A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 23 January, 1902, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, George Lyman Kittredge, LL.D., in the chair.

    The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.

    The Corresponding Secretary reported that letters had been received from Mr. Justice Knowlton of Springfield and Mr. James Atkins Noyes of Cambridge accepting Resident Membership, and from Benjamin Franklin Stevens, L.H.D., of London, England, accepting Corresponding Membership.

    Mr. William C. Lane exhibited two large water-color views by D. Bell, one of Cambridge Common from Christ Church, the other of the College Buildings, Christ Church, and the First Church when it stood between the Dane Law School and Wadsworth House. These pictures, which have recently been given to Harvard University, must have been drawn between 1805 and 1810.291

    Mr. Lane also exhibited the original Journal of Captain Henry Hamilton, covering the period from 6 August, 1778, to 16 June, 1779, kept during an expedition from Detroit to Vincennes, and read extracts from it. Mr. Lane illustrated the progress of Hamilton’s march by a valuable map of the Northwestern part of the United States drawn and engraved about 1787 by John Fitch, the inventor. The Journal has recently been given to the Library of Harvard University by a collateral descendant of Captain Hamilton, residing in Ireland.292

    Mr. Andrew McFarland Davis expressed the opinion that the Journal was of great value and hoped that it would be printed.293

    Mr. Albert Matthews said that he had listened with interest to Mr. Lane’s remarks about the charges of cruelty against Hamilton brought by the Americans, and observed:

    Similar charges against the British occur again and again in American documents of the day, and, usually accompanied by opprobrious epithets, have been repeated by American writers and historians. The evidence offered, however, is far from conclusive.294 On the other hand, acts of barbarity unquestionably committed by the Americans are unknown to many of our historians, or if known have generally been passed over without comment. Yet it is unfortunately only too true that cruel practices were indulged in by the Americans.

    For several generations before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the Legislatures of different Colonies had offered bounties for Indian scalps. Indeed, so common were these bounties that they popularly acquired the gruesome but eminently appropriate designation of “scalp-money.” Whether the British authorities did or did not offer money rewards for American scalps, it is certain that the Americans themselves did give bounties for Indian scalps during the Revolution. On 27 September, 1776, a Committee recommended to the South Carolina Assembly the following rewards:

    For every Indian man killed, upon certificate thereupon given by the Commanding Officer, and the scalp produced as evidence thereof in Charlestown by the forces in the pay of the State, seventy-five pounds currency; For every Indian man prisoner one hundred pounds like money.295

    I do not know whether these recommendations were acted upon in South Carolina, but it is certain that similar recommendations were made and carried out in Pennsylvania. President Joseph Reed was earnestly in favor of giving bounties for scalps, but feared that the plan might be deemed improper. In April, 1779, he sounded Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Lochry on the subject, who thus replied May first:

    You desire, sir, in your letter, if the Inhabitants on the Frontiers would desire a reward on Indian scalps. — I have consulted with a number on this head, who all seem of opinion that a reward for scalps would be of excellent use at this time, and would give spirit and alacrity to our young men, and make it their Interest to be constantly on the scout.296

    In the succeeding July Reed wrote Colonel Daniel Brodhead as follows:

    We have sounded Congress & the General about giving a Reward for Scalps, but there is so evident a reluctance on the Subject, & an Apprehension that it may be improved by our Enemies to a national Reproach, that at present we cannot venture to make any authoritative Offers; but as we have great Confidence in your Judgment & Discretion, must leave it to you to act therein as they shall direct.297

    These objections proved ineffectual and on 8 April, 1780, the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania took action:

    The Board took into consideration the state of the frontiers, and particularly the propriety of offering a reward for Prisoners & Scalps. Whereupon, it was agreed to authorize the Lieutenant of Northumberland to offer fifteen hundred dollars for every white or Indian prisoner, if the former is acting with the latter, and for every Indian Scalp, one thousand dollars.298

    On the eleventh of April a letter was written Colonel Peter Kachlein, Lieutenant of Northumberland County, authorizing him “to offer fifteen hundred dollars for every Indian or Tory Prisoner, and one thousand dollars for every Indian scalp;”299 and on the twenty-second of April it was —

    Ordered, That a reward of three thousand dollars for every Indian Prisoner or Tory acting in arms with them, and a reward of two thousand five hundred dollars for every Indian scalp, to be paid on an Order of the President or Vice President in Council, to be paid on certificate signed by the Lieutenant or any two Sub-Lieutenants of the county, in conjunction with any two freeholders, of the service performed, such reward to be in lieu of all other rewards or emoluments to be claimed from the State.300

    These bounties were slow in bringing about the desired result, and in July Reed wrote Colonel Samuel Hunter:

    We are sorry to hear the Attempts which have been made to get Scalps & Prisoners have been so unsuccessful, & hope Perseverance will, in Time, produce better Effects — We cannot help thinking it the only effectual Mode to carry on an Indian War, and that a mere defensive System is not only attended with an enormous Expence, but to very little adequate Purpose.301

    The ill success complained of by Reed did not long continue, and on September twenty-first Colonel Hunter was able to say:

    Our Volunteers has had some success in the Scalping way on the 28th ult. Lieu. Jacob Creamer, William Campbell and two the name of Grove, took two Scalps about one hundred and fifty miles from here on ye west branch of Susquahana as you will see by ye Certificate.302

    In addition to money rewards for scalps, barbarities perpetrated by the Americans — as, for instance, the making of “boot-legs” by the skinning of Indians — show a wanton cruelty unpleasant to contemplate. It is not to the credit of certain American historians that, while rhetorically dwelling on the unproved charges against the British, they have passed over in silence instances of acts of cruelty committed by American officers and soldiers, the authenticity of which rests on only too firm a basis — namely, the letters, diaries, and journals of the officers and soldiers themselves.303

    Mr. Henry W. Cunningham exhibited some reproductions by the Pelham Club of Peter Pelham’s portraits of Thomas Hollis, the Reverend Charles Brockwell, and the Reverend Timothy Cutler.

    A Table of Silver Rates from 1706 to 1750 was submitted by Mr. Andrew McFarland Davis, who said:

    This Table was found among the papers of the late Benjamin Marston Watson of Plymouth. The copy submitted is in every respect like the original and bears no heading to indicate its origin. Although the paper, the ink, and the chirography of the original indicate that it was clearly contemporaneous with the latest dates upon the document, it nevertheless bears within itself evidence that it was a copy. It will be observed that from the winter of 1743 up to the fall of 1747, Silver, according to the rates given in the Table, steadily rose in price, with the exception that the quotation in the summer of 1746 shows the extraordinary advance of One Pound and Two Shillings an ounce, while the quotation in the fall of the same year shows a decline of Eighteen Shillings an ounce, thereby restoring the price to a position on the silver curve which we might plot from these figures, which would seem to be normal. Comparison with other tables confirms the evidence furnished by the Table itself, and enables us to say that without doubt whoever made out this Table put the rate per ounce for the summer of 1746 just One Pound too high. This is a mistake which could not readily occur in an original tabulation, but is a natural error for a copyist.

    Although we are left entirely to conjecture as to the purpose for which the original Table was compiled, still it may be regarded as a valuable contribution to the general subject upon which it bears, and is worthy of publication in our Transactions.


    Years Prices Years Prices

    £ s d


    £ s d


    0. 8.6


    1. 8.0


    0. 8.6


    1. 7.6


    0. 9.2


    1. 8.0




    1. 9.6




    1. 9.4






















    1. 1.0




    1. 4.0




    1. 5.0


    2. 0.0


    1. 7.0


    2. 2.0


    1. 6.6




    1. 7.0


    3. 0.0


    1. 8.0








    1. 8.6




    1. 8.0




    1. 9.0




    1. 9.0



    Mr. Davis also requested that another Table, to which his attention had been called by Mr. Henry H. Edes, might be inserted in our Transactions. Although it has been published, he said, in a work which insures its preservation and brings it within the reach of students who may chance to see it, still the place of publication is not one where economists would naturally look for quotations, and its insertion in our Transactions would be of great advantage to that class of students.

    The following is the Table. It is constructed from the Rates of Silver collated by the Reverend Henry W. Foote from the Ledger Records of King’s Chapel, Boston.304

    Year Appropriate Price of Silver per Ounce, New England Money Exchange with London
      Shillings and Pence Per Cent




















    28.6 to 29









    29.4 to 30



    32 to 33






    38 to 40


    On behalf of the widow of Mr. Robert Noxon Toppan, Mr. Davis communicated the following sketch of Edward Rawson written by Mr. Toppan, among whose papers it was found.


    Whoever has occasion to examine the original documents called the Massachusetts Archives, preserved in the State House at Boston, must be surprised at the vast amount of clerical labor performed by Edward Rawson, who was Secretary of the Colony from 1650 to 1686. As his name appears in the list of the original proprietors of the town of New bury, a slight sketch of his life, gathered from the sources at my command, will not be uninteresting.

    Edward Rawson was born in Gillingham, Dorsetshire, England, 16 April, 1615, of a highly respectable family, belonging to what has been called the upper middle class of society, — a class to which belonged very many of the early colonists of New England. His mother was a sister of the Reverend John Wilson, the first minister of the First Church in Boston, and sister of Dr. Edmund Wilson, who made a most liberal gift to the infant colony of £1000 which was expended in purchasing artillery and ammunition. The wife of the Reverend John Wilson was the daughter of Lady Mansfield.306

    Before leaving England Rawson married Miss Rachel Perne, whose grandmother was a sister of the Right-Reverend Edmund Grindal, Archbishop of Canterbury in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and whose grandfather Hooker was the uncle of the Reverend Thomas Hooker, the well-known clergyman, who after remaining a short time in Cambridge founded the town of Hartford in Connecticut. From his family connections Mr. Rawson could hardly help belonging to the reforming part of the Church of England, for even Archbishop Grindal leaned strongly to the Puritan element of the Established Church. Macaulay says of him, that the “archbishop hesitated long before accepting a mitre from his dislike of what he regarded as the mummery of consecration.” For this ancestor Mr. Rawson named, presumably, the youngest of his twelve children, — Grindal. What induced Rawson to establish himself in Newbury instead of Boston, where his uncle was the prominent minister, is not known, but Mr. Ellery B. Crane, the compiler of the Rawson Memorial, thinks it very probable that some of the planters here knew Rawson personally in England. This is very likely, for he was immediately raised to a public trust, which would hardly have been the case had he been a total stranger.

    The first mention of Rawson in the Newbury records, according to Mr. William Little, is on 24 February, 1637, Old Style. I quote from Mr. Little’s letter: “The first mention of land granted to Mr. Rawson that I find is of date 24 February, 1637, Old Style, and I think this is the first mention of him in the records of the town. I think the next month he was chosen with Mr. John Woodbridge to prepare some by-laws for the town.” During March, 1638, Rawson was made a freeman of the Colony, but the Colony Records do not state the day of the month. On the second of May we find him, when only twenty-three years of age, a Deputy to the General Court. From that time forward until 1650, with the exception of 1641 and 1643, he represented Newbury continuously, evidently to the satisfaction of his constituents. On the eighth of June, 1638, he was fined for being absent from his post, the records containing the following entry:

    These 4 gentlemen after named, Mr John Humfrey, Mr John Winthrope, Iunior, Mr Atherton Hoffe, & Mr Edwd Rawson, were fined 5 shs a peece for their absence when the Court was called.307

    On the fifteenth of June, as one of the Selectmen of Newbury, with Edward Woodman, John Woodbridge, William Moody, James Browne, John Knight and Abraham Toppan, he signed an order appointing four officers who were to see that sentinels properly armed were posted at the doors of the meeting house during service for protection. On the sixth of September he was appointed by the Court one of the commissioners to try small causes at Newbury. Under the same date he was chosen with Mr. Bradstreet and Mr. Winthrop, Junior, “to assist in setting out the places of the towne [Winnacunnet] & apportioning the severall quantity of land to each man.”308 At Rawson’s request or suggestion the place was called Hampton. He was, under the same date, placed upon a committee to examine accounts of the Treasurer of the Colony and see that warrants for taxes were sent out.

    I shall not attempt to give a detailed account of the various offices of trust and the many committees and commissions on which he served during his long and busy life, but will select out of the notes I have taken from the printed records and the unpublished archives those that will most interest us. On 19 November, 1638, —

    It is ordered that Edward Rawson shall supply the place of Mr. Woodbridge and be the publick notary and register for the towne of Newbury and whilst he so remains, to be allowed by the towne after the rate of five pounds per annum for his paynes.309

    On June sixth, 1639, he was put by the Deputies on the committee to levy a tax of £1000 on the Colony, and subsequently he was repeatedly placed upon financial committees. In the same year Rawson made an attempt to manufacture gunpowder, which was an article of extreme importance to the planters. This was the first attempt made in the Colony. The Court granted him five hundred acres at Pecoit (Pequot) “so as hee go on with the business of powder, if the salt peter come.”310 The effort was unsuccessful, but he was recompensed by the Court for his trouble and expenses, as we shall later see.

    In 1640 Rawson was made one of the assessors to estimate the value of the horses, mares, oxen, cows and hogs in Newbury, the Colony tax levy being that year £1200.

    In 1641 he was again appointed one of the commissioners to try small causes in Newbury.

    On 23 February, 1642, at a general town meeting he with others was selected to stint the commons “according to their best judgments and discretion.” He was also placed on the committee to make arrangements for moving the inhabitants of Newbury from the lower green, which led to much trouble and contention. The trouble was not settled until 1646, when it was decided to set up the meeting-house upon “a knowle of upland by Abrahams Toppan’s barne within a sixe or sixteen rodd of this side of the gate posts, that are sett up in the highway by the said Abraham Toppan’s barne.”311 To this order Rawson objected, but it was carried by a majority vote. On May twentieth he was made one of the committee to put the country “in a posture of warre.” On June fourteenth came the order of the General Court to all the towns to manufacture saltpetre.312

    In 1644 we read that in consideration of Rawson’s —

    keeping the towne book it is ordered by us according to our power from the towne and courte granted to us, that he shall be freed and exempted from all towne rates for one whole yeare from the twenty-ninth of September last to the twenty-ninth of September next 1644.313

    The Colony Records for the same year, November thirteenth, contain this entry: “M Edward Rauson hath hired to farme ye rent due for wine drawen in ye countrey, for 107ɫ 10s for a yeare.”314 This venture did not turn out well for him.

    On June eighteenth, 1645, he was appointed to the important position of Clerk of the Deputies, — a position he continued to fill, with the exception of one year, until he was promoted to the higher position of Secretary of the Colony. In 1648 there was apparently no clerk chosen and the records for that year are in the handwriting of William Torrey, who subsequently became Clerk.

    The entry for 18 June, 1645, is as follows:

    Edward Rawson is chosen & appointed clarke to the Howse of Deputs for one whole yeere, to enter all votes past in both howses, & those also yt passe only by them, into their booke of records.315

    On October eighteenth of the same year it was voted to pay him “twenty markes, for the service he hath donne in keeping & transcribing the records of the Howse of Deputs for the time past.”316 A mark was worth thirteen shillings and four pence.

    As already stated, Rawson did not succeed in collecting as much revenue from wine as He had expected, so that in 1646 the Deputies voted that he should receive “one fourth part of what is due to ye countrey on that order in satisfaction to his charge and expense of time.”

    On May sixth, 1646, he was one of the committee to lay out the bounds of Exeter. Under the same date he with Richard Dummer and Mr. Carleton were appointed a committee to “search & examine things at Salsberry, & make returne of their thoughts thereabouts, (concerning ye petition of some of ym to be a distinct church).”317 Later in the year, 4 November, the Court granted him a commission “to see people joyne in marriage in Newberry, during the pleasure of ye Courte.”318 It will be remembered that our ancestors did not allow a marriage service to be performed by a clergyman, considering matrimony a civil act only.319

    As Rawson did not succeed in manufacturing gunpowder, therefore, on 26 October, 1648, the —

    Corte, haveing taken into their serious considrtion [his] great forwardnes & readines . . . to advance so hopefull a designe as the makeing of salt peter wthin this iuridiction, who for that end & purpose hath disbursed certein monyes, to his great losse & damage,

    granted him five hundred acres at Pequot and five pounds in money. The next year he relinquished the land, receiving instead thirty pounds, of which the five previously granted were a part.320

    In 1649 “Mr. Edward Rawson, Mr. John Spencer and Mr. Woodman was chosen by the towne to joyne with those men of Ipswich and Rowley, that was appointed to bee a committee about Plum island.” Newbury petitioned the General Court for the whole of the island, but the Court decided to grant two-fifths to Newbury, two-fifths to Ipswich and one-fifth to Rowley.321

    We have now reached a point in Mr. Rawson’s career when, upon his elevation to the Secretaryship on 22 May, 1650, he began to be an important actor in the political affairs of the Colony. It was a dramatic period of the Colonial history of Massachusetts. The intrusion of the Quakers, the rise of the Baptists and the demands of the English government made his position an arduous one. In 1651 we find him as Secretary ordered, May twenty-third, to send a letter to Roger Williams, who had levied a tax upon certain individuals who claimed to be within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. The letter declared to Williams that —

    if himselfe, or the sergeant, or officer of Providence shall proceed to molest any of the aforesajd English vnder our jurisdion . . . this Courte intends to seeke sattisfaction for the same . . . in such manner as God shall putt oppertunitjes into their hands.322

    This same year, on October fourteenth, he was made Recorder of Suffolk County, retaining that position until 1670. Five books of recorded deeds and mortgages attest the activity of his pen. Previously, in the month of September, he had been chosen by the Commissioners of the United Colonies to be steward “for the receiving and disposing of such goods and commodities as shall be sent hither by the Corporation in England for the Propogating the Gospel amongst the Indians in New England.”323

    In 1652, May twenty-sixth, he was placed on the committee to fix upon a suitable place for a mint in Boston.324 The coining of money, which began this year, was considered, upon the restoration of Charles the Second in 1660, as a usurpation of sovereign rights, but at the time there was no protest that I can find made by the Parliamentary Government. On October nineteenth he was appointed one of the Guardians of Adam Winthrop, five years of age, the grandson of Governor John Winthrop.325

    The next year there was some trouble with the Dutch Government at Manhattan, which led to considerable correspondence. We therefore read the following order, 2 June, 1653:

    The secretary and his man having for this months tjme and more binn very much implojed to write for our com̄issioners, both theire acts and transcribing the letters and artickles to the Dutch, &c, the Court doth judge it meete, and orders, that the secretary be sattisfied out of the next country rate, eight pence ⅌ page, as the lawe provides in another case.326

    On June seventh, 1653, he was made a commissioner with others to receive the submission of the inhabitants of Wells, Saco and Cape Porpoise to the Government of Massachusetts. On account of this journey to the eastward he received the next year a grant of land.327

    During this year there was also trouble between the Colonies forming the Confederacy of 1643, in regard to some of the Articles of the Union. Massachusetts was not satisfied with the views taken, so Mr. Rawson was authorized to write:

    To the com̄issioners of the Vnited Colonjes. Gentlemen: Wee see not reason to pro tract tjme in fruitelesse and needles returnes; wee shall acquiesce in or last paper, and com̄itt the successe to God. By ye Court, 9 September, 1653. Edw: Rawson, Sec.328

    In 1656 there was what has been called the first “intrusion” of the Quakers which led to severe laws against them. Rawson has been called a “Persecutor” of the Quakers. A writer in 1849 says that Rawson “was hurried along by the torrent of popular fanaticism; and his name too frequently occurs upon the records of that gloomy period as the Persecutor.”329 I have not been able to find any evidence that he was more of a persecutor than any of the magistrates. The laws against the Quakers, copied mainly from English Statutes, were passed by a small majority, and Rawson, as Secretary, had to publish them. The very year in which the Quakers first made their appearance, Rawson undoubtedly made an attempt to save the life of Ann Hibbins, who had been condemned and was executed as a witch.330 In the codicil to her will she speaks of Rawson as being “among her loving friends and intrusts to his care her chests and desk.”

    There is an entry the same year, under date of 14 October, which will interest us as showing the value of Indian corn at that time:

    The secretary, as agent for the colonjes two yeares past, was pajd by the Treasurer forty two pounds odd money, in Indian corn, at three shillings ⅌ busħ, which, for ye most p̃t, he could make but two shillings. Itt is ordered, that the Treasurer pay to him tenn pounds for such his losse.331

    Rawson having become a resident of Boston was chosen, 19 October, 1658, by the freemen one of the commissioners of the town and also in subsequent years. The Court passed the following vote 18 October, 1659:

    The Court, considering that the secretary hath served the countrje for many yeeres in that place, whose tjme hath altogether binn taken vp wth the weighty occasions of the countrje, which haue beene & are incumbent on him, (the neglect whereof would be an ineuitable & great prejudice to the publique) and himselfe oft times forced to hire a clarke to helpe him, which hath cost him some yeares twenty pounds ⅌ annū, and every yeere spending of his oune estate a considerable some beyond what his estate will beare, nor is it for the honnor of the country that such an officer, so necessary, who hath also binn found faithfull & able in the discharge of the trust com̄itted to him, should want due encouragement, doe therefore order, that the present secretary shall have from the eleventh of May last, the som̄e of sixty pounds ⅌ annū for his sallery, to continew yearly vntill this Court shal order & provide some other meete recompence.332

    Several times the Court made him gifts of money for the faithful discharge of his duties.

    I have omitted to state in chronological order the different grants of land made to Rawson, thinking it better to group them together. Mr. Coffin says that Newbury granted him five hundred and eighty-one acres. Miss Emily A. Getchell kindly sent me the following extract from the Newbury records:

    In consideration of Mr. Edward Rawson his resigning up into the Town’s hands his house lott and forty acres on merrimack next Abraham Toppan’s they granted him forty acres next Mr. Woodman’s and a house lott in high street to enjoy to him and his heyres forever.

    In 1648, July tenth, the Court granted to the Reverend Mr. Wilson and Edward Rawson fifteen hundred acres in the Pequot Country, next to Mr. John Winthrop’s fifteen hundred acres, and in case Winthrop did not perform a certain condition, the whole three thousand acres were to go to Wilson and Rawson. October twenty-seventh of the same year, five hundred more acres were granted. In 1654, October nineteenth, two hundred acres above Dover bound were given him on account of his journey to the eastward. In 1657, May sixth, one hundred and ten acres were granted beyond Exeter River, and two hundred acres additional for his services at the eastward. In 1658, May twenty-sixth, four hundred acres were laid out to Rawson on “Panquatuke” river in the Pequot country. In 1660, October sixteenth, two hundred and fifty acres were granted for drawing up the book of laws, in any place not disposed of. In 1662, May seventh, two hundred and fifty acres were laid out four miles beyond Medfield. In 1683, October tenth, five hundred acres were granted in any free place. In 1685, April twenty-first, Rawson bought of the Indian proprietor for £14 New England money, two thousand acres between Dedham, Sherborn, and Medfield, to which he added on June fourth a small tract in Dedham, also bought from the Indians. In 1686, May thirteenth, five hundred acres were laid out to Rawson between Worcester and Lancaster. After Rawson’s removal from Newbury to Boston he bought, 30 January, 1654, the estate of the old notary public and clerk, William Aspinwall, containing about two and one-half acres and extending on both sides of what was then called Rawson’s Lane, now Bromfield Street.333 Some of the plans of these grants are still preserved among the Massachusetts Archives.

    We now approach a crisis in the history of the Colony in which Rawson bore a conspicuous part and for which he was well trained. He was probably better versed than any one else in the Colonial laws and in the provisions of the Royal Charter. As early as 1645 he had been placed on a committee “to draw certeine bills for positive lawes, as aḡt lying, Sabaoth breaking, swearing, drunkeness etc. & to present them to this house.” This was after the Body of Liberties had been written out and discussed, but before the first collection of laws was published in 1649. After that date (1645) be was placed constantly on the committee on laws, to see that they were properly arranged for printing and tabulating, and as Secretary be published them. Mr. Whitmore, in his Colonial Laws of Massachusetts, gives all the dates of Rawson’s services, which it is not necessary to enumerate here.

    The American Antiquarian Society has in its possession one of the law books of the period. It belonged to Rawson, and bears on the title-page the words written by his own hand “Edward Rawson his book.” The title is as follows: “The Book of the General Laws and Liberties concerning the Inhabitants of the Massachusetts, collected out of the Records of the General Court, for the several years wherein they were made and established and now revised by the same Court and disposed into an Alphabitical order, and published by the same authority in the General Court holden at Boston in May 1649. Cambridge 1660.” The preface was probably written by Rawson. It contains the supplementary laws of 1661, 1662, 1663, 1664, 1665, 1666 and 1668.

    After the restoration of Charles the Second in 1660 and the reestablishment of the principles of monarchy and the supremacy of the Anglican Church, in which the laity have no voice, it was not difficult to foresee that those principles, and the principles underlying the Government of the Massachusetts Bay of popular self administration and democracy in the Church, must sooner or later come into conflict. In 1664 Royal Commissioners were sent out from England to conquer Manhattan from the Dutch, and also to make an effort to reduce the New England Colonies from their semi-independence to a state of dependence upon the mother country. Massachusetts was willing to do her share in the reduction of Manhattan, but her troops were not required. The Colonies of New Haven, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Plymouth yielded to the demands of the Commissioners, but Massachusetts had determined to maintain what she considered as her legal rights under the Charter.

    The limits of my paper will not allow me to give in detail the voluminous correspondence between Secretary Rawson and the four Royal Commissioners. It fills many pages of the printed records. Rawson maintained, by the order of the Court, that their Charter gave them absolute power of government, according to which they could restrict the right of suffrage, which they had done, to church members, and also that there was no appeal to England from their courts of law. I will quote from only two of Rawson’s letters, written May ninth and eleventh, 1665, respectively:

    Vpon pervsall of the papers yow haue deliuered vs, as also of a copie of a warrant to John Porter, sajd to be signed by three of yourselues, wee apprehend our patent, & his majestjes authority therein com̄itted vnto vs, to be greatly infringed. Your answer, for help to a right vnderstanding thereof, will be very acceptable to vs, & greatly facilitate our returne to what yow have already presented vnto vs. . . . wee conceive our charter vnder the great seale of England giveth full power vnto the authority here established according thereto, to gouerne all the people of this place, whither inhabitants or straingers; & for all legall acts & administration of gouerm̃nt it giues vs a sufficjent royall warrant & discharge.334

    The Royal Commissioners determined to hold a court of judicature in Boston, notwithstanding the hostile feeling displayed, but they were prevented by beat of drum and sound of trumpet. This action reminds one of what happened nearly thirty years before. The English government brought an action of quo warranto against the Charter and demanded that the Charter should be sent back to England. Massachusetts answered by ordering that the fortifications should be put in order for defence. The Royal Commissioners were baffled and went back to England.

    Eleven years later the English government, being somewhat freed from domestic troubles, decided to make another attempt. Edward Randolph, who subsequently was the successor of Rawson as Secretary by Royal appointment, came to Boston in 1676 to see how matters stood. His report stirred up the enemies of the Colony in England, and the Royal government determined that the laws of trade and navigation, which had been repeatedly violated in New England, should be executed there.

    In order to curb the power of the Puritan clergy, whose doctrines were almost republican, and whose friends in England had fought against monarchy, Randolph begged that an Episcopal Church should be established in Boston, whose members would believe (as the doctrines of the Anglican Church then were) in passive obedience and in non-resistance to the Royal authority, and he also strove to have the right of suffrage transferred from church membership to a money qualification, which would also strengthen the royal authority. The struggle was a long and bitter one. Rawson’s pen was active in defending the rights of the Colony, as understood by the Colonists, in helping to compose addresses of supplication to the King and in writing letters of instructions, by order of the General Court, to their counsel in London who was to defend their Charter in Court.

    In reading the original documents one cannot but feel the popular pulse beating in those days of anxiety and tribulation. To show the state of feeling I quote from only two of Rawson’s letters, written September twelfth and October fifteenth, 1684, respectively:

    By a private letter to Joseph Dudley Esq we are informed of new meusures taken at Court in our case, at wch wee are amased, & haue called a Gennerall Court seriously to consider & weigh what is further to be donne by vs who are mett, and haue matters vnder debate; of what will be concluded, yow will receive by the first good oppertunitye. . . . Wee hope wee haue not forfeited the priviledge of Englishmen, that wee should be condemned vnheerd, much less without being sum̄oned to appeare, which yow know was impossible in the time prefixed.335

    The Massachusetts Charter fell, as the corporations in England fell, before the Royal prerogative in what Cotton Mather called “the general shipwreck of charters.” The Court of Chancery declared the Charter forfeited and vacated. A copy of the decree of the Court was placed in Secretary Rawson’s hands on 2 July, 1685. The old government under which the colonists had elected their own officers and had greatly prospered was overthrown, and the future looked ominous under the rule of a despotic prince.

    Joseph Dudley was appointed President of the Colony by the King until the arrival of a Royal Governor. The last official act of Secretary Rawson is dated 20 May, 1686:

    Wee haue pervsed what yow left with us as a true coppy of his majtjes commission, shewed to us the 17th instant, impowring yow for the gouerning of his majtjes subjects inhabitting this colony, and other places therein mentioned.

    Yow then applyed yourselues to vs, not as a Goũrnor & Company, but (as yow were pleased to terme us) some of the principall gentlemen and eheife of the inhabitants of the seuerall tounes of the Massachusetts, amongst other discourse saying it concerned us to consider what there might be thought hard & vneasy.

    1. Vpon pervsall whereof wee finde, as we conceiue, first, that there is no certejne determinate rule for your administration of justice, & that which is seemes to be too arbitrary.

    2ly. That the subjects are abridged of their liberty as Englishmen, both in the matter of legislation and in the laying of taxes, and indeed, the whole unquæstioned priviledge of the subject transferred vpon yourselues, there being not the least mention of all assembly in the com̄ission.

    And therefore wee thinke it highly concernes yow to cousider whither such a com̄ission be safe, either for yow or us; but if yow are so satisfied therein as that you hold yourselues oblejdged thereby, and do take vpon you the government of this people, although wee cannot give our assent thereto, yet hope shall demeane ourselves as true & loyall subjects to his majty, and humbly make our addresses vnto God, &, in due time, to our gracious prince, for our releife.336

    A committee was appointed to receive from Secretary Rawson certain papers in his possession and place them in security: then the Court adjourned.337

    After this we catch an occasional glimpse of Rawson in the Diary of Samuel Sewall. One short and pathetic entry, under date of 31 August, 1686, will show the feeling of despondency prevailing: “Mr. Nowell, Moodey and Rawson visit me and comfort me.”338 Sewall was strongly opposed to the new government and had resigned his commission as Captain.

    After Rawson lost his public employments he seems to have been straightened financially. Randolph had written to the Bishop of London that Rawson had retained £200 belonging to the Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians, but as the accusation was not followed by legal proceedings, probably Rawson was only temporarily embarrassed. On 15 February, 1688, he petitioned Sir Edmund Andros, the Royal Governor, that he might be compensated for his work in indexing and arranging the public papers, detailing his arduous services. The petition is divided into seven clauses. On March second he sent in another petition. We read the following entry in the Archives:

    At a Councill held at ye Councill Chambers in Boston on Thursday ye 6th day of March 1688. Present his Excellency the Governor etc. The petition of Edward Rawson being this day read praying to be considered for his trouble & time spent & imployed . . . in making an account of ye publique Records of ye late Massachusetts Collony, ordered that ye sum̄e of ten pounds be payd him by ye Treasurer out of his Majties Treasury as a Gratuity for ye said service.

    Under date of 21 November, 1690, Sewall says that several gentlemen having met at his house, “Mr. Edward Rawson in regard of his Age, and dwelling out of Town” delivered the papers relating to the South Church, including Mrs. Judith Winthrop’s deed of the Meeting House land, etc., into the hands of a committee for safe keeping.339

    After the Revolution of 1689, when Andros was sent back to England after being imprisoned in Boston for several months, Rawson in conjunction with Sewall published in 1691 a pamphlet signed “E. R.: S. S.” entitled, “The Revolution in New En gland justified, and the People there Vindicated from the Aspersions cast upon them by Mr. John Palmer, in his Pretended Answer to the Declaration, published by the Inhabitants of Boston, and the Country adjacent, on the day when they secured their late Oppressors, who acted by an Illegal and Arbitrary Commission from the late King James.”340 Palmer had an official position under the Andros government.

    In 1692 Rawson suffered the loss of his daughter Rebecca, whose tragic fate is graphically told by Whittier in his Leaves from Margaret Smith’s Journal. She had been deceived in her marriage with Thomas Rumsey, who claimed to be a son of “Lady Haile,” according to an affidavit still preserved in the State House, and who deserted her immediately upon their arrival in England. While on her voyage home to rejoin her father, after living some years in England, the vessel in which she was a passenger was wrecked by an earthquake in Jamaica and all on board perished. Her father survived her but a short time, passing away in his seventy-ninth year on August twenty-seventh, 1693, probably at the house of his son William, who then lived in Dorchester.

    The portrait of Rawson in the possession of the New England Historic Genealogical Society shows a man evidently of middle size, his face rather broad, nose aquiline, hazel eyes, long dark brown hair parted in the middle, moustache and imperial, wearing a broad white collar over a heavy black cloak, and long embroidered gloves. The portrait was painted when he was fifty-five years of age. Such he appeared when, on horseback, before the assembled members of the government, the troop of horse and eight companies of foot soldiers, he proclaimed the accession of James the Second, with the same ceremony with which he had proclaimed that Charles the Second was King, after his restoration.341

    The Reverend Morton Dexter of Boston and the Reverend James Hardy Ropes of Cambridge were elected Resident Members.