A Stated Meeting of the Society was held in the Hall of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on Wednesday, 20 March, 1895, at three o’clock in the afternoon, Dr. Gould in the chair.
The Records of the February Meeting were read and approved.
The Corresponding Secretary communicated the following letter from our associate, Mr. Charles H. Davis: —
43 Cedar Street, Worcester, March 14, 1895.
Andrew McF. Davis, Esq.,
Dear Sir, — I do not pretend to know anything about maps, but a friend who is in the insurance business has recently called my attention to the fact that the maps issued to the insurance companies covering the different cities of the Commonwealth, when taken in connection with the correction slips, furnish a complete history of the growth and progress of these places.
Each of these maps gives a ground-plan of the portion of the city which it represents. It also furnishes the means of determining whether the several buildings therein defined in outline are constructed of wood, brick, iron, or stone, and gives various other details of construction, which are of special interest to insurance people, but which are also of value to those who care to preserve a record of the changes of the place.
So far as I know, not a single public library, not a single historical or antiquarian society, has undertaken to make a complete collection of the maps of this character, a collection in which it is evident that students of Massachusetts history are greatly interested. I have been told that some years ago the Boston Public Library purchased the Boston maps and also subscribed for the correction slips, but, so far as I can learn, this subscription was not maintained. The effort to secure this valuable contribution towards the history of Boston apparently died in its birth.
I have thought it worth my while to call the attention of The Colonial Society to this subject. I believe, if our libraries and collectors will turn their attention to this field, they will find it not only fallow, but fertile.
Yours very truly,
Charles H. Davis.
Mr. Andrew McFarland Davis said that he had devoted some thought to the subject of the foregoing letter, and, in co-operation with the writer of the same, had gathered some information relative to these Insurance Maps.
The catalogue of these maps, published by the Sanborn-Perris Company, contains the names of one hundred and thirty-seven cities and towns of Massachusetts. The sheets devoted to Boston are comprised in six bound volumes, and include also Cambridge, Charlestown, and Jamaica Plain. They are of large folio size, and are on a scale of fifty feet to the inch. Brockton, Chelsea, Fall River, Haverhill, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Salem, Springfield, and Worcester are also furnished in bound volumes, one being devoted to each city.
Mr. Davis exhibited a sample copy of one of the Sanborn-Perris maps, showing how, by means of different colors, the materials are designated of which the buildings are constructed. The key to the map also furnishes the means of interpreting the various marks and signs which denote the number of stories of the buildings, their relative height, the materials of which their roofs are composed, and various other details not included in ordinary maps.
Material changes, caused by the alteration of old buildings or the erection of new, of course require recognition in these maps, if they are to be of value in determining fire exposures. This is effected by the issue of correction slips, covering the portions of the maps which are affected by the changes. These are drawn to the same scale, and in actual use in an insurance office are pasted directly upon the map where they belong, so that the maps are kept constantly up to date. These slips of course have no date, and, being fastened to the maps, all trace of the chronology of the changes which they record is not only lost, but the outline of the streets and buildings as they were before the changes is also hidden from view. Mr. Davis pointed out that it would be easy to preserve untouched the original map, and to date and file the correction slips, thus preserving detailed records of the changes of all cities where these maps are in use.
Mr. Davis also submitted specimens of the insurance surveys, known as the Barlow Surveys. These cover individual manufacturing plants in the country and in the suburbs of the cities. They show in great detail the structures, their height, the provisions made for safety against conflagration and much other information. The printed matter furnished with each of these surveys is generally accompanied by a graphic delineation of the buildings composing the plant. Eight hundred of these surveys have been made in Massachusetts, and have been published by this company.
The Associated Factory Mutual Insurance Companies are nearly all of them Massachusetts or Rhode Island companies. Their efforts have been directed towards the improvement of mill construction and the reduction of fire risks. In pursuance of tins object, they have caused to be printed carefully prepared inspections of the various plants of the members of these companies. Mr. Davis stated that he laid the subject before Mr. Edward Atkinson, President of the Boston Manufacturers Mutual Fire Insurance Company, and was by him presented to Mr. John R. Freeman, Chief of the Inspection Department of the Factory Mutuals. Through Mr. Freeman’s kindly intercession, he was able to lay before the Society five copies of their standard plans, illustrating the progress of mill construction, showing the old style of factory roof, the barn roof, and the modern cotton mill, the old style paper mill, and the modern paper mill. A complete set of these beautifully executed plans, when combined with a set of the Barlow Surveys, would furnish at any given date a tolerably complete exhibit of the condition of industrial enterprises in Massachusetts.
In addition to these, Mr. Davis also exhibited a specimen copy of the Inspections and Plans of the New England Bureau of United Inspections. This is an organization composed of a few of the stock insurance companies, and a collection of their plans would supplement those already mentioned, and make nearly complete the record of the industrial condition of the State.
Mr. Davis concluded by saying he thought it was evident that it lay in the power of the different libraries of the State to secure collections of these maps and plans which would perpetuate the knowledge of the condition of the manufacturing interests in their respective vicinities. The enterprise of covering the entire State might prove too costly for any one institution to undertake, but it was clear to him that local collections could easily be made which in the future would prove to be of inestimable value. He did not doubt the Society would recognize the great value of the communication which had brought the attention of the Society to this subject.
Mr. Davis also called attention to the fact that there was issued a valuable set of real-estate maps of Boston. These maps could be found in some of our libraries, and he would leave to Mr. Edes a more complete description of them.
Mr. Henry H. Edes presented for inspection some volumes of the Bromley maps of Boston, and said: —
The Bromley maps do not give so much detailed information as those which Mr. Davis has been describing. They are used chiefly by persons, firms, and corporations having to do with transactions in real estate. The maps show a ground-plan of all the estates and public squares in the city, on a scale varying from fifty feet to the inch in the business sections to two hundred feet to the inch in the outlying, residential wards. The street lines and numbers, and the boundary lines and ownership of each estate, with the area in square feet, are clearly shown; and the materials of which the exterior walls of the buildings are constructed is indicated by the use of colors in printing the maps.
The Bromley maps cover the cities of Cambridge, Somerville, and Newton and the town of Brookline, besides the city of Boston, the area of which is shown in detail in ten volumes, such as are now before you.
The historical value of these surveys appears to me to be great, since they enable us to see at a glance the general aspect of a given locality and the proprietorship of adjoining and adjacent estates. What would we not give for a similar set of maps made during the Colonial or Provincial period of Boston’s history! It is true that rough maps have been made in recent years, and printed in the Memorial History of Boston and elsewhere, showing approximately the location of the residences of Boston’s principal inhabitants; but such a set of maps as these, dating back one or two centuries, would give us an accurate picture of the houses and gardens at that time of all the people, — the lowly as well as the great, — and show us the curious old street lines which are known to-day only to the conveyancer and the antiquary.
The subject of Mr. Davis’s letter was further discussed by several members.
Mr. Abner C. Goodell, Jr., read a paper on Capt. John Quelch, the Pirate, his exploits, trial, and execution, in 1704, comprising extracts from Notes to a chapter of the Resolves in the forthcoming eighth volume of the Province Laws, fully covering this memorable affair. By way of preface, Mr. Goodell recalled the note of the editors of the second volume of Judge Sewall’s Diary, in relation to the capture of Quelch, that “it is somewhat surprising that so little remains on record in regard to Quelch’s affair. We find nothing worth mention in the State archives;”43 and stated that he proposed to show that it is quite possible to recover the minutest details of the piracy, of the capture, trial, execution, and subsequent proceedings. He then narrated the story of the deeds of Quelch and his companions, and the proceedings for their arrest, the expedition to the Isles of Shoals under Major Sewall, the capture of the pirates, their trial in Boston, the execution of Quelch and four others in Charles River, off a point of land below Copp’s Hill on 30 June, 1704, and the sequel to what he termed one of the clearest cases of judicial murder in American annals. Perhaps the most trying ordeal which the sufferers underwent, Mr. Goodell observed, was the attentions of the clergy. Cotton Mather, who was habitually an interested spectator at public executions, labored for the benefit of their souls in his peculiarly harrowing and reproachful style. In the chamber of the prison on the Tuesday before their execution, he prayed for, preached to, and catechised them, as Sewall says, “excellently.” He and another clergyman walked with them, as, guarded by forty musketeers, constables of the town, the provost marshal, etc., they marched in solemn procession to Scarlet’s Wharf; and he there embarked with them on their melancholy voyage to the gallows, preceded by the silver oar of the Admiralty. The exhortations to the condemned, and Mather’s long prayers, — in which he interlarded extravagant invectives against these unhappy men, with interjections and ejaculations, and warnings to the multitude of spectators crowded into boats upon the water and covering the adjacent shore, to profit by their terrible example, — were duly printed in the News-Letter, together with the dying speeches of the men. Sewall, in his account of the execution, says: —
“But when I came to see how the River was covered with People I was amazed. Some say there were one hundred boats; One hundred and fifty boats and Canoes, saith Cousin Moody of York. He told them . . . when the Scaffold was hoisted to a due height the seven malefactors went up; Mr. Mather prayed to them, standing upon the boat. Ropes were all fasten’d to the gallows (save King, who was Repriev’d). When the scaffold was let to sink, there was such a Screach of the Women that my wife heard it sitting in our Entry next the Orchard and was much surprised at it; yet the wind was sou’west. Our house is a full mile from the place.”44
The offences for which Quelch and his companions were tried were committed on board a brigantine of about eighty tons, — the Charles, owned by Charles (afterwards Sir Charles) Hobby, Colonel Nicholas Paige, William Clarke, Benjamin Gallop, and John Colman, leading citizens and merchants of Boston, — and the circumstances, briefly narrated, were as follows.
The Charles was fitted out by her owners as a privateer for an intended expedition against the French enemies of England in Acadia and Newfoundland. On the thirteenth of July, 1703, her commander, Captain Daniel Plowman, received from Governor Dudley a commission to command this private vessel of war in the pursuit of pirates and the Queen’s enemies, together with instructions to govern his conduct during the cruise. As late as the first of August, the Charles, which in the mean time had been manned and equipped, was riding off Marblehead, and on that day Captain Plowman wrote to two of her owners informing them of his inability to take her to sea on account of his severe illness, and suggesting that they come the next day to “take some speedy care in saving what we can.” In response to this letter, the owners went to Marblehead; but Plowman was then too ill to see them, although able to write to them again, urging them to have the vessel sent to Boston and there to have all things aboard of her landed, to prevent embezzlement, and dissuading them from the purpose of sending her out under a new commander, declaring that “it will not do, with these people” (meaning his crew), and that “the sooner” the “things are landed on shore the better.”
Before the owners could take effectual measures to stop the vessel she proceeded to sea. Prior to her sailing, the crew, under the lead of one of their number, locked the commander into the cabin where he lay sick, and then, conformably to the resolution of Quelch, who came on board after the captain had been secured, they, under his command, made for the South Atlantic instead of their intended destination. Some time after Quelch came, the captain was thrown overboard, but whether alive or dead it does not appear. Off the coast of Brazil, not far from shore, between latitude seven degrees and thirty-six degrees south, it appears that they captured, between the fifteenth of November, 1703, and the seventeenth of February, 1703–4, nine vessels — of which five were brigantines (the largest being of about forty tons); one was a small shallop; one a small fishing-boat; one other a boat not particularly described; and one a ship of about two hundred tons, loaded with hides and tallow and carrying twelve guns and about thirty-five men. All these vessels, apparently, were the property of subjects of the King of Portugal, an ally of the Queen of England;45 and from them they took various commodities belonging to the Portuguese, such as fish, salt, sugar, molasses, rum, beer, rice, flour, earthenware, linen, cloth and silk, besides one hundred weight of gold-dust, gold and silver coins to the value of one thousand pounds or more, two negro boys, and some great and small guns, ammunition, small arms, sails, etc., — of the total value of some seven hundred pounds more. One of the vessels they sunk, and another they appear to have kept as a tender.
On the eighteenth of August the owners of the Charles, learning nothing certain of the fate of their vessel, and concluding from various circumstances that she was bound to the West Indies, wrote a letter (enclosing an official letter from Governor Dudley) to six plantations in the West Indies, respectively, setting forth their interest in her, and authorizing their correspondents to take proper steps to prosecute their claims and recover their property. No tidings of her, however, appear to have been received until after the middle of May, 1704, when her arrival was thus announced in the Boston News-Letter (No. 5): —
“Arrived at Marble-head, Capt. Quelch in the Brigantine that Capt. Plowman went out in, are said to come from New-Spain & have made a good Voyage.”
The crew seem either to have landed at different points along shore, or to have quickly dispersed after landing; for some of them were at Salem, others at Marblehead, and others still at Boston, before all the arrests were made. They had not, however, been long on shore before so many circumstances transpired leading to the suspicion that they had committed acts of piracy against subjects of the King of Portugal, that the story which they had invented of recovering great treasure from a wreck began to be doubted; and even the owners of the Charles became so suspicious of their criminal misconduct that they informed against them, in writing, to avoid the penalties denounced against accessaries by the act of Parliament.46
The informers were Colman and Clarke, and the magistrates applied to were Isaac Addington, Secretary of the Province, and Paul Dudley, Attorney-General. This was on the twenty-third of May; and it would seem that Dudley immediately set out to capture them, since, on that day, Judge Sewall, who was returning from Newbury, records that at the tavern in Lynn he met Dudley “in egre pursuit of the Pirats,”47 having already captured one whom he turned over to Sewall. Sewall sent the captive to Boston under guard of two men, charging them to convey him to Secretary Addington.48
On the next day, in the Governor’s absence, Lieutenant-Governor Povey, in the performance of his official duty and in compliance with standing instructions to the Governor from the Privy Council, issued a proclamation for the arrest of the pirates and the seizure of their treasure, and for taking the offenders to Boston, for trial.
On the twenty-sixth, news came from Rhode Island that five of Quelch’s crew had purchased a small, decked boat and sailed, it was thought, for Long Island, in season to avoid arrest upon an order sent express from Boston. One of Quelch’s men was seized by order of Governor Cranston and sent “from constable to constable” to Boston.
On the twenty-ninth, Governor Dudley issued another proclamation to the same purpose as Povey’s, adding a prohibition against concealing the pirates or their treasure. In this proclamation the names of forty-two pirates are given, being one more than were inserted in the former proclamation.
On the sixth of June, several ounces of gold having been brought to the Council Board as part of the treasure taken by the pirates, a Commission of Inquiry was issued by the Governor, directing Samuel Sewall, acting Chief Justice of the Superior Court,49 Nathaniel Byfield, Judge of the Admiralty, and Paul Dudley, Attorney-General, “to repair to Marblehead, & to send for and examin all persons of whom they shall have Information or just ground of suspition, [that they] do conceal and detain” gold and treasure brought in by the pirates, “either at Marblehead, or parts adjacent, and to take what they shall find into their hands; as also to secure any of the Pirates.”
The Commissioners proceeded to Marblehead, by way of Salem, where they learned that two of Quelch’s company were at Cape Ann, intending to embark on the “Larramore Galley,” which was at that place under command of Captain Thomas Larramore, a noted privateer.
It was upon the receipt of these tidings that Major Sewall undertook the expedition to the Isles of Shoals, already mentioned. The pirates were taken in company with Captain Larramore, who had befriended them; and seven of them, besides Larramore, his lieutenant, and his sailing-master, were brought into Salem, and thence marched in chains to Boston, where they were tried and sentenced by a Court of Admiralty, presided over by Governor Dudley, and which sat at the Star Tavern50 from the thirteenth to the nineteenth of June.