◆   Anno Domini 1625   ◆

At the spring of the year, about the time of their Election court; Oldham came again amongst them, and though it was a part of his censure, for his former mutiny, and miscarriage; not to return without leave, first obtained. Yet in his daring spirit, he presumed without any leave at all, being also set on, & hard^en^ed by the Ill counsel of others; and not only so, but suffered his unruly passion to run beyond the limits of all reason, and modesty; insomuch that some strangers which came with him, were ashamed of his outrage, and rebuked him, but all reproofs were but as oil to the fire, and made the flame of his choler greater; he called them all to naught, in this his mad fury, and a hundred rebels, & traitors, and I know not what. But in conclusion they committed him, till he was tamer, and then appointed a guard of musketeers which he was to pass through, and ever one was ordered to give him a thump on the brich,1 with the butt end of his musket, and then was conveyed to the waterside, where a boat was ready to carry him away; then they bid him go, & mend his manners.

Whilst this was in doing; Mr. William Peirce, and Mr. Winslow, came up from the waterside, being come from England; but they were so busy with Oldham, as they never saw them, till they came thus upon them; they bid them not spare, either him or Lyford, for they had played the villians with them. But that I may here make an end with him, I shall here once for all, relate what befell concerning him in the future, and that briefly. After the removal of his family from hence, he fell into some straits (as some others did), and about, a year or more afterwards, towards winter he Intended a voyage for Virginia; but it so pleased God that the bark that carried him, and many other passengers was in that danger; as they despaired of life; so ^as^2 many of them, as they fell to prayer, so also did they begin to examine their consciences [131] And confess such sins as did most burthen them; and Mr. Oldam, did make a free and large confession of the wrongs, and hurt he had done to the people here and church here, in many particulars, that as he had sought their ruin, So God had now met with him, and might destroy him; yea he feared, they all fared the worse for his sake, he prayed God to forgive him; and made Vows that if the Lord spared his life, he would become otherwise, and the like. This I had from some of good credit, yet living in the Bay, and were them^selves^ partners in the same dangers on the shoals of Cape Cod, and heard it from his own mouth. It pleased God to spare their lives, though they lost their voyage; and in time afterwards, Oldham carried himself fairly towards them; and acknowledged the hand of God to be with them, and seemed to have an honourable respect of them; and so far made his peace with them, as he in after-time had liberty to go and come, and converse with them at his pleasure. He went after this to Virginia, and had there a great sickness, but recovered and came back again, to his family in the Bay, and there lived till some store of people came over; at length going a-trading in a small vessel among the Indians, and being weakly manned, upon some quarrel they knocked him on the head with a hatchet, so as he fell down dead, & never spake word more; 2 little boys that were his kinsmen were saved, but had some hurt; and the vessel was strangely recovered from the Indians, by another that belonged to the Bay of Massachusetts; and this his death, was one ground of the Pequot3 war, which followed.4

I am now come to Mr. Lyford; his time being now expired his censure was to take place, he was so far from answering their hopes, by amendment in the time; as he had doubled his evil as is before noted. But first behold the hand of God concerning him. Wherein that of the Psalmist is verified, Psa. 7:15, “He hath made a pit, & digged it, and is fallen into the pit, he made.” He thought to bring shame, and disgrace upon them; but instead thereof, opens his own to all the world; for when he was dealt withal about his second letter, his wife was so affected with his doings, as she could no longer conceal, her grief, and sorrow of mind; but opens the same to one of their deacons, & some other of her friends, & after uttered the same to Mr. Peirce upon his arrival. Which ^was^5 to this purpose, that she feared some great Judgment of God would fall upon them; and upon her, for her husband’s cause, now that they were to remove, she feared to fall into the Indians’ hands, and to be defiled by them, as he had defiled other women; or some such-like [132] Judgement; as God had threatened, David, 2 Sam. 12:11, “I will raise up evil against thee, and will take thy wives, & give them,” &c. And6 upon it showed how he had wronged her, as first he had a bastard by another before they were married, & she having some Inkling of some Ill carriage that way, when he was a suitor to her, she told him what she heard, & denied him, but she not certainly knowing the thing, otherwise than by some dark & secret mutterings; he not only stiffly denied it, but to satisfy her, took a solemn Oath there was no such matter. Upon7 which she gave consent, and married with him, but afterwards it was found true, and the bastard brought home to them; she then charged him with his oath, but he prayed pardon, and said he should else ^not^ have had her. And yet afterwards she could keep no maids but he would be meddling with them, and sometime she hath taken him in the manner, as they lay at their bed’s foot, with such other circumstances as I am ashamed to relate; The woman being a grave matron, & of good carriage all the while she was here, and spoke these things out of the sorrow of her heart, sparingly, and yet with some further Intimations. And that which did most seem to affect her (as they conceived) was, to see his former carriage in his repentance not only here with the church, but formerly about these things; shedding tears, and using great, & sad expressions, and yet eftsoon8 fall ^to^ into the like things.

Another thing of the same nature did strangely concur herewith; When Mr. Winslow, & Mr. Peirce, were come over; Mr. Winslow Informed them, that they had, had the like bickering with Lyford’s friends in England, as they ^here^ had with himself, and ^his^ friends here, about his Letters, & accusations in them. And many meetings, and much clamour was made by his friends thereabout; crying out, “A minister, a man so godly, to be so esteemed ^&^ taxed”; they held a great scandal, and threat[en]ed to prosecute law against them for it. But things being referred to a further meeting of most of the adventurers, to hear the case, and decide the matters; they agreed to choose 2 eminent men for moderators, in the business. Lyford’s faction chose Mr. White a counselor-at-law,9 the other part chose Reverend Mr. Hooker the minister,10 and many friends on both sides were brought in, so as there was a great assembly. In the meantime God in his providence, had detected Lyford’s evil carriage in Ireland, for ^to^ some friends amongst the company, who made it known to Mr. Winslow and directed him to 2 godly, and grave witnesses; who would testify the same (if called thereunto), upon their oath. The thing was this; he being got into Ireland, had wound himself into the esteem of sundry godly, & zealous professours in those parts, who having been burthened with the ceremonies in England, found there some more liberty to their consciences, amongst whom were these 2 men, which gave [133] this evidence.11 Amongst the rest of his hearers, there was a godly young man that Intended to marry, and cast his affection, on a maid which lived thereabout, but desiring to choose in the Lord, and preferred the fear of God before all other things; before he suffered his affection to run too far he resolved, to take Mr. Lyford’s advice, and Judgement, of this maid (being the minister of the place),12 and so broke the matter unto him; & he promised faithfully to Inform him, but would first take better knowledge of her, and have private conference with her; and so had sundry times. And in conclusion commended her highly to the young man as a very fit wife for him; so they were married together. But some time after marriage, the woman was much troubled in mind, and afflicted in conscience, and ^did^ nothing but weep and mourn; and long it was before her husband could ^get^ of her what was the cause; but at length she discovered the thing. And prayed him to forgive her, for Lyford had overcome her, and defiled her body, before marriage, after he had commended him unto her for a husband, and she resolved to have him; when he came to her in that private way.13 The circumstances I forbear, for they would offend chaste ears to hear them related them (for though he satisfied his lust on her, yet he Endeavoured to hinder conception); these things being thus discovered, the woman’s husband took some godly friends with him, to deal with Lyford for this evil; at length he confessed it, with a great deal of seeming sorrow & repentance, but was forced to leave Ireland ^upon it^ partly for shame, and partly for fear of further punishment, for the Godly withdrew themselves from him upon it; and so coming Into England unhappily he was light upon & sent hither.

But In this great assembly, and before the moderators, in handling the former matters about the letters, upon provocation upon in some heat of reply, to some of Lyford’s defenders, Mr. Winslow let fall these words, that he had dealt knavishly, upon which, one of his friends took hold, & called for witnesses that he called a minister of ^the^ Gospel knave, and would prosecute law upon it, which made a great tumult; upon which (to be short) this matter broke out, ^and^ the witnes[ses] were produced, whose persons were so grave, and evidence so plain, and the fact so foul, yet delivered in such modest, & chaste terms, and with such circumstances, as struck all his friends mute, and made them all ashamed; Insomuch as the moderators with great gravity declared, that the former matters gave them cause enough to refuse him, & to deal with him as they had done, but14 these made him unmeet forever to bear ministry any more, what Repentance soever he should pretend; with much more to like effect, and so wished his friends to rest quiet. Thus was this matter ended.

From15 hence Lyford went to Nantasket16 in the Bay of the Massachusetts with some other of his friends with him, where Oldham also lived; from thence he removed to Naumkeag,17 since called Salem; but after there came some people over, whether for hope of greater profit, or what ends else I know not, he left his friends that followed ^him^; and went from thence to Virginia; where he shortly ^after^ died; and so I leave him to the Lord. His wife afterwards returned again to this country. And thus much of this matter.18 [134]

This storm being thus blown over, yet sundry sad effects followed the same; for the Company of adventurers broke in pieces hereupon, and the greatest part wholly deserted ^the^ Colony in regard of any further Supply, or care of their subsistence;19 and not only so, but some of Lyford’s, & Oldham’s friends, and their adherents, set out a ship20 on fishing on their own account, and getting the start of the ships that came to the plantation, they took away their stage, & other necessary provisions that they had made for fishing at Cape Anne the year before, at their great charge; and would not restore the same, except they would fight for it.21 But the Governour sent some of the planters to help the fishermen to build a new one, and so let them keep it; this Ship also brought them some small supply, of little value; but they made so poor a business of their fishing (neither could these men make them any return for the Supply sent) so as after this year, they never looked more after them.

Also by this ship, they some of them sent (in the name of the rest) certain reasons of their breaking off from the plantation; and some tenders (upon ^certain^ conditions[)] of reuniting again.22 The which because they are long, & tedious (and most of them about the former things already touched), I shall omit them. Only giving an Instance in one, or two; ^1[st] Reason,^ they charged them for dissembling with his Majesty in their petition, and with the adventurers about the French discipline,23 &c. 2ly, for receiv[ing]24 x This was Lyford himself.a manx into their church, that in his confession renounced ^all^ universal, national, and diocesan churches, &c. “By which” (say they) “It appears, that though they deny the name of Brownists, yet they practise the same, &c. And therefore they should sin against God in building up such a people.”

Then they add. “Our dislikes thus laid down, that we may go on in trade with better content, & credit, our desires are as followeth.

Their answer ^in part^25 to these things was then as followeth.

Whereas you tax us for dissembling with his Majesty, & the adventurers about the French discipline; you do us wrong, for we both hold, & practice the discipline of the French, & other reformed churches (as they have published the same in the Harmony of Confessions,26 according to our means) in effect, & substance. But whereas you would tie us to the French discipline in every circumstance, you derogate from the liberty we have in Christ Jesus.27 The Apostle Paul would have none to follow him in anything, but wherein he follows Christ,28 much less ought any Christian, or church in the world to do it; the French may err, we may err, and other churches may err, and doubtless do in many circumstances; that29 Honour therefore belongs only to the Infallible word of God, and pure Testament of Christ, to be propounded, and followed, as the only rule, and pattern, for direction herein to all churches, & Christians.30 And it ^is^31 too great arrogancy for any man, or church [135] to think that he, or they, have so sounded the word of God to the bottom, as precisely to set down the churches’ discipline, without error in substance, or circumstance, as that no other, without blame may digress, or differ in anything from the same. And it is not difficult to shew, that the reformed churches differ in many circumstances amongst themselves.

The rest I omit, for brevity’s sake, and so leave to prosecute these men, or their doings any further. But shall return to the rest, of their friends ^of the Company^32 which stuck to them.

And I shall first Insert some part of their letters as followeth. For I think it best to render their minds in their own words.

To our loving friends, &c.33

Though the thing we feared be come upon us, and the evil we strove against have overtaken us; ^yet^34 we cannot forget you, nor our friendship, and fellowship which together we have had some years; wherein though our expressions have been small, yet our hearty affections towards you (unknown by face) have been no less, than to our nearest friends, yea to our own selves. And though this your friend Mr. Winslow can tell you the state of things here, yet lest we should seem to neglect you, to whom by a wonderful providence of God, we are so nearly united; we have thought Good once more to write unto you, to let you know what is here befallen, and the reasons of it; as also our purposes, & desires toward you for hereafter.

The former course, for the generality here, is wholly dissolved, from what it was; and whereas you, & we, were formerly sharers, and partners, in all voyages, & dealings, this way is now no more, but you, and we, are left to bethink ourselves, what course to take in the future, that your lives, & our monies, be not lost.

The reasons, and causes of this alteration have been these. First and mainly, the many losses, and crosses at Sea, and abuses of seamen, which have caused us to run into so much charge, debts, & Engagements, as our estates, & means were not able, to go on without Impoverishing ourselves; except our estates had been greater, and our associates cloven better unto us. 2ly, as here hath been a faction, and siding amongst us now more than 2 years. So now there is an utter breach, and sequestration amongst us; and in two parts of us, a full desertion, and forsaking of you, without any Intent, or purpose of meddling more with you. And though we are persuaded, the main cause, of this their doing, is want of money (for need whereof men use to make many excuses) yet other things are pretended, as that you are Brownists, &c.35

Now what use you, or we ought to make of these things, it remaineth to be considered, for we know the hand of God to be in all these things, and no doubt he would admonish something thereby; and to look what is amiss. And although it be now too late for us, or you, to prevent, & stay these things; yet is it not too late to exercise patience, wisdom, and conscience in bearing them; and in carrying ourselves in, & under them, for the time to come. [136]

And as we ourselves stand ready to Embrace all occasions, that may tend to the furtherance of so hopeful a work; rather admiring of what is, than grudging, for what is not; so it must rest in you to make all good again. And if in nothing else you can be approved; yet let your honesty, & conscience, be still approved, & lose not one jot of your Innocency, amids your crosses, & afflictions. And surely if you upon this alteration behave yourselves wisely, and go on fairly, as men whose hope is not in this life; you shall need no other weapon to wound your adversaries; for when your righteousness is revealed as the light, they shall cover their faces with shame;36 that causelessly, have sought your Overthrow.37

Now we think it but reason, that all such things as there appertain to the general, be kept, & preserved together, and rather Increased daily, than any way be dispersed, or Embezzled away for any private ends, or Intents whatsoever. And after your necessities are served, you gather together such commodities as the country yields, & send them over to pay debts, and clear Engagements ^here^ which are not less than £1400.38 And we hope you will do your best to free our Engagements, &c.39 Let us all Endeavor to keep a fair ^& honest^ course, and see what time will bring forth, and how God in his providence will work for us. We still are persuaded, you are the people that must make a plantation, in those remote places when all others fail and return. And your experience of God’s providence, and preservation of you is such; as we hope your hearts will not fail you, though your friends should forsake you (which we ourselves shall not do whilst we live, so long as your honesty so well appeareth), yet surely help would arise from some other place whilst you wait on God, with uprightness, though we should leave you also.40

And lastly be you all entreated to walk circumspectly, and carry yourselves so uprightly in all your ways, as that no man may make Just exceptions against you, And more especially that the favour, and countenance of God may be so toward you; as that now you may find abundant joy, & peace even amids tribulations, that you may say with David, “Though my father, & mother should forsake me, yet the Lord would take me up.”41

We have sent you here some Cattle,42 cloth, hose, shoes, leather, &c., but in another nature than formerly, as it stood us in hand to do; we have committed them to the charge, & custody of Mr. Allerton,43 and Mr. Winslow, as our factours, at whose discretion they are to be sold, and commodities to be taken for them, as is fitting. And by how much the more they will be chargeable unto you, the bet[ter] they had need to be husbanded, &c. Go on good friends Comfortably, pluck up your spirits, and quit yourselves like men in all your difficulties; that notwithstanding all displeasure, and threats of men, yet the work may go on you are about, and not be neglected. Which is so much for the glory of God, and the furtherance of our countrymen; as that a man, may with more Comfort [137] spend his life in it; than live the life of Methuselah,44 in wasting the plenty of a tilled land, or eating the fruit of a grown tree. Thus with hearty salutations to you all, and hearty prayers for you all, we lovingly take ^our^ leaves, this 18[th] of December 1624.

Your assured friends to our powers,

J[ames] S[herley]

W[illiam] C[ollier]

T[homas] F[letcher]

R[obert] H[olland], &c.45

By this letter it appears in what state the affairs of the plantation stood at this time. These goods they bought, but they were at dear rates, for they put 40 in the hundred upon them,46 for profit and adventure, outward bound; and because of the venture ^of the payment^ homeward, they would have x If I mistake not, it was not much less.£30 in the 100 more,x47 which was in all 70 per cent: a thing thought unreasonable by some, and too great an oppression upon the poor people; as their case stood, the cattle were the best goods, for the other being ventured ware,48 were neither of the best (some of them), nor at the best prices; sundry of their friends disliked these high rates, but coming from many hands, they could not help it. They49 sent over also 2 ships on fishing ^on their own account^; the one was the pinnace that was cast away the last year here in the country, and recovered by the planters (as was before related),50 who after she came home, was attached by one of the Company, for his particular debt; and now sent again on this account; the other was a great ship,51 who was well fitted with an experienced master, & Company of fishermen, to make a voyage, & to go to Bilbao, or Sebastians52 with her fish; the lesser her order was to load with Cor-fish, and to bring the beaver home for England, that should be received for the goods sold to the plantation. This bigger ship made a great voyage of Good ship ^dry^ fish, the which (if they had gone to a market ^with^) would have yielded them (as such fish was sold that season) £1800 which would have enriched them; but because there was a bruit53 of war with France, the master neglected (through timerousness) his order, and put first into Plymouth, & after into Portsmouth, and so lost their opportunity, and came by the loss. The lesser ship had as ill success, though she was as hopeful as the other, for the merchants’ profit, for they had filled her with goodly cor-fish ^taken upon the bank^54 as full as she could swim; and besides she had some 800 lbs. weight of beaver, besides other furs to a good value from the plantation. The master see^ing^ so much goods come, put it aboard the bigger ship, for more safety; but Mr. Winslow (their factor in this business) was bound in a bond of £500 to send it to London in the small ship; there was some contending between the master & him about it. But he told the master he would follow his order about it; If he would take it out afterward it should be at his peril. So it went in the small ship, and he sent bills of lading in both; the master was so careful being both so well-laden, as they went Joyfully home together, for he towed the lesser ship at his stern all the way over bound, and they had such fair weather, as he never cast her off till they were shot deep into the English Channel, almost within the sight of Plymouth; and yet there she was unhappily taken by a Turks’ man of war, and carried into Salé,55 where the master, and men were made slaves, and many of the beaver skins ^were^ sold for 4d a piece. [138]

Thus was all their hopes dashed ^and^ the Joyful news, they meant to carry home turned to heavy tidings; some thought this a hand of God for their too great exaction of the poor plantation, but God’s Judgments are unsearchable,56 neither dare I be bold therewith; but however it shows us the uncertainty ^of^ all humane things, and what little Cause there is of Joying in them, or trusting to them.

In the bigger of these ships was sent home ^over^ Captain Standish from the plantation, with letters, & Instructions, both to their friends of the Company which still clave to them; and also to the ^Honourable^ Council of New England; to the company to desire that seeing that they meant only to let them have goods upon sale; that they ^might^ have them upon easier terms, for they should never be able, to bear such high Interest, or to allow so much per cent: also that what they would do in that way that it might be disbursed in money, or such goods as were fit and needful for them, & bought at best hand; and to acquaint them with the contents of his letters to the Council (abovesaid) which was to this purpose, to desire their favour, & help; that such of the adventurers as had thus forsaken, & deserted them; might be brought to some order, and not to keep them bound, and themselves be free. But that they might either stand to their former covenants, or else come to some fair end, by divident,57 or composition. But he came in a very bad time for the state was full of trouble, and the plague very hot in London, so as no business could be done; yet he spake with some of the Honoured Council, who promised all helpfulness to the plantation which lay in them. And sundry of their friends the adventurers, were so weakened with their losses the last year, by the loss of the ship taken by the Turks, and the loss of their fish, which by reason of the wars, they were forced to land at Portsmouth, and so came to little. ^So^ As, though their wills were good; yet their power was little; and there died such multitudes weekly of the plague, as all trade was dead, and little money stirring. Yet with much ado he took up 200 ^£150^ (& spent 50 ^a good deal^58 of it in expences) at 30 ^50^ per cent: which he bestowed in trading goods, & such ^other^ most needful commodities, as he knew requisite for their use; and so returned passenger in ^a^ fishing ship; having prepared a good way for the composition that was afterward made.

In the meantime it pleased the Lord to give the plantation peace, and health, and contented minds;59 and so to bless their labours, as they ^had^ corn sufficient (and some to spare to others), with other food; neither ever had they any supply of food but what they first brought with them. After Harvest this year, they send out a boat’s load of corn 40 or 50 leagues to the eastward (up a river called Kennebec), It being one of those 2 shallops which their carpenter had built them the year before; for bigger vessel had they none; they had laid a little deck over her midships to keep the corn dry, but the men were fain to stand it out all weathers without shelter; and that time [139] of the year begins to grow tempestious; but God preserved them, and gave them Good success, for they brought home 700 lbs. ^of beaver^ besides some other furs, having little, or nothing else but this corn, which themselves had raised out of the earth. This voyage was made by Mr. Winslow, & some of the old standers; for seamen they had none.