A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 28 March, 1907, 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 the gift to the Society, which was gratefully accepted, of a set of the Old Farmer’s Almanack from 1840 to 1907, inclusive, from Mr. Horace E. Ware.
Mr. Henry H. Edes communicated a paper written by Mr. John H. Edmonds, formerly of the Engineering Department of Boston, on the Burgis-Price View of Boston. This follows.
The earliest known view of Boston was, in all probability, that of which Wait Winthrop wrote to his brother Fitz-John Winthrop, July 20, 1680, “I haue sent you a map of the towne, with Charlestowne, taken by Mr Foster the printer, from Nodles Island. Twas sent for Amsterdam, and yr printed.”349 Judge Sewall, writing to Edward Hull, July 15, 1686, says, “There is inclosed in the top, a Mapp of this Town which please to accept off.”350 No copy has as yet been found.
A View of the Great Town of Boston taken from a Standing on Noddles-Island, and designed to be cut on Copper will be carried on by Subscription as such expensive Works generally are. Those Gentlemen that would encourage such a Design may see the View at Mr. Price’s Print and Map-seller over against the Town House, where Proposals are to be had and Subscriptions taken in.
Bostonians seemingly did not take sufficient interest, for in the New-England Courant of November 12, 1722, a new hand appears:
Whereas there has been an Advertisement lately publish’d of a Design to print a View of this Town of Boston, taken from Noddles Island, This is to certify, that the Undertaker, William Burgis, desires all Gentlemen to be speedy in their Subscriptions, in order to send the Drawing to England this Fall, that he may conform to the Proposals to that end lately published. N. B. — Sufficient Security is given to conform to the Conditions of said Proposals or to return the Advance Money
Advance subscription not being a success, still another hand appears, the price is reduced, and terms are made of payment on delivery. In the New-England Courant of May 13–27, 1723, was printed the following advertisement:
A Prospect of the Great Town of Boston, taken from Noddles Island — and designed to be curiously cut on Copper Plate, will be carried on by Subscription, as such expensive Works commonly are. Those Gentlemen that would encourage this Design may subscribe to the same at Mr. Thomas Selby’s at the Crown Coffee house where proposals may be seen. The price is set lower than at first, and those that do Subscribe to this Prospect now will have it cheaper than those who do not. Subscriptions are also taken in by William Price, Print and Map Seller, over against the Town House where the Prospect is to be seen: Where likewise you may have all sorts of Prints and Maps lately come from London, sold very cheap frames or without. N. B. No money to be advanced by Subscribers but paid at the delivery of the printed copies. Those gentlemen who have subscribed to the former proposals will have their demands answered accordingly. The undertaker William Price desires all gentlemen to be speedy in their subscriptions in order to the speedy sending of the Drawing for England, for unless subscriptions come in it will not be printed.
Even this effort did not succeed and the point of vision was shifted to the South East (to Castle Island), as shown in the New-England Courant of December 23–January 6, 1723–24:
Whereas a North East Prospect of the great Town of Boston in New England, has been taken, which is not so much to Advantage as the South East Prospect, now to be seen at Mr. Price’s, Print and Map-seller, over against the Town House: also the Proposals for all Persons that are willing to subscribe for the same, in order to it being sent to London to be engraved by the best hand.
Whether the South East Prospect was more pleasing or the undertakers chanced it, this last appeal bore good fruit, as shown in the New-England Courant from July 17 to August 28, 1725:
To be sold by Mr. William Price, Print and Map-Seller over against the Town House, a new Chart of the British Empire in North America, with the distinct Colonies granted by letters patent from Cape Canso to St. Matthias River: Also a new and correct Prospect of the Town of Boston, curiously engrav’d, and an exact Plan of the Town, showing its Streets, Lanes, and public Buildings, likewise a great Variety of other Prints and Maps, in Frames or without, and a great Variety of fine Looking-Glasses, Tea Tables, and Sconces, Toys and small Pictures for Children. At the same Place may be had all sorts of Picture-Frames made and the best Sort of London Crown Glass to put over Prints.
The story is best told by the view itself, the title of which reads:
A South East View of ye Great Town of Boston in New England in America. To the Hon.ble Sam.l Shute Esq.r Cap.t General & Gov.r in Chief of his Maj.tys Provinces of the Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire in New England and Vice-Admiral of the same, This Prospect of the Town of Boston is humbly dedicated by Yo.r Hon.rs most Obed.t Hum. Serv.ts Thos. Selby, Willm Price.
The size of the whole, which is in three sheets, is 24½ by 52½ inches, the view taking 21 inches, the remaining 3½ inches being devoted to title, description of Boston, and table of fifty references, the latest being “Christ Church founded 1723.” It shows twelve churches and fifteen ship yaids and gives the first portrayal, in a view originating in America, of a two-masted schooner. Under the right lower corner of the engraved view, above the text of the inscription, appears “I. Harris Sculp.,” and in the lower left hand corner below the text is “W. Burgis Delin.” Governor Shute, to whom it is dedicated, sailed from Boston for England January 1, 1722–23, and William Dummer was Acting Governor until July 13, 1728. The description of Boston is as follows:
Boston, the Capital of New England, and Mistriss of North America, is pleasantly Sittuated upon a Peuinsula, above 4 miles in Compass, in the Lat. of 42 & 24 North, and 71 Degrees West from London: the variation of the Needle about 9 Degrees West. It Stands at the Bottom of a large Bay, which (by being Defended from the Ocean by a great Number of Delightful Islands) may be Reckoned among the Safest and most Commodious Harbours in the known World. There are in this Town a very great number of good Wharfes, at which Ships and Small Vessels unlade, without the help of Boats or Lighters: the Chief of which is the Long Wharfe, Running above 1600 foot into the Harbour, and having a very handsome Row of Store Houses upon the North side of it — the Number of Houses in this Town is about 3200 one third of which are built of Brick, the Rest of Timber and Stone. Streets, lanes and Alleys 104, the most of which are well paved with Pebbles. Inhabitants about 16000. In the Year 1723 there were built in New England (According to the best Accots we Can gett) above 700 Sail of Ships, Brigatines, Sloops, Schooners, Wood-Boats &c. 200 of which may be Reckoned from 100 to 200 Tons Each; The greatest Number of which vessels are either fitted at Boston or Receive the Materials from thence, with which they are fitted. There are in one Year Cleared out of this Port above 1000 Sail of Vessels which may fully Shew the great Trade of this Place. New England (of which Boston is the head or principal Town) its become one of the most Delightful Countrys in the World, the Winter being now Moderate and pleasant by Reason of the Clearing of the Woods; in the West and North West parts of the inland Countrys. the air is exceeding Clear and pleasant Perfectly well agreeing with the English Constitutions; for which Reason the Gentlemen of the West India Islands often go thither to Recover their Healths, it abounds with great Variety of forest Trees, and fruit Trees: there are also Grape Vines (Natural to the Country) Fish of all Sorts, Either from Salt or Fresh water, Cattle of all Sorts, This Plantation also furnishes Masts, and divers other Naval Stores for the Royall Navy, and Expends great Quantities of Woolen and other Manufactories of great Britain and Supplya the English Islands in the West Indias with boards, Timber &c for their buildings, Staves, Hoops, Horses &c for their Sugar Works; as also Fish Oyle, Butter, Candles, Soap, and other Provisions & Neces-sarys of life, without which they could not possibly Subsist, all of which Conduces Very much to the Interest and Advantage of its Mother Country, & will Doubtless (by the Favour of Heaven under ye Auspicious Influence & Conduct of so Wise and Powerful a Prince as his Present Majtie King George and his Illustrious House) be rendered yet more Advantageous to her succeeding Generations.
In 1881 Justin Winsor said that he had found a letter on file in the City Clerk’s office, Boston, from Judge Davis to Mayor Otis, dated September 25, 1830, formally tendering to the City a poor copy of this view, which Davis had presented at a banquet at the Exchange Coffee House, September 17, 1830. Judge Davis suggested, that if a more perfect copy could not be found it might be well to cause some pains to be taken for its preservation, such as applying a suitable coat of varnish. In the Advertiser of September 29, 1830, it is said to be in the Mayor and Aldermen’s Room in the Old State House. City Clerk McCleary writes to Mr. Winsor October 18, 1881:
I distinctly recollect seeing this print hanging on the wall of the anteroom of the Board of Aldermen’s Chamber in the old City Hall between the years 1814 and 1861, . . . The picture was very old and quite dilapidated; it was laid upon canvas backing, and had a black frame without any glass. I have seen the picture many times within the period cited, and from 1852 to 1861 [when the building was taken down] I saw it daily. The picture had a round hole, two inches in diameter, in the right-hand corner, about the edges of which the canvas backing was quite perceptible. . . . When the old City Hall was taken down this “view” was mislaid, or lost in some way.351
Only one impression from the original plate is now known to be in existence, that noted in the British Museum Map Catalogue of 1885 as “a S. E. View of the Town of Boston by Burgis, engraved by Harris, 3 Sheets K 120. 38a,” and that is marred by the engraved additions pasted on it to correct it to 1736. It could be restored to its original condition and made of much more value and interest by simply soaking the additions off.
Dr. James B. Ayer, in his desire to obtain the earliest known view of the section bounded by Court and Park Streets, had a photograph made of that portion of the British Museum copy, and this resulted in Mr. George Lamb having negatives made of the whole view, by kind permission of Mr. Basil H. Soulsby, Superintendent of the Map Department, and enlarged in this country to the full size of the original. A limited issue of this enlargement has been made.
In a letter to Miss Mary Farwell Ayer, August 26, 1903, Mr. Soulsby thus describes it:
The Museum copy is in three sheets, so I conclude there were three plates. On Sheet I, 5¼ inches from the left hand edge of the view, comes a church with a spire. This has been pasted onto the plate. 13⅛ inches from the edge, comes No. 52, Trinity Church, with a square tower. This also has been pasted on. 16½ inches from the left edge, comes a church with a steeple, 3 inches from ground to weathercock, no. 10, South Meeting-House. This has also been pasted on. [For the same laid back, see Miss Ayer’s “The South Meeting-House, Boston, 1669–1729,” in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register for July, 1905, lix. 265–267.] On sheet 2, 3½ inches from edge, cpmes no. 20, a church with a spire. The spire has been pasted on. 6⅞ inches from edge, comes no. 53, a church with a spire. The spire has been pasted on.352
In addition to the above, “the references 51–52–53 are not printed from the plate but on a slip neatly pasted on the engraving,”353 and the advertisement “printed, colour’d & sold by Wm. Price,” etc., has been added, but whether to plate or print is a question.
In 1743, to commemorate the erection of Faneuil Hall, William Price issued another edition with additions and corrections made very carelessly, without any consideration of actual location. The original plates were used, the dedication being erased and a new one to Peter Faneuil substituted, the references enlarged from 50 to 62, but still showing “I. Harris, Sculp.” and “W. Burgis Delin.” and the same description of Boston. There are five copies of this state known to be in existence, the best being that owned by the American Antiquarian Society. The others are. in possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Dr. James B. Ayer, the Boston Public Library, and Mr. Herbert Foster Otis of Brookline. All but the first have been mounted on wood and varnished. The Public Library copy, which belonged to the second Mayor Quincy, was copied in lithograph on a slightly reduced scale “Published for E. Whitefield by A. Tompkins 38 Cornhill Boston” in 1848, and in turn was reproduced on a smaller scale by the albertype process. In the Memorial History of Boston (II. 532) is a reproduction of the Antiquarian Society’s copy, and in Miss Ayer’s Boston Common in Colonial and Provincial Days (p. 12) is one of Dr. James B. Ayer’s copy.
Of those whose names are associated with the first publication of this view, we know but little. The first mention of William Burgis, the delineator, so far found is in the New-England Courant of November 12, 1722, when he advertised himself as undertaker of the View. He married Mehitable, widow of Thomas Selby, October 1, 1728, and succeeded him as taverner at the Crown Coffee House July 23, 1729, being followed in turn by Edward Lutwich, July 17, 1730. He is also found as delineator, publisher or engraver of the following: “A South Prospect of ye Flourishing City of New York in North America.” This is the probable title, as it is missing from the only known copy of the original, in the possession of the New York Historical Society. It was engraved by “I. Harris,” and bears the dedication: “To His Excellency Robert Hunter Esq. Captain General and Governour in Chief of the Provinces of New York New Jersey and Territories depended thereon in America and Vice Admiral of the Same. This South Prospect of the City of New York is most Humbly dedicated by your Excellency’s most Humble Obedient Sert. William Burgis.” The date 1717 appears in the Province Arms. It has been reproduced in facsimile in the illustrated edition of Fiske’s Dutch and Quaker Colonies (II. 230). It suffered the same fate as the Boston View of 1723, and was restruck from the original plate with corrections in 1746 for Thomas Bakewell of Cornhill, London. Copies of this state are in the possession of the British Museum, the American Antiquarian Society, and the New York Historical Society, the last having it framed back to back with its copy of the original state. This state has been reproduced in the Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York for 1849 (p. 26).
On July 14, 1726 (Boston News-Letter), appeared “A Prospect of the Colledges in Cambridge in New England,” dedicated to Lieutenant-Governor William Dummer by W. Burgis. This was sold at Mr. Price’s, print-seller, Mr. Randall, the japanner, Mr. Stedman in Cambridge, and the booksellers of Boston. This view followed its predecessors and was also restruck sometime after 1739 by William Price from the original plate with additions, substituting the names of Lieutenant-Governor Spencer Phips for Dummer and W. Price for Burgis, adding a description in the upper right hand corner and Price’s advertisement on the bottom. The Massachusetts Historical Society has the only known copy of the first state, which is mounted on wood and was discovered when removing a copy of the second state which had been pasted over it. It has been reproduced in 1 Proceedings of the Society (XVIII. 318), and Charles E. Goodspeed of Boston has just issued a limited edition of a reproduction of the original re-engraved by Sidney L. Smith, colored by hand. The Harvard College Library, the Library of Congress, and William Loring Andrews of New York, have copies of the second state also, Mr. Andrews’s copy being reproduced in his “A Prospect of the Colledges in Cambridge in New England.”
“Boston N. Eng. Planted A. D. MDCXXX,” next follows in 1728, and is dedicated by William Burgis “to His Excellency William Burnett Esq.,” who was Governor of Massachusetts from July 13, 1728, until his death on September 27, 1729. It is engraved by Thomas Johnson, Boston, New England, who also made the additions to the edition before 1739 of the Bonner-Price map of Boston. The Library of Congress, Mr. R. T. H. Halsey of New York, and Dr. J. Collins Warren of Boston own originals. It has been reproduced in Shurtleff’s Topographical and Historical Description of Boston, the Memorial History of Boston, the Boston City Surveyor’s Report for 1893, and by the Bostonian Society.
Of “A View of the New Dutch Church founded in 1728 and finished in 1731,” dedicated “To the Honourable Rip Van Dam, Esq. President of His Majestys Council for the Province of New York,” Mr. Andrews has a copy, and another was formerly in the possession of a Rev. Mr. Strong of Newtown, Long Island. It has been reproduced by Mr. Andrews in “The Bradford Map” (p. 88).
The United States Lighthouse Board has a view of Boston Light, engraved in mezzotint, bearing the dedication: “To the Merchants of Boston this View of the Light House is most humbly presented By their humble Servant Wm. Burgis. W. Burgis del. & fecit.” This has been reproduced photographically, in heliotype, and, on a reduced scale, in Arnold Bulges Johnson’s “The Modern Lighthouse Service.”
Mr. Andrews also has “A View of Castle William by Boston in New England. This Castle was built by Collonel Romer A. D. 1704 by order of the General Assembly,” which he thinks is in all probability a Burgis production, and is reproduced in his “The Bradford Map” (p. 21).
In the New-England Weekly Journal of June 5, 1727, is found “This Day is Published A Draught of the Meeting-house of the Old Church in Boston, with the New Spire & Gallery & are to be sold by Mr. Price, over against the Town-House, and at the Booksellers Shops in Boston.” This is the earliest view of the “Old Brick” Meeting House, the spire having been added some time after 1723, and there is a possibility that this is another Burgis production. No copy has yet been found.
John Harris, the engraver, flourished in England from 1680 to 1740, and the suggestion has been made that there were two of that name, father and son. Samples of his work are described as follows:
Encampment of the Royal Army in Hounslow Heath, 1686.
A new mapp of New England from Cape Codd to Cape Sables, describeing all the sands, shoals, rocks and difflcultyes together with a sand draft of the Mattathussetts Bay. Exactly surveyed by the author, Tho. Pound [former pirate, later captain in the British Navy], 1692.
A Mapp of ye Improved Part of Pensilvania, dedicated to Wm. Penn.
Edmund Halley’s A new and correct chart shewing the variation of the compass in the Western and Southern Ocean, 1701.
City and Harbour of Cadiz, 1695–1702.
Map of the Parish of Mile and Old Town in the Parish of Stepney, 1703.
Some of the views in Brittanica Illustrated, 1709–1731.
Prospectum Templi Stae. Mariae in vico dicto The Strand, 1713.
A South Prospect of Yc Flourishing City of New York, 1717.
Some of the plates in the Vitruvius Brittanicus vol. iv, 1739.
Some of the plates in T. Baston’s Ships of the Royal Navy.
Some of the plates in the Oxford Almanac.
The American Weekly Mercury of October 19, 1721, under date of July 22, announces from London “Last Week his Majesties Patent passed the Great Seal, granting to John Harris, John Senex and Henry Wilson, the sole Use and Benefit of a New Invention in Navigation, called The Globur Chart, which has been approved of the best by Astronomers and Navigators.”
Thomas Selby, who was associated with William Price in the publication of the View, first makes his appearance in Boston, January 16, 1709–10, when the Selectmen “Ordered that notice be given to — Selbey that ye Selectmen do require him forthwith to remove ye Incroachment wch he hath lately made in King St.” He was admitted an inhabitant (as the town regulations required) February 20, 1709–10, Mr. Jonathan Belcher (later Governor) security. After no long interval, on July 21, 1712, he in turn was security for the admission of Henry Whitten, which of itself proves his standing as a good citizen. In 1713, he donated 10s towards the support of the King’s Chapel organs, being a communicant. On July 26, 1714, “Thomas Selby his petition to sell strong drink as an Inn Holder at the Crown Coffee House at the Peer or Long Wharfe in Boston [now 148 State Street] is allowed by ye Selectmen and to be recommended by them as far as they know or hath by enquiry understood.” Even thus early his place was frequented by prominent citizens, for on August 31, 1714, Judge Sewall says in his diary: “I read the act against Schism at Selby’s Coffee House.”
Selby evidently had another string to his bow which should have kept Judge Sewall away from him, for on February 21, 1714–15, Peter Butler leased to him as periwigmaker a lot 20 by 40, fronting King Street Pier or the Long Wharf and adjoining the Crown Coffee House and Butler’s Row of brick buildings, for 30 years, twenty pounds down, annual rental twenty shillings, and the erection of a shop or building not to exceed 20 by 30, containing a lower room chamber and garret. Pursuant to the lease he is licensed on March 1 by the Governor and Council, and on March 4 by the Justices, to erect a wooden building upon Butler’s Wharf 30 by 20 by 20 stud. On February 16, Thomas Selby and Elizabeth his wife act as go-betweens in the transfer from Bridge and others to Benjamin Bridge of the estate on King Street, between Shrimpton heirs and Barret Dyer. On October 13, 1715, Thomas Perks, late of London, and John Shippee “is admitted to dwell here, Thomas Selby and Thomas Phillips, also Innholder, being bound in 100 pounds for each of them.” On March 11, 1716–17, Selby is elected at town meeting scavenger of his district, with duties equal to that of a district foreman in our modern Street Cleaning Department, with full power to hire all men and teams necessary to perform the work. In January, 1717–18, Butler leased to him an additional strip on the northerly side of the lot in his occupation 40 by 10. Jane Selby, his daughter, was married February 2, 1717–18, to Thomas Garret by the Rev. Samuel Myles.
Peter Butler sells to Selby, still periwigmaker, all the land in his occupancy, with an additional strip, November 25, 1718. In this year he subscribes “two pounds towards construction of Gallery, pulpit, Addorning King’s Chapel and paving in front.” On August 5, 1719, he mortgages the above premises in occupation of Robert and Richard Skinner to James Bowdoin, who discharges it in 1721. His wife having died, he is married, September 6, 1719, to Mehitable Bill, daughter of James Bill of Pullin Point, by the Rev. Samuel Myles.
About this time appears the first of a long series of advertisements of sale at public vendue at the Crown Coffee House of everything from books to a full-rigged ship. On February 22, 1719–20, Selby, still periwigmaker and Mehitable his wife, one of the daughters, executors, and co-heirs of James Bill of Pullin Point, assign to Benjamin Bridge their interest in the estate. November 13, 1720, Selby mortgages his holdings adjoining Mr. Jonathan Belcher’s house and land called the Crown Coffee House to Mehitable Bill and North Ingram (mother-in-law and brother-in-law) as trustees of his present wife, Mehitable Selby. Periwigmaker sticks to him in deeds until April 24, 1723, when it becomes tavern-keeper, and then it is from his brother-in-law Tenny; and Joshua Wroe in September, 1726, again reverts to the old form when he sells him a strip along his present holdings 41 by 12 behind the Crown Coffee House.
His interest in church matters had increased, for at Easter, 1722, he is appointed one of a committee on delinquent pewholders of King’s Chapel. On September 5, Selby and John Barnes were appointed a committee to receive subscriptions for Christ Church, and on October 2 he signs a letter to Mr. Timothy Cutler. From 1722 to 1727, he was a vestryman of King’s Chapel. On April 24, 1724, “Thomas Selby has a right to 3/4 of pew no. 20 of the North Isle relinquishing his pew no. 22 and when the Widow Britton is provided satisfactorily to have the whole. Thomas Phillips to have no. 22, surrendering no. 34.” On the Rev. Samuel Myles’s nomination, he is chosen Junior Warden, April 13, 1726, and is Senior Warden in 1727, Thomas Phillips being Junior. On August 3, 1727, “the vestry met at Thomas Selby’s, voted that the Waidens sign memorial to the General Court as to Ministers of the Church of England being Overseers of Harvard Colledge.” On November 15, 1725, Anthony Blunt et ux. transfer to John Barnes, George Craddock, James Stirling, merchants, John Gibbins, apothecary, Thomas Selby taverner, George Monk taylor of Boston, and Thomas Graves of Charlestown, “Northwest on Salem St. 59f6, Southwesterly on Wm. Hobby, deceased, 111f, Rear or Southeasterly end 58f on John Low, deceased, Northerly side on Thomas Baker 121f on which piece of land there is a brick edifice lately erected for public worship according to the rights and ceremonies of the Church of England as by law established commonly called Christ Church.” William Price acted as one of the witnesses to the signatures. John Barnes and the above transfer it September 5, 1726, to the Rev. Timothy Cutler and others, Vestry of Christ Church.
In the New-England Courant of September 24, 1722, appears this advertisement: “Lately taken from the Crown Coffee House in Boston a good Beaver Hatt, never dress’d with a hole burnt in the brim about the bigness of a pea. Whoever brings the same to Mr. Selby at the said Coffee House shall receive 10 s. reward,” followed in May, 1723, by an advertisement for subscriptions to the View of Boston. On December 23 appears another: “To be sold by Thomas Selby at the Crown Coffee House All sorts of good wines from the pipe to the pint on reasonable terms.” On August 24, 1724, the following: “Choice good white vinegar to be sold by Thomas Selby at the Crown Coffee House.” On November 6, 1724, still another: “at 5 o’clock at public vendue at the Crown Coffee House Long Wharf, A Collection of Choice and Curious Books of Divinity, History, Poetry Voyages and Travels. N. B. To be sold at the same time and place A Collection of Curious Pamphlets, Plays & Maps.”
“Mr. Selby att ye Crown Coffee House dyed September 19, 1727,” aged 54, leaving a widow Mehitable, a daughter Jane Garret, and a minor son Thomas. He was buried from King’s Chapel September 21, and leaving no will, Samuel Sewall, judge of probate, issued to his widow notice of administration September 25. Thomas Selby, the minor son, petitions on October 20 to have John Powell appointed as his guardian. The inventory filed October 21, 1727, includes among other things, “In the Crown, Two prospective Glasses one brush for Clothes, one Map of New York, one pair of bellows 2–5–0, the House and Land adjoining the Crown Coffee House now in possession of Mr. Robert Skinner & Mrs. Mehitable Selby, 1000 pounds. Valuation of the estate, the appraising being done by Thomas Phillips, Samuel Gifford and William Randall 2042–7–5, including wines etc. appraisers Jona. Williams, Tho. Phillips and Henry Whitton 1537–18–4.” In the Boston News-Letter of February 15, 1728, is this advertisement: “All persons indebted to the estate of Mr. Thomas Selby late of Boston deceased are desired forthwith to pay their respective Debts to Capt. Samuel Keeling of Boston aforesaid, attorney for Mrs. Mehitable Selby sole administratrix of the said deceased’s estate.” Mehitable Selby was married October 1, 1728, by Mr. Henry Harris of King’s Chapel to William Burgis, the delineator of the View, and on October 7 following, her step-daughter, Jane Garret, also a widow, was married by Mr. Harris to David Melvil.
William Price, the associate publisher, apparently came from England in the early part of the eighteenth century. Mr. C. W. Ernst suggests that he came over with the Brattle organ to set it up, which he eventually did at King’s Chapel, and then served as organist until Mr. Edward Enstone’s arrival in the latter part of 1714. The Vestry voted August 18, 1714, to pay Price £7.10 “for one Qrs. Sallary due at Midsummer,” and the same sum “for wt work he has done ab’t the organ.” The Church Wardens and Vestry voted November 8, 1723, “that Mr. Edward Enston deliver the keys of the Organs to Messrs. Price and Gifford that they may practice on the organ in order to qualify one of them to be organist as should be best approved by ye sd Church Wardens and Vestry.”
When Christ Church was built, Mr. Price transferred his allegiance to it and was Vestryman from 1726 until 1742. Junior Warden in 1731, and Senior Warden from 1732 to 1734. On September 18, 1727, he signified his intention to marry Sarah Myles, niece of the Rev. Samuel Myles, Rector of King’s Chapel, and was married December 20, 1727. He was chosen constable in 1728 and 1729, but was excused as a “Trooper.” On Dr. Myles’s death, with the widow Ann Myles and Thomas Creese, his brother-in-law, as executors, he sold the mansion house on Tremont Street (opposite King’s Chapel) to George Craddock, October 4, 1728. He was among the subscribers to Prince’s Chronology. In 1730, he was again to the front in the subscription for Trinity Church, and on its erection in 1735 it was deeded to him and three others until such time as the money “advanced is reimbursed,” and they in 1739 deeded it back to the Wardens. On August 30, 1731, he (or rather his wife) received £449.13.2 as heir of the Rev. Samuel Myles and £224.16.7 as guardian of John Myles’s children. October 29, 1731, the United Vestries voted that he be added to the Committee. He was present at the first service in Trinity, but renewed his allegiance to Christ Church, tendering his services as organist for one year without salary November 1, 1736. In town meeting, September 13, 1742, a motion was made by him “that as a further testimony of the Town’s Gratitude to the said Peter Faneuil Esq. The Picture of the said Peter Faneuil Esq. may be drawn in full length and placed in the said hall at the expense of the Town.”
He transferred himself to Trinity, being Vestryman in 1742, Junior Warden in 1745, and Senior Warden in 1747; but on March 6, 1743–44, signed the bond for order of the Christ Church chimes followed by an additional donation of £20. The Rev. Addington Davenport appointed him executor, and guardian of his daughter Julia, who was his wife’s god-daughter. In the subscription to rebuild King’s Chapel he gave £200, old tenor, September 30, 1743, and on October 13, 1752, he donated £40 more to complete it. He held pew number 21 in King’s Chapel from 1754, and in 1756 subscribed £5 for the organ, and was Vestryman from 1753.
In the New-England Courant of May 21, 1722, William Price makes his first appearance in the business of Boston: “To be sold at the Shop over against the West End of the Town House in Cornhill, Boston, all Sorts of Pictures and Maps, in Frames or without and all Sorts of Picture Frames made by William Price.” On August 20 it becomes “picture Shop over against the Town House,” and his wares include “an exact Prospect of the City of New York,” probably the Burgis, “with all Sorts of Prints and Maps lately come from London.” On October 8, with the first advertisement of the View of Boston, it becomes “Print and map-seller.” The scope is enlarged May 17, 1723, to include “All Sorts of new fashioned looking-glasses, Sconces and Tea Tables,” and in July, 1725, “small Pictures for Children and the best sort of London Crown Glass to put over Prints.” In this advertisement he announces the View of Boston as for sale, and also first mentions the Plan of the Town,. presumably Captain John Bonner’s, which had been offered for sale by Captain John Bonner, Bartholomew Green, Samuel Gerrish and Daniel Henchman on May 1, 1722; though he announces it as showing “public buildings,” while the Bonner plan shows “all the Houses.” It may be an earlier edition of the Burgis map than we have so far found. Price published several editions from the Bonner plate in 1733, 1739, 1743, 1769, and in all probability before 1733, corrected at first by Thomas Johnson, who engraved the Burgis Map of Boston. The existing imprints of the 1739, 1743, and 1769 editions all plainly show the erasure of T. Johnson from underneath Price’s name in the dedication and numerous other erasures and additions, some of which appear to have been made on the prints themselves rather than the plate, and leads one to think that he was not behind our modern publishers in getting out an edition to order.
On July 14, 1726, is advertised the Burgis “A Prospect of the Colledges in Cambridge,” to be sold by Price and others, which he continued to advertise on his map, as we may now call it (Captain John Bonner having died January 30, 1725–26, in his eighty-fourth year), until 1769. On June 5, 1727, he publishes “A Draught of the Meeting House of the Old Church in Boston with the New Spire and Gallery.” The Governor’s Council votes July 1, 1727, to pay him fifty-three shillings for “Picture Frames & other work done by order of the General Court.” On April 18, 1733, an assessment of ten shillings for repairs on the pump in the town’s land in Corn Hill is levied on him.
Thomas Creese, apothecary, his brother-in-law, mortgages November 2, 1733, to Price as cabinet-maker, the brick tenement or dwelling in Cornhill, then under lease to him (now number 225 Washington Street). This he discharged October 6, 1736, and the recoid bears his signature. His business had increased to include “pictures painted in oyle in carved gilt frames — china ware, English and Dutch toys for children by wholesale or retail at reasonable rates.” His place of business now becomes the “King’s Head & Looking Glass,” and is designated on the map of 1739 and later by an index hand.
Thomas Creese, then of Newport, Rhode Island, sells to Price on December 27, 1736, a brick messuage or tenement and land in Cornhill, with free use of passage nine feet wide to drive a chaise through and carry wood or water which runs across the land of said Creese in occupation of John Read, also free use and liberty of the pump or well standing in the alley on the north side of Creese’s land next the Meeting House, paying one-third of the repairs from time to time in company of Creese and Faneuil. The consideration was £2000, bills of credit. On March 18, 1736, Creese also sells to him the adjoining lot on the north side, brick messuage or tenement in Cornhill, now in tenure and occupation of John Read. The above conveyed to Price a strip of land with a frontage of thirty-eight feet, seven inches, on Cornhill and thirty-five feet, nine inches, on Faneuil (now in Court Square), a taking of about fifteen feet in width having been made when the Square was laid out. The northerly boundary was Church Square and Benjamin Faneuil, and in passing through Court Avenue, which was opened by agreement in 1855, the boundary line can be plainly seen in the flagging, running diagonally across it. The consideration for the second parcel was £2050, showing that at that time the advantages of a corner lot were appreciated. On December 11, 1738, Price, designating himself as cabinet-maker, sells the southerly portion of the Cornhill end to Peter Faneuil, with some changes in the northerly boundary, and still carrying the proviso about the well in Church Square. From a survey made in 1855 it appears that the dimensions held in most cases to inches. The property is now held by the trustees of the Brigham Estate and is occupied by the new portion of Thompson’s Spa. The remaining portion of the Price lot, making the southerly side of Court Avenue, is now occupied by the northerly part of Thompson’s Spa354 and the annex to Young’s Hotel.
Pictures painted in Oyl in carved or gilt Frames, all sorts & sizes of ye newest fashioned Looking Glasses, Prospect & Burning Glasses, Spectacles, Fine China Ware, English and Dutch Toys for children with large allowance to Shop Keepers & Country Chapman that buy to Sell again, who may be as well furnished by sending their letters as coming themselves at reasonable rates.
In 1743 the business included “Also Flutes, Hautboys, & Violins, Strings, Musical Books, Songs, Spectacles, & Prospect Glasses etc.,” and as such continued till 1769. In the fire in Williams Court in 1760, a wooden building two stories high in the rear of Price’s house was pulled down to prevent the fire spreading, but the fire was put out before the building was reached. He claimed damages, but was unsuccessful. On April 10, 1765, he was chosen one of the trustees of the Boston Episcopal Charitable Society, founded April 6, 1724. On Friday May 17, 1771, “departed this life after a long Confinement Mr. William Price, in the 87th. Year of his Age. His remains were carried into Trinity Church, and a Funeral Sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Caner. After which the Corps were deposited in a Tomb under the said Church,” May 21. His will, signed November 30, 1770, with a codicil April 20, 1771, bequeaths his mansion house in Cornhill to his wife and nieces for life, to King’s Chapel on their death, the income to be used for lenten lectures, time and subjects specified, a collection to be taken at them for the poor, surplus of revenue from estate to go to the general fund, and if not accepted by King’s Chapel to revert to Trinity Church. He directed that his body was to be decently interred in his tomb under Trinity built by him, for himself, Wife, two nieces and no other, be carried into Trinity and burial services according to the Church of England be performed by the Rev. Dr. Henry Caner, or if not, by the Rev. Mr. Walter. His pew number 60 in Trinity was devised to his wife and nieces and lacking heirs to the Wardens, executrix to surrender his pew in King’s Chapel on payment of sixteen pounds for the same. In the Direct Tax of 1798 appears: “Margarett & S. Creese, owners and occupiers, brick dwelling; East on Cornhill; North, Church Square; South on Bethunes Heirs. Land, 5236 square feet; house, 1340 square feet; 3 stories, 27 windows; Value, $6000,” and in the inventory of Sarah Creese’s estate March 20, 1809, is given “brick house, 59 Cornhill, $10,000.” She devised the estate to her nephew William Pelham355 (who sold maps as late as 1806), on the grounds that theological and other changes at King’s Chapel had made the will null and void, apparently forgetting the reversion to Trinity. After the Revolution, when King’s Chapel had been reorganized, it had accepted the legacy, and to make it more secure the acceptance was reaffirmed Aprd 26, 1809. Pelham was in occupancy and would not vacate, so the Wardens entered suit, which was eventually decided in their favor. Pursuant to the will, lenten lectures were arranged for, commencing in 1814, to be given by the clergymen of King’s Chapel, Christ Church, and Trinity Church in turn, but this was naturally not a successful arrangement. On September 17, 1824, Trinity Church entered suit on somewhat similar grounds to those of Miss Creese, and as a result of the litigation was given possession of the property to discharge all trusts under the will, pay all necessary expenses, and to divide the remainder of the income with King’s Chapel;356 and this is practically in force to-day, though there has been more or less litigation. The total value of the estate in 1906 was $436,000; buddings $62,000, land $375,000, the Thompson’s Spa portion being assessed for $110 per foot and the Young’s Hotel portion at $46 per foot.357
Dr. James B. Ayer commented at length upon Mr. Edmonds’s paper, illustrating his remarks by photographic enlargements of several of the meeting-houses seen in the Burgis-Price View.
Mr. Thomas Minns remarked on the great increase in value of William Price’s estate in Washington Street which he bequeathed to King’s Chapel, and the income from which is now shared by King’s Chapel and Trinity Church.
Mr. Albert Matthews exhibited photographic copies of The Constitutional Courant of 21 September, 1765, and of several of the snake devices used in American newspapers at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, and read a communication in regard to them.358
The. Rev. Henry A. Parker read the following paper on —
Cotton Mather in his Magnalia wrote that about 1626 “several eminent Persons,” among them “our Mr. Davenport” “engaged in a Design to procure a Purchase of Impropriations, and with the Profits thereof to maintain a constant, able, and painful Ministry in those parts of the Kingdom where there was most want of such a Ministry;” and that “such an incredible Progress was made in it, that it is judged, all the Impropriations in England would have been honestly and easily recovered unto the immediate Service of the Reformed Religion. But, Bishop Laud looking with a jealous Eye on this Undertaking, least it might in time give a Secret Growth to Non-Conformity, he obtained a Bill to be exhibited in the Exchequer Chamber, by the King’s Attorney-General, against the Feoffees, that had the management of it.”359 Mather’s estimate of the importance of this attempt of the Puritan party to carry on a propaganda by means of the impropriations was no greater than Laud’s. Mather thought the scheme good, Laud thought it evil, but both agreed that it was well adapted for carrying out swiftly and surely the end proposed.
The scheme failed, but it may be questioned whether it faded of producing desired results as completely as both parties at the time supposed — for the breaking up of the feoffment was represented as a tyrannical interference with a disinterested scheme of missionary work and deeply resented.360 However, eight years later, soon after Laud’s trial, when his part in breaking up the feoffment had been one of the many accusations brought against him, the matter became of no other than historical importance; for the object in view was otherwise obtained through the complete political triumph of the Puritans. No one in that busy time took the trouble to write any complete account of this clever movement, and though often alluded to, I cannot find that any full account of it has ever been written. The best and fullest is that given by Rushworth in his Historical Collections361 and followed by White Kennett, Bishop of Peterborough, in his volume (1704) on the History of Impropriations. Nor can I find that the accessible printed authorities by any means furnish materials for a complete account or a thorough understanding of what was done. Still some account, though imperfect, may be of use, if no otherwise than in inciting some one with better sources of information to write a better account.
The matter concerns us not only as all the religious movements in England at that time concern those interested in colonial history, but because two of the feoffees, John Davenport and John White, played very important parts in our colonial affairs.
The story of the origin of the impropriations, or if we please, appropriations, in England goes rather far back, but it may be worth while as briefly as possible to recount it.
When the little “Saxon” kingdoms one after another were converted to Christianity, each kingdom became a bishopric. As Stubbs puts it:
The development of the local machinery of the church was in reverse order to that of the state; the bishoprics being first formed, then the parishes; . . . In all cases, for a short time, the diocese coincided with the kingdom, . . . the court was the chief mission-station, and sent out monks and priests to convert the outlying settlements. . . . When archbishop Theodore undertook to organise the church, he found . . . dioceses identical with kingdoms; no settled clergy, and no definite territorial subdivisions. . . . the monastery continued to be the typical church settlement, . . . Still . . . the country churches were also multiplied, and local provision of some sort was made for the village clergy. What measures Theodore, who is the traditional creator of the parochial system, took in this direction can only be conjectured: it is unnecessary to suppose that he founded it, for it needed no foundation. As the kingdom and shire were the natural sphere of the bishop, so was the township of the single priest; and the parish was but the township or cluster of townships to which that priest ministered. . . . The parish, then, is the ancient vicus or tun-scipe regarded ecclesiastically.362. . .The maintenance of the clergy thus settled was provided chiefly by the offerings of the people: for the obligation of tithe in its modern sense was not yet recognised. . . . The bestowal of a little estate on the church of the township was probably the most usual way of eking out what the voluntary gifts supplied. The recognition of the legal obligation of tithe dates from the eighth century, . . . In 787 it was made imperative by the legatine councils held in England, which being attended and confirmed by the kings and the ealdormen had the authority of witenage-mots. . . . The legal determination of the church to which the tithe was to be paid was not yet settled. . . . The actual determination was really left very much to the owner of the land . . . in the free townships it must have become the rule to give it to the parish priests.363
But whatever his means of support, the local parish priest came in very early times to hold his benefice for life. The right of appointing to these positions was usually vested in the lord of the manor, or the person who had built or endowed the church, or in the bishop. These rights of patronage or advowson descended by inheritance or otherwise and were often given by the lord of the manor to one or other religious community — i. e. monastery. The right to appoint to the benefices thus acquired was wrongfully changed by the monasteries into the possession of the benefices themselves — taking them in proprios usus or ad proprios usus, the monks themselves performing the religious services, one or another as appointed — sometimes as a penance. Thus arose impropriations or appropriations in England. This system was satisfactory to no one. So the monasteries, which, in the times of the Norman conquest, were presented with great numbers of advowsons by the more or less religious Normans, took to hiring secular priests as vicars, at a third of the income of the benefice, instead of presenting to the benefice, in which case the rector would have been entitled to all the revenue. And further, by a rigid application of the law of supply and demand, the monks were at times able to procure vicars for the barest pittance to perform the duties of parish clergy. Such wholesale misappropriation of parish funds, to the immediate disadvantage of the great body of the laymen, did not go on without protest and some, not quite futile, attempts at reform; but, for the most part, continued until the suppression of the monasteries by Henry VIII. Before that event there was a certain rather specious appearance of propriety in the system of appropriations as known in England, in that they were all held by ecclesiastics of some sort, and so if the parishes were impoverished, and the clergy and laymen in general suffered, the parish revenues went at least to other ecclesiastics, even if, as sometimes was the case, to a convent of nuns. No layman held an impropriation. When the monasteries were suppressed and their property confiscated it would naturally be supposed, in fact it was then expected, that the “Defender of the Faith” would return to their proper uses the glebes, tithes, and endowments which the monasteries had appropriated.364 This was not done: instead, the King and his favorites appropriated the appropriations of the monks and applied them to their own uses, as the monks had applied them to theirs. This naturally displeased the commonality, and the provision for local worship having been still further seriously impaired under Edward VI by the confiscation of other funds for the support of the clergy, and by the destruction of the chantries, seems to have done much towards making the common people well disposed to accept Mary Tudor. Mary’s action in this matter was just and honorable. She gave back to their proper uses that portion of the impropriations yet remaining to the Crown. But the parliamentry gentiy refused to allow the other lay impropriators to be interfered with — indeed they demanded and obtained from the Queen and the Pope formal sanction for the misappropriation of the parish funds they were enjoying. On the accession of Elizabeth, all the lay appropriations which Mary had given up were again seized by the Crown. This was a particularly undesirable form of property for the Queen to hold under the circumstances, so that very capable business woman contrived a series of forced sales to the bishops, who were obliged to trade off endowments of the bishoprics for her trebly appropriated parish endowments — both, it is needless to say, at the Queen’s valuation.365 After this fashion a portion of the appropriated benefices came back, after a sort, to church uses — not to the increase of the popularity of the bishops. This in brief is the history of the origin of lay impropriations in England.366
The extent to which the parishes were habitually plundered by impropriations is stated by Archbishop Whitgift, near the close of Elizabeth’s reign, at nearly £200,000 a year, about half in tithes and half in the rental value of lands — with the result, as he states it, that of 9000 benefices there were “not 60 sufficient for a learned minister.”367 Though in some places at least things were not so bad in the early years of Charles I, it is not clear to just what extent they were altered for the better.368 This was a state of things which all men who cared for religion united in deploring. And it is no wonder that the project of buying up these appropriations for religious uses met with general and hearty approval on all sides as it did.
Just when the Society of the Feoffees was first organized does not appear; Neal says it was in 1627, Mather says “about 1626,” and Mr. Gardiner says about 1625; but Attorney General Noy, in his “information” against the feoffees, says it was in operation from the tenth year of King James, i. e. 1613–14. Their organization was that of a close corporation and consisted of twelve men, four clergymen, four lawyers, and four merchants; vacancies were filled by themselves, preserving the same number of men in each of these three callings. When the information was brought against them in 1631, there had already been three vacancies made by death and filled — which would indicate that the Society was of more than five or six years’ standing.
They asked for donations for buying the impropriations and met with a liberal response. There cannot now be a doubt that their intention was to supply only ministers of the Puritan party or those devoted to what Mather calls “The Reformed Religion.” That is what they did; nor should they have been expected to do otherwise. But there seems to have been not a little misunderstanding on this point; and it seems also to have been supposed by some that the feoffees intended to return the funds of the appropriations purchased, to the use of the several parishes. It may be remembered that all the clerical members of the feoffment, including John Davenport, were, according to their own account, “conformable” clergy of the Church of England, — a phrase meaning such different things at that time that there was certain to be misunderstanding. Anyhow, none seem to have wished or dared to oppose the Society and their work, until it had been going on for several years.
Peter Heylyn, who claims credit for being the first to attack the feoffment, says that he did so of his own thought and knowledge, and in his sermon369 attacking it, preached at Oxford July 11, 1630, says that “at first he lookt upon the project with as great rever. ence and affection, as any that were deceived and abused by it; and could not but congratulate the felecity of those times in giving birth to a design of such signal merit.”370 The good-natured Fuller in 1656 writes:
The redeeming and restoring of [the lay impropriations], was these Feoffees designe, and it was verily believed (if not obstructed in their endeavours) within fifty yeers, rather Purchases than Money would have been wanting unto them, buying them generally (as Candle-rents)371 at or under twelve yeers valuation. My Pen passing by them at the present, may safely salute them with a God speed, as neither seeing nor suspecting any danger in the Designe.
And Bishop Kennett, publishing in 1704, says that —
mens hearts were so zealously affected to this cause, as even to take a wrong step and some mistaken measures in it . . . The persons who made up the combination were very worthy Divines, Lawyers and Citizens. Their first intention was no doubt very honorable . . . The invalidity in law was the more unhappy because the design in itself met (as it deserved) with a universal approbation and very great encouragement.
Neal’s account of what was actually intended is more specific and agrees better with Mather’s idea of the object in view. He says:
About the year 1627, there was a scheme formed by several gentlemen and ministers to promote preaching in the country, by setting up lectures in the several market-towns of England; and to defray the expense, a sum of money was raised by voluntary contribution, for the purchasing such impropriations as were in the hands of the laity, the profits of which were to be parcelled out in salaries of forty or fifty pounds per ann. for the subsistance of their lecturers; this money was deposited in the hands of . . . for the aforesaid purposes, under the name and character of feoffees.372
Indeed, it seems to me that Neal is closer to the act and intention of the feoffees than Mr. Gardiner, who says that by collections and purchase of impropriations they “were thus enabled to increase the stipends of ministers, lecturers and school-masters. Naturally the persons selected for their favours were Puritans.” For whatever else was aimed at, the immediate object of first importance seems to have been the providing of lecturers, as the Puritan missionaries were called. The feoffees were thorough Puritans and were associated for the advancement of what they believed, in deadly earnest, to be the true evangelical religion, that is Puritanism and nothing else, and it was very dull of anyone not to understand.
Mr. Gardiner says that the money received amounted to £66361.6.1, and although that was equivalent to a much larger sum than in these times, one rather wonders at Fuller’s writing: “It is incredible what large sums were advanced in a short time towards so laudable an employment.” However, we may suppose that this sum represents only the amount of the subscriptions and does not include the profits of the benefices, of which it seems there were but thirteen.373 The only benefice that I have found named is Presteign, Radnorshire, Wales; nor do I find any statement in detail of what was done with the profits of the benefices except in this one instance. One hundred and twenty pounds derived from it annually was devoted to the payment of six lectureships established at St. Antholin’s, London.374 And this instance probably told rather heavily against the feoffment, for the Rector of St. Antholin’s, the wealthy London parish, was one of the feoffees, and these St. Antholin lectureships were used as a sort of training school for Puritan lecturers to be afterwards sent throughout England.
Rushworth’s account of the trial of the feoffees is as follows:
The Bishop of London, as is already mentioned, having formerly projected the overthrow of the Feoffees for the buying in of Impropriations, as the main Instruments of the Puritan Faction to undo the Church; The Cause was brought by Information into the Exchequer375 by Mr. Noy the King’s Attorny General, Plaintiff, against William Gough,376 Richard Sibbs,377 Giles Off-spring,378 John Damport [Davenport], Clerks. Sir Tho. Crew,379 Knight; Robert Eyers,380 an Apprentice of The Law; John White381 Sam. Brown,382 Utter Barristers at Law. Nicholas Rainton, Alderman of London. John Gearing, Rich. Davies, George Harwood, Francis Bridges, Merchants; William Leman, Thomas Foxley, Clerks; and Mr. Price, Defendents.
The Information was to this effect
‘That since the tenth Year of the Reign of the late King [1613 or 16], these Feoffees, to the intent to procure into their hands divers Manours, Lands, and Tenements, Rectories, Tythes, Oblations, and Sums of Money, which well-disposed People should give to the sustaining and endowment of Perpetual Vicars, having Cure of Souls, and other Charitable Uses; did of their own Authority erect and make themselves into a Society, or Body Corporate, called sometime by the name of the Collectors of St. Antholins; and used to hold Assemblies and Councils, and make Ordinances, appoint Registers and Actuaries for their doings: And have gotten into their hands Sums of Money, intended by the Donors for the foresaid Pious Uses; With part whereof they had purchased divers Rectories, Tithes, Prebendaries, Lands and Tenements, the Remonstrances whereof are registered in a Book, and had not imploied the same as was intended by the Givers, as by Law they ought.
Mr. Attorney further shewed, That it did appertain to his Majesty’s care, That such Donations for Augmentation of Divine Worship and Public Works of Charity, be not withdrawn, diminished, or misimployed, but be rightly distributed; and that an Accompt thereof ought to be made to his Majesty in this Honourable Court, or elsewhere. That without the Writings, Evidences, and Registers remaining in the custody of these Persons, or their Officers, there could be no perfect Charge whereon to make an Accompt. Wherefore for discovery of what Lands, Goods, Chattels, and Sums of Money, had come into their hands, and how the same were emploied, and what Evidences and Registers remained in their keeping; and for an Accompt to be made for the distribution of all; He prayed Process of Subpoena against them to appear in this Court.
The Defendents appeared, and made Answer, ‘That they believed Impropriations in the possessions of Lay-Men, not imploied for the Maintenance of Preachers, was a great damage to the Church of England; and that the purchasing thereof for the maintenance of Divine Service and Preaching, is a Pious Work. And that as divers Men may by the Law join in the purchasing of Manours and Lands, so without offence of Law they might confer how they might raise Moneys out of their own Purses, and from their Allies and Friends, to purchase Impropriations for the maintenance of Worthy, Painful, and Conformable Preachers; and that the Lands and Revenues were sufficiently conveyed unto Richard Stock,383 Alderman Hoyley, Christopher Sherland, deceased, together with themselves.
‘That they referr’d themselves for the several States and Uses thereof, to the several Deeds, Wills, and Declarations concerning the same. That the Donors of the Moneys, being many, gave the same towards the buying of Impropriations, Maintenance of Preachers, and such other good Uses, as the Defendents should think meet; and not for the Endowment of Perpetual Vicars. That they had not converted to their own uses any of the Moneys, or other things given or purchased. That they had not enacted, or made themselves a Body Corporate, otherwise than they have here set forth. That to their knowledge they never presented any to any Church, or Place in their disposition, who was not Conformable to the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of England, and approved by the Ordinary of the Place.
And Sir Thomas Crew answered for himself, ‘That since Hillary Term last, before the exhibiting of the Information, upon the Death of Christopher Sherland, one of the Readers of Grays-Inn, he was moved by some of the Persons above-named, to assist them in the Business; to which he willingly condescended, and was ready to join in so good a Work, the same tending to the maintenance of the Clergy that had not sufficient Means, and were Conformable to the Orders of the Church, and painful and faithful in their Places.
Hereupon it was ordered, that the Books and Evidences should be brought into the Court, which was done accordingly; Upon the reading whereof, together with the Defendents Answer, and upon hearing of the Cause debated by the Learned Counsel on both Sides, the Court declared,
That the Defendents usurped upon the King’s Regality, and of their own Authority assume themselves into a Body and Society, as if they had been Incorporated to a perpetual succession, and made Ordinances and Constitutions to establish themselves in perpetuity, as appeareth by their own Ordinance.
‘That whereas four of them were in the Order of Priesthood, four were ‘Professors of the Common-Law, and the rest Citizens of London; if ‘any of them should die, or be removed, they should elect one into his ‘Place of the same Condition. And that all those that should have the ‘profit of Impropriations, or obtain any Ecclesiastical Presentation, ‘should be bound by certain Conditions which they had framed. Also ‘they chose among them a Treasurer, Secretary, Auditor, and a Common ‘Servant of their Livery, and inflicted Mulcts upon such of them as met not at their Assemblies.
That they purchased diverse Impropriations, but never restored one of them to the Church, by conferring it in Perpetuity upon any Incumbent, but kept them in their own hands, and disposed of the Profits to such Lecturers and Ministers, and in such Proportion, and for so long time as pleased them; and with other part thereof they bought Advousons of Churches, Nominations of Lecturers and Schoolmasters, which the Court conceived was not in the intention of those that gave the Mony for buying in of Impropriations.384
Wherefore the Court was of Opinion, That the Proceedings of the Defendents was against the Laws and Customs of the Realm, and that they tended to the drawing to themselves in time the principal Dependency of the whole Clergie, that should have rewards from them, in such measure, and on such conditions as they should fancy, thereby introducing many Novelties of dangerous Consequence, both in Church and Common-Wealth, and making Usurpation upon his Majesty’s Right. — That in not annexing Impropriations to perpetual Incumbents in purchasing Advousons, Nomination of Incumbents, Lecturers, and Schoolmasters, and buying and keeping of Leases, they had not behaved themselves as they ought to have done, nor according to the Trust reposed in them. And his Majesty having referred the further examination of these Designs, intending to question this Matter in the Star-Chamber, the Court did forbear to proceed to the inflicting of Punishments. Nevertheless it was Ordered and Decreed, That the Defendents should not from thenceforth hold any more Assemblies, or make Orders touching the Premises: Nor make any Alienations, or Alterations of the Estates of the afore-mentioned Impropriations, Advousans, Manors, Lands, Tenements, and Leases, which shall remain in the Persons in whom they now are, till the Court take further order. And as touching the buying of these Impropriations, the Court thought it a pious Work; but the distribution of the Profits, as is before declared, would have grown to a great inconvenience and prejudicial to the Government of the Church. And his Majesty’s Pleasure was made known, That whatsoever had bin thus bestowed, should be imploied wholly to the Good of the Church, and the Maintenance of Conformable Preachers in the right and best way. And it was further decreed, That Commissious should be made to such as the Court shall nominate, to inquire of all Rectories, Tythes, Impropriations, and of all Leases appointed to be sold, and of all Sums of Mony appointed to be given for the purchasing of Impropriations; and upon the returns made by those Commissioners, the whole Profits thereof shall be conferred upon perpetual Incumbents and their Successors, as his Majesty shall think ft. And as touching the Advousons,385 when any Church becomes void, the King’s Majesty shall present, and School-masters shall be placed by his Nomination. And the Defendenls shall make Accompt of all Receipts, before such Auditors as the Court shall appoint. And his Majesty’s Attorney General may give them a discharge, or except against the Allowances demanded by them.
Moreover the King gave direction, That the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, the Lord Keeper, and other Lords and Bishops, should consider whether a Criminal Process should be made against the Feoffees? and if so, then whether in the Court of Exchequer, or Star-chamber?386
No criminal action seems to have been advised, at any rate none was taken. But at the time of the trial Davenport at least was very much afraid of it. Says Mather:
Upon this occasion I find this Great Man writing in his Great Bible, the ensuing Passages:
‘Feb. 11. 1632. The Business of the Feoffees being to be heard the third time at the Exchequer, I prayed earnestly, That God would assist our Counsellors, in opening the Case, and be pleased to grant, that they might get no advantage against us, to punish us as Evil Doers; promising to observe what Answer he gave. Which seeing he hath graciously done, and delivered me from the thing I feared, I record to these Ends:
1. To be more Industrious in my Family.
2. To check my Unthankfulness.
3. To quicken my self to Thankfulness.
4. To awaken my self to more Watchfulness for the time to come, in remembrance of his Mercy.
Which I beseach the Lord to grant; upon whose Faithfulness in his Covenant, I cast my self, to be made Faithful in my Covenant.’
If it were possible to look at this sentence apart from the circumstances of the time, it would not be difficult to adduce arguments in its favour. Of all modes of supporting the clergy yet invented, their maintenance by a body of capitalists living for the most part at a distance from the scene of their ministrations is probably the worst.
Not, however, that he approves of Laud’s action under the circumstances. The real point of this and many another conflict was that it was, as we all know, a part of a life and death struggle on either side for dominance between those who, like Laud and his friends, earnestly believed Episcopacy to be jure divino and those who, like Dr. Gouge and his friends, earnestly believed Presbyterianism or Independency to be jure divino. And except on the supposition that one side was right and the other wrong, each had as much right and was as much bound to fight for his belief as the other.
The subject of the feoffment was brought up again in Laud’s trial, in which two of the feoffees bore a part against him, and in the accounts of the trial there is much of interest in the personal aspects of this contest.
Mr. Edes communicated five letters written in 1797 and 1798 by Robert Morris concerning his financial embarrassment to General Henry Lee and to John Nicholson. Three of these follow.387
I ROBERT MORRIS TO JOHN NICHOLSON. No 1
Jany 10. 1798
Dr Sir —
You will receive herewith a letter from Richd Sprigg junr to me of the 8th inst on the subject of a joint debt, & my reply for your approbation if it meets therewith seal & send it to Congress Hall returning to me Mr Spriggs letter
I have recd your No 1 of this day but cannot spare time to look into the affairs of Chas Young just now, being full of troublesome & important business, I shall be along side of Chas Young soon. Wm Hunt & M Dubs, have issued Scire Facias’s v. G. Eddy & I must go for my property shall never go to pay those Debts — I am &c
John Nicholson Esqr
John Nicholson Esqr
Letter from Robe
Morris, Jany 11h 1798
II ROBERT MORRIS TO HENRY LEE.
PhiladA. March 11th. 1798
Dear Sir —
I received your letter of the 4th ulto. Under cover from Mr Morgan, but altho you thought the proposition contained therein so easy to be executed, I find it impracticable having by other arrangements put it out of my power to do what you ask.
I dare say you will have heard of my present disagreeable situation, a situation to which I ought never to have been exposed, but generous confidences in Men who have once obtained my good Opinion is a prominent part of my disposition & has led me into all the Scrapes & difficulties that have occurred in the course of my Life. It will now become my Study to extricate my self with the least inconvenience to my Just Creditors, and my desire to facilitate you is the same as ever as I continue to be Dr Sir
Your Obedt hble servt
Genl. Henry Lee
Genl Henry Lee
May 1st 1798
John Nicholson Esqr
The Secy of the No American Land Company has shewed me the Minutes of your meeting but as I have been much Occupied he has not had an opportunity of relating to me what passed in conversation at that meeting. With respect to our shares in that company I have long considered them as protected from “catch that catch can” by two circumstances, first the situation in which they are already placed. Secondly, the little credit & Estimation in which they are held. Hitherto they have lain dormant & safe under the Gloom of these Shades and may I believe continue in the same state of Obscurity. I have not however any material objection to the plans you mention. I wonder however that it does not strike you forcibly that one Consequence of the Numerous Schemes & plans you have adopted is a deprivation of resources wherewith to obtain “Paper” an Article of the First necessity to you. Bread which I suppose is next, and the means of gratifying your feelings now & then by making small payments to meritorious & necessitous creditors. I will furnish you with a list of my “Detainers” as you desire & remain
Your obt servt
Jno Nicholson Esqr
May 1st 1798