A Stated Meeting of the Society was held in the Hall of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on Wednesday, 16 March, 1898, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Edward Wheelwright, in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
On behalf of Mr. Denison Rogers Slade, who was unable to be present, Mr. Edes communicated the following letter, written by Lord Lyndhurst, when a young man of twenty-five, to Daniel Denison Rogers,1 a wealthy merchant of Boston, and the great-grandfather of Mr. Slade:—
[London], April 19  George st.2
My dear Sir,—Agreeably to promise in my last letter via N. York I forwarded by the first Vefsel to Boston the Deed signed by my father and mother3 in presence of two persons, Cap.n Lovett4 master of the Vessel and Captn Henshaw5 Passenger who will prove the Signature upon their landing.
I do not very well recollect the Deed drawn by Lowell6 and can not therefore tell in what it was deficient, but sincerely hope that this will satisfy the parties.
It would perhaps have been better had they themselves sent the draught of a deed. Meſsrṣ Mason7 & Otis8 were to procure a general release from Bulfînch9 & Scollay.10 You would much oblige me by reminding them of their promise & forwarding such releases to me.11
I scarcely know how to repeat my request respecting the trunk and dog which I left at Mrs Wheelwright’s.12 The trunk contains many things of value to me, chiefly books and papers; and the Dog13 is a particular favorite on account of the fair Donor. Any Vessel bound to London might bring them safe.
Any letters also which you may possess directed to me, you will be so kind as to enclose in a cover addressed to me at my father’s—
I find that besides the books for Judge Lincoln,14 there was a case forwarded by my father containing two prints representing the Death of Major Pierson which I was to have presented in my father’s name, one to Harvard College the other to the Academy of Arts15 at Boston of which he is a member. May I request you to present them in my place?
I remain Dear Sir
Very sincerely yours
J. S. Coplet, Jṛ.
The Rev. Edward G. Porter then said:—
Mr. President,—I am glad our attention has been turned to this famous picture of Copley’s, as it illustrates one of the most thrilling events in the history of the Channel Islands. I was in Jersey recently, and found that Pierson’s gallant achievement was kept fresh in the minds of the people by various memorials of him at St. Hélier, and by the observance of the anniversary of his death. The quaint little square in which he fell remains very much as it was on the sixth of January, 1781. The Court House with its cupola, the plain brick dwellings with their tiled roofs, the gilt statue of George II. in Roman military dress, and the steep hill overhanging the town, are all seen in Copley’s picture.
You remember the story. The French invaded the Island at dead of night and managed to get control of St. Hélier before the people were up, forcing the Lieutenant-Governor, Corbet, to sign a capitulation. When young Major Pierson, who was second in command, heard of this, he was indignant, and instantly refused to entertain the idea of a surrender. He rallied his troops about him, together with some of the Island militia, and rushed to the market-place where he made such an onslaught upon the invaders that they were completely routed with the loss of their commander; but Pierson fell in the moment of victory.18
With his usual sagacity Copley saw here the elements of a fine historical composition, and he spared no pains to make it as truthful and vivid as possible. It is considered by many his greatest effort, and it has happily found its proper place in the National Gallery.19
The engraving by Heath,20 to which allusion has been made, has long hung on the gallery-railing yonder,—as good a place as can be given it in this Hall; but it is in a poor light, and much too high to gain the attention it deserves.
To us the gem of the picture is the flight of the little group in the right hand corner, representing Mrs. Copley, with both hands upraised in terror, accompanied by her nurse with a babe in her arms, and the smart little Copley, Jr., running for dear life at her side.
I saw a copy of this painting, by Holyoake, in the Court House at St. Hélier, placed there in recent years. I found it a great help in reproducing the scene with all the accessories so near at hand. An inscription in the square marks the spot where Pierson fell. He was buried in the old Town Church near by.
I do not know whether others have observed in Trumbull’s early battle-pieces any resemblance in spirit and treatment to this masterpiece of Copley, but I have often thought that several of the details in the Bunker Hill seemed to show an acquaintance with The Battle of Jersey.21
Mr. President and Gentlemen,—I offer for the acceptance of The Colonial Society of Massachusetts some leaves from the Charter Oak. I can vouch for their genuineness, for they were gathered for me sixty years ago last autumn, by my kinsman, Bishop John Williams, of Connecticut. I have taken a leaf from my old college herbarium in which they were preserved, and I have written underneath them the words which I wrote at the time on the opposite page:—
“Health to thee, ancient tree!
Hadst thou some spark of that garrulity
Belongs to ancient men!”
It stirs the imagination to think what chronicles the Oak might have given us if Mrs. Sigourney’s wish could have been realized; for its age when it fell has been estimated as high as eighteen hundred or two thousand years; while others have thought that it was, at that time, certainly one thousand years old. We may well believe this latter estimate. Mr. George B. Emerson, who classed this tree with the white oaks, says:—
“Those species of oak most analogous to our white oak, are known, in Europe, to continue to grow and flourish for centuries. There are oaks in Britain which are believed to have been old trees at the time of William the Conqueror. Some are known which are supposed to be one thousand years old.”22
Inasmuch as so well-known a writer as Professor Goldwin Smith23 has thought, incredible as it may seem, to transplant the old Oak from Hartford to Providence, R. I., it may not be unprofitable to recall some facts in its history, as well as in that of the ancient Charter of Connecticut which, according to tradition, was concealed in its hollow in the time of Andros. Tradition has it that George Wyllys,—who was one of the fathers of the Connecticut Colony, of which he was Deputy Governor in 1641, and Governor in 1642, and who settled at Hartford,—before emigrating to America, sent over his Steward to select for him a site for his home in the wilderness. On the ground chosen by him stood the Charter Oak, which was then hollow and very old. It was held in great veneration by the Indians, and when Mr. Wyllys’s agents were clearing the land for his residence, a deputation of the natives begged them to spare this aged tree. They said:—
“It has been the guide of our ancestors for centuries as to the time of our planting our corn. When the leaves are of the size of a mouse’s ear, then is the time to put the seed in the ground.”24
[Mr. Williams then recalled, briefly, the history of the Patent under which the Colony of Connecticut was planted, and described the events which led up to the successful effort to secure a new Charter.25 Continuing, he said:—]
There can be no surprise, therefore, that, at the period of the Restoration, the Connecticut Colony early took measures to secure from the King a Charter which should define their boundaries, and settle, once for all, their rights under their first Patent. In their Petition to King Charles they state, that the original copy of their Letters Patent “either by fire at a house where it had been sometimes kept, or some other accident, is now lost,”26 so that they were only able to furnish a copy of that document. Of all the noblemen named in these first Letters Patent, Lord Saye and Sele is said to have been one of only two or three survivors at the Restoration;27 accordingly, an earnest letter,28 dated 7 June, 1661, was addressed to him, invoking his good offices with His Majesty, Charles II., and his Parliament, in securing a Royal Charter which should protect them in the rights for which they had so long struggled. There were some circumstances at the time which seemed unfavorable to the success of their Petition. There was a hot pursuit of the Regicide Judges both in England and on tins side of the Atlantic. Goffe and Whalley and Dixwell at first appeared openly in the Massachusetts Colony, but they were afterwards obliged to go into hiding in Connecticut, where they were harbored by the Rev. John Davenport.29 It was known that they had fled thither, although they had successfully baffled their pursuers. This was made use of by the enemies of the Colony in England to prejudice their claims, but unsuccessfully, for Lord Saye and Sele was a stanch friend and a vigorous advocate in their behalf; and, fortunately for them, he had advocated Charles’s restoration, for which he had been made Lord Privy Seal.30 John Winthrop, who had been sent over to England as a special agent to urge the Petition of the Colony, was enabled, through the influence of Lord Saye and Sele, to enlist in their behalf the sympathy of the Earl of Manchester, who was Lord Chamberlain in His Majesty’s household.31 Under these circumstances the Petition of Connecticut was presented, and was received “with uncommon grace and favor,”32 and on the twenty-third of April, 1662, the famous Charter was granted by Letters Patent under the great seal of England.33 This Charter—
“continued in force to the time of the Revolution, and saved Connecticut from experiencing the fate to which Massachusetts was subjected, after the loss of its First Charter privileges, of a dependent province. It remained, in fact, the constitution of the State of Connecticut until 1818.”34
[Mr. Williams then sketched vividly the events which occurred after the accession of James II., referring especially to the loss of corporate charters—including that of the City of London—and to the proceedings against those of the New England colonies by writs of Quo Warranto and Scire Facias. He also gave a rapid review of the high-handed proceedings of Randolph and Andros, and recalled the tradition connected with the concealment of the Connecticut Charter.35 In closing, Mr. “Williams said:—]
In 1827, Charles Sprague, the poet, writing to Mr. Buckingham, the editor of The Boston Courier, says:—
“While in Hartford . . . I was guilty, for the first time, of paying my devotions to the ancient and venerable Charter Oak, from which ‘I piously stole’ three leaves and an acorn.”36
At that time and ten years later, in 1837, when these leaves were sent to me, the Oak was apparently flourishing; but during a violent storm, on Thursday, the twenty-first of August, 1856, the tree was blown down.37 There are several pictures of it,—one in Emerson’s Trees of Massachusetts,38 but it was taken before the days of kodaks and snap shots, and it does not give a correct idea of its great size. A few years before it fell, twenty-seven good-sized men are said to have stood in the hollow of its trunk. About the same time some boys built a fire in this cavity, and it was feared that this would be the end of the venerable tree; but, as great pains were taken to preserve it, it survived a few years longer, and when it was blown down fresh acorns were growing on many parts of it. There was a universal feeling of regret among the citizens of Hartford when the tidings spread that their ancient, historic tree had at last fallen. At noon Colt’s Armory Band played a dirge on the spot, and at sundown, throughout the city, the bells were tolled, to give expression to the common sorrow.
I do not know how it may be with others, Mr. President, but these visible, tangible memorials of the past,—such as the leather pouch of bullets which was found, long after the American Revolution, concealed among the rafters of an old church in Lincoln,—the sight of which would quicken the pulse of any antiquary, and which were brought here by our associate, Mr. Porter, to illustrate his graphic paper on the march to Lexington and Concord and the retreat to Boston, on the eighteenth and nineteenth of April, 1775,—touch me more nearly than many a page of the printed record. And so these faded leaves, which carry us back through all the struggles of the Connecticut Colony and to a dim and uncertain antiquity beyond,—long before the white man set his foot on these shores,—may find a place in our Cabinet, and have an interest in the future, which may make them worthy of the Society’s acceptance.
Mr. Henry H. Edes said that he had in his possession the original Search Warrant for the arrest of the Regicides, issued by the Connecticut authorities on the eleventh of May, 1661, and the original Third Writ of Quo Warranto against the Connecticut Charter; and that he should have been glad to bring them to this meeting for the inspection of the members, had he known beforehand the subject of Mr. Williams’s paper.
Mr. S. Lothrop Thoendike communicated the following early letter39 of Washington, hitherto unpublished:—
Dear Madam,—When I had the happiness to see you last, you express’d an Inclination to be informed of my safe arrival In camp with the charge that was entrusted to my care; But at the same time desired it might be communicated in a Letter to somebody of your acquaintance: This I took as a gentle rebuke, and polite manner of forbidding my corresponding with you; and conceive this opinion is not illy founded, when I reflect that I have hitherto found it impractacable to engage one moment of your attention. If I am right in this, I hope you will excuse the present presumption, and lay the imputation to elateness at my successful arrival: If on the Contrary these are fearful apprehensions only, how easy is it to remove my suspicions, enliven my spirits, and make me happier than the Day is long; by honouring me with a corrispondance which you did once partly promise to do.—please to make my Compliments to Miss Hannah, and to Mr. Bryan to whom I shall do myself the pleasure of writing, as soon as I hear he is returned from Westmoreland. I am Madam
Yṛ most Obedt. yr most Hblẹ Servt.
Fort Cumberland at Wills Creek
7th of June, 1755
Mr. Thorndike also communicated the following paper:—
Memorandum by Mrs. Burton N. Harrison.
Letter written by Col. George Washington to Mrs. Sarah Fairfax at Belvoir on the Potomac, adjoining Mt. Vernon,—the seat of Col. William Fairfax of Yorkshire, England, then President of the King’s Council in Virginia, and first cousin of the sixth Lord Fairfax of Greenway Court. Mrs. Fairfax, a beautiful and brilliant woman, was beloved by Washington in his boyhood—she being two years his senior—and, at eighteen,40 married George William Fairfax, eldest son of Col. William Fairfax of Belvoir and heir expectant of the Fairfax title, which, however, he died before inheriting,—the title passing from the sixth Lord to his brother Robert of Leeds Castle, seventh Lord, thence to Bryan Fairfax, youngest son of William of Belvoir, to whom it was confirmed by Parliament in 1800. Bryan’s great-grandson, John Contee Fairfax of Prince George County, Maryland, is the present and eleventh Lord Fairfax.
Sarah Fairfax was one of the four beautiful Miss Carys of Ceelys on the lower James, daughters of Col. Wilson Miles Cary, of whom Anne married Robert Carter Nicholas (their daughter married Edmund Randolph), Mary married Edward Ambler, and Elizabeth, the youngest, married Bryan, eighth Lord Fairfax.
A letter from Washington to his early love, dated Mount Vernon, May 16th, 1798, may be found in Sparks’s Washington’s Writings.41 With her husband, Mrs. Fairfax had gone to live in England, where George William Fairfax inherited his grandfather’s Yorkshire property. She died at Bath, England, [2 November,] 1811, [aged 81.] George William Fairfax having died there, in 1787, both are buried in Writhlington Church, near Bath.42
With this Washington letter of June 7, 1755, to Sarah Fairfax, was one addressed to Col. William Fairfax of Belvoir, announcing the young Colonel’s safe arrival in camp with the £4000 he had carried under guard from Williamsburg for the use of the troops.43 “Miss Hannah” was the youngest daughter of Col. Fairfax of Belvoir. She married Warner Washington.44
These facts are contributed to Mr. Thorndike by the great-grand-niece of Sally and Elizabeth Cary upon her father’s side, also great-granddaughter of Bryan, eighth Lord Fairfax,45 through her mother.
Constance Cary Harrison.
New York, February 18, 1889.
Mr. Henry H. Edes called attention to an article written by Mrs. Harrison in 1876,46 in which she speaks of Washington’s attachment for Sally Cary:—
“The chroniclers of the Fairfax family have always asserted positively that to this one of the Miss Carys, [Sally] la belle des belles, Washington offered his heart and hand, to be finally superseded by his friend and comrade, Fairfax of Belvoir.
“Irving gives a different version of this story, asserting that Washington’s tendresse was for the younger sister of Mrs. George William Fairfax, whom the bride brought back with her on a visit to Belvoir. Bishop Meade, quoting from a paper of the Ambler family, says that the sister whom Washington sought in marriage was Mary Cary, afterward married to the wealthy Edward Ambler, Collector of York River, and owner of Jamestown Island. In the face of this distinguished controversy, we can only continue the story of Washington’s wooing, as it has been handed down to us. When the young gentleman mustered up his courage at last to ask for the lady’s hand, Colonel Cary flew into a great rage, and answered that, if that was his business, he might as well ‘go away the same as he came’ (vide Sally’s diary), for his daughter had been accustomed to ride in a coach and four.”
In a footnote Mrs. Harrison adds the following interesting statement:—
“It is fair to say that papers which have never been given to the public set this question beyond a doubt. Mrs. George William Fairfax, the object of George Washington’s early and passionate love, lived to an advanced age in Bath, England, widowed, childless, and utterly infirm. Upon her death, at the age of 81, letters, still in possession of the Fairfax family, were found among her effects, showing that Washington had never forgotten the influence of his youthful disappointment.”
From a recent correspondence with Mrs. Harrison and her husband, it appears that she has modified her opinion, in some respects, as will be seen by the following extract from Mr. Harrison’s letter:
“There is no evidence that George Washington ever saw Sally Cary until after she had become the wife of his friend George William Fairfax who had himself, probably, met her in Williamsburg when he was a member of the House of Burgesses. There is no evidence that George Washington was in Williamsburg, or anywhere on the “Lower James,” prior to Sally’s marriage; and she, quite certainly, was never north of the Rappahannock River before she came to Belvoir as a bride. And, though my wife was once of the contrary opinion, she now asks me to say to you that she has come to believe she was then in error.”
There can be no doubt, however, of Washington’s attachment to Mrs. Fairfax, albeit it began after her marriage to his friend, and the letter which Mr. Thorndike has just read to us, to say nothing of those unpublished letters of later date of which Mrs. Harrison writes, bears eloquent testimony to the truth of this statement.
Mr. Edes then exhibited an original letter of Martha Washington to General Knox, and the General’s reply. They are as follows:—
Mrs Washington presents her compliment
=nts to General Knox and begs his
acceptance of two hair netts.—They
would have been sent long agoe but
for want of tape, which was necessary
to finish them, and which was not
obtained till yesterday.—
Newburgh March the 6th 1783
General Knox, has the honor, to
present his most respectful compliments,
to Mrṣ Washington, and to assure her
he is deeply impressed with the sense of
her goodness, in the favor of the hair-nets,
for which he begs her to accept of his sincere thanks.
West point 8th March ’83.
Mr. Appleton P. C. Griffin, whose official duties in Washington prevented his attendance, communicated, through Mr. Edes, a copy of a part of Washington’s Military Record, now in the War Department, giving the Muster Rolls of troops raised, in 1778, in the Counties of Berkshire, Worcester, and York, in the State of Massachusetts.47
Mr. Albert Matthews read the following paper:—
An English traveller, alluding to this country, remarked, in 1820:—
“There are also some expressions the original applications of which I have not been able to discover. These I must call Americanisms, and will subjoin some examples. . . . Hired Girl for Servant Girl. Hired Man for Servant Man.”48
More recently Dr. Fitzedward Hall, writing on the term “hired man,” said:—
“Of this expression, a strange seeming one, its meaning considered, what is the history? Ordinarily, I believe, it is regarded as a euphemism; and such it now is, unquestionably. It appears, however, to have been, with us, originally, something quite different. . . . I hardly doubt that [proof can be adduced] that hired women, hired boys, etc., also were somewhat as rife in the language of our colonial forefathers as they are in the language of their descendants. How such locutions found their way into our phraseology is a question which awaits solution.”49
Dr. Hall added that both Dr. Murray50 and Professor Wright51 were unable to lend him “any assistance, as regards quotations, in connection with the terms” he was discussing. An appeal on the part of the present writer to various philological, historical, and genealogical scholars has met with a similar result, no one being able to furnish him with a single quotation illustrative of American usage. By again calling attention to the term, it is hoped that other investigators may be able to adduce fresh evidence which shall confirm or modify the conclusions expressed in this paper.
The word “servant” appears to have, at the present day, in this country four meanings:—
- (1) Legally, “a servant is one who is employed to render personal service to his employer otherwise than in the pursuit of an independent calling, and who in such service remains entirely under the control and direction of the latter.”52
- (2) A public official of high standing may call himself “a servant of the people,” or “a public servant.”
- (3) A religious man is called “a servant of the Lord.”
- (4) The word is applied to a man or a woman in domestic service.
The first three meanings do not enter into common speech, so that practically it is the fourth meaning only which is employed in ordinary language. If, however, we turn to the Colonial period, we find a widely different state of affairs. Then the word was applied not only to domestic servants but also to laborers, mechanics, apprentices, schoolmasters, secretaries, clerks, articled students in a lawyer’s or doctor’s office, and to Indian, negro, and other slaves. The usual terms were “servant man” or “man servant” or “man,” “servant woman” or “woman servant,” “servant maid” or “maid servant” or “maid,”53 “servant girl” or “girl,”2 “servant lad” or “lad,” “servant boy” or “boy.” Domestic servants were few throughout the Colonial period, and in the vast majority of cases those designated as servants were employed in other than domestic labor.54
“No odium attached to his condition or person as to the slave’s, and when he proved worthy of consideration he might enjoy many of the social privileges that would have been accorded him as a free man.”55
Professor Lucy M. Salmon, referring to the Colonial period at large, says: “No odium was in any way attached to the word.”56 In 1649 Roger Williams wrote:—
“I thankfully acknowledge your love concerning my daughter. . . . She, as my wife tells me, desires to spend some time in service, and liked much Mrs. Brenton, (who wanted).”57
As late as 1756 we find the Representatives of Pennsylvania thus expressing themselves:—
“We conceive that this Province could not possibly have furnished the great Numbers of Men and Quantity of Provisions it has done for the King’s Service, had it not been for our constant Practice of importing and purchasing Servants to assist us in our Labours. Many of these, when they become free, settle among us, raise Families, add to the Number of our People and cultivate more Land, and many others who do not so settle are ready and fit to take arms when the Crown calls for Soldiers.”58
Nor, did space permit, would it be difficult to show that men who came to this country as servants afterwards attained positions of importance in their local communities.59 The dislike to the word “servant,” now so pronounced, was presumably a manifestation of those profound social and political changes of which the passage of the Stamp Act was the beginning. The earliest allusion known to me to such a dislike occurs in the following passage, which, though apparently referring to a period before the Revolutionary War, yet may not have been written until after its close:—
“However, although I now call this man my servant, yet he himself never would have submitted to such an appellation, although he most readily performed every menial office, and indeed any service I could desire; yet such is the insolence, folly, and ridiculous pride of those ignorant backwoodsmen, that they would conceive it an indelible disgrace and infamy to be styled servants, even to his Majesty, notwithstanding they will gladly perform the lowest and most degrading services for hire.”60
But if, as has been stated, the word “servant” was, for a century and three quarters, used with a very wide latitude of meaning, and if now it is practically restricted to a single meaning, how, it is pertinent to ask, has so marked a change come about? Miss Salmon gives the following solution:—
“An indication of these various changes in the condition of domestic service during these different periods is seen in the history of the word ‘servant.’ As used in England and in law at the time of the settlement of the American colonies it signified any employee, and no odium was in any way attached to the word. But five things led to its temporary disuse: first, the reproach connected with the word through the character and social rank of the redemptioners; second, the fact that when the re-demptioners gave place at the South to negro slaves the word ‘servant’ was transferred to this class, and this alone was sufficient to prevent its application to whites;61 third, the levelling tendencies that always prevail in a new country; fourth, the literal interpretation of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence; and fifth, the new social and political theories resulting from the introduction of French philosophical ideas. At the North the word ‘help’ as applied especially to women superseded the word ‘servant,’ while at the South the term ‘servant’ was applied only to the negro. From the time of the Revolution, therefore, until about 1850 the word ‘servant’ does not seem to have been generally applied in either section to white persons of American birth. Since the introduction of foreign labor at the middle of the century, the word ‘servant’ has again come into general use as applied to white employees, not, however, as a survival of the old colonial word, but as a re-introduction from Europe of a term signifying one who performs so-called menial labor, and it is restricted in its use, except in a legal sense, to persons who perform domestic service. The present use of the word has come not only from the almost exclusive employment of foreigners in domestic service, but also because of the increase of wealth and consequent luxury in this country, the growing class divisions, and the adoption of many European habits of living and thinking and speaking.”62
During the Colonial period the word “servant” was applied to two altogether distinct classes,—to those who served for a term of years, and to those who served for life, or in other words to slaves. The former consisted of white persons of European blood; while the latter comprised Indians, negroes, mulattoes, and persons of mixed blood. Thus used by itself, the word “servant” was ambiguous; and where ambiguity might arise, we find the word qualified by the adjective “white,”—“white servants” being repeatedly alluded to in Colonial legislative acts and writings, though occasionally the phrases “English servants” and “Christian servants” occur. It is sometimes stated that felons and political offenders were transported to the American Colonies to be sold into slavery; but the idea that they were so sold appears to be a misapprehension. Before the middle of the seventeenth century, a writer remarked:—
“Malitious tongues hath impaired it much: For it hath beene a constant report amongst the ordinarie sort of people, That all those servants who are sent to Virginia, are sold as slaves: whereas the truth is, that the Merchants who send servants, and have no Plantations of their owne, doe ouely transferre their Time over to others, but the servants serve no longer then the time they themselves agreed for in England.”63
“THeir Servants,” wrote Robert Beverley, in 1705, “they distinguish by the Names of Slaves for Life, and Servants for a Time. Slaves are the Negroes, and their Posterity, following the condition of the Mother, according to the Maxim, partus sequitur ventrem. They are call’d Slaves, in respect of the time of their Servitude, because it is for Life. Servants, are those which serve only for a few years, according to the time of their Indenture, or the Custom of the Country. The Custom of the Country takes place upon such as have no Indentures.”64
And in 1724, the Rev. H. Jones, speaking of felons, “whose Room they had much rather have than their Company,” said:—
“Their being sent thither to work as Slaves for Punishment, is but a mere Notion, for few of them ever lived so well and so easily before, especially if they are good for anything.”65
But though only servants of mixed blood were slaves, yet white servants were not freemen.66 When the term of service of a white servant expired, he received a certificate of discharge and his “freedom dues;”67 the receipt of these constituted him a freeman, and thenceforth he was at his own disposal. An examination of the Colonial legislation relating to white servants seems clearly to show that a distinction was made between a “hired servant” and an “indented servant.” Indented servants served not for wages but by covenant or indenture, and were variously called “covenant servants,” “indentured servants,” or, usually, “indented servants.” On the other hand, servants who served for hire or wages were termed “hired servants.” Thus there were three classes of servants,—slaves, indented servants, and hired servants. Let us now turn to freemen. A freeman might be a planter doing his own work himself, with the aid of his family; or he might be the employer of labor; or he might hire himself out to another freeman. In this last case he became a “hired freeman” or a “hired man.” If, then, my interpretation of Colonial legislation is correct, the work of settling and of opening up this country, during the Colonial period, was performed by four classes of persons:—First, the freeman, who, when he hired himself out, was called a hired freeman or a hired man; Secondly, the servant who, when he served for a term of years for wages, was termed a hired servant; Thirdly, the servant who, when he served for a term of years by covenant or indenture, was called a covenant or indentured or indented servant; and Fourthly, the servant who, when he served for life, was termed a slave.
With the outbreak of the Revolutionary War the Colonial system of white servitude began to fall into decadence,68 and gradually there came to be but two classes—freemen and slaves. In the examples which follow it will be seen that before 1776 the term “hired man” was purely a descriptive one, there not being the slightest indication of its having been employed in a euphemistic sense; and in many of the examples between 1776 and 1863, the term is still merely a descriptive one, distinguishing the person so designated from a slave. When, as a consequence of the dislike to the word “servant,” a euphemistic substitute for the hated appellation was desired, the terms “hired man,” “hired woman,” “hired girl,” “hired boy,” etc., (of which—except the first—there is absolutely no trace before 1776) came into vogue, and have remained in use as survivals, even though, since 1863, they have lost all significance as descriptive terms.
The following extracts illustrate the use of the term “hired man”:—
“Memoranđ, the xxvth of May, 1639: That Roᵬte Eldred, the hyred servant of Nicholas Sympkins for the terme of three yeares from about the of July next for 4li ᵱ ann. & an ewe goat at tħend of his tyme. The said Nicholas Sympkins . . . hath, wt and by the consent of the said Roᵬte Eldred, assigned & set ouer the said Route Eldred vnto the said Mr Thom̄ Prence, to serue him all the ramaynder of the said terme.”69
“Allways provided that if any such runnaway servants or hired freemen shall produce a certificate, wherein it appears that they are freed from their former masters service or from any such ingagement respectively, if afterwards it shall be proved that the said certificates are counterfeit then the retayner not to suffer according to the penalty of this act.”70
“It is Enacted by this present assembly That whosoever being a Servant by Indenture Shall Convey himself or herself out of the Service of his or her master, mistriss or Dame by running away or Departing privatly out of the sḍ Service, shall Double the time of his or their absence over and above the Damages and Cost to be ajudged by the Court . . . And any hired Servant so Departing from Service as aforesḍ shall double the time of his or her unlawfull Departure & absence to his or her sḍ master or Dame, over & above the Damages and Costs . . . to be adjudged by the Court, . . . And any one which shall Transport any hired or Covenant Servant out of the Province shall pay Double Cost & Damage to the party Grieved for such Servants absence out of the Province, And every hired Servant or Apprentice that shall absent himself out of the Service of his or her master or Dame, & During such absence shall be resident within this Provinoe shall double the time of his or her absence of Service to his or her master or Dame.”71
“And bee itt enacted . . . That noe pson whatsoever shall trade Barter Comerce or Game wtḥ any Servṭ (except hired Servtṣ) wtḥin this province wtḥ out Lycence first had & obteyned from his or her Mṛ Mrṣ Dame or Overseere, vndṛ the penalty of Two Thousand pounds of Tobacco.”72
“. . . you are also required to take a list of the names of those young persons within the bounds of your Town, and all adjacent Farms though out of all Town bounds, who do live from under Family Government, viz. do not serve their Parents or Masters, as Children, Apprentices, hired Servants, or Journey men ought to do, and usually did in our Native Country, being subject to their commands and discipline.”73
“And be it further Enacted, . . . That no Person whatsoever, shall trade, barter, commerce, or any Way deal with any Servant, whether hired, or indented, or Slave, belonging or appertaining to any Inhabitant within this Province, without Leave or Licence first had and obtained from such Servant’s Master, Mistress, Dame or Overseer, for his so doing, under the Penalty of Two Thousand Pounds of Tobacco.”74
“And be it further Enacted . . . That if any Servant or hired Labourer shall lay violent Hands, or beat or strike his or her Master, Mistress or Overseer, and be convicted thereof by Confession or Evidence of his Fellow Servant, or otherwise, before any two Justices of the Peace in this Province, the said Justices of the Peace are hereby required and authorized to order such Servant or Labourer to serve his or her Master or Mistress, or their Assigns, any Time not exceeding Six Months without any Wages, after his or her Time by Indenture or otherwise is expired, or such corporal Punishment to be inflicted by the Hands of the Constable, or some other white Person, not exceeding Twenty one Stripes, as they shall in their Discretion think fitting, according to the Nature of the Crime.”75
“Be it therefore enacted . . . That every master of any outward bound ship or vessel that shall hereafter carry or transport out of this province any person under age, or bought or hired servant or apprentice, to any parts beyond the seas, without the consent of such master, parent or guardian, signified in writing, shall forfeit the sum of fifty pounds.”76
“RUN away the 9th Inst. from James Norrel of Oley in this County, an hired Servant Man named John Blowden, well set, of short Stature, black Hair, fair Complexion, and has a smooth Tongue . . . He pretends to be a Doctor, sometimes a Gentleman or a Merchant, and endeavours to cheat all he comes acquainted with.”77
“To Capt John Dyer Clerk for the Town of Plymouth. This may Informe that Cornelius Warren of Middleberough is a hired man with me on a fishing voyage and his family is now in Plymouth”
Yr humble servant
“There are also the surgeon and his wife, a shoemaker and spinstress; besides labourers and monthly hired servants: I think, in all, I have upwards of eighty . . . As for manuring more land than the hired servants and great boys can manage, it is impracticable without a few negroes. It will in no wise answer the expence.”79
“Run away, on the 8th instant, from Leonard Keffer, of Morris-county, in the Jerseys, an Irish hired man, named Robert Steward, can talk good English, of middle size, well-made.”80
“Why, then, will Americans purchase slaves? Because slaves may be kept as long as a man pleases, or has occasion for their labor; while hired men are constantly leaving their masters (often in the midst of his business) and setting up for themselves.”81
“Absented from the service of Peter Ten Eick, living upon Rariton river, in the Jerseys, a Dutch hired servant-man, nam’d John Engle, of middle stature, well set, red faced, and speaks bad English; he pretends to be a miller.”82
“The House being informed by Petition from the Masters, that a great Number of bought Servants are lately inlisted by the Recruiting Officers now in this Province, . . . we beg Leave to lay this Grievance before the Governor.83 We presume that no one Colony on the Continent has afforded more free Recruits to the King’s Forces than Pennsylvania. Men have been raised here in great numbers for Shirley’s and Pepperell’s Regiments, for Halket’s and Dunbar’s, for the New York and Carolina Independent Companies, for Nova Scotia, and even for the West India Islands. By this, and the Necessity we are under of keeping up a large Body of Men to defend our own extensive Frontiers, we are drained of our hired Labourers; and as this Province has but few Slaves we are now obliged to depend principally upon our Servants to assist us in tilling our Lands. If these are taken from us, we are at a Loss to conceive how the Provisions that may be expected out of this Province another year, for the Support of the King’s Armies, are to be raised.”84
“Slavery indeed is cancelled in the free country of Britain for several reasons; particularly because labour can be there performed by hired servants, apprentices and journeymen in such a populous place, much better and cheaper than in new plantations, where labourers are scarce and wages &c. very dear.”85
“Nor shall any hired or indented Servant or Apprentice, who has heretofore gained, or herafter shall gain any legal Settlement in Pennsylvania, gain any Settlement in this Colony, by Virtue of his or her being hired or bound as aforesaid, or assigned to any Person inhabiting in any such City, Town-corporate, or Township or Precinct, unless Notice be given in writing, within Ten Days after such Hiring or Binding as aforesaid, to the Overseers of the Poor of the City, Town-corporate, Township, or Precinct, where such Person shall come to reside, by the Person who shall take such Apprentice, hire such Servant, or purchase such indented Servant, or by the Person or Persons so hiring, binding, or indenting him or themselves, within Ten Days after every such Hiring, Binding, or Indenting as aforesaid.”86
“I visited (in Providence, R. I.) Jno. Angel, who told me he was born in Providence, Oct. 4, 1691, son of James Angel, son of Thomas Angel, who came from Salem with Roger Williams. . . . His grandfather he said was Mr. “Williams’ hired man at Salem, & came away with him; and the Angel family preserve many particulars respecting Mr. Williams.”87
“Voted To abate to ye Hired men that are not Inhabitants in Said Town the Sum Eight Shillings & Eight pence of their Poll Tax for the year 1772 on account of the Extraordinary Charge by Reason of Building & Repairing the Meeting House in Said Town.”88
“And be it further Enacted . . . That if any Person whatsoever, who shall be an Apprentice bound by Indenture to, or shall be an hired Servant to or with any Person whatsoever, who did come into and shall reside in any City, Parish, Town, or Place within this Colony, by Means or Licence of such Certificate as aforesaid and not afterwards having gained a legal Settlement in such City, Town, Parish, or Place; such Apprentice by Virtue of such Apprenticeship, Indenture, or Binding, and such Servant by being hired by or serving as a Servant as aforesaid to such Person, shall not gain or be adjudged to have any Settlement in such City, Parish, Town, or Place, by Reason of such Apprenticeship or Binding, or by Reason of such hiring or serving therein; but every such Apprentice and Servant shall have his or their Settlements in such Parish, Town, or Place, as if he or they had not been bound Apprentice or Apprentices, or had not been an hired Servant or Servants to such Person as aforesaid.”89
“Next again lives a Low Dutchman, who implicitly believes the rules laid down by the synod of Dort. He conceives no other idea of a clergyman than that of an hired man; if he does his work well he will pay him the stipulated sum; if not he will dismiss him, and do without his sermons, and let his church be shut up for years. . . . We entered into a large hall, where there was a long table full of victuals; at the lowest part sat his negroes, his hired men were next, then the family and myself; and at the head, the venerable father and his wife presided.”90
“Many of the Quakers have planted their tabernacles in that delightful valley which is washed by the Shenandore, beyond the first chain of mountains. They have no slaves; they employ negroes as hired servants, and have renounced the culture of tobacco.”91
“That part of the tradesmen and manufacturers, who live in the country, generally reside on small lots and farms, of one acre to twenty, and not a few upon farms of twenty to one hundred and fifty acres, which they cultivate at leisure times, with their own hands, their wives, children, servants, and apprentices, and sometimes by hired labourers, or by letting out fields, for a part of the produce, to some neighbour, who has time or farm hands not fully employed.”92
“He [Stiles] liberated his negro man-servant, Newport. . . . This excellent servant gave abundant proof of his faithfulness, during the life of his master. Such was his attachment to him and the family, that, a few years after their removal from Portsmouth, he followed them to New-Haven; and, as a hired servant, entered again into their service.”93
“When a rich man dies, an undertaker, or fashionable performer is ordered, who employs a sort of equipages, drawn by horses, which I mistook for baggage waggons, in one of which he puts the body, while several hired men, dressed fantastically in black, walk on each side, with not more unconcern than should be expected.”94
“There is no power given you, as master, to confine a hired servant by law: that is one part of their liberty and equality: nor is there any compulsion but the whip; and the white or hired man, had masters the power to use it, would not submit to that.”95
“On Sundays it would be difficult to discriminate betwixt the hired girl and the daughter in a genteel family, were drapery the sole criterion.”96
“There was something patriarchal in a family establishment formerly; the whole household were assembled at morning and evening prayers; the servants were not menials, and the children mixed freely with them. The dignity of the parent kept up a reserve that inspired awe, and restrained the confidences of his children. No very nice distinction was made in the kind of respect that was due from the children, on account of their youth, or that which was paid by the hired people, 011 account of their station. These latter were seldom born and seldom died servants; they served for a time, till their wages would enable them to begin clearing land for a farm.”97
“In the olden time all the hired women wore short gowns and linseywolsey or worsted petticoats. . . . Now all hired girls appear abroad in the same style of dress as their ladies.”98
“On the 3d of August, 1837, his little son, then a child of five years old, went out to a swamp in the vicinity of their dwelling [in Michigan] with a hired girl to gather whortleberries.”99
“John Boatman was regarded as a valuable servant, and was according held at a high price; but the money [for his redemption from slavery] was raised, and the master struck off something from the sum which he might have obtained. . . . Mr. Alexander kept them both as hired servants upon wages.”100
“Asa consequence of this shifting process, to which we have given but a glance, a very decidedly depressing element is now being rapidly introduced into New England farming life. The Irish girls have found their way into the farmer’s kitchen, and the Irish laborer has become the annual ‘hired man.’”101
“Abel had Revolutionary blood in his veins, and though he saw fit to ‘hire out,’ he could never stand the word ‘servant,’ or consider himself the inferior one of the two high contracting parties. . . . He may or may not figure again in this narrative, but as there must be some who confound the New-England hired man, native-born, with the seivant of foreign birth, and as there is the difference of two continents and two civilizations between them, it did not seem fair to let Abel bring round the Doctor’s mare and sulky without touching his features in half-shadow into our background.”102
“Kilburn was aided in his extraordinary defence of his home by a hired man whose name was Peak.”103
“To better his fortune when out of indenture at least two courses were open to him. He might remain with his master or some other person as a hired man or tenant upon his lands, or he might become an independent planter by taking up whatever unoccupied land in the community had proved too barren to be already patented by freemen, or by moving to the frontier where abundance of good land was to be had on the easiest terms.”104
“We paid our respects to two elderly gentlewomen, sisters of a dead canon, and drank slowly at the spring situated before the door of their stone cottage, their hired man coming and remaining to silently gaze upon us till we resumed our march.”105
“One of the hired men, a Swede, desired to drive to the country-seat for purposes of his own.”106
“In the end we have the machine as we know it, with a boss at its head, which virtually carries on the government; the representative system has shrunk to a form, and the members of the Legislature, though elected by the people, are really the boss’s hired men. . . . Platt announced several weeks ago that the charter was to be passed without amendment, and all his hired men had their minds made up for them when this decision was proclaimed.”107
“There is a sleigh and wagon shop a couple of miles out of the village, but the owner of this is also a farmer, and his only employee is also his hired farm man.”108
“Was the expression hired man” asked Dr. Hall, “brought over from East Anglia, or elsewhere, by Englishmen who colonized. America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries?”109 Are not the British examples110 of the term which follow far too few to enable us to generalize? And were not the social conditions in this country from 1607 to 1776 of themselves sufficient to cause the term to arise here? And if the term was brought from England, is it not strange that there should be no trace of it here until 1737—a hundred and thirty years after the settlement of this country?111
“Sothli he . . . seyde, Hou many hirid men in my fadir hous, han plente of looues; forsothe I perische here thurʒ hungir.”112
“Paid expenses incurred on preparing the krayer [a sort of vessel] of Hethe, and in money delivered to the hired men going to sea with said krayer 26l. 10s. 8d.”113
“They forsake, for Christs love,
Travaile, hunger, thirst, and cold;
For they ben ordred over all above,
Out of youth till they ben old.
By the dore they goe not into the fold,
To helpe their sheep they nought travail;
Hired men all such I hold,
And all such false foule hem fall.”114
“For though the warre waxt colde in euery place,
And small experience were there to be seene,
Yet thought I not to parte in such disgrace,
Although I longed much to see our Queene:
For he that once a hyred man hath bene,
Must take his Maisters leaue before he goe,
Unlesse he meane to make his freend his foe.”115
“Item, I geve and bequeathe unto and amongste the hyred men of the company which I am of, which shalbe at the tyme of my decease, the some of fyve pounds of lawfull money of England, to be equally distributed amongste them.”116
“Also her hired men are in the midst of her, like fatted bullocks, for they also are turned backe, and are fled away together.”117
“O! you’ll anon proue his hyr’d man, I feare,
What has he giu’n you, for this message?”118
Closely connected with the term “hired man,” as illustrative of American social conditions, is the word “help.” This word, wrote Schele de Vere, “often considered a genuine Americanism, is only an extension of the original word from an instrument to a person.”119 “It is not certain,” wrote C. A. Bristed, “whether the term help for servant, often set down as a general Americanism, but in fact scarcely known in the middle states, is of western or New-England origin. It is generally used in both sections of the country.”120 We must, in the first place, distinguish between the Colonial use of this word and its present use. During the Colonial period the word was a generally descriptive one, designating any one who was called in to render assistance, while now it is specifically applied to a domestic servant.121 The citations before 1776, given below, show the accuracy of the statement made by Mr. Lowell in 1865:—
“The fewness and dearness of servants made it necessary to call in temporary assistance for extraordinary occasions, and hence arose the common use of the word help. As the majority kept no servants at all, and yet were liable to need them for work to which the family did not suffice, as, for instance, in harvest, the use of the word was naturally extended to all kinds of service. That it did not have its origin in any false shame at the condition itself, induced by democratic habits, is plain from the fact that it came into use while the word servant had a much wider application than now, and certainly implied no social stigma.”122
That the word had a certain vogue among the New England clergy alone proves that the term was not employed euphemistically. There is a gap in my quotations from the outbreak of the Revolutionary War until the present century. Meanwhile there had arisen the dislike to the word “servant” already commented upon, and on examining the examples of “help” throughout this centuiy one is at once struck with the facts that the word has passed from a general to a specific meaning, and that it is a euphemistic substitute for the hated word “servant.” With regard to the distribution of the word in this country, it is to be remarked that until 1800 the term appears to have been wholly confined, in its concrete sense, to New England; and that at present, as I am informed by Dr. E. Eggleston, who speaks from a large personal observation, “it hardly exists anywhere south of the belt of New England emigration,” and that “it is not yet a fixed colloquialism except in populations derived thence.” The early examples which follow are offered, not as proving that “help,” in its concrete sense, was brought over from England, but merely as showing how difficult it often is to draw an absolute line between the abstract and the concrete senses, and as indicating how readily the concrete use would come in when the occasion for it arose. And, as the following examples, both of noun and of verb, show, such occasion did early arise in New England.
“‘Iasoun,’ quod she, ‘for ought I see or can,
As of this thing the which ye been aboute,
Ye han your-self y-put in moche doute.
For, who-so wol this aventure acheve,
He may nat wel asterten, as I leve,
With-outen deeth, but I his helpe be.’”123
“Att whiche tyme, soo God be my help, Pope Julie shewide me expresslie that . . . he shulde undoubtidlie within short space serve owdre your Grace or me or boithe as untreulie as he hade doon hym.”124
“Blessed is he that hath the God of Iacob for his helpe and whose hope is in the Lord hys God.”125
“You Gods that made me man, and sway in loue;
That haue enflamde desire in my breast,
To taste the fruite of yon celestiall tree,
(Or die in th’ aduenture) be my helpes,
As I am sonne and seruant to your will,
To compasse such a bondlesse happinesse.”126
“It. to the helpes in the kitchen iiij s. It. to the helpes in the buttrey ij s. . . . It. helpes in the kitchen iiij s. vj d. It. helpes in the buttrey xviij d. It. to other s’uants in yor LL. house that attended ij s.”127
“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone: I will make him an helpe meete for him.”128
“And God hath set some in the Church, first Apostles, secondarily Prophets, thirdly Teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helpes in gouernmēts, diuersities of tongues.”129
“That night he will take leave of his Ladie the Princesse by some window of a garden that lookes into her bed-chamber; by the which he hath spoken to her oft-times before, being a great meanes and helpe thereto, a certaine damzell which the Princesse trusts very much.”130
“Luc. God for thy mercy, they are loose againe.
Adr. And come with naked swords,
Let’s call more helpe to haue them bound againe.”131
“It is ordered, that Mr Patricke & Mr Vndrhill shall haue allowed them 6ł 8s in money, to buy them howseholde stuffe, & for helpe to washe, brewe, & bake, xxs.”132
“Dayes of Humiliation. . . . Aprill. 7, 1636, in respect of prsent outward Scarcity & in respect of helpes in ministery, as also for the pevention of Enemies. . . . June 22, 1637. Ffor Successe in warring against the Pequeuts, as alsoe for composing differences or Breathren in ye Bey, & for helpe in ye Ministerye in respect of our selves.”133
“Ther they haue gathered a Church, & doe intend to chuse officers shortely, & do desire better healpes in that kind, when the Lord is pleased to send them, & would gladly vse what meanes doth lye in vs to obtayne them.”134
“It is ordered, yt James Penn shall have 20s, to be disposed among such of his servants & helps as have bene implied about ye dyet & attendance of ys Cort, & ye late meeting of ye commissionrs; 10s thereof to ye ᵱsent cooke, ye wife of Mills, & ye rest to othr servants & helps.”135
“Because ye harvest of hay, corne, flax, & hemp comes usually so neare together yt much losse can hardly be avoyded, it is ordered & decreed by ys Corte, yt ye cunstable of evry towne, upon request made to ym, shall require artificrs or handicrafts men, meete to labor, to worke by ye day for their neighbors needing ym, in mowing, reaping, & in̄ing thereof, & yt those whom they help shall duely pay ym for their worke, . . . ᵱvided no artificer, &c, shalbe compeled to worke for othrs whiles he is necessarily attending on like busines of his owne.”136
“A man and a boy, if their hands be not sleeping in their pockets, will feede as many Wormes as come of sixe or eight ounces of seed till they be past their foure first sicknesses, and within some 14 dayes of spinning: Indeed the last 14 dayes require a more extraordinary diligence and attendance, a more frequent and carefull feeding, . . . At this more particular season, there is necessity of adding the labour of three or foure helpes more (to which Women or Children are as proper as Men) which is an inconsiderable accession considering the gaine arising from it.”137
“It is ordred by this Court & the authoritie thereof, that whosoeuer shall henceforth any wayes cause or suffer any younge people or persons whatsoeuer, whether children, servants, apprintizes, schollers belonging to the colledge or any other Latine schoole, to spend any of theire time or estate, by night or day, in his or theire company, howse, shoppe, shippe, or other vessell, whether ordinary, taverne, victuallinge howse, cellar, or other place where they haue to doe, & shall not, from time to time, discharge & hasten all such youthes to theire seuerall imployments & places of abode or lodginge aforesd, if theire beinge in any such place be knowne to them, or any servant or other helpe in the family, or supplyinge the place of a servant, at sea or at land, that then such person, howseholder, shopkeep, shipmaster, ordinary keeper, tavernor, victualler, or other, shall forfeit the sume of fortie shillinges, vppon legall conviction before any magistrate.”138
“I hope to see her [a saw-mill] goe in 2 or 3 daies; but my man is falne ill, John Lockwood is falne of, help is hard to get, the mill so remote, &c: will make all goe dull, but I intend to doe my vtmost indeauor by degrees. . . . I . . yet think rather then your worshipp shall to much sofer, to send him, if he be well & willing, though I hire help in his roome, which allso wilbe hard, now spring comes on. . . . The death & departure of such helps as God hath taken away is much to be bewailed. The Lord suply vs with meet helps. . . . Help is scarce & hard to gett, difficult to please, vncertaine, &c.; that I am redy to be discoridged least your worshipp should think that I am slack & negligent, vnthrifty, &c. Means runeth out & wages on, & I canot make choyce of my helpe, nor efect what I desire, so that I could gladly be excused or eased.”139
“The Select men nowe to be chosin are to see the worke to be done about takin the sorcomference of the land in ᵱvidinge help to cary the chaine &c.”140
“What next I bring shall please thee, be assur’d,
Thy likeness, thy fit help, thy other self,
Thy wish, exactly to thy hearts desire.”141
“As to the meeteings uppon this Iland [Martha’s Vineyard] there are two Church meeteings and three other. In all wch: there are generall church Members: this is besides what is Donne by Metark at his place & sometimes some other helpe.”142
“Whereas the present warr necessarily calls forth sundry men into the country” service whose imployment & livelyhood consists in husbandry, the proppogating whereof in our respective tounes for the raysing of corne and provissions is of great necessity for our subsistence, it is therefore ordered by this Court, that the selectmen of the respective tounes doe take effectuall care, and are hereby impowred, to impresse men for the mannagement and carrying on of the husbandry of such persons as are called of from the same into the service, who haue not sufficjent help of their oune left at home to mannage the same, who shall be allowed eighteen pence a day for their sajd worke, to be pajd by the respective persons for whom they worke.”143
“Charlestowne, . . . What is paid to the ministry, £100 per annum, in or as money, and 20s per day for transient help.”144
“Voted this: Nov. 28. 93. At a meeting of the Church at my house unanimously yt or Teacher Invite Mr Wadsworth to assist him constantly once a month or any other vacancy in Preaching, & any other help hee shall judge needfull.”145
“memorandu’—That since my Last great sicknes (for about a yeare) The Deacons provided Transient help to preach one part of the Day.—My weaknes being more than ordinary manifest This Last winter (1696)—somtyme in January—Divers both of the Church & Town came to-geather unto me. And asked If I were willing to have a setled helper? . . . Then agreed by the Brethren there present, That whereas They did formerly in the Yeare 1694 Novemr 23 vote & Nominated mr Ebenezer pemberton to be an Assistant to Mr Charles Morton as a settled help in the work of the Ministry—And wee are soe wel satisfyed in what They have Don herein as to com to a free and Jeneral vote with the Inhabitants at the Time appoynted by the Com̄ittee In order to a setled help to the Rev-rand mr Charles Morton in the work of the Ministry among us.”146
“He or she that cannot do all these things, or hath not slaves that can, over and above all the common occupations of both sexes, will have but a bad time of it; for help is not to be had at any rate, every one having business enough of his own.”147
“Voted, that Mr. Waldron be supplied with constant help for six months next ensuing from this day. . . . Voted, that Mr. Waldron be supplied with help until the annual meeting in July next.”148
“Voted That the Select Men shall hire help to pull up the Barbary bushes that are in the Burying place.”149
“About the estate in lands he [G. Whitefield] never understood how the matter lies, and says that he and every one of the trust in England conceive of the matter as though you had a farm of one or two thousand acres, and were to make the best of it by building, and buying or hiring help, with the money in England, to improve it,—something like his estate in Georgia.”150
“The arrogance of domestics in this land of republican liberty and equality, is particularly calculated to excite the astonishment of strangers. To call persons of this description servants, or to speak of their master or mistress, is a grievous affront. Having called one day at the house of a gentleman of my acquaintance, on knocking at the door, it was opened by a servant-maid, whom I had never before seen, as she had not been long in his family. The following is the dialogue, word for word, which took place on this occasion:—‘Is your master at home?’—‘I have no master.’—‘Don’t you live here?’—‘I stay here.’—‘And who are you then?’—‘Why, I am Mr.——’s help. I’d have you to know, man, that I am no sarvant; none but negers are sarvants.’”151
“Help, n. Often used in New England instead of servants; and it generally means female servant: Ex. My help is very good; such a one is very good help. The word domestic is, however, more common.”152
“A great number of farmers have more land inclosed in fence than they can well manage: ask one of these the reason, he replies, ‘I want help.’ An assistant enables him to cultivate a portion of his land that would otherwise become overrun with weeds.”153
“There is no such relation as master and servant in the United States: indeed, the name is not permitted;—‘help’ is the designation of one who condescends to receive wages for service. This help is generally afforded by free blacks, and Irish; our natives seldom lowering the dignity of free-born republicans so much, as to enter a house in the capacity of servants.”154
“Hezekiah K——left his wife and his home at a mature age, to better his condition by a temporary absence. He came to Boston, to let himself for help; and, to express it in other words, entered into service in a gentleman’s family, and changed his place but once during this career. . . . I do not know in what capacity he originally entered these families; but he served, on occasion, as a double to every servant, from the coachman to the chambermaid. He could drive the horses, cook the dinner, sweep the apartments, and make the beds; and when he had nothing else to do, would sit down to sew; making his own clothes and mending his own stockings.”155
“The servant girls in New York assume the title of ‘Miss;’ their male visiting friends invariably making use of this term in inquiring for them. It is the general custom amongst a certain rank in life, and that by no means the lowest, to dine at the same table with their hired girls, or ‘helps,’ as they are occasionally styled.”156
“Help is the word by which servants reconcile their pride with their interest, or employment, as it denotes, that though the assistants, they are the equals of their employers.”157
“The greatest difficulty in organizing a family establishment in Ohio, is getting servants, or, as it is called there, ‘getting help,’ for it is more than petty treason to the Republic, to call a free citizen a servant.”158
“In the families of the rich you encounter no parti-coloured fops, with loads of lace and livery buttons; but yon meet with genteel, obliging, and respectable attendants, frequently from the continent of Europe; and in ordinary families or public hotels, &c. men of colour, i. e. Blacks, are the usual helps. From none did I ever receive an uncivil word or meet with a sulky look. I was civil to them, and they were at all times civil and serviceable to me. But we are told no man dares to call one of his attendants servant. Perhaps such a term might give offence: I know not. But let us think for a moment how rarely have we occasion, at home, to call Jack or Tom, by such a designation. The insidious and unreasonable prejudice which too generally prevails in America against unhappy Negroes, and a dread upon the part of those who are free, of being classed with their less fortunate brethren, contributes greatly to a dislike of the term servant in the States, which is there considered as nearly synonymous with slave.”159
“The inhabitants of New England are quite as willing to call their servants ‘helps,’ or ‘domestics,’ as the latter repudiate the title of ‘masters’ in their employers.”160
“I do not value much the antislavery feeling of a man who would not have been abolitionist even if no such abomination as American Slavery ever had existed. Such a one would come home from an anti-slavery meeting to be an unhired overseer of his wife and children and help (for I love our Yankee word, teaching, as it does, the true relation, and its being equally binding on master and servant), or he would make slaves of them that he might go to one.”161
“The great annoyance of which people complain in this pleasant land [Canada] is the difficulty of obtaining domestic servants, and the extraordinary specimens of humanity who go out in that capacity. It is difficult to obtain any, and those that are procured are solely Irish Roman Catholics, who think it a great hardship to wear shoes, and speak of their master as the ‘boss.’ At one house where I visited, the servant or ‘help,’ after condescending to bring in the dinner, took a book from the chiffonier, and sat down on the sofa to read it. On being remonstrated with for her conduct, she replied that she ‘would not remain an hour in a house where those she helped had an objection to a young lady’s improving her mind!’”162
“In consequence of the great difficulty which private families experience in procuring cooks and housemaids in a country where menial service is considered beneath the dignity of a native-born American, where service is called ‘help,’ to avoid wounding the susceptibilities of free citizens, and left almost exclusively to negroes and the newly-imported Irish, . . . the mistresses of families keeping houses on their own account lead but an uncomfortable life.”163
“One of the subjects on which the minds of men and women in the United States seem to be unanimously made up, is the admitted deficiency of help—the word which describes menial attendance in the aggregate—and the very little assistance which the ‘help’ affords the employer . . . In the first place they satisfy themselves that they are helps, not servants—that they are going to work with (not for) Mr. so and so, not going to service.”164
“The appetites of the mistress are commonly the same as those of her servant, but her society is commonly more select. The help may have some of her tenderloin, but she must eat it in the kitchen.”165
“The hired girl sat down to the table with David and his mother. . . . Susan Means had always been faithful, reliable help.”166
“We used to receive into the family as ‘help,’ as they used to be called, young men and young women from the country. . . . They did not like to be called servants, did not show great alacrity in answering the bell, the peremptory summons of which had something of command in its tone, which did not agree with the free-born American.”167
“I never thought that I should have to go out into the world as a lady-help! . . . But no matter; life is n’t all roses when you start out as a lady-help.”168
“The Executors of the late Wm. West, Esq., of Barcote, Faringdon, Berks, having to close the establishment, wish to recommend thoroughly Head Coachman, Carriage Groom, and Stable Help.”169
“Mother’s Help Wanted, to teach three little girls thorough English, music, &c. Good needlewoman.”170
“Useful Help.—Superior young person seeks Situation in private hotel or otherwise; quick and energetic, domesticated; abstainer, Protestant; no washing.”171
“Companion-Help wanted (30) for middle-aged lady. To make herself generally useful. Small remuneration.”172
“Widow Lady requires Lady-Help; servant kept; Roman Catholic; good health, domesticated, good needlewoman.”173
Not only do these extracts and references, to which so much space has been given, show the history of the terms under discussion, but they also throw much light on the social conditions which, at different times, have prevailed in this country. The early settlers naturally brought with them the social ideas in which they had been nurtured, and so deeply did those ideas take root here that they remained, with little change, until the period of the Stamp Act. On the other hand, the restlessness, the desire to improve one’s condition, the longing to set up for one’s self,—these were as typical of the American colonist as they are of the American citizen. Finally, the extracts enable us to see how the systems of slavery and of white servitude existed side by side for over a century and three-quarters; and how, as a result of the social and political upheaval of the last thirty years of the eighteenth century, the system of white servitude, clashing with the ideas of equality and national life, gradually crumbled to pieces, still leaving, however, the worse blot of slavery. It is characteristic of the rapidity with which changes take place, and of the ease with which people conform to new conditions, that few of the generation to which the present writer belongs have any realizing sense of slavery; and so completely have all traces of the system of white servitude disappeared, that the very existence of such a system is probably unknown except to those who have had occasion to inquire somewhat closely into our early history.
Since the ahove Paper was written, several passages have come to light which seem worth recording. In a Town Meeting held at Providence, Rhode Island, 27 January, 1696–97, it was ordered that—
“in Case any Person Concerned in sd ffields doe faile of doeing his or theire part or parts of sd fence . . . that then the men chosen to judge the sufficiencye of sd fences & to looke to the performance theire-of . . . are hereby impowred to imply persons to make up the said defective fence; & then to repare to any one of the Majestrates & desire of them a warrant to a Const[ ]ble to destraine so much of the Estate of the defective person or persons & to deliver it to the sd men who are over seers of sd fences who shall there with pay those whome the imply about ye sd worke & also to pay themselves for their Time the which wages shall be 2s 3d ⅌ day both for the overseers & also for the hired men.”174
“Whereas Reuben Stevens in Capt. Jacob Bayley’s Roll Received ten pounds as Bounty, & did not pass muster, & afterwards was Recd as a hired man in the Room of Nathl Watts in the same company which Watts also Received Bounty, therefore
“Voted, That the Treasurer stop ten pounds out of the said Stevens Wages & give the Province Credit for the same.”175
The first of these extracts requires a slight modification of the statement made on page 241,—that the term “hired man” is not found in this country until 1737.
Looking beyond the borders of the American Continent, we find that on 7 October, 1652, a law was passed in Barbadoes of which one clause is as follows:—
“Item, whatsoever servant, or hired men, as Overseers, Fallers Assenego-men, or others whatsoever, shall imbezil, purloin, steal, wilfully waste, or make away any of his masters or Mistresses Fowls, Hogs. Sheep, Cattel, . . . shall upon conviction of every such offence before any Justice of the Peace of this Island, be adjudged to serve his said Master, or Mistress three years after his first time is expired, the said servant, or hired man to receive no sallary for the time so hereby appointed.”176
“And it is hereby declared and published, That the intent thereof is meant only to reach to Covenant-servant’s wages, hired-Servants, and hired-labourers, that are hired by the mouth, day, or year, and to all Artificers, whose whole debt and demand, exceeds not four-thousaud pounds of Muscovado Sugar.”177
“Be it enacted . . . That all and every Master or Mistress of Slaves, for the first Five working Slaves, shall be obliged to keep One white Man-servant, Oveerseer, or hired Man, for Three Months at least; and if the Number increase to Ten, Two; and for every Ten after the first, One, to be resident in the Plantation where the Negroes are employed. . . . That if any Servant or hired Labourer shall lay violent Hands upon his or her Employer, Overseer, or other Person put in Authority over him or her, such Servant or Labourer shall, for such Offence, serve his or her Employer without any Wages Twelve Months, by Order of any Justice of the Peace, on Conviction.”178
The occurrence of the term “hired man” as early as 1652 in the West Indies, where the social conditions appear to have been much the same as in Virginia and Maryland, makes it probable that the expression was also in use on the Continent earlier than my examples indicate.
Of the two extracts which follow in further illustration of the use in England of “help,” the first I owe to Professor Kittredge, while the second is taken from the Oxford English Dictionary.
“Blake seated himself by his side; the help who was to accompany them, got up behind. . . . I found Murdock’s ostler very drunk, but sober, compared with that rascally help whom we had been fools enough to take with us.”179
“There were 600 horses in the Serene stables—no less than twenty teams of princely carriage horses, eight to a team; sixteen coachmen; fourteen postilions; nineteen ostlers; thirteen helps, besides smiths, carriage-masters, horse-doctors, and other attendants of the stable.”180
There seems to be nothing in the evidence adduced in this Postscript which affects the conclusions expressed in the Paper itself.
The Tories of Massachusetts have been thoroughly written up, but occasionally among the old papers of the Courts, here, as in many other instances, one comes upon scraps, or fragments, or detached memoranda, written at the time, or upon cases nearly or quite forgotten, which have rested there, possibly undisturbed for a hundred years or more. Perhaps it may be so with these presented to-day. This group of Revolutionary papers, touching “persons enemical to the States,” differing in character, but having a certain relation to each other through their time and subject-matter, illustrate in several phases the political and social conditions of the period, aside from any personal interest connected with those whose fates or fortunes were concerned therein. However slight they may be in themselves, they fall, for whatever they are worth, into the accumulating material for history as told by contemporaries.
One paper is an original Verdict, just as it was drawn up by the Jury to whose decision the issue was committed and by whom it was returned into Court and accepted. It is on a narrow strip of paper, with the lines of age upon its face, without date or signature, and astray from any other papers or proceedings of the case in which it was rendered, of which nothing else now remains. Its identification, however, can, without much difficulty, be made out. It is somewhat informal, and lacks the more imposing outward characteristics which belong to similar instruments to-day, but it contains all the essential elements, and, as history shows, was effective. The Verdict is as follows:—
are of oppinion
“The Jurors upon their˄Oath. say. that Edward Wentworth, since the 19th April 1775 has been & now is Inimcaly disposed towards this & the other United States of America, That his further Residence, in this State is Dangerous to the Publick Peace & Safty.”
[Endorsed] Edward Wentworth
There is nothing upon the Verdict to show under what particular law the trial was held; but there was ample legislative provision for it. Mr. Goodell, in his Notes to the standard edition of the Province Laws, gives the full history of the proceedings and the enactments relating to persons suspected of being “dangerous to the State,” or “disaffected to the Cause of America,” in his account of the Court of Inquiry with a jurisdiction limited to Suffolk County, and of the General Acts of 1 May, 1776, ch. 21, of 9 May, 1777, ch. 45, and the Supplemental Act of 10 May, 1777, ch. 48. The latter, which by its terms was to be in force only till 1 January, 1778, provides for procuring evidence, preparing lists of suspected persons, for their apprehension, their trial by jury, their punishment on conviction, with sundry regulations as to the disposition of their property and estates.181
The Boston Town Records in the early days of the Revolution show the state of public feeling and also the various measures taken with regard to suspected or dangerous persons. For example:—There was an article in the Warrant for the Town Meeting of 10 March, 1777—
“To consider what Steps are necessary to prevent the Inconveniencies & Danger that may happen from persons resorting to, or residing in the Town, who are justly suspected of being innimical to the American States.”
The Committee appointed thereon reported—
“That a Committee of Twelve suitable persons, one in each Ward, be chosen to take the Names of all Persons, who have come to reside in Town, since the 19th of April 1775 . . . the Names of all Refugees & other disaffected Persons & to take the Names of the Towns & States, from whence such Persons come, who are justly suspected of being inimical to the States of America; & make Report from time to time To the Committee of Correspondence, Inspection & Safety, to be used by them, as Occasion may require.”182
“that effectual Measures be taken to secure us from our internal Enemies, which we apprehend cannot be accomplished, but by a total & instant Seperation; [and] that whenever it shall appear to such Persons as the Honble Court shall please to appoint, that the Residence of any Person or Persons in this Town, is inconsistent with the public peace & safety, that they be appointed & impowered to remove immediately such Persons & their Families, to any place of the United States, and making their Return, without leave first obtained of the General Court, Treason against the State.”183
In the Warrant for the Town Meeting held on Saturday, 17 May, 1777, there was an Article under the first section of the Act of 10 May, 1777, ch. 48184—
“To chuse by Ballot some Person firmly attached to the American Cause, to procure Evidence that may be had of the inimical Dispositions, towards this, or any of the United States, of any inhabitants of this Town, who shall be charged by the Freeholders of being a Person whose Residence in this State is dangerous to the public peace or Safety . . . after long Debate a motion was made, that the Sense of the Town be taken, whether they will now come to the Choice of such a Person—the Motion being withdrawn, The Inhabitants were directed to bring in their Votes for a Person to procure Evidences &c agreable to a late Act of the Court. The Votes being bro’t in & Sorted, it appeared that William Tudor Esq. was chosen for the purpose aforesaid.”
At the adjournment of the Meeting, in the afternoon, it was—
“Voted, that the Selectmen be desired to retire & make a List of such Persons as they shall know, or believe to be inimical to the united States, and lay the same before the Town.”
This was done. Then followed a vote for—
“a Comitte to wait upon One of the Honble Council of this State & desire that the Persons voted, by the Town to be inimical persons to these States, be immediately apprehended & confined.”
“But that they had received for Answer, that this could not be done by him without Advice of Council.
“The following List185 of such Persons belonging to this Town, as have been endeavouring since the 19th of April 1775, to counteract the united Struggles of this & the neighbouring States, in the Opinion of a Majority of this Meeting is the List which the Town Clerk is to deliver to two or more Justices of the Peace for this County—Quorum Unus—agreable to a late Act of the General Assembly—Vizt:—
At a Town Meeting on Thursday, 22 May, 1777—
“Agreable to a Writ from Ezekiel Price Esq. Clerk of the Sessions &c—the following Persons were drawn out of the Jury Box, as Jurors for a special Court, to be held for the Tryal of such Persons as the Town have represented to be Inimical to these States and dangerous to the public Safety,—Viz’ Messrs Jeremiah Belknap, Edward Carnes, Samuel Dashwood, William Fallass, John Newell, John Ballard.”192
“At a Meeting of the Selectmen June 25, 1777. . . . The following were drawn Jurors for a special Court to be held at Boston for the tryal of suspected Persons 1sṭ Tuesday July next—Vizt Messrs Joseph Bradford Junr, John Setten, Joseph Loring, Edmund Hart, Joseph Child John Matchet.”193
All these proceedings show the vigor with which our forefathers acted, and none the less their rigid adherence to all the requirements of existing law.
Edward Wentworth, son of Edward and Keziah (Blackman) “Wentworth, was born in Stoughton, Massachusetts, 1 July, 1729. He married (1), 28 July, 1752, the widow Susanna (Winslow) Symmes, of Stoughton, born 6 October, 1724, daughter of Josiah and Sarah (Hayward) Winslow. She died in May, 1780.194 Wentworth married (2), 24 September, 1780, Mary Reed195 of Boston, who died there 24 March, 1800, aged 68. His name appears in the List of Loyalists,196 and also, in company with the Rev. Dr. Byles and other worthies, in the List given above. He is also of enough consequence to be accorded by Sabine a place in his Appendix.197 His residence, his apprehension, the Court where he was tried, and the time, appear clearly by the Town Records, above cited. The record of his trial is not to be found. Ten detached leaves are all that remain of the Records of the Court of Sessions from April, 1776, to July, 1780, and a part of these were discovered in the Miscellaneous Collection described in a previous communication, and restored to appropriate companionship. According to Sabine, he was one of the citizens of Boston arrested by order of the Council, in April, 1776. He appears to have been found guilty, at a special sitting of the General Sessions of the Peace, in June, 1777, and to have been sent on board the guardship.198 He died, in consequence of a broken leg, at the age of 65 years, and was buried in Boston, 9 July, 1794.199
Two other papers are the Records of two Trials found among the remnants just mentioned. They are for minor offences, but go to show that absolute loyalty to the new State was insisted upon, and that words no less than deeds were required to be above suspicion or question.
“The Jurors upon their Oath present That Abraham Solomon of Boston in the County of Suffolk Yeoman at Boston aforesaid on sundry days & times between the fourth of March last and the twenty seventh day of the same month uttered in Company many malicious and seditious Expressions in favor of the present King of Great Britain, and against all the true Friends of America, as in the Indictment is particularly set forth. To which Indictment the said Abraham Solomon Plead not Guilty. A Jury was called and sworn to try the Issue Who Returned their Verdict on Oath and Say that the said Abraham Solomon is Guilty. The Court having considered of his Offence Order that the said Abraham Solomon Pay a Fine of Ten Pounds to be disposed of as the Law directs pay Costs of Prosecution & Stand Committed until Sentence is performed.”
“The Jurors upon their Oaths Present That Jonathan Gibbs of Framingham in the County of Middlesex Gentleman at Boston in the County of Suffolk, on the twentieth day of February last Seditiously uttered Sundry words Contrary to a Law of this State as in the Presentment is particularly set forth. To this Presentment the said Jonathan Gibbs Plead Guilty.
“Continued for Judgment.”200
Another paper is an original Report of Joseph Otis,201 Deputy Gaoler, probably made in the regular course of his official duties, to the Court of General Sessions of the Peace. It gives the names of all persons held under his custody in the County Jail of Suffolk, in February, 1777, and includes, beside some held as Debtors and some under criminal charges, nine persons held for traitorous correspondence or as inimical to the States, and ten held as prisoners of war. This Report is as follows:—
“Boston Febỵ̣ 18th. 1777
- A List of Prisoners in Boston Goal Doctṛ̣ Church for holding a Tratirus Correspondence with the Enemy
- John Hill for being Enemical to the States
- Thoṣ̣ Mews for ditto
- Thoṣ̣ Edwards for ditto
- Crean Brush for ditto
- Benjạ̣ Davis for ditto
- Hopestill Capen for ditto
- Miss Hill & Daughter for attempting to Carry Intillegence to the Enemy
- John Dean Whitworth A prisoner of War
- Seven Men & two Women prisoners of War taken Near fort Cumberland202
- Richḍ̣ Luby for theft Sentens’d
- Mary Young Sentens’d
- Mary Noax [or Voax] Sentens’d
- John Lovell for theft not had his trial
- Five Debtors
- A Trew List of Prisoners
- Attest Joseph Otis Depy Goaler”203
The political prisoners whose names are found in this List vary much in the degree of their prominence in history. Some live in questionable distinction, and others, whatever their standing at the time, have been nearly or quite forgotten.
In his Diary, already referred to in this paper, Ezekiel Price says, under date of 20 April, 1776: “Several of the active Tories have been examined by the Court of Inquiry, and committed to jail for trial;” and, under date of Wednesday, 15 May, “Went to Boston. A number of Tories were examined before the Court of Inquiry.”204 Among these, doubtless, were some of the prisoners on the List now before us.
Dr. Benjamin Church, Jr., needs but brief mention, so much has been written as to his life and career, in their general features. A man of strongly marked character, of varied accomplishments, with ability both executive and administrative, talented, almost endowed with genius, full of energy and force, recognized as a man to lead men and to shape events, one of the earliest and most active in that remarkable body of Boston men that engineered the struggle of the Province against the mother country,—a patriot at the outset, and “the first traitor” to that cause, detected, convicted by Court Martial, examined and expelled by the Provincial Congress, exiled, and vanishing from sight in one of the unknown tragedies of the sea, his career and his fate are alike mysterious.
While the story of his defection and of the events that followed it has been told by many,205 much less has been said of the services which he rendered the American cause in the five years before the breaking out of the War.
The Records of the Town of Boston show how varied and conspicuous these services were, and how prominent a part he played in this stormy period. He is found in company with John Hancock, John and Samuel Adams, Dr. Warren, Josiah Quincy, and other leading citizens in the measures which the town adopted as the different exigencies of the occasion required. To name some of the important committees206 on which he served is enough: (1) 6 March, 1770, “to wait on his Honor the Lieut. Governor” after the Boston Massacre (p. 2); (2) the next year, 12 March, to consider of “some Suitable Method to perpetuate the memory of” it (p. 47), reporting later—
“That for the present the Town make choice of a proper Person to deliver an Oration . . . to commemorate the barbarous murder of five of our Fellow Citizens on that fatal Day, and to impress upon our minds the ruinous tendency of Standing Armies in Free Cities, and the necessity of such noble exertions in all future times, as the Inhabitants of the Town then made” (p. 48);
and (3) on the nineteenth of the same month to consider a Report submitted “to vindicate the Character of the Town Inhabitants grosly injured in . . . a Narrative of the Tryals &c. said to be printed by permission of the Honble Court, and also in several anonimous publications” (p. 49); (4) On the sixth of May, 1772, “to draw up Instruction to the Four Gentlemen this Day chose to Represent the Town of Boston in the next General Assembly—Honble Thomas Cushing, Mr Samuel Adams, the Honble John Hancock Esq. and Mr William Phillips” (p. 80),—a most forcible Instruction (pp. 83–86), to which was added one touching the “salaries of the Judges of the Superior Court” (p. 88); (5) 28 October, 1772, with “Mr. Samuel Adams and Dr. Joseph Warren . . . to draw up an Address to the Governor” on the latter subject (p. 89), which, brief and sharp, “passed in the Affermative—Nem Cont.” (p. 90); (6) 2 November, 1772, one of twenty-one persons appointed by the Town, on Motion of Samuel Adams, as “a Committee of Correspondence . . . to State the Rights of the Colonists and of this Province in particular, as Men, as Christians, and as Subjects” (p. 93), and one of a sub-committee to draught the letter “to the several Towns in this Province and to the World” (p. 94). The draught stating the Natural Rights of the Colonists as Men, as Christians, and as Subjects, is given in full under those heads in the Town Records (pp. 95–99), with the “List of Infringements & Violations of Rights” (pp. 99–106), and the Letter “to the other Towns” (pp. 106–108); (7) Several times upon the Committee to select the Fifth of March Orator. On the fifth of March, 1773, he was himself the Orator, “unanimously chosen,” and his “Eloquent and Spirited Oration [was] delivered . . . to a large and crowded Audience, and received by them with great applause . . . at the Old South Meeting House at ¾ past 12, O’Clock A:M:” (p. 109); (8) 23 March, 1773, he was on a Committee “to vindicate the Town from the gross misrepresentations and groundless charges in his Excellencies Messages to both Houses of the General Assembly respecting the proceedings of the Town at their last Meeting,” whose spirited Report, read by Samuel Adams, given in full (pp. 120–125), “was accepted by the Town nemine contradicente, and Ordered to be Recorded on the Towns Book, as the Sense of the Inhabitants of this Town” (p. 125); (9) 5 May, 1773, he was of the Committee to “give Instructions to the Representatives,—the Honble Thomas Cushing Esq. Mr Samuel Adams, Honble John Hancock Esq. William Phillips Esq.”—whose vigorous Instructions, given in full (pp. 132–134), were “unanimously . . . accepted” and ordered to be “printed in the Several News Papers” (p. 134); (10) 10 May, 1774, he was again upon a Committee to prepare Instructions to the Representatives, its Chairman, and associated with John Adams, Dr. Warren, Josiah Quincy, and other leading men (p. 169); (11) 19 July, 1774, on a Committee with Samuel and John Adams, Josiah Quincy, Dr. Warren, Thomas Cushing, John Hancock, Rev. Dr. Chauncy, Rev. Dr. Samuel Mather and others, “to consider & Report a Declaration to be made by this Town to Great Britain & all the World” (p. 183); (12) 25 September, 1774, he was again one of a Committee “to prepare Instructions for our Representatives,” and, with Dr. Warren and Mr. Nathaniel Appleton, was chosen a Member of the Provincial Congress (p. 191); (13) 3 November, 1774,—“At an Adjournment of the Port Bill Meeting”—he was put on the Committee which reported on “what are the proper Ways & Means to secure the Peace & good Order of the Town,”—touching mainly the presence of “Sundry Regiments of his Majesty’s Troops . . . contrary to Law, & to the great Annoyance & Detriment of his Majesty’s good Subjects of this Province, now stationed in the Town of Boston, in a Time of profound Peace,”—and on that to wait upon the Governor therewith (pp. 194–195); (14) “At a Meeting of the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston ᵱ Adjournment of the Port Bill Meeting,” 7 December, 1774, he was chosen one of a Committee of sixty-two headed by “The Honble Thomas Cushing Esq.” as “a Committee of Inspection, & to carry the Resolutions of the Continental Congress into Execution;” and one of a Committee of seven “to draught a Vote of Thanks” to the “Sister Colonies” for their “benevolent Assistance” (pp. 205–207); (15) 14 December, 1774, a Committee consisting of “Mr Samuel Adams, Dr Benjamin Church Dr Joseph Warren” was appointed to consider and report upon the “Answer to a Letter written to General Gage by the Honble Peyton Randolph Esq. President of the late Continental Congress,” on the ground of its containing “diverse Gross Mistakes, to the Prejudice of this Town” (p. 207). Their Report, made 30 December, upon this answer of General Gage is given in full (pp. 209–211) and, “considered Paragraph by Paragraph,” was accepted, “Nem. Con.” (p. 211); (16) On the same day, with “The Honble Thomas Cushing Esq. Mr Samuel Adams, Honble John Hancock Esq. Dr Joseph Warren, Mr Oliver Wendell, Mr John Pitts,” he was chosen one of the “Seven Delegates for the intended Provincial Congress” (p. 211); (17) On the sixth of March, 1775, he was on the Committee to wait upon “Joseph Warren Esq.,” the Fifth of March Orator of that year, and “require of him a Copy of said Oration for the Press”; and he was also appointed on the Committee to select the Orator for the next year (pp. 215, 216). Thereafter, ominously, his name no longer appears upon the Records of the Town.
On the thirty-first of July, 1775, Dr. Church appears as a member of a Committee with Major Joseph Hawley and Mr. Joseph Wheeler “with such as the honorable Board shall join, to bring in a Bill for vacating the Commissions of all such Civil Officers as have been appointed by the Governor with the Advice of Council.”207
John Hill has left nothing behind him but the shadow of a name. Perhaps he was the son of Alexander and Thankful (Allen) Hill, who was born in Boston, 22 July, 1748.208
Thomas Edwards and Thomas Mewse are said by Sabine to have been arrested by order of the Council in April, 1776. Edwards is named in the List in the Town Records, previously given,209 of those who “have been endeavouring since the 19th of April, 1775, to counteract the united Struggles of this & the neighbouring States;” and Mewse is included in the List of Loyalists.210
“Miss Hill & Daughter” are not identified, unless, perhaps, they were connected with the equally obscure John Hill.
John Dean Whitworth, according to Sabine (ii. 595), was a “Lieutenant in the Queen’s Rangers, Taken prisoner in 1776, sent to Boston, examined and put in jail by Order of the Government of Massachusetts.” He was a son of Dr. Miles Whitworth,211 and was born in Boston, 26 November, 1749.212
Benjamin Davis was a merchant of Boston; was one of those “proscribed as enemies of the new State;”213 and he is named in the List of the Loyalists.214 In the copy of the Broadside containing a List of the Protesters against the Solemn League and Covenant, and a List of the Addressers of Hutchinson, in 1774, reprinted by the Massachusetts Historical Society,215 Davis’s name appears in both Lists. He is described as of “Town Dock, Huckster.” He was also an Addresser of Gage, in 1775; and his name is included in the Act of 16 October, 1778, chap. 24, “to prevent the Return to this State, of certain persons . . . who have left this State . . . and joined the Enemies thereof.”216 The Letters of John Andrews under date of 7 October, 1774, mention that “Ben Davis has let his Store on the Dock for the use of the troops.”217 He left Boston with his family and went to Halifax; in his passage thence to New York he was captured in the ship “Peggy,” carried into Marblehead, sent to Boston, and there imprisoned. Ezekiel Price, in his Diary, thus refers to his arrival:—
“Monday, July 29. . “Brought to town Benjamin Davis and a number of other Tories, who were committed to jail. They were taken in a ship from Halifax to New York: she had a valuable cargo on board.”218
Davis seems to have had a hard time in jail, as appears by a letter to James Bowdoin, dated 10 October, 1776. He was a man of wealth and is said to have lost some £1000 sterling when he left Boston, besides £1500 sterling on his capture, as well as large amounts due him but never recovered. He was proscribed and banished in 1778, and is said to have been in New York at the close of the War.219
Hopestill Capen, the son of John and Elizabeth (Hall) Capen, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, 4 March, 1730–31.220 Like Davis, he was a merchant of Boston; and his place of business, at the North End, was the prototype of the Department Stores of the present generation. His name, too, like that of Davis, is found in the List of the Proscribed of the Loyalists, on the Town Records, and also in the Lists of the Addressers of Hutchinson,—where he appears as of Union Street, a “Carpenter, lately a shopkeeper,”—and of the “Protesters.” He does not appear to have found time for much service in the affairs of the Town, though he was chosen, 13 March, 1770, a “Scavinger” from Ward 5.
Capen was one of the pillars of the excellent and highly respected company of the Sandemanians, in behalf of whom, 7 April, 1773, accompanied by Edward Foster, he “attended and acquainted the Select Men that they had lately lost their House of Worship by Fire, and therefore praying that they might have the use of the North Lattin School upon Sabbaths.”221 Benjamin Davis was also of the same sect; indeed, the Sandemanians were mostly Loyalists, and caused the Patriots endless trouble.
According to Sabine (I. 293), Capen was arrested by order of the Council, in 1776, and committed to jail; and in October of that year a petition was started by his wife,222 backed by some eighty citizens of Boston, setting out the sufferings of herself and children in consequence of his arrest, and saying that he was an honest and peaceable citizen, and had rendered valuable service in trying to save the property of Absentees during the occupation of the town by the British. He, himself, in the following December, complained of the severity of his treatment and of his long and close imprisonment for nearly five months, in a written appeal to Sheriff Greenleaf, who, feeling himself personally aggrieved, laid it before the House of Representatives;—Capen also drew up a long application to the Court of Inquiry, which he expected to take up his case. Like several others whose names are included in the Town List of 17 May, 1777,223 he was in jail at that date, and that action of the Town must have looked both to the trial of those already confined, and to the apprehension of such others as had not then been arrested.
After the close of the war, Capen seems to have become reinstated as a safe citizen and of “good moral character,” since, on 26 July, 1786, at a meeting of the Selectmen, he was one of twelve “Persons . . . drawn Jurors for a Maritime Court on 9th of August next,”—the name of “Paul Reveire Esq” being the one drawn immediately before Capen’s;224 and in 1795 he was living near the Market. He died in Boston on the morning of Monday, 2 March, 1807, at the age of 76.225
Crean Brush was a somewhat striking figure, and his life had in it no little of incident and adventure. He had a streak in his make-up of something quite alien to the ordinary New-England type of character of that day, and he stands out, in many points, in sharp contrast to his fellow prisoners. What has been written of him has given him a questionable notoriety, and he has not escaped unsparing judgment as well as some harsh epithets. The various accounts are substantially the same, and, to a considerable extent, seem to be repetitions one of another.226
Brush was born in Dublin and bred to the law. Beyond this little seems to be known of his career in Europe. He emigrated to America about 1762, and settled in New York, where he was admitted to practice and held office under the Provincial Secretary. He was a member of the Assembly of New York, where he gained some note and influence. He was Clerk and Surrogate of Cumberland County. In 1771 he removed to the “Hampshire Grants,” where he held some 50,000 acres, and in the controversies between the settlers of the Grants and New York he took an active part and was a strong partisan of New York. In the Grants he came across Ethan Allen, who married his step-daughter Frances.227 Brush came to Boston in the autumn of 1775, and soon found favor with General Gage, as he did later with General Howe. His energy, daring, and unscrupulousness made him an efficient agent, and ability like his could easily find a field of operations. Perhaps his unscrupulousness was not too obvious, considering that the duties committed to him pre-supposed integrity and rigid fidelity to a trust; or possibly, under the circumstances, it was not considered by any means a disqualification. The—
“Commission by his Excellency, the Hon. Thomas Gage, Capt. General, Governor-in-Chief &c &c To Crean Brush, Esquire:” issued 1 October, 1775, concerning “large Quantities of Goods, Wares and Merchandize, Chattels and Effects . . . left in the Town of Boston,”—issued in order “To quiet the Fears of the Inhabitants . . . and take all due care for the Preservation of such Goods” authorizes Brush “to take and receive . . . all such Goods . . . as may be voluntarily delivered . . . [he] giving Receipts for the Same . . . [and] to take all due care thereof . . . and to deliver said Goods when called upon . . .” with a memorandum at the foot that “proper Apartments in Fanueil Hall are provided for the Reception” of the same.228
Early in the following year Brush proposed to General Howe, and received authority, to raise a body of three hundred volunteers. Just before the Evacuation of Boston, the Proclamation issued by General Howe on 10 March, 1776, gave full scope to the pecular abilities of Brush, and under this he acted with his usual vigor, extending its operation somewhat beyond its original purport. Howe sets forth his expectation, that—
“as Linnen and Woolen Goods are Articles much wanted by the Rebels, and would aid and assist them in their Rebellion, . . . all good Subjects will use their utmost Endeavors to have all such Articles convey’d from this Place:” and directing that “Any who have not Opportunity to convey their Goods under their own Care, may deliver them on Board the Minerva . . . to Crean Brush, Esq . . . who will give a Certificate of the Delivery, and will oblige himself to return them to the Owners, all unavoidable Accidents accepted [sic.]” Coupled with this is the threat that “If after this Notice any Person secretes or keeps in his Possession such Articles, he will be treated as a Favourer of Rebels.”229
Armed with this authority Brush did not wait for voluntary delivery, but broke into dwelling-houses and shops, and carried off the spoils. Soldiers and sailors were not slow to follow his example, and “violence and pillage” were the rule. He took passage himself in the hrigantine Elizabeth, which was captured, as she followed the departing fleet, by Captain Manly, and brought back to Boston.230 The Diary of Ezekiel Price refers to this capture, under date of 6 April, 1776:—
“In the afternoon, Ed. Quincy stopped here. He came from Boston, and says that Captain Manley was in Boston, and told there that he had taken out of the fleet a brig laden with Tories and Tory goods, and other effects, which they plundered in Boston . . . It is said this was their richest vessel in [the] fleet: had eighteen thousand pounds sterling in cash, besides an exceedingly valuable cargo of European merchandize . . .” [And on Tuesday, 9 April:] “. . . At noon, a traveller from below says that he heard Captain Paddock and Captain Gore were among the Tories taken in the transport brig by Captain Manley. Afterwards several other travellers from below passed; but they did not hear of Paddock or Gore being in that vessel, and no other of note but Bill Jackson and Crane [sic] Brush.”231
Brush was thrown into the Boston jail, where he remained in close confinement for some nineteen months. His wife joined him there, and, besides having the solace of her company, he managed through her ingenuity and the use of some of her garments to effect his escape on the fifth of November, 1777. He started for New York, going first to Vermont to look after his large landed interests. His estate was afterward confiscated, and of all his great possessions only a small part was ever recovered by his heirs. Unfriended, redress refused by the British Commander, deserted alike by friends and foes, he shot himself, in May, 1778.
Another paper is the Record of a case against this same Crean Brush, evidently growing out of his acts under General Howe’s Proclamation, which was tried while he was in jail—
“Upon the Presentment against Crean Brush for stealing sundry Goods from John Rowe Esq. the said Crean Brush filed certain pleas in order to Quash said Presentment, which are on file. The Court are of opinion that said Presentment ought to be quashed upon his first Plea.”232
There is also another case which may have originated in the same way. At the July Term, 1777, John Hill of Boston recovers judgment in a plea of the case against Crean Brush for £2. 8s 10d lawful money, and costs.233
The next papers among those presented are a group of five, found among the Early Court Files of Suffolk. They relate to a Suit brought in behalf of “the Government and People of the State of Massachusetts Bay” against Samuel Tarbell of Groton. It was brought in the name of Perez Morton, acting in the absence of Robert Treat Paine, Attorney General, on a Plea of Debt, upon a Bond given by the Defendant. The Bond was apparently given and the liability incurred thereon, under the provisions of the Act, already referred to, of 10 May, 1777, ch. 48,234 the first section of which impowers—
“the Selectmen of each town, or the Committee of each Plantation within this State [to call] a meeting . . . to chuse by ballot, some person who is firmly attached to the American Cause, to procure and lay before the Court hereafter described, the evidence that may be had of the inimical dispositions toward this or any of the United States, of any inhabitants of such town, who shall be charged . . . of being a person whose residence in this State is dangerous to the public peace or safety.”
It may, possibly, however, have been given under other circumstances and conditions outside of this special provision.
These papers include the original Writ sued out, the beginning of the proceeding, and the Return thereon of the officer serving it; the Bond sued upon; the Resolve of 23 April, 1778, impowering the institution and prosecution of the Suit; and the Bill of Costs, both the original and a copy. The Writ sets out the whole case and contains all the elements of the Declaration. The Return contains,—and in that respect is, for several reasons, valuable as well as interesting,—a description of the real estate owned by Tarbell, and a schedule, more or less complete, of the farm tools and implements of a “husbandman” of that day.
The Bond is the original obligation given, with all the signatures thereupon, and the little seal of red wax affixed at the time. The Resolve is a duly attested copy, produced in Court as the authority under which the proceeding was had. The Bill of Costs has some points of interest, as all such papers have, aside from its original operation.
In the Records of the Inferiour Court of Common Pleas are found the final disposition and record of the case. The entire Pleadings in the case are probably no longer in existence, but the substantial portions have been preserved, and these, with the Record, present the case with all the fulness necessary to an understanding of it.
“Suffolk ss. The Government and People of the Massachusetts-Bay in New England.
To the Sheriff of our County of Middlesex his Under-Sheriff, or Deputy, or to either of the Constables of the Town of Gorton [sic] in our same County Greeting.
We Command you to Attach the Goods or Estate of Samuel Tarbell of Groton aforesaid, Husbandman to the Value of Two thousand Pounds, and for want thereof to take the Body of the said Samuel (if he may be found in your Precinct) and him safely keep, so that you have him before our Justices of our Inferior Court of Common Pleas next to be holden at Boston within and for our said County of Suffolk on the second Tuesday of July next: Then and there in our said Court to Answer unto Perez Morton of Boston aforesaid Esqṛ who sues in behalf of the Government & People of the State of Massachusetts Bay, in a Plea of Debt, for that the said Samuel at said Boston on the fourth Day of December last, by his Obligation of that Date, duly executed, and in Court to be produced, bound himself to the said Government & People of said State in the sum of two thousand pounds, to be paid to the said Government & People on demand: Yet tho’ requested, the said Samuel hath never paid said sum to the said Government & People, nor to the said Morton for their use, but detains it To the Damage of the said Perez Morton, who sues as aforesaid as he saith the Sum of Two thousand & twenty Pounds, which shall then and there be made to appear, with other due Damages: And have you there this Writ, with your Doings therein. “Witness, Thomas Cushing Esq; at Boston this twenty fourth Day of April in the Year of our Lord, One Thousand seven Hundred and Seventy Eight.
Ezekl Price Cler
Attach to ye Value commanded if to be found if not as much as can be found
“middx̣ ss: Groton April 2 [ ]: 1778
I attacht four peices of land lying in Groton aforesḍ̣ one peice thereof lyeth westerly from Groton meeting house where the within Named Saml. Dwelt Containing thirty five acres (more or less) bounded Easterly & Southerly by a town road Northerly & westerly by land of Henry Farwell with a Dwelling house Barn Corn Barn two out houses Cyder mill & press all standing on the same one other peice of land lying near tarbells fordway Containing twenty acres (more or less) Bounded westerly by Lan[cas]ter river (So Called) one other peice lyeth on the west side of said river & Contains six acres (more or less) bounded [eas]terly by said river & southerly by a town way also one other peice lying near ranglin swamp (so Called) Containing fifteen acres (more or less) as the same is Butted & bounded all the aforesḍ peices of land was Claimed by the within named Samuels late father Tarbell decḍ & now reputed to be the within Named Samlṣ Estate I also attacht one pair of oxen one Cart with Iron Bound wheels & Cart ladders also one pair of new Cart wheels one rideing Stay & the tacklin thereto belonging also about one thousand of White pine Boards about one Hundred of [oak] slitwork and Some pine timber Hewed and two Plows and about twelve acres of rie now standing & groing on the Ground all reputed to be the within Named Samlṣ Estate the Day abovesḍ left a Summons at the last and usual [place] of the within Named Samls abode in Groton in said County
James Prescott Sheriff”235
Morton vs Tarbell
Travel £1. 5
Service - 6
1: 10 [sic]
“Know all men by these Presents That I Samuel Tarbell of Groton in the County of Middlesex & State of Massachusetts, Husbandman am holden & stand firmly bound & obliged unto the Government & People of said State, in the Sum of Two Thousand Pounds Lawful money of said State to be paid unto the said Government & People, to the which payment Well & Truly to be made I bind myself, my heirs Executors & admin” firmly by these Presents Seal’d with my Seal this fourth day of December 1777—
The Condition of the Above Obligation is such That whereas the Above bounden Tarbell is admitted as a witness on behalf of the Government & People of Said State, & any & all the New England States, when & wherever he may be wanted—And if the Above bounden Tarbell shall well & Truly from Time to Time & at all Times during ye Several sessions of the Superior Court of Judicature Court of assize & Genḷ Gaol Delivery in any & all the Countys within said State of Massachusetts, & During the Several sessions of the Superior Court of Judicature within & for the Several Countys within the State of New Hamprẹ and also Such Courts as he shall be Notified to appear at in the Other New England States—personally appear & attend all & every of the said Courts, & give Evidence in behalf of the Government & People of the State or states where any such Court or Courts shall be respectively held, of what he Doth or Shall Know relating to any Bill of indictment which hath been found or may from Time to Time be laid before ye Grand Jurors of any County in either of said states, on behalf of the Government & People of any or either of said states, Concerning any Matter or Thing whatsoever against any person or persons whomsoever for & during the Term of Two years next Coming, & shall also during said Term of Two years to the utmost of his Power & abillity endeavour to discover, Disclose & and from time to time make Known to some person or persons Now in authority in ye respective States aforsd as independant of Great Britain of all Plots, plans, Treasons, or Conspiraces of what name or nature that he Now Knows, or shall hereafter know to be against the united states of america any or either of them, & of all & every person & persons anywise Concernd in forging or Counterfiting or altering any Bills, Notes, or other Currency of the united states aforḍ any or either of them, or uttering the same & shall also in all matters & things, during said Term of Two years demean himself as a good & faithful Subject of the said United States & every of them—Then & in that Case ye afore writen obligation shal be void & of no Effect but otherwise to remain in full force Power Strength & virtue
[and a red wax Seal]
Signd Seald & Delivḍ
in presence of Wṃ Dunsmoor
Middlesex ss Decr 4th. 1777—
The above named Samll Tarbell personally appeared and owned this Instrument to be his free act & Deed
Coram Oliver Prescott Juste pacis.”238
“State of Massachusetts Baye In Council April 23ḍ 1778
Whereas Samuel Tarbell of Groton in the County of Middlesex, husbandman on the fourth Day of December last by his Bond became bound and obliged unto the Government & People of Said State in the Penal Sum of two thousand Pounds Conditioned that the Said Samuel Tarbell shall well and truly from Time to Time during the Several Sessions of the Superiour Court of Judicature &c in any and all the Counties within Said State and during the several Sessions of the Superiour Court of Judicature &c. within & for the Several Counties within the State of New Hampshire &c personally appear and attend all and every of the Said Courts and give Evidence in behalfe of the Government & People of either of said States. But the Said Tarbell has nevertheless absconded and failed of Appearing agreeable to the Conditions mentioned in the Bond aforesaid and there is great Danger of his disposing of the whole of his Estate and the Publick thereby be defrauded. And whereas the Honble Robert Treat Paine Esq Attorney General to this State being necessarily absent attending the Superiour Court. Therfore Resolved That Perez Morton attorney at Law be and hereby is impowered and directed to bring forward a Process upon the Bond given by Said Tarbell on the fourth Day of December last in Behalfe of the Government & People of the State of Massachusetts Bay and pursue the same to final Judgment & Execution any Law or Custom to the Contrary notwithstanding
Sent down for Concurrence
John Avery Dey Secy
In the House of Representatives April 23ḍ 1778
Read & Concurred
J Pitts Spk Pt.
Consented to by the Council
Attest Jnọ Avery Dey Secy”239
“Suf: ss Inf Ct Com Pleas July 1778
Morton for Govt & People
Wṭ̣ & summons
0: 1: 8
Declar͠on in Wṭ̣ & sums
0: 7: 0
1: 10: 0
Pltṣ att 3 Ds
0: 9: 0
Court fees on Entry
0: 10: 0
Exam :g & filing Papers
0: 2: 0
2: 19: 8
Ezek: Price Cler”240
The action of the Court is thus set forth in the Records:—
“The Government & People of the Massachusetts Bay in New England.
Suffolk ss. At an Inferior Court of Common Pleas, begun and held at Boston, within and for the County of Suffolk, on the second Tuesday of July, (being the fourteenth day of said Month) Anno Domini, 1778.
Before the Hon. Thomas Cushing
“Perez Morton of Boston in the County of Suffolk, Esquire, who sues in behalf of the Government and People of the Massachusetts Bay, plt vs Samuel Tarbell of Groton in the County of Middlesex, Husbandman, Dft, in a plea of Debt, as in the Writ dated the twenty fourth day of April last is fully set forth. And now the Defendant altho’ solemnly called to come into Court did not Appear but made Default.
“Its therefore Considered by the Court that the said Perez Morton who sues as aforesaid, recover against the said Samuel Tarbell the Sum of Two thousand Pounds, lawful money Debt being the penalty of the Bond sued on, and Costs of Suit, taxed at £ 2ʺ 19ʺ 8 Exon issued Nov. 6 1778.”241
Perez Morton, the nominal plaintiff in the Suit, was born at Plymouth, Massachusetts, 22 October, 1750.242 He was descended from George Morton, who came to Plymouth in the Ann, in 1623, and whose eldest son, Nathaniel, was Secretary of the Plymouth Colony for forty years (1645–1685) and the author of New England’s Memorial. The Secretary’s brother Ephraim—from whom Perez Morton descended—was also “a man of considerable distinction in the Colony. He was, for many successive years, a member of the Council of War, and, with John Bradford, represented the town of Plymouth, in the first General Court, holden at Boston, after the union with Massachusetts.”243 Joseph Morton,244 the father of Perez, settled in Boston, where he kept the White Horse Tavern, opposite Hayward Place.245 Perez Morton entered the Boston Latin School in 1760 and graduated from Harvard College in 1771. He stepped at once into public notice, and was soon made Deputy Secretary of the Council of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay,—an office which he held during the momentous years 1775 and 1776.246 He took a very prominent part in the affairs of the Town of Boston during the Revolutionary period as will be seen by the following extracts from the Town Records.
At the Town Meeting, 1 May, 1776, held “at the Old Brick Meeting House & adjourned to the Representatives Chamber,” he was chosen one of the “Committee of Correspondence, Safety & Inspection,” and served on it in 1776, 1777, and 1778.247 At the meeting 23 May, 1776, when it was “Passed in the Affirmative unanimously” that “If the Honble Continental Congress” should declare for Independence, “the Inhabitants, will solemnly engage, with their Lives and Fortunes to support them in the Measure,” he was chosen upon the Committee to report Instructions to the Representatives,248 which were adopted in like manner; and again he appears on two similar Committees, 22 May, 1777,249 and 25 May, 1778;250 10 May, 1779, he was of the Committee to consider “the Article in the Warrant relative to a new Constitution or Form of Government”251 which reported in favor of a State Convention, under certain restrictions. 3 May, 1780, “The Address of the Convention” and “a Constitution or Form of Government, agreed upon by the Delegates of the People of this State in Convention begun and held at Cambridge on the first of September, 1779,” was submitted and, at the adjournment on the following day, taken up “Paragraph by Paragraph.” The importance of the occasion is recognized in the vote relating to the adjourned meeting, recommending—
“that all Buissiness be suspended by the Shutting up of Stores, Shops «Sec that there may be a full Attendance; . . . that the Ministers of the Gospel be requested to remind their respective Congregations the next Lords day, of this Adjournment, and of the importance of universally withdrawing themselves for a few hours from their ordinary Engagements, and devoting their Attention to a Matter so deeply interesting to themselves and their Posterity; [and] that a Copy of this Vote be sent to the Ministers of every Denomination.”
The Third Article in the Bill of Rights was “taken up at large” at the adjournment on the ninth of May, and seems to have given especial trouble, and on the same day “the further consideration of this whole Article” was referred to a Committee (of which Morton was one) which reported the next day252 when Morton was appointed Chairman of another Committee “to draw up the reasons for the proposed Alterations in some Articles of the Frame of a Constitution presented by the Convention,” which made an elaborate Report. This Committee was also “to draught Instructions to our Delegates in the said Convention.”253 On the fourth of December, 1782, he was appointed on a Committee—
“to draw up a Memorial to the General Court, in order to State the Reasons why the Law intitled an Act for the more effectual Observation of the Lords Day, Militates with the Constitution.”254
Three weeks later (27 December) their elaborate Report was made, and he was one of the Committee to present it to the General Court.255
These various Reports, with the action of the Town upon them, bring out the excited condition of affairs and the prevailing sentiments and views of the people at the time, as nothing else can. Beside their direct bearing upon the points in question, all the various records of the town proceedings—both the earlier and the later—are interesting and full of suggestion, as showing the attitude of the Town in its relation to the Province or the State, and to the Country at large. There is a shade of independence of either,—of self centred authority,—an implied assertion of co-ordinate powers in everthing pertaining to the Town not inferior to any possibly possessed by any outside body whatsoever,—the very essence of local self-government uncontrolled and unlimited, and of municipal freedom.
The prominence of Morton during this whole period, and the confidence shown in his ability, are quite remarkable in the case of so young a man. At the Town Meeting on the fifth of March, 1783, “The Town did not proceed as usual to the choice of a Committee to provide an Orator” for the next year, a “Motion256 having been made by the Town Clark,” William Cooper, looking to a change in the Anniversary. On the tenth of March this motion came up for consideration, “agreeable to the Article in Warrant,” and Morton took part in the proceedings. A Motion, premising that—
“since the Institution of this Anniversary . . . which has Answered excellent purposes, a Signal Revolution has been effected through the Favour of Heaven in the Government of our Country by the establishment of the Independance of these United States of America,”
proposed a change in the Day, and suggested various topics for the future Orators,—
“the Steps that lead to this great Revolution, the distinguished Carrecters imployed in effecting and maintaining it, the important & timely Aid [from France] . . . As also the superior Advantages of a Republican form of Government, well constituted and Administred . . . and the necessity of Virtue and good Manners & of an education that tends to promote them,” etc.
The Motion “passed in the Affirmitive,” and a Committee was voted, of which Morton was Chairman, “to consider this Matter at large & Report at the Adjournment.”257 On the twenty-fifth of March the Committee reported as follows:—
“Whereas the Annual Celebration of the Boston Massacre on the 5th of March 1770, by the Institution of a Publick Oration has been found to be of eminent Advantage to the Cause of America in disseminating the Principles of Virtue and Patriotism among her Citizens; And whereas the immediate Motives which induced the commemoration of that day, do now no longer exist in their primitive force; while the Benefits resulting from the Institution to [sic], may and ought to be forever preserved, by exchanging that Anniversary for Another, the foundation of which will last as long as time endures. It is therefore Resolved, that the Celebration of the fifth of March from henceforwards shall cease; and that instead thereof the Anniversary of the 4th day of July A. D. 1776 (a Day ever memorable in the Annals of this Country for the declaration of our Independance) shall be constantly celebrated by the Delivery of a Publick Oration, in such place as the Town shall determine to be most convenient for the purpose. In which the Orator shall consider the feelings, manners & principles which led to this great National Event as well as the important and happy Effects whether general or domestick, which already have, and will forever continue to flow from this Auspicious Epoch.”
This Report was accepted, and Morton was made Chairman of the Committee “to provide an Orator to deliver an Oration on the 4th of July Next Agreeable to said report.”258
Early in his public career, on an occasion which appealed with peculiar interest to the feelings and memories of Boston, a duty was assigned to Morton where it might well have seemed hard to satisfy an exacting expectation and demand, but where he met and equalled both. On Easter Monday, the eighth of April, 1776, he delivered the Oration when General Warren’s body was removed from its hurried burial place on the field where he fell to the old Granary Burying Ground, so long associated with the history of the Town. The story of the impressive service in King’s Chapel is well told in the History of that ancient church, and a quotation from a letter of Mrs. Abigail Adams to her husband, written two days after, brings vividly before us the Oration and the Orator. The letter of Dr. Andrew Eliot, also, written to Isaac Smith the next day, speaks of the “spirited Oration, wherein he [Morton] publickly urged an intire disconnection with Great Britain,”—an early enunciation of a sentiment already felt and soon to become universal.259
Loring, after telling of the disinterment and burial, gives some account of the impressive solemnity in the Chapel, quotes from Mrs. Adams’s letter, and adds quotations from the Oration, among them,—“Like Harrington he wrote,—like Cicero he spoke,—like Hampden he lived,—and like Wolfe he died!” He also gives a brief statement of some events in Morton’s life, and extracts from a poem on Bunker Hill by Mrs. Morton.260
Daniel Dulaney Addison, in his Life and Times of Edward Bass (p. 152), speaks of the opening of King’s Chapel for this service, of which he gives a hrief account, referring to Morton’s “ingenious and spirited oration.” He mentions the closing of the Church thereupon till September, 1777, and its occupation from that time to 1783 by the Old South Congregation, while their Meeting-House was undergoing repairs in consequence of its use by the British Cavalry as a riding-school.261
Morton was one of the Proprietors of King’s Chapel in 1785, when, and for several succeeding years, he held the pew—No. 4, in the broad aisle—which had been occupied, before the Revolution, by the notorious Charles Paxton, one of the Commissioners of Customs.262 He was a Vestryman from 1783 to 1788, and perhaps longer.263 He also served, in 1785, upon the Committee which revised the old Liturgy and struck from it the doctrine of the Trinity.264 He seems, accordingly, to have had some share in the ecclesiastical, as well as in the public and legal affairs of the Town.
Morton’s active interest and concern in the stirring events of the Revolution and the times that led up to it, and the engrossing duties of so public a life,265 may have drawn him somewhat away from his profession for a time, but his later prominence as a lawyer and his part in the legal life of the Town are evidenced by the facts that he was the Attorney for Suffolk in 1779 and that he was made a Barrister266 in 1786; by The Record Book of the Suffolk Bar (1770–1805);267 and by the Records of the Courts.
After the Revolutionary War, Morton opened a law office in his own residence in State Street, which occupied the present site of the Union Safety Deposit Vaults, on the north-easterly corner of Exchange Street.
On the twenty-fourth of February, 1781,268 he married Sarah Apthorp, a daughter of James and Sarah (Wentworth) Apthorp, who was baptized at King’s Chapel, Boston, 29 August, 1759. This lovely woman, whom Paine called the “American Sappho,” was a prominent figure in the social life of Boston, and an authoress of repute. She was a granddaughter of Charles Apthorp, an eminent and opulent merchant of Boston; and her mother was of the Yorkshire family, of Wentworth Manor, to which belonged the Earl of Strafford.269 Mrs. Morton was a frequent contributor to the “Seat of the Muses” in the Massachusetts Magazine,270 where may be read a long poetical correspondence which she held—under the signature of “Philenia”—with Thomas Paine.271 She also wrote several volumes in prose and verse. Kettell says that she “occupied the first rank among the female writers of America in the early part of her life,” and that her verses, published in the Massachusetts Magazine, enjoyed a wide popularity.272 Mrs. Morton died at Quincy, Massachusetts, after a short illness, on the fourteenth of May, 1846.273 Her portrait was painted by Gilbert Stuart.274
Morton was always prominent in public affairs from his graduation at Harvard till his death. In politics he was a Democrat, and the leading spirit in the old Jacobin Club which met at the Green Dragon Tavern.275 He was Speaker of the House,276 1806–1808, 1810–1811, and Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, 1810–1832. In the latter capacity he was associated with Daniel Webster in the trial of the Knapps, at Salem, in 1830, for the murder of Captain Joseph White.
In 1811, the controversy over the land titles in certain parts of the District of Maine had assumed such proportions as to necessitate the interposition of the Legislature of the Commonwealth. Under an Order of the General Court of 27 February of that year, Governor Gerry appointed Perez Morton, Jonathan Smith, Jr., and Thomas B. Adams Commissioners to investigate thoroughly “the nature, causes, and state of the difficulties and grievances complained of” concerning the land titles in the County of Lincoln. The outcome of this investigation was the voluntary submission of all the conflicting claims to the determination of Commissioners—“three learned and able lawyers”—subsequently appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts, viz., Jeremiah Smith of Exeter, New Hampshire, the father of our honored associate of the same name, William H. Woodward, of Hanover, New Hampshire, and David Howell of Providence, Rhode Island. Morton, as Attorney General, also served on this Commission. The award of the Commissioners was made 26 January, 1813, and ended a long and hard-fought contest.277
Morton was a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention of 1820, in which he took an active part, having been Chairman of the Committee of the Whole “on the reports of the select committee on the judiciary power,” on the thirtieth of December. He sat in the Convention as a delegate from Dorchester,278 where he died on Saturday, 14 October, 1837, at the age of 87.279
The following Obituary appeared in the columns of The Atlas (VI. 91) of Tuesday morning, 17 October, 1837:—
“In Dorchester, on Saturday evening, The Hon. Perez Morton, aged 87.
“Mr. Morton, until within the last few years, has been much before the Public. At the age of 21, he was chosen Secretary of the Convention at Watertown, and he afterwards served in the revolutionary army. He was for some time speaker of the Legislature in this State, and for twenty years, until the situation was abolished, discharged with ability and honor the office of Attorney General of Massachusetts.
“Excellent and amiable in private life, his memory will be embalmed and cherished in the circle of his immediate friends and connexions. Upright as a professional man—unwavering in his political views—unwearied and unswerving in the discharge of his official duties—he has left behind him a name which will long be remembered and respected.
“His last hours exhibited a beautiful instance of the power of religion in bestowing fortitude and resignation in the midst of much suffering and weakness. He departed in the blessed hope of a joyful resurrection through the atonement of the Savior, and his end was peace.”
When we consider the ability of Morton as an orator, and his prominence alike in public affairs and in his profession, it is surprising that our historians and biographers who have spoken of him heretofore should have summed up the story of his life in a few lines,—and usually with great inaccuracy as to dates,—affording to the general reader little or no conception of his character or career.
Captain Samuel Tarbell, Jr., the Defendant, came of one of the old families of Groton. He was of the fifth generation from the Thomas Tarbell who, with his son, Thomas, was among the original proprietors, removing thither from Watertown, about 1663. His father, Captain Samuel Tarbell, Senior, was one of the ten children of Thomas Tarbell of the third generation, and a brother of the three children who find a place in history as having been carried into captivity by the Indians, 20 June, 1707, in one of those raids which so harassed the interior and frontier towns of Massachusetts in the early years of the eighteenth century, and from which Groton also suffered in King Philip’s War.
The Defendant, one of nine children and the only son, was born 4 April, 1746. Very little is to be learned of him in the local histories. The fullest account of both him and his father is that given by Dr. Samuel A. Green, the highest authority on all matters connected with that ancient town, in his various historical works upon Groton.280
The Bond, if given under the terms of the Act already referred to, as is presumably the case, would go to show that in 1777 he was regarded as “firmly attached to the American Cause,” or as one who could be looked to for efficient assistance to it. There is nothing to explain his defection. He entered his Majesty’s service as an officer, and died in his native place 4 March, 1796. It seems to have been hitherto assumed that Captain Samuel Tarbell, the elder, was the obligor in the Bond, and the one against whom the suit was brought. The inferences drawn from the material then at hand, and leading to this conclusion, are all clearly erroneous, and the death of Captain Samuel Tarbell, the elder, nearly two years before the date of the Bond, settles the matter beyond question.
The additional documents now to be presented, upon examination, at once raised a question as to the correctness of that assumption. One hesitated to differ from an authority so eminent and recognized as Dr. Green, or even to question his opinion upon any historical matter pertaining to Groton, but in the documents quoted by him there was internal evidence which seemed wholly at variance with his conclusion and raised a doubt. Dr. Green, in his account of Captain Samuel Tarbell, the elder,281 speaks of a Petition,282 which he says “refers to the estate mentioned in Resolve CLIII.”283 He also refers to Hill’s History of Mason, N. H.,284—where the same error as to identity is made,—“for an allusion to him,” and mentions “the decease of his son, Captain Samuel Tarbell . . . announced, under Deaths, at the end of this Number (page 114),”—an extract taken from the Columbian Centinel of 12 March, 1796,—
“At Groton, the 4th inst. Capt. Samuel Tarbell, late an officer in his Britannic Majesty’s American Dragoons.”
Dr. Green also reprints Resolve LXXXIX,—the one authorizing this Suit, and which has been already given.285
Now, the Petition first mentioned is the Petition of Amos Lawrence of Groton to the General Court, 16 February, 1781, setting forth—
“that Capt Samuel Tarbell late of said Groton Deceased died seized of a Farm containing about one hundred acres of Land, that after his Death the same was divided into nine Shares two whereof has been set off to his Son Samuel Tarbell now a Refugee in New York, that the same two shares have been since taken in execution for a Debt Due to the Government, and your Petitioner having purchased the other Shares, it hath become necessary in order to his making a proper improvement of the same that he should have the two Shares aforesaid, Wherefore he Humbly prays Your Honours . . . to suffer him to purchase the same . . .”;
to which is appended a Certificate of the sale of the other shares, for £60 a share, to Lawrence by Henry Farwell and Samuel Reed, two sons-in-law of the elder Samuel Tarbell.286 Then follows the Resolve of the Legislature of 3 March, 1781,—
“that the Committee who are appointed to sell Confiscated Estates in the County of Middlesex . . . are . . . impowered to Sell at publick or private sale . . . the above mentioned Two ninths of the Farm which the above said Cap? Samuel Tarbell Deceased, died seized of, & was set of [sic] to his son Samuel Tarbell & make & Execute a good & legal deed or deeds of the same . . .”—(Massachusetts Archives, ccxxxi. 451.)
It was evident, on the face of the Petition, that this Farm of one hundred acres was not the four pieces amounting to seventy-six acres “attacht” on the writ in this Suit. The land “attacht” had been taken upon the execution. It had become the property of the Government, and the title had passed out of the original owner, whoever he was. It could not have descended to his heirs and become the subject of a partition among them. Moreover, it appeared by the Petition itself that seven ninths had been already sold by the heirs, without question by the Government, and that the “two ninths” in question, falling by inheritance to the son, “a refugee,” was regarded as the property of the Government by confiscation, and that an application for its sale, under the usual order of procedure, was necessary in order to obtain possession of it. The father’s interest in any lands had been undisturbed; the son’s title to any had been confiscated to the Government. Resolve CLIIL, dated 10 April, 1780, refers to “a judgment of Court against Samuel Tarbell, then of Groton (since fled to the enemy),” and, besides, sets out distinctly that the State had “levied execution” on the lands therein referred to, that they had “become the property of this State, and no person authorized to take care of the same,” and therefore provides for leasing them “for one year”; all of which would be inconsistent with the Petition.
A further difficulty presented itself in the fact that the father would have been eighty years old at the time the Bond was given, in 1777, and a person not likely to be selected for the arduous duties required by the Bond, or one who might reasonably be expected to prove an efficient agent under the provisions of the Statute. All these facts raised a doubt as to the identity of “Capt. Samuel Tarbell.” That doubt was increased by the original papers since found and included in this communication,—papers the existence of which was probably unknown when that account was published. As the Sheriff’s Return upon the Writ has it: “all the aforesd peices of land was Claimed by the within named Samuel’s late father Tarbell decd & now reputed to be the within Named Samls estate.” The elder Samuel’s father died in 1715, and after the lapse of sixty years such a description seemed somewhat unusual. There was no question that the father “Tarbell was dead in the early part of 1781;” but how was it on 4 December, 1777, when the Bond was given? The Probate Records of the County of Middlesex make the whole case clear, and prove, conclusively, that the Defendant in this case was not Captain Samuel Tarbell the father, but Captain Samuel Tarbell, the son, who was born in 1746, and whose death was chronicled in 1796. The original papers on file in the Probate Office at Cambridge show the appointment of an administrator on the “Estate of Capt. Samuel Tarbell” on 15 July, 1776,—fixing the date of his death a year and a half, at least, before the date of the Bond in suit.
The name of Lydia Tarbell, widow, and the names in the list of heirs,—Edes, Moors, Phelps, Boynton, Reed, etc.,—together with that of the administrator, Isaac Farnsworth,287 make the identity of the intestate unquestionable.288
The Loyalists whose names appear in the papers herein described, are a few of those obscurer men who, alike with their more famous brethren in the times of trial which transformed a Province into a State, bore the obnoxious name of Tory. Saving an exception or two, they seem to have been of those—severely judged then and not always leniently regarded to-day—who, with little prospect of preferment and in the face of obloquy, held with the sturdiness of English blood and New England breeding to their idea of duty, and sided with the Cause which they believed to be right.289
The Rev. Edward G. Porter then said:—
Me. President: The mention of Hopestill Capen’s name brings me again to my feet. I have generally thought of him less as a Tory than as a great dry-goods dealer on Union Street both before and after the Revolution. Of course he came from Dorchester, where other Hopestills preceded him. The portrait of Count Rumford which hangs here before us reminds me that when that distinguished savant was plain Ben Thompson of Woburn, he was apprenticed to Mr. Capen; and so, I have been told, was Samuel Parkman, the eminent merchant.
The Capen store—or shop, as it was called in his day—is still standing on the corner of Union and Marshall Streets. For the last two generations it has been known as Atwood’s Oyster House. In its prime, it was considered the most fashionable shopping place for ladies in Boston. The finest goods could be had here, and the fair purchasers came in chariots, chaises, and on horseback from all the country round.
Our noted shop-keeper was one of the Artillery Company, and I think he held several minor offices in the Town Government.290 He was buried at Copp’s Hill.291 It is worth mentioning that in the attic of Capen’s building Isaiah Thomas started the Massachusetts Spy, a few years before the Revolution. Foreseeing the disturbances of ’75, he shrewdly removed his newspaper, with all its belongings, to Worcester, where it has since been published as the Worcester Spy.
Mr. James Bradstreet Greenough of Cambridge was elected a Resident Member; the Hon. Joseph Williamson, Litt.D., of Belfast, Maine, the Hon. Simeon Eben Baldwin, LL.D., of New Haven, Connecticut, and Messrs. John Franklin Jameson, Ph.D., of Brown University, and Edward Singleton Holden, LL.D., of Washington, D. C., were elected Corresponding Members; and Simon Newcomb, F.R.S., of Washington, D. C., was elected an Honorary Member.