King William’s War 1689–1697

    In 1688 war erupted between French and English colonists (with their respective Native allies) along the northern border of Massachusetts Bay, in present-day Maine. By the summer of 1689, Britain had declared war on France, beginning the War of the League of Augsburg in Europe and King William’s War in North America, but the colonists had already engaged in deadly frontier skirmishes.964 The war was marked by sporadic raids on northern settlements along a border that had been left particularly vulnerable after April 1689, when many militia companies returned home following the overthrow of Edmund Andros’s Dominion of New England during the Glorious Revolution. Increasing Native attacks like the “massacre” at Schenectady to the west prompted Massachusetts Governor Simon Bradstreet to call for an invasion of French Canada in the spring of 1690. Under the command of Sir William Phips, the combined colonial forces first focused on gaining Port Royal, Nova Scotia. Following their success, Phips pushed for an attack on Quebec, for which Plymouth Colony supplied 200 men, including fifty Indians. The October attack failed miserably, as English colonists were repelled by forces commanded by the Governor of Canada, Louis de Baude, comte de Frontenac. The English retreat in smallpox-infested ships suffered gale-force winds that blew some ships so far off course that they eventually landed in the West Indies.

    By the war’s end, French colonists and their many Native allies had raided Dover (July 1689), Pemaquid (August 1689), Schenectady (9 February 1690), Salmon Falls (18 March 1690), Falmouth, now Portland, (27 May 1690), York (5 February 1692), Wells (10 June 1692), Oyster River (July 1694), Groton (27 July 1694) and Haverhill (15 March 1697), among other settlements. The English launched retaliatory assaults on the Maine-Quebec border, such as the Battle of Brackett’s Woods in 1689, and on Native forts near Brunswick on the Androscoggin River in September 1691 and on another fort near Lewiston shortly thereafter. The English had succeeded in capturing Port Royal only to endure its recapture by the French a year later. The Treaty of Ryswick (30 September 1697) concluded the war, which had ended in a stalemate, and restored all colonial possessions to their original status.

    From In the Devil’s Snare by Mary Beth Norton, copyright © 2002 by Mary Beth Norton. Maps copyright © 2002 by David Lindroth, Inc. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

    Many of the letters in this section include war news, especially since Plymouth Colony contributed both men and money to the war effort. In May 1690 the Plymouth Court ordered that sixty-two men under the command of Major John Walley join the combined forces of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York at Albany, where they had gathered principally to defend the northern frontier.965 Cotton also received and conveyed news concerning Major Fitz-John Winthrop’s aborted mission to attack Montreal in the summer of 1690;966 the desperate situation faced by families trying to live in border towns;967 the attack on York in February 1692;968 plans to construct Fort William Henry in Pemaquid beginning in 1692;969 the raid on Oyster River in July 1694;970 attempted peace negotiations at Fort William Henry in both 1693 and 1695;971 the capture of Bombazeen;972 attacks on Fort William Henry in 1696;973 and Church’s attempted raids along the Maine coast and Newfoundland,974 among other war news. The taking and redeeming of captives on both sides was a primary war tactic, as it had been along the frontier since settlement began. Many of Cotton’s letters described stealth raids, people taken, negotiations for their return, happy reunions, and even occasionally a daring escape.975

    The war effort encountered resistance among Plymouth colony towns, several of which refused to send either men or money; in the years after the war, many towns struggled to pay taxes to the colonial government, which was desperately trying to cover soldiers’ salaries.976

    To Thomas Hinckley,

    15 February 1689

    Plymouth February, 15: 1688: /89:

    Honoured Sir

    It is noe small comfort to me, & to many here that feare God to heare of the Lords gratious recovering of you from your late sickness, he in mercy perfect his goodnesse in that respect & grant <in> according to the desire of your heart some blessed fruit to & in you & all yours both of the casting downe & Lifting up; God hath spetiall designes of grace in all his dealings with his Children; & as you have experienced of former, soe doubtlesse you will of this also, that it shall turn to your salvation through prayer & the supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ.

    Sir, concerning the papers of which you speake,977 Deac: Faunce978 hath them ready, only waites for a safe hand to convey them by; God give successe to your endeavours to vindicate truth & obtaine Justice & reward your endeavours thereabouts: Concerning Newes, I wholly omit writing, because I conclude all & more then I know comes from Mr M: to his son:979 2 sleds at shipscott going homeward, the latter of them was assaulted, the Indians fired & killed one man, & wounded another who escaped, the dead they scalpt & went home triumphing;980 Mr John Blake is dead.981 & the only maiden-daughter of Capt Philips, sister to Cos: Cotton Mathers wife;982 a dreadfull fine of 10 pd for Farewell; Jemison quasht his Indictment. Mr Stoughton writes me word,983 that when he spake to you of 10 pd for me, it was without booke & by guesse, something I had much short of that summe but all is gone,984 & some Indian creditors are not yet paid, I did hope for some from you till I had your letter, but I am content, having bin faithfull in that litle I received, but of this vivâ voce;985 my wife is for Boston on monday; with our service to you & yours

    I rest, Sir, your Honours to serve

    John Cotton

    Salute Mr Russell.

    Hinckley Papers 2:27, Prince Library, Rare Book and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Honoured, Thomas Hinckley Esquire, at his house in Barnstable.”

    George Keith986 to John Cotton,


    Here follow a few words of a Letter to John Cotton, called a Minister, at Plymouth in New-England.

    John Cotton:

    Having seen a few Lines from thy hand, attested by thee, and other two Witnesses, wherein thou and they declare, That in the Town of Plymouth in New-England, last summer, save one, ye heard me affirm, That the Scriptures are the Word of God. My Answer to thee and them, is, That ye have not dealt fairly, nor as becoming true Witnesses, in this case; for every Witness should declare all the Truth, and conceal nothing of the Truth which they heard. Now this ye have not done, but diminished from my words, as your Consciences may bear witness, if your Memory be not bad; for I very well remember my words at that time,

    which were these, That I did acknowledge the true Sense of the Scripture to be the Word of God, and that in the same I was not singular in my Perswasion, from the people called Quakers; for Samuell Fisher987 in his Book called, Rusticus Academicos,988 that hath been in print upwards of twenty five Years, hath affirmed the same, to wit, That the true Sense of Scripture is the Word of God. And at that time I further said, That not everyone who had the Letter of the Scripture, had the Word of God, to speak properly, because they had not the true sense of Scripture, which none have, but such to whom it is given by the Spirit of God. I also did further affirm, That the Letter or words of Scripture may be called the Word in a figurative sense, as the Map or Card of England is called England, and that the Greek word is used in Scripture in divers acceptations. All this, and more to the same purpose I spoke to thee at that time.


    George Keith, A Refutation of Three Opposers of Truth, by plain Evidence of the holy Scripture . . . And a few words of a Letter to John Cotton, called a Minister, in Plymouth in New England (Philadelphia, 1690), 73 [Evans 516]. Charles Evans, American Bibliography (New York, N.Y., 1941–1959).

    From John Cotton (1661),

    5 August 1690

    plimouth August 5: 90:

    Honoured SR

    On Saturday Evening about 16 houses besides warehouses and Bruehouses burnt at Boston989 from ye Mill Bridge down halfe way to ye draw Bridge, Mr Rocks, Mr persons. No News of Indians; Major Winthrop was to march at ye head of ninteene hundred Mawquas990 and Indians, with 600 christian from Albany to mount Royall,991 Last tuesday morning, Canady is poor and discouraged Expect nothing but desolation. port Royall letters give ye account. ye fleete is to sayle to day. ye small pox as bad as ever.992 printer Greene dead of it in thre days, his wive also dead.993 Cous sarah peirce dead Last Saturday night,994 An Lobloone pritty well of it. Cous conrys childe dead. Mr Hale saith God calls, ye Countrey cals, <and> Authority cals and christs Interest cals, and yre sone doth and will goe to Cannady though his church and wife are unwilling.995 Wise: Emerson: Overton:996 no more as I know of. St Christophers retaken by our fleete: forty 3 men Lost in taking of it. A Brigonteene Last Saturday night from ffamouth England designed for New York arrived at Boston. Eleven weeks passage.997 News very discouraging to our Late hectoring Enemys. King william gone to Ireland with a great ffleet. twenty thousand ffrench also Landed there.998 King of france hath call in all pirates privateere, ye seas yrefore not dangerous. some thinke he hath a mind to step to white Hall to see whether an English Crowne will suite a french head. London Gazets say our Agents and Sr Edmonds Crew were safely arrived wn our king was gone downe to his fleete, ye packquet Boat had a moneths passage thither, she Lewis and another are expected every hour. ye two sorts of Gentlemen were ordered to appear before ye committee of Lords for forreigne planons.999 ye first thing alleadged against our fooes was ye seazing him yt brought ye proclamation and imprisoning of him and using all means to keep it from ye knowledge of ye Countrey, witness being by; ye were found Gilty and so are committed, yy are neither Lords nor Governours but Jaile [Bire?] and so like to remaine. Sr. Edmons counsell desired our Agent to set yr hands to ye Articles against him our councell said it was sottish and unresonable for it was New Engl not ye Agents yt Articled againts ym. so yy were Husht. Sr Hen Ashurst1000 Unk Mather1001 yt Agents had access in to her Majesty’s presence and yr Lips were graced with ye salutation of her Hand. as much respect manifested as can be desired we had Hanging over our affaire there1002

    ye Queen accounts us some of ye Best of Her subjects, and Gratiously saith we shall be dealt with as such. We are all well here, my mother Love to yourselfe ye duty of ye Rest. My Love to Brother

    I rest your dutifull son

    John Cotton

    Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “These ffor ye Revend Mr John Cotton A Barnstable.” Endorsed “From my son John Received, August, 7: 1690:”

    From William[?] Trail,

    15 August 1690

    [Beaumorise?] Augt 15. 1690.

    Reverend & worthy Sir

    I do take hold of the first opportunity I [have] had of writing to you, & of thanking you & yours for the kindness & [. . .] at Plimmouth in April last: I know [it was given?] me in the name of a disciple [the]refore whatever I be, it shall not lose its reward. We had a safe passage to [. . .], which I looked upon, more & rather at the gracious return of your own & your godly neighbors prayers for us, then of our own. The account of the publike affairs of these Nations, you will have from the prints, & from the report of those who carry our Letters to America. I am by good hands informed that our King Wm is a real godly man (a rare thing upon that throne) & has been a seeker of God since he was 8 years of age: I have seen & spoke with a serious godly Gentleman who was intimate with him when in Holland, to whom the then Prince, now King, did give a particular account of his case & exercise, & evidences of his piety; & indeed I think that the Devil & pope & Jacobites know too well that he is such a man, otherwise the English, Irish, Scotch & french hell-hounds would not have banded so against him. The Earle of Melvill (now his Majesties High Commissioner & chief Ruler in Scotland)1003 & severall others of the Nobility are known to be godly men: but there is a very wicked party in Scotland, who cease not to do what mischief they can, & there is a party of Highlanders in arms there & making disturbance: yet in Judah severall things go well, & others are mending; although many evil men & almost all the seducers are waxing worse & worse. I do kindly salute Mistress Cotton & your sons & daughters, & your praying serious friends & neighbours in Plimmouth, to whose kindness you know I am much obliged. I am not unmindfull of my promise to Mistress Cotton, but I have not had acess as yet to my fathers books;1004 yet I intend to send her either the book I promised, or (if I can not get it) a better of the same kinde. Those of the [Prelaticall preachers] that have not been as yet turned out by several State Acts of Parlt & Council in Scotland, nor yet by the rabble (who yet have turned out many) the presbytaries there are trying them, & turning out the scandalous & insufficient; so that few of that gang are like to be left in that Kingdom. So much at present [. . .] Sr

    Your very much obliged Brother & Servt

    W Trail

    Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “For ye Revd mr John Cotton In Plimth N England.” Endorsed “From Mr Trail August, 15: 1690:” Two small holes and some staining.

    From Cotton Mather,

    17 October 1690

    Boston. 17.D 8.M 1690.

    Die ob Fratres mortem, et memorabili, et miserabili.1005

    Reverend Sr,

    Seeing of you, and (in ye want thereof) Hearing from you, are things, wch I count among none of my small Satisfactions. I do therefore particularly thank you for your last.1006 I bless God, for that Faith, wch has carried my Cousin Roland thrô his late Exercises, unto such an Issue; Lett him not imagine, that hee shall bee a Looser by any self-denial for ye Interest of God; the great God will see th[a]t hee shall bee no looser: One Sandwich will pro[ve] I am perswaded, worth Ten Dedhams to him, since hee has been determined by God, more than by himself, in his acceptance of ye calls that have been given him.1007 Remember me kindly to him.

    The late sheet of Public Occurrences,1008 has been ye Occasion of much Discourse, it seems, about ye Countrey; & some that might as well have been spared. People had & have a Notion, that I was ye Author of it. but as it happened well, ye publisher1009 had not one line of it from mee, only as accidentally meeting him in ye high-way, on his Request, I show’d him how to contract & Express ye Report of ye Expedition at Casco & ye East. However, ye Government, knowing that my Name was tossed about it, & knowing nevertheless that there was but One publisher, who pick’t up here & there what hee inserted, they emitted a very severe proclamation against ye Poor Pamphlett, ye first line whereof thunders against Some, that had published that Scandalous Thing. This Accident gave a mighty Assistance to ye Calumnies of ye people against poor mee, who have deserved so very Ill of ye Countrey. The Reason, why I sent you not one of ye papers, was because I did myself at first agree in my Opinion wth such as Disliked ye two passages of ye Maqua’s1010 & ye monster Louis; but I have since changed my mind. I now find, there is not a Word said of ye Maqua’s, but what wee ought to say To ym, or else wee bring Guilt upon ors[elves]. As for ye French Tyrant, nothing is mention’d of him, but as a Remote Report, and yett wee had ye thing in Print long ago: and hee is permitting ye Wickedest libels in ye World, to bee published of or K. Wm,1011 and for us to talk (as his good subjects here do) of being afraid of offending him, When wee are taking from him ye best Countrey hee has in America, is methinks a pretty Jest. But lett it go as it will; they that had a mind to make mee odious, have attained their End, wth as much Injustice as could well have been used; & a few such Tricks will render mee uncapable of Serving either God or Man, in N. England.

    I do not know, Whether Harris will go on wth his Occurrences, or no; but if hee do, I shall Endeavour monthly to supply you. I look upon his Design, to bee a very Noble, useful, & Laudable Design; and some that you have heard Rail against it, might do well to Endeavour themselves to do something that may render ym worthy to bee accounted Serviceable, before they discourage such Honest men, as those three or four (whereof, I tell you again, I was None) Ingenious men, frô wm Harris had his Occurrences.

    Sr. Forgive ye Length of this Impertinent letter. I write this meerly for Want of Other Occurrences; whereof th[ere are] at this time a Great Scarcity; God Grant Good ones when they come.

    Remember mee, to Relations wth you; and beleeve that I am,

    Sr, No Less Your Servant then Your Kinsman

    C. Mather.

    Special Collections, University of Virginia Library. Addressed “To the Reverend John Cotton, Pastor to ye Church in Plymouth.” Endorsed “From my Cousen, Mr Cotton Mather, october, 17: 1690:.”

    From Ichabod Wiswall,

    17 October 1690

    Dyers Court in Aldermanbury London: October: 17: 1690

    Revd Sr you are the only person from whom I have received a line since my departure from N:E:1012 under which consideration I hold my selfe more especially obliged to returne you thankes And to give you an epitome of News. so much desired by you.—after one storme of six-weekes and 6 dayes: (with very little Intermission) we arrived at Bristoll. march ye 30: And by Land arrived at London April ye 5. The kings designe to goe persenaly into Ireland was a remora in the Buisines of ye patent. the king went from London June ye 4: and at ye River Boyne June ye 30 And July the 1 showed matchless valour,1013 And god Allmighty showed no less care in that wonderfull preservation of his Royal person After king James’ flight king william Entered Dublin & having conquered many places besieged Limerick but being forced by great raines to raise his siege: he is returned back to England and was welcomed Septemb: 10 with great joy: witness ye many Bonefines trumpets: Bells Trumpets great gunes and fireworks employed that night with repeated huzzas & shouts in all parts of the City. Since his maties returne we are certainly Informed that Tyrronell: Lazune & Berwick with all the ffrench army are gon from Ireland to ffrance1014 despairing of any success there. Corke & kingsaile are surrendered to king william1015 & there is some sickness in Lymerick. so that it is hoped that all Ireland will be reduced this winter. many persons are flocking daily to Ireland to dwell there so general and most mens hopes of an absolute conquest there by king william. June ye 30 there was a sea fight in our chanell In which ye: Dutch and some few English behaved themselves like men: But such complaints rose against E: Torrington the English Admirall1016 that he is put in [. . .] and remaines in the former and in his roome three surren[dered?] viz: Sr John Ashbey Sr Richard Haddock: & Sr Tho: killegrens.1017 the Parliament began to sit October ye 2: And have voted many hundred thousands of pounds to manadge a war with ffrance next summer. The poore vadois have enjoyed wondrous mercys this Last summer. The massachusets [pat]ent is I hope in a faire waye to be compleated in a short time And poore plymouth might have been equaly happy (if they had not neglected their Opportunity.) by sending another Addresse to the king.1018 Here is nothing yet don for plymouth: & I shall tell you the reason if ever god bring me back againe to see youre face with ye faces of my other friends in N:E: which god in mercy hasten.) There have been some moving to annex plymouth: to New york: others to unite Plymouth & the massachusets as one: both which at present seem to be stoped. And if the massachusets patent be granted this winter: it behoves plymouth to use their utmost care & diligence that they be not deprived of their Long enjoyed priviledges by their Oune neglect to Look out in season. Oh Sr bend your knees to the father of mercies that N:E: and partiqularly N:P:1019 may be once more happily setled and not returne againe to her Late bondage: you know not our present Circumstances: pray for us that we may not be Lead into temptation. nil nisi vota p supersunt.1020 The Torys Labour to fill mens eares & hearts with horror on the accot: of ye pretended desolation and Confusion of N:E: and say the Land will be ruined except a generall Governor be sent! I believe some in N:E: will be ashamed when they heare the Extracts of their Owne writings. Sr Improve your Interest with the Governr for to hasten plymouth setlement. Remember me to mr Arnold:1021 to your good wife & children & to my plymouth neighbours as you have occasion partiqularly to Elder Cushman

    The eternal god be your comon Refuge & cover poore plymuth in the hollow of hand where is the hiding of his power so prayes he who is Sr your ffellow labourer in xt.

    Ichabod wisewall

    Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “These for mr John Cotton junr at his house in plimouth.” Endorsed “From mr wiswall october, 17: 1690 from England.”

    From Increase Mather,

    25 October 1690

    London october. 25. 1690.

    Dear Brother

    I have recd serverall lrs from you this sumer;1022 For wch I thank you. I have more yn once desired Mr Boyle1023 & other principal gentlemen cncrned in ye Indian Corporation yt yy would be kind to you. They ordered you 40 pound in silver.1024 Above halfe a year ago it was resolvd yt ye disposal of ye moneys due should be put into more hands yn one. yy were pleased to <ask> call for my Advice as to ye psons to be entrusted. I mentioned to you, mr Hinkley,1025 & Major Treat1026—At Boston, Mr Bradstreet,1027 Mr Stoughton,1028 Major Richards,1029 & Mr [Marston?]1030 yy are pleased to add one more wch I did not nominate, a Relacion of yors here.

    I am [sorry?] you mention such a poor mean Argument as yt of yr debt to me. you do not know me if you think such Considerations will sway wth me. That money is due to my wife yor sister, whom I must not see wronged.

    I doubt1031 yor Colony will be annexed to new-york [wch?] will not (I suppose) make you ye happiest Colony in N.E. I did once prvent it but I [?] Septimus [?] is able to do yor [illeg] part? then I (or an 100 more wiser yn I am) Can do you service. Rtr to my sister & to all yors.

    I am, yor affectinate Brothr

    I Mather

    Mather Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “To ye Revd Mr John Cotton, pastor of ye church in plymouth New England” Endorsed “From my Brother, Mr Increase Mather, october, 25: 1690:”

    From Shubael Dummer,1032

    13 January 1691

    yorke Jan 13TH (90)

    mr John Cotten

    Reverend SR

    I received yours from Salisbury1033 & acknowledge your kind lines & particular remembrance of this poor place wherein Providence hath Cast my lot, it is a great favour of almighty god (& I heartily wish we ma[y] all see ye goodnesse of god in ye kindnesse of men) to stirr up ye hearts of his People with you to Contribute to ye necessity of ys poor townes.1034 you are ye fir[st] that have done any thing of this Nature ye lord Jesus I hope will accept it as done unto himselfe Amongst whome yr are some Alas yt so few that love him in sincerity. I desire though unknown to be Commended to those our neighbors & xtian freinds that have been ye promoters of & acters in this liberall Contribution & pray yt ye blessing promised to ym yt Consider ye poor may rest upon all yr heads & hearts & yrs after ym. Particularly unto Major church1035 of your Colony whome ye lord has been pleased to make an instrument of good service to this poor province both formerly & also Lately in taking those Captive Indians by which our Captives were redeemed & without whome I believe we should hardly have seen ye faces of any of ym. for what Cause is he no more Improovd I know not. yr are Many in our towne in a suffering Condition sundry Eastern peo[ple] that formerly & some this last Summer were driven from yr dwellings & have litle or nothing to live [. . .] Many widdows & fatherlesse ones & sundry of ym belonging to our church whose Relations helpes & guides were taken away in ye late spreading wasti[ng] sicknesse1036 which through mercy our neighbors at well[s] were not visited with. they in yt towne are General[ly] better to passe in outward [vessels?] yn we in our towne only they may looke upon ymselves in Grea[ter] danger because next to ye Enemy. but who kn[ows] where they may Come first. how ye Contri[bution] shall be disposed of whether to ye [. . .] must be left to your selves & good Reason [. . .] what may be appropriated to our town if y[ou] please to make mention of my Name together with Major Davis1037 or Captain Alcocke1038 or Lieutenant Preble1039 all or any of ys to receive & also to take care of ye dividing ye same as ye Greater need Calls for. Sr. pray for us yt if it be [the] will of god we may yet be preserved. but [. . .] for Sanctification of all affecting Provide[nce] & yt ye lord would please to disquiet those that [. . .] ye rest of our Captives & refuse to let ym goe.

    thus in hast. for our thankesgiving is to morrow ye 14th day of this present Month & I am glad we heard of this Contribution that Among other acknowledgments ys may be one. ye lord be with you as he was with your father & as he has Gratiously promist Lo I am with you alway &c. I have Enclosed ye lett[ers] to Capt. Thomas1040 unsealed yt you may understand what they have written. Pray seal it & with all speed deliver it. Service to Mrs Cotton.

    Your friend & Servt. in xt

    Shub: Dummer

    Nichols Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “For ye Revered. Mr John Cotten Pastour of ye Church of xt in Plymouth ys.”

    To Rowland Cotton,

    31 January 1691

    To Mr Roland Cotton at Sandwich.

    Plimouth. Jan. 31.1690/91

    Dear Child

    I know you long for newes: but wn Hannah came, I had none to tell you. But Leift Colimore1041 being at Boston, was desir’d to go to such a man for Letters of great concernmt. He did, & came at Boston with ym yesterday, & is this Day cm hither on purpose to bring ym Hither: & therefore you must This Day post ym to ye Govr.

    Brothr Mather1042 hath written Letters to Him, & his son hath sent ym enclos’d in his. Our Condition here calls with speed for a General Court. If it cou’d have been sooner, it had been well. Many Things in my Letters I cannot conveniently [write] but you may see ym when you come. Couz mather1043 [says] yt his Father understanding there was [. . . .] Pl[imouth [. . .] in ye Gov. of New] York Comission [. . .]1044 [joined]1045

    The Act of General Indemnity [. . . .] 1690, Pardoned all Treasons &c comm[. . . .] English Plantations before ye last Feb[. . . .] comprehended our late oppresors. Gov[looks like Sloughter, is a]1046 modereate church man, & a good natured Gentleman1047

    England will this spring make a powerfull Invation upon France. The Duke of Savoy having restored ye Waldenses their Liberties, hath declared War upon France, & made som powerfull impression upon his adversaries.

    Tell Mr Prince his Brothr Thomas1048 is safely arrived in England. Capt Ware brought Mr Dudley, many passengers more, Mr Thomas Fairweather;1049 Mr [Sim]on Eyres1050 Mr Brenton, Mr [like Suckanam]1051 who came to be Collector, Mr Barton [or Paxton]1052 who hath brought much Riggin & can [supply all]1053 ye Countrey. Capt Lewis, Foster, Prince, Bant &c suddenly expected. Much Powder is come. West & Palmer coming to New York. Randolph is desolate,1054 walking about [. . . .] complaints how [. . . .]ne [. . .]1055 Hand was shot off [. . .]1056 cos. mather’s wife was [. . .] with ye small Pox, but Recovering. I shall soon see you after Feb.8. Salute Mr Prince & his wife, ye Elder1057 & his, Capt Basset.1058 The Lord bless & make you a Blessing

    your Loving Father

    John Cotton.


    Thomas Prince Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “To Mr Rowland Cotton at Sandwich.” This letter is a manuscript copy in Prince’s hand. The original, now lost, was apparently much degraded. The superscription habits more accurately reflect Prince’s than Cotton’s, who rarely employed superscription.

    To Thomas Hinckley,

    6 February 1691

    Plimouth February, 6: 1690: /91:

    Honoured Sir

    Though an opportunity of speaking vivâ voce1059 may be at hand, yet I can noe longer check my desire of speaking to you by this paper-messenger; what my owne letters from Boston & o: E:1060 doe say, render me noe stranger to what was sent you from thence lately; Sir, I doubt not of your faithfulnesse & sollicitous care to promove the best interest of this poore Colony, who hath not only deserved ill from the hands of God, but have soe demeaned themselves to the Authority of their owne choosing, as not to deserve from man to say, I will be your Healer; yet, Good Sir, I hope you will overlooke all such discouraging considerations, & at this day stand forth & play the man for our God & for the cities of our God;1061 That wee are not in Col: Sclaters [Sloughter’s] Commission (who, Mr. Dudley sayes is probably arrived at N: yorke before this day) is noe doubt true, that as yet wee are not conclusively disposed of at whitehall I take for granted, the Question then is, What shall wee doe? I doubt not but you have many a time this weeke made such an enquiry in your addresses unto God, & I know you are wont soe far too condescend as to aske some weake men their opinions; my experience whereoff quickens me to this present boldnesse in thus writing to your Honour; not that I am now ready to presume, in suggesting what seemes to be our present duty, but I make bold to say, that having had converse by letters & otherwise with men of wisdome, prudence & piety, I finde a notable inclination upon their spirits with great unanimity to move that your selfe would thinke favourably & complyingly of taking a voyage to o: E:1062 I believe none among us will be free to trust any but your selfe, & as for the many hundreds of pounds that must be collected to defray the charge of such an undertaking, I finde amongst us a great readyness (maugre all our great charges) to contribute largely thereunto, & the feares of going to N: yorke in most & the unwillingnesse of others to be under Boston, make them willing to any expences to prevent the same; I could almost be willing to thinke, that whatever improbabilities there were (as things were circumstance at whitehall) for us last yeare to obtaine a charter, yet a prudent messenger might (if there himselfe, with such friends as I beleve he would there finde) suggest such Arguments as would either obtaine a distinct charter or at least such priviledges & immunities in our affixing us to Boston, as would render our condition very comfortable; but alas, Good sir, I have quite forgot my selfe, when I first began, I only intended to suggest to your gratious consort that she should be willing to lend You to the Lord in soe great a service, if God shall call you thereunto, & hearing soe many speak much for it, I thought it but duty to acquaint you therewith, that your sedate minde may revolve it before you come hither; It falles in course (& for me unhappily) to be my Lectureday, Mr Arnold1063 intends to be here, I wish Mr Russell1064 would come also if Mr Keith1065 come not, I shall have his lines, never did poore Plimouth (me Judice) need more helpe from heaven & earth than at this day; I know you have candour enough to pardon my boldnesse, I have oft experienced it; with due Respects & service to you & Mris Hinckley, commending you & this great affaire to the Wonderfull, Counssellour, desiring your prayers for me & mine,

    I rest, Sir, yours humbly to serve

    John Cotton

    Capt Clap is dead.1066

    Hinckley Papers 3:34, Prince Library, Rare Book & Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Right Worshipfull, Thomas Hinckley Esquire, Governour of the Colony of New-Plimouth, at Barnstable.”

    From Cotton Mather,

    14 September 1691

    14D 7M 1691 Boston

    Revd Sr

    The short and Long & ye Truth, of or Intelligence from England is, That ye K. ye Last Day hee was at Whitehal, declared it his pleasure & purpose, that N.E.1067 should have charter priviledges Restored;1068 Nevertheless (sd hee) ‘I think it will bee for ye Welfare of that people If I send over a General, or a Governr, to Unite ye Territory & inspect ye Militia of it. However (added hee) I will not send any person, but one that shall bee acceptable to that people, & Recomended by their Agents here.’ This notwthstanding, ye clerk of ye Council made a false Entry of ye Kings Order as if wee were to bee settled Like Barbados &c. at wch or Tories there grew mighty brisk. But before ye month was out, they grew down in ye mouth. The clerks forgery was discovered, & by Order, or Charter was finished (tho not yet sealed) by wch or Colony, unto wch ye Eastern parts1069 are added, have power to choose D. Governr & Assistents & all General Officers, on ye Last Wednesday, of every May; Only ye K. Reserves to himself, ye Liberty of sending a General for all ye United Colones: who nevertheless will have no power to do anything in or colony wthout ye Concurrence of or own Magistrates; nor can any Lawes be made, or Taxes Levied, wthout a general Court. There are several Additional priviledges in this charter, wch make it better than or old one; & or friends in England Express much satisfaction in it. This is now like to bee or settlement; but I suppose, Plymouth, which is so wonderfully sottish, as to take no Care of itself, is like to bee thrown in as a Province, wch ye Governr may have particular Instructions about. The K. you know chooses or Magistrates for ye first year, most of or old ones, are pitch’d on; some New ones are added, whose Names tis needless to mention; & Mr Stoughton will be ye first D. Governr. The Governr of ye whole1070 I suppose, I know,—but, multa cadunt intra calicem supremaqe Labra.1071

    I suppose p my next, I shall send you my, Little Flocks guarded against Grievous Wolves.1072 Heaven guard us all from all sorte of ym. Remember mee to my Relations wth you. and pray for

    Sr, Your Kinsman & Servt

    [C] Mather

    Mather Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “To the Reverend Mr John Cotton, Plymouth” Endorsed “From Mr Cotton Mather September, 14: 1691:”

    From Cotton Mather,

    8 December 1691

    Dec. 8: 1691: Boston

    Reverend Sr,

    I sent you a letter some weeks ago, wch I suspect by Yours to Day,1073 is not yett come to your Hands. My Newes-Papers were few, and those few that are worth your seeing are not now at hand. The most Considerable thing of all, I now send you not, because I am Reprinting of it; namely, The Blessed, Glorious, Ominous Union, between ye presbyterians & Congregationals.1074 Your dear Brother-in-Law,1075 was a Principal Author of that Long-Train’d Transaction; Whereof You may quickly see more.

    I send you all ye Almanacks I have.

    Mr Russel, will inform you about ye business of my Removal.1076 The story of my Father’s having sent for his family, is false. If we have certain advice of Andros’s Return to N. E. You will find half a dozen, or half a score of ye most Considerable persons in ye Countrey (who are yett Nameless) immediately to strike into England; <the> and they will not go, Except I accompany ym. There will bee no other way to save All; and That way (for Certain Causes that must not bee mentioned) will certainly save All. The Gentlemen will not Fly, as or Fools call it, but go where or Tories would bee lothe to have ym go. The Danger of things Coming to this pass, has made it necessary for mee to speak aforehand of my Inclinacions; for I shall not stirr, wthout ye Advice of ye Church I belong to; Others may go, with less Antecedent preparations.

    But this Day, wee have Advice, that ye King was Returned into England; wch gives us Cause to hope that or Adversaries are still Clog’d. God clog ym a Little further, and all will bee well.

    Remember mee, to Yours, and pray continually for

    New England Papers (#2833-z), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Addressed “For ye Revd John Cotton Plymth.” Endorsed “From Mr Cotton Mather December, 8: 1691:.” In another hand: “his going to England.”