496 | From Timothy Woodbridge

    Stockbridge 20th: of Augt 1766.

    May it please your Excellency.

    Nothing but the safety, and Honour, of the Government, which it has pleased the Kings Majesty, To make you the head of; would have induced me, To give your Excellency the Trouble of this: when I am Sensible, you have so many, and weighty, cares upon your hands. I hope your Excellency will Judge, I have done no more than my duty, when you are informed, of the state of This part of your Excellencies Government.

    As To the distressed condition, of the miserable undone people of Noble Town, as it seems, by This Province, upon the report of the Lords of the board of Trade, to be professedly yielded, To the Province of New York,1 nothing can be done by us ^here^, but To pitty, and commiserate their sufferings. But I dont imagine your Excellency, and the subordinate Authority, of This Province, if it can be prevented, will suffer the same calamity, To come upon the people of This Province; altho’ it is begun, and several, have felt the effects of Military Tiranny: I can hardly believe it ^to be^ by the order, or even the knowledge, of the superiour commanders, of the Soldiary, for I think them, Gentleman of more Justice, and understanding, Then To plunder, and distress his Majestys Subjects: But I conclude it comes To pass, by the houghty, and heady, dispositions of under officers, who are at such a distance from Their comm Superiours, That they forget They are accountable, If this is not The case, There is some hidden Mistery, in the affair which I do not comprehend.2

    It is about a Month since; a company of Regular Soldiers, consisting of about one hundred, as is commonly reported, comma[n]ded by a capt:, Lieut, & Ensn, Stationed themselves at Noble Town. What destruction they made there, I dont pretend to inform your Excellency, only that a great number, of Miserable people, are drove off into this province, destitute of any support, men, women, and children, when who had large crops of grain on the ground of all sorts, which they might not gather in, nor Tarry in their houses. Their creatures killed and left to rot on the ground. After some Time, about Three weeks ago, They proceeded Toward the east part of Noble Town, and came and took possession of Dean: William Kelloggs house, which is but a little distance from the line, That Capt: Nathaniel Dwight ran, for a Twenty mile line, from Hudsons River; and now They were in a near Neighbourhood, to the district of Egremont, which Town was granted, settled, and Incorporated, by this province, and have always done duty, and received priviledges in this Province, and never till now, disputed That I have known, In whose Neighbourhood, I have lived, before, and ever since the place was settled. But now we must have New lines, and new Laws, enforced by regular Troops, as they stile themselves. Soon after they had made Mr Kelloggs house, the place of their Rendezvous, being now upon the borders of Egremont, a party, with a Son, or Two, of Mr: Van Ransler3 in company, came To the house of one Ebenezar Smith,4 in Egremont, took some Things out of the house, as he informed me, by a complaint, such as wearing Apparrel, bed cloathing ^&c^ To the amount of a great number of Articles: Upon which said Smith applied To me for a warrant: At first I was cautious, and in doubt what To do; as they were regular Troops, I doubted whether they would suffer any of them, To be apprehended for a trial, Smith said he would get a complaint properly drawn, against Robert, and Henry, Van Ranslers for he could ^prove^ Them To be There, and That They led the party To his house, and first entered the house, I still delayed and Told Smith, I should be glad, he would apply to Mr: Ransler5 for a Satisfaction, endeavouring if possible, to prevent a quarreling with the people of that Government. The Next step taken, by Those people was, a party came into Egremont at Midnigh6, by force of arms, entered the Houses of one Levi Stockwell,7 and one Bunts, Took said Stockwell and a boy away ^bound,^ and Took some things out of the House, bound said Bunts, and Riffled his house, and Then Let him go. This information I have from the Mother of Said Stockwell, a widow woman, her Son being carried To Albany, and put in prison, and from Bunts.

    On Saturday the eighteenth of this Month, a party came To the house of one Isaac Spoor,8 about four miles west of ye Barrington meeting house, But within said Egremont, which house is near the east part of Egremont, and but a small distance from the west line of Great Barrington, and between Two and three miles east of said Dwigh[t]s line, This house Stands, on a grant of Land, made by this Province; and has been a licenced house for a Tavern, for many Years by our courts. This party, informed said Spoor, that he was in the Province of New York and That he must pay No regard To the Authority of This Government, on the Next Day, the body would come, and Take possession, for the Government of New York. On Sunday Morning Accordingly, the officers, Soldiers, Robert Ransler, a deputy Sheriff &c, came and took possession of the house, and family, and indeed of all they had, The News of this spread such terror, many fled, moved their effects, what They could, and got out of Their way, as fast as they could. Coll Williams was Sent for, a Messenger came To me, the whole county in an uproar: I in company with the Sheriff, Mr Williams,9 repaired To G. Barrington; Coll Williams not being arrived, after consultation, it was concluded to apprehend Robert Ransler, who was with, and chief director, To the officer, where his fathers interest should extend. Upon Smiths Complaint I had some days before, Issued a warrant, against Robert, and Henry Ranslers: In order To the effectual prosecution of the affair, before dark There was a posse raised for the Sheriffs Assistance, of upward of Two Hundred men: That if it were possible To prevent the Sheding of blood, The Sheriff and officers, present, desired me to accompany them To Said Spoors, we had four miles To march In the evening, The Sheriffs assistance being on foot, we did not arrive till after nine at Night, as the officers had placed Their gaurds10 around, we Judged it best to halt the people, before they came in sight of the guards, with a design that there might be no fireing upon each other, and That the Sheriff, and a Deputy, and one man more, Should pass the gaurds, to the house, where the officers and main body were, and Apprehend Robert Ransler, and bring him upon Trial upon the complaint. The Sheriff and those with him were admitted into the house, I tarried with the people, and design’d if They kept the Sheriff, in custody, as I was thoughtfull Their insolence would promp them To do: To Deliver him out of their hands at ^least^ I designd To advise to it, I having no command myself. However it so hapned, That after some Time, I was desired with Capt: Dwight, who Tarried with the people, To attend the officers in the house, In hopes To Settle matters, without fighting, accordingly Capt Dwight, and I went To them, I was ignorant whether the regulars, was apprized, or not, of the forces being there, However after we arrived The Sheriff asked the commanding officer, whether he was willing, he should take a man by a warrant, That was then in the House ^or words to that purpose^, He replied he had nothing against it, upon which, by vertue of Said warrant, he apprehended, Said Ransler, immediately upon this, there was a most Terrible bluster, The Soldiers immediately under arms, all Their baionets fixed, and all but the Sheriff, ordered under a guard of Soldiers; and he with about Thirty soldiers, To guard the Capt, and Lieut went To our people, he being forced so to do, insulted him ^the Sheriff^ and the people, and altho the Sheriff might have had them all in his power, he prevented the people from fireing, Supposing that To be the only expedient, To save our lives, who were now unluckely in Their power; upon which the Sheriff was obliged To send the people that came for his assistance all away, To the great dissatisfaction of the people, who was a mind To fight the regulars at all adventures, However They were perswaded, To leave us, as we were, and in a bad Scituation we was. When the Sheriff was thus far imposed upon, The Capt, and Lieut, with the Sheriff returned, To head quarters, and Two baser, impious, insulting men, I never saw: They not only insulted us, who were unhappily in Their power, calling all manner of opprobious Names, threatning us with the Goal, at Albany, To hang, and whip and damn us. But They damned all the Authority, of the Government and all the Government, and said They would drive us To the devil: and The Capt: swore by his Maker, in a most impious manner, that he would Maintain the Jurisdiction of New York, To a line east of Said Spoors house, and that he would maintain Ranslers rights To the Lands, so far as he was Shewed where the line was.

    The officers swore, I should inforce a warrant, To take the people of Noble Town, who were fled into this Province for refuge, and That I should help apprehend those people, or I should not be set at Liberty, however, I absolutly refused, and Told them, do what They would, I would not be forced, in matters of my office.

    However after they had abused, the Government, and us, and all the Authority in it, a little before the day broke, they let us go. The Capts Name is Clark, says he was born at Salem, in this Province The Lieut calls himself Sr: Edward Pickering,11 by his conduct and behaviour I should Judge him [_] of the part ^ far from being of the rank of Knighthood^ after all, They Rescued the prisoner, and the Capt: swore, That he would spend every drop of Blood, in his company, before Mr Ransler should be carryed away by the Sheriff ^ and that he would tear Egremont to pieces the next day.^ In the Morning I met a great number of men, and about forty of the Stockbridge Indians, coming To give battle to the regulars, and it was difficult To prevent an engagement; But the regulars Drew off, early in the Morning and the people return’d home.

    Thus May it please your Excellency; I have Troubled you, with a long but homely declaration, of facts, as they have appeared To me, and as They are Matters of great importance To us, I begg your Excellency would relieve us.

    I am Your Excellencys Most Obedient Dutifull Humble Servt:

    Timo: Woodbridge12

    We the subscribers having perused the foregoing letter and being of those who were under guard and Suffered the abuses mentioned can Testify to ^some of^ the facts, relating to That nights conduct mentioned in the letter:

    Sam Brown Junr13

    Elijah Dwight14

    ALS, RC      Mass. Archs., vol. 56: 499-504.