Recovery and Imperial Politics 1676–1680
Philip, the “grand enemy” of whom William Bradford wrote in his 24 July letter, was finally hunted down by Benjamin Church’s men and killed on 12 August 1676. In two of the most famous ironies associated with this tragic conflict, Philip died at Mount Hope, the scene of the war’s opening skirmishes, and at the hand of a Native soldier in Church’s mixed force.
Even as the final campaigns unfolded, New England’s secular and religious leaders were writing histories of the conflict, largely with a London audience in mind. Ipswich minister William Hubbard got to the press first; his The Present State of New-England seemed to place much of the blame for the war on the Plymouth government, even as he apparently dismissed the colonists’ missionary efforts and the capacity of the Natives to profit from them. Increase Mather, Cotton’s step-brother, was working on his own version of the events, A Relation of the Troubles Which Have Happened in New-England, which stressed the English colonists’ spiritual decay as the reason for God’s wrath, and the obvious lesson that New England’s trials constituted a call from God for revival.339 Mather sent a copy of Hubbard’s history to Cotton to inquire about certain facts that Mather obviously doubted. As the above correspondence reveals, Cotton was decidedly in Mather’s camp with regard to historical causation, and after consulting with some of the major Plymouth actors in the war, he wrote to support his step-brother, expressing himself freely on the subject of Hubbard’s “errors”—as usual, perhaps too freely. In the meantime, while the historians argued, fighting in northern New England continued (historians now consider King Philip’s War to have been the southern phase of a much larger New England conflict) and Cotton remained a conduit for news from the front, all the while continuing to coordinate relief efforts for those communities hit hardest by the war.
In this role, Cotton rendered valuable service. Many of Plymouth’s churches, which offered their communities everything from spiritual solace to material relief, had been seriously disrupted. The war affected churches directly, as their membership suffered casualties and communities scattered. But in addition, the churches experienced attrition among members of the clergy. Duxbury’s minister died in 1675, and Cotton lost two of his closest colleagues and correspondents, Thomas Walley of Barnstable and Noah Newman of Rehoboth, a few years later. Attracting new ministers for Plymouth congregations was not easy, as the colony was poor and almost crushed with unaccustomed debts, which were the result of prosecuting the war. Finally, as the following letters show, Cotton’s associates thought that an orthodox front was needed in the face of a new movement promoting the toleration of dissident churches. Some of the radicals apparently attributed the devastating Boston fire described by Increase Mather, as well as outbreaks of smallpox, to the colony government’s stiff-necked opposition to heterodoxy.
As always, personal matters find expression in letters to and from friends and family. The Cottons fret about a son beginning his career at Harvard, asking Increase Mather to keep an eye on the boy. In return, Increase’s son Cotton comes to stay with his Plymouth aunt and uncle, in part it seems to “take the waters” for his health. As if the devastation of war were not enough, Boston suffers a major fire and an outbreak of smallpox, both of which touch the Mathers very nearly. The loss of a child brings the Cottons letters of sympathy and consolation, and it becomes Cotton’s turn to console when congregations are bereft of their ministers. Cotton also resumes his missionary work while making a valuable contribution to John Eliot’s second edition of his Massachusett-language Bible. Finally, Cotton and his correspondents sense the stirrings of royal politics in New England, as Crown agents attempt to enforce greater conformity with England’s navigation laws and bring the colonies into the imperial fold. While Massachusetts Bay in particular vigorously resisted cooperation, Plymouth’s governors exhibited a more compliant disposition—a strategy that seemed to pay off, as the last letter of this section suggests.
7 September 1676
As coordinated Native resistance in southern New England sputtered out, the English worked to rebuild their shattered communities and make sense of the devastation left by the war. One of the thorny problems to settle was the disposition of King Philip’s wife and son, captured by the English shortly before the sachem was killed. This section opens with a memorandum to the Plymouth Colony government in which Cotton and a colleague summarize the Biblical case for executing the boy as a “child of death.” The memorandum gives support to both sides of the issue, but it is not clear which course of action Cotton favors.
The Ques: being propounded to us by our Honoured Rulers, whether Philips Son be a child of death?340 our Answer hereunto is, That wee doe acknowledge that Rule, Deu: 24: 16:341 to be Morall & therefore perpetually binding, viz, that in a particular act of wickednesse <which is> thought capitall, the crime of the parent doth not <charge?> render his child <with?> as child of punishment by the civill magistrate yet <wee> upon <our most> serious consideration <& mature deliberation,> wee humbly conceive, that the children of notorioius Traitors, rebells & murtherers, espetially of such as have bin the principall leaders & actors in such horrid villanies & that agst a whole country, yea the whole Interest of God may be involved in the guilt of their parents, & may salva republica342 be adjudged to death. as <espetiall> to us seems evident by the scripture Instances of <the priority of> Saul, Achan, Haman. the children of whom were cut off by the sword of Justice for the transgressions of their parents, although concerning some of these children <at least,> it be manifest, that they were not capable of being co-actors therein <with them>
September 7: 1676:
John Davis Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society. This is apparently Cotton’s original draft, written on both sides of a small strip of paper, much edited and entirely in his handwriting, including the two signatures.
9 October 1676
Reverend and deare ffriend
I heard of yor being at Boston otherwise I had not bin soe long with out a letter from you nor you with out one from me and now I have little to write but only to tell you that I soe like my new Condition that I desire to be thankfull to god for it343 I think I Could not have had a better wife the pvidence of god hath ordered this business I trust in greate mercie to me. pray that god will every way turne it to my good and make us blessings one to another and to or family and the place we live in I hope it is the answer of my prayer though my son and daughter are Come from Boston to visit us they have brought us scarsly any news what you have I pray you send me and when you write to Reverend Mr Mather I desire you would in my name give him thanks for the book he sent me and wish the <exhortion> Exhortation he hath annexed to it were written upon All hearts in new England he seemes to me to be a man very faithfull to god to his people and to the whole Cuntry the Lord bless his Labors and make them Effectuall to many. if yor selfe and Mrs Cotten will give us a visit though I cannot make her mistris of my house yet I will entertaine you both as my loving ffriends I present my harty Love to you both and pray that god will bless you with all needfull blessings I am
yor truly Loving ffriend and Brother in or Lord
Octob: 9: 167
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “To The Rev my Much Honrd Friend mr J Cotton Plimth.” Endorsed in a contemporary hand other than Cotton’s “From Mr Walley 8br 9: 1676.” Torn along bottom margin.
30 October 1676
If Cotton were equivocal in the matter of Philip’s son, some of his fellow ministers were less so. James Keith, the author of this letter, favors more merciful scriptures as a guide.
Bridgwater Octob 30 1676
Reverend & deare Sir.
Being still denyed opportunity of personall converse much desired & longed for. I must intreat your acceptance of these few lines by which I do cordially salute you & yours in the Lord. elder Brett345 wt my self did fully intend, about 3 weeks ago to h[ave] givin you a visit together wt our frends at Dukesburrough & Marshfeild but were prevented, my self being takin ill, about yt time, having severall fits of the fever, & some other bodily infirmityes upon me, whereby I was hindered, one sabbath in the publick exercise of my ministry, god hath now restored competent health to my self & my family, & likewise to our people in generall, blessed be the name of the Lord. I long to heare what becomes of Philips wife & his sone, I know there is some difficulty in yt ps 137. 8. 9.346 though I think it may be considered, whether there be not some specialty, & somewhat extraordinary in it: yt law Deut 24. 16.347 compared wt the commended example of Amasiah—2. Chron. 25. 4348 doth sway much wt me in the case under consideration, I hope god will direct those 2 whom it doth concern to a good issue let us joyn our prayers at the throne of grace, wt all our might, that the Lord would so dispose of all publicke motions & affairs yt his Jerusalem in the wilderness, may be the habitation of justice & the mountain of holines, yt so it may be also a quiet habitation, a tabernacle yt shall not be takin down. deare Sir I know not when I shall see you, though I so earnestly desire it, I purpose, god willing, to go down to Boston the next week, I should be heartily glade to meet you there, if your o[cc]asions lead yt way, however let us pray one for another, wtout ceasing. I pray Sir present my service to the much honoured governour & the rest of the honoured bench, if you have opportunity, present my true love & respects to Mr Arnold349 when you see him, my respects to your elder & other freinds, I hope you will favour me wt a line or 2. by the bearer if time permit, not else at present, my cordial respects presented to your self & Mistris Cotton, praying the lord to be wt you through all changes, & to preserve you in his everlasting arms, I rest
Your very affectionate friend to serve you in the lord
John Davis Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society. Endorsed “[F]rom Mr Keith october, 30: 1676:”
24 November 1676
Mather’s A Brief History of the Warr with the Indians in New England was printed in Boston shortly after Philip’s death in August. It apparently was not well received. This letter reveals that Mather had already commenced his longer, more refective work, A Relation of the Troubles Which Have Happened in New-England (Boston, 1677) and was soliciting information for its composition. Cotton obliges but also asks for his step-brother’s help regarding one of the Cottons’ sons.
Plimouth November, 24: 1676:
Revd & Deare Brother
I have bin very sollicitous to answer your desires with reference to matter for your History, & did therefore goe on purpose to our Govr with your letter last wednesday who then promised me to devote the next day to waite upon you in looking for what he might have usefull in that respect, & speedily to write to you concerning Alexander350 etc & also he hath in his keeping something drawne up by our secretary, which he intends to send you, or what is meet out of it; also I have desired & obtained of Major Bradford a Booke in Folio written by his father351 which I shall send by the first opportunity by water, if I cannot send it by land: The Journall of Plimouth beginnings352 I could send you, but I thinke it needs not for you told me some passages in it, whence I conclude you have that booke: Major Bradford hath another printed Booke which he thinks would well contribute to you, its title is, Good newes from P: in N: E:353 but he cannot finde it, he will doe his endeavour speedily to helpe me to it, if he doe you shall soone have it. I told the Govr, the matter required hast, I hope you will very suddenly heare from him:
My Dearest being sagacious, did immediately conjecture something was amisse, which necessitated discovery, the fruit of which was & is, much greife & bitternesse of heart; after some houres of secret lamentation God brought to her that, 1: Tim: 1: 15;354 with some power, which sustaines her heart in hopes, that even that gratious word may finde accomplishment on this subject, Amen, Amen: once a weeke at least be intreated to send for him & converse with him, who knowes, but God may make you his father?355
I could intreat earnestly of you that you would write a Cordiall letter to my afflicted wife, to quiet her heart & strengthen her faith in God that one soe deare to her may be saved from sin & be accepted into mercy: our soules are troubled for him, wee heartily wish his hastening out of the schoole that he might be under your roofe & Eye, etc I durst not be soe bold as to urge for it this winter, but I hope in the spring it may be attaineable, & that your sophisters may be good Tutors to him, you being Præsident; I hope you are not supplyed with a Barrell of Beefe, & therefore doe put aboard for you out of my owne store a Barrell of choice Beefe, which may be with you the next faire winde; I now set noe price upon it, neither doe I desire you to pay me any mony for it; I hope my child may ere long bring me much more into your debt, & I shall make Conscience, God helping, to send to the full for your satisfaction in Butter & other necessaries for a family; & I hope about this time twelve-moneth to save you much trouble in laying in your winter-provisions, & halfe in halfe of the prizes you now pay upon those accounts:
My selfe & wife heartily salute you & yours, with our kinde love to our Cousens, I thanke you for my late Courteous Entertainement with you; wee beg your prayers for me & mine; A strong man dyed here this weeke, 2 or 3 men more are Judged neere death, the Lord awaken us before it be too late. I rest, Sir,
your Affectionate Brother,
The Major hath found the booke, Mr clark posts away this saturday sunset, I hope on monday a man will bring you the books.
Mather Papers 2:28, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend, his very Deare Brother, Mr Increase Mather, Teacher of a church of christ at Boston, present.” Endorsed “Br J. C. Nov. 24. 1676.”
13 December 1676
I red yors of 4th Instant,356 whereby I perceive yor readiness to sympathize wth me, in ye mercifull affliction, wh ye only wise & faithfull God hath seen meet to inflict upon me & my poor Family. I see yt Hee is a tender hearted & Loving Father, in yt He doth correct me wth so much gentleness, notwthstanding all my unworthy walkings before him. He hath shewd peculiar Loving kindness to me (however vile & sinfull) in this dispensation. It is true yt my House is burnt;357 & winter provision is all consumed, for no one went into ye cellar. Nor did anyone goe into ye garrets to save wt was there. So yt Trunks & clothes there are perished. Also a box of my Fathers letters wh was there disposed; & my Mothers Trunk of writings. I am also told since the fire, yt you had a [blacke?] cloake therin & I think I am troubled for ye loss of yt, yn for any thing of my owne. Lumber in ye house, is mostly consumed, as bedsteads Tables &c yet ye Lord hath spared to us all [or] beds & bedding & most of ye chairs in ye Houses & most of or Linnen. Plate is mostly melted, & some of it, not yet found. But <ye greate> behold yet greater mercy. My Bookes & M.SS. are most of ym safe. God (& I beleive his Angels) did so influence yt I could not sleep yt morning wn ye fire broke forth; but I smelt ye fire, before ye cry was made in ye streets (about 2 hrs before day) & rose, & looked out of ye windows, & yn some began to cry Fire. My first wishe was to gett ye children out of ye House, since ye wind brought ye flames directly up ye street where I lived. There I went into my study, & tooke ye M.SS wch were of greatest value & gave ym to my Cotton & bad him goe away wth ym. Then my Cousin John & I threw Bookes down ye stairs as fast as wee could, & people carried ym away. I had (through ye wonderfull & tender mercy of ye most High,) Time to throw down almost all my Bookes, but before I could quite clear my study, some called to me, & told me I was a dead man if I stayd any longer. So I departed Letters are burnt so are my old notes prpd in E. & in Guernsey, & in Boston [page ends, most of letter missing]
Mather Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “These For ye Revd my dear Brother Mr John Cotton, preacher of ye gospell in Plymouth.” Endorsed “From my Brother Mather December, 13: 1676: about the fire at Boston which was, November, 27:”
Reverend & Dear Sr
My hearty salutations to yr selfe & Mrs Cotton rejoycing to hear of the repairing of her then impayred health when I was last with you
Sr I was willing to present you with a few lines having so opportune a season as by one of yr own houshold: I did & doe lament truly my providentiall obstacles yt we could not convenire in uno tertio358 on ye last Kindnes to Barnstable in whose service ye past day I have been engaged
the lord by solemn & tremendous strokes on sundry of our poor flock yt dwell solitary in ye woods did interrupt my attendance of service at Barnstable for whom in subserviency to our comon lord and master i hope i have an engaged heart: the lords stroke indeed is solemn by smiting sundry in their intellectuals in a strange & unusual manner if my novice apprehension fayl me not; though not according to the form of a diabolical possession as some may apprehend: as also ye day following ye sole[mni]ty at Barnstable we had a town mee[tin]g injoyned into the concernments & agitations of wch conventicle, did apprehend my self not to be a little engaged as did afterwards appear concerning the canonical ground on which the meeting house to be errcted should stand359 the [town?] being [du?] in their interest [apper?] [. . .] recommend ye [. . .]
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Endorsed “Mr Walley.” Bottom margin torn and missing.
16 & 28 January 1677
Reverend And Deare Sir
I am sensible of the affliction that it hath pleased god to exercise you and yor deare wife with360 it is a Day in which god is Correcting and trying his people in this wilderness the affliction you have at present is noe new or straing affliction but that which is Common to the children of god and may therefore be the more easily borne our children that are dead are not lost Jobs children were not doubted we shall goe to them our Children are more the lords then ours and therefore he may dispose of them they are his children but he sets them to us to nurce the nurce often Loves the Child but when the parents send for it it must goe home a greate part of or obedience lies in or submission to the will of god and being graciously quiet under his hand we have more to losse then what we have los[t] [. . .] all we have is at gods dispose god hath more to give then yet he hath given us and the way to have much is to be Content with his dealings our tryall not like the tryalls of others Job had all his children taken from him many have theyr children taken away when they are grown and when they are sinning as Aarons sons and Absolome Dear friends be of good Comfort this affliction as well as others shall be for good and Know that when god hath manifested his will we are to be quiet to hold our peace.
I am glad god hath graciously recovered preciouse mr Newman yor motion for a meeting of our Brethren in the ministry I could like but it is not now a season and I Dare not be soe bold as to desire them to meet at my house but were it theyr Desire they should be welcome I much feare that zeale for religion decays where god expects it most and we are secure though not delivered we are a silly dove without heart for god There have bin some that have stood in the Gap if some others be not found in their Roome Ruinating Judgments will Come if it please god to lift up the hearts of or Magistrates and ministers in the waies of God things will goe well with the cuntry Luther sayth nunuquam poriclitadur religio visi inter Reverendisemos361 [I] may adde inter honorabiles362 those that walked in the first waies of David were the best Kings it is good for us to look oft upon or patternes
if our Judges be as at the first gods Dealings will be towards us as at first. I highly prize or present magistracy and ministry yet am jealouse I hope with a Godly jealousy that religion is not our interest as in times past that we are become to indifferent in [the] matters of God or want Courage to doe duty. but god I trust will not leave us but recover life and spirit in his people I know the more men appeare for god the more god will honor them when we account it our best wisdom to please god then it will be well with us. Sir you Continue yor labor of Love to me and I Continue my thankfullness to you the Lord help us to serve him and one another in Love and I trust the good Lord will give you and yor wife his Consolations in the Day of yor affliction and Continue and bless yor remaining mercies my hearty Love is to yor selfe and good mrs Cotton we in my family are in health pray for us I am
yor truly Loving ffriend
Jan: 16. 1676
When you write to Tanton I pray you remember my Love to my Son and Daughter Shove.363
This Day I received yors Dated Jan: 16th.364 the Lord Causeth many to mourne in our Daies my desire is that god will Cloth his mourners with garments of joy and gladness and though god withhold joy yet labor to be quiet he that gives us blessings may take them from us and Espetially such blessings as he never promised to keep with us it is mercie enough that he hath given us him selfe his son his spirit that he hath given us grace and many other abiding mercies our best mercies are our surest mercies—
a child is gon but god is not gon grace is not gon nor yet the child lost it is a more blessed thing to endure affliction then to Continue in prosperity god Loves us when he afflicts us and Loves to see us beare his hand patiently—yor child was not taken from you by the hand of Barbarouse Indians but by the hand of a graciouse father and you had yor child as Long as god saw it good for you to have it this is our greate privileg nothing we have is taken from us till it is best for us to be without it—but Deare Sir yor letter hath two requests in it and I am truly sorry that I Can answer you in neither as for my notes upon Jam: 5. 11.365 allthough I Could find them I should not send them it is true I did Run over the Epistle of James but only gave a briefe explication and some observations and short vses366 except upon some verses I know what I have Don upon this text is soe little soe meane and soe unsutable to yor thoughts that I Dare not send it when I Drew toward the end I hastened and sayd little to any thing I pray you in this excuse me.
As for the other yor Daughters Comming to us I should gladly answere you in it but it is a work my Daughter Dare not undertake and shee hath much business and at present without a maide and allwaies in a Cumber with her children and providing for Indians that her husband imploies.
yor engaged ffriend
Yor Last letter367 I received for wch I give you thanks but have noe opportunity to adde any thing
Cotton Family Papers 7:13, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “ffor the Reverend and my much honoured ffriend mr John Cotton Pastour of the Church of christ in Plimoth DD.” Endorsed “From mr Walley January, 18: 1676:”
19 January 1677
Plimouth January, 19: 1676:
Revd & Deare Brother
I wrote to you last weeke368 by Mr Smith who was once schoolmr at your End, & informed you of Gods holy hand in bereaving us of our deare litle one; it pleased God last saturday to lay a sore Affliction also upon our Good Elder, bereaving him of his daughter,369 who had bin married 11 moneths & was delivered of a living son & dyed within 6 houres after, she was godly & in full communion 4 or 5 yeares ever since she was 17 or 18 yeares old: the good man begs your prayers for him, who indeed never met with such an affliction before: I hope you have received mine by way of Hingham,370 & desire to heare from you, you may write by Mr John Alden371 who intends to returne this way to his vessell early next weeke; I pray looke also for the paper of Quaeries I sent you about Nov: 27:372 & please to returne some breife answer to them; & if you have opportunity, desire Mr Thatcher373 to give you the letters he had prepared to send me which came not, My lads went once & againe to his house but he was absent, & though that child by Gods soveraigne hand be removed, yet directions in such a case (lying by us) from persons of skill, may by Gods blessing save the lives of many others, & therefore I desire his lines, & pray present my due respects to him with desires for his prayers for us.
Capt Church is gone with some to Road Island, his Leiftenant, Jabez Howland374 with others are to meete him at Rehoboth next Tuseday, they intend to be about an 100 English & Indians, the Lord succeed them: Your Jether is a pretty litle boy, about June next he is 7 yeares old; it will be some time before he doe you service, but I hope he will be soon capable of good Instruction, he can truly answer that Ques: who made him?375
My selfe & Dearest heartily salute you & yours[;] she is most desolate and pensive, & did yesternight fall afresh to mourning, as if she had nothing else to doe, I hope your lines may come for her direction & comfort, & for mine also; our Love to our Cousens, Let us have your earnest prayers for a sanctifyed fruite of this Affliction, I rest,
your Affectionate Brother,
Mather Papers 1:44, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend, his Deare Brother, Mr Increase Mather, Teacher of a Church of Christ, at Boston. Per Capt: Paige.” Endorsed “Br J. C. Jan. 19. 1676/7.” Some mutilation along center fold.
22 January 1677
I Cannot chuse but heartily sympathize wth you in this bitter day wch is come upon you, in respect of ye death of yt Dear little one whom it hath pleased ye only wise & faithfull God to take from you I trust, he will give you grace to carry it wth Patience & moderation in respect of grief as becomg a christian otherwise you will despond [illeg.], & wrong yor selfe yor Family, yor body, yor soul, & it may be provoke ye Lord to bring a [two words illeg.] upon ye Fa[ ] The main thing yt should quiet yor spirit, is yt ye blessed will of god is done, [Isa?] 39. 8.376 And truly yts heaven upon earth, when we can bring or wills into a perfect subjection to ye good pleasure of ye Almighty, who doth all things well. Yet there are other Considerations, wch should Cause you to let yor moderation (in respect of natural forms under such a bereavment) be known to all men. e.g. The Lord might have dealt more bitterly wth you He hath taken away one Hee might have taken all, as from Job; & from many in N. E. since ye late troubles on ye land. yor child dyed under the visitaton of ye lords more imediate & mercifull hand, wras many precious ones, yir children have fallen into ye hands of men cruel & skillful to destroy.377 you have moreover reason to conclude, yt ye child is blessed, since christ himselfe hath sayd, yt of such is ye kingdom of Heaven. Had hee lived, you would have bin caring for him but christ hath provided Infinitely better for him yn ever you could have done. would you not have rejoyced to have seen yt child outstrip you in grace? And why should you not rejoyce yt hee is got before you to glory? yea rejoice in yt God hath made you an instrument to replenish heaven, & bring forth an heir for ye kingdome of God. Hath christ taken a son out of your boosom, and layd it in his owne boosom? should that aggrieve you? Remember also ye Resurrection. when there was a good woman yt had lost her son, & one yt was grown up to mans estate, (& yn its harder to part wth ym) I can only say; ye Lord Jesus was compassionate towards her and bid her not to weep, for her son should rise again. Luk. 7. 13.378 so I say to you, though yor son shall not rise again so soone as hers did, yet it will be ere long, & his Resurrectn farr more glorious then that was. Besides, if you humbly address yourselfe to God in Jesus Christ, who knows how much of Himselfe Hee may communicate to you now Hee hath taken a creature comfort from you? There is a memorable Passage [entered?] in yt Booke called ye fulfilling of scriptures379 (p. 491.) of a good man who wn his son was dead, Hee went alone to pour out his soul unto god, & afterwards was cheerful (as Hannah you know was no more sad after she had prayed) some wondred at him for it but Hee told ym, yt if he might but enjoy such another manifestation of God, as in yt private prayr, Hee had met wth Hee could be Content to bury a son every day. Now ye Lord give you ye good of this affliction, & be yor everlasting comforter. To him I commend you & rest
yor Loving Brother
22 of 11 m. 1676.
Cotton Family Papers 7:14, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Revd my dear Brother mr John Cotton, Pastor of ye Church in Plymouth.” Endorsed “F[rom m]y Brother M[ather] January, 22: 1676:.”
29 January 1677
Bridgwater Jan: 29—76.
Reverend Sir & deare brother in the lord
I received yours of the 15. of this instant,380 which brought me the sorrowfull tidings of your bereavement: though I have ben hitherto exempted from trials of that nature, yet I hope I have in some measure learned to sympathise wth brethren under such affliction. deare Sir faint not under these rebukes of god, it is the lord that hath done it, as in a way of soveraignty & holines so also in faithfulnes in loving kindnes & mercy. you may be apt under such a severe stroake to say as sometimes Jacob all these things are against me,381 but deare Sir give me leave to minde you of those sweet & solemn truths by you described. on ps. 119 it is good for me that I have bein afflicted:382 it is a great comfort to godly parents concerning theire children, that however they are bereaved, yet still they have them in the promise, it is no insignifcant thing that our Lord Jesus hath said suffer little children to come to me, he is the great & good shepherd, who hath a favour for poor children & doth gather the lambs unto his bosom—deare Sir be of good comfort. it is not long before god will wipe away all teares from our eyes, the time is short & therefore it remaineth that they that weep be as though they wept not. our people here have ben visited this winter wth the jaundice & some wth the fever, but still the lord doth correct us in measure blessed be the lord who hath taken us into his own hand & hath not suffered us to fall into the hands of men deare Sir pray for us that all the visitations of god may be in mercy to us. I cannot now enlarge being in more then ordinary haste. my true love & respects presented to your self & Mistris Cotton, praying the Lord to be a comforter to you both. I rest
Your assured & affectionate friend to serve you in the lord
Cotton Family Papers 7:15, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “To The reverend his very affectionate friend Mr John Cotton pastor of the church of christ in Plimouth.” Endorsed “From mr Keith January, 29: 1676:.”
19 & 20 March 1677
In this letter Cotton betrays some classic male helplessness in the temporary absence of his wife as he frets over Jether, the servant he is grooming for Mather. Amid this laundry-list of local news and historical debate about the recent war, the fate of Philip’s son is barely apparent. The boy was not killed but may have suffered as bad a fate.
Plimouth March, 19: 1676:/77:
Revd & Deare Brother
I could have desired to have kept your booke383 a few days longer, whereby it might have bin filled with marginall notes of Errata’s, our Govr & magistrat[es] had some cursory perusall of the booke, the mistakes are Judged to be many more then the truths in it: our Govr & mag: doe affirme that Alexander was got home before he dyed.384 I am in a great straite abo[ut] your boy, the Treasurer hath obtained a sutable boy for your service, & the litle one is re[turn]ed to Ben: Church againe: My wife being gone westward I cannot cloath this Jether as she would: I am in doubt whether it be best to send him now or not. I incline to send him, partly because he is now fit to cut your wood, & goe to mill, which service you now want, & Thesaur:385 goes now to Boston, who I suppose will see you, you will not faile to give him great thanks & acknowledgments for his respect to you in it: I decline sending him, because I have not yet an order from you soe to doe, What I shall resolve in the morning I know not; if he come I suppose the Boatman will expect 2 or 3 shill: for his passage, though they tell me not soe, nor will they take ought of me, nor aske ought of you, but I thinke such a summe must be profered, & if it be taken I am glad it costs you noe more: I received him meanely clad, & cannot put on him more then these black rags for want of my wife: I send my sister a few Egges; by the last boat I sent her some Cabbages & Cranberries, I feare for want of a written order, my John386 might take them home, but know not how it is.
Hearty remembrance to you & sister, the Lord give her a good time. pray for your Lov: Br:
Dear Brother, upon after thoughts, it seems to me best at present not to send your boy, because you desired me to keep him till you had occasion to send for him, therefore by these I only informe you that the [. . .] shall be readily sent you, when you please to send for him:
I now send your imperfect History:
Good Mr newman preaches our Election sermon, it is not his turne, but because he is newly come out of the fire,387 ergo he was chosen.
Philips boy goes now to be sold:388
If you have more Almanacks then one etc. if not I desire it not.
Major [Br]adford confidently assures me, that in the Narrative de Alexandro [there a]re many mistakes, & fearing lest you should through misinformation print some mistakes on that subject, from his mouth I thus write:
Reports being here that Alex: was plotting or privy to plots against [the E]nglish, Authority sent to him to come downe, he came not, whereupon [Ma]jor winslow was sent to fetch him, Major Bradford & some others went with him, at munponset river389 (a place not many miles hence) they found Alex: with about 8 men & sundry squaws he was there about getting Canooes: he & his men were at Breakfast under their shelter, their guns being without, they saw the English coming, but continued eating, & M: Winsl: telling their businesse, Alex: freely & readily without the least haesitancy consented to goe, giving this reason why he came not to the court before, viz., because he waited for Capt Willets returne from the Dutch390 being desirous to speake with him first: they brought him to Mr Colliers391 that day, & Govr Prince then living remote at Eastham, those few Magistrates who were at hand issued the matter peaceably, & immediately dismissed Alex: to returne home, which he did part of the way, but in 2 or 3 dayes after, he returned & went to Major winslows house,392 intending thence to travell into the Bay & soe home, but at the Majors he was taken very sick, & was by water conveyed to Mr. Bradfords, & thence carried upon the shoulders of his men to Tetehqut river, & thence in canooes home, & about 2 or 3 dayes after, dyed:393 After this there was great Solemnity in the congratulating Philips coming to the crowne, by the flocking of Multitudes of Indians from all parts, sachems & others, with great feasting & rejoycing at Mount Hope; this caused the Govr to call a meeting on purpose, Aug: 6. to do as the memoriall saith.394
Mather Papers 1:52, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend, his Deare Brother, Mr Increase Mather, Teacher of a Church of Christ at Boston.” Letter somewhat mutilated at edges.
27 March 1677
Boston 27 March 1677
mr Cotton sir after kind respects promised to you and mis Cotton yesterday arived mr Jno Philips of Charls toune395 from Scotland 5 weeks pasage, brings news of mr danfort son the scoler death of the small pox in London396 mr stoughton and mr Buckly397 I did see both ther letters to frinds for mr stoughton to mr tayler mr burke to mr Edward who find hard worke in england worse then tha expected both [of] them have been il of a Cold but mendi[ng] [. . .] but in that meal of dis[ ] [. . . .] I beleve wil be seen mr Jno Lof[ ] [. . . .] 29: instant [. . . .] mr n[ ]land [. . . .] hath a [. . . .] stay no Lete[ ] [. . . .] since I began [. . . .] James [. . . .] be lost by [. . . .] point our [. . . .] thus the [. . . .] peopl [. . . .]
Cotton Family Papers 7:18, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed [To the] revd John Cotton att plimoth.” Endorsed “[. . . .] March, 27: 1677:.” The handwriting is that of James Oliver. Bottom half of letter badly mutilated.
2 April 1677
These are only to give cover to the enclosd desiring your care to convey the 13£ therewth to mr Newman p some fitt opportunity being pte of our Towns Contribution last fast wch w th about 14 or 15£ more in clothing & cattell is wth us to send p convenient opertunity for ye releif of those most-sufferrers [by?] ye cause of ye heathen espetially at Rehoboth though also if any in like strayts by suffering from the enimy at Swaunsey who abode by theire stations as ye other did at Rehoboth to be considered in the distribution thereof, by mr newman & mr Browne: who have yt trust committed to ym: mr Brown being assigned 3£ of ye money for himself & mr Newman 4£ thereof for himself I wish it had beene more for him & more in ye whole for ye rest from us who have beene so signally prtected from those suffrings wch our betters have felt [ye] smart of but it is as it is—not elc ye messenger staying but wth thanks for your care & traiell about ye pease I committ you & yours to ye keepr of his Israel desiring your prayers for him who rests Sir
yrs obliged in effect as in affection.
Barnestabl 2d Aprill. 77.
Miscellaneous Collections, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “These ffor the Revrd and his much esteemed good ffrind mr John Cotton Plimoth dd.” Endorsed “From mr Hinckley April, 2: 1677:” In a different hand: “Contributn for sufferers by Indians at Rehoboth [illeg.] abt: 28£.”
4 April 1677
Reverend Sir My hearty salutations being presented to you I prceiving by skipper Watson your desire to be informed of the event of Mr Clerkes answer to the widdow.399 we found it better than we expected. my wife going with me to her I after declaring the desperatenes of the case; after a little pause she gathered up her spirits & declared that she was better satisfyed and hoped she should so remaine, then she could have been had she not understood that he was an obliged man to neither, I was glad things being as they were that she was not sent to [illeg.] to him & hath borne up since with considerable cheerfulnes. Sir I have sold your booke & sent your mony, I bles god I have found some reviving since I saw you for which I pray you be thankfull to god in my behalfe although I dare not yet resolve upon my lecture If I do I shall indeavor your being acquainted with it. our general Gov:400 I hope is mending, enjoying much more [ease?] then formerly threw gods mercy I pray you present my love to Mr Clarke & gratefull remembrance of his last kindnes my due respects to your elder & mrs Cotton when you see them which god mercifully grant in his due time, craving your dayly prayers to the Lord for me I rest
Sir Your cordiall friend & brother in the Lord
Marshfeild Aprill 4th .77
Cotton Family Papers 7:19, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “To the Reverend mr John Cotton Pastor of the Church of Christ in Plymouth.” Endorsed “From Mr Arnold April, 4: 1677:.”
10 April 1677
10: april l 1677
Mr Coten yours Cam to hand yesterday401 I am sory for yours govornors pains and ilnes and am glad of your several Charytys to rehobo in habitants for your other Enquiry mr. glover of sprinfeild402 is Chosen to preach the artilery sermon. Deputys mr stoder and major sevens403 select men added to the former deacon Elyot and deacon alin404 Constabls mr John safin mr [illeg.] Howord405 mr [illeg.] son in law [illeg.] dead John par[ ]ter Ephraim savage406 young [illeg.] leiftant wils[?], for news from the eastward407 our 2 vesels went awy this day fraught to releive Koosicke garison Last night Cam [news?] yt 2 kild at wels408 on taken alive 2 houses burnt at York and from blak Point409 5 men and on woman lately kild ther the last 5 day the remainder of winter harbor burnt410 we ar in great fear of the next news from new York 9 kild and lost sertainly 2 escaped I spake with on of them mr wilard is Quit gone from us to the south Church411 to our greife but we must say the Lords wil be done your last lins about your dearest is a mistake as I supos Jesus Christ is the most and altogether Lovely and so is dearest after to morow I may send you the nomynatyn of Majestrat, I pray you present my servis to your governor, and my generall and to your treasuror, hope is learning to speake and her catycist yr Lo frind and servt
Cotton Family Papers 7:20, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “To the Reverent mr John Cotton att Plimoth present.”
14 April 1677
The controversy over the causes, and “blame,” for King Philip’s War, described in the introduction to this section, swept Cotton into its vortex. It was not an argument in which Cotton wanted to be involved, and he clearly suspected that some indiscretion on the part of his step-brother, one of the contestants, was to blame.
Plimouth April, 14: 1677:
RevD & Deare Brother
Soe much confidence I have in you, that I durst to put my life in your hands; how it comes to passe that you, my most intire friend, have endangered my losse of my best friends here, besides all that reproach those concerned in the Bay will lay upon me, you will enforme me in your next: I went last wednesday to visit our Govr, who had lately received letters from Mr Hubbert412 & Mr Dudley:413 informing thus: mr Hub: saith, Mr John Cotton one of your preachers hath written to his Brother Increase Mather, that some of your magistrates said there were as many mistakes or untruths in the booke as lines, this he had from Mr Allen, & Mr Thacher414 who said he heard the letter read, & 1 of these ministers advised him to send to the Govr for satisfaction: Mr. Dud: writes sharply & reproachfully of me for what I wrote to you: our Govr is angry, & sent for the Treasurer, the day before, & possessed him as if he were the maine man whom I intended: but when I came to the Govr, I told his honour, that divers magistrates spake of mistakes in the booke: Mr D: & Mr H: desire our Govr to put an Imprimatur, & to assert the truth of the book: I told the Govr; I hoped he would returne noe answer that should entrench upon the truth of my words, for I would assert that I had written nothing but the truth: the Govr said, the most considerable mistake he observed was about the taking of Peter, & Moseleys taking prisoners as he went to Narrogansett, for he tooke none, but went by water from Prov: or warwick, to mr Smiths.415 other mistakes were more circumstantiall: I am at a losse what to write at such a distance; my desire is that you would honestly tell me why you trusted J: A: having litle reason to expect but that he would make mischeife of it: I am certaine you intended noe harme to me, but if you doe not improove your piety & prudence to suppresse discourse of this subject,—I am hoping for your answer to my last de John: my selfe & wife heartily salute you & yours, longing to heare of God’s dealing with her; pray for us & ours, I am,
your Affectionate Brother
I am in great trouble of spirit, & straitned for time, soe that I cannot write to you as I would about this matter, I lack to speake with you; I hope my letter you keepe close; I finde noe Magistrate disowne his words, & therefore truth is my friend, but I feare lest our Govr, write some kind of Attestation, etc I dare not write what I thinke: pray write to me, what the very sentence is,416 which I wrote about mistakes, verba[tim.]
Mather Papers 1:56, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “[Th]ese For the Reverend, his Deare Brother, Mr Increase Mather, Teacher of a Church of Christ at Boston.” Endorsed “Br J. C. April. 14 1677.” Lower left corner of letter torn.
21 April 1677
I am sorry to hear of wt mr H. hath written to yor Govr concerning yor Letter to me, wch Hee never saw nor hath truly Reprted. If ye generality of Reprts in his Narrative, should be like yt his Imprimatr, it is pitty. <line crossed out> You <two words crossed out> say indeed in yor Letter, yt some of yor magistrates sd Hee was mistaken in affirming yt Alexander dyed [2?] days &c before he came halfe way home. And also yt some body (whether yor selfe or who it is you doe not express) judged yr were many mistakes in all he had published. But you doe not write, yt yr were as many untruths as Lines in mr H Narrative; much less yt yor Magistrates did any of ym say so. mr H. hath therefore done wrong to you & others in so reproving of you—I did not divulge yor letter. onely mr Th. & mr A. (being concerned in giving [Letters of?] Imprematrs417 were desired by mr H. to enquire of [me?] wt mistakes I observed in his Narrative, whrupn I read to ym, wt you wrote, but did not mention yor Name, only yt I had rd ye Letter from a minister in Plymouth Colony.
I was forward to Encouraging mr H. in his worke. And of my owne accord gave a Large Imprimatr to his Booke. but afterwards wthdrew it, partly because I understood yr was more mistake in it (& I was lately informed yt at Connecticott they find much fault wth it) yn at first I thought ther had bin. And partly because Hee had ye printer set mr Allen his Name to my [Attestatr?], & yt mr A never saw it to this day, wch thing some take to be a degree of Forgery, had it bin done as was designed, Also because I percieve so much of Adulation (as it seemed to me) as caused his discourse to be Nauseous, & I believe modest & Hmble Spirits can not but wish ye style had bin otherwise upon yt account as to some persons yet living—for to Commend ye dead is no flattery. but to applaud persons alive & to yr faces, whether they deserved it or no, I know not wt else to call it. I hear yt mr Bulkly hath written a farr more impartial Narrative, & I shal doe wt I may to promote ye Publicatn of it.
wn you see yor Govr, prsent my service to him. I doubt not, but wn He <illeg.> is rightly informed <illeg.> any hard thoughts wch mr H. may by his misreport have occasioned concerning himselfe will vanish.
The Lord be wth you.
I am, yor [Affecti]nate Brother
Boston. 21. 2m 1677
Mather Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “These For ye Revd my dear Brother Mr John Cotton, Pastor of ye Church in Plymouth.” Endorsed “From my Brother Mather April, 21: 1677:” Noted in a hand other than Mather’s or Cotton’s: “de Hubbard Indian Wars–valuable–.”
9 May 1677
Yesterday all most at night I received yor Letters by mr Bourn418 they have Laine at Sandwich many daies soe that you may perceive that yor Letters Came to late. as for yors to Mr Lauthrop419 I have not yet sent it to him but intend to doe it speedily I have advised with my Daughter Allen420 about it who did suppose knew much of mr Clarks mind and is troubled at his Carriage toward this maid421 and sayth his sister Lauthrop liked the maid and mutch only could have wished shee had bin older I am sorry mr Clarks Conscience is not more tender if he were here I doubt not but he would422 what hath bin his sin and what is his Duty it may be Mr Lauthrop may write to him if it be not to late. sir at present I am not well I have bin greatly distempered with a Cold and other weaknesses and am oft ready to think my daies to live are not many but my times are in hands of god and to his good will I freely submit I pray you pray for me I am sorry for the sicknese of our honoured Governor and good mr Arnal—Sir I have now spook wth mr Lauthrop and he hath read yor Letter and doth like wt you have don and will as soon as he Can write to or speak wth W: C: Sir, I have bin all this day on my bed, as sick as at any time of late yeares my Love to yor selfe and mrs Cotton I am
yors in or Lord
may 9th 1677
Sir I pray you dispatch this to Mr Baker.423
Cotton Family Papers 7:22, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “For the Reverend Mr John Cotton Pastour of the Church of Christ at Plimoth these.”
28 May 1677
RevD, Honoured & Beloved
G: in his prov: having soe disposed, as that our belov: bro: T: D: hath bin now for many yeares together removed far distant from us & improoved in the exersising of his gifts in Teaching the word of G: to those amongst whom he hath lived, & the same hand of divine prov: leading him forth by a renewed invitation to like service in a place remote from us whence he cannot injoy the benefit of comm: with us nor wee attend the duties of ch: relation unto him, wee have therefore Judged it meete & necessary to answer the desires of this our Bro: & doe by these our letters testify that he was regularly admitted into the fel: of this Ch: & hath continued in the relation of a member thereoff these many yeares, by virtue whereoff, wee doe on his behalfe request that he may have the priviledge of holy Comm: with any of the Ches of J. xt425 where he may occasionally sojourne for his ædification in grace & holines; & also our desire is that his children be acknowledged in the Lord according to their capacity:
we doe also hereby further declare, that if the prov: of G: soe dispose as that our Bro: D: reside in any place where he may injoy setled Comm: in all the ord:s of xt in a way of ch: fel: wee doe now give him liberty to improove these our letters of a dismission of him to any such ch: of xt walking in the order of the Gosp: & desire their acceptance of him in the Lord, as becometh saints; our prayers to G: are for him that he may be kept in the way of G: & preserved blamelesse to his heavenly kingdome, & wee pray also, that walking in the feare of the Lord & in the Comfort of the H: G: there may be an increase of the ches of J: xt:
whose breth: wee are in the faith & fel. of the Gosp:
J: C: Pastour. T: C: Elder with the consent of the ch: of Plim:
May: 28 1677
Cotton Family Papers 7:24, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed at bottom “Inscribed To any of the ches of xt to whom these letters may come The Ch of xt in Plim: wisheth Gr: & P: in our deare L: J: Noe superscr[iption].” Cotton’s copy of letter.
19 June 1677
In the aftermath of King Philip’s War—perhaps even as a consequence of it—the annoying issue of religious toleration in Plymouth Colony surfaced once again. Nearly two weeks before Cotton wrote this letter to Mather, Plymouth’s General Court “[desired] the elders of the severall churches in this collonie to give their resolution to the following query, viz: What are those due bounds and lymetts which ought to be sett to a tolleration in matters of Religion as may consist with the honor of Christ, the good and welfare of the churches and of the civill govment?”426
Plimouth June, 19: 1677:
Revd & Deare Brother
As I yet heare nothing from you in answer to any thing in my 2 last letters to you;427 the Elder tells me, you say you have a paper of my fathers Concerning Toleration, I have it not, therefore I pray you not to faile of sending it to me by this opportunity, it may now be of some Considerable use to me & others: I thanke you for your booke, Major Bradford & Mr Southworth428 returne you like thankes for theirs, this day I sent away Mr Hinckleys & Mr Walleys; the other 3 shall soone be sent also: I doubt if you had sent one to Mr Arnold he would not have had strength enough to have read it in his life; he is not yet dead, but told me last weeke he expected his great change before our day of Thanksgiving (which is on the morrow)429 cease not to pray for him while he lives:430 In thoughts about the Ques: propounded, some things occurre, which I desire your Judgment about; viz, whether a publick Confession might not be agreed upon & subscribed unto & none to be tolerated for publick worship but such as consent therein? whether they can be tolerated that in their publick dispensations declare it to be a sin or Antichristian for any of their members to hold Communion with any churches that are not of their perswasion? & whether such are to be tolerated who revile & reproach the Civill goverment, the churches or ordinances of Xt? other things are in my minde, I shall be glad to have your Judgment of these or any other things relating to this matter: I am perswaded God hath put an opportunity into the hands of the Elders of this Colony to doe some good service for his name, & though wee are very weake yet who knows but that God who made this poore Colony praesidentiall in renewing Covenant, may discover something of his minde here also about this matter, Revd mr Walley is a holy man & will be our great leader, I perceive he is very studious about the Ques: pray earnestly for Gods prescence with him & with all engaged, that God may have some glory in the management of this solemne affaire: I perceive John is under your roofe,431 I need not say, you know my soules desire to God & you on his behalfe: by a letter from Capt oliver yesterday432 I understand that you preached a choice sermon June 10: in your owne meeting house; I hope you will not much borrow the helpe of young weake Preachers till you have warmed the new house with many a pretious sermon: Concerning Ger: Hobart433 (because it may be he may sometimes helpe you) I will write a true narrative, & it may be you may doe me right at one time or other: He denyes to pay me rent sayes I owe him 30 shil: now Judge you: I desired him to preach for me, promised him some reward as God should enable me, but mentioned not a word of a particular summe, though in my heart I ever intended 10 shil: a sabbath: but because he was forced from his worke, I had such respect to him as to write to our Elder etc to move for a Contribution for him, upon my Motion they contribute & give him betweene 30 & 40 shil: in silver, & because they looke upon him as low, our Deacons added & gave to him 10 shil: in silver more out of the church-Treasury, & when he came to Boston I gave him 30 shil: in silver for his preaching here 3 Sabbaths, which was the utmost I could doe; & yet this disingenous man, though he had almost 4 pd, could malapertly charge me with owing him 30 shil: now, & till that is out he will pay me nothing, when I told him, I promised him noe particular summe, he replyed, the bargaine is then yet to Make: truth is, the case is soe with me, that I cannot forgive my rent, if ever ought be due to him for preaching for you, I must assigne you to take it, for I shall make conscience to pay you as fast as I can for Johns board: I write thus largly, being desirous that this letter made be findable in your study, if ever there the occasion to discourse G: H: thereabouts, either with or without me: my selfe & wife heartily salute you & yours; desiring your prayers for us & ours, & hoping for a good full letter from you, I rest,
your Affectionate Brother,
wee daily expect to have your call of your servant home:434
Mather Papers 1:69, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend, his Deare Brother, Mr Increase Mather; Teacher of a Church of Christ at Boston.” Endorsed “Br J. C. Jun. 19. 1677.”
25 June 1677
Plimouth June, 25: 1677:
RevD & Deare Brother
Mr Shove was this day at my house as he passed along to Barnstable, (for your booke he thankes you) & told me that in Mr H’s history, things are strangely falsifyed, (I use his owne words) he much commends your History & sayes had Mr H: followed your Narrative he had showed more truth; my request to you is, that you will prudently of your owne accord (unlesse you see weighty reason to the contrary) write a letter to Mr Shove & desire him to acquaint you with the mistakes he knowes to be in that booke; I doubt not but he will readily grant your desires, for he freely asserts many things to be notorious—& if you had the particulars in writing, I beleive it would be of good use: If you see meete to write to him, pray doe it now by Mr clarke & send it hither, because here he will call next weeke & soe you may soone have an answer:
our due salutations to you & sisters & cousens, craving your prayers, etc., for me & mine, in great haste I rest,
Your Affectionate Brother,
Mather Papers 1:70, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “For the Reverend, Mr Mather Teacher of a Church, at Boston, present.” Endorsed “Br J. C. Jun. 25. 1677.”
26 June 1677
Edmund Andros, the royal governor of New York, had been instrumental in preventing King Philip from soliciting the aid of the Mohawk people, and indeed in encouraging the Mohawks to attack Philip’s followers. But Andros was no friend to Puritan New England. At his sovereign’s behest, he boldly moved to challenge the boundaries of the New England colonies, first in western Connecticut and, as described here, in the Massachusetts claims of today’s Maine.
Reverend and Deare Sir
I bless god we came safe to Boston ye ffryday last on ye morning. Upon Lords day Came the news of 4 vessels with 200 men in them and 16 peeces of ordnance from Major Andros who are to take possession of the Eastern parte and to build a strong fort435 wch seemes to be a plot and a snare but god will have us depend upon him those vessels wer met at Cape Cod 200 Mohakes are to meet them Uncas son is taken by the Mohakes436—Major Clark is now ready to goe to the Eastward some say wth 300 men437 what to doe I know not noe more news except I should tell you that an old man was like to be whiped for Kiseing his wife
Sir I hope to be with you at plimoth if I must preach I must if god help me I shall be willing pray for me but I think it is good for you to be ready and then it is most meet you should preach my hearty Love to yor selfe and mrs Cotton I have written from Barnstable I know not whether you have received it I Committ you to or good god I am
yor assured ffriend
June 26. 1677
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “for the Reverend and my much esteemed friend Mr John Cotton Pastour of the church of christ at Plimouth these.” Endorsed “From Mr Walley June, 26: 1677:.” Noted in a hand other than Cotton’s or Walley’s: “minister of Barnstable before mr Russell.”
[9 July 1677]
Scituate, a coastal town on Plymouth Colony’s border with Massachusetts, had been one of the loci of trouble during the Quaker controversy of the late 1650s. Quakers actually made few converts in the colony, but their presence, and the General Court’s heavy-handed response to their “cursed tenets,” encouraged other dissidents who, as Baker’s letter demonstrates, were never entirely quelled.
Reverend & much Respect Sir
These few lynes are in the first place to present my owne & my wives hearty love & due Respects to yorselfe & good mrs Cotton: with or many & hearty thanks for yor late visit so kindly of us: & Espetially that mrs Cotton should her selfe in her grate & undeserved love undertake such a voyage & Incourage yorselfe thereunto: the Lord Jeasus Recompense it you both: for whose sake we believe you did it: Sir I am in Respect of the Condition of my body much as I was when you were here: not in that Extremity of paine as some time formerly: I have now Eight Lords dayes together beene at meeting But no wayes able to come to you to Plymouth: which gladly I would if it were the Lords will: but I desier to submit to his good & holy will: & to praise his name that my pains now are so tollerable Sir I can not write much to you: writing is very troublesome to me: I pray present my due Rspects of my most hearty love to all the Reverend Elders that shall be present with you upon so good & necessery a business: I begge the prayer & praises of you all to god for me & myne: deare Sir I am very unfit & unable to give advise in so waighty a case: yet I must needs manifest myselfe greatly pleased with the good notion that is made & doe pray the Lord so to dyrect you all in giveing yor Resolution to the Query: & the court to doe something Effectually that may at last Restraine those that are mad with damnable Herisies: to the Subverting the Glorious gospel of the blessed god: & soules of men what in them lyeth: & under Conviction I Conceive it is more safe & Easy to say what is Intollerable then to say what shall be tollerated: divers very sad Examples we have in or very towne: some woefully neglecting to Come to the publike worshipe of god on the Lords dayes: some not onely maintaining damnable & Blasphemious doct[rines] (the perticulars I need not mention they are Commonly knowen) [but?] also openly divulge them: carrying about & profirring [. . .] Hyreticall bookes: Inviting all sorts of persons Esp[etially] [the?] younger sort to their diabolicall worshipe: openly mee[ting] on the Lords day (a little from or meeting house & that Espe[tially] In the middle of the day between or Exercises that they may (as they doe) draw many unsettled & younger persons to their wayes: some times Coming in to or publike meeting while we are in or worshiping of god: & interrupting us therein: calling us false profits: & a company of Hypocrits: & persuading the people not to heare us preach the gospel: as have been lately done amongst us: & what doth it availe to Restraine such madness to lay such by the heels 2 or 3 houres: accuseing both court: & officers: & mynisters for Robers & Receivers of theire stolen goods when any thing is taken from them (according to the Lawes of god & man) to uphold the true worshipe of god amongest us: what doe these & such like but open their mouthes in Blasphemie against god To Blaspheme his name: & his tabernacle: them that dwell in heaven: Sir I hope I am fare from a harsh Ridged persecuting spirit against such as Erre through weakness in lessir matters Espetially being of a humble & peaceable spirit: nither have I beene a stirrer up of the majestrat to punish men for thir consciencs (as I have been accused) but being called at this time to give my advice: duty to god & those that god have set over me binds me to be obedient & Faithfull according to my ability: & I doe believe according to the screptures: that as its the duty of all to contend Earnestly for the faith: & as the Elders & churches are to doe it by doctrine, Conversation & discipline: so the magistrate is not to beare the sword in vain but to punish Evilldoers: & Incourage them that doe well: & to be nursing fathers to the churches of christ: [Howe] they are to act in such cases is not my place to determine: but [I pray] god give them wisdom: protection: & courage in gods cause [. . .] what I have written be taken in the better part: though [. . .] performed I am willing to be a friend to peace & truth: [. . . .] not had an opportunity to see Mr witheral:
Sir I Remane yors in all I am able
I hope all will agree that open profonation of the lords day is Intollerable:
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “These for the Revrd & his much Respected mr John Cotton Pastor to the Church of Christ at Plymouth dd.” Endorsed “From Mr [. . .] Baker of Scituate. Received July, 9: 1677:” Hole along outside margin.
12 July 1677
The leaders of the colony’s churches responded quickly to the General Court’s request for guidelines with regard to religious toleration. Only five weeks passed between the Court’s query and the date of this report.
Right worshipfull, worshipfull & Honoured in the lord
Your true piety expressed in a continuall respect had to the Interest of the [. . .] in this Colony (which wee esteem none of the least of those mercies God hath favoured us with) wee greatly rejoice in & desire to blesse God for Assur[ing] our selves therefore of your sincere desire to attaine to a right understandi[ng] of the minde of God in what relates to the preservation & propagation of the true Religion among us; wee have (though un[der] a deep sense of our many disadvantages thereunto) cheerfully under[taken] the discu[ssion] of that point by your selves proposed & give our answer as followeth
wee would not hereby be understood to arrogate to our selves the acura[te] decision of soe weighty a point, but in compliance with the call of God manifest by your joynt Concerned desires that wee should attempt the resolution of this question, it being a matter of extraordinary weight with us, that all possible meanes be used f[or] securing of that blessed Interest of the Gospel designed by our [fathe]rs the first planters of this wildernesse, whose very worke was here to build an Altar to the true God, with whom the Lord was signally present in accepting & succeeding their fervent prayers & paines for the laying a happy foundation for us survivors to build upon, wee have in submission to better Judgments made this our reply with a peculiar accommodation to the present emergencies before us, leaving such difficulties as may further appeare to after-disquisition: if wee have therein arrived at any thing amounting to y[our] satisfaction & direction wee desire God may have the p[raise.] That which our eye hath been upon is in obedience to the [. . .] of God, to maintaine a due contest for the faith once deliver[ed to the?] Saints against such as doe or may creep in unawares [. . .] the grace of God into Lasciviousnesse & denying the only Lor[d God] & our Lord Jesus Christ; yet avouching a tender respect to [. . .] in some things may difer from us, provided they doe a[pprove] themselves freinds to the power & purity of Godlines amongst [us?] Wee therefore unfainedly desire that all our hea[rts may be] sutably affected with the solemne engagements wee h[ave been?] under towards our God, & the great difficulty of the worke wee are called to in order to reall & thorough Reformation, [that our] poore endeavours may finde acceptance with you & s[ ] faithfull in our Israel, & that the God of wisedome may b[e] with you, strengthning your hearts & hands & prospering your worke,
<which> is the prayer of us who are ready to serve you in the Lord
George Shove Tho: Walley
John Cotton Tho: Thornton439
James Keith John Smith440
Noah Newman Samuel Treat
Tho: Cushman William Brett
Plimouth July, 12: 1677:
wee whose names are here underwritten although by Gods providence detained from the meeting of the Reverend Elders in returning their answer to the above said Question, having perused & considered doe freely consent & subscribe hereunto
Samuel Arnold William Witherell441
Nicolas Baker Tho: King442
Cotton Family Papers 7:30, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These to the Honoured General Court assembled at Plimouth Present.” The ministers’ opinion on toleration is in Cotton’s hand, written on both sides of a single sheet, mutilated on the right-hand and bottom edges; many Biblical references are illegible or obliterated. For some text now lost to mutilation, the editors relied on a handwritten transcription made earlier, when the document was presumably in better condition than it is currently; Cotton Family Papers 7:30 (photostat), Massachusetts Historical Society. The “cover letter” associated with the opinion is apparently Cotton’s copy, as the entire text, including the signatures, is in his hand.
23 July 1677
This is to Entreat yt you would send My Indian lad to me p ye next vessel; for I have promised one in Dorchester tht Jether shall serve him untill winter, wn I shall (if I live) need his service in my owne Family, & by yt Time, I hope he will be able to speake English.
I suppose you have heard how ye Indians near C. Sables have taken many of or Fishing vessells445—About 50 souldiers are gone out of Salem to pursue ym, wt ye issue will be ye Lord knoweth. Sabbath day [illeg.] sevenights, ye women at Marblehead as yy [Came?] out of ye Meeting House, fell upon two Indians yt were brought in as Captives, & in a tumultuary way very Barbarously murdered ym.446 Doubtles if ye Indians heare of it, or Captives amongst ym will be served accordingly. All these things are agt us.447 Rts to my sister. The Ld be with you, I am
Yor Afect. brother
Boston. 23. 5m 1677.
I doe not hear of any one sick of ye small pox since Mr [illeg.] death, but men may have received ye Infectn, & it not appear for 3 or 4 weekes. I think you had best defer Rowlands coming untill ye Commencement, for fear of ye worst.
Cotton Family Papers 7:31, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These for ye Revd my dear Brother Mr John Cotton, Pastor of ye Church in Plimouth.”
10 September 1677
ReverD & Dear Sr
I long to hear from you not having recieved any lines from you for a great while. I had Come Last wednesday to Bridgwater to hear you but that I was affraid to venture forth soe soon, having the Lords day before been Confined to my house by extream paine in my tooth & universall indisposition of bodye. Since that I had a sore broke in my jawe yet yesterdaye found noe in Convenience in my g[oing] forth or Labour. to day Simon Cooper448 being sent for upon another occasion I have venturd to get the root of tooth drawn It troubled me being jealouse other wise of an Impostume449 in my jawe which I am confermed in upon the sight of the tooth. I am yet under some indisposition by the paine of it but I hope the worst is past if I Can avoid taking Cold. the widow frith her son is dead & shee will be necessitated to return to Duxburye. the sicknes I hope is with us abated. I present my Love & respects with my wifes to yorselfe & yors & desiring that mutuall prayers may Continue I subscribe Sr
yor Assured friend
Taunton Sept. 10. 77.
Cotton Family Papers 7:32, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These for Reverend Mr John Cotton Pastor of the Church in Plimouth Prsent.” Endorsed “From Mr Shove September, 10: 1677:”
8 October 1677
Reverend Sir and my honoured ffriend
I have not given you a visit in a greate while and now it is like to be but short I am often exercised with much weakness. this I have time to doe to give you thanks for yor remembrance of me to present my Love to yor selfe and good mrs Cotton and to beg the Continuance of yor prayers I have as much need of that help as ever I had. I am troubled at this new breaking out of the Indians and by reason of [not?] enough newes we are much in the dark about [th]e news it selfe what it is. the good lord grant [a]ll may issue well Poor new E. is in Dainger at home and abroad but god at his pleasure Can set Pvidences a foot for our good I have Cause to think my time is short in the world I waite for my last and great chaing my desire is to be faithfull and usefull while I live and that I may not be a burden but a blessing in my generation. I could make some Complaints but I had better doe it to god then to men and more hope of prvailing that way it is god must give all Sorts of helps. Sir when you are at leasure I shall be glad to heare from you for yor Letters are a Comfort to me I am now in hast my prayers are to god for you and yors and I am
yors in or lord Jesus
Octob: 8th 1677
Cotton Family Papers 7:33, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “ffor the Reverend and my Loving ffriend Mr John Cotton Pastour of the church of christ at Plimoth these DD.” Endorsed “From Mr Walley october, 8: 1677:”
20 October 1677
Plimouth October, 20:1677:
Revd & Deare Brother
yours I received450 & the bookes, 7 of those which came first are sold at Bridgwater, I will endeavour to sell all as fast as I can: I intreat you to returne by Mr will: Clarke who is now at Boston an answer in writing to my following request which I affectionately make to you: viz, concerning my Cousen Cotton451 your son, that he may live here with me this winter; God hath given him grace, & his learning is above what those of his standing have usually attained unto, whence he is able to doe good to others; & you know it is recorded as the honour of your blessed father that at 15 yeares old he was called to be a Schoolemaster, & why may not his Grand-son have it put into the records of his life that before that age he was accounted worthy to be soe imployed: All the worke I would engage him to should be to be Tutor to my John, & Rowlands Teacher, he shall be sure, God helping, not only of a Comfortable board free of all charge, but returne in march (if soe you please) with 5 pd of silver in his pocket though none else should improove him: I doubt not but that many would be glad to improove his helpe for writing & Ciphering, & would give him a good reward for his paines, but I would not urge for more then you see meete at present, only assure you the reward abovementioned shall be faithfully paid for the service desired. most Deare Brother, I professe I have had many serious thoughts of this motion before I made it, & cannot frame any Arguments of weight in oppositurn; you cannot but thinke my wife & I (to both whom he is deservedly very Deare) shall be as tender of him as the hearts of his tender parents can desire, & although I cannot benefit him in his learning as you can, yet the Logicall & Theologicall notions of Mr Stone which I tooke in writing from him may I question not be of good use to him in his studies: I intended a more large & better studyed Invitation of my Kinsman, but coming this day from Taunton, & the boat going before morning, I am cut short of my purpose: my selfe & wife heartily salute you & yours & him, pray be intreated to send me a speedy & comfortable answer, I hope the motion is of God, my heart is much in it: pray for us, I am,
your Affectionate Brother,
It may be his being here may prevent his having the small pox this winter: God knows:
Mather Papers 1:83, Prince Library, Rare Book & Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend, his very Deare Brother, Mr Increase Mather, Teacher of a Church of Christ, at Boston, present.” Endorsed “Br J. C. Octob. 20. 1677.”
20 October 1677
20: 8: 77
mr Cotton Sir after kind respect I had sent your wine by mr greenwood order but a gros grained master woul not stay on minit for it—for news from england here arived mr tuck 7 weeks pasage with 8 pasingers 4 ship[s] mor of ours may be Dayly Lookt for by [. . .] holen who Cam out 10 days before this and n[ews?] arrived was bad news for new england as mr biseil marchant of Mr tuck afirm but i[n] that ten days the scale turned and goes hopfuly on our sid our patent now b[y] Lord Cheif Justis of England declared to be good and Confirmed to be good and our asent have much favor on this turne wi[th] the king and Counsel who atend the kings pleasur but not Like to Com this year they feare from hadly Last night Cam a post 19 indyan were ther 10 instant and [have?] burnt hadly mil452 and the house [. . . .] to it the enymy was persued by [. . .] kild on of the enymy and wou[nded] [. . .] more one of our men slightly w[ounded] our Court upon news from england yestir day ajurned til the 23 instant [. . .] have embarqed al vesels great small [. . .] til then 15 9ber is a publick tha[nks]453 for many mercy
I am yrs to Coma[nd]
Cotton Family Papers 7:34, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “To Reverent Mr. John Cotton dliver.” Right-hand edge of paper mutilated, especially bottom half. Although part of the signature is lost, the handwriting is that of James Oliver.
19 November 1677
Rev. Walley’s health clearly was failing. Both to assist him in his duties and to prepare a future pastor for Barnstable, Gov. Hinckley and others wooed a young Harvard graduate, Samuel Angier. Their efforts ultimately were unsuccessful, but the following letters suggest the difficulties that often factored in negotiations with prospective ministers, and with church members, especially in Plymouth Colony.
Reverend Sir and my Dear ffriend
I this Day he454 received yors455 by a Son of Elder Coachmans for which I give you thanks and truly yor Letters are worth more but the poor only acknowledg Kindnesses I am very glad of the book you sent me for I had some desire to read it againe. I pray you returne hearty thanks from me to that holy Laboriouse and Loving seat of god to whom I and many others are greatly obliged his works praise him happy are they that are of publik use in theyr generatn As for Mr Angier456 I should be glad of his Company and Labors but desire he may have some assurance of what shall be promised Mr Hinkly and Mr Huckins are forward in it I feare there will be but few more found to engage much but I would have nothing that I write hinder his Coming if he Could take a Journey hither in yor Company he would then the better Know what to doe—the Law you write of for taking the oath of Allegiance457 seems to have much policy in it I wish the event answere expectation many that have bin obedient subjects to the King have scrupled that oath more then the oath of supremisy—at present my body is fraile my health not soe good as it hath bin I have need of yor prayers and should be glad to see you my hearty Love to yor selfe and Good mrs Cotton I am
yors in or deare Lord
Barnstable Nov: 19 1677:
Cotton Family Papers 7:36, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “ffor the Reverend and my Loving ffriend Mr John Cotton Pastour of the church of christ in Plimoth these.”
10 December 1677
Revrd SirI recd yours of ye 8th instant458 for wch I return you many thanks, & herewth acquaynt you how far there hath beene a prcedure as to ye affayre respecting mr Angier viz: I pposed to ye Congregation on ye next Lords day after exercise, taking it for granted that they were sensible of ye great advantage wch wold accrew to have our children & youth brought up & educated in good literature & that now there was a probable opertunity to obtayn a meete pson to teach a grammer schoole & to write & sometimes to be helpfull to mr Walley if need were & therefore desired for the more orderly managing of that affayre they wold please to meete at mr Walleys ye next second day at even so many as cold, divers accordingly came but by reason of ye cold season & divers being absent on ye report brought of a house on fire there was not that full meeting as was to be desired, yet those prsent from both ends <of> & middle of ye Towne manifested there good affection to that work (as a some others pticularly had also don who were not there) & there appeared six of them prsent, willing to ingage to make up what shold be wanting of ye summe of 20£ in money (for this yeare) pposed: only as to his helping of mr walley he shold be at his owne free pleasure whether once in 2 months more or lesse as he might see cause for his own privileg or advantage as to his better prperation in the work of ye ministry wch we suppose he is designed to in Gods time, wch was no further intended by my self in what I that way pposed to him, yet those prsent (& I have reason to judge also many that were absent are of ye same minde) manifested theire readines (as reason requires) to a due further consideration of his labors in case Gods pvidence shold so order it that by reason of mr Walleys bodily wekenes he shold be put on any constant or considerable improvements of his gifts amongst us: & though I cold have wisht he might have beene better pvided then at my house, yet at prsent things seeme so farr as it he must be contended, if he come, wth such accommodation as we can afford. we had hoped to have had a more full meeting on ye day of thanksgiving but that proving so stormy few were prsent, so that we wayt now for a more full meeting next 5th day at lecture or ye first convenient season provided an opertunity may be for more to manifest their good affection to prmote so good a work of wch from ye generality of our people I doubt not but to receive wch may possibly be more incouraging to him: after wch I intend to write to him & send you if your man be not gon before, but if he shold, if you please to write to him, it wold be very acceptable, if he wold come wth your son John to give you a vissit & you wth him to give mr Walley a vissit (who is Desirous to have you both preach here) whereby mr Angier might have opertunity also ye better to satisfy himself either they here to continue, or appoynt a time for his after coming if God please to incline his mynde thereto: howevr I hope his vissit should not be chargeable to him, some small matter will be conferred on him to beare his charges, not elce at prsent(fearing the messenger may stay) but referr you to Geo: Huckins—who intends to visit you I with my respects & my wifes affectionatly to your self wth mris Cotton & all frinds. craving your continued prayers. I Committ you to the keeper of his Israell & rest Sir
yours greatly obliged in effect as in affection
Barnstable 10 of Decb. 77.
Sir there is like to be but about 6 schollers at prsent to attend a grammer schoole whereby he will have lesse labor & more opertunity for his other studdies then where a schoole is more numeros. Possibly there may be a few more in winter time & but a [fe]w to learn to write & cipher. he may have the benefitt to himself of any schollers from any other Townes if any such present: only mris Gorams son459 who belongs to our church & hath accommodations in our Towne though at prsent she live a littell wthout our lyne in yarmoth bounds, by reason of her myll standing there, is to be accoted as one of our Towne. in case Pvidence shold order its so that he cannot come this winter I could be heartily glad that he would aply himself to joyn in full communion wth ye church there it seeming most suitable that such who are to teche others to observe all things whatsoevr Christ hath commanded, shold themselves example them thereunto not doubting but his love to Christ will putt him on desire to seek & enjoy him in the use of all his ordinances &tc. my pen hath deceivd me in ye multiplication of these lines. vale Charissime dom460
Cotton Family Papers 7:37, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These ffor the Revrd and his worthily esteemd ffrind mr John Cotten dd In Plimoth.” Endorsed “From mr Hinckley December, 10: 1677:”
11 December 1677
Plimouth December, 11:1677:
Charissime Cognate461 I am heartily ingaged to you for your love & respect manifested in your Epistles iterated & reiterated, I hope the next winter (if God till then spares us) wee shall not need to write to one another, but may vivâ voce discourse as now wee cannot: The power of Satan in hurrying soules to hell through divine permission is dreadfully amazing; a man of Sandwich about a fortnight since had his neck within the rope, but full execution was prevented by his Brother’s timous462 approach to loosen the rope: Dec: 4: before day & till some time in the night after was here such a dreadfull storme, as hath not bin knowne these 28: yeares, viz. Jan: 13:1649: the sabbath before your blessed uncle (now in heaven)463 preached his first sermon in that meeting house lately consumed; In this town it blew downe one dwelling house, & one barne, & killed nigh an 100 geese, which were next morning by sundry taken upon the shoareside, it was with us a day appointed for publick Thanksgiving, but very few could attend it, a humbling providence! That man of Sandwich who the weeke before had almost killed himselfe, was by the fall of his owne house (the top of it) almost killed in this storme, but he is yet spared: I now send by Starkey for John to be with me a while this winter; your paper-messenger at their returne shall be very welcome: <our> though your Aunt have noe salutations from you, yet by me she heartily salutes you, soe wee doe both, & your father & mother. The God of your fathers love & blesse you forever,
soe prayes, your Affectionate uncle,
Houses & barnes many were blowne downe in other townes by this storme.
Mather Papers1:21, Prince Library, Rare Book & Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For his Dearely Beloved Cousen, Mr Cotton Mather, at his fathers house, in Boston.” Endorsed “Uncle J. C. Dec. 11. 1677.” The back of the letter contains notes in Mather’s hand.
16 December 1677
With the smallpox spreading in Boston and its environs, the Cottons obviously feared for their scholar son John’s safety and requested that he be allowed to return home, bringing his studies with him. Gookin’s letter reveals something of the workload of a Harvard student of the period.
By ye lines I received from you ye last week I am informed of your desire that your son should come home, which mr Oakes464 with mr [Cerles?] & my selfe did judge was expedient & could not bee pleaded against considering ye occasion, I hope it will bee noe disadvantage to him in ye least degree, since he will be under ye eye and inspection of a father & such a father. He is with his classe just entering upon ye study of ye Sacred tongue, they begun Schickards Grammar465 ye last week I did purpose when they had once recited that, yt yy should begin <theire> ye hebrew Psalter with yr Grammar ye Second time. In Greek they have made progresse so far as to finish theire Grammar and recite 8 or 9 cap. in ye Acts of ye Apost: I <had> purpose within 3 weeks or a moneth to putt ym upon reading some <poet> Greek Poet afterwards (if God please) some of Isocrates orations, for Latin they have read a cunsiderable part of Tullies Oration pro & luentio.466 I designe after yr finishing of yt Oration to Let ym reade Horace for some time. And thus you have an account of such studies which per [. . .] ye <same hand> first <halfe yeare have> entrance have ben wont to improve yr time in, and wch I suppose will fill up your sons time this winter, yr are only besides ys readings and declamations, which Sr I need not to mind you of. I wish Sr yt ye last may be attended by him as often (while he is from ye college) as can be with convenience—Sr Your Son was with mee since I received your letter, desired that he might have a Bithnea.467 I (having your warrant for what I did) delivered it to him.
There is nothing further Sr I need trouble you withall. But humble service to your selfe & Virtuous Ladye, wishing that ye peace of God that passeth all understanding may dayly possess your soules, that he, who commands his blessing when & where & how he pleaseth may command it upon you & yours, I need not to say yt I hope John will improve his time to ye best advantage.
I need only to adde yt I hope I <have> shall have your prayers yt ye Colledge shall have ym, yt All Gods people in ys parts shall have ym. The small poxks do spread at Charlestowne and Boston.
mr Sheperd of Charlestowne468 was taken very ill on friday night, It doth not yet appeare what his distemper is, but some do feare much yt it may be yt infectious distemper. I hope God will remember his people & shew mercy in yt respect. Let us be helped by your prayers, and by all that love ye peace & welfare of our land.
[D]aniel Gookin Junr
The worth of ye Bithnea is Eleven d. but ye price shall be but nine: Eight is ye lowest.—
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Endorsed “From Mr Daniel Gookin Junior December. 16: 1677:” One large hole on final side of the manuscript.
1 January 1678
As this and some of the following letters make clear, towns in Plymouth Colony had been spared the smallpox epidemic only temporarily.
Plimouth January, 1: 1677:
Revd & Deare Brother
Those Gallants that said at Boston they would come & keep Christmasse, (you know where) were as good as their word; how it was celebrated I know not: our Govr is troubled with the gout: what God is doing with us I know not, soe God would have it that a Taunton man must take the infection at Boston & goe home, and 3 or 4 dayes after come downe to Plimouth & soe to Duxbury, & there in a few dayes dye of the small pox: wee doe not heare that it is begun with any else but the woman of that house where the man dyed hath bin ill these 2 dayes; The Lord fit us for his holy will: I intreate of you to spare my Cousen Cotton to buy these necessary things mentioned in the note, I know not who else to request such a kindnesse of, & it being a matter of life & death, pray gratify me herein: wee also earnestly request of you to send us your Judgment of this disease what is good to prevent it, & how persons visited with it must be ordered & attended, if any oyle of Tarre be to be had, if you send any I will send you money for it: my selfe & wife present due respects to you & yours, desiring your prayers for us,
I rest, your affectionate Brother
pray let my Cous: write & now send me an exact copy of Mr Page his bond: I must take some order about what shortly will be due to me therein. I send forty three shil: in silver to buy what the note mentions:
Mather Papers 2:30, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend, his Deare Brother, Mr Increse Mather, Teacher of a church of Christ, at Boston.” Endorsed “Br J. C. J[. . .] 1677.”
7 January 1678469
[Top of page torn; several lines lost] as soone as he hath delivered it because my wife hath not set her hand to the deed; I kno[w] not tricks in law, but that 25 pd which he is to deliver for me at your house this next Feb: 17: is noe sooner given into your hands but is really yours at your service, & therefore you may lawfully keep it as your owne:
That family in which the Taunton man dyed of the small pox at Duxbury is now sorely visited with that desease, the man & his wife & 2 children & their 2 servants all downe at once, & some of them exceeding bad: one man in Plimouth (the Treasurers son) hath these 2 dayes had dangerous symptomes, & my starky this last night complai[ned] of paine in his head & universall Coldnes, he saith he smelt a very ill savour being neere the dead corps of mr Paine470 (who I suppose is not at all a kin much lesse brother to Moses Paine) what God is doing with us I know not, I earnestly desire your hearty remembrance of us before the Lord that wee may be prepared to meete God in the way of his judgements: our need of divine pitty & help is much the more, considering my wife is neere her time471 [p]ray [for] her.
[Top of page torn; several lines lost] [N]ewhaven [. . . .] reconcile tha[t] [. . . .] what he mentions in his letter to Govr winslow (in that ship which brought the Contribution) of his brother Cotton living neere him, which letter of his was (as he saith) sent 3 moneths before mine (directed to Newhaven) he writes that Papists are more numerous in that Citty then Protestants & seemes to have some awfull expectation of changes, if any evill there have bin designed since I perceive it is noe more then what he looked for:
I am glad I wrote to him upon his mentioning my name to our Govr (though happily he thought it was my Bro: Cotton472 that lived neere him) I hope you have sent that letter with yours to him before now) please to informe me when you will have an opportunity to send to him againe, for seeing he is pleased to desire lines from me I esteem it my duty to answer him therein: our kinde Love to Sister & Cous: Cotton etc with due respects to you, I rest,
your Affectionate Brother
I expect to send these by Leift: way473 at his returne
[Top of page torn; several lines lost] white they are [. . . .] money, it is all pro[. . . .]re stored taken to about 30 sh[il:?] the wronged [. . . .] suspect a man, discourse him, exa[. . . .] he denys the fact, Home comes every [. . . .] others about the Theft & their suspi[. . . .] partners who sustained the wron[g] [. . . .] suspected man with them, bef[ore?] som[. . . .] he denys Guilt, & soe they cease, only [. . . .] after all this I having heard much di[. . . .] lest there might be secret guilt in the [. . . .] wrath to follow him, I secretly obtained [. . . .] solemnly with him, as you may appre[. . . .] hopes of attaining the end, he did reque[. . . .] the partyes & promi[ ] as soone as he [. . . .] this from him to open triall: Q: Is n[. . . .] I pay not the money? & if I be urged [. . . .] was stolen, what answers may best be [. . . .] to such inquirers, suppose a Magis[. . . .] for your Answer:
I have noe witnesse, but in heaven, that th[. . . .] promised to repay, he may deny again [. . . .]
Mather Papers 2:31, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend, his Dear[e] Brother, Mr Increse Mat[her,] Teacher of a Church of Christ; at Boston.” The top and left side of the paper is torn away, apparently at the folds.
for yors474 I give you thanks if mr Mathers news be true it is very good but we are doubtfull there was some mistake in figures or some other way one of our vessels Came home but 2 or 3 days before January that brought other news—as to my selfe I think I am somthing better then I have bin but still weak and often ill but I have Cause to be thankfull god is good to me. as to yor question or Case475 I Can say little—only this
1 it is not safe upon the account of the Law to divulge what is Confessed to you alon suppose the man deny it againe how will you prove it
2 if any man out of trouble of Conscience Confess his sin privatly provided the Crime be not Capitall and that noe Innocent pson Suffer for want of the discovery of the <crime> same I judg it may and ought to be kept secret but if at last the pson falls into the Same Sin againe and againe then the sinner hath brooken his promis: of reformation and god by his pvidence hath discovered him
but if there be 2 or more witnesses that have heard you say he Confessed to you then you have betrayed yorselfe but I have heard of noe such thing
for the money though yor paying of it will strengthen theyr suspition yet you need not Care if they will not receive the money upon yor tearmes Let them stay till they are willing—yor book I have sent you and give you thankes for the lent of it it is a good book and many choice things in it Sir I present my hearty Love to yorselfe and mrs Cotton the Lord bless you and yors pray for me I am
yor affectionate and truly Loving friend
Jan: 16th 1677
Sir I have sent you some trouble by Mr Howland if he Cannot doe it him selfe wch is to send money I have sent sealed in a bag to my son at Boston which I pray you doe for me with his letter when you have opportunity
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “ffor the Reverend and my much honoured ffriend mr John Cotton pastour of the church of christ in Plimouth these dd.” Endorsed “From Mr Walley January, 16: 1677.”
8 February 1678
yor tur[. . . .] I [. . . .] in time [. . . .] .1. A man [. . . .] his [promise?] [. . . .] unlawful [. . . .] be [. . . .] ys [illeg.] shold be [joined?] to ye Publick [illeg.], [. . . .] 2. These scriptures wch [illeg.] faithfullness in keping secrets &c to bind ye Conscience in ye case. 3 No man should wthout necessary cause divulge ye sin & shame of his Neighbor. 4 A ministers breast ought to be sacred, & none should think yt that is by a Troubled Conscience Committed to him may be divulged by him. I am much grived to hear of mr walleys sickness. God in mercy spare & restore him if it be his will. His death would be a black omen of new troubles hastning upn ye Colony. I suppose you may hear yt mr Norton is dead mris (Anthony) Chicly was buried ys day. The small pox is in 5 or 6 Houses in Boston at both [ends?] of ye Town. I hear yt 32 fishing Boates were driven away from Marblehead 30 [illeg.] in ye storm. Tis feared yy are generally cast away. one was found neer Boston, ye men being dead. Rts to my sister. The Lord ye great deliverer give her a good [illeg.] To his grace in christ, I Commd you, & rest
yor affectionate Brother
Febr. 8. 1677.8.
Cotton Family Papers 8:1, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “for the Revd my dear Brother mr John Cotton, Pastor of ye Church in Plymouth.” Top third of letter torn off.
[2 March 1678?]
[bost?] 2D marc[h]
Sir after my kind respects [. . . .] may desire to hear of the last [. . . .] being 17th feb came on [. . . .] the lake where they be [many?] [. . . .] are 200 mils short of Card [. . . .] [illeg.] ye governer [. . . .] to go after their [. . . .] our Governer sent a letter [. . . .] but it was not Com to his hand our [. . .] men have got ther wives and Children and the rest of the Captives ar ther saving and old man that formerly Lived at meadfeild who dyed by the way and a boy they was tired and froward whom the indayns say [illeg.] kild and was presently clapt in chains and is hanged for it. we [heard?] 2 Bunyms that came from [. . .] [with?] the [. . .] man we know no present Ground of fear with indyans the smalpox inCreaseth much in our town 3 ar dead sinc my Last to you  at Charles towne and [. . . .] 4 [40?] ar returned and but on or two have it tha ar almost wel it is now Com into the [word left out] of this town no time ap[several words illeg.] hav [illeg.] [. . . .]
Cotton Family Papers 8:2, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Prince’s note: “To the Rev Mr John Cotton at Plimouth from Mr James Oliver of Boston. suppose March. 2. 1677/8. For ye small Pox was then prevailg in Charlestown & Mr willerd of Boston was not ordained till apr. 10. 1678.” Letter badly mutilated.
To the Reverend elders of the church of Christ in Plimoth to be Communicated to the church
Where as Mary Dunham the wife of Jonathan Dunham476 is in relation to the church of christ in Barnstable being a child [of] that church hath made it her desire that shee may be dismissed to yor church of christ at Plimoth. We doe Commend her to yor watch and Care and pray you to receive her in the Lord that shee may be edified in faith and holiness to the Coming of the Lord to whose grace and blessing we Commend her and you and yor holy Administrations desiring yor prayers for her and us.
In the name and with the Consent of the church
Tho: Walley pastour
John Aleman [Heman?] Elders
Cotton Family Papers 8:4, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Prince’s note: “Mr Walley died March. 24. 1677/1678.”
[6 March 1678?]
My syncere Love & Respects with my wifes to yor selfe & Mrs Cotton we are all at present in good health blessed be God & there are none dangerously sick in this place. but at Rehoboth the Mortalitie is renewed two were buried there the last weeke: the Lord grant them mercye & staye his holy hand for they are alreadie brought verie Lowe, & helpe us to fear his j[ud]gements. [we?] have no news here but what I suppose is with you. the [. . . .] come sevenight there also [. . .] a fast at Wob[urn] [. . . .] in order to the renewing [of t]heir Cove[nant] [. . . .] Thatcher is to be there. Mr [Keith] & [. . .] was to goe down that weeke if the Lord [. . . .]. Not else at prsent but desiring fellowship in yor prayers I remaine Sr
Yr affectionate friend & Bro.
Cotton Family Papers 8:3, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “the Revd. Mr John Cotton at Plimouth These.” Endorsed “[. . .] Mr Shove March 7: 1677.” Prince’s note: “March, 6 suppose 1677/8 Taunton.” Letter mutilated in lower center.
Barnstable March, 21: 1677:/78:
Revd & Deare Brother
I am now in pretious Mr walleys study, Just going to the publick worship this fast day, his death is expected before the Morrow, a poore bleeding mourning church, the post goes for his son, in great distresse,
I am your Affec: Bro:
our glory is almost gone,
ah poore plimouth Colony! wee conclude his death before this come to you.478
The fast day above mentioned prooved soe rainy, that they sent not that day to Boston. on Friday morning I tooke my last leave of that Holy man of God, who yesterday about the time of his usuall going to the publick worship entered into his eternall Sabbath: In the whole time of his languishing he had sweet peace of conscience, the peace of God did rest upon that Son of peace, he told me [he] found as much need of christ as ever; I asked him what counsell from him I should impart to the ministry, his Reply was, he was not worthy to commend any thing to them, but said, his desire was, that the ministry would keep their garments pure & walke close with God, he added, methinks the magistracy is more decayed then the Ministry, yet I doubt not but the best minister in the Country sees a need to reforme. He did solemnely incourage me with hopes of a blessing upon my ministeriall labours; & said wee must part, but I leave you with confidence of meeting you againe with Joy: Many young ones at severall times whilst I was there flocked to his bed side, to whom he did with very great seriousnesse & solemnity of spirit give this counsell, that they should highly esteeme of & improove the Covenant God had made with them, it is, (said he) not a small thing for God to say, I am thy God, though some have despised it, I hope they are now of a better minde, the children of the church have peculiar promises made to them, & a peculiar interest in the prayers of the church which are for their owne members, these individuall words & many more did he more then once utter in my hearing last weeke to Church-seed; that blessed mouth is now silenced:
our church have appointed next wednesday for a solemne fast: His Funerall is on Thursday, where I thinke to be: I wrote to you last Monday, thinking my sons would soone have bin with you, but crosse winds have hindered, the first faire winde I hope you may have this & that; the messenger from B: to Mr walley called not at my doore yester evening, if he had, I had written & sent this by him.
Mather Papers 2:41, Prince Library, Rare Book & Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. No address; back of letter has apparently unrelated notes written in Mather’s hand.
3 April 1678
Deare & much respected Cousen
Your very kind letter of Novemb 7 1677480 came to my hand about three weeks since, which I [. . .] much rejoiced in, & do blesse God that I have so [. . . .] you mindfull of me in so far distant a part of the wo[rld I am] glad that our letter-acquaintance is thus happily after so long intermission renewed; and indeed your answer to mine in 1660 (wch you mention in this last) I never received. Blessed be God that hath been so gracious to you as you intimate, in publique & private, ministerial & domestical respects. He who hath hitherto graciously, still please to goe on to do you & yours good in Christ our Saviour. As to myself I have not been a married man so long as you by 5 years; (marrying Novemb 16 1665) since when God hath given us seven children, foure sons, three daughters. whereof foure sons, one daughter living. But yet God doth not leave us without chastisement. My wife & youngest child being both ill at this present, & having been so for neer a fortnight, though not without hopes of recovery through mercy. The Lord fitt us all for His Pleasure & better us all by His Dealings. we & my mother in law (my Fathers 4th & last wife that had been wife to Dr Spurstow before) have lived in Hackney six year & a half. But I am not in the Ministry, only preach somtimes to help a friend now & then. ordination I would fain have if it might be without snares & difficult terms. of none of the Bishops is to be Expected without subscription & conformity, & of those of the Presbyterian Perswasion not without having some people constantly to labour amongst, which is hard to meet with, there being so many ministers Non-conformest that [. . .] ingrosse them. I have for my part Employment enough (till Providence [. . .] offer any other) in looking over & fitting out for the Press some of my Reverend deceased Fathers labours either in the Pulpit, or as Professor at Cambridge.481 I have prepared for the Presse his Divinity—Readings & Determinations in the Scholes (at Cambridge) I hope they will be printed this summer. And against that they be out I hope I shall have ready His Sermons on the 45th Psalm, which Psalm he preacht over at Boston about 40 yeares prior. Its also some other things which [. . .] say its a thousand pities that they should [. . . .] rixari. As to publick News that you desire, truly I [can] supply you with little at least of any that is good. Its the wonderful Mercy of God to this people how that from year to year still we have the Gospel of Peace & Peace with the Gospel; that we are not over=run with Popery; for doubtlesse that is the great desire & design of sundry (too many) of our great ones; especially since this great encreasing power of the French. We are, God knowes, a poor & peeled people; He grant we be not meted out to destruction. A great deal of pride & vanity, disention & enmity among Professors presage no good. O pray that God would amend & reform us, I am heartily [glad to?] read the additions (in yor letter) to my Cousen Mather’s482 Hist [. . . .] with you being revived. The good Lord if it be His will sca[. . . .] delight in warr; humble His people & prepare them for mercy [. . .] [be] stow it upon them I shall upon your desire take the freedom to write a few lines to my (now) Cousin Mather; hoping for a Return from him that may bring us into mutual acquaintance, which I shall be glad of. And I shall once more write to my aged Cousen Whiting.483 Since my last died his Nephew our Cousen Mr Joseph Whiting of Boston484 a good & usefull man. I pray you Deare Cousen Remember us in yor prayers, as I desire to do you & all yors: My hearty & affectionate respects I pray to my Cousen yor Brother Seaborne. And still let me have the kindnesse so freely promised in yor last, of a Paper=visit yearly. Truly what God will do with his Church both here & abroad we canot say. Clouds gather apace & look very thick, threatening a storme. It is a doubtlesse [. . .] both duty & interest of all God’s people to live by faith upon Himself Hab 3: 17: 18.485 Micah 7: 7: 8, 9.486 God help you & me & all ors & His to wait on Him & keep His way, which if He do, He will Exalt us, when the wicked are cutt off, we shall see it. Among the several Trials my Father before me & myself have had, one considerable one was the losse of my Father’s Library in the dreadfull fire of London 1666. A very good library it was, & had been gathering many years, & cost deare; but lost then without recovery. God help me to study His word & my own heart. Indeed the losse was more to me in regard my Father had made good use of it his time & did not survive the fire foure years dying Febr 24 1669/70 but I that had <such> so much time before me might have studied it especially in this vacancy I am in from any publick & standing Employment. But fiat voluntas Domini.487 My Father did buy a Library about a twelvemonth after the fire, which hath good bookes several, which I can (blessed be God) read & make use of. I have a Brother in law (that married my onely sister Mary 26 years agoe) Mr John Whittock a Non-Conformist Presbyterian Minister, lives in Nottinghamshire, a very good, able prudent man, who is ready to advise [. . . .] any thing; & whom I usually see (either here at London or there[. . . .]) once a yeare. <He> They have onely one child a son of about 17 a hopefull pious youth, that <And> studies university learning. Our eldest (Anthony) about 11 years old goes to schoole in London & is (I blesse God) pregnant for His time. But what to do with youth in this corrupt time of the Church & Universities we well know not. The Lord provide & direct. I have myself been out of Cambridge ever Since August 24 1662 for not [sub]scribing according to our Act of Uniformity. Happy you [in?] NE that are not pestered with those things [. . .] myself & weary you. God keep you, & [. . . .] hands in His good work. with hearty salu[tations] to yorself & my good cousen. I commend you to God & am
yor much endeared Kinsman
Hackney April. 3. 1678
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “For his deare & much respected Cousen Mr John Cotton Minister of the Gospel at Plymouth in N. England.” Endorsed “From my cousen Mr Jonathan Tuckney April, 3: 1678: Received, July, 20: 1678:” Several small holes, probably caused when Cotton opened the wax seal, and ink stains.
29 April 1678
after my best respects to your self & mrs Cotten wth many thanks for all your great kindnes &c These are to desire you to do your best to further our design, in obteyning mr ffoster for our supply I have writ to him p joynt desire of our Church & Towne to pitty our needy condition wch mr Lothrop carrys to him if the yarmoth vessell have winde to sayle to day elc bro: Huckins I think will carry it to morrow by land: pray (wth my respects affectionately to mr Mather, ingage him, wth whom elce you thinke meet, to pmote that affayre for us I would be glad if he would give us a vissett as speedily has might be, <that> I being to be at Boston 23 of May shall have opertunity to wayt on him down ther, & if we cold know ye time he pitches on shall take care to send one to wayt on him up hither, in case he favors not to come by sea wth mr Lothrop yarmoth vessell. not elc now, being in hast but craving your earnest remembrances of us at throne of grace who desire not to forgett you I rest
yr affectionat friend & servt
Barnstable 29 April. 78
Cotton Family Papers 8:5, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These ffor the Revrd and his worthily esteemed good friend Mr John Cotten Pastor of ye Church of Christ in Plimoth dd.” Endorsed “From mr Hinckley, April, 29: 1678:.”
17 May 1678
The causes of setting apart this day for fasting & prayer, May, 17: 1678:
1: In pardon of all my sins & perfect cleansing from them.
2: For a blessing upon my ministry to the conversion & aedification of soules.
3: For spetiall direction and guidance from God unto and in the improvement of some meanes that may be effectuall through Gods blessing for the suppression of growing evills in this place, even among professors & espetially the sin of sensuality.
4: For a gratious supply to the bereaved Churches.
5: For sparing & healing mercy to my wife, now labouring under divers affecting weaknesses.
6: For mercy to my poore children, espetially for their soules that they may live before God, that they may be kept from temptations unto sin & in spetiall that my sons at Cambridge may be blessed in their learning & fitted for the Lords service, & that converting grace may be poured forth on all my children & servants.
7: That God would prevent the infectious desease from coming amongst us.
8: For mercy to the whole Israel of God.
Cotton Family Papers 8:6, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. There is no signature on this document, but the handwriting is clearly that of Cotton.
11 June 1678
Plimouth, June 11: 1678:
I make noe question but it is your turne to speake, but it being the longest day in the yeare, I will spend a few minutes to salute you, & your deare parents, desiring & hoping that at the returne of this boat you will bestow a few salutatory lines upon me, Election newes wee have have none but omnia ut prius,489 Mr Treats490 sermon on Dan: 5: 27:491 was very choice & esteemed by all Judicious worthy of great Acknowledgment: I shall be glad to heare that the Lord continues health in your family: Is the commencement & your commencing established?492 Let us know whether the goods be come from o: E: my wife is daily ill, the Lord knowes what the issue will be: your fathers God love you & delight to blesse you, soe prayes
your truly loving uncle
It is very long since I heard from Cambridge, pray if you can tell how my sons doe there, informe me, & whether the small pox be there? whom doth Charlestowne call? I would know whether Ratcliffe will take wheat for his worke.
Mather Papers 2:51, Prince Library, Rare Book & Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “To my Beloved Cousen, Mr Cotton Mather, at his Fathers house, in Boston, be these presented.”
Honred sr—You know I suppose how If a [illeg.] ye Eldest are Vocales, wn ye rest either semi-vocales or mutes, Behold! how I make a virtue of necessity—Time & business have formrly forbad me to do yt wch at present it but just pmits, ut canis ad nilum.493—
<I am now in Cambridge—ergo if God see meet, my [several words illeg].>
It may be sr you’l wonder at my brevity wch a quantum mutatus ab illo—Ille ego qui quondum494—I who once use to send by Every opportunity a whole Cartload of news, &c—& spin out like [illeg.] now to furle my sailes, & come just like Cato on ye stage, [Ere?] only to go off again.
But, sir, be pleased to know, I am now at Cambridge—& since it is so, wt should the chief Errand of this epistle be? & the burden of each line, Exit of Each sentence in it, but wt the martyr once—Pray, Pray, Pray—never more need than now—If residing in a place of much temptation, If being debarred ye special opportunityes of seeking and seeing ye face of god wch have once been enjoyed, If an Inconstant frame of spt, a deceitful hrt, or in a word a cdition full of wants, mutato nomine,495 be named a need of prayer, then I have grt cause to bespeak such a boon * * *
Mather Papers 2:51, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Written on the back of John Cotton to Cotton Mather, 11 June 1678.
15 & 16 July 1678
Plimouth July, 15: 1678:
Reverend & Deare Brother
It is soe long a time since I heard of or from you, that I am almost sick of it, & doe therefore greedily embrace this opportunity to salute you, hoping thereby also to heare of the Welfare of you & yours in this afflicting time by that infectious desease: through Gods great mercy it is a day of health with us, the Lord helpe us to improove it aright, that wee may not provoke him to turne our health into sicknesse: God hath gratiously blessed meanes for healing those distempers that were soe afflicting to my wife; soe that she hath now her health comfortably: It is a day also of spetiall mercy with me, through the rich & undeserved grace of God in christ, in respect of the sweet & hearty closing of the spirits of the godly with me in this Church,496 & the great encouragement & advantage thereby I have to doe my Lords worke; I have found God by afflictions preparing mercy for me, my desire is, that by such choice mercies I may be duly prepared for Afflictions, which I have great reason to be in continuall expectation of:
The Church & people of Barnstable appointed a Fast last Thursday on purpose to beg of God to bow Mr Thachers497 heart to accept their call; they sent to me to carry on the worke of that day which through Gods helpe I did: they are exceeding unanimous & hearty in their desires to injoy him, I never saw more affection manifested on such an account, I suppose this day will come one from thence to goe to Mr T: for his answer, I thinke you may doe God & his people good service in advising & perswading his father to be willing to gratify their desires which are soe earnest & serious: my selfe & wife present hearty Respects & love to you & yours; I suppose your son is at Cambridge: oh pray for my poore sons there[.] I beg your prayers for me & all mine, & rest,
your Affectionate Brother
I long for good newes of your Agents returne.
Last night I was called out of my bed by one of my neighbours, who brought an Indian with him, who with the rest of Namasket Indians was this night run away from thence hither, by reason that yesterday a growne lad of Ketehte[qutt] (about 4 miles from Namasket) was fishing at the river & heard a gun & then more guns, upon which getting upon a hill not far from the wigwams he saw above 20 Indians assault those of Ketehtequtt & fire upon them & surround divers of them, he supposes all are taken or slaine; the flying Indians beleve the boy saith true; if our English at Namaskett, Bridgwater or Taunton who are all in a vicinity thereabouts hand us any confirmation of this story before sealing you shall have it, else it may passe for an Indian-tale; but because of what was done about Natik498 wee are now prone to suspect some truth in such reports.
Before sealing, the truth of the matter comes to light, viz, a scout of Punkipaog499 Indians coming to their countrymen fired their guns in way of salutation, the boy seeing this at a distance was frighted & fled with the other report; soe let all such stories vanish, if God have a favour for & please to deale gratiously with us:
Mather Papers 2:55, Prince Library, Rare Book & Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend, his Deare Brother, Mr Increase Mather, Teacher of a Church of Christ, at Boston.” Endorsed “[. . .] C. July. 15. 1678.”
15 July 1678
ReverD & Deare Sir
after my best respects prmised wth a thankfull acknowledgmt of your labor of love amongst us & many pticuler kindneses to my unworthy self, & mine, fro time to time, for requitall whereof I am forct to putt you over to him who only can richly supply you & yours, whatever may be lacking on our prts: sir I forgett not your kindnes pr your man a good effect of all ill cause; (our Eldr Chepman phraseth it) wch obligeth me to serve you on like occasion, & something further: in answer to your desire about ye yarn, the scotchman bought it for me but where I know not, it cost 14d p lb as he informs but it must be reckoned as it falls and I suppose about 16d p lb for either by mistake in ye waight there or loste by ye way in ye boat or how I know not, nor am I much solicitous about, but so it is that ye 20 lb is but 18 here. I received from my daughter wiburn (p ye boat wch & Mris walley now came up in) 12 lb of like Irish yarn wch holds full wayt here, but where she had it or what it cost she informs me not. she will inform or buy some for Mris Cotten if desired I doubt not. its usually to be had at Mris Tappins or farnums but I suppose will cost more then 14d p lb there, for I think ye scotchman bought it at first hand from ye mrchant. we are to have a Town meeting next 4th day whither ye business about mr Thatcher was thought best to be referred: wth thanks for your advise therein desiring ye continuance of your fervent prayers to God for our generall & my prticuler concerns respects to mris Cotten in haste (your man staying) I rest
my wife prsents respects affectionatly to you both.
Barnestable 15 July. 78.
Pray Sir please to signify to my son Saml500 at Sackonet p first opertunity that his oxen are come away hither.
Cotton Family Papers 8:7, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These ffor ye Revrd & his worthily esteemed frind mr John Cotten pastor of ye Church of xt at Plimoth dd.” Endorsed “From mr Hinckley July, 15: 1678:.”
26 August 1678
Plimouth August, 26: 1678:
RevD & Deare Brother
I wrote to you by my Cousen John last weeke, since which, deare Cousen Cotton hath bin our pleasant companion, he frequents every morning our Minerall spring & findes the sutable operation thereoff, if you had once tasted hereoff I beleive you will leave Linne for Plimouth, & then wee shall oft enjoy your good Company:501 your son looseth not his time but is a diligent student; he is much delighted with this pleasant aire, & now & then intimates his feares of going into the Jawes of infection, but he ownes himselfe tui non sui Juris;502 he is thinking & once said, he thought there might be some spetiall providence in his being here detained: my horses the 2 John Cottons have to Hampton whence I cannot soe conveniently transport him home by land, and I suppose it would not please you, neither am I willing, to send him home by the boats: I had much rather at their returne have a commission or at least permission for his stay till wee are weary of him, & that will be long enough; but if your fatherly wisdome & love say that he must returne to your house speedily, then at the returne of my horses I must (though agst my yea our affectionate desires) take care for his safe returne: Godly Mr. Baker dyed Aug: 22:503 at night, was buried, Aug: 24:
About a fortnight since came to our Harbour a Privateer under the Command of one Capt Daniel, the Master, is Solomon Blacklach504 son to the old man once resident in Boston, they stole away Rodes from New Yorke, I doubt many hellish abominations are here acted in secret by those who have not the feare of God before their eyes: they pretend a commission from the states of Holland & designe to take French vessels in your Easterne parts:
wee heartily salute you & our Sister, let me & mine have a constant interest in your prayers, I am,
your Affectionate Brother,
The small pox is increasing at Eastham, 4 or 5 are now sick of it since the man that dyed of it there. since John sunderlands505 grand-son had that desease his owne son hath had it; they are both recovered, & none else there taken, through mercy: Mr Thornton hath begun & practised the Synods 5th Prop: in baptising sundry, there are 5 or 6 dissenting bretheren; your book of the 1st principles & de Bap:506 I wish 20 of them in yarmouth, they might be of great use to establish the unsetled etc
If you could convey this to Deac: Eliot, Elder Bowles507 might soone have it.
your son presents humble duty to you & his mother, love etc
pray send by this boat the footstoole I left & could not finde for want of sufficient morning light. Nath: I suppose knowes of it:
28 October 1678
Bridgewater Octob 28—78
Reverend & deare Sir
I have much desired but have been denyed opportunity, to Salute you by any Letter since the receit of your last508 which is now some moneths ago. I return you many thanks for your kinde remembrance of me, in the papers you sent me, deare Sir I do blesse god for his grace towards you in yt you are yet continued in such a comfortable capacity for his work & service when others are removed & Laid aside: it is sad & solemn yt so many Lights are removed from the [illeg]; Mr Thachers’ departure is a great breach upon the churches, & is like to be a step to further expretions of gods wrath in yt kinde; god is punishing a gospell despising people, O yt Al Xr509 may know in this theire day the things which belong to theire peace, before they be hid from theire eyes. It pleaseth god in the way of his soveraignty & holiness still to hold me in rods of affliction, though his corrections are in measure. I hope I am somewhat better for the present, by the blessing of god upon the means improved but still under much indisposition to attend my publicke labours in regard of my bodily infirmityes. I have preached only twice since my return from Waymouth, I have but Little hope that I shall be able to preach generally this winter. we are like to be under great difficultyes in yt respect. I have hade a great comfort hitherto in elder Bretts510 assistance, but he is like to faile by reason of infirmity of body. Sir I long to see you here & to enjoy your labours one Sabbath, though I know you cannot leave your congregation & family wtout difficulty, yet I must entreate you to think of it: it would be a great ease to me to be certifyed of your helpe & of the time of your coming, in the mean time let me entreate your fervent prayers to god for us, & for me yt I may be able to sanctify the Lord under all those trials yt are appointed to me: I expected my change before this time, but it pleaseth god yet to preserve my spirit by his visitation, whether the Lord hath reserved me for further service or further exercise I can not tell, but I am in his hand, & let him do wth me as it seemeth good to him. my selfe & my wife do tender our cordiall respects to you & Mistris Cotton, wt hearty acknowledment of all your kindness, but I cannot now enlarge; commanding you to the [nih?] grace & neverfailing mercy of god I must take leave, deare Sir farewell in the Lord so prayeth
Your assurrd freind & affectionate though unworthy brother in the [. . . .]
present my respects to elder Cushman
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “For The reverend his affectionate freind Mr John Cotton pastor of the church of christ in Plimouth These.” Endorsed “From mr Keith october 28: 1678:” Hole along bottom margin obscures closing and signature.
15 November 1678
Plimouth, November, 15: 1678:
Most Deare Cousen
I greatly rejoyce in the goodnesse of God to you in that you are made whole, & I beleive you are as the Palme-tree, that your growth in grace will be more eminent by the late depression, Amen! It is good for a man to beare the yoke in his youth, & happy is that soule that can take the yoke of christ upon it. The gentlenesse of your Affliction & your soe speedy deliverance out of it (wherein soe much distinguishing grace doth appeare) layes you under a very great obligation to endeavour to your utmost to be doing for God, & the good Lord enlarge you therein. your letters511 I received, but the bookes of which you write are in the hands of another boatman who is not yet come from Boston: In your next tell me what the binding of the two bibles cost, for they belong not to him that ownes the other, & I must righteously distribute the charges with my 2 neighbours: your letter, I thinke, answers all desired of you in my letters sent before I knew of your sicknesse, except Commencement Theses, which I pray send me some of, by the next for I have not one. The enclosed I intreat a speedy conveyance of for I earnestly desire him to meete me if he can at Mr. Norton’s ordination, 27th of this Instant:512 My selfe & wife most heartily salute you; soe doth John, Betty, Rowland etc your selfe & the rest of our Cousens:
The Lord blesse you & prepare you to be a rich blessing in your generation, soe prayes,
your affectionate Uncle,
pray send me word when your father writes to Cos: Tuckney, for I would send when he doth:
Mather Papers 2:65, Prince Library, Rare Book & Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These for his endeared kinsman Mr. Cotton Mather, at his fathers house in Boston.”
[after 15 November 1678]
Having survived his own encounter with smallpox, Mather supplies his news-hungry uncle with a grim impression of the epidemic’s recent effects in Boston.
I shld fling a proh pudor!513 upon my delayes of doing you that service that duty dos as much oblige as you desire, but that I am made brazen faced by <sufficient> excuses sufficient to bear mee out.
I wonder wt you Impute my non-Transmission of those things of yours wch are in my hands to. I know your Candor will not charge me wth Idleness, your Courtesy wl not Implead me for forgetfulness, & most of all, yor vry [your very] Reason wl not accuse mee of unwillingness to serve you in wt I may, Even usque ad aras,514 & if posible, there too. But if I am of age to speak for myself, Sickness, wch had ye first part in hindrance, was succeed by uncertainty of Conveiance, & yt agn seconded by other Avocations—How frequently <I have> & unweariedly I have been engaged in seeking Plymouth boat, if noth. else, yet my old shooes will testify, who in ys time, wn Boston is become another Lutetia515 (q. Luto suta) do proclaim yt they wanted a pair of goloshooes—wn traveling neer ye Dockhead. I wld bee more frequent in Letters Testimonial of my gratitude if I could but either fling salt on ye tail of Time, or get ye wind and Tide to bee favrable to my designs—wch possibly may in a sense bee before ye Greek Calend.516
Never was it such a Time in Boston, Boston burying-places never filled so fast, It is easy to tell ye time wrin Wee did not use to have ye bells tolling for burials on a sabbath day Morning by sunrise, to have 7 buried on a sabbath-day night after Meeting, To have coffins crossing each other as they have been carried in the street, To have I know not how many Corpses following each other close at ye heels, to have 38 dye in one week, 6, 7, 8, or 9 in a day, Yet thus hath it lately been, and thus is it at this day, Above 340 have died of the small pox in Boston, since it first assaulted ye place, To attempt a Bill of Mortality & number ye vry spires of grass in a Burying place seem to have a parity of difficulty and in accomplishment. At first ye gradual mrcy of God to my Fathers family was observeable & remarkeable, First, my Brothr Nath.517 gently smitten, and I more gently yn Hee, & my Sr Sarah518 yet more gently yn I—But the order is broken on my Sr Maria519 wo on ye same Month & day of ye Month yt my Fathr ws vsted wth ye same disease 21 years agoe, was taken vry Ill, the Symptoms grievous and or fears grt, Sometimes Light-headed, but her Father prayed down mercy for her, and, her pox having turned a day or 2 agoe, shee is now so inter spemque metumque Locata,520 that [hope] bares down the scales—So that of my Fathrs septenary of Childr: 4 have been visited. God fit & prepare for the 3 stroakes yt are yet behind—
Mather Papers 2:66, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Written on the back of John Cotton to Cotton Mather, 15 November 1678.
2 December 1678
Plimouth December, 2: 1678:
Reverend & Deare Brother
The Govr promised me to deliver my whole Indian Salary to any to whom I should Assigne it: I intreat you to take the trouble of delivering the note to him & receiving the money which is 22 or 23 pd I know not which certainely: I have hopes that 10 pd of it I May leave in your hands for your use upon the same account you had the 20 pd of Capt Hull; only I cannot at this time absolutely ingage it, because the hand of the Lord in this Infectious desease is now as neere my house, as Sanders his shop is to yours, & if it please God to visit my family I doubt it will cost me more then that in necessaries from Boston for such a time of triall; otherwise I shall not soone call for that 10 pd from you: I am uncertaine of an opportunity of sending againe this winter, & therefore doe at a venture charge this bill of 10 pd upon you, but I write not a word to Mris Tappin about it, because you yet have it not; only I request you when you have received my money of the Govr to send to the widow to come to you to receive the money & to give you a receipt of it, & withall desire her from me, to give me soe much credit on her booke:
My last, in which I also wrote to P: as yet is by you unanswered, I would hope it will be successfull; if I heare it is not, if I live till after Feb: 17: I shall take speedy course to prepare for a sute at Aprill Court, the good Issue of which for recovery of Principall & Interest, good Lawyers doe assure me of: James Pemb: saith you are about selling your farme to G: White I suppose it is a mistake; my care hath bin, is & will be, if God spare life to help you to money as fast as I can for it, if you resolve to sell it; He speakes to me to know whether he may longer injoy the farme, but telles me not what termes my Brother Cotton propounds to him nor what you say thereabouts; I hope none of us will aske lesse then about 30 pd in silver per annum, for I finde this other pay at the Tenants termes comes not to much more then halfe the summe to answer my ends:
wee shall be very glad to hear that Cousen Maria doth recover more & more; wee begin to looke for our day of visitation because it is soe neere us; my Cousen John could be very glad to heare that all your family were past danger of it, for then he hopes his Deare Cousin Cotton would keep him company when he is sick of it: but that is too great a favour for us to hope for, yet a mercy wee should abundantly blesse God for in such a day of triall; however, our earnest request to you is, that you would now by writing communicate your experiences, & tell us what you doe every day from the time they are taken till the height & afterward, I doe account your observations from your owne practice May be more usefull then any thing else; if you also write the particulars you use, I will take care in season, God willing, to obtaine them: with due respects & love to you, desiring your prayers for us, that wee may be prepared to meete God, & that you may have a comfortable issue of your present trialls,
I rest, your affectionate Brother,
Lacksimons told me last weeke that Mr Pynchon hath brought over 20 pd due to his wife for 2 yeares rent from old Boston; if soe, why is not our 10 pd come also? pray informe me about it:
Mather Papers 2:67, Prince Library, Rare Book & Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend, his Deare Brother, Mr Increase Mather, Teacher of a Church of christ at Boston.”
15 January 1679
Bridgwater Jan. 15—78.
Reverend and dear Sir
Although I have not heard from you for a long time neither hade opportunity to write to you, yet I do beare you still in remembrance, being under strong obligations thereunto by the bonds of love in christ Jesus. The occasion of my writing to you at present is from reports I have very lately heard, concerning some scandall & miscarriage of Robert Latham by excesse in drinking at your town,521 whether you are acquainted with it I cannot tell, but I do heare that Mistris Cotton hath some knowledge of it, I would be certifyed concerning the truth of it, that we may know how to proceed in such a case: Although it is not pleasant to me, to be upon such work if it might be avoided, yet I look upon my self obliged in conscience to search it out for the vindication of the name of God & the honour of the gospell, I must therefore entreate you to enquire into it whether any testimony can be obtained from any of your town to prove the fact. Sir if you will please to take the pains to make enquiry, & to send me word by the first opportunity, it may be a good service to christ. deare Sir I need the help of your prayers, being still under restraint, by bodily weaknes as to the full exercise of my ministry. I cannot enlarge because of the bearers haste, our cordiall respects presented to your self and Mrs Cotton, my kinde love to elder Cushman, commending to the never failing mercy of god in christ Jesus I rest
Sir Yours affectionately in the Lord
Cotton Family Papers 8:11, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “For The reverend Mr John Co[tton] Pastor of the church of christ in Plimouth. These.” Endorsed “From Mr Keith January, 15: 1678:”
4 February 1679
I rejoyce that I have an opportunity to salut you, but am sorry, It is so short warning by ye bearer, that I have but time for a word or two. I blesse god that I heard of your welfare by your Letter received Jan 31.523 & doe desire you to blesse God with mee for the health of my selfe & family The small poxe hath been in 2 familyes in our Towne, out of one of which then dyed 3 persons & 6 recovered The other Family had but one sicke in [it?] who is recovered (through mercy). The towne is generally in health in our neighbour Townes many have dyed of ye disease we desire to blesse god for his wonderfull sparing of us. Deare Brother, I thanke you for a promise of visiting us in the spring. I doe consent my son shall offeciate in your place at Lords day upon the condition you visit & helpe mee at Hampton my wife also Earnestly desires to see you. The bearer will not let me Inlarge, I crave the continuance of your prayers for me & [mine?] I hope am not forgettfull of you thus with Hearty love to your selfe & Sistur [illeg.] & wife, & to Couzene John &c.
I am your most Affectionate Brother
Hampton. Feb. 4. 1678
your Couzen Carre is safely delivered of a daughter, & in way of recovery
Hearty & Humble Respects & service to your Honored Governour & Lady
I trust once againe to visit your parts if you Continue there
your coming hither [illeg.] upon many accounts
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “For the Reverend Mr John Cotton, Pastor to the Church at Plymouth.” Endorsed “From my Brother Cotton February, 4 1678:” “Seaborn” is added in a hand other than Cotton’s. Large tear along right bottom margin and one small hole.
14 February 1679
The campaign to fill Thomas Walley’s place in the Barnstable pulpit was more than a year old at the time of this letter. Harvard graduate John Bowles (1653–1691) was apparently a candidate and had a strong advocate in Cotton. Unfortunately he had a stronger opponent in Gov. Hinckley. Here, Cotton appeals to his friend to give Bowles his support.
Plimouth February, 14: 1678:
Worshipfull & much Honoured Friend.
This last weeke came such uncomfortable tidings from Barnstable hither, that I knew not how to satisfy my selfe without troubling you with a few lines, I hope not proceeding from a principle inclining to medle with other mens matters, but from a sincere desire of the best good of that people who are, God knows, very deservedly deare & pretious to me; It doth indeed malé audire524 with wiser then my selfe, that such discouragements should attend Mr Bowles; that such meane things should be soe taken up & presented as matter to alienate the affections of people from him; I am sure, the speakers doe greatly suffer in their names in more townes then this for their weaknesse herein, & your whole place I feare will be soe blemished thereby as that you will finde it more difficult to obtaine a minister next yeare then this; I need not tell you, worthy Sir, that it is a dying time with Preachers young as well as old, & it is very manifest, there is very great likelyhood of scarcity of ministers, & if I may without offense whisper it in your eare, I dare say, Mr M:525 is far below Mr B: for learning & abilities, although his name be deservedly more pretious with those who knew his predecessours; that you are too heavy & weigh downe the whole towne (as is said) I freely say, that without doubt you may lawfully doe it in all cases generally, but I could upon my knees humbly beg of you, worthy Sir, that you would not only permit but contenance as much as you can with a safe Conscience a vote of your people for Mr B: who (I heare) are much more satisfyed with him, hearing how honest an answer was indeed sent from him to them at the returne of the messenger, though (it seemes) not soe thoroughly declared as should have bin: If upon a such toyes as these Mr B: should goe home without a renewed Invitation from the people, I doubt it would too deeply reflect upon their reputation & proove a great barre to future success in motions of such a nature; And Good Sir, (humbly againe & againe begging pardon of you for my boldnes with you) if you should appeare slow to promote a call for Mr B: out of a secret hope & desire to obtaine one yet More sutable (at least for your selfe) I verily feare you will finde your selfe uncomfortably disappointed, were it not much more desireable to waite upon God under his ministry & to follow the throne of grace with earnest prayers, that this man may be fitted to doe all that which (it may be) you rather expect in another;526 Much Honoured in the Lord, I should be ashamed to looke you in the face, after soe much presumptuous writing to you, were I not perswaded in my heart (after humble seeking the face of God thereabouts) that the Lord called me thereunto; I know your candour is great, & your present Manifestation of it, I shall esteem it a great favor: my selfe & wife present due respects & service to you: Sir Cotton527 presents his service to you: I have had noe newes from Boston a long time; The good Lord guide you in a right way, craving your prayers for me & mine,
I rest, Sir, your Worships servant in Christ
My love to Mr Bar: Lathrop528 & his wife, & to Elder Cobb & his.
Hinckley Papers 1:13, Prince Library, Rare Book & Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Worshipfull, his highly Honoured Friend, Thomas Hinckley Esquire, Magistrate, at his house, in Barnstable.”
18 February 1679
I have delivred ye 10ll to mrs Tapp[an] <yor desire> according to yr desire & I saw it set down in her hands. And 17s to mr Richards, who sayth you owed him 1ll 8d. Ensign Green hath not as yet called for his money.
Concerning ye Farms, yr <illeg.> last ltr but one, intimated as if you had no great desire of purchasing my Interest, nor regarded my Brotherly offer to you, whereupon I advised wth some friends who perswaded me to petion ye county court for a division, because if my particuler Interest were known, some would give above 40ll more yn whilst in [Condem?]. I have [so?] acted accordingly, & [. . .] obtained from ye court what I desired. wthin yes few dayes a gentleman yt hath money enough, <offered me> offered me yt 100ll in money should be given me for my Interest, & 100 ll besides in money ingaged to me wth Intrest after the propertie of 6ll [several words illeg.] <illeg.> payed, though I should sell it to him in Condem. How yn could you think yt 200ll is more yn yor Interest is worth? I have treated wth some Countrey men about it. one at Rumley Marsh telles me yt my share is worth above 300ll. A gentleman in ys Town told me, yt if it were a division thr obtained, Hee doubts not but I may have 400ll for wt is mine at [Maddirioux?].
Paige has forfetted his bond to you & me to, not having brought his last payment wch was due to me. If you be minded to buy an House in Boston I will not be yor hindranc[e] though I can not think you are in earnest so [illeg.] as to throw away yor money so, where it may be a Tennant will not prsent yt is desirable & ye Repairs quickly Eat out ye rent, & it may be fire consume al. I have always <sd ye> spoken ye same thing to you, viz. yt I thought ye Farm was worth at least 300ll And yt I was willing you should have it 30 or 40ll cheaper yn another, And yt as for yor money in Paige’s hand, I would either take it in part of pay for ye Farm or if I sold it not to you, give you Interest for ye money. And you promised me yt so it should be. I had rather <illeg.> borrow yor money yn anothers upon some accounts. The Interest I’le pay you before hand as soon as I receive ye rest of ye money, if you please. or if you send Rowland to schoole at Boston againe, since I take him to be a towardly child I am willing to board him in my Family, & in yt way justify you for ye use of yor money. I am not willing to sell ye Farm for halfe as much as it is worth, & so wrong my wife & children & make ye world laugh at me for a Simple Tom. And what more Brotherly tender to prsent to you, yn I have done already respecting ys matter I know not. Let me hear profitably by yor next whether you are Free to let me have ye money as Expressed or no, yt so I may order my concerns Accordingly.
The Lord hath graciously stayed his hand as to ye smallpox in Boston. I know but of one in ys end of ye Town sick. nor above 4 throughout ye whole Town. In many Countrey Towns, it is very sore. I hear yt 50 are now sick in Woburn. Many of dorchester, Rocksburg, wenham, Newberry, Salsberry, Piscatewey where one man lost 4 daughters & 2 sons (one son left alive still) lately dead of ye small pox. I suppose you heer yt Ammi Corlet is dead of yt disease & Ephraim Angier Also mrs Angier sick of ye same distemper, & her Recovery very doubtfull. 3 of her Brothers dyed in Boston of ye very disease wthin ys few moneths.
I blesse ye Lord, my Family hath bin well above 2 moneths: 6 of ye [children] (all but Abigail) touched wth ye <dis> [illeg.], though 3 of ym so gently as yt yy had no need to lye by it. Let ye Lord alone have all ye glory. I am in haste being to prch ye Lecture ys Thursday, & much other work upon my hands. Rts to my sister, & cousins, The Lord be wth you. I am,
Yor affectionate Brother
Boston. Febr 18. 1678/9
Mather Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “These For the Revd my dear Brother Mr John Cotton, Pastor of ye church in Plymouth.” Endorsed “[Fro]m Mr Mather Feb]ruary, 18: 1678:”
12 March 1679
Plimouth March, 12: 1678:/79:
Reverend & Deare Brother
I wrote to you last weeke by Mr Saffin; one passage in your letter I forgat to speake to, viz, my buying a house at Boston, which thing indeed was a reality the last yeare, for I had Treaty with one (who is not likely long to injoy his house) about buying his house & land, which is very much for a Boston lot, neither doth it stand in much more danger of fire, then mine doth here; & I doe beleive if I had come to Boston this winter as I use to doe when the desease was not, I had made a bargaine for it: I therefore in what I wrote I pretended not a thing that was not; but by what I now say, I intend not any obstruction of proceeding with you, if you please (as I desired in my last) to set your lowest price you resolve to stand to, & how long you can waite for some of your money: Also let me know your minde about sute, for I am sollicitous to be in a way to recover the bond of P: if he have since paid you, I hope you have the bond safe for my use & service, by the commissioners or this boat I desire to heare from you: Last Monday afternoone Just upon the great Thunder-clap dyed our poore Treasurer,529 that day six weekes he was taken sick with a feavour & Jaundice. Major Cudworth530 labours under the same distempers & his condition is very doubtfull; the Lord raise up a succession of godly faithfull ones: With due love & respects to you & my sister, from my selfe, wife & cousen etc desiring your earnest prayers for me (who am but crazy & infirme) I rest,
your Affectionate Brother531
All of us present hearty love to Cous: Cotton, etc tell him wee thanke him heartily for our Almanacks; Wee are going this day to Treas:s buriall & ergo cannot write to him. I wish Ens: Greene had my letter, for I want his Answer, with the Catechismes I wrote to him for.
Mather Papers 3:10, Prince Library, Rare Book & Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend, his Deare Brother, Mr Increase Mather, Teacher of a church of Christ, at Boston.” Some Latin notes by Mather on the address leaf.
17 September 1679
At least Rehoboth was experiencing some good fortune during this “dying time with Preachers,” as the next two letters relate.
To the Church of Christ at Plymouth
Grace—mercy and peace in our Lord Jesus christ be multyplyed
Reverend and Beloved
It is not unknowne to you. that notwthstanding The Lords abundant goodnes to us, after our first bereavemt in raising up one amongst our selves soe Emenently accomplished for ye greate worke of the Ministrye; yet for our greate unfrutfulnes and unprofitablenes under such glorious injoymt. The Lord most justly and rigteouslye againe bereaved us of our reverend & deare pastour, since which time The Lord hath caused us to expeariance the greate worth of the blesed injoymt of his house (after wch we hoope our Soules ernastly breathe) by the want theerof, yet mixeing his smartest-chastisments with much pitye and greate compasion, and in a greate measure makeing up <our> (our allmost irrepairable Lose) with a new suplye sending us a person singularly quallified and furnished with gifts and graces for soe a greate a worke (for which indeed who is soeficent) an able workman rightly deviding the word of truth; a person well knowne unto many of you (viz) The Reverand Mr Samuell Angier533 whome we have ellected in order to office amongst us; our Request therfore is that you would be pleased to Send your Messengers to be pressent wth us, and asistant unto us in the worke of Ordination which we intend (if God will) upon the 15th day of october next it being the fowrth day of the Weeke In the meane tyme begging your prayers for our Sollem preparation thereto, we commend you to the gratious direction of him whose prsence we desire may attend you in your atendance to this our desire And soe we Rest
Your Loveing Bretheren in the ffellowshipe of the gospell
Thomas Cooper senr
In the Name and with the Consent of the Rest of the Church
Rehoboth the 17th
of Septembr 1679
Cotton Family Papers 8:13, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Cotton’s note: “The messengers chosen & present at this ordination were the Pastour, Ruling Elder, mr Samuel Fuller, Thomas Cushman Junior.”
27 October 1679
These Lines would (being very desireous) persuad you of my (but reasonable) resolution, long agoe taken up, but since much strengthened & Confirmed, for Ever to remember your many oblidging courtesies: Time would faile me, to mention ye [sev]erall particular acts, & ye praise worthyness of them: I can not but thinke of your late Kind visite, send a great cloud of thanks for ye same It was indeed great Kindness, ye day preceeding ye ordination yt you minded me of those considerations soe suitable & needfull wch otherwise, I thinke would not have been sufficiently impressed on my thoughts: & very singular was ye respect your manner, in giveing ye right hand of fellowshipe did Evidence yt if noe sooner, then on ye Last day of my life there should be an opportunity to make any suitable requitall, I should be ambitious to improve it.
Sr you may remember some discourse we had about ye administration of ye sacrament of ye Lords suppe, & ordination of Deacons; you know my unExperiencedness in those things; & therfore I hope you will not thinke amisse of my Ernest desire, but gratifying ye same in [. . . .] a plaine, particular & distinct account, as to both yt may fully informe my younge braine: I depend upon it & do not fear missing my Expectation; haveing soe large Experience of your great Candor & freindship: My greatest hearty respects to yr selfe & ms Cotton: greeting to all freinds as if [n]amed: I Ever remaine
your trusty servant & Endeared freind
Sr your prayers are my Constant desires:
Rehob: 27 octob: 79:
Cotton Family Papers 8:14, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “To the Revrd. Mr Cotton Pastor of ye Church of Christ in Plimouth: Q. D. C.”
20 December 1679
As this and following letters suggest, the New England leadership was becoming uncomfortable with the renewed attention it was receiving from England.
I thought good to Certifie you in a line or tow of mr Randals visiting or Governour:535 who arived att. N. Yorke first, and came from thence last friday was a sevennight, who came from England in Octob last, who this day is gon to Boston, and hath taken posesion of Naraganset for his Majests: provence, as he came a longe, and visited Rhoad Island, and is bound furder as he saith for the Easterne parts: and Especially to Settle in Mason Interest:536 whom he looks for over in the Springe: his Especiall buisnes now wth our Governor was to psent hime with letters from the Counsell of State, wherein they declare <the> his Majests kinde reception of or last letters by mr Joles and that they were refered to the Comitte of forraine plantatons to make report of, and then a furder Answer to be returned: the Counsell have also sent divers Queres about the State of or Collonie to be with all Speed Answered, he brought a large Comission that Impowers Certaine Select Men of or Collonie with our Counsell to Sweare or Governor to be true to An act made a boute promoting of Sea afaires: formerly:537 he Makes Speed to Boston: (where i thinke he will be little welcommed) to Settle his Majestes Commands before the Messengers come; who he saith was spedily to come away wth mr Joles: having received their Instructions: so no More att psent tille I see you:
your Loveing frind Semper
20 Desemb. 79.
Cotton Family Papers 8:15, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “ffor his Much Esteemed frind Mr John Cotton deliver This.” Endorsed “From Major Bradford December, 20: 1679:.”
29 December 1679
Boston 29: 10BER 1679
mr Cotton after respects prsented I mist the opertunyty by mr howland to give acout that on the 24th day in the morning our Comishners538 arived at nantasket a sonday it provd 25 day mr Joseph Dudly went down with a vesel and A[rtillery] men and that night the [illeg.] the next day the went to our governs and our A[rtillery] Company, were all in arms and brought them to the towne hous wher a good Colashon539 was provided and after 3 vole540 the great guns were fire what ther returne is it is but doubtful but they are welcome [. . .] said the king Comands 2 more Comishoners [. . .] to Com over in six months, the parlymt [. . . .] mercy prevent not so soone as mr [. . . .] most alin prayd [illrg.] be in a toler[ ] [. . . .]ersarys few frinds our help [. . . .] of the Lord, our god [. . . .] England mr [. . . .] and [. . . .]
Cotton Family Papers 8:16, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed in Prince’s hand: “To the Rev. Mr Cotton at Plimouth à mr James Oliver of Boston.” The handwriting is Oliver’s, considerably improved, but the paper is badly mutilated.
15 January 1680
Taunton Jan. 15. 79/80
RevD & dear Sr
After a considerable time of deep silence, or intercourse hath a revivall by yours of 12th Instant,541 which I recieved at Middlebro where I had some hopes I might have met you. I much reioce to hear of the goodness of God to you in building of yor house, & sparing yor dear Consort. My familee hath been v[i]sited with much illnes but hitherto verye mercifully, in that noe breach hath been made. my elest daughter of the sd stock is now soe visited [& is?] verye afflicted having had a feaver, attended with an Itching humor breaking forth all over the body [. . .] Cap [a pe?], but I hope not dangerous the rest in competent health, (blessed be God for his goodnes therin. Mr Keith is well, but things goe ill there still. there hath not been any late publick ch. progresse in dealing with the persons under offence. I had some opportunity with the Agents at Boston the last weeke. the generall News is the Duke of Munmouth is gone to Utricht in Holland,542 & Yorke gone into Scotland,543 Shaftsberrie formerly prsident of the Councell turned out of his preæsidentship.544 the five Lords still in the tower,545 the parliamt prorogued by proclamation before the time of their session in octobr till this Instant. Conventicles (about the Altyr at Least) generally Connived at. the Councell at Boston sat on Tuesday sevenight. a day of thanksgiving appointed on the 29th instant, and Generall Court & Assemble the beginning of the Next Month. the Letter he [. . .] sent them is sharp, yet Comending the prudent deportment of the Agents of [. . .] Comands are sent which will be of difficult observation. I heare there [. . .] or Govornr hath Letters but am unresolved of the Import. Randolphs Comiss[ion?] as to the four towns beyond Merrimack within Masons Claimes puts them upon great thoughts of heart. I met with Mr Moodie546 & Majr Walden547 at Boston who I percieve are under adept sence of their difficuties & danger they Looke upon themselves as or forlorn.548 the Lord prepare them as us & all his people everywhere for troubles. the day begins to Looke verye dark & blacke. I am glad to hear of hopes of Unanimity at Barnstable if that be certaine that upon Mr Hinkleyes soe farr Condescending Mr Thatchers Interest is growing in ye hearts of the people the case is hopefull. Let mutuall prayers still be Continu[ed?] I present you & yor dear Consort with salutations from me & Mine a[. . . .] am ever
[yr] Assured friend
I am much affraid of the death of a choice Man among us viz Mr Sam Smith549 for whose continuance I desire your prayers private & publick.
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “To the Reverend Mr John Cotton senr Pastor of the Church in Plimouth These prsent.” Endorsed “. . . Mr Shove January, 15: 1679.” Right margin badly frayed.
27 March 1680
Dublin. this 27TH of yE 1ST 1680.
[. . . .] yor Magistrates inclosed cause will [. . . .] mislaid it so yt at prsent I [. . .] indeavoured [. . .]. I heartily thank [. . . .] mee. In yor ppositions wch you [. . .] [re] member one thing wch though for my [. . .] question vizt ye soules of godly psons [ ]ly upon their death yet I have known some some [. . .] Dr Tho. Goodwin who is lately deceased was of Meath in ye Kingdom as I have heard550 [. . .] [g]odliest & most tenacious of orthodoxy of any [m]ember [illeg.] will not determine it onely before the ressurrection beata fruunter quieter [illeg.] I [illeg.] seemed to myselfe to wish ye [. . .] little otherwise, yn to descent in ye thing intended. [. . .] before mee I cannot instance.
[. . . .] still as long as ye Lord shall continue both [. . .] to mee to hear from you. I can give [. . . .] saw yt through ye wonderfull ptection of & in ye injoyment of or liberty. How things goe [. . .] for London now certaynly & fully yt I can write [. . .] bee big with expectation and our prlaticall cler[. . . .] over a great way to meet ym. In sunday of [. . . .] have lately set up organs, and are [. . . .] wch tis like [. . .] will follow) an altar to bee [. . . .] Papists [. . . .] their Mass in English [. . . .]est of [En]gland & yt year fell on ye [. . . .] pirations [illeg.] in their worp551 is here [. . . .] & Papists. A priest ordayned amongst [. . . .] here toger but no presbyterian [. . . .] laws but [. . . .] been so ordayned doe [. . . .] ordayned agayn by Bps. Wee [. . .] further searching [. . .] ye Plot, nor any thing [. . . .] interest can keep off [. . . .] design agt ye govermt.
Cotton Family Papers 8:17, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “To the Rev mr John Cotton pastor of ye Chh in Plimouth in New England.” Prince’s note: “I suppose à The Rev. Mr. Nathaniel Mather, wos Father had married to sd Cotton’s mother.” Letter badly mutilated.
Beloved bro: Cotton
If you knew what a refreshing comfort it is to my heart, wch you sent me in yt [. . .] leafe, it would be a spur to your heart to be diligent & accurate, to goe [on?] as you have so well begun, & I hope for the like helpe from you through the whole work of the Bible552—this one leafe hath afforded mee more help in that wrk of translation, then ever I had before from any English man. plus vident oculi para oculus553—wn you come (if the Lord will) I shall give you an account of what help it hath afforded me, & we shall con[sider?] how to act herein for the future, the first [. . .]554 was printed of before I received this welcome leafe, but in all yt follow I hope I shall make due use of your observations. I need not tell you yt mr Oaks is to be installed Prsident,555 the 4th of May, & mr shepard556 to be ordained the 5 day of May. I am glad to heare of your well faire, my respects to your yoakfellow let prayrs be mutual, to him who is or only help &c to whom I commit you & rest,
your loving brother,
16 April 1680
ffairfield Apr. 16TH 1680.
RevrD & deare sir
I somtimes in my sollitarie watches (in ys my more lonesome state) call to minde those quondam days wherein I enjoyed ye Society of your mch esteemed selfe & other my old companions, & sometimes upon occasion looking over my long neglected papers I meete wth those letters wch (though somewhat distanced) our nearer neighborhood yn now afforded & yett more lately there came to my hand two papers of verses upon ye deaths (woe worth yt word) of mr Walley & mr Newman558 ye one of wch was endorsed with ye harty respects of ye author in ye tender of it to my unworthy (& as I had thought utterly forgotten) selfe sr I heartily thanke you (craving your excuse yt it hath been thus long deferred) for so good a remembrance of me & were not yt little little poeticall fancy I once had lost through disuse beyond all possibility of recovery such an occasion would have tempted me to have returned you somthing if not worthy your desert (wch how can it be) yet at least expresive of your pore friends desires. but ye case standing as it doth still failing to commend it must suffize silently to admire & lett me tell you yt ye worke & labour of love towards these deare deserving & deservedly esteemed ones found upon yt side for you in ye day of account wil be a far greater matter yn thanks or applaus from men & in very deed upon ye occasion we may all sigh & say these & many ye like bereavemts yt have of late befallen us in ys land are very awfull ye Lord humble his people under these & all other tremendous strokes & give us who are yett left in ye worke yt we may fulfil it working while it is yett day wth us, ye worke of our generation is upon us & it is our businese to serve it according to ye will of god wch the good Lord graunt. Sr I heare of you somtimes by my good friend & neighbor mr Walker559 & should be glad (if you please to favour me so far) to hear from you & there is one thing sir of wch I found of intimation in your verses yt I would be bold to request of you yt is mr Newmans sermon on Jer. 6: 8th.560 I know not whether it be in print or not if not if you can send it me in writing I am loth so mch to trouble you but surely in so doing you shall do me a great pleasure I preached upon a day of fast some years since upon yt text & was in my meditations upon it somwhat perplexd & dissatisfied & have had a thirsting desire to have seene some body yt had handled ye same subject in wch if you can helpe me you shall do me a piece of great satisfaction I have no commentarie of ye booke of Jeremy nor indeed know I of any it is my ignorance or else it is a booke yt none have written upon if you know of any yt have done to purpose upon it pray sr signifie so mch to me Straites of time forbid me at present to enlarge unexpected businese faling in & ye going away of ye vessell being more sudden then was looked for I send ys to your bro: mr Mather by whome unlese otherwise provided you may make returnes & shall not now ad more but wth harty comendations to yours: & mrs Cotten. That I am Cordiallitr
Your very friend & servt.—
Cotton Family Papers 8:18, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “Theesse for ye Revrd mr John Cotton pastor of ye ch of x att Plimoth.” Endorsed “From mr. wakeman April, 16: 1680:.”
31 May 1680
Bridgwater May 31ST—80.
Reverend & dear Sir
You must accept of these lines instead of a visit, for I am not now in any comfortable capacity to come & see you, as my condition is at present circumstanced. I have been sustained in some measure in the exercise of my ministry, through the power & mercy of a gracious god, ever since we parted at Taunton, untill the last sabbath. I finde my bodily infirmityes especially the fever so prevailing upon me of late that I am forced to breathe a while, not being able at present to attend upon my publick work. I intend god willing to go down to the bay, towards the latter end of this week & to make some stay there, to try whether a little rest & respite may be a means to raise me. I am waiting upon God to see what the Lord will do with me, & desire quietly to leave my self with him, who will never faile the expectation of those that trust in him. Sir I cannot now give you a particular account of our church affairs, in generall we meet with much trouble & opposition in the work of christ, the persons under offense are still hardened, the Lord humble them & give them repentance to the saving of their souls, if it be his holy will. there is little hopes of reconcilment, what the issue will be I cannot tell. the church is yet united through gods goodnes, none of the brethren dissenting that I know of one only excepted. We need your prayers. I pray Sir present my kinde respects to all the brethren whom providence may bring under your roof at this solemnity. I write in haste & cannot enlarge as I intended being prevented by company. Our cordiall respects presented to your self & Mrs Cotton, commending you to the never failing mercy of God in christ Jesus & earnestly desiring your prayers to God for [us?]
Sir Your affectionate frend & bro: in the Lord
Cotton Family Papers 8:20, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “The reverend John Cotton pastor of the church of christ in Plimoth. These.” Endorsed “From mr Keith May, 31, 1680:.”
10 July 1680
To Mr John Cotton Pastour and Mr Thomas Cushman Elder of the Church of Christ att Plymouth, to be communicated to that Congregation with all Convenient speed
The Generall Court haveing taken to theire seriouse Consideration the Great waight of those Concernes now before them; as alsoe the labouring Cause of God in the world; doe Comend it to all the Churches and people of God in this Collonie to sett apart to the last weddenesday in August ne[xt a]s a day of solleme fasting and prayer561 wherein to seeke the face and favor of God to us and his whole [. . . .] & Interest throughout the Christtian World and especially that the Lord would pl[ea] se to direct [. . . .] owne and blesse that our waighty undertaking in Making [. . . .]cation to our Sovr: Lord the Kinge for the prservation Continuance & Inlargment of those Good privilidges and liberties562 [. . . .] and Civill [. . .] for soe longe a time wee have had the Comfortable [. . .] of; that we may find favor in <his> the eyes of our Kinge as a Testimony of ye [. . . .] Gracious owneing of us as his people in Coventn with him [through his] [. . . .] that God may be Intreated to be a wall of fier Round about us [. . . .] in the middest of <us> this his wildernes People and [. . . .] that the breaches that he hath made [. . . .] in Any of [. . . .] by a comfortable supply in the minerstys and that [. . . .] may be advanced in our English Nations [. . . .] and the [. . . .] Kings Royall prson may be preserved from all [. . . .] of Popish Adversaries and that all the Lords people [. . . .] out of trouble; and that the Kingdoms of our Lord Jesus Christ [may be?] advanced and submited to every where.
By order of the Court Nathaniael Morton Secretary
Plymouth This 10th of July 1680.
Cotton Family Papers 8:21, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Letter badly mutilated in the center.
13 July 1680
our Elder desired me in his name to write these to you to entreate your favour so far as to pswade mr Thetcher to preach for you next Lords day if it may be & that you would please to come ovr to our help the same day for mr Thetcher seemes not pswadable to preach any more here,563 having preacht his farewell sermon last Lords day though unexpected to us to heare such that morning, many of us hearing nothing of it till that very day, but, that he would have helpt us whilst here he stayed mr Crosby564 is at prsent otherwise ingaged & none wth us in any capacity to be helpfull, so that we are likly if you cannot come; either to have no meeting at all on ye Lords day or a very thinn one & no other help for them except ye repeating of some of the Revrd mr Walleys former sermons wch it may be few may desire &c. Sir we greatly need your earnest prayers at ye throne of grace for us we by our sin have brought our selves into strayts its God only that can by repentance bring us out. the good Lord please to instruct every one of us in ye way he would have us go in & so see our wayes notwthstanding all our pversnes & heale us (out of ye soverignty of his owne grace). in great hast wth respects to your self & consort & many thanks for all kindnesses I rest
yours obliged in effect as in affection
Barnestabl 13 July. 80.
Sir This day in ye afternoon the elder heard that mr Thatcher had declared himself inclinable to preach for you next Lords day if you would come hither but he not favoring ye Elder so fare as to give him any hint of it he thought not of it to mean him hencfth.
Cotton Family Papers 8:22, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These ffor the Revrd & his very good ffrind mr John Cotton at his howse in Plimoth dd.” Endorsed “From mr Hinckley July, 13: 1680:”
26 July 1680
JulyTH. 26 80
haveing an opertunity to send to you I could do no lesse then write a few lines to mind you that you carry your self very respectively and dutyfully to [serve?] Mris Graves566 as though she were your mother and likewise respectively and loveingly to the children and servants and soberly in words and actions and be sure you keep your selfe diligently imployed either at home or at schoole as Mris Graves shall order you do nothing without her leave and asure your selfe it will be a great preservative from your falling into evill to keep yourself well imployed, but with-all and in the first place make it your dayly worke to pray earnestly to God that he would keepe you from all manner of evill. take heed of your discourse att all times that it be not vaine and foolish but know that for every idle word you must certerinely give an account to God another day. be sure follow your reading omit it not one day, your father doth purpose to send you some Coppies that so you may follow your wrighting likewise. I shall say no more at present but onely lay a strict charge upon you that you remember and practise what I have here minded you of, and as you desire the blessing of God upon you either in soull or body be carefull to observe the counsell of your parents and consider that they are the words of your loveing and affectionate mother
present my best respects to Mris Graves your Brothers567 remember their love to you
Cotton Family Papers 8:23, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Endorsed “[. . . .] much respected friend thes are to intreat [. . . .]”
21 October 1680
To the ch of xT at Eastham
Gr: & Pe: from G: our Fath: from our L: J: xT be mul:
Reverend & Dearely Beloved in our Common Saviour.
It being desired by letters from Elizabeth Mayo,568 that she may have the approbation of this Church (whereunto she stands related by vertue of the Lords holy & gratious Covenant made & established with belevers & their seed, which Cov: was sealed to her in Bap:) to Joyne with your selves in laying hold of the Covenant of God, in order to her injoyment of full Communion in the holy ordinances of the house of G: wee doe hereby declare our rejoycing in the goodnesse of God who hath inclined her heart thereunto & freely dismisse her unto you, desiring you to [receiv]e her in the Lord unto Communion in all the holy [. . .] of God, according as you shall finde God satisfying [. . . .]iences that she is one whom indeed the Lord [. . . .] wee pray that she may be a living stone in [. . . .] that she may be enabled to walke worthy [. . . .] goodnesse unto all well-pleasing; And wee [. . . .] you, that a rich blessing from heaven may [. . . .] the administration of the things of God amongst [. . . .] your furtherance & growth in all holines unto [per]fection; desiring also your constant prayers for us, we take leave & subscribe our selves
Your truly Lov: Breth: in the fa: & fel: of the Gosp:
with the cons: of the ch:
Plim: Oct: 21: 1680:
Cotton Family Papers 8:24, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Cotton’s note: “supersc: These To the Revd mr S: Treat Pas: of the ch: of xt at Eastham.” Cotton’s copy of the letter. Mutilated on left margin.
9 November 1680
Honered and beloved in our lord Jesus Christ brethren you Cannot be Ignorant how god by his wise pvidence was pleased to Remove from us by Death our Reverend teacher Mr. holmes for some yeares past570 (an humbling pvidence to us) but the lord of the harvest hath since beene pleased to smile upon us in our low estate (for wee have Cause to say, his mercy induers for ever) having sent amongst us another of his servants to be helpfull to us in the work of the ministry whose hart he hath framed and moulded not only to be willing to Joyne <with> us but allsoe to take ofice upon him these ar therfore to Crave your Christean assistance by sending your elders & mesengers to Concure with us in our work the 24th: Day of this instant (being the 4th Day of the weeke) which is the Day apointed by the church to Ordaine Reverend Mr wiswall571 pastor of our Church, they not Douting of your christean Care and Redenes to Comply with our Request we take our leave & subscribe our selves your loving bretheren in Christ Jesus the church of Christ at Duxborrow.
in the name & with the Consent of the Church.
Duxborrow nov. 9. 1680:
Cotton Family Papers 8:25, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “To the Reverend Mr. Cotton Pastor of the Church of Christ att Plymoth to be communicated to the Church there.” Cotton’s note: “The church chose the Pastor, Ruling Elder, & two Deacons who were present at the ordination.”
Sir if you think it best you may send these to Mr. Angier575 after your prsall thereof, I leave it to your discretion as you shall thinke meet, or what elce you shall thinke good to write to him I thinke if God please to be at Plimoth on ye tuesday or wednesday of ye next week in order to answer ye Govrnors desire to meet at his house wth [ye bay?] men about ye sale of mount hope &c.576 or treaty about it on wednesday night afforesd & shold be glad to wayt on your self & him on friday following homeward to our Towne
by reason of ye Treasurers comming down hither it stops bro: Huckins vissit of you.
Cotton Family Papers 8:26, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library