95 Draft of a Petition

    [ca. March 1687/88]

    Some who are as to that perswasion in matters of Religion dissenters from the Church of England did Erect a Colledge at Cambridge in New England for the benifit of Themselves and Posterity.

    Several Donations were bestowed on this Colledge by sundry Persons. Also a revenue setled by the former government for the Encoragement of a President and Fellowes to govern that Society.

    It has bin governed by a President five Fellowes and a Treasurer Who had Power to make lawes for the government of their own Society, and to dispose of all moneys given or that should be given, as should bee most advantagious to the use of that Colledge; also in case of Death or removall to chuse another President Fellow or Treasurer.

    At the time when the Civil Government was changed the Colledge was (nor is it that wee know of as yet Put into any other hands) under the inspection of Increase Mather as President, John Sherman (who is since that dead),1 Nehemiah Hubbard, John Cotton, John Leverett, William Brattle, as Fellowes and John Richards as Treasurer.

    Wee now petition that the said Colledge may bee confirmed in the hands it has bin in (and that they may have the same Power which formerly they had as above Expressed.) and that in the place of Mr. Sherman deceased, Samuel Sewall may be established as a Fellow of that Society.2

    College Papers, i. 13 (No. 30). This draft contains emendations in Increase Mather’s handwriting and was probably written prior to his departure for England in the spring of 1688. “When Mr. Mather, the rector, went to England in 1688, in his minutes of an intended petition to the King, he says, ‘That when the civil government was changed, the college was under the inspection of these persons, and he supposed it continued so, except that Mr. Sherman was dead, in whose room he prayed Mr. Samuel Sewall might be appointed, and that the King would confirm the government in their hands; but though these were in name the governors, they were not always so in fact.’” Thomas Hutchinson, History of Massachusetts-Bay (1795 edition), i. 159n; (1936 edition), i. 145n. Cf. Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections, Fourth Series, xii. 702.