Today’s installment concludes The Great Puritan Migration to New England,
our selection from History of New England by John G. Palfrey published in 1890.
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Previously in The Great Puritan Migration to New England.
A recital of the action of the board of assistants at their first meetings on this continent will explain the early exigencies of their administration, and the view entertained by them of their duties and powers. At a second court, held at Charlestown, the following business was transacted. It was agreed “that every third Tuesday there should be a court of assistants held at the Governor’s house.” It was “ordered that Thomas Norton, of Mount Wollaston, should presently be set into the bilboes, and after sent prisoner to England by the ship called the Gift, now returning thither; that all his goods should be seized upon to defray the charge of his transportation, payment of his debts, and to give satisfaction to the Indians for a canoe he unjustly took away from them; and that his house should be burned down to the ground, in sight of the Indians, for their satisfaction for many wrongs he had done them from time to time.” Mr. Clarke was directed to pay to John Baker the sum of thirty-eight shillings, for cheating him in a sale of cloth. A stipend was granted to Mr. Patrick and Mr. Underhill, as military instructors and officers. The names of Boston, Dorchester, and Watertown were assigned to the places which still bear them. And it was ordered that no plantation should be made within the limits of the patent, without permission from a majority of the Board of Governor and Assistants, and that “a warrant should presently be sent to Agawam (Ipswich) to command those that are planted there forthwith to come away.”
At a third court, also held at Charlestown, regulations were enacted against allowing the Indians the use of firearms, and against parting with corn to them, or sending it out of the jurisdiction, without a license. Constables were appointed for Salem and Dorchester. The wages of common laborers were fixed at sixpence a day, and those of mechanics who were employed in building at sixteen pence, in addition to “meat and drink.” Order was given for the seizure of “Richard Clough’s strong water, for his selling great quantity thereof to several men’s servants, which was the occasion of much disorder, drunkenness, and misdemeanor.” The execution of a contract between certain parties for the keeping of cattle was defined and enforced. Sir Richard Saltonstall was fined four bushels of malt for absenting himself from the meeting. Thomas Gray, for “divers things objected against him,” was ordered “to remove himself out of the limits of this patent before the end of March next.” “For the felony committed by him, whereof he was convicted by his own confession,” John Gouldburn, as principal, and three other persons, as accessories, were sentenced “to be whipped, and afterward set in the stocks.” Servants, “either man or maid,” were forbidden to “give, sell, or truck any commodity whatsoever, without license from their master, during the time of their service.” An allowance was made to Captains Underhill and Patrick for quarters and rations; and, for their maintenance, a rate of fifty pounds was levied, of which sum Boston and Watertown were assessed eleven pounds each, and Charlestown and Dorchester seven pounds each, Roxbury five pounds, and Salem and Mystic each only three pounds — a sort of indication of the estimated wealth of those settlements respectively.
The public business proceeded at the next two courts after the same manner. A restriction, which it seems had existed under Endicott’s administration, on the price of beaver, was removed. A bounty was offered for the killing of wolves, to be paid by the owners of domestic animals in sums proportioned to the amount of their stock. Encouragement was given, by a legal rate of toll, to the setting up of a ferry between Charlestown and Boston. A servant of Sir Richard Saltonstall was sentenced to “be whipped for his misdemeanor toward his master”; and bonds were taken for good behavior in a case of “strong suspicion of incontinency.” Sir Richard Saltonstall was fined five pounds for whipping two persons without the presence of another assistant. A man was ordered to be whipped for fowling on the Sabbath-day; another for stealing a loaf of bread; and another for breaking an engagement to pilot a vessel, with the privilege, however of buying off the punishment with forty shillings. The employers of one Knapp, who was indebted to Sir Richard Saltonstall, and of his son, were directed to apply half of their wages to the discharge of the debt. An assessment of sixty pounds was laid on six settlements for the maintenance of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Phillips, of which sum Boston and Watertown were to pay twenty pounds each, and Charlestown half as much; and Roxbury, Mystic, and Winnisimmet were charged with six pounds, three pounds, and one pound respectively.
An epidemic sickness at Charlestown was ascribed to the want of good water. An ample supply of it being found in Boston, a portion of the people removed to that peninsula; and there for the first time after their arrival on this continent, was held one of those quarterly general courts of the Company of Massachusetts Bay, which were prescribed in a provision of the charter.
This ends our series of passages on The Great Puritan Migration to New England by John G. Palfrey from his book History of New England published in 1890. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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