379 Representation of Harvard Interests

    July 1, 1731

    A representation of the Interest Harvard College has in Merricaneag Neck, and a 1000 Acres adjacent in the Province of Mayne in Casco-Bay; and of some claims and Pretences opposite thereto

    At a special General Court called by the Honorable Governour and Magistrates order, to sit in Boston on the 7nth of February next, and then sat 1682/3

    General court’s Grant

    This court do grant Merricaneag Neck of Land in the Province of Mayne in Casco Bay with one thousand Acres of Land adjacent, unto the President and Fellows of Harvard College in Cambridge, to be and remain to the use of the said College forever; and the President of the said Province is ordered to bound out the said Grant as may be most behoofull to the College. A true copy

    In the year 1684 the General Court granted to Joshua Scottow, 500 Acres of Land on Merricaneag Neck, confirmed it to him as bounded out, May 27, 1685. Mr. Scottow sold this 500 Acres to the Honorable Samuel Sewal Esq. of Boston, March 29, 1690. The said Samuel Sewal Esq., afterwards understanding that there had been a Grant of Merricaneag Neck by the General Court to Harvard College, prior to their Grant made to Mr. Scottow, he the said Sewal and his Wife, did on April 24, 1696, make a full and formal Resignation of their right, to Harvard College—these writings are with the College Treasurer.

    A Grant to Mr. Scottow

    His sale to Samuel Sewal Esq.

    Esq. Sewall’s Resigning to the College

    Nov. 8, 1693. the General Court granted to the above said Samuel Sewal Esq. a 1000 Acres of Land on Merricaneag Neck. On April 24, 1696 (the same date with the former Release) Capt. Sewal fully resigned his Right to said 1000 Acres to Harvard College—these writings are with the College Treasurer.

    A 1000 Acres to Capt. Sewal, and his releasing them to the College

    An Extract from the Instructions of the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay, to Joseph Dudley and John Richards Esqs. their Agents in England, passed in March 1682/3265

    Instructions to the Agents 1682/3

    You are also to take notice, in case you see cause to deliver up the Deeds for the Province of Mayne, that several Tracts of Land have been granted to several persons; viz, one to the College, of a Neck of Land called Merricaneag Neck and a 1000 Acres lying in Casco Bay, [2] also a Grant of a Thousand Acres to Mr. Wharton, also a Grant to Mr. Russel, Treasurer, and several Townships setled by the President of that Province, which were confirmed while you were here by this Court, all which Titles to the Soil should be excepted, when you make a surrender of that Province.

    N.B. The Corporation of the College knew not of these instructions when they petitioned the G. Court, September 24, 1730

    Query, dos not this show, that the General Court confirmed their Grant to the College?

    Observe After the General Court had made their Grant to the College, they seem to have confirmed it; how they came afterwards to grant any part of Merricaneag to others, I can by no means understand, nor guess, unless ’twas through forgetfullness of their former grant. But the Honorable Judge Sewal’s making such a full ample Resignation as he did to the College, plainly shows his opinion that the College had the sole right to Merricaneag.

    The General Court in their session May 29, 1700, made a Law, which seems to favour Deeds or Titles for Land or Lands obtained from the Indians Eastward of Pascataqua River; and there are those who pretend to Indian Titles to all, or part of, Merricaneag Neck. Here I would observe,

    Province Law 1700

    Francis Small and Wife swore, May 10, 1683, that said Small about 23 years before had bought Sebasco Diggin Island, and Merricaneag Neck, for Major Nicholas Shapleigh, giving Wampompeag, Tobacco and several Guns for said Lands, to the Indians.

    Small’s oath

    Remark—(1) Here’s nothing said about these Indians, who they were, and whether qualified to sell said Lands (2) No particular price mentioned for said Lands (3) Here’s no appearance or mention of any deed or writing that passed for the conveying these Lands. (4) The oaths of Small and his Wife were given 23 years after the asserted purchase. Can these be look’d on as a reasonable proof or evidence of a just conveyance of the mentioned Lands to Shapleigh? Especially since we find, that Sagettawon and Robin Hood Indian Sagamores, by indenture dated Nov. 26, 1672 (though never proved nor acknowledged, but recorded March 18, 1725/6) sell to Nicholas Cole and John Purrington, all the Land between the two carrying places upon Merricaneag &c.


    Two Sagamores sell to Cole and Purrington

    [3] William Larraby swore July 2, 1722, that about 50 years before, Cole and Purrington had each an House, and dwelt, on Merricaneag Neck.

    Remark. (1) This deed to Cole and Purrington was never proved nor acknowledged (2) It was not recorded, till about 53 years after it’s date (3) If the nameless Indians before mentioned, had a right to sell Merricaneag to Francis Small for Major Shapleigh, about the year 1660 How could these two Sagamores rightfully sell great part of the said Merricaneag 12 years after, viz. 1672 to Cole and Purrington? These Indian Titles or Conveyances of Land so plainly interfering with one another, seem very uncertain and precarious. Especially considering that six sagamores (whose names can’t easily be repeated) did on July 7, 1684 sell convey or confirm Merricaneag Neck and other lands particularly to Mr. Richard Wharton; for a considerable sum of merchandise received from him. (Query, did the General Court allow of this sale?)

    Six sagamores sell to Wharton, 1684

    In the year 1683, July 4 John Shapleigh (Heir to Major Nicholas Shapleigh aforesaid) sells Merricaneag Neck to Richard Wharton of Boston, Merchant.

    Shapleigh to Wharton, 1683

    Remark. (1) This purchase made by Mr. Wharton of Shapleigh, was near half a year after the General Court had granted Merricaneag to the College (2) If Shapleigh had a just Right by a Title from the nameless Indians, 1660 to sell Merricaneag Neck to Wharton 1683, what occasion had Mr. Wharton to buy said Merricaneag of the Sagamores the next year, viz. 1684,


    ’Tis said, that the Council of Plymouth in England made a Grant of Pejepscot and of certain Lands adjacent in the Province of Mayne to George Way and Thomas Purchase on Oct. 10, 1683. Eleazer Way son and heir to said George Way, sells to Richard Wharton his moyety or half of the foresaid Lands on Oct. 25, 1683. John Blany and Elizabeth his Wife, the late Relict and Administratrix of Thomas Purchase of Pejepscot in the Province of Mayne, sell their half or part of the foresaid Lands to Richard Wharton of Boston merchant.

    Way and Blany to Wharton266

    Remarks (1) If there was a Grant by the council of Plymouth to Way and Purchase it dos not appear what was the Form, or date of it [4] (2) I dont know that the supposed Grant to Purchase and Way, comprehends Merricaneag Neck. It is certain it dos not, by Shapleigh’s bounding the upper end of Merricaneag. (3) The deeds of Way and Blany to Wharton pretend nothing to any Indian Right to said Lands.

    On Nov. 5, 1714, Ephraim Savage Esq. as Administrator on Mr. Wharton’s Estate, and empowered by the Superior Court; sold the foresaid Lands belonging to Mr. Wharton in the Province of Mayne, and particularly Merricaneag Neck of Land, to Capt. Thomas Hutchinson, John Wentworth, Adam Winthrop Esqs. and John Watts, David Jeffreys, Stephen Minot, Oliver Noyse and John Ruck.—Note, these Gentlemen Purchasers could have no right to the mentioned Lands, conveyed to them by Capt. Savage Administrator, but what was previously vested in Mr. Wharton; and as for Mr. Wharton’s right conveyed by the Indians, it may be judged of by what has been allready said about those conveyances. Doubtless the General Court judged themselves vested with sufficient right, power and Authority in their session Feb. 7, 1682/3 to give and Grant Merricaneag Neck and a thousand Acres adjacent to Harvard College, else they would not have done it. If the General Court had power to give and grant said Lands, then Mr. Shapleigh had no power with in a year or two, to sell those Lands to Mr. Wharton.

    Savage to Capt. Hutchison &c.

    When the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay in their Session Jun. 10, 1715, gave a confirmation to the purchase made by Capt. Thomas Hutchinson Esq. and Partners, of Capt. Savage, they expresly made a saving for any and all other Grants, Titles, Interests or Estates that may be found within the same, and particularly that of Harvard College. Remark.

    The General Court’s saving to the College

    This saving made to the College by the General Court so late as 1715 plainly shows, that said Honorable Court judged the Grant made to the College Feb. 7, 1682/3 of Merricaneag Neck and a 1000 Acres adjacent, to be valid for the College pretends no other claim to said Lands but by vertue of what has been done by the General Court. (2) This saving to the College, may also give light with reference to the Account of the General Court at their session on Nov. 7, 1716 requiring those that had claim to Land by any Grant from the General Court, should bring a copy of their Grant within three years to have [5] it laid out and confirmed to them. If the General Court had thought, that Grants made to a Body Politick as the College is, were on the same foot with those made to particular persons, they would scarce have made such an explicit saving to the College the very year before, refering to Merricaneag Neck and a 1000 Acres adjacent, which is the only Land claimed by the College, within the purchase made by Capt. Hutchinson Esq. and Partners of Capt. Savage. It’s possible that through length of time and forgetfullness, the same Grant of Land (when the particular place was not specifyed) might be taken up twice; and it’s probable the preventing of such mistakes, was one reason for [mak]ing that Law, 1716, about bringing in claims within three years; but such a reason for the Law (if such there was) can’t affect the College in the present case, because the very place or spot viz. Merricaneag Neck and a 1000 Acres adjacent are plainly expressed, and the College could not possibly take up the same Grant twice; all they could desire is, to have the Grant of the specifyed Lands laid out and confirmed, and as for the Neck itself it’s bounded and laid out as ’twere by nature’. And this is what the Corporation of the College petitioned the General Court for, in a memorial or petition entred with them Sept. 29, 1730. Which memorial the General Court have not hitherto acted upon, further in this Law there’s a saving for any Infant or Feme Covert till 3 years after said [imperfection?] is removed. Query, may not the College be looked on as an Infant because tis allways under the Corporation as Guardians or trustees?

    Law about Grants of Lands, 1716

    I would further observe, that John Bacey, Nov. 1, 1703 swore, that Richard Potts did possess, and build upon, a Neck of Land, called Potts’s Neck (which joins to Merricaneag in Casco-Bay) and above thirty years ago and since, ’till driven by the Indians in the time of Sir Edmond Andross. Lewis Tucker’s evidence taken at the same time was much to the same purpose.

    Potts building

    Remark I dont find that Richard Potts ever had right conveyed to him by English or Indian to any part of Merricaneag Neck, but only that for some time he possessed part of said Neck which lies out most towards the sea.

    I find that sundry persons as holding under Cole, Purrington and Potts, have sold Land on Merricaneag to other persons, how far the Title they have given is valid, may be considered.

    Sale of Lands on Merricaneag

    About a fortnight past, the Honorable Collonel Adam Winthrop Esq. and Mr. Cuningham, two of the Purchasers of Mr. Wharton’s Lands at the Eastward, at a Meeting of the President and Fellows of Harvard [6] College, informed them to this purpose, viz. that said Purchasers of Mr. Wharton’s Lands, were so far possessed and seized of Merricaneag Neck and 1000 Acres adjacent, that the persons who at present occupy and improve said Lands hold them by way of Lease under them; and that they, said Purchasers, will not quit nor give up those Lands to the College, nor any part thereof, unless by way of composition and Agreement, or constrained by the Law.

    Col. Winthrop Mr. Cunningham

    I would further observe, that King William and Queen Mary (of blessed memory) in their Charter have this favourable clause, viz.

    It being our further Will and pleasure, that no Grants or Conveyances of any Lands, Tenements, or Hereditaments to any Towns, Colleges, Schools of Learning, or to any private person or persons, shall be judged or taken, to be avoided or prejudiced, for, or by reason of any want or defect of form; but that the same stand and remain in force, and be maintained and adjudged, and have effect in such manner as the same should or ought before the time of the said recited judgment, according to the Laws and Rules then and there usually practised and allowed.

    A Clause in the Province Charter, p. 6

    This Representation being made, let the Honorable and Reverend Overseers be intreated, to advise the Corporation of the College what would be proper for them to do, with reference to the Premises.


    Merricaneag Neck Papers. This document is signed B.W., for Benjamin Wadsworth.