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and the rest in paper at 17s. per ounce of silver.” This is satisfactory; and so they trade. A dialogue between two merchants, in the purchase of a ship, would be something like this: Mr. S.:“ What will
bark · Columbus'?” Mr. T.: “You know that depends on the pay." Mr. S. : “My pay is, double-johns at £4. 16s., moidores at 36s., pistoles at 22s., the rest in old-tenor bills at the rate of 458. for 6s. of specie, and middle tenors at 11s. 3d. for 6s." Mr. T.: “Well, that's all right ; and you may have her for £237,- pay down.” So the bargain closes. When a boy went to buy a penknife, whose cash price was 12d., the following conversation ensued :— Boy: “I want a good penknife, 'sir.” Shopkeeper: “Is your pay ready? sir." “ What is it?" "It's pay." Well, then, the price is 24d.” The boy then asks, “What will it be in pay as
Answer: "16d." - What will it be in hard money?” “12d.” If a young lady went to purchase a dress, and, having looked and chosen, she asked the price, she was answered by the usual question, “What's your pay?” She answers: “Part in pillar-pieces at 6s. each, part in ‘ pieces-ofeight' at 43. 6d., and the rest in cobb money at 6s. 8d. ounce. These were every-day occurrences.
What would the farmmers and merchants, the boys and girls, of our day think, if they could not make a purchase without all this bewildering mixture of prices?
When dollars came into common use, all calculations were simplified. The sign ($) used to express dollars was composed of two letters, U. S., signifying United States. The S was first written ; and then over its face the U was drawn, thus $. Our present currency consists of paper-bills of $1,000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 3, 2, 1. Gold, $40, 20, 10, 5, 3, 2, 1. Silver, $1,50c., 25, 10, 5, 3. Copper, one cent.
We take leave of the currency of our ancestors which prevailed in Medford, and which has taught us so much about them, with a few lines, in which some unknown diseiple of Thalia has uttered his financial joy (1750):
“ And now, Old Tenor, fare you well;
No more such tattered rags we'll tell.
The first inhabitants of Medford, bringing with them the common usage of England with respect to poll and property taxation, adopted the rules which they had followed in their native country. The records of our Colonial General Courts, under Governor Endicott, before the arrival of Governor Winthrop, are lost, and therefore the rates of taxation from 1628 to 1633 cannot be ascertained ; yet they may be presumed from the subsequent rates which were soon after established with respect to church and state expenses. The first rule enacted by the Legislature was in 1646. This was twenty-pence a poll, and one penny on a pound, for the State. Sterling was the currency till 1652, when the “pine-tree” coin, called New England currency, was introduced. This new coin was six shillings and eightpence less than the English pound sterling, and was so made to keep it in the country.
The earliest payments were made in money; but afterwards the Province agreed to take beaver, grain, pease, cattle, fish, lumber, &c. This was called country pay, and also called specie : this last word retained its early-meaning till within seventy or eighty years of our time. After the “ Province bills of credit " were introduced, country pay for Province taxes ceased in 1694.
As Charles I., by his charter of March 4, 1629, released the Pilgrims from “all taxes, subsidies, and customs, in New England,” our fathers had no taxes but what were necessary in their own borders.
To show how taxes were assessed at our earliest history, the following specimens may suffice.
At the first Court of Assistants, under Winthrop, in Charlestown, Sept. 28, 1630, the following was passed :
“It is ordered that there shall be collected and levied by distress, out of the several plantations, for the maintenance of Mr. Patricke and Mr. Vnderhill, the sum of fifty pounds ; viz., out of Charlton, seven pounds; Boston, eleven pounds; Dorchester, seven pounds; Rocksbury, five pounds; Watertown, eleven pounds; Meadford, three pounds; Salem, three pounds; Wessaguscus, two pounds; Nantascett, one pound.”
This tax was paid for instructing the colonists in military tactics; an art quite necessary for self-defence against unknown
Indian tribes, In Nov. 30, 1630, the same court levied a tax of sixty pounds, to pay the two public preachers, Rev. George Phillips and Rev. John Wilson ; and the places and sums were as follow : " Boston, twenty pounds ; Charlton, ten pounds; Rocksbury, six pounds; Meadford, three pounds; Winnett-semett, one pound.'
Feb. 3, 1632, the same court levied a tax of sixty pounds, to make a palisade for the defence of Newton, that town having been chosen as the seat of government. To this tax, twelve towns contributed; and Meadford paid three pounds.
In March 4, 1633, another levy was made to pay military teachers; and here Meadford again paid three pounds. Thus our town seems to have taken its place with contiguous plantations in bearing its proportion of the public burdens. The levy, in each place, was made by the officers of said plantation or town; and the following order, from the general government, attests to the ideas of right universally existing:
"1634, May 14: It is further ordered, that, in all rates and public charges, the towns shall have respect to levy every man according to his estate, and with consideration of all other his abilities whatsoever, and not according to the number of his persons [or the individuals of his family).
“1636, March 3: For explanation of an order made at the Generał Court, in May, 1634, it is ordered, that hereafter all men shall be rated, in all rates, for their whole ability, wheresoever it lies.”
In a general levy of £600, in 1634, Meadford paid £26 ; Charlestown, £45. In 1635, in a levy of £200, Meadford paid £10, and Charlestown £16. Keeping about these proportions, Medford paid its share as follows: In 1635, £19. 15s.; in 1636, £15; in 1637, £49. 12s.; in 1638, £59. 58. 8d.; in 1639, 240, and '41, no record of tax; in 1642, £10; in 1643, £7.
Winthrop tells us, that,
“Of a tax of £1,500, levied by the General Court in 1637, the proportion paid by Medford was £52. 10s.; by Boston, £233. 10s.; Ipswich, £180; Salem, £170. 10s.; Dorchester, £140; Charlestown, £138; Roxbury, £115; Watertown, £110; Newton, £106; Lynn, £105." Mr. Savage says of this time (1637), “ Property and num
bers, in a very short period, appear to have been very unequally distributed between Medford and Marblehead."
The diversity in the several years was owing to accidental occurrences, such as supporting the expedition against the Pequods; also for service-money, to prevent the effort in England to withdraw the charter of Massachusetts, and to liquidate charges in London.
The rates and prices were distinguished as follow :
“ It is ordered, that, in payment, silver plate shall pass at five shillings the ounce; good old Indian corn, growing here, being clean and merchantable, at five shillings the bushel; summer wheat, at seven shillings the bushel; rye, at six shillings and eightpence the bushel; and, for horses, mares, cows, goats, and hogs, there is a committee appointed to value them under their worth, rather than above their worth.”
At this time (1614), Medford began to pay its tax to Harvard College. Each family was required to send one peck of corn annually, for the support of poor students.
Until 1646, the poll-tax of each man in Medford was one shilling and eightpence. On real estate, one penny on the pound.
The above data show how heavily or lightly Medford was taxed during the first ten years of its history. The grants of land made, in 1634, by the General Court, to Rev. Mr. Wilson, of Boston, Mathew Cradock, Esq., of London, and Mr. J. Nowell, were exempted from taxation ; and, as some of them laid within the limits of Medford, it made this town an exception. In the records of the General Court, April 4, 1641, we find the following:
“ It is ordered, that all farms that are within the bounds of any town shall be of the town in which they lye, except Meadford.” “Meadford declared a peculiar town, Oct. 15, 1684."
While it was right in the General Court to make gifts of land, tax-free, to such distinguished benefactors of the Province, it deprived Medford of so much annual income as said districts would have paid. No complaint was made on this account; and our fathers struggled through nobly, notwithstanding their small means, and yet smaller numbers. The above record of taxes tells a tale of deep interest. We can see how a handful of first settlers, in a wilderness district, who could only pay three pounds towards a provincial tax, must live from year to year. Fed by what they could raise from
their own lands, and clothed by what they could weave in their own looms, their cares must have been uniform, pressing, and material. Bound together in a common lot and a-common danger, they must have been well acquainted with each other, and must have passed much time in friendly consultation for the common good. With these elements before us, it will be easy for every one to imagine what our earliest settlers could not do, and what they could ; and thus see their habits, actions, and hopes.
After these inferences from the taxes of Medford, during the first ten years of its history, we can proceed to gauge its growth in succeeding years by the same media.
“At a Court of Elections at Boston the 14th of the third month, 1645, the levy upon the towns of the Province was £616. 15s. ; and Medford's amount was £7.”.
There were three kinds of taxes, — province, county, and town. The first tax-bills of Massachusetts Colony, which were made out by counties, began October, 1659; and, in these, the tax of “ Meadford” was far lower than that of any adjoining town.
In 1657, “ Meadford” was taxed as one of the towns of the county of Middlesex, in a county levy, £3. 6s. 11d. ; in 1658, £3. 3s. 1d.; in 1663, £4.4s. 6d.; in 1670, £1. 12.; in 1674, £4. 3s. 10d. ; in 1676, £4. ls. 10d. During these years, Cambridge was paying £40; Woburn, £25 ; Malden, £16; and Charlestown, £60. A county-tax of £1. 13s. 9d., levied on Meadford, Jan. 17, 1684, was paid by the inhabitants as follows:
d. Capt. Jonathan Wade 0 6 4 John Bradshor
0 0 8 Capt. Nathaniel Wade 0 4 3 Jonathan Tufts 0 0 10 John Hall
0 3 3 Daniel Woodward 0 0 8 Caleb Brooks.
0 1 11 Andrew Mitchell 0 0 8 Thomas Willis 0 3 7 | Roger Scott
0 0 7 Stephen Willis 0 1 10 Edward Walker 0 0 8 Peter Tufts, jun. . 0 3 4 Jacob Chamberlain 0 0 8 Stephen Francis . 0 1 10 Joseph Baker . . 0 08 John Whitmore 0 1 7 Gershom Swan 0 1 5
£1 15 8 Isaac Fox . . 0 0 11
The excess raised in this tax, over the sum required, was to pay the collector.
The valuation of live-stock, for rates in Medford, at this time, were the following: Oxen, four years and upwards, in