A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 25 March, 1909, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Henry Lefavour, LL.D., in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The Rev. Morton Dexter read the following paper:
During the past two years attention has been directed in many ways to the foundation of the colony at Jamestown, in Virginia. That appropriate notice should be taken thus of the three hundredth anniversary of the beginnings of permanent colonization on our Atlantic coast was natural and commendable. Neglect to do so would have been a grave error. But in the many addresses and publications called forth by the various celebrations some claims were made for Jamestown, and certain allusions to Plymouth occurred, which seem to have left, upon some minds at least, a mistaken impression. In what I am about to say I have no desire to exalt the Plymouth Colony at the expense of that at Jamestown or of any other. But, in the interest of historical truth, I would like to indicate some of the particulars in which the Plymouth Colony differed from that at Jamestown, and which gave to the former the larger importance.
Indisputably Jamestown was founded first. It is incorrect to suppose—and much apparently based upon this supposition occasionally is said or written—that the settlement of the Pilgrims at Plymouth was the earliest in this country. At least six previous attempts had been made, and one of them, that at Jamestown, had succeeded. In 1565 Sir John Hawkins found a small and recent French colony at the mouth of the St. John’s River in Florida. It had been sent out, under one Jean Ribaut, by the famous Admiral Coligny, but it was in great straits and was exterminated by the Spaniards soon after Hawkins’s visit. In 1585 Sir Walter Ralegh despatched a small colony, headed by his cousin, Ralph Lane, to Roanoke Island, in what is now North Carolina, but in a few months it was starved out. Two years later, in 1587, Ralegh made another brief attempt at the same place, but also in vain. In 1602 Bartholomew Gosnold, with thirty-two men, landed on Cape Cod and gave it its name. They also visited and named the Elizabeth Islands and built huts on Cuttyhunk. They intended to remain, but in about a month they changed their minds and returned to England. In 1607, as I have said, Jamestown was settled, in March. Three months later in the same year a colony sent out by Sir John Popham, Lord Chief Justice of England, attempted to establish itself at the mouth of the river Kennebec in Maine, but soon abandoned the undertaking. Popham had been captivated by the glowing reports of George Weymouth, who had explored the New England coast in the summer of 1605 but had not lingered long enough to learn the severity of a Maine winter. And in 1614 George Calvert, who later founded what has become Maryland, obtained from King James I a grant of a part of Newfoundland, which he called Avalon, but this enterprise also was abandoned soon for the same reason, the inclemency of the climate. Jamestown was the only one which managed to survive, and in June, 1610, even this colony was absolutely abandoned in despair, although it was revived immediately.
All these attempts at colonization were actuated primarily by a commercial aim. And here we touch the first point of difference between the Plymouth Colony and that at Jamestown. The predominant motive of the Plymouth men distinguished them from the earlier colonists here whose doings history records. I say their predominant motive. It is not to be denied that they were influenced by more than one. Their age was an age of restlessness and enterprise. It was the period of Drake, Hawkins, Cavendish, Gilbert, Frobisher, and Ralegh. It was an era of adventure, of exploration, of reckless daring in the pursuit of wealth and fame, of Teachings forth into the portions of the world up to that time unvisited, or, at the least, still practically unknown, in the search for the north-west passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, for the land of Eldorado, and for the supposedly incalculable treasures of the Indies. And, although little indeed was secured, in comparison with the visionary anticipations of the adventurers, enough was carried home, in the form of gold, silver, precious stones, costly stuffs of many sorts, rare fruits, and even captives representing races up to then unknown, to keep the public mind in a state of continual excitement.
Out of this effervescence there crystallized gradually a serious and enduring purpose. Thoughtful men realized that buccaneering and privateering, in addition to being open to moral objection, could succeed only temporarily in rewarding those who pursued them, but that well-established colonies in newly discovered lands might become sources of permanent, and possibly enormous, income. So it came to pass naturally that efforts began to be made in earnest to found colonies in promising regions with the definitely formed and frankly avowed aim of commercial profit. This was true not only of England but also of Holland and Spain, and it became inevitable that a colony should devote itself to one or more presumably remunerative branches of trade, in connection with fishing, lumber, skins, or whatever else it may have been. In fact no colony could have maintained itself a year without loyalty to some such material aims. It was as true, therefore, of the Plymouth Colony as of every other that a prominent motive which led to its foundation was the desire to render the wilderness productive and rewarding; in a word to make money, alike for the colonists and for those at home who had helped to finance their undertaking. Because of the niggardliness of these last, the Merchant Adventurers Company, of London, the colonists nearly starved before they could grow crops and put themselves in a position to send back to England cargoes of merchantable goods. This aim was attained only slowly and with extremest difficulty. But it was attained at last, and from the outset it was prominent in their minds.
At Plymouth, however, frankly acknowledged and faithfully pursued although this commercial aim was, it was not the primary, it was not even the secondary, purpose of the colonists. It held no higher than the third place in their minds. What, then, did they rank above it?
The answer is found in the familiar fact that peculiarly, and almost alone among the colonists of the time—the later Massachusetts Bay Colony seems to have been the only other exception, and by no means to the same degree—they underwent all which befell them for the sake of freedom. Mrs. Hemans struck the correct note in her famous hymn. It was “freedom to worship God” which they sought first and foremost. Whatever may be argued in favor of a State church and whatever may be truly urged in behalf of an hierarchical form of church government, there can be no successful dispute that the ecclesiastical and civil tyranny to which they had been subjected in England formed an ample justification for their resistance until resistance proved hopeless, and then for emigration. But for this probably most of them, if not all, would have continued loyally and happily in the English Church. Opposition set them to thinking and studying. They went back to the earliest days of Christianity and discovered that the first churches were independent. Doubtless they foresaw little of the development of religious and ecclesiastical liberty of which they were laying the foundations in their humble colony, and which the world rightly attributes in such large measure to them. But they were perfectly conscious of what they wanted to do in setting an example of spiritual freedom, of the personal and immediate access of the human soul to its Creator without intervention. This was the primary and supreme motive which impelled, sustained, guided and justified them—the purpose of being spiritually free.
It was not unnatural that events should lead them, as they looked forward after setting their colonizing movement in operation, and before they had reached the scene and sphere of its establishment, to appreciate the value of civil freedom too, and to adopt the purpose of securing and illustrating it as an additional motive. A few persons lacking their high ideals had been added to their company at Southhampton, just before they set sail for America, and a handful of these showed signs of insubordination on board ship. The leaders of the company seized the opportunity, while providing that good order and proper discipline might be maintained, to embody their theory of civil liberty in plain words. The same necessity has led others, before their day and since, to take measures for the rule of the majority, but to them it was left to institute in the cabin of their ship that miniature republic which has become one of the most powerful nations and has had more than one conspicuously successful imitator. The famous “Compact” of the Pilgrims ranks in the same class of historic documents as Magna Charta and the Constitution of the United States. The degree of civil freedom which it assured the colonists was as novel then as it proved enjoyable and serviceable. It was broader in its range and more practical in its adjustments of the claims and duties of the government to the needs and powers and possibilities of the individual citizen than was anything known at Jamestown. To win civil freedom, so far as practicable, was not so early or long-cherished a motive with the Plymouth colonists as to secure ecclesiastical and religious freedom. But it was a leading motive, as a letter from John Robinson to John Carver, written just as they were leaving Holland, indicates.543 They comprehended the fact that they could not easily maintain, or even obtain, their religious liberty, and hardly could rise to any remunerative degree of material prosperity, unless they could establish from the outset a government which should be strong and safe because it should be free. For them, in their conditions, no other, had there been anybody to set it up and carry it on, would have served their purpose.
Here, then, we see one feature which distinguished the Plymouth Colony from that at Jamestown. The Jamestown colonists came over merely to found a trading colony. This motive was not ignoble, but it was their highest, if not their only, one. The Plymouth colonists also came over to establish a trading colony. They, too, meant to subdue the earth and gather the harvest of the sea, and to send back the abundant fruits of their labor to the mother-land, that both they and those who had supplied much of the means for their adventure might be enriched. But when the Mayflower dropped anchor in Plymouth Bay the leaders of her company already had committed themselves also to the maintenance of religious liberty and of civil freedom as the distinguishing characteristics of their enterprise.
May I digress here long enough to say that the settlers of all these colonies can be judged fairly only by the beliefs and standards of their own time, and not by those of our modern and more enlightened day? It has been claimed that the Maryland Colony, founded in 1632, was the only one which granted to its people absolute religious liberty from the outset. In a certain sense this is true. But it is not true in the sense commonly understood. The Maryland Colony was the only one in which Protestant and Romanist, Low Churchman and High Churchman, Presbyterian, Baptist, Quaker or anybody else could indulge his own preference in respect to religious belief and worship without risk of interference. But the reason of this is plain when the history of the colony is examined. The Calvert family, which founded the colony, was Roman Catholic. At that time in England the Roman Catholics not only were out of power and favor but also were regarded with constant suspicion, and even with almost actual terror, because of the vivid popular recollection of their cruel oppressiveness in the time of their political supremacy, and because of their frequent plots to overthrow the Protestant monarchy and subject the country again to an alliance with Spain and to the civil as well as the religious domination of the Pope. They were suppressed sternly as a political necessity. So, if the Calverts had attempted to establish what they really desired, a Roman Catholic colony, they never would have been granted the necessary charter by the English government. As it was, they secured it only because the head of the family had long been a Protestant, at least nominally, before avowing himself a Romanist, had been an eminent and useful public official, and had won the personal regard of the king. The sole way in which they could secure for themselves and their fellow Roman Catholics in the colony the measure of religious and ecclesiastical liberty which they wanted was to grant it to everybody else also, without distinction, and therefore this policy was adopted. It was not that they were more liberally minded than others. It was only that circumstances forced them to do as they did.
It should be added that the most advanced ideas of religious liberty which commonly were held then were far behind those which are commonplaces to us. One hears occasional sneers at the colonists of those days, especially at the Pilgrims of Plymouth and the Puritans of the Bay, as having been narrow, bigoted and bitter, on the ground that they refused to others, as soon as they had gained a position where they could do so safely, the liberty upon which they insisted for themselves and of which they made their boast. Such sneers spring only from ignorance, carelessness, or wilful misrepresentation. In fact they never professed to possess, to offer to others, or even to believe in that degree of religious liberty which most people advocate and practise to-day. Their age in general knew nothing of such a liberty. Only a few individuals here or there were convinced that such a thing could be. What these colonists sought, distinctly and frankly, was freedom for themselves to worship God according to their consciences. They abandoned their early homes and separated themselves from the remainder of mankind largely, as I have said, with this object. But to them this meant, and only meant, that in the territory under their control their ideas of religion and its observances should prevail, or, at the most, that no ideas essentially opposed to their own should prevail. They were willing to grant to others, who held other views, the same freedom which they claimed, but upon condition that it be enjoyed somewhere else. The world was wide. Let Quakers, for instance, believe and practise what they liked, but let them not expect to be allowed to do so in colonies established to illustrate other than Quaker views. Let them colonize by themselves.
To our modern thought this is not a liberal position to take. But they must be judged by the standards of their own time, not of ours. Practically, however, the Plymouth Pilgrims were in advance of their age and of the settlers of most of the other colonies. They allowed a degree of religious liberty much greater than that in the Bay Colony or anywhere else, excepting afterwards in Maryland. They were not without visions of real spiritual freedom. They “never imposed any religious test as a qualification for the suffrage.”544 They did not accept Roger Williams’s peculiar opinions, but they allowed him to preach to them for one or two years as their pastor’s assistant, and remained friendly with him after his well-merited banishment from the Bay. Indeed, there is a persistent tradition that Miles Standish himself never joined their church but was a Roman Catholic, as his relatives in England certainly were.
Returning now to our direct line of thought, I would remind you, in the second place, that the Plymouth Colony was what may be described as a colony of families. Prominent among the intentions of its members was that of establishing homes, or, rather, of re-establishing in America the homes which they had cherished in mother England and in Holland, the land of their refuge for eleven years. It should be remembered that the unit of human society is not the individual, as often is asserted nowadays. It is the family. From the patriarchal age down to the present time the history of the human race has demonstrated this. That many individuals have won distinction, and even have done splendid service to their race, apart from family ties only illustrates the familiar fact that every rule has its exceptions. Nothing has been shown more clearly by the records of colonization than that, although the beginning of a settlement in virgin territory may be made successfully by a body of masculine colonists, a body of men inured to hardship and able to survive the perils and conquer the difficulties which beset any new undertaking of the sort, no colony can expect to succeed permanently, or even to thrive very long, until the feminine element has been added to the masculine, until homes have been established and family life has become a recognized and characteristic feature of its growth.
Now the Jamestown Colony was distinctly, and for a long time, destitute of this feature. Its colonists were men, and men of whom many were of none too high a type of abilities, manners, or morals. It often has been asserted that most of the colonists of Virginia were persons of higher social standing in the mother country than the settlers of New England, that the Southern colonists were gentlemen and the Northern tradesmen, artizans, or farmers. This statement does not bear examination. In the England of that time, as John Fiske well says, each of the two great parties which included practically the whole nation, the Cavaliers and the Roundheads, comprehended so many of the nobility and gentry that political distinctions had no social significance whatever. And when the colonies were founded in this country the English nobility and commonalty both were represented numerously. In Fiske’s own words,—
The differences that grew up between the relatively aristocratic type of society in Virginia and the relatively democratic type in New England were due not at all to differences in the social quality of the settlers but in some degree to their differences in church politics, and in a far greater degree to the different economic circumstances of Virginia and New England.545
Nevertheless, there was a considerable element in the colony at Jamestown which hardly was represented at all in Plymouth. Some of its settlers were men of gentle blood and education. But many, especially during its earliest years, were of the lowest grade morally as well as socially. Many were familiar with prisons in the old country, the doors of which had been opened to them upon the express condition that they should emigrate to Virginia. Many were ne’er-do-weels, impecunious adventurers of more or less reckless character, defiant of social proprieties and conventionalities, who never had formed or had readily disregarded family ties. Many actually had been kidnapped on the streets of English towns, hurried secretly on board ship, and sent over to Jamestown to become hewers of wood and drawers of water and the progenitors of those who later became known as “poor whites” and “white trash.”
These classes of settlers did not bring wives and children to America with them. Few among them looked forward to founding homes, in the high meaning of that term. Nor did many of those among them who were of superior origin. These last-named meant to make fortunes here and then go back to England to live. And when, in the course of time, it was appreciated that the colony must collapse unless something like family life could be introduced, they had to send home for relief and several ship-loads of women and girls were despatched to become their wives and the mothers of the future inhabitants of the colony. Probably most of these were entirely respectable, but few, if any, were of superior birth or training. Certainly many belonged to the lower classes socially. Fiske describes some of them as “the wretched women from English jails.” Among them, too, as in the case of the men, were a number who had been kidnapped. Many, if not most, of them also were sent out in a species of bondage, for they were sold to the highest bidders upon their arrival in Virginia and were not free until they, or the men who wished to marry them, had repaid their passage-money. Homes were formed thus, indeed, and many of them proved creditable and praiseworthy, but many others, as was only to be expected, were homes in name rather than in fact. It was years later in the history of the colony when new settlers began to bring their households with them and when the English gentry, from whom some of the eminent families in Virginia are descended, began to be represented conspicuously in the colony.
But at Plymouth the state of things was very different. When the men who became Pilgrims—and only two or three of them, and those not original members of the company, proved undesirable—first made resistance to the tyranny of their oppressors in England, their wives and mothers and sisters upheld and encouraged them. When they fled from England their women fled with them. While they struggled and suffered and planned in Holland, the women bore their full share in both anxiety and hope. When it was decided to uproot themselves once more and to seek still another country, there was no thought of leaving the women behind, and they endured the hardships of the long and stormy voyage and the terrible perils of the early settlement with hearts as resolute as those of the men. From first to last, so far as circumstances allowed, their homes were transferred with their persons and their household goods. The family life went on unbroken and unaltered. That on board the Mayflower there were many men unaccompanied by women is true. Some were unmarried. Others had left their wives behind, to follow later. In the nature of things it was not possible that every wife should go at first with her husband. But families enough, as such, and more than enough, were in the company to stamp the domestic, family character of the colony upon its face indelibly and forever.
This fact was set forth forcibly by Mr. Charles Francis Adams, in an address before the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants at its December banquet in 1903. As he then declared and explained, the Plymouth Colony was the first in this country, if not in the whole world, to recognize and honor woman. From the very outset she had her rightful place at her husband’s side and as her children’s head. And the Plymouth wives and mothers were no hastily gathered body of miscellaneous women, with little or no education, with no high ideals in civil and religious matters and no ennobling discipline of suffering for the sake of conscience. They were worthy of the men by whose sides they stood. They represented in character and experience the best type of the womanhood of that age. The same thing was true of the colony of Massachusetts Bay, but that was not founded until eight or ten years later, and the Plymouth Colony had passed through the period of its keenest suffering, had driven its roots firmly into the soil, and had well begun its career of prosperity before the Bay Colony was undertaken. Indeed, it well may be that the family life of the colony at Plymouth and the respect and honor which it paid to woman were not without vital suggestiveness to the founders of the Bay Colony, and helped to lead them to adopt the same policy, as they did.
We come now to a third point of difference between the two colonies, Plymouth and Jamestown. The Jamestown Colony exerted very little influence upon the succeeding development of democratic institutions in America. The influence of the Plymouth Colony was powerful and lasting. Here, again, too much has been asserted for Plymouth and the careful student of history must unravel some tangled claims. As the result he probably will decide that the shape which our political institutions finally took was not due to any one of the different colonies alone. Each probably contributed something towards the grand result. If any one were specially pre-eminent above the others in the matter of form, apparently it was Connecticut. The constitution of this colony, adopted at Hartford on June 14, 1639, has been truly described as “the first written constitution known to history, that created a government.” As Fiske has remarked, “Magna Charta partook of the nature of a written constitution, as far as it went, but it did not create a government,” while “the compact drawn up in the Mayflower’s cabin was not, in the strict sense, a constitution, which is a document defining and limiting the functions of government.”546 Nevertheless, the Mayflower Compact inaugurated a new era in civil and political life. Although nominally acknowledging allegiance to the English crown, the Plymouth men were intent upon trying the experiment of self-government afresh and in surroundings where it would be free from the unfavorable conditions which had defeated it up to that time, as in Venice.
They did not openly avow independence of King James, and, had a proposition to that effect been made, doubtless they would have rejected it promptly. But they did, and evidently they meant to do, the same thing in effect. They determined to govern themselves and they did so. They established, on a small scale but in an enduring fashion, a definite type of what has come to be called republican government, and the subsequent colonies which did the same thing hardly can have failed to be influenced by their success. When the Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded it was upon a scale so much larger than that of Plymouth, and the attitude of the English authorities towards it was so much more friendly, that it had a great advantage over Plymouth. The purpose of its founders was to establish not merely a vigorous trading colony but also “a definite and organized state.”547 They adroitly managed to secure a charter permitting them to make such laws as they pleased, provided that none of these laws should antagonize those of England. They even succeeded in defeating a proposed stipulation that the government of the colony must be vested in officials residing in England. Now what led them to insist so strongly upon a degree of independence so unprecedented? It stands to reason that they must have familiarized themselves most carefully with the character and history of the pioneer colony at Plymouth, so near to their own selected site. In fact there is evidence of this.548
They must have been convinced thus that practical political independence was possible in fact as well as in theory. It not only was what they desired in principle, but it also was being illustrated under their very eyes, so to speak, as something which there was no good reason why they should not have. The Mayflower Compact must have suggested some important features of their charter. The example of Plymouth must have encouraged and guided them to vitalize and apply their charter in action. It would be extravagant to assert that, but for the example of Plymouth, the Bay colonists would not have undertaken to build their colony upon foundations of practical political independence, but surely it is quite within bounds to say that it was much easier for them to secure what they wanted because Plymouth had led the way. The conditions of the two colonies were so unlike that differences in respect to details were inevitable as their careers developed. But in the fundamental matter of practical republicanism they were at one, and the older colony cannot have failed to influence the younger powerfully.
Then, later, the Connecticut Colony, which was settled largely from Massachusetts Bay, followed in their steps, and, as I have said already, even went beyond them in shaping its constitution. And from these three colonies population gradually extended itself northward and westward, carrying New England ideas, principles, policies and habits with it. This, of course, was true also of the Middle and Southern colonies, but in nothing like the same degree. It was New England pre-eminently which settled the Interior and the Great West, and the political beliefs and usages of early New England were the chief factors in making possible and real the United States of to-day. Not all the credit, by any means, is due to Plymouth, but its service in this respect was vital and enduring and may not be overlooked. If Connecticut were first to give form to republican ideas, Plymouth certainly had anticipated it in illustrating their spirit.
Now how far can a similar claim be made fairly for Jamestown? Instead of possessing democratic institutions from the outset, it was ruled by governors whose administrations were arbitrary, even when kindly. They have been described as “all despotisms whether mild or harsh.”549 Naturally a demand for more popular liberty came to be made, and it gradually grew so insistent that in 1619 a General Assembly, later called the House of Burgesses, was formed, which has been called “the first legislative body of Englishmen in America.”550 Now, had the institution of this body been followed by the results which presumably would have followed in a colony like that at Plymouth or Massachusetts Bay, Jamestown might, and probably would, have deserved the credit of having not merely inaugurated the beginnings of free government but also of having led the way in developing it. But in large measure the circumstances of the colony prevented this. The character of its common life differed radically from that of the New England colonies. In Plymouth the people lived together, at first in one and later in several little towns, and they established at once the town-meeting, the general gathering of the citizens at which public questions are discussed openly and public policies are settled by vote. All experts in political history agree in declaring the town-meeting to be one of the most fundamental and influential agencies in promoting political intelligence and efficiency.
But in the Virginia Colony the town played only a minor part. In fact towns hardly existed for some time. People lived on plantations, which were large and widely scattered and had different interests. Communication was difficult and was chiefly by water, for roads were few and bad. No such popular gathering as the town-meeting was easy to be held and authority fell into the hands of the few instead of the many. Most of the people had little or nothing to do with local government, and therefore took comparatively little interest in it, unless it oppressed them somehow, and of course they missed the educational value of active participation in the control of public affairs.
Thus the character and influence of the colony as a whole became affected. Its people were favorable rather than hostile to democratic ideas, when they thought about them, and now and then, upon occasion, advocated them strongly, but ordinarily at first were somewhat indifferent about them because so generally unacquainted with them practically. In time, as population spread and people came to live nearer to each other, their common interests increased in number and importance, and at last they caught up with the colonies which had had a more democratic training. There was distinct and steady progress towards democracy, and afterward individual Virginians, such as Washington, Jefferson, Madison and others, became leaders in the great movement towards republicanism. But this was much later, and after the original characters of all the colonies had been modified more or less. The Jamestown Colony, as such and especially during the earlier years of its life which we are considering, exerted little or no influence upon the shaping of our country’s institutions compared with that of the Plymouth Colony.
In these three particulars, not to mention others, it seems neither untrue nor unfair to claim that the Plymouth Colony differed from the colony at Jamestown and was the more important. The Plymouth Colony had higher, nobler aims as its distinguishing motives from the outset. It was notable for its family life and for the honor with which it crowned woman. It also had a more direct, powerful, and lasting influence in shaping the development of republican institutions on this side of the Atlantic.
Would it not be interesting if some of the representative settlers could come back to us long enough to tell us more than now we ever shall know here about their experiences, their aims, their visions of the future while they were alive, and their impressions of our country as it is to-day? Suppose that William Brewster and Captain John Smith, each one of the most cosmopolitan, most shrewd, most energetic and in every way most admirable leaders in their respective colonies, could appear among us this afternoon and address us. Suppose them to be well informed concerning the history of our country and the wonderful fruition of the little seeds which they helped to plant. Much in our manners, beliefs, and institutions doubtless would impart a tinge of regret to the words which they would speak to us, and perhaps would prompt them to remonstrance and warning. But more, I am confident, would impel them to utterances of gladness and thanksgiving. And probably in nothing else would they be more heartily agreed than in their gratification because of the successful perpetuation within our borders of true civil and religious liberty and of a generally noble and beautiful type of family life. And if Brewster should turn to Smith and say, “Which colony, Captain, yours or mine, has had the larger influence in promoting this fortunate condition of things?” Smith was so intelligent and fair-minded a man that I believe he would reply, “Well, Elder, Jamestown must not be belittled. It has done much and has done it well. But on the whole I will admit that Plymouth has done the most and the best.”
Mr. Henry W. Cunningham made the following communication:
DIARY OF THE REV. SAMUEL CHECKLEY, 1735.
A short time ago there fell into my hands a copy of The New-England Diary: Or, Almanack For the Year of our Lord Christ, 1735, that was interleaved and filled with comments by the Rev. Samuel Checkley on various happenings in Boston during that year. There is much in this Diary that has more than a passing interest for the student of old Boston, and it covers a period when the records are surprisingly meagre. Judge Sewall’s voluminous Diary had ended six years before, and by a singular fatality both town and church records during the early part and middle of the eighteenth century are either missing altogether, or else so little is recorded that they are of slight value. The records of Mr. Checkley’s church, now in the custody of the City Registrar, contain no records of death, a fact that adds value to the burials recorded in this Diary.
The Boston selectmen in the very year of this almanac expressed concern at the neglect of the inhabitants to record births and deaths; and Samuel Gerrish, the town clerk, recorded the negligence complained of, from which it appears that, for the fourteen months preceding, “more than 950 births and deaths” had occurred in the town of which no record had been handed in; “which neglect of theirs,” he added “may prove to be of ill consequence to their posterity.”551
It is clear, therefore, that when a record of this character, made by an educated man of the dominant class, comes to light, it ought to be printed, that others may benefit by the discovery.
From the earliest days, one or more almanacs had been published in New England nearly every year, and found their way into the homes of the people, in many of which they shared with the Bible the distinction of being the only books in the house. Professor Moses Coit Tyler lays stress upon their value to students of early American literature and shows the influence they had upon the thought of the people. In speaking of the Ames almanacs, which continued longer than most others and were perhaps typical of all, he says:
Nathaniel Ames made his almanac a sort of annual cyclopædia of information and amusement,—a vehicle for the conveyance to the public of all sorts of knowledge and nonsense, in prose and verse, from literature, history and his own mind, all presented with brevity, variety, and infallible tact. . . . He carried into the furthest wildernesses of New England some of the best English literature; pronouncing there, perhaps for the first time, the names of Addison, Thomson, Pope, Dryden, Butler, Milton; and repeating there choice fragments of what they had written.
And in speaking of these books in general, he adds:
Throughout our colonial time, when larger books were costly and few, the almanac had everywhere a hearty welcome and frequent perusal; the successive numbers of it were carefully preserved year after year; their margins and blank pages were often covered over with annotations, domestic and otherwise. Thus, John Cotton, it will be remembered, used the blank spaces in his almanacs as depositories for his stealthy attempts at verse. So, also, the historian, Thomas Prince, recorded in his almanacs the state of his accounts with his hair-dresser and wig-maker.552
It is doubly interesting, then, in the book before us to find not only personal items jotted down, but also those happenings that were of consequence at the time to all Bostonians, and the exact dates of the funerals of members of the Rev. Mr. Checkley’s church and of other prominent citizens.
This almanac is one of a series styled “The New-England Diary: Or, Almanack” which began in 1723 and continued through 1738. The author was Nathan Bowen, though on several title-pages he omits his name and styles himself “a Native of New-England.” The numbers from 1722 to 1733 inclusive were printed in Boston by Bartholomew Green who died December 28, 1732, and the next two numbers were probably printed by Thomas Fleet, who certainly printed the last two. The title-page of this issue for 1735 is interesting not only for its quaint facts, but for the quotation of seven lines from Paradise Lost, which shows that its author was one of those New Englanders who had some knowledge and appreciation of Milton’s poems.553
As the number of almanacs increased, the compilers evidently became keen rivals. Nathaniel Ames took Bowen to task for erratic calculations, and Bowen in his issue for 1730 replied:
I have once more ventured into the world, notwithstanding a Repulse I met with the last Year, from a Young Stripling, who under the influence of Mercury, gave his Pen a Latitude beyond that of his Beard; but let him know That tho’ he hath so great a value for the merits of his own performance, were I disposed to pick holes in his Coat, I should leave him in a ragged Condition; &ct.
Not only in the printed pages for each month, but in the manuscript portions every Sunday is indicated by a letter E. This is the Dominical letter for the year 1735. As the first Sunday in the year came on the fifth day of the month, the fifth letter of the alphabet is used to indicate every Sunday during the year.
The first owner of the Diary, who wrote the brief daily comments, was the Rev. Samuel Checkley, the first minister of the New South Church in Boston. Checkley’s father, also named Samuel, had come from Northampton in England in 1670 to Boston, where he married in 1680 Mary, daughter of Joshua Scottow. He served at various times as selectman, town clerk, county treasurer, and as a justice of the peace for the county, besides being a deacon of the Old South Church. He died full of years and honors December 27, 1738.554
The son Samuel, born February 11, 1695–96, graduated from Harvard in 1715, and studied for the ministry. On April 23, 1718, the town of Haverhill, Massachusetts, gave him an invitation “to settle among them in the work of the ministry,” but he declined the call, possibly because there seemed to be some dissension in the church.555 When in 1719 the New South Church was established on Church Green near the foot of Summer Street, to meet the spiritual needs of the growing southerly section of the town, Checkley was called to become its first pastor. He married January 5, 1720–21, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. Benjamin Rolfe of Haverhill, who thirteen years before had miraculously escaped when her father and mother were murdered by the Indians.556 Mr. Checkley was esteemed as preacher and pastor, and under his long pastorate of over fifty years his church grew and flourished, and he led the usual life of a Boston minister of the eighteenth century. His church continued as an active factor in the city down to our own time, when the meetinghouse on Church Green yielded to the encroachments of business. It numbered among its pastors President Kirkland of Harvard, and the Rev. Dr. Alexander Young, who bore testimony to the fact that the church records were admirably kept during the fifty years of Mr. Checkley’s labors.557
The Rev. Samuel Checkley delivered the Artillery Election Sermon in 1725. In his Diary under date of June 7 of that year Jeremiah Bumstead says:
Mr. Checkly preacht to ye artillery from 2 Samuel, 22, 35, “he teacheth my hands to war.” Not an hour in sermon & last singing.558
Mr. Checkley published the following sermons:559
- 1. The Duty of a People, to lay to Heart and Lament the Death of a Good King. A Sermon Preach’d August 20th. 1727. The Lord’s-Day after the Sorrowful News of the Death of Our Late King George I. Of Blessed Memory. Boston, no date. A second edition was printed, also undated.
- 2. The Death of the godly, and especially of the faithful gospel Ministers, the greatest loss to survivers. A Sermon Preached September 17th. 1727. The Lord’s-day after the Funeral of the Reverend Mr. William Waldron. Boston, 1727.
- 3. Mr. Checkley’s Sermons to a Condemned Prisoner.560 Boston, 1733.
- 4. Little Children brought to Jesus Christ. A Sermon Preached in private May 6. And afterwards in publick, June 14. 1741. upon a sorrowful Occasion. And published at the Desire of One that heard it. Boston, 1741.
- 5. Prayer a Duty when God’s People go forth to War. A Sermon Preach’d Feb. 28. 1744, 5. Being a Day of publick Fasting and Prayer, To ask in particular, That it would please God to succeed the Expedition formed against his Majesty’s Enemies, &C. Boston, 1745.
- 6. A Day of Darkness. A Sermon Preach’d before His Excellency William Shirley, Esq; The Honourable His Majesty’s Council, and House of Representatives, Of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay, in New England: May 28th. 1755. Being the Anniversary for the Election of His Majesty’s Council for said Province. Boston, 1755.
In addition to the above sermons, Mr. Checkley’s “Charge” at the ordination on October 29, 1746, of the Rev. William Vinal at Newport Rhode Island, was printed at Newport in 1747 in the Sermon preached upon the occasion by the Rev. Joseph Fish of Stonington;561 and his “Charge” at the ordination on April 30, 1766, of the Rev. Penuel Bowen as his own colleague-pastor at the New South Church was printed in the Sermon then preached by the Rev. Dr. Charles Chauncy.562
Mr. Checkley became distinguished through his posterity, since his daughter Elizabeth was the first wife of the patriot Samuel Adams and his son Samuel (H. C. 1743) was pastor of the Second Church in Boston, while a daughter of the latter married the Rev. Dr. John Lathrop, pastor of the same church, and from the last named was descended John Lothrop Motley.
Boston in 1735 had over 4,000 houses and about 17,000 inhabitants; there were nine Congregational and two Church of England churches, with a third (Trinity) just beginning; one Baptist, one French Protestant, and a Quaker Meeting.563 There were five weekly newspapers.564
In reading this Diary one is struck by the number of times the author exchanged pulpits, or had other ministers preach in his church, as well as by the distance from which many of them came. In those days it was something of a trip from Boston to Scituate, Barnstable, Haverhill, or Salisbury; yet ministers from all those places as well as from Hampton, New Hampshire; Biddeford, Maine; Lebanon, Connecticut; and from the Connecticut valley filled his pulpit. Of course, many of them had come to Boston on visits, drawn hither for various reasons, and it is only natural that they should have preached for some brother minister while here.
The Boston ministers, Thomas Foxcroft, Joseph Sewall, Mather Byles, Joshua Gee, Charles Chauncy, Samuel Mather, Benjamin Colman, William Welsteed, and William Cooper are too well known to need comment here. On March 16 we find the Rev. John Cotton in the New South pulpit. He was a son of the Rev. Roland Cotton of Sandwich and great-grandson of the famous Rev. John Cotton of Boston. He graduated at Harvard in 1710 and was settled in 1714 as the third minister of Newton, where he died May 17, 1757, in his sixty-fourth year. Jackson gives a long account of his youthful accomplishments and virtues and of the anxiety of the people of Newton to secure his services, and prints the laudatory inscription upon his tombstone, which is so long that it is difficult to see how one stone could hold it all.565 Checkley returned this visit, for the entry is found on Friday, September 5: “wt to Newtown prd Mr Cotton’s Lecture.” On June 1 and 29 the Rev. Ward Cotton of Hampton preached in Boston. He was a younger brother of the Newton pastor, who had preached the sermon at his ordination in Hampton in 1734.
On May 25 Checkley preached in the Hollis Street Church and “Mr Eliot” preached for him; and again on October 12 we find Mr. Eliot in his pulpit. This was probably the Rev. Jacob Eliot, who graduated at Harvard in 1720 and was ordained in 1729 as the first pastor of the Goshen Church at Lebanon, Connecticut. His first wife was a daughter of the Rev. John Robinson of Duxbury. Eliot died April 12, 1766, in his sixty-sixth year.566
On June 15 Mr. Green of Barnstable preached in the New South in the afternoon. This was the Rev. Joseph Green, a classmate of Jacob Eliot at Harvard. He had been settled over the East Church at Barnstable in 1725, and continued his ministry there till his death in 1770 at the age of 70. The long inscription on his gravestone ends with the lines:
Think what the Christian minister should be,
You’ve then his character—for such was he.567
Four times during the year members of the Cushing family preached for Checkley, and fortunately he has given a designation to each one so that they can be identified, for they were all near relatives. On June 8 came “Mr Cushing (of Dover).” This was the Rev. Jonathan Gushing of the Harvard Class of 1712, who, like Checkley, had had a call (in 1716) to a Haverhill church and declined it,568 and had taught school for a year or two at his boyhood home in Hingham. On September 18, 1717, he was settled over the parish at Dover, New Hampshire, at a salary of £90 a year, and in the following month he married his second cousin Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Cushing of Boston. He was minister of that church for fifty-two years and until his death March 25, 1769, and for the last two years had as his colleague the Rev. Dr. Jeremy Belknap. In personal appearance he is said to have been “a large, stout man of dignified appearance,” and also that he was “a grave and sound preacher, a kind, peaceable, prudent and judicious pastor, a wise and faithful friend.”569
On July 6 is found the entry in the Diary “Mr Cushing (of Salsbury),” on August 3 “Mr Cushing (of Haverhil),” and on November 16 “Mr James Cushing.” The last two items refer to the same man—the Rev. James Cushing (H. C. 1725), who became pastor of the North parish of Haverhill in 1730 and died there May 13, 1764. He was a second cousin of the Dover minister and the son of the Rev. Caleb Cushing of Salisbury, who had filled Checkley’s pulpit on July 6. The latter was the ancestor of Caleb Cushing, the well-known lawyer and statesman.
The note under July 20, “Mr Hinsdel p.m.,” recalls an interesting character, Ebenezer Hinsdale of the Harvard Class of 1727. He was ordained a missionary to the Indians in 1733, when the Rev. Joseph Sewall preached the ordination sermon.570 He seems to have gone at once to the Connecticut valley, where he entered with zeal into the work of a pioneer. He was chaplain of the troops stationed at Fort Dummer, and later built a grist mill near by. In 1753 the town of Hinsdale was incorporated and he was its first town clerk. He died January 6, 1763, at the age of 57, and on his gravestone he is called “Col.”571 The Rev. Paul Coffin (H. C. 1759) of Wells, Maine, kept a journal of a tour to the Connecticut River in the summer of 1760, and on July 25 of that year wrote:
Rode alone to Deerfield dined with Rev. Ashley, then waited on Col. Hinsdale. This man with Joseph Seecomb and Mr. Parker, was ordained a Missionary in Boston, Hinsdale was sent westward; the other 2 went East. All this must have been done long before the war of 1755. Hinsdale did not preach long. The Town and Fort near Fort Dumma, is now called Hinsdale, after the said Hinsdale. The Fort he built at his own Cost. . . . Col. Hinsdale has 30 acres english grain fit for the Sickle.572
Coffin staid over night at the house and next day Madam Hinsdale and he went in a row boat three miles to hear Mr. (afterwards Judge) Simeon Strong preach.
On December 7 another man from western Massachusetts preached for Checkley, the Rev. Robert Breck. Son of the Rev. Robert Breck573 of Marlborough, he graduated at Harvard in 1730 and was settled for two or more years at Windham, Connecticut, when he received a call to the church at Springfield. This he declined because certain rumors and stories regarding his belief were rife in the parish; but in 1735 he was again called, accepted, and was installed, and continued as pastor till his death April 23, 1784, at the age of 71, by tact and judicious conduct of life living down all prejudices and becoming much loved.574
One famous Middlesex County minister officiated for Checkley, for on November 23 is found the item “old Mr Hancock.” This was the Rev. John Hancock, who was settled over the parish in Lexington from 1698 to 1752, the latter part of the time having as his colleague his son, the Rev. Ebenezer Hancock. He was familiarly known as “Bishop Hancock,” because he had presided over so many ministerial councils and ordinations in Middlesex County.575
On November 9 is the entry “Mr Willord (of Biddiford).” This was the Rev. Samuel Willard of the Harvard Class of 1723, long settled at Biddeford. He was the father of Joseph Willard, the President of Harvard College.
Checkley also notes the ordination of the Rev. Joseph Stimpson of Charlestown over the South Precinct Church of Maiden, on September 24. Corey’s History of Maiden gives a pathetic tale of this man’s poverty and struggles.
On October 5 is the entry “Mr Cambell a.m.” This was probably the Rev. Othniel Campbell of the Harvard Class of 1728, a resident of the town of Plympton.576 In 1738 he is found on the council of ministers and elders, mostly Plymouth County men, who settled the dispute between the Rev. John Robinson and the people of Duxbury.
On December 21 Mr. Checkley’s pulpit was filled in the morning by a classmate at Harvard, John Cleverly, a singular man. He had studied for the ministry, but probably never was ordained, and about this period preached for a few years in New Jersey, at Elizabeth and Morristown. His ministrations not being successful, he retired from the pulpit and lived at Morristown somewhat of a hermit, unmarried, and in straitened circumstances, till his death on December 31, 1776, at the age of 81.577
In addition to the annual Fast on March 27, Mr. Checkley makes mention four times of fasts that were held in Boston during this year. First on May 22 “at old Ch:” meaning probably the First Church. Next on June 24 “At our Ch:” and here he gives more than a brief line and speaks of the preaching and praying both morning and afternoon, showing that the people evidently gave up a whole day to these fasts. The other two were those at the Rev. Mr. Welsteed’s New Brick Church on August 26, and at Charlestown on September 23. In each case Checkley gives as the object of these fasts “the Revival of religion.” Late in the previous year, Jonathan Edwards’s sermon entitled A Divine and Supernatural Light, Immediately imparted to the Soul by the Spirit of God, had started a revival in the Connecticut valley which was the forerunner of “the Great Awakening” that came when George Whitefield visited New England in 1740. It has generally been supposed that the influence of the earlier revival did not reach as far as Boston. “The excitement,” writes Palfrey, “which in Massachusetts had been confined to towns on or near Connecticut River, ceased after about six months.”578 And the Rev. Alexander McKenzie says, “But Boston was yet to feel its power.”579 The term “revival of religion” had been in use for a generation or so in New England, and church fasts were common at that period; but perhaps the fasts mentioned by Mr. Checkley indicate the influence in Boston of the movement begun by Edwards.
The annual Thanksgiving Day for 1735 came on Thursday, November 13, and Checkley notes that he preached all day. He also records that July 4 was Commencement at Cambridge and that it was a rainy day with northeast wind. That life in the days of the horse and the chaise was not without its excitements and even dangers, is shown by an accident that is thus recorded in the Weekly Journal of Monday, July 7:
On Friday last the Day of the Commencement at Cambridge, a Person belonging to Milton, being mounted on his Horse, and riding homewards, was met by a Chaise which run against his Leg, and broke the same so dangerously, that his Life is in great hazzard.
Among the most important items in the Diary are the burials recorded, and most of them were of Checkley’s parishoners or neighbors. Unfortunately, however, he failed in many cases to give more than the surnames, so that identification is difficult; but extracts from the New England Weekly Journal for that year throw light upon many of the items.
January 18, “old Capt Bennet buried.” This was John Bennet, styled a blacksmith, and probably in his early days a mariner, who had a dwelling-house at the South End, and seems to have owned a rather large piece of land stretching from Orange Street to the water.580 The paper of Monday, January 20, states:
On Wednesday last died here Capt. John Bennet in the 89th year of his Age; A Gentleman well known and respected among us; and was decently Interr’d on Saturday last.
January 23, “Richard Flood buried.” This man, too, was a mariner, and lived near the New South Church. He owned a house and land near the Bull Wharf; and Samuel Adams administered upon his estate.581
January 29, “old Mr Cunningham buried.” This was Andrew Cunningham, a Scotchman, who was a resident of Boston as early as 1684, and lived on Newbury (now Washington) Street near the corner of Essex. He was the founder of his family in Boston and died January 27, 1735, aged 81.582
March 13, “Mr Burgain buried.” This was Robert Burgain, mariner.
April 16, “Mr Allen dy’d,” and April 19 “Mr Silence Allen buried.” The Weekly Journal of April 21 states: “Last week died Mr. Silence Allen, Cordwainer, a Person well known and respected among us.” He had married January 20, 1692, Esther, daughter of Enoch Wiswall of Boston,583 and had been admitted to full communion with the New South Church May 7, 1727.
April 23, “Capt Arthur Savage buried.” He was a man of some consequence in the town and has already been referred to in our Transactions.584 The Weekly Journal of Monday, April 28, stated:
On Wednesday last the Remains of Arthur Savage, Esq; whose Dearn we mention’d in our last, were decently Interr’d. We are inform’d that he has left a Legacy 25 l. per Annum for some term of Years, to the Poor of the Town of Boston.
May 24, “Madam Oliver buried.” This was Governor Belcher’s sister and she was of sufficient social prominence in the town to have her death noted in any diary. The Weekly Journal of Monday, May 26, said:
On Wednesday Morning died and on Saturday last was decently and honourably Interred, Madam Elizabeth Oliver, Relict of the late Honourable Daniel Oliver Esq; and Sister to His Excellency Governour Belcher.
June 4, “Capt Dorby buried.” The Weekly Journal of Monday, June 2, said: “Yesterday died in an advanced Age Capt. Eleazer Darby of this Place.”
June 9, “Deacon Powning buried.” This was Daniel, the son of Henry and Elizabeth Powning, in his 74th year, who had been dismissed from the Old Church, and on August 7, 1720, was admitted to full communion in the New South. The Weekly Journal of Monday, June 9, speaks of him as follows: “On Friday last died here Mr. Daniel Pounding, Deacon of the New South Church; and who for many Years has had the care of the Powder-House.” Sewall mentions him several times, and on January 20, 1719–20, mentions a visit to his mother, who must have flattered the Judge, for he records: “Mrs Powning will be 90. years old next February; I gave her two Crowns, which she very kindly received. Is very hard of hearing, very loansome, spake very well of my Match.”
July 15, “Mr John Fitch buried.” The Weekly Journal of Monday, July 14, records: “On Thursday last died here Mr. John Fitch, only son of the Hon. Col. Thomas Fitch, in the 26th year of his age.” He had received his A.B. at Harvard in 1727, his A.M. in 1730, and had married Martha, daughter of Anthony Stoddard.585
September 3, “Madam Palmer buried.” The Weekly Journal of Tuesday, Sept. 2, has: “On Thursday night last died here Madam Palmer, the virtuous Consort of the Hon. Judge Palmer, and we hear is to be Interred tomorrow.” It is probably her house, near Fort Hill, that Checkley records as having been struck by lightning on July 28.
November 15, “Mrs Luce buried.” The Weekly Journal of Tuesday, November 18, makes brief mention of this death: “On Monday night last Mrs. Elizabeth Luce, the consort of Mr. Peter Luce, died in a Convulsion Fit after a very short illness.” The Boston News-Letter of November 14 states that she was “Sister to Col. Estes Hatch.”
December 2, “Mr Jno Davenport buried.” This was the son of Addington and Elizabeth Davenport. He graduated at Harvard in 1721, married in 1733 Abigail, daughter of Thomas Hutchinson, and died on November 27, 1735, at the age of 32. The Weekly Journal of Tuesday, December 2, has:
On Thursday last died here much lamented, Mr. John Davenport, in the Prime of Life, he had an Education at Harvard College, and was for Some Years, a beloved Tutor in that Society—we hear he is to be interr’d this Day.
Mr. Checkley mentions two other burials that are worthy of note.
April 19, “Revd Mr Tayler’s wife of Milton buried.” John Taylor graduated at Harvard in 1721, was ordained over the church in Milton in 1728, and continued there till his death in 1749. He married April 9, 1730, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. Nathaniel Rogers of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, who was probably a sister of the wife of the Rev. Joshua Gee of Boston.
April 1, “Dr Colmans Daugr Turil buried at Medford.” This was Jane, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Colman of the Church in Brattle Square, who was born in 1708 and married at the age of eighteen to the Rev. Ebenezer Turell, pastor of the church in Medford, who has been immortalized by Holmes in his poem entitled “Parson Turell’s Legacy.”586 Mrs. Turell died on March 26 at the early age of twenty-seven, leaving an infant son who died the following year. Mr. Turell did not long remain a widower, for the Weekly Journal of Tuesday, October 28, stated that “On Thursday Evening last the Rev. Mr. Turell of Medford, was married to Mrs. Lucey Davenport, daughter of the Hon. Judge Davenport of this Town.” He thus became a brother-in-law of the John Davenport whose burial took place on December 2, and the two men had been classmates at Harvard.
The severity of the cold and the great quantity of snow that fell might well have made 1735 an “old fashioned winter,” and a sufficient comment on the extent to which the cold got into the buildings is Mr. Checkley’s entry for Sunday, January 19: “It was so cold a Lords Day that the water for Baptism was considerably frozen.” March seems to have been a particularly stormy month with every kind of weather from thunder and lightning to snow. On June 14 is found this item: “in some places there have been this week considerable frosts (& some Ice) which much hurt and Spoild the English Grain;” and again, on October 30, occurs the record of such a severe snow storm and cold that a man was found frozen to death.
During the year several casualties of local importance are mentioned, such as the striking by lightning on April 7 of the ball on the steeple of the Old South Church, and on June 28 of the drowning of the only son of Robert Hadwin, a lad twelve or thirteen years of age. He had gone in swimming just below the Common and had ventured beyond his depth.
On July 7 is recorded the burning of Dr. Rand’s “Still House,” but the New England Weekly Journal of Monday, July 14, gives the building a slightly different name: “On Monday last a fire broke out at the South End of the town in a small building improved by Dr. Rand for boiling Varnish &ct. which was soon burned to the Ground but the Fire did no other damage.” The owner of this building was probably Dr. Isaac Rand (1718–1790) of Charlestown and the father of the much more celebrated Dr. Isaac Rand of Boston.587
July 29 must have been a day of excitement, for in the early morning came the attempt to poison the Scarlet family. The Weekly Journal of August 4 gives a vivid picture of this “horrid Attempt [that] was made here” last Tuesday “to poison Mr. Humphry Scarlet of this Town, Victualler, his Wife and two Children” by two negroes in their employ, a man named Yaw and a boy named Caesar, who put lumps of “Arsenick” or ratsbane into a skillet of chocolate that was being prepared for breakfast. The long examination of these negroes is interesting, and their attempt to entangle a young negro woman in their crime met with a sudden end when she testified that she had herself been slightly poisoned by tasting the chocolate left in the skillet. The sequel is thus related in the Weekly Journal of Tuesday, September 2:
On Fryday last the two Negroes (lately mentioned) belonging to Mr. Scarlet, who were try’d a few days before at the Assizes held here, & found Guilty of putting Poison into a Skillet of Chocolate, with a design to Poison the Family, had their Sentence given them, which is this, They are to sit on the Gallows for the Space of one Hour, with a Rope about their Necks, and the End of it thrown over the Beam, after which they are to be Whip’d 39 Lashes each on the bare Back at the Carts Tail, between the Gallows and the Prison.
Later in the day came a tragedy near the water front. An attempt was made to open and clean an old well about thirty feet deep on Minot’s Tee to the Long wharf, which had long been out of use, and into which had run sewage and other filth.588 As the work progressed one of the workmen, John Torke of Boston, a married man between thirty and forty, was lowered into the well and as he descended seemed somewhat affected by the gas and was raised to the surface where the fresh air revived him. He then made a second attempt, going further down, and became too much overcome to assist himself in getting out, when John Mack Nobb, a young sailor from a neighboring vessel, went down on the rope; but on his reaching Torke the additional weight sent them both to the bottom, where the gases suffocated them past resuscitation.
Having spoken of church fasts and thanksgiving, let us now turn our attention to secular celebrations. Of these there were certainly three, and probably four, in honor of the royal family. The birthday of Queen Caroline occurred on March 1. Though neither the News-Letter nor the Weekly Journal mentions this event in 1735, yet no doubt it was observed; and if so, its celebration was presumably not unlike the one three years earlier, thus recorded in the Weekly Journal of Monday, March 6, 1732:
Wednesday last being the Anniversary of the Birth of her most gracious Majesty Queen CAROLINE, who then enter’d the 50th Year of her Age, the same was observed here with Demonstrations of Loyalty and joy. In the Evening there were Illuminations, particularly his Excellency’s Seat was finely Illuminated with several hundred Lamps.
Next in order came the accession to the throne of George II on June 11, thus reported in the Weekly Journal of Monday, June 16, 1735:
Wednesday last being the Anniversary of the happy Accession of our most gracious Sovereign King GEORGE the Second, to the Throne, when his Majesty enter’d the Ninth Year of his Reign, the same was observed here with the greatest Demonstrations of Loyalty and Joy: At Noon the Guns at his Majesty’s Castle William, on board his Majesty’s Ship Scarborough, and other Ships in the Harbour were discharged: His Excellency our Governour & several other Gentlemen were elegantly entertain’d at Dinner, by Capt. Durell,589 on board the Scarborough: And in the Afternoon the Regiment of Militia in this Town were mustered, and being drawn together in a Body on the Common, were reviewed by his Excellency, attended by a great Number of the principal Gentry in Town & Country, and Officers paying the proper Standing Salute as they pass’d along. After which his Excellency, and his honourable Attendants, repair’d to a spacious Tent prepared for them on the Common, from whence his Excellency Review’d the Regiment in their March out of the Field, the Officers handsomely performing the proper Salute. The Regiment passing thro’ the Main Street, repair’d to King-Street, where, after performing the Manual Exercises, Firing three Rounds, and giving three loud Huzza’s, an innumerable Company of Spectators joining with them, (his Excellency viewing them from the Balcony of the Council Chamber,) each Company was drawn off and dismiss’d: And the Evening concluded with abundant Expressions of Loyalty & Joy.
Last Saturday being the Anniversary of His Majesty’s Coronation, the same was observed by the Discharge of the Guns at Castle William; those on board His Majesty’s Ship Scarborough, &c. with other Demonstrations of Loyalty and Rejoycing.
Closely following the coronation came the King’s birthday on October 30, and this, in spite of the snow and cold, was celebrated by a bonfire and fireworks on Dorchester Neck, and one poor fellow, losing his way in the storm, was frozen to death. In the Weekly Journal of Tuesday, November 4, we read:
Thursday last the 30th of October, being the Birth Day of His Majesty King GEORGE the Second, our most gracious Sovereign, when His Majesty entred the Fifty third Year of his Life, the same was observed here with all possible Demonstrations of Loyalty and Joy. At Noon the Guns were discharged at His Majesty’s Castle William, and His Excellency’s Troop of Guards, with two other Troops from the County were muster’d on the Occasion, and drawn up in King-Street. At Night His Excellency’s Seat, with divers others, were finely Illuminated on this joyfull Occasion.
The account of this affair in the News-Letter of November 6 concludes as follows:
A large bonfire was made at Dorchester-Neck, and many curious FireWorks play’d off; but by reason of thick Weather and a great Fall of Snow, the Splendor thereof was much diminish’d, being scarce visible in Town.
The same Night, one Joseph Green of this Town, a labouring Man, who had been employed the Day before to assist in erecting a Mast for the Bonfire at Dorchester Neck, lost his Way as he was going from the Fire to some House or Barn, and the next Morning was found dead in the Snow.590
Shortly after this, on November 5, came a similar celebration at the same place, it being the anniversary of the famous Gunpowder Plot of 1605 in which Guy Fawkes was the active figure; and this day too was followed by fatalities, for four young men crossing the harbor in a canoe were drowned. The Weekly Journal of Tuesday, November 11, says:
On Wednesday last being the 5th of November, the Guns were fired at Castle William, in Commemoration of the happy and remarkable Deliverance of our Nation from Popery and Slavery, by the Discovery of the Gun Powder Plot in the Year 1605; and in the Evening there were Bonfires, and other Rejoycings.
The same Evening four young Men of this Town went in a Canoe (as we are informed) to see the Bonfire on Dorchester Neck, and have not been heard of since; which makes it fear’d they were drowned in their return home.
A further account of this fatality is contained in the News-Letter of Thursday, November 20:
Four Youths that went over from this Town, in a small Boat, to Dorchester Neck, to see the Diversions There in the Evening after the 5th Instant, having not been heard of for some Time after, People had various Conjectures concerning them; but it was most generally tho’t they were drowned in their return Home; and accordingly it now appears that they were, the Bodies of two of them having been found, one on Monday and the other on Tuesday last; The Name of one was John Darling,591 an Apprentice belonging to Mr. Salt the Cooper, and Son of Mrs. Darling a Widow in Charlstown; the other’s Name was John Hemmenway of this Town, an Apprentice to Mr. Joseph Hill, Rope-maker: The Bodies of the other Two are not yet found.
This anniversary had been celebrated since the early days of the colony, and as the eighteenth century advanced the celebrations became more boisterous and the turbulent spirits of the community caused the authorities much anxiety. At first there were processions in which effigies of the Pope and the Devil were carried about the streets and finally burned, but near the time of the Revolution, when popular feeling against the English ran high, the images of unpopular officials like Governor Hutchinson, General Gage, and others were added. Just how early these celebrations began in New England is hard to say, but Judge Sewall speaks of one in 1685 as if it were a regular occurrence, for he says:
Mr. Allin preached Novr. 5. 1685——finished his Text 1 Jno. 1. 9. mentioned not a word in Prayer or Preaching that I took notice of with respect to Gun-powder Treason. . . . Although it rained hard, yet there was a Bonfire made on the Com̄on, about 50 attended it. Friday night [November 6] being fair, about two hundred hallowed about a Fire on the Com̄on.592
Most of the almanacs mentioned the day, as this very one of Bowen’s, where against November 5 is found “Powder Plot;” and Ames’s almanac for 1735 has under November the lines—
Gun Powder Plot
We ha’nt forgot.
In his issue for 1740 Ames says:
Now for the Old Plot, the POPE goes to Pot
The curst Pope stands in the Way, or I had told you the Day.
What Heaven decrees, no Prudence can prevent.
And in the issue for 1746 we read:
Powder-Plot is not forgot;
’T will be observed by many a Sot.
In the issue of 1767 he has so much to say about the growing political troubles that he merely adds the line—“Powder plot most forgot;” while in the issue for 1772 his allusion brings in the name of Captain Preston of the British troops engaged in the Boston Massacre:
To burn the Pope, is now a joke,
for a design he miss’t on,
to sap that mansion
which dares pension
Your famous Butcher Preston!593
Dr. Nathaniel Ames the younger in his Diary under November 5, 1765, says, “Pope Devil and Stampman exhibited together.”594
Captain Francis Goelet, a New York merchant visiting Boston in 1750, was evidently amused and impressed by what he saw on Pope Night, for he records in his Journal:
After dinner went with some of the Compy to ye North End the Towne Bot Some Limes &c where we saw the Devil and the Pope &c Carried abt by the Mob represented in Effegy very drole soone after see two more, but the Justices feareing some Outrages may be Committed Put a Stop to them.595
It seems that as the custom grew, in Boston there became two rival processions, one from the North End and one from the South End, each carrying images of the Pope and the Devil, and that they marched towards each other and had a skirmish in which the mob joined and the victorious band then burned both sets of images. In 1765 the popular leaders of the town put a stop to this useless quarrel, pacified the two factions, formed them into a Union, and brought to an end the noisy and turbulent celebration. This Union observed the day in a quieter manner with a supper at night; and in this was a nucleus that was of service to the patriots in the approaching struggle.596 John Boyle mentions this same occurrence:
1765, Nov. 5. A Union established between the South and North End Popes. Capt. Mc Intosh on the Part of the South, and Capt. Swift, on the Part of the North. It has heretofore been the Practice on the even’g of the 5th of November, for the two Popes to engage, by which means many Persons have been greatly maimed. This Union and one other more extensive, may be looked upon as the only happy Effecte arising from the Stamp Act.
This Union was undoubtedly hastened by the fatalities of the year before, for Boyle in his Journal for November 5, 1764, says:
A Child of Mr. Brown’s at the North-End was run over by one of the Wheels of the North-End Pope and Killed on the Spot. Many others were wounded in the evening.597
1764 Nov. 5. A sorrowful accident happened this forenoon at the North End—the wheel of the carriage that the Pope was fixed on run over a Boy’s head & he died instantly. The Sheriff, Justices, Officers of the Militia were ordered to destroy both So & North End Popes. In the afternoon they got the North End Pope pulled to pieces, they went to the So End but could not Conquer upon which the South End people brought out their pope & went in Triumph to the Northward and at the Mill Bridge a Battle begun between the people of Both Parts of the Town. The North End people having repaired their pope, but the South End people got the Battle (many were hurt & bruised on both sides) & Brought away the North End pope & burnt Both of them at the Gallows on the Neck. Several thousand people following them, hallowing &ct.598
Several years ago Mr. Albert Matthews599 made some mention of the observances of Pope Day and quoted from articles in Boston newspapers of 1821 written by some man who remembered the celebrations of the day, though it is probable that after the outbreak of the Revolution the day was less frequently celebrated in New England.600 Perhaps the one place where it lingered longest is in the old town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which clings to many an ancient custom, and there even to the present time something is done on the evening of November fifth, though the performance has changed to the blowing of horns and the carrying about of pumpkin lanterns by boys, none of whom know the origin of the celebration,601 and even the name has been changed to Pork Night
John Albee of New Castle, New Hampshire, in 1892 bore testimony to the survival of the custom in Portsmouth up to that year, saying that he had been a resident of New Castle for the preceding twenty-six years and that he remembered a celebration in that town each of those years.602 He also furnished clippings from two of the local newspapers which told of the doings of 1892, as follows:
The celebration of the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ night on Saturday by the young people of this city was not so extensive as in former years, no doubt owing to the condition of the streets, but nevertheless small bands paraded the streets and made the early part of the evening hideous with music (?) from the tin horns they carried for the occasion. Some carried the usual pumpkin lanterns. The ringing of door-bells was also extensively indulged in. Very few of the paraders knew that the celebration was in keeping of the old English custom of observing the anniversary of the discovery of the famous gunpowder plot to blow up the House of Commons.603
Chaps in this city had their annual blow-out on Guy Fawkes’ night, and in parts of the city the toot of the horns was something terrific. Some grotesque pumpkin lanterns were seen, and altogether the celebration was evidently enjoyed by the boys. Portsmouth is not alone in this peculiar observance, for down at Marblehead the night of the 5th of November is remembered by a huge bonfire on the neck, around which the chaps with horns dance in fantastic glee. The blaze Saturday night on the M. N. was a bigger one than usual.
It’s a queer custom the youths of Portsmouth and Marblehead have.604
In the early times the day was observed in most of the large New England towns as well as in Boston, and there are many casual references to it. The Rev. Samuel Deane of Portland makes mention of it twice in his Journal: “1770 November 5 Several popes and devils tonight;” “1771 November 5 No popes nor devils here tonight at my house.”605 The Rev. Ezra Stiles speaks of it at Newport in 1771, saying “Powder Plot,—Pope &ct carried about;” and again on November 5, 1774, he says, “This Afternoon three popes &ct. paraded thro’ the streets, & in the Evening they were consumed in a Bonfire as usual—among others were Ld. North, Gov. Hutchinson & Gen. Gage.”606 John Adams, attending court at Salem on Wednesday, November 5, 1766, says:
Spent the evening at Mr. Pynchon’s, with Farnham, Sewall, Sargeant, Col. Saltonstall &ct. very agreeably. Punch, wine, bread and cheese, apples, pipes and tobacco. Popes and bonfires this evening at Salem, and a swarm of tumultuous people attending.607
Coffin gives an excellent account in much detail of the way the day was celebrated in Newbury and says that the last celebration was in 1775, the principal cause of its discontinuance being an unwillingness to displease the French, whose assistance was deemed so advantageous at that time. As the observance of the day at Newburyport was probably typical of those in other large New England towns, it is interesting to quote what Coffin says of it:
In the day time, companies of little boys might be seen, in various parts of the town, with their little popes, dressed up in the most grotesque and fantastic manner, which they carried about, some on boards, and some on little carriages, for their own and others’ amusement. But the great exhibition was reserved for the night, in which young men, as well as boys, participated. They first constructed a huge vehicle, varying at times, from twenty to forty feet long, eight or ten wide, and five or six high, from the lower to the upper platform, on the front of which, they erected a paper lantern, capacious enough to hold, in addition to the lights, five or six persons. Behind that, as large as life, sat the mimic pope, and several other personages, monks, friars and so forth. Last, but not least, stood an image of what was designed to be a representation of old Nick himself, furnished with a pair of huge horns, holding in his hand a pitchfork, and otherwise accoutred, with all the frightful ugliness that their ingenuity could desire. Their next step, after they had mounted their ponderous vehicle on four wheels, chosen their officers, captain, first and second lieutenant, purser and so forth, placed a boy under the platform, to elevate and move round, at proper intervals, the moveable head of the pope, and attached ropes to the front part of the machine, was, to take up their line of march through the principal streets of the town. Sometimes in addition to the images of the pope and his company, there might be found, on the same platform, half a dozen dancers and a fiddler, whose
‘Hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels
Put life and mettle in their heels,’
together with a large crowd who made up a long procession. Their custom was, to call at the principal houses in various parts of the town, ring their bell, cause the pope to elevate his head, and look round upon the audience, and repeat the following fines.
As you well remember,
Was gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
When the first King James the sceptre swayed,
This hellish powder plot was laid.
Thirty-six barrels of powder placed down below
All for old England’s overthrow:
Happy the man, and happy the day
That caught Guy Fawkes in the middle of his play.
You’ll hear our bell go jink, jink, jink;
Pray madam, sirs, if you’ll something give,
We’ll burn the dog and never let him live.
We’ll burn the dog without his head,
And then you’ll say the dog is dead.
From Rome, from Rome, the pope is come,
All in ten thousand fears;
The fiery serpent’s to be seen,
All head, mouth, nose and ears.
The treacherous knave had so contrived,
To blow king parliament all up alive.
God by his grace he did prevent
To save both king and parliament.
Happy the man, and happy the day,
That catched Guy Fawkes in the middle of his play.
Match touch, catch prime,
In the good nick of time.
Here is the pope that we have got,
The whole promoter of the plot.
We’ll stick a pitchfork in his back
And throw him in the fire.’
After the verses were repeated, the purser stepped forward and took up his collection. Nearly all on whom they called, gave something. Esquire Atkins and Esquire Dalton, always gave a dollar apiece. After perambulating the town, and finishing their collections, they concluded their evening’s entertainment with a splendid supper; after making with the exception of the wheels and the heads of the effigies, a bonfire of the whole concern, to which were added, all the wash tubs, tar barrels, and stray lumber, that they could lay their hands on. With them the custom was, to steal all the stuff. But those days have long since passed away.608
When we read such accounts as this, what wonder is it that towns should pass ordinances against bonfires on the night of November fifth? Even as early as 1753 these celebrations had caused enough anxiety for the Province to pass “An Act for further preventing all riotous, tumultuous and disorderly Assemblies or Companies of Persons, and for preventing Bonfires in any of the Streets or Lanes within any of the Towns of this Province.”609 Finally, in many places all the sport was obliged to take place in the day time. And in Boston, where just before the Revolution the two rival processions with hostile intentions towards one another created such a tumult, leading citizens used their influence to unite the two factions and then subscribed money for a supper and a more peaceful entertainment for the would-be participants. And so this old New England celebration gradually died out except in Portsmouth and possibly one or two other places, and even there it has undergone so great a change that none of its original features are left, and few if any of the participants know the significance of the day or even its old-time name.
- 1 [ ]
- 2 fair pleasant warm.
- 3 Rain wd E. and S.E.
- 4 fair warm.
- 5 E.611 prd all day. Wd N.E. Snow and Stormy at night.
- 8 fair & cold
- 9 fair very cold.
- 11 fair warm & pleasant.
- 12 E. Sact prd all day—moderate
- 13 Rain wd S.E.
- 14 fair warm.
- 16 Cloudy p.m. pretty much rain Even:
- 17 fair very high wind & Extream cold.
- 18 very cold Day old Capt Bennet612 buried.
- 19 E. Mr Foxcroft. A.M. Snow very Stormy & cold p.m. the water for Bapm frozen. This Day (being Lords Day) it began to Snow before morning Service was over and increas’d very much. The afternoon was very Stormy it Snow’d fast & wind blew very hard at N.E. The storm increased towards Even:—& the night following it raind & blew as hard as I allmost ever knew it. The next Day fair very cold and Slippery. Several vessells cast away in the Storm a Lords day night. It was so cold a Lords Day that the water for Baptism was considerably frozen.
- 20 fair very cold & Slippery
- 21 fair more moderate.
- 22 fair pleasant, flurry of Snow Even: then very cold.
- 23 Extream cold Richard Flood613 buried.
- 26 E. prd all Day. Cloudy, some Small rain & foggy.
- 27 Cloudy foggy. Niegr Barter’s Daughter buried.
- 28 fair pleasant. Cloudy Even: little Snow in night.
- 29 fair pretty cold old Mr Cunningham614 buried.
- 30 fair cold Day.
- 31 pleasant.
- 1 fair a.m. Cloudy p.m. wd E. Snow at night very Stormy the most snow we’ve had this winter.
- 2 E. prd all Day. Wet Snow a.m. not very cold.
- 3 Some Snow. & some rain. wd S.E.
- 4 Cloudy, then fair moderate
- 5 fair & cold.
- 8 pleasant moderate weather.
- 9 E. Sact: prd all day
- 11 fair cold.
- 12 fair. Cloudy p.m. Snow at night about 3 inches deep.
- 13 fair. Exceed: cold p.m. & Even:
- 14 Exceed Smart cold last night & to day. moderate at Even:
- 15 Wet Snow good part of day Wd S.E.
- 16 E. Chang’d wth Mr Chauncy. a.m. fair pleasant
- 17 Rain last night, foggy & rain to day
- 20 fair pleasant Capt Goold’s Kinswoman buried.
- 21 fair pleasant Spring like weather.
- 22 fair pleasant—but raw East: wd
- 23 E. Changed wth Mr Gee a.m. pleasant
- 24 Cloudy foggy Mr Nicholson’s Child buried.
- 25 Rain. Wd S.E. James Ferguson buried much rain at night and High wind.
- 28 Cloudy. raw E. Wind.
- 1 rain wd E.S.E. A.M. fair & very warm p.m.
- 2 E. prd all Day. fair A.M. Cloudy p.m. rain Even: wd N.E.
- 3 wd N.E. Cloudy foggy. & rain
- 4 Cloudy, then fair and windy.
- 5 wind last night Exceed: high at South.
- 7 Little Snow in morning.
- 9 E. Sact prd all day. very Smart cold.
- 13 fair. Windy p.m. & Even looks like Storm Mr Burgain615 buried.
- 14 Little rain. fair p.m.
- 15 Several Showers p.m. Lightg & very hard Thunder. This day we had Several Thunder Showers, they rose from the west and northwest very black, it raind very hard and hail’d. Thunderd & Lightned often & one Clap exceeding hard.
- 16 E. Mr John Cotton616 all day. fair pretty cold.
- 17 Snow all day & very Stormy, as much Snow as has fell at a time this winter This morning about 7 a Clock it began to Snow, wind at South and then came north, it Snow’d all day. & was very Stormy wd at N. West as much Snow fell this day as has at one time this winter, it was a moist heavey Snow but if light & dry would have been (it is Judgd) a foot deep
- 18 fair & cold. Several flurrys of Snow wth wind towards Even: very cold but fair. Several flurries of Snow towards night & in Even: with wind and very cold, the lighthouse boat overset and one man drownd
- 20 fair. Cloudy Even.
- 21 very Stormy it Snowd all day. wd E. & N.E. more Snow than has fell this winter at once. Early in the morn: it began to Snow and was very Stormy wind East, it held Snowing & was very stormy all day wd E. & N.E. as Stormy a Day as we have for years together, and more Snow fell this day than has fallen at once the Winter past.
- 23 E. prd for Mr Byles A.M. Dr Sewall prd for me A.M. fair.
- 24 Cloudy then Exeeding stormy all Day: vid: backside617 Cloudy in the morning then rain and Stormy, the storm increasd all afternoon and Even: it raind it snowd and it haild. and the wd at N.E. blew as hard as Ever I knew it in my life. Most Houses shook very much and great damage was done to the Wharfs and shipping, the wind and storm abated about midnight. A more terrific storm scarce known.
- 27 The Annual Fast. prd all day. fair pleasant.
- 28 fair Springlike weather
- 29 fair. looks like fowl weather p.m.
- 30 E. Mr Byles A.M. I prd for Mr Chauncy A.M. rain Even wind & Snow
- 31 Great deal of rain. Mr McLorry618 Child buried.
- N B. more storms of rain Snow and wind this month than all the Winter & for many winters past.
- 1 rain in morn: then fair Dr Colmans Daugr Turil619 buried at Medford
- 2 rain.
- 3 rain A.M. fair p.m.
- 4 Cloudy foggy weather.
- 5 Cloudy foggy a.m. fair p.m. Capt Homans arrived.
- 6 E. Sact: prd all day. fair pleasant.
- 7 fair pleasant, a.m. rain Thundr & light: p.m. This day in afternoon it came up very Black then raind and haild in midst of which a great deal of Sharp Lightning & hard Thunder. The lightning struck the Ball upon the Steeple of the old South Church but hurt nothing else.
- 8 fair cool.
- 10 fair, raw wind.
- 12 fair warm day.
- 13 E. Mr Chauncey. A.M. very warm hazy.
- 14 fair & very warm.
- 15 rain. Stormy wd N.E. very cold
- 16 fair. Mr Allen620 dy’d.
- 19 fair. Mr Silence Allen buried and Revd Mr Tayler’s wife621 of Milton.
- 20 E. Chang’d wth Mr Byles A.M. very hot.
- 22 warm pleasant.
- 23 fair pleasant Capt Arthur Savage622 buried.
- 24 raw cold. some rain towards Even:
- 25 rain. cold Storm wd N.E.
- 26 rain. cold & stormy wd N.E.
- 27 E. Mr Chauncey A.M. I prd for Dr Sewall a.m. very raw cold. & some rain wd N.E.
- 28 rain last night Cloudy to day a.m. fair p.m.
- 29 very squally and cold, a considerle frost last night.
- 2 fair. Mr Greenleafs child buried.
- 3 fair Mr Hall’s Son buried.
- 4 E. Sact: prd all day. rain morn: fair p.m.
- 8 fair. raw cold p.m.
- 11 E. prd all day. warm and windy.
- 12 Cloudy, rain.
- 13 fair. Mr Jackson buried, a Shower wth Lightg and Thunder. at 1 a Clock
- 15 went to Natick and prd Lecture there.
- 17 fair pleasant. hot weather.
- 18 E. chang’d wth Dr Sewall a.m. pleasant. Shower p.m.
- 19 fair Mrs Webber buried.
- 20 fair. very windy p.m.
- 22 Fast at old Ch: for revivl of religion623 &c
- 23 Stormy wd at N.E. rain &cold.
- 24 rain last night and to day. wd N.E. very cold. Madam Oliver624 buried
- 25 E. Mr Eliot625 A.M. I prd for Mr Byles A.M. fair weather
- 29 fair pleasant. Mrs Deming buried.
- 30 raw E. wd foggy A.M. Mrs Hall buried.
- 1 E. Sact Mr Cotton626 (of Hampton) P.M. little rain.
- 2 fair. pretty Dry time.
- 3 foggy then fair.
- 4 fair & hot. Capt Dorby627 buried.
- 6 Weather very hot. Deacon Powning dy’d about 5 h. p.m.
- 8 E. Mr Cushing628 (of Dover) a.m. Weather cooler.
- 9 fair. dry time. Deacon Powning629 buried.
- 11 Cloudy a.m. little rain.
- 12 fair pleasant but dry weather.
- 14 very dry time, and cold for season vid: overleaf.630 very dry weather for a Considle time, and in some places there have been this week considerable frosts (& some Ice) which have much hurt and Spoild the English Grain.
- 15 E. Mr Green631 (of Barnstable) P.M.
- 17 dry weather. little Sprinkling.
- 18 fair. very sharp lightning in Even: & Some rain.
- 19 fair. hot and dry weather.
- 20 a Shower p.m. wth Thundr & Lightg.
- 22 E. Mr Chauncy a.m. S. wd very high.
- 23 Great deal of rain. Thundr & Lightg p.m. then fair.
- 24 Fast at our Ch: for Revival of religion, vid: overleaf.632 This day was kept by our Church in their turn as Day of fasting and prayer for the Revival of Religion &c Mr Abbot prayd & Dr Sewall preachd A.M. Mr Cooper prayd and I preachd p.m.
- 28 Cloudy looks like a Storm. This Day Mr Hadwins son (a Lad of about 12 years old) was drownd at Bottom of the Com̄on.
- 29 E. Sact: Mr Ward Cotton633 p.m.
- 30 fair hot.
- 1 [ ]
- 2 considle want of rain.
- 4 Com̄encment at Cambridge, some rain. wd N.E.
- 5 Some rain last night. Cloudy drisling to day rain towards Even:
- 6 E. Mr Cushing634 (of Salsbury) A.M. Rain last night, and several hard Showers to day.
- 7 fair Dr Rand Still House burnt. This Day Dr Rand Still House took fire just before one a Clock & was presently burnt down.635 Several other Houses in danger but preserv’d.
- 9 Some rain p.m. little Thundr & Lightg.
- 10 Mary Jepson came to live wth us.
- 11 Cloudy then fair wd cool at N.E.
- 12 Cloudy foggy then fair.
- 13 E. Changd wth Mr Byles A.M. rain wth Thundr & Lightg p.m. & in Even: This Day (being Lords Day) there was a shower with some Thunder & Lightning just before the afternoon service, and towards night & in ye Even: there was abundance of rain Thunder & Lightning. Mr Loring’s Barn (at Hull) burnt by ye Lightning about 8 a Clock in Even: and 2 more places Struck with ye Thunder in that Town.
- 14 Cloudy. some rain.
- 15 Some rain a.m. fair p.m. Mr John Fitch636 buried.
- 16 fair very hot.
- 18 very hot. a shower p.m. & Even: wth Thundr & Lightg.
- 20 E. Dr Colman a.m. Mr Hinsdel637 p.m. little rain p.m.
- 23 little rain then fair.
- 25 Looks like fowl weather Even:
- 26 Cloudy. Rain. wd N.E.
- 27 E. Sact: prd all day. little rain a.m. fair p.m.
- 28 very hot. Rain wind terrible Thunder &c p.m. vid. Mid:638 This afternoon it came up very black then the wind blew very hard, in midst of which it raind very hard and we had terrible Thunder & Lightning the Thunder struck and did much damage to Deacon Williams’s House in ye Com̄on. it also struck Judge Palmer’s House and struck down 2 men in the street. The Thunder as Loud as I ever I heard espes: 2 Claps of it.
- 29 very hot. 2 men dy’d in well on Long wharfe by reason of the Damp &c. This day 2 men lost yr lives going down into a well on Long Wharfe ye Damp Suffocated and chilled ym and they were gone at once. This Day Mr Scarlet’s negro poisond his Master Mistress and 2 Children by putting Rats bane into yr Chocolet639
- 31 fair. little rain p.m.
- 1 fair little rain p.m. very much Lightg at night. This afternoon a Small shower, and in the Even: abundance of Lightning. The Lightning continued greatest part of the night.
- 2 hot Muggy. Several Showers.
- 3 E. Mr Cushing640 (of Haverhil) a.m. Showers p.m. & in ye Even: much rain some Thundr & grt deal of Lightg.
- 4 fair pleasant. A Shower just as meeting began p.m. and Towards Even: it came up very black in the N. West. Then raind very hard. with abundance of Lightning and some Thunder but not very hard.
- 5 fair a.m. rain p.m. wd N.E.
- 7 Cloudy. Great deal p.m. & Even:
- 8 Cloudy.
- 9 abund: of rain very Stormy & high tide vid: overleaf.641 This morning it set in for to rain and raind Exceed: hard greatest part of the Day. The wind blew very hard at E. & S.E. The tide was very high did some Damage to wharfs &c as much rain fell to Day as (I think) I ever knew.
- 10 E. prd all day. Cloudy. Rain. Rain hard in Even:
- 12 fair a.m. a Shower p.m. wth Thundr & Lightg.
- 13 A shower wth Thunder & Lightng about 5 a Clock in morn: and several showers in the day with Thunder & lightg. fair Even: This morn: about 5 a Clock we had a shower with Thunder & Lightning. another shower between 7 & 8 Several afterwards.
- 14 cool morn: fair pleasant.
- 17 E prd all day. fair, hot day.
- 19 Cloudy, some rain p.m.
- 20 cool morn: fair pleasant.
- 22 pleasant.
- 24 E. Sact: prd all day. great deal of rain.
- 26 Fast at Mr Welsted’s for revival of relig: Mr Burd’s642 Child buried.
- 27 Extream hot. Mr Brattle olivers child buried.
- 28 very hot. Mrs Ethelridge buried.
- 29 fair very hot.
- 31 E. Mr Cooper A.M. a Shower p.m. wth Thundr & Lightning
- 1 fair pleasant. Mr Bennet buried.
- 2 fair a.m. very hard shower p.m. Lightg in Even: & then fair
- 3 cool morn: Madam Palmer643 buried.
- 5 wt to Newtown prd Mr Cotton’s Lecture. rain a.m. fair p.m.
- 7 E. prd all Day. cool morn:
- 8 Cloudy raw N.E. wd Rain Stormy Even:
- 9 Abund: of rain last night & to day A.M. wd Exceed: high at N.E. fair at night. Last night & to day a.m. a very Great Storm of wind and rain, it was very raw yesterday wd at N.E. & in Even began to rain & blow hard. The wind continued Exceed: high (and it raind very hard all ye time) til near noon next Day.
- 10 fair very cool. Mr Ethridge’s Child buried.
- 11 fair cool morn:
- 14 E. Changd wth Chauncey a.m.
- 16 fair. warm Hazy weather sun very red
- These two days the weather very warm & Hazy not a Cloud in the sky these 2 days & ye sun very red and fiery.
- 17 warm Hazy weather. sun very red.
- 19 fair cool.
- 21 E. Sact: prd all day. very warm Hazy Sun very red
- 23 Fast at Charlestown for revivl of relig: very foggy a.m.
- 24 Mr Stimpson644 ordained at Maiden.
- 25 rain last night & this morning. then fair.
- 26 fair cold N.E. Wd
- 27 Carry’d my Wife and Child to Watertown fair pleasant
- 28 E. Changd wth Mr Byles A.M.
- 1 [ ] N.E. wind.
- 3 fair pleasant my wife and Child returnd from Watertown
- 4 fair pleasant. wd E.
- 5 E. Mr Cambell645 a.m. I prd at Almshouse a.m. Rain at night very Sharp lightg and some Thunder in Even: This Day (being Lords day) it was Cloudy & warm. In the Evening it raind. There were several very sharp flashes of Lightning accompanied wth pretty loud Thunder. rain allmost all the night following.
- 6 Cloudy wind N.E.
- 9 fair very pleasant.
- 11 windy. Cloudy. Some rain p.m.
- 12 E. Mr Eliot A.M. fair cool.
- 13 fair cool morn:
- 14 fair a.m. Cloudy raw & windy p.m. Rain at night.
- 15 Rain wd South.
- 16 fair cold and very windy.
- 19 E. Sact: prd all day. foggy. then fair pleasant.
- 20 Some rain p.m.
- 21 Cloudy. Some rain.
- 23 Cloudy. Rain. wd S.
- 24 Cloudy. some Rain wd S.
- 25 fair cool. cold & windy at night.
- 26 E. Chang’d wth Mr Byles. fair and cold all day prd to young men in Evening.
- 27 fair & cold.
- 28 Cloudy. Snow p.m. very Stormy at night. wd N.E. This day it was Cloudy & very raw a.m. wind at N.E. in after noon it Snowd fast & continued all Even: & night was very Stormy, ye next morn: Snow was about 8 inches deep, and ye Day following it Snow’d great part of day. the first Snow this fall. & a Great deal of it.
- 29 Snow 8 inches deep. Snow good part of ye day.
- 30 Fair morn: Snow p.m. very Stormy even: This Day in afternoon it began to Snow and Snowd very hard & was very stormy til between 10 & 11 Clock at night. In night it was very cold & blew very hard. The same Day (being Kings Birth Day) a considle number of people went over to Dorchester neck to make a Bonfire & play off fireworks in Even: and one poor man (named Green) was found next morn: in Snow frozen to Death.646
- 31 fair & very cold more Snow on ground than has been at this time for many years.
- 1 fair very cold
- 2 E. prd all day fair very cold.
- 5 fair pleasant.647 This Day (being Gun powder treason)648 a Great number of people went over to Dorchester neck where at night they made a Great Bonfire and plaid off many fireworks, afterwards 4 young men coming home in a Canoe were all Drownd. They were not heard of til 17 & or 18 Day & then two of them were taken up dead on ye flatts near the Channel and brot to Boston where the Jewry sat upon ym the next Day they were buried one at Charlestown where his friends liv’d the other in this Town.
- 6 fair. cold day.
- 7 fair cold.
- 9 E. Mr Willord649 (of Biddiford) a.m. fair pleasant.
- 12 Cloudy & warm, fair p.m.
- 13 The Annual Thanksgiving prd all day fair very pleasant.
- 14 rain wd E.
- 15 fair. Mrs Luce650 buried. Mr Hatch’s sons came to live at our House
- 16 E. Sact: Mr James Cushing651 p.m.
- 17 fair. Cloudy p.m.
- 18 Rain last night & to day.
- 19 fair & cold.
- 20 fair cold. Mr Jos: Hills Prentice burid yt was drownd see overleaf652
- 21 fair. looks like fowl weather. Mrs Blins sister buried
- 23 E. old Mr Hancock653 (of Lexington) p.m. Fair pleasant
- 27 fair cold. Cloudy p.m. little Snow & rain at night
- 28 fair slippery raw cold.
- 30 E. Prd all Day. little rain a.m. fair p.m.
- 1 fair but very cold.654
- 2 fair. Mr Jno Davenport655 buried.
- 3 fair a.m. Cloudy p.m. & warm.
- 4 Great deal of rain last night & to day. wd E. & S.E.
- 5 Wind very high last night & to day fair & cold.
- 7 E. Mr Breck656 a.m. Stormy Snow all day.
- 8 fair and cold. Mr Burbeen’s son buried.
- 9 fair cold.
- 10 pleasant. Mr Cole buried.
- 12 Pretty deal of rain. Mr Jno Hoods Child buried.
- 14 E. Sact: prd all Day. fair. cold.
- 15 fair moderate
- 16 Rain. fair p.m. Richd Estabrooks buried.
- 19 My wife sick of fever.
- 20 many people sick wth colds fever and sore throats.
- 21 E. Mr Cleverly a.m. Mr Mather, p.m. I was confin’d to my Chamber by great cold &c Snow very stormy.
- 22 fair very cold.
- 24 fair. Moderate. one of Mr Hatchs wt home
- 25 fair. very smart cold day.
- 26 very smart cold day. more moderate towards Even:
- 27 Cloudy. Snow a little p.m.
- 28 E. Mr Chauncy A.M. a very smart cold Day.
- 29 fair and cold.
- 30 Stormy. Snow all day.
- 31 Stormy Snow allmost all day Concludes ye year.
On behalf of Mr. Lindsay Swift, Mr. Henry H. Edes communicated a Memoir of Stanley Cunningham, which Mr. Swift had been requested to prepare for publication in the Transactions.