A Stated Meeting of the Society was held in the Hall of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on Wednesday, 15 January, 1896, at three o’clock in the afternoon, Dr. Gould in the chair.
The Records of the December Meeting were read and approved.
The President said that he had just heard, as he entered the Hall, of the death, last evening, of our associate, the Hon. Martin Brimmer, and that, unless some gentleman was prompted to speak at this time, an opportunity would be afforded at our next meeting to those who might wish to express their sense of the loss which the Society has met.
Dr. George Lincoln Goodale read this paper on —
In the course of certain studies relative to useful plants and their economic products, it has been necessary to examine some of the published accounts of New England vegetation given by early explorers and settlers.
Most of the treatises made use of in the preparation of this paper are easily accessible, especially in the convenient authorized reprints. The handful of gleanings now gathered from scanty and conflicting records can make no claim to exhaustive treatment; but it is possible that the more important botanical features presented by them may, in their co-ordinated rearrangement, assume a new degree of interest. Our field is restricted mainly to New England.
The subject may be cast in a convenient form by asking the following questions: —
- I. In what condition did the explorers and settlers probably find our vegetation?
- II. What use did they make of the plants they found?
- III. What changes in vegetation followed their coming?
These questions have been stated in their natural order; and yet a part of the last question must be put first, — namely, What European plants did the very first comers, the Northmen, bring purposely or by accident? If all accounts which are at our command are thoroughly sifted, and the inherently improbable discarded, there remains a residue of probable though not provable statement of deep interest to naturalists. It is not necessary for us even to ask whether the Northmen ever carried back precious “mazur-wood” — which some have assumed to be burls of oak from our sandy Middlesex plains on the Charles — as the bulk of their homeward cargoes; nor is it requisite for us to ascertain whether they made even temporary dwellings for themselves at any point from Labrador to Virginia. If they touched our coast at all, they changed its organic life. Such is the delicacy of balance in the wild life of plants and animals, that it can be disturbed by the slightest causes.
Confining ourselves to a consideration of the vegetable kingdom, we observe that the introduction of a single new plant may have weighty consequences. Such an intruder brings from its former home the vigor which belongs to all adventurers. It finds in its new home surroundings better in some respects than its old, and it is largely freed from its former animal foes. In short, if it is not in any wise dependent on insects for aid, as some plants are; if it touches a soil at all congenial, and grows in a climate nearly like that of the skies under which the seed ripened, — it will thrive in its new habitat, and wage successful warfare with its new neighbors.
It happens that in the eastern part of our country are found a few plants which are substantially identical with species of the Old World, and which by most botanists are regarded as indigenous. At least, these species were here when our earliest scientific observers began to make records of the plants they found. The coming of the Northmen antedated these observers by many centuries. Of course it is possible that the plants in question came, as our glacial species of the White Mountains and Labrador did, from the common home in the north; but it seems as if it were not absolutely necessary to look quite so far back as that. Again, it is possible that a few of these species now growing here at the north, especially those which flourish in wet grounds, may be descendants of plants which found their way with Columbus and his followers to the lands bordering the Spanish Main. Thence the seeds might have been brought northward, as it is well known seeds can be carried, in the mud clinging to the feet of migratory wading-birds. On this hypothesis, such plants may have had barely two centuries’ start of the early collectors; but it does not seem necessary to look quite so far south as that. If we could be sure that Northmen ever raised a single crop of grain upon our coasts, as many of the early explorers did, we could say, with a good degree of positiveness, that this might account for the presence of certain species of plants which began their life here as weeds of the field. But this attractive domain of conjecture must not keep us from the less fabulous accounts of those who came later.
Before we enter on this subject, still another preliminary inquiry must be made. At what date and in what form did accounts of our northern plants begin to find their way into European treatises? Of course the plants discovered by southern explorers, and carried by them to Europe, early found a place in the rude botanical descriptions of those days. But only one of our New England and Canadian species was described until the latter half of the sixteenth century; and up to the end of the century very little had been done in the way of accurately describing or delineating them. There was no treatise accessible in the English language which would have been likely to attract the attention of any seamen or settlers until 1636, when Johnson published his edition of Gerard’s Herbal. This contains ten, or possibly twelve, species of our plants. Cornut’s work on northern species, published in Latin about the same time, describes a larger number, and gives good figures of nearly forty. In other contemporaneous Latin works references to plants of the northern part of North America are very few, and were not likely to have been known to any of the explorers of that century. Hence it may be said that until about the time of the founding of Harvard College there was no available treatise in the English tongue referring to our botanical species. Nevertheless, in the earliest account of the course of study in Harvard, we read thus:
The first houre reads history in the winter.
The nature of plants in the summer.”123
The latter would seem to be a bold step, considering there were no books describing the plants around the College; but it is unlikely that this study of the nature of the plants was what we should to-day call botany. Probably it was only a comparison of our native plants with the species of southern Europe figured in the commentaries of Dioscorides and others, and aimed merely at imparting to the young men under training for the ministry some notion of simple remedial agents and their uses in disease. The commentaries and the ancient herbals were to the last degree untrustworthy as guides, either to botanical knowledge or medical practice. But it could not have been much more difficult for the first corps of teachers to adapt the descriptions given in the herbals and engravings of the plants of the Mediterranean to the species of New England, than to those of Old England. Manasseh Cutler was therefore probably correct in his statement made in 1785, —
“The almost total neglect of botanical inquiries in this part of the country may be imputed in part to this, that Botany has never been taught in any of our colleges.”124
It was medicine instead of botany which was taught in the earliest days of Harvard College, and the study of the nature of plants must have been full of absurdities as well as crudities. The teachers in those days did not stick at trifles. It was the age when Gerard’s Herbal, the best book at hand, described a certain tree as bearing barnacles, which falling into the water became thereupon geese.125
Works on natural history were full of marvels, and everything unknown carried possibilities of the greatest value. Exaggerated accounts of the wonder-working powers of roots, barks, and leaves from the lands of Central and South America led many who came to our coast to expect similar discoveries. Therefore they were not only ignorant, but filled with preconceived ideas; and, with total lack of discrimination, they had little difficulty in making some of our northern plants agree with the species of lower latitudes. Such were the available sources of information, and such the manner of employing them.
As matter of fact, there was no attempt on this continent to give any systematic account of our botanical species until, in 1672, John Josselyn published his famous New England’s Rarities Discovered, — a work which has received at the hands of one of our most careful botanists, the late Professor Edward Tuckerman, critical editing of the highest order. Our task lies, in point of time, considerably back of the latter part of the seventeenth century, and we are to deal with the rough notes of adventurers to whom New England was a land of hopes and trials but not of scientific study. Some of the directions to the ship’s companies embarking on their voyages are, to be sure, considering the times, worthy forerunners of the instructions given by the English and other admiralties to-day; but, so far as systematic results go, these instructions did not bear much if any mature fruit. We are to see things through the eyes of sailors and settlers.
I. What impressions were produced by our vegetation on the early comers? In general, they appear to have been struck by the peculiar character of our forests and by the large spaces available for immediate cultivation. Thus Brereton, in his account of Gosnold’s voyage in 1602, describes graphically the Elizabeth Islands in Buzzard’s Bay, saying much about the plants found there, and then writes as follows: —
“But not to cloy you with particular rehearsal of such things as God and nature hath bestowed on these places, in comparison whereof the most fertile part of England is (of itself) but barren: we went in our light horseman from this island to the main, right against this island some two leagues off, where coming ashore, we stood awhile like men ravished at the beauty and delicacy of this sweet soil; for besides divers clear lakes of fresh water (whereof we saw no end), meadows very large and full of green grass; even the most woody places (I speak only of such as I saw,) do grow so distinct and apart, one tree from another, upon green grassy ground, somewhat higher than the plains, as if nature would show herself above her power, artificial.”126
Of the same part of our coast, another of Gosnold’s people, Gabriel Archer, wrote: —
“This main is the goodliest continent that ever we saw, promising more by far than we any way did expect: for it is replenished with fair fields, and in them fragrant flowers, also meadows, and hedged in with stately groves,” etc.127
The following bears date of 1622: —
“The country, in respect of the lying of it, is both champaign and hilly, like many places in England. In some places it is very rocky both above ground and in it: and though the country be wild and overgrown with woods, yet the trees stand not [so] thick but a man may well ride a horse amongst them.”128
This primitive condition of our coast forests is so unlike what we see at the present time, when our trees are stunted and have underthickets, that it is worth while to inquire what is known about the aboriginal methods of forest treatment. This question is partly answered in William Wood’s New England’s Prospect, dated 1634:
“The next commodity the land affords, is good store of woods, and that not only such as may be needful for fuel, but likewise for the building of ships and houses, and mills, and all manner of waterwork about which wood is needful. The timber of the country grows straight, and tall, some trees being twenty, some thirty foot high, before they spread forth their branches; generally the trees be not very thick, tho’ there be many that will serve for mill-posts, some being three foot and a half over. And whereas it is generally conceived, that the woods grow so thick, that there is no more clear ground than is hewed out by the labor of men; it is nothing so: In many places, divers acres being clear, so that one may ride a hunting in most places of the land, if he will venture himself for being lost: There is no underwood, saving in swamps, and low grounds that are wet, in which the English get osiers, hasels, and such small wood as is for their use. Of these swamps, some be 10, some 20, and some 30 miles long, being preserved by the wetness of the soil wherein they grow; for it being the custom of the Indians to burn the woods in November, when the grass is withered, and leaves dried, it consumes all the underwood and rubbish, which otherwise would overgrow the country, making it impassable, and spoil their much affected hunting; so that by this means in those places where the Indians inhabit, there is scarce a bush or bramble, or any cumbersome underwood to be seen in the more champain ground. Small wood growing in these places where the fire cannot come, is preserved. In some places where the Indians died of the plague some fourteen years ago, it is much underwood, as in the midway betwixt Wessaguscus and Plimouth, because it hath not been burned; certain rivers stopping the fire from coming to clear that place of the country, hath made it unuseful and troublesome to travel through, insomuch that it is called ‘ragged plain,’ because it tears and rents the cloaths of them that pass.”129
Thomas Morton says that the Indians burned the woods twice a year.130
There were other conditions, however, such as those existing just east of the Penobscot, concerning which Capt. John Smith wrote in 1614, —
“But all this coast to Pennobscot, and as farre as I could see eastward of it, is nothing but such high craggy cliffy Rocks and stony isles, that I wondered such great trees could growe upon so hard foundations. It is a countrie rather to affright than to delight one. And how to describe a more plaine spectacle of desolation, or more barren I knowe not. Yet the Sea there is the strangest fish pond I ever saw, and those barren isles so furnished with good woods, springs, fruits, fish and fowle, that it makes me thinke, though thee Coast bee rockie and thus affrightable; the Vallies, Plaines, and interior parts may well (notwithstanding) be very fertile.”131
It is interesting to look with Captain Smith’s eyes at Cape Cod, which, in his words, “is only a headland of high hills of sand overgrowne with shrubbie pines, hurts, and such trash.” But these aside, we may conclude that the first comers found the forests more or less free from underbrush, with here and there ample clearings made by the Indians, and with broad meadows bordering the streams. Further, and what is of much more importance, the forests were more open than at the present time. If one goes to Plymouth in his spring search for trailing arbutus, he will notice the openness of the woods containing small-sized pitch-pine trees. But he cannot help feeling that the pines seen by the early visitors were much larger forest-trees than these are, and must have presented a totally different appearance, if they could have been kept free from troublesome underwoods by the annual fires started by the Indians.
II. We come now to our second question. The utilization of the plants found by the early settlers is described in part in the lists which have come down to us, and these summaries may well be examined first; but, as will be noticed, there is occasional repetition, especially in regard to the forests.
There are many short catalogues of the more conspicuous plants met with near the shore by the early explorers. Some of these lists are interesting, but they present many obscurities. For instance, Brereton says of Elizabeth Island, where the company made a home for some time in 1602, —
“The chiefest trees of this island are beeches and cedars, the outward parts all overgrown with low bushy trees, three or four feet high, which bear some kind of fruits, as appeared by their blossoms; strawberries red and white, as sweet and much bigger than ours in England; raspberries, gooseberries, whortleberries, and such an incredible store of vines, as well in the woody part of the island, where they run upon every tree, as on the outward parts, that we could not go for treading upon them.”132
Again, giving an account which appears in another part of his chronicle, —
“This island is full of high timbered oaks, their leaves thrice so broad as ours; cedars straight and tall; beech, elm, holly, walnut trees in abundance, the fruit as big as ours, as appeared by those we found under the trees, which had lain all the year ungathered; hazle-nut trees, cherry trees, the leaf, bark, and bigness not differing from ours in England, but the stalk beareth the blossoms or fruit at the end thereof like a cluster of grapes, forty or fifty in a bunch; sassafras trees, great plenty all the island over, a tree of high price and profit; also, divers other fruit trees, some of them with strange barks of an orange color, in feeling soft and smooth like velvet.”133
In a brief note appended to his account, he gives, besides those already mentioned, —
“Cypress trees; . . . cotton trees; . . . tobacco, excellent sweet and strong; . . . ground-nuts, good meat, and also medicinable; . . . pease, growing naturally; flax; iris florentina, whereof apothecaries make sweet balls; sorrel, and many other herbs wherewith they make salads.”134
“All along the shore, and some space within, where the wood hindereth not, grow plentifully, raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries, roses, currants, wild vines, angelica. — Within the islands grow wood of sundry sorts, some very great, and all tall, as birch, beech, ash, maple, spruce, cherry tree, yew, oak very great and good, fir-tree out of which issueth turpentine in so marvellous plenty, and so sweet, as our chirurgeon and others affirmed they never saw so good in England. We pulled off much gum congealed on the outside of the bark, which smelled like frankincense. This would be a great benefit for making tar and pitch.”135
He adds: —
“A Brief Note of what Profits we saw the Country yield in the small time of our stay there. —
“Trees. Oak of an excellent grain, straight and great timber; elm, beech; birch, very tall and great, of whose bark they make their canoes. Witch-hazel, hazel, alder, cherry-tree, ash, maple, yew, spruce, aspen, fir. Many fruit trees which we knew not.
“Herbs. Angelica, a most sovereign herb; an herb that spreadeth the ground and smelleth like sweet majoram, great plenty; very good dyes which appear by their paintings, which they carry with them in bladders.”136
Rev. William Hubbard in his General History of New England (1620–1680) includes a short account of our vegetation: —
“As for medicinal herbs, Gerard and Johnson, as well as Theophrastus of old, might have made herbals here as well as in any other particular country; the same trees, plants and shrubs, roots, herbs and fruits being found either naturally growing here that are known to do in the northern countries of the like climate of Europe, and upon trial have been found as effectual in their operation, and do thrive as well when transplanted; as the oak, walnut, ash, elm, maple, hornbeam, abundance of pine, spruce, &c.; also a kind of white cedar in many swamps; and such herbs as are common in England — elecampane, angelica, gentian, St. John’s wort, agrimony, betony, and the like.”137
“The herbs and fruits are of many sorts and kinds, as alkermes, currants, or a fruit like currants, mulberries, vines, raspberries, goosberries, plums, walnuts, chestnuts, small nuts, &c. pumpkins, gourds, strawberries, beans, peas, and maize; a kind or two of flax, wherewith they make nets, lines and ropes, both small and great, very strong for their quantities.”
“Oak is the chief wood, of which there is great difference in regard of the soil where it groweth, fir, pine, walnut, chestnut, birch, ash, elm, cypress, cedar, mulberry, plum-tree, hazel, sassafras, and many other sorts.”138
Another account, bearing date 1629, goes more into detail: —
“This country aboundeth naturally with store of roots of great varietie and good to eat. Our turnips, parsnips, and carrots are here both bigger and sweeter than is ordinary to be found in England. Here are store of pumpions, cowcombers, and other things of that nature which I know not. Also divers excellent pot-herbs grow abundantly among the grasse, as strawberrie leaves in all places of the countrey, and plentie of strawberries in their time, and pennyroyall, wintersaverie, sorrell, brookelime, liverwort, carvell, and watercresses, also leekes and onions, are ordinarie, and divers physicall herbs. Here are also aboundance of other sweet herbs delightful to the smell, whose names we know not, &c. and plentie of single damaske roses verie sweete; and two kinds of herbes that bare two kinds of flowers very sweet, which, they say, are as good to make cordage or cloath as any hempe or flaxe we have.”
“Excellent vines are here up and downe in the woods. Our Governour hath already planted a vineyard with great hope of encrease.”
“Also, mulberries, plums, raspberries, corrance, chesnuts, filberds, walnuts, smalnuts, hurtleberies, and hawes of whitethorne neere as good as our cherries in England, they grow in plentie here.”
“For wood there is no better in the world I thinke, here being foure sorts of oke differing both in the leafe, timber, and colour, all excellent good. There is also good ash, elme, willow, birch, beech, saxafras, juniper, cipres, cedar, spruce, pines, and firre that will yeeld abundance of turpentine, pitch, tarre, masts, and other materials for building both of ships and houses. Also here are store of sumacke trees, they are good for dying and tanning of leather, likewise such trees yeeld a precious gem called wine benjamin, that they say is excellent for perfumes. Also here be divers roots and berries wherewith the Indians dye excellent holding colours that no raine nor washing can alter. Also, wee have materials to make sope-ashes and salt-peter in aboundance.”139
If we go farther north, and examine the interesting statements relative to Jacques Cartier’s explorations, we find such notes as this: —
“The countrey is hotter than the countrey of Spaine, and the fairest that can possibly be found, altogether smooth, and leuel. There is no place be it neuer so little, but it hath some trees (yea albeit it be sandie), or else is full of wilde corne, that hath an eare like vnto Rie: the corne is like oates, and smal peason, as thicke as if they had bene sowen and plowed, white and red gooseberies, strawheries, blackberies, white and red Roses, with many other floures of very sweet and pleasant smell. There be also many goodly medows full of grasse . . . : we named it The bay of heat [Bay Chaleurs].”140
Taking from these and some other lists a few of the economic plants more systematically, we may gather the following facts: —
Maize, in numerous colored varieties, was everywhere found under cultivation. Its modes of cultivation and harvesting have been fully treated of by Mr. Lucien Carr. In verifying his copious citations, I have been especially impressed by two things, — the thorough preparation of cleared ground for the plants, and the use of some small fish in each hill as a fertilizer. Another very interesting fact clearly brought out by Mr. Carr is the general preservation of corn in caches, where it was kept for winter use and for times of scarcity. Maize was generally parched before it was made into cakes.
Beans, of a size and shape suggesting the flageolet, common in France, and unlike the Windsor or great bean of England.
Gourd plants of many sorts, especially pumpkins, were in wide use. There are occasional references to the abundance in which they were found in the cultivated fields of the Indians. These, and possibly the wild beach-pea, were the chief vegetable foods of our northern aborigines.
Tobacco, as an accessory food, must be mentioned. From the slight references to the sort of tobacco used, it would appear to have been the soft-leaved Nicotiana Tabacum, and not the harsher Nicotiana rustica. When Gosnold went on a journey of some days from his camp, the food left for those in charge of the camp gave out, and they were much frightened by impending famine. But, as Archer says, “we sustained ourselves with Alexander and sorrel pottage, ground-nuts and tobacco, which gave nature a reasonable content.” The Alexander referred to was some umbelliferous plant, probably Ligusticum Scoticum, or Scotch Lovage, — a plant found also in the Old World, but often regarded by botanists as indigenous. The sorrel was Rumex acetosella, likewise from the Eastern Continent, but generally credited with having been naturalized here. The two plants seem, however, to be on the same footing, and both may owe their introduction to the landing of some earlier visitors. The pottage must have been poor enough to warrant the unlimited use of tobacco to give nature any degree of “reasonable content.” The ground-nuts were the tubers on the roots of Apios tuberosa, usually smaller than hickory nuts, but sometimes described by the writers as being larger than eggs. If by “eggs” were meant hen’s eggs, the tubers were larger than they are now generally found to be.
Attention must be called to the comparative ease with which the soldiers of Gosnold’s garrison managed to find food in the plants around them. It is no trifling task to find vegetable food along our northern shores or in the woods. The earliest account of such an experience is that of the ship’s company under Master Hore, consisting, we are told, of divers young lawyers and other gentlemen, one hundred and twenty in number, who arrived in Newfoundland to make their home upon this continent. They could not have been prepared by education or by their previous life to grapple with the difficulties which confronted them here when their stores gave out. They could not fish, and they used as food the fish-bones which they picked out of the osprey’s nests. Doubtless they had been put to many a shift in London to get a dinner, but that was nothing to their last extremity, when they took to eating roots and bilberries, and, finally, one another.
The latest account which has come under my notice of the struggle against starvation in our northern forests is the thrilling story of young Somerset’s adventures in Northwestern British America. The party found absolutely nothing which would sustain life, much less give strength for their arduous endeavor. The only thing within reach was one which they did not try; namely, the inner bark of the spruces and pines. The store of starch and mucilage in this part of our evergreens is sufficient to sustain life for a time at least, and it has been so used in Scandinavia in time of famine. But the travellers in the land of the Muskeg, or northern peat-swamps, did not know of this scanty resource.141
Roger Williams’s note may be cited in connection with the use of barks. In his Key into the Languages of New England, he says of a certain tribe that they are tree-eaters, —
“a people so-called (living between three and foure hundred miles West into the land) from their eating only . . . trees. They are men-eaters; they set no corne, but live on the bark of the chestnut and walnut and other fine trees. They dry and eat the bark with the fat of beasts and sometimes of men.”142
The wild grapes along our shore demonstrate how great are diversities in tastes. To some persons our Vitis Labrusca and œstivalis have no redeeming qualities, while to others they are of pleasant flavor. When one sees a gang of laborers working on a New Hampshire highway indulging in the partially ripe berries of our summer grape, adding these as a delicious dessert to their noonday meal, it is possible to understand how Vinland came to be named, wherever it was, by sailors tired of the sea, or how Jacques Cartier from St. Malo, who knew what grapes were, called his island (now the island of Orleans) the Isle of Bacchus.
Most of the grapes, however, which one finds along the shore are sour enough to set on edge the teeth of the most undiscriminating consumer.
We have no information that the grapes were ever utilized by the settlers in the colonies for the manufacture of wine, but it seems unlikely that this ready source of wine for the Communion could have been overlooked.
In Virginia, Delaware, and New Jersey other food plants were not uncommon, — one in particular, the large globular, underground tuckahoe, being the most striking. It is likely that what is called Okeepenauk, and described as “roots of round shape, found in dry ground, which the inhabitants boil and eat,” was the potato. But the discussion of Virginian and Southern plants does not properly come within our present range, although it might well do so, since the limits of northern Virginia were so indefinite to some of the early writers as to be included by them as a part of New England.
Fibre Plants. — None of these can be identified with certainty, though it is possible that the flax referred to by some was a wild species of Linum. It has been impossible for me to make a good fibre from any of our species. The plant bearing wool or cotton in pods was some Asclepias, worthless for spinning. The bast of both species of Apocynum might have been used, and also the inner bark of linden and black-spruce trees may have served as the source of twine for canoes, — just as is the case nowadays with our northern tribes who use the latter.
For dyeing and tanning, the barks of sumach and other astringent plants were employed to good purpose.
For the manufacture of oil, crushed walnuts — that is, hickorynuts — were used; and also acorns, if we may judge of the New England residents from those living a little farther south.
Remedial Agents. — Sassafras, in high repute.
Sarsaparilla, which from the descriptions may have been Smilax rotundifolia, and other thorny species.
Snakeweed, which Governor Winthrop always carried in his pocket, was probably the root of Nabalus.
III. Lastly, what were the changes effected by the coming of the early settlers?
A comparison of the lists which we have just scanned with the more systematic catalogue given by Josselyn, fifty years later, shows that a large number of vegetable intruders speedily made their way hither, and have here remained as weeds and wayside vagrants. Some of them have held closely to this part of New England, as Professor Gray has shown in his enumeration of the introduced plants, printed in Dr. Winsor’s Memorial History of Boston. Others have gone forward into the lands occupied by advancing emigrants, and are now domiciled in the far West. Such comparison, although botanically interesting, is too technical for the present communication, and is therefore relegated to another publication.
All the accounts of the early New England plants which I have been able to examine are replete with material for study. The notices by Hariot and Strachey, the story of the Popham Colony, the records by Captain John Smith, who named New England and our Charles River, the history of Champlain’s voyage, the Jesuit “Relations,” and Roger Williams’s “Key” are all inviting from this point of view.
It will be seen from this rapid survey of a part of the statements regarding the plants first noted on our shores, that the subject is not wholly uninviting to naturalists. I shall be glad if the cursory account now given may lead our historians, on the one hand, to fill out this imperfect sketch, and on the other hand may lead some of our local botanists to aid in a more satisfactory identification of the constituents of our primeval vegetation.
At the close of Dr. Goodale’s paper there was a discussion concerning the names under which certain plants and trees might be identified in the early accounts; the habitat of certain flowers, and the probable reasons why certain trees and plants which must have been seen by the explorers of New England, and which were entitled to some sort of recognition by such close observers, were not mentioned in their accounts of the country. In this discussion, Dr. Gould, Mr. Henry Williams, Mr. Samuel Johnson, and Mr. Andrew McFarland Davis participated.
Mr. Andrew McFarland Davis read the following certificate of Governor Shirley’s Protestantism which is to be found in the Records of the Superior Court of Judicature:143
“Memorandum, This day being the first of April 1746, His Excellency William Shirley Esqr Collonel of a Regiment, to be forthwith raised for the Defence of Cape Breton, came into Court between the Hours of nine & twelve of the clock in the forenoon and produced a certificate of his having receiv’d the Sacrament of the Lords Supper according to the Usage of the Church of England, immediately after Divine Service & Sermon, on the thirtieth Day of March last, signed by the Revd Mr Roger Price, Minister & Mr George Cradock Church Warden, and made proof of the truth thereof by the oaths of two credible Witnesses namely Mr John Gibbons & Mr Silvester Gardner; pursuant to the Act of Parliament in that case made & provided;
The said Governour Shirley also at the same time in open Court, took the oaths appointed instead of the oaths of Allegiance & Supremacy, and likewise made, repeated & subscribed the declaration appointed by Law.”
Mr. Davis then said: —
It will be remembered that after the Louisburg campaign Shirley was rewarded by an appointment as colonel in the British Army. Under the Test Act, the qualifications set forth in the above entry in the records of the Superior Court of Judicature were required of all officers under the government, civil as well as military. It would seem, therefore, that a Royal Governor of a province might have dispensed with the prerequisite of furnishing evidence that he had received the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper according to the usuage of the Church of England, in order that he might be deemed qualified for a commission as colonel in the Army. This entry would indicate, however, that such was not the case.