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being dead the winter before, and many of those alive weak and sick: all the corn and bread among them all hardly sufficient to feed them a fortnight. But, bearing these things as we might, we began to consult of our place of sitting down; for Salem, where we landed, pleased us not. And, to that purpose, some were sent to the Bay to search up the rivers for a convenient place; who, upon their return, reported to have found a good place upon Mistick ; but some other of us, seconding these, to approve or dislike of their judgment; we found a place liked us better, three leagues up Charles River, and thereupon unshipped our goods into other vessels, and, with much cost and labor, brought them in July to Charlestown. But, there receiving advertisements (by some of the late arrived ships) from London and Amsterdam of some French preparations against us (many of our people brought with us being sick of fevers and the scurvy, and we thereby unable to carry up our ordnance and baggage so far), we were forced to change counsel, and for our present shelter to plant dispersedly; some at Charlestown, which standeth on the north side of the mouth of Charles River; some on the south side thereof, which place we named Boston (as we intended to have done the place we first resolved on); some of us upon Mistick, which we named Meadford; some of us westward on Charles River, four miles from Charlestown, which place we named Watertown ; others of us two miles from Boston, in a place we called Roxbury; others upon the river Sangus between Salem and Charlestown; and the Western-men four miles south from Boston, in a place we named Dorchester. They who had health to labor fell to building, wherein many were interrupted with sickness, and many died weekly, yea, almost daily.
“After my brief manner I say this : that if any come hither to plant for worldly ends, that can live well at home, he commits an error, of which he will soon repent him; but, if for spiritual, and that no particular obstacle hinder his removal, he may find here what may well content him, viz., materials to build, fuel to burn, ground to plant, seas and rivers to fish in, a pure air to breath in, good water to drink till wine or beer can be made; which, together with the cows, hogs, and goats brought hither already, may suffice for food : as for fowl and venison, they are dainties here as well as in England. For clothes and bedding, they must bring them with them, till time and industry produce them here. In a word, we yet enjoy little to be envied, but endure much to be pitied in the sickness and mortality of our people. If any godly men, out of religious ends, will come over to help us in the good work we are about, I think they cannot dispose of themselves nor of their estates more to God's glory, and the furtherance of their own reckoning; but they must not be of the poorer sort yet, for divers years. I am now, this 28th March, 1631, sealing my letters. “ Your Honor's old thankful servant,
“The five undertakers were Governor Winthrop, Deputy Governor Dudley, Sir Richard Saltonstall, Isaac Johnson, Esq., and Mr. Revil.”
“The settlement of the patent in New England” meant the establishment of the government here. Hutchinson says: “It is evident from the charter, that the original design of it was to constitute a corporation in England, like to that of the East India Company, with powers to settle plantations within the limits of the territory, under such forms of government and magistracy as should be fit and necessary."
The decision of the Court respecting the occupancy of land, after their arrival, was known to our fathers. At the meeting in London, March 10, 1628–9, the Court say :
“ This day being appointed to take into consideration touching the division of the lands in New England, where our first plantation shall be, it was, after much debate, thought fit to refer this business to the Governor (Cradock), and a Committee to be chosen to that purpose to assist him; and whatsoever they shall do therein, that to stand for good.”
May 28, 1629: In the “second general letter," the Court say:
“We have further taken into our consideration the fitness and conveniency, or rather necessity, of making a divident of land, and allotting a proportion to each adventurer; and, to this purpose, have made and confirmed an Act, and sealed the same with our common seal.”
In the Charlestown records, 1664, John Greene, giving a history of the first comers, says:
“ Amongst others that arrived at Salem, at their own cost, were Ralph Sprague with his brethren Richard and William, who, with three or four more, by joint consent and approbation of Mr. John Endicott, Governor, did, the same summer of anno 1628 (9), undertake a journey from Salem, and travelled the woods above twelve 'miles to the westward, and lighted of a place situate and lying on the north side of Charles River, full of Indians, called Åberginians. Their old sachem being dead, his eldest son, by the English called John Sagamore, was their chief, and a man naturally of a gentle and good disposition. ... They found it was a neck of land, generally full of stately timber, as was the main, and the land lying on the east side of the river, called Mystick River, from the farm Mr. Cradock's servants had planted called Mystick, which
this river led up unto; and, indeed, generally all the country round about was an uncouth wilderness, full of timber.”
This party from Salem, passing through Medford, were the first European feet that pressed the soil we now tread.
At the Court of Assistants, held in London, May 21, 1629, it was thus ordered:
“That two hundred acres of land be by them allotted to each adventurer for £50 adventure in the common stock, and so, after that rate, and according to that proportion, for more or less, as the adventure is, to the intent they may build their houses and improve their lands thereon. It is further fit and ordered, that all such as go over in person, or send over others at their charge, and are adventurers in the common stock, shall have lands (fifty acres) allotted unto them for each person they transport to inhabit the plantation, as well servants as all others.”
Mr. Cradock, according to this, must have had large grants. The lands granted must be improved within three years, or forfeited. If a person came here who had no share in the common stock of the Company, he could have only fifty acres of land, though a head of a family. These small grants surprise us till we consider that land in the Old World, and especially in England, was scarce and dear.
Governor Winthrop in his Journal says: “Thursday, 17th of June, 1630: We went to Massachusetts to find out a place for our sitting down. We went up Mystick River about six miles.” This was the first exploration of the river, carried probably as far as Medford lines; and the English eyes in that boat were the first eyes of settlers that looked upon these fields on which we now live. The first settlers came from Suffolk, Essex, and Lincolnshire, in England.
The first grant made by the Court of Assistants of lands in Mistick was made to Governor Winthrop in 1631. The record says: “Six hundred acres of land, to be set forth by metes and bounds, near his house in Mistick, to enjoy to him and his heirs for ever.” He called his place, after the manner of the English noblemen, the “ Ten Hills Farm ;” which name it still retains. This favorite selection of the chief magistrate would naturally turn his thoughts to his fast friend, Mathew Cradock, and lead him to induce Mr. Cradock's men to settle in the neighborhood. Thus we arrive at a natural reason for the first coming of shipwrights and
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fishermen to this locality. Gov. Winthrop had early settled the question for himself, and then immediately gave his advice to his friend's company; for, by special contract in England, the artisans were to work two-thirds of the time for the Company, and one-third for Mr. Cradock. This arrangement brought the Governor and these workmen very near together, and made it the interest and convenience of both to become neighbors. We do not see how it could have been well otherwise.
The facts we infer are these. The four ships, Arbella, Jewell, Ambrose, and Talbot, which sailed from the Isle of Wight, April 8, 1630, brought the first settlers of this region. Two of the ships belonged to Mr. Cradock. The Governor had the care of Mr. Cradock's men, and, as soon as possible after his arrival, searched for the best place wherein to employ them. His choice fell on Mistick, probably on the 17th day of June; and so rapidly did our young plantation thrive, that, on the 28th of September (only four months afterwards), Medford was taxed £3 for the support of military teachers.
Nov. 30, 1630, another tax of £3 was levied. Thus Medford became a part of “London's Plantation in Massachusetts Bay.” Twelve ships had brought, within a year, fifteen hundred persons; and Medford had a large numerical share. The running streams of fresh water in our locality were a great inducement to English settlers ; for they thought such streams indispensable. In 1630 they would not settle in Roxbury “because there was no running water.” In Charlestown (1630) the “people grew discontented for want of water; who generally notioned no water good for a town but running springs.” Medford, at the earliest period, became that anomolous body politic called a town; creating its own government, and electing its own officers. No municipal organization, like this, had been witnessed in the old world for four centuries !
How natural was this growth. By the law,“ each adventurer had a right to fifty acres of land." Each one would see that this grant was made and secured. Thus the territory was divided into manageable lots, and thus farms began. Gov. Dudley says: “Some of us planted upon Mistick (1630), which we called Meadford.” This shows the beginning of a settlement by other than Mr. Cradock's men. Mr. Cradock's men had their rights to land ; and probably each one received his due. The grant was not confirmed to Mr. Cradock till 1634. The sales of land, after his death, to Edward Collins, Jonathan Wade, Richard Russell, Peter Tufts, Thomas Brooks, Timothy Wheeler, and others, shows the slow progress of the infant settlement.
With the Governor and Mr. Cradock's men, many, doubtless, were glad to associate themselves ; because something like a definite organization already existed among them. The elements of power and prosperity seemed to be with them ; and we can imagine our first settlers beginning their eventful experiment with lion hearts and giant hands. We may therefore reasonably fix upon June 17, 1630, as the time when our Anglo-Saxon ancestors first came to Medford, and determined upon the settlement of the town, and thus took possession. Gov. Dudley says: “ They who had health to labor fell to building.” This must have been so with all the first comers here; and we can see, in our mind's eye, the lofty forest falling by the woodman's axe, and anon taking its place in the tents or log-huts, which were the only shelter from the fast approaching cold. Here let it be remarked, that there is not connected with the first steps of our Medford plantation the slightest trace of injustice, violence, or crime. In the minute accounts of the best historians, there is no mention of treachery, idleness, or dissipation. If any violation of good neighborhood, or civil law, or gospel morality, had existed, we should certainly have heard of it; for every man was emphatically his brother's keeper, and was Argos-eyed to detect the offender, and Briarian-handed to clutch him. We therefore confidently infer, that they who had concluded to make this place their home, were noble adventurers, conscientious patriots, and uncompromising Puritans; men whose courage dared to meet the panther and the tomahawk, whose benevolence would share with the red man its last loaf, and whose piety adored the hand that sent sickness and death. We should expect from no one but Archbishop Laud the following remark: “ These men do but begin with the Church, that they might after have the freer access to the State.” Their hired men and servants were of excellent character, with one or two exceptions. Our fathers brought with them the Company's directions, dated April 17, 1629; and they complied with the following: “Our earnest desire is, that you take special care, in settling these families, that the chief in the family (at least some of them) be grounded in religion; whereby, morning and evening family
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