A STATED Meeting of the Society was held at the Club of Odd Volumes, No. 77 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 20 December 1951, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Hon. Robert Walcott, in the chair.
The records of the Annual Meeting in November were read and approved.
The Corresponding Secretary reported the receipt of a letter from Mr. Alfred Porter Putnam accepting election to Resident Membership in the Society.
Mr. Sumner Chilton Powell, of Cambridge, Mr. Howard Arthur Jones, of Boston, Mr. Augustus Peabody Loring, of Prides Crossing, Mr. James Otis, of Needham, Mr. John Adams, of South Lincoln, and Mr. Alexander Whiteside Williams, of Needham, were elected to Resident Membership; Mr. Whitfield Jenks Bell, Jr., of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the Reverend Joseph Raphael Frese, S. J., of New York City, and Mr. William Lewis Sachse, of Madison, Wisconsin, were elected to Non-Resident Membership, and Mr. Douglass Adair, of Williamsburg, Virginia, Mr. Marius Barbeau, of Ottawa, Canada, Mr. Lyman Henry Butterfield, of Williamsburg, Virginia, Mr. Oliver Morton Dickerson, of Greeley, Colorado, Mr. Lawrence Henry Gipson, of Rydal, Pennsylvania, the Reverend Arthur Pierce Middleton, of Williamsburg, Virginia, Mr. John Edwin Pomfret, of Williamsburg, Virginia, Mr. Foster Stearns, of Exeter, New Hampshire, and Mr. Louis Booker Wright, of Washington, D. C., were elected to Corresponding Membership in the Society.
Mr. Samuel Eliot Morison read a paper entitled:
A PROBLEM of recurring interest to every historian of Plymouth Colony and of New England is the destination of the Mayflower. Was it Virginia, or the mouth of the Hudson, or somewhere in southern New England; and if so, whereabouts in New England? We all know where she did end her voyage, but where did her company intend to conclude it? And, as this question is bound up with that of the patents which the Pilgrim company received from the Virginia Company of London and the Council for New England, I propose to treat the two together. Hardly any two historians have agreed on these two subjects; even our late associate Charles McLean Andrews, whose trumpet seldom gave forth an uncertain sound, came to no conclusion as to the Pilgrims’ exact intended destination.
Of the Mayflowers Western Ocean passage between 6 September 1620, when she “put to sea with a prosperous wind,” from Plymouth, England, and her anchoring in Cape Cod Harbor on 11 November, nothing is known except what is contained in Bradford’s Plymouth Plantation, and in the so-called Mourt’s Relation, the tract printed in 1622 which consists of extracts from the journals of Bradford and of Edward Winslow. From these sources it is not clear whether or not the master intended to make his landfall on Cape Cod. The Mayflower may well have been thrown a hundred miles or more off her intended course by foul weather. “In sundry of these storms,” writes Bradford, “the winds were so fierce and the seas so high, as they could not bear a knot of sail, but were forced to hull [i.e., lay-to] for divers days together.” And, “after long beating at sea they fell with that land which is called Cape Cod,” about daybreak 9 November 1620.1 Captain W. Sears Nickerson, who carefully studied the existing sources in the light of his extensive local knowledge and competent seamanship, concluded that this landfall was made on the Highlands at or very near latitude 41° 55’ N.
“After some deliberation had amongst themselves and with the master of the ship,” continues Bradford, “they tacked about and resolved to stand for the southward (the wind and weather being fair) to find some place about Hudson’s River for their habitation.” Or, as Mourt’s Relation has it, “We made our course south-southwest, purposing to go to a river ten leagues to the south of the Cape.”2
Postponing consideration as to whether this river was or was not the Hudson, there is complete agreement between the Bradford of Mourt’s Relation and the Bradford of the History that the Mayflower found herself at the close of 9 November entangled in the “dangerous shoals and roaring breakers” of Pollock Rip, with a dying and unfavorable wind; and that it was then decided “to bear up again for the Cape.”
At daybreak, 11 November, the Mayflower was off Cape Cod (now Provincetown) Harbor. It was then that the major part of the male passengers signed the famous Mayflower Compact. This document states in plain and unmistakable terms that, “Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia,” they solemnly covenant and combine themselves into a civil body politic. Bradford plainly and unmistakably states the reason for this action: that some of the “strangers” intruded into the company by the merchant adventurers had threatened “when they came ashore they would use their own liberty; for none had power to command them, the patent they had being for Virginia, and not for New England, which belonged to another government with which the Virginia Company had nothing to do.”3
Here, then, is a perfectly clear sequence of events and motives. The Pilgrims had a patent for Virginia; i.e., for the Virginia of the London Company, which according to its latest charter, that of 1612, extended to latitude 41° N,4 which passes through Westchester County in the present State of New York. After ascertaining that their landfall was on Cape Cod, those directing the Mayflower decided to steer for the mouth of the Hudson, or of a river ten leagues to the south of Cape Cod. But that very evening, owing to the weather, the shoals, and perhaps the late season, they decided instead to make for the great harbor of Cape Cod. And there, realizing that they were well north of the northern boundary of Virginia, they made a compact for self-government until such time as they could obtain a valid patent from that “other government with which the Virginia Company had nothing to do,” namely, the Council for New England.
All this seems sensible enough, when we remember that Virginia did then include the mouth of the Hudson, where the Dutch had not yet settled, and that the Mayflower carried in her strongbox a patent from the Virginia Company. If this had been an ordinary voyage, and the Pilgrim Fathers ordinary people, there would be no question about it. But, as in all extraordinary voyages, like those of Columbus, plain facts have been twisted by many and sundry to mean something else.
Suppose we start at the beginning. Bradford says in his Chapter V, “Showing what Means they Used for Preparation for this Weighty Voyage,” that, after long discussion as to the place they should settle, the Leyden congregation reached the conclusion “to live as a distinct body by themselves under the General Government of Virginia.”5
What this last clause meant is also perfectly clear. In 1617 the Virginia Company of London began the practice of granting large tracts of land, up to 80,000 acres, to groups of individuals who would undertake to people and to cultivate them. Such grants were known as “Particular Plantations” or “Hundreds.” They carried special privileges such as local self-government, jurisdiction as in a manor, fishing rights, and permission to carry on an independent trade with the Indians. Over forty such grants were made during the remaining seven years of the Virginia Company’s life, to 1624; and although most of them (like that of the Pilgrims) were never taken up, a fair number were actually established.6 The best known were Richard Martin’s Hundred, John Martin’s Brandon, Smith’s or Southampton Hundred (80,000 acres on the north side of the James River), Smyth of Nibley’s or Berkeley’s Hundred, Zouche’s Hundred, and Fleur de Hundred. All these were organized before leaving England, with a governor and council and “conducted themselves as a miniature of the larger company from which they received their patent.”7 The one patent of a Particular Plantation, Smyth of Nibley’s, that has been preserved, does not specify where the Hundred was to be, merely that it should not be within ten miles of any other.8 The procedure was for the patentee or company, upon arrival in Virginia, to choose a suitable site and then obtain a warrant for the land, with its boundaries described, from the secretary’s office at Jamestown.
The first of two such patents that the Pilgrim Fathers obtained for a Particular Plantation was granted on 9 June 1619 by the Virginia Company of London to John Wincop,9 whom Bradford describes as “a religious gentleman then belonging to the Countess of Lincoln, who intended to go with them. But God so disposed that he never went, nor they ever made use of this patent which cost them so much labor and charge.”10
Subsequent to the granting of this patent, and after the leaders of the migratory movement among the Leyden congregation had been somewhat put off by the refusal of the majority to leave, “some Dutchmen made them fair offers” to go to New Netherland,11 and “one Mr. Thomas Weston, a merchant of London” came to persuade them “not to meddle with the Dutch or too much to depend on the Virginia Company,” since “he and such merchants as were his friends” would take better care of them.12 And “about this time also they had heard, both from Mr. Weston and other, that sundry Honourable Lords had obtained a large grant from the King for the more northerly parts of that country, derived out of the Virginia patent and wholly secluded from their Government, and to be called by another name, viz. New England.” This, of course, was the Council for New England, a reorganization of the Northern Virginia Company of 1606, of which the principal leader was Sir Ferdinando Gorges. It was he who with sundry other “honourable lords,” members of the Northern Virginia Company, petitioned for a new charter in March, 1620.13 Bradford states that Weston’s arguments as to the good fishing to be had in New England converted a majority of the intended emigrants in the Leyden congregation since, after much discussion pro and con, “the generality was swayed” to New England.14
But there were several reasons why the Pilgrim Fathers should not have headed for New England. For one thing, Gorges and the “honourable lords” did not succeed in getting their New England charter through the seals before the Mayflower sailed. The charter was held up because they wanted a monopoly of fishing in New England waters, against which the Virginia Company and others vigorously protested.15 Sentiment against monopolies had by this time become so strong in England that the government did not see fit to grant a fishing monopoly to the “honourable lords.”16 Owing to this delay, the Council for New England had not yet come to life when the Pilgrims departed, and obviously could not grant them a patent.
Furthermore, the Pilgrims had already in hand a second patent from the Virginia Company to replace that of Mr. Wincop, who apparently decided not to emigrate, which voided his grant. This second patent (also called the First Peirce Patent) was granted 2 February 1619/20 to John Peirce, citizen and clothier of London, a close associate of Thomas Weston and of the Virginia Company. And on the same day the Virginia Company passed a very liberal ordinance for Particular Plantations, granting to their “captains or leaders. . . liberty, till a Form of Government be here settled for them, associating unto them divers of the gravest and discretest of their companies, to make Orders, Ordinances and Constitutions for the better ordering and directing of their Servants and Business, Provided they be not repugnant to the Laws of England.” In other words, a Particular Plantation was guaranteed a very wide autonomy within the Virginia Colony. Here was not only a grant of land that could be located anywhere up to or including Manhattan, but encouragement for the Pilgrim Fathers to form and enjoy self-government; the famous Mayflower Compact was first suggested by the Virginia Company.17
It was this Peirce Patent of 2 February 1620, which the Pilgrims carried overseas with them and which became invalid when they located north of latitude 41° N. Weston’s agreement with them, dated 1 July 1620, was made in expectation that they would either use this Peirce Patent from Virginia or obtain a new one from the Council for New England if there were time. But, as we have seen, the New England charter did not pass the seals until the Mayflower was almost at the end of her voyage.
I conclude, therefore, that the Pilgrims, though preferring New England because of its well-advertised fishing, proposed instead to settle “some place about Hudson’s River” because the only patent that they had, the Peirce Patent from the Virginia Company, was good for that region. The mouth of the Hudson was not too far from the New England fishing banks, it was magnificently located for the fur trade, and it was sufficiently distant from Jamestown to make the Particular Plantation free from religious or other interference by the Virginia government. Of course they must have known, during their residence in the Netherlands, that the Dutch claimed Hudson River by virtue of Henry Hudson’s voyage in 1609, and that they had already been actively exploring and trading in that region. But they also knew that England had never admitted that claim,18 that no permanent settlement or even trading factory had yet been established on or near the Hudson by the Dutch. Fort Orange, on the site of Albany, was only established in 1624, and New Amsterdam on Manhattan in 1626.19 If the Mayflower’s voyage had been more auspicious and her Hudson River destination had been attained, it is highly probable that the Pilgrims would have pitched their settlement on the site of New York City, with possibilities too fantastic even to contemplate!
There remain two other questions to be dealt with: the river “ten leagues south,” and the alleged treachery of the master of the Mayflower.
Mourt’s Relation, as we have seen, does not mention the Hudson by name, but states that the Pilgrims, after their landfall on Cape Cod, purposed “to go to a river ten leagues to the south of the Cape.” This was taken right out of Bradford’s own journal, so there would seem to be no question but that his statement in the History, written down in 1630, that their destination was the Hudson, was an elucidation of the earlier one, written in 1620 or 1621. I conclude that the “river ten leagues to the south” was the Hudson and not the Sakonnet, the Thames or some other Connecticut river, as several local historians have asserted.
It would help us to reconcile the Mourt’s Relation statement—printed in 1622—with Bradford’s statement of 1630, if we knew what charts or maps of the coast the Mayflower had in her chart room. No hint, so far as I can find, has been given by Bradford or any of the early writers on that subject. So we have to inquire what maps or charts were available. Here, too, the information is very meager and dubious. Captain John Smith’s Map of Virginia, first printed at Oxford in 1612, includes the Chesapeake Bay region only. The same author’s Map of New England, which appeared in his Description thereof (1616), chops off the southern part of Cape Cod and includes neither Buzzards Bay nor Long Island Sound. The Pilgrims doubtless had a copy of this map on board, since they took from it the name Plymouth, but it did them no good in trying to find the Hudson. So far as we are aware, no English map of the eastern coast of North America existed in 1620 which would have been of the slightest use to the Pilgrim Fathers.20
Dutch maps tell a different story. A fairly accurate map of the coast from Maine to New Jersey, generally known as the Figurative Map, was presented to the States General in 1616 by Dutch merchant-ship-owners who were afterwards chartered as the United New Netherland Company.21 It shows the result of the recent voyages of Adrien Block, Hendrik Christiaensen and Cornelis Hendricksen along the New England coast from Manhattan to Mt. Desert. For the period, this Figurative Map is a fairly accurate chart. But it seems unlikely that so obscure a group as the Pilgrim Fathers could have obtained a copy of a map prepared by a group of important merchants who were seeking a monopoly of that region.22 Possibly, however, the Pilgrims obtained a manuscript Dutch map of the coast in 1618–1619, when “some Dutchmen made them fair offers about going with them.”
There are several editions of Mercator’s Atlas, starting with the one of 1607, which the Pilgrims might have had; but Mercator’s charts of this coast, until well on into the seventeenth century, showed a continuous shoreline from the southern part of Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras, with no Long Island Sound. Such charts would have done the Pilgrims no good whatsoever.
English mariners in 1620 did not cross the ocean blind. The master of the Mayflower, or the mate who had been to America before, must have had one or more manuscript charts prepared by practical seamen. But it is fruitless to conjecture what chart, if any, the Mayflower had of southern New England, for all English manuscript charts of that period have perished.
If the Pilgrims had a Dutch chart similar to the Figurative Map of 1616, the ten leagues of southing mentioned by “Mourt” is readily explicable. For on the Figurative Map, the southern point of Cape Cod (Monomoy) is in latitude 40° 50′ N. The Narrows of New York Harbor and Sandy Hook, either of which might be considered to be the mouth of the Hudson, are in latitude 40° 30′ N., and 40° 20′ N., respectively. These differences of latitude—twenty and thirty minutes—are near enough for ten leagues, which is 30 nautical miles or minutes.
The alleged treachery of Christopher Jones, master of the Mayflower, goes back to Nathaniel Morton, Secretary of the Plymouth Colony and nephew by marriage to Governor Bradford. Morton wrote in his New Englands Memoriall (1669)23 that, whilst “their Intention . . . and his Engagement was to Hudsons River,” some Dutchmen who wished to locate there themselves bribed him, first “by delayes whilst they were in England, and now under pretence of the danger of the Sholes, etc., to disappoint them in their going thither.” Of this Morton says he “had late and certain Intelligence.”
Worthington C. Ford, in a lengthy note to his edition of Bradford,24 examines this story from every angle, and rejects it. He conjectures that Morton got it from Thomas Willett, that bright young man among the Pilgrims who joined Nicolls’ expedition that captured New Amsterdam in 1664, and who became the first English mayor of New York; or from John Scott, the adventurer who aspired to be lord and proprietor of Long Island. This “late and certain Intelligence” must have reached Morton at a time when the Netherlands were England’s principal enemy, when the Dutch were presumably capable of any villainy as, at later epochs, the French, the Germans, and in our day, the Russians.
In any event, there is no need to assume treachery on the part of Master Jones to explain why the Mayflower did not sail on to Long Island Sound. Any seaman who has weathered Cape Cod will accept the “dangerous shoals and roaring breakers” of a yet undredged and unbuoyed Pollock Rip as sufficient explanation of the change of course.
Finally, to clinch the evidence that the Pilgrims did intend to settle near the mouth of the Hudson, and so within Virginia, we have the testimony of John Pory, Secretary of the Virginia Colony, who visited Plymouth in 1622. In his account of that visit he states flatly that “their [the Pilgrims’] voyage was intended for Virginia,” that they carried letters of introduction from Sir Edwin Sandys and John Ferrar, Treasurer and Secretary of the Virginia Company, to Sir George Yeardley, Governor of the Jamestown colony, “that he should give them the best advice he could for trading in Hudson’s River.”25 Supposing they had reached that great river mouth and located on Manhattan, or Staten Island, or the Brooklyn shore, the Pilgrims would have dispatched the Mayflower to Jamestown with the Peirce Patent, recorded it, and obtained a warrant for their chosen settlement and its boundaries. There is no doubt in my mind that Yeardley and the Council at Jamestown would have welcomed a settlement of Englishmen at the Hudson River’s mouth and would have done all in their power to further it. Only seven years earlier the Jamestown authorities had sent Samuel Argall down east to break up the French settlements at Mount Desert and Port Royal. It seems to me that the authorities at Jamestown would have snapped at the chance to establish at the mouth of the Hudson an English outpost against the Dutch.26
Of course, the Dutch would have had something to say about it, too; but again, they might not have dared to risk a war with England by offering violence to her subjects, although that is exactly what they did in the Amboyna massacre in the East Indies three years later.27 They might well have endeavored to dislodge the Pilgrims from Manhattan or Staten Island; but by the time the Dutch West Indies Company had enough force at its disposal to try conclusions, the Pilgrims would have been well established and reinforced by men and munitions from England and Virginia.
Even though the Dutch did get there first, Peter Minuit and his council were so alarmed at Governor Bradford’s mild reminder of the English claim to that region in 1627, that they wrote to the West India Company, who passed the word to the States General, that “The English of New Plymouth threatened to drive away those there,” and asked for forty soldiers to defend New Amsterdam against a possible assault by the Pilgrims—a request that was not honored. Thus, if the Dutch at New Amsterdam were so afraid of the Pilgrims in 1627, it seems very unlikely that they would have attacked a Pilgrim settlement at the mouth of the Hudson. So much has been written about the slender population and low state of the Plymouth Colony that we forget it was the strongest European colony north of Virginia until 1630; stronger, indeed, than Virginia after the Indian massacre of 1622.28
Since the Pilgrims decided to settle in New England, where the Peirce Patent from the Virginia Company was invalid, they found it necessary to obtain another from the Council for New England. Accordingly, John Peirce applied for, and obtained in his own name, a second Peirce Patent, dated 1 June 1621.29 This patent was unsatisfactory to the Pilgrims for several reasons, especially because it mentioned no boundaries.30 John Peirce, still prominent among Weston’s Adventurers who financed the Plymouth Colony, now took advantage of this dissatisfaction to “pull a fast one” on the Pilgrims. He surrendered his Patent of 1621 to the Council and received in turn a deed poll, dated 20 April 1622, which in effect turned the Plymouth Colony into Peirce’s personal proprietary colony. This arrangement was so inacceptable to the Pilgrims and to their London Associates as well, that they induced Peirce to surrender his deed poll to James Sherley, treasurer of Weston’s Company of Adventurers, in return for £500. This sum was never paid, and Peirce carried the case into Chancery.31
According to Andrews, “The former patent of 1621 was restored to full validity, and until 1630 this patent furnished the only title that the Pilgrims had to their lands and the only right they had in law to exist as a self-governing community.”32 That probably was the case; certainly the colony and their London associates, and the Council for New England, acted on the assumption that the Peirce Patent of 1621 was still good and that the deed poll was null and void.
Naturally, the Pilgrims were uneasy as long as that patent assigned no boundaries to the colony. Bradford made frequent attempts, through Allerton and the London associates, to obtain a new patent from the Council, with definite boundaries. His efforts were rewarded in time to give Plymouth Colony a legal defense against Massachusetts Bay. On 13 January 1629/30 the Council for New England granted unto “William Bradford, his heirs, associates and assigns, all that part of New England in America” between Cohasset River on the north and Narragansett River on the south.33 It included, defined and enlarged the Plymouth Colony’s grant on the Kennebec River, around the site of the future Augusta, for which a patent had already been obtained from the Council in 1627.
The patent of 13 January 1629/30, often called the Warwick Patent after its principal signer, made William Bradford legally the sole lord and proprietor of the Plymouth Colony. He could, had he chosen, have been the William Penn or the Lord Baltimore of New England. But that was a role to which the Pilgrim governor did not aspire. In the first place, taking advantage of the term “associates” in the patent, he required Winslow, Allerton and some of the leading “Old Comers” to share his responsibility in making land grants. The colony continued to be governed as before by the freemen and their annually elected General Court. And in March 1640/41, after the freemen had evinced some jealousy over the potentialities of Bradford and the “Old Comers” disposing of all the ungranted land, the governor and his associates voluntarily assigned their powers under the Warwick Patent to the colony in its corporate capacity. That made no change in the legality of the patent.
From January, 1630, until Plymouth Colony was annexed to the Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1692,34 the Warwick Patent, like the earlier Peirce Patent, “furnished the only title that the Pilgrims had to their lands,” their only legal defense against the encroachments of Massachusetts Bay, and “the only right they had in law to exist as a self-governing community.”
LIST OF THE PATENTS OBTAINED BY OR FOR THE PLYMOUTH COLONY
- 1. Wyncop Patent of 9 June 1619, from the Virginia Company of London. Text has isappeared. References: Kingsbury ed., Records of the Virginia Company, 1. 221, 228; Bradford, Plymouth Plantation, 34, 39n; 1912 ed., 1. 95; Andrews, 1. 258–262, 290, 293.
- 2. First Peirce Patent, 2 February 1619/20, from the Virginia Company of London. Text has disappeared. References: Kingsbury ed., Records, 1. 299, 303, 311, 315; Bradford, 39n, 60n, 75, 93n, 124, 362n; 1912 ed., 1. 101n, 189n, 234n; Andrews, 1. 261–262, 264, 279–280.
- 3. Second Peirce Patent, 1 June 1621, from the Council for New England. Original in Pilgrim Hall, Plymouth; text printed with facsimile in Bradford 1912 ed., 1. 246–251. References: Samuel F. Haven, “History of Grants under the Great Council for New England,” in Lectures Before Lowell Institute on Early History of Massachusetts (1867), 148, 152; Andrews, 1. 279–283, 292, 294, 337n, 357; Bradford, Plymouth Plantation, 93, 108, 429n
- 4. John Peirce’s Deed Poll, 20 April 1622, from the Council for New England. Text has disappeared and it never was put into effect. References, see page 397 above; Lectures Lowell Institute, 152; Bradford, ch. xii (1623); 1912 ed., ii. 306, 308 and note.
- 5. Cape Ann Patent, 1 January 1623/24, from Lord Sheffield of the Council for New England, which had already granted it to him. Original in Essex Institute, Salem. Five hundred acres on Cape Ann, plus 30 acres for each planter, to “lie together upon the said [Massachusetts] Bay in one place, and not straggling.” Text and facsimile of original in 1912 ed., 1. 406–410; numerous other references in Bradford’s text.
- 6. Kennebec Patent, 1627 or 1628, from Council for New England. There is no mention of this in the Council Records, probably because it was swallowed up in No.7. Text in Bradford, Plymouth Plantation, 262–263. References: Bradford, 193, 200–202, 211, 215, 264–265; 1912 ed., ii. 18, 40, map at 176; H. S. Burrage, Beginnings of Colonial Maine, 1602–1658 (Portland, 1914), 185–188, 379. This patent cost the Pilgrims £40; they sold the land in 1661 for £400 to a group of proprietors whose heirs incorporated it as the Kennebec Purchase in 1753. Robert H. Gardiner relates the history of this propriety in Maine Hist. Coll. (1847), 11. 269–294.
- 7. Warwick Patent to William Bradford, 13 January 1629/30, from the Council for New England. Original in Registry of Deeds, Plymouth. Text in Ebenezer Hazard, Historical Collections (1792), 1. 298–303; Laws of New Plymouth (Brigham ed.), 21–28; Documentary History of Maine, vii. 108–116. References: Andrews, 1. 356–359; Lectures Lowell Institute, 156–157. Bradford, curiously enough, refers to this patent only incidentally, although it was by far the most important one that the colony received, describing its boundaries and replacing the Second Peirce Patent of 1621. The so-called surrender of this Warwick Patent by Bradford and the “Old Comers,” dated 2 March 1640/41, is printed in Bradford, Plymouth, 428–430; 1912 ed., 11. 282–288; and Plymouth Colony Records, ii. 10. The surrender did not invalidate the patent. It was a free gift of Bradford and those he had chosen to associate with him, to the body politic.
The Peirce Patent
THIS Indenture made the First Day of June 1621 And in the yeeres of the raigne of our soveraigne Lord James by the grace of god King of England Scotland Fraunce and Ireland defender of the faith etc. That is to say of England Fraunce and Ireland the Nyneteenth and of Scotland the fowre and fiftith. Betwene the President and Counsell of New England of the one partie And John Peirce Citizen and Clothworker of London and his Associates of the other partie Witnesseth that whereas the said John Peirce and his Associates have already transported and undertaken to transporte at their cost and chardges themselves and dyvers persons into New England and there to erect and build a Towne and settle dyvers Inhabitantes for the advancem [en]t of the generall plantacion of that Country of New England Now the sayde President and Counsell in consideracion thereof and for the furtherance of the said plantacion and incoragem [en]t of the said Undertakers have agreed to graunt assign allot and appoynt to the said John Peirce and his Associates and every of them his and their heires and assignes one hundred acres of grownd for every person so to be transported besides dyvers other pryviledges Liberties and commodyties hereafter mencioned. And to that intent they have graunted allotted assigned and confirmed, And by theis pre[sen]ntes doe graunt allott assign and confirme unto the said John Peirce and his Associates his and their heires and assignes and the heires and assignes of every of them severally and respectyvelie one hundred severall acres of grownd in New England for every person so transported or to be transported, Yf the said John Peirce or his Associates contynue there three whole yeeres either at one or severall tymes or dye in the meane season after he or they are shipped with intent there to inhabit. The same Land to be taken and chosen by them their deputies or assignes in any place or places whersoever not already inhabited by any English and where no English person or persons are already placed or settled or have by order of the said President and Councell made choyce of, nor within Tenne myles of the same, unles it be the opposite syde of some great or Navigable Ryver to the former particuler plantacion, together with the one half of the Ryver or Ryvers, that is to say to the middest thereof as shall adjoyne to such landes as they shall make choyce of together with all such Liberties pryviledges proffittes and commodyties as the said Land and Ryvers which they shall make choyce of shall yeild together with free libertie to fishe in and upon the Coast of New England and in all havens portes and creekes Thereunto belonging and that no person or persons whatsoever shall take any benefitt or libertie of or to any of the grownds or the one half of the Ryvers aforesaid, excepting the free use of highwayes by land and Navigable Ryvers, but that the said undertakers and planters their heires and assignes shall have the sole right and use of the said grownds and the one half of the said Ryvers with all their proffittes and appurtennces. And forasmuch as the said John Peirce and his associates intend and have undertaken to build Churches, Schooles, Hospitalls Towne howses, Bridges and such like works of Charytie As also for the maynteyning of Magistrates and other inferior Officers, In regard whereof and to the end that the said John Peirce and his Associates his and their heires and assignes may have wherewithall to beare and support such like charges. Therefore the said President and Councell aforesaid do graunt unto the said Undertakers their heires and assignes Fifteene hundred acres of Land more over and above the aforesaid proporcion of one hundred the person for every undertaker and Planter to be ymployed upon such publique uses as the said Undertakers and Planters shall thinck fitt. And they do further graunt unto the said John Peirce and his Associates their heires and assignes, that for every person that they or any of them shall transport at their owne proper costes and charges into New England either unto the Lands hereby graunted or adjoyninge to them within Seaven Yeeres after the feast of St. John Baptist next comming Yf the said person transported contynue there three whole yeeres either at one or severall tymes or dye in the meane season after he is shipped with intent there to inhabit that the said person or persons that shall so at his or their own charges transport any other shall have graunted and allowed to him and them and his and their heirs respectyvelie for every person so transported or dyeing after he is shipped one hundred acres of Land, and also that every person or persons who by contract and agream[en]t to be had and made with the said Undertakers shall at his and their owne charge transport him and themselves or any other and setle and plant themselves in New England within the said Seaven Yeeres for three yeeres space as aforesaid or dye in the meant tyme shall have graunted and allowed to every person so transporting or transported and their heires and assignes respectyvely the like nomber of one hundred acres of Land as aforesaid the same to be by him and them or their heires and assignes chosen in any entyre place together and adjoyning to the aforesaid Landes and not straglingly not before the tyme of such choyce made possessed or inhabited by any English Company or within tenne myles of the same (except it be on the opposite side of some great Navigable Ryver as aforesaid Yeilding and paying unto the said President and Counsell for every hundred acres so obteyned and possessed by the said John Peirce and his said Associates and by those said other persons and their heires and assignes who by Contract as aforesaid shall at their own charges transport themselves or others the Yerely rent of Two shillinges at the feast of St. Michaell Tharchaungell to the hand of the Rentgatherer of the said President and Counsell and their successors forever, the first paym[en]t to begyn after the expiracion of the first seaven Yeeres next after the date hereof. And further it shalbe lawfull to and for the said John Peirce and his Associates and such as contract with them as aforesaid their Tennantes and servantes upon dislike of or in the Country to return for England or elsewhere with all their goodes and chattells at their will and pleasure without lett or disturbaunce of any paying all debtes that justly shalbe demaunded And likewise it shalbe lawfull and is graunted to and for the said John Peirce and his Associates and Planters their heires and assignes their Tennantes and servantes and such as they or any of them shall contract with as aforesaid and send and ymploy for the said plantacion to goe and return trade traffique import or transport their goodes and merchaundize at their will and pleasure into England or elswhere paying onely such dueties to the Kinges ma[jes]tie his heires and succesors as the President and Counsell of New England doe pay without any other taxes Imposicions burthens or restraintes whatsoever upon them to be ymposed (the rent hereby reserved being onely excepted) And it shalbe lawfull for the said Undertakers and Planters, their heires and successors freely to truck trade and traffique with the Salvages in New England or neighboring thereaboutes at their wills and pleasures without lett or disturbaunce. As also to have libertie to hunt hauke fish or fowle in any place or places not now or hereafter by the English inhabited. And the said President and Counsell do covenant and promyse to and with the said John Peirce and his Associates and others contracted with as aforesaid his and their heires and assignes, That upon lawfull survey to be had and made at the charge of the said Undertakers and Planters and lawfull informacon geven of the bowndes, meetes, and quantytie of Land so as aforesaid to be by them chosen and possessed they the said President and Counsell upon surrender of this p[res]nte graunt and Indenture and upon reasonable request to be made by the said Undertakers and Planters their heires and assignes within seaven Yeeres now next coming, shall and will by their Deede Indented and under their Common seale graunt infeoffe and confirme all and every the said landes so sett out and bownded as aforesaid to the said John Peirce and his Associates and such as contract with them their heires and assignes in as large and beneficiall manner as the same are in theis p[rese]ntes graunted or intended to be graunted to all intentes and purposes with all and every particuler pryviledge and freedome reservacion and condicion with all dependances herein specyfied and graunted. And shall also at any tyme within the said terme of Seaven Yeeres upon request unto the said President and Counsell made, graunt unto them the said John Peirce and his Associates Undertakers and Planters their heires and assignes, Letters and Grauntes of Incorporacion by some usuall and fitt name and tytle with Liberty to them and their successors from tyme to tyme to make orders Lawes Ordynaunces and Constitucions for the rule governement ordering and dyrecting of all persons to be transported and settled upon the landes hereby graunted, intended to be graunted or hereafter to be granted and of the said Landes and proffittes thereby arrysing. And in the meane tyme untill such graunt made, Yt shalbe lawfull for the said John Peirce his Associates Undertakers and Planters their heires and assignes by consent of the greater part of them to establish such Lawes and ordynaunces as are for their better governem[en]t, and the same by such Officer or Officers as they shall by most voyces elect and choose to put in execucion; And lastly the said President and Counsell do graunt and agree to and with the said John Peirce and his Associates and others contracted with and ymployed as aforesaid their heires and assignes, That when they have planted the Landes hereby to them assigned and appoynted, That then it shalbe lawfull for them with the pryvitie and allowaunce of the President and Counsell as aforesaid to make choyce of and to enter into and to have an addition of fiftie acres more for every person transported into New England with like reservacions condicions and pryviledges as are above granted to be had and chosen in such place or places where no English shalbe then setled or inhabiting or have made choyce of and the same entered into a book of Actes at the tyme of such choyce so to be made or within tenne Myles of the same, (excepting on the opposite side of some great Navigable Ryver as aforesaid. And that it shall and may be lawfull for the said John Peirce and his Associates their heires and assignes from tyme to tyme and at all tymes hereafter for their severall defence and savetie to encounter expulse repell and resist by force of Armes aswell by Sea as by Land and by all wayes and meanes whatsoever all such person and persons as without the especiall lycense of the said President or Counsell and their successors or the greater part of them shall attempt to inhabit within the severall presinctes and lymmyttes of their said Plantacion, Or shall enterpryse or attempt at any tyme hereafter distruccion, Invation, detryment or annoyaunce to the said Plantacion. And the said John Peirce and his associates and their heires and assignes do covennant and promyse to and with the said President and Counsell and their successors, That they the said John Peirce and his Associates from tyme to tyme during the said Seaven Yeeres shall make a true Certificat to the said President and Counsell and their successors from the chief Officers of the places respectively of every person transported and landed in New England or shipped as aforesaid to be entered by the Secretary of the said President and Counsell into a Register book for that purpose to be kept And the said John Peirce and his Associates Jointly and severally for them their heires and assignes do covennant promyse and graunt to and with the said President and Counsell and their successors That the persons transported to this their particuler Plantacion shall apply themselves and their Labors in a large and competent manner to the planting setting making and procuring of good and staple commodyties in and upon the said Land hereby graunted unto them as Corne and silkgrasse hemp flaxe pitch and tarre sopeashes and potashes Yron Clapbord and other the like materialls. In witnes whereof the said President and Counsell have to the one part of this p[rese]nte Indenture sett their seales35 And to th’other part hereof the said John Peirce in the name of himself and his said Associates have sett to his seale geven the day and yeeres first above written.
Lenox Hamilton Warwick Sheffield Ferd: Gorges
On the Verso of the instrument is the following indorsement:—
Sealed and Delivered by my Lord Duke in the presence of
Edward Collingwood, Clerke.
[This typescript made from printed copy in Ford ed. Bradford, 1. 246–251, collated with the facsimile therein by Antha E. Card.]
Patent for Cape Anne36
THIS Indenture made the First day of January Anno Domini 1623, And in the Yeares of the Raigne of our Soveraigne Lord James by the grace of God King of England France and Ireland Defender of the faith etc. the One and Twentyth And of Scotland the Seaven and Fyftyth Betweene the right honorable Edmond Lord Sheffeild Knight of the most noble Order of the Garter on thone part And Robert Cushman and Edward Winslowe for them selves, and theire Associates and Planters at Plymouth in New England in America on thother part. Wytnesseth that the said Lord Sheffeild (As well in consideracon that the said Robert and Edward and divers of theire Associates have already adventured them selves in person, and have likewise at theire own proper Costes and Charges transported dyvers persons into New England aforesaid And for that the said Robert and Edward and their Associates also intend as well to transport more persons as also further to plant at Plymouth aforesaid, and in other places in New England aforesaid As for the better Advancement and furtherance of the said Planters, and encouragement of the said Undertakers) Hath Gyven, graunted, assigned, allotted, and appointed And by these p[rese]nts doth Gyve, graunt, assigne, allott, and appoint unto and for the said Robert and Edward and their Associates As well a certaine Tract of Ground in New England aforesaid lying in Forty-three Degrees or thereabout of Northerly latitude and in a knowne place there commonly called Cape Anne, Together with the free use and benefitt as well of the Bay comonly called the Bay of Cape Anne, as also of the Islands within the said Bay And free liberty, to Fish, fowle, hawke, and hunt, truck, and trade in the Lands thereabout, and in all other places in New England aforesaid; whereof the said Lord Sheffeild is, or hath byn possessed, or which have byn allotted to him the said Lord Sheffeild, or within his Jurisdiccon (not nowe being inhabited, or hereafter to be inhabited by any English) Together also with Fyve hundred Acres of free Land adjoyning to the said Bay to be ymployed for publique uses, as for the building of a Towne, Scholes, Churches, Hospitalls, and for the mayntenance of such Ministers, Officers, and Magistrates, as by the said undertakers, and theire Associates are there already appointed, or which hereafter shall (with theire good liking,) reside, and inhabitt there And also Thirty Acres of Land, over and besides the Fyve hundred Acres of Land, before menconed To be allotted, and appointed for every perticuler person, Young, or old (being the Associates, or servantes of the said undertakers or their successors) that shall come, and dwell at the aforesaid Cape Anne within Seaven yeares next after the Date hereof, which Thirty Acres of Lande soe appointed to every person as aforesaid, shall be taken as the same doth lye together upon the said Bay in one entire place, and not stragling in dyvers, or remote parcelles not exceeding an English Mile, and a halfe in length on the Waters side of the said Bay Yeldyng and Paying forever yearely unto the said Lord Sheffeild, his heires, successors Rent gatherer, or assignes for every Thirty Acres soe to be obteyned, and possessed by the said Robert and Edward theire heires, successors, or Associates Twelve Pence of lawfull English money At the Feast of St. Michaell Tharchaungell only (if it be lawfully demaunded) The first payment thereof To begynne ymediately from and after thend and expiracon of the first Seaven yeares next after the date hereof And the said Lord Sheffeild for himself his heires, successors, and assignes doth Covenant, promise, and graunt to and with the said Robert Cushman, and Edward Winslow theire heires, associates, and assignes That they the said Robert, and Edward, and such other persons as shall plant, and contract with them, shall freely and quyetly, have, hold, possesse, and enjoy All such profitts, rights, previlidges, benefittes, Comodities, advantages, and preheminences, as shall hereafter by the labor, search, and diligence of the said Undertakers their Associates, servantes, or Assignes be obteyned, found out, or made within the said Tract of Ground soe graunted unto them as aforesaid; Reserving unto the said Lord Sheffeild his heires, successors, and assignes The one Moyety of all such Mynes as shall be discovered, or found out at any tyme by the said Undertakers, or any theire heires, successors, or assignes upon the Groundes aforesaid And further That it shall and may be lawfull to and for the said Robert Cushman, and Edward Winslowe their heires, associates, and assignes from tyme to tyme, and at all tymes hereafter soe soone as they or theire Assignes have taken possession, or entered into any of the said Landes To forbyd, repell, repulse and resist by force of Armes All and every such persons as shall build, plant, or inhabitt, or which shall offer, or make shew to build, plant, or inhabitt within the Landes soe as aforesaid graunted, without the leave, and licence of the said Robert, and Edward or theire assignes And the sayd Lord Sheffeild doth further Covenant, and graunt That upon a lawfull survey hadd, and taken of the aforesaid Landes, and good informacon gyven to the said Lord Sheffeild his heires, or assignes, of the Meates, Boundes, and quantity of Landes which the said Robert, and Edward their heires, associates or assignes shall take in and be by them their Associates, Servantes, or assigns inhabited as aforesaid; he the said Lord Sheffeild his heires, or assignes, at and upon the reasonable request of the said Undertakers, or theire Associates, shall and will by good and sufficient Assurance in the Lawe Graunt, enfeoffe, confirm and allott unto the said Robert Cushman and Edward Winslowe their Associates, and Assignes All and every the said Landes soe to be taken in within the space of Seaven yeares next after the Date hereof in as larg, ample, and beneficiall manner, as the said Lord Sheffeild his heires, or assignes nowe have, or hereafter shall have the same Landes, or any of them graunted unto him, or them; for such rent, and under such Covenantes, and Provisoes as herein are conteyned (mutatis mutandis) And shall and will also at all tymes hereafter upon reasonable request made to him the said Lord Sheffeild his heires, or assignes by the said Edward and Robert theire heires, associates, or assignes, or any of them graunt, procure, and make good, lawfull, and sufficient Letters, or other Grauntes of Incorporacon whereby the said Undertakers, and theire Associates shall have liberty and lawfull authority from tyme to tyme to make and establish Lawes, Ordynnces, and Constitucons for the ruling, ordering, and governing of such persons as nowe are resident, or which hereafter shalbe planted, and inhabitt there And in the meane tyme untill such Graunt be made It shalbe lawfull for the said Robert, and Edward theire heires, associates and Assignes by consent of the greater part of them to Establish such Lawes, Provisions and Ordynnces as are or shalbe by them thought most fitt, and convenient for the governement of the said plantacon which shall be from tyme to tyme executed, and administered by such Officer, or Officers, as the said Undertakers, or their Associates or the most part of them shall elect, and make choice of Provyded allwaies That the said Lawes, Provisions, and Ordynnces which are, or shall be agreed on, be not repugnant to the Lawes of England, or to the Orders, and Constitucons of the President and Councell of New England Provyded further That the said Undertakers theire heires, and successors shall forever acknowledg the said Lord Sheffeild his heires and successors, to be theire Chiefe Lord, and to answeare and doe service unto his Lordshipp or his Successors, at his, or theire Court when upon his, or theire owne Plantacon The same shalbe established, and kept In wytnes whereof the said parties to these present Indentures Interchaungeably have putt their Handes and Seales The day and yeares first above written.
The Warwick Patent
13/23 January 1629/30
UNFORTUNATELY we cannot reproduce this from the original document. It is still preserved, under glass, in the Registry of Deeds at Plymouth; but the ink is so faded that parts of it can no longer be deciphered without infra-red light and other apparatus; and the present Registrar of Deeds for Plymouth County will not allow it to be removed from the frame, or from his office, for photography and collation.
There is, however, in the Massachusetts State Archives,38 in an early eighteenth-century hand, a copy of a copy of the Warwick Patent, attested as correct by Thomas Hinckley, Governor of Plymouth Colony 1681–1686, and 1689–1692. It was probably made to use in the eighteenth century boundary controversy with Rhode Island. This copy of the Hinckley copy was the basis of the text printed by the Maine Historical Society in 1901 in The Documentary History of the State of Maine.39 We have compared this Maine printed text with the less illegible parts of the original document, and found it to be substantially accurate, the only differences noted being those of spelling and punctuation. The following text has been made by comparing the Maine printed version with the copy of the Hinckley-attested manuscript in the Massachusetts Archives.
To all to Whom these presents shall come Greeting; Whereas Our Late Souveraigne Lord King James for advancement of a Collony & Plantation in the Country Called or Known by the Name of New England in America By his Highnes Letters Pattents under the great Seale of England bearing Date att Westminster, the Third Day of November in the Eighteenth yeare of his Highnesses Reigne of England etc., Did give grant & Confirme unto the Right honourable Lodwick late Lord Duke of Lenox George late Lord Marques of Buckingham James Marques Hamilton Thomas Earle of Arundell Robert Earle of Warwick Sir Ferdinando Gorges Knight and divers others whose names are Expressed in the said Letters Pattents and their Successors that they should be one Body Politique and Corporate Perpetually Consisting of forty persons, & that they should have perpetuall Succession and One Common Seale to Serve for the said body And that they and their Successors should be Incorporated Called and Knowne by the name of the Councill Established att Plymouth in the County of Devon for the Planting Ruling ordering and governing of New England in America, And further alsoe of his Speciall Grace Certaine Knowledge and meere motion did give grant and Confirme unto the said President and Councell, and their Successors for Ever, under the Reservations Limitations and Declarations in the said Letters Patents Expressed All that part and portion of the said Country now Called New England in America, Scituate Lyeing and being In breath from forty Degrees of Northerly Latitude from the Equenoctiall Line to Forty eight Degrees of the saide Northerly Latitude Inclusively, and in Length of and in all the Breadth aforesaide throughout the maine Land from Sea to Sea together also with all the firme Lands Soyles Grounds Creeks Inlitts Havens Ports Seas Rivers Islands Waters Fishings Mines and Mineralls as well Royall Mines of Gold and Silver as other Mines and Mineralls. Pretious Stones quarries and all and Singular the Commodities Jurisdictions Royalties Priviledges Franchieses & Preheminences both within the said Tracts of Land upon the Maine as also within the said Islands adjoyning, To have hold possess and Injoy; all and Singuler the aforesaid Continent Lands Territorys Islands Hereditaments and Precincts Sea water Fishing with all and all manner their Commodities Royalties Previledges Prehemenences and Proffitts that shall or may arise from thence with all and Singular their appurtenances and Every part and percell thereof unto the said Councill and their Successors and Assignes for Ever To be holden of his Majesties his heires and Successors as of his Manner [sic] of East Greenwich In the County of Kent In Free & Common Soccage & not in Capite nor by Knight Service. Yeilding and payeing therefore unto the late Kings Majestie his heires & successors a Fifth part of the Oare of Gold and Silver which from time to time and att all times from the Date of the said Letters Pattents Shall be there gotten had and Obtained for and in Respect of all and all manner of Dutyes Demands and Services Whatsoever to be Done40 and paid unto his said Late Majestie his heires and Successors as in and by the said Letters Pattents amongst Sundry other Priviledges and matters therein Contained more fully and att Large it doth and may appeare Now know yee that the said Councill by Virtue and Authority of his said Majesties Letters Pattents & for and in Consideration that William Bradford and his Associates have for these nine yeares lived in New England aforesaid and have there Inhabited and planted a Towne Called by the Name of New Plymouth at their Owne proper Costs and Charge and now Seeing that by the Speciall Providence of God and their Extraordinary Care and Industry they have incressed their Plantation to neere three hundred People and are upon all Occassion able to releive any new Planters or other his Majesties Subjects who may fall upon that Coaste Have Given granted Bargained and Sold Enfeoffied allotted assigned and sett Over and by these presents Doe Clearely and absolutely Give grant Bargaine Sell Allien in Fee of alott Assign And Confirme unto the said Wm. Bradford his heires associates & assignes all that part of New England in America aforesaid and Tract and Tracts of Land that Lyes within or betweene a Certaine Revolett or Runlett there commonly called Cohasett alias Conahasett towards the North and the River Commonly Called Narragansett River towards the South, and the great Westerne Ocean towards the East, and betweene, and within a Streight Line directly Extending up Into the Maine Land towards the west from the mouth of the said River called Narragansett River to the uttmost bounds of a Country or place in New England Commonly called Poconockett alias Sawnonsett; Westward and an other Streight line Extending it self Directly from the Mouth of the said River Called Cohasett alias Conahasett towards the West So farr up into the Maine Land Westwards as the Utmost Limitts of the said place or Country Commonly called Poconockett alias Sawamsett Do Extend together with one half of the said River called Narragansett River and the said Revolett or Runlett called Cohasett alias Conahasett and all Lands Rivers waters havens Ports Creeks Fishings fowlings and all hereditaments Proffitts Commodityes and Imoluments Whatsoever Scituate Lyeing and being or ariseing within or betweene the said Limitts or bounds or any of them and for as much as they have no Convenient Place either of Trade or of Fishing within their Owne precincts whereby after Soe Long travell and great paines so hopefull a plantation may subsist, as also that they may be incouraged the better to proceed in soe pious a worke which may Especially tend to the propagation of Religion, and the great Increase of Trade to his Majesties Realms, and advancement of the publick Plantation, the said Councill hath further Given granted Bargained sold Enfeofed a Lotted and Sett over and by these presents doe Clearely and absolutely give grant bargaine Sell Alien Inffeofe a Lott assigne and Confirme unto the said Wm. Bradford his heirs associates and assignes all that Tract of Land or part of New England in America aforesaid which lyeth within or betweene and Extendeth it self from the utmost of Cobestcont alias Comasecont Which adjoyneth to the River Kenibeck alias Kenebeckick towards the Westerne Ocean and a place called the falls of Nequamkick in America aforesaid and the Space of Fifteen English milles on Each Side of the said River Commonly called Kenebeck River and all the said River Called Kenebeck that Lyes within the said Limitts and Bounds Eastward Westward Northward and Southward Last afore mentioned, and all Lands Grounds Soyles Rivers Waters Fishing hereditaments and profitts whatsoever Scituate Lying and being arising hapening and Accrueing or which shall arise hapen or Accrue in and within the said Limitts and bounds or either of them togeather with free Ingress Egress, & regress with Shipps Boats Shallops and other Vessels from the Sea Commonly Called the Westerne Ocean to the said River called Kenebeck and from the River to the said Westerne Ocean togeather with all prerogatives Rights Royalties Jurisdictions Priviledges Franchies Libertyes and Emunities; and also Marine Lyberty with the Escheats and Causalityes thereof (the Admiralty Jurisdiction Excepted) with all the Interests Rights titles Clame and Demand whatsoever which the said Councill and their Successors now have or ought to have and clayme and may have and acquire hereafter in or to any the said Portions or Tracts of Lands hereby mentioned to be granted or any the preheminences, In as free Large Ample & benefitiall manner to all Intents and purposes Whatsoever, as the Said Councill by virtue of his Majesties Letters pattents may or can grant To Have and to hold the said Tract and tracts of Land and all and Singuler the premisses above mentioned, to be granted with their & every of their appurtenances to the said Wm. Bradford his heires associates and assignes for ever to the Onely proper and absolute use and behoofe of the said Wm. Bradford his heires Associates and assignes for Ever, Yeilding and payeing unto Our said late Soveraigne Lord the King his heires and Successors for Ever One fifth part of the Oare of the mines of Gold and Silver, and one other fifth part thereof to the president and Councill, which shall be had possest and obteined within the precincts aforesaid for all Services & demands Whatsoever And the said Councill Do further Grant And agree to and With the said Wm. Bradford his heires associates and assignes and Every of them his and their Factors Agents Tenants and Servants and all such as he or they shall send or Imploy about his said perticular Plantation Shall and may from time to time freely and Lawfully Trade and trafique as well with the English as any of the Natives within the precincts aforesaid with Liberty of Fishing upon any Part of the Sea Coasts and Sea Shores of any of the Seas or Islands ajacent & not being Inhabited or otherwise disposed by order of the said president and Councill, & also to Import Export and transport their Cattle and Merchandize att their Will & pleasure payeing Onely such Duty to the Kings Majestie his heires & Successors as the said president and Councill doe or ought to pay, without any other taxes Impositions Burdens or Restictions [sic] upon them, to be Impassed, And further the said Councill doe grant and agree, to & with the said Wm. Bradford his heires Associates and Assignes, that the Persons Transported by him or any of them shall not be taken away Imployed or Commanded Either by the Governour for the time being of New England or by any other Authority there from the Bussiness and Imployements of the said Wm. Bradford and his Associates his heires and assignes; Nessasary deffence of the Country Preservation of peace Supresseing of tumults with in the Land, Tryalls in matters of Justice by appeall upon a speciall Occassion onely Excepted, also it shall be Lawfull and free for the said Wm Bradford his associates heires and assignes att all times hereafter, to Incorporate By some usuall and fitt name and title him & themselves or the people there Inhabiting under him or them, with Liberty to them and their Successors from time to time to frame and make Orders Ordinances and Constitutions as well as for the better government of their affaires here and the Receiveing or Admitting any to his or their Society, as Also for the better Government of his or their People and affaires in New England or of his and their people att Sea in goeing thether or Returning from thence and the Same to be put in Execussion or Caused to be put in Execution by such Officers and Ministers as he and they shall Authorize and Depute Provided the said Laws and Orders be not repugnant to the Lawes of England or the forme of Government by the President and Councill hereafter to be Established; And further itt shall be Lawfull and free for the said Wm Bradford his heires Associates and Assignes to Transport Cattle of all Kinds also powder Shott Ordinances and amunition from time to time as shall be necessary for their Strength and Safty hereafter; for their severall Deffences and safty to Encounter Expulse repell and resist by force of Arms as well by Sea as by Land by all Wayes and means whatsoever, And by Virtue of Authority to us derived by his Late Majesties Letters Pattents To take apprehend Seize and make prisse; of all such persons their shipps and goods as shall attempt to Inhabit and trade with the Salvages people of that Country within the severall precincts and Limitts of his and their Severall plantacions or shall Interprise or attempt att any time destruction Invaision detrement or anoyance, to his or their plantations the one moyety of which goods so seized or taken it shall be Lawfull for the said Wm Bradford his heires Associates and assignes to take to their Owne use and behoofe and the other moyetie thereof to be Delivered by the said Wm Bradford his heires Associates and assignes to such Officers as shall be appointed to receive the same for his Majesties use And the said Councill doe hereby Covenant and Declare that it is their Intent and meaning for the good of the plantations that the said Wm Bradford his heires Associates his or their heires and assignes shall have and Injoy whatsoever priviledge or priviledges of What Kind so Ever as are Expressed or intended to be Granted in and by his said Late Majesties Letters Pattents and that In as Large and ample manner as the said Councill thereby now may or hereafter Can grant (Coyning of money Excepted) and the said Councill for them and their Successors Do Covenant and grant to & with the said Wm Bradford his heires Associates and assignes by these presents that they the said Councill shall att any time hereafter upon Request, att the onely proper Charge and Costs of the said Wm Bradford his heires associates and assignes Do make Suffer Execute and Willingly Consent unto any other Act or Acts Conveyances assurance or assurances, whatsoever; for the good and perfect Investing assureing and Conveyeing and sure makeing of all the aforesaid Tract or Tracts of Lands Royaltyes mines and Mineralls Woods Fishings and all & singular their appurtenances unto the said Wm. Bradford his heires associates and assignes as by him or them or his or their heirs And Assignes or his or their Councill Learned in the Law shall be devissed advised or required and Lastly Know Ye that wee the Councill have made Constituted and Deputed authorized and appointed, Captain Miles Standish or in his absence Edward Winslow, John Howland and John Alden or any of them to be Our true and Lawfull Attorney & Attornys Joyntly & Severaly in Our Name and Steed to enter into the said Tract or Tracts of Land and their premisses with their appurtenances or into Some part thereof in the name of the Whole for Us and in Our name to take poss[ess]ion and Seizen thereof and after such poss[ess]ion & Seizen thereof or some part thereof in the Name of the Whole, had and taken there for Us and in Our Names to deliver the full and peaceable possession and Seizen of all & Singular the said mentioned to be granted premisses unto the said Wm. Bradford his heires associates and assignes or to his or their Certaine attorney in that behalf Ratifieing allowing Confirming all whatsoever Our said attorney shall doe in or about the premisses In Witness Whereof the Councill Established att Plymouth in the County of Devon for the Planting ruling Ordering and Governing of New England In America have hereunto put their hand and Seale this thirteenth Day of January in the fifth yeare of the Reigne of Our Soveraigne Lord Charles by the Grace of God King of England Scottland France & Ireland &c Deffender of the faith &c Anno Domini 1629./
ROBERT WARWICK [Seal]
The within named John Alden Authorized as attorney for the within mentioned Councill haveing in their name and Steed Entred into some part of the within mentionned tract of Land and others the premises in the name of the whole and for them and in their names taken possession Seizen thereof and did in the name of the President and Councill Deliver the full and peaceable possession and Seizen of all and singular the within mentioned to be granted premisses unto Wm Bradford for him his heires associates and assignes
Secundum Forma [obliterated]
In presence of
Nathaniel Morton, Secretary
Vera Copia Compared with the Originall
The Question of French Involvement in King Philip’s War
FOR many years historians and antiquarians have told and retold the story of the relations between Indians and English settlers in early New England which produced the bitter and decisive struggle called King Philip’s War. The available documents and records have been sifted again and again until it seems that every possible fact about the subject must now certainly be known. All authorities are agreed that the Indian uprising of 1675–1676 dealt a shocking blow to the young colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Whole towns were wiped out, and the frontier of English settlement was pushed many miles back toward the coast. The relatively small English population in the area suffered very heavy casualties as well as tremendous damage to homes and property, and the people were taxed almost to the breaking point in order to sustain the war effort.
Despite all the hundreds upon hundreds of pages which have been written about King Philip’s War, one question, at least, still awaits a definitive answer. Briefly stated, that question is this: In the years preceding King Philip’s War and during the period of the war itself, what relationship existed between the French of Canada and the Indian tribes of New England? In other words, can the French be convicted of having given encouragement and support to the Indians in their resistance against the advance of English civilization? Were the French actually instigators of the Indian uprising, and allies of Philip, or were they free of any involvement in this particular conflict? Here is an historical mystery to evoke the detective instinct in all of us.
Actually, we are confronted not by just a single question, but by three. Firstly, what sort of relationship existed between the French and the Algonkins in the years prior to King Philip’s War? Next, did the French persuade the Indians to attack the English in 1675? Finally, to what extent did the French assist the Indians with arms, supplies, and advice during the course of the war?
The background of the problem can be sketched in very rapidly. By 1675 both the English and the French had established mainland colonies in the New World, the French being settled along the banks of the St.Lawrence River, and the English along the Atlantic coast from New England to Carolina. In the area of present-day New England and New York were found various tribes of Indians representing a relatively primitive civilization which was fighting for its life against the advance of aggressive European cultures. Actually, the Indians themselves were unable to present a united front against the white men, for the great Iroquois Confederacy of upper New York was traditionally hostile to the Algonkian tribes of New England. Thus the fierce and warlike Mohawks were an ever-present scourge to the Mohegan, Nipmuck, Narragansett, and Wampanoag tribes which occupied territory in southern New England. Moreover, the chasm of enmity which separated various Indian groups was duplicated in the growing rivalry between the English and the French settlements. Quite naturally, the Indians took advantage of this fundamental division, while the white men were equally ready to play upon the old hostility which separated the Iroquois tribes from the Algonkins. The pivotal group was always the Iroquois Confederacy of the Five Nations, which hated the French, and cooperated with the English. In turn, the hostility which characterized relations between the French and the Iroquois tended to foster a natural sympathy between the French and the Algonkian tribes of southern New England, who were suffering greatly from Iroquois pressure against their territory. Out of this background came the terrible Indian war of 1675–1676.
The conflict traditionally bears the name of its instigator and chief leader, King Philip of the Wampanoags, but once started, the war quickly spread like a prairie fire and, in a sense, escaped from Philip’s control. Before the issue was settled, the whole frontier of New England was ablaze, and a horribly large percentage of both Indians and white men had lost their lives as a result. All available evidence indicates that this was the most devastating war in New England’s history.
To begin our consideration of the case, we have before us a possible motive for French support of the Indians during the period in question. If the English settlements in New England could be made completely unsafe for their inhabitants because of Indian hostility, if enough villages could be totally destroyed and enough planting fields rendered useless, then the English might have to abandon New England altogether or at least withdraw to the coast. Thereupon the French would be able to occupy the abandoned area, cement their already friendly relationship with the local Indians, and thus extend their control over much new territory. Once firmly entrenched in New England, the French would be able to exploit more effectively a growing trade with the Indian tribes. This, then, is the probable motive in the case. What evidence can we find to support the charge?
For many years prior to 1675 the New England colonists believed that they saw increasing signs of French activity among the neighboring Indians. Rumors of French traders selling guns and ammunition to the natives, stories of malicious Jesuit missionaries going into the Indian villages with a message of death to the white Protestants, continued to sweep across New England during the prewar years. It became common opinion that the government at Quebec was deliberately trying to stir up the Indians against the English colonies. Unfortunately, the only evidence now available on this question is either hearsay or circumstantial. Much of it consists of the biased testimony of people who dreaded the advance of French power in North America, and saw a Jesuit priest under every Indian bed.
Roger Williams was one who became greatly alarmed by the increasing signs of an expanding French influence among the neighboring savages, and wrote that “the French and Romish Jesuits, the firebrands of the world for their god belly sake, are kindling at our back, in this country . . . against us, of which I know and have daily information.”41 Major John Mason, the aging hero of the Pequot War, was another prominent settler who became convinced that behind the recurring troubles with the local Indians lay a crafty French scheme for destroying the English colonies. On 18 March 1668/9 Mason informed Connecticut’s Governor Winthrop of current rumors to the effect that vast sums of French wampum had recently been paid to neighboring Indians, and openly expressed his fear of a secret plot against the English.42 The stories about French wampum continued to circulate during the next few months, and became more persistent as the suspicious behavior of the Niantic sachem Ninigret was brought to light. Out of this situation emerged the great war scare of 1669 which prompted Major Mason to restate his suspicion “that much French wampom hath an influence into these matters.”43 Mason’s reputation as an old Indian fighter and a prominent politician made his views all the more plausible in the eyes of many, and so his suspicions of the French at this time helped to increase the public apprehension, although Ninigret, like the old fox that he was, publicly and flatly asserted that he didn’t even know in what part of the world the Frenchmen lived.44 When prominent leaders such as Williams and Mason were openly suspecting a French plot, is it any wonder that the common people quickly caught the growing fever of apprehension?
Nevertheless, a few people in New England still remained unconvinced by the mass of circumstantial evidence even after the outbreak of actual warfare, and refused to believe that French intrigue had played any significant part in causing the conflict. One of these dissenters was Rev. William Hubbard, who could claim to be something of an authority on the day-by-day developments of the war. In support of his opinion Hubbard pointed out that France was certain to obtain greater benefit from a continued commerce with the New England colonies than from their destruction, and argued that Quebec was really too far from New England to develop much of a contact with the local Indians.45 But the small minority who agreed with William Hubbard was almost completely drowned out by the overwhelming voice of the majority. To most people in the English colonies the sinister role of French priests and traders was an unquestioned fact, and this rapidly solidifying opinion became enshrined in the popular history of the day. It was given official support on 25 August 1679 in a letter addressed by the Commissioners of the United Colonies to the royal government in England. With reference to the recent Indian war, the Commissioners testified that: “. . . we have. . . just ground not only to fear, but, without the breach of the rules of charity, to conclude, that these malicious designs [sic], the Jesuits (those grand enemies to his majesty’s crown, as well as to the protestant religion, by us professed) have had their influences in the contrivement thereof, and of the certainty thereof we have been credibly informed by both Indians and English, at home and abroad.”46
Clearly, the evidence concerning French activity among the Indians of New England in the years preceding King Philip’s War is at best indecisive, and the modern student of the period may be inclined to scoff at the idea of a prewar French plot. But with the actual outbreak of open Indian warfare in 1675 the worst suspicions of the English colonists seemed to be confirmed in dramatic fashion. Enemy Indians captured by the English forces frequently confessed that Philip and his followers were receiving material aid from Canada. These reports were given added color by widely circulated stories to the effect that the French woodsmen were on such good terms with the savages that they frequently married Indian women, and adopted the Indian way of life.47 Friendly Indians, sent out as spies by the English in the winter of 1675–1676, returned with a definite report concerning French involvement in the war. As recorded by eager English interrogators, their report on recent French activity included the following statement: “The Frenchmen, that went up from Boston to Norwuthick [Hadley], were with the Indians, and shewed them some letters, and burnt some papers there, and bid them they should not burn mills nor meeting-houses, for there God was worshipped; and told them that they would come by land, and assist them, and would have Connecticut river, and that ships would come from France and stop up the bay, to hinder English ships and soldiers coming.”48 How much credence can be given to a report of this kind? The spies who brought back the information had received it from the lips of enemy Indians who, perhaps suspecting their mission, may have created a false report in the hope that it would reach the ears of the English. However, it seems more likely that Frenchmen actually had been with the enemy Indians, and probably had made extravagant promises of aid. But there is no indication that these enterprising Frenchmen spoke for the government at Quebec, or indeed did anything more than make their wild promises and predictions for the purpose of winning the good will and the trade of the local Indians.
On 25 February additional information was obtained from a young English settler who had recently been a prisoner among the enemy Indians. During his captivity this man was taken to a great meeting or rendezvous of the savages on the banks of the Hoosic River. At this place were gathered over two thousand Indian warriors, among whom were some five or six hundred French Indians with straws through their noses. The savages, proud of this great display of fighting strength, made the prisoner count the assembled multitude three separate times, in order to impress him with their numbers. They freely boasted of their plans to destroy the towns along the Connecticut River and then to attack eastern Massachusetts and Boston itself. They claimed to be on very friendly terms with the French, who sent them supplies of ammunition from Canada.49 This story would seem to support the previous accounts of French involvement in the war, but here again the evidence is far from conclusive, because of its nature.
About a month later, still more corroboratory evidence was obtained from a white woman who had been held prisoner by the enemy for a short period of time. Again the Indians had talked freely, boasting that friendly Frenchmen had recently paid them a visit. The Indians told their captive that the French had urged them to kill as many of the English settlers as they could, but to spare the buildings, for the French intended to move in after the English had been forced to evacuate the country.50 Certainly we must reject the idea that any such statement as this was made by a responsible French official. The administration at Quebec was far too intelligent to make such casual disclosures of future plans, even if it really did intend to carry out such a program as that reported by the enemy Indians. We can only conclude that irresponsible French traders were trying to encourage the Indians for selfish reasons, or that the savages themselves were inventing fantastic lies in an effort to discomfort the English.
One well-documented piece of evidence can not be ignored. This is the case of Quentin Stockwell, who was taken prisoner by hostile Indians in 1677. At the time of Stockwell’s capture the English knew full well that the Indians who took part in the raid had means of close intercourse with the French. These Indians carried Stockwell far to the north towards Canada, where he finally came into the hands of the French, who treated him kindly. Stockwell was eventually released, and upon his return to New England was in a position to explain more clearly how the authorities at Quebec were able to maintain contact with some of the Algonkian groups.51
By the time the war was over in southern New England, the great tide of rumors and reports about French intrigue had thoroughly convinced the majority of the English colonists that the Jesuits and other emissaries from Quebec had played an important part in the uprising. This pattern of thought became solidified in the minds of many, so that the old charges against the French continued to be heard over and over again in the years following the war.52 It was said by some people that during the war Frenchmen dressed in Indian costume had been taken prisoner, and that a Jesuit priest had been a ringleader in the uprising. The French were even accused of having stirred up the Indians in remote Virginia.53 If there exists any real evidence to support these wild allegations, it has not yet been brought to the attention of modern historians.
The mere fact that in subsequent Indian wars such as King William’s War and Queen Anne’s War the French were definitely and undeniably involved, served to strengthen the prevalent opinion concerning their role in the earlier uprising of 1675. Men tended to project back into history the new developments of 1689 and 1704. Furthermore, the generations of writers who lived during the first century after Philip’s death lacked the skeptical instinct of the modern seminar-trained student. Thus they were content to parrot the views expressed by their predecessors. For example, Cotton Mather in his strange and monstrous Magnalia Christi Americana flatly asserted that during the winter of 1675–1676 the French of Canada had indeed sent aid to New England’s savage enemies.54 Many years later Samuel Niles in his history of the Indian wars unquestioningly repeated Mather’s charge against the French in words which were borrowed directly from the Magnalia.55 And so the tradition persevered and grew.
From the time of Samuel Niles to the present day, little has been done to re-examine this question of whether French intrigue can justly be blamed for the horrors of King Philip’s War. In the traditional view the well-authenticated facts of French participation in the Indian wars of the early eighteenth century seem to override any doubts which may be raised concerning French policy in 1675 and 1676. If we are ever to arrive at the truth in this matter we must close our minds to what happened after 1689, and concentrate only on the pertinent evidence related to King Philip’s War.
As we have previously seen, the evidence so far brought to light is not only the product of bias, but is in itself inconclusive. We have no justification for saying that official French agents were busy among the New England Indians during the prewar years, urging them to attack the English settlements. There is still no proof for such a statement. We can say, however, that a very great weight of evidence seems to indicate that French traders were selling guns and ammunition to the Algonkian tribes even before 1675.
We have no present justification for assuming that either the home government in France or the colonial government at Quebec ever formulated a definite policy of assisting the savages to destroy New England in 1675 and 1676. France and England were technically at peace during these years, and Louis XIV was not yet ready to risk his international position on a small Indian war in faraway America. But in view of the accumulated testimony concerning French activity among the enemy Indians once the war had started, we may reasonably conclude that an ambitious administration at Quebec was beginning to see how the disaffected Algonkian tribes might possibly be used as a tool against the rival English empire. It is quite conceivable that the French authorities were not above sending agents to advise the warring savages, and to sell them supplies of guns and powder at reasonable rates. If so, then we are here dealing with the genesis of a policy which in all subsequent Indian wars down to 1759 brought flames and scalping knives to the frontiers of New England.
Mr. Henry Hornblower, II, reported briefly on an examination of letters written from Plymouth between 1623 and 1625, now owned by Dr. Otto Fisher of Detroit, which for the most part confirm John Pory’s description.