“Scandal in Plymouth,” 1697–1698

    The first letter fragment below describes the reaction of the Plymouth church to allegations that in 1697 Cotton was again guilty of adultery, in this case with a church member, Rebecca Morton. While this letter indicates the congregation’s support for Cotton and its desire that he remain its pastor after the adultery accusation, Cotton did leave Plymouth in the wake of the scandal. The church records are vague on his eventual departure: “The aspect of providence from this time was such that made way for the Pastor & chh to part from one another without reflexion upon the chh his worke seeming now to be at an end; sundry chh meetings wee had, one day of Fasting & prayer together in publick in which the 2 next neighbour-ministers were desired to asist in carrying on that worke who did soe & the brethren after that kept some in one house, others in another, a day of prayer; the issue of all meetings & agitations was, a councill was called the chh from the ches of Weymouth, Duxbury, Bridgewater, Taunton & Barnstable, who met & Judged it best that the Pastor should cease his worke amongst them & the chh dismisse him with such expressions of their love & charity as the Rule called for.”1850

    Many of the letters that follow offer clues to Cotton’s own interpretation of the scandal, especially his belief that this accusation was whipped up by his enemies to punish him for supporting Mather’s charter in 1692, which cost Plymouth her independence. He described the accusation at length in his letter to Joanna of 6 and 7 July 1698, suggesting that when Mather returned with the new Massachusetts Charter that included Plymouth Colony, many of their neighbors were enraged: “(from their godly zeale & reall Conscience) did raile at him & revile him for falsenesse, treacherous dealing yea & wickedness to take them in to be slaves.” They felt especially betrayed, according to Cotton, because it was Mather—a friend—who had made the deal. Some even damned Mather to hell: “old Mather would go to hell shortly for all his wickedness.” Cotton claimed that when he “gave many a severe rebuke” and defended Mather, he earned their venom, too. He suggested that these are the “persons that have bin most against me.” After Cotton’s death, one contemporary, shipbuilder Thomas Coram, agreed and argued that Cotton suffered “as much Injustice . . . in that abominable Proceeding against him as those other Innocent men who were Murdered on account of the Pretended Witchcraft.”1851 To others, Cotton seemed to vacillate on the adultery issue, confessing one moment, and, according to Cotton Mather’s diary, denying all wrongdoing at another.1852

    With his career in peril, Cotton also frequently wrote about his financial concerns in regard to his own daily needs as well as those of his two sons still in college, Josiah and Theophilus. At the same time that he tried to track down past salaries owed to him, he attempted to convince friends to help his sons pay their bills.1853 He described his own correspondence in this period as “sorrowfull.”1854 Cotton clearly was hopeful that he could remain in Plymouth’s pulpit but worried that the Boston ministers would effectively remove him, and his letters reflect his uncertainty: “I am yet wholy unresolved what course to take.”1855 He continued preaching to Native churches,1856 traveling to visit friends to lobby on his own behalf, and working within his considerable network to secure a pulpit,1857 but he also acknowledged that more powerful ministers might prevent his settling anywhere. A new tone infected Cotton’s letters in this period—desperation: “I have a 1000 thoughts but think I shall doe nothing at all but lye downe under my burthen till I dye . . . think, think, think, pray, pray, pray.”1858

    Joanna became increasingly ill in response to her husband’s alleged infidelity, and Cotton’s letters described her sicknesses.1859 He begged their sons to help care for her. Cotton wrote letters to try to cheer her and to remind her that, “God comforteth those that are cast downe.” He even asked her to pray to God to show him “spetiall mercy.” There are hints in these letters that he was guilty of something, especially when he referred to Joanna; in a 1698 letter to Rowland, with whom Joanna was then living, he asked his son to pass on his “most tender & affectionate Love to my deare wife . . . Deare soule, the Lord be her Comforter.” Wishing she would return to him, he described her as the one “in whom all my life & all the comforts of it are soe much bound up.”1860 This second adultery scandal turned Joanna into a transient in her children’s homes as she moved from child to child, living with them, rather than with her husband. The decision often to live apart led to some hurtful gossip—“considerable aspersions”—among their Plymouth neighbors.1861

    [To Rowland Cotton,

    18 June 1697]1862

    Present at this church-meeting thirty five Brethren.

    The church having met together on June, 18: 1697: to consider of the sad & scandalous reports that had bin raised & spread abroad concerning some miscarriages in the Pastor towards Rebekah Morton, having heard her charges & the Pastors particular vindications of himselfe from all those scandals & his confession of one, declare themselves bound to take up satisfyed with Him according to Rule in reference thereunto & manifest their desires that he would continue to carry on the Lords worke among them as formerly.

    This abovewritten was the vote of the church the day abovesaid by lifting up of hands, the contrary vote was called for & not one lifted up his hand:

    Postscript P:M:

    since I finisht my letter I received a letter from Theoph: of June, 15:1863 which says nothing of mony, but that the Indians have destroyd 2 persons at Hampton,1864 your mother hath bin from the time of her rising worse then ever she was since I knew her, soe that I much question the Lawfullnesse of your tarrying long before you see her, I wish she be alive when you come:

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society.

    From William Brattle,

    19 October 1697

    Camb. Oct: 19: 97

    Revd Sr

    Yours first & 2d I have recd,1865 & heartily wish by word or deed I could serve you: As to Theophilus, He carries it well, & I have a respect for him; Thô as to yr proposal of Boording him to be sure for ye present there is no room for it; I have denyed some already & dare not think of any such thing: I hope to get him out of Commons & to obtain for him a place at one of ye Tables ere long:1866

    I shal resign his Class to Mr Pemberton1867 within a day or two & doubt not but yy’ll have a good Tutor in him.

    As for accommodating yr sons by disbursing for them &c I have hitherto done it; <But> And wish I could do it further But I must confess, that wt wth disbursments on ye house & wt with disbursmts for houshold stuff &c I am so straitned & at some times distress’d for want of mony, that I dare not encourage yr dependance upon me: The Stewd will expect his Quarter Bills to be paid; & unless I had mony in my hands I cannot possibly answer his Expectation, & it is a vain thing to dissemble it. I would straiten my self ye more for yrself at this juncture considering yr circumstances, But all will not do; Since ye 14.10 d I have disbursed 11: 6 d which makes—1.6: 4 d It being for ye [sweeper], Wood, a Book binding, [. . .] & to Boston for Siah: The 2 Bills are 3.2.11


    6.7.2 which I wish I could clear but cannot for want of mony. I pray Gd be with you & yours. I am Revd Sr Yr Friend & H. Servt

    W Brattle

    Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “To ye Revd Mr John Cotton Minr of ye Gospel In Plymouth.” Endorsed [from] will [Brattle] october, 19: [1697].” Manuscript badly torn along left margin.

    [To Rowland Cotton,

    30 October 1697]1868

    Sat: Morn AM:

    Deare son

    Bas: might have bin soe kinde as to have brought all my letters to my house, as well as have left them at Thomas’s, & then he might have seene your desolate mother & have brought you the letter1869 which I sent you by Rus: yesterday: Jos: writes1870 that Mr Brattle was ill & not at meeting last Sabb: & that they feare a fitt of sicknesse & that will put off his marriage1871 next week: Freshmen are placed, corwin is first Theoph: the sixth, weld & wiswall the 2 last:1872 Mr Pemberton began last Monday to heare the Freshmen recite, quickly more alterations are expected, He sayes their classes have almost done reciting & askes whether he may live with you this winter, his tarrying at Coll:1873 signifies nothing longer then next week: your Aunt writes, that my sorrowfull letters & my wives to Cos: Cott: will move the hearts of some concerned to doe what they can for us; she says, they heare a good character of Theoph: a good report from some of their chh & there is great hopes he will be taken care of: I hope Cos: Math:1874 will take him this winter & for Jos: if he live at home he may doe well if he be told what must be the matter of his studies: [. . . .] minister; you [. . .] think) to encourage [. . . .] write to Bro: Math:1875 it will doubtlesse soften his heart & may move him to take some care of Theoph: & much intreaty of them may prevent my being interdicted Ind: work; I was with them & preacht at Ele-river1876 on Thursday (there I spyed Bas:) & it seems as acceptable as ever; & intend mattakeesitt1877 next weeke D: V:1878 Fish came not till this morning & Tho: Howland1879 had before he came sold that cow which he told you I should have, but he promises to bring me a very good one from home after his returne; it now raines hard & I expect not to send this today; wee 3 salute you both, God blesse you & all yours, pray hard for your distressed Father

    J: C:

    I am yet wholy unresolved what course to take as to a Journey or abiding this winter, but I am through divine helpe resolved to be utterly quiet & not to stirre a step in mooving for present Reconcil: with the chh, though I know noe more of them then I did, yet I doe conclude there must be such a Life in me as may, (being told to them abroad) obtaine their helpe & direction in that affaire, but I promise my selfe noe good from man, but God can doe every thing:

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society. Sheet cut along bottom margin, parts of several lines lost.

    To Rowland Cotton,

    1 February [1698]

    Tuesday Feb: 1:

    My very Deare son

    Sir Litle1880 came home on sat: on sabb: noone he gave me a Booke under seale from Bro: Mather,1881 it was sir W: Phip’s his life1882 dedicated by Mr Nath: Mather to Earle Bellomont,1883 & an attestation de Authore (whose Name is not in the Title page, nor need it) by said Mr Mather, Mr Howe & Mr Matthew Mead; I see not that ought else is in it but what you read in the manuscript, & therefore suppose you will not long for it: All the letter I had was the enclosed (in the Booke) noe superscription to it, noe inscription, noe subscription, you see the desire & expectation of the Libeller; neither is there a word who sent the Booke, but Jerusha wrote on the outside of the Paper, For Mr J: C: at P: I would see God in all these things; but I cannot tell how to answer his expec: for it was Mr Treat & Mayhew1884 that gave information of many of these 24 Assemblies & Teachers & I know not how to gaine them now; if I tell him he must send to them to know it may be he will be vext; send me the Libell againe: Text was, Ps: 126: 51885 all to comfort under afflictions; He sat at my Kitchen fire all sab: noone: says Capt Turells widow dead1886 & her son John Barrels wife, who was Capt Legs daughter,1887 also George Monkes1888 & one grand child of Elliston by their daughter1889 dead & the other at the point of death, soe Judged, 15 lay dead last Tuseday, 7 more then neere it, a very fatall time at Boston & at Roxbury sad: these colds & coughs are the visible malady, Physitians have not yet found out the hidden wound, suppose the fogs last fall the cause: I sent not one letter by him but he went to Mr T: who wrote by him to Bro: Math:1890 I suppose on purpose to usher him into his royall presence; as he came back he called upon Mr T: who told me he would write to me but Eph: could not stay because neere night & his company waited for him to reach Hingham: I shall now daily look for his lines, o Lord prepare me for them, I expect noe good: This day the Major hath ordered Kenedy’s & others to appeare at Jael’s to be examined about Nan: Ramsdens death, a great assembly goe thither; noe doubt guilt of much cruelty:1891

    yours by T: H: I received this morning,1892 I did receive your minimam, answered all by Lew: what of mine invited your answer you unsealed not your letter to insert: now to your inside, I heare not whether Bass: or any else hath brought Ephs book: you say Nuptiae—celebrandae,1893 I am very sorry & soe it mater for your family illnesses, Lord in mercy heale you all, last night our Joanna had an ill cough & stopping in her throat, she takes Physick today, it is now working very well: All your passages of newes were wholy new: you did well to write them for I am desolate & heare litle. Hannah roares dreadfully fearing her mother is dead, a litle hopes, because there is another widow King Lives also neere Mris wantons, if you know ought certainly informe us; Is it Boston-Browne by the Dock? is Killio the rich man? you cannot come to us before you shall be very welcome, you may waite & hope for good, but I see nothing but death, only God can show wonders to the dead: Jos: longs to come to you but cannot get a horse, else he soone would: his schoole is a litle increased by John Wood & Rich: Holmes, etc;1894 He with his parents salute you: I rest, with prayers etc

    your sorrowful father

    John Cotton

    Capt Pope is likely to recover1895 at Ellistons. Newes from Court may come before a hand to carry this

    This minute yours by Mr Peper1896 is come; wonder not, my Deare child, that I now minde it, one universally forsaken is apt to observe & feare the worst in every thing: I beleive with my soule you are as you say: I am glad you Bro: R’:s buisnesse is ended at Bar:1897 I beleve never such a winter in N: E: since I was borne; They sled wood over the ferry & carry provisions to the Castle, & goe to Nantaskett on the ice: Not a stick of wood had I about a fortnight since, then Rich: seares1898 sold me a cord from his doore, that is spent & when I began this letter I had not a stick to get supper, but Deac: Wood1899 just now brought me a sled load, wee have burnt Nicho’s trundle-bed & some pillars of mr Corlets bedstead, God yet provides: what heard you at Barn: in that hour or 2 fit to suggest? Lord heale your mate & lambs: Jan: 23: was sacrament day at the North chh cotton & sam were both soe ill they went not to meeting, their Father preacht [all] day & administered;1900 A man went on the ice to Hingham he skipt over one hole [. . .] A man at the ferry fell in but escaped drowning, hee & sir Litle.

    It is said some drowned adventuring on the ice in Bristoll ferry, Justice church there lost horse & sadle, himselfe escaped:

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society.

    To Rowland Cotton,

    [2 February 1698]


    This morn at break of day, your mother had an ill fitt of vomiting, is now well: Justice wadsworth was with the Major at the examination yesterday,1901 all is ended, it was manifest Nan had hard usage but dyed in one of her fitts:1902 Jos: heares of a sturges that will lead a horse & sadle back, perhaps he will come upon it to you, if his cold increase not too much, if he doe I beleive you must convey him back with Nath: Clarke behind him to see his father; wee cannot hire a horse because etc.

    N is set next to J: Den: before your Betty & Sarah, is he [wo]rthy of such honour?

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “These For Mr Rowlan[d Cotton] at Sa[ndwich.]”

    To Rowland Cotton,

    18 February 1698 [6 March 1698]1903



    Deare son

    Capt Pope (& his son Tho: both recovered here) I spake with, who tells me that Mr Melvin & Green are at Mr Barnes’s, I therefore now write, hoping in the morn to give these to them: poore Joshua Prat (who soe replyed to your Bro: John) dyed on wednesday1904 & was buried to day, I was not with him till a few houres before his death; his speech began to faile as to sentences, words he spake, seemed affectionately to desire my prayers with him & when ended, his sense thereoff: I went from him to John & Ele: churchel1905 in whose families hardly a person well, each of them with much christian candour desired the like, which I durst not refuse; this day came Andrew ward,1906 Mr of a sloop (one of Midletowne) to me full of distresse of soule, I hope God is preparing him for spetiall mercy; your deare mother had some releife 2 or 3 dayes, yesterday Rob: Bartlet fetcht her to his very sick family, but that which compelled her going was, he had a lovely boy borne on wednesday1907 both its feet bending inwards, likely to be a cripple, she bound up etc lay there all night, came home early, & ever since hurried, by Jos: churchel for his son John,1908 will Harlow & Ben: Warren for their wives,1909 & Will: Ring for his child1910 fetcht her on horseback & mercy wood she must cupp a 2ond time,1911 the first was 2 days agone, thus is she tired with serving, Lord strengthen her I wish she be not Laid up to morrow, she was never more willing to doe & run as now: Litle J: Barnes almost sunsett brought me your letter1912 by Fish which next I answer I cannot mourn for Tob’s death, because I think you are glad; I never knew till now my cowes name, but she is young & if she have a good stomach I intend to pay for it: I see not the least prospect of getting wood when this is spent, as it will by monday (I think) I blesse God for beginnings of recovery with yours, His mercy perfect it: If it must be in April, God give you a blessing then in your mother. For writing, printing, softning, I desire to say, the will of the Lord be done: I suspect Mr Stoughton expects my writing for the money, I wish you (if you think I should) would endite me a letter, for I know not how to frame one; was it friend or foe, knave or honest person that thought it would be very well for us to keep etc. who can say, God will not shew wonders to the dead! though I am ready to say, there is noe hope; sir w:s Life1913 the major hath not yet sent home; If God save me in the new triall at T: H’s, I thinke it best to lye still & not move a step to T. or M’s for any present issue: the 18 are, 1: Kitteaumutt (alias the Ponds:) 2: Mattakeesitt: 3. Titticutt. 4: Assawamsitt: these were mine: 5: Mashpau. 6: monument. 7: Acushnett. 8: Coaksitt, 9: & 10: two at Sakonett. 11: chappaquidgick. 12: Nashamoiett: 13: Sengekontackitt: 14: Toikimmy or Nashuakemmuck: 15: Tackanio: (alias Gay Head) these 5 at the vineyard: 16: & 17: at Nantuckitt: 18: Saukatuckitt, where I preacht last August: surely Mr Treat, Gookin & Thacher can make up the rest: when Assize comes God direct for the best: I have a sermon on that Text, if I can finde it to night; I will send it now. If I should burne barne, it would cry like cutting the trees: I have noe Almanack, nor will I buy one though I might at N: T:’s because I never did, neither shall you for me; the old tells sun rise & for moone I send to see J: Rick’s at full or change & that is all I want it for, ergo I charge you not to spend a penny for one, but if one be given you, then I will accept your gift not else: Fish is gone by & I lost sending letters to Bost: the former Green or this or Melvin, pray engage to call on me at their returne: wee both salute you both; God heale, save & blesse; John Short’s only child is dangerous, Tom: Litle is with her.1914

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed, not in John Cotton’s hand, “The Revd Mr Rowland Cotton, Ministr at Sandwich, Pr mr Melvin: QDC.”

    To Joanna Rosseter Cotton,

    16 April 1698

    2ond letter now to you: April, 16: 1698:

    My most Deare

    I thanke you for the remembrance of your Love, I know you have more then you expresse; wee have attended your orders in every thing, the barbaries at ready, & halfe the Anniseeds, & the things to make cabbagenets1915 & lastly, the 2 bottoms of black woosted;1916 wee only want a hand to convey them safely to you: Deare Heart, when cast downe, read, Psal: 42: 5:1917 11:1918 & 43: 5:1919 the booke of God is full of cordialls for you, even for you, though your soule too often refuses to be comforted; you will much refresh your deare children if when you come from your chamber & have bin soe much conversing with God you will be cheerfull in conversing with them; with God all things are possible, & nothing is too hard for him, when a soule to its owne apprehension is cast out of Gods sight, yet there may be a looking towards his holy Temple; the God that comforteth those that are cast downe, refresh you with the Consolations of his holy spirit, & give you to see the Joy of his salvation; I leave you in the armes of everlasting mercy, & affectionately intreating that you will daily poure out your soule to God for spetiall mercy to be vouchsafed to me,

    I rest, yours whilst I am

    John Cotton

    Is there not to be found 3 or 4 choice, spetiall christians with whom you may keep a day of fasting & prayer? I know Mris Prince is one; my children can tell you. Daniel Davis1920 (he that eat with James Allyn at our house who perhaps came now to visit Betty Dotey1921) saith, that 2 are dead at Saybrook this winter, one of them a chauker, 14 at Hadham, above 40 at Fairfeild; & that Andrew ward is still very bad at Boston:1922 the 2ond candle will last us one night more.

    I perceive by Tom: F: last evening that they are most wretchedly set to quarrell away a good peice of land on this side the stone, but they will not intrench an inch upon J: Rickard, I am weary of my life in this meshech,1923 son Rowl: must buy this land & let him manage the case for I hate to have to doe with them; Turne over leafe:

    I have tryed this morning & I finde as neere as I can ghesse that from J: Rick’s fence to the stone is 6 or 7 paces more then from the stone to Eph: Cole’s barne, soe that if they hold their vile resolution to have halfe of my present enclosure three or 4 paces the chh-agents will rob me of, if son Rowl: can indeed attest on oath that L: Morton, war: etc did set that stone as boundaries ‘twixt my land & the chh’s, as I am very confident they did, it will be a good lift; Capt Howland one of the 3 is yet alive & it is said, he also is able soe to assert, if I can see him I intend to aske; noe dog was ever more weary of turning spit then I am with these malignant—o Lord deliver. I wish Mr Prince might come from the Bay today, that these letters may be gone to you; crafty Tom whose other men, & noe lesse then 4 because it was soe vast a tract of land (a litle garden spot) he will hide himselfe, but most venemously instigate, for he invents that the stone was set only to range the highway not to divide ‘twixt chh & me; a horrid falsehood. I beleive my every day black upper coat growes soe rotten & teares daily that I feare I cannot possibly weare it many dayes longer, what shall I doe? here is noe body to mend it, neither can I weare my stuffe1924 one over my thick troopers Coat, if I can finde a wastcoat in your chest fit for me to weare under my searge Jacket then I beleive I must use it & weare the stuffe coat my deare one sent; Doe you want any herrings? it will be our dinner today. Tom: F: also said, as if there was noe bound mark at the other end therefore noe doubt it was only to range the street, I could not say ought to it then, but even now I went to the fence ‘twixt Clarke & me & there is also another stone for the boundary at that end which will show their falsenesse & venom:

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society.

    To Joanna Rosseter Cotton,

    19 April 1698

    April, 19: 98:

    My Deare

    Mr Prince is gone over to Mr Barne’s, in his cloak bag are 2 browne papers, in which are Barbaries, 2 bottoms of black woosted, Anniseeds & all for cabbage nets wee could finde; In discourse with him, he tells me yesterday Mr Tor:1925 talkt much with him about me, & he would have me goe some where and be retired & not yet issue my case here: Tor: thinks that whilst I am here they will unite the more against me, & says also, I can be in noe straits, having noe body to maintaine but you, only having lived soe well all my dayes, it seems hard to be shortened,1926 abundance of talk he had, & said that in time I might have imploy else where, but never here, which he needed not to have said, for I would not stay here for the world, if I could helpe it, only this new discourse confirmes me in a resolution to cry night & day to God to have pitty on me, & if possible, to dispose, that as soone as you are returned home, I may have some retiring place out of the noise of this Babel: Deare soule, pray for me without ceasing,

    who am, Thine, in depths of Affliction

    John Cotton

    Tor: said, I had a farme to maintaine me:1927 Let son know these things, & give both your thoughts.

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “These For Mris Joanna Cotton, now at Sandwich.”

    To Rowland Cotton,

    [May 1698]1928

    Deare son

    This Thursday morning Mr Lord1929 came unthought of to my house, he lay at Mr Barnes’s; I pitty your bad throat & have told him you will certainly engage him for the Sabbath; Mr Morton was buried1930 this day fortnight; I wonder Mr Prince spake not of it; he can modestly & well tell you all Caralino-storyes; He preacht for Mr Willard1931 last sab: A: M: & at charlestowne, P: M: he is in haste, I have not to adde, but my most tender & affectionate Love to my deare wife, of whose being better I long to heare, Deare soule, the Lord be her Comforter; The same God heale you, & give deliverance to your mate & hasten me that good tidings that there may be noe obstruction of her returne in whom my life & all the comforts of it are soe much bound up; faile not, I pray to write your account of the transactions with the Agents & send me a coppy thereoff, Tho: Howland1932 will speedily plow & plant my ground, mater’s direction may doe well; Hannah is better: Last Tuesday Mr Brattle Fellows, Schollars, i: e: the seniors (such as ‘Siah etc) all at a great feast at Mr Leveretts new house in Cambridge; my hearty Love to you both, I thank you & pray God reward you for your filiall respect this weeke & formerly to your desolate father

    John Cotton

    make him promise you before he goes to Barnstable, for your throat needs ease, as well as your other trialls call for it: God blesse all yours:

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “These For Mr Rowland Cotton, Pastor of the Chh at Sandwich.”

    To Rowland Cotton,

    [14 May 1698]1933

    saturday, A: M:

    Deare son

    By Patience that lives at young J: Moreys, I sent you yesterday an account of all that was then told by Theoph: but he is a kin to you & newes comes deliberately from him; Mr Cush: & he met at Lewis’s the great bridegroom & bride, A Salem-Browne (a son of him who married Bailey) with Mr Burrough’s daughter,1934 what a brave match is that! young Haines is returned to Haverhill1935 & says the Indians knockt his father on the head & were about to kill him, he pleaded hard for his life & told them his running away from them was because his father would, else he would have staid etc they spared his life, & I wish they may not catch him a 3d time: he sayes the squaws & young ones are gone up to plant corne, the men are come downe to doe mischeife; They have newly killed a man at yorke, & carried away 2 or 3 persons:1936 At quechecho a new married man saw two Indians looke in at his window; Another English man abroad had a gun with him to kill birds & he did see an Indian in the bushes, but they saluted not one another: Mr Tappan is likely to obtaine Mr Gerish’s daughter:1937 Tho: Lambert gave me your pacquet,1938 To begin with son John, I perceive his heart was warme, it seems a litle too harsh (but tell him not that I say soe) his intimation that his mother had not obtained that compleat conquest over a hasty spirit in Judging, I am sure if he had over his, he would not have soe written of her who is a mirrour of patience;1939 I perceive they were ill in his family, am glad they are better: Arent you dull, my child, that you know not his meaning about his losse, looke againe & you will see what wee saw at first glance, viz, the losse of ours, i:e: of our visiting you at Sandwich, because sick: your mother smiled heartily at that passage & beleives it to beare all truth, viz, about the butter, but truly, I never heard word of Delano nor his butter to this day since he first wrote of it, pray tell him soe that he may not in the least expect a supply from it; I hope for new daily. Indeed his lines are too red; for gauls I beleve you should read Galls, but seeing it is an appearance only (though I confesse too great) passe it by with a brotherly, Jocose animadversion, & our parentall love to them etc & also from Theophilus who says that Hincks & a woodbridge from Cos: Hampton now are added to their classis:1940 Cos: Cott: Math:1941 told The: that Mr Willard would appeare his good friend which makes me conclude that I shall finde mr Brattle’s words true, that Mr W: would see for kindnesses among his friends: Now for your letter; my wife keeps fixt for you, it is well she is here, by the helpe of Tailors, to fix Theoph: to goe to Coll: by Tuseday night; As yet I am unprovided but doe hope on friday or saturday to convey my wife to you, for I cannot beare your not going Northward, not that I expect much good if any for my selfe, but there will be good for Theoph: I am perswaded: I will cease to write of bounds, but all other proprietors are well, enough satisfyed & will never stirre more if the chh make noe disturbance; it was towneagents laid out land for the chh as well as for the others ergo it will stand: what my need may be of mony I know not, I see you expect a miracle or my starving; God can doe every thing, I wish I had noe greater exercise then to provide for this life, though that may be difficult enough: I professe I have forgot the Ques: be you sure to tell me as you passe along: I beleve the Law forbids Elders: I heare not of my cow: It is Dick Hubbard who married Dr Clarks daughter,1942 Randolph would not suffer him to goe for o: E:1943 because he produced not sufficient bonds-men that the King should have his dues, ergo he tooke Corne etc & came to N: E: Sister doth meane (I am confident) more of Cos: simonds then you think; Heartlesse when God hides his face from our prayers, I thought by that she meant she had prayed to have some heart there turned to favour me but findes it not, Lord shine in Christ: she told Theoph: she had a sugarloaf to send my wife by the first vessell; I take as litle pleasure in Mr Deerings1944 acting as you can, but Theoph: says, he speakes very kindly to him & if noe body else will etc he will doe it himselfe, but for some of these great men, espetially L: Gov: I knew had utterly spoiled my market there, but when you are there, you will setle all in the right channell; Theoph: sayes Cos: Cottons wife is now at Bost: & son will is to come next week & hath promised to bring her home; he is not like to be at ‘Lect: but Mr Cal: Cush:1945 will & he will certainly, if called, give Mr sewall good incouragement to promote The’s education in this way; Theoph: knowes not that I discerned him last night neere 1/4 of an houre in secret prayer in his bed-chamber, I hope God is in his soule; I know of noe hand to convey this today, but now it is ready; mris Freeman saith he comes to fetch her on Monday, misse him not; on Tuseday they returne, I shall then minde you as I doe every day, if I live till then: wee all 3 salute you both; the Govr intends to speak with the Mowhawks before his returne & that is well; with prayers etc, etc, etc

    J: C:

    Mr Clark of Exceter goes upon Crutches still: Mr Thomas bought Truworthy’s sloop full of salt (i: e the salt in it) & they are daily unloading it, it is here 3 shil: a bush: 14 or 15 shil: a hogshead:

    This minute appeares the bearer.

    Mr Noyes of salem is to preach the Election-sermon;1946 I beseech thee Goe & heare him. Old Goodman Fellows of salisbury1947 is dead & old Goodwife Eastman,1948 son will: sayes son Johns Chest of drawers will be ready by the Commencment to send to him.

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “These For Mr Rowland Cotton, at Sandwich.”

    To Rowland Cotton,

    [17 June 1698]1949

    Friday nigh sunsett:

    Loving son

    This morning I sent a letter1950 to my wife by Eph: wampam who said, he knew you well: since I had yours1951 by S: Br: & immediately sent away the Cloath to Theoph: by J: Rick: De Grind & Danf:1952 if you come at Will: Nummuck,1953 it seems well that you advise him to be ready at Sandwich to meet them or at Moreys & to accompany them to his meeting house at the Ponds, he is now all the Teacher they have, though not every Sabbath, & he can obtaine a competent Assembly for them, but the death of old wannoo & occanootus1954 hath much altered that appearance which was in their day very great; As for Mattakeesit let them finde it as it is, it was once a full Assembly & large, but death hath brought it low: Namasket, another of my Assemblies is wholy forsaken: Assawomsitt & Titticutt I have been much with but not since Mr Danforth hath taken them; I doe not desire you to send the mony for the plums, I owe you much more kindnesse; welcome next Monday, Lord order every passage of that day to be mercy to me, & her & us all, yea & every day, yea & for ever; faile not my deare of coming, nor you offending her at that day for a 1000 pd, feare not her being mett, but I will not bring her over that bridge for all that mony, but some body will, I hope: my expectations then to see her will be as absolute & positive as it is lawfull or possible to be as to contingencies: I suppose, I have gained the heart of Mr Dexter for ever; he was making a hideous moane to borrow a horse to marshfeild; W: Cl: would not, Barnes would goe with him; J: D: was much provoked I said nothing, but I thought he was your neighbour & as he was passing along riding on his owne this way I met him & told him he should have mine1955 o the inexpressible ravishment of his soule at my kindnesse & the promises of requiting my love, he will call this eve for this & the roots tyed up in a cloath: I hope he will not spoile my horse, he said, he must be at Yarmouth by tomorrow noone, ergo I had pitty: he will, noe doubt, tell you his resentments hereoff: the brigantine is come now to load; sam: Litle1956 spake with Theoph: last night, well at Boston: Heartyest Love to my dearest, parentall to you both; God blesse you all & litle Nath:

    I am, your Affectionate Father

    John Cotton

    Will Raws: & Dan: come & see me & invite me with them to mattakeesitt

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “These For Mr Rowland Cotton, at Sandwich. cum tribus radicibus. Quid ait frater tuus ad novum filium: Die saturnii mane hora octava: vicinus tuus cum equo iam rediit & maximas reddit gratias.”1957

    To Rowland Cotton,

    29 June 1698 [22 June 1698]1958

    wednesday p: m:

    Deare son

    It is not easy to think what tremblings were upon your mothers heart & feares as to your dearest, whom she soe left, & what comfort & ease it was to her spirits to heare from you by Cap: B: that God had given such a reviving, God make you & us truly thankfull for such sparing mercy; by massey I wrote to you:1959 since which I heare of the death of Mris Jeffries,1960 the only child of Esq: usher: Letters from Theoph: say, that Breck being turned out, being one of the 5 (sir Litle1961 saith, Deming, Holman were 2 more of them,1962 they are all pardoned upon a confession-making) he is now waiter at the Batchelors table, that saves some mony: Jos:1963 writes noe newes, only promises to be sparing in his expences: 13 to commence with Jos: & about 15 or 16 masters,1964 sir Litle is one, but not the Dr: Sir Price1965 in o: E:1966 hath sent to be one & will have it though absent: Sir L: says, Mr Bradstreets ord: is now fixt to be the week after commenc:1967 I suppose Praeses ordered that: Mr Dering writes that Doc: Cooke is my exceeding good friend & that Bro: M:1968 will doe well by Theoph: the 1st I beleve, the 2ond, Lord say Amen to it: I have some hopes it may be soe: It was very wisely done of you to order [Row?], etc to come first hither, for all Indians were here; they put up horses at Nath: clarks bespoke quarters there & came most seasonably to my house by day light, as soone as wee had done supper, (a good mutton pye etc) they tooke a pipe, mater1969 would not see them then, I gave them a cup of small beare drawne 1/2 an houre before for supper: wee walkt & found Indians, they ordered them to come with my leave to my house this morn, Charles <preach> prayed then sang, Raws: preacht from Ecle: 12: 7:1970 for part, Charles ended with prayers &c, betwixt 50 & 60 auditors: John wannoo1971 told them Tup:1972 lyed, pannoowae kuttoawonk, to say Kitteaumutt was his they were only & alwayes Mr Cottons Indians; now 10 families, about 50 adult & many children; as for Mattakeesitt, I told them, death had thin’d their numbers, but the Major could speak to that; he had much discourse in private with Danf:1973 soe had Mr wadsworth,1974 I beleve they both spake much good for me, but I promise my selfe none from it: I spake not a syllable to Danf: of etc nor he to me, nor did I offer a cup of ought this morn: they are gone directly to Taunton: I beleve they cannot pray Ind. this morn they toucht her: your hot love to mater was great to post to J: Bs, I am glad C: Gor: hindred you; I beleive you askt her pardon where noe sin was: Court newes you must have of C: Bas: I know not nor aske any. not any sleep last night for bugs, mater run towards day to [Cod-’s?] bed & had some hours sleep, I none, she is almost killed in taking paines to kill them this day; she writes to you & tells you what she sends; hearty love & prayers, God perfect healing grace & mercy to yours,

    I am etc.

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “These For Mr Rowland Cotton, at Sandwich.”

    To Rowland Cotton,

    [2 July 1698]1975

    Deare Son

    It is still saturday morning, & when I came from writing to you1976 by Jos: Rider at Barns’s, I espied David Loring,1977 & going home R: Har: hollowed me & gave me yours, to which by D: L: take answer; mercy Dunham brought for you my Thursday lines:1978 I think I approoved your totall silence de Yarm:1979 but I doe as highly (if not more) approove your present lines, & soe doth mater1980 now awake; John & his mother were soe peremptory de majore etc that it seems to me (as it doth to you) impossible almost but that He etc would heare me; mater is only for my telling them to morrow, that (as you say) I was invited for this sabbath, but went not because I would not offend them, & not to say, I am for the next also, but leave the case more generall; I am in a very great strait, seeing hazards both in accepting & in refusing; it is most manifest by Jos: Rid:1981 that I am really expected there today; my not coming now (I think) cannot hurt me but show some self-deniall; their being destitute to morrow1982 may perhaps advance their hunger for the next sabb: if I visit all my children next week, I can returne before Sab: to your home, if encouragements are not competent; though I beleive some compliance with D: F: etc here would save me from Tor:1983 etc well enough: I wish you had these my 2 letters before wat: & Bar: come back today, but I feare you will not: I hope your Bro: will hold his Toungue de Argts, its pitty he knew of it, but it could not be avoided: Cal: Lor:1984 saw Theoph: well on Thursday; He & Dav:1985 saw your Bro: yesterday at 2 a clock p: m: ride by Pet: Jacobs,1986 they lay at The: Cush’s1987 that night, & soe escaped all the rain etc If you will speak to Rus:1988 de [promise?] doe as your wisdom shall think best: your parents salute you both, Lord blesse you all,

    I am, your Affectionate father

    John Cotton

    The fire at salem was soe, the drawer ran up frighted to see the rum on fire & then it was too late to quench, major Browne’s, Hurst’s etc. burned.1989

    If Jos: Rider be not gone, what if you wrote a line to tell of her husband going well after raine from T: cush’s, & what you think of my visiting her; A line from Maj: & M[ ] would say much

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “These For Mr Rowland Cotton at Sandwich.”

    To Rowland Cotton,

    [2 July 1698]


    Deare son

    I hope to heare from you today by Jos: waterman or by Rob: Barow;1991 I commend your prudence in a totall silence de Yarmouth, but am extreamly surprized this morn, coming over to speak with Abiel shirtliffe1992 to buy some corne (Judging he was come back with his sloop but he was not himselfe) Mr B: & his wife aske me if I goe to Yarm: today, & tell me Joseph Rider1993 told them, he thought I would, for they had desired it & said Rider being but at John Barnes’s I stept thither, & askt him, why he spake of such a thing, he replyed, mris miller1994 told him, that the Major & her husband desired my son to speak to me to come & they lookt for me today; well, deare child, I can deny my owne interest for Gods Holy Names sake, I goe not now, but I am in a dreadfull strait; Mr wiswall (though he knowes noe particular place) yet sayes, Mr Tor: & Mr Math: will take offence if I preach any where,1995 but himselfe wishes I had free liberty soe to doe, & he goes on Monday with Peleg1996 for admission into Colledge, o that you could speak with his seasonably; He thinkes some kinde of indulgence in the generall from the bretheren tomorrow, would salve the matter & make all safe, I have a 1000 thoughts but think I shall doe nothing atall but lye downe under my burthen till I dye; Lord pitty, help, direct; think, think, think, pray, pray, pray till Monday & then speak, whether I had best goe see my children southward next week: mater asleep, love, prayers, etc,

    yours etc.

    J: C:

    A great fire at salem it is said, by Rumm catching fire, or fire-rum in Mr Gidneys cellar, five houses burnt, 2 blowne up, major Brownes one of thes:1997 If Johns letter be not gone to his wife,1998 send it by this man. Is it best to venture a word to D: F: & soe etc. to morrow! I think of Prov: 16: 3:1999

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “These For Mr Rowland Cotton, at Sandwich.”

    To Joanna Rosseter Cotton,

    6 and 7 July 1698

    Sandwich July, 6: 1698:

    My Most Deare

    It is commencment day, almost sunsett, I hope Mr W: Clark will call here & bring these; God brought me very comfortably hither; My daughter will doe very well; all the children are well; Nurse Jenkins as full of Love, respects & charity as ever: I have not bin out of my chamber this day only for family-prayer; the Elder came to me last night & was full of tender manifestations of his good will; He Judges I ought noe longer to lye still; He moved Capt Green of Maldon (who did to him expresse much respect to me) that they would send me a call from Maldon, because Mr Wigglesworth2000 is almost leaving his work; soe much was the Elders heart upon it, that he moved it to Mr Raws:2001 etc when here, Raws: did reply, the Elders in the Bay might not be for it, & that (noe doubt) will be found true, if Bro: M:2002 heare of it: however the Elders love to me must be acknowledged; he telles me when he heard the first draught, he told Mr Tor:2003 he could not set his hand to such a paper, Tor: replyed if he would not then none must, if not all, Tor: also told the Elder, he namely, the Elder was much eyed & would be minded what he did & said, & it is most certaine, had not Mr T. bin there, it had not bin as it was, but God saw it best for mee I desire to be silent before him: the Elder freely ownes, he did concurre with Mr Wiswall2004 in such a sentence as he would have, but nothing would doe to hinder what was: The Elder also says, that he hath told Mr Russell,2005 it was too severe & the like, & Mr Rus: <addes> says, he was desirous & endeavoured it might be otherwise: Elder also seems very well pleased at the Permit the chh gave last Sabbath, & thinks it to be a great matter & is very willing I should preach here next sabb: (for Mr Smith2006 says, he will doe nothing unlesse in his owne house) I almost think the Elder will goe with me to morrow to Barnstable, if not as far as yarmouth, & be as active to promote my restoring as some have bin to doe the contrary; my thoughts are very awfull, if things are not fully encouraging at yarm: I shall returne on saturday; I hope my son John will not come home before the sabbath, if he doe then I am sure there will be noe worke for me there, but if he come part of the way, he had best stay at this house & here will be a pulpit ready for him. I am much concerned for son Rowl: though I doubt not God will helpe him wisely to answer his uncle:2007 if the Ques: be why am I the worse for being a kin to him?2008 the Answer is, upon his coming from o: E:2009 with a charter taking in Plimouth, our people were all in a rage at him, Josephus, J: War: J: Brad: & many more of the bretheren (from their godly zeale & reall Conscience) did raile at him & revile him for falsenesse, treacherous dealing yea & wickednesse to take them in to be slaves, etc. Josephus himselfe said that, if it had bin open, wicked enemies had done it he could better have borne it, but to be thus betrayed & sold by seeming friends etc such things moved my spirit & my respect to my deare Brother ingaged me to give many a severe rebuke to such things & upon that account these persons that have bin most against me were provoked at me ever since: & when another man came home from o: E: he made it his worke (as you know) to traduce Bro: M:2010 & lay him very Low, even as to his moralls as well as his unworthy betraying of Plimouth Colony, in soe much that good people have said partly in your hearing & often in mine, they did formerly Love his books & had such & such a one, but now hearing he was an apostate, a wicked man etc they threw them aside & could not endure to read them. these things imbittered my spirit, also to heare a man say, old Mather would goe to hell shortly for all his wickednesse & the like, I have with all my might freely & heartily borne my Testimony for him agst such unjust reproaches & slanders, & I know & soe doe many more that for this I <was> suffered much prejudice with many; yea, I am sure with 2 cheif men in the Councill, one of whom said <often> to me more than once, it was a mystery to him, that God suffered his owne children to goe on with the reigning of the sin of pride in them etc soe much did He say agst father & son in slighting of them, yea very much despising the son, that my speaking contrary hath bin to <o much> my damage however it is in other respects: my hearty love to you, my desire is that you will send this very letter under sufficient sealed covers to be left with Mris Mackarty for him, that he may make what improvement he pleases of it, he will doe not hurt with it, & it may be some passage or other in it may be of some use: Daughter hands you her duty; I hope J: Rickard is not gone, but you will write & send these also by him: Pray for, Thine as his owne

    John Cotton

    Daughter says to son Rowl:

    buy 10 pd of cotton wooll, I now seale with her love to him, hoping Mr sprague2011 may bring this & you will soone convey it to Bost by land or sea: some from yar: say, I am much expected to preach there: the good Lord direct pray hard, ingage Mr stone2012 to see me:

    July, 7: I heare this morning Mr clark passed by yesterday, which I am very sorry for, I must now waite for Mr sprague & shall have this sealed for him; Mr Dexters action is deferred till next court,2013 I wish my son had this letter: when showres cease I am ready: My daughter loves her husband, all is well here.

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “These For Mris Joanna Cotton, at her house, in Plimouth.”

    To Joanna Rosseter Cotton, 8 July 1698

    Yarmouth July, 8: 1698:

    My Dearest

    A large Epistle2014 I left for you at sandwich, & after I was come from thence, I was told that James Warren2015 was at the Elders, which made me thinke he might take that letter for you, I hope he did not, I would not by any meanes it should miscarry or be opened by any one in the world2016 but you first; I met Mr Sprague, who promised me to call for it & deliver it to you with his owne hand; As soone as I had fitted my horse it fell a raining, soe that I could not stirre till sun about 2 houres high in the evening, I called at Mr Hinckleys doore,2017 Mr Whippo’s,2018 Mr Lathrop’s but did not alight any where; spake with Ensigne Hawes2019 neere his house & good Peter Thacher2020 came running over his fence to salute me with great affection, hoped to enjoy me etc. by day alight I arrived here, daughter presents her duty to you, she & the children are all well; Deac: Josiah Thacher2021 had bin here the night before to see if I was come, daughter sayes, she heares not of one man in all the towne but is glad & willing I should preach here, only Bassett2022 that loves noe minister: Elder at parting advised & encouraged me to be ready & if from the people in the meeting house assembled any came to invite me then to accept it: It is a rainy morning againe: I spend this day here as I did last wednesday at son Rowl’s: only hearing W: Barnes & J: Watson are going home to day from Mr Hedge’s, I thought it necessary to salute you & againe to bespeak your fervent prayers for me that God would lead me in a right way because of my observers; I long to heare from you by mr stone <daughter gives you love daily>

    I am, Thine most affectionately whilst I am,

    John Cotton

    I spake with mercy Dunham at Mr Whippo’s, & since I came hither Mr M: telles me, she hath vindicated you & me from some considerable aspersions, grounded upon your living soe long at Sandwich2023

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “These For Mris Joanna Cotton, at her house, in Plymouth.”

    [To Joanna Rosseter Cotton],

    8 July 1698

    8 July 16982024

    second letter from hence

    Deare soule

    It hath bin a very rainy friday, but amongst others Mr Miller2025 came to visit me, & telles what a concurrence there is in the hearts of all people to desire my preaching if reports be true, there is very great gladnesse upon the account; I sit downe astonished, & am musing whether it be a beginning of mercy & deliverance or a lightning before death; my heart melts in the sense of the present manifestations of divine compassions, let the issue be what it will: All that heare what the Bretheren did say, viz, that it should be noe offence, are most excessively pleased & fully satisfyed that their motion is of God: I begin now to think God may accept me to doe some service for his name on the morrow, Lord in mercy prepare me for it & accept in Christ; I conclude there will be with some a strange resentment of it, I wish my son in the Bay might have what I wrote before & now, & say & doe as he pleases; He will not come from thence till that day. I hope you may have opportunity by land or sea to send: He may know his neighbours have lost the whale, the Jury have now given it to Nausettmen:2026 It is said, many of Barnstable will be here this sabbath: Lord, what will thou have me do?

    Some will readily think & say, it was some trick of my sonnes to bring it to this, but it will be very unjust for they tell me here, how they discerned it to be very surprizing to my son when it was first motioned, neither did he doe or say any thing to promote it, he was affected to heare such persons mention such a thing not in the least expecting it; he was wholy passive in promoting it; Bretheren here said it one to another, & did wonderfully unite in it, but my son is very innocent: I wish Cos: John Cotton2027 & Mr Brattle2028 knew these things from my sons

    Miscellaneous Bound Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society.