A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 26 January, 1904, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, George Lysian Kittredge, LL.D., in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The President announced the death on the twenty-sixth of December, 1903, of Henry Dwight Sedgwick, a Resident Member.1
Mr. Charles S. Rackejiann paid the following tribute to the memory of Mr. Sedgwick.
When Mr. Sedgwick was invited to join this Society he accepted the invitation with evident satisfaction, and he made a point of attending the meetings, especially the annual dinners, whenever he could. His own personal interest in history and biography, no less than his inherited taste for these subjects, qualified him to be an interested and appreciative member of an historical society.
We look at the lineage of a man, not only to see who he is, but in order to determine with relation to his own life whether he has done all that might fairly be expected of him. In the case of our associate, the test will be readily met. It is worth while to consider for a moment his lines of descent. On the paternal side he came straight down from Robert Sedgwick, who settled in Charlestown in 1636, and from John Dwight, who settled in Dedham about 1634.2 Without dwelling on the intermediate generations, it is to be noticed that his paternal grandfather, Theodore Sedgwick, and his paternal great-grandfather, Joseph Dwight, were especially prominent Massachusetts men. On his mother’s side his most distinguished ancestor in American annals was his grandfather, George Richards Minot, whose character and attainments are too well known to need recital here. It may confidently be said of him that had he not been cut off by an untimely death at the age of forty-six, he would have rendered marked service to his State and country, and attained greater fame.
Mr. Sedgwick’s father, Henry Dwight Sedgwick, for whom he was named, was the second son of Judge Theodore Sedgwick. All the four sons of Judge Sedgwick were lawyers, and three of them were eminent at the bar, while the youngest son, Charles, was Clerk of Courts in Berkshire for thirty-five years. Henry, who was, like the subject of these remarks, almost invariably known as Harrj’, was said by Miss Catharine Sedgwick, his sister, to have been possessed of “the clearest and most powerful intellect I have ever intimately known.” In another place Miss Sedgwick says:
My brother Harry was, I think, intellectually superior to any of us. He had a wider horizon, more mental action, and I think he was the only one of us who had the element of greatness. . . . He had that absence of mind and fixidity of thought so dangerous where the tendencies are to what the Germans call subjectivity. Never was there a more loving, generous disposition than his, nor tenderer domestic affections.1
He was especially interested in reforms of the law, and is said to have prepared the first formal and comprehensive scheme for such reforms which appeared in New York, and upon which the codification ultimately adopted by that State was to a large extent based. He became absolutely absorbed in the cause of the Greeks when they were struggling for national existence, and carried on extensive and most important litigation in their interest in 1826. He broke down from overwork, and died a comparatively young man while his son was yet a child.2
Mrs. Sedgwick, the mother of our associate, was Jane Minot, a woman of very remarkable character, of unusual sweetness and fortitude, who bore the trials of her husband’s illness and early death without showing the least trace of bitterness or change in her disposition. She survived many years, was a universal favorite in Stockbridge, and was looked upon by the rest of the family as one of their wisest counsellors.
From such forbears, then, and from the town of Stockbridge, came our associate. He was educated at Harvard College, where he graduated in 1843, and for which he was prepared by the Rev. Samuel Parker Parker. His class contained a large number of men who became famous, including a President of the College, Thomas Hill. He afterwards studied law at the Harvard Law School, and in New York in the office of his cousin Theodore. He was admitted to the bar at Rochester, New York, in 1846, after which he travelled for a year in Europe. Then he settled down in the City of New York, and was for four years associated with the same cousin. In 1851 he took up practice with James S. Storrs. In 1857 he attended the inauguration of President Buchanan at Washington, and was in some way severely poisoned. In consequence of this mishap he lost about a year’s time from his profession. He practised in New York City for about forty-five years. He was very diligent and painstaking, very earnest, and had considerable success, though he was not, like his father, at any time connected with such unusual matters as the Greek cases above mentioned. His cases brought him into contests with such leaders as Charles O’Conor, Cutting, and William M. Evarts.
He found time not only for regular professional work, but also for literary labors, being editor of two editions of “Sedgwick on Damages,” which was written by his cousin, Theodore Sedgwick, Jr., and which is one of the best known of American law textbooks. He also prepared and issued A Selection of American and English Cases on the Measure of Damages, in 1876. In 1872 he wrote a remarkable address, which was delivered before the Law School of the University of the City of New York, called The Relation and Duty of the Lawyer to the State, which elicited much favorable comment and proved that he, like his father, had very high ideals as to the conduct and duty of lawyers and legislators, and that he felt much eager solicitude about the future government of his country.
While practising in New York City, Mr. Sedgwick resided there during several months each year and entered fully into the social and civic life of the place. He was one of the early members of the Union League Club, of the Century Association, of the Bar Association of the City of New York, and later joined the University Club. He preferred the Century to all others, and was very fond of speaking of the agreeable and distinguished men whom he met there, and of repeating such parts of their many enlivening conversations as were of general interest. Only a few months before his death he invited a number of his Century associates to visit him in Stockbridge, and gave an elaborate entertainment for their pleasure.
While his professional life was spent in New York, he passed his vacations, with the exception of long journeys, in his native town of Stockbridge, which he dearly loved and to whose interests he was always devoted, giving freely of his time and money towards whatever the public good or interest seemed to require. He was interested in every improvement of the town and village, but paid particular attention to, and was president of, the public library, the casino, and the Laurel Hill Association. The last was the parent association from which all village improvement societies in this country have sprung. It takes its name from Laurel Hill, a beautifully wooded, rocky knoll, close to the centre of the village of Stockbridge, which was presented to the public by the Sedgwick family about half a century ago. It has been the custom in later years to have an outdoor meeting at this place in July or August, and to invite some person of distinction to make an address at that time. Mr. Sedgwick’s remarks as presiding officer at such times were most charming and satisfactory, full of imagination and apt quotations from the classic or later writers, combined with common sense, and, when the occasion was suitable, with patriotic sentiments of a high order. He was frequently a speaker at the village meetings on Memorial Day. He always spoke, even in short addresses, from carefully prepared notes. His voice, while not powerful, was agreeable, and so skilfully managed as to bring out very clearly the different shades of thought and meaning which his well-chosen words were intended to convey. He spoke with great earnestness, and with such evident conviction that no one who listened to him could fail to be impressed with his sincerity. He had an engaging style of speech, and punctuated his remarks with gestures, moving his hands and arms with rapidity and vigor.
His literary efforts were by no means confined to the law. In college lie had been a superior scholar in classical studies, particularly in Greek, and the effect of this proficiency was always noticeable in his speeches and writings. He delivered, in 1866, a beautiful address at the dedication of the Soldiers’ Monument in Stockbridge. His earnest convictions and his deep, strong feelings must have been intensified on that occasion by the fact that he made use of it to pay a debt of reverence and homage to the character and actions of his cousin Major William Dwight Sedgwick, who lost his life in his country’s service at the battle of Antietam. In 1880 he delivered an essay, The Layman’s Demand on the Ministry, at the National Conference of Unitarian Churches at Saratoga. In December, 1895, he gave to this society a very interesting little history of Robert Sedgwick, his distinguished ancestor. This he completed after a visit to the Island of Jamaica, where Sedgwick died while holding the office of Governor, under appointment by Cromwell.1 But if he wrote much, still more did he read, and he was always abreast of the times in literary matters, while showing a decided preference for the older authors.
Mr. Sedgwick married in 1857 his own cousin, Henrietta Ellery Sedgwick, daughter of Robert Sedgwick and Elizabeth Ellery, and a lineal descendant of William Ellery, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. They lived together in great happiness until her death in 1902, after which he was never quite the same. His spirit was unbroken, but lost some of its original freshness, and physical infirmities began to tell upon him. He turned then to his children and his daughters-in-law and grandchildren, with peculiar tenderness, and found in them his great delight and consolation.
Mr. Sedgwick had remarkable sweetness and simplicity of nature. His affections were strong and deep and true. His interest in all his friends and relations was most marked, and this fact endeared him to them all to an unusual degree. He was possessed of the most delightful humor, and this, coupled with his extreme goodnature and his wit, afforded never-ending opportunities for fun. He enjoyed a joke at his own expense quite as much as anybody could. He was an excellent story-teller, and would often be so carried away by his appreciation of the point of a story that before he reached it he would be almost speechless, because of his own bubbling and infectious laughter.
He loved nature at all times and in all her forms. He used to walk and drive and row and spend whole days out of doors. He had many favorite haunts, like Monument Mountain, the Ice Glen, Echo Lake, Hagar’s Pond, and a score of others in different places, and was always in great demand as the central figure at all outdoor gatherings no less than at those around some hospitable board.
He lived for many years in the house which his father owned; but later bought from the representative of the elder branch of the family the house which Judge Sedgwick built for himself in Stockbridge. This, in 1883, was somewhat amplified and improved by Mr. Sedgwick, although he retained all its most characteristic features and left some of its apartments unchanged. The traditional hospitality of the family suffered no curtailment or neglect in his household, where everything was administered with a generous hand.
Mr. Sedgwick was a rare man. He had a fine mind, well stored with learning, and kept bright through constant use. He had plenty of experience of the world. He was charitable, loyal, loving, kindly, full of faith and courage. He said himself, “I belong to the ‘House of Hope.’” He was patriotic and public-spirited, generous and hospitable. He was willing to work as well as to speak or write for the public good. Perhaps the mainspring of his character lay in enthusiasm. This quality he possessed to an unusual degree. Whatever he was engaged in commanded his entire attention and energy for the time. Some part of what in him was called absent-mindedness must have been merely absorption or concentration of thought brought about by enthusiasm over the occupation or pleasure of the moment.
He was a religious man. He belonged for many years to the church of Dr. Bellows in New York; but later, when he had retired to Stockbridge, he worshipped at St. Paul’s church there. He had a chivalric spirit. Indeed, Chaucer might have had him in mind when he wrote, “He was a veray parfit, gentil Knight.”
The Rev. Edward Hale briefly alluded to an interesting incident in Mr. Sedgwick’s life at Stockbridge.
Mr. Charles K. Bolton communicated a Memorandum written on a leaf torn from a Bible belonging to the family of Governor Shirley, now owned by the Boston Athenaeum.1 A portion of the entry is perhaps in the handwriting of William Shirley of Preston, Sussex, England, the father of Governor Shirley, and apparently shows the hitherto unknown date of the Governor’s birth. The Memorandum is as follows:
Kathrine was borne ye 29th of July 1696 on Wednesday abtt 8 in ye Evning, baptisd augst ye 11th died ye 13th interd ye 15th
John Shirley5 was borne July ye 26th 1698 abtt nine in ye morning Christined ye same day abtt 6 in ye evening by Mr. Clarke6 now minester of St Swethings Thos: Newdigate esqr. John Godman1 God fathers and Susannah French God mother.2
My Daughter Betty3 took her Departure from London the 26th of February 1733 in the New Industry Capt Shepardson; & arriv’d at Boston the 29th of Aprill following.
Ralph Shirley was born at Boston 20th Jany. 1734, was baptis’d at the King’s Chapped by Haywood6 & dy’d at Braintrey the 13th August 1737, where he was bury’d the sixteenth day of the same month.
My Son William7 took his Departure from Graves End on the 24th of June 1738 & arriv’d at Boston the loth of August following in the Ship Peggy, Captn Nowell Master.
Mr. Bolton also read a letter written by Franklin 12 April, 1750, and called attention to its homely characteristic philosophy.1 The full text of the letter is as follows:
Philad. April 12, 1750.
We received your kind Letter of the 2d Instant, and are glad to hear you still enjoy such a Measure of Health, notwithstanding your great Age. We read your Writing very easily, I never met with a Word in your Letters but what I could readily understand; for tho’ the Hand is not always the best, the Sense makes everything plain.—
My Leg, which you enquire after, is now quite well. I still keep those Servants, but the Man not in my own House: I have hired him out to the Man that takes care of my Dutch Printing Office, who agrees to keep him in Victuals & Clothes, & to pay me a Dollar a Week for his Work. His Wife since that Affair behaves exceeding well: But we conclude to sell them both the first good Opportunity; for we do not like Negro Servants. We got again about half what we lost.
As to your Grandchildren, Will.2 is now 19 Years of Age, a tall proper Youth, & much of a Beau. He acquired a Habit of Idleness on the Expedition, but begins of late to apply himself to Business, and I hope will become an industrious Man. He imagin’d his Father had got enough for him: But I have assur’d him that I intend to spend what little I have my self: if it please God that I live long enough. And as he by no means wants Sense, he can see by my going on that I am like to be as good as my Word.
Sally3 grows a fine Girl and is extreamly industrious with her Needle, & delights in her Book. She is of a most affectionate Temper, and perfectly Dutiful & obliging, to her Parents & to all. Perhaps I flatter my self too, much, but I have Hopes that she will prove an ingenious sensible notable & worthy Woman, like her Aunt Jenney.4—She goes now to the Dancing School.
For my own Part, at present I pass my time agreably enough. I enjoy (thro’ Mercy) a tolerable Share of Health; I read a great deal, ride a little; do a little Business for my self, more for others; retire when I can & go in Company when I please; so the Years roll round, & the last will come; when I would rather have it said, He lived usefully, than, He died rich.
Cousins Josiah & Sally1 are well, and I believe will do well, for they are an industrious saving young Couple: But they want a little more Stock to go on smoothly with their Business.
My Love to Brother & Sister Mecom2 & their Children, and to all my Relations in general. I am,
Your dutiful Son
Mr. Henry H. Edes communicated a letter written 17 February, 1700–01, by the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Colman to the wife of John George of Boston, who had sought his advice as to her scruples about the richness of her fashionable apparel. Mrs. George was Lydia, the daughter of the Rev. Samuel Lee of Bristol. Mr. George died 20 November, 1714, and on 5 July, 1715, his widow became the third wife of Cotton Mather. Mr. Edes called attention to the fact that within six months of his marriage to Mrs. George, Mather had written to Dr. Colman that he had “no manner of prospect of returning unto” the married state, though “I have, no doubt, foolishly enough been ready to fall into this weakness.”3 Judge Sewall describes Mr. George as “a Well-accomplish’d Merchant” who was buried in his own tomb in the Granary Ground 24 November, 1724, “till Madam George have an opportunity to build one.” Mr. and Mrs. George joined the Church in Brattle Square 4 February, 1700, when Dr. Colman “first Administered the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.” Mrs. Mather died 22 January, 1733–34. Dr. Colman’s letter is as follows:
I send you some rude, hasty thoughts about ye. scruple or doubt you lately proposed to me. And first of all I would positively determine you in this, that ye life of religion is not immediately concerned in ye. exteriour Garb & dress of ye. Body: And yet ye. corruption & vanity of ye heart may be seen sometimes in ye. neglect, sometimes in ye. over-curious adorning of them. Ye. scripture therefore commends to us a mean between yse two extreams; 1. tim. 2. 9. Let women adorn ym. selves (speaking of such ornaments as become women professing Godliness) in modest apparel, wth. shamefacedness & sobriety: not wth. broidered hair, & gold &c—; ie, not cheifly minding, affecting, or indulging excess in such things. Ye Apostle censures Immodesty in our dress, prescribes decency, dos not require Sordidness. He censures vanity & lightness, commends Gravity: he forbids cost beyond our state & rank in ye. world. To ye. same sense, is 1. Peter. 3. 3, 4, 5, || and thus are you to understand Isaiah 3. 16. &c. Ye prophet reproaches ye. gross excess of vanity, pride & wantoness; & it is plain their ornaments were made fuel to feed & inflame their lusts—.
Yet these very Texts, thô levelled immediatly against an affected vanity of Apparel, do however, give us light as to that Medium we should observe in our attire. The scripture allows sober Ornaments. There are sober fashions, wch religious people generally conform to; And th[is] lies between two extreams, both which seem to affect singularity. In ye. defect err those, who place religion in affected plainess & these morossly judge all that wear more buttons, than they allow themselves. In ye. excess err ye. lustful, haughty, worldly, mind, who careless of yr. soul, deck only yr. body for some vile or mean end, to entice others to sin, or to outvye them for show—.
But what are sober ornaments? I answer, such as suit 1. our age. 2. our estate. 3. our time, & 4. a religious disposition, as to ye two first our Age & Estate, ye. customs of ye. sober part of ye world may direct us. As to ye. two last our time & frame of soul, it must be left to our own conscience & experience to determine it.
Their is an Age, a state, a season for ornament. Jer. 2. 32. Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? No, tis not fitting they should. But yt. is to be regulated by our estate or degree in ye. world. We are not to affect nor outvye ye. rank above us; but maintain our own we may; not disabling our selves for other works of necessity & charity. But no excuse can be made for those nice, curious Ornaments, which consume too much precious time in contriving, procuring
And now, Madam, judge by these rules: You do not scruple your Age, in its prime; nor your Estate, God having blessed you with plenty. Indeed you acknowledge, yt. heretofore you have spent too much time & thought in this matter; & have too much indulged ye. vanity of Vying with others. This is pride, & affords matter of humiliation before God. But this has sensibly abated for ye. last years, & praised be God for his grace & mercy herein. Three things remain, 1.) a doubt or scruple whether ye. dress you now wear be sin. 2.) you confess yr. self unwilling to lay it aside, thô you suffer many checks frō your own mind on ye. account of it. and 3.) you do find by experience that ye. finer your apparel is, ye. less composed you are in God’s worship. This, Madam, is your case, if I exactly remember.
Now for my own part I freely profess, I think your dress is suitable to your age, Estate, & ye. sober fashion of your degree, birth & Education. Why you should think of changing your apparel I should see no reason, & yt. what you wear should discompose you for God’s worship is to me unaccountable. But however, there is no disputing matter of fact & your own experience. Wherefore,
The rules that suit your case are these,
First, whatever has been occasion of sin to us is to be watched against so much ye. more. Ye. greater distance we keep from it for ye. future, ye. better is it. For this is Enchanted Ground, venture to ye. brink & it charms you in again.
Secondly. We may not act agt. a doubting conscience. Have you a doubtful conscience in ye. matter of apparel; that is, Is it equally dubious whether you may wear such apparel or no? Are yo[u in] real suspence whether it be lawful or no? You must not then wear it, for a doubtful conscience binds from action: Rom. 14. 23. Wt. ever is not of faith is sin.
Much less may we act against a probable conscience; ie, if after serious deliberation it seem to you most likely & probable to be sin. It is unlawful to do good, if we think it evil.
Indeed Divines speak more favourably of a scrup’lous conscience; but then ye. account they give of a scruple is this Not only that it is a trouble of mind arising from some little motive, (as for that conscience should be disquieted about such a trifle as bodily Apparel) but not withstanding a general persvasion of ye. lawfulness of ye. Act, yet ye. mind cannot rest. Scruples prevail most in weak minds, they betray want of Judgment for that time; they are ye. Off-spring of a strong fancy, & you can give no reason for them. I am loath, Madam, after so miserable an account of a scruple, to say that yours may be One. Yet I will presume to put it to you—, Are you not generally persvaded in your own mind, that ye. apparel you wear is lawful? If not, surely you would not have worn it against your real persvasion of its unlawfulness so long. And if you are generally satisfyed in its lawfulness, your fears of ye. contrary at some particular times may be but scruple, for such is a fear wch. we can give no reason for. If you cannot say you really doubt you do but scruple, & if you do but scruple that ought not to hinder you from acting: you should chide your self for it.
Thirdly. It is an ill symptom when we find our selves unwilling & averse to forbear what we really doubt & think to be sin: Ye. same cannot be said of what we only scruple. Therefore ask your self (for here ye. Hinge is) if you do not really & generally think it lawful to wear fashionable Dresses? I am persvaded you only scruple at some sett times, what you generally apprehend to be Innocent. And in yt. case one of these two things will be proper; either set your self resolutely to resist yse. scruples; or if you cant’ overcome ’em then do not act contrary to them for that particular time they are in power over you; but at other times (if it be but ye. next day) when ye. mind is free from them, we may allow our selves more liberty; provided this liberty do not cause ye. scruple to return again with more violence. Could we be certain yt. we do but scruple, it would be best wholly to resist, & never gratifye so troublesome a humour; for otherwise we shall incur ye. charge of Inconstancy, & yt. will be imputed to a weak mind, or a weak faith.
Fourthly & lastly, whatever cumbers, diverts or indisposes ye. soul for ye. worship of God, should at such times be laid aside. Every hindrance is to be avoided. But do you not think a plain dress will help the mind in worship? Verily I fear you would think ye. more of it your self, it would draw ye. eyes of others I beleive; & as you judge your self now, so you would soon censure others for their finery; & where will ye. advantage of it then be.
I have this to add over & above, You have been educated in ye. wearing rich apparel; Mf George chuses you should continue it, it is not offensive nor greivous to sober Christians: It is not good to indulge scruples too much, for they will grow upon you apace to your great discomfort; & you are to fear lest this or any such-like scruple prove but a temptation to take conscience off in judging us for some greater matter.
And now after all, Madam, I am at a loss—, I dare not determine positively—, but I beleive your fear is your Infirmity, more than your dress your sin; & that you have not so much real doubt as scruple in this matter; And so this is my Advice: 1.) Divert your fear & thoughts to weightyer objects. Think, what have I nothing worse than my Garb to trouble my self about Let me look within & see how my soul is arrayed? Our outward dress is like ye. annise & cummin, to ye Spirit of Religion: to ye. Weightyer matters of ye law, Judgment, mercy & faith. 2.) Fly to God by prayer & fasting. Yt. ye. illusions of Satan, or our weak minds may not destroy our peace—. Learn ye. Psalmists prayer, Ps. 139 Search me, O God &c—T is great pity ye souls peace should be Interrupted or ye. mind busyed by trifles—A scrup’lous mind chases butterflies—, but ye. same fears & care & zeal spent in meditation, prayer & exercises of repentance would make strange dispatch heavenward. I doubt not, Madam, but you are bound thither, & I hope pretty forward in your Journey, don’t stay to pick up pebbles in your way: No matter what our travelling Garb is: ye. finest now is course & dull to what you expect above, & little to be valued when they are so soon to be changed for Robes of light & glory. I am, Madam, Your most obliged, sincere & faithful Servtt—, in Christ
Dr Colman to a Lady on
Religious scruples, 1700–1.
The Rev. Henry A. Parker read an extract from the Calendar of State Papers relating to a Memorial from the Customer of London concerning “passes and passengers out of the kingdom.”1 The Memorial was drawn up in 1636.2
Mr. John Noble made the following communication:
The document now presented, which appears among the Early Suffolk Court Files, is a copy of a Will made in 1681 and recorded in the Middlesex Registry of Probate.3 The Will is that of Edward Jackson of Cambridge Village (now Newton). Various considerations give it an interest: the document taken by itself; the character of the man who wrote it, and his standing and position in his own town and in the Colony; his connection with the whole subsequent life and history of Massachusetts and of Boston even especially, continuing down to the present day, through the long and illustrious line of his descendants, in all the learned professions, in mercantile and manufacturing lines of business, in the development of public enterprises and interests, in the encouragement of science and the arts, in civic and social life, and in the remarkable roll of names, eminent and well known, that through direct descent or by affinity claim connection with the testator.
The Will follows:
To all People to whom these Presents shall come, Edward Jackson Senr1 of Cambridge Village in the County of Middx: in the Jurisdiction of the Massats: in New England sendeth Greeting. Know Ye that I the said Edward Jackson being infirm of Body but of disposing Judgement and memory do make this my last Will and Testament as followeth hereby Revoking and Disannulling all former Wills Either Verbal or Written, by Me made att any Time heretofore. I do Commit my Soul unto the Father of all mercys and into the Hands of my Lord Jesus Christ my Dear Redeemer and all sufficient Saviour; And to the Blessed Spirit of Grace to behold Glory forevermore. And this my Body and House of Clay to the Dust Untill that Day of Resurrection when Body and Soul shall be United again. And as for that Outward Estate that the Lord hath Committed to my Trust to give him Account of, I do in this Manner and form following dispose thereof.
[I] do give and bequeath to my Loving and Dear Wife Elizabeth One [silver] Bowl, One Guilded silver Cup, One Guilded Silver Salt [which were] given unto her by her honoured Father Mr John [Newgate:1 also her] Virginals and one Cubard. And my Will is [that she shall] have and Enjoy all that part of her Estate which came to Her by the Sail of her Farm att Pulling Point,2 as also what Money and Plate she hath by Her or Debts Due to Her by Bills Bonds Mortgages or any other way for Money lent by Her to any of Her Children or to any Other Person Whomsoever all which shall be att her own Pleasure to Dispose of, and no Person to make Claim to any Part thereof. I Do give to Her my said Wife her Heirs and assigns forever twelve acres of Land out of my Farm as it is now layed out and bounded. Also I do give to my Wife and to my Son Edward Jackson1 to have and to Injoy my Dwelling House with all out housing thereunto Appertaining with the Lands on the North Side of the House to the River being forty Acres more or less with the Lands and the Orchard on the South Side of the highway before the House being about seventy Acres More or Less with my Meadow commonly called Bushes Meadow, of which house Lands and Meadow my Wife shall Enjoy the One half during her natural Life And after the Decease of my said Wife the Whole shall be to my Son Edward and his Heirs for Ever But if my Wife Shall Change her Condition by Marriage my Son Edward Shall thereupon Enjoy the whole as abovesaid provided He shall pay to his Honoured Mother the Sum of five Pounds per Annum During her Natural Life. Also I do give unto my Wife and Son Edward to Each a like Share all my Corn & Stock both of Neat kine, Horses, Sheep and Swine all my Household Goods Wearing Apparrell and a Debt of ten Pounds in Money due to me from John Fuller Senr: for Land by me to him Sold. And Moreover to my Son Edward I give my Carts and Ploughs and all manner of Tools and Implements to Me belonging I Give Him my Silver Hatband the three Martyr Books and Turkish History. And my Will is that my Wife and Son Edward shall out of that Estate, I have given them pay Unto my Daughter Ruth Jackson twenty Pounds in Money and thirty Pounds in Goods And also ten Pounds more in Money being a Legacy given Her by Her Honoured Grandfather Mr John Newgate.
I Do give and bequeath unto my Son Jonathan Jackson2 his Heirs [and] assigns for Ever One Hundred and Sixty Acres of Land Out [of my farm] as it is now laid out and Bounded, He shall not [sell the whole] nor any Part thereof without the Advice and [consent of my] Executors and my two Sons in Law John [Ward1 and Thomas] Prentice2 Or the Major Part of them. I give Him my Seal Ring, one Silver Porringer One guilded Silver Spoon which together with more than an Hundred and Seventy Pounds the Greatest Part in Money by Him already Received and what I shall hereafter mention in this my Will, I do Judge a Sufficient Portion for Him. I do give and bequeath to my Son Sebys Jackson3 his Heirs and Assigns for Ever that my House in which He at present Dwelleth with an Hundred and fifty Acres of Land thereunto adjoyning as it is already laid out and bounded. I do give Him two guilded silver Spoons.
I do give and Confirm unto my two Sons in Law John Ward1 and Thomas Prentice2 their Heirs and Assigns for Ever One Parcel of Land which is bounded by the Land of Thomas Hammond3 On the East the Land of Zachary Hicks4 on the South the Land of John Clark5 on the West the Land of Capt Prentice on the North
I do give to my Daughter Hannah Ward, One Gold Ring with this Motto Gods Intent, None can prevent also two guilded Silver Spoons and Some of my Linuen if my Dear Wife shall se cause.
I do give and confirm unto my Son in Law Thomas Prentice His Heirs and Assigns for Ever One Hundred Acres of Land near the Meadow commonly called Bauld Pate Meadow6 and if there be not so much in that Tract then it is my Will he shall have a Quarter of that Meadow called Bauld Pate Meadow as it is laid out bounded by Jonathan Hides7 on the South and the Meadow of Vincent Druce8 on the North.
I Give to my Daughter Rebecca Prentice One Gold Ring with this Motto Memento Mori and two guilded Silver Spoons and as much Linnen as my Wife shall Judge meet to bestow on Her.
I Do give and Confirm unto ray Son in Law Nehemiah Hobart9 His Heirs and Assigns for Ever twenty and five acres of Land as it is now laid out Near to his House and five Acres more as it is now bounded adjoyning to the Land of my Son Seabyes which said five Acres I hereby give him my said Son in Law Liberty to make Sale of: I do also give Him one fifth part of my Long Marsh at the Pines as it is already laid out to Him as also a fifth part of my Upland to the said Marsh adjoyning And twenty five [Acres] of Land being the one half of a Parcell of my Land near [to the land] of Elder Thomas Wiswel Either at the East or West [end of the sd] Tract of Land as He shall make his Choice.
[I do give and] Confirm unto my Son in Law Joseph Fuller1 his Heirs and Assigns for Ever One fifth Part of my Long Marsh att the Pines as it is already laid out as also a fifth part of my Upland to the said Marsh adjoyning, and twenty three Acres of Land out of my Farm to Him already laid out to which it is my Will to add One Acre more provided He shall allow a High Way over his Land in Some Convenient Place at his Discretion Either open or with Gates for the familys of John Fuller Senior2 & Lieutenant Isaac Williams.3
I Do give and Confirm to my Son in Law John Prentice4 his Heirs and Assigns for Ever One fifth part of my Long Marsh att the Pines as it is to him already Laid out as also one fifth part of my Upland to the said Marsh adjoyning; And a Parcel of Meadow Containing four Acres more or Less Southward from the Meadow which I sold to Thomas Greenwood.5
I do Give and Confirm unto my Son in Law Nathaniel Wilson1 his Heirs and Assigns for Ever One fifth part of my long Marsh at the Pines as it is already laid out as also One fifth Part of my Upland to the said Marsh adjoyning.
I do Give to my Daughter Ruth Jackson besides what I have already herein Exprest One fifth part of my Long Marsh at the Pines as it is already laid out as also One fifth Part of my Upland to the Said Marsh adjoyning. And twenty Acres of Land out of my Farm betwixt the Land of my Son Jonathan and the Land of my Son in Law Joseph Fuller as it is to Her already laid out.
I Do Give to my Son Edward Jackson and to my Son in Law John Ward my five Volumes of Purchase History to be for their Use betwixt them during both their Natural Lives the Longest Liver shall Enjoy the whole paying fifty Shillings to the Heirs, Executors or Administrators of the Decea’st:.
I do give and Confirm to my Grand Child John Ward Jun’ his Heirs and Assigns for Ever twenty Acres of Land out of my Farm Eastward from the Land of Joseph Fuller.
I do give to my four Grand Children which bare my Name Edward,2 forty Acres of my Remote Land, that is to Say to Each One Ten Acres to be laid out together by my Executors and if any of them shall [Decease] Under Age his or their Part so Deceasing shall [be distributed] Equally among the Survivors. Also [my will is that] What Lands I have given to my Children [above named] shall not have power to sell or Alienate any Part thereof (excepting what I have in this my Will Expresly Approved of) Unless Upon a Religious or Moral Account or by Leave obtaind from the Honoured General Court or County Court where Such Lands are. I Do Give to my Grand Children and great Grand Children to the Number of thirty six ten Shillings a piece to buy them Bibles with, which shall be paid to them by my Executors. I do give to my two Sons in Law Mr John and Thomas Oliver1 Sir Walter Rawleighs History and Dr Willets Synopsis Papismi.
I Do give to my Daughter in Law Elizabeth Wiswell2 One Small Silver Beer Cup.
I do give Unto the College att Cambridge Broughtons Chronology3 in a Manuscript Containing twenty and two Sheets of parchment Requesting the Reverend President and Fellows to promote the printing thereof. Also I do give to the said College a Tract of Land at Billerica4 being four Hundred acres granted to me by the Town of Cambridge as by their Town Book doth Appear. Also Such Debts as my Executors shall Receive att any Time from any Debtor or Debtors of Mine in Old England My Will is that Such Debts shall be given to the said College.
Also My Will is that when my Son Hobart shall have made his Choice of the Land I have given him near to Elder Thomas Wiswells as aforesaid the part Remaining being about twenty five Acres shall be for the Use of the Ministry in this Village for ever.
I Do Bequeath to my Honoured Friend Capt Thomas Prentice1 One Small Diamond Ring.
I Do give and Dispose of the Remainder of my Farm being somewhat more than an Hundred Acres to my Son Jonathan & Seabys and to my Sons in Law John Ward & Thomas Prentice to Each One that Part which I have already Caused to be laid out to them. And further my Will is that my Son in Law Thomas Prentice shall have and Enjoy my Son Jonathans Share as it is now laid out and Bounded being about thirty Acres Less or [more] provided He shall pay the Sum of Sixty Pounds in Money to [my sd Son] Jonathan or in other Pay att Money Price as they [shall agree] Which Payment being well and truly made the [above named] Thomas Prentice shall have and hold the said parcel of Land to him and his Heirs for Ever.
Also my Will is that my Executors shall make Sale of my Tract of Land at Brush Hill for the procuring of Moneys to pay the above mentioned Legacys to my Grand Children and Great Grand Children and that neither my said Grand Children nor Great Grand-Children Nor any on their Behalf shall Demand the said Legacys of my Executors Untill such Time as Money shall be procured by the Sale of Said Lands.
It is also my Will that so much of my Estate as I have not in this my last Will and Testament particularly and Expresly disposed of whether in Lands or Books or Debts to me Due shall be Divided by my Executors unto Seven of my Children to Each alike Share (my Debts and funeral Charges being first paid out of it) that is to Say to my Son Jonathan Jackson my Son Edward Jackson My Daughters Sarah Hobart Lydia Fuller Elizabeth Prentice Hannah Wilson and Ruth Jackson Only my Will is that if any of my Seven Children last Named shall Depart this Life Before they shall Receive their Portions in this Part of my Estate their Part shall be Equally Distributed among the Survivors Or if any of them shall have no Children att their Decease their Part shall be Equally Divided amongst them that have. And further it is my Will that if any of my Children shall put my Executors to any Trouble by making Claim to my Estate or any Part thereof more than I have in this my Will to them bequeathed that is to say, if they or any on their Behalf shall Unjustly Molest my Heirs or Executors by Law Suits or Arbitrations He or they shall forfeit all their Portions in this my Will to him or them Bequeathed.
I do Constitute Ordain, and Appoint my Executors my Loving Wife Elizabeth my Son Seabys Jackson and my Son Edward Jackson for the full Execution of my Will in all the above mentioned Particulars. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel [for evermore] Amen Amen
Edward Jackson & a Seal
Signed Sealed this 11th Day of June In the Year of our Lord One thousand six hundred Eighty and One.
In Presence of Us
Cambridge 26: 6: 81
Attested Upon Oath by Abraham Jackson and John Mirricke before Daniel Gookin Assistant & Tho Dandforth Rr
A true Copy, as of Record in the Registry of Probate for the County of Middlesex
Samr: Danforth Regr.5
Mr. Noble also read a paper on Posy-rings, speaking in substance as follows:
When members of the Society are asked for contributions or communications for a meeting, the objection is frequently put forward that though there are many things about which they could write understandingly and easily, such things would never do for a historical society like this. The objection usually proves effective, but the result is no less unfortunate.
Yet after all, is the objection sound? has such a society only to do with a remote past,—to preserve venerable relics, to unearth forgotten knowledge, to bridge the gap between the then and the now? Is it not equally its business to save any and all materials of the State history, new as well as old; to throw light upon all times; and to have an eye to the questions which posterity may ask, with an interest similar to that with which we interrogate the ways and doings of our forefathers? And where shall the line be drawn, whether as regards time or matter? What is news to-day is history to-morrow.
When the trite present, which when acted seems
Time’s dullest prose, fades in the land of dreams,
many other results will follow, as well as those which the poet so graphically foresaw.
In the above will, Edward Jackson bequeathed two rings. What have rings to do with history? If one tries to spin a yarn about them, is not the thread too attenuated to hold together? It may be so. Yet in how many ways have rings played their part in the world’s history, in how many of its periods—in an unbroken succession—from earliest antiquity down to to-day; and what light through the uses made of them by different peoples, in different ways, and at different times, is thrown upon manners and customs, stages of civilization, events, persons, and all that goes to make up history.
Differing in purposes and ways, their use has been almost universal. It may be doubted whether there has ever been a country or a people without them. They seem not always to have come instinctively or intuitively, for Greece is said to have borrowed them from Asia, though it must have been in a misty antiquity; and Rome is said to have borrowed them from the same quarter whence the Romans once borrowed their wives. Yet the fondness for them of South Sea islanders and of African savages would seem to indicate some innate impulse or want of primitive human nature existing before that stage of development is reached which finds in them an emblem or a symbol or a badge.
As ornaments, they have been worn on nearly every part of the body,—arms, legs, fingers, ankles, feet, toes, neck, nose, and ears; and as symbols, emblems, badges, and indicia of all sorts, their use has been quite as varied, and the purposes and ways of such use regulated by an elaborate code and ritual; and in each use or regulation a bit of history would be found involved. They marked the various grades and ranks in Rome. Bishops and popes have worn them as badges of ecclesiastical authority; kings and emperors and magistrates, as of temporal power; they have served as signets and even as signatures, when the sword was mightier than the pen; they have accredited messengers and conveyed messages; they have borne their part in espousals, marriages, and funerals.
A ring may speak more articulately than the Pyramids. Dr. Holmes tells us of the ring of Thothmes III., now in the possession of Lord Ashburnham, which proclaims the name of the monarch who wore it, in the height of Egypt’s dominion, three thousand years ago, before, as he says, Homer sang, before the Argonauts sailed, before Troy was built,—while though the Pyramids are left, they stand silent and have forgotten the names of their builders.
So rings become in themselves a part of history, like no other piece of jewelry. They have a character and significance all their own, a meaning distinctive, a language variable as the purpose of their use, inseparable from it, and at once recognized.
What a part, too, have they played in language! In the English tongue the word has been borrowed, adapted, incorporated, and extended in connections almost without limit, as the one expressive, distinctive, suggestive, term; and in each new combination may appear some new discovery in science, some new development of life or conditions, some new influences or agencies brought into being; and every one of such uses may have in it a contribution to history. Most agencies are most powerful in combination, and this word is no exception, as it needs in language a yokefellow to give it character and meaning,—or it must have it in thought if not in actual expression.
The term has crept into politics, into the market, into the church, into society, under the opprobrium of the Ring. Science finds a use for it; the arena would be at a loss without it. The adoption of the term increases rather than falls off, as the complexity of modern life calls for new uses and applications. This is but another illustration how language fastens upon available material and fashions it to its uses, till at last the origin may drop out of sight and the obligation be forgotten.
Posy-rings cannot lay claim to a very venerable antiquity and seem comparatively modern, belonging chiefly to the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, though the nineteenth century may not have been wholly without them. They bear some brief, simple inscription, generally of a sentiment sound and sweet, but often, not to say usually, trite. There is one little collection, which happens to be mainly in one strain:
In thee my choice, I do rejoice;
May God above Increase our love;
Not two but one, Till life is gone;
When this you see, Then think of me;
Wedlock, ’t is said, In Heaven is made;
Love is Heaven, And Heaven is Love;
My heart and I, Until I die.
Some have a memorial character, some a didactic, some an admonitory. Of the two mentioned in Edward Jackson’s will, the one with the inscription “God’s intent None can prevent,” bears at once the faith of the Puritan and the philosophy of the Stoic, reaching the same result however distant the starting-points, and not inappropriate to unite on a New Englander. The other with its brief “Memento Mori,” prompts the sobering thought never far away from the early settler here, with possibly a reminiscence of the story of the old Egyptian custom, running back into unfathomable antiquity,—shadowing the feast with the thought of the funeral.
Hamlet’s question, in its connection, gives an indication of what may have been the character of some of the posy-rings even earlier than the fifteenth century:
Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?
Then there is a posy-ring that lives in actual existence in Shakspere,—Nerissa’s ring,—
A hoop of gold, a paltry ring
. . . whose posy was
For all the world like cutler’s poetry
Upon a knife, “Love me, and leave me not.”
To revert to Dr. Holmes. He tells us of two rings which have a certain human interest about them, in different ways, one which Thaddeus Mason Harris, Doctor of Divinity in his later days, found when a youngster clinging to the end of his walking stick as he was trudging along the road in a strait of sore need, “a gold ring of price” with the inscription, “God speed thee, Friend:” a happening somewhat cheering under the circumstances,—an encouragement and an omen.
The ring of the other story is the funeral ring which the little man, “Little Boston,” wore upon his finger inseparable from it, whose grandmother’s grandmother was hanged by Chief-Justice Sewall1 for a witch, and as such delivered over to the Devil by Cotton Mather,—a ring with a death’s head beneath a bit of glass and the inscription “L.B. Æt. 22” on one side and “Ob. 1692” on the other side. How much New England history is told in that. All the terror and the pathos of the persecution, the apprehension darkening men’s lives, the gloom overshadowing the people, the craze, the bloody tragedies, the revulsion,—all that brief, terrible episode, blotting honored names and the fair record of the Province, lives again in the narrow compass of the finger ring.
Mr. Francis Blake of Weston was elected a Resident Member.