40 Dunster’s Petition to the General Court

    [November 4 1654]

    To the honoured and worshipfull Mr. Richard Bellingham Esq. Governour, John Endicott Esq. Deputy Governour with the rest of the honoured Assistants and Deputyes in Generall Court at Boston assembled.

    The petition of Henry Dunster in case of important and importunate exigencies humbly sheweth

    With all thankfulnesse acknowledging your forbearance to take advantage of his Resignation1 of his place June the last past untill your humble petitioner might have conference with the honoured and Reverend Overseers about the greivances him then afflicting, by which your humble petitioner being enformed to some measure of satisfaction in submissive willingnesse reassumed his place and answerably ever since to his power dutifully demamed himselfe therin untill the 24 of the 8th month last, when upon the prudent and peaceable motions of the said honoured and Reverend Overseers for the publique weal of the society, concurring with other reasons your humble petitioner therunto induceing, he your said petitioner peacably laid Down and resigned his place again the second time in such wise and manner as might be of best report and most inoffensive to all sides.

    Therefore your humble petitioner submissivly desireth that it may neither be thought, nor by any of your honoured selves reported that your said petitioner did cast off his place out of any froward morosity foolish Levity or ingratefull despising either of the Courts forbearance or the Overseers amicable conferences for all the honoured and Reverend Overseers can beare witnesse to the contrary, and how this thing was transacted composedly by their motives and arguments concurring with your humble petitioners conceptions and acceptation.

    1. Moreover it is your said petitioners humble request that this honoured Court would be pleased to take into their Christian consideration the Grounds and reasons whereupon the Late honoured Committee for the College commended to this Court the equity of allowance to be made to your humble petitioner for his extraordinary Labours in, about and concerning the weal of the College over and beside his dayly employment in the education of youth for the space of these fourteen yeares, last past that your humble petitioner may be enabled therby to discharge his Debts in Old and New England.

    2. And whereas your humble petitioner with singular industry thorow Great Difficultyes erected the house wherein for the present he dwelleth it is his humble desire that he may peaceably enjoy the same, untill all accounts due to him from the Corporation be orderly and valuably to him your humble petitioner satisfyed and payd.

    3. And whereas your humble petitioner being a free man of this Colony doth not only by vertue of his oath but also from an innate Love and affection ever hath and still doth seek the weal and felicity therof in all things according to his best Light and with his whole person parts and estate and soe teacheth all his to doe that noe Member of this Colony may be uselesse or unprofitable; Therefore it is your petitioners humble desire for his accounts sake one day to be made to God of the Talents to him betrusted, for the Maintanance of his afflicted family (which the Light of nature teacheth infidels) for the weal of this plantation which it is written in your servants heart to promote; that therfore according to his education and abilityes, without all impeachment molestation or discountenance from the Authority of this Colony, he your said humble servant walking piously and peacably may seek further and vigorously prosecute the spirituall or temporall weal of the Inhabitants therof in preaching the Gospels of Christ, teaching or treining up of youth, or in any other laudable or liberall caling as God shall chalk out his way and when where and in what manner he shall find acceptance.

    4. Lastly Wheras this honoured Court the 3d of this present voted a Committee to examine all accounts of your petitioner in refference to the estate of Mr. Joss Glover or what his late Wife left, or what may concern the estate contended for &c. your petitioner humbly conceiveth prayeth and hopeth that you will readily reverse that vote as requireing An impossibility at our hand. For how should your petitioner unlesse a Joseph or a Daniel give an account of a Gentlemans estate dead above 16 yeares agoe whom, nor whose estate he never knew, neither ever was Legatee immediately, Executor, Administrator, or Assignee, nay who may justly say, that he never knew any estate was in Law his, seeing there was noe Inventory at all annexed to his will though Legally proved. Neither did the last deceased wife of your petioner leave any estate (after Debts discharged contracted in her life time) in this Country save the Lands at Cambridge with the buildings theron and a Farme at Sudbury the Title whereof this honoured Court according to the Record must determine ere that your petitioner can give any account therof. And as for what may concern the estate contended for, by the 2 sonnes or any other &c. your petitioner desireth humbly to be excused from such an infinite task, who yet is willing to give a Faithfull and fatherly account and make satisfaction to the full content of the 2 children of the aforesaid Mr. Glover that have not fully receaved their childs portion viz: Mr. John Glover and Mrs. Priscilla Appleton, and to answer all sutes and pleas that any other of the children shall for any estate in the Country Legally make dureing your humble petitioners life. Otherwise it is easily foreseen what endlesse vexations and tedious decisions both this honoured Court your humble petitioner and his posterity may from Generation to Generation causlesly be put unto. The premisses therfore being considered and answered your humble petitioner shall as ever heretofore, soe hereafter remain.

    Yours to his power in all things humbly to serve

    Henrie Dunster

    The deputies desire our honoured magistrates to give answer2 to these two papers of Mr. Dunster in regard they are better aquaynted with the forme then themselves are

    William Torrey Cleri[cus]

    Henry Dunster Papers. The signature is in Dunster’s own hand. Printed in Benjamin Peirce, A History of Harvard University, Appendix, pp. 151–153, and in part in J. Chaplin, Life of Henry Dunster, pp. 145–148.