brimsmead stood on the lot of land west of Ock- 
oocangansett, not far from the spot on which the old Meeting House was af- 
terwards erected. There is a tradition that Mr. Brimsm^ad's house was set 
on fire by the Indians in King; Philip's war, and that the flames communicated 
with the Meeting- House, which was the occasion of its being burnt. 

It may be interesting to the antiquary to learn the form and dimensions of 
a dwelling house erected more than 160 years since. It was 36 ft. by 18 ft. 
and 12£ ft. high between the joints. It had four windows in front, and two 
at the west end. It had besides two gables in front, 10 ft. wide and 8 ft. 
square, (projecting 8 ft.) with two small windows on the front side of the ga- 
bles. It was built by contract for £15, to be paid in corn ; one third wheat, 
one third rye, and one third Indian corn. Wheat at 4*. Gd. rye at 4s. and 
Indian corn at 3s. per bushel. For the payment of this sum, a rate was made 
of 7A pence per acre upon all house lots in the Plantation. 

t Hist. Col. I. p. 167. 


not come into the possession of the town till 1706, when the half 
acre above mentioned was purchased by Abraham Williams and 
Joseph Rice, "for the use of the town, to set a Meeting House on." 

Till 1675, nothing serious appears to have occurred to inter- 
rupt the prosperity of the inhabitants of this flourishing settlement. 
But their prosperity received a severe check in the war which 
now ensued. After the destruction of Lancaster, (Feb. 10, 1676, 
O. S.) a party of the enemy directed their course through Marlbo-. 
rough, where they committed some depredations, on their way to 
Sudbury and Medfield, in the latter of which places nearly 50 dwel- 
ling houses were burnt, and 15 persons lost their lives. 

A second attack was made upon the English settlement at Marl- 
borough, on the 20th of the following month, which, though no 
lives were lost, was attended with more disastrous consequences. 
It was Lord's day ; and the inhabitants were assembled for public 
worship, when the preacher, the Rev. Mr. Brimsmead, was inter- 
rupted in the midst of his discourse by the appalling cry, that the 
Indians were advancing upon them. The Assembly instantly dis- 
persed ; and, with a single exception,* succeeded in reaching the 
neighboring garrison house in safety before the enemy came up. 
But though they defended themselves, they could afford no protection 
to their property, much of which was wasted or destroyed. -Their 
Meeting House and many of their dwelling houses were burned to 
the ground ; their fruit trees hacked and pilled ; their cattle killed 
or maimed, so that marks of their ravages were visible for many 

The alarm occasioned by this attack, and the defenceless state 
to which the inhabitants were reduced, led them to retire from the 
place, and to seek shelter in'a more populous neighborhood. Short- 
ly after the close of the war, which lasted little more than a year, 
they returned to their farms, and were permitted for many years 
to cultivate them in peace.f 

* The person to whom allusion is here made was Moses Newton, grand- 
father of the lato Deac. Paul Newton, of this town. Being detained behind 
the rest in the benevolent attempt to rescue an aged and infirm female, who 
would otherwise have been exposed to certain destruction, he received a ball 
in his elbow, which deprived him in a measure of the use of his arm ever af- 
ter. Solomon Newton, a grandson of the above, is now living, (11526) aged 
92 years, with his son, Willard Newton, Esq. in Southborough, on the farm 
taken up by his great-grand-father, Richard Newton, nearly 170 years ago. 
Richard came from England, and was one of the 13 original proprietors of 
Marlborough. Richard had three sons, Moses, Ezekiel and John. Moses 
was the father of eight sons and two daughters, viz. Moses, Jonathan, James, 
Josiah, David, Edward, Hannah, Mercy, Jacob, and Ebenezer. 

t There are no records in the Proprietors 1 Books of what took place be- 


Soon after their return, they proceeded to the erection of anew 
Meeting House, which, like the former, was thatched with straw, 
or rather a species of tall grass, taken from the meadow since cal- 
led, from that circumstance, Thatch Meadow. This building, which 
was left in an unfinished state, lasted hut a few years. In 1680, an 
unsuccessful attempt was made to enlarge and repair it; and at 
length, In 1688, a larger and-more commodious house was erected, 
near the site of the former, which lasted more than one hundred 
and twenty years, having stood till the new Meeting House in the 
east Parish was erected, in 1809.* 

Prior to the year 1684, it appears that nothing effectual had 
been done towards purchasing a title to the land " cleare of the In- 
dians, who were continually making demands upon the towne." The 
Plantation was commenced under the auspices of the Gen. Court ; 
and, as 6000 acres, bordering upon this Plantation, had been re- 
served by order of the Court, for the use of the Indians, nothing 
further seems to have been thought necessary for many years, 
either by the English or the Indians, to give the former a perfect 
title to their lands. It was not indeed till the Indian Plantation was 
broken up, and most of the inhabitants dispersed, that the Indians 
of Natick and Wamcsit, (now a part of Tewksbury,) who belong- 
ed to the same tribe with the Marlborough Indians, put in their 
claims to a right in the soil which had been cultivated by the En- 
glish now for nearly 30 years. 

At length, in the winter of 1684, a Committee of three persons 

tween May, 1675, and July, 1677. It appears that the inhabitants had re- 
turned some time before the latter date. It appears from the Records of the 
General Court, that preparations for defence against the Indians had been 
made as early as 1670. " Ordered, that the Surveyor General shall forth- 
with deliver unto Maj. Hathorn, or to Lieut. Samuel Ward, GO great shot, fit 
for the guus in the Fort at Marlborough. A Fort was maintained there through 
the war. 

*The old Meeting 1 House was valued, in 16C9, at £10 ; the pulpit at £4, 
"which were improved in ihe new Meeting House for carrying on the finishing 
of tliat.' 1 — It would appear, from the following vote, which passed with great 
unanimity at a meeting of the proprietors, May 21, 1688, that there had been 
some controversy respecting the location of the new Meeting Mouse, and that 
it was even then in contemplation to divide the town into two parishes. 

u Voted, That if the westerly part of the towu shall see cause afterwards 
to build another Meeting House, and find themselves able so to do, and main- 
tain a minister; then the division to be made by a line at the cart-way at 
Stirrup Brook, where Conecticot way now goeth over, (now within the limits 
of Northborough,) and so to run a parallel line with the west line of the 
bounds of the town." It would seem highly probable, from this vote, that 
there were inhabitants then living west of the line thus denned, and which 
was afterwards (1717) made the boundary line between Marlborough and 

VOL, II. 1 8 


was appointed by the town to treat with the Indians; who, April 
17th and 18th, with the help of Maj. Peter Bulldey and Capt. 
Thomas Hincksman, made a bargain that the town should pay them 
•£31 for a deed in full. The town accepted the conditions, and 
agreed to bring in the money, (assessed upon the proprietors, 
now 50 in number,) to the Meeting House, on the 20th of Way next, 
which was accordingly done, and the deed signed by the Indians 
presented to the town, who directed that it should be kept by Abra- 
ham Williams, as also the plat of the plantation made by Samuel 
Andrews, of which an account has already been given. 

A Copy of the Indian Deed of the Plantation of Marlborough. 
"To all Christian people to whom these presents shall come, Greet- 

KNOW YEE, That we, the Indian inhabitants of the Planta- 
tions called Natick and Wamesit," (now part of Tewksbury,) "in the 
Massachusetts Colonie, in New England, namely," (the names of 
the grantees are written below, with the omission of Andrew Pilim 
or Pitimee, and John Wamesqut, and the addition of Edmund Aso- 
wonit, making the whole number 25,) "for and in consideration of 
the sum of thirty one pounds of lawful money of New England, 
which said sum, wee the said" (here the names are repeated,) "do 
acknowledge ourselves to have rectived of Abraham Williams and 
Joseph Rice, both of the town of Marlborough, in the County of 
Middlesex, in New England, who, in the said payment, not only for 
themselves, but also as agents in behalf of all the rest of their fel- 
low purchasers, belonging to the said town of Marlborough, and of 
the said sum of thirty one pounds, and of every part and parcel 
thereof, wee the said" (names repeated) "for ourselves, and for our 
heirs, executors, administrators, *and assigns, do freely, clearly, and 
wholly, exonerate, acquit, and discharge the said Abraham Wil- 
liams and Joseph Rice and all their said fellow purchasers belong- 
ing to the said town of Marlborough, and every of them, and their 
heirs, executors, administrators, and every of them forever; have 
given, granted, bargained, sold, and by these presents, do give, 
grant, bargain, sell, and confirm, unto the said Abraham Williams 
and Joseph Rice, and unto all their fellow purchasers, belonging to 
the said Town of Marlborough, and unto all and every of their sev- 
eral heirs and assigns forever, all that tract of land, which is con- 
tained within the bounds of the Town, Township, or Plantation, 
called Marlborough aforesaid, as the said bounds were laid out, 
plotted and represented by Mr. Samuel Andrews, of Cambridge, un- 


to the Court of the Massachusetts Colonie aforesaid, and by the 
6aid Court accepted and recorded, that is to say all Uplands, 
Meadows, Swamps, Woods, Timber, Fountains, Hrooks, Rivers, 
Ponds, and Herbage, within the said bounds of the said Town, 
Township, or Plantation of Marlborough, together with all and sin- 
gnlar the appurtenances thereof, and all manner of profits, gains, 
and advantages, arising upon, or from, the said tract of land, which 
the said Abraham Williams, or Joseph Rice, or all, or any of their 
fellow purchasers, belonging to the town of Marlborough afore- 
said, at any time formerly had, or now have, or hereafter at any 
time may, or shall have ; (except a certain farm, some years ago 
laid out unto Mr. John Alcock, deceased, which lyeth within the 
bounds of said town or township of Marlburrough, and is by us, the 
said" [names repeated] "utterly and totally exempted and excluded 
from this present bargain.) To have and to hold all the foremen- 
tioned tract of land" (here the description is repeated) "to their own 
proper use and improvement, a3 is above declared, (except the 
farm before excepted,) to themselves, the said Abraham Williams 
and Joseph Rice, and to all their said fellow purchasers, belonging 
to the said Marlburrough, and unto all and several their heirs and as- 
signs forever, in a good and sure estate of inheritance, in fee sim- 
ple, without any claims or demands, any obstruction, eviction, ex- 
pulsion, or molestation whatsoever, from us the said" (names re- 
peated,) "or from the heirs, executors, administrators, or assigns of 
us the said Indians, or either of us, or from any other person or 
persons whatsoever, acting by, from, or under us or them, or any 
of them, our said heirs, executors, administrators, or assigns. Fur- 
thermore, wee, the said" (names repeated) "do covenant and grant, 
with, and loo, the said Abraham Williams and Joseph Rice, and all 
their said fellow purchasers, belonging to said Marlburrough, that 
wee, the above named Indians, have been, until the conveyance 
and assurance made by these presents, the true and proper owner9 
of all the said tract of land, lying within the bounds of the planta- 
tion or township of Marlburrough, together with all and singular 
the appurtenances thereof, in our own right, and to our own use, 
in a good absolute and firm estate of inheritance, in fee simple, and 
have full power, good right, and lawful authority to grant, bar- 
gain, sell, conveigh, and assure, the said tract of land, and every 
part and parcel thereof, with all and singular the appurtenance* of 
the same, as is before, in these presents, mentioned ; and we<-, the 
said" (names repeated) "do warrant and assure that all the tract of 



land, and all and every the appurtenances thereof, hy these pres- 
ents, alienated and sold, have been and are at the time of signing 
and sealing of this Deed of sale, utterly and totally free, and clear 
from any former bargains, sales, gifts, grants, leases, mortgages, 
judgments, executions, extents, and incumbrances whatsoever ; and 
wee, the said" (names repeated) "-for ourselves, and our heirs, exec- 
utors, administrators, and assigns, do, and shall, from time to time, 
and at all times hereafter, (as occasion shall be offered) confirm, 
defend; and make good, unto all intents and purposes, this whole 
bargain and sale aforesaid, and unto all and several their heirs and 
assigns forever. In witness of all which premises, wee, the said" 
(names repealed) "have hereunto set our hands and seals, this 
twelfth day of June, in the year of our Lord Christ, one thousand 
six hundred, eighty and four, Annoq. Regni Regis Caroli Secundi 

Andrew Pilim (Pitimee) 

Attorney to old F. fVaban. 
John X Nasquanet 

William X Wononatomoe 

John ^ Speen 
Lawrence ^ JNowsawane 

Jacob X Ponopohquin 

his mark 
Jeremy X Sosoohquoh 

his mark 
Samuel ^ William 

Nathaniel ^ Quonkatohn 
James Speen 

John xj Wamesqut 

Job X Pohpono 

his mark 
Benjamin ^ Tray 

his mark 
Sosowun ^ noo 

James x Wiser 
Simon Betog-kom 

his mark 
Great x John 
Thomas Waban 
his mark 
Abraham j>- Speen 

his mark 
Great x James 

Jacob x Petowat 

Jehoja X kin 

sign urn 
Peter X Ephraim 

Attorney for Jno. Awoosamug. 
John xj Awoosamug 

Thorn. X Dublet 

Benjamin B Boho. 

Signed, sealed, and delivered, in pre- 
sence of us witnesses, 

Simon Crosby 
John Curtis 
his mark 
Henry x Rice 
John Magus i 

Daniel Takawompait ) lndians - 

"June 11th and 12th, 1684. At a Court held at Natick among 
the Indians, there appeared in Court, and before me, all the seal- 
ers and subscribers to this deed, being twenty five (there are twen- 


ty six signatures) persons in number, and freely acknowledged this 
writing to be their act and deed." 

"As Attests, Daniel Gookim, Seri*r Assistant.'''' 
"This Deed entered in the Register at Cambridge. Lib. 9. page 
293—299. 7. 2. 85. By Tno : Danfouth, ft." 

It will be seen from the above signatures, that, besides the two 
Indian witnesses, John Magus and Daniel Takawompait, four oth- 
ers, viz. Andrew Pitimee, James Speen, Simon Betogkom, and 
Thomas Waban, wrote their own names. Daniel Takawompait, 
or Tokkohwompait, was a pastor of the church in Natick, in 1G98, 
ordained by the Rev. and holy man of God, John Eliot. He is 
said to have been a person of great knowledge.* Thomas Waban 
was probably a son of old Waban, the first Indian convert in Mas- 
sachusetts, and one who supported a consistent christian character 
till his death, which happened in 1674, at the age of 70. t Maj. 
Gen. Daniel Gookin, before whom the deed was acknowledged, 
was the friend and fellow laborer of Eliot, an enlightened, virtu- 
ous, and benevolent magistrate. He belonged to Cambridge, 
where he died in 1G87, aged 75. 

Two others, whose names are affixed to this instrument, viz. 
John Speen, and John Awoosamug, are mentioned in the account 
of Dochester.J The former of whom, it appears, was for some 
time a teacher, till he became addicted to intemperance, when he 
was laid aside. The latter, though he had been propounded to 
join the church, had been excluded on account of his quick and pas- 
sionate temper, but discovered marks of penitence during his last 
sickness, which satisfied the scruples of his brethren. 

The Indian Plantation of Ockoocangansett,§ or Marlborough. 
Some time previous to the commencement of the English Plan- 
tation, as appears from the following order of the General Court, 
the Indians had a grant of a township in that place. 

" In reference to the case between Mr. Eliot, in behalf of the 
Indians of Oguonikongquamesit, and Sudbury men: the Courte find- 
ing that the Indians had agraunt of a township in the place before 
* See 1 Hist. Col. X. 134. 1 1 Hist. Col. V. 263. | I Hist. Col. IX. 198. 

i 1 have given the name as it is uniformly written in the earliest records 
of Marlborough. Hutchinson, quoting from Eliot, who visited the place in 
1G70, writes it Ogguonikongquamesut ; Gookin, who wrote in 1674, Okomma- 
kamesit. The word has since been corrupti-d into Agogatiggomisset. This 
name, it should be considered, was at first appropriated to the Indian Planta- 
tion, while the English Plantation, before its incorporation in lb'GO, was called 
"VVhipsuppenicke. Both plantations were, however, in 1G7<?, called by the 
same name by Daniel Gookin. 


the English, the Courte determines and orders, that Mr. Edward 
Jackson, Mr. Tho. Danforth, Mr. Ephraim Child and Capt. Lusher,* 
or any three of them, as a committee, shall with the first conven- 
ient opportunity, if it may be before winter, lay out a township in 
the said place, of 6000 acres, to the Indians in which, at least, shall 
bee three or four hundred acres of meadow ; and in case there be 
enough left for a convenient township for the Sudbury men, to lay 
it out to them; the grant of Mr. Alcock's (842 acres granted in 1655) 
confirmed by the last Court out of both excepted and reserved, and 
the Indians to have the Hill on which they are, and the rest of the 
land to be laid out adjoining to it as may be convenient to both 
plantations. 1 '! 

The Hill mentioned in this order, had been improved for many 
years by the Indians, probably long before the arrival of the Eng- 
lish, as a planting field. It was afterwards, in 1677, as appears 
from the following instrument, conveyed to Daniel Gookin, Esq. 

th Know all men by these presents that we old Nequain, Robin 
ealled old Robin, Benjamin Wuttanamit, James called Great James, 
John Nasquamit, Sarah the widow of Peter Nasquament, in behalf 
of her child Moses David, next heir to my father and to my uncle 
Josiah Harding, deceased, without issue, Assoask the widow of Jo- 
siah Nowell, in behalf of my children, Sarah Conomog, sole exex- 
utrix to my late husband, Conomog, Elizabeth, the only daughter 
and heir of Solomon, deceased," [Solomon had been the teacher of 
the Indians of Marlborough,] "James Spene, in behalf of my wife, 
being all of us, true proprietors, possessors and improvers of the 
Indian lands called Whipsufferage, alias Okonkonomesit, adjoining 
to Marlborough in the colony of Massachusetts in New England 
for divers considerations us thereunto moving, especially the love 
and duty we owe to our honored magistrate, Daniel Gookin, of 
Cambridge, Esq. who hath been a ruler to us above 20 years, do 
hereby freely and absolutely give, grant and confirm, unto him the 
said Daniel Gookin, Esq. and his heirs forever, one parcel of land 
heretofore, broken up, and being planted by us and our predeces- 
sors, called by the name of Okonkonomesit Hill, situate, lying and 
being on the south side of our township and plantation, near Marl- 
borough, containing about one hundred acres, more or less, (also 
ten acres in Fort Meadow, and ten in Long Meadow,) with free 

♦These three, Danforth, Child, and Lusher, were respectively deputies 
to the General Court from Cambridge, Watertown, and Dedham, in lii57. 

t Records of the General Court for the year 1658-9. 


liberty of commonage lor wood, timber, feeding of bis cattle, upon 
any common laud, within our township or plantation." 

''Second day of May, 1677. 

Signed, sealed, and delivered in presence of us, 

John Eliot, Waban X bis mark, 

Noah VViswell, Piamboo X his mark, 

Joshaa Woods, Joseph Wheeler. 

Acknowledged before me, 

Thomas Danforth, Assistant. 
Entered and recorded at the Registry at Cambridge.*" 

It is thus described by Gookin in 1674. " In this Indian Plan- 
tation there is a piece of fertile land, containing above 150 acres, 
upon which the Indians have, not long since, lived, and planted 
several apple trees thereupon, wbich bear abundance of fruit; 
but now the Indians are removed from it about a mile. This 
tract of land doth so embosom itself into the English town, that it 
is encompassed about with it, except one way ; and upon the edge 
of this land the English have placed their Meeting House." It was 
a favorite design of the benevolent Gookin, which he proposed in 
his Historical Collections, " as an expedient for civilizing the In- 
dians, and propagating the Gospel among them," to have this tract 
of land, which, with certain meadows and woodland, he says, "is well 
worth £200 in money, set apart for an Indian free school ; and 
there to build a convenient house for a school master and his fami- 
ly, and under the same roof may be a room for a school." This, 
with the necessary out buildings, he computes will not cost more 
than £200 in money ; and the use of the land, he thinks, will be an 
adequate compensation for the services of the school master. 

" Moreover, it is very probable," he adds, "that the English 
people of Marlborough will gladly and readily send their children 
to the same school, and pay the school master for them, which will 
better his maintenance ; for they have no school in that place at 
the present." 

We learn further from this account that the number of families 
in Marlborough, at this period, did not amount to fifty, every vil- 
lage containing that number being required by the laws to provide 
a school " to teach the English tongue, and to write." " These 

* May 18, 1632. Waban, Piamboo, Great James, Thomas Tray, and 
John Wincols, proprietors of the Indian Plantation of Whipsulferadge, grant- 
ed to Samuel Gookin, of Cambridge, liberty to erect a Saw Mill upon any 
brook or run of water within the said Plantation, with land not exceeding 
three acres, use of timber, fee. for 30 year?. 



people of Marlborough," says he, somewhat indignantly, "wanting 
a few of fifty families, do take that low advantage to ease their 
purses of this common charge." 

What reception this proposal met with, we are not informed. 
It was most certainly an expedient that promised the happiest con- 
sequences, and worthy of the liberal and philanthropic mind of its 
author. How close is the resemblance between this plan, conceiv- 
ed more than one hundred and fifty years since, and that of the 
Indian schools recently established at Brainerd, Eliot, Mayhew, 
and other places in the United States?* 

The people of Marlborough, notwithstanding the severity of 
Gookin's censure, have not been behind other towns in New En- 
gland in their attention to schools. Owing to the troubles which 
ensued, soon after the date of Gookin's Historical Collections, they 
felt themselves unable to meet the expense of a public school for 
several following years. At length, however, in 1698, Benjamin 
Franklinj was employed as a school master in Marlborough, from 
the first of November, 1696, to the last of March, 1697, at eight 
shillings per week ; " he engaging carefully to teach all such youth 
as com or are sent to him, to read English once a day, att least, or 
more, if need require ; also to learn to write and cast accounts." 
The school was kept in Isaac Wood's house, which was then un- 

* 1 Hist. Col. I. p. 220. 

tThis person was probably an uncle of Doctor Benjamin Franklin. In 
the first volume of Franklin's Works, edited by his grandson, William Tem- 
ple Franklin, page G, is the following account of the person referred to above. 
" My grandfather had four sons, who grew up, viz: Thomas, John, Benjamin 
aud Josiah. Benjamin was bred a silk dyer, serving an apprenticeship in Lon- 
don. He was an ingenious man. I remember, when 1 was a boy, he came 
to my father's, in Boston, and resided in the house with us for several years. 
There was always a particular afTection between my father and him, and I 
was bis godson. He lived to a great age. He left behind him two quarto 
volumes of manuscript of his own poetry, consisting of fugitive pieces addres- 
sed to his friends. He had invented a shorthand of his own, wbich he taught 
me, but not having practiced it, I have now forgotten it. He was very pious, 
and an assiduous attendant at the sermons of the best preachers, which he 
reduced to writing according to his method, and had thus collected several 
volumes of them. He was also a good deal of a politician ; too much so, per- 
haps, for his station. There fell lately into my possession, in London, a col- 
lection he made of all the principal political pamphlets relating to public af- 
fairs, from the year 1G-11 to 1717; many of the volumes are wanting, as ap- 
pears, by their numbering; but there still remains eight volumes in folio, and 
twenty in quarto and octavo. A dealer iu old books had met with them, and 
knowing me by name, having bought books of him, he brought them to me. 
It would appear that my uncle must have left them here, when he went to 
America, wbich was about fifty years ago. 1 found several of his notes in the 
margins. His grandson, Samuel Franklin, is still living in Boston." 


Jan. 10, 1698-9. The town voted to build a school house. Af- 
ter this, Mr. Jonathan Johnson was employed as a school master 
for many years in succession. 

The Indian Plantation was laid out agreeably to the following report 
of the Commissioners appointed as aforesaid. 

"VVlIlPSUrPENICKE the 19th OF JUNE, 1659. 

"The Committee appointed by the Gen. Court to lay out a Plan- 
tation for the Indians of 6000 acres at the above named place, hav- 
ing given Mr. Eliot* a meeting and duly weighed all his exceptions 
in the behalf of the Indians; first, what hath beene formerly acted 
and returned to the Gen. Court, do judge meete in way of comply- 
ance, that the bounds of the Indian Plantation bee enlarged unto 
the most westerly part of the fence, that now slandelh on the 
west side of the Mill or planting field called Ockoocangansett, and 
from thence to bee extended on a direct north line untill they have 
their full quantity of 6000 acres: the bounds of their Plantation in 
all other respects, wee judge meete that they stand as in the form 
returned; and that their full complement of meadow by Court 
Grant, may stand and bee exactly measured out by an artist within 
the limits of the aforesaid lines, when the Indians, or any in their 
behalf, are willing to be at the charges thereof: provided alwaies 
that the Indians may have noe power to make sale thereof, of all 
or any part of their abovesaid lands, otherwise than by the consent 
of the Hou d Gen 1 Court ; or when any shall be made or happen, 
the Plantation of English there seated may have the first tender 
of it from the Court; which caution wee the rather insert, because 
not only a considerable part of the nearest and best planting land 
is heereby taken away from the English (as we are informed) but 
the nearest and best part of their meadow, by estimation about an 
hundred acres in one place, that this north line doth take away, 
which tendeth much to the detrimenting of the English Plantation, 
especially if the lands should bee impropriated to any other use 
than the Indians proposed, that is to say, for an Indian Plantation, 
or for the accommodating their Plantation, they should bee depriv- 
ed thereof." 

Signed by 

ele\zh:r lusher, ) 

- EDWARD JACKriUN, (commissioners 
EPHR AIM CHILD, Commissioners. 


* The celebrated John Eliot, minister of Roxbury, commonly called the 
Apostle of the lndiuus. 

VOI,. li. 19 


The account given of this Plantation by Capt. afterwards, Maj. 
Gen. Gookin, of Cambridge, who visited it in 1674, more than one 
hundred and fifty years since, will be interesting to those who have 
not already seen it. 

" Okommakamesit, alias Marlborough, is situated about twelve 
miles north northeast from Hassanamesitt, (Grafton) about thirty 
miles from Boston westerly. 

"This village contains about ten families, and consequently about 
fifty souls. The quantity of land it is six thousand 
acres. It is much of it good land, and yieldeth plenty of corn, be- 
ing well husbanded. It is sufficiently stored with meadow, and is 
well wooded and watered. It hath several good orchards upon it, 
planted by the Indians: and is in itself a very good plantation. 
This town doth join so near to the English of Marlborough, that it 
(we might apply to it what) was spoken of David in type and our 
Lord Jesus Christ, the antitype, "Under his shadow ye shall re- 
joice:" but the Indians here do not much rejoice under the English- 
men's shadow ; who do so overtop them in their number of people, 
stocks of cattle, kc. that the Indians do not greatly flourish, or de- 
light in their station at present. 

"Their ruler here was Onomog, who is lately deceased, about 
two months since ; which is a great blow to that place. He was a 
pious and discreet man, and the very soul as it were of that place. 
Their teacher's name is **** Here they observe the same decorum 
for religion and civil order, as is done in other towns. They have 
a constable and other officers, as the rest have. The Lord sancti- 
fy the present affliction they are under by reason of their bereave- 
ments ; and raise up others, and give them grace to promote relig- 
ion and good order among them." 

From this account, which is given by an eye witness, it is pretty 
evident that a spirit of jealousy and envy against their more pros- 
perous neighbors of the English Plantation, was even then rankling 
in their hearts : and we are not much surprised to learn that, in the 
calamitous war which broke out in the follovving year between the 
English and Indians, known by the name of King Philip's war, some 
of these half civilized sons of the forest were found among the en- 
emy, at the place of their general rendezvous, in the western part 
of Worcester County, a few days previous to their desolating march 

*Hutchinson eay9 his name was Solomon, judged to be a serious and sound 
Christian, p. 167. 


through the country, in which Lancaster, and many other towns, 
experienced the horrors of savage warfare.* 

•Jamei Quanipaug, who was sent out with another Indian by the name 
of Job to reconnoitre the enemy, then in the Western part ol this County, in 
the beginning; of 1676, passed through Hassanamesit (Grafton) thence to 
Manexit, (a part of Woodstock) where he was taken by seven Indians and 
carried to Menimesseg, (New liraiutree) where he found many of the enemy, 
and among them u the Marlborough Indians who pretended that they had beta 
fetched away by the other Indians." Some of them professed to be willing to 
return. Philip is said at this time to have beeu about half a day's journey on 
the other side of Fort Orauia, (Albanj) and the Hadley Indians on this side. 
They were then preparing for that memorable expedition, in which the town6 
of Lancaster, Groton, Marlborough, Sudbury, and Medfield, were destroyed. 

The letter of James (Quanipaug bears date 24th : 11 mo: 1675. (Jan. 
24, 1676.) It was only 16 days after this, viz. Feb. 10th O. S. that they 
made a descent upon Lancaster, with 1500 warriors, and butchered or carried 
into captivity nearly all the inhabitants of that flourishing village. 

Whether the Marlborough Indians joined in this expedition, or left the 
enemy and returned to their homes, 1 have not been able after diligent en- 
quiry to ascertain. The little that 1 have been able to collect, though cor- 
roborated by circumstantial evidence, rests mainly on tradition. 

Though it appears from the testimony of James Quanipaug that the 
Marlborough Indians were with Philip's men at Menimesseg, it is by no 
means certain that all who belonged to the Plantation had goue over to the 
enemy. Tradition says, that those who remained at home were suspected of 
treachery, and that representations to that effect were made to the governor, 
(Leverett) who dispatched a company of soldiers under the command of 
Capt. Mosely, to convey them to Boston. They reached Marlborough, it is 
said, in the night ; and early in the morning, before the Indians had any sus- 
picion of their design, surrounded the fort to which they were accustomed to 
repair at night, siezed on their arms, and obliged them to surrender. They 
attempted no resistance, and it is by no means certain that they entertained 
any hostile designs against the English. They were, however, taken into the 
custody of the soldiers ; and, having their hands fastened behind their backs,' 
and then being connected together by means of a cart rope, they were in this 
manner driven down to Boston, whence it is probable, that they were convey- 
ed, in company with the Indians of Natick and other places, to one of the is- 
lands in the harbor, and kept in durance till the close of the war. 

This tradition is corroborated by the following circumstances. 

In the account of Daniel Gookiu, in 1 Hist. Col. 1, 228, it is said that 
" some instances of perfidy in Indians, who had professed themselves friendly, 
excited suspicions against all their tribes. The General Court of Massachu- 
setts passed several severe laws against them ; and the Indians of Natick and 
other places, who had subjected themselves to the English government, were 
hurried down to Long Island (Hutchinson says Deer Island,) in the harbor 
of Boston, where they remained all winter, and endured inexpressible hard- 
ships." We learn further from Hutchinson, that the Indians of Punkapog 
alone (now Stoughton) were exempted from this severity of treatment. The 
grouud of the harsh measures adopted in reference to the Indians in the 
neighborhood of Boston, was, the perfidious conduct of the Springfield Indians, 
in assisting in the destruction of Weslfield, Hadley, and other places, in Octo- 
ber 1675. "This instance of perfidy," says Hutchinson, *'seems to have in- 
creased the jealousies and suspicions, which had before begun oi the Indians 
round Boston, viz. Punkapog, Natick, &c." 

At the session, in October, the General Court ordered " that no person 
shall entertain, own, or countenance any Indian under the penalty of being a 
betrayer of this government." 

" That a guard be set at the entrance of the town of Boston, and that no 


This war, if calamitous to the English, proved fatal to nearly 
all the Indian Plantations in New England. Among the rest the 

Indian be suffered to enter upon any pretence without a guard oi two mus- 
keteers, and not to lodge in town." 

11 That any person may apprt hend an Indian, finding him in town, or ap- 
proaching the town, and that none be suffered to come in by water."" 

To this we may add, that (ant. Mosely 1 * character was such as to render 
it highly probable that he performed the part which tradition has assigned to 
bim. Hutchinson says, " lie had been an old privateerer at Jamaica, proba- 
bly of such as were called Buccaniers." He commanded a company of 110 
volunteers, in the war with King l'hilip, and was one of the most resolute 
and courageous captains of his day. It was he who, on Sept. 1, 1G75, went 
out to the rescue of Capt. Lathrop, who with only CO men was attacked by 
a body of 7 or 8 hundred Indians at Deerfield, when all Capt. L 1 s company, 
with the exception of seven or eight, were cut off. He also led the van in 
the terrible assault made upon the Indians, Dec. 19, in the Narragansett 
country, in which six Euglish captains were killed, and nearly 200 men kil- 
led and wounded. 

I hope I shall be pardoned for adding to this already extended note, the 
following particulars respecting the remains of (he Marlborough Indians. 

After the close of the war, some of the Indians of Marlboroogh appear to 
have returned to their former place of abode. But their plantation was brok- 
en up, and they were (breed to find shelter and subsistence as they were able. 
A considerable number of the Indians who remained in, or returned to, 
Marlborough, after the war, lived in the westeily part of the town, on the 
farm of Thomas Brigham, one of the oldest proprietors, the common ancestor 
of all the Brighama in this town, as well as of many of that name in Marlbo- 
rough, VVeetborough, and other places. The late Judge Brigham, of West- 
borough, and Rev. Benjamin Brigham, of Filzwilliam, were great-grandsons 
of Thomas. 

Among those who returned was David, alias David Munnanaw, who had 
joined l'hilip, and as he afterwards confessed, assisted in the destruction of 
Medfield. This treacherous Indian had, it is said, a slit thumb, which cir- 
cumstance led to his conviction. He had been absent from Marlborough 
several months, but after his return would give no account of himself whith- 
er he had been, or how he had employed himself in the mean time. At 
length, however, an inhabitant of Medfield, one whom Munnanaw had wound- 
ed, being at Marlborough, immediately recognized him by the mark on his 
thumb, ami charged him with his treachery. At first he denied the charge ; 
but, finding that the proof against him could uot be evaded, he at length own- 
ed that he had been led away by Philip, and had assisted in the burning of 

He was, however, suffered to Mve without molestation. His wigwam stood 
on the borders of the beautiful lake, near the public house kept by Mr. Silas 
Gates, where he lived with his family iniiiy years, till the infirmities of old 
age came upon him. He was accustomed to repair to the neighboring or- 
chards for tne purpose of obtaining fruit. There was one tree of the fruit 
of which he was particularly fond, and which was accordingly his favorite 
place of resort. In this spot the old warrior expired. Old David Munnanaw 
died a little more than 80 years since, having lived, as was supposed, nearly 
or quite a century of years. Capt. Timothy Brigham, now in his 91st year, 
well ncoilects having seen him, when he was a child of about 9 or 10 years 
old, at his jrrandfathi r's, Jonathan Brigham's, of Marlborough. According to 
this account, Munnanaw must have been a young man, 25 or 30 years of age, 
at the time of Philip's war. Capt. B. represents him as bearing the marks 
of extreme old age, bis fit sh wasted, and his skin shrivelled. He understood 
that he had the reputation of having been treacherous to the English. Abim- 
ilcch David, supposed to be a son of the former, was a tall, stout, well pro- 


Plantation of Marlborough, wa9 completely broken up and soon 
passed into other hands. On the 15th of July 1G84, a few weeks 
subsequent to the date of the Indian deed of the English Plantation, 
the Indian lands were formally transferred by deed to John Brig- 
ham of Marlborough and his fellow purchasers ;* and in October, 
1686, the aforesaid John Brigham who was a noted surveyor and 
speculator in land*, was appointed " to lay out 30 acres to each of 
the proprietors in some of the best of the land lying as convenient 
as may be to the town of Marlborough." 

June the 5th 1700, the inhabitants of Marlborough petitioned 
the General Court, that the proprietors of the Indian lands might 
be annexed to the said town, which petition was granted, and Marl- 
borough accordingly received an accession of 6000 acres, a large 
proportion of which is good land. 

After the close of Philip's war the inhabitants of Marlborough 
do not appear to have been seriously molested by the Indians till 
after the commencement of the eighteenth century. 

In the mean time the settlement had extended itself towards the 
borders of the town, so that some time previous to the close of the 

portioned Indian, is well remembered by many persons now living. Abimi- 
lech had several daughters, among whom were, Sue, Deborah, Esther, Pa- 
tience, Nabby, and Detty. They lived in a wretched hovel or wigwam, un- 
der the large oak now standing, near the dwelling house of Mr. Warren Brig- 
ham. They had become dissolute in their habits, and were exceedingly 
troublesome to their neighbors ; and they are remembered with very little 
respect or affection. 

The Indian burying ground, where the last remnants of the race were in- 
terred, is situated a few rods from the south road, leading from Marlborough 
to Northborough, near the residence of Widow Holyoke, in a field belonging 
to the old Brigham farm. It has been enjoined on the family in each suc- 
ceeding generation, not to trespass on this repository of the dead ; an injunc- 
tion which has hiiherto been duly regarded. The burying ground is about 
five rods in length, and somewhat more than one rod in breadth, covered with 
wild grass and loose stones. A few years since, as 1 have been informed, as 
many as twenty or thirty graves were plainly distinguishable, though they 
have now almost wholly disappeared. Two ol the graves were situated with- 
out the bounds of the rest, and in a direction perpendicular to them ; the for- 
mer being from north to south, the latter from east to west. Many aged per- 
sons can remember, when the last degraded remnants of the race, once inhab- 
iting the soil we occupy, enclosed in rude coffins of rough boards, hastily put 
together, and without any religious ceremony, were conveyed to this reposi- 
tory of the dead. 

* This deed appears to have been obtained by uufair means, as in the 
following September, a committee appointed by the General Court to exam- 
ine into the grounds ot complaint made by the Indians against the English of 
Marlborough, reported in favor of the Indians, and "the Court ordered and de- 
clared that the Indian deed of sale to the inhabitants of Marlborough of 5800 
acres of land (the whole of the Indian Plantation with the exception of the 
Indian Planting field) bearing date July 15, 1684, is illegal and consequently 
null and void. 1 ' 


seventeenth century, some of the lands now included within the 
limits of Westborough and Norlhborough, then called Chauncey, 
or Chauncey Village, had been laid out for farms. 

Indeed so early as 1C60, the very year that Marlborough was 
incorporated, several tracts of meadow, lying within the limits of 
this town, were surveyed and the names given them which they 
now bear.* And, in 1662, three large meadows, Cold Harbour 
Meadow, Middle Meadow, and Chauncey Meadow, the first of which 
and part of the second, lie within the limits of this town, were or- 
dered to be surveyed, and each to be laid out in thirty four lots, 
which was probably the number of proprietors at that timet 

The first grants of land lying within the limits of what is now 
Westborough and Northborough, with the exception of the mead- 
ows above named, bear the date of 1672. From this time, and be- 
fore the close of the century, many of the proprietors of Marlbo- 
rough had taken up their 2nd, 3d, and 4th divisions in the wester- 
ly part of the town, several of them west of the river Assabeth. 

It is asserted by Rev. Mr. Whitney, in his history of this town, 
that there were settlers in this part of Marlborough before there 
were any in what is now Westborough. The first settler according 
to tradition was John Brigham, from Sudbury, a noted land survey- 

* Three Corner Meadow, Stirrup Meadow, Crane Meadow, Cedar Mead- 
ow, &c. 

t The origin of these names according to tradition was as follows : — Cold 
Harbour Meadow, in the western part of this town, so called from the cir- 
cumstance of a traveller, having lost his way, being compelled to remain 
through a cold winters night in a stack of hay in that place, and on the fol- 
lowing morning, having made his way through the wilderness to the habita- 
tions of man, and being asked where he lodged during the night, replied, " In 
Cold Harbour." Middle Meadow, on the borders cf Westborough and North- 
borough, so called probably from its'situation in reference to the two others. 

Chauncey Meadow, in Weslborough, so called probably for the same 
reason that the western part of Marlborough was called Chauncey. The ori- 
gin of the name was known only by tradition in the Ilev. Mr. Parkman's day, 
who was ordained in Westborough, <">ct. 20th, 17"24, and who gave the fol- 
lowing account. " It is said that in early times one Mr. Chauncey was lost 
in one of the swamps here, and from hence this part of the town had its 
name." I find from the records of the General Court for the year 1665, that 
Mr. Chauncey hud taken up lauds within the limits of Marlborough, and that 
the proprietors of Marlborough were ordered to remunerate him for his expen- 
ces incurred in laying out his farm, " and he hath liberty to lay out the same 
in any land not formerly granted by this Court." Quere. — May not this have 
been President Chauncey, of Harvard College, to whom, an account of the 
smallness of his salary, repeated grants of land were made about this time by 
the General Court? Dr. Chauncey, of Boston, the great-grandson of Pres- 
ident Chauncey, says that the latter was the first, and the common ancestor 
of all of that name in this place. If so, the Mr. C. above mentioned must have 
heen President Chauncey or one of his sons. 


or, undoubtedly the same person who has been mentioned in our ac- 
count of the Indian Plantation. It appears from the Proprietors' 
records that a grant of land was made to John Brigham, in 1672, 
"in the place formerly desired, that is, on Licor Meadow plain." 
This land was probably part of the Coram Farm, so called, the 
principal part of which lay on the northern side of the old Marlbo- 
rough line,* and now constitutes, in whole, or in part, the farms of 
Nahum Fay, Esq. John Green, Asa Fay, Lewis Fay, and Stephen 
Williams, Esq. The lands of Mr. Brigham extended to the saw 
mill of Mr. Lowell Holbrook, near which he erected a small cabin, 
in which he lived several years, remote from any human habitation, 
till, at length, the fear of the Savages compelled him to retreat to a 
place of greater security ; and, it is said, that only a few days after 
his removal, a party of Indians came to the place and burned his 
house to the ground. 

The first Saw Mill erected in this town was built by the above 
named Brigham, and stood on the same spot, which is now occupied 
for the same purpose.! 

In the same year (1672) a grant of land was made to Samuel 
Goodenow, grandfather of the late Asa Goodenow, and to Thomas 
Brigham, the person mentioned in the last note, "by Double Pond 
Meadow, on both sides said meadow. "J The lands taken up on the 
account of the above named Samuel Goodenow, constituted three 

*The old Marlborough line, was a straight line of seven miles in extent, 
running through the northwest angle of this town, and cutting off more than 
2000 acres, which constitute what is called the new grants, of which an ac- 
count will be given hereafter. 

t John Brigham was one of three brothers (John, Samuel, and Thomas) 
who came from Sudbury to Marlborough <*ornntime previous to 1672. Their 
father was from England, married a Mercie Hurd also from Fnjrland, settled 
in Sudbury, where he died probably in middle lift-, as his widow had buried 
a second husband by the name of Hunt, before her sons removed to Marlbo- 
rough. Samuel Brigham, was the grand-father of the late Dr. Samuel Brig- 
ham, of Marlborough : Thomas was an ancestor of tht- late Ju(b;e Brigham, of 
Westborough ; and John, who was sometimes calb d Doctor Brigham, was the 
father of the Mrs. Mary Fay, wife of Gershom Fay, of whose remarkable es- 
cape from the Indians we shall presently give an account. John Brigham 
was one of the selectmen of Marlborough in 1679, and in the winter of 1689 
90, representative to the Convention then sitting in Boston. The Coram Farm, 
was granted him, it is said, by the General Court to compensate him for ser- 
vices as a surveyor of lands. Mr. Brigham lived to be quite aged, and used 
to come to reside with his daughter Mrs. Fay, in this town. 

X Quere. May not this meadow be the one which lies between Great 
and Little Chauncey ponds, which, as they are connected with each other 
by a water communication, might have been called at first Double Pond ? 
David Brigham, son of Thomas, lived on the borders of Great Chauncey, on 
the farm now in the possession of Lovett Peters, Esq. 


of the oldest setllements in this town, on one of which was the prin- 
cipal garrison house, used for many years as a defence against the 
Indians, and which stood on the farm of Mr. Gill Bartlett, then own- 
ed hy Samuel Goodenow, Jr. The other two, were in the vicinity 
of this, and constitute in whole, or in part, the farms of Deac. Jonas 
Bartlett and Mr. Stephen How. 

In the same year, a grant of land was made to John Rediet, 
"west of Assabeth River, northwest side of the Chauncey Great 
Pond, bounded on the east by a Spruce Swamp :" another tract on 
"the Nepmuck road, that formerly led toward Coneticoat."* The 
land of John Red:et, who was one of the first proprietors and great- 
est land holders of Marlborough, came into the possession of Na- 
thaniel Oaks, who married his daughter, and who lived on the farm 
owned in succession by Rev. John Mirtyn and Rev. Peter Whitney, 
and now in the possession of Mr. Jacob Plerce.t Capt. James Ea- 
ger was another of the first settlers of this town. He lived near the 
centre of the town on the farm now in the possession of Mr. John 
Fisk. His house was once used for a garrison, and was for many 
years occupied as a tavern, being the first that was opened in the 
place. J 

* "The Nepmuck Road, that formerly led toward Coneticoat," was the 
old Connecticut road that passed through the southeast part of this town, 
over Rock Hill, east of Great and Little Chauncey ponds, into Westborough 
and theuce through Hassanamesit or Grafton. 1. Hist. Col. 1. p. 185 and 

t Nathaniel Oaks came from England, married Mehitahel, daughter of 
John Rudiet, who died Nov. 25th, 1702, without children. His second t\ ife 
Mary, was a daughter of Adam Holloway, by whom he had the following 
children, viz. — Nathaniel, who lived at Bolton. William, burned to death at 
Shrewsbury in the house of Capt. Keyes. Hannah, married to Gersham Fay, 
Jr. died March 8, 1806, wanting but a few months of a century. She was 
the mother of the late Thaddeus Fay, who died, July 22, 18'22, aged 91 years. 
Mary, married to Daniel Maynard, Marlborough. Ann, manied to David 
Maynard, Westborough. John, built the house near Col. Crawford's, owned 
by Joel Gasset. Jonathan, removed to Harvard. George, lived near the 
house of Mr. Luther Hawse, and built a saw mill on the river Assabeth. 

X Capt. James Eager was a native of Marlborough, born in 1685, died 
1755, aged 70. He was one of the leading nun of the place at the time that 
Northborough became a separate precinct. It is said that his house was the 
fust that was built on the new Connecticut road, between the house of Samu- 
el Goodi now and the town of Worcester. It is but little more than a hund- 
red years, since there was not a human habitation on the road from Marlbo- 
rough to Brookfield, west of the Goodenow farm, in the eastern part of this 
town, with the exception of a few log houses in that part of Worcester called 
Boggachoag. James Tager, Jr. a son of the above, - was married to Marian], 
daughter of Joseph Wheeler. Their daughter Zilpeh, was married to Mich- 
ael, son of Rev. John Martyn through whom there are several persons in this 
town who trace their descent from the first minister of the place. 


Several other persons settled in what is now Marlborough, in 
the early part of the last century.* 

Soon after the commencement of the eighteenth century, the 
English settler9 of Marlborough were again exposed to the horrors 
of Indian warfare. It will he difficult for us, who are permitted to 
dwell in security under the shelter of the domestic roof, to form 
an adequate idea of the perilous condition of our forefathers, at 
this gloomy period. " We have, indeed, heard within our ears, 
and our fathers have told" us the story of their dangers and suffer- 
ings " in the waste and howling wilderness." But how difficult to 
enter into the feelings of men, who were in constant peril for their 
lives; who, like the children of Israel in rebuilding the walls of 
Jerusalem, repaired to their work with weapons in their hands, 
and who were liable to be waked from their midnight slumbers by 
the savage yells of a pitiless foe? In many instances were they 

*Siraeon Howard was the father of Comet Simeon Howard, and of Jona- 
than Howard, whose son, Cideon Howard, removed to Worthington, in this 
state, where his descendants, it is supposed, still live. 

Simon Howard, Senior, from Concord, was another of the first settlers. 
His house stood near the hearse house, on the land ol Mr. Asa Fay. 

It is not known whether the Simeon Howard mentioned above, was re- 
lated to Simeon Howard, D. D. late pastor of the west church in Boston. 

Adam Holloway, from Concord, (died in 1733, aged 80.) and his son 
Lieut. Wm. Holloway, (died Jan. C, 1760, aged 71,) settled on the farm now 
owned by Stephen Williams, Esq. 

Lieut. Wm. Hoiloway, married Mary, (died March 9, 1788, aged 94,) a 
daughter of Simeon Howard, Senior, by whom he had two sons and four 
daughters. The sons died young. Of the daughters, Mary, married Jonathan 
Bartlett, died Dec. 22, 1«21, aged 95. — Hannah, married Capt. James Stone, 
of Western. — Betty, married Daniel Wheeler, of Hardwick. — Jemima, mar- 
ried John Taylor, who died at St. Albans, Vt. 

John Taylor,-was the father of Col. Holloway Taylor now of St. Albans 
and of John Taylor, Esq. an Attorney at law, at Northampton. 

Gershom Fay, Senior, was «»ne of the first settlers of this town. He was 
the son of John Fay, of Marlborough, married Mary, a daughter of John 
Brigham, died in 1720. He lived at first in the easterly part of the town, af- 
terwards, built a house on the Coram Farm, near the bend of the road, between 
the dwelling house of Capt. Hastings, aud that of Stephen Williams, Esq. 
His children were Gershom, Mary, Susanna, Sarah, Silas, Timothy, and Paul, 

Thomas Ward, from Marlborough, was the first settler on the farm now 
in the possession of Asaph Rice ; and Deac. Isaac Tombliu on the farm of the 
late Deac. Isaac Davis. 

Hezekiah Tomblin, lived first on Tomblin Hill, so called; Ephraim Bee- 
man, on the farm of Samuel Dalrymple. 

Joseph Wheeler, (died in 1747, aged 56,) lived on the southern declivity 
of Ball's Hill, so called. 

Ephraim Allen, from Itoxbury, purchased of an Eleazer How, a few acres 
of land, with a grist mill erected thereon, the site of the present mill, and 
Cotton Factory. This was the first, and for many years the only grist mill, 
in this town. 

VOL. II. ~0 



compelled to desert their farms, leaving their lands nntilled, while 
old aDd young, the strong and the feeble, flocked to the frail forti- 
fications, denominated garrisons, as their only means of safety. 

These were usually nothing more than common dwelling hous- 
es, surrounded by palisades, and furnished with a supply of fire 
arms and ammunition. In the year 1711, there were no fewer 
than twenty six garrison houses within the limits of Marlborough, 
to each of which were assigned, on an average, five or six fami- 
lies, the whole number of families being one hundred and thirty 

*" Marlborough, December 11, 1711. 

" These several persons are allowed by the Captain Generall. 

" The persons assigned to each particular Garrison are as followeth : 
Ordered, by us the Subscribers, by the dirtction of an act of the Generall 
Court, entitled an act for the better security and defence of the fronteers. 

Capt. How's Garison. 
Samuel Stevens 
James How 
Jonathan How 
Samuel Stow, Senior 
Thomas Stow 
Jonathan Morse. 

Mr. Breck's* Garison. 

Capt. Kerly's Garison.' 
Nathaniel Joslin 
Joseph Maynard 
Deacon Woods 
Nathaniel Johnson 
Thomas Amsden 
Simon Gates 
Joseph Johnson. 

Capt. Brigham's Garison. 
Peter Plimpton 
Benjamin Mixer 

Isaac Amsden's Garison. 
Thomas Newton 
Sergeant Mainard 
James Woods 
Adam Martin 
Is. Tempels 
Deacon Newton 
John Amsden. 

Lieut. Williams' Garison. 
Thomas Btman 
Peter Bent 
Richard Barns 
Edward Barns 

Ensign How's Garison. 
Ensign Bouker 
Joseph Wait 
Daviri ( hutch 
Benjamin Rice 
Peter Rice 
Jacob Rice 
Joseph Rice. 

Samuel Morril's Garison. 
Sergeant Barret 
John Bams 
Benjamin Baylis 
Joseph Ward 
Joshua Rice 
Thomas Martin 
Samuel Bush. 

Thomas Brigham's Garison. 
Jonathan Brigham 
Oliver Ward 
Increas Ward. 

John How's Garison. 
Zac. Eager 
Abraham Eager 
Daniel Johnson 
Samuel Wheelock 
Obadiah Ward 
Thomas Axtel. 

Is. How's Garison. 
Moses Newton 
David Fay 
John Newton 
"Widdow Johnson 
Moses Newton, Jr. 
James Kady. 

* This undoubtedly was the Rev. Robert Breck, the second Minister of 

Samuel Goodenow's Garison. 
Nathaniel Oakes 



For several of the preceding years, the inhabitants, especially 
such as lived in the borders of the town, had been kept in a state 
of constant anxiety and alarm, in consequence of the hostile atti- 
tude of the Indians. 

August 8th, 1704, a party of Indians, eight or ten in num- 
ber, rushed suddenly from the woods, and fell upon a number 

Jonathan Farbush 
Gershom Fay. 

Lieut. How's Garison. 
Thomas Ward 
Edward Rice 

Nathan Brigham's Garison. 
Joseph Stratten 
Henry Bartiett 
Ellicksander Steward. 

Samuel Ward Senior's Garison. 
William Ward 
Widdow Hannah Ward 
Jonathan Johnson, Senior 
Caleb Rice. 

John Mathew's Garison. 
William Johnson 
Samuel Ward. 

Daniel Rice's Garison. 
Widdow Sarah Tayler 
Suply Weeks 
Elyazer Taylyer. 

Samuel Forbush's Garison. 
James Bra.lish 
Thomas Forbush 
James Glesson. 

Edmond Rice's Garison. 
David Brigham 
Isaac Tomblin 
David Maynard. 

TnoMAs Rice's Garisow. 
John Pratt 
Charles Rice. 

John Wheeler 
Josiah How 

B Curly (Kerly) Senior 

James Curly. 

Simon Mainard's Garison. 
Adam Holloway 
Benjamin Whitney 
Joseph Newton 
John Keyes 
Abrell Bush. 

Mill Garison. 
Thomas Barret 
John Banister. 

JonN Newton Jr's Garison. 
Eliazer Bellows 
John Bellows 
James Eager 
James Newton 
Benjamin Newtou 
Ephraim Newton 
John Woods 
Abraham Newton. 

Jonathan Newton's Garison. 
Is. Woods 
Thomas Witherby 
Is. Amsden 
Moses Lenard 
llo»er Bruce. 

Thomas Hapgood's Garison. 

John Forbush 

Joseph Morse's Garison. 

Thomas Biglo 

Samuel Biglo 

Samuel Mors 

John Biglo 

Johu Sherman 

Daniel Harington. 




of the inhabitants of what is now Westborough, while at work iu 
the field; killed Nahor, a son of Mr. Edmund Rice, on the spot, 
seized and carried into captivity two other sons, Silas and Timo- 
thy ; also Ashur and Adonijah, two sons of Mr. Thomas Rice. 
Ashur was redeemed by his father, and returned in about four years. 
He afterwards settled in Spencer. Adonijah remained in Canada, 
cultivated a farm in the vicinity of Montreal. His Indian name was 
Asaunaugooton. The other two lived among the Indians, married 
Indian wives, acquired their habits, and lost all knowledge ol the 
English language. The puritanical names of Silas and Timothy 
were changed into the heathenish, but r.ot unmusical ones of Too- 
kanovtras and Oughtsoroogoughton. The latter is said to have 
been the third of the six chiefs of the Cagnawaga tribe, and the 
one who made the speech to Gen. Gage, in behalf of his tribe, 
soon after the reduction of Montreal. This chief, in the} r ear 1740, 
thirty six years after his captivity, visited his relations in Westbo- 
rough, and retained, it is said, a distinct recollection of the circum- 
stances of his captivity, and of several aged persons then living. 
Mr. Seth Rice, father of the late Deac. Seth Rice, and who died in 
1796, aged 91, was a brother, and Thankful, wife of the late Mr. 
Josiah Rice, was a sister, of the above named Silas and Timothy. 

In the preceding month, (July) two of the inhabitants of Marl- 
borough, viz. Abraham How and Benjamin Hutchins, were slain by 
the Indians at Lancaster. 

On the 15th of October, 1705, Mr. John Biglow, of Marlborough, 
being then at Lancaster, at the garrison house of Mr. Thomas Saw- 
yer, was, with Mr. Sawyer and his son Elias, taken by the Indians, 
and conveyed to Canada. They obtained their release in the fol- 
lowing manner: Both of them were ingenious mechanics, one, 
(Sawyer) a blacksmith, the other, (Biglow) a carpenter. While 
they were at Montreal, they proposed to the French Governor, who 
resided in that city, that, in case he would procure their ransom, 
they would erect for him a saw mill, there being none at that time 
in all Canada. The offer was readily accepted ; they fulfilled their 
engagement, and, after some delays, were permitted to return to 
their friends, with whom they lived to a good old age. Mr. Big- 
low, in token of his gratitude for his remarkable deliverance from 
captivity, called his daughter, born soon after his return, " Free- 
dom ;" and a second, born some time afterwards, he called " Com- 
fort," as expressive of the happiness and peace he then enjoyed, 
contrasted with the hardships and fears of a state of captivity. 


Comfort was married to Joseph Brigham, the father of Mr. Jonah 
Brigham, of this town, who, when a child, often listened to the ac- 
count given by his grandfather Biglow, of the circumstances of his 
captivity and escape. 

In 1707, August 18th, the following tragical event occurred in 
what is now the easterly part of Norlhhorough. There was at 
this time a garrison house standing on the south side of the road, 
near the brook, known by the name of Stirrup Brook, which cros- 
ses the great road between the farms of Messrs. Jonas and Gill 
Bartlett, then in the possession of Samuel Goodenow. As Mary 
Goodenovv, daughter of Samuel, and Mrs. Mary Fay, wife of Ger- 
shom Fay, were gathering herbs in the adjoining meadow, a party 
of Indians, twenty four in number, all of whom are said to have 
been stout warriors, were seen issuing from the woods and making 
towards them. Mrs. Fay succeeded in effecting her escape. She 
was closely pursued by a party of the enemy ; but before they 
came up, had time to enter the garrison, and to fasten the gate of 
the enclosure. There fortunately happened to be one man then 
within, the rest of the men belonging to the garrison being in the 
fields at work. Their savage invaders attempted in vain to break 
through the enclosure. These heroic defenders, by dint of great 
exertion, maintained the unequal conflict, till a party of friends, 
alarmed by the report of the muskets, came to their relief, when 
the enemy betook themselves to flight.* 

The other unfortunate young woman, Miss Goodenow, being re- 
tarded in her flight by lameness, was seized by her merciless pur- 
suers, dragged across the brook to the side of the hill, a little south 
of the road, where she was killed and scalped, and where her man- 
gled body was afterwards found and buried, and where her grave 
is shown at this day. 

On the following day, the enemy were pursued by a company 
of about thirty men, from Marlborough and Lancaster, and over- 

* Mrs. Fay, it is said, discovered great presence of mind during this as- 
sault, being constantly employed in loading and reloading the muskets be- 
longing to the garrison, and handing theru to her companion, who by this 
means was able to keep up a constant fire upon the invaders. No wonder 
that she was brave, for she had much at stake, She was then the mother of 
two young children, one four, and the other two years old. Gershom, fath- 
er of the late Thaddeus Fay, and Mary, afterwards married to George Smith. 
Her third, called Susanna, who was born on the 18th of the following Novem- 
ber, was subject to a constant nervous trembling, caused, it is supposed, by 
the mother's fright, received at this time. At her father's death, Nov. 24, 
1720, she was left to the care of her brother, the late Timothy Fay. with 
whom she lived till her decease. 


taken in what is now Sterling 1 , where a hard conflict ensued, in 
which nine of their number, and two of our men were slain. In 
one of their packs was found the scalp of the unfortunate Miss 
Goodenow, which was the first intimation that was obtained of her 
melancboly fate. 

Nothing worthy of record is preserved of what took place be- 
tween this period* and the incorporation of the westerly part of 
Marlborough, then called Chauncey Village, and including what is 
now Westborough and Northborough. The act of incorporation is 
dated November 19, 1717, O. S. or, in our present reckoning, No- 
vember 30. 

In the fall of 1718, the first meeting house was raised, which 
stood near the northern limits of Westborough, not far from the 
public house kept by Mr. Silas Wesson. It was not, however, till 
October 28, 1724, or nearly seven years after the town was incor- 
porated, that a church was gathered, and the Rev. Mr. Parkman, 
the first minister of Westborough, was ordained. 

It was at this house that our fathers, the first settlers of North- 
borough, worshipped for more than twenty years, some of them 
being accustomed to walk every Sabbath the distance of five or 
six miles. 

At length, October 20, 1744, the town of Westborough, consist- 
ing at that time of one hundred and twenty five families, was di- 
vided into two precincts ; the north part, to use the words of Rev. 
Mr. Parkman, "being indeed very small."t The number of families 
set off to the north precinct was only thirty eight ; while eighty 
seven families remained attached to the old society. Nor was the 
separation effected without much opposition, and mutual recrimina- 
tion, the unhappy effects of which lasted many years. 

Having arrived at that period of our history, when Northbo- 
rough became a separate precinct, we proceed to give some ac- 
count of its boundaries, dimensions, face of the soil, &c. 

* I find, from a record kept by Col. Williams, of Marlborough, that Jon- 
athan Johnson was slain by the Indians, Ociober 12, 1708, but at what place, 
and under what circumstances, I have not been able to ascertain. 

t The act of the General Court, setting off the north part of Westbo*- 
rough as a separate precinct, provides, tk that the Inhabitants of said north 
part should give security to Rev. Mr. Parkman, their present pastor, to give 
him £100, lawful money, settlement, and £50, like- money, per annum, in 
case he should incline to settle with them, agreeably to what they now prom- 
ise ; or otherwise, £12, 10.?. like money, if he chooses to continue in the south 
part." It is unnecessary to add, that Rev. Mr. Parkman chose to remain 
the minister of the old parish. He died Dec. 9, 1782, in the 80th year of his 
age, and the 59th of his ministry. 


Boundaries, &c. — A plan of the town was made in 1795, by Mr. 
Silas Keyes, surveyor, then an inhabitant of the place. According 
to this plan, Northborough contained 10096 acres, including ponds 
and roads. Since that date, that is, Feb. 15, 1806, the dividing 
line between this town and Berlin, was by mutual consent, altered 
so as to bring both towns into a better shape ; and in June 20, 1807, 
the line between Northborough and Mai thorough was altered, so 
as to include the farm of Deac. Jonas Bartlett, within the limits of 
this town. Id its present state, the town contains about 10,150 

The boundaries according to the plan made in 1795, are as fol- 
lows* : — Beginning at the southwest corner, at a heap of stones on 
Shrewsbury line, it thence runs east, nineteen degrees north, four 
hundred and eighty nine rods, to a stake by the river Assabelh ; 
thence, in a northeasterly direction, as the river runs, one hundred 
and seventy six rods, to the County road, near the dwelling house 
of Phineas Davis, Esq. ; thence, by said river, one hundred and 
ninety four rods, to a stake and stones ; thence east, twenty degrees 
north, eight hundred and sixty four rods, to a stake and stones on 
Southborough line. (The above are the boundaries between 
Northborough and Westborough.) From the last mentioned bounds, 
the line runs north, thirty two degrees west, one hundred and forty 
rods by Southborough, to a stake and stones at the corner of Marl- 
borough. (The above are the boundaries between Northborough 
and Southborough.) From Marlborough corner the line ran, ac- 
cording to the plan of Mr. Keyes, north, thirty degrees forty five 
minutes west, one hundred and eighty seven rods, to a stake and 
stones; thence north, forty degrees thirty minutes west, one hun- 
dred and ten rods, to do. ; thence north, twenty two degrees thirty 
minutes west, one hundred and forty eight rods, to do. ; thence 
north, thirty two degrees west, forty rods, to a swamp white oak; 
thence north, twenty nine degrees west, seventy two rods, to a 
stake and stones; thence north, thirty degrees west, sixty four rods, 
to do. by the County road ; thence north, thirty one degrees forty 
minutes west, seventy, seven rods, to do. ; thence north, twenty 
eight degrees fifteen minutes west, one hundred and twenty eight 
rods, to a walnut tree by the river; thence north, thirty three de- 
grees thirty minutes west, sixty eight rods, to a large oak tree 
marked; thence north, twenty seven degrees west, forty seven 

* For the alterations referred to above, see Massachusetts Special Laws, 
Vol. IV. p. 3 and 112. 


rods, to a pine tree marked; thence north, thirty one degrees thir- 
ty minutes west, one hundred and twenty nine rods, to a stake and 
stones hy Berlin line or corner. (The above were the former 
bounds between Northborough and Marlborough ; for the alteration 
see note.) From Berlin coiner, the line ran north, thirty degrees 
west, one hundred and forty eight rods, to a heap of stones ; thence 
east, thirty two degrees north, ninety rods, to the Long Stone, so 
called ; thence west, sixteen degrees north, eight hundred and ten 
rods, to a heap of stones on Boylston line. (These were the for- 
mer bounds between Northborough and Berlin ; for the alteration 
see note.) Thence south, sixteen degrees west, eight hundred 
and sixty eight rods, to a heap of stones at Shrewsbury corner. 
(This is the line between Northborough and Boylston.) Thence 
south, sixteen degrees west, one hundred and forty nine rods, to a 
heap of stones. (This is supposed to be on or near the old Marl- 
borough line, which extended thence in one direction to the north- 
west corner of Marlborough.) Thence south, twenty four degrees 
east, one hundred and eighty two rod*, to a great oak ; thence 
south, twenty one degrees east, one hundred and fifty rods, to a 
heap of stones ; thence south, one degree east, twenty rods lo the 
County road; thence, in the same direction, three hundred and 
seventeen rods, to a red oak ; thence south, twenty eight degrees 
thirty five minutes east, one hundred and ninety four rods, to where 
it began. (These are the bounds between Northborough and 

Besides what was originally a part of Marlborough, this town 
includes a large triangular tract, lying north of the old Marlborough 
line, (of which the Coram Farm and the Brown Farm made apart) 
and containing, as has been estimated, between two and three thou- 
sand acres. This tract, with several others now in the westerly 
part of Westborough, was surveyed in January and February, 
1715-16, by Wm. Ward, and annexed to Chauncey Village by a 
grant of the General Court, before the latter was separated from 

In March and April, 1721, this tract was again surveyed by 
James Keyes; and a committee, consisting of John Sherman, Da- 
vid Brigham, and Joseph Wheeler, was appointed to lay it out in 
forty five shares, according to the number of the proprietors, which 
shares were afterwards divided among them by lot. 

Besides the above tract, the principal part of the farm of Deac. 


Caleb Rice, of Marlborough,* which lay without the original boun- 
daries of the town, with another tract nearly a^ large, adjoining the 
former, falls within the limits of Northborough, forming the south- 
west angle of the town. 

Northborough is of an irregular form, its average length being 
about live miles, and its average breadth somewhat more than 
three miles. 

Surface, Soil, &c. — The principal part of the town consists of 
a valley, environed by the hills of Marlborough on the east, Berlin 
on the north, and Boylston and Shrewsbury on the west, and open- 
ing into Westborough on the south, which town is an extension of 
the same low grounds. The surface of this valley is, however, di- 
versified by numerous hills, some of which are so considerable as 
to be distinguished by names. The northwest corner of the town, 
comprehending five or six good farms, and more than 1000 acres of 
land, forms part of the ridge of high land, running from Berlin, 
through Boylston and Shrewsbury, and is commonly called Ball's 

Liquor Hill is a beautiful eminence, rising with a gentle decliv- 
ity from the great road, nearly opposite to the church, skirted with 
forest trees, while its summit and its northern and southern declivi- 
ties are open to the view and form a rich and pleasing prospect. 
Edmund Bill, about a mile in the northerly direction from the 
church, and Cedar Hill, in the southeastern part of the town, are 
similar in form to Liquor Hill, but less open to observation. 

Northborough is well supplied with streams of water. The 
principal stream is the river Assabeth, which, rising in Grafton, and 
crossing an angle of Westborough, tlows diagonally in a northeast- 
ern direction, through this town, crossing the great road, about 
half a mile east of the church, and furnishing several valuable wa- 
ter privileges. 

Cold Harbour Brook rises in Shrewsbury, crosses the southeast 
corner of Boylston, and enters this town. Having received a small 

* Deac. Caleb Rice was the father of the late Josiah Rice, of this town, 
who died 179'2, agvd 92, and who came into possession of the farm abovemen- 
tioued, and was one of the greatest landholders in the town. That farm 
alone contained above five hundred acres, besides which, he owned several 
hundred acres in other parts of the town. 

t So called from two brothers, James and Nathan Ball, from Watertown, 
who settled there about the year 1720, and where some of their descendants 
still live. James, the father of the late Uoct. Stephen Ball, and grandfather 
of the present Uoct. Stephen Ball. Sen. died 17jG, aged 62. Nathan, father 
of Nathan Ball, died 17G3, aged 73. 

VOL. II. 21 


tributary stream from Rocky Pond, in Boylston, and supplying wa- 
ter for a Grist and Saw Mill, it flows in a very circuitous route 
through a tract of rich intervales and extensive meadows, crossing 
the road at Cold Harbour bridge, a few rods south of the church, 
and having received another small stream from the west, on which 
a Saw Mill is erected, it falls into the Assabeth, a little below where 
the latter crosses the great road. 

In the easterly part of the town, a small stream, called Stirrup 
Brook, issuing from Little Chauncey Pond, furnishes a supply of 
water for a Saw Mill, and is bordered by a rich intervale and 

Another small stream, called Hop Brook, from the abundance 
of wild hops which formerly grew on its banks, rises in Shrews- 
bury, crosses the southwest angle of this town, furnishing water 
for two Saw Mills and one Grist Mill, and falls into the Assabeth, 
soon after that river enters the town. It appears, therefore, that 
all the waters of Northborough fall into the Assabeth, which con- 
veys them to the Merrimack between Chelmsford and Tewksbury. 

The two principal ponds in Northborough are the Little Chaun- 
cey, in the southeastern part of the town, containing sixty rive acres, 
and Solomon's Pond, in the northeastern part, containing twenty six 
acres. Little Chauncey takes its name from Great Chauncey, in 
Westborough, with which it is connected by a small stream. It is 
a beautiful sheet of water, well stored with fish, its borders in part 
fringed with woods, while to the east, it opens towards cultivated 
fields. Solomon's Pond, so named from Solomon, an Indian, who 
was drowned in it, is not destitute of beauty, and is encompassed 
by a tract of excellent land. 

The soil is in general rich and productive, the poorest being, 
as Whitney justly observes, that " which appears as we travel the 
great road." In the northern part of the town, the land is rocky 
and hard, though it produces good crops of hay and grain. In the 
middle and southern parts the land is more level, and if not more 
productive, is cultivated with much less labor and expense. 

Roads, &c. — The principal road is the old Worcester Post road 
which passes through the middle of the town, about forty rods south 
of the Meeting House. The distance to Boston from this town is 
34 miles ; to Worcester 10 miles. Four Stages, furnishing a daily 
Mail from the east and from the west, pass on this road every day, 
Sundays excepted. 

The old County road from Framingham to Worcester, also leads 


tlirough the south part of the town ; and the Worcester Turnpike 
crosses the southwest angle, passing one house only in Northbo- 
rough. The roails from Lancaster to this place, one of which pas- 
ses the Meeting House in Berlin, and that from Boylston, are much 
travelled. The distance to Lancaster is 10 miles; to Boylston 6; 
to Westborough 4£ miles. 

The highways are kept in repair by an annual lax of from $500 
to $800. 

Mills, Manufactories, fcc. — Northborough contains at present 
four Grist Mills, five Saw Mills, two Carding Machines, a manufac- 
tory for Hoes and Scythes ; large and commodious works recently 
established by Capt. Thomas VV. Lyon, for manufacturing Cotton 
Machinery ; an extensive Tannery owned by Phinehas and Joseph 
Davis, Esquires, whose annual sales of leather amount to $20,000. 
There are also six Coopers, four Blacksmiths, one Saddle and Har- 
ness Maker, one Book Binder, three Wheelwrights, eight or ten 
Shoemakers, who, besides supplying the wants of the town, manu- 
facture about 4000 pairs of shoes annually for a foreign market. 
The Cotton Factory, built in 1814, by the Northborough Manufac- 
turing Company, at an expense of about $30,000, was lately sold at 
auction, and is now in the possession ot Rogerson &. Co. of Boston, 
and Isaac Davis, Esq. and Mr. Asaph Rice, of this town. It stand9 
on the river Assabeth, which furnishes a sufficient supply of water 
during the principal part of the season ; and contains over 700 spin- 
dles for Cotton, and 100 for Woollen, 10 looms, a fulling mill, card- 
ing machine, &.c. and manufactures 80,000 yards of cloth annually. 

There are in the town, two stores, furnished with a good as- 
sortment of English and West India Goods, the one kept by Gale 
&. Davis; the other by Rice, Farnsworth, & Co. 

Population, Deaths, &c. — At the time of the ordination of Rev. 
Mr. Martyn, (1746) there were 40 families in the place ; the num- 
ber had increased to 82 families at the ordination of Rev. Mr. Whit- 
ney, (1767); and, in 1796, to more than 110 families. By the cen- 
sus of 1810, the number of inhabitants was 794 ; by that of 1820, 
1018, making an increase of 224 in ten years. By a census laken 
the last winter, however, and which it is believed is very nearly 
accurate, the whole number of inhabitants was only 946, of whom 
488 were males, and 458 females. 

In the autumn of 1746, the year that Rev. Mr. Martyn was or- 
dained, and for several following years, particularly in 1749 and 
1750, this society was visited by a very mortal sickness among 


children, by which the growth of the society must have been very 
sensibly checked, and which must have been attended with circum- 
stances of peculiar distress.* 

Sixty children, out of a population which could not have much 
exceeded three hundred, fell victims to the desolating pestilence ; 
and, with the exception of one adult, (Benjamin Rugg, a stranger,) 
were the first persons that were buried in the new church yard.j 

This was the last sweeping, mortal sickness, with which this 
place has been visited. 

Since the great sicknesss, in the years 1719 and 1750, no town 
in this vicinity has been more exempt from wasting, mortal distem- 
pers. The number of deaths from 1780, to 1800, including a peri- 
od of twenty years, amounted to only 14G, averaging a little more 
than 7 in a year. During the first twenty five years of the present 
century, the number was 282. The average number for the last 
ten years has been about 114^ annually, in a population of nearly a 
thousand souls. The whole number of deaths from 1780, to the 
present date, (June, 1826) is 450; of whom seventy eight were 70 
years and upwards; forty three, 80 years and upwards ; seventeen, 
90 years and upwards; one (Wid. Hannah Fay}) in her hundredth 
year; and one (Deac. Jonathan Livermore§) one hundred years 
and seven months. There are now living in this town, five or six 

*The sickness which prevailed in 1716, Capt. Timothy Brijham informs 
me, was the dysentery, then called, " the fev. r and flux." Capt. B. then a 
child of 10 years old, lost a*, sister, and was himselt sick of the disease. He 
thinks that as many as 30 children died that year, in this place. He recol- 
lects being attended in his sickness hy Doct. Benjamin Gott, of Marlborough. 
The sickness of 1749 and 1750, was the " throat distempc r," as it was termed, 
which, for many years after its first appearance in New England, proved such 
a desolating scourge. 

t The old burying eround, in which many of the first settlers of North- 
borough were interred, is east of the road leading to Westborough, a little 
south of the dwelling house of Mr. William Maynard. It is now overgrown 
with trees and brush. 

^ Widow Hannah Fay was a daughter of Nathaniel Oaks, was married 
to Gershom Fay, father of the late Thaddeus Fay, and died, March 8, 1806, 
aged 100. ' ' 

} Deac. Livermore came from Watertown about A. D. 1720, and settled 
on the Brown farm, so called, where David Dinsmore now lives. He was the 
first Parish Clerk in this place, which office he held many years. He died 
April 26, 1801, aged 101. A short time after he was 1U0 jears old, he rode 
on horseback from his house to a military review, near the middle of the 
town, the distance of three miles, and returned without fatigue. He posses- 
sed uncommon learning for his time, was an accurate surveyor, and an. excel- 
lent penman, owing to which circumstance, the earlv records of the town ap- 
pear m,a remarkably fine stale. 


persons over eighty years ; and one, (Capt. Timothy Brigham.,*) 
in his ninety first year. One couple (Capt. Amos .Ricet and his 
wife) still survive, who were joined in marriage before the death 
of Rev. Mr. Martyn, who baptised their first child. They were, 
married May 8th, 176G, and have lived together more than sixty 

The average number of births for a year, has been, of late, about 
thirty ; which, deducting the deaths, will give an annual increase of 
from fifteen to twenty souls. 

Civil History. — Nothing has been found on record relating to 
the part which this town bore in the old French warn, as we have 
been accustomed to hear them called by our aged fathers. We 
learn, however, from the few who survive of the generation then 
on the stage of active life, that this small district was not backward 
in furnishing men to join the several expiditions, which were under- 
taken for the conquest of the French in Canada. 

Eliphalet Warren, John Carruih, and Adam Fay, joined the ex- 
pedition to Halifax, in 1754. In the following year, Benjamin Flood 
and Eber Eager, the latter of whom did not live to return, were at 
Crown point. In 1758, the eight following persons were with the 
army under General Abercrombie, at his defeat before Ticondero- 
ga. Capt. Timothy Brigham, [now living and who retains a per- 
fect recollection of the scenes he passed through in this ill-fated 
expedition,] Eliphalet Stone, Samuel Stone, [who died on his re- 
turn,] Benjamin Flood, Josiah Bowker, Samuel Morse, Gideon How- 
ard, and Joel Rice. Capt. Brigham says that the attack upon the 
French lines commenced at 5 o'clock, A. M. and lasted till 7 o'clock, 
P. M. ; and that over 1900 of our men were missing at the calling 
of the rolls that evening. Capt. B. says that after this repulse, the 
army retreated to Lake George, soon after which, the company to 

* Capt. Timothy Brigham is a son of Jesse, who was a son of Jonathan, 
who was a son of Thomas Brigham, one of the early settlers oi Marlborough, 
He was present at the defeat oi the English, under Abercrombie, before Ti- 
conderoga, in 1758, and Lieutenant of the company oj' minute im-n that march- 
ed clown to I am bridge on the memorable 19th of April, 1775. Jonathan 
Brigham was in the Indian fight, at Lancaster, (now Sterling) Aug. 19, 1707, 
and stood next to Richard Singletary, who was killed in the action. This 
fact, Capt. B. had from his own mouth. 

t Capt. Amos Bice is a son of Jacob, who was a son of Jacob, who was 
a son of Edward, one of the 13 original petitioners for the Rlantation of Marl- 
borough. Benjamin, another sou of Edward, was the father of Erac. Matthi- 
as Rice, and of Simeon Rice, late of this town, and of Zerubbabel Bice, late 
of Marlborough. Tradition says, that the first person by the name of Rice, 
who emigrated to New England, had eight sons, all of whom lived to be 90 
years old and upwards. 


which he belonged (Capt. Stephen Maynard'sof Westborough) was 
dismissed and returned home. 

There is one man, now living 1 in this town, at the age of 88, 
nearly, [Lieut. Abraham Mur.roe] who was at Halifax, in the regi- 
ment of Maj. Rogers, of Londonderry, N. II. in the year 1757, 
and, at the taking of Ticonderoga under Gen. Amherst, in 1759. 
Mr. Munroe had there the rank of Ensign ; and, in the following 
year, received a Lieutenancy. He served in the regiment of Col. 
Saltonstal, of Haverhill; and, at the departure of our army for Mon- 
treal, received orders to remain at the head of a detachment of 
men, for the purpose of completing the repairs of the fortifications 
at Crown Point. Lieut. Munroe continued at Ticonderoga, till his 
discharge, in May, 1763, under Capt. Omsbury, or Amsbury, to 
whom the command of the fort had been committed. 

Several other persons belonging to this town, whose names I 
have not learned, were in service at different times during the 
French wars, some of whom did not live to return. 

The following particulars have been collected relating to the 
part which this town bore in the burdens and privations of the 
revolutionary war. 

It appears from the town records, that the inhabitants of this 
town, took an early and decided stand in defence of the liberties of 
our country. So early as March, 22d, 1773, more than two years 
before hostilities commenced, a number of spirited resolutions were 
passed at a district meeting, called for the purpose, among which 
were the following : 

" 2. Voted, as the opinion of this district, that it is the indispen- 
sable duty of all men and all bodies' of men to unite and strenuously 
to oppose by all lawful ways and means, such unjust and unright- 
eous encroachments, made or attempted to be made upon theiijnst 
right?; and that it is our duty earnestly to endeavor to hand those 
right9 down inviolate to our posterity, as they were handed to us 
by our worthy ancestors. 

" 3. Voted, that the thanks of this district be given to the town 
of Boston lor their friendly, seasonable and necessary intelligence; 
and that they be desired to keep their watch, and guard against all 
such invaders and incroaches for the future. 

"4. Voted, that Capt. Bez. Eager, Doct. Stephen Ball, and Mr. 
Timothy Fay, be a committee to make answer to the committee of 
corres., at Boston, informing them of the opinion of this district in 
this matter." 


Id August of the following year, eight months before the war 
commenced, at a special meeting called for the purpose, the district 
passed the following vote. — M That we are determined to defend 
our charter rights nnd privileges, at the risk of our lives and for- 
tunes, and that the town desire the committee of correspondence,* 
to write to their brethren in Boston, and inform them thereof." 

In November, 1774, the district voted to appropriate money in 
the trensury to buy one hundred pounds of powder ; three hundred 
pounds of lead, and two hundred and forty flints; and on June 3d, 
1776, it was resolved, "that it was the mind of this town to be inde- 
pendent of Great Britain, in case the Continental Congress think 
proper ; and that we are ready with our lives and fortunes, if in 
Providence called, to defend the same." 

Some time before the war broke out, a company of fifty minute 
men was raised in this town, under the command of the late Capt. 
Samuel Wood, who held themselves in readiness to march at a mo- 
ment's warning, whenever and wherever hostilities should com- 
mence.! At length the memorable 19th of April arrived, on which 
day, the first blood in our Revolutionary struggle was shed, at Lex- 
ington and Concord. On the same day, before one o'clock, P. M. 
the tidings reached this place. The company of minute men be- 
longing to this town was collecting at the time to listen to an oc- 
casional patriotic discourse from Rev. Mr. Whitney. They were 
directed without a moment's delay, to put themselves in readiness 
to march; and in three or four hours from the time when the news 
arrived, they had taken leave of their families and were paraded 
in the yard of Capt. Woods' house, whence (the Rev. Mr. Whitney 
having in a fervent prayer commended them to the protection of 
the God of armies,) they immediately set out on their march for 
the field of danger and of blood. J 

*The following' persons were a standing- committee of Correspondence, in 
1774. Bezaleel Ea.;er, Seth Rice, Jr. Levi Brigham, Gillam Euss, and John 
Ball. In the following year, the ever memorable 1775, there were seven on 
the committee of correspondence, viz. Thadeus Fay, John Ball, Joel Rice, 
Amos Rice, [now living] Artemas Brigham, Jethro Peters, and Nathan Green. 

t April 10th, 1775, the town voted to pay fifty minute men one shilling 1 
each, for each half day they shall meet to learn the Military art, for sixteen 
half days ; and granted jE-10 for that purpose. The town also voted that Mr. 
Timothy Brigham, Constable, pay to Henry Gardner, Esq. the Province tax, 
which he has now in his hands, for the year 1773, and the District will in- 
demnify him. Also Voted, to indemnify the Assessors for not making the 
province tax for the year 1774. , 

% Of the fifty men belonging to this company, the following persons are 
now living in this town. Capt. Timothy Brigham, then the Lieut, of the 


Nor did the spirited resolutions, above adverted to, end in idle 
words. Tliey were the result of rellection and patriotic principle ; 
and they led to the cheerful endurance of privations and hardships, 
of which the descendants can probably form no adequate concep- 

At one time five, and soon after three, at another five, at anoth- 
er seven, and on one occasion seventeen men, were called for from 
this small town by the General Court, and were marched in some 
instances, several hundred miles, to mingle in the scenes of war.* 

In the spring of 1781, agreeably to a resolve of the General 
Court, this town was divided into eight classes, each class being re- 
quired to furnish a man to serve in the Continental Army for the 
term of three years, or during the war. And what is worthy of re- 
mark, as it is an evidence of the patriotic spirit which prevailed 
among this people in the preceeding autumn, viz. December 28, 
1780, the town, taking into consideration the hardships undergoue 
by those who had entered into the service of their country, and es- 
pecially the losses they had sustained, by being paid in a depreciat- 
ed currency, generously voted to raise their quota of men, and to 
pay and clothe them at their own expense, allowing them 40 shill- 
ings each, per month, in hard money, and £21 per year, also in 
hard money, in addition to their clothes. t 

Six men more were called for from this town in the following 
summer; five to go to West Point, and one to llhode Island, who 
we r e accordingly raised, and the town granted JC122 5*. in hard 
money, (or $107,50,) to pay the same. At the same time, they 
were required to purchase, for the use of the army, 351 Qlbs. of beef, 
tor which the town granted £77, in hard money (or $256, 6G.) The 
whole amount granted at this meeting, and which went to the sup- 
port of the war, was therefore $664,16 in hard money; which, con- 
sidering the population of the town and the value of hard money 
at that period, was a great sum and must have been felt as a heavy 
burden. Previous to the June, 1778, it appears from the town 

company, Cnpt. Amos Rice, Mr. Isaac How, Mr. Joseph Sever, Mr. Reuben 
Babcock, and Mr. Nathan Rice. Capt. Samuel Wood, the commander of 
the company, died September 21, 1813, aged 75 years. He was present, and 
received a slight wound, at the battle of Bunker Hill. The Ensign of the 
company was Mr. Thomas Sever, now of Townsend, in this state. 

# "July 13th, 1780, the town voted and granted the sum often thousand 
pounds to pay seventeen men haired into the service, nine lor the term of six 
months, and eight for the term of three months." 

t Town Records, I. p. 212. 


records, that this town had expended in money and service towards 
carrying on the war £1474 14*. Id. in a depreciated currency 
probably, the precise value of which, it is difficult now to deter- 

Such, we presume is no more than a fair specimen of the bur- 
dens borne by the community in support of the war of our Indepen- 
dence, and of the spirit with which they were borne. 

In many, very many instances indeed, the people were impov- 
erished and brought low. But they were not disheartened; and, 
by the smiles of a merciful Providence, their efforts were crowned 
with complete success. Let us who have entered into their labors 
not forget what we owe to that far-famed generation, who support- 
ed the privations and hardships of a long and harrassing conflict, in 
support of our cherished liberties.! 

The number was small of those who had refused to embark in 
the cause of liberty, the names of four only being recorded as ab- 
sentees, whose estates were confiscated near the close of the war. J 

The patriotism of two others was indeed suspected, and they 
were subjected to a good deal of inconvenience in consequence of it.§ 

* The town records contain a list of the names of 90 persons (probably 
the whole number who paid taxes) with the amount contributed by each. 

"October 30, 1780, the town granted jCtido'O to purchase beef for the 
army." This I suppose was when the depreciation of money was nearly, or 
quite at the lowest ebb, about which time, £ l 2933 6s. ttd. were granted to 
Jtev. Mr. Whitney by an unanimous vote of the town, in addition to his yearly 

"May 17, 1781, the town granted !he sum of £3300 0s. Od. to pay for 
three horses for the use of the Continental army. 1 ' 

t Among the survivors of the soldiers of the revolution, in this town, five 
received pensions from the U. States, agreeably to the law passed, April, 1818. 

From all these, however, with the exception of two, one of whom lias since 
died, their puusions were withdrawn, after the modification of the law, in 1820. 
Since that time, two of the number, reduced to poverty, have recovered their 
pensions ; and the only remaining one from whom it was withdrawn, and 
who, depending on the pension, had involved himself in debt in erecting a 
small building for his accommodation, has been compelled to part with his 
snug little farm, and is now, in his old age, reduced to the very verge of abso- 
lute want. Such, so far as I have witnessed it, has been the operation of the 
laws respecting pensions to Revolutionary Soldiers. It may be remarked 
moreover, that the two to whom the pensions were continued, had been a 
town charge, and were not regarded as very valuable members of the com- 

J.These were James Easier and his 3on, John Eager ; and Ebenezer Cutler, 
and Michael Matty n, sons in law of the late Capt. James Eager, of this town. 

{These were John Taylor, and Sylvanus Billings. The former, a gen- 
tleman of handsome properly and who had been one of the leading men of 
the town ; the latter also a man of considerable estate. 


After the close of the war, the embarrassments arising'from the 
want of a circulating medium, when almost all were deeply involv- 
ed in deht, caused much uneasiness, and led the people to devise 
measures for their removal. August 7th, 178G, Isaac Davis was 
chosen as a delegate to attend a County Convention, at Leicester, 
on the 15th inst. to whom the following, among other instructions, 
were given by a committee appointed by the town. The delegate 
was to use his influence "that the Convention petition his Excel- 
lency, the Governor, and Council, to call the General Court togeth- 
er, in the month of October next, at fartherest ; and that the Conven- 
tion present a humble and decent petition to the General Court to 
set up and establish a mint in the Commonwealth, &C. 1 ' Complaints 
were also made of the salaries of the civil list, being so high, and of 
various other grievances under which the people labored.* There 
was nothing, however, of the spirit of rebellion or insubordination 
in the resolutions that were passed at this meeting, or in the con- 
duct which followed ; and though it appears from the representa- 
tions of all, that the people generally were reduced to the greatest 
straits, yet only three or four individuals were found willing to 
join in the rebellion of that year, and to seek redress by measures 
of violence.! 

Schools, Lc. — Previous to the year 1766, 1 can find on record, 
no appropriations made for the education of youth. But I am in- 
formed that several instructors had, before that period, been ern- 

* There prevailed, at this time, very generally through the country, the 
most violent prejudices against the profession of the law. One of the instruc- 
tions given to tin- delegate, at this time, was, that he was to use his influence 
in th< j convention, by petitioning and remonstrating to the General Court, 
" that the whole order of Lawyers be annihilated ; for we conceive them not 
only to be building themselves upon the ruins of the distressed, but said order 
has increased, and is daily increasing, far beyond any oilier set or order of 
men among us, in numbers and affluence ; ami wt apprehend they may be- 
come ere long somewhat dangerous to the rights and liberties of the people." 

t The following is a list of the names of those who have represented this 
town in the General Court, from 1775, to the present time. 

Col. Levi Brigham, from 1775, to 1777.— John Ball, 1778, 173'?, and 
1785.— Deac. Paul Newton, 1779, and 1780.— Deac. Seth Rice, 1783. — 
Deac. Isaac Davis, seven years — between 1787 and 1798. — Deac. Nahum Fay, 
1800 and 1801. — James Keyes, Lsq. eighteen years, from 1802, to the present 
time. -» 

From the ahove account, it appears that this town has been represented 
thirty six years since the commencement of the Revolutionary war. 

The following per?ons have been commissioned Justices of the peace. 
The first commission is dated July 3, 1793. Nahum Fay, Seth Grout, Isaac 
Davis, .Stephen Williams, James Keyes, Thau as Davis, and Cyrus Gale. 
Of this number, three, Seth Grout, Isaac Davis and James Keyes, have since 


ployed to teach, at private houses, in different parts of the town, 
and who were paid hy the voluntary contributions of the parents. 
The first school house that wa9 erected in this town, stood on the 
meeting house common, whence it was afterwards removed, and 
now forms part of the dwelling house of Mr. Joel Bartlett.* In 
1770, the district was divided into four squadrons ; but it was not 
till 1780, that the town passed a vote to build school houses in the 
several squadrons, and granted money for that purpose. The- town 
granted £1000 for building four school houses, which, at the time 
it was expended, amounted to only £52 6s. 8d. to which they added 
£110 65. Qd. amounting to £163 13s. 4d. 

Since that period two new School districts have been formed ; 
so that there are now six districts in the town, in each of which, a 
school is kept from eight to twelve weeks, both winter and summer. 

The following is an abstract of the return of the School com- 
mittee, made in May last, to the General Court. 

Amount paid for public Instruction, $600. 

Time of keeping school in the year, 6 mouths each district. 

Males under 7 years, 47 Females under 7 years, 39 
From 7 to 14, Oil From 7 to 14, 75 

From 14 and upwards, 63 From 14 and upwards, 47 

Males, 213 Females, 161 


Total, 374 

There are, in this town, three respectable Libraries, containing 
in all about 500 volumes, exclusive of the Juvenile Library, which 
contains nearly 150 volumes, suited to children and youth. 

The Juvenile Library, commenced in 1824, is supported by an 
annual contribution, and, under a few simple regulations, is accessi- 
ble to all the children and youth, over the age of 7 years, residing 
in the town. 

Many young men, educated in our schools, have been employed 
as Instructors, both here and in other towns, and have generally 
proved worthy of the confidence reposed in them. 

Besides several professional gentlemen educated in our schools, 
and in the neighboring Academies, twelve young men have receiv- 
ed a public education, eight of whom are graduates of Harvard 

* Mr. Thomas Goodenow was the first Instructor, supported at the ex- 
pense of the town. Mr. James Hart, a foreigner, was employed about this 
time, (1770) and is frequently spoken of as the father of the many excellent 
penmen for which this town has, in former years, been famed. 

172 history of worthborough. 

University, at Cambridge, one of Brown University, and one each, 
of Yale, Dartmouth, and Williams 1 Colleges. 

Their names, professions, &.C. are as follow : 

1. Jonathan Livermore, son of the late Deac. Jonathan Liver- 
more, was graduated at Harvard University, in 17GO ; settled in 
the ministry at Wilton, N. H. in 1763; was dismissed, but remained 
in that place, where he died, July, 1309, in the 80th year of his age. 

2. Ebenezer Rice, son of the late Simon Rice,* was graduated 
at Harvard University, in 17G0 ; was a Physician, and a justice of 
the peace, in Marlborough ; afterwards removed to Barre, where 
he died. 

3. Jacob Rice, son of the late Jacob Rice, was graduated at 
Harvard University, in 1765; settled in Henniker, N. H. being the 
first minister in that place ; was dismissed, on account of ill health ; 
was installed at Brownfield, Oxford County, Me. where he remain- 
ed till his death, which took place suddenly, Feb. 1, 1824, Lord's 
Day, having preached to his people in the morning. 

4. Elijah Brigham, son of the late Col. Levi Brigham, was 
graduated at Dartmouth College, in 1778; commenced the study of 
Divinity, which he soon relinquisbed, and engaged in mercantile 
business with his brother in law, Breck Parkman, Esq. of Weslbo- 
rough : in 1795, he was appointed one of the Justices of the Court 
of Common Pleas; for several years was a Senator and Counsellor 
of this Commonwealth, a Justice through the State, and a Repre- 
sentative of this District in the Congress of the United States, from 
1810 to the time of hid death. Judge Brigham died suddenly, at 
Washington, Feb. 22, 1816, aged 64. 

5. John Taylor, son of the late John Taylor, was graduated at 
Harvard University, in 1786; is now a Counsellor at Law, in North- 
ampton, and one of the Representatives of that town in the Gen- 
eral Court. 

6. Peter Whitney, son of Rev. Peter Whitney, was graduated 
at Harvard University, in 1791 ; now the minister of Quincy, in 
this State, where he was ordained, Feb. 5. 1800. 

7. Henry Gassett, son of Henry Gassett, was graduated at Har- 
vard University, in 1795 ; is now a merchant, in Boston. 

8. Israel Munroe, son of Abraham Munroe, was graduated at 

Harvard University, in 1300; was for some year6 a Counsellor at 

Law, in Boston ; he now resides in the city of New York. 

* Simon Rice, the father of Dr. Ebenezer Rice, was a brother of the late 
Deac. Matthias Rice, of this town. He lived just within the limits of North- 
borough, near the dwelling' house of Mr. Ephraim Barnard. 


9. Warren Fay, son of Nahum Fay, Esq. was graduated at Har- 
vard University, in 1807 ; ordained at Brimlield, Nov. 3, 1808; dis- 
missed, June 2G, 1811 ; installed at Harvard, Jan. 26, 1814; dis- 
missed, at his own request, Jan. 5, 1820; installed as minister of 
the First Congregational Church and Society in Charlestown, Feb. 
23, 1820. 

10. Luther Rice, son of Capt. Amos Rice, was graduated at 
Williams College, in 1810; ordained at Salem, Feb. G, 1812, as a 
Missionary; sailed for Calcutta in company with Messrs. Hall & 
Judson, Feb. 18, 1812. Soon after his arrival he changed his views 
on the subject of baptism ; was baptised by immersion ; and, in the 
autumn of 1813, returned to this country. He now resides in Wash- 
ington, D. C. and is Treasurer of Columbia College. 

1 1. John Davis, son of the late Isaac Davis, Esq. was graduated 
at Yale College, in 1812; is now a Counsellor at Law, in Worcester, 
and represents this District in the Congress of the U. S. 

12. Isaac Davis, son of Phineas Davis, Esq. was graduated at 
Brown University, in 1822 ; is now an Attorney at Law, in Wor- 

There are, at present, two physicians in this place, Docts. Ste- 
phen Ball, Sen'r. and Jun'r. The only other physician who made 
Northborough his permanent residence, was the late Doct. Stephen 
Ball, father of Stephen Ball, Sen'r. There has never been a law- 
yer residing in the place, with the exception of John Winslow, 
Esq. who remained here only a few years. And, it is a singular 
fact, that with this exception, and that of the three successive min- 
isters, all of whom were educated at Harvard University, none of 
the permanent inhabitants of the town, at this or at any former pe- 
riod, received a public and liberal education. 

Ecclesiastical, &c. — Measures were taken immediately after 
Northborough became a separate precinct, to support the public 
worship of God, by building a church, and procuring a minister. 

December 31, 1744, the parish voted to build a meeting house, 
and to raise £50, lawful money, for that purpose. This led, as fre- 
quently happens, to a controversy respecting the location of the 
edifice, which, after several months continuance, was finally sub- 
mitted to the arbitration of three respectable men from the neigh- 
boring towns, Capt, Daniel Heywood, of Worcester, Capt. John 
Haynes, of Sudbury, and Capt. Thomas Hapgood, of Shrewsbury, 
who fixed on the spot, near the site of the present church. The 
land on which the house was erected, was given to the town for 


the use of its inhabitants, by Capt. James Eager, by a deed bear- 
ing date April 2G, 1745, "so long as the said inhabitants of the 
north precinct shall improve said land for the standing of a meeting 
house for the public worship of God." 

The committee reported, April 24, 1745; and, on April 30, only 
6 days after, the house was raised ; a vote having previously pas- 
sed, that "every man should provide for the raising as he was 

New difficulties now arose respecting the settlement of a minis- 
ter. Several candidates had been employed ; and, as usually hap- 
pens in such cases, the minds of the people were divided between 
them. Under these circumstances, the precinct appointed a fast 
lor the 12th Sept. 1745, and sent for five of the neighboring minis- 
ters " to give them their advice who they should apply to for can- 
didates, in order to a choice." 

The following gentlemen attended on the occasion ; viz. Rev. 
Mr. Prentice, Rev. Mr. Parkman, Rev. Mr. Cushing, and Rev. Mr. 
Morse, who recommended that the parish should hear a few sab- 
baths each, two candidates from Cambridge, Rev. Mr. Rand, and 
Mr. Jedediah Adams, in order to a choice. Mr. John Martyn was 
one of the candidates, who had previously been employed by the 
parish ; and although they complied with the advice of the neigh- 
boring ministers, so far as to hear the other candidates two sab- 
baths each, yet on the 19th of December, 1745, " Mr. John Mar- 
tyn was chosen by a clear vote" ; and a salary was offered him of 
j£50 in bills of the last emission, (which was at Is. Gd. per ounce,) 
or £200 in bills of the old form and tenor, after the rate of silver 
at '30s. per ounce, or in other bills of public credit, equivalent to 
the said sum, and to be paid at two payments annually." Besides 
this, a settlement of $300, old tenor, was voted by the parish. 

Mr. Martyn accepted the invitation, and was ordained, May 21, 
1746, O. S. a church having been gathered on the same day, con- 
sisting often brethren, besides the pastor elect, four of whom, it is 
worthy of notice, were foreigners.! 

* The dimensions of the first meeting house were 46 feet by 36. The 
whole cost of finishing the outside was JG443 11*. 2d. The building commit- 
tee consisted of Capt. James Eager, Win. Ilolloway, and Jesse Brigham. 
The house was framed by Daniel Hemminway. The price of labor at this 
time, was, in the old tenor currency, for a man per day scoring timber, 6s. for 
hewing, tis. 6<i. for carpenter's work, 8s. White pine timber, 3 pence per 
foot ; for oak, 2£ pence, running measure. " Allowed Jotham Bartlett J(J2 
10f. for two barrels of cider at the raising of the meeting house." 

t The following are the names of the persons who subscribed to the church 


The ordaining council consisted of the following pastors, with 
their delegates : 

Rev. Mr. Parkman, of Westborough, who preached on the oc- 
casion, from Ileb. xiii. 17; Rev. Mr. Prentice, of Lancaster, who 
gave the charge; Rev. Mr. Gushing, of Shrewsbury, who expressed 
the fellowship of the Churches; Rev. Mr. Loring, of Sudbury; Rev. 
Mr. Hall, of Sutton; Rev. Mr. Gardner, of Stow; and Rev. Mr. Bar- 
rett, of Hopkinton. 

Although the ceremonies of the ordination took place in the 
meeting house, yet it appears from the town records that it was in 
a very unfinished state, having neither pulpit, galleries, glass win- 
dows, nor even permanent floors. It was not till June, in the fol- 
lowing year, that a vote could be obtained " to glaze the meeting 
house and lay the floors ;" and not till the next autumn, that the 
pulpit and gallery stairs were built. This was indeed the day of 
small things ; and when we compare the accommodations of the 
spacious and elegant temple since erected near the spot, with the 
loose floors, and rough seats, and open windows of the house in 
which our fathers worshipped, we shall do well to inquire wheth- 
er we surpass them as much in the punctuality of our attendance, 
and the spirituality of our worship, as in the beauty and accommo- 
dations of the place of our solemnities. 

Northborough became an incorporated district, Jan. 24^ 1766, 
not long after which, viz. April 30, 1767, the Rev. John Martyn, 
after a short illness, departed this life, in the 61st year of his age, 
and the 21st of his ministry. His wife died, Sept. 8, 1775, aged 70. 

Mr. Martyn was a son of Capt. Edward Martyn, of Boston, 
where he spent his early life, under the care of an excellent moth- 
er, who had been left a widow in easy circumstances, some timn 
previous to young Mr. Marty n's entering college. Mr. Martyn 
was graduated at Harvard University, in 1721. For several years 
after he left college, he devoted his attention to secular pursuits, 
and was for ?ome time an inhabitant of Harvard, in this county.* 

covenant at this time. — John Martyn, the pastor elect ; Ephraim Allen ; Josh- 
ua Dowsing, (sometimes written Townsend) from England ; John McAllester, 
iron. Ireland ; Jonathan Livermore, (afterwards Deac. Livermore ;) Gershom 
Fay; Matthias Rice, (afterwards Deac. Rice;) Samuel Allen; Jacob Shep- 
herd, a foreigner ; John Carruth, also a foreigner; and Silas Fay. 

* Rev. Mr. Martyn was married to Miss Mary Marret, of Cambridge, by 
whom he had the following children : John, who lived in this town ; Mary, 
married to a Minot, of Concord ; Michael, who was married to Zilpah, daugh- 
ter of James Eager, and lived in this town till the commencement of the rev- 


At length, at the age of 40, he directed his attention to Theo- 
logical pursuits, and hecame an able, faithful, and useful minister. 
He possessed, in a large measure, the confidence and affections of 
his flock, was honored in his life, and deeply lamented at his death. 

Rev. Peter Whitney was the only person employed as a candi- 
date in this place hctween the death of Mr. Martyn and his own 

Mr. Martyn died the last day of April; and, after an interval of 
only 6 months and 4 days, that is, on the 4th of the following No- 
vember, his successor was inducted into the office of a christian 

The services at his ordination were performed by the follow- 
ing persons. Rev. Mr. Morse, of the second church in Shrewsbu- 
ry, (now Boylston) made the Introductory Prayer; Rev. Mr. Whit- 
ney, ol Petersham, the father of the candidate, preached from Mat- 
thew, xxviii. 19,20.; Rev. Mr. Parkman, of Westborongh, made 
the consecrating prayer, and gave the charge ; Rev. Mr. Smith, of 
Marlborough, expressed the fellowship of the churches; and Rev. 
Mr. Bridge, of Chelmsford, made the concluding prayer. The 
other ministers on the ordaining council, were, Rev. Mr. Stone, of 
Southborough; Rev. Mr. Goss, of Bolton ; Rev. Mr. Morrell, of 
Wilmington; Rev. Mr. Davis, of Holden ; Rev. Mr. Woodward, of 
WestoA ; Rev. Mr. Clark, of Lexington ; Rev. Mr. Sumner, of 
Shrewsbury; and Rev. Mr. Cummings, of Billerica. 

The salary of Rev. Mr. Whitney was £6G 13s. id. with a set- 
tlement of j;lG0, lawful money. 

Rev. Peter Whitney was the son of Rev. x\aron Whitney, the 
fi'-st minister of Petersham, was born Sept. 17, 1744. He was grad- 
uated at Harvard University, 17G2, where he pursued his Theologi- 
cal studies preparatory to entering on the work of the ministry. 

Distinguished for the urbanity of his manners, easy and familiar 
in his intercourse with his people, hospitable to strangers, and al- 
ways ready to give a hearty welcome to his numerous friends ; 
punctual to his engagements, observing an exact method in the dis- 
tribution of his time, having a time for every thing and doing every 
thing 'in its time, without hurry or confusion; conscientious in the 

olutionary war •, Richard, who settled in Windsor, Conn. ; and Nathaniel, 
who removed to one of the Southern States. Widow Abigail Fay, is the 
daughter of John, abovenamed, and is now living in this place. 

*Mr. Whitney began to preach in Northhorongh, June 7, 1767, and gave 
his answer to settle the 12th of the following October. 


discharge of his duties as a christian minister, catholic in his prin- 
ciples and in his conduct, always taking an interest in whatever 
concerned the prosperity of the town and the interests of religion, 
he was, for many years, the happy minister of a kind and an affec- 
tionate people. At length, having continued in the work of the 
ministry almost half a century, he suddenly departed this life, Feb- 
ruary 29, 181G, in the 72d year of his age, and the 49th of his use- 
ful ministry.* 

Mr. Whitney was married to Miss Julia Lambert, of Reading, in 
this state, by whom he had ten children who lived to man's estate, 
eight of whom still survive. 

Mrs. Whitney survived her husband nearly five years, and died 
at Quincy, while on a visit to her children, Jan. 10, 1821, aged 79 
years. All who knew Madam Whitney will bear testimony to her 
worth ; and admit that she possessed, in no common measure, dig- 
nity of manners, sprightliness of mind, and goodness of heart. She 
was indeed a most pleasant companion and a most valuable friend. 

The writer of these sketches was the only candidate employed 
by their society after the death of his immediate predecessor ; and 
after a probation of about four months, was ordained their minister, 
Oct. 30, 181G.1 His salary is $U00 per annum. 

* Rev. Mr. Martyn left none of his writings in print. His successor made 
himself extensively known by his History of Worcester County ; a work high- 
ly valuable for the facts it records, many of which would probably have been 
lost, had they not, with great pains and fidelity, been collected and embodied 
in this work. It is a work, the value of which will not be diminished by the 
more minute histories now publishing in the Worcester Magazine and Histori- 
cal Journal. 

The other printed writings of Mr. Whitney, so far as they have come to 
my knowledge, are — Two Discourses, delivered July 4, 1774 ; a Sermon, de- 
livered at a Lecture, July 4, 1770, on publishing the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence ; a half Century Sermon, preached June 1, 179t> ; a Sermon at the or- 
dination of his son, Rev. Peter Whitney, of Quincy, February 5, 1800; a Ser- 
mon preached at Shrewsbury, February 16', I UN), at the funeral of Mrs. Lucy 
Sumner, wife of the Rev. Joseph Sumner, D. D. ; and a notice of a remarka- 
ble apple tree, in the first volume of the Memoirs of the American Academy 
of Arts and Sciences. 

The publication of the History of Worcester County recommended the 
author to the notice of the Massachusetts Historical Society, who elected hiin 
a member of that association. 

t The ordination services were performed by the following persons : — 
Rev. Mr. Whitney, of Quincy, made the Introductory Prayer; Rev. Prof. 
Ware, of Harvard University, preached from Jer. xv. 19 ; Rev. Pres. Kirk- 
land, of II. U. made the Consecrating Prayer; Rev. Dr. Saunders, of Med- 
field, gave the charge ; Rev. John E. Abbott, of Salem, gave the Right hand 
of Fellowship; Rev. Dr. Puffer, of Berlin, made the Concluding Prayer. Be- 
sides the above, the following Ministers were on the Council : Rev. Dr. Sum- 
ner, of Shrewsbury; Rev. Dr. Bancroft, of Worcester; Rev. Dr. Thayer, of 
vol. it. 23 


It appears, therefore, that from the ordination of Rev. Mr. Mar- 
ty n, in 1716, to the present time, a period of 80 years, this chris- 
tian society has been destitute of a settled minister only about 14 
months; a fact highly creditable to the members of this society, as 
an evidence of their regard for the institutions of religion, and of 
the union and harmony which have long subsisted among them. 
And it may justly be considered, that the town is indebted to the 
spirit of union which has hitherto so generally prevailed among us, 
for the respectable rank which it now maintains. It would be easy, 
however painful, to predict the consequences of the prevalence of 
an opposite spirit. Large and opulent societies can bear to be re- 
duced by division. Rut in societies small as this, and who c e re- 
sources are no greater than ours, union should be the watchword of 
all who wish well to the cause of human improvement. 

It is worthy of remark, that there has never been but one reli- 
gious society in this town, and that only a very few families have, 
at any time, withdrawn themselves from the Congregational socie- 
ty. Four or five families of the Baptist denomination usually at- 
tend public worship in the adjoining towns. The first person of 
this denomination in this town, was Thomas Billings, who joined 
the Baptist Society, in Leicester, in 1766. 

The increase of wealth and population, and a regard for the in- 
stitutions of religion, led the inhabitants of this town, in the spring 
and summer of 1808, to erect a new and more spacious house for 
public worship. 

The new Church is 56 ft. square, with a projection of 31 ft. by 
15, surmounted by a tower, and cost, including the bell, $11,403 04. 
The coet of the bell was $510 00; its weight about 1200 lbs. 

The proportions of this building are much admired by persons 
of good taste ; and its location is such, that it appears to great ad- 
vantage from the main road. May it long stand ; and be to this So- 
ciety a bond of union, and the place whither they shall delight to 
bring their stated offerings of prayer and praise.* 

Lancaster; Rev. Mr. Packard, of Marlborough; Rev. Mr. Rockwood, of 
Westborough ; Rev. Mr. Cotton, of Buylston ; Rev. Mr. FrotUingham, of 
Boston ; Rev. Mr. Ripley, of Waltham ; and Rev. Mr. Damon, of LunenDurg. 
Rev. J. Allen was born in Medrield, August 15, 1790, and was graduated at 
Harvard University, in 1811. 

* The committee for building the new meeting house consisted of the fol- 
lowing persons; James Key* s, Esq. Stephen Williams, Esq. Isaac Davis, Esq. 
Hollon Maynard, Col. William Eager, Seth Crout, Esq. Asaph Rice, and 
Fhiueas Davis, Esq. The business was committed lo a sub-committee, com- 
posed of three; S. Williams, Esq. -Asaph Rice, and Phineas Davis, Esq. The 
house was built by Col. Eames, of Bucklaad, andCapt. Brooks, of Priuceton. 



lti t lie summer of 1822, a neat and handsome Town House was 
built, at the cost of about $1000, which is used for town meeting's, 
singing schools, and various other purposes. 

This town has been peculiarly unfortunate in the destruction of 
buildings by lire. No fewer than ten dwelling houses, in this small 
town, seven of them large, two story buildings, have been burnt to 
the ground. Besides these, two school houses, one grist mill, one 
saw mill, and one shoe-makers's shop, have fallen a prey to the 
same devouring element. 

In respect to expenses incurred for the support of paupers, the 
town has for the most part been highly favored. Since the com- 
mencement of the present year, only two persons have been a town 
charge, the whole expense of maintaining whom, for a year, is less 
than one hundred dollars. 

Some additional particulars relating to the ecclesiastical and se- 
cular atfairs of this town, it may be proper to include in these his- 
torical sketches. Owing to the destruction of the church records, 
in the year 1780, when the dwelling house of Rev. Mr. Whitney, 
with most of its contents, was destroyed by fire, we have no means 
of ascertaining the number of baptisms and of persons, who joined 
the church, as well as many other particulars, which it might be in- 
teresting to know, of what took place previous to that date. We 
learn, however, from Rev. Mr. Parkman's account of Westborough, 
that, in 17G7, the year of the Rev. Mr. Martyn's death, that the 
number of communicants was forty four, 21 males, and 23 females. 
The whole number of persons admitted into the church, during the 
ministry of Mr. Whitney, as nearly as can be ascertained, was 204. 
Since the death of Mr. Whitney, 54 have been added to the church, 
exclusive of such as have been received by recommendation from 
other churches. Besides these, 84 persons, during the ministry of 
Mr. Whitney, owned the baptismal covenant. 

The number of persons baptised, from 1780 to the time of Mr. 
Whitney's decease, was 661 ; from that period to the present, 132. 

From the gathering of this church, in 1746, to the present time, 
seven persons only have sustained the office of deacons, two of 
whom yet survive. 

The two first deacons of this church were Jonathan Livermore 
and Matthias Rice. Deac. Livermore resigned, October2d, 1732; 
died April 21, 1801, aged 100 years and 7 months. Deac. Rice 
died February 13, 1764, aged 58 years. Deac. Rice was succeed- 
ed by Paul Newton, who resigned May 8, 1795. and died May 18, 


1797, aged 79. Deac. Livermore was succeeded by Seth Rice, 
who resigned April 30, 1807, and died Jan. 2, 1815, aged 77. 
Deac. Newton was succeeded by Isaac Davis, who resigned Nov. 
18, 1825, and died April 27, 1826, aged 77. Deac. Rice was suc- 
ceeded by Nahum Fay, and Deac. Davis by Jonas Bartlett. Deac. 
Fay came into office June 14, 1807, and Deac. Bartlett, February 
26, 1826. 

The amount of the ages of the five deacons who have deceas- 
ed, is 392 years, the average of which exceeds 78 years. 

In giving the history of this town, it will be proper that we sub- 
join a hrief notice of those persons who have distinguished them- 
selves as its benefactors. Il has already been mentioned that the 
land on which the meeting house stands, with the adjoining com- 
mon, was the donation of Capt. James Eager, of whom an account 
was given in a former part of the e e sketches. 

Mrs. Marty n, the mother of the Rev. John Martyn, at first, 
wholly supplied furniture for the communion table. Rabbi Judah 
Monis, formerly a Hebrew Instructer, in Harvard University, gave 
to this church a silver cup, also a large silver tankard, afterwards 
converted into two cups. Another silver cup was procured, with 
the joint legacies of Capt. J. Eager and Lieut. William llolloway. 
A silver tankard was given by Anna, relict of Deac. Matthias Rice. 
Another silver cup was given by Pelatiah Rice, and his son in law, 
Thaddeus Fay. Another by Capt. Gideon Tenny ; and recently, 
one by the late Deac. Isaac Davis. An elegant Folio Bible, in 2 
vols, for the use of the pulpit, was the generous donation of Jo- 
seph Foster, Esq. of Cambridge.* 

* Rabbi Judah Monis was a native of Italy, born in 1633 or 1684. Of 
his parentage, ami of the circumstmces which ltd him to emigrate to Ameri- 
ca, we have no account. He was employed as an instructer in the Hebrew 
language, in Harvard University, about the year 1720, before his conversion 
to Christianity. At length, he was led to rective Jt-sus Christ as the true 
Messiah: and, March 27, 1722, was publicly baptised at Cambridge; the 
Rev. Dr. Benjamin Colman, of Boston, preaching a discourse in the College 
Hall on the occasion, from John, v. 46. In the preface to this discourse, the 
author says, that " it was prepared in obedience to the desire of the very Rev. 
Mr. Leverett, the present learned Head and President of the House where it 
was delivered, in case of the absence of the aged aud venerable Dr. Increase 
Mather," who, he adds, " if his years had permitted him, would have presid- 
od aud served on so great a solemnity."' " As to Mr. Monis himself," Dr. 
Colman writes, " it must be confessed that he seems a very valuable prose- 
lyte. He is truly read and learned in the Jewish Cabbala, and Rabbins, a 
Master and Critic in the Hebrew : He reads, speaks, writes, and interprets it 
with great readiness and accuracy, and is truly didaktichos, apt to teach. 
His diligence aud industry, together with his ability, is manifest unto many 
who have seen his Grammar and Nomenclator, Hebrew and English ; as also 
his Translation of the Creed and Lord's Prayer; the thirty nine articles of the 


Appendix I. Containing 1 a list of persons who were heads- of 
families in this place before or soon after it became a separate Pre- 

Church of England, and (lie Assembly's shorter Catechism into Hebrew ; and 
he is now translating 1 the larger Catechism." On the same occasion, Mr. 
Monis also delivered a discourse from Vs. cxvi. 1U, entitled u The Truth," 
which was printed, with a Preface written by Dr. Increase Mather. Thi3 
was followed soon afterwards by two other discourses from the same text, the 
first eutitled « The Whole Truth," the latter, » Nothing but the Truth." 
These three discourses, with that of Dr. Colman, were printed in Boston, for 
Daniel Henchman, and "sold at his shop, over against the old Brick Church, 
in Cornhill, 1722." 

Mr. Monis continued in his office as an Instructer in Hebrew forty years, 
till the infirmities of age rendered him incapable of performing its duties. 
After the death of his wife, in 1761, he left Cambridge and removed to North- 
borough to reside in the family of Rev. Mr. Martyn, who had married a sister 
of his wife. Here he remained till the time of his death, which happened, 
April 25, 1764, at the age of 81 years. As he had no children, he bequeath- 
ed the principal part of his estate, which was considerable, to the family in 
which he resided at his death. The sum of j£46 13s. 4rf. was distributed 
among seven of the neighboring ministers ; and about jC126 was left as a fund, 
under the direction of a Board of Trustees, the interest of which was to >he 
devoted to the relief of indigent widows qi" deceased clergymen. The Board 
of Trustees consists of the ministers of the following churches : The church 
in Northborouc;h ; the first church in Salem ; first in Cambridge ; the new 
north in Boston ; and the first church in Hingham. The fund now amounts 
to $400, the interest of which is distributed annually among four widows of 
deceased clergymen. 

The following is the inscription on Mr. Monis'' Grave Stone. 

"HERE lie buried the remains oe 


Late Hebrew Instructer, 

At Harvard College, in Cambridge ; 

In which office he continued 40 years. 

He was by birth and religion a Jew, 

But embraced the Christian faith, 

And was publicly baptised 

At Cambridge, A. D. 1722, 

And departed this life 

April 25th, 1764, 

Aged eighty one years, two months, 

and twenty one days. 

A native branch of Jacob see, 

Which once from off its olive broke ; 
Regrafted from the living tree, Rom. xi. 17.24. 

Of the reviving sap partook. 

From teeming Zion's fertile womb, Isai. lxvi. 8. 

As dewy drops in early morn, l's. ex. 3. 
Or rising bodies from the tomb, John, v. 28. 29. 

At once he Israel's nation born. Isai. lxvi. 8." 

Lieut. Win. Ilolloway, of whose family an arcount has been given, was 
for many years, one of the leading characters in this town, lie died Jan. 6, 
1760, aged 71. 

Dcac. Matthias Rice was a grandson of Edward Rice, one of the origin- 


cinct, in 1744. The second column contains the names of the per- 
sons who now live on or near the same house lots. 

Those to whose names this mark (1) is prefixed, have descend- 
ants of the same name now living in Northhorough. 

John Brighain. Mr. Ilolbrooks Saw Mill. 

Samuel Goodenow, ) r ,- u *, „., ., 

„ , „ , ' , \ Gill Bartlett. 

faamuel Goodenow, Jun. } 

David and Jonathan, sons of) Deac. Jonas Bartlett, 

Samuel Goodenow, Jun. £ Gill Bartlett.. 

Nathaniel Oakes, Jacob Beirce. 

Simeon Howard, Sen. Near the Hearse House. ■ 

t Gcrshom Fay, Sen. Near Asa Fay's House. 

Thomas Ward, Asaph Rice. 

Oliver ? Ward, (1) Jonathan Bartlett. 

Deac. Isaac Tomblin, Widow of the late Deac. Davit. 

Hezekiah Tomblin, On Tomblin Hill. 

Ephraim Beeman, Samuel Dalrymple. 

Joseph Wheeler, On Ball's Hill. 

Simon Rice, Near Ephraim Barnard's. 

t Daniel Bartlett, (2) Deac. Jonas Bartlett. 

None of the above, it is believed were heads of families in this town so 

late as 1744. 

The following are the names of the fifteen persons who paid 

the highest taxes in 1749, taken from the Town Record, Vol. I. p. 27. 

Lieut. Win. Hollo-way, Stephen Williams, Esq. 

James Eager, Jun. John Fisk. 

Capt. James Eager, Do. 

Deac. Matthias Rice, Windsor Stratton. 

Peletiah Rice, Ephraim Barnard. 

Samuel Gamwell, Capt. Prentice Keyes. 

t Jacob Rice, (3) Asaph Rice, 

t Jotham Bartlett, Gill Bartlett. 

Timothy Fay, Capt. Henry Hastings. 

Josiah Bowker, Nathan Green. , 

f Jesse Brigham, (4) Henry Brigham. 

tBezaleel Eager, (5) Col. Win. Eager: 

al proprietors of Marlborough. He lived on the farm now owned by Jonah 
Brigham. He died without children, Feb. 3, 17G4, aged 58. 

Feletiah Rice was a son oi Peter Rice, of Marlborough, and lived on the 
farm now in the possession of Ephraim Barnard. He left no sons; his two 
daughters, Thankful and Sarah, were married respectively, to Thaddeus and 
Adam Fay, sons of Gershom Fay. He died April 7, 1775, aged 81. 

Deac. Isaac Davis was born in Rutland, in this county. His father, Si- 
mon Davis, was a son of Simon Davis, who removed from Concord to Rutland. 
Rev. Joseph Uavis, the first minister of llolden, was another son of Simon Da- 
vis, Sen. D^c. Davis removed to Northhorough during the Revolutionary 
war, and has been, for a long succession of years, out of our most distinguish- 
ed citizens. His first wife, the mother of his children, was a daughter of the 
late Dr. Samuel Brigham, of Marlborough, who was married to a daughter of 
Dr. Benjamin Gott, whose wife was Sarah, a daughter of Rev. Robert Breck, 
the second minister of Marlborough. Deac. Davis died April 27, 1826, aged 
77. During his last sickness, he directed his family to procure at his expense 
new linen for the Communion Table, a direction with which they cheerfully 


18 j 

Silas Fay, 
Thomas Billings, 
John Oalces, 

The following twelve names we 

tJames Ball, 
Cornet Simeon Howard, 
t Nathan Ball, 
t Josiah Rice, 
t Gershom Fay, 
+ Samuel Allen, 
John McAllester, 
Deac. Jonas Liverraone, 
Thomas Goodenow, 
Seth Hudson, 
George Oakes, 
t Seth Rice, Sen: 

To the above list the following 

John Martyn, Jun. 
Zephaniah Brings, 
t Deac. Paul Newton, 
t Col. Levi Brigham, (C) 
t Samuel Wood, Sen (7) 
tThomas Warren, and his ) ,q\ 

son tEliphalet Warren, ) ^ ' 
Jonathan 1 lay ward, and his > 

son Gideon Hay ward, \ 
tJouathan Bruce, 
Joshua Townsend, 
t John Carruth, 
t William Babcock, 
Josiah Goddard, 
Solomon Goddard, 
Silas Rice, 

Samuel Gamwell, Juu. 
William Carruth, 
George Smith, 
Joshua Child, 
Capt. Timothy Brigham, 

now livinsr, 

Capt. Henry Hastings. 
Col. John Crawford. 
Joel Gassett. 

re added, in 1752. 

Edward B. Ball. 
Nahum Fay, Esq. 
Nathan Ball. 
William Maynard. 
Benjamin Rice. 
Samuel Allen. 
Hollon .Maynard. 
David Dinsmore. 
Stephen Howe. 
Near Ephraim Barnard's. 
Luther Hawse., 
Calvin Hastings. 

names may be subjoined. 

Benjamin Munroe. 
Capt. Joseph Davis; 
Martyn Newton. 
Winslow Brigham. 
Samuel Sever. 

Abel Warren. 

Lowell Holbrook. 

Samuel Dalrymple. 
John F. Fay. 
Joseph Carruth. ' 
David Mahan. 
Silas Bailey. 
Jonas Babcock. 
Benjamin Flagg. 
Reuben Babcock. 
Daniel Smith. 

On the South Road. 

Oliver Eager. 

Brief notices of several persons whose names are found in the foregoing list. 

1. Oliver ? Ward. I understand that a farmer of the name of Ward, 
was the first settler on the farm of Jonathan Bartlett, and I conclude that his 
name was Oliver from the circumstances that, in 1710, forty three acres of 
land were laid out to Thomas and Oliver Ward '* on Woody Hill, near the 
upper end of Cold Harbor, north side of the brook, next John Brigham'a 
meadow. 1 ' 

2. Daniel Bartlett, was a son of Henry Bartlett, who emigrated from 
Wales and settled in Marlborough, in the latter part of the' seventeenth or 
beginniug of the eighteenth Century. He was the common ancestor of all 
of that name in this town. His sons were Jotham, settled in this town, 
grandfather of Gill Bartlett ; Daniel, settled in Rutland ; Jonathan, father of 



Jotham and Jonathan, in this town ; John, in Print » ton ; Isaac, in H olden ; 
and Jonas, father of Dtac. Jonas B. in this town. A brother of Daniel set- 
tled in Western or Brookfield, probably the Benjamin Bartlett, whose daugh- 
ter Mary, born 1701, was the first child born in Brookfield, whose birth was 
recorded. (1 Hist. Col. 1, 2670 

3. Jacob Rice, son of Jacob Rice of Marlborough, first lived a little 
south of the dwelling house of Doct. Stephen Ball, afterwards removed to the 
house now owned by his grandson, Asaph Rice. He was the father of John 
Rice, of Shrewsbury ; Jacob, minister of Brownfield, Maine ; and Amos, now 
living in this town. The brothers of Jacob were Amos and Obediah,of Brook- 
field,and Gershom, of Marlborough. Jacob Rice died, July 29, 1708, aged 81. 

4. Capt. Jesse Brigham, son of Jonathan Brigham of Marlborough, was 
the father of Artemas, and Capt. Tim. Brigham, the latter of whom is now 
living in this town. Jesse Brigham died, Dec. 8, 179G, aged 87. 

5. Capt. Bezaleel Eager, came from Marlborough to the place where his 
grandson, Col. Win, Eager now lives. Two brothers, Abraham and Capt. 
Benjamin Eager, came about the same time to Shrewsbury, and were sniong 
the first settlers of that town. Their father or grandfather was from Concord; 
Bezaleel Eager, died Oct. 31, 1787, aged 74. 

6. Col. Levi Brigham, son of David Brigham of Westborongh, was the 
father of the late Judge Brigham, and of Winslow Brigham now living in this 
town. Col. Brigham was chosen July 10, 1775, to represent this town in the 
Assembly to be convened at the meeting house in YVatertowu, the 19th of that 
month. He died Feb. 1, 1787, aged 71. 

7. Samuel Wood came from Sudbury, and set up the first fulling mill in this 
town. He was the father of the late Abraham and Capt. Samuel Wood, who 
lived together on the same farm now in the possession of Samuel Sever. 

8. Thomas Warren, from Watertown, was the father of Eliphalet, who 
left many descendents in this town and in other places. 

Appendix II. Referring to page 134. The Grants for house 
lots were made 26th November. 16G0, and were in the following 

Edmund Rice 
William Ward 
John Ruddock 
Thomas Goodenow / 
Joseph Rice 
Samuel Rice 
Christopher Bannister 
Thomas King 
William Kerley 
Solomon Johnson 
Richard Newton 
John Howe, Sen. 
John Howe Jun. 
Henry Kerley 
Richard Barnes 
Thomas Rice 
Andrew Belcher 
Obadiah Ward 
Edward R.icc 




Pochard Ward 



John Woods 



John Maynard 



Peter King 



Benjamin Rice 



A Minister 



Peter Bent 



John Bellows 



Abraham How 



Thomas Goodenow 

Jun. 20 


John Rutter 



John Barrett 



John Rediat ' 



A Smith 



Joseph Holmes 



Samuel How 



Henry Axtell 



John Newton 



38 house lote, 

992A acre 



Brief notices of several persons whose names are found in the foregoing list. 

Edmund Rice was probably the father of Edmund Rice, one of the first 
settlers of Westborough, whose children Silas and Timothy were taken by the 
Indians and carried into captivity. If so, he was the great grandfather of the 
late Deac. Seth Rice of this town. lie was one of the selectmen of Marlbo- 
rough, in 1661. 

VV'ni. Ward was one of the first deacons of the Church at Marlborough, 
and had a house lot assigned him on the south side of the road opposite the 
Rev. Mr. Brimsmead's. He was one of the selectmen in 1661. lie was the 
grandfather of the late Col. William Ward, of Southborongh. He wa? proba- 
bly also an ancestor of the late Maj. Gen. Artemas Ward, of Shrewsbury. 
There were, however, three persons of the name of Ward, viz. William, Obe- 
diah, and Richard, to whom house lots in Marlborough were granted at this 
time, (1662.) From the following inscription on a grave stone in the old bu- 
rying ground in Marlborough, it would appear that the person to whom it 
belongs, was born before either of the New England colonies was planted. 
" Here lyes the body of Elizabeth Ward, the servant of the Lord, deceased in 
87 year of her age, December the 9 in the year of our Lord 1700. 

John Ruddock, was one of the selectmen of Marlborough, also a recorder 
or clerk in 1661, and a deacon of the church in 16C9. 

Of Thomas Goodenow, Richard Newton and John How, some account 
ha3 already been given. Thomas Goodenow and John How, were selectmen 
in 1661, as also were Thomas King and Solomon Johnson, the latter of whom 
was afterwards a deacon of the church. 

The name of Andrew Belcher, occurs in Dr. Holmes' History of Cam- 
bridge, (1. Hist. Col. Vol. VII. 28, 34,) who quotes from the Town Records 
the following: " The townsmen granted liberty to Andrew Belcher, to sell 
beare and bread, for entertainment of strangers, and the good of the town." 
This was in 1652. Whether this is the same person whose name is found 
among the proprietors of Marlborough eight years afterwards, 1 am unable to 
say. A Capt. Andrew Belcher is said to have given to the first parish in 
Cambridge, the bell now in use, in the year 1700. I am informed too that 
the name of Andrew llelcher, Esq. frequently occurs in the records of the 
Gen. Court ; that he was for some years an assistant, a member of the King's 
Council, and often a member of the Legislature; and that, in 1689, he was 
a messenger to treat with the Indians at Albany, &c. It is not improbable 
that he lived for a time at Marlborough, and that he afterwards returned to 
Cambridge, and sustained the several offices abovementioned. 

Edward Rice was a deacon of the church iu 1689 ; and was, as has been 
mentioned, the grandfather of the late Deac. Matthias Rice, of Simon Rice, 
and of Jacob Rice, of this town. It is not improbable, taking into view the 
connexion between Sudbury and Concord, that the Richard Rice, who is 
mentioned as one of the first settlers of Concord, in 1635, (1. Hist. Col. Vol. 
1, 240.) was the common ancestor of all of that name in this part of the coun- 
try, and the person, who, as tradition says, left eight sons, who all lived to a 
very great age. The Rice family has been remarkable for longevity. 
vol. a. 24 


Two of this uaine, Cyprian and Elisha Rice, who went from Marlborough, di- 
ed at Brookfield in 1788, the one in the 98th, and the other in the 99th year ol 
his age. Hist. Col. 1.273. 

Of the other persons mentioned in the foregoing list, I have no account to 
give. Maj. Peter Bulkley was mentioned, page 138, as one of the persons 
who assisted in procuring the Indian deed of Marlborough. This was un- 
doubtedly a son of Rev. Peter Bulkley, who was the first minister and one of 
the first settlers of Concord, then called Masketaquid. Rev. Mr. Bulkley, 
had a number of children who were much distinguished in their day. One of 
his sons, Gershom, was married to a daughter of President Chauncey, and was 
the father of John Bulkley, minister of Colchester, Conn. 

Maj. Peter Bulkley, was in 1678-9, an agent for the Corporation of the 
Massachusetts Bay,respecting the Narrhagansett country, (1 Hist. Col. V. 221) 
and in the first year of James II. was appointed by the King's commission, one 
of the Council, of which Joseph Dudley, Esq. was President. 1. Hist. V. 

It appears from the State Records, that a grant of 1000 acres of land in 
the Nipmug or Kittituck country, was made to Maj. Bulkley, by the General 
Court, for some service he had performed for the public. 

Appendix III. 

Ministers of Marlborough. — Rev. William Brimsmead, the first 
minister of Marlborough, was a native of Dorchester, a member of 
the class that graduated at Harvard College, in 1648, but who left 
with several others in the preceding year, without a degree, in con- 
sequence of dissatisfaction with the regulation then introduced of 
requiring a residence of four years instead of three. He was em- 
ployed as a preacher, at Marlborough, as early as 1CG0 ; was after- 
wards, in 1665, after several months probation, invited to settle in 
Plymouth, with an offer of £70 salary and firewood, which he de- 
clined, and was ordained at Marlborough, October 3d, 1666. 

John Cotton, Esq. of Plymouth, in his history of that town, 
(1760) speaks of him as " a well acomplished servant of Christ." 

He preached the Election Sermon, 1681, on Jer. 6. 8. which 
was printed. His salary in Marlborough was from 40 to £45 per 

It appears from the following record that he was unable to sup- 
ply the pulpit during the latter part of his life. "May 6, 1700. 
Voted, to send to Cambridge lor a candidate for the ministry." 

"July 12. Voted unanimously, by church and town, to invite 
Mr. Swift to help with our present pastor, if God shall raise him up." 

At the same time a committee was chosen " to procure a place 
to remove their minister to, and to provide him a nurse." (Mr. 
Brimsmead had no family of his own to provide for him, having 
never been married.) 


"December 16, 1700. a committee was chosen to treat our Rev. 
pastor, with reference to the arrears yet in his account that con- 
cern the town, and to bring an account of all that is behind, from 
the beginning of the world to the end of November, 1699." 

Mr. Swift having negatived the call, Mr. Joseph Morse was in- 
vited to settle as colleague with Mr. Brimsmead. Rev. Mr. Brims- 
mead died on Commencement morning, July 3d, 1701, and was bu- 
ried in " the old grave yard,"* where a large unlettered stone was 
erected to his memory, which still remainsj and is almost the only 
mernoi-ial that remains of " this venerable servant of Jesus Christ. "t 
Soon after the death of Mr. Brimsmead, Mr. John Emerson, after- 
wards settled in Portsmouth, N. H.J was invited to be the minister 
of Marlborough, but declined the invitation. 

At length, after a long controversy respecting Mr. Emerson, 
which was carried on with a good deal of asperity, June 1st, 1704, 
Mr. Robert Breck, son of Capt. John Breck, of Dorchester, gradu- 
ated at Harvard College, in 1700, received an invitation to take 
the pastoral charge of the society, which he accepted, and was or- 
dained, October 24th, 1704. 

Rev. Mr. Breck remained pastor of the church at Marlborough 

* The following inscription is placed over the remains of the first person 
who was buried in the old burying ground in Marlborough. 

" Capt. Edward Hutchinson aged 67 years, was shot by treacherous In- 
dians, August 2d, 1675, died, August 19th, 1675." 

Capt. Edward Hutchinson was mortally wounded by the Indians, Au- 
gust 2d, at a place called Menimimisset, about four or five miles from Quabo- 
ag (Brookfield) to which place he had been sent with twenty horsemen by 
the Governor and Council, for the purpose of conciliating; the Nipmuclrs, to 
ma>iy of whom he was personally known. It appears that they conducted 
themselves towards him with the basest treachery. The Sachems had sig- 
nified their readiness to treat with the English, but it must be with Capt. 
Hutchinson himself. Having been conducted by a treacherous guide to the 
place where two or three hundred of the Indians lay in ambush, they sud- 
denly issued from a swamp, fell upon Capt. Hutchinson, and his unsuspecting 
associates, shot down eight of the company, and mortally wounded three more, 
among whom was Capt. H. himself. Capt. Hutchinson was a son of the cel- 
ebrated Mrs. Ann Hutchinson, who occupies so conspicuous a place in the 
early history of New England. He was aUo the great grandfather of Thomas 
Hutchinson, Governor of the Massachusetts colony and the historian of Mas- 
sachusetts. Savage's VVinthrop, 1.249. 

tllev. Mr. Brimsmead's house stood in a lot of land on the west side of 
Ockoocangansett hill, adjoining to said hill. Tradition says, that he uniform- 
ly refused baptism to children who were born on the Sabbath. 

JRev. John Emerson was first (1703) ordained as pastor of the church at 
Newcastle, New Hampshire, dismissed in 1712, and installed pastor of the 
South Parish in Portsmouth, March 23d, 1715, died June 21st, 1732, aged 62. 
Mr. Emerson was a native of Ipswich and was graduated at Harvard Univer- 
sity, in 1689. 1. Hist. Col. X. 53. 


twenty seven years, and died, January 6, 1731, in the midst of his 
days and usefulness, at the age of forty nine years, universally la- 

A handsome monument was erected to his memory, near that 
of his predecessor, containing the following inscription in Latin, to 
which we subjoin, at the request of many, a translation into English. 

Reliquiae terrestres theologi vere venerandi Roberti Breck sub 
hoc tumulo conferuntur. Pars coelestis ad coclum myriadum ange- 
lorum et ad spiritus justorum qui perfecti sunt abiit. • 

Ingenii penetrantis, quoad vires naturales, vir fuit amplissimae 
mentis et judicii solidi, una cum animi fortitudine singulari. Quo- 
ad partes acquisitas spectat, in Unguis quae doctae praesertim (audi- 
unt ?) admodum peritus ; literarum politarum mensura parum com- 
muni instructus ; et, quod aliis fuit difficile, ille, virtute ingenii pro- 
prii et studiis coarctis, felicitersubegit. In omnibus Theologize par- 
tibus versatissimus, et vere orthodoxus, Scriba ad regnum coelo- 
rura usquequaque institutus. Officio pastorali in ecclesia Marlbur- 
iensi, ubi Spiritus Sanctus ilium constituit episcopum, per XXVII 
annos, rideliter, sedulo, pacifice, multaque cum laude, functus est. 
Doctrinae Revelatae, una cum cultu et regimine in Ecclesiis Nov- 
Anglicanis instituto, assertor habilis et strenuus. Ad consilia danda 
in rebus arduis, turn publicis turn privatis, integritate conspectus et 
prudentia instructissimus. Sincere dilexit amicos, patriam, et uni- 
versam Christi ecclesiam. 

Denique pietatis, omnis virtutis socialis, et quoad res terrenas 
moderaminis, exemplar. 

In doloribus asperis aegritudinis ultimae patientia ejus opus per- 
fectum habuit ; et, si non ovans, expectans tamen et placide disces- 
sit. Natus Decern. is 7 nl ° 1682. 

Denatus Januar. 6 to 1731. 
Prophetae ipsi non in seculum vivnnt. 

Beneath this stone are deposited the mortal remains of the tru- 
ly reverend Robert Breck. His immortal part hath ascended to 
heaven to join the innumerable company of angels and the spirits 
of the just made perfect. 

He was by nature a man of acute intellect, capacious mind and 
solid judgment, together with singular mental resolution. As to his 
attainments, he was eminently skilled in the learned languages, fa- 
miliar beyond the common measure with polite literature ; and. 


what to others was difficult, he hy the powers of his mind, and close 
application to study, accomplished with ease. 

Thoroughly versed in every department of theology, and truly 
orthodox in sentiment, he was a scribe in every respect instructed 
unto the kingdom of heaven. 

The duties of the pastoral office in the church at Marlborough, 
over which the Holy Ghost had made him overseer, he discharged 
faithfully and assiduously, in peace and with great reputation, for 
twenty seven years. 

He was a skilful and able asserter of the doctrines of revelation 
and of the worship and discipline of the New England Churches. 

He was a counsellor in cases of difficulty, both public and pri- 
vate, of distinguished uprightness and consummate prudence. 

He was a sincere lover of his friends, his country, and the whole 
Church of Christ. 

In a word, he was a 'model of piety, of every social virtue, and 
of moderation in regard to earthly things. 

In the severe pains of his last sickness, his patience had its per- 
fect work; and his departure, if not in triumph, was full of hope 
and peace. Born Dec. 7th, 1682 — Died Jan. 6th, 1731. 

" Even the prophets do not live forever." 

Rev. Robert Breck was regarded a3 one of the eminent minis- 
ters of his day. He preached the Election Sermon in 1728, from 
Deut. v. 29, which was printed. Another of his printed sermons, 
which is still in existence, was preached in Shrewsbury, on the 15th 
of June, 1720, and was the first sermon preached in that town.* 
His only other publications, so far as they have come to our knowl- 
edge, were two excellent sermons, addressed particularly to younf 
persons, and which wero preached to his people in 1 728, on occa- 
sion of a large accession to his church of about fifty persons. The 
former is on the danger of religious declension, from Luke ix. 61, 
62 : the latter was preparatory to the observance of the Lord's 
Supper, from Leviticus, x. 3. 

Three funeral discourses preached at Marlborough, on occasion 
of his death, one by Rev. John Swift of Framingham, another by 
Rev. John Prentice, of Lancaster, and the third by Rev. Israel Lor- 
ing of Sudbury, were published, and are now extant. 

It appears, from a note to Mr. Prentice's discourse, that during 

*See the history of Shrewsbury, iu the May Number of this Journal, p. 
16, by Andrew II. Ward, Esq. 

I am informed by Rev. Wm, B. Sprcgue, of West Springfield, that he has 
in his possession a ropy of this disrourse. 


the sickness of Mr. Breck, October 15, 1730, a day of* fasting 
and prayer was kept in Marlborough for his recovery ; " several of 
the neighboring ministers being present and assisting on that sol- 
emn occasion." . 

A respectful and able notice of Rev. Robert Breck was given 
in the Weekly Journal, No. CC. for Jan. 13, 1731, which is sub- 
joined to the discourse of Mr. Prentice ; and another well written 
memoir was published in the Boston Weekly News Letter, No. 
1 108, for Jan. 21, 1731, which forms an appendix to Rev. Mr. Lor- 
ing's discourse. 

" His temper was grave and thoughtful, and yet cheerful at 
times, especially with his friends and acquaintance ; and his conver- 
sation entertaining and agreeable. 

" In his conduct, he was prudent and careful of his character, 
both as a minister and a christian ; rather sparing of speech, and 
more inclined to hear and learn from others. 

" His house was open to strangers, and his heart to his friends ; 
and he took great delight in entertaining such, as he might any 
ways improve by, and treated them with good manners. 

" The languishment and pains he went through before his death 
were very great; but God enabled him to bear the affliction with 
patience and submission. 

"He was interred on the 12th with great respect and lamenta- 
tion, and his affectionate people were at the charge of his funeral; 
and it is hoped they will continue their kindness to the sorrowful 
widow and orphans."* 

Rev. Robert Breck had a son of the same name, who was grad- 
uated at Harvard University, in 1730, was ordained as minister of 
Springfield, Jan. 26, 1736, and' died April 23, 1731, in the 71st year 
of his age.j 

The father was married in Sept. 1707, to Miss Elizabeth Wain- 
wright, of Haverhill, who died, June 8, 1736. They had six chil- 
dren, two of whom died before their father. Of those that surviv- 
ed him, Robert was minister of Springfield ; Sarah was married to 
Dr. Benjamin Gott, of Marlborough ; Hannah was married to Rev. 
Ebenezer Parkman, of Westborough ; Elizabeth, the eldest daugh- 
ter, was married to Col. Abraham Williams, of Marlborough, and 

* Rev. Mr. Breck lived on or near the same spot on which Rev. Mr. Pack- 
ard's dwelling house was afterwards erected. 

t See Rev. Win. B. Sprague's Historical Discourse, delivered at West 
Springfield, Dec. 2, 1824, p. 78, 80. 


died two years before her father, Jan. 1729. The name of the oth- 
er child that survived the father was Samuel, who was a surgeon 
in the army during the French war. He married at Springfield, 
and died, 1764. 

The following account of the successors of Rev. Mr. Breck, was fur- 
nished principally by Rev. Selh Alden, of Marlborough. 

After an interval of nearly three years from the death of Mr. 
Breck, viz. Oct. 1733, Rev. Benjamin Kent was ordained as the 
minister of Marlborough, and on Feb. 4, 1735, was dismissed by 
mutual consent. After his dismission, Mr. Kent brought an action 
against the town for the recovery of his settlement, which the 
court allowed him. The town appears to have suffered much 
about this time from intestine divisions, which prevented the set- 
tlement of a minister for the five years succeeding the dismission 
of Mr. Kent. 

At length, June 11, 1710, Rev. Aaron Smith received ordina- 
tion, and was dismissed by reason of ill heath, April 29, 1778. Af- 
ter his dismission, Mr. Smith went to reside with Rev. Mr. Bridge 
of East Sudbury, who married his daughter, and died there. 

Rev. Asa Packard, from Bridgewater, succeeded him, and was 
ordained, March 23, 1785, and April 10, 180G, was dismissed, in 
consequence of an unhappy division in the town relating to the lo- 
cation of a. new church. This division led to an Ecclesiastical 
Council called by the Church, which resulted, Oct. 24, 1806, that 
in case the minority should obtain an act of incorporation as a dis- 
tinct society, then, without breach of covenant, those members 
of the church who should unite themselves with such Incorpora- 
tion, might become a regular and distinct church, by the name 
of the West Church in Marlborough. 

After much opposition, such inhabitants did obtain an act of in- 
corporation on the 23d of Feb. 1808, by the name of the second 
parish in Marlborough ; and on the 5th of the following month, a 
church was duly ordained. Over this church and society, Rev. 
Asa Packard was installed, March 23, 1803, and remained their 
Pastor till May 12, 1819, when, by mutual consent, he was regu- 
larly dismissed. Mr. Packard now resides with his family in Lan- 

Rev. Soth Alden, from Bridgewater, a graduate of .Brown Uni- 
versity, 1814, was ordained as the successor of Mr. Packard, Nov 
3, 1819, and still remains their Pastor. 

Over the East Church and first parish, Rev*. Sylvester F. Buck- 


I'm, from Rehoboth, now Seekonk, a graduate of Brown University, 
1805, their present Pastor, was ordained, Nov. 2, 1803. 

Besides the two Congregational Societies above mentioned, 
there is a society of Universalists in the town, without a stated 
Pastor, and a small society of Methodists. The person at present 
preaching with the former is Massena B. Ballou ; with the latter, 
.Tared Haskins. 

The preceding sketches have been made up from materials col- 
lected from various sources. The aged fathers of this and some 
of the neighboring towns have been consulted as opportunity offer- 
ed ; and several of the descendants of the early settlers of Marl- 
borough, have kindly furnished many valuable papers relating to 
the events of former days, and which have been handed down from 
father to son, for three or four successive generations. The writ- 
er would particularly acknowledge his obligations to Rev. Messrs. 
Bucklin and Alden, for the aid they have rendered him ; as also to 
Mr. Silas Gates for the use of the copious and very valuable records 
in his possession, inherited through his wife (daughter of the late 
George Williams) from her grandfather Col. Abraham Williams, 
who, for many years, was the clerk of the proprietors of the En- 
glish Plantation of Marlborough. 

The writer has also had opportunity to consult the books of 
records of the proprietors of the Indian Plantation, now in the pos- 
session of Mr. John Weeks. 

He has aimed at accuracy ; but fears, where so much rests on 
mere tradition, or memory not less treacherous, that many errors 
besides those of the press, have become incorporated in the his- 
tory. For these he craves the indulgence of his readers. 

Page 137, end of first paragraph — The new meetinghouse was erected in 
1805, the old one taken down in 11.09 : page 141, 22d Iinejfrom top, for Doches- 
ter read Dorchester ; page 151, 20th line from top, fur Asa Goodenow read 
Thomas Goodenow ; page 152, 9th line, for Pond read Road ; page 153, 1st 
line, fo. - Marlborough read Northborough ; on the same page, the 2d para- 
graph of the note should be in the place of the first, and for Simon read Sime- 
on ; page 154, 1st line of the note, for persons read garrison ; page 16'5, in 4th 
line of 2d note, for Simeon read Simon ; page 169, in 3d note, read, .lames and 
John Eager were sons, and Cutler aud Martyn sons-in-law of John Eager, Jr. 
and grandsons of Capt. John Eager. 



VOL. IX. AUGUST, 1826. NO. 4. 




In presenting to the public a history of this town, we shall have 
no occasion to record any of those sanguinary scenes, which distin- 
guish the annals of many of our neighboring towns, arising from 
the incursions of a savage foe. 

No predatory warfare has ever stained the soil, or crimsoned 
the streams, with the blood of white men. Scarcely an incident, 
aside from the general course of human affairs, has transpired with- 
in any recollection, or is entered upon any record. So that the chief 
interest in the history of this town, comes from what it now is, rath- 
er than from what it has been. 

Within a few years, the town has obtained an importance on 
account of the facilities for manufacturing purposes, little expected 
by its early inhabitants. And it is but a limited stretch of prophet- 
ic genius to predict, that within a few years, this town will be the 
theatre of extensive manufacturing and mechanical operations. 

This town was settled as early as 1720, by several families from 
Marlborough ; being then included in the grant of land called 
Shrewsbury. Among the first settlers were Benjamin Hinds, Isaac 

Temple, Edward Goodale, William Whitney, Bixby, and 

Holt. These inhabitants suffered much from the want of dwel- 
lings, but were seldom, if ever molested by the Indians. They toil- 
ed for their posterity, as well as for themselves, and the descend- 
ants of these families are now numerous, and respectable in town ; 
several of them residing on their paternal possessions. 

The history of this town, as a corporation, extends no farther back 
than 1808, being then merged in that of Boylston and Sterling, and 
earlier in that of Shrewsbury and Lancaster. The northern part of 

V»ty. ii. 25 


this town is a portion of that tract called Shrewsbury leg ; the 
southern part was identified with the north parish of that town, 
now Boylston, so called in honor of a distinguished family of the 
name, and incorporated in 1786. The leg was set off to the west 
parish in Lancaster, now Sterling, in 1768; this was done to accom- 
modate the inhabitants with meetings, &c. as they were 10 or 12 
miles distant from Shrewsbury. When this town was incorporated, 
a" part of the first named tract, say about half, was included in the 
act. In 1796, the present town was erected into a precinct, and in 
1808, enjoyed the benefit of an act of incorporation. 

In obtaining these privileges, the inhabitants suffered much 
perplexity from their neighbors on every side, but by perseverance 
they obtained their wishes. 

In 1792, sundry inhabitants of Boylston, Sterling, Holden, and 
Worcester, assembled to consider the expediency of forming a new 
town, or parish. They agreed to build a meeting house for their 
accommodation, next year. They then formed themselves into a 
society, and chose Mr. David Goodale clerk, and elected a parish 

The meeting house was raised in 1793, being 58 by 46 feet^ 
with a cupola, in which a good bell was placed by Ward N. Boyls- 
ton, Esq. and in eighteen months it was finished by the enterprise 
and public spirit of Ezra Beaman, Esq. " who proposed that for 
the proceeds of the pews already sold on the place, and for those 
remaining unsold, he would finish the house." 

" Thi9 he did," says the record, " in a very decent and faithful 
manner, and at an expense far exceeding any compensation he can 
expect or hope to receive in future." 

In 1794, the inhabitants applied to several clergymen in the 
vicinity, to meet and consult on the propriety of forming a church 
and hiring a preacher. Their result was against forming a church, 
but recommended " occasional worship in the house they had 

Why these gentlemen did not recommend constant worship, is 
difficult to imagine. The meeting house was dedicated January 1, 
1795, by a Sermon from Rev. Daniel Grosvenor, of Paxton. In the 
same month, was sent to the General Court, a petition for an act of 
incorpoiation as a town; signed by 43 inhabitants of Boylston, 24 
of Sterling, 21 of Holden, and 3 of Worcester. 

This petition had a hearing in 1796, but being strenuously op- 
posed by the representatives from each town where the petition- 


ers resided, they only had leave to withdraw their petition. Soon 
after, they petitioned for an act to form themselves into a precinct, 
by the name of the second precinct in Boylston, Sterling, and Hol- 
den. This also was as strongly opposed as the other; but in June, 
1796, an act was passed granting the prayer of the petitioners. 
Accordingly, the first meeting for the choice of precinct officers 
was held, August 22, 1796, under the warrant of John Sprague,.Esq. 

In 1796, a Congregational church was gathered, and received 
into fellowship by the Rev. Messrs, Sumner, Avery, and Holcomb, 
consisting of thirty two members. March, 1797, the precinct voted 
to concur with the church in calling Mr. William Nash, A. M. to 
settle as a minister of the gospel; and at a subsequent meeting, 
they voted to give him £100, lawful money, as an annual salary, 
and in addition, they made a subscription for his benetit of about 
$200. In June following, Mr. Nash returned an affirmative an- 
swer, in which he regrets the " want of an entire unanimity in the 
call," and on the 11th of October, he was ordained over the parish. 

In 1801, the parish made a grant of $800 to Mr. Nash, on cer- 
tain conditions, to aid him in building a house. 

In 1804, the manufacture of Cotton was here commenced, for the 
first time in the county of Worcester ; but through inexperience, 
little progress was made for several years. 

In 1808, the inhabitants succeeded in obtaining an act of incor- 
poration for a town, by the name of West Boylston, bounded as 
follows, viz. on the north by Sterling, east by Boylston, south by 
Worcester, and west by Holden, being about four by five milei 
in extent, and lying near the centre of the county of Worcester. 

In all these transactions, Ezra Beaman, Esq. was a very active 
man, and to his perseverance, influence, and wealth, the town is 
indebted for many of their present privileges ; after its incor- 
poration, he was successively chosen to represent the citizens in 
the State Legislature. 

Soon afterMhe town was incorporated, they remonstrated against 
the embargo laid by Mr. Jefferson, declaring it to be ruinous to the 
country ; but their remonstrances did no good, and the embargo 
little injury to them. 

In 1810, the Baptists first began to hold occasional meetings 
in town. 

In 1812, an attempt was made to dismiss Mr. Nash, but it proved 
abortive — also a remonstrance was sent to Mr. Madison, against the 
war declared with Great Britain. 


In 1813, the Baptists formed themselves into a distinct body, 
and had preaching about half the time in a school house. In 1818, 
the Baptist meeting' house was built. 

In 1815, the pastoral connexion between Mr. Nash and the par- 
ish was amicably and honorably dissolved, at his request, on account 
of ill health. 

In 1816, Mr. Samuel Clark, of Princeton, was invited to preach 
as a candidate. 

In 1818, Mr. Osgood, now of Sterling, preached a few Sabbaths 
in town. 

In 1820, Mr. Shedd, of Acton, received a call to settle, which 
he declined ; and in December, of the same y^ar, Mr. John Board- 
man received a call to settle, with a salary of $500. The vote? 
were 65 to 28 ; many present declined acting.* 

In January, 1821, Mr. Boardman gave his answer in the affirm- 
ative, stating his intention of exchanging with all the neighboring 
ministers, they had been regularly inducted into office ; and accord- 
ingly be was ordained, February 28. 

In 1819, a Baptist church was organized of about fifty members, 
who had been dismissed from the church in Hohlen. In 1821, 
they had constant preaching by Rev. Nicholas Branch. 

Thus far we have followed the history of the town, in the con- 
nected series of events ; we shall now attend to those particulars, 
not connected with its general history. 

Face of the Country, Soil, and Productions. — The face of the 
country is uneven, there being but very little champain land in 
town. The Nashua runs nearly through the whole town, from west 
to east, and the land rises en both sides, nearly as far as the boun- 
dary lines ; but there is no very important elevation, except Mai- 
den hill, which is situated in the southwest part. From its 
summit a very pleasant and extensive prospect is afforded to the 
eye, fully sufficient to compensate for the trouble of a ride to the 
top. On the river is found some of the best intervaf land in the 
county, and in a high state of cultivation. 

Nothing in the natural world can exceed the rich and luxuriant 

appearance of the great meadow in front of Beaman's tavern and the 

adjoining factory, and so extending down into the limits of Boylston. 

Tho meanderings of the river, the canal for the factory, 

and the artificial pond, raised above the surface of the waving 

* Several other gentlemen supplied the pulpit as candidates for a ehort 
time, whose names are not mentioned on record. 


fields of grass, English grain, and yellow corn, bounded by ris- 
ing woodlands, unite to show what the industry of man, and the 
bounty of the Creator can do, in beautifying and adorning what 
■was an unsightly and dismal swamp, when Ephraim and Ezra Bea- 
man commenced on this tract. 

The soil is good, and fertile, without an exception, easily 
cultivated, and productive ; well watered by streams and springs. 

There are no swamps or bogs in town, and in some parts, there 
is a deficiency of stone to inclose farms with suitable fences. Our 
farmers have good pastures for neat stock, and sheep ; and by cul- 
tivation, they have good hay, corn, rye, oats, potatoes, some wheat, 
and barley, and cider sufficient for their own use. The dairies in 
this town are not large, but excellent for butter. 

The manufacturing establishments, give encouragement to the 
agriculturalist, by affording a ready market, for all his surplus pro- 
duce. The farmer here, as in other portions of our county, needs 
only industry and economy to gather from his fields and employ- 
ment, the full harvests of wealth and happiness. 

Rivers. — Quinnepoxet river from Holden, and Stillwater from 
Sterling, enter this town on the north, and west sides, and unite 
their waters just below the Upper Factory, and form, what is call- 
ed Nashua, which continnes its course easterly, until it enters 
Boylston. Besides these, there are three or four brooks, in vari- 
ous parts of the town, which fertilize the land, and carry some 
light machinery during a part ol the year. 

Roads and Bridges. — There is no turnpike road intersecting this 
town ; but the county road, from Worcester to Lancaster, and Gro- 
ton, and also those to Princeton, Templeton, Sterling, Leominster, 
and Fitchburg, go through the town, from south to north. They 
are all post roads for the U. S. Mail, which passes every day in 
the week, except Sunday, opening a direct communication to Bos- 
ton, New York, Providence, and Vermont. 

The roads are generally in good repair, and easy for travelling, 
and connect with all the adjacent towns. 

There are four wooden bridges for public use, which cost about 
five hundred dollars each. These roads and bridges are kept in 
repair by a tax of about four hundred dollars per aimum. 

Education and Schools. — There are five districts in this town, 
with a brick school-house in each. They contain about 315 schol- 
ars, who are taught in the winter by masters, and in the sum- 
mer by females. The schools in this town, are under the inspec- 



tion of an active committee, and are kept about five months in eacli 
year at the public expense. The school tax for 1826, was fgur 
hundred dollars. In addition there are private schools kept every 
year, in nearly all the districts. 

Although this town has never been considered high in a literary 
view, yet a large proportion of its native citizens have received 
the honors of college. The list is as follows : 

Thomas Moore, 





in Virginia. 

Alexander Lovell, 





Hosf-a Hildr<;th, 





Gloucester, Me. 

Ephraim Hinds, 






Elisha Hinds, 



Jonathan Bigelow, 



David L. Childs, 






Nathaniel Y\ ood, 






Seneca White, 





Bath, Me. 

Sylvanus Morse, 


in Brown University. 

John Childs, 


We3t Point. 

Business and Trade. — There are in town five stores for retail- 
ing goods ; two houses of entertainment, one of them having been 
known nearly a century, as "Bearonn's," being now kept by the 
third generation of that name ; a Post Office; four blacksmith shops ; 
a trip hammer; scythe factory; and tan yard ; cabinet maker; wheel- 
wright; six shoemakers ; and a book binder ; two grist mills, one of 
them running three pair stones, three saw mills, clothing work, and 
carding machine. Baskets are manufactured to considerable ex- 
tent in this town from white oak timber. 

To these may he added, two practising physicians, two cler- 
gymen, and three magistrates. These last mentioned, are not 
crowded with professional business, as there is but little litiga- 
tion in town, and no Attorney at Law. The present justices of 
the peace, are Joseph Hinds, Barnabas Davis, and R. B. Thomas, 
Esqrs. ; the latter is the author of the Farmer's Almanac, which has 
been published thirty four years successively ; 36,000 copies have 
been issued in a year; and 1,800,000 sold since its first publication. 

Manufactories. — The water power in this town is quite exten- 
sive, but at present only partially improved, sufficient being left, to 
employ a large capital advantageously. 

The oldest and largest establishment, was commenced in 1804, 
near Maj. Beaman's, and is called the Lower Factory : its operation 
being solely with cotton. In 1809, this property came into the 
hands of Mr. Robert Parkinson of England, and in 1812, was pur- 
chased of him, by the present owners, now doing business under 
the firm of John Slater, &, Co. The establishment has been grad- 


ually enlarged until, at this time, they run 2000 spindles, and make 
about 7000 yards of cloth, per week, of No. 16, sheetings. 

The factory building is of wood, about 160 feet long, and three 
stories high. There are about 200 inhabitants in the village, and 
from 90 to 100 persons are employed by the company. 

There is a chemical bleaching establishment, grist, and saw mill, 
with a large farm, attached to the factory. The canal to conduct 
the water to, and from the factory, is nearly one mile and a half in 
length. Should the business continue profitable, this company will 
soon enlarge their works, at their present establishment. 

The next establishment, called the Upper Factory, is two miles 
above that first mentioned, and on the Stillwater river. 

It was incorporated in 1813, by the name of the West Boylston 
Cotton and Wire Manufactory, with a capital of $140,000, a small 
part of which was invested. 

Owing to want of experience, but little progress was ever made 
in the Wire business, and it was soon relinquished. The manufac- 
ture of cotton, is now the chief business of the company. 

They have two large buildings for machinery, one of brick, 
four stories high, 68 feet long, by 34 wide, containing 1000 Spin- 
dles, and 32 power looms. The other of wood, three stories high, 
40 by 26 feet, and occupied for building machinery, both cotton 
and woollen, under the superintendence of an experienced work- 
man. Here are employed about fifty workmen regularly : and 
about 5000 yards of cloth, shirting width, are made per week. 

The village consists of about a dozen families, and one hundred 
and twenty inhabitants, and the hum of the spindle, and noise of 
the shuttle, indicate a prosperous course of business. 

At this place there is a plentiful supply of water, as the waters 
of Quinnepoxet are conveyed by a canal, into the factory pond, and 
far more extensive operations will be carried on, ere long, at the 

Last of all, is the establishment on the Nashua, called Hathorn's 
Mills, where there are seated together a grist and saw mill, a 
trip hammer, a manufactory of cotton batting, and yarn, a clothier's 
9hop, and carding machine, owned by different individuals, and sit- 
uated intermediate of the other factories. The grist mill here has 
a great run of business. About two hundred dozen scythes are 
made annually, and many edge tools. The manufacture of cotton, 
is on a small scale, by an individual proprietor. 

These works are frequently deficient in the quantity of water 


to move them. A new establishment for manufacturing cotton is 
soon to be commenced. 

One thing is deserving of notice in relation to these facto- 
ries, and which, for the credit of the managing agents, ought to be 
known: it is, the attention paid to the morals, and instruction of the 
children, and youth. We feel safe in affirming from our own ob- 
servation, that it only requires firmness of principle, and patience 
in its exercise, to render a factory village as orderly, and decorous 
as any other. 

Miscellaneous. — In the south part of the town, there is a beauti- 
ful, and romantic spot, called Pleasant Valley. At some remote pe- 
riod, it was the location of a small pond; the area of the place is 
about an acre and a hall, of an elliptical form, and surrounded by a 
range of hills, covered with trees, which open at the southwest end 
and stretch along in parallel ranges, for one fourth of a mile. The 
path to the valley is between them. The bottom of the valley is 
a smooth, plane surface, covered with the richest verdure. The 
singular, silent, and wild features of the place, render it a pleasant 
retreat to the lovers of nature and retirement. 

The earthquake in 1755, produced a very singular phenomenon 
in this town. A piece of land about ten rods square, on the west 
bank of Quinnepoxet river, sunk about ten or twelve feet. This, 
at the time excited great curiosity, and was visited by hundreds, 
but the inundations of the river have nearly filled up the chasm. 

At the Upper Factor}' Village, there is a Mineral Spring, which 
was discovered in repairing the enbankment of the pond. It runs 
over a bed of pyrites under the pond. The water is strongly im- 
pregnated with iron, and slightly with sulphur; no gas is emitted. 

This town presents no peculiar attractions to the mineralogist. 
Some fine specimens of Schorl, bedded in quartz, have been 
found ; also, some uncommonly beautiful formations of Mica ; iron 
is occasionally met with, but in small masses. 

A few traces of the aborigines of the country have been discov- 
ered. In repairing the road below the lower factory, in 1825, a 
skeleton, brass kettle and spoon, were discovered ; the skeleton was 
supposed to be that of an Indian Squaw. A few stone chissels anei 
arrov/s have been found in our fields. 

The first settlers built a stockade fort, of square logs, for defence, 
on the land now owned by Mr. John Temple. This fort stood un- 
til within about forty years, the only intimations of any hostilities 
a<jainst it were a few bullets lodged in the timbers. 



There is a Social Library in town, of about two hundred select 
volumes, and owned in shares. Another Society own the Edinburgh 
Encyclopedia. There are also two associations for acquiring use- 
ful knowledge, and discussing questions. 

These are only the incipient operations of institutions, which 
must continue to exert a favorable influence upon the interests of 
literature and science. 

These institutions are supported by a class of people who have 
not before had the treasures of science opened to their minds, nor 
would they now, but for such combined exertions. 

Among other strange things, there is a singular fraternity 
of men, who have lived in five incorporated towns, and two 
parishes, and yet, have never resided off the farms where they 
were born. This is explained by the tract called the leg being so 
often transfered to other towns. 

There is not less thau one hundred feet of water fall in this 
town, and two or three good sites for manufacturing establishments. 
As this will eventually be a manufacturing town to a large extent, 
it is not improbable that the Blackstone or Massachusetts Canal will 
be extended to the place. 

Inhabitants. — The number of inhabitants at the last census, was 
987, but now they have increased to about 1100; there being 178 
families, with 260 rateable polls. The increase of population in 
this town is about 35 net gain, per annum. In 1821, there were 
210 polls, increase of 50 in five years. 

The Manufacturing interests, will undoubtedly give this town a 
great increase of population. 

There is a general equality among them, as none can boast of 
the distinctions, which great wealth, family, or honors, confer 
on the few who are the favorites of fortune. Industry and economy 
are prominent traits in the character of our citizens; Agriculture, 
or Manufactures, claim their chief attention. They live easily and 
comfortably, unless an evil spirit, residing in taverns, or grogshops, 
happens to draw them away from home, to the sorrow, and dis- 
tress of their families. 

List of Taxes.— For Schools, $400 per annum. — Highways, $400 : 
Support of the poor, $400 on an average. — Incidental expences, 
$200.— Support of the Gospel, $1000 per annum. Total of neces- 
sary taxes, $2400. 
Deaths.— 1798— 8: 1800—10: 1810—10: 1820—18: 1825—16. 
VL. n. 26 


Religious. — The people in this town, are of various denomina- 
tions, viz. Congregationalists, both Orthodox, and Unitarians, Bap- 
tists, Universalists, a lew Methodists, and one family of Quakers. 

The Congregationalists were the first, and are now, the most 
numerous sect in this town, there being about 160 rateable polls 
in the parish. They have a Meeting House built thirty years 
since, before the parish was set oif. It is situated near the 
centre of the town, and has a pleasant locution, with a beautiful 
level common, and good sheds in the rear. The church, and par- 
ish, were in a harmonious state, as long as Mr. Nash remained their 
pastor; since his dismission, they have been divided, and occasion- 
ally some controversies, have arisen between the parties, chiefly 
respecting their minister.* 

After Mr. Nash resigned the pastoral office, several gentlemen 
were invited to supply the pulpit, but none could be found who had 
the happiness to unite all parties. 

In 1820, the present pastor, Rev. John Boardman, A. M. of 
Dartmouth College, was settled. In this measure the Unitarians 
and Unive[salists, never concurred, and afterwards a very re- 
spectable minority seceded from the parish ; alledging ihat their 
feelings had not been sufficiently regarded, in a transaction of such 

When the town was incorporated, parochial powers were not 
included in the act, (although, until this time they had been exer- 
cised;) those who declined Mr. Boardman's ministry, refused to pay 
a tax for the support of the gospel, which they considered illegal. 
This induced lh<i friends of Mr. Boardman to petition the Legisla* 
ture to pas3 an act or resolution, empowering them to revive the 
old precinct formed in 1796, and re-organize it in such a manner 
as to enable them, as a parish, to support a Minister. Notwith- 
standing a remonstrance was presented against the petition, the le- 
gislature iu 1823, authorized the re-organization of the ancient pre- 
cinct. Since this, they have gone on their own way, rejoicing un- 
der the ministry of their own selection. They have a fund of about 
$2000 for the support of Mr. Boardman. The church when gather- 
ed consisted of 32 members ; since then 135 have been added to it ; 
and the total number now, is about 90. 

The Baptists, follow next in order, having first held their meet- 
ings in 1810, being then members of the church in Holden. In 1812, 

Rev. Mr. Na9h still resides in town, in ea9y circumstances. Mr. Nash 
removed from Williamsburg, Mass. and was graduated from Vale College, 
in 1791. 


they were organized as a society by law, and had preaching part of 
the time, by Elders Goddard, and Marshall. In 1815, the members 
of Holden church, residing in this town were set off, as a branch, and 
in 1819, were recognized as a distinct church, which consisted of a- 
bout 50 members. The preceding year, they had erected a meeting 
house, 44 by 30 It. on apiece of land given them by Robert B.Thom- 
as, Esq. This house is now finished, and stands about two miles 
north of the centre of the town at the Upper Factory, and is exclu- 
sively, the property of the church, who rent the pews annually, to- 
wards the support of their pastor. 

The peace and harmony of this church and society, have never 
been disturbed since its organization. The increase has been grad- 
ual, and there are now, 80 rateable polls, belonging to the society, 
residing in this town, and the adjacent parts of Sterling and Holden. 
Various preachers were employed for a short time, until the church 
was organized. Since then, the Rev. Nicholas Branch, preached 
about three years ; but was never pastor. After he removed, the 
church in 1823, chose Rev. Ailing Hough, A. M. of Brown Univer- 
sity, their pastor ; he accepted the call, and continued in office about 
eighteen months ; when he was called away by death, from his la- 
bors on earth. " He lived respected, and beloved by his people," 
and died at the age of 32. 

In December 1824, the church invited their present pastor, 
Charles C. P. Crosby, to preach as a candidate, and March follow- 
ing, the church and society, gave him a unanimous call to settle, 
with a salary of $270 per ann. and four Sabbaths for his own bene- 
fit. The call being accepted, he was ordained, April 13, 1825. 

On the settlement of Mr. Crosby, the society immediately began 
to build a parsonage, for the convenience of their minister, to cost 
them when finished, about $1500. Since the innstitution of the 
church 70 have been baptised, 34 received by letter, and the church 
now contains 134 members. 

There is no Unitarian or Universalist Society in town ; but there 
have been persons of those persuasions for many years. They did 
not dissent from the old parish, until 1823, when a legal tax for 
the support of Mr. Boardman was about to be laid on them ; about 
thirty joined the Restoration Society, in Shrewsbury, and about fif- 
teen joined Dr. Bancroft's Society in Worcester, and Mr. Osgood's 
in Sterling. The Restoration people have preaching about once in 
two months, in the centre school house. 



The following- notice of the beautiful little spot mentioned in the preeed- 
ing memoir, with the accompanying lines, is copied from the American (Bos- 
ton) Traveller of July 14. 

On leaving 1 the road you enter a grove of oaks and maples, be- 
tween two declivities, and continuing down this avenue that winds 
along through the shrub oaks, at once opens to the view a plain of 
three or four acres of an oval form, surrounded on every side, ex- 
cepting only the narrow pass by which you enter, by high and al- 
most perpendicular hanks, whose sides are covered by the birch 
and the shrub oak and whose tops are surmounted by trees of the 
largest size. The plain is more level and smooth than art could 
make it, no remains of ancient trees, no stone, not even astray 
branch of the neighboring grove mar the scene. A fine short 
grass covers the whole area and presents to the eye an enchanting 
fairy green. — The stillness of death reigns, undisturbed by the noise 
of the world. It is a place for contemplation, where man can turn 
bis thoughts home to his own breast and meditate on the follies of 
the world, or where he can upturn them to Him, the supreme ar- 
chitect of nature. 

Sweet vale of West Boylston ! how calm a retreat, 

From the sorrows and cares of this cold world of woe ; 

With thy thick covered banks, where the wild flowers meet, 

And thy serpentine paths where the evergreens grow. 

Oh here, the war trumpet shall never be heard, 

Here, the banners of foemen shall ne'er be unfurl'd ; 

At the tramp of the war horse thy paths shall be barred, 
And Peace with her wand bid him back to the world. 

Thy carpet so green, 'neath the blue sky outspread, 
Shall never be soiled by the foot of dishonor — 

Here, the children of nature by truth shall be led, 
And fear not th' intrusion of care or of sorrow. 

Be this the retreat of the votaries of Love, 

For the friends of the heart — be it Piety's fane 

Where their vows and their prayers shall ascend — and above 
Shall be heard, and Heaven grant they be heard not in vain. 

Oh here, have 1 roved with the friend of my heart, 

When the last rays of sunshine were gilding the spot — 

And the thoughts of that hour, they shall never depart, 
And the friends that were there shall ne'er be forgot. 



Continued from Vol. I. page 197. 
The County having been incorporated, the officers were initi- 
ated at the Court of General Sessions of the Peace, and Inferior 
Court of Common Pleas, as it was then styled, first held at Worces- 
ter, August 10, 1731, when a Sermon was preached before them, 
by Rev. John Prentice, of Lancaster, from II. Chronicles, xix. 6th 
and 7th verses. "And said to the Judges, take heed what you do : 
For ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in 
judgment. Wherefore, now let the fear of the Lord be upon you, 
take heed and do it : For there is no iniquity with the Lord our 
God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts." — This sermon 
was printed.* 


Judges of the Court of Common Pleas. 
From to 

1731 Hon. John Chandler, of Woodstock, died 1743 

1731 Joseph Wilder, of Lancaster, died 1757 

1731 William Ward, of Southborough, 1715 

1731 William Jennison, of Worcester, died 1743 

1743 Joseph Dwight, of Brookfield, 1750 

1743 Samuel Willard, of Lancaster, 1753 

1745 Nahum Ward, of Shrewsbury, 17G2 

1750 Edward Hartwell, of Lunenburg, 1762 

1753 Jonas Rice, of Worcester, 1753 

1754 John Chandler, of Worcester, 1762 

1756 Thomas Steel, of Leicester, 1775 

1757 Timothy Ruggles, of Hardwick, 1775 
1762 Joseph Wilder, of Lancaster, died 1773 
1762 Artemas Ward, of Shrewsbury, resigned 1798 

1775 Jedediah Foster, of Brookfield, 1776 
Moses Gill, of Princeton, 1794 
Samuel Baker, of Berlin, . died 1795 

1776 Joseph Dorr, of Ward, resigned 1801 

1794 Michael Gill, Esq. of Princeton, resigned 1798 

1795 *Elijah Brigham, of Westborough, died 1816 
1799 John Sprague, of Lancaster, died 1800 
1799 *Dwight Foster, of Brookfield, died 1823 

Those in Italics held the office of Chief Justice. 

* On the authority of Whitney, 14. The pamphlet we have not been 
able to find, upon inquiry. 


1801 *Benjainin Hey wood, ofWorcester, died 1817 
1811 Hon. Edward Bangs, of Worcester, ap- 
pointed a Justice of the Circuit Court 
of Common Pleas, died 1818 

1818 Hon. Solo. Strong, of Leominster, was 
selected to fill the vacancy occasion- 
» ed by the death of Judge Bangs, and 

was, 1821, re-appointed under the 
present organization of that Court, 
by Stat. 1820, ch. 79. 
Hon. Michael Gill, of Westminster, and Hon. Judge Strong, are 
the only survivers of this list. 

Biographical notices of all the other Judges will be found in 
the histories of their respective towns. 

Clerics of the Judicial Courts of the Common Pleas. 
1731 Hon. John Chandler, Jr. 1754 

1751 Hon. Timothy Paine, 1774 

1775 Hon. Levi Lincoln, 1776 

1776 Hon. Joseph Allen, 1810 

1810 Hon. William Stedman, 1811 

1811 Estes Howe, Esq. 1812 

1812 Hon. William Stedman, 1816 

1816 Hon. Francis Blake, 1817 

1817 Hon. Abijah Bigelow, 

The same gentlemen were Clerks of the Court of Sessions, ex- 
cepting Samuel Flagg, Jr. who was appointed in 1808, and held the 
office one year, when Enoch Flagg was appointed, who officiated for 
one term only, when the powe v rs of the Court were transferred to 
the Common Pleas. The Clerks of the Supreme Judicjal Court 
resided in Boston, until 1797, when it was provided that the Clerks 
of that Court should be the same with those of the Common Pleas, 
excepting in some of the small counties. 

• Sheriff's of the Comity. 

1731 Daniel Gookin, of Worcester, died 1743 

1743 Benjamin Flagg, of Worcester, died 1751 

1751 John Chandler, jr. of Worcester, 1762 

1762 Gardner Chandler, of Worcester, 1775 

1775 Simeon Dwight, of Western, died 1778 

* These filled the Bench until the Court was superceded by the new or- 
_. janization of the Circuit Courts of Common Pleas, by Stat. 1811, ch. 33. 


1778 William Greenleaf,* of Lancaster, 1783 

1788 John Sprague, of Lancaster, 1792 

1792 Dwight Foster, of Brookfield, 1793 

1793 William Caldwell, of Rutland, , 1805 
1805 Thomas W. Ward, of Shrewsbury, 1811 

1811 Moses White, Esq. of Rutland, 1812 

1812 Thomas W. Ward, Esq. of Shrewsbury, 1824 
1824 Calvin Willard, Esq. of Fitchburg. 

Judges of Probate. 

1731 Hon. John Chandler, of Woodstock, died 1743 

1739 Hon. Joseph Wilder, of Lancaster, 1757 

1757 Hon. John Chandler, of Worcester, 1762 

1762 Hon. John Chandler, of Worcester, 1774 

1775 Hon. Jedediah Foster, of Brookfield, 1776 

1776 Hon. Artemas Ward, of Shrewsbury, 1776 

1776 Hon. Levi Lincoln, of Worcester, 1782 
1782 Hon. Joseph Dorr, of Ward, resigned 1800 
1801 Hon. Nathaniel Paine, of Worcester. 

Registers of Probate. 

1731 John Chandler, Jr. 1757 

1757 Timothy Paine, 1766 

1766 Clark Chandler, 1774 

1775 Joseph Wheeler, Esq. 1793 

1793 Theophilus Wheeler, Esq. 

At the first Probate Court, held on July 12, A. D. 1731, 
it was ordered, that Courts of Probate be held at Worcester, in 
the month of September, annually, at the times the Superior Court 
is held, also the first Tuesdays in November and February, and 
the weeks following the second Tuesdays of May and August, and 
the weeks following, at\d at such other times as occasion may re- 
quire, either at Worcester or Woodstock, in said County. 

Registers of Deeds. 

1731 ; John Chandler, Jr. E9q. 1762 

1762 Timothy Paine, Esq. 1777 

1777 Nathan Baldwin, Esq. 1784 
1784 Daniel Clapp, Esq. 1816 
1816 Oliver Fiske, Esq. 1821 
1821 Artemas Ward, Esq. 

* Removed by impeachment of the H. of R. before the Senate for mal- 
feasance in his office ; and wa3 the first officer of this Government held ame- 
nable to that august tribuual. 


County Treasurers. 

1731 Jona. Houghton, of Lancaster, 1733 

1733 Benjamin Flagg, Jr. of Worcester, 1745 

1745 Daniel Hevwood, 1754 

1754 . Gardner Chandler, 1762 

1762 John Chandler, 1775 

1777 Nathan Perry, 1790 

1790 Samuel Allen, 

Justices of die Court of Sessions. 
1307. Sept. Pliny Merrick, 181 1. Sept. Jonathan Davis, 
Moses White, Joseph Adams, 

Abraham Lincoln, Edmund dishing, 

John Spurr, John Spurr, to 1012. 

Jonathan Davis.' Timothy Whiting. 

These Justices continued in office 1812. Isaiah Thomas. 
until April 20, 1809, when the pow- 1814. Oliver Crosby, 
ers of the Court were transferred to 
Common Pleas. 

Court of Common Pleas with two Justices, to wit ; 
1814. Aug. Benjamin Kimball, 

Oliver Crosby, to 1818 
1819. Aaron Tufts. 
1819. Sept. The Court was organized in its present form, and 
the following Justices appointed. 

Hon. Seth Hastings, 
Benjamin Kimball, 
Hon. Aaron Tufts. 

The following persons have been elected Senators for this Coun^ 
ty, since the adoption of the Constitution. 

1780 Moses Gill of Princeton, 1787 
» « Samuel Baker, of Berlin, 1787 

" Joseph Dorr, of Ward, 1783 

« Israel Nichols, of Leominster, 1787 

» Seth Washburn, of Leicester, 1781 

1781 Jonathan Warner, of Hardwick, 1785 

1784 Seth Washburn, again 1788 

1785 John Sprague, of Lancaster, 1786 

1786 Abel Wilder, of Winchendon, died 1792 

1787 Amos Singletary, of Sutton, 1791 
" John Fessenden, of Rutland, 1791 
" Joseph Stone, of Harvard, 1788 


1788 Hon. Samuel Baker, again, 1788 
u Jonathan Grout, of Petersham, 1789 

1789 Moses Gill, again, 1794 
"■ Peter Penniman, of Mendon, 1790 

1790 Samuel Baker, again, 1795 

1791 Jonathan Warner, again, 1797 
" Timothy Newell, of Sturbridge, 1794 

1792 Josiah Stearns, of Lunenburg, 1802 

1794 Daniel Bigelow, of Petersham, 1798 
" Salem Town, of Charlton, 1810 

1795 Benjamin Read, of Mendon, 1796 

1796 Elijah Brigham, of Westborough, 1797 

1797 Levi Lincoln, of Worcester, 1798 
" Bezaleel Taft, of Uxbridge, 1803 

1798 Elijah Brigham, again, 1811 
\ Thomas Hale, of Brookfield, 1810 

1802 Daniel Bigelow, again, died 1807 

1807 Jonas Kendall, of Leom-inster, 1812 

1808 *Pliny Merrick, of Brookfield, 1808 

1810 Seth Hastings, of Mendon, 1812 
" Francis Blake, of Worcester, 1812 

1811 Silas Holman, of Bolton, 1817 

1812 Solomon Strong, of Westminster, 1814 
" John Spurr, of Charlton, 1813 
" Levi Lincoln, Jr. of Worcester, 1813 

1813 Bezaleel Taft, of Uxbridge, 1814 
Francis Blake, again, 1815 

1814 Benjamin Adams, of Uxbridge, 1816 
« Moses Smith, of Leicester, 1816 

1815 Oliver Crosby, of Brookfield, died 1818 

1816 jJonas Sibley, of Sutton, 1816 

1816 Daniel Waldo, of Worcester, 1819 
" Thomas II. Blood, of Sterling, 1818 

1817 James Humphreys, of Athol, 1819 

1818 Stephen P. Gardner, of Bolton, 1821 

1819 Aaron Tufts, of Dudley, 1825 
" Samuel Eastman, of Hardwick, 1821 

* Appointed to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Hon. Mr. 

t Appointed to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Hon. Mr. 

VOL. It. 27 


1819 Hon. Lewis Bigelow, of Petersham, 1821 

1821 Salem Towne, Jr. of Charlton, 1823 
" John Shepley, of Fitchburg,. 1822 
" Nathaniel Jones, of Barre, 1824 

1822 Stephen P. Gardner, again, 1825 

1823 Benjamin Adams, again, 1825 
" Nathaniel P. Denny, of Leicester, 1825 

1824 Joseph G. Kendall, of Leominster, 

1825 William Crawford, Jr. of Oakham, 
u Bezaleel Taft, Jr. of Uxbiidgc, 

" • William Eaton, of Worcester, 1826 

" Nathaniel Houghton, of Barre, 

1826 Jonas Sibley, of Sutton. 

One Member of the Executive Council has been taken from 
this County every year since the organization of the present form 
of Government. 

1780 Hon. Moses Gill, of Princeton, 1787 

1787. Peter Penniman, Mendon, 1733 

1788 ArtemaB Ward, Shrewsbury, 1789 

1789 Moses Gill, again, 1794 

1794 Samuel Baker, Berlin, 1795 

1795 Jonathan Warner, Hard wick, ' 1797 
1797 J osiah Stearns, Lunenburg, 1799 
1799 Elijah Brigham, Westborough, 11301 

1801 Daniel Bigelow, Petersham, 1802 

1802 Salem Towne, Charlton, 1005 
1805 Bezaleel Taft, Uxbridge, 1807 

1807 Timothy Newell, Sturbridge, 1808 

1808 Oliver Fiske, Worcester, 1810 
1810 Levi Lincoln, Worcester, 1812 
1812 Oliver Fiske, again, 1815 
H315 Joseph Allen, Worcester, 1818 

1818 D wight Foster, Brooktield, 1819 

1819 Silas Holman, Bolton, 1822 

1822 Jonas Kendall, Leominster, 1823 

1823 Abraham Lincoln, Worcester,. 1825 
1825 Edmund dishing, Lunenburg. 



Members elected to the Congress of the United States. 
1731 Hoo. Levi Linco!n,chosen under the Confederation. 

1789 1st Congress- Hon. Jonathan Grout, of Petersham, 
1791 2d Hon. Artetnas Ward, of Shrewsbury, 
1793 Hon. Dwight Foster, of Brookfield, to 1801, 

1801 7th Hon. Levi Lincoln,* of Worcester, 

Hon. Seth Hastings, of Mendon, 
1803 8th Hon. Seth Hastings, of Mendon, 

Hon. William Stedman, of Lancaster, 
1805 9th Hon. Seth Hastings, Hon. Wm. Stedman, 
1807 10th Hon. Jabez Upham, of Brookfield, 

Hon. William Stedman, of Lancaster, 
1809 11th HoiiPtJabez Uphamt and Hon. Wm. Stedman,}: 

Hon. Joseph Allen, of Worcester. 

Hon. Abijah Bigelow, of Leominster, 
1311 12th Hon. Elijah Brigham, of Westborough, 

lion. Abijah Bigelow, of Leominster, 
1813 13th Hon. Elijah Brigham, Hon. Abijah Bigelow, 
1315 14th Hon. Elijah Brigham, of Westborough, 

Hon. Solomon Strong, of Leominster, 

Hon. Benjamin Adams§ of Uxbridge, 
1817 15th Hon. Solomon Strong and Hon. Benj. Adams, 

Hon. Jonas Kendall|| of Leominster, 
1819 16th Hon. Jonas Kendall, Hon. Benjamin Adams, 
1821 17th Hon. Jonathan Russell, of Mendon, 

Hon. Lewis Bigelow, of Petersham, 
1823 18th Hon. Jonas Sibley, of Sutton, 

Hon. John Locke, of Ashby,TT 
1825 ,19th Hon. John Davis, of Worcester, Hon. John Locke. 

*Hon. Judge Lincoln took his seat as member of Congress, March 4, 
1801, and the next day was appointed by the President Attorney General of 
the United States. Hon. Mr. Hastings was elected to supply the vacancy. 

t Hon. Mr. U. resigned, Sepfc, 18, and Hon. Mr. Allen filled his seat. 

X Appointed Clerk of the Courts, Sept. 1010, and Hon. Mr. Bigelow was 
elected to Congress in his place. 

i Hon. Mr. Brigham died at Washington, Feb. 22, 1816, (see page J72,) 
and Hon. Mr. A. was elected to supply the office. 

|| Hon. Mr. Strong was appointed to fill the vacancy in the C. C. Pleas 
occasioned by the death of Judge Bangs, and Hon. Mr. K. was elected in his 

HThe districts for the choice of Representatives to Congress, are new ar- 
ranged every ten years. Since the year 180'2, this County has been divided 
into two districts, with the addition of a few towns from the County of Mid- 
dlesex. See Vol. 1. page 110. Previous to 1802, the modes of forming 
these districts were various. 


MEMORANDA. Public Buildings. 

1732. Feb. 1, The first prison ordered to be built 41 feet by 
18, and 8 feet stud. The gaol part to be 18 feet square, of white 
oak, studded with timber of 5 inches by 4, and placed within five 
inches of each other, the joists to be of the same bigness, and plac- 
ed at the same distance, and that it be covered with plank, spiked 
within and without. A dungeon beneath was likewise directed. 

1732. Nov. The Court House ordered to be built 36 by 26 t'eet^ 
with 13 feet posts. To pay for these public buildings, and other 
charges incident to the County, a tax was ordered upon the several 
towns as follows : 



*. rf. 

16 8 

1 8 
24 10 
22 15 4 
18 2 

Shrewsb' y, 

Ux (nidge, 


s. d. 




l'J 4 

U 8 



£311 Is. Ad. 



g. o 


OS . o 























.a ti 

2. p- 

32 12 


3-. D^ 


2 4 3 53 
legiment of Cavalry, 
Battalion of Artillery, 
Band and Officers, 

a" S. 






Fitch burg 
Temple ton 

I G I 

6 J 

I 7 I 

7 I 

32 j 12 

I 1 I 1 | 14 
2 I 1 j | 12 

1 | 1 | 1 | 13 

| 1 j 1 | 12 

1 j 1 | 11 

" I ~ I - I ~ 
4 j 5 | 3 J 62 

Regiment of Cavalry, 

Battalion of Artillery, 

Band and Officers, 








Total Military Strength of 6th Division, 7..803 


Formerly the West Parish in Lancaster. 

This Church was organized Dec. 19, 1744, at the time of the 
ordination of the Rev. John Mellen, their first pastor. The fol- 
lowing Covenant was drawn up, and subscribed or assented to by 
eighteen of the brethren, who at that time were members of the 
old Church in Lancaster. 

" We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, being inhabitants of 
the west precinct in Lancaster, in New England, knowing we 
are very prone to offend and provoke the most High God, both in 
heart and life, through the prevalence of sin that dwelleth in us, 
and manifold temptations from without us, for which we desire to 
be humble before Him from day to day ; do, in the name of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, with dependence upon the gracious assistance of 
his spirit, solemnly enter into covenant with God, and one another 
according to God, as follows :" 

" 1. That having taken and chose the Lord Jehovah to be our 
God, we will fear him, cleave to him, and love and serve him in 
truth, with all our hearts, giving up ourselves unto him to be his 
people in all things, to be at bis sovereigu disposal ami direction; 
that we may have and hold communion with him as members of 
Christ's mystical body, according to his revealed will, unto our 
lives end." 

"2. We also bind ourselves to bring up our children and servants 
in the knowledge and fear of God, by holy instructions, according to 
our best ability ; and in special by the use of orthodox catechisms, 
endeavoring that the true religion may be maintained in our fami- 
lies while we live ; yea, and among such as shall live when we are 
dead and gone." 

"3. We also bind ourselves to keep close to the truth of Christ, 
endeavoring with holy affection towards it in our hearts, to defend 
it against all opposers thereof, as God shall call us at any time 
thereunto, which if we may do, we resolve to use the holy Scrip- 
tures as our platform, whereby to discern the mind of Christ, and 
not the new found inventions of men." 

" 4. We also engage ourselves to have a careful inspection over 
our own hearts, viz. so as to endeavor by the virtue of the death of 
Christ, the mortification of all our worldly frames and sinful dispo- 
sitions, our corrupt passions and disorderly affections, whereby we 
may be withdrawn from the living - God." 


" 5. We also oblige ourselves in the faithful improvement of our 
ability and opportunity to worship God, according to all the partic- 
ular instructions of Christ, for his church, under gospel administra- 
tions, as to give reverend attentions to the word of God, to pray un- 
to him, to sing his praises, and hold communion with each other in 
the use of both the seals of the new covenant, baptism and the sup- 
per of the Lord." 

" 6. We likewise promise that we will peaceably submit to the 
holy discipline appointed by Christ, in his church, for offenders, 
(obeying according to the will of God,) them that have the rule 
over us in the Lord." 

" 7. We also bind ourselves to live in love, one with another, en- 
deavoring our mutual edification, visiting, exhorting, comforting, as 
occasion serveth, and warning any brother or sister that walks dis- 
orderly, not divulging private offences irregularly, but heedfully 
following the several precepts laid down by Christ for church deal- 
ing, Math, xviii. 15, 16, 17, willingly forgiving any that manifest 
unto a judgment of charity, that they truly repent of their mis- 

"Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead our 
Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the Sheep, through the 
blood of the everlasting covenant, make us perfect, in every 
good work, to do his will, working in us that which is well pleasing 
in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and 
ever — Amen." 

This covenant was subscribed by the pastor, who had been cal- 
led to his office by ihe Parish alone, without the intervention of the 
Church. In the subsequent controversy with the Pastor, this circum- 
stance was supposed to vest greater privileges than ordinary in the 
lay Corporation. The Church was organized Dec. 19, 1744, and 
the Pastor ordained on the same day, by a Council of neighboring 
Churches, and no objection was made to this method of calling the 

Dec. 21. Voted, that Members be admitted with consent of 
the Brethren, upon giving saii^faction to the Pasior, and publicly 
owning the covenant, without a written profession or relation. 

1745. May 5. The Lord's Supper was administered for the 
first time. Jonathan Osgood was chosen deacon. 

Forty five members were admitted before July 7, 1745. 


The affairs of the Church ami the Parish advanced prosperously 
for ahout twenty years.* 

A few years previous to the commencement of the Revolutiona- 
ry war, the people of most of the towns in this vicinity were in- 
volved in a most violent and malignant controversy with their 
ministers. This discussion, connected with many local cir- 
cumstances, was various in its nature in the respective towns, 
and as it was often accompanied hy the most envenomed at- 
tacks upon private character, and served often to divide fami- 
lies and neighborhoods, most of its details have wisely been suffer- 
ed to pass into oblivion. So careful were the past generation to 
veil it from posterity, and to bury it in the graves of the actors, 
that not only did they neglect to publish its history, but even the 
public records concerning it, in most of the towns have been either 
destroyed or secreted. In fact, in some instances, the pages that re- 
corded these transactions have been so mutilated as to throw but 
a glimmering light upon the subject. As to most of those details, 
judging from scanty traditions, this is no subject of regret. But we 
believe, that this controversy, apart from its personalities, marks a 
distinct era in the progress of religious freedom,' and was followed 
by consequences, that have greatly advanced the happiness of the 
succeeding generations. Our fathers iled to this land for the rights 
of conscience, and as the freedom of our civil institutions has ever 
followed in the train of religious liberty, the ecclesiastical his- 
tory of Massachusetts will be found the most instructive part of our 
annals. This part of our history has never been fully delineated 
by any one ; it was commenced by a writer, learned, enlightened, 
and impartial, but death suspended his career, in the midst of his 
unfinished labors.! After the first generation had passed away, all 
the great arid distinguished divines from 1C.G0 to 1730, present to 
us a lamentable account of the awful declension of religion, and 
the woeful apostacy of the New England Churches.^ Soon after 
the latter period, a revival or awakening commenced in most of the 

* la 1757, there were 87 male members, who had been admitted, 8 had 
died, 13 dismissed, and 76 remained, together with 64 females. In 1764 
there were 109 males, and 112 females. As there were then but 151 families 
in the place, there were probably but few of them entirely excluded from the 
privileges of the communion. 

tThe late lamented John Eliot, D. D. of Eoston. See 1 Hist. Col. vii. 
262, and passim. 

$ See the Election Sermons of that period. The writings of the Mather 
and Prince's Christian History. 


Churches, which was hailed by many of the Clergy, as a special in- 
terposition in behalf of a benighted land. Various means were 
adopted to keep alive the new light that was shed upon this part of 
the Christian world. Many of the Boston clergy engaged most ear- 
nestly in this interesting work ; among others, the faithful annalist, 
the Rev. Mr. Prince, of the old South Church, in Boston, who ha9 
left upon record many important documents respecting these events.* 
The learned Doctors Sewall, Colman, W. Cooper, and others, lent 
their aid. The excitement was greatly increased by the arrival of 
the famous Whitfield, Tennant, and others, from England, distin- 
guished in their day as burning and shining lights. As might be 
expected, the work met with a vigorous opposition from others. 
At the head of this class were Drs. Chauncey, S. Mather, Byles, 
Messrs. Welsted, Gray, Hooper, and others. 

The question whether this work was induced by the supernatu- 
ral agency of the Holy Spirit of God, or whether it was the effect 
of enthusiasm, was deeply agitated by the learned Theologians of 
the day. Parties were thus introduced into the New England 
Churches, which, assuming various forms, have ever since continu- 
ed to agitate the community. How far the inhabitants of this Coun- 
ty engaged in the woik,does not fully appear. Doctor Hall, of Sut- 
ton, and Mr. Seecomb, of Harvard, two distinguished Clergymen of 
their time, have furnished very animated accounts of the progress 
of the revivals in those places, but they have added but little re- 
lating to the neighboring Churches. The Clergy from all parts of 
New England were earnestly called upon to give their attestation^ 
that the work was something more than could be produced by ordi- 
nary means. They assembled at Boston the day following the Com- 
mencement, in 1743. The names of but six or seven of the min- 
isters of this County appear, and three of those subscribe with some 
limitations. Tradition informs us, that from the scattered situation 
of the settlers of these new plantations, it was apprehended that 
the Churches would be broken up, and the towns divided, by af- 
fording too much encouragement to itinerant preachers of various 
denominations. These fears were unhappily realised in many pla- 
ces. \Vhile some hailed these events as the prelude to the uni- 
versal triumph of the Church over all opposition ; others of a "less 
ardent temperament predicted that after the unnatural excitement 

* See Christian History for 1743 and 1744, a periodical work, printed 
■weekly for this special purpose. The numbers were afterwards collected in 
two octavo volumes. 


bad passed away, it would be succeeded by a period of indifference 
and coldness in tbe great concerns of religion. Before the middle 
of that century, we find many Pastors deeply lamenting the with- 
drawing of the good influences, and complaining that many relapses 
had taken place. 

In a few years, the great controversy that has so long shaken 
the Church, between the Arminians and Calvinists, succeeded. The 
laity had been exclusively educated in the Schools of the Genevan 
reformer, but many of the Clergy, having been led to examine more 
deeply into this metaphysical disputation, embraced the opposite 
doctrines with the Professor of Leyden. 

Most of the Churches in this vicinity, were at that time suppli- 
ed by Clergymen, distinguished among their brethren, for strength 
of intellect, depth of research, and energy of character. Such were 
Mr. Harrington of Lancaster, Mr. Adams of Lunenburg, Mr. Rogers 
of Leominster, Mr. Goss of Bolton, Mr. Fuller of Princeton, Mr. 
Morse of Boylston, and particularly Mr. Mellen of Sterling, who, in 
his time, probably stood at the head of the Clergy of the county. 
The two first of these fathers, by uniting the wisdom of the ser- 
pent with the innocence of the dove, had so permanently won the 
affections of their people, that they alone were enabled to maintain 
their offices. The other five were compelled to sacrifice their 
livings to the spirit of the times. 

We learn from tradition that these ministers in a greater or less 
degree had sensibly departed from the standard of faith, that had 
been generally received in the New England Churches, and had 
extended their speculations in such manner, as to give great of- 
fence to some, who had not pursued the same course of reasoning. 
Many of theii hearers at first became alarmed at these deviations 
from the principles of their fathers. As early as 1757, troubles be- 
gan at Leominster with Rev. John Rogers, a man of learning and 
of great intrepidity of character, qualified by many circumstances, 
as well as by his name, to be the first suffering confessor. He 
was charged with preaching doctrines not contained in the 
Westminster confession of faith, doctrines that were subversive 
of the ancient faith professed by that Church, and which ma- 
ny of his hearers could not adopt. In a council of fifteen 
churches, including, it is said, most of his associates above nam- 
ed, he was arraigned and condemned. Three months were allow- 
ed him to retract his errors, which, refusing to do, he was deposed 
from his office. This dismission introduced a spirit of inquiry that 
vol. ir. 28 


led to interesting consequences. The brethren of Mr. R. were 
strictly watched, and every unguarded expression in their sermons 
was carefully noted against them. Mr. Mellen delivered an elo- 
quent series of discourses in the year 1756, addressed to Parents, 
children, and youth, which contained sentiments highly obnoyjous 
to many of his brethren in the ministry. Thrse were published, 
and were extremely well received by his people. After ihe con- 
demnation of Mr. Rogers, these sentiments were never ui ged in pub- 
lic but with much caution and a greater regard to the spirit of the 
age. In the unguarded hours of social conversation, Mr. M. was 
less reserved, and it was well understood by his parish th;«t he reject- 
ed many of the articles of popular faith. Nor were his people 
disaffected with him on this account, but rather for publicly co- 
operating in the censure of those doctrines, which it was supposed he 
embraced as the truth of the Gospel.* It was now understood by some 

* These facts are well authenticated by indisputable tradition, as well as 
from the occasional publications of the day. The few survivors of those mem- 
orable years, have related to us many interesting anecdotes illustrative of the 
temper of the times, as well as of the characters of the principal actors. We 
forbear a narration of them, lest it should awaken animosities that ought long 
since to be buried in oblivion. 

Our principal informant of the transactions of this olden time, was the 
Widow Elizah th Kendall, recently deceased, a venerable matron of in- 
telligence, of virtue, and of exalted piety. She died April 30, 1825, at the 
advanced age of 1!6 years. Our respect for the memory ol this interesting wo- 
man, would not permit us to close the history of this town, without a brief 
notice of one, in whose sympathies, in sorrow and in joy, we have so often par- 

She was born in Lexington, in the year 17-10, of a respectable family, by 
the name of Mason. Being eminently qualified as an instructress of youth, 
she came to this place in early life to teach a school. Here she remained. 
the residue of her days, having been united in marriage at the age of twenty 
five to Maj. James Kendall, a respectable citizen of Sterling, whom she sur- 
vived sixteen years. 

Possessing by nature a vigorous mind, highly improved by extensive 
reading, and an accurate knowledge of character, her judgment was correct 
and her perceptions were rapid and discriminating. Her imagination was 
lively, but it was held in control by prudence and reason. She was a com- 
municant of the Church of Christ for nearly 70 years, and the principles of 
Christianity directed her actions and regulated her powerful sensibilities. 
Amid the trials of varying life, she bore prosperity with moderation, and ad- 
versity without repining. She was cheerful without levity, pious without 
bigotry, and grave without repulsive austerity. Her conversation was pe- 
culiarly interesting and instructive to the young, and even the aged bowed 
to her with reverential deference and respect. She was a safe counsellor, a 
prudent guide, and a valued friend. Exemplary in all her moral ami social 
relations, her n-ighbors venerate her memory and her childun call her bles- 
sed. In her last illness she was patient and resigned to the will of her Crea- 
tor. Supported by that faith, she had so loug professed, in the full exercise 
of her mental powers, her exit was tranquil and full of hope. Her posterity are 
not numerous. She left two sons, one is a physician at Sterling, und the oth- 
er is the. eminent theologian who presides over the. ancient Church at Ply- 
mouth. Of her two daughters, the eldest married Capt. John Porter of St cl- 
ing, and the other, Rev. Mr. Mason of Nortbfield, who diedm early life. 


of the most intelligent of the parish, that their minister was verging 
toward* doctrines that he had publicly disclaimed. In the year 17G5, 
he published a volume of Sermons upon the doctrines of Christiani- 
ty. They contain a learned system of scholastic theology, main- 
taining a middle course between the two opposite schemes of Calvin 
and Arminius. Upon some of the controverted points it is not easy 
to ascertain, which side his speculations favor the most. The vol- 
ume is highly creditable to his memory as a scholar and a theolo- 
gian, and when published was considered an acquisition to the lite- 
rature of the country. Wheu his people produced their allega- 
tions ;<gain*t him in 1773, they urged but few instances of false 
doctrine, and of them he fully exculpated himself before a Council, 
The principal charge of this character was, that he had said that 
" God was the author of Sin." The sermon was produced, where 
it was said to be contained. He stated that he never held the doc- 
trine in its gross sense, but only that sin was by permission, as in, 
the instance of hardening Pharoah's heart, and for the truth of this 
he appealed to the whole tenor of his preaching. On the whole, 
the council declare, that they have all the evidence they can desire 
that he never believed the doctrine, but that he holds the senti- 
ment in as much detestation as his opposers. He had been previ- 
ously exonerated by his church from this charge. 

In 1770 complaints were made against the pastor, concerning 
some innovations in the mode of singing, which were highly offen- 
sive to a majority of the brethren. The church passed some sin- 
gular votes upon the subject. 

Before this period, the mode of performing this part of public 
worship, was offensive to people of refined taste. The New En- 
gland version of Psalms and Hymns was the only sacred poetry 
that was allowed admittance into most of our Churches. These 
were read, line by line, by one of the Deacons, when another set 
the tune, in which the whole congregation were expected to unite. 
This practice became sacred from its antiquity, and was difficult to 
he assailed without lessening the dignity of the officers employed in 
the service. A strenuous effort for a reformation was, about this 
time, generally made. Mr. Mellen was among the most active of 
these reformers. In a Sermon preached at Marlborough, at a singing 
lecture, in 1773, he states that the object in reviving the spirit of 
Psalmody has reference to the poetry as well as the method of 
singing it. He suggests that the practice of reading the line by 
the Deacons is a modem innovation. 


In 1771, the church at Bolton, alleged various complaints 
against their pastor the Rev. Mr. Goss. A council was called, who 
exculpated him from the charges. A great controversy ensued, 
when the church finding they could obtain no relief from the ad- 
vice of sister churches, proceeded to dissolve the pastoral rela- 
tion between them and their minister. The neighbouring Clergy, 
considering this a high handed assumption of power upon the part 
of the laity, proceeded in council to pass censures upon the Bolton 
Church, in their corporate capacity ; to deprive them of Covenant 
privileges, and to exclude them from all communion and fellowship 
with other Churches. The people being thus put upon the defen- 
sive, made a common cause of their troubles through all the towns 

in the vicinity. 

1772. Nov. 1. Six of the Bolton brethren presented themselves 

at the communion, in the Sterling Church ; the pastor declined ad- 
ministering the ordinance, while the proscribed members remained. 
The brethren o-oted that the Bolton men should not withdraw. Mr. 
Mellen availing himself of an obsolete article in the Cambridge 
platform, which was predicated upon the ground of a plurality of 
elders, assumed to himself the whole power of eldership, and de- 
clared his negative upon the vote of the Church, as he non-concur- 
red. The brethren strenuously insisted upon their right, when a 
contention arose highly derogatory to the meekness , nd forbear- 
ance of the Christian character. The pastor, to avoid further con- 
fusion, withdrew from the meeting house, leaving the sacred em- 
blems of brotherly love, of peace, and of humility. The com- 
munion was now suspended, and the contention greatly increased. 

The aged people who recollect this transaction, represent it as 
one of the deepest interest, the passions of men were wrought 
to the highest state of excitement. The struggle for civil liberty 
had commenced ; the people had examined the subject, and had 
taken sides upon all great questions that concerned the rights of 
men. Unlawful power was to be opposed, to be sternly resisted in 
all cases whatever, under the mo>t solemn circumstances, even 
to the horns of the altar. To desecrate the holy hour of sacra- 
mental communion, strikes every reflecting mind with horror. But 
the high resolve was taken, and our fathers would have been false 
to their trust, they would have violated the principles of their an- 
cestors, and have betrayed the interests of posterity, had they 
yielded on this occasion. We have no apology to offer for those 
brethren who went upon this crusade for liberty, nor for those wha 


invited them. Their conduct must he censurable, because more 
suitable opportunities lor testing their patriotism frequently oc- 

1 773, Sept. A respectable ecclesiastical council was called, where- 
of the Rev. Mr. Dunbar of Stoughton was moderator, and the late 
Rev. Dr. Lothrop, of Boston, was scribe : they held a session of 
two or three days, during which time, they went into a patient in- 
vestigation of all the charges and specifications made against the 
Pastor and brethren. The result exonerated Mr. Mellen and hia 
friends from any severe censures; it was of course adopted by 
them, but rejected by a small majority of the brethren. The 
Church soon alter called an eocparte council, who advised to a mutu- 
al council, which met, but being much divided, they separated 
without coming to any result. Other councils assembled, whose 
deliberations terminated much in the same manner. The breth- 
ren concluding theirs was a case where the advice of neighboring 
Churches could not be had, boldly resorted to first principles, cal- 
led a church meeting of their own accord, Nov. 1774, when they 
proceeded to dissolve the pastoral relation, and in this the Parish 

*The council very properly exculpate Mr. Mellen from any blame in the 
transactions of that day. lie undoubtedly acted conscientiously ; the error 
"was in the council, for an attempt at arbilraiy power, in repaid to the Bolton 
Church. It is believed this was not. a new exercise of ecclesiastical prerog- 
ative. It was usually styled, tlie third process. It is allowed by the t'lat- 
form, Chap. xv. but is circumscribed, and to be preceded by admonition, 
and other previous steps, and is only to be exercised " when a Church be 
rent with division, or lies under open scandal, and refuses to consult with other 
Churches for healing or removing the same." 

+ The articles alledged against Mr. Mellen were of a three fold charac- 
ter : Dial-administration, erroneous doctrine, and ialse speaking. Under the 
first head, the most prominent charges were for a supposed abuse in exercising 
his power as the constituted elder or presiding officer of the Church. He 
had declined putting questions to vote when proposed, had neglected to call 
Church meetings upon request, had arbitrarily dissolved them when called. 
But the principal charge under this head, and indeed the main cause ot all 
the difficulties, was his exercise of the power of iiegatiriTtg or non-concurring 
the votes of the brethren. The councils apparently disclaim this light, and Mr. 
M. in his defence before them, gives it such an explanation as cculd not be 
objected to. He claims no power other thatr that of any brother by voting in 
the negative. In examining the various documents, it is difficult to ascertain 
what were his distinct views upon the subject, tor immediately alter this 
Council, he directs the communion table to be set, against the vote of the 
brethren, partly on the ground that he had negatived their vote. He after- 
wards claims the power in full and absolute terms, and attaches consequences 
to it, that never before had been understood, lie considered the Pastor, 
Church, and Parish, as analogous to King, Lords, and Commons; that no vote 
could pass concerning their political relation, without a concurrence of the 
three branches. 


Several of the brethren considering this measure altogether 
unwarranted and unprecedented, invited a respectable council, 

In examining the Bolton proceedings, the same difficulty occurs of ascer- 
taining with precision the extent of power claimed by the advocates of this 
measure. The question was referred to the Provincial convention of Con- 
gregational Ministers, held at Boston in the year 1773, and they gave their 
approbation (it is said) to a certain extent. We have not been favored with 
a reading of tins result, but it was protested against, most vehemently by the 
friends of religious liberty. It was manifestly an assumption of power, not 
clearly understood by most of the disputants on either side. We here sub- 
join some of the votes from the Sterling Church records, to shew its ab- 

u Voted, Not dissatisfied with Josiah Kendal), in regard id his saying to 
the Pastor in Church m< eting, you are a dect iver, you have deceived me, 
and tried to deceive the Church, and if possible would deceive the very 
tlect. Pastor non-concurred." 

" Voted, It is not constitutional for the Pastor to act as moderator, when 
the complaints are against himself. Pastor non-concurred.' 1 

Mr. M. states " the vote of the Church is not a perfect act, according to 
the platform, without mutual consent. The government in Christ's Church 
must not be destroyed because there is not a plurality of elders, although the 
power of a single pastor may not be every way equal to that of a Presbytery. 
There are some to rule, as well is sume to obey, according both to Scripture 
and Platform ; but if one has no more power than anothei, or has no check 
upon others, then we are required only to obey ourselves without any con- 
trol," kc. 

As connected with the political controversies of the day, it was a sub- 
ject of great interest, and it resulted like all other similar questions; when 
an intelligent people will a right, they invariably obtain it. 

Under this head of grievances, was put that of not administering to the 
Bolton brethren, according to the vote of the Church. This was a precon- 
certed trial of strength between the people and the ministers. Bolton men 
considered their pastor had forfeited his office by immorality. They resorted 
to the communion of Churches for a remedy. Their wishes were overruled 
by the influence of the Clergy. The people, considering the authority of Coun- 
cils tint judicatory, but merely advisory, rejected their advice, as they lawfully 
might do, and stood upon their right. For this a council excommunicated them. 
Now, the power was to be brought to the test. 11 the Government of the 
Church was republican, a major vote of a sister Church would entitle them to 
communion, and thus defeat the will of the Clergy. The ministers resorted 
to the negative power for their protection, and in this way lost their offices. 
The charges of this character were various. The brethren yielding to 
the temper of the times, wished to introduce a more democratic spirit into 
Church government, than had been practiced. Mr. Mellen, from his princi- 
ples, strenuously and obstinately opposed all these innovations. He insisted 
upon his constitutional prerogatives, as ruling elder, to call Church meetings 
at his pleasure, and to dissolve them at his will : to put votes as he pleased, 
and to negative them when they passtd against his wishes : to administer 
the Communion at the regular time, against their vote, and to withhold it 
when he thought proper. In fact, he manfully contended for what he says 
was the ancient order of the New England Churches. It wns a great crisis 
in Church as well as in State affairs, and he manifested none of that accom- 
modating disposition, which was imputed to him in the Armiuian controversy. 
There is no ground to believe that he did not act conscientiously upon this 
occasion, for the consequences to him and his family were in full view before 
him. The council examined every charge, and although they do not appear 
fully to justify all his measures, yet they find nothing worthy of censure, but 
much for praise. 


who severely censured the Church for their proceedings, and fully 
justified the Pastor and his adherents. 

The great political questions so vehemently agitated at that 
day, now lent their aid to embitter and prolong the controversy. 
Mr. Mellen and his friends were stigmatized as torie?. and consid- 
ered as enemies to the civil and ecclesiastical liberties of the peo- 
ple. He was excluded by violence from the sacred desk, but per- 
formed public worship with his faithful followers at his own house. 
Here and at the school house, he continued to preach and adminis- 
ter the ordinances for a space of about ten years, after which he 
removed from town.* 

2. The charges of false doctrine were few, and generally trifling, they 
mainly consisted of detached sentences from his Sermons, and loose conversa- 
tions ; they were all susceptible of the satisfactory explanation we have be- 
fore given of them. The charge that God was the author of Sin, which was 
alledged against him eight years previous by Mr. Josiah Kendall, was then 
brought before the Church in the absence of the Complainant, and after an 
explanation by Mr. Mellen, it was dismissed. It was now again adduced as 
the principal charge under this head, but was overruled by the Council. 

3. To support the class of charges called false speaking, much evidence 
was adduced. Hut nothing was satisfactorily proved, that discovered any 
great obliquity of moral principle. 

In fact, but a small part of the dispute related to the moral or christian 
character of the minister, it was rather of a political cast, and grew out of the 
public animosities of the day. Mr. M. was an advocate for High Church and 
prerogative, when his people were embarking their all in pursuit of liberty. 
Both sides acted consistently in conformity, with their avowed principles, and 
at this period neither party should be condemned. It is one of the many in- 
cidents connected with the commencement of the revolution, and may serve 
to illustrate the character of that glorious age. 

* The character of Mr. Mellen may be dra_wn from these imperfect notes, 
and from the various publications he left behind him. Liberally endowed by 
nature, with a strong and energetic mind, which was highly improved bj dil- 
igent and successful cultivation, he obtained a high rank, both as a preacher 
and a scholar. Besides the volume of doctrinal Sermons, before noticed, there 
were printed eleven of his occasional Sermons. Of these we have seen his 

Thanksgiving Sermon, on the reduction of Canada, in 17G0, which con- 
tains a faithful and lucid account of the several Campaigns in that memo- 
rable war. 

Sermon on account of the Sickness, in 1756. 

Sermon at the General Muster, in 1756. 

Sermon occasioned by the death of Sebastian Smith, in 17C5. 

Sermon at the Singing Lecture, in Marlborough, in 1773. 
Notwithstanding the exasperated state of public feelings at the time of 
his dismission, soon after his re-settlement at Hanover, lie returned to Sterling, 
when he preached a most impressive and pathetic discourse, which won the 
affections of all who had not been partizans in the controversy, and tended 
much to soften the asperities of his old opponents. His occasional preaching 
there was cordially received for many years, and his memory is still heid in 
affectionate remembrance. Of his high qualifications as a preacher and a 
theolojian, the aged people ever speak with the most profound veneration. 

After the settlement of the Rev. Mr. Holcumb, it was difficult to reconcile 
Mr. Mellen, and six or seven of his adhering brethren. Several councils were 


1773. The people finding themselves in a broken state, and be- 
ing desirous of the reestablishment of the ministry among them, 
now sent for another council who censured their proceedings and 
advised them to pass a penitential vote, acknowledging their irregu- 
larity and the disorderly character of their conduct in the dismission 
of their minister, and to make him some pecuniary consideration. 
A vote passed the Church sufficiently humiliating, upon the subject 
but was not assented to by six of the brethren. This tended to pro- 
long the contest among a few individuals for some years. The 
pecuniary question was submitted to referees who went into a 
public hearing of the subject during two or three days in the Meet- 
ing House. The parties were heard by counsel. The elder Judge 
Lincoln was for the people, and William Stearns, Esq. of Worcester, 
for the minister. No charges respecting moral conductor private 
character were alledged by the people against Mr. Mellen. The 
award was in his favor, for a small sum with costs, and a further 
provision that his estate should be exempt from taxation, while he 
remained an inhabitant of the Parish. 

1*779. Difficulties being now settled, the people united in cal- 
ling to the ministry the Rev. Reuben Holcomb, who was ordained 
June 2d. He was a native of Simsbury in Connecticut, and gradu- 
ated at Yale College, in 1774. 

called, but their results generally favored the party who summoned them. 
Mr. M. with his followers, continued to worship and enjoy the ordinances hy 
themselves, as a distinct Church, until 178-1, when he was called to the work 
of the ministry in Hanover, County of Plymouth, lie was installed. Feb. 11, 
of that year. Here he remained until Feb. 1005, when he asked a dismis- 
sion on account of his declining aj;e. In Sept. following:, he removed to Read- 
ing, and closed his long and active life under the care of his daughter, the 
relict of Rev. Caleb Prentiss. The following is the inscription on his monu- 
ment in the Church yard at South Reading. 

"Sacred to the memory of Rev. John Mellen, born March 14, 1722; 

It, 1SJ02. 1 ni.'ii ciwii'ien, m wnust: uujuius men vuuin aic lamiiuiiy recuru- 

ed, in testimony of filial respect, affection and gratitude, have elected this 
monument. 11 

Had his lot been cast at a different time, and under more favorable cir- 
cumstances, he would undoubtedly have attained to great eminence in his 
profession. In his domestic character, he combined all that was exemplary 
and praise worthy. His three sons were fitted for College under hi3 care and 
parental direction, and have added to the honors of the University, the repu- 
ation of eminence in their professions. John, born 1752, II. U. 1770. Hen- 
ry, who died at Dover, born 1757, H. U. 1734. Prentice, born 17G4, II. U. 
1784, and now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Maine. 


The new administration commenced by a solemn renewal of 
their ancient covenant, prefaced by a declaration of deep penitence 
for their past wanderings, miscarriages, and deviations from duty, 
with a solemn resolution for future watchfulness and lidelity. 

The Church now had rest, and an unusual degree of prosperity. 
In 1800, the Pastor introduced some additions into the covenant, 
with a view, as was suggested, of abolishing the halfway covenant, 
which had existed from the foundation of the Church. The inno- 
vations were not accordant to the views of many of the members, 
but were silently acquiesced in. Those who had once tasted the 
bitterness of ecclesiastical controversy, were not easily induced to 
renewed dissensions. During this ministry, a remarkable degree of 
harmony and unanimity subsisted among the people. The Baptists 
had made great exertions to obtain converts in a remote quarter of 
the town. On account of their distance, the people there were un- 
able to attend meeting, without great difficulty; Mr. Ilolcomb there- 
fore appointed a stated exercise in that part of the parish, which 
served to recal his people. But two or three families left the par- 
ish, and the numbers of dissenters have not since greatly increased. 
1814. March. This calm was succeeded by a petition subscrib- 
ed by upwards of one hundred qualified voters, requesting the town 
to choose a committee to inquire of Rev. Mr. Ilolcomb, the terms 
upon which he would ask a dismission. In the discussion that fol- 
lowed, it was found that a large majority, probably seven eighths of 
the people, were desirous of a separation. Mr. Ilolcomb immedi- 
ately preferred a request to the Church for a dismission, alledging 
as reasons, want of health in the pastor, and a want of affection and 
union among the people, and as a result of all, a want of a prospect 
of future usefulness and comfort. 

May 19. This request was granted, and the town concurred, af- 
ter a pecuniary compromise, which was etfected by a vote of an 
additional year's salary.* These proceedings were sanctioned by 
an Ecclesiastical Council, June 15, 1814. In their Result the 
Council make the following remarks — '■'While we disapprove and 
bear our testimony against the dismission of ministers for frivolous 
causes, and without any specific allegations, affecting their moral, 
christian, or ministerial character ; yet, (or the reasons stated in the 

* The original salary of Mr. Ilolcomb was £80, annually, predicated up- 
on the prices of the substantial articles of living, together with thirty cords of 
wood. This was afterwaids adjusted by a fixed sum of $3l!3. This he 
received in cash semi-annually, and it was continued one year after his dis- 

VOL. IT. 29 


application of Rev. Mr. Holcomb, to the Church and Town, for a 
dismission, to wit, 'want of health, want of affection and harmony, 
and as the result of all, want of a prospect of usefulness and com- 
/ort,' in view of the pecuniary provision made by the town as a 
consideration for his asking a dismission, and his acceptance of that 
consideration, this council think it expedient that the pastoral rela- 
tion of the Rev. Reuben Holcomb, to the Christian Society in Ster- 
ling, be, and it is hereby dissolved. 

"This ecclesiastical council, in obedience to a law of Christ, 
which commands us to hear each others burdens, do .sympathise with 
the late Pastor of this Church, and the members of this religious 
Society, under their afflictions, arising from the events of this day. 
The proceedings which have come to our knowledge, evince a 
spirit of gentleness and mutual accommod ition, and a solicitude, for 
the order and welfare of the town, which reriect on them much 
hoDor as individuals, and members of a Christian community. We 
unreservedly say that the resolution of the Rev. Mr. Holcomb, to 
unite with his fellow christians here, in an earnest endeavor to 
build up the cause and inteiest of the Redeemer, by promoting, as 
soon as may be, the re-settlement of a Christian minister, is worthy 
of a servant of ' the meek and lowly Jesus.' It is to us a cause of 
happiness, that in the communications made to this body, nothing 
has appeared that in the least affects the regular standing of the 
Pastor, or of this Christian Church. We affectionately recommend 
him to the benediction of Heaven. Wherever God in his Provi- 
dence shall call him to minister in word and doctrine, we wish him 
the presence and blessing of the great Head of the Church. From 
the fulness of that treasure of consolation, which he has opened to 
others, may he also abundantlyreceive. We address the members 
of this society with more than common solicitude. In addition to 
the portentous scenes which are opening upon the men of this 
generation, it hath pleased the Supreme Disposer of all things, to 
spread a dark cloud over many Churches in this vicinity. We can- 
not, however, withhold from you our expressions of confidence and 
hope. It is but justice to you to say, that the past character of 
this people, their laudable attention to the education of children 
and youth, their general respect for religious institutions, and par- 
ticularly their freedom from a spirit of sectarianism, are to us to- 
kens for good."* 

*The Rev Mr. Holcomb has ever since resided in town, upon his beauti- 
• ful estate, near the village, enjoying a dignified rest from the labori of a tod- 


The sacred desk was immediately supplied in succession by Mr. 
Field, now the minister of Weston ; Mr. Abbot late pastor of the 
North Church at Salem ; and Mr. Lemuel Capcn, of Dorchester, 
now pastor of a Church at South Boston. 

1816. Jan. 30. The Church gave a call to Mr. Capen to settle 
in the ministry, by a vote of 35 to 15. In this the town concurred, 
170 to 31.* It was also voted to allow him $400, as a settlement, 
and $b"00 as an annual salary. This was punctually paid him half 
yearly. The ordination solemnities were held March 22, 1815.J 
Great unanimity subsisted through the ministry of Mr. C. The 
covenant was now amended, so that all Congregational Christians 
might conscientiously assent to it. It was adopted, April, 1815, as 
follows, and has ever since been unchanged : — 

"1. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, with humble depen> 
dance on the Holy Spirit, and with sincere repentance of all our 
sins, we solemnly enter into covenant with the Lord Jehovah, tak- 
ing him to be our God, giving up ourselves to his sovereign direc- 
tion and disposal, and promising to make it one great business in 
life, to love and serve, to honor and glorify him. 

u 2. We receive the Lord Jesus Christ as he is offered to us in 
the Gospel, as the only Mediator between God and man, and 
through whom alone salvation may be obtained by the sinful chil- 
dren of men. 

"3. We resolve to use the Holy Scriptures as our platform, 
whereby to discern the mind of Christ, believing them to be the 
only infallible rule of faith and practice. 

"4. We promise that by all the means in our power, we will in- 
struct those who are, or may hereafter be, under our care and di- 
rection, in the doctrines and duties of our holy religion. 

"5. We promise to attend on the administration of God's holy 

some office. lie has not unfrequently supplied the neighboring pulpits with oc- 
casional preaching. His stated attendance upon the word and ordinances has 
been continued in the place of his former labors. 

*Mr. Holcomb and his adherents opposed this call, not from any disaf- 
fection to the talents or sentiments of the Candidate. Most of them were his 
steadfast friends, and constant attendants upon public worship, through his 
ministry. Mr. Capen was bom at Dorchester, November 27, 1788; graduat- 
ed at H. U. 1810. 

t On this occasion, Dr. Harris, of Dorchester, preached the Sermon, 
which was printed. Introductory Prayer by Dr. Porter, of Roxbury ; Ordain- 
ing Prayer by Professor Ware ; Charge by Dr. Sumner, of Shrewsbury ; Right 
hand of Fellowship by Mr. Thayer, of Lancaster; and Concluding Prayer by 
Mr. Pierce, of Brookline. 


word and ordinances, to submit to the council and discipline of this 
Church, so far as it shall be exercised in the spirit of the Gospel, 
and to cultivate a kind and charitable temper towards our fellow 
Christians and fellow men. And by the aids of Divine grace, we 
will in future order our conversation as becometh the Gospel of 
Christ, and walk worthy of this our solemn and holy profession." 

1819, Jan. 4. Mr. Capen having at a previous meeting, present- 
ed to the consideration of the town a statement of his financial con- 
cerns, from which it appeared that his annual salary did not meet 
the expenses of his family, and the town not thinking it expedient 
to endanger their union by an attempt to increase his compensation, 
he now asked for a dismission. The preliminary steps were ac- 
cordingly taken for a separation, which was consummated by an 
ecclesiastical council, Jan. 21, 1819. 

In their result, the council bear ample testimony to the fidelity 
and uprightness of Mr. Capen's ministerial character, as well as to 
the justice, kindness and liberality of the town towards him. They 
observe — 

"This Ecclesiastical Council feel constrained to express their 
mingled joy and lamentation, which have been excited by a review 
of the present state and prospects of their fellow Christians in this 
town. We have learned with peculiar satisfaction, that during the 
ministry of the Rev. Lemuel Capen, this Christian Society has been 
in peace. In his instructions he has kept back nothing which was 
profitable. He has abstained from the encouragement of a spirit 
of controversy, and from the discussion of topics ' which minister to 
strife rather than to godly edifying. 1 Testimony is borne by those 
who have been his <*onstant witnesses, to his exemplariness, to their 
increasing satisfaction in his public labors, and to the prospect of 
continued union. We have deliberately considered the steps he 
has taken as previously necessary to his separation from a people 
whom he respected and loved. We find in the disclosure of his pe- 
cuniary concerns a frankness and sincerity which are highly estima- 
ble. We are persuaded, the impression that his embarrassments 
were such as he had no means to retrieve, that his usefulness would 
thereby be prevented, and that it was his imperious duty ' to pro- 
vide for his own, and especially for those of his own household,' 
led him to ask a dismission. 

"Evidence has been given us that this people have fulfilled their 
civil contract, and have shewn towards their minister many tokens 
of kindness and liberality. 


il We affectionately recommend the Rev. Lemuf.l Capen to the 
ministers and churches of Christ, as one who has heen ' an exam- 
ple of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, 
in faith, in purity.' We sympathise with him under his trials, and 
devoutedly pray that he may still he honored as an instrument l in 
defending the faith which was once delivered to the saints ;' and 
that he may have the consolations and rewards of long tried and 
persevering fidelity." 

Upon this occasion, Mr. C. delivered his valedictory Ser- 
mon. An edition of it was published at Worcester, and anoth- 
er soon after in Boston, accompanied with the documents that 
led to the event. This discourse will long be preserved by 
his people, as exhibiting a striking portrait of the character of their 
beloved pastor. The reasons for the separation are here set forth 
in a manner plain and undisguised.* It breathes forth in an emi- 
nent degree a spirit of Catholicism, of faith, of hope and charity. 
The simplicity of its manner and the cogency of its arguments re- 
flect great honor upon him as a scholar, and the style of unrivalled 
pathos and fervent piety, with which he developes his views and 
his feelings will procure for him equal credit as a man and a Chris- 
tian. His farewell addresses at the conclusion of the sermon, pro- 
duced an effect in their delivery that has seldom been equalled. 
The town by an unanimous vote expressed their sense of his vir- 
tues, his learning and his piety. t 

* "The thought of being separated from you thus early has always been 
painful to me ; and 1 have no reason tj suppose it less so to you. But how- 
ever unpleasant may be the dissolution of a connexion, attended with so ma- 
ny happy circumstances on both rides, I am confirmed in the belief, that in 
the present instance it is expedient. The reasons assigned by me in my com- 
munication to you still prevail with me to justify the measure. It is not ne- 
cessary here to repeat them. But acknowledging as I ever have, aud still 
most cheerfully and gratefully do, the repeated instances of your generosity 
to me, I could not submit to the idea of being burdeusome to you by urging 
repeated claims, and thus endangering that unusual degree of harmony and 
unanimity, which now so happily subsists among you, as a religious society, 
and as a town. It affords me much satisfaction to be able to say, that 1 have 
been induced to this measure by no motives of discontent, or ambition, and 
by no disaffection with my people. And since we must separate, it is a cir- 
cumstance, which, though it tenders the separation much more painful, and 
much more to be regretted, still leaves much cousolatiou, and will ever re- 
main a subject of the purest satisfaction to us all, that we separate with such 
mutual attachment and mutual good wishes.'" Extract from Farewell Sermon. 

tlN Town Meeting — Sterling, January 21st, 1819. 

"Voled, That after mature deliberation on the communication of the 

Rev. Lemuel Capen, of the 4th instant, and the consequent result on that 

communication, we cannot with honour to ourselves and justice to him, but 

declare, that we received his communication with extreme regret aud con- 


Jan. 24. Mr. Peter Osgood was invited to preach as a candidate, 
and on the 26th of April following, he had a united call from the 
Church and Town, without any division, to settle in the ministry, 
and was ordained June 30, 1819. Rev. Mr. Cotton of Boylston, 
made the introductory prayer: Rev. Dr. Eaton of Boxford, preach- 
ed the Sermon : consecrating prayer was by Rev. Dr. Thayer of 
Lancaster : charge by Rev. Dr. Bancroft of Worcester : right hand 
of fellowship by Rev. Mr. Clarke of Princeton, and the conclud- 
ing prayer by Rev. Mr. Walker of Charlestown.* The annual sala- 
ry of Mr. Osgood is $700. 

The number of Baptisms and Admissions into the Church, have 
been as follows : 

By Mr. Mellen, in 34 years 
By Mr. Holcomb, 35 years 
By Mr. Capen 4 years 

By Mr. Osgood 6 years 

2014 711 

The'members of our Churches are not careful always to re- 
move their relations with their residence, it is difficult, therefore, 
to ascertain the exact number of communicants, it is estimated gen- 
erally to be from 250 to 300. 

. A considerable part of the Church in West Boylston, was form- 
ed from this. In August, 1796, nine males and eleven females were 
dismissed for this purpose. 

The following persons have held the office of Deacons in this 










Jonathan Osgood, 


1766 aged 



Oliver Moors, 





Joseph Moors, 



cern ; that the manner in which his request was disposed of, was not the re- 
sult of dissatisfaction as to his acquirements as a Scholar, his deportment as 
a Man, or his attainments as a Christian; but the conviction that an addi- 
tion to his salary at this early period, might materially endanger that univer- 
sal harmony which now so happily prevails among us. 

"And while we believe that the talents of men, as well as their speculative 
opinions, are not fit subjects for us to judge of for others ; yet we consider the 
principles of morality to be universal ; and we do must cordially declare our 
fullest confidence in his character for purity of heart and rectitude of life. 

"It now only remains for us to wish him all the joys and hopes of the good 
Man, the polished Scholar, the sincere Friend, and real Christian." 

*Mr. Osgood was born at Andover, Mass. Feb. 4, 1793, and was gradu- 
ated at Harvard University 1G14. 


1-791 85 




1789 62 


1796 died 1809 




1816 78 


1806. 63 




1816 SG 


Thomas Fairbank, 

1760 Asa Whitcomb, 

1767 Joseph Kilbum, 

Israel Moor, 

1780 Ebenezer Buss, 

1780 Joel Houghton, 

1790 Solomon Jewett, 

1790 Jonas Mason,* 

1796 Samuel Clark, 

1807 Ebenezer Buss, 

1813 Luther Allen, 

1815 Joseph Palmer, 

1816 Sawyer Wilder, 

The Church records contain the deaths from 1779, but the age« 

are not marked until the year 1800. Instances of longevity are 

frequent. The whole number who exceeded 80 years of age is 58 

in 25 years, and of these the following passed the age of 90. 

1800 died Margaret Bailey, aged 100 

1800 Abigail Moore, 90 

1803 Lydia Kendall, 92 

1804 Jonathan Nelson, 92 
1807 Mary Jewett, 92 
1807 Joseph Pope, 91 
1807 London, (a negro,) . 91 
1809 Abigail Parker, 91 
1811 Mary Bai'ey, 90 
1813 Ruth Gary, 93 

1816 Peggy Dorchester, 104 or 105 

1816 Michal Roper, 91 

1817 Jeremiah Burpee, 92 

1820 Ruth Cooper, 97 

1821 Benjamin Richardson, Esq. 92 

1822 Edward Waldron, 94 
1822 Caleb Whitney, 92 
1822 Keziah Buss, • 93| 

* Deacon Mason still lives, at the age of 88, being the oldest man in town. 

tThe above females had all been married, and were widows at the time 
of their deaths. The eldest was a woman of color, who formerly belonged to 
the family of Dr. Prescott, in Groton ; her age has been ascertained from thf 
descendants of her former master. 





Paxton is situated about eight miles northwesterly of Wor- 
cester, containing sixteen square miles.* It is hounded on the 
north by Rutland, on the east by Holden and Worcester, on the 
south by Leicester, and on the west hy Spencer and a part of Rut- 

The soil is generally good. Like a great part of the interior 
of Massachusetts, this town is hilly, consisting of large swells of 
land, the summits of which resemble plains more than hills; the 
acclivity, in many instances, being so slight and gradual as hardly 
to he perceived for a considerable extent on their tops. 

Hills. — In the northern part about a mile and a half from the 
centre of the town, Turkey Hill commences. It is said that it took 
its name from the numbers of these birds formerly found upon it. 
This hill is more than a mile iu length from north to south, and 
from half a mile to three quarters in width from east to west. The 
soil, particularly on the eastern and northern parts, is somewhat 
argillaceous, wet and cold. It however affords good pasturage, to 
which it is principally devoted. 

In the easterly part of the town is Hasnebumskitt Hill which is 

* Rev, Mr. Whitney in his history of this town has fallen into several er- 
rors as to its boundaries. He says >k it is bounded on the north by Rutland ; 
on the e%st by Holden ; on the south by Leicester and Spencer ; and on the 
■west by Oakham and Rutland. 1 ' Now the nearest point of Oakham to Tax- 
ton is, at least, two miles — and the towns are separated by part of Rutland 
and Spencer. The southwest corner of Paxton and the northwest corner of 
Leicester meet iu the same point, in the eastern line of Spencer, which, at 
that point and for more than a. mile on each side of it, is very nearly, if not 
quite, a right line, running almost exactly north and south. At the time 
Whitney wrote, Paxton was bounded on the east as staled by him ; but on 
the 13th of February A. D. 1004, John Davis, Ebenezer Boynton, Nathan 
Harrington, Samuel Harrington, Mir.ah Harrington and Ephraim Harrington, 
by an act of the Legislature, were set off from Holden and annexed to Pax- 
ton, and in consequence of this, the southeast corner of I'axton was extended 
so as to join upon Worcester for a short distance. There are some other tri- 
fling mistakes in the above mentioned history, which will be pointed out in 
the course of this sketch. 

tThis name is spelled in some old Deeds, Hasnebumskeat, and Ilasne- 
bumskeag ; Harsonobumskit is found in one from Ephraim May, to Reuben 
Swan ; Asnebumskit according to Whitney. The inhabitants generally call 
this hill, and the pond that lies near it, " Bumskit," which is acknowledged 
by all who know any thing of its proper pronunciation, to be a corruption. 
The orthography of this word used in this sketch, has been adopted upon the 
authority of some ancient writings, and the pronunciation used by those 
who have been taught by some of the first settlers of the hill. 


nearly two miles long and about the same width, and, except Wa- 
chusett, is the highest land in the county. The ascent from the 
eastern part, which lies in Holden, is much steeper than on the 
west, and when viewed from the valley between this and Stone- 
house hill in Holden, it has a grand and mountainous appearance. 
From the top of this hill, in a clear and favorable day, the prospect 
is very extensive and delightful, and not less than twenty five 
churches may be seen without the aid of a telescope. 

The soil, in some parts is fertile, producing fine crops of grass, 
potatoes, Indian corn and other grain. Much of it is devoted to 
pasturage, and some is still covered with wood. Although the sur- 
face is generally not rocky, yet there is reason to believe that the 
hill contains an immense mass of a species of granite, in which have 
been discovered small parcels of plumbago, or black lea<l. In 
many places this rock approaches to within a few inches of the sur- 
face ; in others it is covered by earth to the depth of many feet. 
Sufficient examination has never been made to ascertain whether 
or not this stone might be quarried out for building stone, &c. to 
good advantage. During the summer months it not unfrequently 
happens that the summit, and sometimes a great part of this hill is 
enveloped in fog and mist, in the morning and evening, more fre- 
quently than the neighboring heights, which is generally thought to 
be indicative of rain. But the neighboring farmers do not place 
quite so much dependence on this sign as is intimated by the Rev. 
Mr. Whitney. 

Just east of tlie meeting house is another large hill, but, is not 
designated by any particular name. The prospect from this hill 
is very extensive, commanding a view of the adjoining towns, the 
highlands in New Hampshire and Vermont, and in the western 
parts of this state. The grand Monadnock, Wachusett Hill, and 
Hoosac mountain may be very distinctly seen in a clear day from 
this hill. 

Streams, Ponds, &c. — There are but two natural ponds in Pax- 
ton. Turkey Hill Pond is one of these and lies on the west of 
that hill. It is about half a mile in diameter; a great part of it 
has a muddy bottom, and the water, though rather shoal, has a 
black, disagreeable appearance. The fish, of which there is a good 
supply, are of a darker hue and less delicious flavor than those tak- 
en from most other waters in the vicinity. There is an outlet at 
the southern part, the channel of which has been enlarged and 
deepened, and a dam and gate constructed upon it, for the. conven- 
vor,. ii. 30 


ience of mills below. This stream sometimes called Jennison's 
brook, runs about south-southwest, nearly two miles in Paxton, 
then enters the town of Spencer, and after being joined by several 
others, unites with the Chickapee. 

There are three other small streams which empty into the 
above; two join it in Paxton, the other just within the bounds of 
Spencer. One of these rises in the southwesterly part of Rutland, 
passes into Paxton and empties into Jennison's brook in the mead- 
ow below Jennison's mills. Another rises in a small swamp about 
a mile southeast of the meeting house, runs a northwesterly direc- 
tion and empties into the above, in what is called Howe's meadow. 
The third proceeds from two springs in the southwest corner of 
the town, runs a northwesterly direction through what is called 
« the great swamp," when it takes the name of " Toby," or more 
properly, " Tobias's brook," and empties into Jennison's brook in 
the ed*e of Spencer. The other pond lies in the northeasterly 
part of the town a little northwardly of Hasnebumskit Hill and 
bears the same name. This is a smaller, though handsomer pond 
than that of Turkey Hill. The surface of the former is several 
feet higher than that of the latter. A considerable stream flows 
from the northern part, which runs in a northerly direction until it 
enters Holden, thence it inclines more to the east and finally emp- 
ties into the Quinepoxet in that town, which is a branch of the 
Nashua river. 

A few rods south of Hasnebumskit pond and west of the hill is 
the source of a stream called " Arnold's brook," which runs in a 
southwesterly direction into Leicester and is the northerly 
branch of the Blackstone river. Another considerable brook rises 
in some low grounds in the southwesterly part of the town, passes 
through the northwest corner of Leicester, where uniting with the 
outlet from rt West," or " Shaw's pond," it passes into Spencer and 
unites with the 9tream from Turkey Hill. 

Three of the above water courses have mills erected upon 
them in Paxton. On Jennison's brook, are two grist mills, one 
saw mill, and a triphammer shop. These are situated very near 
together, and the water from the first is successively used by all 
the others. The fall is great, and the supply of water generally 
sufficient, and is, in fine, a valuable site. 

There is a very good mill privilege on the outlet of Hasnebum- 
skit pond. Here are, likewise, two, if not three grist mills, at 
which much business during a part of the year, is done. On Ar- 


cold's brook there is a saw and grist mill. But the supply of wa- 
ter during the summer, is not sufficient to keep them in operation. 
Curiosities. — About a mile north of the meeting house, a little 
west of the road leading to Rutland, is a spring, the water from 
which divides, a few rods from its source; a part running westerly 
empties' into Jennison's brook, and thence passes into Connecticut' 
river. The other part Hows northeasterly into the stream from 
Ilasnebum^kit pond and thence into the Merrimack. About a mile 
southeast of the meeting house, there is a house so situated that 
the water from the eves on the west side passes into Connecticut 
river, while that from the east side flows through Kettle brook into 
Blackstene river. 

The waters of Hasnebumskit pond, which, as has before beeD 
said, llow eventually into the Merrimack, are separated from the 
bead of Arnold's brook, which empties into the Blackstone, by a 
strip of laud but a (ew rods wide. 

About a mile and a quarter from the meeting house, and a short 
distance west of the road leading to Rutland, is a meadow or 
swamp, of some extent, across which is a natural causeway, compos- 
ed of gravel and stones, extremely hard and hrm, while on each 
side the mud is very soft and deep. The surface of this causeway 
is nearly on a level with that of the swamp, though at one end, for 
some rods, it is lower and the mud extends quite across it in that 
part., It is about twelve feet wide, and stretches across the swamp 
from one side to the other, a distunce of perhaps a hundred rods. 
Its directijn is not in a straight line, but a little curved. Its width 
and appearance are very uniform. It has been observed by the 
present and former proprietors, that the surface of this swamp, in 
some parts,is several feet lower than formerly and that it continues 
to sink gradually. 

Population. — The population of this town has never been large 
and has not increased very much for many years. In 1 790, the 
number was 558, and in 1820, it amounted to no more than 613 
making an increase of only 55 in thirty years. There are, at 
present, but ninety nine dwelling houses in this town, and even some 
of these are not occupied. The increase of the population has been 
retarded and other inconveniences experienced in consequence of 
an unusually large proportion of the lands having been owned by 

Settlement, History, &c. — The principal part of Paxlon origi- 
nally belonged to Rutland and Leicester ; the line between which 


towns formerly passed a little north of where Paxton meetinghouse 
now stands. A strip of land, about two miles wide and four long, on 
the north part of Leicester, and a like quantity from the south part 
of Rutland, was formed into a distinct district, and incorporated as 
such by an act of " tbe Great and General Court" by the name of 
« The District of Paxton," on the 12th day of February, A. D. 1765. 
The first warrant for a town meeting found on the District Records 
is from John Murry, Esq. directed to Phinehas Moore, requiring 
him to warn a meeting of the Inhabitants for the choice of officers, 
dated the 25th of Feb. 1765. The first town, or rather district 
meeting was holden on the 11th of March, 1765, at the house of 
Mr. John Snow, where the proper officers were chosen and the dis- 
trict organized. In consequence of Paxton having been taken, as 
hefore observed, from other towns, there is some difficulty in col- 
lecting many facts in relation to its first settlement, without blend- 
ing the history of the one more with that of the others than com- 
ports with the design of this sketch. Indeed it is not known in what 
year the first families were established in this place. But it is 
probable that permanent settlements were made within its limits, 
a few years after those in Rutland and Leicester, which happened 
about the year 1720. It is certain, that before the year 1746, there 
were several families in Paxton, and some considerable improve- 
ments made. For, about this time, from certain family records, it ap- 
pears, there were two or three families located in the southwest- 
erly part of the town. In 1748, Josiab Livermore, and his broth- 
er Jason Livermore, removed from Weston to that part of the 
town, to lands upon which there had been some improvements 
made. About the same time, Abijah Bemis settled in the same 
neighborhood, from Weston or Waltham. Near them was also Wm. 
Thompson and one or two of his sons. It is highly probable that 
the other parts of the town were settled as early, or, perhaps, ear- 
lier than the time above mentioned. The settlement of the town 
was never interrupted by Indian depredation, or by any other ca- 
lamity, but progressed gradually until all the lands were taken up. 
What the number of inhabitants was at the time of incorporation, 
does not appear. But it must have been some hundreds; for of 
the one thousand men raised in the counties of Worcester and 
Hampshire, in the year 1756, to succour General Winslow against 
the French and Indians, five* men went from what is now Paxton. 

* Their names were Ezekiel Bellows, Jacob Wicker, Jason Livermore, 
David Wicker, and John Wicker. They were under Brigadier Ruggles 1 com- 
mand, and a part, if not the whole, were employed at Crown Point, Ticon- 
deroga, and Fort Edward, at different times during the war. 


At. what time Paxton assumed all the privileges of a town, does 
not appear from the Records. At first it was incorporated only as 
a district ; and indeed, it is very uncertain whether it has ever 
been constituted a town by any direct Legislative act. For several 
years the inhabitants gave their votes for Representatives in the 
town of Leicester. 

By the following extracts from the Records of Paxton, it seems 
that it took the name and began to exercise all the powers and 
privileges of a Town, some time between the 11th of Sept. 1775, 
and the 19th of Feb. 1776; for under the first date, we find, "at a 
meeting of the District of Paxton," &c. and a warrant bearing the 
latter date, is the first one directed to the "Constable of the Town of 
Paxton." At this meeting, holden March 4th, 177C, they voted to 
pay to the administratrix of " the late Mr. Thomas Denny, (for- 
merly representative from Leicester,) the sum of £1 15s and 
$d which is the proportion of this town of the sum of £7 10s, being 
the said Denny's expenses at the General Court, in the months 
of May and June, in the year 1774." 

The record of the proceedings of the next meeting, held May 
23d, 1776, is the first attested by the Clerk, as Town Clerk, all the 
former ones bearing the attestation of the District Clerk. At a 
meeting on the 3d of March, 1777, it wa9 "voted, that Mr. Abra, 
ham Smith,* our present Representative, use his influence in the 
General Assembly that the act passed last year altering the Repre- 
sentation of this state maybe repealed." This is the first mention 
made oi the town's having a Representative in the Legislature ; and 
it is probable that Mr. Smith was the first ever sent from P;txton, 
though no record was made of his election. There is, however, 
a warrant dated May 13th, 1776, for calling a meeting on the 23d 
of that month, for the purpose of choosing " a person to represent 
them in the great and General Court," that year, " agreeably to a 
precept directed" to the town for that purpose. This warrant was 
not recorded until 1779, and it does not appear whether any meet- 
ing was holden or proceedings had. 

These facts are mentioned, principally for the purpose of ascer- 
taining the time when Paxton did, in fact, become a town, or began 
to exercise all the rights and powers of one ; which, from the fore- 
going circumstances, must have happened some time in the year 

* Mr. Smith was an inhabitant of Taxton and had held many oflhe high- 
est offices in the District. 


Ecclesiastical Proceedings. — The establishment of a church and 
proper provision for public worship, as was generally the case in 
Massachusetts, were among the first objects attended to by the in- 
habitants of Paxton, after their incorporation. For, at the first 
meeting after the organization of the District, holden on the first 
day of April, 1765, a vote passed to build a meeting house, and at 
subsequent ones, during the same year, arrangements were made 
for carrying this vote into effect ; a committee was also chosen, and 
■£l3 6s. Qd. was appropriated for the purpose of procuring the Gos- 
pel to be preached in that place during the winter of that year. 

The meeting house was raised and finished, at least in part, 
that year, and a larger sum raised to procure preaching. 

Some exertions were made, at this time, to have an Episcopal 
church established in this town, but thoy were unsuccessful. It is 
probable, however, tbat this may have been one cause why a regu- 
lar Congregational church was not sooner gathered and organized; 
for it appears this event did not happen until the 3d of September, 

Rev. Silas Biglow, a gentleman highly esteemed for his intel- 
lectual and moral worth, was invited by the district and church in 
May, or June, to settle u in the work of the Gospel ministry among 
them;" and was ordained as their first Clergyman on the 21st of 
October following. The ministry of Mr. Biglow was highly satis- 
factory to his parishioners, and much good feeling and unanimity 
existed in the society until his death; which happened on the 16th 
of November, 1769. 

On the 28th of November, of the next year, Rev. Alexander 
Thayer was ordained as successor to Mr. Biglow. He continued 
in office tintil the 14th of August, 1782, when he was dismissed by 
an ecclesiastical council, mutually chosen by the parties. The 
town agreeing to pay him £40 within three weeks, and the amount 
of his salary which was due. 

The connexion between Mr. Thayer and his society, at least 

during a part of the time, was unhappy. Were it possible to detail 

all the causes of dissatisfaction, they would not afford the reader, at 

this day, profit or pleasure. There were, however, two principal 

ones, which it may not be improper to mention. Mr. Thayer, in 

his political sentiments, was suspected to be somewhat favorably 

*The covenant bears the above date, and was subscribed by the follow- 
ing persons ; Phinehas Moore, John Snow, Jason Livermore, David Davis, Ben- 
jam'n Sweetser, Silas Biglow, (Pastor elect,) Samuel Man, Oliver Witt, Ste- 
phen Barret, and Samuel Brown. 


disposed to the royalist party. This suspicion, whether well or ill 
founded, was sufficient to create a degree of coldness, and, in some 
instances, a fixed dislike, especially among those, who, from other 
causes, had become disaffected. This dislike was heightened by 
another circumstance, which more immediately effected their inter- 
est. Mr. Thayer's salary was fixed at the time of his settlement at 
£66 13s. Ad. After the depreciation of the currency of the coun- 
try, Mr. Thayer wished his pay to be so increased that he might 
receive a sum equal in value to his original compensation. This 
was not always done, though several grants were made for his re- 
lief at different times. But political animosities, and the unceasing 
demands for money to support the war, prevented the inhabitants 
from giving that aid to their clergyman, which, perhaps, was justly 
due, and under other circumstances would have been readily afforded. 

The society became much divided before the settlement of 
another Clergyman, particularly in relation to Rev. John Foster,* 
who, after a long and warm contention among the members of the 
church and society, was ordained, on the 8th of September, 1785. 
The malecontents subsequently separated from the old society, and 
a new church was formed. 

Mr. Foster continued the clergyman of Paxton until 1789, when 
he was dismissed. After this, exertions were made to re-unite the 
two societies and churches, which was finally effected on the 27th 
of May, 1793, and on the 5th of November, of the next year, the 
Rev. Daniel Grosvenor, who had been before that time settled in 
Grafton, was installed. For some years the society remained quiet 
and apparently well pleased with this gentleman. But the "root of 

* Some idea may be formed of the opposition made to the settlement of 
Mr. Foster, from the following protest of several of his opponents. " We, 
the subscribers, inhabitants of the town of Paxton, do, hereby, solemnly, sin- 
cerely, and wholly protest and declare against the proceedings to be had and 
taken by the inhabitants of the said town of Paxton, now assembled in town 
meeting, in consequence of a warrant signed by a major part of the selectmen 
of said town of Paxton, as illegal, unlawful, and unconstitutional, and unpre- 
cedented. And we, the subscribers, do further solemnly protest and declare, 
that we will not, directly or indirectly, be at any cost or charge, or pay any 
money that shall be assessed on us, the subscribers, for settlement or salary 
that the inhabitants of said town of Paxton shall agree to give Mr. John Fos- 
ter, except it is taken from us by force, as it is our opinion that the constitu- 
tion will not admit of any such precedent. And we request that this protest 
may be read in the said town meeting, and recorded with the records in said 
town of Paxton. As witness ours, this thirteenth day of December, Anno 
Domini, 1784." Signed by twenty of the inhabitants. 

There is another, of similar import, dated Dec. 20, 1704, signed by eigh- 
teen, a part of whom are the same who signed the first In this they assign 
as a reason for their opposition, that'" in our opinion said Foster is not learn- 
ed, nor orthodox, neither of good report." 


bitterness" was either not wholly eradicated, or else a new one 
was generated among them ; for about the close of the last centu- 
ry, or the beginning of the present, dissatisfaction began to mani- 
fest itself, which increased to such a degree, and his health being 
extremely poor, that Mr. Grosvenor asked a dismission, which he 
received on the 17th of November, 1302. 

From this period until the 17th of February, 1808, the town 
was destitute of a settled minister, when the present one, Rev. 
Gaius Conant, was ordained. It was hoped that this event would 
have put an end to dissention in this devoted society, but these hopes 
have not been fully realized. Dissatisfaction has, at times, shown it- 
self, and several members have withdrawn and joined other socie- 
ties. At present, however, tranquillity is restored. 

Revolutionary Proceedings. — Paxton, in common with other 
towns, made great exertions for obtaining our National Indepen- 
dence ; although there were several, the genuineness of whose 
republican principles was very much suspected. These, however, 
were so closely watched by the real Whigs, that they never were 
able to do any serious injury to the cause of American Liberty. 
During the difficulties previous to the commencement of actual hos- 
tilities, the inhabitants took all those precautionary measures, al- 
most universally adopted throughout the country. 

The first public proceeding that appears on record, in relation 
to this subject, was the choice of " a committee to petition the 
Great and General Court, for a name more agreeable to the inhab- 
itants of this District, and to the public, than that of Paxton," this 
being the name of an individual,* who had rendered himself ex- 
tremely odious to the people of this State, by the part he took in 
the political concerns of that time. At a subsequent meeting, Aug. 
22, 1774, a committee was also chosen to consult and report on the 
state of public affairs ; and they voted to purchase a barrel of pow- 
der, in addition to the stock then on hand, which was accordingly 


Committees of correspondence and inspection were chosen, and 

*This was Charles Paxton, one of the four "Commissioners of the Cus- 
toms," appointed under the act of Parliam.-nt, passed in 1767, and who were 
authorised to appoint as many subordinate officers as they should deem neces- 
sary, for the proper management of the customs. This was the act, it will be 
recollected, which led to the associations among the Colonists, to abstain 
from the use of English merchandise; and therefore all who had been agents 
for carrying it into eflect, had become obnoxious to the bitterest hate of the 
public. It is no wonder, then, that the people of this district should wish to 
lay aside the uame of one, who, as they conceived, had been a voluntary in- 
strument to deprive theru of their dearest rights. 



all the able bodied men of all ages, capable of bearing arms, were 
formed into military companies, one of which was called " The 
Standing," and the other the « Minute Company." Sums of mon- 
ey were raised to pay the minute men for their time and expense 
spent in " military trainings,*' and to procure for them pioper arms 
and equipments. On the 17th of January, 1775, thirty three men 
were ordered by the town to be drafted as minute men ; aud were 
afterwards properly organized and equipped. These men chose 
Willard Moore for their Captain, who immediately marched with 
them to Cambridge, on receiving intelligence of the affair at Lex- 
ington and Concord. Here a part of them, but what number does 
not appear, joined the regular army, which was organized at that 
time, and among others their Captain. He was appointed a Major 
in this army, and fell in the memorable battle of Bunker Hill. 

Besides furnishing the men regularly called for from this town, 
many individuals voluntarily enlisted for different terms of service. 
In July of 1776, Jason Livermore raised in Paxlon, and its immedi- 
ate vicinity, a considerable number of volunteers, who, being join- 
ed by others raised by Samuel Brewer, of Sutton, marched their 
company from Paxton on the 9th of August, 177G, for Charlestown, 
No. 4, and afterwards to Ticonderoga and Mount Hope, where they 
were stationed for some time. During the struggle for liberty, 
this town, which, at that time, contained a population of only about 
rive hundred inhabitants, was frequently called upon to furnish from 
one to eight men for different periods of service. From the re- 
cords, it appears on two occasions their quota was eight, aud at sev- 
eral times four, five, and six. 

According to these records, it appears that the town paid a sum 
equal in value tJ, at least, nine thousand six hundred dollars, of 
the present currency, for hiring, clothing, &c. the soldiers it 
furnished, and for the stores demanded by the Government, be- 
sides what it paid into the State and other Treasuries. In short, 
(aw. if any towns, contributed proportionally more for the achieve- 
ment of our Independence, according to their means, than this. In- 
deed, at several times, particularly towards the close of the war, 
their public and individual suffering was extreme, and almost intol- 
erable. *Yet their patriotism never flagged, and they nobly evinc- 
ed, by their conduct, that they were determined "to die or be free." 

* It is a fact, within the recollection of many now living', that one of the 
last efforts of toiyiam, to prevent the final success of the cause of liberty, was 
an attempt to prevent the payment of taxes, about the year 1780-1. At thi9 
period, the fiscal concerns of the country wure in a most deplorable state, awl 

vor,. n. 31 


When the State constitution was submitted for acceptance to 
Paxton, in 1780, the following amendments were unanimously 

In the Bill of Rights, Art. 3, " we do not find that the Legisla- 
tive body are empowered to make laws to prevent the breach of 
the Sabbath." It was therefore voted to insert after the word "ait- 
thorise," kc. "to enact laws to prevent the breach of the Christian 

Part 2. Chap. 2. Sect. 1. Art. 2. " Our forefathers did not only 
go under that extensive word christians, but protestunts, and we mean 
not to have any other but protestants to rule us, but as occasion 
may require in the army." Therefore voted, " Dele the word 
christian and insert protcstant." For the same reasons a like amend- 
ment was proposed to the 1st Art. 2d Section of this chapter, and 
to the 1st Art. of chapter 6th. They likewise deemed seven years, 
instead of fifteen, a sufficient time to test the goodness of that con- 
stitution, and voted an amendment accordingly to the 10th Art. of 
the 6th chapter. All the other parts were unanimously adopted. 

State of Literature, &c. — From the first settlement of this 
town to the present time there has not been so much attention paid 
to literary and scientific education as in some others. A handsome 

the raising; of money, especially among the common classes, extremely diffi- 
cult. Many had become discouraged from the long- continuance of the war, 
the pressing; exigencies of the country, and the exhausted state of the means 
for supplies. The moment seemed propitious for the accomplishment of ihe 
Royalists' wishes; it was seized upon by them, and a spirit of insubordination 
spread in some degree through the country. In many tow us some of the in- 
habitants utterly refused to pay their taxes, and several attempts were made 
to prevent, by force, the constables from collecting them by distress. An af- 
fair of this kind happened in Paxton, which was related to the writer by an 
individual engaged in it. Three Cows had been taken by the Collector, in 
1781, to pay the taxes of certain individuals, who had refused so to do. Se- 
cret exertions were made by the friends of the delinquents, and a large num- 
ber in Paxton and the adjacent towns, agreed to meet at the time and place 
of the proposed sale, to stay proceedings, vi ft annis. They met accordingly, 
each man carrying a large bludgeon beneath his coat. But information of 
this plot had been communicated to the committee of safety and correspon- 
dence about thirty six hours before the sale, and measures were tak< n to pre- 
vent its execution. One or two neighboring magistrates agreed to be present, 
and appeared with a sufficient number of the patriotic citizens from this and 
some of the other towns, to the confusion of the maleconteuts. After much 
unavailing exertion, by the well disposed, to have the affair amicably set- 
tled, the collector proceeded to make the sale. The insurgents, firm to their 
purpose, gathered around and threatened destruction to him who should dare 
to make a bid. One was made, but instead of "beating out the brains" of 
the bidder, the insurgents unexpectedly pulled out the bars of the yard, and 
let the cows escape. An affray ensued in which some blows were exchang- 
ed ; but ord -r was soon restored, and th< demands of the collector satisfied. 
Several of the ringleaders were afterwards indicted ; two from Paxton, one of 
whom was fined and imprisoned, and the other fined. 


support has, however, been given to common schools, of which 
there are, and have been for many years, five ; and the inhabitants 
have generally been enabled to become sufficiently learned for the 
correct transaction of ordinary business in life. The clergyman 
has generally been the only resident in the town of collegiate edu- 
cation. Previous to the year 1807, not a single native citizen of 
Paxton had ever received a degree from, or been admitted a mem- 
ber of, any public college, with the exception of one.* Since that 
time seven have graduated at different colleges, viz: 

1 tJohn F. Livermore, Dartmouth College, 1810 

2 Increase S. Smith, Brown University, Preceptor 

of the Academy at Hingham, 1821 

3 Elbridge G. Howe, do. Missionary in Illinois, 1821 

4 John Pierce, do. Clergyman Sangersfield, N. Y. 1822 

5 George W. Livermore, H. U. Student at Law, 1823 

6 Cyrus W. Conant, Union College, N. Y. 1824 

7 tCharles Livermore, Harvard University, 182S 
There has never been any permanent school in the town for 

teaching the higher branches of literature, and but little desire lias 
ever been manifested for their pursuit. The young ladies of the 
town are, however, deserving much credit for their recent exer- 
tions to raise the literary reputation of the place. About two years 
ago, a number associated together for the purpose of mutual as- 
sistance in literary improvement, styling themselves " The Paxton 
Female Reading Society.' 1 '' They have since been joined by almost 
all the young ladies of the town, and by their united exertions have 
collected a small Library, the first and only one of a public nature 
in the place, to which they are making gradual additions. Jt is 
hoped they will fully compass their laudable design. 

There are no manufacturing establishments in the town, except 
on a limited scale. There are a few cotton and wool cards made, 
some shoes, chairs, wagons, and scythes. There are a sufficient 
number of different kinds of mechanics for the accommodation of 
the inhabitants. At present there is but one public house and one 
store. The inhabitants are mostly industrious farmers, and are con- 
tent to obtain a comfortable living, and to u eat their bread in the 
sweat of the brow ;" alike free from the care and vexation of great 
riches, and the suffering and wretchedness of real poverty. 

* A Mr. Snow, but it is believed, that he died while a member, or imme- 
diately after he graduated. Mr. James Day also graduated before that time, 
who was a citizen, but not a native of the town. tDead. 

244 - 


The following;, Discourse, delivered by the Rev. Aaron BANCROFT, D. D. 
July 9, 1826, the Sunday following the death of the late President 
Adams, contains a valuable biographical notice of that distinguished 
individual. , 



Civil Government is established by a divine sanction. The 
civil ruler is the minister of God, and is appointed to promote the 
order, peace and prosperity of society. He only is the legitimate 
ruler of Heaven, who habitually acts under impressions of his res- 
ponsibility to his Maker, with a view to the welfare of those 
whose important interests are committed to his management, and 
from a regard to the final issue of the Divine administrations. 
My first position then is this, 

1. Moral qualifications are indispensable requisites in a civil 

The wisdom of all ages, and the experience of all time, unite to 
teach us, that the tranquillity, strength, and happiness of society, 
depend on the virtue of its members. If moral virtue be the basis 
of public prosperity, then religion is essential to the security of 
this blessing, for a religious principle only has sufficient strength to 
support the conflicts of virtue. Vain is the expectation that polit- 
ical considerations will direct the actions of men without the aid of 
religion. The man, who looks no higher for the motives of his 
conduct, than to the rules of political morality, may in instances 
without number, be vile and despicable. 

If moral qualifications be essential to the character of a good 
citizen, they must be indispensable to that of the ruler, who, by the 
power of office and the force of example, has controlling influence. 
The higher the office, the more it concerns public interest, that 
he, who fills it, should act under a sense-of obligation to Hirn, who 
is higher than the highest. We can never rely on the fidelity of 
that ruler, who does not reverence the Governor of the Universe. 
Intellectual talents, and literary acquisitions, experience and cour- 
teous address are desirable attributes of public characters ; these, 
rightly directed, are useful and ornamental on the seat of judgment, 


and in the chair of State ; hut without moral principle, these are 
only ability to do evil ; and the greater are the accomplishments of 
the man, the more dangerous is the ruler. To the policy that de- 
serves the name of prudence and wisdom, religion gives its sanc- 
tion ; and the methods which religion prescribes for the manage- 
ment of public affairs, are usually more successful than is the cun- 
ning of the wily statesman. A righteous end is best promoted by 
righteous means. A just way is obvious and direct, and the righ- 
teous ruler erreth not in it; but the man of duplicity is often en- 
tangled in the intricacies of his own artifice. People can place con- 
fidence in the correct conduct of a wicked magistrate no farther, 
than they suppose his personal ambition or his worldly interest to 
be involved ; but the religious man acts under the influence of a 
principle which gives the best security for right conduct in every 
situation. People are in no danger of suffering from the ambition 
or pride, from the avarice or sensuality of this ruler; his power is 
the power of God ; it is a terror to evil doers, and a praise and en- 
couragement to all who do well. 

2. It becomes civil rulers to reflect on their personal weakness 
and mortality. 

Though civil rulers be for a time exalted as gods, yet they must 
die as men, and give account like one of the people. It must hum- 
ble the great to consider that on the morrow their greatness shall 
be brought down to the dust, and that at the judgment seat of Christ 
moral properties will alone give distinction. Even the most exalt- 
ed and patriotic of men must he humbled by reflecting on the lim- 
ited sphere which distinguished characters fill, on the short dura- 
tion of their public agency, and on the smallness of the chasm made 
when they are removed from their stations. The wise and rever- 
ed statesman dies; but his death does not interrupt the prosecution 
of public measures; and his exit is scarce observed by the great 
body of the community. As one generation of human beings in the 
ordinary path of life succeeds, and takes the place of another; so 
one public character succeeds and fills the office which a predecessor 
held; and the great functions of civil society are without interrup- 
tion performed. > 

3. A view to posthumous reputation may laudably actuate a 
ruler, but a regard to the retribution of heaven will alone support 
'him under the conflicts and sacrifices to which patriotism some- 
times leads. 

The greatest and best minds have intensely felt the desire of 


posthumous fame. Many have thought that no exertion was too 
great to secure it. Eminent men of the Gentile world, unsettled 
in their opinions respecting a future existence, manifested an ar- 
dent wish to transmit a good reputation to distant posterity, and 
therehy secure to themselves immortality on earth. Grateful to 
every man must be a rational persuasion, thnt he shall bequeath to 
his children, family and friends, a character of purity and worth, 
and leave a name in the community, which shall long be holden in 

A thirst for popular fame may be ignoble. The man who 
adopts opinions because they are fashionable, and from selfish mo- 
tives, yields himself to popular prejudices and passions, is every 
way contemptible, and usually his base motive is discovered, and he 
sinks into deserved disgrace ; but the man, who holds fast his righ- 
teousness, who lets not his integrity go, who permits not his heart 
to reproach him so long as he lives, will generally secure public 
confidence, and when called from his agency, his memory will be 
honored among survivors. This honorable memory is in the bible 
promised as a part of the reward of goodness. The memory of 
the just shall be blessed ; the righteous shall be had in everlasting 
remembrance. But occasions arise when all worldly motives fail 
the patriotic ruler; his integrity may be impeached, his benevolent 
exertions censured and condemned, his general character denounc- 
ed, and he may approach the period of public and private life, in 
the full expectation, that his namu will be remembered only for the 
purpose of execration. Under circumstances thus fitted to disheart- 
en and depress, the religious man, self-possessed, may remain im- 
moveably at his post. He has the testimony of his conscience to 
the rectitude of his aims and purposes, he places his confidence in 
God ; and he looks forward to the decisions of an heavenly tribunal 
for his justification and reward. Let his riches take to themselves 
wings and fly away ; let the wreath of worldly honor wither on his 
brow ; let disease wear away his bodily constitution, and death break 
asunder all human ties : he sustains no essential loss, lie is only 
removed to a higher state of existence. lie is dismissed from the 
cares and labors of earth, that he may be admitted to the brighter 
honors, the nobler employments, and purer joys of heaven. 

The national observances of the last week, and the recent death 
of a distinguished revolutionary character, led me to the reflections 
of this morning. 

On an occasion like this, our retrospection is carried to events 



that took place in the early settlement of our country, and our re- 
view rests on the venerated men, who at that time encountered the 
greatest dangers, and submitted to the severest privations. They, 
with invincible resolution, submitted to their perils and toils, not 
merely that they themselves might enjoy the blessings of freemen, 
but principally that they might transmit to their posterity the best 
public institutions, and leave to them, as an invaluable inheritance, 
civil and religious liberty. These all long since badeadieu to sublu- 
nary scenes. Many intermediate generations between them and 
us also sleep in the grave. We, who are now reaping the rich har- 
vest of their labors, like them shall soon pass away ; but by Divine 
blessing, we will leave our goodly heritage unimpaired to those, 
who are following us in the path of life, 

It is the memory of the first pilgrims only that we can now cher- 
ish, and this remark may also be applied to most of those, who en- 
countered the conflicts of the Revolution. But two individuals now 
survive of those who signed the Declaration of Independence, Mr. 
Jefferson of Virginia, and Mr. Carroll of Maryland.* Fayette ex- 
cepted, not an individual, who bore the commission of a General 
officer in the American army, during that struggle, now lives. May 
the declining years of officers and soldiers, who yet survive, be 
cheered by the grateful attentions of their country; and to the des- 
titute among them, may this country not merely say, be ye clothed, 
and be ye filled, but give them those things that are needful for 
the body. 

The eminent citizen of our Commonwealth, whose exit demands 
our present notice, lived in an eventful period of the world, and he 
was permitted to serve his country in a manner, in which few men 
ever possessed power and opportunity for similar services. He 
was intimately acquainted with all the causes which led to a revo- 

*Ina few hours after the delivery of this discourse, information was re- 
ceived that Mr. Jefferson departed from this life on the 4th inst. The asso- 
ciations in the lives of Messrs. Adams and Jefferson, and the coincidencies of 
their deaths, were most remarkable. They were both members of Congress 
in 1776, and they were selected by the Committee of Congress to draught 
the Declaration of Independence. Mr. J. was the author of the Instrument, 
and Mr. A. supported it in the most powerful manner, when the measure was 
discussed by that body. At the peace of 1783, they were appointed Minis- 
ters to the two most important Kingdoms in Europe, France, and England. 
They in succession filled the highest offices in the government of the United 
States. They were the heads oftwo political parties, which agilated the whole 
country, and during the conflicts of the period were frequently opposed. In 
their retirement they became reconciled to each other, and lived to see these 
parties in a great measure amalgamated. They both departed from this 
world on the day of the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of our nation. 


lution, which probably involves the best interests of every future 
generation of our countrymen ; and which, under providence, seems 
designed to have an important influence on the destiny of Foreign 
nations. In all measures relating to this momentous transaction, lie 
had a primary agency. While the history of the United States is 
preserved, the scenes of our revolution will fill some of its most 
prominent pages ; and as long as our language shall be perpetuat- 
ed, the name of our patriot will be holden in honorable remem- 

John Adams was born in Braintree, now Quincy, on the 19th of 
October, 1735. In July, 1755, he graduated at Harvard Universi- 
ty. He, on leaving College, undertook the instruction of the Town 
School in Worcester. His Father was a respectable, but not weal- 
thy farmer, and having given his son a Collegiate education, he left 
him subsequently to support himself. This, at that period, was a 
common practice in all inland country towns. The school furnish- 
ed the means to meet the expense of his legal studies in the office 
of James Putnam, Esq. then an attorney of celebrity in this county. 
In 1758, he entered the office of Robert Auchmuty, Esq. resident in 
lloxbury, and in 1759 commenced his professional career in Boston. 

Mr. Adams had but entered public life, when the controversy 
respecting the prerogatives of the parent government and the 
rights of the provinces readied an important crisis. On one side, 
the British Parliament issued a Declaration that they possessed pow- 
er to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever, and on the other, 
the Provincial assembly denied that they owed subjection to Par- 
liament, and protested against any tax laid on the colonies by this 
authority. They professed allegiance to the king, and acknowl- 
edged that he, in Council possessed a constitutional power to regu- 
late their trade, &c. Mr. Adams was admirably qualified to take a 
part in this political contention. He possessed strong powers of 
mind, his natural temperament was high, his passions were ardent, 
and his constitutional inflexibility, which in small concerns appear- 
ed like weakness and obstinacy, in important affairs rose to a reso- 
lution that surmounted all opposition. An undaunted spirit, and an 
invincible fortitude in the prosecution of a purpose, were as impor- 
tant 1o a revolutionary leader in the 18th, as these attributes were 
essential to the character of the great reformer in the 16th cen- 
tury. And between Luther and our countryman, there was a simi- 
larity, both in respect to the character of their minds, and to their 
constitutional defects. 


Daring the few years devoted to professional duties, Mr. Adams 
rose to distinction; and lie was numbered with the patriots, who 
openly asserted the freedom of their country, and boldly defended 
its rights. In March, 1770, an unhappy affray happened between a 
detachment of the British troops and numbers of the inhabitants of 
Boston : several persons being killed by the tiring of the soldiery, 
popular resentment rose to a great height, and vengeance was 
loudly demanded against the assailants. Under this excitement, 
Mr. Adams opposed the prevalent frenzy, defended the officer and 
his men in a court of justice, and supported law against the out- 
rage of a mob. The indictment on this trial was for murder, hut 
the verdict of the jury acquitted the officer, and reduced the of- 
fence of the soldiers who fired, to manslaughter. This manly and 
independent discharge of duty exposed him to momentary suspic- 
ion ; but the confidence of his countrymen rested on a foundation 
too stable to be shaken by a transaction of this nature. 

In 1774, Mr. Adams was elected a member of the Continental 
Congress appointed to meet at Philadelphia, and deliberate on the 
general interests of the American colonics. In this body Mr. Adams 
became a conspicuous and able member. When hostilities com- 
menced, and no hopes remained of reconciliation on sale principles 
with the parent country, no nvember was more efficient than he in 
preparing Congress to take a permanent stand as an independent 
nation. At this crisis, from policy, a member from Virginia was so- 
licited to move the resolution for Independence. Mr. Adams sec- 
onded the motion, and supported the measure by an eloquent and 
powerful argument. 

Mr. Adams, in 177G, was appointed Chief Justice of Massachu- 
setts, but his more extended engagements prevented his filling this 
honourable office. In September, of this year, Congress commis- 
sioned Dr. Franklin, J. Adams and E. Kutledge, Esqs. to open a 
conference with Lord Howe. They had an interview with him on 
Staten Island. His Lordship refused to treat with Congress as a 
legitimate body, and the committee refused to act in their individ- 
ual capacity. The meeting therefore had no practical result. — 
In 1778, he was sent to France in a public character, in the hope 
of conciliating that government to the new order of things on the 
American Continent. He returned to the place of his nativity in 
1779, and assisted in the formation of the constitution of our Com- 
monwealth, which has been the model of most constitutions since 

vor.. ir. 32 


In November, 1779, Mr. A<l;ims was invested with two commis- 
sions by Congress, on* constituting him minister plenipotentiary to 
negotiate a peace with Great Britain, the second to negotiate a 
treaty of commerce with that power. On the 17th day of this month 
he embarked for Europe. In 1780, Congress invested him with a 
po.ver to negotiate loans with any person or persons, pi< cluing the 
faith ot the United States to ratify his contracts; and in 1701, he 
was constituted in due form Minister to Holland. In the execution 
of these important trusts, he greatly aided the cause of his country. 
By his writings in the public Journals of Holland, and !>y his commu- 
nications with distinguished individuals he obtained loans, and was 
thereby enabled to forward to America the materials of successful 
warfare. In the definitive treaty of peace, he had a primary agency, 
and with unyielding inflexibility maintained the rights of a sover- 
eign nation. 

While abroad, Mr. Adams, in a series of publications abounding 
with deep research ami manifesting great political knowledge, ex- 
plained and defended our civil constitutions, and illustrated the ne- 
cessity of checks and balances in the several departments of gov- 

Great Britain having 1 acknowledged our independence, and peace 
being established, Mr. Adams was the first minister of the United 
States to the Court of London. Here a novel circumstance was 
presented. The King, who had declared that he would never con- 
sent to the dismemberment of his empire, received a minister from 
a Republic, composed of his revolted province-; ; the minister was 
a citizen, who had been marked as an arch rebel, and had the crown 
prevailed, he would have been destined to an halter. The address 
on this singular occasion was Ironornhie to the minister ami to his 
country ; the reply of the King was magnanimous. (Sec note A.) 

When the presenl constitution of the United Stales went into 
operation, our citizen was placed in the important station o; Vice 
President, and was efficient in carrying the principles of the gov- 
ernment into beneficial effect. At a very important crisis, he suc- 
ceeded Gen. Washington as President of l he United Stales. The 
personal character of President Washington bad saved, and perhaps 
his influence alone could have saved, the country from being in- 
volved in the destiny of infatuated France. The French revolution 
had excited a party spirit among our countrymen of great acrimony, 
and when the government deemed it necessary to repel encroach- 
ments directed against the vital principles ot a sovereign nation, vi- 


olent opposition arose ; and some measures then adopted, were at- 
tended with great and continued disapprobation. The odium of 
these measures rested in no small degree on the principal of the 
administration, and to this day, many seem disposed to visit the er- 
rors of the father on the son. 

Goaded by the criminations of his political opponents, wounded by 
the dereliction of some whom he had considered as his friends, mor- 
tified at the issue of his political career, and irritated by the re- 
flection that his patriotic services were not rewarded by the grati- 
tude which he thought they merited, his constitutional propensitise 
appeared, and in the heal of passion he spake unadvisedly with his 
tongue. But if he reviled his opponents, his opponents were not 
behind him in the acrimony of their censures, or the bitterness of 
their criminations. The defects he in these instances manifested 
should be considered as imperfections in the man, and not as faults 
in the ruler. His integrity was never impeached. Never did he 
descend to base arts for the sake of popularity. Open, explicit, 
firm, he maintained a consistent course, and from every public of- 
fice he retired with clean hands. 

His residence fixed at his native village, he inconsiderately 
yielded to the solicitation of a vain relative, and imprudently unbo- 
somed his feelings in confidential letters, which being at a subse- 
quent period treacherously made public, revived political animosi- 
ties, which at the time had almost passed from public recollection. 
But he lived till the bruit, occasioned by this publication, was 
hushed into silence. 

In 1820, President Adams was elected a member from Quincy 
of the Convention, chosen to revise the constitution of Massachusetts. 
This convention in the most respectful manner elected him their 
President. Declining this honorable office on account of infirmity by 
age, he occasionally attended the deliberations of this body, and revis- 
ed the constitution, which forty years before he had assisted to form. 
This transaction closed his public life. Retaining his mental powers 
in an uncommon degree, in his retirement he was visited by many dis- 
tinguished characters, and under the gradual decline of life, he was 
cheered by a view of the increasing prosperity of the nation. He liv- 
ed to see the three millions, that composed the inhabitants of the as- 
sociated provinces in 1776, multiplied into twelve millions ; he lived 
till thirteen states were increased to twenty four, till the original fron- 
tier of the United States became the centre of a numerous population, 
till the basis of society in his country was widely extended, and the 


means of human happiness were greatly increased. lie lived to wit- 
ness the unexampled progress; of ihe United Stales in all those im- 
provements, which render country dear and life valuable. His ex- 
istence was protracted to the Jubilee of our national birth ; and 
enough 0/ mind then remained, to recognize its associations, and 
strength enough to exclaim " a great, a happy day." The first sounds 
of his manly voice were heard in defence of the rights of his coun- 
try ; and the accents of expiring nature were aspirations of thanks 
for public blessings. When the measure of human life was lull, and 
while his own son was at the head of the national administration, 
at the. expiration of iifty years from the promulgation of indepen- 
dence, his spirit ascended amidst the mingled incense of devout 
praise and gratitude, that arose from the altars of our land for our 
public peace, health and prosperity. A glorious exit. 

But the brightest feature in the character of President Adams 
has not yet been presented to your view, lie was a religious man. 
He lived under deep impressions of Divine superintendence, he 
reverenced the authority of God, and made religion the rule of his 
conduct. Firmly established, on the result of examination, in the 
belief of the truth of Christianity, he cordially embraced it, and liv- 
ed in the habitual observance of its public institutions. No compa- 
ny was pprmitted to draw him away from his constant attendance, 
on public worship : but he ever left those gentlemen around his 
table, who were not inclined to accompany him to the house of 
prayer. lie honored the Saviour by commemorating his death in 
the rite of the supper, and his general conversation was such as be- 
cometh the gospel. Under the infirmities of age, religion support- 
ed him, and he died in the expectation of being admitted into the 
society of just men made perfect, of becoming personally acquaint- 
ed with Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and of dwell- 
ing forever in the tidiness of the presence of God. 

The public character of our illustrious citizen, I present to you, 
my young friends, who are engaged in various professional pursuits. 
Few of you commence your career under circumstances more un- 
favorable than his were. Let his success animate your efforts. 
Though opportunity may not be given you to serve your country 
and generation as he did, nor to rise in society to his height of em- 
inence ; yet if you emulate his application and fortitude, his recti- 
tude and constancy, you will be qualified for distinguished useful- 
ness, your course will become respectable, and your names will 
be honored. 


The religious example of President Adams I present to all class- 
es in society tor their imitation. Comparatively tew can make 
themselves conspicuous hy ihe acquisition of abundant wealth, few- 
er can rise to pre-eminent distinction as legislators and statesmen ; 
but all may become pious and good christians. The qualifications 
of the christian disciple cannot be purchased with geld, nor shall 
silver he weighed as the value of it, the price of wisdom is above 
rubies. The man who honorably supports in society the character 
appointed him, and in his place executes with fidelity the commis- 
sion of life, which he has received, accomplishes the purposes of 
his present existence ; and his appropriate rewards are not the 
fading honors of this world. The promise, which God by Jesus 
Christ has made to all those who till up the measure of their duty 

in the relations they now fill, is ETERNAL LIFE. 



A work recently published in England, under tin title of' George the Third, 
his Court and Family, 1 '' givts the following description of the introduction 
of the distinguished Adams, a< the Levee of Gt orge the Third, to which al- 
lusion is made m the foregoing ailicle. It was contained in a letter writ- 
ten hy .Mr. Adams himseli to the Sec-etary of State. 

At one, on Wednesday the fust June, (says Mr. Adams) the 
master of ceremonies called at my house, went with me to the 
Secretary of State's office, in Cleaveland-row, where the Marquis 
of Carmarthen received me, and introduced me to Mr. Frazier, his 
under secretary, who had been, as his lordship said, uninterrupted- 
ly in that office through all the changes in administration for thirty 
years, bavin"; first been appointed by the Earl of Ilolderness. 

After a short conversation upon the subject of importing my 
effects from Holland and France, free of duty, which Mr. Fra- 
zier himself introduced, Lord Carmarthen invited me to go with 
him in his coach to court. When we arrived in the antechambers, 
the master of the ceremonies introduced me, and attended me, 
while the Secretary of State went to take the commands of the 
King. While I stood in this place, where it seems all ministers 
stand upon such occasions, always attended by the master of the 
ceremonies, the room very full of ministers of state, bishops and 
all other sorts of courtiers, as well as the next room, which is the 
King's bed-chamber, you may well suppose that 1 was the focus of 
all eyes. I was relieved, however, from the embarrassment of it, by 
the Swedish and Dutch ministers; who came to me, and entertain- 
ed me with a very agreeable conversation during the whole time. 
Some other gentlemen, whom I had seen before, came to make 


their compliments too, until the Marquis of Carmarthen returned 
ami desired me to go with him to his Majesty. I went with his 
lordship, through the levee-room to the King 1 ? closet — the door 
was shut, and I was left with his Majesty and the secretary of state 
alone. 1 made the three reverences; one at the door, another 
abou*. halfway, and the third before the presence, according tolhe 
usage established at this and all the northern courts of Europe, and 
then addressed myself to His Majesty in the following words: — 

"Sire — ^Iiq United Slates have appointed me Minister plenipo- 
tentiary to your Majesty, and have directed me to deliver to your 
Majesty this letter, which contains the evidence of it. It is in obe- 
dience to their express commands, that 1 have the honor to assure 
your Majesty of their unanimous disposition and desire to cultivate 
the most friendly and liberal intercourse between your Majesty's 
subjects and their citizens, and of their best wishes for your Majes- 
ty's health and happiness, and for that of your family." 

" The appointment of a minister from the United States to your 
Majesty's court will form an epoch in the history of England and 
America. I think myself more fortunate than all my fellow-citizens, 
in having the distinguished honor to be the first to stand in your 
Majesty's royal presence in a diplomatic character; and 1 shall es- 
teem myself the happiest of men ifl can be instrumental in recom- 
mending my country more and more to your Majesty's royal benev- 
olence, and of restoring an entire esteem, cnnlidcn e, and affection ; 
or in better words 'the good old nature, and the good old humor,' 
between people, who, though separated by an ocean, and under dif- 
ferent governments, have the same language, a similar religion, a 
kindred blood. I beg your Majesty's permission to add, that al- 
though I have sometimes before been intrusted by my country, it 
was never in my whole life in a manner so agreeable to myself." 

The King listened to every word 1 said, with dignity it is true, 
but with an apparent emotion ; whether it was the nature of (be in- 
terview, or whether it was my visible agitation, for 1 felt more than 
I could, express, that touched him, 1 cannot say ; but he became much 
affected, and answered me with more tremour than I had spoken 
with, and said : — 

« Sir — The circumstances of this audience are so extraordinary, 
the language you have now held is so extremely proper, and the 
feelings you have discovered so justly adapted to the occasion, that 
I must say, that I not only receive with pleasure the assurance of 
the friendly disposition of the United Stales, hut that I am glad the 


choice has fallen upon you to be their minister. I wish your sir, 
to beleive, and that it may be understood in America, that I have 
done nothing in the late contest but what I thought myself indis- 
pensably bound to do, by the duty which 1 owed to my people. I 
will be very frank with you. 1 was the last to conform to the sep- 
aration ; but the separation having been made and having become 
inevitable, 1 have always said, as 1 now say, that 1 would be the 
first to meet the friendship of the United States as an independent 
power. The moment 1 see such sentiments and language as your's 
prevail and a disposition to give this country the preference, that 
moment 1 shall say, let the circumstances of language, religion, and 
blood have their natural and lull effect." 

I dare not say that these were the king's precise words : and 
it is even possible that I may have in some particulars mistaken his 
meaning, for although his pronunciation is as distinct as I ever 
heard, he hesitated sometimes between members of the same peri- 
od. He was, indeed, much affected, and 1 was not less so, and 
therefore I cannot be certain that I was so attentive, heard so 
clearly, and understood so perfectly, as to be confident of all his 
words or sense ; and I think that all he said to me should at pres- 
ent he kept secret in America, except his majesty or his secretary of 
state, should judge proper to repeat it. This 1 do say, that the fore- 
going is his majesty's meaning, as I then understood it, and his own 
words, as nearly as I can recollect them. 

The king then asked me whether 1 came last from France; 
and upon my answering in the affirmative, he put on an air of fa- 
miliarity, and smiling said, ' there is an opinion among some people 
that you are not the most attached of all your countrymen to the 
manners of France.' I was surprised at this, because I thought it 
an indiscretion, and a descent from his dignify. I was a little em- 
barrassed, but determined not to deny the truth on the one hand, 
nor lead him to infer from it any attachment to England on the 
other. I threw off as much gravity as I could, and assumed an air 
of gayety, and a tone of decision, as far as was decent, and said, 
'That opinion, sir, is not mistaken. I must avow to your majesty, 
I have no attachment but to my own country.' The king replied 
as quick as lightning: ' An honest man will never have any other.' 

The king then said a word or two to the secretary of state, 
which, being between them, I did not hear; and then turned round, 
and bowed to me, as is customary with all kings and princes when 
they give the signal to retire. I retreated, stepping backwards, a? 


is the etiquette ; ami making- my last reverence at the door of the 
chamber I went my way. The master of the ceremonies joined me 
(he moment of my coming out of the king's clo<et, and accompani- 
ed me through all the apartments down to my carriage ; several 
stages of servants, gentlemen porters, and under porters, roaring out 
like thunder, as 1 went along, Mr. Adams' servants, Mr. Adams' car- 
riage, &.c. 

It has been the object of the Publishers to present to their friends and 
subscribers, a work of permanent value, which should not only furnish pleas- 
ant reading for present amusement, but beneficial information for future use. 
How far tbey have succeeded is not for them to determine : they may, how- 
ever, appeal with a feeling of satisfaction, to the historical sketches of North- 
borough, Leicester and Shrewsbury, and the memorials of other towns, from 
the pens of able and faithful writers, as evidence that they have not been 
wholly disappointed. In the execution of their design of furnishing a minute 
and particular account of each town in the county of Worcester, they have 
been compelled rigorously to exclude articles of more general interest and 
miscellaneous character. Could they succeed in accomplishing their design, 
they hazard nothing in saying, tbat a more minute and accurate history of 
our territory, its population and resources would be furnished, than is now 
possessed by any section of the United States. But they are not in a situation 
which permits great sacrifices of time, labor and expense. Thty cannol hide 
from themselves, and they ought not to conceal from their readers, that their 
undertaking cannot be prosecuted to a successful conclusion without more ef- 
ficient patronage, and that, at the termination of the present volume, unless 
aided by more extensive and increased support, their labors must be suspend- 
ed, to await a more favorable period. 


In Mr. Crosby's notice of West Boylston, the number of the well known 
Farmer's Almanac issued in the year, is staled at 30,000 ; it should be in- 
creased to 06,000. 

The names of Mr, Ilildreth and Mr. Moore, have been formerly included 
among the graduates from Colleges, as natives of Sterling. They were born 
in the teiritory originally included within that town. 

The next number will contain an account of the town of Lancaster, 
by Joseph Wiu.ard, Esq. 


2at^©mt<SA& $<®^mii;A^ 

VOL. II. SEPTE3MBE&, 1826. 2*0. 5. 




In giving a sketch of the history of Lancaster, I lahor under se- 
rious disadvantages. Those valuable sources of information, the 
records, are quite imperfect: the records of the Church till the 
time of Rev. Mr. Prentice in 1708, are lost; while those of the 
town extend no further back, than 1725 ; the first volume having 
unaccountably disappeared, more than forty years since. After 
much exertion, I have been able, only in part, to supply these de- 
ficiencies, from various and distant quarters ; and from the books of 
the proprietors, in which are preserved some valuable materials: 
but even here there is a lamentable hiatus from 1G71, to 1717, in- 
cluding King Williams' war, of eight, and Queen Ann's war, of elev- 
en years. 

After giving the topography, present state &c. of the town, I 
shall touch upon its civil and ecclesiastical history. 

The town of Lancaster is situated in the north part of the Coun- 
ty of .Worcester, about 33 miles west from Boston,* and 15 miles 
nearly north from Worcester. 

Boundaries. — The general boundaries of the town are as fol- 
lows, viz. north by Shirley and Lunenburgh, west by Leominster 
and Sterling, south by Boylston and Berlin, and east by Berlin, Bol- 
ton and Harvard. The general direction of the town, in length, is 
northeast and southwest. The average length, is nine and eleven 
sixteenth miles ; the greatest length nine and fifteen sixteenths, de- 

* The distance was till the last ytar, 35 miles. The great alterations in 
'.he road, especially through Stow, and the new road from Watertown to Cam- 
bridge, make a difference of two milts. 


duced from an accurate map.* It was originally laid out for ten 
miles, and this slight variation of one sixteenth of a mile, was prob- 
ably owing to an error, in the original survey, which will be men- 
tioned in the sequel; a less error it is supposed than was usual in 
such ancient measurements. The breadth, is very irregular; it va- 
ries from 4£ to 2-J miles. 

Roads, Mails, &c. — The public roads extend over 600 acres of 
land. The principal road, is the one leading from Boston, through 
Leominster, to Greenfield and Brattleborough : and another branch of 
it through Sterling, to Barre, Greenfield, &c. The mail arrives and 
departs daily, excepting on Sunday : thirty two mails arc opened and 
closed, and the various stage coaches pass and repass the same num- 
ber of times, in the course of each week. There is a short turn- 
pike road which begins in Bolton, and terminates in Lancaster, a 
mile north of the church. 

Soil, Productions, &.c. — The town contains twenty thousand two 
hundred and eight acres of land. Of this three thousand acres, no 
inconsiderable part of the whole, are intervale, and about seven- 
teen hundred, by estimate, are covered with water. Much of the 
soil is deep and rich. The light lands, produce large quantities of 
rye, barley, oats, &c. while the better part of the upland, and all 
the intervales, are well adapted to Indian corn, the potatoe, grass, 
and indeed to every kind of cultivation, with but comparatively lit- 
tle labor. The intervale, in particular, yields largely, and rewards 
the husbandman, many fold, for the little care he is obliged to take 
of it. 

Its fertility, is owing to the annual overflowings of the river, 
when the ice and snow melt in the spring. The waters become 
turbid by the rapidity of the current, and the earth, that is washed 
into its bosom, is deposited on the land, and serves all the good 
purposes of every kind of manure. These freshes, undoubtedly, 
sometimes occasion much immediate injury : for by reason of the 
elevation of the country in which the river has its sources, and 
through which it passes, the stream rises rapidly, and is borne along 
to the valley of the Nashaway,! by an accelerated and furious cur- 

*Made by order of the General Court in 179J. I have followed the ad- 
vice of a valued friend, and have omitted the boundaries, by degrees, rods, 
•takes, stones, &c. 

t It will be observed that 1 spell the word Nashaway ; it is a better word 
than Nashua, thf> modern alteration, or refinement, as some may think it. 
The formpr. is the ancient reading, the true orthography ; tor which, I have 
the authority of Winthrop, Colony Records, Middlesex Records, proprietor's 
books, &c. from 1C43, to % late period. The innovation should be rejected at 
aace, sis & corruption. 


tent, filled with large cakes of ice, destroying mill dams, and sweep- 
ing away bridges, in its destructive course.* In the spring of 1818, 
it was very busy in the work of ruin : most of the bridges were 
dashed in pieces by the ice, and none, I believe^ escaped uninjured. 
Since that time, only two bridges have suffered; one in the spring 
of 1823, called the Centre Bridge, just below the confluence of the 
two branches of the river, and the other, during the. last spring, 
(1826,) on the south branch, between the first mentioned bridge, 
and the late Dr. Atherton's residence. But, notwithstanding the 
numerous losses that have been sustained of old and of late years, 
they are far outweighed by the annual benefits, which the Nasha- 
way, bestows upon the land.t The principal trees on the uplands, 
are the ever-green, and oak of the different kinds, the chesnut, ma- 
ple, kc. on the intervales, the elm in all its beautiful variety and 
the walnut. | More atteution is now paid to the cultivation of fruit 
trees, than formerly ; but it is chiefly confined to the apple, and in 
fact, to the pear. A strange neglect has ever prevailed, with re- 
gard to the delicious summer fruits, as the cherry, peach, plum, ap- 
ricot, nectarine, garden strawberry, &c. that might be cultivated 
with but little expense of time or money. No place, within my 
knowledge, in this state, is better adapted to these fruits, both as 
it respects the soil, exposure to the sun, and gardens ready made. 
Some few individuals are beginning to think of these things, and to 
set out trees : and probably in a few years, these articles of luxury 
that may be so cheaply obtained, will be more generally attended 
to. At present, excepting a few tolerable, and some intolerable 
cherries, and a few wild strawberries, &c. we have nothing, deserv- 
ing the name of summer fruit. A few sorry peaches, the growth 
of other places, perhaps I should mention, are occasionally sold in 

Surface of the Country, i$-c. — The general surface is undulat- 
ing, with no very high or steep ascents. The principal eminence, 

* The damage to bridges in 1813, amounted to $1639 71. 

t Whitney says that " the river overflows the whole interval twice in a. 
year, in the spriug, and in autumn." However, this may have been in his- 
day, it is not so in this nineteenth century. 

% Of the Shagbark kind. Much attention was paid by some of the prin- 
cipal inhabitants, some seventy years since, in ornamenting different spots, 
•with the elm, and we, of the present day, enjoy the beauty, and the shade. 
The present age i9 less considerate in this respect. Dumbiedikes 1 advice to 
bis son is disregarded — " Jock, when ye hae naething else to do, ye may be 
aye sticking in a tree ; it will be growing, Jock, when ye're sleeping. My 
father tauld me «ae forty year» sin.', but 1 ne'er fand time to mind him." 


is called George hill ;* a fertile and delightful ridge, extending about 
two miles from southwest to northeast, on the west side of the town. 
Nearly parallel with this and rising gently from the river which 
skirts it on all sides but the north, is what is frequently termed the 
Neck. Not far from its extremity, towards the south west, is the 
centre of the town. The prospect to the east, is confined by the 
range of hills in Harvard and Bolton, beyond the intervale. To 
the west, beyond the intervale on that side, appears the whole 
length of George hill, and as the eye passes over its fine outlines, 
and gentle ascent, it rests upon the Wachusett as the back ground 
of the picture. The walnut tree, and the majestic ehnf are scat- 
tered in pleasing irregularity over the wide spreading intervale. 
The variety of foliage, of light and shade, and the frequent chang- 
es of tints, shadow out a landscape, that never fails to charm all 
who are alive to natural beauties. The prospect is equally invit- 
ing from George hill, and from the hill on the road to Sterling. 

*The southern part of this hill, is the highest and in some points of 
view, may pass for a distinct hill. Tradition says, it took its name from an 
Indian, called by the English, George; who once had his wigwam there. The 
name I first find in the proprietory's records, is under the date of Feb. 1671. 

t There is a number of diiTerent species of the elm in Lancaster. One 
kind is very tall, the branches high and spread but little. In another the 
branches shoot out lower upon the trunk, and extend over a much larger- 
space. A third kind resembles in some measure the first, in form, excepting 
that the trunk is entirely covered with twigs thickly set with leaves, and 
forming a rich green covering to the rough bark, from the ground to the large 
branches. Many of these elms are of great size : The following are the di- 
mensions of a few of them, measured by Mr. Ceorge Carter and myself, in 
July, 182G. 

One on the Boston road, between the house of the late Dr. Atherton and 
the last bridge on the south branch of the Kashaway, measured in circumfer- 
ence twenty six feet at the roots. Another on the old common, so called, and 
near the burying ground, twenty five feet five inches at the roots ; eighteen 
feet at two feet from the ground, and fourteen feet ten inches, at four feet 
from the ground ; the diameter of the circular area and of its branches, measur- 
ed ninety eight feet. A third, southeast Irom center bridge, and near what was 
formerly called the neck bridge, was twenty six feet six inches at the roots, 
and twenty feet, at four feet from the ground. A fourth, a little to the south 
west of the entrance to centre road, and some fifty rods south of the church, 
twenty four feet at the roots, and fifteen feet, at four feet from the ground. 
This tree, when very small was taken up and transplanted between ninety 
and one hundred years ago by the late Col. Abijah Willard. VV'e also meas- 
ured a sycamore tree, a little to the southwest of centre bridge and found its 
circumference at the ground, twenty five feet, and at four feet from the 
ground, eighteen feet. The height of this tree, must be about one hundred 
feet. There are also some large and beautiful elms in front and on one side 
of the Rev. Dr. Thayer's house. They were all set out by his immediate pre- 
decessor the llev. Mr. Harrington. The two largest measure fifteen and 
fourteen feet at the ground. On the farm of Mr. Jonathan Wilder, on the old 
common so called, there is a beach tree which measures eleven feet. It is 
upwards of a century old. A tree of this kind, and sire, is very rare in this 
part of the country. ' 


There is an appearance, occasionally on a summer evening that 
struck me forcibly the first time I beheld it. When the vapours 
are condensed and the moon is up, the whole expanse of the val- 
ley, appears like one broad sheet of water just below you, and ex- 
tending as far as the eye can reach, in distinct vision. The tops of 
the tali trees, as they appear above the mists, look like little is- 
lands, dotting the broad bay. The illusion is perfect, without bor. 
rowing largely from the imagination. 

Minerals, &c. — More than seventy years ago, a largo slate 
quarry was discovered, by a Mr. Flagg, near Cumbery pond, in the 
north part of the town. The slates were in use, as early as 1752 
or 1753, and, after the revolutionary war, were sent in great num- 
bers to Boston, and to the allantic states,* and formed quite an arti- 
cle of commerce. For many years past, however, the quarry has 
not been worked. The slates, I believe, though always considered 
as of an excellent qualify, could not at least come in successful 
competition wiih those imported from Wales, &c, on account of the 
expense of transportation. The water is now quite deep in the 

The minerals, according to Dr. Robinson, are the following. — 
viz. .'hidalitsite, reddish brown, in a rolled mass of white quartz, 
and on George hill in transition mica slate. Made, abundant on 
George hill and elsewhere. Earthy Marl, an extensive bed, in 
New Boston, so called. Pinite r in clay slate : also, green and pur- 
ple ptt&ej fine specimens on George hill in granite. Spodumcne, 
fine specimens, in various parts of the town. Fibralitc 3 abundant in 
mica slate. Phosphate of lime, on George hill, in small hexahedral 
prisms in a spodumene rock, of about two tons in weight. Beat in 
the swamps and low lands, in the south west part of the town.t 

Streams and other bodies of water. — The largest stream that 
flows through the town, and indeed the largest, and most important 

* Whitney says, « great numbers of them are used in Boston every year." 
Tliis was in 1793. 

t A Catalogue of American minerals, -with their localities &c. by Samuel 
Robinson, M. D. Boston, lli25. The marl, mentioned found in great 
abundance. It extends in strata, from the neighborhood, of Messrs. Poigtiand 
& Plant, through New Boston, almost to the middle of the town. Though 
very valuable as a manure it is but little used. Probably individuals are not 
fully sensible of its enriching qualities. Mr. John Low, who has made use of 
it for some years, on light soils, has assured me that it increases the product 
nearly one hall. The few others who have tried it, are abundantly satisfied 
of its "reat service. 

*l>2 lnsroRv or Lancaster. 

in the County, is the river Nashaway, formed by the junction of 
two branches.* The north branch rises from the springs in 
burnham; and from Wachusett pond in Westminster, and passing 
through Fitchburg and Leominster, enters the town on the west. 
The south branch has two sources, one from Rocky pond on the 
east side of the Wachusett, the other from Qu'mepoxet pond, in 
Holden. These unite in West Boylston, and enter the town on the 
south. The two main brandies, after pursuing a devious course 
for many miles, unite near the centre of the town, south east from 
the church. There are a few small streams that issue from Oak 
hill, Mossy, and Sandy ponds, all of which find their way to the riv- 
er. The streams fed by the two latter ponds unite, and between 
their junction and the river, are situated the works of the Lancas- 
ter Cotton Manufacturing Company. 

Besides the rivers, there are ten ponds in Lancaster, viz: 

Turner's pond 
Fort do. 

Part of White's do. 
Great Spectacle do. 
Little do. do. 

Whitney relates, that the "water in Cumberry pond is observ- 
ed to rise as much as two feet, just before a storm," and that ;t San- 
dy pond, rises in a dry time." However pleasing it may be to be- 
lieve these things true, and to have some phenomena of natural 
philosophy in one's own neighborhood, I cannot venture to con- 
firm them, but contrarywise, must set them down, after inquirv, as 
iabulous. There are various springs in town ; from three of them 
on George hill, the village situated a mile south west from the 
church, is bountifully supplied with water, by means of an aqueduct 
consisting of leaden pipes that extend in different directions and 
branches, more than two miles.t 

Bridges. — There are no less than seven bridges over the Nash- 
away supported by the town, besides one half of the bridge leading 
to Harvard. A bridge over the turnpike road, supported by the cor- 

*The first Inhabitants early gave to the north branch, the name of north 
river, the south branch they called Nashaway, and the main river, after the 
junction of the two streams, which is now properly the Nashaway, they nam- 
ed Penecook. 1 find Penecook used in the town records as late as 173G, and 
Borth river, in a deed dated 1744. 

t A company was organized last winter by virtue of Stat. 1798, chap. 53« 
The whole expense of the wark, waa not far from $2000. 




Oak hill pond 



Cumberry do. 



Clamshell do. 



Sandy do. 



Mossy do. 



poration, and one or more private bridges, complete the number. 
Great expenses, as will readily be supposed, have been hitherto 
incurred in maintaining so many bridges — greater, indeed, than 
were necessary. It has, till lately, been usual to build them with 
piers resting upon mud sills, inviting ruin in their very construc- 
tion; for the ice freezing closely round the piers, the water upon 
the breaking up of the river in spring, works its way underneath 
the ice, which forms a compact body under the bridge, raises the 
whole fabric, which thus loosened from its foundations, is swept 
away by the accumulative force of the large cakes of ice that be- 
come irresistible by the power of a very rapid current. A better 
and by far more secure style of building has lately been adopted, 
and from its great superiority, will doubtless gain general favor 
and supercede the old method. Two bridges on the improved 
plan, each consisting of a single arch, have been constructed ; one 
in June, 1823, near " the meeting of the waters," and the other in 
June, 1826. just above, on the south branch of the river.* They 
are entirely out of the reach of the spring tide fury, and though 
more expensive at first, their durability will prove their true econ- 

Mills, Trades, Manufactures, kc. — Lancaster contains five saw 
mills, three grist mills, two fulling and dressing mills, one carding 
machine, one nailfactory, two lathes, turned by water, and two 
brick yards. There are also four wheelwrights, two tanners, ten 
shoemakers, one saddle and harness maker, two cabinet makers, 
one clock and watch maker, six blacksmiths, three white smiths, 
one gunsmith, one baker, one bookseller, one apothecary, one 
stone cutter, one cooper and one hatter. The business of printing- 
maps, is very extensively carried on by Messrs. Horatio and George 
Carter. About ^50,000 are annually struck off, and supply a great 
number of the schools in every part of the United States. In the 
various departments of this business, viz. printing, coloring, binding 
&c. fifteen peusons are usually employed. There are fifteen or six- 
teen establishments for making combs, in which fifty persons, at 
least, are employed. The annual sales of this article are from fif- 
teen to twenty thousand dollars. In consequence of the great im- 

* The bridges vary in length from seventy to one hundred feet. The 
arched bridges were constructed on a plan furnished by Mr. Farnhatn Plum- 
uier, an ingenious mechanic of this town. The chords of the arches are nm° 
ty eight feet sis inches and seventy i'eet respective!/. 


provement in machinery,* within a few years, double the quantity 
of this article is now manufactured, with a considerable deduction 
in price. 

The foundation of the Lancaster Cotton Factory, was begun in 
the fall of 1809, on a small stream, which empties into the south 
branch of the Nashaway. There arc two large buildings, one for 
carding and spinning, with eight hundred and ninety six spindles ; 
the other for weaving, with thirty two looms, which are equal to 
delivering two hundred thousand yards of four fourths sheeting ot 
two qualities, viz. No. 13 and 25, in a year. The stream on which 
the buildings are erected, is fed from swamps and powerful and nev- 
er failing springs, which are supposed to have their sources in Mos- 
sy and Sandy ponds. From the situation of the factories the fall in 
the bed of the stream is secured, upwards of a mile. This fall in 
the whole is about sixty two feet. The present improved mode of 
spinning, by means of circular spindle boxes, was first put in opera- 
tion in this establishment: and one of the managers was the inven- 
tor of the picker for cleaning cotton, with two beaters, now in gen- 
eral use in all well conducted establishments of the kind. The res- 
ident managers are Messrs. -Poignand and Plant, who are assiduous 
in their business. Probably no establishment of the same kind and 
extent, is under better regulations, or is managed to greater advan- 

Pot axd Peaulash. — The manufacture of pot and pcarlashes was 
undertaken in Lancaster, at an earlier period (ban in any other 
part of America. I cannot state the precise time ; but as early as 
1755, these works were in operation. 

In that year, Joseph Wilder, Jr. Esq. and Col. Caleb Wilder, 
sent in a petition to the General Court, that they " have acquired 
the art of making pot and pearlashes, and that they cannot ship 
them, because no assay master has been appointed." The business 
was carried on quite extensively, for many years. Col. Wilder was 
chiefly interested, and the quality of the article made by him was 
so good, that after other similar works were established, his manu- 
facture, was the most valued. 

* The improved machine was an invention of Mr. Famham Hummer of 
this town. ll will cut one hundred and twenty dozen side combs, in a day. 
It cuts out two combs, from a square [>iece of horn, at the same time. The 
circular saw which was previously used, cuts but one tooth at a time. Capt. 
Asahel Harris, an intelligent man, who deals largely in this business, assures 
me that the new machine, is a saving of nearly one half in point of time, that 
it saves also a third part of the stock, besides much, hard labor. It can be 
so constructed as to cut combs of any size. 



At one time the quantity sold annually, was as high as one hund- 
red and fifty tons of pearlash, and eighty of potash. After his death 
his son Levi Wilder conducted the business, nearly to the time of 
his own decease, in 1793. Other individuals,* have at various times 
paid attention to this business, subsequent to Col. Wilder; but now 
it is only a matter of history in this place. 

Stores, &c. — There are in Lancaster five public houses, six 
stores, containing English and fancy goods, &,c. and in five of them 
the usual supply of West India goods. 

Libraries. — The private libraries in this town are not very nu- 
merous. There are, in all of them, about three thousand volumes. 
The books in general, are well selected, there being but little trashy 

A social library now containing nearly four hundred volumes, 
most of them valuable, was established in the year 1790. 

To supply a want that was felt by many, a number of subscrib- 
ers joined together in the autumn of 1821, and established a Read- 
ing Room. The principal and primary object was, to procure the 
most valuable periodical publications, and such miscellaneous works 
of the day, as possessed a good reputation. R was supposed that in 
this way, a taste for reading might increase, and that whatever 
should be done to extend and elevate the love of letters, would 
equally tend to raise the tone of society. The original plan has of 
late been somewhat enlarged, as the establishment gained favor and 
began to promise to be permanent. Besides the class of works con- 
templated at first, books are now admitted from time to time, whose 
fame survives the day, books that have already a standard charac- 
ter. The success of the undertaking has probably surpassed gen- 
eral expectation. The annual increase of the library! of the Read- 
ing Room is not far from one hundred volumes. The whole num- 
ber, at present, is about three hundred : and the increase has been 
greater during the last and present year, than at any earlier period, 
during the same length of time. 

Schools and Academy. — For a few years subsequent to the Rev- 
olutionary war and occasionally, before, the Grammar School was 
kept the whole year, in the centre of the town. J This arrange- 
* Dr. Wm. Dunsmoor, Dr. James Carter, Mr. Oliver Carter and others. 

t It consists of Reviews, works of fiction, poetry, history, voyages, trav- 
els, biography, Sec. 

X A few historical data, relating to schools, may not be without interest. 
la 1729, there were three schools, viz. on the Neck, (near the present town 

vol. ii. 33 


merit did not last long: it was supposed that the requisitions of the 
law could be answered in a way that would bring a fractional part 
of this school, almost to every man's door- It was therefore soon 


others, it was voted, that the school should be kept at divers houses in the 
north part of the tewn: so also in the south west part of the town. Iu 1742, 
three new school houses were built: this was after viie incorporation of Har- 
vard and Bolton. One cf thern was in Chockseil (Sterling-) and the other 
two in Ls.ncas.ter proper. The old school house ou the Nt-ck, above mention- 
ed, was given to Rev. Mr. Prtnlice for a stable 1 1 1757, voted, that the 
grammar school be kept in each precinct, (Lancaster and Sterling;) *' accord- 
ing to what they pay." The reading and writing schools lo be kept in the 
extreme parts of the town, five months in the winter. 1762, voted to give 
leave to Col. Abijah Willard and others, lo build a school house on the town 
land, below the Meeting house in the first parish. 1764, on petition of Levi 
Willard, Esq. and others, voted, that the grammar school for the year ensu- 
ing be kept in the middle of the town, provided they build a. school house, 
and support the school for the year, after trie amount of their taxes has been 
"appropriated for Chat purpose. 

In 1767, the grammar school was kept seven months in the first, and five 
months, in the second precinct : in 1771-72-73-78, one half of the year in each. 
In 1789, the grammar school was kept en nearly the same plan as iu 17G4 ; so 
in 1789- In 1750 voted, to build a school house opposite to Gen- Greeuleaf?. 
Wat. Stedinan, Esq. now occupies the Greenleaf house. 

The following are some of the school masters. 1724. Edward Broughton, 
1725, do. 1726 Mr. Flagg, afterwards Rev. Efaenezer Flagg, of Chester, N. H. 
graduated 1725; 1727, Henry Houghton, Jonathan Moore, Samuel Carter; 
1729, Samuel Willard, Esq. (Judge C. C. Picas,) Thomas Prentice, (who 
graduated 1726, afterwards minister in Charlestawn,) Mr. Bryant and Jabez 
Fox. Josiah Swan was a veteran schoolmaster: I find him as early as 1733, 
and through many intermediate years, beginning with 1751, to 1767 inclusive. 
Mr. Swan was of Lancaster, and graduated at Cambridge, in 1733. In May 
1755, he was admitted a member of Rev. Mr. Prentice's church, and it may 
be, pursued his theological studies uuder the direction of Mr. P. He was set- 
tled in Dunstable, N. H. 1739, dismissed in 1746, in consequence of a di- 
vision of the town, by running the line between N«w Hampshire and Massa- 
chusetts. He remained there a few years, then returned to this town ; after- 
wards went to Walpule, N. H. where he died. 2 Mass. Hist. Col. 55. 173C, 
Josiah Brown and Thomas Prentice. 

Mr. Crown was probably a graduate at Harvard University that year or 
1735. He kept school for a number of subsequent years, and as late as 1765. 
1744, Brown and Stephen Frost. There was a S'ephen Frost, of the class of 
1739, at Cambridge. 1746, Edward Bass of the class of 1744: afterwards 
the first bishop of Massachusetts. 1747, Bass and Joseph Palmer, who was 
afterwards a clergyman, graduated at Cambridge, 1747. 1749-50, Edward 
Phelps. 1752, A bel Willard, Esq. of the class of 1752, at Cambridge. Sam- 
uel Locke, Jr. afterwards Rev. Samuel Locke, S. T. L>. &c. President of Har- 
?ard University. He graduated at Cambridge, in 1755. The late President Ad- 
ams graduated the same year. 1756, Hezekiah Gates, an inhabitant of Lan- 
caster and a useful citizen. 1757-8-9 Moses Hemenway, afterwards Rev. 
Moses Hemenway, S. T. D. class of 1755, and minister of Wells, in Maine. 
1758, Mr. Warren, the celebrated General, who was killed at Bunker's Hill. 
He graduated in 1759. 1702, Mr. Parker, a graduate at Cambridge. 1762, 
Israel Atherton, of the class of that year, M. M. S. Soc. for many years 
after a distinguished physician ia Lancaster, and the first physician ol liber?! 


TDled, that it should be kept in different parts of the town, in the 
course of each year, for the convenience of those who lived in re- 
mote places. Both the spirit and the letter of the law, were mis- 
understood, and the most important advantages intended to be se- 
cured by it, were lost. The Latin Grammar School, after linger- 
ing some years in a doubtful state of existence, was discontinued a 
few years previous to the modification of the law. As much atten- 
tion, however, it is believed, is paid here to education as in most 
other places, and we have caught something of the excitement, 
that is becoming prevalent on this subject. The school law of the 
last winter, of such monifest importance and usefulness, has already 
been productive of benefit, and has increased the interest, which 
every good citizen should take in education. There are twelve 
school districts in town. The following, is taken from the return, 
of the school committee, to the General Court, in May last. 
Amount paid for public instruction, $1005 

Amount paid for private instruction, 50 

Tuition fees at the Academy, 600 

Time of keeping school in the year, six months in each dis- 

Males of the various ages specified in^the law, 351 

Females do. 349 

Total, 700 

In this number the pupils at the Academy are not included. 

Number of persons over 14 unable to read and write — None. 

Number prevented by expenses of school books, None. 

education in the County of Worcester. 1762, Joseph Willard, afterwards 
Rev. Joseph Willard, S. T. D. L. L. D. &c. anil late President of Harvard 
University ; graduated at Cambridge, 1765. 1764-65-OG, Ensign Mann, a 
graduate at Cambridge, in 17G4.',. 1705, Drown, probably a graduate at C.'tm-> 
bridge, Joseph Italian), Frederick Albert, Mr. Hutchinson, probably of the class 
of 1762, and Teter Green, now living in Concord, N. 11. aged 91, and still 
active in his profession as a physician, class of 1766, M. M. S. Hon. 1766, 
John Warner, Robert Fletcher. 1767, Josiah Wilder, probably Dr. Wilder- 
of Lancaster. 

It seems that a large proportion of the instructors I have mentioned, re- 
ceived a public education. At the present day, it is far otherwise in this 

I will close this long note, with the mention of the amount of money 
raised for schools for a number of years. 1726 to 30, £50. 1739, (after Har- 
Tard and Bolton were incorporated) to 1742, £80. 1755, £68 lawful money. 
1764, and to 1769, £100. 1769, £104. 1773, and 9, £200 depreciated cur- 
rency. 1781, £8000, old emission. 1782 and 3, £80. 1784, £100. 1804 
and 1805, $400, for Latin and Grammar school the year through, in the cen- 
tre of the town, $600, for English. 1810, $1056 in all. 1815, $1000, and 
for a number of years past, $1005. Regular school committees have beeja 
chosen annually since 1791. 


Some years since, many of the inhabitants felt desirous of afford- 
ing their children more abundant opportunities of instruction, than 
could be obtained at the public schools, which, it cannot be expec- 
ted, will ever be kept the year through in the various districts. 
In order to secure a permanent school, a number of gentlemen 
from this and the neighboring towns, associated together, and estab- 
lished an Academy early in the summer of 1015. Few institutions 
of the kind have probably ever done more good. Many have al- 
ready been taught there,* who, but for its establishment, would have 
been much less favored, in their opportunities for learning. The 
building used for the school being inconveniently situated, at some 
distance from the centre of tbe town, an effort was made in April 
last, to obtain a subscription to erect a new building, in the centre 
of the town. A large and ample sum was obtained in town for this 
purpose, with but little difficulty. The land just south of the church 
was given by Messrs. Horatio and George Carter, who, with their 
brothers, have also subscribed most liberally, to the undertaking. 
A new and very tasteful building of brick, two stories in height, 
with a cupola and bell, is nearly completed. The situation is well 
chosen : a fine common in front is thrown open, and a beautiful view 
of the valley and rising grounds, particularly to the west, renders 
the spot delightful. It is intended to add to the present school, a 
distinct and permanent school for females, in the second story of 
the building. This indeed is a highly important pail of the new 
plan; for it is believed, that if society is to make great advances 
in future, it must be by improving the means of female education ; 
and that the progress of society in learning, refinement and virtue 
is in proportion to the cultivation of the female mind. An act of in- 
corporation has been applied.for; a bill for that purpose pas?ed the 
Senate at the last session of the General Court, and, without much 
question, will pass the House, next winter. The Academy thus far 
has had the advantage of able instructors : the following are their 
names, viz. 

Silas Holman — M, D. Cambridge, 181G,now a physician in Gar- 
diner, Maine. He kept but a few months in the summer of 1815. 

*Mr. Frederick Wilder a graduate at Cambridge, in 1825, and son of Mr. 
Jonathan Wilder of this town, was educated at this academy. He died at 
Northampton, in the winter of 182G. He was full of promise ; he possessed a 
mind of a high order and a heart filled with every good feeling and virtue. 
No one was ever more generally beloved ; the highest rank seemed to await 
him, whatever path of study he might incline to pursue. Death has destroy- 
ed bright prospects and deprived the world of the good influences that a lead. 
ing and pure mind ever exercise in society. 


.Tared Sparks, Tutor Harvard University, 1317 to 1819, after- 
wards clergyman in Baltimore. Now editor of the North Ameri- 
can Review, in Boston. Graduated at Harvard University, 1815- 
He was the preceptor from the summer of 1815, one year. 

John W. Proctor, Preceptor from summer of 131G, one year; 
graduated at Harvard University, 1816; now Attorney and Counsel- 
lor at Law, in Danvers. 

Georgk B. Emerson, From summer of 1817, two years ; gradu- 
ated at Harvard University, 1817, and Tutor from 1819 to 1821 ; 
for some time Preceptor of the English Classical school, and now 
of a private school, in Boston. 

Solomon P. Miles, from 1819 to 1821, August two years ; grad- 
uated at Harvard University, 1819, and Tutor 1821 to 1823, now 
preceptor of the high (English Classical) school, in Boston. 

Nathaniel Wood, from 1821 to 1823, two years ; graduated at 
Harvard University 1821, Tutor 1823 to 1824, now a student at 
law, in Boston. 

Levi Fletcher, from August 1823, to the fall of 1824; graduat- 
ed at Harvard University, 1823, now Chaplain on board the United 
States frigate Macedonian. 

Nathaniel Kingsbury, from the fall of 1824, of the class of 
1821 ) left college during the ihird year and went to the island of 
Cuba. He is the preceptor at this time. 

Under the present preceptor, the Academy sustains a high 
character for discipline and instruction. By the new arrangement, 
the inconveniences that are too apt to occur by the frequent change 
of teachers will be avoided. The situation of principal of the 
Academy, is to be a permanent one, as far as is practicable. 

Poor. — The support of the poor, formed for some years no in- 
considerable part of the annual tax. They were dispersed in dif- 
ferent families, in various parts of the town, among those who ' 
would support them at the least expense to the town. Too often, 
and as a natural effect of this wretched system, the lot of these un- 
fortunate persons was cast among individuals, themselves but lit- 
tle removed from absolute poverty. The system too, if such it 
could be called, was clumsy extravagance ; the highest price was 
paid for the support of the poor, and the treatment of poverty ap- 
peared like the punishment of crime.* In view of these things, 

* Various attempts, from the year 17G3, to the present century, have 
been made, to establish a work-house, but without success, till the late ef- 


the town purchased two years since, a large farm, as an establish- 
ment for all whose circumstances compelled them to seek public 
support. It is under the care of an attentive overseer. Each in- 
dividual able to work hits his appropriate duties suited to his age 
and capacity. Comfort, economy, and humanity are there united. 
Religious services are performed at stated limes, and the children 
■who never before received any instruction, are now regularly sent 
to school. In a moral point of view, this establishment is a public 
blessing — it prevents much immediate suffering, and much pros- 
pective ignorance and vice.* The actual expense for the support 
of the poor, which formerly was as high as $1200, will not, in fut- 
ure, exceed $500- 

Population. — What little I can gather of the number of Inhabi- 
tants, at certain periods, in the seventeenth century, will be men- 
tioned, subsequently, in the civil history of this plantation. Ex- 
cepting this, there is no way of ascertaining the population earlier 
than 1764. 

Census.— 1704— 1862 Inhabitants, 328 families. This was af- 
ter Harvard and Bolton were incorporated. 

1790—1460 Inhabitants, 214 houses. This was after Sterling 
was incorporated ; which contained by the census of the same 
year 1428 inhabitants, making the population of both places 2888, 
an increase of 1062, in 20 years, viz. from 1764 to 1700. 

1800 1584 Inhabitants. 

1310 1691 do. 

1820 1862 do. 

During the period of commercial restrictions, and the last war, 
and for a few years subsequent, the population it appears increased 
but little. Many persons emigrated to the state of New York, to 
the west of the Alleghany mountains, and to other parts of the 
country, in search of the promised land. The business of thclown, 
much effected by this state of things, has of late, materially increas- 
ed, and is now greater than at any former period. The population 
at the present lime, may be estimated at 2100. The number of rata- 

* It is chiefly to the exertions of the Rev. Mr. Packard, that the town is 
indebted for this establishment. He fust suggested the plan in this place, 
and labored diligently to have it adopted. It is no slight praise, to have 
served with effect the cause of Humanity. 

In 1786, the selectmen were ordered to bind cut poor children, to the 
end, that the rising generation, may not be brought up in idleness, ignorance, 
and vice. 


ble pole?, at this lime, is 422. The militia is composed of three 
companies, viz. the standing company, one of Light Infantry, raised 
at large, and one of Artillery. There is hesides a part of a com- 
pany of Cavalry within the limits of the town. The ivhole num- 
ber of soldiers, is somewhat over two hunJred. 

Births and Deaths. — The progress of population, compared 
with the losses might he very satisfactorily ascertained by accurate 
lists of births and deaths, for any given period. Some negligence 
prevails here, as well as elsewhere, in furnishing the Town Clerk 
with information on the subject The following list, however, 
may be considered as nearly correct. 












1817 2a 







1818 2G 







1819 20 







1820 21 







1821 35 







1822 23 



Total 488 


o '. 

Total 317* 

Deaths in the Congregational Society since the settlement of 
Rev. Dr. Thayer, October 9, 1793, to August 1, 1820, six hundred 
and fifty six. Of this number one huudred forty were over seventy ; 
and sixty six of the one hundred and forty four, over eighty years 
of age. The family of Osgoods, shows remarkable ages. 

Joseph Osgood died, aged 77 

his wife 92 

Jerusha 9G 

Martha 92 

Joel 75 

Making an average, each, of eighty six years and nearly five, 

The following is a list of the ages of Deacon Josiah White and 
his family. 

Josiah the father, 90. His wife, 84. 

Their Children. 

Mary, 86 Martha, 94 

*The statement of deaths is taken from a comparison of the Church and 
town records, and is perhaps quite correct. The births are only in the town 
records, and tasking a reasonable addition, for names omitted, the number 
may be estimated at more than five hundred. 












Joseph, 60 

Joanna, 75 

Jotham, 87 

Silence, 75 

John, 91 

Elisha, 90 
Making an average of eighty years, seven months and six days. 

A few other remarkable ages may gratify the curious. 

DIED. vikv. 

Adams Sarah 1802 81 Phelps Edward 178190 

- Atherton Israel Dr. 1822 82 Priest Elizabeth 1798 81 

his wife, Rebecca 1823 8G " Joseph 1798 83 

Baldwin Keziah 1815 91 Pollard John 1814 85 

Divol Manassah 1797 82 Rugg John 1799 85 

" Ephraim 1793 84 " Jane 1805 93 

Divoll Elizabeth '1813 93 Robbins Bathsheba 1805 85 
Fletcher Mary 1813 86 Rugg Zeruiah 1807 86 

Fletcher Joshua 1314 90 " Lydia 1807 91 

Fletcher Rebecca 1820 92 Sawyer Josiah 1S0182 

Fuller Edward 1802 85 Simmons Micah 1317 83 

Houghton EHj. Capt. 1810 82 Stone Isaac 1816 93 

« Alice 1808 83 Tenny Rebecca 1802 81 

Joslyn Mary 1825 33 Thurston Priscilla 131183 

" Samuel 1326 83 White John Capt. 1797 83 

Jones Mary 1805 85 Wheelock Martha 1802 94 

Leach Mary 1813 86 Wilder Martha 181194 

Nichols Joseph 1326 82 Wilder Samuel 1824 81 

Phelps Asahel 1312 86 Willard Simon 1825 97 

Priest John , 1797 38 Wilder Ephm. Capt. 1769 94 

Phelps Joshua 1784 84 

Civil History.— The first settlement of Lancaster goes far back 
in the early history of Massachusetts. It was the tenth town, in- 
corporated in the County of Middlesex, and precedes, by many 
years, every town now within the limits of the County of Worces- 
ter. Indeed, no town, so far from the sea coast, was incorporated 
so early, excepting Springfield ; Northampton was in 1654 : Chelms- 
ford, Billerica and Groton, in J 655, Marlborough, in 1660, and Men- 
don, in 1667. 

According to Winthrop, an incontrovertible authority in these 
things, the plantation at Nashaway was undertaken sometime in 


1643J* The whole territory around, was in subjection to Sholan, 
or Shaumaw, Sachem of the Nasbaways, and whose residence was 
at Waushacum,t now Sterling-. Sholan occasionally visited Water- 
town, for the purpose of trading- with Mr. Thomas King, who re- 
sided there. He recommended Nashawogg to King, as a place 
well suited for a plantation, and invited the English to come and 
dwell near him. 

From this representation, or from personal observation, that na- 
ture had been bountiful to the place, King united with a number of 
others,;}; and purchased the land of Sholan, viz. ten miles in length, 
and eight in breadth ; stipulating not to molest the Indians in their 

*Gov. Winthrop's history of New England, date, 3d month, (May) 1644, 
and relating: events Chat preceded that time. I have cited the passage, see 
post — Rev. Mr. Harrington states the purchase to have been made in 1615: 
but the authority of "Wiuthrop is not to be questioned. Rev. Dr. Holmes 
gives the same year as Gov. Wiuthrop. 

t The orthography of this word is very various. Harrington spells it as 
in the text ; in other parts of Worcester Magazine, it is different; Gookin in 
his historical collections of the Indians, writes " Weshakim." I M;iss. Hist. 
Col. I Vol. " Wechecum" says Roger Williams, is the Indian for sea. Key 
to Indian languages, Chap. 18. 

A. D. 1G43. Wiuthrop says that " Nashacowam and Wassamagoin 
two Sachems, near the great hill to the west called Warehasset, (Wachusett,) 
came into the court, and according to their former tender to the Governor, 
desired to be received under our protection and government, &c. so we caus- 
ing them to understand the ten commandments of God and they freely assent- 
ing to all, they were solemnly received and then presented by the court with 
twenty fathoms more of Wampum, and the court gave each of them a coat of 
two yards of cloth, and their dinner; and to them and their men, every of 
them a cup of sack at departure, so they took their leave and went away 
very joyful. 1 ' Coats and dinners and sack, were wonderful persuasives with 
the Indians. Was not " Nashacowam," the same with Sholan ? 

X John Prescott, Harmon Garrett, Thomas Skidmore, Mr. Stephen Day, 
Mr. Symonds, fee. Here Mr. Harrington in his century sermon stops. Who 
are meant by &c. it is impossible to ascertain; perhaps, they may be Gill, 
Davies and others, mentioned subsequently in the text. 01 those first men- 
tioned, a few gleanings may not be without interest. Prescott came from 
Watertown : Garrett probably from Charlestown. He never moved to Lan- 
caster. Two thousand acres of land, were mortgaged to him by Jethro the 
christian Indian, and laid out to Garrett, near Assabeth river, in 1651. There 
were two or more of the name of Garrett at this time in New England. Where 
Harmon lived, I do not discover. An Indian of the same name, lived in 
Rhode Island. 3 Mass. Hist. Col. I. 221. Ski (more is mentioned in Boston 
Records, as of Cambridge, in 1643. Day was of Cambridge, and the first 
Printer in America. In 1639, he set up a printing press at Cambridge, at th» 
charge of Rev. Joseph Glover, who died on his passage to this country. The 
press was soon after, under the management of Samuel Greene. Day occa- 
sionally visited the plantation at Nashaway. He was of Cambridge in 1652- 
'53, and in ''57. In the last, year the General Court, on his complaint that 
he had not been compensated for his printing press, granted him thrse hund- 
red acres of land. Also, in 1G67, they allowed him to procure of the Saga- 
more of Nashaway, one hundred and fifty acres of upland, and twenty of 
meadow. If he ever lived at Nashaway, he probably c-a-me in 16#5, The 
vol. ii. 34 


hunting, fishing-, or planting places. This deed was sanctioned by 
the General Court.* It was probably not a common thing for towns 
to be settled under such favorable circumstances ; not only whs there 
a fair contract made, satisfactory on all sides ; but a previous 'nvita- 
tion, in the feeling of friendship, was given to induce the English, 
to extend their population, to the valley of the Nashaway. The 
precise time of the removal to Lancaster, cannot be ascertained. 
The first building was a trucking house, erected by Symonds and 
King, about a mile southwest of the church, and a little to the north 
west of the house of the late Samuel Ward,Esq. King never moved up, 
but sold his interest to the other proprietors, who covenanted with 
each other, to begin the plantation at a certain time. To secure 
their purchase, they directed certain individuals,! to whom lots 
were given, to commence the settlement immediately, and make 
preparations for the general coming of the proprietors. Winthrop 
gives the following marked account of the first settlement. " 3d 
mo. (May) 1G44. Many of YValertown, and other town?, joined in 
the plantation at Nashaway ; and having called a young man, a uni- 
versal scholar, one Mr. Nocrolf (quere Norcross ?h to be their 
minister, seyen§ of them, who were no members of any churches 
were desirous to gather into a church estate ; but the magistrates 
and elders, advised them first to go and build them habitations, kc. 
(for there was yet no house theie,) and then to take some that were 
members of other churches, with the consent of such churches, as 
had formerly been done, and so proceed orderly. Uut the persons 
interested in this plantation, being most of them poor men, and some 
of them corrupt in judgment, and others profane, it went on very 

towu, in Feb. 1654, O. S.— 1655, N. S. granted " Master Day 1 ' one hundred 
acres of upland, twenty of it for a house lot. Symonds never resided here. 
He was, perhaps, Mr. Samuel Symonds, for some years an assistant ; the title 
"Mr." not then universal, but confined to particular persons, somewhat 
strengthens this suggestion. King was a proprietor of Marlborough, in 1CC0. 

* This deed, I believe is not, in rebus existentibus. I have diligently 
searched in Middlesex, and Suffolk recoids, and in the office of the Secretary 
of State, without success. 

t Richard Linton, Lawrence Waters and John Ball. 

$ This spelling is taken from the old edition of Winthrop ; the new ed- 
ition with its corrected text, and learned notes, by Mr. Savage, does' not ex- 
tend so far. The second volume, however, which will be published in a few 
mouths, will reach nearly to the time of Gov. Winthrop's death. Norcross, 
is an early name in Watertown. " Nocroff," I have never met with. 

Mr. Savage says the conjecture is right ; he also says, that in the same para 
graph of Winthrop; "Universal scholar" should be " University scholar." 

f This number was necessary, according to Johnson's wonder working 
providence, to constitute a. church, in the colony. 2 Mass. Hist. Col. II. 71. 


slowly, so that in two years, they had not three houses built there, 
and he whom they had called to he their minister, left them for 
their delays."'* 

It appears further by the records of the General Court 1. 8. 45 
(Oct. 1G45,) that u upon the petition of the undertakers for the 
plantation at Nashawa}', the Court is willing 1 , that John Gill. Ser- 
geant John Davies,t John Chandler, Isaiah Walker and Matthew 
Barnes, or any three of them shall have power to set out lots to all 
the planters belonging to the said plantation, provided that they set 
not their houses too far asunder ; and the great lots to be propor- 
tionable to men's estates and charges ; and that no man shall have 
his lot confirmed to him before he has taken the oath of fidelity." 
These men, however, did nothing to forward the plantation. The 
General Court felt still unwilling to give up all effort to advance 
the growth of the place, as appears by the record of a subsequent 
session : I will recite it, trusting that I shall not be thought too mi- 
nute in the early, and most interesting portion of the history of the 
town. It is as follows, viz: 

" 27, 8, 1647" (Nov. 7, 1G 47, N. S.J) " Whereas the Court hath 
formerly granted a plantation at Nashaway unto Jonathan Chandler, 
&c. and that Gill is dead, Chandler, Walker, and Davies§ have sig- 
nified unto the Court, that since the same grant, they have acted 
nothing as undertakers there, nor laid out any lands, and further 
have made request to the Court to take in the said grant, manifest- 
ing their utter unwillingness to be engaged therein, the Court doth 
not think fit to destroy the said plantation, but rather to encourage 
it ; only in regard the persons now upon it are so few, and unmeet 
for such a work, and are to be taken to procure others, and in the 
* This docs away the imputation in Rev. Mr. Harrington's century ser- 
mon, that the minister left thein by the instigation of such of the proprietors 
as disliked removing, or else by his own aversion to the place. Winthrop 
noted down events day by day, as they occurred. He is distinguished for his 
accuracy. Mr. Harrington's relation probably was derived from tradition in 
town. Winthrop's Journal remained in manuscript, till 1790, I believe ; of 
course Mr. Harrington had not access to a correct account of the matter, as 
his discourse was preached in 1753. 

t The same probably who distinguished himself in the Pequot war, 1G37. 
2. Mass. Hist. Col. VIII. 147 ; and went against the Nianticks, Hubbard 4G5, 
and was sent as one of the commissioners to the Dutch in New fork. Ibid, 547. 
$ To speak with more accuracy, the present difference between the Juli- 
au and Gregorian year, is twelve days. Before the year 1S00, it was eleven 
days. That year by the calendar of Gregory XIII, the intercalary day was 
omitted, making the difference twelve days as above stated. Before the cal- 
endar was reformed, the year began on the 25th of March, Lady Day, or An- 

♦ These names I have not met with, excepting in the above extract from 


mean time to remain in the Court's power to dispose of the plant- 
ing and ordering of it." 

It appears, by what has been related, that many circumstances 
combined to retard the growth of the plantation. All the associ- 
ates, excepting Prescott, refused to fulfil their contract, though 
they chose to retain their interest. Linton and Waters* returned 
to Watertown, where I trace them in 1640, and again to Lancaster 
in the spring of 1647. Prescott preceded them, and must be re- 
corded as the first permanent inhabitant in Lancaster. This is a 
clear inference trom Mr. Harrington, (p. 11.) John Cowdall of 
Boston, in his deed, 5. 8 mo. 1647, of a house and twenty acres of 
land, at Nashaway, made to Jonathan Prescott, calls him late of 
Watertown. Others soon followed, viz. Sawyer, Atherton, Linton, 
Waters, &.c. 

This is as full a sketch of the history of the plantation, previ- 
ous to 1653, as can be obtained after employing no little diligence. 

At that time, the number of families had increased to nine, and 
on the eighteenth of May of the same year, the town was incorpo- 
rated by the name of Lancaster.! As this was the first town in the 
County, in the order of time, it may not be improper to recite some 
of the provisions of the act of the General Court. They say, "In N 
answer to the petition of the inhabitants of Nashaway, the Court 
find, according to a farmer order of the General Court, in 1647, 
that the ordering of the plantation at Nashaway is wholly in the 
Court's power." 

"Considering that there are already at Nashaway, about nine 
families; and that several, both freemen and others, intend to go 
and settle there, some whereof are named in this petition,]: the 
Court doth grant them the liberty of a township, and order that 
henceforth, it shall be called Lancaster, and shall be in the Coun- 
ty of Middlesex." 

The next provision is to "fix the bounds of the town according 

the records of the General Court. I do not feel sure that they belong to Lan- 
caster, and on the other hand, have no evidence that they belong to any oth- 
er plantation. James Savage, Esq. the learned editor of YVinthrop, informs 
me, that this notice in the records is claimed for Weston. 

* Lawrence Waters dwelt in Watertown, as far back as 1C35. 

t At this early period there were no formal acts of incorporation : the 
course was as in this instance to grant a plantation the liberty of a township, 
on certain conditions; as making suitable provision for public worship, &c. and 
when these conditions were complied with, " full liberty of a township accord- 
ing to law, 11 was granted. It is sufficiently correct, for common purposes, to 
say, that Lancaster was incorporated May 10, 165o, O. S. 

X Tliig petition, and the names, are, probably, not in existence. 


to Sholan's deed, beginning at the wading place, Nashaway river, 
at the passing over to be the centre ; thence running five miles 
north, five miles south, five miles east, and three miles west, to be 
surveyed and marked, by a commissioner. Six of the inhabitants, 
viz. Edward Breck, Nathaniel Hadlock, William Kerley, Thomas 
Sawyer, John Prescott, and Ralph Houghton, or any four of them 
whereof the major part are freemen, to be prudential managers of 
said town, both to see to the allotments of land for planters, in pro- 
portion to their estates, and to manage their prudential affairs, till 
the General Court are satisfied that they have able men, sufficient 
to conduct the affairs of the plantation ; then, to have full liberty 
of a township according to law." And further, it was permitted all 
the old possessors, to remain, provided they took the oath of fidelity. 

The inhabitants were ordered to take care, that a Godly min- 
ister be maintained amongst them, that no evil persons, ene- 
mies to the laws of this Commonwealth, in judgment or practice, 
be admitted as inhabitants, and none to have lots confirmed to thorn, 
but such as take the oath of fidelity. 

A similar provision to this last, was common in the incorpora- 
tion of other towns, and shows the great importance that was plac- 
ed upon mligion, ».nd habits of order; that these were conceived 
to lie at the foundation of all good government, that they reached 
the highest, mingled with the humblest, and exercised a controlling 
influence over the whole character of society. The effect of 
these things in past and present times, is a fruitful subject of dis- 
cussion, — the effect upon remote generations, permits wide specu- 
lation; not however to be indulged in, on the present occasion. 

The act of incorporation concludes, with ordering, that the inhab- 
itants remunerate such of the first undertakers, as had been at any 
expense in the plantation, " provided they make demand in twelve 
months ; and that the interest of Harmon Garrett, and such others 
of them, who had been at great charge, should be made good in 
allotments of lands; provided they improve the same, by building 
and planting within three years after their land is laid out to them. 
Also that the bounds of the town be laid out, in proportion to eight 
miles square." In the fall of 1653, (Nov. 30, O. S.) the Commit- 
tee or selectmen, as they may be called, proceeded in their duties 
of laying out land, and managing the affairs of the town. The first 
division of lands, was between the two branches of the Nashaway 
to the west; and to the east, on what is called the Neck, lying be- 
tween the north branch of the river, and the principal stream. To 

-78 liisxoRvr ov Lancaster. 

the north branch, they gave the name of North river; the soutli 
branch only, they called the Nashaway; and the main river, after 
the confluence of the two streams, which is now the Nashaway, 
they named the Penccook. Each portion contained twenty acres 
of upland, besides intervale. On the west, the first lot by which 
all the others on that side were bounded, was laid out to John 
Prescott, at the place 1 have before mentioned, where Simonds and 
King some years before, built the trucking or trading house; about 
a mile a little to the west of south of the present Church. Then in 
regular order towards the north, followed John Moore, John John- 
son, Henry Kerley, William Kerley, (his own, and one purchased 
of Richard Smith,) and John Smith. Next, south of Prescott, was 
the land of Thomas Sawyer. The land on the Neck was divided 
as follows — first, Edward Breck, on the south east corner of the 
neck, and very near the house of Mr. Davis Whitman. Then fol- 
lowed in order, towards the north, on the same side of the way, 
Richard Linton, Ralph Houghton, (his own and one purchased of 
Prescott,) James Atherton, John White. William Lewis, John Lew- 
is, son of William, Thomas James, and Edmund Parker. Richard 
Smith's land was a triangular piece, apart from the rest, between 
ihe present church and Sprague bridge. Robert L'reck's* land 
was on the west side of the Neck, and from the description, must 
have been in the middle of the town, by the church. 

As soon as the first division of lands was completed, the Inhab- 
itants and others entered into a covenant for themselves, their 
heirs, executors, and assigns, in substance as follows, viz: afier 
sundry orders touching the ministry, &c. which will be mentioned 
in the context, they agreed that such of them as were not inhabi- 
tants, and who were yet to come up, "to build, improve, and in- 
habit, would by the will of God, come up, to build, plant, and in- 
habit," within a year, otherwise to forfeit all they had expended, for- 
feit also their land and pay five pounds for the use of the plantation. 

To keep out all heresies, and discourage the spirit of liti- 
gation, they inserted the following article, which I will recite, viz: 
" For the better preserving of the purity of religion and ourselves 
from infection of error, we covenant not to distribute allotments, 
or receive into the plantation, as inhabitants any Excommunicant^ 
or otherwise profane and scandalous, (known so to be) nor any one 
notoriously erring against the doctrine and discipline of the church- 
es, and the state and Government of this Commonwealth. And for 

* Edward Breck dwelt in Lancaster awhile. Robert never moved up. 


the better preserving- of peace and love, and yet to keep the rules 
of justice and equity, amongst ourselves, we covenant not to go to 
law* one with another, in actions of debt, or damage, one towards 
another, in name or estate ; but to end all such controversies, 
amongst ourselves, by arbitration, or otherwise, except in cases 
capital or criminal, that some may not go unpunished ; or that the 
matter be above our ability to judge of, and that it be with the con- 
sent of the Plantation, or selectmen thereof." 

Each subscriber engaged to pay ten shillings towards the pur- 
chase money, due to the Indians, &c. That the. population might 
not be too much scattered, the first division of land was made on 
the principle of equality to rich and poor: but the second, and sub- 
sequent divisions, were according to the value of each man's prop- 
erty. Every person was put down at ten pounds, and his estate es- 
timated according to its value. They reserved to the plantation 
the right of conferring gifts of land on such individuals as they 
might see fit, as occasion might offer. These covenants were sub- 
scribed at different times during the few first years, as follows, viz : 

Edward Creek (a) J "J subscribe to this for myself, ami for my son Robert, 
— ye that it is agreed, we are not bound to come up 

J "I si 

S save 
) to ii 

Robert Ercck, ) to inhabit within a years time, in our own persons. 11 
John Prescott, 1 

William Kerley,(6) 1 Subscribecl fi _, t 
• Thomas Sawyer,M f suDScriDecl hrst. 

Ralph Houghton, (d) J 

John Whitcomb (e) > 

Jno. Whitcomb, Jr. J 2U ' J m0 - lbj ~ 

Richard Linton, (/*) \ 

John Johnson, («■) > 1, 9 mo. 1G5-I. 

Jeremiah Rogers, j 

John Moore, (/t) 11, 1 mo. 1653. 

* Thomas Lechford, the earliest Lawyer in New England, came to Bos- 
ton, and resided there from 1637 to 1641. Though lie wrote himself of 
"Clements Inn, in the County of Middlesex, Gentleman, 11 he had but little 
professional business. He seemed to be looked upon as rather a useless ap- 
pendage to society, under the Theocracy. In his M Plain dealing,' 1 a rare, 
and curious pamphlet, he observes, that he had but little to do for a liveli- 
hood except 11 to write petty things. 11 lie fell under some censure, returned 
to England, irritated with the colonists, and published his pamphlet, con- 
taining, I sincerely believe, many truths. Certainly it is far from deserving 
the bad character, that was attributed to it by our ancestors. There were 
some of the profession in N. E. when this town was incorporated, but they 
were probably not men of much talent or acquirements ; else, their names, at. 
least, would have reached this day. In 1654, a law was passed, prohibiting 
any usual or common attorney, in any inferior court, from sitting as a dep- 
uty, in the general court. 


William Lewis,(t) \ -, 3 , mo . , G53> 

John Lewis, ) 

Thomas James, 21, 3 mo. 1G53. 

Edmund Parker, 1 

Benjamin Twitchell, \ 1, 3 mo. 1652. 

Anthony Newton, (j) j 

Stephen Day,(£) ") 

James Atherton,(/) 

Henry Kerley (m) { mQ J653 

Richard bmith,(») ' 

William Kerley,Jr.(o) 

John Smith, (p) J 

t \xr » / \ ) Between March and May, 

Lawrence Waters,( 9 ) \ m ^ probabl y. 

John White,(r) 1 May 1653. 
JohnFarrar, ,, > 2 g t IG53 
Jacob tarrar, v J ) ' 

John Houghton, ) D . . iar i 

c i n 5 Sept. 21, 16u3. 

Samuel Dean, ^ l 

James Draper, ) . ., 1f . r ^ 

c,i r* . i / April 3, 1654. 

Stephen bates, sen r. ) l 

James Whiting 1 or Witton, April 7, 1654. 

Jno. Moore, \ 

Edward Rigby, V April 13, 1654. 

John Mansfield, J 

John Towers, \ 

Richard Dwelley, \ April 13, 1651. 

Henry Ward, J 

John Pierce, ) . _ irr , 

ivii- i>.|i. > 4, 7 mo. 1654. 

William billings, ) ' 

Richard Sutton, April, 1653. 

Thomas Joslin,. » g 

Nathaniel Joslin,(f) j '~' J U1 °' iboL 

John Rugg, 12, 12 mo. 1654. 

Joseph Rowlandson,(u) 12, 12 mo. 1654. — 
And it is agreed by the town, that he shall have 
20 acres of upland, and 40 acres of intervale, iu 
the Knight Pasture. 
John Rigby, 12, 12 mo. 1654. 
John Roper, (i;) 22, 1 mo. 1656. 
John Tinker, (w) Feb. 1, 1657. 
Mordecai McLoad, (x) March 1, 1658. 
Jonas Fairbanks, (y) March 7, 1659. 
Roger Sumner, (:) April 11, 1659. 
Gamaliel Beman, May 31, 1659. 
Thomas Wilder, (aa) July 1, 1659. 
Daniel Gaines,(66) March 10, 1669. 


1654. By the following spring, (here were twenty families 
in the place ; and the inhabitants feeling competent to manage 
their own affairs, presented a petitkm to the General Court, that 


(rt)The Brecks were probably of Dorchester. The Rev. Robert Breck of 
Marlborough, a distinguished clergymen, who died Jan. 7, 1731, may have 
been of this race. There Were Brecks, early in Boston. John Dunton in his 
" Life and errors" 168G, speaks of Madam Brick (Breck) as the "flower of 
Boston," for beauty. 2 Mass. Hist. Col. II. 1Ub'. 

(t) William Kerley, senior, was from Kud bar y ; 1 find him there, in Nov. 1G52. 
After the death of his wife, Ann, in March, 1G58, he married Bridget Rowland- 
son, the mother, I think, of the Rev. Mr. Rowlandson, in May, 1G59. She died 
in June, 1662. lie or his son William, probably the former, married Rebecca 
Joslin, widow of Thomas Joslin, May, 1664. He died in July, 1070. lie was 
one of the proprietors of Marlboro 1 in 1GG0. 1 find many years after, this 
name spelt Carley. 

(cyt'homas arid Mary Sawyer, had divers children, viz: — Thomas born July, 
1649, and was married to Sarah, his wife, Oct. 1G70. — Mary, their daughter, 
born Jan. 7, 1672 (N.S.)— Ephraim, born Jan. 7, 1651, (M.S.) killed by the In- 
dians, at Prescotts' garrison, Eeb. 1G7G.— Mary, born Jan. 7, 1G53, (N.S.)— 
Elizabeth, born Jan. 7, 1G54, (N.S.)— Joshua, born March, 1655, (N.S.)— 
James, bom March, 1657, (N.S.)— Caleb, born April, 1659,(N.S.) — John, bom 
April, 1661, (N.S.)— Nathaniel, born Nov. 1670, (N.S.) Thomas, I think the 
father, was again married Nov. 1672. 

From this stock there are numerous descendants in Lancaster, Sterling, 
Bolton, &c. 

(rf)ltalph Houghton came to this country not long before the town was in- 
corporated, in company with his cousin, John Houghton, father of John Hough- 
ton Esq. usually called Justice Houghton, who will be mentioned more partic- 
ularly by and by. Ralph, and John, senior, first lived in Wattrtown ; Ralph 
early moved to Lancaster. John probably came up at the same time. VV hen 
the town was destroyed, in 1G7G, they went to Woburn, where they lived till 
1he town was rebuilt. Ralph was clerk or recorder as early as!656and for 
many years, and was quite a skillful penman. A siugle leaf of the original 
volume of Records in his hand writing, is in existence. It was found amongst 
the papers of the late Hezekiah Gates. 

(e)Died, Sept. 1662. 

(/)Linton was of Watertown in 1G46. He died, March, 1665. George Ben- 
nett, who was killed by the Indians, Aug. 22, 1675, was his grandson. 

(g)One of the same name is mentioned as one of the proprietors of Marlbor- 
ough, 1657. 

(/i)Jolm Moore was of Sudbury in 1649. Married John Smiths daughter, 
Anna, Nov. 1654, and left a son, John, born April, 1662, and other children. 

(i) Wm. Lewis, was probably of Cambridge, He died, Dec. 1671. 

(_/) One of that name, and I suppose the same person, was a member of 
Dorchester Church, in April, 1678, and was dismissed with others, to form a 
church in Milton. This was while Lancaster remained uninhabited, after its 
destruction, by the Indians. 1 Mass. Hist. Col. IX. 194. 

(/:) An account of Day will be found in a preceding note. 

(/) Of his children, were James, born 13 May, 1654. — Joshua, 13 May, 
165G. — His wife's name was Hannah. 

(m) Henry Kerley must have been the son of William Kerley, senior. He 
married Elizabeth WhRe, sister to Mrs. Rowlandson, Nov. 1654. His chil- 
dren were, Henry, born Jan. 1G58, (N.S.) — William, Jan. 1659, (N.S.) 
and killed by the Indians at the destruction of the town. — Hsnnab. July, 

VOL. IT. 33 


the power, which was given to the six individuals, the year hefore, 
to manage the affairs of the town, might be transferred to the town, 
and the inhabitants in general ; one of the six being dead, another 
having removed, and some of the remainder being desirous to re- 


1663— Mary, Oct. 1666.— Joseph, March, 1C69, and killed with William.— 
Martha, Dec. 1672.— Henry, the son, married Elizabeth flow, in Charlestown, 
April, 1676, where they probably retreated, after the town was laid waste. — 
The Kerleys did not return after their settlement, it would seem ; but went to 
Marlborough where Capt. KerJey owned land. In the pamphlet entitled 
" Revolution in New England justified," printed 1691, be gives bis deposi- 
tion relating to Sir Edmund Andross' passing through tbat town in 1688, who 
demanded of Kerley " by. what order they garrisoned and fortified their hous- 
es." Kerley was then 57' years old. The one mentioned by Rev. Mr. Allen, in 
his sketch of Northborough, (ante p. 154) was probably Henry, the son.— 
There is a tradition of Capt. Kerley, who married Mrs. Rowlandson's sister ; 
that he had sundry little passages with a damsel, in the way of differences. 
On o:i" of these occasions, alter they were published, be pulled up the post, 
on which the publishment, as it is called, was placed, and cast it into the riv- 
er ; but, like all true lovers, they soon healed up their quarrels, and were 

(n)The name of Smiih was early, so common that 1 cannot trace individu- 
als of the name. 

(o).\ son, I think, of Wm. Kerley, Senr. He was of Sudbury, in 1652. One 
of tbe same name was of Sudbury, in 1672, and of Cambridge, in 1603. 

(p) John Smith died, July, 1669. 

(7) Waters was of Watertown, 1635-1633-1646, married Anna, daughter 
of Richard Linton. His children were, Joseph, Jacob, Rachel and Fphraim. 

(r)There were some three or four of this name, early in New England. 
This one probably came from Weymouth. In March, 1658, at a meeting of 
the town, all the orders of the Selectmen passed, except that of Goodman 
"White, which was rejected a because he fi ared not to speak in his own cause." 

(*)K:lled by the Indians, August 22, 1675. His grandchildren, Jacob, 
George, John and Henry, lived in Concord. They sold all their grandfathers 
land in Lam aster, to their uncle, John Houghton, Esq. Oct. 1697. 

(/)He had a son Nathaniel, born June, 1653. 

(u) What is known of Rev. Mr. Rowlandson and family, will be related in 
the sequel. 

(i>) Roper was killed by the Indians, six weeks after the attack of Feb. 1676, 
and the very day that the inhabitants withdrew from town. 

((e)! find master John Tinker's name in Doston records, in 1652. He was 
Clerk and Selectman for sometime, and his chirography was very neat. In 
1659, he moved to '» Pequid." 

(*)He was killed, with his wife, and two children, Aug. 22, 1675, by the 

(j/) Jonas Fairbanks was killed by the Indians, when they destroyed the 
the town, in Feb. 1676. His son Joshua, born April, 1661, was killed at the 
same time. 

(c) u 1660, Aug. 26. Roger Sumner was dismissed, that with other christ- 
ians, at Lancaster, a Church mi<rht be begun there." Church records of Dor- 
chester, I Mass. Hist. Col. IX. 192. He married a daughter of Thomas Jos- 
lin ; as I find he is called son-in-law to the widow Rebecca Joslin, who was 
wife to Thomas. 

(aa) He spelt his name, " Wyelder :" further accounts of this family, will 
bCj found in the sequel. 

(M)Killed by the Indians, Feb. 1676. 


linquish their power.* They further requested, that the Court 
would appoint some one or more to lay out the bounds of the town. 
They say, they shall be well satisfied, if the Court will grant seven 
jnen out often, whose names they mention, to order their munici- 
pal concerns j and that afterwards, it shall be lawful to make their 
own elections, &c. This petition was signed by the townsmen, to 
whom the General Court on the 10th of May, 1(354, returned a fa- 
vourable answer, granting them the full liberties of a township, 
and appointed Lieut. Goodnough,t and Thomas Danforth, a com- 
mittee to lay out the bounds. I cannot find that any survey was 
made in pursuance of this order, nor, at any time, till 1(359, as will 
be mentioned below. 

The first town meeting on record, was held, in the summer of 
1G54, probably soon after the petition, I have just mentioned, was 
granted. The doings of the Committee were then confirmed and 
at a subsequent meeting, which is not dated, but must have been 
early in 1G55, it was voted not to take into the town above thirty 
five families : and the names of twenty five individuals are signed, 
who are to be considered as townsmen. They are as follows, viz. 
Edward Breck, Master Joseph Rowlandson, John Prescott, William 
Kerley, senior, Ralph Houghton, Thomas Sawyer, John Whitcomb, 
and John Whitcomb, Jr. Richard Linton, John Johnson, John 
Moore, William, and John Lewis, Thomas James, Edmund Parker, 
James Atherton, Henry Kerley, Richard Smith, William Kerley, Jr. 
John Smith, Lawrence Waters, John White, John, and Jacob Far- 
rar, John Rugg. Many of these names still abound in Lancaster and 
the vicinity. 

The first highway, out of town, was probably laid out in 1653, 
according to the direction of the General Court, from Lancaster to 
Sudbury ; and for many years this was the principal route to Bos- 

A highway to Concord, was laid out in the spring of 1G56. It 
commenced near Prescotts', in what is now called New Boston, 
thence by the then parsonage, which was a little N. E. of Rev. Dr. 
Thayer's, and over the river some 15 or 20 rods above the present 
bridge, then passing over the south end of the neck, and crossing 
Penecook river,! in the general direction of the travelled road, till 

* Nathaniel Hadock and F.dwin Breck. Hadlock was the one that died. 

tGoodinow, as Johnson spells it, was of Sudbury. 2. Mass. Hist. Col. 
VII. 55. For Danforth, see note, post. 

| It crossed at the wading place of the Penecook, to the east of what was 
afterwards called the Neck bridge. 


within a few years, and extending over Wataquodoc hill in Bolton. 
This road, I find afterwards in the proprietor's hooks as beginning 
at Wataquodoc hill, passing the Penecook, and North Rivers, hy 
"Master Rowlandson's house, and fenced, marked, and staked up to 
Goodman Prescotts' rye field; and so between John Moore's lot 
and across the brook, &c— and so beyond all the lots into the 
woods." The present roads on the east and west side of the neck, 
were probably laid out as early as 1654. The latter extended as 
far to the N. \V. as Quassaponiken. 

In 1G57, the good people of Nashaway, found that they were 
unable to manage their town affairs satisfactorily to themselves, in 
public town meetings, " by reason," they say, " of many inconven- 
iences, and incumbrances, which we find that way ; nor by select 
men hy reason of the scarcity of freeemen,* being hut three in 
number." It therefore repented them of the former petition, 
which I have mentioned, and they besought the General Court, to 
appoint a committee, (to use the language of the request) " to put 
us into such a way of order, as we are capable of, or any other 
way which the Honored Court may judge safest and best, kc. till 
the committee make return that the town is able to manage its 
own affairs." This request was granted, May 6th, of the same year, 
and Messrs. Simon Willard,t Edward Johnson,^ and Thomas Dan- 
forth§ were appointed commissioners. 

* At the first session of the General Court, in the colony of Massachusetts, 
May, 1631, it was ordered tl that uo man should be admitted to the freedom 
of this Commonwealth, but such as are members of some of the churches 
-within the limits of this jurisdiction." And this was the law till 1GG4. ' None' 
but freemen were allowed to hold any office. 

t Major Willard came to thra country from . the County of Kent, in 
1635, at the same time, I think, with the Rev. Peter Bulkley, a distinguished 
clergyman of Concord. He was'one of the original purchasers from the In- 
dians of Musketaquid, afterwards called Concord. He resided there many 
years. The town was incorporated, Sept. 1635, and he was the deputy or 
Representative from the spring following, till 1654, with the omission only of 
one year. In 1654, he was chosen one of the Court of Assistants, and was 
annually re-chosen till the time of his death. He died in Charlestown, April 
24, (O. S.) 1676. This Court was the upper branch of the General Court, 
the Court of l'robate, a Court for Capital and other trials of importance ; aDd 
with power to hear petitions, decree divorces, &c. The members, were 
magistrates throughout the Colony, and held the County Courts, the powers of 
which extended to all civil causes, and criminal, excepting life, member, 
banishment and divorces. 

$ Johnson was of Woburn, and came from the County of Kent. He was 
the author of U Wonder working Providence of Zion's Savior, in New Eng- 
land ;" a very singular, curious, and enthusiastic work. 

J Danforth lived in Cambridge. He was distinguished in the early his- 
tory of Massachusetts ; some time one of the assistants, and Depuiy Governor. 


These Commissioner were instructed to hear and determine 
the several differences and grievances which « obstruct the pres- 
ent and future good of the town" Sic. and were to continue in of- 
fice till they could report the town to be of sufficient ability to 
manage its own affairs. 

The Commissioners appointed in September of the same year, 
were, master John Tinker, ffm, Kerley, sen'r, Jno. Prescott, Ralph 
Houghton, and Thomas Sawyer, to superintend the municipal con- 
cerns with power to make all necessary rates and levies, to erect 
"a meeting house, pound and stocks," three things that were then 
as necessary to constitute a village, as, according to Knickerbocker, 
a " meeting house, tavern and blacksmith's shop" are, at the pres- 
ent day. None were to be permitted to take up their residence 
in town, or be entertained therein, unless by consent of the select- 
men, and any coming without such consent, on record, and persons 
entertaining them, were each subject to a penalty of twenty shil- 
lings per month. However much we may be inclined to smile at 
the last regulation, something of the kind probably was necessary 
in the early state of society, and especially in so remote a planta- 
tion as that of Nashaway, to exclude the idle and unprincipled ; not 
only strong hands but stout hearts, sobriety of character, and pa- 
triotism, properly so called, were needed to sustain and advance 
the interest of the town. Vicious persons would be disorderly ; 
the situation was critical, the danger of giving provocation to the 
Indians would be increased, and it would require but a slight mat- 
ter to destroy the settlement. The commissioners directed fur- 
ther, that lands should be reserved for " the accommodation and 
encouragement of five or six able men, to take up their residence 
in the town." 

• Early attention was paid by the town to its water privileges. 
In Nov. 1653, John Prescott received a grant of land of the inhab- 
itants, on condition that he would build a " corn mill." By a mem- 
orandum in Middlesex Records, it appears, that he finished the 
mill and began to grind corn, the following spring, 23. 3 mo. 1654. 
A saw mill followed in a few years, according to the records of the 
proprietaries ; where I find that " in November 1658, at a training, 
a motion was made by Goodman Prescott, about setting up a saw 

He was one of the few who dared to oppose openly, the witchcraft delusion. 
Gov. Bradstreet, President Increase Mather, and Sumuel Willard, son of Ma- 
jor W. minister in Boston, and afterwards V. Fres. of the Colkge, were al- 
most the only leading men whe withstood the mighty torrent. 


mill ; and the (own voted that if he should erect one, he should have 
the grant of certain priveleges, and a large tract of land lying near 
his mill for him and his posterity forever; and to be more exactly 
recorded, when exactly known." 

In consideration of these provisions, Goodman Prescott forthwith 
erected his mill. This was on the spot, where the Lancaster Cot- 
ton Manufacturing Company have extensive and profitable works 
under the superintendence of Messrs. Poignand & Plant. 1 mention 
these mills, the more particularly, as they were many years before 
any of the kind in the present County of Worcester. People came 
from Sudbury to Prescotts' grist mill. The sione of tins mill was 
brought from England, and is now in the vicinity of the Factory*, in 

There were no bridges in town till 1659. In January of that 
year (3. 11 mo. 1G53) it is recorded thai " the Selectmen ordered 
for the bridges over Nashaway and North river, that they that are 
on the neck of land do make a cart bridge over the north rivert by 
Goodman Water's, and they on the south end, do make a cart bridge 
over Nashaway about the wading placef at their own expense." 

These two bridges were supported in this way, eleven years. 
In February 1670, it was voted, that the bridges should be a town 
charge from the second day of that month, (1660, O. S.) only, it 
was ordered, that if the town should think it "lor the safety of 
north bridge, that the cages be put down, that then they shall be 
set down upon the Neck's charge, the first convenient opportunity." 
There is reason to believe that no bridge was built over the Penc- 
cook, or Main river, till after the re-settlement of the town in 1679 
and 80.§ The " Great bridge by the Knight pasture," (the same as 
the Neck bridge,) a little to the east of the present centre bridge 
is spoken of in 1729, and a vote was passed in 1736, to repair this 
bridge. The road that I have before mentioned from Bolton, across 
the Penecook, and " staked up to Goodman Prescott's rye field," 
was laid out in the spring of 1656. But I assert with confidence, 
that no bridge was there as early as 1671. From 1671 to 1675, it 
is by no means probable that the inhabitants were in a situation to 

* This rests on information received from Mr. Jonathan Wilder, of this 
town, a high authority in traditionary lore. Mrs. Wilder is a descendant, in 
direct line from John Prescott. 

t This was near the residence of the late Judge Sprague. 

$ This was on the south branch, near the present mill bridge. 

i The remark, relative to the bridge in the first volume of Worcester 
Magazine, p. 2B4, in note, is incorrec t. 


support three bridges,* and after that time, Metacomet's war left 
neither opportunity nor means, to pay attention to any thing but 
self-defence. t 

1658. The Selectmen met in January following their appoint- 
ment, and ordered the inhabitants to bring in a perfect list of their 
lands — the quality, quantity, bounds, &.c. that they might be re- 
corded, to prevent future differences, by reason of mistake or for- 
getfulness. In the course of the year, finding their authority in- 
sufficient to manage the municipal concerns of the town, they pre- 
sented a petition to the commissioners, in which they say " the 
Lord has succeeded our endeavors to the " settling,' 1 we hope, of 
Master Rowlandson amongst us, and the town is, in some sort, at last, 
in a good preparative to after peace ;• yet it is hard to repel the 
" boilings and breakings forth" of some persons, difficult to please, 
and some petty differences will arise amongst us, provide what we 
can to the contrary," and that unless they have further power giv- 
en them, what they possess is a " sword tool, and no edge." 

The Commissioners, then in Boston, explained to the Select- 
men the extent of their powers, and authorized them to impose 
penalties in certain cases, fur breach of orders, to make divisions of 
land, to appoint persons to hear and end small causes, under forty 
shillings, and present them to the County Court for allowance, &c. 
This increase of power, probably answered the purpose, so long as 
the management of affairs pertained to the Commissioners, and till 
it returned to the inhabitants of the town, at their general meet- 

As was before observed, although a committee had been ap- 
pointed for that purpose some years before, it does not appear that 
the boundaries of the town were surveyed and marked before 
1G59. At that time, Thomas Noyes was appointed to that service, 
by the General Court, and the selectmen voted that when " Ensign 
Noyes comes to lay out the bounds, Goodman Prescott do go with 
him to mark the bounds, and Job Whitcomb, and young Jacob Far- 
rar, to carry the chain," &c. provided " that a bargain be first 
made between him and the selectmen, in behalf of the town, for 
his art and pains." Noyes made his return 7th April, of that year 

* There was a wading place over the Penecook. — See note ante. 

t Since the above was written, I have ascertained satisfactorily, that the 
Neck bridge was built, 1718. The vole to build, was March 10, 1718 — and 
to be finished by the first of August following. In the vote, it was ordered, 
"that the bridge have five trussells, and to be a foot higher than before." It 
would seem then, that this was not the first bridge over the principal stream. 


as follows, viz. : beginning- at the wading- place of Nashaway* river, 
thence running a line three miles in length, N. W. one degree 
AVest, and from that point drawing a perpendicular line five miles, 
N. N. East, one degree North, and another S. S. West, one degree 
South. At the end of the ten miles, making eight angles, and run- 
ning at the north end, a line of eight miles, and at the south, six 
miles and a half, in the direction E. S. East, one degree East, then 
connecting the extremes of these two lines, finished the fourth side, 
making in shape a trapezoid. Four miles of the S. East part of the 
line, hounded on Whipsufteraget plantation, that was granted to Sud- 
bury, now included in Berlin, Bolton and Marlborough. The re- 
turn of Mr. Noyes was accepted by the Courl, provided a farm of 
six hundred and forty acres be laid out within the bounds, for the 
Country's use, in some place not already appropriated.! 

The town, which for a number of years, had labored under the 
many disadvantages incident to new plantations, increased, perhaps, 
by being quite remote from other settlements, now began to acquire 
somewhat of municipal weight and importance. Il was becoming a 
place, to which the cnterprisingcolonists were attracted by its nat- 
ural beauties, its uncommon facility of cultivation, and by the mild 
and friendly character of the natives in the vicinity. The select- 
men, therefore, in July, 1659, found it necessary to repeal the fool- 
ish order of 1651, by which the number of Inhabitants was limited 
to 35. Their eyes being opened, they conceived it to be most for 
the good of the town, "that so many Inhabitants be admitted, as 
may be meetly accommodated, provided they are such, as are ac- 
ceptable ; and that admittance be granted to so many, as shall stand 
with the description of the selectmen, and are worthy of acceptance 
according to the Commissionary acceptance." 

1663, the town also began to feel sufficient strength to regulate 
the affairs of the Corporation by regular town meetings. The se- 
lectmen were willing, and in a letter expressed to the town " that 
there was not such a loving concurrence as they could desire, 11 in 
their proceedings, and go on to observe, that if their labors in en- 
deavoring to procure the town liberty to choose its own officers be. 

*This it will be recollected was the South branch, and near the present 
mill bridge by Samuel Carter's mills. The main stream was invariably called 

+ This is the English name. R.ev. Mr. Allen, in his sketch of Northbor- 
ough, in which he discovers the true spirit of the antiquary, says, that the In- 
dian word is Whippsuppenike. See Worcester Magazine for July, 1826, p. V34. 

^The tradition is, that il was laid out in the south pait ol the town, and in- 
cluded a very poor tract ofland. 


of use they desire to bless God for it; but if not, they desire not to 
create trouble to themselves, and grief for their loving brethren 
and neighbors," &.Q. &c. The town confirmed the doings of the se- 
lectmen, and petitioned the Commissioners early in the year 1665, 
to restore the full privileges to the town. The answer of the 
Commissioners is, in part, as follows — 
" Gentlemen and loving friends. 

" We do with much thankfulness to the Lord acknowledge his fa- 
vor to yourselves, and not only to you, but to all that delight in the 
prosperity of God's people, and children, in your loving compliance 
together; that this maybe continued is our earnest desire, and 
shall be our prayer to God. And wherein we may in our capacity, 
contribute thereto, we do account it our duty to the Lord, and to 
you, and for that end, do fully concur, and consent to your proposals, 
for the ratifying of what is, and for liberty among yourselves, observ- 
ing the laws and the directions of the General Court, for the elec- 
tion of your selectmen for the future." 

Simon Willard, 
Thomas Danforth, 
Edward Johnson. 

Dated, 8th 1 mo. 1664." 

The town was soon after relieved from the inconveniences and 
embarrassments of having its affairs directed by gentlemen residing 
at a distance, and, in future, sustained its new duties, without further 
assistance from the General Court. 

A highway was soon after laid out to Groton, passing over the 
intervale to Still river hill, in Harvard, thence to Groton in a very 
circuitous course. 

In 1669, an order was passed establishing the first Monday in 
February, at ten o'clock A. M. for the annual town meetings, and 
obliging every inhabitant, to attend, under penalty of two shillings 
unless having a good excuse. The limited population, rendered 
necessary the sanction of all qualified persons, to the municipal pro- 

The affairs of the town seem to have proceeded with tolerable 
quiet for more than twenty years from the first settlement, till 1674. 
The population had increased quite rapidly and was spread over a 
large part of the township. The Indians were inclined to peace, 
and, in various ways, were of service to the Inhabitants. But this 
happy state of things was not destined to continue. The day of 
deep and long continued distress was at hand. The natives with 
vol. ii. 36 


whom they had lived on terms of mutual good will, were soon to 
become their bitter enemies: desolation was to spread over the fair 
inheritance : fire and the tomahawk, torture and death, were soon 
to be busy in annihilating all the comforts of domestic life. 

The tribe of the Nashaways, when the country was first settled, 
was under the chief Sachem of the Massachusetts. Gookin, who 
wrote in 1674, says, " they have been a great people in former 
times; but of late years have been consumed by the Maquas* wars, 
and other ways, and are now not above fifteen or sixteen families.! 1 ' 
He probably referred to the sctttlement at Washacum alone. — 
There were Indians in various parts of the town at that time ; in 
i'act so large a part of the tribe, as would, perhaps, swell the whole 
number to twenty five or thirty families, or from one hundred and 
fifty, to one hundred and eighty persons. This miserable remnant, 
that was rapidly wasting way by intemperance, which, at this day, 
destroys its thousands, was under the influence of the master spirit, 
Philip. Whilst Gookin, with Wattasacompanum, ruler of the Nip- 
mucks, was at Pakachoog, in Sept. 1G74, he sent JethroJ of Natick, 
one of the most distinguished of the converted Indians, who, in gen- 
eral, made but sorry christians, to Nashaway, to preach to his coun- 
trymen, whom Eliot had never visited. One of the tribe happened 
to be present at the Court, and declared " that he was desirously 
willing as well as some other of his people to pray to God : but 
that there were sundry of that people very wicked, and much ad- 
dicted to drunkenness, and thereby many disorders were committed 
amongst them ;" and he intreated Gookin to put forth his power, to 
suppress this vice. He was asked, "• whether he would take upon 
him the office of constable, and receive power to apprehend drunk- 
ards, and take away their strength from them, and bring the de- 
linquents before the court to receive punishment." Probably ap- 
prehending some difficulty from his brethren, if he should accept 
the appointment at the time, he answered, " that he would first 
speak with his friends, and if they chose him, and strengthened his 
hand in the work, he would come for a black stalfand power." 

It is not known that Jethro's exhortations produced any effect. 

* A fierce tribe residing about fifty miles beyond Albany and towards the 

t 1 Mass. Hist. Col. I. 193. 

X Gookin gave Jethro a letter directed to the Indians, exhorting them to 
keep the sabbath and to abstain from drunkenness, powowinsr, <fcc. At this 
time and for many years after Gookin was supuriutendant of all the Indians 
under the government of Massachusetts. 



The conspiracy that in the following summer lighted up the flames 
of war, was secretly spreading, and but little opportunity existed, 
to improve the coudition of the Nashaways. At this time, Saga- 
more Shoshanim* was at the head of the tribe. He possessed, it 
appears, a hostile feeling, and a vindictive spirit against the English, 
lie joined heart and hand in the measures of Philip. He probably 
engaged early in the war, and took an active part in the attack 
upon his former friends. James Quanapaug, who was sent out by 
the English, as a spy, in Jan. 1G76, (N. S.) relates that Shoshanim 
was out with the hostile Indians in the neighborhood of Mennimes- 
seg, about 20 miles north of the Connecticut path. Robert Pepper 
was his prisoner. Philip was in the neighborhood of Fort Aurania, 
(Albany) and was probably on his return to Mennimesseg. This 
circumstance, taken in connection with the positive declaration of 
Rev. Mr. Harrington, in his Century Sermon, and the frequent men- 
lion made of him by Mrs. Rowlandson, shows pretty conclusively 
that he had the powerful force that overwhelmed Lancaster. 1 
find in a scarce pamphlet, entitled a "Brief and true Narrative ot 
the late wars risen in New England," printed late in 1G75, that the 
report was current, that Philip had " fled to the French at Canada 
for succor." And Cotton Mather says, that the French from 
Canada sent recruits to aid in the war. Philip probably returned 
early in the winter with the recruits. Whilst Quanapaug was at 
Mennimesseg, one eyed John,! (an Indian every vvbit,) told him that 
in about twenty days from the Wednesday preceding, " they were 
to fall upon Lancaster, Groton, Marlborough, Sudbury, and Med- 
field, and that the first thing they would do, would be to cut down 
Lancaster bridge, so as to hinder the flight of the Inhabitants, and 
prevent assistance from coming to them. "J The war broke out in 
June, 1675, by an attack upon Swansey,asl should have stated be- 
fore. On the 22nd day of August, the same summer, eight persons 
were killed in Lancaster. § On the 10th (0. S.) of February fol- 
lowing, early in the morning, the Wamponoags, led by Philip, ac- 
companied by the Narrhagansetts, his allies, and also by the Nip- 

* Sam was his name in the vernacular. lie succeeded Matthew, who, a» 
Mr. Harrington relates, always conducted himself well towards the English, 
as did his predecessor, Sholau. Shoshamin, alter the war, was executed at 
Jioston. See post. 

t 0.- John Monoco. 

% I. Mass. Hist. Col. I. 20G, 207 and 208. 

t George Bennett, a grandson of Richard Linton ; William Flagg; Jacob 
Karrar ; Joseph Wheeler ; Mordacai McLoad, his wife, and two children. 


mucs and Nashavvays, whom his artful eloquence had persuaded to 
join with him, made a desperate attack upon Lancaster. His forc- 
es consisted of 1500* men, who invested the town " in five distinct 
bodies and places."! There were at that time more than fifty fam- 
ilies in Lancaster. After killing a number of persons in different 
parts of the town, they directed their course to the house} of Mr. 
Rowlandson, the clergyman of the place. The house was pleasant- 
ly situated on the brow of a small hill, commanding a fine view of 
the valley of the north branch of the river, and the ampitheatre of 
hills to the west, north and east. It was filled with soldiers and in- 
habitants to the number of forty two, and was guarded only in front, 
not like the other garrisons, with flankers at the opposite angles.§ — 
" Quickly" says Mrs. Rowlandson " it was the dolefullest day that 
ever mine eyes saw." The house was defended with determined 
bravery upwards of two hours. The enemy, after several unsuc- 
cessful attempts to set fire to the building, filled a cart with com- 
bustable matter, and approached in the rear, where there was no 
fortification. In this way, the house was soon enveloped in flames. 
The inhabitants finding further resistance useless were compelled 
at length to surrender, to avoid perishing in the ruins of the build- 
ing.|| No other garrison was destroyed but that of Mr. Rowland- 
son. One man only escaped.** The rest twelve in number,;! were 
either put to death on the spot, or were reserved for torture. Of 

♦Hutchinson says several hundred. I have taken the number given by 
Mr. Harrington, who says it was confessed by the Indians themselves after 
the peace. 

tl can ascertain but three of these places, viz. Wheeler's garrison, at 
Wataquodoc hill, now S. West part of Bolton. Here they killed Jonas and 
Joshua Fairbanks and Richard Wheeler. Wheeler had been in town about 
15 years. The second was Prescott's garrison, near Poifjnard & Plant's Man- 
ufactory. Ephraim Sawyer was killed In re ; and Henry r arrar and (John ?) 
Ball and his wile in other places. The third was Mr. Rowlandson's. 

J This house was about one third of a mile south west of the Church. — 
The cellar was filled up only a few years since. Where the garden was, are 
a number of very aged trees, more or less decayed. These, I doubt not, date 
back to the time of Mr. Rowlandson. 

i So says Harrington. But Hubbard relates that the « fortification was 
on the back side of the building, but covered up with fire wood, and the In- 
dians got near and burnt a leanto." Edition 1077. 

|| On the authority of Hubbard, I state, that the Indians destroyed about 
one half of the buildings. 

t * Ephraim Roper, 
it Ensign Divoll, . 
am and Joseph Kt 
II. Instead of givi 
The name therefore must rest, in nubibus. 

# ~r.pnraim ivoper. 

it Ensign Divoll, Abraham Joslin, Daniel Gains, Thomas Rowlandson, 
William and Joseph Kerley, John McLoad,.lohn Kettle and two sons, Josiab 
Divoll. Instead of giving the twelfth name, Mr. Harrington puts down u iic. 


the slain, Thomas Rowlandson was brother to the clergyman ; Mrs # 
Kerley was wife of Capt. Henry Kerley, anil sister to Mrs. Rowland- 
son ;* Wm. Kerley, Jr. 1 think, may have been Henry's brother, and 
Joseph his child : I do not venture, however, to give this as a histor- 
ical fact. Mrs. Drew,] another sister, was of the captives. Mrs. Ker- 
ley, and Ep hraim Rop er's wife were killed in attempting to escape. 
Different accounts vary in the number of the slain, and the cap- 
tives. At least there were fifty persons, and one writer says, fifty 
five.]; Nearly half of these suffered death. § No less than seven- 
teen of the Rev. Mr. Rowlandson's family, and connexions, were put 
to death or taken prisoners. He, at that time, with Capt. Kerley, 
and Mr. Drew, was at Boston soliciting military aid from Gov. Lev- 
erett and the council. The anguish they felt on their return, is 
not to be described. Their dwellings had been destroyed: the 
wife of one was buried in the ruins, the wives of the two others, 
were in the power of the savages, threading their way, through the 
trackless forest in the midst of winter; with no comforts to supply 
their necessities, no friends to cheer them, and nothing but the un- 
mingled dread of a hopeless captivity in prospect. Mrs. Rowland- 
son was taken by a Narrhagansett Indian, and sold to Quamiopin, a 
Sagamore, aDd connected with Philip by marriage ; their squaws be- 
ing sisters. Mrs. Rowlandson's sister, was taken, it would seem by 

* Mrs. Rowlandson was Mary, daughter of Mr. White, probably John 
White, who was the richest man in town in 1653. Henry Kerley married 

t This name is inserted on the authority of" News from New-England :" a 
pamphlet relating to Philip's war, published in 167G. 1 have not met with the 
name elsewhere. 

^ " News from New England. 1 ' 

{ Abraham Joslin's wife %vas a captive. In the neighborhood of Payquaoge 
(Miller's river,) being near the time of hei confinement, the Indians became 
enraged at her frequent solicitations for liberty to return home, anil cast her in- 
to the flames with a young child in her arms, two years old. Of those of the 
Nashaway tribe of Indians who survived the war, a part moved to Albany, 
and the rest to Penecook, one of the New Hampshire tribes ; with this tribe 
they incorporated. There have been Indians residing in town, within the 
memory of some of the present inhabitants ; they were wanderers from other 
places, and not descendents of the Nashaways. 

|| Mr3. Rowlandson during her captivity was separated from her sister. — 
At one time when they were near, the Indian, Mrs. Drew's master, would not 
suffer her to visit Mrs. Rowlandson, and the latter in her " removes" remark's 
with much apparent comfort, that u the Lord requited many of their ill do- 
ings, for this Indian was hanged afterwards at Boston." This was Sept. 26, 
1676. The Sagamore of Quoboag, and old Jelhro, were executed at the same 
time, at the towa's end. Hubbard, Edition 1677. 



The Indians made great plunder in various parts of the town. 
They were forced, however, to retreat on the appearance oi'Gapt. 
Wadswoith,* who, hearing- of the distressed situation of the town, 
immediately marched from Marlborough, where he was stationed, 
with forty men. The Indians had removed the planks from the 
bridge to prevent the passage of horsemen, the river at the time 
being mach swollen, and had prepared an ambush for the foot sol- 
diers, but fortunately withdrew from that spot, before the arrival 
of the soldiers. Wadsivorth stationed his men in different parts of 
the town, and remained there for some days. Before his depar- 
ture, he lost one of his men, George Harrington, by the Indians. 

But the alarm of the Inhabitants was so great, and such was the 
general insecurity of tbe border towns, in the then unsettled state 
of the Country, that when the troops withdrew, about six weeks af- 
terwards, the rest of the inhabitants left under their protection, af- 
ter destroying all the houses, but two.t The return of peace on 
the death of Philip, in August, 1G70, did not restore their courage 
and confidence. For more than three years, Lancaster remained 
without an inhabitant. In Oct. 1679, a committee was appointed 
by the County Court, under a law then in force, to rebuild the town. J 
It is probable that the resettlement took place in the spring of 
1680.§ JVo record exists by which the precise time or mode can 
be discovered. Some interest naturally attaches to this era, as the 
whole work of building up the town was to be again undertaken. 
Some of the first planters, or their children, who were still living, re- 
turned accompanied by others. Of the former, were the Prescotts, 
Houghtons, Sawyers, \Vilders, &c. The Carters, a name now 

* Capt. Samuel Wadsworth of Milton, a brave soldier and valuable man. 
He was killed on the 18th of April lojlowing, in a severe battle with the In- 
dians at Sudbury. A monument over his grave, on the spot where he tell, 
was erected by his son, Rev. President Wadsworth of Harvard College. 

tThe house of public worship, was not destroyed by the Indians at this 
time. The French, according to James Quanapaug, before the commencement 
of the winter campaign " bid them that they should not destroy meeting hous- 
es, for there, God was. worshipped." John Roper was killed the very day 
that the Inhabitants withdrew. 

X Oct. 7, 1G79. The committee consisted of Capt. Thomas Prentice, 
Deacon John Stone, and William Bond. Prentice, was a distinguished caval- 
ry officer in PhilipVwar. Mass. Hist. Col. Vol. V. p. 270, 1. 

{ To avoid the charge of plagiarism, perhaps it should be stated, that the 
account of the destruction of Lancaster, excepting what was taken from Mr. 
Harrington, was extracted principally Irom an anonymous article, written by 
the compiler, and published in the New Hampshire Historical and Miscella- 
neous Collections for April and May, 1824; and another, in the Worcester 
Magazine, for Feb. 182o'. Harrington took most of his account from Hubbard. 


quite prevalent, came in soon after the restoration. A number of 
brothers of that family, came from YVobura,* ami took up their res- 
idence on George hill, where, and in other parts of the town, many 
of their descendants still live. 

Under the numerous inconveniences, hardships and dangers of 
a new settlement, it is not to be supposed that the wealth or popu- 
lation of the town, for some years, increased with much rapidity. 
In 1631 and 1602, in consequence of these things, and of the ex- 
posed situation of the town, on the confines of civilization, an ex- 
emption was granted from the County rates. In 1694, 20 pounds 
of the public taxes wore allowed to the town, in consideration of 
its "•frontier situation." 

The civil history of Lancaster from 1680 to 1724, excepting 
what is preserved by Mr. Harrington, is, 1 fear, irretrievably lost. 
1 regret this the more, from the circumstance stated above ; and 
in common with others, have to lament, that Mr. Harrington, who 
preserved so much, did not preserve much more. Private docu- 
ments of various kinds, and important in this respect, which were 
then doubtless numerous, have since been lost by lapse of time, or 
destroyed through ignorance of their value. Tradition was then 
fresh and distinct; and, more than all, the original volume of re- 
cords containing a complete sequence of events from the first settle- 
ment in the valley of the Nashaway to the year 1724, was then 

in existence. What progress therefore the town made in popula 


* Thomas Carter, first minister of Woburn, came to this country in 1 G35- 
I find also one of that name, the same person, there is reason to suppose, who 
took the freeman's oath on the 2nd 3 qio.'IGjS. In 1C 12, Woburn was taken 
from Charlestown, and made a distinct town. There were no officers or 
members of the Church, capable of ordaining 1 Mr. Carter, and they feared to 
invite the elders of the other churches to perform the service, as it might sa- 
vour of dependency, and Presbytery ; so that at last it was performed by two 
of their own members. " We ordain thee, Thomas Carter, to be pastor unto 
this church and people." Hubbard says " it was not to the satisfaction of the 
magistrates, and ministers present. 1 ' 

In consequence, it soon became common to invite the neighboring elders to 
perforin the services of ordination. Iluhbard, 403. 

Johnson remarks that the people of Woburn, '• after some search, met with 
a young man named Mr. Thomas Carter, then belonging to the church of 
Christ at Watertown ; a reverend, godly man, apt to teach the sound and 
•wholesome truths of Christ.'" &c. 2 Mass. Hist. Col. VI 1. 40-42. 

Mr. Carter was one of those mentioned by Cotton Mather, " young schol- 
ars whose education for their designed ministry, not being finished, yet came 
over from England with their friends, and had their education perfected iu 
this country, before the College wa9 come unto maturity enough to bestow 
its laurels." Magnalia, B. 111. 

This Thomas Carter was the ancestor of all of the name of Carter now in 
Lancaster. They propably migrated to Nashaway soon after the town was 



tion and wealth for thirty years after its resettlement is unknown. 
For the remainder of the seventeenth century, however, it is fair to 
suppose, from the assistance afforded by the General Court, and 
from the long continuance of the Indian wars, that its" progress was 
slow and interrupted. In the mean time the measure of the suffer- 
ings of Lancaster was not yet full. The war that was rekindled 
between France and England on the accession of William, of 
Orange, to the throne, extended to his transatlantic provinces. In 
the 18th (O. S.) July. 1692, a party of the Indians attacked the 
house of Peter Joslin, and murdered his wife, three children, and a 
widow by the name of Whitcomb, who resided in the family. Jos- 
lin himself, at the time, was at work in the field, and knew nothing 
of the terrible calamity that had befallen him, till his return home. 
Elizabeth How his wife's sister was taken captive, but was after- 
wards returned. Another child of his was put to death by the en- 
emy in the wilderness. In 1695, on a Sunday morning, Ahraham 
Wheeler returning from garrison to his own house, was shot by the 
enemy lying in ambush. No further injury was done till 1697, 
when they entered the town under five leaders, with an intention, 
after ascertaining the situation of affairs, to commence their attack 
on Thomas Sawyers* garrison. It was by the merest accident, that 
they were deterred from their plan. The gates of Sawyer's garri- 
son were open. A Mr. Jabez Fairbanks, who lived at some dis- 
tance, mounted his horse, that came running towards him much 
frightened, rode rapidly to the garrison, though without suspicion, 

for the purpose of carrying away bis son, who was there. 

The enemy supposing they were discovered, being just ready 
to rush into the garrison, relinquished their design, and on retreat- 
ing, tired upon the inhabitants at work in the fields. At no time, 
however, excepting when the town was destroyed, was ever so 
much injury perpetrated, or so many lives lost. They met with 
the minister, the Rev. l\Ir. John Whiting,t at a distance from his gar- 
rison, and offered him quarter, which he rejected with boldness, and 
fought to the last against the cruel foe. After this they killed twen- 
ty others ;| wounded two more, who afterwards recovered, and took 

* This was the first planter, or his eldest son ; probably the latter. 

tA more particular notice will be taken of Mr. Whiting, in the Eccle- 
siastical sketches. 

J Daniel Hudson, his wife and two daughters. Hudson, first moved to 
Lancaster, in 1G64. Fie was originally of Watertown. Kphrairn, Rj>per, his 
wife; and dauirht^r, John SUait, and wife, Joseph Ru^g, wife and three chil- 
dren, Widow Rugs:, Jonathan Fairbanks and two children, and two chil- 
dren of Nathaniel Hudson. Harrington's Sermon. 


six captives,* five of whom in the end, returned to Lancaster. 
This sad calamity sweeping off so large a part of their population 
called for some religious observance, aud a day of fasting and prayer 
was set apart for the purpose. The restoration of peace, in 
Europe, brought a season of repose, to the afllicted inhabitants of 
Lancaster. In 1702, the Avar between England and France was 
renewed. With slow., but steady progress, it reached the Colo- 
nies. In July 1704, seven hundred French and Indians proceeded 
against Northampton. Finding that the inhabitants were prepared 
for an attack, they turned their course towards Lancaster, except- 
ing two hundred of them, who returned home, in consequence of a 
quarrel with their fellow soldiers about the division of spoil. On 
the thirty first of July, they commenced a violent and sudden at- 
tack early in the morning, in the west part of the town, and killed 
Lieut. Nathaniel Wilder, near the gate of his own garrison. t Near 
the same place, during the day, they killed three other persons. J 
Nor was this the only injury committed by them on that day. The 
inhabitants were much inferior to the French and Indians in num- 
ber. Capt. Tyng happened, at this lime, to be in Lancaster with 
a party of soldiers, and Capt. How gathered in haste what men he 
was able, and marched with then), from Marlborough, to the relief 
of the town. They fought with great bravery, but the great num- 
ber of the enemy forced the inhabitants to retreat into garrison. 
This gave the enemy opportunity of doing further mischief. They 
burnt the Church, besides six other buildings, and destroyed no 
email part of the live stock of the town. 

What losses the Indians sustained in their various encounters 
was never known. They were always quite careful to remove 
and conceal their slain. In this last conflict, Mr. Harrington ob- 
serves, it was thought that their loss was considerable, and that a 
"French officer of some distinction, was mortally wounded," which 
excited them probably to prolong the battle. Towards evening, 
many flocked in to the relief of the town, and the enemy made 
good their retreat, with such success, that they were not overtak- 
en by our soldiers. On the 26th of October following, a party of 

♦Jonathan Fairbanks' wife, widow "Wheeler and Mary Clazer, and son 
ef Ephraim Roper, John Skait and of Joseph Rugg. 

t This Nathaniel Wilder was youngest son of Thomas, the first jnhabitant 
of the name of Wilder. The garrison was on the farm now owned by Mr. 
Soombes, and from the early settlement, till lately, owned by the Wilders. 

J Abraham How, John Spaulding, and Benjamin Hutchins, How aud 
Hutchins were Marlborough men. Worcester Magazine, II. 15<i. 

VOL. II. 38* 


the enemy was discovered at Still river, (Harvard.) Some of the 
soldiers and inhabitants went in pursuit of them : returning much 
fatigued, Rev. Mr. Gardner the minister, took upon himself the 
watch for the night. In the course ot the night, coming-out of the 
sentry's box, the noise was heard by one in the house, a Mr. Sam- 
uel Prescott. As Indians were in the neighborhood, Prescott fired 
upon Mr. Gardner, supposing him to be an enemy, and shot him 
through the body. Mr. Gardner freely forgave the innocent, but 
unfortunate, cause of his death, and breathed his last, in an hour or 
two after. This closed hostilities for the melancholy year of 1704. 
On the loth October, 1705, Thomas Sawyer, his son Elias Sawyer, 
and John Biglo, were taken captive and carried to Canada. Thom- 
as Sawyer was a man of great bravery. On the arrival of the 
party at Montreal, says Whitney, Sawyer offered to erect a saw 
mill on the Chamblee provided the French Governor would obtain 
a release of all the captives. This he promised, if possible, to do. 
The son and Biglo were easily ransomed, but the father the In- 
dians determined to put to death, by lingering torture. His deliv- 
erance was effected by the sudden appearance of a Friar, who told 
them that he held the key of Purgatory in his hand, and, unless 
they immediately released their prisoner, he would unlock the 
gates and cast them in headlong. Their superstitious fears, which 
the Catholics could so easily excite in the breast of the savage, 
prevailed. They unbound Sawyer from the stake, and deliver- 
ed him to the Governor. He finished the mill* in a year, and was 
sent home with Biglo. His son Elias, was detained a while to in- 
struct the Canadians in the art of tl sawing and keeping the mill in 
order, and then was dismissed with rich presents. "t The town 
suffered no further violence from the Indians till July 1G, 1707, 
when Jonathan White was killed. On the 18th of August follow- 
ing, Jonathan Wilder,! a native of Lancaster, was taken captive. 
The party consisting of twenty four men was pursued, the next 
day, by about thirty of the inhabitants of the two towns, and was 
overtaken in a remote part of the town, now included in Sterling, 

* Whitney from whom the above relation is taken, says, that this was 
" the first saw mill in Canada, and that there was no artificer there capable 
of building oue. 1 ' pp. 43, 44. 

t A grandson of Elias (Jotham Sawyer) is now living in Templeton,aged 
eighty six. He recollects riding horseback, behind his mother, to church, to 
hear Mr. Harrington's century sermon, May 28, 1753. 

| He was son to Lieut. Nathaniel Wilder, who was killed ia 1704, a-s 
mentioned above. Jonathan was born April 20, 1682. 


and known by the name of the " Indian fight." The day being 
quite damp, and having cases on their guns, and their packs secur- 
ed from the weather, the Indians were wholly unprepared for com- 
bat. However, as only ten of the English rushed upon them 
and engaged in the action, they determined not to surrender. — 
Having killed their captive, they fought bravely till they lost nine 
of their number. On the other side two* were killed and twot 
wounded. After a lapse of three years, on the 5th of August 1710, 
a number of the enemy fired upon Nathaniel and Oliver Wilder, 
who, with an Indian servant, were at work in the fields. J The 
Indian boy was killed, but the others made their escape and reach- 
ed the garrison. From this time till peace was concluded at 
Utrecht in 1713, the inhabitants were doubtless in a continual state 
of alarm, from expectations of secret and sudden attacks, to which 
they had been trained by long and bitter experience. 

But this was the last hostile measure of the Indians, against 
Nashaway, and it may be considered, as worthy of remark, that the 
last person killed by the Indians, in this place, was himself an In- 

The following is a list of the houses fortified, at various times 
from the year, 1670, to 1710, kc. 

Rev. Mr. R ow lands on? s Garrison, before described. 

Wheeler's Garrison. — Now in the south part of Bolton, where 
Asa Houghton lives. 

Fortified House. — Now the farm house of Mr. Richard J. Cleve- 
land. This is where the first Judge Wilder lived. 

White's Garrison. — On the spot where Mrs. White now lives, on 
the east side of the Neck — and opposite to the house of Major Jon- 
athan Locke. 

Joslin's Garrison. — West side of the Neck, one fourth of a mile 
north of the church, and near the house successively occupied by 
Peter Green, Dr. Manning and Dr. Peabody. 

James Wilder's Garrison. — A large house, twenty rods back of 
the house of late Thomas Safford. This was the chief garrison. 
The house is not now standing. 

* John Farrar, and Richard Singleterry. 

t Capt. Ephraim Wilder and Mr. Samuel Stevens. Kphraim was son to 
Lieut. Nathaniel Wilder, and died Dec. 13, 1769, aged 94. 

$ Their guns were resting against a fence at some distance, and the In- 
dians succeeded in getting between the men and their guns before firing. 
Nathaniel was son of Lieut. Nathaniel, Oliver another son afterwards Colonel, 
appointed Justice Peace, January 28, 17G2. 


Minister's Garrison. — Nearly opposite the house of Samuel 
Ward, Esq. It was erected in 1688, and successively occupied 
by Rev. Messrs. Whiting, Gardner and Prentice.* 

Thomas Sawyer's Garrison. — To the west of the last, and proba- 
bly a little north of the house of Samuel Flagg, Esq. 

Nathaniel Wilder 's Garrison. — North of the last, on Mr. Toorab's 
farm, between his house and the house of Samuel Wilder. 

John Prescoti's Garrison. — About thirty rods southeast of Messrs. 
Poignand and Plant's Factory. 

Cyprian Steven's House. — A little to the south of the church, 
and near the house of William Stedman, Esq. on the Boston road, 
was probably a garrison. 

There were Indian settlements, besides the one at Washacum, 
at the following places, viz. near the house of Samuel Jones, not 
far from the road to Leominster ; one on a neck of land running into 
Fort pond; a third, east of Clam Shell pond, and north of John 
Larkin's, near Berlin ; a fourth, above Pitt's mills in the south part 
of the town. 

Hannah Woonsamug, an Indian woman, owned the covenant, and 
was baptised October, 1710. 

In November, 1702, on the petition of Lancaster for leave to 
purchase of George Tahanto, an Indian Sagamore, and nephew of 
Sholan, a tract of land adjoining the west end of the township to- 
wards the Wachusett, a committee was chosen by the General Court 
to examine the land. 

The purchase was in 1701,t but was not confirmed by the Gen- 
eral Court, owing to the distressed situation of the country, till some 
years after.J The committee made their return in 1711. The 
whole of this grant is now included in other towns ; and it will be 
euflicient, on this matter, to refer to the first vol. of Worcester Mag- 

* Soon after the death of Mr. Prentice, the proprietors voted to sell the 
Church lands in Lancaster. 

t June 26, 1701, as appears by a copy in my possession in the hand writ- 
ing of John Houghton, Esq. who was proprietors clerk. 

| It is proper here to correct an inaccuracy in the sermon of Rev. Mr. 
Conant of Leominster, delivered Oct. 12, 1U23. He says that " the Lancas- 
ter New, or additional grant," was made to induce the return of the inhabi- 
tants, (of Lancaster, after its destruction by the Indians,) and that conse- 
quently the first grant of Leominster must have been prior to the year 1680." 
This grant included what is now Leominster and was not made till the eigh- 
teenth century,(17l3,) as stated in the text. The purchase was made by the 
inhabitants of Lancaster, the confirmation was by the General Court. See 1. 
Worcester Magazine, 272-3-4-5. 


azine, p. 272-3-4. It was settled as early as 1720, especially the 
part which is now included in Sterling. Gamaliel Beman, Samuel 
Sawyer, Benjamin Houghton, David Osgood, and Jonathan Osgood, 
removed to that place, from other parts of Lancaster.* 

From the close of the last Indian war the population began to 
increase rapidly. The descendants of the original planters, and the 
new comers, were spread over a broad surface in every part of the 
town. Uninterrupted industry produced an improved state of the 
social system, and the character of the place at this time, and for 
many succeeding years, ranked high for general intelligence, good 
habits, union and prosperity.! 

In 1730, sundry people living on the east side of the Penecook 
petitioned for a new town. Afterwards, in the same year, the in- 
habitants were willing to give their consent, if the "General Court 
should see cause." An act of incorporation was granted, June, 1732, 
by the name of Harvard ; at which time, there were fifty families 
in the place. \ 

Stimulated by this success of their neighbors, and subjected to 
great inconveniences by their distance from church, the inhabitants 
living south of Harvard, and within the limits of Lancaster, in 1733, 
petitioned for a new town. This was refused at the time, but was 
granted, as far as was in the power of Lancaster, in 173G, and in 
June, 1738, was incorporated by the name of Bolton. Gamaliel 
Beman and others in Chocksett,§ stating the same grievances as 
the Bolton men, urged the same suit in 1733, in their own behalf. 
This petition was rejected for a number of years, till, in 1741, a 
conditional permission to form a separate town, was granted to 

* A minute and valuable history of Sterling having been published by 
Isaac Goodwin, Esq. it will not be expected, that I shall touch upon the same 
subject, any further than, as incidentally, it becomes necessary, in describing 

t In May, 1721, Gershom and Jonas Rice, two inhabitants of Worcester, 
sent a letter to John Houghton, Esq. of this town ; and Peter Rice of Marlbo- 
rough, requesting them to present a certain petition to the General Court, in 
behalf of Worcester, and closed with saying ; " so craving your serious 
thoughtfulness for the poor, distressed town of Worcester, we subscribe our- 
selves," &c. 

$ : Feb. 5th, 1732. The proprietors of Lancaster granted to the town of 
Harvard thirty acres of land, where the inhabitants of Harvard "have built 
a house for public worship— also for a training field, and for a burying place, 
and other public uses." Feb. 1734. They gave Mr. Secomb, the firsi min- 
ister of Harvard, the two islands in Bear (or Dare) hill pond. 

$ This word ia a corruption of Woonksechauxit, or Woonkscchauckset, 
now Sterling. 


them. To these conditions, they did not assent. They, however, 
were made a separate precinct. 

Next came forward those of the northwest, in 1737. They 
were incorporated June, 1740, by the name of Leominster. Notwith- 
standing these successive diminutions in territory, which included a 
part of Harvard and Bolton, and the whole of Leominster, the popu- 
lation and wealth of the town still ranked high, and went on increas- 
ing by the accession of new inhabitants, in the east and west precincts. 
The town, however, suffered in proportion to its means, all the 
evils that attended the slate of the currency at that period. The 
general evil extended as far back, as the seventeenth century ; 
when, to meet the expenses attending the expedition against Cana- 
da in 1G90, bills of credit were issued anticipating the taxes of the 
year. This system was continued for some years, and till 170 1, 
the bills were in good credit and answered the purpose of specie. 
But draughts, beyond the means of the province to bear, being made 
to defray the heavy expenses incurred in subsequent expeditions, 
the evil at length became intolerable, and, after the peace of 1713, 
the public mind was turned towards finding a remedy. There was 
not sufficient silver and gold in the country to redeem the bills, and 
the very currency caused these metals to disappear. A public 
bank, loaning bills on land security, was, after much debate, estab- 
lished in 1714. The few, who at that day seemed to understand 
what are now deemed first principles in banking, were out voted. 
These bills, from the operation of the cause I have mentioned above, 
sunk continually in value, and to an equal extent occasioned a loss to 
the community. The system was continued many years, and pro- 
duced a continual sacrifice of property to artificial and imaginary 
wealth. The bills were loaned by trustees, in every part of the 
province, on mortgage, with interest and one fifth of the principal 
payable annually. And when the time of payment arrived, the pa- 
per having sunk much below its nominal value, the debtors would 
be obliged to pay a much larger amount in this trash, or sacrifice 
their estates in payment of the mortgages. To avoid this, laws 
were passed from time to time, extending the limit of payment, but 
prolonging only a lingering state of affairs, that must, in the nature 
of things, Have its crisis, and shake the province to the centre. So 
infatuated were the people, that they supposed paper emissions 
would one day work out their redemption from distress and poverty. 
Lancaster, I' find, instructed her Representative in 1731, "to 
pay such a regard to his majesty's Governor, as becomes the Rep- 


resentative of a loyal people, and that he also use his utmost vigi- 
lance that no infringements he made on the royal prerogative, nor 
on any of the privileges of the people ; and especially by supplying 
the treasury, without appropriations, unless of some small quantities 
that may be necessary to defray unforeseen charges that may re- 
quire prompt payment." This probably related to the Governor's 
•alary. Hutchinson observes that " the major part of the house 
were very desirous of giving satisfaction to the Governor, and to 
their constituents both." Lancaster had its proportion of the vari- 
ous issues of paper from time to time, and appointed trustees among 
the inhabitants to distribute it upon mortgage.* The land banlc 
company of 1741, established for the same purposes as the bank of 
1714, loaned bills of credit on security of real estate, but possessed 
no funds for redeeming them. The evil at length, after long and 
indiscribable distress was removed in a great measure, in 1749, by 
the introduction of specie, from England, in payment of the provin- 
cial expenses of the expedition against Cape Breton. 

At this time, and for many years previous, Lancaster was in the 
County of Worcester. In 1720, a petition by Capt. William Jenni- 
son, for a new County, was forwarded to Lancaster; and the town 
instructed its Representative,! " that in case the Superior Court be 
holden at Marlborough, and two inferior Courts at Lancaster, an- 
nualty, then to accede to the proposal. But in case the Courts 
cannot be so stated, then to oifer such objections as the selectmen 
shall furnish him with." At a subsequent meeting, Feb. 1729, this 
vote was reconsidered, "as the westerly part of the County of Mid- 
dlesex will be broken in pieces, in case that the towns petitioned 
for by Capt. Jennison, be joined with Suffolk." It was also voted 
to "petition for a new County in the westerly part of Middlesex. "J 

This was afterwards granted and an act of incorporation was 
obtained in 1731. 

In the wars subsequent to this period many of the inhabitants 
wese called into service. War was declared against Spain, in Oc- 
tober, 1739, and 6ome of the soldiers from Lancaster perished at 

* In 1720, the proportion of the £60,000 issued in bills of credit, to which 
Lancaster was entitled, was £-171 05. 

t Josiah White. 

% James Wilder and Jonathan Houghton were chosen agents. Judge 
Joseph Wilder, a man of extensive influence in the depths of his wisdom, pre- 
vented Lancaster from being made a half shire town, lest it should be the 
means of corrupting the morals of the inhabitants. In 1743, an attempt, it 
seems was made to divide the County. Lancaster chose Win, Richardson, 
Joseph Wilder a,nd Pavid Wilder, to oppose a division, before the General 


Jamaica in (he sickly season of the year.* At the siege of Louis- 
bourg there were present 3250 soldiers from Massachusetts, not in- 
cluding commissioned officers. In this number, there were many 
from Lancaster, both officers and men. The treaty of Aix la Chap- 
elle in 1748, by which Cape Breton was restored to the French, 
was not of long continuance. The contest was renewed in 1755, 
under a much wider range of operations, and continued with migh- 
ty efforts, and unabated zeal, till the French were finally driven 
from the American continent in 1762. During this war a large 
proportion of the able bodied men, both cavalry and infantry, in 
town, were actively engaged in the service.! These troops were 
not merely " food for powder" men, but the substantial yeomanry 
of the country. New England poured forth her best blood freely, 
like water, and gained the military experience that afterwards 
proved so useful in the war of '75. 

The year previous to the French war, an effort was made to 
unite the colonies for all measures of common protection and safe- 
ty. But the plan that was projected, was far from satisfactory, 
either to the King or the colonies, though for opposite reasons. In 
reference to this scheme, the representative of the town was in- 
structed "to oppose all plans of a general or partial union, that 
shall anywise encroach upon the rights and liberties of the people." 

An addition was made to the town in February, 1768, by taking 
from Shrewsbury a strip of land belonging to that town, and usual- 
ly called the Leg. Those who lived at this place, sought to be 
united to Lancaster as early as 1748, but did not obtain permission 
from the General Court. 

The minds of men were now generally intent upon the great 
question of right, that was at this time in full discussion. The 
whole Mas of this town was towards liberty. The attempts of Par- 
liament to bind us in all cases were received with indignation. 
Here, as well as elsewhere, though the stamp act was disliked, it 
was thought that reparation should be made to those who suffered 
b_y the mobs that law occasioned. "The cause of liberty" it was 
believed, "was a cause of too much dignity, to be sullied by turbu. 
lence and tumult4 

* Jacob Wilder in a letter written at Jamaica, Dec. 1740, after men- 
tioning a number of hi3 acquaintance who had died, says, "through the prov- 
idence of God, I am in nomination for an Ensign, and 1 hope that I may 6« 
Jitted for it.'''' There were eighteen or nineteen in this expedition, who be- 
longed to Lancaster ; none of them lived to return. 

t The whole company of cavalry, excepting five privates, was out dur- 
ing the war. 

t See the whele of the fine passage in Farmer Dickinson's third letter. 


No event of much local importance occurred in town for many 
years preceding the revolution. The whole current of thought 
was turned into this one channel, the arbitrary exactions of parlia- 
ment. All men were looking forward beyond their immediate 
anxiety, to the darker prospect that clouded the future. The prin- 
ciple of resistance was at work in every village. It is quite im- 
portant to dwell somewhat at large upon the transactions of the 
town at this period, and till the termination of the war. Pos- 
sibly all are not aware how much was accomplished by towns, 
as such ; how many sacrifices were made in every way, to 
help on the cherished undertaking. New England contributed 
more, both in men and money, to the success of the great struggle, 
than all the other provinces ; and those miniature republics, the 
towns, so singular a feature in the body politic, gave to New Eng- 
land, weight and importance. 

At a town meeting, in January, 1773, "The dangerous condition 
of public affairs, in particular the independency of the Superior 
Judges, came into discussion, as a subject of great interest. The 
representative received particular instructions, herein, and also as 
to the right claimed by the mother country, to transport persons to 
England for trial. He was directed to use his utmost endeavours 
to obtain a radical redress of grievances. 

A committee* was chosen, and reported the following resolves : 

" That this and every other town in the Province, has an un- 
doubted right to meet together and consult upon all matters inter- 
esting to them, when, and so often, as they shall judge fit. And it 
is more especially their duty so to do, when any infringement is 
made upon their civil or religious liberties. 

" That the raising a revenue in the colonies, without their con- 
sent, either by themselves or their representatives, is an infringe- 
ment of that right, which every freeman has to dispose of his own 

u That the granting a salary to His Excellency the Governor of 
this province, out of the revenue unconstitutionally raised from us, 
is an innovation of a very alarming tendency. 

"That it is of the highest importance to the security of liberty, 
life an property, that the public administration of justice, should 
be pure and impartial, and that the Judges should be free from 
every bias, either in favour of the crown or the subject. 

" That the absolute dependence of the Judges of the superior 

* Dr. William Dunsmoor, Messrs. John Prescott, Aaron Sawyer, Josiah 
Kendall, Joseph White, Nathaniel Wytnan and Ebenezer Allen. 
VOL. II. 3tt 


Court of this province upon the crown for their support, would if 
it should ever take place, have the strongest tendency to bias the 
minds of the Judges, and would weaken our confidence in them. 

"That the extension of the power of the Court of Vice Admiral- 
ty to its present enormous degree, is a great grievance and de- 
prives the subject, in many instances, of the noble privilege of En- 
glishmen, trial by jury.* 

In Sept. 1771, William Dunsmoor, David Wilder,! Aaron Saw- 
yer, Asa Whitcomb, ilezekiah Gates, John Prescolt and Ephraim 
Sawyer, were chosen as a committee of correspondence.! £50 
were voted to buy ammunition ; two field pieces were purchased, 
and one hundred men were raised as volunteers, to v be ready, at a 
minute's warning, to turnout upon any emergency ; to be formed 
into two companies and choose their own officers. " 

Committees were also chosen to draw up " a covenant and for 
non-consumption of certain articles, and to be signed by the inhab- 
itants.'" Also, " to post up such persons as continue to buy, sell or 
consume any East India Teas, in some public place in town;" and, in 
January, 1775, to "receive subscriptions for the suffering poor of 
the town of Boston,"' cruelly oppressed by the port bill. 

On the alarm of the commencement of hostilities, on the 19th of 
April, 1775, the company of minute men marched directly to Lex- 
ington, and the company of Cavalry§ under the command of Capt. 
Thomas Gates, proceeded to Cambridge, to aid in driving the Brit- 
ish troops to Boston. The cavalry remained in Cambridge while 
their aid was considered necessary. Ten of their number enlisted 
into the service of their country in the Massachusetts line. 

I have no data at hand, by which to ascertain the number of 
men from this town, who joined jhe army during the war. The 
demands from head quarters for soldiers were numerous and were 

* In 177J, the town instructed the representative, Col. Asa Whitcomb, 
" not to vote for compensation to the owners of the tea destroyed, neither by 
tax nor by assessment on the people." 

t Mr. Wilder was foreman of the grand jury that voted, April, 177-1, 
i* that should Peter Oliver, Esq. appear and act as Judge at this present Court, 
(Supreme Court at Worcester,) they would not proceed to business, but would 
utterly refuse. M 

X The committe of correspondence and safety in 1777, consisted of Col. 
Asa Whitcomb, Capt. Thomas Gates, Joshua Fletcher, Klisha Allen and Ja- 
bez Fairbanks. 

{ Of this company James Goodwin, the oldest man in Lancaster, Moses 
Burpee, Samuel Sawyer, John Hawkes, Phineas Fletcher and Joseph Blood, 
are living. The company of minute men was commanded by Capt. lJenjamia 
Houghton. In June following,' Andrew Haskell was the Captain, 


all answered by the town with great cheerfulness. Indeed, I have 
no reason to doubt, that at different periods of the long conflict, all 
the able bodied inhabitants either in person or by substitute, were 
in the field, in defence of their country.* Large sums of money 
were voted at various times, to encourage those who were drafted. 
Clothing for the troops and great quantities of provision were often 
purchased; committees were chosen to furnish the families cf those 
who had enlisted with the necessaries and conveniences of life, and 
in short, great and unwearied efforts were made by the town to 
help on the struggle to a successful termination.! In one instance 
only was there any hesitation. In June, 1780, an order came from 
Government for a draft of forty men, for six months. When the 
subject was brought before the town, Josiah Kendall, a leading and 
llaming patriot, addressed himself to the question, and declared that 
the town could not furnish the supply, being exhausted by repeat- 
ed efforts. Samuel Ward, Esq. J seeing the course that was likely to 
he taken, urged a compliance with the order, and was pursuaded 
that a course which he suggested, might be adopted, that would 
satisfy the men to be drafted. On his motion, a Committee^ was im- 

* About forty were engaged in the service over nine months ; the rest 
were out for less terms of time, from one to nine months. Messrs. Jonathan 
Wilder, Silas Thurston and Jacob Z. Weares were at the taking of Burgoyne, 

t Prices were annually set to every article of life. In the summer of 
1777, farming labor was 3s per day, wheat 6s (id. rye 4s 6d. per bushel — 
Physician fees — emetic 1*, cathartic 1*, travel tid: per mile, vist 8c/, pulling 
tooth do. 

X This gentleman died August 14, 1826, aged 87. He was bom in Wor- 
cester. At the age of sixteen, be entered the army, early in the French war. 
He was first out as a private in 175f», and rose before 1700 to be Adjutant in 
Col. Abijah Wiliard's regiment, lie was at the taking of Ticonderoga and 
Crown Point, by Gen. Amherst, in 1759, and of Isle aux Noix and Montreal, 
in 17G0. Towards the close of the war, he commenced, business in Croton, 
and moved to Lancaster, in 17G7. lie represented the town in the General 
Court in 1000 and 1801, and ior a great number of years served in various of- 
fices in the town. 

Few individuals, who have not been extensively engaged in public life, 
have been so widely known. II is acquaintance was sought by all. No one 
who ever knew him, though but slightly, could forget him. His powers of 
entertainment were never exhausted: his hospitality was inexhaustible. His 
knowledge was eminently practical, and had he enjoyed the advantages of a 
public education, he would have been distinguished as a Statesman. A mind 
of uncommon acuteness, a quick and keen perception of character, wide views 
of men and things, belonged to Mr. Ward, and enabled him to be highly use- 
ful as a citizen. In the daily charities of life, in giving aid to objects of pub- 
lic benevolence and usefulness, in distributions to the poor, he was ever ac- 
tive and ready. The indigent in this town have lost a valuable frie,nd ; one 
who for many years, week by week, ministered to their necessities, and whose 
good deeds will cause him to lie long remembered in future years. 

i Nathaniel Balch, so celebrated for his powers of entertainment, so 
"merry and faccte, 1 ' the life of Gov. Hancock, and the great wit of his day. 


mediately chosen of which he was chairman, and they proceeded 
to take measures to pay the men. The bounty in addition to the 
wages, was sometimes paid in continental money, and, at others, in 
corn, beef, live stock, land, &c. At this time, (he old emission 
compared with gold and silver, was as 68 to 1,* and as compared 
with the new emission, as 40 to 1. The men received their boun- 
ties, in different ways. One of them, named Dunsmoor, was asked 
in what he would receive his bounty. He answered that Deacon 
Moore, (one of the committee,) had a piece of land adjoining his 
own farm, and he wished to own it. " Take it,'- cried Moore, 
V take it ; I'd rather part with that land, which is the best I have, 
than loose the whole by my neglect in aiding the cause of my coun- 
try." The effort succeeded : the forty men were drafted, paid off, 
and commenced their march within twelve days. 

In June, 1777, in pursuance of a resolve of the General Assem- 
bly, Col. Asa Whitcomb was chosen " to collect evidence against 
such persons as shall be deemed internal enemies to the state." 
Soon after, the names of a number of citizens! were placed on the 
list in town meeting, as being included in the above? description. 
Most of them were afterwards stricken off. It is related of Rev. 
Mr. Harrington, one of the number, that when his name was added 
to the list, on the foolish motion of some individual, the venerable 
and truly excellent man, bared his breast before his people and 
exclaimed, "strike, strike here, with your daggers; 1 am a true 
friend to my country." The passion for proscribing innocent per- 
sons, soon subsided in a measure, and a new mode of managing the 
was one of the committee. He was quite a whig, without a persecuting spir- 
it ; hut not liking "guns and drums," he left Boston and resided in Lancaster 
during the war. Here he was of much service in moderating the violence' 
oftentimes so unnecessary, but to which the feelings of patriotism frequently 
urged the patriots. lie lived a little to the north of the church, on the Writ- 
lord place. 

* That is, on lGth June, 17G0, one Spanish milled dollar was equal to six- 
ty eight dollars of the old emission. On the first of April previous, the pro- 
portion was 40 to 1. 

t Moses Gerrish, Daniel Allen, Ezra Houghton, Joseph Moore, Solomon 
Houghton, James Carter and Rev. Timothy Harrington. At the commence- 
ment of hostilities, Col. Abijah VVilliard,a mandamus counsellor, and his broth- 
er, Abel Williard,Esq. went to Boston, and remained there during the sice 
They left the country before the war terminated. They were both very much 
beloved, particularly the latter, and their departure was a cause of regret to 
the inhabitants. Indeed, they might have remained without being molested. 
Like many others, believing that the contest was hopeless, and that inevita- 
ble defeat would place the country in a stale of servitude, they left their 
homes, and when convinced that their course was not well chosen, it was too 
late to remedy the error. 


business was devised. The examinations of the suspected were af- 
terwards conducted by the committee of safety, where less excite- 
ment, and somewhat of a calm and dispassionate way of proceeding 
was introduced. No great violence however, no mobs, no riotous 
conduct disturbed the general state of the town. The spirit of 
liberty was deeply rooted and widely extended; indeed, so general 
was it, that it did not demand the moral refreshing of a mob to im- 
part an active principle. 

A number of the citizens who joined the army, were killed in 
battle, or died of their wounds. Of these, David Robbins was killed 
at Bunker Hill. Robert Phelps, wounded there, died in August, 
1775 : John Ballard-, Abel Wyman and John Bennett, died in 1776 : 
Jonathan Sawyer, killed in 1777 : Joseph Phelps died of his wounds 
in 1770 : he was on board an armed vessel : Joseph Wilder died on 
board the same vessel. There were but few officers from this 
town in the continental service. Col. Henry Haskell, was a native 
of this town, lived here most of his life and died here. The other 
officers were Capt. Andrew Haskell, Lieuts. John Hewitt, Winslow 
Phelps, Philip Corey, and Jeremeel Haskell. Andrew Haskell 
was a brave soldier, and deserves a passing notice. When the ap- 
peal was made to arms, he marched to Lexington as Lieutenant of 
the company of minute men. He joined the army soon after. He 
was subsequently promoted to be a Captain in the Massachusetts 
line, and afterwards in the continental army. He possessed but lit- 
tle education, and of course but little refinement, and though a can- 
didate for higher rank, was kept from promotion by his want of 
proper dignity and self respect. Irritated with this treatment, he 
suddenly left the service. But his love of country was too power- 
ful, to suffer him to remain idle. In the course of a few weeks, he 
again enlisted, and served as a common soldier in the continental 
army, till the peace of 1783. After this period, he lived in Lancas- 
ter till 1791, when he joined the army led by the unfortunate Ma- 
jor Gen. Arthur St. Clair, against the Indians northwest of the Ohio, 
and was killed in the memorable battle near the Miamies' villages, 
Nov. 3, 1791, when the American forces suffered a sad overthrow. 
In Feb. 1778, the "articles of confederation and perpetual 
union between the colonies, were accepted on the part, of the town. 
The various temporary constitutions for a state government, were 
agreed to, and the Constitution of this Commonwealth as it stood 
till 1821, received the assent of the town by a vote of one hundred 
and three, to seven, in May, 1780. In the choice of Governor the 

310 msiorxv of Lancaster. 

first year, the votes were sixty nine for John Hancock, an J nine 
for James Bowdoin.* 

In April, 1781, the second precinct, formerly called Chocksett,! 
was incorporated into a town, by the name of Sterling. This meas- 
ure was, at first, not well pleasing to the inhabitants of the old par- 
ish, hecause the former were unwilling to aid in the support of the 
French neutrals, the hridges, and poor, to which the whole town 
was liable. However, they of Woonkseckaukset, at last, obtained 
the majority, turned out the town oiheers in the old parish, and 
held the town meetings in their own precinct. This was in 1780. 
This state of things nut being a very agreeable one, and the town 
records having suffered somewhat in ckirogmphy and aitthography 
by the change of clerk, the " Pharaohs" were willing after one 
year's experience, " to let the people go. "J All former causes ol 
difference, having been done away, the inhabitants of both towns 
indulged towards each other, feelings of good will and kindness. 

The war, as is well known, left the country in an impoverish- 
ed and exhausted condition. Industry had been abandoned ; the 
old sources of trade were for a time closed; the pursuits of peace, 
were in strong contrast to the excitement of a protracted contest. 
A disbanded army, with victory for its portion, spread its influence 
on every side ; an influence in no degree favorable to habit-, of 
peace, and the restraints of virtuous principle. Poverty was every 
where. A sound circulating medium, which industry alone could 
restore, was still wanting. 

In this state of things, the town chose John Sprague, Timothy 
Whiting, sen'r,§ and Samuel Ward, a committee to petition for a 
lottery, to enable the town to repair the numerous and expensive 
bridges it was obliged to support-. Permission for a lottery was ac- 
cordingly obtained, in 1782. There were, it appears, fourteen 
classes drawn between that time and 1790. In the few first classes, 
the town was in debt to the managers ; afterwards some money was 
obtained for the repair of bridges. No scheme of taxation could 

*Tho his;bpsl number of votes in this town, wag A. D. liiOO, two hundred 
and ninety fiv. . It ;ne year 1814, two hundred and ninety four, viz: Ca- 
leb Strontr hid tw>. hundte 1 an<l twenty six, and Samuel Dexter had sixly 
eight. In 1 ! 5, twe hundred atnd ninety two, viz: two hundred thirty nine 
and fifty three. The present number of voters, is more than three hundred. 

t VVoonV.sechaukset. 

X See Worcester Magazine, vol. II. p. 44. 

i Father of the late Timothy Whiting, Esq. and General John Whiting, 
of this town. 


have been devised more injurious and extravagant. It was paying 
under a fascinating prospect of gain, a much larger sum, than the 
citizens would have been obliged to contribute by regular rates. 
Nor was this all. Many will recollect the time consumed in draw- 
ing the numerous classes of this lottery, the idleness and consequent 
dissipation il induced, to say nothiug of its natural tendency to be- 
get a love of gaming. 

1786. During the rebellion of Shays, the town was quite loyal 
to government, and a number of the citizens joined General Lin- 
cola's army and continued with him till the rebels were dispersed. 
A delegate was sent to the county convention at Leicester, in Au- 
gust, 1780 ; and some of the proceedings of that body were accept- 
ed by the town : the articles relating to a change of the Constitu- 
tion and to an issue of paper money were rejected without hesita- 

From 1790, to 1791, a hospital was kept open in town, under 
the direction of Dr. Israel Atherton, for the purpose of inoculating 
for the small pox ; and in 1801, he was directed to ascertain the 
efiicacy of the kine pock. 

In 1798. a proposition to divide the County, was negatived, but 
three votes being cast in favor and one hundred and seven against it. 

On the death of Washington, an Eulogy was delivered by Rev. 
Dr. Thayer; the pulpit was shrowded in black, and the audience 
wore emblems of mourning. 

One family of the society of Shakers, a branch of the society in 
Shirley, resides in this town. Their reputation for good order, and 
industry, and consequent thrift, makes them useful citizens. With 
the peculiarities of their religious worship the public must be well 
acquainted. With due credit for their sincerity, their diligence 
renders them a good example in the neighborhood in which they 

During the violence of party conflict, a greater degree of union 
and good fellowship was preserved here, than in many other plac- 
es, and did not give rise, as, in some instances elsewhere to religious 
dissensions and lasting bitterness. Quiet and harmony now reign in 
the midst of us ; the population and wealth of the town are increas- 
ing more rapidly than at any period, within the memory of our 
aged people. The local situation combines advantages, as a place 
of retirement for the man of leisure and fortune, whilst an abun- 
dance of highly productive soil renders it favorable for the pur- 
suits of agriculture. 


In 1323, the old meeting house was taken down, and a neat 
building, with a portico in front, was erected in its place. In this, 
the meetings of the town are held for all municipal purposes. 

Ecclesiastical History. — In the act of incorporation of the town, 
the General Court ordered the inhabitants ; ' to take care that a 
Godly minister be maintained among them." In the fall of the same 
year, (N"ov. 1653,) when the allotments of land were completed, 
the planters entered into mutual covenants for themselves, their 
heirs, &c. and set apart " thirty acres of upland, forty of intervale, 
and twelve of meadow, forever as church lands for the use of, and 
towards the maintenance of the minister, pastor or teacher for the 
time being, or whomsoever may be stated to preach the word of 
God ;" permitting the minister " to improve* the lands himself if 
he should so choose." They further covenanted " to build a meet- 
ing house for the public assembly of the church and people of God, 
to worship God according to his holy ordinances;" the building to 
be erected u as near to the church lands and to the neck of land as 
can be without any notable inconvenience." Also " to build a 
house for the minister on the church lands." Each one agreed to 
pay ten shillings annually for his home lot towards the support of 
the minister, and to make up the deficiency, if any, in the salary, 
by an equal rate. To exclude heresy, as we have before seen, 
"and for the better preserving of the purity of religion, and them- 
selves from infection of error," they agreed " not to distribute al- 
lotments of land, nor to receive into the plantation as inhabitants. 
any excommunicante, or otherwise profane and scandalous, none so 
to be ; nor anv notoriously erring against the doctrine! and disci- 
cipline of the churches, and the state and government of the Com- 

* The word in this sense, (occupy) was in use in New England soon af- 
ter the first settlemet of the country. I have met with it earlier than 1658, 
in a number of instances. Dr. Franklin is in error, in supposing- that this cor- 
ruption was not till the eighteenth century. 

t Toleration was considered a high crime, both by the clergy and laity, in 
the seventeenth century. Our early writers discover great indignation and 
bitterness when they touch upon the subject. Ward, in his simple Cobler of 
Agawam, says, " The state that will give liberty of conscience in matters of 
religion, must give liberty of conscience and conversation in their moral laws, 
or else Ike fiddle will be out of lane, and some of the strings c/arA-. 1 ' " It is 
likewise said that men ought to have liberty of their conscience, and that it 
is persecution to debar them of it. 1 can rather stand amazed than reply to 
this j it is an astonishment to think that the brains of men should be parboil- 
ed in such wilful ignorance. Let all the wits under the heavens, lay their 
heads together and find an assertion worse than this, (one excepted, )and 1 will 
petition to be chosen the universal idiot oj the world.'''' pp. 8, 12, Ed. 1647, 


"Master Joseph Rowlandson," the first minister of Lancaster, 
commenced bachelor at Cambridge in 1652, with all the honors of 
hi* clais, as he appears to have constituted the whole of the class 
of that year. Of his ancestry* or the time or place of his birth, I 
know nothing. Cotton Mather calls him an author of " lesser com- 
posures, "t What these were, 1 venture to say, after diligent in- 
quiry, is not to be discovered. Mr. Rowlandson began to preach 
in Lancaster as early as the summer or fall of 1654. In February 
following-, (12, 12 mo. 1654,) he subscribed the town covenant, 
which 1 have before mentioned, and received his allotment of land. 
The comtnjssioners, at their meeting, April 25, 1656, directed the 
town to pay Mr. Rowlandsou " fifty pounds by the year," taking 
u wheat at six pence per bushel, 11 under the usual price, " and as 
God shall enlarge their estates, so shall they enlarge therein an- 
swerably," &c. In September, 1657, the Commissioners ordered 
the selectmen " to take care for the due encouragement of Master 
Kowlandson, and also for the erecting a meeting house," &.C. In 
compliance with these orders, a house for worship was erected 
soon after. A town meeting was held in it in June, 1658. It was 
situated on the north east side of what is now the new burying 
ground, on the brow of the hill, opposite to Mr. Rowlandson^ house, 
and about one third of a miie a little to the west of south of the 
present church. In August, 1657, the town conveyed to Mr. Row- 
landson " by deed of gift," the house and land that had been set 
apart for the use of the ministry. After preaching in town nearly 
four years, he probably became discouraged as to the prospect of 
being invited to settle, and gave out his intention of removing from 
town. Whether this was done in sober earnest, or was merely to 
bring the town to terms, is only a matter of conjecture at this late 
day. The following extract from the records has some point, and 
perhaps will bear being quoted. 

"Monday 3, 3 mo. 1658. On the certain intelligence of Master 

* I may qualify this remark in a measure. Thomas Rowlandson, who, 
I think, was his lather, died in Lancaster, Nov. 17, 1G57. At the County 
Court in Middlesex, April, 1658, " Mr. Joseph Rowlandson brought into Court 
the inventory of his father's estate, and had Administration granted to him." 
l>y another entry in April Term, 1C59, it appears that tl the return of Mr. 
Rowlandson and his brethren concerning their father's estate, was accepted." 
His brother Thomas was killed, as we have seen, when the town was destroy- 

t " Not only have we had a Danforth, a Nathaniel Mather, a Hoar, a 
Rowlandson, &c. the authors of lesser composures out of their modest studies, 
even as with a Cesarean section, forced into light ; but also we have had an 
Hubbard, an Isaac Chauncey, a Willard, a Stoddard, the authors of larger 
composures. " Magnalia, book 4, part 1. 

vol. ii. 39 


Rowlandson's removing from us, the selectmen treated with him to 
know what his mind was, and his answer was, his apprehensions 
were clearer for his going than for staying. They replied they 
feared his apprehensions were not well grounded, but desired to 
know his resolution. He said his resolutions were according to his 
apprehensions, for ought he knew. Then the selectmen, consider- 
ing it was a case of necessity for the town to look out for other sup- 
ply, told Master Rowlandson, that now they did look upon themselves 
as destitute of a minister, and should be forced to endeavor after 
some other ; so discharging him. 

" Friday 14, 3 mo. 1658.* A messenger came from J>i!lerica to 
fetch Master Rowlandson away ;t upon which, the town having no- 
tice given them, came together with intent to desire him to stay and 
settle amongst us : and, after some debate, it was voted as follows : 

" 1. Whether it were the mind of the town to invite Master 
Rowlandson to abide and settle amongst them in the work of the 
ministry. The vote was affirmative by the hands of all held up. 

" 2. Whether it was their mind to allow him for maintenance 
fifty pounds a year, one half in wheat, six pence in the bushel un- 
der the current prices at Boston and Charlestown, and the rest in 
other good current pay, in like proportions ; or, otherwise, fifty 
five pounds a year taking his pay at such rates as the prices of corn 
are set every year by the Court. The vote was. affirmative by 
the hands of all held up. 

"3. Whether they were willing that Master Rowlandson should 
have the dwelling house which he lived in as his own proper right 
according to the deed made by the town and confirmed by the 
committee ; with the point of land westward, and some land west, 
and some north, of his house, Cor an orchard, garden, yards, pasture 
and the like. 

" This was put to the vote and granted by Ihe major part, (and 
opposed by none but old Goodman Kerley.t only there was a neuter 

* Mr. Harrington says this v/as April 14,1058. This is a mistake : the 
original record, in Ralph Houghton's hand writing, is distinct, 14, 3 mo. 
(May) 1658. 

t The meaning is, that he was invited to preach in Billerica. After- 
wards, in the same year, Rev. Samuel Whiting began to preach there, and 
■wa9 ordained in April, 1CG3. "Hist. Memoir of Billerica," by Jotin Farmer 
Esq. pp. 8 — 9. 

\ Goodman Kerley (William Kerley, senior.) seems to have continued 
inawiathful state of mind for some time; for though one of the number 
appoint. 4 '.omanage the municipal concerns of the town, he did not attend the 
meetings ol his brethren ; il lieiug a usual entry in the records that the Se- 
lectmen met at such a time and place, all excepting Goodman Kerley. 


or two) with this proviso, that it hindered not the burying place, 
the highway, convenient space to pass to the river, and the land* 
intended to be for the next minister," &c. 

" And upon this, Master Rowlandson accepted of the towns in- 
vitation, and gave them thanks for their grant, and agreed to the 
motion, concerning his maintenance, and promised tn'abide with 
us in the best manner the Lord should enable him to improve his 
gifts in the work of the ministry." 

Mr. Rowlandson was, there is reason to believe, a man of good tal- 
ents and a faithful minister.! Cotton Mather and all traditions are 
in his favor. I can gather no particulars relative to his ministry : 
the early records of the town being lost, and those of the church 
probably consumed, when the town was destroyed. Nothing can 
be found relative to his ordination. 

Mr. Harrington supposes that Mr. Rowlandson was ordained the 
same year that he accepted the invitation of the town. But there 
is reason to believe that this did not take place till September, 
1660, more than two years after. The church, it seems, was not 
organized till that time. This is a fair inference from the entry 
in the records of Dorchester, that on the " 26th August, 1660, 
Roger Sumnei was dismissed"' from the church in Dorchester, "that 
with other christians, at Lancaster, a church might be formed 
there."J Church is here spoken of as distinct from congregation. 
At that period, the law of 1641 was in force, which first establish- 
ed the right to gather churches, vesting in them the power of 
electing the pastor, kc. — and according to the Cambridge platform, 
chap. ix. s. 3, 4, 5, Ordination, which was by imposition of hands, 
was to be performed by the elders of the church ; and if there were 
no elders, then by some of the brethren selected for that purpose, 
or, if the church desire it, by the elders of other churches. 

No instance under the law of 1641 occurs to me, in which a 
minister was ordained without the intervention of the church ; the 
strictness that was then introduced continued many years, and was 
kept in full vigor by an explanatory statute in 1668. It is then a 
reasonable supposition in the absence of all opposing testimony, 

, * This probably was the land opposite to the residence of the late Sam- 
uel Ward Esq. and extending towards the north east, and next to John 
Prescott's estate. 

tMary Gates, daughter of Stephen Gates, of Lancaster, " for bold and un- 
becoming speeches used in the public assemblies, and especially against Mr. 
Rowlandson, the minister of God's word there," upon evidence of John Pres- 
cott and others, was convicted. She acknowledged the offence and was dis- 
charged on paying for the attendance of the witnesses. Middlesex County 
Court Records, 1658 

X 1 Mass. Hist. Col. ix. 192 


that the ordination did not take place earlier than September, 

Mr. Rowlandson was the minister of the town till it was destroy- 
ed in Philip's war, as has been already related. His wife, after be- 
ing 1 a prisoner eleven weeks and five days, was ransomed early in 
May, 1676, and lived in Charlestown and Boston, with her husband 
about a year. Probably in May, 1677, they moved to Weathersfield, 
in Connecticut. Mr. Rowlandson preached there a while, and died 
before Lancaster was resettled. * The name of Rowlandson is not 
common ; and I am not able to say whether there ate any depend- 
ents of the worthy minister living.j 

After the town was re-settled, and for seven years, the pulpit 
was supplied by Mr. Carter (probably Samuel Carter, Harvard Uni- 
versity, 1660) William Woodrop,J ami Mr. Oakes.§ Mr. Woodrop 
was one of the two thousand ministers turned out of their benefices 
under the act of conformity, on St. Barlholemew's day, 1662. He 
came over to New England, says Cotton Mather:, " after the perse- 
cution which then hunicanoed such as were non-conformists. 11 He 
was never settled in this town, although from Mather and Neal, it 
would seem otherwise. 

In Feb. 1683, Mr. John Whiting was invited to preach as a can- 
didate ; he continued to supply the pulpit till Nov. 16'JO, when he 
was invited to settle, and undoubtedly was ordained soon afler.Jj 

* The following is a Hat of his children, as far as 1 can ascertain. I can- 
not assert that it is complete. 

Mary, born 15, II, 1657, (Jan. 165S) died 20, 11, 1660, (Jan. 1G61.) 
Mary born 12, 6 mo. (August) 1665. She was taken captive, at the same 
time with her mother, and made her escape in May, 1676. 

Joseph, born 7, 1, (March) 1661. la a deed of his, July 1, 1686, to John 
Wilder, ancestor of the present Mr. Jonathan Wilder, he calls himself' 1 of 
Lancaster yeoman." '['his proves nothing. He is not mentioned in any of 
the rates at that period, and I doubt whether he resided here, alter the res- 
toration in the spring of 1680. It appears by Whitney that he was one of the 
original purchasers of Rutland, 22d December, 1686. That town, however, 
was not settled till thirty years, or more, afterwards. 

Sarah, born Sept. 15, 1669. Wounded by the Indians when her mother 

was taken captive, she died at New Braintree, on the ninth day afterwards. 

t One of the name bit off' u nunVs ear last June in Belfast, Maine. I 

trust, however, that no one from the stock of Master Joseph Rowlandson, 

could be so mordacious. 

t Magnalia B. III. Neat's New England, Chap. VIII. Harrington spells 
the name, Wooddroife. 

JThis may have been Edward Oakes, Harvard University, 1679. 

II It was not usual during the first age of the New England Church, or in- 
deed through the seventeenth century, to have a discourse preached at ordi- 
nation. And when the practice was introduced, the minister elect preached 
it himself. 


The town voted, in Feb. 1688,- to build.a house for their minister, 
payment to be made " one eighth in money ; the rest, one half in 
work, and one half in corn, viz. Indian, one third, and English two 
thirds, at country price, or other merchantable pay." When the 
building was finished, the town gave Mr. Whiting possession in this 
way, viz. " at a town meeting Jan 3, 1690, agreed to make convey- 
ance to Mr. Whiting of the house and land formerly granted by the 
town. And the town the same time went out of the house, and gave 
Mr. John Whiting possession thereof in behalf of the whole above 
written, formerly granted by the town."* After serving faithfully 
more than nine years, he was killed as has been before related, by 
the Indians, Sept. 11, 1697, aged thirty three. 1 can give no par- 
ticulars touching his ministry; the records of town, church and pro- 
priety, being wanting during this period.! 

Mr. Whiting was the second son of Rev. Samuel Whiting, of 
Billerica, and was born in that town, August or Sept. 1, 1G64, and 
graduated at Harvard University, 1685. He probably received his 
name from that of his grandmother, Elizabeth St. John, wife of Key. 
Samuel Whiting of Lynn. It was necessary to sink the St. lest it 
should seem an acknowledgment of the authority of the Pope and 
his power of canonization. Our fathers even when they spake of 
the Apostles, and the holy fathers of the early church, did not use 
the adition of " Saint."f 

On the death of Mr. Whiting, the pulpit was supplied by Messrs. 
Robinson, Jones and Whitman, till the year 1701. The first of 
these, Mr. John Robinson, was afterwards settled at Duxbury, in 
Nov. 1702, and continued there till his death, in 1731. § "Mr. 
Jones" says Mr. Harrington, " was invited to settle, || but, difficul- 
ties arising, his ordination was prevented and he removed." Mr. 
Samuel Whitman was of the class of 1696, Harvard University, and 

* This house was pleasantly situated opposite to the house of the late 
Samuel Ward, Esq. It was taken down a few years ago. Those who paid 
the highest rates towards this building-, were John Moore, Jr. John Hough- 
ton, Henry Kerley, Thomas Wilder, Deac. Roger Sumner, Josiah YVltitcomb, 
Ephraim Roper, &c. 

t Oliver Whiting, Esq. his brother, in January, 1717, petitioned the pro- 
prietors to have a record made of Rev. Mr. Whiting's land at Rock Meadow, 
and, also, to do what further was necessary for ratifying the bargain between 
his sister Alice and the town. A committee w?.s chosen who gave him a 
deed in February following. 

% Hutchinson, and J. Farmer. 

H. Mass. Hist. Col. IX. 183. 

j| May not this have been John Jones, Harvard University, 1690 ? What 
the dithcultits were, is not known, 


in 1699, was a school master in Salem. He was afterwards settled 
in the ministry. 

In May, 1701, Mr. Andrew Gardner was invited to preach, and 
in the following September received an invitation to be the minis- 
ter of the town. He preached in town, to great acceptance, for a 
number of years. Mr. Gardner was unfortunately killed by one of 
his society, Oct. 26, 170 1, as has been already mentioned. He was 
soon to be ordained when this unfortunate occurrence brought sor- 
row upon the town. Why his ordination was so long deferred does 
not appear. It was indeed not customary to have this ceremony 
follow so soon after the invitation, as at the present day: but the 
delay was unusual even for that period. Tradition speaks in praise 
of Mr. Gardner; and Mr. Harrington remarks that he died, "to the 
great grief not only of his consort, but of his people, who had an 
exceeding value for him.' 1 * The late Wm. Winthrop, in his manu- 
script catalogue, says that Mr. Gardner « was the son of Capt. An- 
drew Gardner who was killed in Canada."! 

Mr. Hancock also, in his sermon preached at the installation of 
Mr. Harrington, speaks of him as " son of the worthy Capt. Andrew 
Gardner, who miscarried in an expedition to Canada, under Sir Wil- 
liam Phips." Mr. Gardner was but thirty years of age when he 
died. He was born, I have reason to believe, in that part of Cam- 
bridge, which is now Brighton,! and graduated at Harvard Univer- 
sity, 1696, in the same class with Samuel Whitman. He is not in 
italicks in the catalogue of the University, because he never re- 
ceived ordination. 

On the 31st July, 1704, a short time before Mr Gardner's death, 
the meeting house was burnt by the Indians. This as I have al- 
ready mentioned, escaped destruction in Philip's war and was the 
first house of public worship in town. 

From the records of the General Court, it appears that some 
difficulty attended the erection of a second building. For, on the 
28th December, 1704, the Court voted to allow the town forty pounds 
towards a new building, as soon as the inhabitants should erect a 
frame. And on petition of sundry of the inhabitants, referring to 
the place of setting the building, a committee was chosen " to hear 
*See also Mr. Hancock's sermon, mentioned below. 

* Letter of James Savage, Esq. Aug. 1826. The first Judge Joseph Wil- 
der and his brother, Col. James Wilder, married sisters of Pit v. Mr. Gardner. 
Ten acres of land, in town, were set off by the proprietors to his heirs in 1747. 

1 Letter from Rev. Mr. Homer of Newton. 


the parties, and report." In May, 170G, John Houghton, Esq. the 
Representative of the town for that year, petitioned that "the re- 
striction might be taken oft" against the said town's proceeding in 
the finishing of their meeting house in the place where they had 
raised a frame for that use." The request was granted, and the 
building was probably completed that year. It was situated on the 
Old Common, so called, opposite to the second burying ground.* 

In May following Mr. Gardner's death, Mr. John Prentice com- 
menced preaching in Lancaster. He continued to supply the pul- 
pit until February, 1707, when he was invited to become the min- 
ister of the town. The invitation he accepted, and was ordained 
March 29, 1703. On the same day, previous to the ordination, a 
covenant was signed by the members of the church, general in its 
nature, binding those who professed it, to holy lives, with watch- 
fulness of each other's conduct, acknowledging the equality of the 
churches, and the sufficiency of holy scripture, and refraining from 
the injunction of particular doctrines as necessary to enable one to 
participate in the ordinances. It is reasonable to suppose that the 
earlier covenants were not more technical and precipe, and that, 
while due regard was paid to Orthodox faith,t christian liberty was 
regarded as a sacred right. \ 

In 172G and 1727, motions to build a new house of worship 
were negatived. Another attempt for a new building where the 
first meeting house stood, or on School House hill, where the town 
house now stands, was made without success, in 1733, and 1737. 
A motion for one on the west side of the Neck, and another on the 
east side of the river, was negatived in 1731. A new petition in 
1741, for two buildings, one for the accommodation of the mile and 
the south part of the town, and another for the remaining inhabi- 

* This burying field was given by Capt. Thomas Wilder, who died in. 
1717. He was the eldest son of Thomas Wilder, the first settler of the name. 
The old burying ground, was probably separated for that use as early as 1653. 
The third, was purchased of Rev. Dr. Thayer and Hon. John Sprague, in 

t March, 1731 — Town voted to buy Rev. Pres. Samuel Willard's " Body 
of Divinity, to be kept in the meeting house for the town's use, so that any 
person may come there and read therein as often as they shall see cause, and 
said book is not to be carried out of the meeting house, at any time, except 
by order of the selectmen or the town. 11 This divine was son of Major Wil- 
lard before named, one of the original purchasers of Concord, and great grand 
father of the late President Willard, of Harvard University. 

^ Nov. 1734 — voted, that any desirous of admission to full communion, 
and declining to make a relation of his or her experiences, may be admitted 
bv making a written confession of their faith. Church Records. 


tants, mot with the same fate. However, in January, 1712, at a 
town meeting called by a magistrate, it was voted, to build two 
houses, according to the petition of 1741, viz. one of them for the 
now precinct near Ridge hill in Woonksechauckset, and the other, 
on School House hill. 

March 3, 1742, the old or first parish formed itself into a pre- 
cinct, and chose oiheers. The new building in the first parish was 
completed in 174:3.* It contained thirty three pews on the lower 
floor, with many long seats, as was usual at that day. 

The church and town were in great harmony during the minis- 
try of Mr. Prentice. In 1746, his health began to fail, and, from 
that period to the time of his death, his pulpit was supplied by 
Messrs. Benjamin Stevens, William Lawrence, Cotton Brown, and 
Stephen Frost. f He died much lamented, January 6, 1746, aged 
66, " after a life of much service and faithfulness. "J He is said to 
have possessed great dignity and severity of manners, and to have 
been bold, direct, and pointed in his style of preaching.^ " God 
gave him the tongue of the learned 1 ' said Mr. Hancock, u so he 
knew how to speak a word unto him that was weary; the God of 
the spirits of all Ilesh fitted him for his work, and taught him how 

* The committee consisted of Joseph Wikler, Samuel Willard, Josiah 
White, Oliver Wilder and William Puchardson. The parish Granted .£1015, 
5s. Qd. old tenor, to build the church; the actual cost was jC!>(j3, 3s. Id. 

t Benjamin Stevms, S. T. D. was a native of Charlestown, and minister 
ofKiUfry, in Maine. < JradttatedlLuvard University, 1740. Mr. Laurence 
Harvard University, 17 13. Mr. Brown, Harvard University, 1743, horn in 
Haverhill, and minister in Brookline. Mr. Frost, Harvard University, 1739. 
The same who is mentioned ante in note p. lie was a member of Mr. Pren- 
tice's church. 

| Mr. Prentice was twice married. His first wife was Mrs. Mary Gard- 
ner, widow of his predecessor. Theirsons were Staunton, Thomas and John. 
iMary, the eldest daughter, married Rev. Job Cashing;, minister of Shrewsbu- 
ry, March, 1727 ; Elizabeth, Mr. Daniel llobbins, of the west parish, and af- 
ter his death, Capt. Curtis, of Worcester ; Sarah, Dr. Smilh, and afterwards 
Col. Brigham of Southborough. The second wife was Mrs. Prudence Swan, 
mother of Rev. Josiah Swan, before mentioned. She was born in Charles- 
town, and her maiden name was Foster. Prudence, a daughter, married Jo- 
siah Brown, of the west parish, a graduate at Cambridge. Relief, married 
Rev. John Rogers, minister of Leominster, March, 175U. Rebecca, married 
Rev. John Mullen, of the west parish. 

?He preached a number of occasional sermons, viz. an Election sermon, 
May 2S, 1735, from 2 Chron. 111. 4,5 and part of Cth verses,which was printed. 
A sermon at the opening of the first Court in the County of Worcester, Aug. 
10, 1731, from 2 Chron. XIX. 6, 7. A sermon at the ordination of Rev. Eb- 
enezer Parkman, Oct. 20, 1724, from 2 Cor. XII. 15. A funeral discourse, 
at Marlborough, on occasion of the death of Rev. Robert Breck, Jan. 1731. 


^e ought to behave himself in the house of God. They that knew 
him esteemed him tor his piety, his probity, his peaceableness, and 
gentleness, and tor his commendable steadiness in these uncertain 
times. He was a practical, scriptural, profitable preacher. As to 
his secular affairs, with the help of that Pkudekc.e,* God gave 
him, he managed them with discretion.' 1 Mr. Prentice was a na- 
tive of Newton. He graduated at Cambridge in the class of 1700, 
which contains the names of \Vinthrop,Bradstreet, Hooker, Whiting, 
Robert Breck, &c. His father was Mr. Thomas Prentice of New- 
ton, who married Mary Staunton. Thomas Prentice, a brave and dis- 
tinguished commander of a corps of cavalry in Philip's war, was a 
relation. Thomas, the father, died Nov. 6th, 1722, aged 93. He 
had been, according to tradition, together with Captain Prentice 
and another relation of the same name, one of Oliver Cromwell's 
Body Guard. By an ancient manuscript, in the possession of Rev. 
Mr. Homer of Newton, it appears that Mr. Prentice (without doubt 
Rev. John Prentice) was admitted to the church in Newton, March 
14, 1708, and taken out the same day. His relation was then, I pre- 
sume, transferred to the church in Lancaster, over which he was 
ordained Monday, March 29, 17084 

On the fourth of January, 1718, a few days before the death of 
Mr. Prentice, it was voted to settle a colleague u if God should spare 
their minister's life." Thursday the'21st was set apart for a day of 
fasting and prayer, and the neighboring ministers, Messrs. Gardner, 
Secomb, Rogers, Goss, and Mellen, were desired to assist on the 
occasion. Feb. 28, 1718, the society united with the church in in- 
viting Mr. Cotton Brown to be their minister ; and voted to give 
him £2000 old tenor, to enable him to purchase a parsonage, and 
•£480 old tenor for his annual salary. Mr. Brown probably declin- 
ed the offer ;| for, on the 8th August following, they voted to hear 
no more candidates till they came to a choice, and desired the 
church to select one from those who had already preached. Ac- 
cordingly, on the same day, the church made choice of the Rev. 
Timothy Harrington, with but two dissenting vole-;, and the socie- 
ty immediately concurred in the choice. They offered him £1000, 

* Ilia second wife. She died, July, 17G5. 

tFor what relates to the parentage of Mr. Prentice, I am indebted to 
Rev. Mr. Homer of Newton, and John Mtllen Esq. of Cambridge. 

Mr. Prentice's salary in 1717, was £70 : 1718, £85 : 1726, £100 : 1731, 
£130: 1737, £210, old tenor : the same in 1744,5 and G, "■ in the present 
currency. 1 ' • 

X He was ordained at Brookline, Oct. G, 1748, died, April 13, 1751. 

vox., it. 40 


old tenor, as a settlement, or £2000 for the purchase of a parson- 
age, and the same salary* that was offered to Mr. Brown. Mr. 
Harrington accepted the invitation, and was installed Nov. 16, 
1748. The sermon was preached by Rev. John Hancock, of Lex- 
ington.! Thirteen churches were represented by their " Elders 
and delegates, viz: Mr. Loring's of Sudbury, Mr. Gardner's of 
Stow, Mr. Stone's of Southborough, Mr. Parkman's of Westborough, 
Mr. Secomb's of Harvard, Mr. Goss' of Bolton, Mr. Rogers' of 
Leominster, Mr. Mellen's of the west parish, (Sterling,) Rev. Dr. 
Appleton's of Cambridge, Mr. Hancock's of Lexington, Mr. Wil- 
liams' of Waltham, Mr. Storcr's of Watertown, and Mr. Steam's of 

Mr. Harrington had been the minister at Lower Ashuelot or 
Swansey, in New Hampshire. That town was distroyed, April 2, 
1747, and the inhabitants were scattered. Monday, Oct. 4, 1748, 
his church met at Rutland, Mass. and gave their former pastor a dis- 
mission and warm recommendation to the first church in Lancaster. 
The letter was signed by Nathaniel Hammond, Timothy Brown, 
and Jonathan Hammond, and was highly acceptable to the church 
in this town. 

During the ministry of Mr. Harrington, great changes took 
place in the state of society in New England. No period of our 
history is fraugbt with greater interest and instruction. Ancient 
simplicity was yielding to the alterations, if not the refinements, in 
manners, induced by a widening intercourse with the world, the 
increase of general intelligence, and the number of well educated 
men. The profession of law had acquired weight and influence, 
and its members were taking the lead in all that related to the po- 
litical existence and improvement of the provinces. An inquisitive 
spirit began to stir in the church, which is still active and busy, 
under a change of the points of discussion. 

I do not find that the introduction of instrumental music as a part 
of public worship, or the change in the mode of singing, gave rise 
to any uneasiness in the parish.^ Not so however with the intro- 

*The salary was annually settled by the price of the principal articles 
if life, JC4S0 old tenor, equal to JJG4 lawful money, or $213 33. For a few 
years the salary was as high as $300. 

t This sermon was printed: The text was from 1. Cor. IX. 19. Mr. 
Hancock was father of Rev. John Hancock of Braintree, and Grandfather of 
Gov. Hancock. 

$ Except Mr. Wheelock used to shake his head, when the pitch pipe was 
sounded, and Thomas Holt would leave the house at the sound cf the pitch 
pipe, or when M funeral thought" was sung. 


duction of the " New Version." Many were grieved because of (he 
change, and two individuals proceeded further. The version of 
Sternhold and Hopkins,* the first metrical version of the l J salms, in 
English, was never used in this town. This was not in high repute; 
Eliot, Welde, and Richard Mather, in 1630, attempted a translation, 
but their labors were not valued; and President Dunster, the fol- 
lowing year, was called upon to revise the collection. His im- 
proved version was the one in use inmost of the New England 
Churches for many years — and, in Lancaster, till the time of Mr. 
Harrington. Prohably about the year 1763, the collection by 
Tate and Braily was introduced. Early in 1665, a complaint was 
made that one of the members of the church, Moses Osgood, 
with bis wife, Martha, had been absent from the communion service 
more than a year. On being inquired of by the church, why they 
absented themselves from the Supper, they sent a written reply, in 
which they say that the reason is, " the bringing in of the New 
Version, as we think, not in a prudent and regular way. Also we 
find, in said Version, such words and expressions as are unknown 
by us, so that we cannot sing with the understanding also. The 
composers of the said version, we find, have taken too great a lib- 
erty to themselves, as we think, to depart from the scriptures. 
And as for the hymns taken from the other parts ol the bible, we 
know of no warrent in the bible for them, and shall humbly wait on 
such as are the maintainers of them to produce and demonstrate 
the warrantableness for them from the word of God. We are 
therefore waiting the removing or in some way or other the satis- 
fying the above said doubts ; for they are a matter of grievance to 
us, and we thiuk we are wronged in our highest interest, &c." 
Further complaint was made against them, that they had 
declared "the church had broken their covenant with them, 
in bringing in the New Version of the Psalms, which they af- 
firmed to be made for Papists and Arminians, to be full of her- 
esy, and in an unknovon tongue.' 1 '' Also, that " Mr. Harrington assert- 
ed at the conference meeting, that he was one half the church, 
and that he would disannul the meeting." 

For this second charge, the offenders made satisfaction ; but on 
the first, the evidence that was adduced to exculpate, being consid- 

*Thomas Sternhold, a Court poet, translated 51 psalms. John Hopkins, a 
clergyman, 58. The other contributors were, principally, William Whytting;- 
ham, Dean of Durham, and Thomas Norton, a Barrister. See 3 Ellis 1 speci- 
mens of the early English Poets, p. 11G. 


ered insufficient, and no excuse being offered, the church voted an 
admonition and "suspension." The wife afterwards (1780, May,) 
came forward, made explanations that were deemed satisfactory, 
and was restored. The husband probably continued steadfast in 
adhering to the old version by President Dunster. I do not find that 
he forsook his first love, or that his suspension was broken off* 

Many of the clergy, of Mr. Harrington's time, had departed 
from the standard of faith professed by the churches in general, 
from the first settlement of New England. The prevailing doc- 
trines irom the beginning were those of Calvin, and it required 
no ordinary moral courage, seventy years ago, for anyone to break 
asunder the skackles of religious dogmas that had encompassed all, 
and come out in the independent and conscientious avowal of a new 
system of doctrine. The people were not prepared for a sudden 
change of the faith which had been handed down from parent to 
child, for many generations, and which had collected veneration in 
its progress and by its long continuance. Most of the clergy, in 
this vicinity, who embraced the tenets of Arminius, soon found 
that the age was not arrived that would tolerate a departure from 
the metaphysical speculations of the old school. They were 
obliged, therefore, as honest men, to avow their sentiments, at 
whatever hazard, and in consequence, to relinquish their pastoral 
relations to their persuasion of the truth. Mr. Harrington howev- 
er, who was of this class of believers, was regarded with singular 
affection by his people, and in that way probably, escaped the fate 
of his brethren.! 

A history of this period in our Ecclesiastical affaris, impartially 
and faithfully written, would be a work of great interest to exhibit 
the spirit of inquiry and speculation, then just starting into exist- 
ence, tracing it from its beginning, and shewing how the excite- 
ment of political discussion that was preparing the way for nation- 
al independence, opened the mind to general inquiry in other sub- 
jects, especially to those relating to the true interests of man. 

* He died, March 10, 1776. Rev. Zabdiel Adams of Lunenburg, in 1771, 
delivered a discourse in Lancaster, " on the nature-, pleasures and advantages 
of Church Music." This was probably about the time of the change introduc- 
ed in the mode of singing, &c. See page 87, Note. The discourse was 
printed. Watt's superseded Tate and Brady, and Belknap, Watts in Lan- 

t In justice however, it should be stated, that his conduct at this time 
was not decided and manly. Although fully an Arminian, he displeased 
many, at the time, by the temporising course he adopted. He was of the 
council assembled to decide upon the difficulties at Leominster, and voted for 
the dismission of Mr. Rogers, a theologian of the same persuasion. 


The difficulties in Bolton resulted in the dismission of Rev. Mr. 
Goss, the minister, hy a majority of the church in that place. To 
this cause they seem to have been driven by the course pursued by 
the Ecclesiastical council, which acquitted Mr. Goss of the charges 
brought against him — charges which, it seems, were true — at least 
sufficiently so to disqualify him for the duties of his holy office. 
The Council, besides, passed a censure on those who had dismissed 
Mr. Goss, and attempted to exclude them from partaking of chris- 
tian privileges in other churches. The ground work of the whole 
difficulty was an effort, on the part of the cle:gy, to assume an ar- 
bitrary and irresponsible power over the laity, which led to a prop- 
er resistance on the part of the latter. In June, 1772, Samuel Ba- 
ker, Ephraim Fairbanks, and Nathaniel Longley, a Committee in 
behalf of the Church in Bolton, sent a letter to the first Church in 
Lancaster, containing a clear and satisfactory defence of their pro- 
ceedings, as " not being a usurped authority, but as being the prac- 
tice of the primitive churches — as being alloncd hy their own plat- 
form, — but still, a power they were unwilling to exercise, unless 
reduced to real necessity." They then inquire whether they are 
to be excluded from communion with other churches, and to be 
condemned without being beard. This letter was laid by Mr. Har- 
rington, before his church, and the following is a copy of the pro- 
ceedings. " At a meeting of the first Church in Lancaster, by 
adjournment, on July 21, 1772, voted as follows — Whether this 
church be so far in charity with the brethren of Bolton, whose let- 
ter is before them, as to be willing to receive them to communion 
with them in special ordinances occasionally." 

Passed in the affirmative. Which vote was nonconcurred by the 
Pastor as follows : — a Brethren,I think myself bound in duty to God, 
to the Congregational churches in general, to this church, in par- 
ticular and to rny own conscience, to declare, which I now do be- 
fore you, that I cannot concur with this vote. 

" This vote shall be recorded, but my nonconcurrence must be 
recorded with it. And as the brethren from Bolton now see your 
charitable sentiments towards them, I hope they will be so far sat- 
isfied. But as the church act in their favor is not perfected, 1 
hope they will not offer themselves to communion with us, till 
their society is in a more regular state." 

Mr. Harrington continued to live in harmony with his people, 
during a long and useful ministry : no lasting disturbance injured 
his good influence ; no root of bitterness sprang up between him 


and his people. He is represented as having possessed respecta- 
ble powers of mind, with great mildness and simplicity of charac- 
ter. Liberal in his feelings, he practised charity in its extended, as 
well as its narrow sense. True piety and an habitual exercise of 
the moral and social virtues, rendered him highly useful in his sa- 
cred office, and an interesting and instructive companion in the 
common walks of life. 

In 1787, Mr. Harrington, being quite advanced in life, received 
some aid from the town, in the discharge of his duties. From 
March, 1791, till the following spring, the gentlemen, who, in part, 
supplied the pulpit, were Messrs. Alden Bradford, II. U. 1736, 
afterwards settled at YYiscasset — now residing in Boston, and late 
Secretary of State ; Thaddeus M. Harris, II. U. 1787, S. T. D. now 
a minister in Dorchester ; Daniel C. Saunders, II. U. 1788, Presi- 
dent of Burlington College, now minister in Medtield ; and Rev. Jo- 
seph Davis. 

In March, 1792, it was voted to settle a colleague with Rev. 
Mr. Harrington, and a committee was appointed to wait upon Mr. 
Harrington, touching his inclination respecting a colleague, kc. 
and to supply the desk for twelve weeks.* In July, 1792, " voted 
that the town will hear Mr. ThayerT a further time. June 3, 1792, 
the town voted unanimously to concur with the church, in giving 
him an invitation to be their minister, with a settlement of £200, 
and a salary of £90, during Mr. Harrington's life time, and £120 
($400j) after his decease. The invitation was accepted in a letter 
dated Cambridge, July 11, 1793. The ordination was Oct. 9,1793.§ 
The sermon was preached by Rev. Dr. Osgood, of Medford, from 
Acts xx. 27. The other services were as follows, viz : Introduc- 
tory prayer by Rev. Dr. Belknap ; consecrating prayer, by Rev. 
Mr. Whitney ; Charge, by Rev. Mr. Jackson; Bight hand of Fel- 
lowship, by Rev. Mr. Emerson ; Concluding prayer, by Rev. Dr. 
Clark. The following were the churches present: Leominster, 

*The other gentlemen who preached here before the invitation given to the 
present minister, were Rev. Thomas Gray, D. D. of Roxbury, Rev. Heze- 
kiah Packard, D. D. of Wiscassett, Maine, Rev. Aaron Green, of Maiden, 
Rev. Hezekiah Goodrich, of Rutland, Rev. Thomas C. Thatcher, formerly of 

t H. U. 1789. Tutor, S. T. D. 

Jin 1804, $510; 1805, $400; 1811, raised permanently to $525. 

i Messrs. Joeph Wales, Oliver Carter, and Eli Stearns, were thanked by 
the town u for their timely and useful exertions in preparing suitable provis- 
ion, &c. for the ordaining council, and for the polite manner in which they 
conducted the business of attending upon them, and it was voted, that their 
freely rendering this service be recorded in grateful remembrance of their 


Rev. Francis Gardner; Lunenburg, Rev. Zabdiel Adams; Shirley, 
Rev. Phinehas Whitney ; Harvard, Rev. William Emerson ; Bolton, 
Rev. Phinehas Wnghij; Berlin, Rev. Reuben Puller, D. D. ; Ster- 
ling, Rev. Reuben Ilolcomb; Worcester, Rev. Aaron Bancroft, D. D.; 
Brookline, Rev. Joseph Jackson; Newbury port, Rev. Thomas 
Gary, Rev. John Andrews, D. D. ; Medford, Rev. David Osgood, 
D. D. ; Cambridge, Rev. Abiel Holms, D. D. ; Boston, First Church, 
Rev. John Clarke, D. D. ; Federal Street, Rev. Jeremy Belknap, 
1). D. ; New North Church, Rev. John Eliot, D. I). 

Mr. Harrington, preached but little during the last five years of 
his life. After being in an infirm state of health for some time, 
he died, December 18, 1795, in the 80th year of his age. A ser- 
mon was preached by his colleague and successor, at the funeral, 
Dec. 23, from 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8, and was afterwards printed.* 

Mr. Harrington was born in Waltham, Feb. 10, 171G, and grad- 
uated, Harvard University, 1737, in a distinguished class. He was 
first ordained, as we have already seen, at Swansey, in New Hamp- 
shire. After leaving Swansey, he preached in this town and other 
places as a candidate, till his settlement here, in Nov. 1648. 

The building that had been used as a house for public worship 
from 1743, being old, and inconvenient, the town voted, Dec. 4, 1815, 
to erect a new building of brick. A farm a little to the northeast 
of the old house was purchased of Benjamin Lee, Esq. by a num- 
ber of individuals, and two acres were conveyed by them to the 
town for the sum of $633 33, as apprised by Messrs. James Wilder, 
Moses Thomas and Thomas H. Blood, of Sterling. Messrs. Eli 
Stearns, Jacob Fisher, and William Cleaveland, were chosen a 
* Further, as to his character, see the above sermon, also two others from 
the same hand, printed Feb. 1817. Mr. Harrington's printed discourses, be- 
sides his Century Sermon, May 28, 1753, Psalm CXIX. 1, 2, were, "Pre- 
vailing wickedness, and distressing judgments, ill-boding symptoms on a stu- 
pid people." Hosea, vii. 9. Also, one at Princeton, Dec. 23,1759, from 1 Cor, 
vii. 15. 

Mr. Harrington was twice married. His first wife was Anna Harrington, 
of Lexington, a cousin, born June 2, 1710, and died, May 10, 1778. Their 
children were Henrietta, born at Lexington, 1744, and married John Locke, 
of Templeton, brother to President Locke, of the University ; Arethusa 
born at Lexington, 1747. Eusebia, born at Lancaster, May 1751 — married 
Paul Richardson, sometime of this place; afterwards of Winchester, N. 11. 
Timothy, born Sept. 1753. H. U. 1776, a physician in Chelmsford, died, Feb. 
28, 1804. His only son, Rufus, died in Boston, eighteen or nineteen years 
since. Dea. Thomas Harrington, born Nov. 1755, now living in Heath. An- 
na, born July, 1758, married Dr. Bridge, a physician in Petersham, son of 
Rev. Mr. Bridge of Framingham. After his death, she was married to Josh- 
ua Fisher, M. D. M. M. S. &c. of Beverly. They are both living. Mr. 
Harrington had other children who died in infancy. His second wife was 
widow of Rev. Mr. Bridge, of Framingham. 

328 history or Lancaster. 

building- committee. In January, 1816, it was voted, that the new 
church should contain not more than 4,400, nor less than 4,200 
square feet, and that there should he a porch and portico, of such 
size as the committee should approve. 

After the spot for the new church was selected, difficulties oc- 
curred in deciding whether the front of the building should be to- 
wards the west, or south. After much discussion, and various votes 
ou the subject, at a number of different meetings, the parties 
agreed to abide by the decision of certain gentlemen from other 
towns mutually selected for the purpose. 

The opinion of these gentlemen was in favor of a south entrance, 
and their decision being final, was acquiesced in after a short time. 

The corner stone was laid July 9, 1 8 10. A silver plate with this 
inscription was deposited beneath — " Fourth house built in Lancas- 
ter for the worship of God. Corner stone laid, July 9, 18 1G. May 
God make our ways prosperous, and give us good success. Rev. 
Nathaniel Thayer, pastor of our Church." A previous address 
was made by the pastor: 87th psalm, Belknap's collection, was 
sung, and prayer by the pastor concluded the exercises. The build- 
ing was dedicated on the first day of January, A. I). 1317. Intro- 
ductory prayer by Rev. Mr. Capen, of Sterling, " who also read 
the prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the temple." Dedica- 
tory prayer, by Rev. Dr. Bancroft, of Worcester. Sermon, by the 
pastor of the Society, from Ephesians, ii. 10, 20, 21, 22. Conclud- 
ing prayer, by Rev. Mr. Allen, of Bolton. . 

From a description of the building published at the lime, I 
extract the following : — 

The design of the edifice was by Charles Bulfinch, Esq.* of Bos- 
ton. The body of the building is 74 by G6 feet, with a porch, por- 
tico, tower and cupola. The portico is 48 by 17 feet, of square 
brick columns, arched with pilasters, entablature, and pediment of 
the Doric order; the vestibule, or porch, is 40 by 19 feet and 
contains the gallery stairs ; the tower is 21 feet square ; the cu- 
pola is circular, and of singular beauty ; — it is surrounded with a 
colonade of 12 tinted pillars, with entablature, and cornice, of the 
Ionic order; above which is an Attic encircled with a festoon dra- 
pery, the whole surmounted by a dome, balls, and vane. The 
height from the ground. is about 120 feet. Inside, the front of the 
gallery is of hallustrade work, and is supported by ten fluted pillars 
of the Doric order, and has a clock in front, presented by a gcntle- 
* Now National Architect at Washington. 



man of the society.* The pulpit rests on eight fluted columns, and 
four pilasters of the Ionic order : the upper section is supported by 
six Corinthian columns also fluted, and is lighted by a circular head- 
ed window, ornamented with double pilasters fluted ; entablature 
.and cornice of the Corinthian order; this is decorated with a cur- 
tain and drapery from a Parisian model, which, with the materials, 
were presented by a friend ;t they are of rich green figured satin. A 
handsome Pulpit Bible was presented also by a friend. ! and a bell, 
weighing 1300 lbs. was given by gentlemen of the town. 

The following is a complete list of baptisms and admissions to 
full communion from March 29, 1708, to the present time. 

Baptisms during Rev. Mr. Prentice's ministry, 1593 

From his death, .Ian. 17-18, to settlement of Be v. Mr. | 3g 

Harrington, Nov. 16,1718.' j 

During Rev T . Mr. Harrington's ministry, 1531 

From the ordination of Rev. Dr. Thayer, to the pre- | ago 

sent time, S 

Total, -1021 

Admissions during Rev. Mr. Prentice's ministry, 331 

'«■ " Rev. Mr. Harrington's, " 178 

« " Rev. Dr. Thayer's l - 307 

Total, 111G 

The town of Lancaster has ever enjoyed singular peace and 
harmony in its religious affairs. No Ecclesiastical council, so of- 
ten the cause of bitterness at the present day, has ever been held 
within our limits, except for the purpose of assisting at ordinations. 
"Within the present bounds of the town, there is, and never has 
been but one regular and incorporated religious society, and that 
of the Congregational denomination. 

Individuals here, as well as in other towns, make use of the fa- 
cilities which the law aflbrds them and join themselves to other 
persuasions. In many instances, it is not to be doubted, this is done 
from conscientious motives — in others, a certificate proves a cheap 
and expeditious riddance of the expense of supporting the institu- 
tions of our holy faith, and a general indifference to their prosper- 
ity may be concealed under the appearance of scruples of con- 

* Jacob Fisher, Esq. 

t S. V. S. Wilder, Esq. 

J Mr. Abel Wrifford. 

vor.. II. 41 


The Hon. John Sprague was a citizen of Lancaster from Sept. 
!, 1770, to the 21st of Sept. 1800, the time of his death. The 
town was much indebted to hira for the correctness of their munici- 
pal proceedings, and the unanimity with which their affairs were 
conducted. He was born at Rochester, in the county of Plymouth, 
then Province of the Massachusetts Bay, on the 21st of June A. D. 
1740, O. S. corresponding to the 2d of July, N. S. He was the 
son of Noah Sprague, Esq. by Sarah, his wife, who was a lineal de- 
scendant of Elizabeth Pent), the sister of Sir William Penn, who was 
an Admiral under Cromwell, and the father of William Penn, the 
proprietor of Pennsylvania ; her husband was William Hammond, 
of London. Benjamin Hammond, their son, removed from London to 
Sandwich, in the colony of Plymouth, married there in 1GS0, and 
thence removed to Rochester. John Hammond the second son by 
this marriage, married Mary Arnold, daughter of the Rev. Samuel 
Arnold, the first minister of Rochester, and Sarah, a daughter, by 
this marriage was Mr. Sprague's mother. Judge Sprague began to 
prepare for College in Dec. 1760, and entered therein at Cambridge 
at the end of the summer vacation after, viz. A. D. 17G1. Having 
pursued his collegiate studies with reputation, he graduated in 17G5, 
and soon after took charge of the grammar school in Roxbury ; 
commenced the study of physic there, and pursued it under the in- 
struction of the late Doct. Thomas Williams for a short time, viz. 
until May, 176G. In that month he removed to Worcester, aban- 
doned the study of physic, and entered as a clerk in the ofiice of 
Col. James Putnam, an eminent Barrister at Law, and kept a pri- 
vate grammar school there. At the May term of the Court of 
Common Pleas, 17G8, he was admitted an Attorney of that Court, 
removed from thence to Rhode Island, and in the following Sept. 
was admitted an Attorney in the Superior Court in the county of 
Providence, colony of Rhode Island, &.c. and opened his office in 
Newport; there he remained without the prospect of much busi- 
ness, in the diligent pursuit of his professional studies, until May, 
17G9, when he removed to Kcene, in the county of Cheshire, then 
province of New Hampshire, where he pursued the practice of 
Law until Sept. 1, 1770, made himself acquainted with the people, 
and the business of the Courts there, and by his talents, industry 
and fidelity, acquired a reputation which long afterward afforded 
him extensive professional employment in the interior counties of 
that province. Inclined to take up his permanent abode in his na- 


tive province, be then removed from Keene to Lancaster, in the 
county of Worcester, and opened an office in partnership with Abel 
Willard, Esq. a respectable Counsellor at Law, for the term of ten 
years, beginning the 21st of the same month. This partnership was 
interrupted by the war with Great Britain. Mr. Willard adhering 
to the King, left Lancaster in March, 1775, and never returned. 
In April, 1772, he was admitted an Attorney of the Superior Court 
at Worcester. In Dec. 1772, he married Catherine Foster, of 
Charlestown, the twelfth child and ninth daughter of Richard F6s« 
ter, E*q. Sheriff of Middlesex; by this marriage, he had one son 
and two daughters. He was occupied in extensive professional 
employment, till arms silenced the laws ; then he shared in the 
burdens and privations common to his neighbors and fellow citizens 
in the eventful period of the revolution. Having purchased a small 
farm in the centre of the town, he labored upon it as a farmer; dis- 
mantled himself of his linen and ruffles and other appropriate ha- 
biliments, and assumed the garments of labor, which were then the 
checkered shirt and trowsers. He was resorted to for counsel in 
all cases of didiculty which occurred, and toward the close of the 
revolution, when our government was formed, and business revived, 
he was one of the principal counsellors and advocates in our Courts 
of Justice. His legal learning was so well combined with and aid- 
ed by common sense, and a sound discretion, that he was consider- 
ed one of the most safe, discerning and upright counsellors in the 
Commonwealth. As an advocate, he was not the most eloquent, but 
such was the fairness of his statements and force of his arguments, 
that conviction seemed their natural result. He was cotemporaiy 
with the two Strongs, the late Governor, and the late Judge, both 
of the county of Hampshire, and the late Hon. Levi Lincoln, of 
"Worcester, and divided with them the multiplied business of advo- 
cating causes and collecting debts in the counties of Hampshire, 
Worcester and Middlesex, and in the counties of Hillsborough and 
Cheshire, in New Hampshire. In May, 1732, he was elected a 
representative of the town to the General Court, and in the Janu- 
ary session following, a vacancy in the Senate occurring, being a 
candidate, voted for by the people, was elected by the Legislature 
to fdl that vacancy, and was again elected to the Senate by the 
people in 1785. In February, 1783, he was first commissioned a 
Justice of the Peace and quorum, for the county of Worcester.' So 
high was he held in the estimation of the Judges of the Supreme 
Judicial Court, as a Lawyer, that at the February term of that 


Court in Suffolk, 1784, he was made a Barrister at Law, ami wag 
called to that distinction by the first writ that issued for Barrister 
in the Commonwealth ; the mode of admission preceding the rev- 
olution having been without writ. He was to have been admitted 
belore the revolution, but the tumults in the country interrupted 
the Courts, lie was elected to represent the town in the General 
Court in 1784 and 1785. 

In 178G, Mr. Sprngue was selected by the Government as the 
law adviser of Mirj. Gen. Lincoln, to attend him in his expedition 
against Daniel Shays and his adherents, who had excited a rebel- 
lion in the Commonwealth. 

May 5, 1787, he was bereaved of his wife, and in the latter 
part of the same year, he married Mary Ivers, the widow of Thom- 
as lvers, Esq. late Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and eldest 
child of Mr. John Cutler and Mary, his wife, of Boston, who surviv- 
ed him. In 1788, he was elected a member of the convention for 
ratifying the Constitution of the United States. The town was op- 
posed to the ratification, and by a committee of seven gave him in- 
structions to vote against it. Having confidence, however, in the 
intelligence and rectitude of their delegate, they so qualified the 
instructions as to leave him to vote as he should think proper. He 
was one of seven out of fifty members from the county, who voted 
in the affirmative. In the winter of the same year, he was appoint- 
ed Sheriff of the county of Worcester, in the place of William 
Greenleaf, Esq. who was removed from that office. He was punc- 
tual and faithful in the performance of his official duties, reduced 
the former irregularities in the administration of the office to or- 
der and system, and resigned it in 1792. 

He returned to the practice of law, and continued in it until 
1798. He represented the town in the General Court from the year 
1795to 1799 inclusive. In 1798, he was appointed Chief Justice of the 
Court of Common Pleas for the County of Worcester. It was a new and 
valuable acquisition to have a learned lawyer at the head of the Judi- 
cial administration of the County, whose integrity and talents fitted 
him for the station, and whose justice and impartiality would ensure 
the confidence of all engaged in the business of the Court. In this of- 
fice he continued until his death. His historical and legal knowl- 
edge, the accuracy of his mind, and its adaptation in the choice of 
language to express it on all subjects, rendered him a very useful 
member of the legislature, and he was looked to as a safe adviser 
and guide in the political and local concerns of the Commonwealth. 


He was a lover of peace, and possessed a happy talent at reconcil- 
ing jarring interests and harmonizing discordant feelings. Such 
were his mental qualities, so strong his sense of justice and honour- 
able dealing, that he was selected, before he was on the bench, a 
commissioner or referee to adjust the numerous controversies 
which prevailed to an alarming degree in the then District of 
Maine, between those who, without title, had settled on the lands 
of the Commonwealth, of the Waldo Patent and Plymouth Company 
on the one part, and the lawful proprietors of them on the other. By 
his co-operating agency, together with the enactments thereon by 
the legislature, such a settlement of the contending claims was ef- 
fected as restored peace and contentment to the parties. 

In the course of his professional career, many young gentlemen 
of liberal education, entered his office as students in law, and de- 
rived from him the requisite instruction. Of the distinguished men 
now living who were his pupils, are the Honorable Edward II. 
Robbing, late Lieut. Governor of the Commonwealth, now Judge of 
Probate for the counly of Norfolk. — The Honorable Nathaniel 
Paine, Judge of Probate for the County of Worcester. — The Hon- 
orable Artemas Ward, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas 
for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, — and JohnM. Forbes, Esq. 
now Charge d' Affaire, at Buenos Ayres. 

In his domestic relations he was faithful and affectionate ; a 
good neighbor, unostentatious in his professions of friendship, but 
manifested his sincerity by kindness and beneficence and untiring 
efforts to do good. He was a lover of order, and ready at all limes 
to promote the interest and honor of the town. His charities, hos- 
pitality and benevolence are by many still remembered. The 
writer of this memoir, who was his neighbor, and at his desire by 
his bedside the last twenty four hours of his life, witnessed his calm- 
ness and resignation at the approach of death, and his faith in llim 
who giveth the victory. 

His tomb stone, it is hoped, justly repeats the benediction of 
the Saviour, — " Blessed are the peace maker*, for they shall he 
called the children of Cod. ; ' 



1671 Thomas Eeattle, 

1G72 Thomas Beattle, 

1G73 (Ralph ?) Houghton, 

1689 Ralph Houghton, 

1693 John Houghton, 

1697 John Houghton, 

1705 John Houghton, 

1706 John Houghton, 

1707 Thomas Sawyer, 

1708 John Houghton, 
7710 Josiah Whitcomb, 

1711 John Houghton, 

1712 John Houghton, 

1714 Jabez Fairbanks, 

1715 John Houghton, 

1716 John Houghton, 

1717 John Houghton, 

1718 John Houghton, 

1719 John Houghton, 

1720 Joseph Wilder, 
1P . OJ ) John Houghton, 

J Jabez Fairbanks, 

1722 Jabez Fairbanks, 

1723 Jabez Fairbanks, 

1724 John Houghton, 

1725 Joseph Wilder, 

1726 Joseph Wilder, 

1727 Samuel Willard, 

1728 Josiah White, 
2729 Josiah White, 

1730 Josiah White, 

1731 Josiah White, 

1732 James Wilder, 

1733 James Keycs, 

1734 Ephraim Wilder, 

1735 Ephraim Wilder, 

1736 Ephraim Wilder, 

1737 Jabez Fairbanks, 

1738 Jabez Fairbanks, 

1739 Ebenezer Wilder, 

1740 Samuel Willard, 

1741 William Richardson. 

1742 Samuel Willard, 

1744 Ephraim Wilder, 

1745 William Richardson, 

1746 Joseph Wilder, Jr. 

1747 Joseph Wilder, Jr. 

1748 William Richardson, 

1749 William Richardson, 

1751 Joseph Wilder, Jr. 

1752 Joseph Wilder, Jr. 

1753 Joseph Wilder, Jr. 

1754 William Richardson, 

1755 David Wilder, 

1756 William Richardson, 

1757 David Wilder, 

1758 William Richardson, 

1759 William Richardson, 

1760 William Richardson, 

1761 William Richardson, 

1762 David Wilder, 

1763 David Wilder, 

1764 David Wilder, 

1765 David Wilder, 

1766 Asa Whitcomb, 

1767 David Wilder, 

1768 Asa Whitcomb, 

1769 Asa Whitcomb, 

1770 Asa Whitcomb, 

1771 Asa Whitcomb. 

1772 Asa Whitcomb, 

1773 Asa Whitcomb, 

1774 Asa Whitcomb, 

1775 Ebenezer Allen, 


1775 Hezekiah Gates, } William Dunsmoor, 

1776 William Dunsmoor, ) Samuel Thurston, 

1777 William Dunsmoor, 1779 Joseph Reed. 


1780 William Putnam, 1B07 Eli Stearns, 

1781 William Dunsmoor, ) Eli Stearns, 

1782 John Sprague, ) Jonas Lane, 

1783 John Sprague, 1 Eli Stearns, 

1784 John Sprague, j Jonas Lane, 

1785 John Sprague, 181Q ( Eli Stearns, 

1786 Ephraim Carter, Jr. J Jonas Lane, 

1787 Michael Newhall, 1 Jonas Lane, 

1788 Michael Newhall, ) Jacob Fisher, 

1789 Michael Newhall, ) Jonas Lane, 

1790 Ephraim Carter, ~ J Jacob Fisher, 

1791 Ephraim Carter, Jr. ) Jacob Fisher, 

1792 Ephraim Carter, Jr. J William Cleaveland, 

1793 John Whiting, 1814 ) William Cleaveland, 

1794 John Sprague, ( John Thurston, 

1795 John Sprague, I William Cieav eland, 

1796 John Sprague, j John Thurston, 

1797 John Sprague, 181G ) John Thurston, 

1798 John Sprague, ° i Edward Goodwin, 
1739 John Sprague, i John Thurston, 

1800 Samuel Ward, J Benjamin Wyman, 

1801 Samuel Ward, } John Thurston, 

1802 William Stedman, u S Solomon Carter, 

1803 Jonathan Wilder, 1819 Benjamin Wyman, 

1804 Jonathan Wilder, 1821 Jacob Fsher, 

1805 Jonathan Wilder, 1823 Jacob Fisher, 

) Jonathai 
1800 } Eli Stea 

Jonathan Wilder, 1826 John Thurston, 


Where any year is omitted the town was not represented. 
Beattlc was afterwards one of the deputies from Concord. I do not 
know that he ever lived here. Thomas Sawyer was the one who 
was taken captive in 1705. Col. Asa Whitcomb, the revolutionary 
patriot who represented the town many years in the Legislature, is 
particularly mentioned in Mr. Goodwin's history of Sterling. 

October, 1774, William Dunsmoor was chosen to represent the 
town in the Provincial Convention at Concord. 

Dunsmoor and Asa Whitcomb were delegates to the Provincial 
Congress at Cambridge, February 1, 1775. 

33G appendix. 

Joseph tteed and Ebenezer Allen, delegates to the State Con- 
vention in Concord, July 14, 1779, to the County Convention at 
Worcester on the second Tuesday of August, 1779, and to attend at 
Concord first Wednesday in October, 1779. 

William Dunsmoor, Ephraim Wilder and William Putnam, dele- 
gates to the Convention in Cambridge, September, 1779. This was 
the Convention that formed our present Constitution of State Gov- 

Timothy Whiting and Ephraim Carter, delegates to the County 
Convention at Worcester, April, 1782. 

Ebenezer Allen, delegate to the County Convention at Leices- 
ter, August 1786. 

John Sprague, delegate to the Convention for ratifying the Fed- 
eral Constitution. It is worthy of remark that out of the whole 
County of Worcester on the question for adopting the Constitution, 
there were forty three nays and but seven yeas. The latter were 
Messrs. Sprague of this town, Seth Newton of Soulhborough, Sam- 
uel Baker of Bolton, David Wilder of Leominisler, Matthew Patrick 
of Western, Josiah Goddard of Athol, and Ephraim Wilder of Ster- 

John Maynard, Jonathan Wilder, and William Cleveland, dele- 
gates to the County Convention at Worcester, August, 1812. 

Jacob Fisher and Davis Whitman, delegates to the Convention 
in Boston, November, 1820, for revising the Constitution of the 


County Treasurer, Jonathan Houghton, 1731 to 1733. 

Judge of Court of Common Pleas and Chief Justice, Joseph Wil- 
der, 1731 to 1757. 

Judge Court of Common Pleas, Samuel Willard, 1713 to 1753. 
Joseph Wilder, son of first Judge Joseph Wilder, 17G2 to 1773. 
John Sprague, June 28, 1798, Chief Justice, July 31, 1798 to 1800. 

Clerk of the Courts, W r illiam Stedman, 1810 to 1811. 1812 to 

Sheriff, William Greenleaf, 1778 to 1788. John Sprague, 1788 
to 1792. 

Judge of Probate, Joseph Wilder, 1739 to 1757. 

Assistant Justices of the Court of Sessions, John Whiting, March 1, 
1808 to April 20, 1809. Timothy Whiting, November 14, 1811. 

Senators, John Sprague, 1785 to 1786. Moses Smith, 1811 to 

ATPEND1X. 337 

Representatives to Congress. William Stedman, 1803 to 1810. 

Justices of the Peace. I have no means ofbcing accurate prior 
to 1788. Soon after the settlement of the town, Major Willard, 
who resided here for a short time, was a magistrate by virtue of 
his office, as one of the Court of Assistants. After the town was 
rebuilt, came John Houghton, and, ! probably, he was the only mag- 
istrate for some years. Then followed Judge Joseph Wilder, fath- 
er and son, Col. Oliver Wilder, Col. Samuel Willard, father and 
son, Col. Abijah Willard, and Abel Willard, William Richardson, 
Joseph Reed, Osgood, &.c. After the peace, William Duns- 
moor, and John Sprague. 

Since 1788, they are as follows,* viz: 

March 14, 1788, Josiah Wilder. 
Jan. 23, 1789, Israel Atherton. 

Oct. 14, 1789, Timothy Whiting jr. quorum, Oct. 15, 1807. 
Sept. 18, 1790, William Stedman, quorum, Jan. 21, 1801. 
June 24, 1799, Samuel Ward, quorum, Jan. 28, 180G. 
Feb. 1, 1803, Josiah Flagg. 
June 14, 1803, Benjamin Wyman. 
May 2G, 180G, Joseph Wales. 
May 13, 1808, Merrick Rice. 

Oct. 18, 1809, Moses Smith, jr. quorum, July 3, 1816. 
Dec. 17, 1811, Paul Willard. J 
June 16, 1812, Jacob Fisher. 
Jan. 20, 1814, Ebenezer Torrey. 
Dec. 3, 1816, Edward Goodwin. 
June 9, 1821, John Stuart. 
Jan. 24, 1822, Jonas Lane. 
Aug. 26, 1823, Levi Lewis. 
Jan. 7, 1825, Joseph Willard. 
" " William Willard. 

Those in Italics are now in commission. 

Admitted to practice, 

Worcester C. C. P. Nov. Term, 1755, Abel Willard, to 1775.— 

Worcester, C. C. P. March Term, 1768, John Sprague, 1770 
to 1800.— Died. 

Admitted in Worcester, Levi Willard, about the year 178G — Died. 
* This list was furnished by Edward P. Bangs, Etq. Secretary of State. 
vol. ir. 42 


Essex, Sept. Term, C. C. P. 1787, William Stedma» t to 1810 and 
from 1821. 

Worcester, March Term, 1789, Merrick Rice to 1315. — Re- 
moved to Harvard — Died. 

Worcester, Dec. Term, 1802, Moses Smith to 1825. — Relin- 
quished the practice. 

Worcester, March Term, 1803, Samuel John Sprague to 1805 — 

In Middlesex, John Stuart, here from 1821 to 1822. — Removed 
to Boston. 

Worcester, Sept. Term, C. C. P. 181 1, John Davis, jr. to 1821. — 
Removed to Charlton. 

Middlesex, Dec. Term, C. C. P. 1819, Joseph Willard from 1821, 
July ; at Waltham from March 1820, to July 1821. 

Middlesex, June Term, C. C. P. 1824, Solon ll'hiling, Attorney 
at Law. 

Those in Italicks are now in practice in this 'town. Abel Willard, son 
of Col. Samuel Willard, who was representative of the town some years, was 
held in great esteem, and was the instrument of healing many differences 
without litigation, lie went to London in 1775, earlier than was stated in a 
former note, and died there before the termination of the war. Samuel J. 
Sprague, Harvard University, 1799, was son of Judge Sprague, Harvard Uni- 
versity, 1765, A. A. S. died Sept. 10, 1805, of an injury received by a fall. 
Levi Willard, Harvard University, 1775, born 175G. After leaving college 
he resided for some time in England, on his return he studied law with Judge 
Sprague. He opened an office in Lancaster, and practised there for a short 
time ia 1706, and till his death. William Stedman, Harvard University, 
1784. Merrick Rice, Harvard University, 1785. Joseph Willard, Harvard 
University, 1816, L. L. E". Solon Whiting, son of the late General John 


Daniel Grcenleaf, died in Bolton. 

John Dunsmoor, died Dec. 7, 1717, aged 45. 

Staunton Prentice, died Dec. 1, 1709, aged 58. 

Phineas Phelps, died Aug-. 12, 1770, aged 37. 

William Dunsmoor, died May 2G, 1781, aged 50. 

Israel Alherton, Harvard University, 1062, M. M. S. Soc. died 
July, 1822, aged 82. 

Josiah Wilder, Y. C. died Dec. 20, 1788, aged 45. 

James Carter, died 1817. 

Samuel Manning, Harvard University, 1797, M. D. M. M. S. Soc. 
moved to Cambridge in 1821, died 1822. 


Nathaniel Peabody, M. D. Dart. M. M. S. Soc. 1821 to 1822. 

Calvin Carter, Licentiate. 

George Baker, Harvard University, 1810, M. D. M. M. S. Soc. 

Right Cummings, Licentiate, 

The three last are now in practice here. Greenleaf from New- 
bury, I find first mentioned in 1734, and as late as 1760. John 
Dnnsmoor, was probably born in Ireland. " Old lather Dunsmoor," 
probably John's father, a member of the Church in Ireland, was 
admitted to communion in Rev. Mr. Prentice's Church, Aug. 21, 1740. 
Saunton Prentice was the eldest son of Rev. Mr. Prentice. Wil- 
liam Dunsmoor was son of John. Israel Atherton, was a descend- 
ant of James Atherton, who came to Lancaster March 15, 1653. 
James had a son James born 13 May, 1654, Joshua born 13 May, 
1656. Joshua was father of Col. Peter, born 12 April, 1705, died 
June 13, 1764. Peter was father of Hon. Joshua Atherton, born 
20 June, 1737, and Dr. Israel, born Nov. 20, 1741. Josiah Wil- 
der was son of Col. James Wilder. James Carter was son of 
Capt. James Carter, of this town. Samuel Manning- was from Cam- 
bridge. Calvin Carter is son of Dr. James. George Baker is a 
native of Dedham, and Right Cummings, of Lunenhurg. 

Before the first Dunsmoor, and Greenleaf, the earliest of the 
Faculty in this town, was a female, " Doctress Whitcomb." The 
" Doctress" was here, probably, as early as A. D. 1700. She stud- 
ied the profession with the Indians, with whom she was at one time 
a captive, and acquired her knowledge of simples from them. She 
was quite distinguished in this neighborhood as one of the Faculty. 
Before her time, there was no physician nearer than Concord. 

Harvard University. 

1733* Josiah Swan, born 1701, minister of Dunstable, as before 

1752* Abel Willard, born Jan. 12, 1732. 

1755* Samuel Locke, S. T. D. born Nov. 23, 1732, son of Sam- 
uel Locke of this town, minister of Sherburn, and President of Har- 
vard University, 1770 to 1773, died in Sherburne of apoplexy. 

1766 Peter Green, M. M. S. Soc. hon. born Oct. 1, 1745, son of 
the late Peter Green of this town. See ante note. 

1770 John Mellen, Tutor, A. A. and S. H. S. born July 8, 1752. 

1775* Levi Willard, born Aug. 13, 1756. 

1776* Timothy Harrington, born Sept. 17, 1753. A physician 
in Chelmsford, as before menlioned. 


1777* Joseph Kilbum, born Nov. 3, 1755 or 6. 

1781* Isaac Bailey, born Feb. 24, 1753. 

1798* Artemas Sawyer, born Nov. 2, 1777. 

1799* Samuel John Sprague, born 1780. 

1817 Sewell Carter, merchant in Lancaster. 

1817* Moses K. Emerson, a physician, died in Virginia, 1825. 

1817 Paul Willard, Counsellor at Law, Charlestowu. 

1821 Henry Lane, M. D. a physician in Boston. 

1822 Samuel Manning studied law. He now risides in Mexico. 
" Ebenezer Torry, Attorney at law in Fitchburg. 

1823 Levi Fletcher, Chaplain U. S. Frigate Macedonian. 

1824 Christopher T. Thayer, Theological student at Cambridge. 

1825 Frederick Wilder, died at Northampton, "Multis ille boiiis 
flebilis occidit," Feb. 1826. 

1826 Stephen M. Weld. 

Messrs. Mellen, Kilburn and Bailey, are of the " Chocksett lit- 
erati." See Vol. 1. Worcester Magazine, 379, 380. 

Dr. Josiah Wilder and Israel Houghton, Graduated at Yale Col- 
lege about ten years before the revolution. I have not the cata- 
logue by me to fix the year. 

Jacob Willard graduated at Brown University, 1826. William 
White, do. do. do. Theological students at Cambridge. 

Abel Willard, son of Joshua W. of Petersham, entered Harvard 
University, 1772, left in 1775 and went to England with his uncle 
Abel Willard, Esq. of this town. Died in Canada. 

Nathan Osgood entered Harvard University, 1782 and left. 

Samuel Ward " " 1784, " 

Jeffery Amherst Atherton, " 1791, died 1793. 

Abel Willard Atherton, . " 1795, and left. 

Richard Cleveland and Henry Russel Cleveland are now in the 
Senior Class at the University. 


The tradition of the family is, that Thomas Wilder the first of 
the name in this country, came from Lancaster in England ; that he 
settled in Hingham, and had four sons, that one son remained in 
Uingham, from whom are descended all of the name of Wilder, 
in that town and vicinity. I find that Thomas Wilder was made 
freeman, 2d June, 1641, and that he was of Charlestown in 1642. 
One named Edward look the freeman's oath, 29th May, 1644, and 
was afterwards of Hingham, (2 Mass. Hist. Col. iv. 221) but wheth- 
er, or how, related to Thomas I do not know. 


Thomas moved lo Lancaster, July 1, 1G59, was one of the se- 
lectmen, and died October 23, 1667. He left three sons in Lan- 
caster, viz. Thomas, John and Nathaniel, from whom are derived 
all of the name of Wilder, in this town. 7. 'hornets, the eldest son, 
died August, 1717, aged 76, had Col James and Joseph. From 
James who married Rev. Mi*. Gardner's sister, came 2d Colonel 
James of Lancaster, and Gardner, in Leominster. From the last 
Colonel James, came James, Dr. Josiah, and Asaph, all of whose 
families are extinct. Gardner has many descendants now in Leom- 

Joseph, the son of Tliomas above mentioned, married Rev. Mr. 
Gardner's sister; he was a distinguished man in town, and posses- 
sed great influence. He was an active magistrate ; for many years 
he represented the town in the Legislature, and was Judge and 
Chief Justice of the Court of Common Fleas, from 1731 to 1757, 
and Judge of Probate from 1739 to 1757. He died March 29, 
1757, aged 71. His sons were Thomas of Leominster, Andrew, 
Judge Joseph, and Colonel Caleb. Joseph was Judge of the Court 
of Common Pleas, from 17G2, to 1773, representative of the town 
in the Legislature, and died, April 20, 1773, aged 65. lie and Cob 
Caleb were the first in America, who established pot and pearl- 
ash works. Caleb died, June 19, 1776, aged 59. Thomas, last 
named, had three sons, Hon. Abel Wilder of Winchendon, of the 
Senate, from 1706 to 1792: Thomas of Leominster, and Joseph 
ot Winchendon. Caleb's sons were Samuel and Caleb of Ashburn- 
ham, Nahum and Levi. Samuel had a large family of sons. Caleb 
had two sons, one was Dr. Wilder of Templcton. Levi, who died 
Jan. 5, 1793, was father of the present Sampson V. S. Wilder of 

John, the second son of the first settler, had three sons, viz : — John, 
Thomas, and Ebenezer. From John came John of Petersham, 
Jonas of Bolton, Josiah and Jonathan of Sterling, Aholiab and Beza- 
leel of Shutesbury, William of Bolton ; thomas had two sons, John 
of Ludlow, and Jotham. The latter four sons, Stephen and Titus, 
Jotham of Saltash, Vt. Reuben, do. From Stephen and Titus are 
descended the present Wilders in the " six nations. 1 '* From Eb- 
enezer, Representative in 1739, who died, Dec. 25, 1745, aged 
64, came Benjamin of Sterling, and David. From Benjamin, 
Col. Wilder, of Sterling. From David, who was a Representative 
many years, came David of Leominster, Samuel and John, Abel 
and Jacob of Vermont, Luke of Penobscot, and Jonathan. 
^South part of Lancaster. 

342 appendix. 

From David last named, is descended the present David of Leom- 
inster, commissioner of Highways, &c. Jonathan had eleven sons ; 
nine lived to man's estate, viz :— Jonathan, David, John, Luke, 
Cephas, Prescott, Lewis, Henry, and Frederick. The last died at 
Northampton, in Feh. 1826, universally lamented. 

Xathaniel, the third son of the first settler, lived in Lancaster, and 
was killed by the Indians, July 1704. From him are descended 
Jonathan, killed hy the Indians August, 1707, Nathaniel of Peters- 
ham, Ephraim of Lancaster, a Representaive for a number of years, 
who died Dec. 13, 1769, aged 94, and Col. Oliver. Nathaniel, last 
named, had a large family. Ephraim, had a son of the same name, 
who died March 17, 1770, aged OB. This last had three sons, 
Ephraim, Manassah, and William. Ephraim last named, settled in 
Sterling, had a large family, of whom Dea. Joel of this town is one. 
Manassah had two sons, Joseph and Sumner. William had two sons 
who left children, viz: Ephraim and Elijah. 

Col. Oliver had four sons, Oliver, Tille}', Phineas and Moses. 
Oliver and Moses remained in Lancaster, and from them are de- 
scended all of the name of Wilder, in the westerly part of Lancas- 
ter, except Joel and Elijah. 


Ralph and John Houghton, as has heen before mentioned, were 
cousins, and came to Lancaster in 1653. Ralph wrote a good busi- 
ness hand and was recorder many years, lie represented the town 
as a deputy in the general court in 1G73, and 1689. He probably 
died a few years after. Of his children, were John, bom April 28, 
1655, and Joseph, born July t, 1657. John, the cousin of Ralph, 
whose wife was Beatrix, had a son Benjamin, born May 25, 1668. 
William and Robert were also sons. There is reason to believe 
that he died April 29, 1684. John Houghton. Esq. was another son 
of John. He was born in England, it is said, in 1650, or 1651. 
He was quite young when his parents moved to Lancaster. From 
1693 to 1724, inclusive, he represented the town fourteen years 
in the General Court. For a long lime after the town was rebuilt 
he appears to have been the only magistrate in the place. He was 
quile celebrated in this neighborhood, as a man of weight and in- 
fluence, and was a very skilful conveyancer. In this business he 
had great employment. He gave the land for the second meeting 
house. His dwelling house was on the south side of the old com. 
nion, a little to the south west of Mr. Faulkner's. Three ancient 
pear trees planted by himself stand in front of the site of his house. 



During the last twelve years of his life he was blind. He died 

Feb. 3. 173G-7 in the 87th year of his age. 

The epitaph on his tomb stone, is the satire that was common in 

the country a century ago. viz . 

As you are 
So were we 
As we are 
So you will be. 

Jonathan Houghton, the first County Treasurer, was one of his 



A few additional memoranda, the names of those who " desired to be made 
freemen, 11 taken from 2 Savaged Winthrop, just published. Those in Italics, 
at least those of the same name, were among the early settlers of Lancaster. 

John Johnson, Oct. 19, 1630- 
William Phelps, Oct. 19, UJ30. 
John JMoore, May 18, 1631. 
John Pierce, " w " 
Thomas James, Nov. 6, 1632. — This 
"was I presume, the minister of Charles- 
town, one of the same name per- 
haps a son, was here, 1053. 
John While, March 4, 1632-3. 
John Smith, " " " 
Joshua Carter, May 14, 1634. 
Richard Fairbanks, " " 
John tlawkes, Sept. 13, 1631. 
George Phelps, May 6, 1635. 
John Whitney, March 3, 1635-6. 
Edward Bennett, May 25, 1636. 
Thomas Carter, March 9,' 1636-7. 
Thomas Rawlinson, May 2, 1638. — 1 
must think this to be the same as Row- 
landson, father of Itev. Joseph. 
Thomas Carter, May 2, 1638. — proba- 
bly the same as above, and ancester of 
the Carters in Lancaster. 

William Ballard, May 2, 1638. 
John Tower, Dec. 13, 1638. 
James Bennett, " " 
Henry Gains, Dec. 14, 1638. 
Edward Breck, May 22, 1639. 
Thomas ff'ildei, June 2, 16 11. 
John Mansfield, May 10, 16 13. 
John Thurston, " u " 

Nathaniel Norcross, May 10, 1613 

This is the gentleman who was enga- 
ged to accompany the first planters, 
and was a " University scholar. 1 ' Mr. 
Savage thinks that he returned to 

William Fletcher, May 10, 1643. 
John Carter, May 29, 1644. 
Edward Wilder, " " 
John Maynard, " « 

Nathaniel Hadlocfc, May 6, 1646. 
Thomas Carter, jr. May 26, 1647. 
Samuel Carter, " " " 

John Smith, « " « 

Johu Pierce, May 10, 1648. 

Richard Dwelley probably did not return to town after it was resettled, 
if he ever lived here. I find him mentioned as a soldier in Scituate, in 1676, 
2. Mass. Hist. Col. iv. 229. " Others of the same town, (Watertown) began 
also a plantation at Nashaway, some 15 miles north west of Sudbury. 11 2 
Savaged Winthrop, 152. 

1648. " This year a new way was found out to Connecticut, by Nash- 
away, which avoided much of the hilly way. 1 ' 2. Wiuthrop's N. E. 325. 

Maze, Rigby, Kettle, and Luxford, names in Lancaster in 1668-9, disap- 
peared as early probably as Philip's war. 

Three acres of land in front of the house of Mr. Richard I. Cleveland, 
were used as a training field, in the time of the first Judge Wilder. 

For the biography of the late Judge Sprague, 1 am indebted to William 
Stedman, Esq. 




259 line 17, for "/act," read part. 

260 18th line from bottom for " area aud of its branches," read area of 
its branches. 

261 line 1G from top for " least," read last. 

'270 3d line from the bottom of the text, for " effected," read affected. 

273 2d line from top, dele, and, in 2d note for "presented by the Court," 
read presented the Court. 

274 line 18 from bottom for "1654 and 1655," read 1G64, 1665. 

276 line 12 from top for " Jonathan Prescott," read John Prcscott, for 

" Peter Green aged 91," read 81. 
291 17th line from top for " had," read lead. 
297 3d line from bottom for "Soombes," read Toomb's. 

307 last line of note (*) for " Jacob Z. Wearers," read Jacob Zweares. 

308 8 and 9 lines from bottom read « Willard." 

309 3d line from top after " excitement" add prevailed, 19th line from 
top for " Jeremeel," read Jeremy. 

310 12 lines from top for "authography," read orthography, 16 th line from 
top for u indulged," read indulge. 

316 4th line from bottom for " or," read nor. 

323 in note for " 3 Ellis," read 2 Ellis. 

324 6th line from top for " broken off," read taken off. 

325 3d line from top dele, " cause." 

326 21st line from top for "June 3, 1792," read June 3, 1793, last note 
for "Joeph," read Joseph. 

The compiler living at a distance from the press, and not being able to 
revise the sheets, is the reason that some errata have crept into the work: 
Some typographical errors of less consccjueuce, and those in the points, are 
not noticed. 



VOL. n. OCTOBER, 1826. ^liL" 



With the permission of the Reverend and learned author, and through the 
kindness of the Massachusetts Historical Society, the editors have been 
permitted to copy the following; notices from an interesting and elegant 
paper contained in the Second volume of the third series of the " Historical 
Collecti-ins" now in the press, and still unpublished, entitled "./!? memoir 
of the French Protestants who settled at Oxford, Jtiassachiuttts, A. D. 
MDCLXXXVI. with a sketch of the entire history of the Protestants of 
France; By Ariel Holmes, D. D. Cor. Sec'y Mass. Hist. Society.'" 1 

The fact of the original settlement of the town of Oxford by the French em- 
igrants has been scarcely known among our citizens : they will feel much 
indebted to the ingenious writer, well known as the author of the Amer- 
ican Annals, for the interesting particulars, he has redetmed from oblivion. 

On collation of copies of the original MSS. a few alterations have been 
made in the names, as originally printed, by the direction of the author 
of the memoir. 

After an interesting notice of the history and sufferings of the French Prot- 
estants in their native land the author proceeds thus: — 

iVl. (-/laude, a distinguished defender of the Reformed church 
referring to the "dragoons, 11 who were- sent to the Protestants to 
extort from them an abjuration, says : "They cast some into large 
tires, and took them out when they were half roasted. They 
hanged others with large ropes under the armpits, and plunged 
them several times into wells, till they promised to renounce their 
religion. They tied them, like criminals, on the rack and poured 
wine with a funnel into their mouths, till, being intoxicated., they 
declared that they consented to turn catholics. Some they slash- 
ed and cut with penknives ; others they took by the nose with red 
hot tongs, and led them up and down the rooms till they promised 
to turn catholics." 

These tremendous cruelties compelled eight hundred thousand 
Protestants to quit the kingdom. The Protestants of other states 


and kingdoms opened (heir arms to receive them. Abbadie, An- 
cillon, and others fled to Berlin ; Basnage, Claude, Du Bosc, and 
many others, to Holland; Allix, with many of his brethren to Eng- 
land; very many families, to Geneva ; and no inconsiderable num- 
ber, to America. 

It was while the storm was bursting upon them, in the year pre- 
ceding the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, that the Prostestant9 
of Rochelle looked towards America, for an asylum. At an earlier 
period, indeed, they had applied to the Massachusetts government 
for this purpose ; and, although they did not then avail themselves 
of the liberty given them, they were now encouraged by the re- 
membrance of it. So early as the year 1G62, "John Touton, a 
French doctor and inhabitant ofRochel in France, made application 
to the court" of Massachusetts, " in behalf of himself and other 
Protestants expelled from their habitations on account of their re- 
ligion, that they might have liberty to inhabit there, which was 
readily granted to them." Their state, it would seem, was toler- 
able at that time, and they endured it ; but at the time of the rev- 
ocation, it was evidently insupportable. As they drew nigh that 
crisis, there were harbingers of " the windy storm and tempest." 
A declaration against the Protestants in 1G81, was the forerunner of 
the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. In 1682, the Assembly of 
the clergy of France issued a " warning to the pretended Reform- 
ed," for so they styled the Huguenots, " to return to the bosom of 
the church." This menace, with the portentous indications ac- 
companying and following it, must have been sufficient to warn the 
Protestants of the impending danger, and to incite them to concert 
measures for escaping it. The asylum which had been solicited 
and promised twenty years before, was again sought, and a renewed 
application made for it, in New England. 

By a a Letter, written from Rochel, the 1st of October, 1684," 
to some person in Massachusetts, it appears, that some Protestants 
in that city were robbed, their temple razed, their ministers banish- 
ed, their goods confiscated, and a fine imposed ; that they were 
not allowed to become " masters in any trade or skill ;" that they 
were in daily expectation to have soldiers put in their houses, and 
their children taken from them. The writer observes, that this 
country, New England, was in such high estimation, that many 
Protestants were intending to come to it ; inquires what advan- 
tage they can have here, and particularly " the boors," who were 
accustomed to agriculture ; and suggests, that the sending over of 


a ship lo transport the French Protestants, would he a profitable 

Whether a vessel was sent, or not, we are unahle to determine. 
The difficulty of escaping from the kingdom, by any means what- 
ever, must have been extreme, and attended with ihe utmost peril. 
Every attempt must have been made in the. veiy face of the edict, 
which prohibited a departure from the realm on the severest penal- 
ties. One of the articles of the edict of revocation was : u And we 
do most straitly again repeat our prohibitions unto all our subjects 
of the pretended Reformed religion, that neither they nor their 
wives nor children do depart our kingdom, countries, or lands of 
our dominion, nor transport their goods and effects, on pain, for 
men so offending, of their being sent to the gallies, and of confisca- 
tion of bodies and goods for ihe women." 

It is certain, however, that a considerable number of Protestants 
by some means effected their escape from France, and came over 
to America ; and authentic papers, in our possession, seem to im- 
ply, that their transportation and settlement were provided for by 
men of the first distinction in. New England. 

By the records of the town of Oxford, it appears, that, in the 
year 1682, the General Court of Massachusetts granted to Joseph 
Dudley, afterwards Governor of the province, William Stoughton, 
afterwards lieutenant governor and commander in chief, Major 
Robert Thompson, and their associates, a tract of land in the north- 
westerly part of the province, now known by the name of Oxford, 
in the county of Worcester. This tract was " of eight miles square, 
and situated in the Nipmug country," so called from a tribe of Indi- 
ans, of that name, in its vicinity. Soon after the revocation of the 
Edict of Nantes, the proprietors " brought over thirty French Pro- 
testant families into this country, and settled them upon the eas- 
ternmost part or end of the said tract of land''** In an original 
MS. u Delineation of the town of Oxford," lying before me, it is 
laid out in lots in the names of the original proprietors. Between 
eleven and twelve thousand acres, at the east end, were "severed, 
granted, and set apart for a village called Oxford, for the said 

* Oxford Town Records. These Records, reciting the grounds of forfeit- 
ure in 1713, say : M The said Joseph Dudley and their associates in the year 
1(18- brought over 30 French l'rotestant families," leaving the year uncer- 
tain. The Rev. Mr. Whitney, in his History of the County of Worcester, 
says, it was " in the year 1686." 

+ S( e Appf.ndix, 13. 


These imperfect notices are all that we have been able to dis-' 
cover, of the time and the manner of the transportation of the 
French Protestants to New England. How long they continued on 
their plantation, what were their occupations, and what their pro- 
gress in improvements, we have not been able precisely to ascer- 
tain. It appears, however, that the united body of settlers continu- 
ed ten years at least, on the plantation ; that they erected fortifi- 
cations upon it ; that they sat up a gristmill and a malt mill ; that 
they planted vineyards and orchards — remains of which are still to 
be seen ; and that they acquired the right of representation in the 
provincial legislature. Of this last fact, the public records pre- 
serve the evidence ; for in the year 1C93, an act was passed by the 
Massachusetts government, empowering Oxford to send a represen- 
tative to the General Court.* 

Every thing concerning this interesting colony of exiles has hith- 
erto been learnt from tradition, with the illustrations derived from 
scanty records and original manuscripts. Many of these manuscripts, 
which are generally written in the French language, were in the 
possession of Mr. Andrew Sigourney, of Oxford, and the rest were 
principally procured by Mr. Sigourney for the compilation of this 

The oldest Manuscript that I have seen, is an original paper, 
containing "Articles of Agreement between Caleb Church of Wa- 
tertown, mill-wright, and Gabriel Bernon of Boston, merchant," 
concluded in March, 1G89, by which the s;.id Church covenants, 
and agrees to "erect a corn or grist mill, in the village of Oxford." 
This instrument was sealed and delivered in presence of J. Ber- 
rand Du Tuffeau. * Tuo. Dudley." 

Church's acknowledgment "of a receipt " in full following our 

bargain," is signed at " Boston, 4th Februarii, 168 ?_ the witness- 

» » ° 90 

es of which were Peter Basset and Gabriel Depont. The pa- 

* Mr. Whitney, who takes a very slight notice of the French settlement 
in Oxford, meutions this act, as appearing « by the records in Secretary's of- 
fice of the Commonwealth. 1 ' 

tMr. Andrew Sigourney is a descendant from the first of that name who 
was among the original French settlers of Oxford. To his kindness 1 am in- 
debted for nearly all my materials for this part of the Memoir. After giving 
me every facility at Oxford, in aid of my inquiries and researches, he made a 
journey to Providence for the sole purpose of procuring for me the Bernon pa- 
pers, which he brought to me at Cambridge. These papers were in the pos- 
iession of Philip Allen, Esq. of Providence, who married into the Bernon fami- 
ly ; and who has since indulged me with the MSS. to the extent of my wishes. 


per is endorsed, " Contract de M r . Church pour le Moulin de New 

We can clearly trace the French plantation down to the year 
1696 ; at which time it was broken up by an incursion of the Indi- 
ans. By original manuscripts, dated that year and at subsequent 
periods, it appears, that Gabriel Bernon, a merchant, of an ancient 
and respectable family in Rochelle, was undertaker for the Plar.ta 
lion, and expended large sums for its accommodation and improve- 
ment. An original paper in French, signed at Boston, in 16%, by 
the principal settlers, certifies this fact in behalf of Mr. Bernon; 
and subjoins a declaration, that the massacre of Mr. Johnson, and of 
his three children by the Indians was the melancholy cause of his 
losses, and of the abandonment of the place.* 

Upon the dispersion of the French settlers from Oxford, it ap- 
pears, that many, if not most of them, came to Boston. From the 
distinction which many of the families attained in the metropolis 
it may be fairly inferred, that they approved themselves to the 
citizens, whose hospitality they experienced, and to whose encour- 
agement and patronage they must have been greatly indebted for 
their subsequent prosperity. They appear to have adhered to the 
principles, and, so far as they were able, to have maintained the 
institutions of religion, according to the Reformed church in 
France. It was for their religion that they suffered in their native 
country ; and to enjoy its privileges, unmolested, they lied into the 
wilderness. While at Oxford, they enjoyed the ministrations of a 
French Protestant minister.! Of their religious affairs, however, 
we have no distinct account, until their settlement in Boston, after 
the Indian Massacre in 1696. 

It is well known that the French refugees had a church of their 
own in Boston, where they, for many years, attended divine service. 
The Rev. Peter Daille was their first minister; and he was highly 
esteemed. He was succeeded by the Rev. Andrew Le Mercier, 
who is described as " a worthy character." He was the author oi 
" The Church History of Geneva, and a Political and Geographi- 
cal Account of that Republic," printed at Boston, in 1732. By in- 
termarriages and otherwise, it appears that, in process of time, the 
French families became so blended with the other inhabitants of 
the town, as to render a separate and distinct religious service ei- 
ther unnecessary, or impracticable ; for, in the life time of Mr. 

* See Appendix, C. 1See Appendix, P 


Le Merceir, their church was, for some years, unoccupied, and at 
length, sold for the use of a new Congregational church.* 

Whether the French exiles never dared to return to the plan- 
tation from which they fled in such terror and dismay, or whether 
they became so advantageously settled in Boston as not to wish to 
return, or whatever were the cause, they never did, as a body re- 
turn to Oxford. Permanent inhabitance, it may be presumed, had 
been a condition of the grant ; for the lands of that township re- 
verted to the original proprietors. By the Records of the town, 
under the date of 1713, it appears that the French settlers had 
" many years since wholly left and deserted their settlements in 
the said village;" that, upon public proclamation, they had refused 
to return; and that most of them had voluntarily surrendered their 
lands. The proprietors having recited these facts, and farther stat- 
ed, that '• there were sundry good families of her majesty's subjects 
within this province, who offer themselves to go and resettle the 
said village, whereby they may be serviceable to the province, 
and the end and design of the original grant aforesaid be answered 
and attained," proceed to grant and convey these lands to several 
persons and others, their associates, u so as their number amount to 
thirty at least." The instrument of this conditional grant is dated 
the 8th of July, 1713. The requisite number of associates was ob- 
tained ; and, about a year and a half after the above date, a distri- 
bution was made by lot among the thirty funnies 1 

There are but few relicks, or memorials, of the French settle- 
ment, now to be found in Oxford. Of these the most interesting 
are to be seen on a very high hill which lies in the southwest part 
of the town, and commands a beautiful and extensive prospect 
The village of Oxford beneath, and the rural scenery around, arc 
delightful. The hill is about a mile south of that part of the vil- 
lage, at which is the junction of two great roads leading from Bos- 
ton, one through Weslborough and Sutton, and the other through 
Marlborough and Worcester; and, after uniting in one at Oxford, 
passing through Dudley, Woodstock, Brooklyn, and other towns, to 
Norwich, in Connecticut. It is called Mayo's Hill, and sometimes 
Fort Hill, from a fort, built on its summit by the French Pro- 
testants. The farm, on which the remains of the fort are, is 
owned by Mr. John Mayo, whose grandfather, of Roxbury, was the 
original purchaser. The fort is a few rods from the dwelling 
house. It was evidently constructed in the regular form, with bas- 
*See Appendix, E. t See Appendix, F. 


tions, and lind a well within its enclosure. Grnpe vines, in 1819, 
were growing luxuriantly along the line of the fort; and these, to- 
gether with currant bushes, roses, and other shrubbery, nearly 
formed a hedge around it. There were some remains of an apple 
orchard. The current and asparagus were still growing there. 
These, with the peach, were of spontaneous growth lrom the 
French plantation; hut the last of the peach trees were destroyed 
by the memorable gale of 1 SI 5. 

Of the French refugees, who settled in the other American 
colonies, we have hut imperfect accounts. It is well known that 
many of them, at the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and after- 
wards, settled in New York, Virginia, and Carolina.* 

New Hochelle, in the state of New York, was settled by French 
Protestant emigrants from Rochelle, in France. A French Protes- 
tant Episcopal church was founded in the city of New York by the 
French Huguenots, soon after the Revocation. Between these re- 
fugees and those who came to Massachusetts, it appears by the 
Bernon papers, there was some correspondence. The historian of 
New York, about the middle of the last century, says, " The 
French church, by the contentions in 172-1, and the disuse of the 
lauguage, is now reduced to an inconsiderable handful. The build- 
ing, which is of stone, nearly a square, plain both within and with- 
out. It is fenced from the street, has a steeple and a bell, the lat- 
ter of which was the gift of Sir Henry Ashurst of London."! M. 
Pierre Antonie Albert was a rector of this church in our day. 
He died in 1806, in the forty first year of his age. 

In 1G90, king William sent a large body of French Protestants 
to Virginia ; to whom were assigned lands on the banks of James 
river, which they soon improved into excellent estates. 

Among the colonies in America, which reaped advantage from 
the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Carolina bad a large share. 
Many of the French refugees, having purchased lands from '.he 
proprietors, embarked with their families for that colony, and 
proved to be some of its best and most industrious inhabitants. 

*3ee Note V. 

tSmitb'e New York. On the front of the church is (he following inscrp- 


FVNDa. 1704. 

REPAR. 1741. 


These purchasers made a settlement on Santee river; others, who 
were merchants and mechanics, took up their residence in Charles- 
ton, and followed their different occupations. Carolina had be- 
gun to be settled but fifteen years hefore the Revocation of the 
Edict of Nantes ; and these new settlers were a great acquisition 
to that colony.! It is worthy of remark, that, more than a century 
hefore, Admiral Coligny had attempted a settlement of French Pro- 
testants in the territory now called Carolina, then Florida; and 
that, at length, under the auspices of the English, this same country 
hecame an asylum for them, as it had been originally intended by 

It should heighten our respect for the French emigrants, and 
our interest in their history, to be reminded of the distinguished 
services, which their descendants have rendered to our country, 
and to the cause of civil and religious liberty. Gabriel Manigault, 
of South Carolina, assisted this country, which had been the asylum 
of his parents, with a loan of $220,000 for carrying on its revolu- 
tionary struggle for liberty and independence. This was done at 
an early period of the contest, when no man was certain, whether 
it would terminate in a revolution or rebellion.' 1 Of the nine 
presidents of the pld congress, which conducted the United States 
through the revolutionary war, three were descendants of French 
Protestant refugees, who had emigrated to America in consequence 
of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. These were, Henry 
Laurens, of South Carolina, John Jay, of New York, and Elias 
Boudinot, of New Jersey. 


The lapse of a century since the resettlement of Oxford, hy the 
ancestors of its present inhabitants, has nearly obliterated the re- 
membrance of the fact of its original settlement by the French. 
A river, which runs through the town, does indeed bear up their 
name ; but why it was so called, if known there, is scarcely known 
in the vicinity. The river runs about three quarters of a mile 
west of the great road that leads over Oxford plain, and falls into 
the Quinebaug in the town of Thompson, in Connecticut. The 
Quinebaug I had known from early life, as passing through Ox- 
ford, and Thompson, and joining the Shetucket at Norwich ; but 

tSmith Hist. New York. Allen's Bioj. Diet. Art. Albeht. Beverly's 
Hist, of Virginia. Hewatt's S. Carolina, i. 94. Ramsay's Hist. S. Carolina, 
i. 10. 


this smaller stream, the bridge over which is at a considerable 
distance below the village of Oxford, hud not attracted my particu- 
lar notice. In passing- it, nine years ago, seeing ahoy near the 
bridge, I asked him, What is ihe name of this river? "French 
river, 1 ' he replied. Why, I asked, is it called French river 7 "I 
believe," said he, " there was some French people once here" — 
pointing up the stream. On my arrival at the village, I inquired of 
Mr. Campbell, the innkeeper, who gave me sufficient information 
on the subject to excite farther inquiry, and to render all the sub- 
sequent labor of investigation delightful. Mr. Campbell was of the 
family of the Rev. Mr. Campbell, formerly a respectable minister 
of Oxford. Having married a daughter of Mrs. Butler, who was 
a descendant of one of the French settlers, he referred me for in- 
formation to his wife, who after telling me all that she knew, refer- 
red me to her mother. I waited upon Mrs. Butler, who obligingly 
told me all that she could recollect concerning the French emigrants. 

Mrs. Butler was the wife of Mr. James Butler, who lives near 
the first church in Oxford; and, when I saw her, was in the seven- 
ty-fifth year of her age. Her original name was Mary Sigourney. 
She was a granddaughter of Mr. Andrew Sigourney, who came 
over when young, with his father, from Rochelle. Her grand- 
mother's mother died on the voyage, leaving an infant of only six 
months (who was the grandmother of Mrs. Butler,) and another 
daughter, Mary Cazneau, who was then six years ot age. The in- 
formation which Mrs. Butler gave me, she received from her 
grandmother, who lived to about the age of eighty-three, and from 
her grandmother's sister, who lived to the age of ninety-five or 
ninety six years. 

Mrs. Bntler^s Reminiscences. 

The refugees left France, in 1G34, or 16Gb,* with the utmost 
trepidation and precipitancy. The great grandfather of Mrs. But- 
ler, Mr. Germaine, gave the family notice that they must go. They 
came off" with secrecy, with whatever clothes they could put upon 
the children, and left the pot boiling over the lire. When they 
arrived at Boston, they went directly to Fort Hill, where they 
were provided for; and there they continued until they went to 
Oxford. They built one fort on Mayo's hill, on the east side of 
French river; and, tradition says, another fort on the west side. 
Mrs. Butler believed, they had a minister with them. 

* Mrs. Butler's account was entirely verbal, according; to her recollection. 
Mrs. Butler died iu 1823, jEtat. LXXXI. 
vol. u. 44 


Mrs. Johnson, the wife of Mr. Johnson who was killed by the 
Indians in 169G, was a sister of the first Andrew Sigourney. Her 
husband, returning home from Woodstock while the Indians were 
massacring his family, was shot down at his own door. Mr. Sig- 
ourney, hearing the report of the guns, ran to the house, and seiz- 
ing his sister, pulled her out at a back door, and took her over 
French river, which they waded through, and tied towards Wood- 
stock, where there was a garrison. The Indians killed the chil- 
dren, dashing them against the jambs of the fire-place. 

Mrs. Butler thinks, the French were at Oxford eighteen or 
nineteen years. Her grandmother who was brought over an infant, 
was married, and had a child, while at Oxford. This fact would 
lead us to believe that the Sigourney family returned to Oxford after 
the fear of the Indians had subsided. It is believed in Oxford, that 
a few families did return. These families may have returned again 
to Boston in about nineteen years from the time of their first set 
tlement in Oxford, agreeably to Mrs. Butler's opinion ; in which 
case, the time coincides with that of the erection of the (irst French 
church in Boston, 1704-5. Mr. Andrew Sigourney, who furnished 
the written materials for this Memoir, still lives on or near the 
place that was occupied by his ancestors. 

Mrs. Butler lived in Boston until the American revolution, and 
soon afterwards removed to Oxford. Her residence in both places 
rendered her more familiar with the history of the emigrants than 
she would have been, had she resided exclusively in either. She 
says, they prospered in Boston, after they were broken up at Ox- 
ford. Of the memorials of the primitive plantation of her ances- 
tors she had been very observant, and still cherished a reverence 
for them. Mrs. Shumway, of French extraction, living near the 
Johnson house, showed her the spot where the house stood, and 
some of its remains. Col. Jeremiah Kingsbury, about fifty-five 
years of age [1817,] has seen the chimney and other remains of 
that house. His mother, aged about eighty-four years, told Mrs. 
Butler that there was a burying place, called " The French Bury- 
ing Ground," not far from the fort at Mayo'a Hill. She herself re- 
members to have seen many graves there. 
French Families. 
Mrs. Butler named as of the first emigrants from France, the 
following families : 

Bowdoin, and Boudinot came to Boston : — could not say, wheth- 
er or not they came to Oxford. 


Bowycr, who married a Sigourney. 
Germaine : — removed to New York. 

Oliver: — did not know whether this family came to Oxford, or 
not; but the ancestor, by the mother's side, was a Sigourney. 

Sigourney. Andrew Sigourney, son of the first emigrant of 
that name, was born in Oxford, and died in 1763, aged sixty years 
He was the uncle of Mrs. Butler, my informant; of the late Martin 
Brimmer, Esq. of Boston, and Mr. Andrew Brimmer, still living; 
and of the late Hon. Samuel Dexter, of Boston. 

No branch of the Bowdoin family is known to have been settled 
south of New England. Governor Bovvdoin left one daughter, the 
lady of Sir John Temple, sometime consul general of Great Britain 
in the United States. Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John and Lady 
Temple, was married to the Hon. Thomas L. Winthrop, Esq. of 
Boston, a member of the senate of Massachusetts, and now (April, 
1826) candidate for lieutenant governor. Mrs. Winthrop died in 
1825. In that truly honorable lady were combined dignity with 
ease, intellectual with polite accomplishments, benevolence of tem- 
per with beneficence in action, Christian principles with the Chris- 
tian graces. One of the sons, Erancis William Winthrop, a young 
man highly distinguished as a scholar, and of very fair promise, 
was graduated at Harvard College in 1817, but died soon after he 
had finished his education. Another son, James, who, since the 
death of his uncle James Bowdoin, has taken his name, is the only 
representative of the Bowdoins, of that name, now living in New 

Some future antiquary may perhaps trace the original name 
to the famous Baldwin, king of Jerusalem, who, according to 
French authority, spelt his name precisely as the first of this fami- 
ly in America, Baudouin. He died in 1118, and his remains were 
deposited in a church on Mount Calvary. Fleury, in his Histoire 
Ecclesiastique, Edit. 1779, gives an account of nineteen eminent 
persons, from the " compte de Flanders," A. D. 862, to Baudouin, 
" jurisconsulte," A. D. 1561, whose names are uniformly written 

The Hon. Samuel Dexter, senior, father of the late Mr. Dexter, 
who married a Sigourney, was a member of the first provincial 
congress in Massachusetts, and founder ofthe Dexter professorship 
of Sacred Literature in the University in Cambridge. Soon after 
the commencement ofthe revolutionary war, he removed with his 
family to Woodstock, in Connecticut. He had a large library, 


which attracted much attention at the time of its removal; and he 
was greatly devoted to the use ot it in his retirement, to the close 
of his life. lie was a gentleman of a highly respectable character, 
possessed of a handsome estate, and enjoyed, far beyond most liter- 
ary men in our country, otium cum dignitate. He spent a few of 
his last years at Mendon, in Massachusetts, where he died in 1810 ; 
but his remains were interred, according to the directions of his 
Will, at Woodstock. I have seen the lot in which he was buried, 
not far from the first church in my native town ; but no sign of his 
grave can be traced. It was his own directions, that his body should 
be interred in the exact centre of the lot, and the grave levelled 
on the surface, and the whole lot cultivated alike, that no distinction 
might be perceived. There is a good portrait of Mr. Dexter at 
the Library of our University. Mrs. Dexter I well remember 
while at Woodstock. She was a respectable lad}', of dark com- 
plexion, with characteristic French features, and pronunciation. 

Very soon after my visit to Mrs. Butler. I received a letter from 
her husband, expressing her regret, that she had not mentioned to 
me Mrs. Wheeler, a widow lady, the mother of Mr. Joseph Cool- 
idge, an eminent merchant in Boston. Her maiden name was Oli- 
ver. She was a branch of the Germaine family, and related to 
" old Mr. Andrew Sigourney,' 1 in whose family she was brought 
up, and at whose house she was married. Mrs. Butler supposed, 
she must be between eight)- and ninety years of age, and that, be- 
ing so much older than herself, she had heard more particulars 
from their ancestors ; but, on inquiry for Mrs. Wheeler in Boston I 
found that she died a short time before the reception of the letter. 

How much do we lose by neglecting the advice of the Son of 
Sirach ! — " Miss not the discourse of the elders; for they also learn- 
ed of their fathers, and of them thou shalt learn understanding, and 
to give answer as need requireth." 

Remains of the French Fort. 

My first visit to Fort Hill in Oxford was 20th April, 1819. It is 
about a mile southerly of the inn, kept many years by the Camp, 
bell family, at the union of the two great roads from Boston and 
Worcester, about fifty miles from Boston. Mr. Mayo, who owns the 
farm on which the fort stands, believes, that his grandfather pur- 
chased it ot one of the French families; and Mr. Sigourney, of 
Oxford, thinks it was bought of his ancestor, Andrew Sigourney. 
1 measured the fort by paces, and found it 25 paces by 35. With- 


in the fort, on the east side, I discovered signs of a well ; and on 
inquiry, was informed that a well had been recently filled up there. 
On a second visit to the Fort, in September of the same year, 
I was accompanied, and aided in my researches, by the Rev. Mr. 
Brazer, then a Professor in our University, who went over from 
Worcester, and met me, by agreement, in Oxford. We traced the 
lines of the bastions of the fort, and were regaled with the perfumes 
of the shrubbery, and the grapes then hanging in clusters on the 
vines, planted by the Huguenots above a century before.* Every 
thing here, said Mr. Mayo, is left as I found it. 

We next went in search of the Johnson place, memorable for 
the Indian massacre in 1G9G. Mr. Peter Shumway, a very aged 
man, of French descent, who lives about thirty rods distant from 
it, showed us the spot. It is at a considerable distance from the 
village, on the north side of the road to Dudley, and is now over- 
grown with trees. We carefully explored it, but found no relicks. 
The last year (1825) I called at Mr. Shumway's. lie told me, that 
he was in his ninety-first year; that his great grandfather was from 
France; and that the plain, on which he lives, is called " John- 
son's Plain." 

While Mr. Brazer was prosecuting our inquiries concerning a 
second tort, and a church, that had been mentioned to me by Mis. 
Butler, he received a letter (1819) from Mr. Andrew Sigourney, 
informing, that captain Humphrey, ofOxford, says, his parents told 
him, there was a fort on the land upon which he now lives, and 
also a French meeting-house, and a burying ground, with a number 
of graves; that he had seen the stones that were laid on the top of 
them, as we lay turf, and that one of the graves was much larger 
than any of the others ; that they were east and west, but this, north 
and south ; and that the Frenchman who lived in this place, named 
Bourdine, had been dead but a few years. 

In May, 1325, I visited captain Ebenezer Humphrey, and ob- 
tained from him satisfactory information concerning the place of 
this second fort, and the meeting house, and the burying ground. 
Captain Humphrey was in his eighty-fourth year. He told me, 
that his grandfather was from England, and that his father was 
from Woodstock, and came to Oxford to keep garrison. He hirn- 

*The following; fact has been communicated to the writer. of the memoir 
by Mr. Sigourney. A bill of lading, dated London, March 5, 1U87, of a vari- 
ety of merchandize, &c. shipped on board the ship John and Elizabeth, men- 
tions among the rest, u two chests of vine plants, marked X 5 X," and were 
to be delivered " to Mr. Daniel Stalling, or Petre a Saills." 


self now lives where his father lived, about half a mile south east 
from Oxford village. His house is near a mill, standing 1 upon a 
small stream that runs on the left near the great road leading to 
Norwich. Ahout fifty or sixty rods from his house, he showed me 
the spot where the fort stood, and, near it, the lot upon which 
were the meeting-house and burying ground. No remains of 
either were visible. lie pointed to an excavation of the earth, 
where, he said, was a well, which had been filled up. It was at 
the place of the fort, and had been, probably, within it. In the 
lot there were apple trees, which, he told me, he beard his father 
say, " the French set out." His father must have been a compe- 
tent witness; for he was seventy years old when he told him this., 
and he himself was then twenty years of age. The field was un- 
der fine cultivation ; but I could not forbear to express my regret, 
that the memorials of the dead had not been preserved. He said 
an older brother of his had ploughed up the field, and it was in this 
state when it came into his possession. He told me, that one of 
his oldest sisters said, she remembered the old horseblock, that 
stood near the French meeting-house. He said, he had seen the 
blood on the stones of the Johnson house ; and that Mrs. Johnson, 
on the night of the massacre, went to Woodstock. Bourdille (so 
he pronounced it) lived near the brook, which runs by his house. 
The land of captain Humphrey, upon which were a French fort, 
and church, and burying ground, lies near the foot of Mnyo's hill, 
on the summit of which stood the great Fort, whose remains are 
still to be seen. 

Of this interesting place we feel reluctant to take leave, with- 
out some token of remembrance, beside the mere recital of facts 
some of which are dry in the detail, while many others are but 
remotely associated with it. Were any monumental stone to be 
found here, other memorials were less necessary. Were the cy- 
press, or the weeping willow, growing here, nothing might seem 
wanting, to perpetuate the memory of the dead. Any contributions 
of the living, even at this late period, towards supplying the de- 
fect, seem entitled to preservation. The inquiries and researches 
of visitants from abroad drew the attention of the villagers at home. 
In 18-22, the writer of the Memoir received a MS. l'oem on the 
French exiles, superscribed "Oxford;" anonymous, but apparently 
from a female pen. It was of considerable length, and not equally 
sustained throughout; but the tender and respectful regard shown 
by the writer to those excellent pilgrims, who left " not a stone to 


tell where thev lie," and her just reflections upon the value of re- 
ligious liberty, and the iniquity and horrors of tyranny, entitle her 
to high estimation. Many lines do honor to her genius, and all of 
them to her sensibility. If she is a descendant from the Huguen- 
ots, this is a tribute of filial piety; if not, it is an oblation of gener- 
ous sympathy. 

The same year a letter was also received from a lady, well 
known in our literary community, enclosing a poetical tribute to 
the memory of the Huguenots of Oxford, which is not less worthy 
of her pen, than of her connexion.' 11 Her marriage with a worthy 
descendant of one of the first French families that settled in Oxford, 
fairly entitled her to the subject, which her pen will perpetuate, 
should the Memoir be forgotten. A leaf of the grape vine was en- 
closed in the letter, which has this conclusion : " We received 
great pleasure from our visit to Oxford, and as we traced the ru- 
ins of trie first rude fortress erected by our ancestors, the present 
seemed almost to yield in reality to the past. I send you a leaf 
from the vine, which still flourishes in luxuriance, which, 1 am sor- 
ry to say, resembles our own natives of the woods a little loo strong- 
ly. Something beside, 1 also send you, which savours as little of 
the Muse's inspiration, as the vine in question does of foreign ex- 
traction ; but if poetical license can find affinities for the latter, 1 
trust your goodness will extend its mantle over the infirmity of the 
former. 1 ' 

On visiting- a Vine among; the ruins of the French fort at Oxford, (^Mass.) 
supposed to have been planted by the Huguenots, -who made settlements 
at that place, when they fled from their native country, alter the Revo- 
cation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1G85. 

Say, did thy germ e'er drink the fostering- dews 

Of beauteous Languedoc? — Didst thou unfold 

Thy latent fibre 'neath the genial skies 

Of smiling Rousillon ? — or fragrant hang 

In purple cluster from some fruitful vine 

Of fair Rochelle ? — Perchance thy infant leaves 

Have trembled at the Litter sigh of those 

Whom Tyranny oppress'd, or shuddering caught 

That silent tear which suffering Virtue sheds 

In loneliness — that tear which witnesseth 

To the high Judge. — Not by rash, thoughtless hands 

Who sacrifice to Bacchus, pouring forth 

Libations at his altar, with wild songs 

Hailing his madden'd orgies, wert ihou borne 

* Mrs. L. Huntley Sijourney. 


To foreign climes — but with the suffering band 
Of pious Huguenots didst dart- the wav. , 
When they essay'd to plant Salvation's vine 
In the drear wilderness. Pensive they mark'd 
The everlasting forest's gloomy shade, 
The uncultur'd vale, the snow-invested heath 
Tracked by the vengeful native ; yet to rear 
Their Temple to the Eternal Sire, and pay 
Unletter'd homage to his name were joy, 
Though on their hymn of praise (lie desert howl'd. 
The savage arrow scath'd Hum, and dark clouds 
Involv'd their infant Zion, yet they bore 
Toil and aJHiction with unwavering eye 
Fix'd on the heavens, and firm in hope sublime 
Sunk to their last repose. — Full many a son 
Among the noblest of our land, looks back 
Through Time's Ions; vista, and exulting claims 
These as his Sires. — They sleep in mouldering dust, 
But thou, fair Vine, in beauteous verdure bloom'st 
O'er Man's decay. Wooing thy tendril green 
Springs the wild Rose, as if it fain would twine 
Wreaths for its native soil. — And well it may ; 
For here dwells Liberty and laurelled Peace 
Lending to life new lustre, and with dews 
Etherial bathing Nature's charms. The child 
Of Poverty feels here no vassalage, nor shrinks 
From Persecution's scourge. The simplest hind, 
Whether he homeward guides his weary team, 
Beneath the evening star, or whistling leads 
To pastures fresh with morn his snowy sheep, 
Bears on his brow in deepen'd characters 
" Knowledge is Power." — He too, with filial eye 
Unchecked, undimm'd, marks blest Religion conic, 
In simple mildness, binding on the heart 
Pier law of love, gilding each gather'd cloud 
Of varied sentiment, that o'er the dust 
Of Earth's low confine hangs — with beams serene 
From that bright Sun which shall hereafter blend 
All fleeting shades in one effulgent smile 
Of Immortality. 

[B. Page 347.] 
The paper containing the " Delineation of the Town of Ox- 
ford" is endorsed, " Papiers qui reg-arde Now Oxford." The 
chirography is evidently French. With the delineation there is an 



account of the village and town, in the following words: " Oxford 
Village or the general Plantation containing 11,245 acres, where- 
of the proprietors common Way 265 acres, and Mauchaug in 
deficient, 172... 437. Rest 1^808 acres. — The town of Oxford, 
including its village, called the General Plantation, containes 41245 
acres, viz. Use five grand lotts. On the W. side of the dividing 
line, each 3000 ... 13000, am! on the East side thereof .. each 
3000 ... 1 5000. 

The Village Plantation . . 11245. The 41245 general." 
Nipmuck river (called by the English settlers of New England, 
Blackstonc) takes its rise in Sutton, and receiving several tributary 
streams in its course, falls into Providence river just below Provi- 
dence. It is there called Pawtucket. When the French settled 
Oxford, there was a town of praying Indians at Ilassanamesitt 
[Grafton,] about two miles to the eastward of Nipmuck river, " and 
near unto the old road way to Connecticut," consisting of about 
twelve families, and about sixty souls. "■ Here," says Gookin,* 
u they have a meeting house for the worship of Gud, alter the 
English fashion of building, and two or three other houses after the 
same mode. In this town was the second Indian church (Natick 
being the first) gathered in 1671 ; and three years afterwards there 
were in full communion in this church, and living in the town, 
about sixteen men and women-; and about thirty baptized persons, 
and several other members living in other places. The church 
had a pastor, Tackuppawillin, a ruling elder, and a deacon. In 
1874 the lie v. John Eliot and general Gookin, visited "the new 
praying towns in the Nipmuck country. The first of these," says 
Gookin, " is Mauchage, [Oxford,] which lieth to the westward of 
Nipmuck river about eight miles, and is from Ilassanamesitt, west 
and by south, about ten miles ; and it is from Boston about fifty 
miles. To it belongeth about twelve families and about sixteen 
souls. For this place we appointed Waaberktamin, a hopeful 
young man for their minister. There is no land yet granted by 
the general court to this place, nor to any other of the praying 
towns. But the court intendelh shortly, upon the application and 
professed subjection of those Indians unto the yoke of Christ, to do 
for them as they have done lor other praying Indians." Gookin's 
Hist. Collections of the Indians in New England, printed in Col h 
Ma*s. Hist. Society, in 1792. 

*A. D. 1C74. 

vot. u. 45 



[Page 349.] 

Nous sousignes eertiffions et atcston que Monsr. Gabriel Rernou 
non a fait une despance [depense] considerable a new oxford pour 
faire valoir la V i 1 1 e et encourager et ayder les habitans. et quil 
[qu'il] a tcnu sa maison en etat jusques a ce que en fin les Sauvages 
soient venus masacrer et tuer Iobn Johnson et ses trois enfens [en- 
fans. let que netant [n' etant] pas soulcnu 11 a etc oblige et foice d' 
abandoner son Bien. en foy dc quoy lui avons signe le present 
Billet, a Baston le 4 e Septembre 1696 : 
Jerrnons Baudouin Benja faneuil 

Jacques Montier Nous attestons ce qui est desus et 

1 marque [est] veritable. 

X marque depaix cazaneau 

Mousset Entien [Ancien] 

Jean Rawlins's Ancien 

V marque de abrabam Sauuage 
*marque de la vefue de Jean Jeanson 

P. Cbardon 
Charle Germon Entien 

Nous eertiffions que ce sont les marques de personnes susdites. 
Daille ministre Baudouin 

Jacques Montier Barbut 

Elie Dupeux Andre Sigournay 

Jean Maillet Jean Millet ant. 

Nous declarons ce que dessus fort veritable ce que John John- 
son et ces trois enfans ont ete tue le 25 e . Auost [Aout] 1696 : en 
foy de quoy avons signe 

Montel Dispeux I B marque de Jean baudoin 

Jacques Depont Philip [obscure] 

Jermon Rene Grignon 

Je connols et Je le say d' experiance que m r . Gabriel bernon a 
fait ses efforts pour soutenir notre plantation, et y a depance pour 
cet efl'et un bien considerable. 

Bureau L'nine [The elder or senior.] 

Peter Canton. 

We underwritten doe certilie and attest that m r . Gabriel Bernon 

hath made considerable expences at Newoxford for to promote the 

the place and incourage the Inhabitants and hath kept his nous? 


until the s d . 25 e . August that the Indians came upon s d . Plantation 

& most barbarously murthered John Evans John Johnson St and his 

three childrens. Dated Baston 20 th Septemb. 1696. 

John Usher 

W m . Stoughton 

John Butcher Increase Mather 

Laur. Hammond Charles Morton 

Jer. Dummer 

Nehemiah Walter min r . 

W m . Fox. 


[Pa s e 349.] 
That the French settlers at Oxford had a minister of their own, 
appears from a letter, written by him to some person in authority 
[probably gov. Dudley,] complaining of the sale of rum to the In- 
dians, " without order and measure," and of its baneful effects. 
The date is lost, with a line or two at the beginning; but is en- 
dorsed, " M r . Dan 1 . Bondet's Representation referring to N. Ox- 
ford July G th 1G91." He mentions it as upon "an occasion which 
fills my heart with sorrow and my life of trouble, but my humble 
request will be at least before God, and before you a solemn pro- 
testation against the guilt of those incorrigible persons who dwell 
in our place. The rome [rum] is always sold to the Indians with- 
out order and measure, insomuch that according the complaint 
sent to me by master Dickestean with advice to present it to your 
honor. The 26 of the last month there was about twenti indians 
so furious by drunkness that they fought like bears and fell upon 
one called remes , who is appointed for preaching the gos- 
pel amongst them he had been so much disfigured by his wonda 
that there is no hope of his recovery. If it was your pleasure to 
signilie to the instrumens of that evil the jalosie of your athoriti 
and of the publique tranquility, you would do great good main- 
taining the honor of God, in a Christian habitation, conlorting some 
honest souls wich being incompatible with such abominations 
feel every day the burden of aftlixion of their honorable perigrina- 
lion aggravated. Hear us pray and so God be with you and pros- 
per all your just undertakins and applications tis the sincere wish 
of your most respectuous servant 

D. Bondet 
minister of the gospell in a 
French Congregation at newo.\ford. , ' , 


The government probably interfered, and took measures to 
prevent the repetition of the evil complained of. The above pa- 
per was found in the Secretary's office, and shown to me. by Mr. 
secretary Bradford, who, at my request, searched the government 
papers, in aid of my inquiries. The " representation of the minis- 
ter may have induced the government to appoint him a missionary 
to the natives in the neighborhood of Oxford; for, in another com- 
munication, Mr. Bradford informed me: '• In 1695, M«. Bondet, a 
French Protestant minister, preached to the Nipmug Indians ... in 
the south of Worcester county." 

— . «. — 


[Page 350.] 


Letter from Gov. Dudley to G. Bernon, dated, 

" Roxbury April G, 171 u." 
We are now in a way to thrive at Oxford, and I particularly 
thank you for what you have done towards a Grist Mill in the Vil- 
lage, by giving the mill stones and irons to Daniel Eliot, condition- 
ally that the mill should be built to serve the town within such a 
perfixed time which is now past and nothing done. I desire you 
to write to him to go forward immediately so as to finish the mill 
presently to the satisfaction of the Inhabitants, or that you will or- 
der the said mill and irons to be given to such other person as will 
go forward in the work, that they may not be starved the next 

I pray you to take effectual order in the matter. 

1 am your humble servant, 

J. Dudley." 
"To Mr. Gabriel Bernon 
The answer of Mr. Bernon is dated " Kingstown 30 April, 1715." 
He writes, that, according to the letter from his excellency, he had 
" ordered M r . Daniel Eliot to finish the Crist Mill at Oxford, or to 
let the town have the two mill stown to set the mill in a conven- 
ient place. It will be a great blessing to strive [thrive] after so 
much distorbance : And if I can but have the frcinsbip and charily 


of your Excellency in my old time, with a young wife and a second 

family in this New World, I may be happy and blessed." 

In a petition, afterwards, to Gov. Sbute, be says, . . . ''being now 
near 80 years of age, and having several children by my first wife, 
and so seeing children of my children. I have since married an 

English woman, by whom also I have several children," &.c 

By a statement of G. Bernon, intended to prove his claim upon 
the plantation, it appears, that he considered " the Plantation of 
New Oxford 1 ' indebted to him for 2500 acres of land, besides the 
amount of expenses laid out by him upon the place. This claim 
appears to have been made about the year 1717, or 17 JO ; for 
on his account there is a charge of interest " for above 30 years." 
The statement alleges, that bOl) acres of the plantation were 
"granted by their Exeellencys M r . Dud'ey and m r . Stoughton to 
Isaac Bertrand Du Tuffeau and Gabriel Bernon in the year 1687," 
and that 250 acres were " granted sine?, making in all 750 aik- 
ers ;" and that " their Exeellencys I\i r . Dudley and M r . Stoughton 
did grant to the said i\l r . Bernon for his own use alone 1750 aikers 
more, which makes in all 2500 aikers, which Ri r . Bernon justly 
claims, upon which he hath built a corn miln, a wash leathern 
miln, and a saw miln, and laid out some other considerable expell- 
ees to improve the town of New Oxford, as he has made appear 
by the teslimonys of several worthy gentlemen whose names he 
has hitherto subjoined. 

The four elders of William Fox Governor Usher 

the French Church Benj. Faneuil William Stoughton 

Mousset } T ^ .,,. ... P. Jermon Increase Mather mtre. 

i) ... J Daillie mmutre -, ., .. ^, , «. , , 

Railing f c ., T , . Jacques IMontier Charles Morton mtre. 

/-t. i ? of the trench *>-,-, i i^ 

Charden C p. , Paix Cazaneau Jer. Dummer 

Hiibut j Abraham Sauvages Neheniiah Walter minr. 

Jacque Depau John Butcher 

Jean Beaudoin Laurence Hammond. 

Rean Grignon 

l'hclippe Emgerland 

By the Inhabitanc of New Oxford. 

Montel Ober Jermon 

J. Dupen Jean Maillet 

Capt. Jermon Andre Seg-ourne 

Peter Cante Jean Milkton 

Bereau C'aeini Peter Canton 
Elie Dupeu &c. 

The Weldow Leveufe Jean Johnson of which her husband and three 
children was kil and murder by the Ingen." 

By a plan of Mr. Gabriel Bernon's land in Oxford, taken in 1717, 
it appears, that it measured 26 72 acres, "exclusive of M r . Daniel 
Eondet's of 200 acres, and out of said 2672 acres must come out 


172 acres of meadow in one entire piece, which M r . Dudley and 
Com|) a . give to the village." The tract of land " within this 
Plan" was estimated by the selectmen of Oxford "to he worth 
one thousand pound ;" and this valuation was certified by them 
on the plan, 11 January 17 1G— 17. Signed, Richard Moore, Benoni 
Twitchel, Isaac Larned. Another certificate was given on the same 
paper by the selectmen of Mendon, concerning the justness of the 
above valuation, adding, " that we know nothing but the said Ber- 
non hath been in the quiet possession of said land for or nere thirty 
years." Signed, Thomas Sanford, Robert Evans, Jacob Aldrich. 

By another paper in the JMS. Collection, it appears, that Mr. 
Bernon petitioned the king in council for certain privileges, which 
indicate the objects to which the enterpri/.e of this adventurer was 
directed. It is entitled, " The humble Petition of Gabriel Bernon 
of* Boston in New England." It states: u That being informed of 
your Majesty's pleasure, particularly in encouraging the manufac- 
tory of Rosin, Pitch, Tarr, Turpentine, &c. in New England, in 
which manufactory your Petitioner has spent seaven years lime and 
labor and considerable sums of money and has attained to such 
knowledge and perfection, as that the said comodities made and 
sent over by him have beene here approved of and bought for your 
Majesty's stores ; your Petitioner's zeal and affection to your Majes- 
ty encouraged him to leave his habitation and affairs (being a mer- 
chant) and also his family to make a voyage to England on purpose 
humbly to propose to your Majesty in how great a measure and 
cheap price the said Navall stores may be made and brought into 
any of your Majesty's kiugdomes to the great promotion and advan- 
tage of the Trade and Commerce of your Majesty's subjects of New 
England, all which is most evident by the annexed paper." lie 
prays his Majesty to take the premises into consideration, and to 
grant him his royal patent or order for providing and furnishing his 
Majesty's fleet with the said stores under the conditions his Majesty 
in his royal wisdom should think fit, or otherwise to except him out 
of any patent to be granted for the said manufactory, that he "may 
have liberty to go on and continue in the said manufactory in any 
part of New England." 

This paper is endorsed : " Peticon Gabriel Bernon." 

" Papiers qui regarde deux voyages de Londre pour les affaires 
a fabriqucs des Resme. Examne le premier Octobre 1719." 

In 1720, Gabriel Bernon, "of New Oxford in New England," 
presented a petition to his excellency governor Shute, and to his 


Majesty's council, and house of representatives in General Court as. 
sembled. In this petition he states, that he was u one of the most 
ancient families in Roche) in France; that upon the breach of the 
Edict of Nantes, to shun the persecution of France he lied to Lon- 
don; that upon his arrival, Teffercau, Esq. treasurer of the 

Protestant churches of France presented him to the honorable so- 
ciety for propagating the gospel among the Indians in New Eng- 
land ; that Mr. Thompson the governor [president] offered to " in- 
stal him in the said society," and offered him land in the govern- 
ment of the Massachusetts Bay ; whereupon Isaac Bertram! Du 
Tuffeau desired him " to assist him to come over to New England 
to settle a plantation for their refuge," that he did advance him 
such sums, as, " with the exchange and interest from that time, 
would amount to above one thousand pounds; that Du Tuffeau, ar- 
riving at Boston with letters of credit from Major Thompson and 
himself, " delivered them to his late excellency Joseph Dudley 
Esq. and the honorable William Stoughton, Esq. deceased, who 
granted to the said Du Tuffeau 750 acres of land for the petitioner 
at New Oxford, where he laid out or spent the abovesaid money. ,5 
Mr. Bernon farther stated in his petition, that Du Tuffeau allured 
him by letters to come to Boston: that the said Du Tuffeau, " be- 
ing through poverty forced to abandon the said plantation, sold his 
cattle and other moveables for his own particular use, went to Lon- 
don, and there died in an hospital." Mr. Bernon closed his state- 
ment by observing, that, excited by letters of Du Tuffeau, he ship- 
ped himself, his family, and servants, with some other families, and 
paid passage for above forty persons; that, on their arrival at Bos- 
ton, he presented letters from Major Thompson to Dudley and 
Stoughton, Esquires, " who were pleased (besides the 750 acres 
that were granted to Bertrand Du Tuffeau and the petitioner) to 
grant him 1750 acres of land more ; and," he adds, " for a more 
authentick security his late Excellency and Honour was pleased to 
accompany me to Oxford, to put me in possession of the said two 
thousand five hundred acres, which I have peaceably enjoyed for 
better than these thirty years last past, having spent above two 
thousand pounds to defend the same from the Indians, who at di- 
vers times have ruined the said Plantation, and have murdered 
men, women, and children." 

At the close of the petition he represents, that the inhabitants 
of New Oxford now disputed his right and title, in order to hinder 
him from the sale of said plantation, which would put him to the 


utmost extremity, " being now near eighty years of age, 1 ' and 
having several children, all which have dependence, under God, 
for a subsistence on him, after he had u spent more than ten thou- 
sand pounds towards the benefit of the country, in building ships, 
making nails, and promoting the making of stuffs, hats, rozin &c." 
The object of this petition was, to obtain such titles, as would corn- 
firm to him and his family the said lands. " without any misunder- 
standing, clear and free from any molestation either from the in- 
habitants of New Oxford, or any pretensions of Bertrand Da Tuf- 

Neither the merits, nor the success, of this claim are known t*> 
the. writer of this memoir. 


[Page 350.] 

Copy of a Deed conveying the Lands in Oxford to the second Compa- 
ny of Settlers, 1713. 

Exracted from the Records of the town of Oxford at Mr. Campbell's the town 
Clerk, by A. II. 1817. 
kt To all people unto whom these presents shall come Joseph 
Dudley of Koxbury in the county of Suffolk and Province of the 
Massachusetts Bay in New England, Esq. W m . Taylor of Dorches- 
ter in the same county Esq. Peter Sergeant of Boston aforesaid Esq. 
ami Me beta bell his wife, John Danforth of Dorchester aforesaid 
and Elizabeth his wife, John Nelson of Boston aforesaid Esq. and 
Elizabeth his wife, as they the said \Y m . Taylor, Peter Sargeant, 
John Nelson and John Danforth are the heirs and executors of the 
Hon. \V ra . Stoughton late of Dorchester E<q. deceased, send greet- 
ing : Whereas the General Court of the Colony of the Massachu- 
setts Bay in the year One thousand six hundred and eighty two 
granted to the said Joseph Dudley, \Y m . Stoughton, major Robert 
Tompson and their Associates a certain tract of land scituate in the 
Nipmug Country, of eight miles square, for a Township Stc. as may 
be seen more at large by the Records of said General Court, Pur- 
suant where unto and for the uses aforesaid the said Joseph Dudley 
\\ ra . Stoughton and their Associates in the year one thousand six 
hundred eighty and brought over thirty French Protestant 

Families into this country, and settled them upon the easternmost 
part or end of the said Tract of land, and severed, granted, and sett 
apart 12000 acres fov a village culled Oxford for the said Families, 


and bounded it as by a Piatt upon Record will manifestly appear: 
But forasmuch as the said French families have many years since 
wholly left and deserted their settlements in the said Village, and 
the said lands as well by their deserting the same, and refusing to 
return upon public Proclamations made for that end, as by the 
voluntary surrender of most of them are now reinvested in, restored 
to, and become the estate and at the disposition of the original pro-